30.May – { :: Dear BET, Please Don’t F* This Up. Sincerely, Us :: } with Tina Nagbare

Osay.-2

At this point you may be wondering, “Damn, is she only going to write about Prince now?” My response: “Maybe. Deal. *blankstare*

In some ways I’m still reeling, in other ways I’m adjusting, in all ways it’s still surreal that Our Purple One is gone, but que sera, sera and all that jazz…

True to form (and my official Kennethology photo) in general I’m ready, willing, and likely to serve up a side eye when I even think someone may be acting out of pocket. For things and people that I truly care about that likelihood intensifies by about 100%. Such is the case with Prince which is why aside from my initial outrage, I have given little thought to that shameful “tribute” that un-named award show had planned. Listen, I’m over-sensitive – I will admit that, but so what? There were so many red flags that it escapes me how anyone other than a white feminist and 3 well-meaning white guys thought this would be a good idea…. But then again… look at the show. Aside from the fact that being a “peer” (in terms of age and career peak only) means nothing, OR the fact that Prince beefed with that performer for over a decade and only recently became “cool” again, OR the fact that the same “called to request” leading the “tribute” (“Hello, publicity thirst trap, party of one please.”), aside from all of that – that person’s vocals are shotty at best and they play zero instruments. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when we don’t stay in our respective lanes, tragedy strikes. Was Lady Gaga David Bowie’s “peer”? No, but she was the person who could get the job done RIGHT and that’s all that matters, Wendy Williams. If you think a ruffled blouse and a glittery staff is all you need to tribute a genius like Prince, you don’t even deserve to be in the audience. You can try to defend it all you want, but this is not about meeting an impossible standard. It is the simple fact that it’s impossible to tribute someone by ignoring everything they stood for. That wack attempt reflects everything Prince disliked about the music industry. But look at me… going off on tangents. That’s not e’em what I’m here for…

June is near and all eyes (and prayers) have shifted to the BET Awards. We are in need of a proper Prince tribute. We don’t just deserve it – it is now owed to us. We all knew the above mentioned “tribute” would be trash (that’s probably why BET had their Prince-level shade cued up and ready to go),  but if you cast shade – YOU HAD BEST COME CORRECT. I have a tortured relationship with BET, but in this case, I’m rooting for you and I need you to be great. I’m here to help and I’m sure I’ve left some things out, but as one who’s been borderline obsessed with Prince for a majority of my adult life (I can neither confirm nor deny that if I lived within driving distance of Minneapolis that I wouldn’t have been a regular at Paisley Park), I want to share 3 quick points of encouragement and notes that may help you get on the right path.

  1. BET, you have all that you need to be great at this. This is the year of 2016, so far on track to be the one of the Blackest years ever. You have “Black” in your name. June is Black Music Month. It’s also Prince’s birth month. You have a ton of folks who want to right the grave injustice that other awards show has done to our people. You’ve been able to pull out our big names before – Prince and Stevie Wonder came to tribute Chaka KhanMJ came to tribute James Brown, Whitney showed up for the first broadcast, the list goes on. You’ve even done a Prince tribute before meaning YOU HAVE HIS BLUEPRINT (instrumentalists, black women vocalists, etc.). He applauded you for it now all you have to do is choose to stick to it.

1-a. [For once] We’re all rooting for you. – Again, I have been pretty vocal about my issues with BET, but I’ll admit that you’ve also given me juuuust enough to be cautiously optimistic. Lest we forget that bomb reggae medley in 2013 that I’m still adjusting my wig from…. you executed that perfectly… do yall see Nikki getting her entire life in the audience… what other awards show would that happen??? Then that Bad Boy reunion last year and now we’re being blessed with a whole damned tour. You have showed up right on time before and we need you to do it again.

1-b. You’ve pulled this off before with less notice. Listen, I’m still applauding the MJ tribute you all managed to pull off with just 2 DAYS NOTICE in 2010. (It should be noted 2010 was the same year you did your first Prince tribute.) Granted, it may be a little easier because you can pull off an MJ tribute by only featuring choreography, BUT you made a good call in bringing in Chris Brown. And I care not that he spent all of “Man In The Mirror” in tears. It was moving and we all know the words to that song anyway. Plus a light instrumental to one of MJ’s deepest, most meaningful songs, was moving on its own because it gave us room to reflect NOT JUST ON HIS ARTISTRY, but who he was as a humanitarian. It wasn’t just enough, it was great.

  1. “At the heart of the matter is the music. I am a musician.”–Prince, BET Tonight interview

This is likely where many tributes will fail. The focus should be on artistry and musicianship. Yes, Prince was an amazing performer. Yes, he had some great outfits, but what he was the most proud of and what he wanted to be remembered for is his music. THAT should be the focus which means that solid vocals, artists, and true musicians shouldn’t be sacrificed for dancers and performers in flashy outfits (I’m looking at you, Beyonce). We’ve seen many of these names before. Don’t be afraid to call in a few ringers and ol’ heads. If folks don’t know their names, they’ll learn ‘em. (in no particular order)

─       Esperanza Spalding

─       Janell Monae

─       Patti Labelle

─       Chaka Khan

─       Sheila E.

─       Larry Graham

─       Morris Day & The Time (don’t forget Jerome and The Bodyguards, please and thanks)

─       The Revolution (not just Lisa and Wendy, we need Brown Mark and Dr. Fink too)

─       3rd Eye Girl

─       Judith Hill

─       New Power Generation

─       Rosie Gaines (featured in Cream and Diamond and Pearls)

─       Alicia Keys (I have my own feelings about her rendition of Adore the last time, but Prince gave her props, so who am I to judge?? Imma judge tho…)

─       Bilal

─       Maxwell (pending song choice – Most Beautiful Girl In The World??)

─       Lenny Kravitz

─       Erykah Badu

─       Bruno Mars (pending song choice – Cream??)

─       Stevie Wonder (I think he should sit this one out, but that’s just me)

I mean I could go on, but you get the point, you have so many options. If in doubt, just stick with artists Prince has worked with, mentored, and/or performed with in the past.

2-a. THERE SHOULD BE NO LESS THAN 2 BLACK WOMEN IN THIS TRIBUTE. PERIOD.

2-b. Don’t rely on “big names”, you won’t need them. (See: reggae medley above) We don’t need fancy names, we need people who CAN DO THIS RIGHT.

2-c. Again, LEAVE BEYONCE OUT OF THIS. I know she will ask and I know there will be temptation, but no. No shade, just tea (see comment above re: staying in lanes). This is not the space for her and she rarely cares enough to show up to your show in person anyway. Let her give yall another YouTube stream of some track off of Lemonade, because THIS ain’t about her and her “I think I can vocals”.

2-d. NO NEW FRIENDS. Ordinarily, I’d be fine with giving a new artist some shine, but don’t set them up. This is too much pressure and if they slip we will destroy them. We’ve taken all of the hits we will accept from that trash “tribute”, we won’t take any more.

To be on the safe side, even if they don’t perform, get Sheila E., Morris, and ‘em to sign off on whatever yall end up with.

3)      3. Don’t be lazy with the Track List. Please don’t rely on the Purple Rain soundtrack – it’s a cop-out and it’s lazy. We will accept I Would Die 4 UWhen Doves Cry or maybe Purple Rain can be a musical instrumental with no vocals (see: Chris Brown’s MJ tribute notes above). He had so much more to pull from before and after that album: ControversyI Wanna Be Your LoverKissDiamonds and PearlsThe Most Beautiful Girl In The WorldMusicologyNothing Compares 2 UMy Name Is PrinceBlack SweatEmancipationI Wish You HeavenRaspberry BeretAdoreHousequake, etc. Don’t be stingy, we’re open to songs he wrote but maybe didn’t perform; I really don’t think he’d mind – The Vanguard Jam (NAACP Image Awards).

Personally, I’d love to hear Cream and Partyman, but this ain’t about me – what would he want?  The man released over 40 albums meaning you have more than the standard 8 songs to choose from. Suggestion: Closing with “The Beautiful Ones” would be ideal, thanks.

3-a. There should be a rock song in this tribute. He was a funk-rock artist, please honor that and don’t only focus on his RnB or Pop hits.

3-b. There should be a guitar spotlight in this tribute. He was a beast on the piano, but his guitar skills were what he was most proud of. He spoke often about how he taught himself to play and it took him years to play the way he wanted to. Whenever he jumped in to surprise and play back-up for folks, it was bass and/or electric guitar. And can we EVER forget this guitar solo that he destroyed??? Don’t be afraid of a Lenny Kravitz and Larry Graham duet. If you pick the right song, you can combine with point 3-a.

3-c. I’d like a strong horn section… because… why not? But optional.

4)      Additional Notes / Simple Shade / Me Being Petty

– Mayte and Manuela can be invited, but we will only tolerate one … ONE 5 second audience reaction shot from them. Keep them away from microphones and stages. No shade, but since when do exes get so much air time? We’ve heard enough from them.

[By the way, if you’re still reading this, round of applause – I’m impressed that you hung in there this long.] You may be thinking I’m being extra and you may be correct, but this is important… Dare I say critical? BET we want you to be great. PLEASE BE GREAT. What do you need us to do? Say some extra prayers? Don’t be afraid to take this one to the Altar – The Word says “lean not unto your own understanding”. Come on and let yourself be led by the Spirit BET. DO US PROUD.

Additional Notes for All You Other Award shows:

  •  MTV VMAs: Don’t be too proud to do a video montage of iconic Prince videos and performances. We’ll also accept an award in his name (not to be shared with David Bowie).
  • AMAs: A video montage of Prince’s AMA performances. If BET does what we need them to do – between that and the Paisley Park memorial, there won’t be much left for you anyway.
  • NAACP Image Awards: Musical performance tribute using whomever BET doesn’t use. Yall have so many examples, this should be easy for you. (NAACP Image Awards)
  • Grammy’s: A musical performance using whoever BET and NAACP doesn’t use. No new people, no big names for the sake of big names.
  • Oscar’s: A mention in “In Memorium” segment. Contact whomever you need to contact now so they can submit whatever paperwork is needed. We will accept NO excuses for Prince’s name being left out. He starred, produced, and/or directed at least 5 films, one of which he won an Oscar for meaning he at one time was a voting member of The Academy. This is not a drill, no excuses.
  • Golden Globes: See Oscar’s note above.
  • Any relevant Fashion Award Shows: Video Montage. We don’t need anything else from you.

To end on a high note and as a thank you to all who made it this far… bask in the awesomeness of The Purple One – #sigh this is who we lost L

#NothingCompares2U

21.Apr – { :: Dearly Beloved… :: } with Tina Nagbare

Osay.-2

I could not and will not allow this day to pass without acknowledging the loss of an icon. I don’t know what words I have for now, but I would like to send a shoutout and thank you to all of my friends and social media acquaintances for their calls, texts, inbox messages, and posts to notify and/or check in on me today. And to my co-workers who understood my grief – especially my staff member who ran around the office to find me when they learned the news, then called my phone twice while I was in a meeting, THEN sent me an email. <3
“Thinking about how we mourn artists we’ve never met. We don’t cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.”
Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows how much I love Prince. I randomly quote him on my social media, am known to comment via a shady Prince meme, and sometimes just a random post/rant reminding you all that your #fav could never and will never be on his level. I have 2 copies of Purple Rain that I watch regularly – one on VHS that a coworker got me this year for my birthday & one on DVD that I travel with because… one should have Purple Rain available when you find yourself in the mood to watch Purple Rain. Anything else is uncivilized. My room is accented in purple, and yes, my purple candle is burning as I type this.
Prince could be described a millions ways – some that many blogs, articles, and social media posts have already mentioned or will in the coming weeks and months. Outside of his artistry and genius he was a favorite of mine for 2 MAIN reasons:
(1) he was unapologetically himself. You didn’t have to like it or understand it. You could mock it or roll your eyes. But he stayed true to himself to the end – mini afro, glitter staff, kitten heels, and a purple bike included. And he was Black AF.
(2) He took his work and art seriously, but not himself. He knew how to be goofy and silly and he let us see it. Just do a search for his farewell to Bryant Gumbel or any hilarious story that other celebrities have about their Prince encounters or if you ever got to see him live – you saw it in person.
I don’t fan out over any artist or celebrity even those I truly admire or enjoy, with 2 exceptions – Prince and Sade. It was a life goal to see him live, which thankfully I did just a few weeks ago at one of his surprise shows in The Bay that I made it my business to be at and I’m glad that I did. That’s the only thing that makes this even slightly bearable. Who knows if this will ever truly register. But for now I shall handle my grief like a true Aquarius: go numb, pretend it didn’t happen, then eventually return to life as close to normal as possible.
Today, I’ll try to process this the way he’d want us to… https://youtu.be/T5YL9PNWIfI?t=7m28s      #RIPPurpleOne :’-(
“Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life
Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The after world
A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night
So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby
‘Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the after world
In this life
You’re on your own”

13.Jan – { The Final State of the Union } with Tina Nagbare

Osay.-2

Admittedly, this probably the laziest post I’ve ever written, but I’m working on not policing myself as much in 2016 and in general I think I’m funny (save your commentary for yourself).

So last night was the final State of the Union (SOTU) address that we will get from Pres. Barack Obama (POTUS) and I was sad about that. ‘Why?’ you ask? Because he’s the first President I’ve seen that has made these interesting. You may or may not like his politics, but you must concede that this man is charming, has charisma, and knows how to give an engaging speech with *just* the right amount of sarcasm and snark (2 things I enjoy the most). But also…. #Blackness. Yes, I said that. And yes, I mean it. So it shouldn’t be surprising that there were AfAms gathered across the country for SOTU Watch Parties – because Blacks will always throw a party. Why? Simple, we are good at it.
So I – in all of glorious Blackness – joined my fellow Bougie Black Comrades. We gathered. We introduced. We drank. We watch-partied. I must admit, I was expecting one of the Blackest Presidential moments in history. My dream was for POTUS to mimic Michael B. Jordan’s fight entrance in CREED, including wearing a hood (robe optional) and blasting 2Pac’s ‘Hail Mary’ in the background, but I guess that was asking for too much. Either way, below is my non-political commentary throughout POTUS’ address provided through a combination of my FB feed posts, live commentary, and random thoughts.
  • I expect shade. I expect petty. ‪#‎LehGo‬ LOL
  • 2ND line in…. Shade. ‪#‎StartedEarly‬ (Re: POTUS’ line about folks needing to get back to Iowa and his availability to give tips/advice.) 
  • Who’s church mother is this next to Jill Biden in her Easter outfit? I need answers. ‪#‎SOTU‬ (Luvvie provided them. Thanks!) <She looks like her middle name is ‘Mae’>
  • Paul Ryan REFUSES to allow his face to move. It’s like the GOP has banned any emotional reaction to anything the POTUS says.
  • ‪#‎ClimateControlShade‬ – “…If anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely.” lol”
  • 1. Income & Economic Equality; 2. Education; 3. Climate Change; NOW >> 4. Foreign Policy…. ‪#‎SOTU‬
  • OH!!!!! Now all the heads of the military wanna stand up???? #petty ‪#‎SOTU‬
  • GOP won’t even clap for shit they agree with. ‪#‎childish‬ ‪#‎WhySoPetty‬ ‪#‎SOTU‬ lol
  • ‪#‎AskOsamaBinLaden‬ ‪#‎ClapbackSeason‬ ‪#‎LASTSOTU‬
  • Aye! Ryan just gave us a head nod! This is progress. More than we’ve gotten in 8 years from Boehner.
  • #Message “It’s the lesson of Vietnam. it’s the lesson of Iraq and we should have learned it by now.” -POTUS ‪#‎SOTU‬
  • CSPAN has the shadiest camera men. Lmao! ‪#‎SOTU‬
  • “Did someone just yell ‘Preach’?” (I heard it…. I’m telling you I heard it.)
  • “Who is this lady standing in agreeance? This is not church ma’am.”
  • Who invited the anti-marriage equality lady? And why did they ONLY tell her to wear her absolute finest sweater from Ross Dress For Less? #shade
  • I mean…. I feel for Congress. this is like the LONGEST staff meeting ever. and you gotta do it once a year. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’ve dozed off once or twice. LOL ‪#‎SOTU‬
  • We just got a clap from Paul Ryan. This much progress in one evening… gives me hope.
  • “POTUS and Uncle Joe look like they’re going to have the greatest party ever when they leave that White House. And Jill will be with them…. never forget she wore knee boots to the first inauguration. That one knows how to party & I respect it.
  • We can’t take Trevor Noah ANYWHERE! #STOU
  • But the REAL winner of tonight…. With the fashionable slay…. ‪#‎FLOTUS‬ – you see her. Lol
  • I wanted POTUS to walk out with Back2Back playing in the background…‪#‎TooMuch‬ ??
Jokes aside…. I feel a level of responsibility in wrapping this up the right way. So allow me 2 quick points and then I’m gone.
  1. A friend brought up a REALLY great point which is that these responses to the State of the Union address need to stop and that is a note for BOTH sides. What is the point or the purpose in it? I mean really? That’s like the CEO giving an address on their vision for your company and then the Chairman of the Board of Directors saying, “That’s cute, but….”. Because really… I DON’T CARE. Because really I just want BOTH OF YALL to make sure my check comes through ON TIME. Whatever and however you need to work together to do it… make it happen. Your personal beefs and opinions… keep them.
  2. And also…. Nikki Haley. WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU, YOU NEED MORE PEOPLE. Every single time she uses that “child of immigrants in the South” line I cannot help but to roll my eyes. She looks like she’s been passing her whole life – rejected all of her melanin and her identity.SHE GOES BY NIKKI HALEY. Someone else said it best when they commented: And now for the Grand Old Party response from South Carolina Governor, Nimrata Randhawa, or as she now identifys, Nikki Haley.” That was shade in case you are wondering, but it is also fact. If you are trolling for POC, 1stGen, or immigrant votes – you will have to do better, ma’am. You deal with folks misspelling and verbally destroying your God-given name like the rest of us or I have no time for you and your antics.
If you missed the 2016 SOTU you can read POTUS’ full speech HERE or watch it on YouTube. Yes, it is long, but if this was some stripper’s Twitter tale of her weekend in Tampa on Twitter you’d make the time…. so make the time now.
But really FLOTUS slayed though. It is important to me that yall get that. Check her Evolution of Slay below/above/where ever he puts the picture… YOU SEE HER
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– Tina

7 Jan – { New Year, New Us Looking Mug }

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The writers here at Kennethology wanted to do something different than what we did last year “25 Things That Need to Stay in 2014” – and although we troll everyone that makes resolutions, we felt the need to share ours for this year of great expectations.

Osay.-2

From Tina:

1. To be petty as possible. This is an enhancement on last year’s midyear goal to give up being the bigger person. i’m not making an intentional decision to be as petty as humanely possible at my own discretion.
2. I resolve to not give white folks a break. i’mm burn a candle for your tears.
3. Say no to fkc boys. (As noted last year, this is a lifelong recurring rule)
— this year… I shall also terrorize them. Because…. See #1
4. Be better with my money. And by be better I mean – spend it how I want even if that means I blow $200 on tacos. Shut up. Lol
5. I resolve to force Kenneth to fix his fkcing memory. It got worse last year. How that is possible… Only the devil knows.
photo-4
From Sydney:
1.  I resolve to kick more small children that I see wylin the fawk out in grocery stores. If their parents won’t discipline them, I feel it is my duty to step in. I might even buy a cape. No mask though. I want them to remember my face. No Child Left Without their Behind whooped. Selah.
2.  I resolve to hold my purse tighter around white men and to yell “Unclean” and point at then whilst doing it. You know…to be fair. I like fair.
3.  I resolve to eat more animals. All things that had a parent. I’m trying to build lean muscle and most wild animals are great in protein. I know most vegetarians and vegans will place 1000 poxes on my house for this, which is fine, as long as they also are high in protein.
4.  Lastly, I resolve to break every mirror in Ken’s house, including his phone. He still takes too many selfies and I blame these drunk ass mirrors who keep pumping his already monstrous head up. We get it muffoccur, you swole. Shit
Tina’s commentary on Sydney’s resolution:  “Maybe because his memory sucks…. And he forgets that he just took a selfie 5 mins ago. Like goldfish…”
Sydney’s response to Tina’s commentary on her resolution:  “Dude. He stay on selfie lol

Blowing me. Nobody forgot how you looked. ‘Cept maybe your bad memory having ass…”
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From Kenneth:  
1.  Take way more selfies – the people need to know how I look.  I know I have a John Salley-Miguel Nunez type face…but I’ve learned to love this long face – and I want others to love it too.  Trust me, the people want this.
2.  Get more sleep that is not induced by ZzzQuil – even though on the bottle it says it’s non-habit forming…what I find is addictive is the sleep that comes from the drug…but NOT the drug itself…so I’m good.
3.  Wear way more black.
4.  Sculpt a Michael B. Jordanesque type body…Kenny Creed what they call me.  I would join a boxing gym and box…but the notion of sparring and someone knocking me out might get them shot.  Because black-on-black violence.
5.  Seek clinical help regarding my horrific memory.  It has gotten worse – and it’s to the point i barely even care.  I don’t remember and I don’t care…which is horrible.
6. Not only listen to more – but actually embody the essence of the ratchet music I listen to.
– Kenneth

16.Aug – { “Hell You Talmbout” – The Question/Song of a Movement } with Tina Nagbare

Osay.-2

I was living and minding my own business on Thursday when Janelle Monáe blessed us with a new track out of nowhere. In case you missed it I’m talking about “Hell You Talmbout”. If you haven’t heard it yet, I invite to pause for a moment and go listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/wondalandarts/hell-you-talmbout

No really, I’ll wait. Go listen. https://soundcloud.com/wondalandarts/hell-you-talmbout

I’m a fan of Janelle Monáe, but this isn’t just about my fandom (she’s awesome though) – how does she do this? Why does she do this to us? I’m still trying to recover from “Yoga”.

There has been a lot of talk about Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” being the song of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I’m not fighting that, but it’s never really resonated with me in that way. I needed something more – something to evoke fight in me when I got tired and not a ‘feel good’ song. Then my girl Janelle showed up right on time. Oh! let me count the ways…

1. Title.
The name of the track is “Hell You Talmbout”. I actually just stared at it for several moments to process and eventually just nodded my head in agreement. I get it. Off top, she’s letting you know she doesn’t have the time. It’s not even a real question, it’s rhetorical. It’s a question that you ask with a screw face because you’re letting the person know you already don’t believe their answer. Why? Because we already know what you’re going to say won’t make sense. It’s actually in your best interest to acknowledge that the question was asked, but not attempt to answer it. Just stand there in silence and accept judgment. Kind of like when your mom asks you if ‘you’ve lost your mind’, but you don’t actually answer because you know better – an answer will only escalate the situation.

AND the phrase is written and said in the African-American Vernacular (some of you call it Ebonics) as if to say, no one gives a d**n about you and your proper English. She’s not here for your respectability politics, but we knew that when she told us to “get off my areola”, right? LOL! Unashamedly Black. PS: That’s STILL the greatest line I’ve ever heard sung.

2. Lyrics.
Ok, so I get past the title and the track starts (music and melody will be addressed next). The entire track is simply calling the names of those who have been slain at the hands of various levels of law enforcement and there are so many reasons why this is important.

a. No one was expecting this because…. how could we?

2) She has clearly aligned herself with the #BlackLivesMatter movement – on the slight chance there was any question. #SayHerName / #SayHisName has been one of the main campaigns of the movement to acknowledge that people of color are not just statistics or media headlines, but also people. They are full, entire human beings with families, friends, life goals, emotions, failures, ambitions, etc. and their humanity matters even in death – say their names. Those names…. those lives matter. Don’t forget that and ask yourself why there are so many names to be said.

 

And the *way* the names are said… with unexplainable levels of passion, exhaustion, and desperation. Is it just me or do the background vocals on the hook sound like the chorus of an old negro spiritual?? No? Just me being extra? Ok, fine.

iii. Context – She took me out by saying Emmitt Till. I wasn’t expecting that. By acknowledging that this is not merely current event content for our 24hr news cycles or add-ons to campaign reporting, she is reinforcing the message that these conditions of government-sanctioned abuse on Black bodies are the norm that Black people have been living under for generations. And like the race riots of the late 60s, we’re tired of it. The acknowledgement from Emmett Till to Sandra Bland is powerful. This is no new news, the struggle continues. That awakened something in me.

3. Melody.
Life. I got life from this track. I’m not a musician (unless 3 years of piano lessons counts for something), but I can recognize certain elements in how this song was composed and produced. And the first thing I heard was the drum. War drums were used for centuries in battle. It was a part of the communication system for troops and they were also used to let the soldiers know they were marching into battle and to help keep the pace. But the African in me loves a good drum. Drums are very an important symbol in African culture and they are present at practically every important event and/or celebration. We have celebration drums, talking drums, drums used in healing ceremonies, drums for rites of passage, drums to represent royalty, drums used in worship….. Listen… Africans love a dance ceremony and we love drums. I won’t lie; it took me a minute to even get past the drums and hear the rest of the song because there was something in that drumbeat that my body responded to immediately. Like performing a dance that pays homage to departed loved ones or that acknowledge the ancestors at the beginning of a ceremony. A dance that originates from deep in one’s spirit – from a place of reverence and respect. A dance that causes your body to move without you even noticing. This song activated that part within me – my African roots – almost immediately. And the more I listened to it, the more it gave me Fela Kuti type vibes. I like it.

THEN when I finally heard the HBCU marching band feel of the song I was done. I got all the feels. There is no mistaking there is something in this composition that links it back to African and/or African-American culture. I don’t even have words for it, just pure genius.

Well, this is it. This is what I was looking for – a battle song. A song that pulls from, as one person said, “deep in your spirit”. As far as I’m concerned Janelle Monáe has provided us with the protest song of the #BlackLivesMatter movement because it captures the rebelliousness, resilience and unapologetic attitude of our generation. This for me is our “We Shall Overcome” or better our “Strange Fruit”. But don’t worry, just like there are several songs associated with the Civil Rights Movement, there’s a place for “Alright” in our playlists as well. “Hell You Talmbout” just blows it out the water. #SorryNotSorry 🙂

*******************

Janelle Monáe’s statement about the song: 

“This song is a vessel. It carries the unbearable anguish of millions. We recorded it to channel the pain, fear, and trauma caused by the ongoing slaughter of our brothers and sisters. We recorded it to challenge the indifference, disregard, and negligence of all who remain quiet about this issue. Silence is our enemy. Sound is our weapon. They say a question lives forever until it gets the answer it deserves… Won’t you say their names?”
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4.July – { “…with liberty and justice for all.”‎ } by Tina Nagbare

Osay.-2

Happy 4th of July folks.

I only say Happy 4th, you won’t catch me using its formal name – as a form of silent protest. You see, “Independence Day” doesn’t really mean much to Black Americans because it is a reminder that while the Founding Fathers were signing a document that states,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equalthat they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,”

… their property was being tended to by slaves who were likely suffering from PTSD after somehow surviving (1) having their own liberty snatched from them as they were dragged from their homes, (2) being carelessly and viciously separated from their families, and (2) ‎the horrors of The Middle PassageAwkward And don’t even get me started on what this holiday must represent for Native Americans… But there I go “making everything about race” again… So today I along with my fellow Blacks will go ahead and take this “vacation” day in honor of our ancestors and use it as an excuse to eat, drink, & be merry. (See how I managed to end that on a happier note?)

Since the 4th doesn’t mean much more than the occasional 3 day weekend to me, I use it to binge watch TV shows and movies. And currently I’m working on getting through “Orange Is The New Black”. No, not season 3 – the whole series. I know, I know – I’m late to the movement, but I don’t have Netflix because I chose cable. (Respect my freedom of choice, thanks.) In the past few weeks I’ve made it through Season 1 and am now pushing my way through Season 2.

Initially, I said I was going to stop after Season 1‎. Why would I do such a foolish thing? Because I don’t enjoy the show; I don’t hate it – I just don’t enjoy it. It’s not a bad show, it has solid storylines and character development, but honestly – Piper is annoying AF. Like….#bruh…. she really annoys me (shoutout to Taylor Shilling by the way for her amazing acting… because I think I hate her in real life and that means that she is acting the s**t out of that role). Anyway, Season 1 ended on a cliff hanger and I needed to see what happened and then the Season 2 Premiere made me realize 2 things:

 

  1. I legit cannot stand Piper. How could she NOT see Alex was setting her up again?!? You chose to trust HER?!? The same “her” that snitched on you and got you thrown in jail over an 8yr beef then promptly lied to you about said snitching followed y some self-righteous speech when you called her on it. I mean, this isn’t street smarts is it? Isn’t it common sense to NOT trust a person like that? (The show has been out for about 3yrs so eff you and your spoiler alert complaints.)
  2. This show is depressing AF which is why I *have* to watch it. Though dramatized for our enjoyment, we should all understand that at least 80% of what we see on this show is a true representation of our prison system and how it works. I’m watching how these prisoners are treated & how their humanity is disregarded and I am horrified. Mind you, I’ve read up on America’s justice and prison systems so I heard how bad it can be…..  and this is a women’s prison…. a minimum-securityone… in upstate NY. I don’t even want to imagine what a day at Rikers might look like in comparison. And then learning their backstories…. Depressing AF.
  • I mean look at Taystee – who ended up in prison despite all of her efforts to live on the straight and narrow why because she grew up trapped in the system (orphaned) and just wanted stability and a family. AND THEN when she was granted parole she ended up right back in prison basically on a technicality and since she had nowhere to sleep (remember: orphan) prison actually seemed like the better option.
  • Or Watson who is serving years because she basically started dating the wrong guy and he convinced her to do something stupid.
  • And Piper who even with her privilege is in prison though she never saw her day in court because a DA scared her into taking a plea bargain deal.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t have been held accountable for their actions, but this show reminds me that sometimes “convicts” are just people who made a bad choice AND got caught. They are still people. Needless to say, I’ve even more critical of our “justice” system now and I didn’t even know that was possible.

‎And then I wonder how many of you are watching this show simply for entertainment and not as a critique on our society. I mean this was one of author’s goals in writing her story – to raise awareness on what happens behind bars and get more people interested in prison reform. Much in the same way The Wire (one of THE best shows to ever be on television) was meant to show us how our institutions repeatedly fail those living in poverty and in doing so promote the violence they claim to be working to prevent. Piper has since become a prison reform advocate… have you?

But then I recall all of the popular, public commentary as Baltimore was burning. So many of you (including those loyal watchers of The Wire) were shocked and confused at the response of Baltimore’s citizens who were beyond tired of being oppressed… despite watching for 5 seasons on HBO. Because you fell in love with the show’s characters, but forgot about the people those characters represent. These shows aren’t just entertainment and just because you can pause, fast forward, and rewind at your leisure that doesn’t mean that the story ends when you hit stop or when the season is over. These stories represent someone’s lived experiences.‎ When you watch them you should enjoy it and be entertained, but don’t let that distract you from the true message. Our country feels chaotic right now because too many people do not have liberty or justice and this is not how our country is supposed to work. At least not according to our Founding Fathers.

And THAT is why this show is so damned depressing and painful for me to watch, but it is also why I MUST watch it. Because as a citizen of this nation I have the right to celebrate its successes AND critique/challenge its failures and then demand that we do better. That is what a true and responsible ‎patriot would do… expect their country to live up to its founding principles and be the best we believe it can be. And so… as we celebrate in our own way today, we should also take time to reflect on what it will take to make sure we each have the courage to be that kind of patriot.

Enjoy your 4th.

2.July – { :: A Daily Reminder on Microaggressions :: } by Tina Nagbare

Osay.-2

Happy 2nd half of 2015!

On behalf of the {blog.squad}, I apologize for our silence. We haven’t been blogging, but we’ve been in these social media streets (and sometimes the real ones) fighting the good fight for social justice and educating folks – sometimes against their will. #shrug Plus, we have grown up jobs and yall don’t pay us – so we’ll write when we want. No excuses, just….. life. But here we are! We’re back & we missed you too 🙂

I’m going to start us off light as we get re-acclimated with each other….

:: Me eavesdropping at the car wash ::

African-American (AfAm) Man: “Aye Man! You African or something?!?” (with a voice volume that is 3 notches higher than anyone needed it to be to a Black man dressed in traditional attire)

African Man (with a solid African accent): “Yes, I am.”

AfAm Man: “Where you from?”

African Man: “South Africa.” (obviously already annoyed with this conversation)

AfAm Man: “Oh! Where the white people are from!….” (with confidence… he said this with joy and confidence)

:: Me *extreme side-eye & a deep sigh* ::

AfAm Man: “….I was gonna say man, I thought you was from Ghana or something.”

African Man: *forced polite smile*

:: Me: *thinks* “How TF do you know what Ghanaians vs. South Africans ‘look like’?” ::

AfAm Man: (still un-necessarily loud) “… nah ‘cause I was gonna say you look like that man… Nelson Mandela. That’s a compliment right?!?”

:: Me: *fights urge to flip table* (PS: the African man bears about a 10% resemblance to Nelson Mandela) ::

African Man: “Thank you *another forced smile…*… by the way there’s not just white people in South Africa…”

:: Me: *(fed up) exits gas station* :: 

Ladies & Gentlemen, what we have here is a lesson on microaggression. (Author’s Note: It’s important here to remember there are at least 4 recognized levels of microaggression: microassault, microinsult, microinvalidation, microrape. You’re welcome.) I see the wonder and confusion in your face and Yes, microaggressions aren’t just about race, they can be in reference to gender, culture, religion, etc., etc. AND MOST IMPORTANLY no one gets a pass. I don’t care if you are a member of an oppressed group or not. So let me give you the 2 things that stuck out to me in this moment.

  1. I wonder if African Americans understand how annoying and frustrating this is for you to see an African dressed in traditional attire and then begin to make assumptions about us (Nationality, etc.). The African-American had no ill intent, he was attempting to be cordial and nice & foster a sense of community while paying a compliment, however saying that that man looked like Nelson Mandela was the African equivalent to “all Black people look alike”.
  1. His assumption was even more annoying because it was based on (a) apparently NO knowledge of where Nelson Mandela is from or (b) any knowledge of the continent of Africa period. Saying to a Black South African that you know South Africa as ‘where the white people come from’ is infuriating because you are sharing that your entire knowledge of the country is based on the worst lived experience for Black South Africans (apartheid), which no one wants a reminder of. [PS: Like pretty much EVERY country in Africa the original inhabitants were Black (i.e. before colonization / when White Europeans attempted to rape and destroy an entire continent because… they wanted to).] Iwas pissed at that comment and I’m not even South African. #solidarity

Seriously, it was hard to silently struggle and cope with my fellow African in this moment. It was painful to watch my fellow African have to smile and push through that interaction with grace the same way African-Americans complain about pushing through microaggressions with White people and to watch my fellow African-American continue to dig that hole deeper and deeper. I know *should* have said something, but I was seriously in shock at what was happening and I couldn’t find any words. It was like watching an accident happen in slow motion and not being able to stop it. Personally, I’d hit my limit and chose to exit the conversation and in doing so I missed an opportunity to educate and help the interaction end on a positive note. And as an activist I know better because I know how important it is to “Say Something,” I disappointed myself.

And I’ll acknowledge that I *could* be reaching – it may not be a microaggression, but at the VERY LEAST it was insensitive because I can assure you that interaction was NOT a positive experience for the African man. Sadly, that AfAm man lacked complete awareness of social cues and the ability to read body language so he didn’t even know what he was doing. Either way, it is a nice reminder that we ALL need to be more conscious of this things that come out of our mouths. Because I know that AfAm man walked away from that conversation excited and the African man walked away probably thinking something unkind about AfAms. #SMH

…another blow to African / African-American relations. L