5 Messages About Race From 'Get Out' That Had The Kid Just A Little Bit SHOOK!

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

'Moonlight' Had A Happy Ending That Left Me A Little Limp

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Before you start...

NO, I did not expect to see the grown Kevin and Chiron fuck. Wouldn't have hurt, to be quite honest. Still, I was cool with the omission because that ending embrace between the two men was more than powerful. That said, here's what I didn't like about the ending of this amazing love story.

BEWARE...THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE, COME BACK LATER!!!

By the movie's end, viewers are met with the notion that Chiron had to create a life around this hypermascluine persona that wasn't his true self but, instead, who the world forced him to become in order to survive and be respected. In choosing to succumb to this and take what could be considered "the easy way out", with crafting this false image of himself, the adolescent boy living and looking for love inside of Black essentially locks himself away and stunts his emotional growth. Meanwhile, Kevin was able to reach a place of contentment in his life, as himself, complete with work that he genuinely loves, a baby and, of course, a baby's mama. All of this despite going through his own correctional issues...just like Chiron. How fucking unfair is that?

Now...to disregard the plethora of hardships that Chiron faced in contrast with those of Kevin would be just as unfair. Though we aren't privy to what he may have been dealing with in his own journey of manhood, the inclusiveness he experienced with his male peers, the sexual attention he received from his female peers and his schnazzy little twink-mobile make it safe to assume that Kevin was flourishing in the social privilege of being able to go under the radar with his sexuality. It's definitely not a foreign concept. In fact, I know of many "Kevins." Perhaps, that's the reason that last scene left such a bad taste in my mouth. 

If there is any aspect of Moonlight that I feel resonated with me most, it would be the stun of isolation that kept Chiron from staying down during his schoolyard pummeling. That feeling of seeing someone who made you feel EVERYTHING choose to put those moments you shared on the shelf and conform -- it took me back to my freshman year of college. I was a heavier Facebook user, back then, and those tell-on-yourself quizzes were all the rage. You'd put a link on your profile that made people fill out a questionnaire to determine "How Freaky Are You?!" or something to that effect. Any unsuspecting victim would end up spilling their guts about their sexual desires and history and you'd get the results. Shady shit...but, we were bored and Facebook was new.

One day, this dude from a wealthy family that attended _________ State University hits me up with small talk about possibly transferring to my college. I engage and we chat for a couple days about the difference in dynamics between our institutions. Maybe a couple of days later, I get an email with results to the sex quiz and (SURPRISE!) they belong to him. Not even a couple of minutes later and he's in my inbox spazzing about having exposed himself for his interest in men. Whether his panic was genuine or an act, I don't know. Either way, I assured him I wasn't out to "out" him. Shit...I wasn't even trying to out myself, at that point, believe it or not. We ended up "talking" for over a year, after that. During that year of getting to know one another, we became so connected that he would go as far as driving the fancy ass car his parents bought him THROUGH SEVERAL STATES and renting the Presidential Suite at a luxury hotel just to spend the weekend together. He would also get really jealous at the idea of talking to other people and slightly mad if I wasn't the last voice he heard. With things developing the way they were, the idea of him transferring and us being able to matriculate together while keeping this secret romance going seemed too good to be true. It was. 

The following year he transferred and we hung out a couple of times. Nothing special. Ironically, we started to grow apart when he got closer. I didn't take it personally, though. I'm very unconventional and he comes from a traditional upbringing. Having grown up in Jack & Jill, participated in cotillions and all of that other elitist Black shit, he had eyes on him that expected him to maintain the status quo. "Get there, be extremely involved, pledge a fraternity and find your pretty sorority woman." Simple as that. No one back home knew his secret...not even the best friend he grew up with since the age of missing teeth. I understood the trajectory. He planned to run for SGA and I'm sure he figured, "why gamble with even the possibility of being found out?" Eventually all of the passion we shared just fizzled out and the hours we'd spend caking all night on the phone turned into brief salutations in passing. While I didn't get knocked out, it sure did knock the wind out of me.

Luckily, the road I've walked thus far wasn't as jagged and full of potholes as Chiron's. I've come a long way and I'm much more comfortable with my sexuality now, than I was then. I live life comfortably in my own skin, make decisions based on what moves ME and do something I enjoy. Honestly, I don't know who I'd be if I waited with bated breath or altered myself in order for someone to "choose" me over the pressures of society telling them who they have to be. The fact that Chiron's journey of self-discovery ends in the arms of someone who couldn't find the courage to love him when it mattered most is a tragedy, in my opinion. Even in his adulthood, Chiron still lacks the self-worth that should drive him to want better of himself. Add to the equation Black's mention of never having been physical with anyone besides Kevin, and it shows that Black has become complacent with this idea of the person who betrayed him being the pinnacle of intimacy. That's pretty damn unfortunate. Nonetheless, I'm grateful for this story being told as it was. There's much to be learned from the film and it will surely speak to everyone differently. 

Personally, Moonlight put me face-to-face with a happy ending I'll never get.

Thank God for that. 

Donald Glover Shouted Out Migos At The Golden Globes And I’m Salty About It

Lemme preface this post by saying I'm not a journalist. I'm just a guy with a domain and some thoughts.

That said...

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.

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What Cudi Said: Embracing "Pride" In Hip-Hop Culture

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.

Shoutout @thefader for the cover 📸: @alexandra_gavillet Link to cover story in Bio.

A photo posted by Rae Sremmurd (@raesremmurd) on

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.

Behind 'Beyond The Lights': 5 Questions With Director Gina Prince-Bythewood

What better occasion than Black History Month to celebrate black excellence?! Last night, I had the opportunity to speak with director/screenwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball and Secret Life Of Bees) about her most recent film, Beyond The Lights. During the conversation, Gina was gracious enough to give us more insight on what went into making the film and what it means for her, personally, as she preps for the release of the director’s cut of Beyond The Lights, available for purchase later this month. Here are 5 questions I had to ask…

JWilliams: What led you to write Noni as drawing so much inspiration from Nina Simone and, specifically, what is the connection of the movie to the song “Blackbird”?

Gina Prince-Bythewood: Well, I didn’t get keyed in to Nina Simone until after college. I was adopted by white parents and I grew up on Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and the Beatles, but once I discovered Nina Simone, that was it. Once you discover her, you want to know everything about her. So, I just had all her albums. When I was writing the script, I knew the character of Noni would sing a Nina Simone song. Nina’s work is so truthful and raw and real, but I didn’t know what song. So, I was just listening through my stack of CDs and I came across “Blackbird” and it felt like that was written for the film. The lyrics spoke so perfectly to the character of Noni as a little girl and as a young woman. Honestly, it changed the trajectory of the script. Originally, Noni sang her own song in the karaoke scene but, once I started writing and hearing the lyrics, it just made more sense that she wanted to go back to that moment when she could be what she wanted to be, as a little girl. I love when things like that can elevate the material.

JW: About the karaoke scene…it’s one of my favorites in the movie. Kaz comes to Noni’s defense several times during the film, while holding her hand as she grows more confident in her ability to make her own decisions. During the karaoke scene, Noni saves Kaz from his embarrassment and in turn helps her help herself by going viral after performing the music she loves. Was this the intent of that scene?

GPB: Um…well, actually, it’s two-folded. It doesn’t go as far as you said, though that is pretty dope.  Maybe I will say I did that. laughs But, the thing I loved about that moment is that he goes up there and starts to get booed and she goes up and dances and is supportive in that. Then, yes, she wants to shut it down and save him from humiliation but, when  writing it, it was about him getting her up on stage now that she’d shed everything and see if she had the courage to sing what she wants to sing and not sing what she was told to sing. It was really a combination of both, but she had to have courage to go up there and bare her soul.

JW: There are many amazingly done scenes in the movie, which help bring a certain authenticity to each of the characters. Which scene of the movie impressed you the most once it was translated from script to film and for what reasons?

GPB: Wow! I would say the kitchen scene [between Minnie Driver and Gugu Mbatha-Raw] because, as a writer, you’re playing with things in your head and you’re acting your ass off as you’re writing. So, to have actors come in and take it to a whole ‘nother level is pretty exciting to see. I would say that and the BET Awards scene. Honestly, I wrote it and it was very clear in my head but, in hiring Gugu, I did not know what I was going to get in that scene but, after rehearsing–I mean, we rehearsed that for 6 months. That’s what it took with choreographer Laurieann Gibson because Gugu does not come from Hip-Hop/R&B at all. She comes from ballet. This is not her world. She had to learn to dance that way. She had to learn to tap into that hypersexuality and to be able to look into a camera and throw that energy out. It’s also one thing to rehearse in a closed studio, but we had real extras there. There were hundreds of people there. Was Gugu going to freeze? Could the choreography hold up? Also, it’s a real crowd. Are they going to dig the song? I dug the song, but I needed a real reaction. So, I did not know what was going to happen and the amazing thing about Gugu is she’s so shy and reserved. To see her turn it on and turn on Noni is a pretty fascinating thing to witness and why she’s so dope. It’s also pretty funny because we shot that thing probably 50 times and, by the end of it,  Gugu–shy and reserved–she did not care. After every take, that trench cat was off. She was sitting in her…nothing…backstage. Did not care who was walking around. She was that tapped in! That was another thing that went to another level.

JW: Your films consistently carry a coming-of-age theme of female empowerment and self-identity. Most notable would be the role of Monica in Love & Basketball, who dealt with expectations being forced on her by her mother, much like Noni. While we all need the time to find ourselves as we grow, do you feel like african-american or mixed race women have a harder time identifying with who they are because of the implications by society?

GPB: I definitely feel that black women are invisible in feature films, especially in fully realized characters. We’ve been the best friend a lot. Sometimes, even the exotic girlfriend. However, in terms of a fully realized character, it’s very rare and I think Beyond The Lights made me reflect on the overriding theme of my work and it is women finding their self-worth. That was something I struggled with in high school and I know the feeling I got when, at 17, I went to the movies and the trailer for She’s Gotta Have It came up and it was the first time I’d seen myself reflected up on-screen. That overwhelming feeling is what I want to give others, as well, but it’s not just putting us up on-screen for us to see. Its putting us up there for the world to see and really show our humanity and change the perception. There is a perception, unfortunately, that black folks don’t love each other. That we don’t fight for each other and there is a lack of humanity, which we’ve seen in terms of what went on with Eric Garner. It’s important for the world to see us as fully realized human beings.

JW: When it comes to releasing a movie, a director’s cut is usually released because the movie was truncated to accommodate budget limitations. Being that you wore the cap of both writer and director of Beyond The Lights, did you find yourself censoring yourself as a writer to fit a more realistic budget as director?

GPB: I do not censor myself at all, as a director, when I’m writing. The script of Beyond The Lights had 55 drafts before it was finalized because every word, every line, every moment counts. I think that part of the director in me knows that, once I get to set, the script has got to be done. You don’t have time to try to figure it out on set. So, I had to make sure it was right in the writing process but, again, I don’t want to think about budget. I don’t want to think about any of that. Once the script is finalized and I’m happy with it and excited about it, then I put on the director’s hat. When it was at Sony, at first, it was a $20 million film. Then, it got dropped there and it almost went to Searchlight and it was a $12 million dollar film there. Then, finally, when we got to Relativity, it was a $7 million film. So, it’s still the same film that was in my head. We just had to make different compromises. The key was, for $7 million, what are the key set pieces and the directors that could give us the floss and the bigness of the world. So, it just takes being creative with directors to do that. Also, I can’t be too precious with my work. It’s what is best for the film. So, I’ve learned to separate the two and not fall too in love with anything as a writer or a director.

Get the director’s cut, deleted scenes and more extras from Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond The Lights, when it hits Blu-Ray and DVD on February 24th!