Futuristic Black Love – on 3000

Futuristic Black love
on 3000

Because 2,999 won’t do
You, me and Badu
Space traveling through galaxies
Building our families
Resisting normative boundaries
of social expectations
Highest love levitating
and creating
Bodies and ciphers and
Intergalactic escapes to lands
That celebrate

Futuristic Black love
on 3000

We’re on that new shyt
Black love on 3000
That some folks can’t
Get wit
We don’t live in boxes
Fluid, undefinable identifies
and I’m checking pansexual
Because our passion connects
To the intellectual
While our love births those

SpottieOttieDopaliscious

Aliens from Atlanta, Dallas and West Blocton
We three – a true southern concoction

of Futuristic Black love
on 3000

Find us in our spaceship
No rear view mirrors
Ain’t looking back while
We dip
Into the exosphere
So damn high, elevated
Clouds are miniscule beneath
Our feet
Our next lifetime is now
Breaking atmospheric beats
Loving, living, creating

Exactly

How

We

Pleeeeaaaaase.

No need for a player’s anthem
Ain’t nobody choosin
With these three bodies
Ain’t nobody losin
Because it’s love, love…

We’re just on that

Furturistic Black love
on 3000

He – She – and I
Capismini, Capismini.

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106 & Park – August Alsina and Keisha Chante Awkwardness

I don’t watch 106 & Park and haven’t done so since Free and AJ (age-telling), but I read about August Alsina’s comment to host Keisha Chante when she asked about the singer burying of the hatchet between Trey Songz and him (Since when did R&B singers have ‘beef’?). I also watched the clip where Chante stood with Bow Wow and August on either side of her as August snapped, “I told y’all not to ask me that shxt when I got up here.” in reply to her question. She was visibly taken aback and tried to defuse the situation by saying she was only asking what the fans were asking. Awkward. And Uncomfortable.

Admittedly, I don’t know much about this artist (But the Twitters indicates that his recently released album is everything.) or his reported drama with Trey Songz. I also don’t know what discussion was had between the hosts and/or the show’s representatives and the artist prior to him taking the stage. However, I do know that I’ve noticed a number of comments on social media from young folks – young women included – who have suggested Chante ‘got what she was asking for’ . Chile. Chirren. Let me be the ole lady and shed a different light on this.

Young women, you have to be careful about the applauding certain patterns of interaction with young men. So she asked a question that he did not want asked. We don’t know the backstory on that. But what we do know is that his posturing and comment to her, in my ole lady opinion, was not necessary. When we start applauding young men, or anyone for that matter, for speaking disrespectfully to women the door is open for such behavior to continue and elevate.

Sidebar
As I write this, I’m reminded of an exchange I had with a classmate when I was in college. As I walked across the yard, he yelled out, “Hey you…come here chick.” Thinking to myself: I know damn well he isn’t speaking to me. So I continued to walk on my way, and he grew aggravated and continued, “Bitch, I know you hear me talking to you…” Now, this was a guy with whom I had not interacted. All I knew of him is that he was relatively new to campus, a transfer student I think. So after the last comment, I did stop but I didn’t walk over to him. I stood there and stared at him. Thinking he’d at least gotten my attention, he walked over to me with a swagger that let me know he thought he’d accomplished his mission. And yes, he had accomplished the mission of getting my attention, but that wasn’t all he’d done. He disrespected me – publicly, intentionally. He approached me and smiled. Then he started to tell me how he knew I heard him and knew I was just playing hard to get. I simply locked eyes with him and asked, “Do you talk to your Mama like that?” And let’s just say the conversation went to the left and then came back again. During our discussion, he explained that where he was from, that’s just how they spoke. That’s how they talked to girls. And I just explained to him that where I’m from [my Mama’s house], we don’t get down like that. Eventually, we were cool. And so was his newly developed respectful interaction with me.

Young men, you have to be careful about the applauding or quietly dismissing certain patterns of interaction with our young women. Bow Wow… Hmm. Maybe my expectations of respect and chivalry are too high, but I was puzzled that Bow Wow did not make an attempt to ease the tension and/or address August in a professional manner. As I rode home yesterday, two DJs on a local radio show noted that “that’s just how he is” and explained that “if he don’t like you, he don’t like you”. Yes, I get that. We all have our personalities. But that too was dismissive in terms of highlighting Alsina’s lack of professionalism. That situation could have been handled differently.

Conversely, I also noticed several comments from young people – both male and female – who noted that they were disappointed in Alsina’s response. And for that, I’m glad. I’m not at all suggesting that there are not times when the media seem to be too intrusive or cross lines with celebrities. That happens. However, this didn’t seem like that type of situation.

Being on 10 at all times, trying to secure a tough-guy/tough-girl image can be exhausting. Stop. Turn down for what? Hell, because sometimes you just need to… It’s not always that deep.

Five Race-Themed Reminders from ‘The Best Man Holiday’…

Starring cast of the 'Best Man Holiday' (2013) include Harold Perrineu, Regina Hall, Nia Long, Taye Diggs, Monica Calhoun, Morris Chestnut, Sanaa Lathan, Terrence Howard, and Melissa DeSousa.

Starring cast of the ‘Best Man Holiday’ (2013) include Harold Perrineu, Regina Hall, Nia Long, Taye Diggs, Monica Calhoun, Morris Chestnut, Sanaa Lathan, Terrence Howard, and Melissa DeSousa.

Like many race-themed [read: Black] people, I was ecstatic when I heard a sequel to the Best Man (1999) was in the works. My race-themed friends and I made plans to see the movie together and posted our excitement to social networking sites months in advance of the film’s release. We often discussed how much we missed the movies of the mid/late 1990s and early 2000s [Waiting to Exhale (1995), Set It Off (1996), Thin Line Between Love and Hate (1996), Love Jones (1997), Soul Food (1997), How Stella Got Her Grove Back (1998), Love & Basketball (2000), Brown Sugar (2002), etc.], so to say we were counting the days until the The Best Man Holiday hit theaters is an understatement. On Friday, November 15th, I headed to the 10:00am showing of the movie with my partner and a friend. We laughed. We cried. We engaged in self-reflection. And we left the movie chattering away about the fabulousness we had seen. [And not one of us mentioned race during this chatter.] I immediately wanted to write a review, but I held off because I did not want spoil it for all the Facebook friends I knew were heading to see the movie throughout the weekend. So I posted a general comment about the film:

 

I had grown tired of caricatured stereotypical blackness and overt/covert sexism and misogyny in film, television and music. I personally needed a film that was not centered on hyper-stereotypical images of Black people. I personally needed a film that did not stir the pot of sexual trauma and mask it in ‘she wanted it’ patriarchal excuse-making. I personally needed a feel good film about everyday life…that just happened to include an all Black cast. I personally needed to see THIS wonderful cast of beautiful Black people on-screen. [Yes, I was a little thirsty for this film.]

As I surveyed my Facebook timeline throughout the weekend, I noticed that most of the reviews of the film were posted by Black women. There were a few Black men that posted as well, but most of the reviews came from Black women who praised the movie for tackling some real issues and pushing us to the brink of emotion. This was good, but what about people of other racial/ethnic groups? What about the perspectives of more men? What about older and younger people? This movie had something for all. A second post to my Facebook page urged EVERYONE to go see it no matter their race, gender, age, etc. The storyline is universal, and the acting is great. Then I read a post about USAToday writer, Scott Bowles, that changed the course of the conversation about the film with one headline: “‘Holiday nearly beats ‘Thor’ as race-themed film soars”. Damn, Scott. Really? FAIL. There was the attempt to clean up the title with a revision that read: “‘Holiday nearly beats ‘Thor’ as ethnically diverse films soar”. This, too, was a fail. Finally, the article was revised again to read: “‘Best Man Holiday’ nearly beats might ‘Thor'”. [Right. That’s all that needed to be said in the first place.] As I read the various blogs, tweets, etc. commenting on how mainstream media [read: White] continues view Black people in television, film, and music as inherently race-themed, I was reminded of a few things about our society’s issues with race/racism and mainstream media’s explanations of/expectations of Black people:

  1. Mainstream media is proof that race and racism are indeed woven into the fabric of America.
  2. Mainstream media undeniably celebrates the visibility of Black people in film, television, and music as long as stereotypes are confirmed. The fact that Black actors and actresses are good at portraying characters that are not drug dealers, gang bangers, strippers, or welfare queens seems astonishing to them.
  3. Mainstream media still does not understand the power of Black dollars and the desire of Black people [and other underrepresented groups] to see ourselves on-screen in roles that are not representative of caricatured stereotypical blackness.
  4. Mainstream media does not understand that characters that are professional, wealthy, middle class, married, parenting, etc. are not monopolized by whiteness. Whiteness is not the default experience.
  5. Mainstream media continues to be surprised by the normalcy of blackness. We Black people do live ‘normal’ lives and experience friendship, love, compassion, faith, struggle, and resilience just like any other racial or ethnic group. [And these are the main themes of the movie, which I thought were pretty universal.]

I am inclined to believe that Scott Bowles did not actually watch the film. If he did, his description of the film as race-based had to be intentional – and that is troubling. If he did not, his description of the film as race-based as a mere result of seeing a predominantly Black cast in advertisements tells me something about how he views Black actors and actresses – and that is also troubling. Scott Bowles [and any other person who does not understand the significance of mainstream media’s continuous attempts to downplay the talent of Black artists (i.e., GQ Magazine, get you some…) and people of all underrepresented groups], I’m all for calling a movie race-themed when the basic premise of the movie actually deals with issues related to race. Django Unchained is a race-themed movie. 12 Years A Slave is a race-themed movie. The Best Man Holiday is not. The suggestion that Holiday is a race-themed film places it in a category that shapes the perspectives of non-Black viewers unfamiliar with the film or its prequel. It also could be argued that the description of the film as race-themed was a subliminally intentional attempt to curb the excitement surrounding the film and limit its viewing audience. [No, that is not a stretch. It is possible.]

Mainstream media, I’m not here for your continued attempts to marginalize of Black artists, entertainers and people.  WE are not here for this.

But we are here to see more of these great actors on-screen [Fourteen years later, every cast member looks absolutely wonderful!]. Malcolm D. Lee, we are excited about the possibilities of a third installation. The Best Man Holiday ended with the ultimate teaser [playboy ready for marriage], so please do not keep us waiting another 14 years [Besides, I made a bet about the plot of the next movie, and I need to collect ASAP.]. We are thirsty for more Black fabulousness on the big screen. Quench us…

Qiana

eclectic_GRITS

nilah monet

An Open Letter to Renee Fisher…from a Pre-Menopausal Black Woman (and Fan of Kanye’s…Music – Who Hates the Treadmill)

Dear Renee Fisher,

I read your Open Letter to Kanye West and was compelled to respond with a different [read: subjective] perspective of Kanye West and his eccentricities. While your introduction to Kanye was through an article in US Magazine and Yahoo News, I have been familiar with him for quite a while. Since his album The College Dropout was released in 2003, I have been a fan of his music and talent as a producer [He was on the scene much earlier than 2003.]. No, I’m not always a fan of what he says or does but I respect his artistry. From the US Magazine article and Yahoo News, you learned the following: He stormed the stage when Taylor Swift was accepting her award for Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards [not the Grammys]. He is Kim Kardashian’s fiance and the father of their daughter North [I refuse to use the term ‘Baby Daddy’ here as it has so many connotations of which I am hoping you are not aware…because that would change the context of this post. (Yes, I realize there has been much decontextualization of the phrase to suggest its applicable across race, class, etc. BUT…context means so much and in this letter, the context is suspect.)]. And during an interview with Ryan Seacrest, he made a statement about First Lady Michelle Obama that added more members to the ‘I Don’t Like [read (for some): HATE] Kanye West’ club. There is much more to Kanye West than what you learned from a magazine article, BUT prior to discussing those factors, I must address the issues that situate your introduction to him.

In 2009, Taylor Swift won the MTV VMA award for Best Female Video for “You Belong to Me” over some noteworthy competition (Beyonce, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, and Pink). I watched in amazement when Kanye ran on stage during Taylor’s acceptance speech and said, “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you. I’ma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.” OUCH! I doubt Kanye knew just how much of a defining moment that would be for both him and Taylor. People were outraged. The blogs, news feeds, entertainment websites, etc. went crazy with Kanye criticism. Even President Barack Obama weighed in on Kanye’s statement and called him a “jacksass”. I agree, Kanye definitely made a jackass move. I felt bad for Taylor and so did Beyonce, who called Taylor on stage during her [Beyonce] win for Video of the Year to let Taylor “have her moment”. Wait, Beyonce won Video of the Year? So her video really was the best video nominated? Hmm…let’s see. Both “Single Ladies” and “You Belong to Me” have been parodied numerous times. However, only “Single Ladies” has been parodied by one of the most iconic sketch comedy and variety shows, Saturday Night Live. Only “Single Ladies” inspires grown men, senior women, and flash mobs to put on their heels [or flats] to perform their version of the song. Only “Single Ladies” won several other awards including the award for 2008 Popjustice Readers’ Poll Best Dance Routine; 2009 MTV Video Music Awards for Video of the Year, Best Choreography, and Best Editing; 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards for Best Video; AND 2009 BET Awards for Best Video. These awards are in addition to many other nominations, recognitions, etc. “You Belong to Me” won…uhm…well, it won the VMA Best Female Video award. Apparently, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” IS one of the best videos of all time. Soooooo, while Kanye’s interruption likely was not the best decision, he was right. It’s his context that was wrong.

Through US Magazine and Yahoo News, you also learned that Kanye has a daughter with Kim Kardashian. Yes, they have a daughter. No, they are not yet married. Yes, she has been married previously. Yes, they are engaged. There’s not much more to say about that. However, as we in the oh-so-cultureless popular culture world say, “It is what it is.”

One of your main issues with Kanye as identified in the letter was the statement he made about First Lady Michelle Obama during an interview with Ryan Seacrest. He said, “Nobody’s paying attention to what the Obama’s are wearing. Michelle Obama can’t Instagram a pic like what my girl Instagramed the other day”. No, the First Lady cannot Instagram a picture like Kim did and we would not expect her to do so. I agree with you on that point. However, when listening to that section of the interview in its entirety [as I doubt you have done] and considering that statement within the context, Kanye’s words could be interpreted in several ways. As I understood it, Kanye suggested that his fiancé is an inspiration to the fashion world, more so than the First Lady. Well, to some extent and in some contexts, he is right again. Wait…before you say I’m crazy…read on. No matter our opinion of Kim (and I don’t understand the negativity), she is an influential person in fashion. People pay attention to what she wears. Now, this is not to say that the First Lady is not just as influential, but she is influential in a different context. For the popular culture audience, what Kim wears is more likely to have more of an impact than what the First Lady wears. If I’m looking to purchase a cute dress, I’m more inclined to purchase one from the Kardashian line at Sears before I purchase one from Tory Burch or J. Crew [one of the First Lady’s favorite stores]. Why? Tory Burch is out of my price range and J. Crew is more for the close-to/post-menopausal, upper/middle class, ultra conservative, soccer mom. And I’m a little more pre-menopausal, working/slightly middle class [Yes, I’m a professor…but I feel working class.], liberal, screaming football mom. Of course, whenever the First Lady wears an item, it sells out of the stores. So yes, we DO pay attention to the First Lady’s clothing. She is VERY influential. And we appreciate that, in addition to wearing the high fashion pieces, she wears affordable pieces from stores like the Gap, H&M, and Target. But let’s be honest, when a pre-menopausal 18-40ish female thinks fashion, it’s very unlikely that she first thinks First Lady Michelle Obama. Again, it’s all about context. So maybe Kanye’s most significant gaffe in his brief mention of the First Lady was that he did not consider context.  

There were a few others ideas expressed in your letter that had me scratching my head. First, the suggestion that popular culture is not culture is ludicrous (to me). Second, Kanye made the statement about the First Lady, not Kim. So as woman, I was surprised and dismayed that you used the letter as an opportunity to highlight your perceptions of Kim as just a “giant booty”. Third, I’m not feeling the mention of Kanye as being minimally worthy of “taking up space with talking dogs”. There’s just something about the contention that a person is not as worthy as an animal that makes me feel some type of way. [The ‘some type of way’ is one of those cultureless popular culture statements.]

Your definition of culture indicates that culture is a “human intellectual achievement” that defines society and serves as a legacy for future generations. It is the contributions of arts, government, and science/mathematics left to us by the Roman Empire, the Pharaonic Egyptians, and the ancient Asian dynasties. Popular culture, on the other hand [as I interpreted your statements], is a mere following of untalented, minimally intellectual, working class and poor people who love only fashion, sports, writing, and reality television. With this contention, I have to disagree. Popular culture IS culture. There are a number of academic journals, websites, conferences, etc. that serve as spaces to examine the many ways in which popular culture impacts on our daily lives. Popular culture scholars analyze the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, religion, etc. with media, technology and access. Popular culture shapes our world and contributes to arts, government, science/mathematics, and politics. The fact that you were able to write and circulate your open letter to Kanye West is due to popular culture. So don’t knock it…when you benefit from it.

Kim Kardashian is a beautiful woman. She is famous for being a beautiful woman, or as Kanye acknowledged, “My girl’s a superstar all from a home movie“. For some reason, many people seem to be upset that she’s famous for being famous. Based on your comments, I wonder if you are one of those people. Your words demonstrated that we women are indeed tougher on one another than we are on men. You described Kim as being nothing more than a fantasy and critiqued her for capitalizing on her looks. You further noted that we are only fascinated with Kim because of the clothes she wears [read: You agree with Kanye, huh?]. But is that a bad thing? Are we not fascinated with models because of the clothes they wear? Are we not fascinated with designers because of the clothes they design for models to wear? Going back to the discussion of popular culture being culture, are we not still enamoured with Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Princess Diana because of the clothes they wore? Yes, Marilyn was an actress. Jackie O. was a First Lady. Diana was the Princess of Wales and a community activist. However, when we first think of these women, do we not remember them primarily because of the clothes they wore? Do we not view them as fashion icons [read: popular culture icons]? So please tell me, what’s wrong with being the source of fascination all because of what you are wearing? [read again: I’m not sure if you noticed this, but your focus on Kim as a mere result of the interest in what she’s wearing gives some credibility to Kanye’s statement. She IS fashionably influential.] 

Finally, I get that you were trying to suggest that Kanye is insignificant, as a talking dog would be (to you). But the attempt to define him as a classless, unintellectual, pretentious, self-absorbed, and insignificant person missed the mark and is in need of rebuttal. Since you are not sure what classism is, there is no need to address that part of your letter. I would describe Kanye in a number of ways, but unintellectual is not one of them. I will even agree that he is sometimes pretentious and self-absorbed. But he is also passionate, outspoken, creative, driven and extremely talented. For many people, the pretentiousness and absorption seem to outweigh the other personality traits. Not for me. For me, Kanye is complex. In a recent interview on Jimmy Kimmel, Kanye stated, “So you are going to love me, or you’re going to hate me, but I’m going to be me”. He’s going to be Kanye. He makes statements about political figures when others in the public eye will not. He loved [and lost] the most important woman in the world to him in 2007 [and arguably hasn’t been ‘right’ since that time]. He looks forward to parenting his daughter and adores his fiancé.  He aggravates people with his actions and words, most recently by sporting the Confederate flag on a jacket. He is imperfect. He thinks highly of himself as an artist. He gives back to his community [although there are reports that indicate otherwise]. He is complex…and yes, he is significant [as evidenced by your letter, my response, and the media frenzy that constantly surrounds him]. Don’t get me wrong, you are not alone in your disdain for Kanye. Many people have applauded your letter and reposted it to various sites. I am not surprised. From news outlets to blogs to social networking sites, people love to hate [such a strong word] Kanye West. I’m just not one of those people.

As I read your letter, I had to read it in its context: coming from a White post-menopausal anti-popular culture woman whose introduction to Kanye probably was incited by the boredom of being on the most awful piece of exercise equipment imaginable – the treadmill. Of course, Kanye rubs some people the wrong way, but there’s good in him [especially in his music] like there’s good in all of us [despite our flaws]. Try to see that G.O.O.D. Music in him. And the next time you’re on the treadmill in need of motivation, instead of thumbing through a popular culture magazine or scrolling through search engine news feeds, listen to Kanye’s “The New Workout Plan“. Or listen to the entire The College Dropout album. I’m not saying it will make you any less disgusted with Kanye, but it will definitely make your treadmill time go by a little faster and keep you from being “sucked into” the cultureless world of popular culture.

Qiana

Eclectic GRITS

nilah monet