Serena is a gawd.

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“Society” has got things twisted: water recalls for potential E. coli contamination; real outrage over the symbolic removal of a loser flag (just one of them); the preposterous, lengthy due process for a terrorist who confessed to his crimes; cyber hacks that refuse to delete outstanding student loans; phallic leaks that are never in our fantasies and lastly an article released seventeen hours ago by a New York newspaper.

The article is about body image. What a girl, what a woman should look like. And it’s written by a man. The quiet insinuation is that Serena does not deserve her win because she’s too athletic, built like a man. The appropriation in the article is silly.

“Because I’m a girl” or “because, first of all, she’s a woman, and she wants to be a woman.” The implications that Serena is not a woman and was not a girl are so disrespectful. The talking about her without talking about her is cowardice. It’s ugly “journalism.”

This perverted world better wipe off its rose-colored lenses and realized its concept of beauty is defunct. No woman is the same. No athlete is the same, man or woman. Your hollow definition of femininity can’t even begin to encapsulate the voluminosity that is the black woman.

Don’t believe me check the shadows and selfies of the Kardashian sisters. Reference Rachel Dolezal. How about this, you stay lily white and she’ll be the ebony bombshell that you envy for more than her agility.

This is what I know. Serena Williams is a walking inspiration. She demonstrates great integrity and sportswomanship. It is clear that she trains and works hard so that when the day comes to compete she’s prepared. The idea that this little girl from Compton could set goals and accomplish them in ways unfathomable to those on the other side of the fence; is to be commended, celebrated, and honored.

The world is afraid of that kind of dominance. It’s why First Lady Michelle Obama doesn’t receive the respect that she deserves. It’s why Oprah still runs into feats of racism. The world is afraid of a black woman that has her shit together.  Society is terrified of a black woman that is unapologetically fierce. The world is frightened of a black woman that loves herself. So, it beats her up, calls her out of her name and refuses to give her props without inapt think pieces. As if Serena is some science project that’s infiltrating the tennis world.

I can’t because she’s real.  Her curves are real. Her strength is real. It’s not even about being better or your acceptance. It’s about silence. Be quiet. The intent of the article was mostly likely not malicious, however, the execution was elementary at best. The idea that you can address the insecurities of body image by comparing women body shapes to one another is ignorant. Discussing exercise regimen, nutrition and self-love would have been a more sound approach—even then, that’s not enough because women are consistently bombarded with unrealistic expectations and patriarchal media fed desires. Fitness is key and each player has their own personal requirements. Their own personal best.

Real recognize real. If you can’t see Serena Williams for what she is, maybe you’re fraudulent.

Goddess. Beast mode. G’d up. Force to be reckoned with. Black woman magic.

We see you, Serena! Shine on!

Serendipity.

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Dear Lupe Fiasco,

Why aren’t you shielding Azealia Banks? Is it because her English is too broken? Is it because she chose to raise her spears up toward her arch nemesis, your forbidden fruit? These are the questions I asked myself as I listened to “Mural,” with an ear that has been chasing an orgasm since “The Cool.”

I listened to that track, my soul felt full. It was the feeling it had as my sisters and I dropped everything to experience you in concert, adjacent from the Fisher Building years ago. We bobbed our heads and recited lyrics like scriptures with babies sitting on our shoulders. I had hoped for a long and prosperous relationship. I’m still waiting on Gemini to drop; no lie. Still.

A curse of the Hip Hop community is the debate of relevance and lyricism. Most of us have fallen into the trap of counting if said bank account has more than several zeros in front the decimal point. Oddly, given the fact, that Hip Hop arose out of the silence, brought on by societal, generational ills. POVERTY. But somehow, now if you ain’t got no money, inherently you should know to shut the F up. The irony of the creator of “Bitch Bad” referring to a young, black woman as an emotional bitch is oxymoronic. As humans, we’re layered. We’re like onions. You can hate liars and still be a cheater. Such is the complexity. But he has little sisters. That’s what he told Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg, when discussing the creation of the song. Are complexities defined by being unlike Farrakhan?

Firstly, the idea that one should be emotionless or that there is a minimum of emotion one should exert in spite of the classification of being human is absurd. Often times affection is slung around during an altercation with a woman to utterly and completely dismiss any thoughts of hers. Secondly, to believe that woman’s ability to express her emotions is anything other than her strength is preposterous. Lastly, to add that antiquated defense mechanism to virtual perpetuity is an exercise in futility.

The royal mistake, that many artists make, is that they discuss their differences and concerns on social media.  There are some great debaters, however, intention is often more debatable than the subject at hand. Given even the most talented learns a good jig, was such a conversation instigated solely to manipulate records sales? If the purpose is genuine, it would be nice if Lupe Fiasco and Azealia Banks could converse with each other offline with a candy dish full of liquorice. Thus, creating a platform for partnership to which Lupe the older cat can assist Azealia Banks in spreading the knowledge to her generation. You might find Azealia Banks picture next to the word braggadocio but she got mad flow with sublime originality.

Lupe’s album dropped on January 20, 2015. The first track I listened to was “Mural” and I thought Jesas; yes, this is what I’ve been waiting to, here again. The two should collaborate. That sort of high caliber of Hip Hop is worth arguing about, is worth mending fences for. Honestly, I believe ever word of “delivery” and “Haile Selassie,” so much that a duet would be application at its finest.

To the naked eye, it’s loud, emotional, spicy, mean and reckless. It’s a shaky process. Not to mention there is something that is birthed once the veil has been lifted. Whatever you want to call it, Azealia Banks has it.

Just in case you think I’m a Lupe hater, I wrote this review in 2008.

I just wish we had more allies.

John Legend & Common “Glory”

Glory: it will be ours.

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There’s something unnerving and all too familiar about the way Ava DuVernay manages to capture the supposed intimate moments between Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, in “Selma.” Who of us have not had those sad yet all too real, gut-wrenching conversations with said black man as a black woman? Not necessarily one’s prompted by the FBI attempting to assassinate your character long before they leave you for dead; but the conversations when nervous laughter brought on by the comfort of humor when discussing the inevitability of death in the African American community.

One’s death is not necessarily always honorable, of martyrdom or “taken by hatred.” Unfortunately, survival is not always obtained through righteous means. These are my initial thoughts, within the first 26 minutes of the film. We’re so acquainted with death regardless of its non-discriminatory nature—us darker in hue. There’s an uneasiness the black women have as her man/husband/lover walks out of the door. No different than the anxiety she feels as her sons, her uncles, father or any other male relative or friend does the same. These days such angst is heightened because of the all telling, immediate nature of social media. I’ve always questioned, how did Coretta do it with such grace? DuVernay has profoundly illustrated not only the fear that taunts but also the strength of the black woman. Her part in the civil rights movement, her full body, mind, and spirit on the front lines by highlighting the roles of Diane Nash (Tessa Thompson) and Amelia Boyton (Lorraine Toussaint). The conversation between Amelia and Coretta before Coretta is to speak with Malcolm X spoke best to those that are tired of such movies about slavery, about the Civil Rights era. It is important to know that, to teach that we survived our story, our lives because of whence we came. Boyton explains to Coretta that she’s ready because of our heritage, our lineage. “[We] are already prepared.”

DuVernay did a very good job of showing how often the young’uns clashed with the old folk and the old folks bumped heads with the youths. The conversations between SNCC member’s, John Lewis (Stephan James) and James Forman (Trai Bryer) showed a difference in thought much like that of King and X. However, after Bloody Sunday it was clear that all ideologies led to the same river. DuVernay had a keen eye at authenticating the joint efforts of the Civil Rights era, as well the march in Selma. It is often overshadowed by King’s notoriety. There are key scenes with Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Civil Rights attorney Fred Gray, André Holland as Andrew Young. Other noteworthy and instrumental individuals are James Bevel (Common), Ralph Abernathy (Colman Domingo), Cager Lee (Henry G. Sanders), Jimmie Lee Jackson (Keith Stanfield), Bayard Rustin (Ruben Santiago-Hudson), Richie Jean Jackson (Niecy Nash), James Orange (Omar J. Dorsey), Viola Liuzzo and Annie Lee Cooper. Cooper played by none other than Oprah Winfrey. Historically, she is known as for standing up to Sheriff Jim Clark by punching him after Clark billy clubbed her in the neck. Aisha Coley brilliantly selected Nigel Thatcher as the movie’s Malcolm X. David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo are seamless to the spirits of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King.

I can’t help but think of how the marchers felt when the troopers withdrew on the second day out, the day before the white clergymen and others joined the march in solidarity. DuVernay answered my questions with the next scene. I love directors that are in tuned with the simplicity of human nature and the complexity of the human mind. She clearly studies the human condition and offers an honest assessment. What I have learned from Ava DuVernay’s visualization of yesterday is that steadfast knows no age or generation. If you want freedom, one cannot allow fear or danger to keep you hidden in atrophy—and then, call that life. They assassinated Malcolm X because he empowered us. He was for the betterment of black folks. But it is clear now (to me) that they assassinated Dr. King because he had the power to persuade others that we too, are humans. “Our society has distorted who we are.”

It can be argued that Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) was chosen as President Kennedy’s running mate, solely to pacify the South. Before July 14, 1960, Kennedy and Johnson were rivals. Johnson was from Texas. Johnson became President after the untimely and tragic death of the president. Johnson didn’t have Robert F. Kennedy, a forward thinker, as a brother or campaign manager. “Prejudice exists and probably will continue to … but we have tried to make progress and we are making progress. We are not going to accept the status quo,” Bobby said in 1968. Thus, Johnson’s sluggish haste toward inaction is understandable. It also forced his hand and gave those in the trenches renewed diligence. Progress must be taken because it is not guaranteed.  This movie is relevant because those marches are still happening, confronting many ills. Sadly, much hasn’t changed. That’s what Ava sees, at least I think so.

Do they ever wonder what it must feel like to have to prove you are human too?

Jussie Smolett “Good Enough”

Empire.

You know what Fifty don’t got, Taraji P. Henson. And she’s worth more than a dollar.

Spice is an aromatic or pungent substance used to add flavor. Taraji is a spice. I don’t know what to call the spice. I know that it’s black and goes good with everything. Empire is a tale of a modern family, minus the suburbs a la musical drug kingdoms.

Or was it a queendom?

Cookie (Henson) and Lucious, played by Terrence Howard has three sons; who all will seek claim to their families musical dynasty. Each son has his own unique talent and/or business acumen as well as estranged relationship with their parents.

I haven’t watched a pilot episode in a long time that was this engaging. In less than 30 minutes, I was persuaded into watching episode two. Most times it takes three episodes, to hook me.

It has the finesse and trimmings of black culture, but not completely as we expect. It has themes fit for Shakespeare and new age drama with material that will become viewer’s guilty, juicy obsession. I can see critics already speaking on lack of originality and how Hip Hop doesn’t sell—better known as there’s no market for blackness. But they’ll watch it.

Fox’s “Empire” is co-created by Lee Daniels (“Precious” and “The Butler”) and Danny Strong (“The Butler” and “Hunger Games: Mockingjay”). Malik Yoba is back on the small screen. Timbaland is the shows songwriter and song producer. The cast has its share of up and coming actors such as Trai Bryers, Bryshere Gray and Jussie Smollett.

Brilliantly, we get to pick sides. Do you want Cookie to prevail or Lucious?

My money is on Taraji.

larger than life

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“It’s OK” by Tom Rosenthal

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