For my fellow black millennials, we rank The Proud Family as one of the best cartoons of our childhood. Disney Channel had seen nothing like it before, and it definitely hasn't seen anything like it since. In 2001 during its first season, the show aired an episode surrounding Kwanzaa. It featured a crop of guest stars including Vivica A. Fox, Samuel L. Jackson and Raven-Symoné, who appeared as members of a homeless family. While Christmas shopping at the mall, the Prouds come in contact with this family in need, who is asking for help outside of the mall. They track them down and invite them to their house for Christmas dinner. When they come over, the Prouds realize they don't celebrate Christmas, but Kwanzaa. The homeless family's culture clashes with the Prouds, from being conservative when it comes to money, to being vegan to much more. Over the course of the week, both families are able to learn from each other. However, when the Prouds return to look for the family at the homeless shelter, they have no record of the family existing, and they now appear as a white family as they are able to help. Since this was such an epic episode of the series and in the spirit of Kwanzaa, here's why The Proud Family's "Seven Days of Kwanzaa" is required viewing: We learned the principles/days of Kwanzaa, one by one.Don't think this episode was a crash course in Kwanzaa. We got the real deal, going through each principle for each of the seven days of Kwanzaa –Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani. It had the perfect dose of history lessons and comic relief.We got the typical hijinks from the likes of Oscar, Bobby and Suga Mama, but we also got serious talk about what Kwanzaa really means, and the importance of being kind and understanding to others. It discussed social issues and showed a different type of black family than we saw on the network.Most black-centric shows on the Disney Channel like That's So Raven and The Proud Family featured presumably middle class families. In this episode, we are introduced to Margaret, Joseph and Stephanie, a homeless family. In a day and age where we are seeing lots of different interpretations and iterations of the black family on television, it was refreshing to see this in the early 2000s on Disney, at network that typically didn't do as well in this area, It dispelled the myth that Christmas and Kwanzaa can't be celebrated together.There seems to be this common fallacy that you must celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa all separately. This is absolutely false. Not to mention the fact that Kwanzaa is a non-religious, secular holiday anyway. We saw the Prouds indulge in the holiday traditions of both Christmas and Kwanzaa, debunking all your irrational myths. At this point, if you haven't watched "The Seven Days of Kwanzaa," what are you doing!? Photo: GiphyLoving Blavity's articles? Sign up for our daily...
Remember the Halloween episode of black-ish when Dre's (Anthony Anderson) unrefined cousin June Bug (Michael Strahan) came to visit? His stay was met with a mixed bag of emotions for Dre as he recalled their tumultuous past and the completely different paths the two had taken into adulthood. Like with most cousins, the relationship is either extremely strong or rather complicated. Your family ties become most apparent during the holidays and family reunions.
When you see your cousins, you both greet each other as so.
Because ya'll love cutting up together at family gatherings.
But any other time of the year..
Photo: popkey.co While you're excited to see your cousins, who are like your extended brothers and sisters, you know they come with a whole heap of mess and remember why you keep your interactions at a minimum. Below is a list of definitive characteristics for every cousin that can be found in any family.
1. The cousin who used to slang (probably still does), but has a good heart and always gives you great life advice.
2. The cousin who you can't leave your purse around.
3. The cousin fresh off line who just crossed and came decked out in their letters.
Photo: A Different World
4. The cousin who is always opening up a business or planning to start a new venture.
5. The cousin who brings a new significant other to the table every year so you gotta be careful you don't call this year's flame, last year's name.
6. The cousin who thinks they’re the next patriarch/matriarch of the family so they always try to do jobs that are reserved for elders. (Say grace, carve the turkey, etc.)
7. The cousin that always makes the best church punch so you rejoice when she pulls ginger ale and Kool-Aid packets out her purse.
8. The cousin always making a million to-go plates and didn't chip in one cent on the meal.
9. The little one that stays in grown folk business.
10. The cousin who is a professional student and is always acting brand new.
Photo: ABC / Blackish
11. The cousin whose ball dreams were deflated so he talks over the game the entire time providing unnecessary commentary.
Photo: Boyz n the Hood
12. The cousin who thinks they're too good to learn how to play spades (half-sister to cousin #8).
13. The cousin whose kids run all over the house spilling stuff so you understand why your grandma had plastic on her couch back in the day.
14. The cousin always begging for vegan options and counting calories the entire meal (doesn't get along with cousin #13).
15. The cousin who normally doesn't mess with this side of the family during the year but only came over because ya'll have cable and he needs to catch the Bayou Classic.
16. The cousin you can't trust to not burn the rolls so y'all put her on "watch duty" to make sure she keeps an eye on the kids so they don't come in the kitchen.
17. The Hotep cousin who tells you you're glorifying "the white man's holiday."
18. The cousin who erased everybody off Facebook and is trying their best to deflect attention from questions about what they're trying to hide online.
19. The cousin who made your grandma's cake fall in '92 and is still the black sheep of the family because of it.
20. The cousin who never had kids but is always telling everyone else how to raise theirs.
Last..but not least.
21. Cousin Faith.
Photo: Soul Food
How your aunt lurks in the corner every year trying to keep busy and stay way from the sharp objects.
You watching all of the mess unfold, waiting on someone to tell you that you're adopted.
Sike! It doesn't matter. You love them and wouldn't trade your family for the world.
Photo: Imgur Be ye not deceived. You are one of these folks to somebody. Cousining is an equal opportunity relationship for dysfunction.
How your cousins probably look at you every year.
Which cousin(s) on this list belong on your family tree? Tell us in the comments!
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Whether you're at an ugly Christmas sweater party with friends or celebrating at your grandma's house, whoever the designated DJ is for the night is bound to have soulful, R&B holiday songs on the playlist. If you're in charge of compiling the tracks, but it's been a while since last Christmas and you can't remember which ones are best, I've got you covered!1. "The Christmas Song" - Nat King ColeWhile it's the oldest masterpiece on this playlist, "The Christmas Song" is definitely the most iconic. Many have added their vocal creativity to the song, but there is no other that can compare to the warmth one feels upon hearing Nat King Cole's version, that is perhaps older than many of our own parents. And if you forget the name of the song, you'll never forget the words.2. "8 Days of Christmas" - Destiny's Child
3. "Let It Snow" - Boyz II Men & Brian McKnightIf you aren't bumping this all the way in early November on your holiday playlist, you're the true epitome of the Grinch. Nothing gets me in the Christmas mood more than hearing Boyz II Men and Brian McKnight serenade my ears in one of the most popular holiday classics to date.4. "This Christmas" - Donny Hathaway AND Chris Brown No matter the genre, from rock n' roll to soul, just about every musical artist at some point has covered this joyful classic. In my opinion, no one does a better job than no other than the original, Donny Hathaway, and a young Chris Brown, who sang a rendition of the song for the holiday family dramedy titled after the song, This Christmas. 5. "Someday at Christmas" - Stevie WonderStevie Wonder's music has always had a way of stopping us in our tracks and turning our ears. The wonderful songs that he has recorded lives with us through the generations. This holiday melody is no different. Whereas most Christmas tunes invite us to revel in spending time with family and opening presents, Wonder reminds us to remember the reason for the season and make one of the most memorable holiday wishes of all: peace on earth. 6. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - The Jackson 57. "All I Want for Christmas" - Mariah CareyJust about every year, Mariah Carey takes the stage at some televised holiday special to remind us exactly why we can't get this song out of our heads. But no matter how sick of it you swear you may be, it's worth the listen every time. 8. "Silent Night" - The Temptations9. "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" - The Jackson 510. "Joy to the World" - Whitney HoustonThe Preacher's Wife was one of the most watched films in my household growing up, and not just around Christmas. One of the greatest scenes in the film was listening to the goddess herself, Whitney Houston, sing the tune that would soon become the most performed song by your church's choir on Christmas Eve.11. "Sleigh Ride" - TLC12. "What Christmas Means to Me" - Stevie WonderWhat soulful, holiday jams get you in the holiday spirit? Let us know below in the...
The pub crawl is a social gathering designed to bring people together under the promise of good drinks and good fun. For decades, communities across the globe (more popularly in Europe, North America, and certain parts of Asia) have participated in crawls to much success and growing popularity. They also serve the function of putting newer bars on the map. While in some areas like the UK, crawls are known for spontaneity in terms of its destination hopping, places like the US offer structure and sometimes even a detailed, mapped-out plan of where "crawlers" are expected to be and when. SantaCon is one of the more popular bar crawls of today, uniting natives and expatriates in cities like New York City, London, Vancouver, Brisbane, Moscow and more. The events are free but accept donations for causes local to each respective community. Its turnout has been increasing since its very start in San Francisco back in 1994, and despite much criticism, local governments seem to unanimously rally behind these events and extend the continuation year after year.But what if someone decided to enhance the concept of a bar crawl? What if we had a bar crawl designed for us by us? In comes sisters Kerry Coddett and Krystal Stark to do just that. On December 26th, Coddett is kicking off the third annual Kwanzaa Crawl, described on its website as "a one day event where people of the African diaspora join together to support black-owned bars in their neighborhoods."The event is designed to give much-needed love and recognition to black-owned bars in NYC, specifically Brooklyn and now Harlem, with much anticipation from others to expand even further. Last year, the crawl supported 28 local black businesses and ushered in approximately 3,000 crawlers in and out of their establishments. While during SantaCon, participants are expected to wearSanta Claus costumers, for the Kwanzaa Crawl, participants are encouraged to wear whatever makes them feel "unapologetically black and beautiful." This event is not to be misconstrued or minimized down to a belligerent fest of binge drinking, as others have garnered a reputation of being. Kwanzaa Crawl bears much substance, which quite directly calls to mind the many values taught in black cultures. It is meant to embody all seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity)Kujichagulia (self-determination)Ujima (collective work and responsibility)Ujamaa (cooperative economics)Kuumba (creativity)Nia (purpose)Imani (faith)"Kwanzaa’s principles teach us about collective work, cooperative economics, and self determination," Coddett told Blavity. "So not only is [it] an opportunity to educate people about Kwanzaa and make it cool again, it’s a way to unite and empower the members of our community to think about the impact that we can have in our local communities and in the world at large."Coddett chose three of these principles to explain how they directly correlate to the crawl:"Kwanzaa Crawl creates an opportunity for Black people to harness their buying power, and that’s Ujamaa (cooperative economics). Creating an event which focuses on investing in your community to improve your quality of life is Nia (purpose). Getting the owners of over 30 bars to open up for business on the day after Christmas, with the hope that the community will show up is Imani (faith)."Have these practices been effective to the communities? Absolutely. "A new business owner [once] called us in tears, and told us how much it meant to be included in this event," Coddett said. "She said she'd never seen so many people just be willing to support her small business and because of our event, she was able to keep her doors open a little bit longer. That's what this event is all about."For Coddett, the spending power of black consumers is what can make a difference in the operation of many black-owned bars across NYC, most of which cannot afford to operate seven days a week."Kwanzaa Crawl allows us to provide them with supplemental income and to inject their businesses with cash, that they will in turn use to keep their lights on for another month, and to hire more people that live in the community."This genius idea did not come to Coddett overnight. Both infuriated and deeply hurt by police brutality (specifically the back-to-back police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile back in 2016), she founded Operation Mobilize, a collective of artists and activists who unite under the sole cause of impacting positive change in the community. She has assembled the vehicle necessary to make events like Kwanzaa Crawl work. Plus, participation is not only limited to patrons and business owners. The support of elected officials and local police should be noted as well, as it assembles the community as well as its leaders to champion the cause of Kwanzaa Crawl.Coddett's creativity has stretched far beyond being one of the major minds to birth this movement. She's also flexing her comedic muscle with Kwanzaa, Actually, a web series dedicated to debunking rumors, misconceptions, stereotypes and negativity about the holiday. Tapping in friend and fellow comedian Rob Haze, the series is as informative as it is funny and relatable.Kwanzaa Crawl will be donating its proceeds to social justice organization, Barbershop Books, which is described as "a community-based literacy program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops for young black boys." Participants will also receive a directory of Black-owned businesses that have supported this year's crawl and those of previous years.If you are in the NYC are on Wednesday, December 26th, it is highly encouraged that you attend Kwanzaa Crawl. Its impact is already being felt on a cultural level, something that sets it apart from counterparts. It fosters the idea and practice of a self-sustaining community. In response to our current political climate and today's society, and in the spirit of being "woke", this event could very well be creating a blueprint to empowerment overall in the black community. Additionally, if you're looking fly, they'll take notice. This year, Coddett and Stark will be handing out Kwanzaa Crawl awards for best outfit, littest team, best DJ and more.Blavitize your inbox! Join our daily newsletter for fresh stories and breaking...
Kanye West has been unavoidable this year with his loud, mostly confusing, political views, rants, tweets, ideas and missions. But after his meeting with President Trump on October 11 (which many have called wild and erratic), we began to wonder what the White House would look like if Yeezy were the man behind the desk in the Oval Office.If Kanye West were to one day become the president of the United States, here's how we envision the White House might look:The 100 Days After Ye performed with Lil Pump at his Inauguration, DEA Director Pusha T launches an operation on the Mexican drug cartels, but mysteriously, all the drugs disappear. Pusha T resigns, announces his retirement from rap and is never seen again. He was last seen in Rio De Janerio with Rick Ross. Ye's Hunger Games Administration It is safe to say the artist formerly known as Kanye West is a narcissist. Ye will require everyone in his administration wear his dystopian-chic fashion line. The latest Yeezys, of course, will be a part of the official uniform. As a tribute to his newfound hero, Ye will have fresh "Make America Great Again" hats on deck for visitors and foreign dignitaries. Keeping Up With The Kardashians Khole, Kourtney, Kylie and Kendall will head up the committee of culture and appropriations, stealing fashion, makeup and hairstyles Black women have been doing for years and claiming them as new and trendy. The Dow plunges 1,000 points in two days; gas is $6 a gallon; food shortages are frequent, and the national debt nears $40 trillion.Kris And Caitlyn ReuniteOn a diplomatic summit with North Korea and China, Kris and Caitlyn Jenner fail to negotiate peace between the Asian nations and the U.S.Kim Jung Ung walks out the summit, threatening war while cameras are rolling. E!'s ratings are through the roof, and Kris returns to her luxury hotel and settles into the night with a glass of merlot.The Resistance Two years have passed, and Uncle Snoop and T.I. are leading the resistance against Ye. Riots, protests and violent clashes with Yeezy-wearing white supremacists are the norm as Ye's looming impeachment trail comes underway.The Sh*t Hits The Fan Kim will essentially be VP and First Lady like House of Cards. Meanwhile, Kanye will still be in Calabasas making beats on his 15th studio album, as North Korea launches a ballistic missile toward Hawaii, and Chinese forces land on the California coast.Kanye's Final Speech Press Secretary Teyana Taylor introduces President Ye in a raspy, yet sultry, voice. He interrupts her right before she finished the dance routine from "Fade." Ye gives a speech on the power of love and the importance of having dragon energy. And then, a Freudian slip happens: "None of this would have happened if Bey and Jay came to my wedding." Liking this content? Now, check these out: Make Kanye Black Again And Auntie Baby Can't Believe Earl Died Present This Week's Most Chill-Deficient TweetsNew Kanye Fully Revokes Old Kanye's Place In Black History, Walks Back George Bush CommentDon Lemon To Kanye West: You're Embarrassing...
Last week, I attended the Hollywood Bowl performance of Ms. Lauryn Hill’s tour, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the release of her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I can’t remember if it was when she launched into the rap verse of “Final Hour” (I treat this , like my thesis....), or if it was when the first chords of “Everything Is Everything” hit, but at some point, I found myself wiping my face. I had involuntarily begun to cry. The first album I ever purchased was The Fugees’ The Score. I was 10 years old and it was a Wednesday. Well, actually — I didn’t purchase it: I begged my father to drive me to Radio Shack after school to buy it for me. I remember it was a Wednesday because he asked me, “Baby, can’t you wait until the weekend?”But knowing my father’s extracurricular habits, I knew he wouldn’t have been available then, as he wasn’t available for most weekends. Of course, I didn’t say that. I only said, “No. It has to be today.”I had just heard “Ready or Not". Maybe it was the conviction I spoke with as a 10 year old, or that I had never really asked for anything — but whatever the case, he turned to me and sighed, “Well, ...put your shoes on.”That said, in 1998 when “the girl went solo,” dropping what has arguably become one of the most influential albums of this generation, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, I was built in fan. I didn’t know what to expect, since the “two boys” weren’t there. Who would take the other versus? Where would the ad libs come from? Who would scream out “ONE TIME ” ? My young self had no way to anticipate what I got: an unshakeable manifesto that included odes to difficult childhoods, female empowerment, integrity, young motherhood and being accountable while in loveBy that point, my home life had deteriorated into a domestic war zone. The only down time was marked as the quiet prior to the inevitable upcoming storm. I listened to that album while getting ready for school, in my walkman while riding the bus, and when I got home. I listened to it after I had to call the cops to my house, and then while I was being hurriedly dropped off at my grandmother's home without an explanation needed or given. I listened to it because it made me feel better; it made me feel seen. More importantly, it honestly made me believe that one day my circumstances would change.The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was eventually nominated for 10 Grammys, and was the first hip-hop album to ever win the award for Album of the Year. But Hill’s creative achievement didn’t come without controversy. That same year, a group of musicians claimed to be songwriters and producers behind 13 of the tracks, suing Hill and her label. This ultimately resulted in a settlement outside of court, and some years later, these musicians clarified that it was more of a collaborative effort and ultimately her vision.But this story is nothing new.So when I heard Robert Glasper’s interview on the radio rehashing old tea, I was confused, but not surprised. The convo took a hard left when he started recounting a personal,10-year-old encounter, in which he claimed she was difficult to work with (also not a new judgment against Hill), and that she was only a real person when she sang “Joyful Joyful ” which she originally sang in the now-iconic finale of the movie Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. Glasper also made some shady allegations regarding Hill’s abilities as a musician, including questioning whether or not Hill could even tune her own guitar. "You haven't done enough to be the way you are — you just have not. The one thing you did that was great, you didn't do," Glasper said, addressing Hill directly during the interview.It was shocking. I didn’t know there was a quantifiable amount of work one could do that would allow you to be a reputed b***h without backlash. And how much is enough?Indeed, Glasper seems to have an interesting notion of who has “done enough.” For instance, in a 2016 interview with Essence, Glasper gushed, “And then R. Kelly, you don't even talk about him and how big or what kind of influence R. Kelly had.”Glasper believes that Robert Kelly, a man whose alleged sexual abuse has been well documented, is worthy of public acknowledgement for his musical contributions and influence. But based on Glasper’s recent interview, he thinks that Hill, a woman who has won 2 Grammys, and gone platinum 7 times outside of the disputed “Miseducation”, has overstated musical contributions and non-existent influence because she wasn’t *nice to him on a job 10 years ago and is attached to a difficult persona?Ironically, Glasper’s crossover into mainstream success largely stems from his attachment to other collaborative hip-hop and R&B projects. While a prolific jazz musician in his own right, Glasper’s pass into hip-hop equates to black male artist’s basically wanting a live version of a J Dilla instrumental. That is, with the exception of his work on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly , an album with themes that are in no uncertain terms a direct disciple and rendering of Hill’s later album, MTV Unplugged No. 2.0.But while Lamar’s work was met with critical acclaim, even earning a Pulitzer Prize, Hill was critically dismantled, ridiculed and essentially run out of the music industry after the release of Unplugged, an album that was arguably before its time. If you consider yourself a hip-hop fan and think you haven’t been influenced by Hill’s Unplugged album, you’re wrong; Kanye West even sampled the hook of “Mystery of Iniquity” for his hit “All Falls Down." But, people like to forget that Unplugged exists.Glasper's claims that Hill’s career amounts to a hill of beans while reveling in the benefit of a genre that her pen and vocals — if not production — made “worthy” of industry recognition, comes across as though he is playing a tone-deaf game of inception with himself. It’s amusing, but it leaves you exhausted.Of note, he also seems to be obsessed with her on his Twitter. Retweeting articles about her and updates of her tour changes. Doesn't he have better stuff to do? Fam. Famo. Famalam. pic.twitter.com/txxYd0wR5N— April (@ReignOfApril) September 13, 2018This is amazing and accurate. https://t.co/xwuBZA2sIr— Robert Glasper (@robertglasper) August 29, 2018I, like many other black women who have shared in transformative experiences related to Ms. Lauryn Hill’s work, are more than just fans of her artistry; we are obliged it, regardless of the backdoor industry rumors.Allegations of unethical business dealings involving working artists will always be a conversation worth having. But for Glasper to use his platform to discourage a young generation from understanding why L.Boogie gets “mad frustrated when she rhymes", why you shouldn't "be a hard rock", or be assured that "everything is everything"; is disingenuous. To publicly frame her career as unworthy of exploration for potential new listeners is not only messy; it’s irresponsible. And I can’t help but wonder what there is to gain from maligning her creative achievements — what’s that worth?Ms. Lauryn Hill’s work saved me. It gave me life, as it did and will continue to do for many others, if given the...
Dear 6LACK,You did it again with this one.I remember when I listened to your debut album, Free 6LACK. From beginning to end, the album introduced me to an artist who was fearless in being his whole self, when it came to the music he put out and the lyrics he let loose from the confines of his heart.Your first album served as a celebration of being freed from the box your former label tried to pigeonhole you into. You were finally given the space you needed to unapologetically let your music serve as a therapeutic outlet, and took the phrase “wearing your emotions on your sleeve” to the next level – ultimately choosing to wear them on the tracks you bestowed upon your fans.The reason why your first album resonated with so many fans is because you took the tugging you did on your own heartstrings, and turned it into a musical medley that reflected the things we go through as human beings, largely due to the flaws that we possess. You opened up your heart and let us feel like we knew you, because of the turbulence you experienced while flying through the ups and downs of love and relationships. Both men and women recognized the real in you, because you weren’t scared to recognize it within yourself first.For nearly two years, we’ve been anxiously awaiting the follow up to the album, which grasped our attention by introducing us to a songwriter and artist genuinely dedicated to personifying emotion, making it OK to express feelings that aren’t typically expressed publicly. After listening to your sophomore soundtrack, East Atlanta Love Letter, I have to thank you for being so relentless in your journey to unveiling the mask us black men so often wear, when it comes to showcasing emotional vulnerability.I don’t know when it happened or what has caused it, but for so long, black men have been accustomed to piecing together a persona that displays a disregard for openness — a tendency to not let those we care about and who care about us not only hear our feelings, but to even have the opportunity to help us navigate said feelings.With that dilemma at hand, this album arrives as a game changer. Your songs serve as a musical breath of fresh air for black brothers, allowing us to recognize the experiences we have gone through, and helping us to exhale and free ourselves from our own bondage.Unashamed, the first track, “Unfair,” opened up the love letter stating, “Hope my mistakes don’t make me less of a man.”Too often, those words and thoughts have crossed the minds of numerous black men, including myself, who have endured internal conflicts because of the missteps we’ve made by exercising poor decision-making, not having proper guidance or giving into our own pride.In terms of vulnerability, we black men often struggle to communicate well, which — like you have personally admitted to — has served as the main contributor to many of our downfalls. As much as our demeanor can sometimes show the contrary, just like our black women who appreciate how Drake can get them “in their feelings” – we too are conditioned to search for that kind of love that makes us feel like we can be accepted for the imperfect person we are in an organic, unconditional manner.Through this album, you invite others into your world, and encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone. They then walk into a space that preaches the ability to recognize emotional weakness, and work through it positively.At the end of the album’s second song, “Loaded Gun,” you said, “Love is the reason I’m writing these songs.” I felt that.With each song, you touch on the various elements that are associated with love – regret (“Let Her Go”), mistakes, trust (“Pretty Little Fears”), foolishness (“Sorry’), insecurity, change (“Switch”), doubt, happiness, frustration (“Disconnect”), misunderstanding and payback. At a time when so many songs by black, male rappers and artists continue to highlight the materialistic “finer things in life,” it’s comforting to see a brother from East Atlanta’s Zone 6 stray from the typical stereotype associated with Atlanta artists, veering toward his own calling for providing musical therapy to those in need.Because of your background as a black man, East Atlanta Love Letter tells our black men it’s OK to open up about the situations many of us don’t want to revisit. From your own pain and passion, you penned poignant pieces that propel us to acknowledge the personal problems we’ve had, as we struggle to push away our self-destructive pride.The album lives as a personal account of a man who chooses to find triumph over the emotive turmoil he has faced. Even more, as an artist, you bask in living out a purpose dedicated to motivating our black women and men to never give up on love, because it’s the greatest feeling you could share with another person.In order to love better, you guide us along a path to recognizing that we must do better in how we express our wrongs, search for resolutions, and open our hearts to those who we deem worthy of getting close to it. As a black man, I appreciate you for taking the road less traveled – the journey that many are unwilling to publicize, because they lack the confidence to be transparent in their feelings.If there’s anything that I hope my fellow black men can learn from your musical stance on love and expression, it’s that society’s implied depiction of masculinity — a strong man who doesn’t need to openly express his sincere emotions — doesn’t have to ring true for you. We should acknowledge that learning how to better convey our feelings and need for moments of being emotionally vulnerable can help us be the best version of ourselves that we need to be for us, those who choose to love us and those we choose to love.Signed,A Black Man and 6LACK...
Diversity in tech is a hot topic these days, but ain’t nothing to it but to do it.On Tuesday, Blavity, Inc. announced the official relaunch of the latest limb of our growing family tree: AfroTech.com is LIVE.AfroTech will expand on the vision put forth by our eponymous conference, held each year in San Francisco and hailed as Silicon Valley's biggest black tech conference. (Do you have your tickets for this year? It's going down November 8-11!) AfroTech.com will be a hub of innovation, entrepreneurship and Black Excellence by providing news stories on the latest developments in tech, profiles on the players in the industry you should know and resources on how you can help break barriers and be your own boss one day. Talented journalist John Ketchum has stepped in as the first managing editor of AfroTech.com -- and to quote Tiffany Haddish, "HE READY!" “A lot of times, our stories fly under the radar and are missed by bigger news outlets," Ketchum wrote in his first letter to readers. "AfroTech will combat this by focusing on what new businesses are important to you, highlighting product launches, VC news and analysis on the rate of change in tech.”Ketchum wants to hear from everyone. After all, this is your baby, too.“What do you think we should be covering in business and tech?" he asked. "What’s important to you? What are you building? What projects are you working on? Do you know of something cool somebody else is working on? If so, what? Have ideas for stories we should pursue? Hate something we did? Let us know. AfroTech’s community is what makes it great, so we want to work closely with you." Also, we’re hiring! Join the team and be part of the vision.Liking this content? Check these out:Blavity Inc. Has Raised $6.5 Million In Our First Official Round Of Funding. This Is What It Means For You.The Journey To Building Blavity, Inc. Angela Rye Delivers Keynote Address At Summit...
My mom and dad were born in 1956 and 1954, respectively, and just like us millennials, black music has been the soundtrack of their lives. We have Beyoncé and Trey Songz; they had Tina Turner and Little Richard. But uniquely, my parents, being baby boomers, were given the (sometimes not so great) experience of growing up during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement and also, the origination of “Soul Music” - a big, bold new sound that emerged during this very significant time. Their music carried over into my life as a child and I’ve felt the effect of the heartfelt tunes on the artists that I love today.What makes “Soul Music”, soul music? I think the easiest answer is found in the name of the genre. Soul Music cuts through our bodies and resonates off our bones; we feel it deep within our gut. You know it when you hear it. A more historic or tangible answer would be that it is a combination of Gospel and Doo-Wop music, dating back to the early 1950s. A clear vision of the merge can be heard in the recordings made at the time by Etta James and Ray Charles. The moving sound that was created also fittingly aligned with the desegregation of the United States.The Classic Soul SingerThe singers that were at the beginning of the powerful genre were proud, daring and insanely talented. There is the aforementioned late Ray Charles, who is often thought of as popularizing Soul Music with hits like, “Georgia On My Mind” and “Hit The Road Jack”. The distinct gospel vocals and cool swinging Doo-Wop chords are blatant in his compositions. Then, there is Aretha Franklin, who is unarguably the “Queen of Soul”. A song of hers, in a string of many others, that earned her that title is “Ain’t No Way”, a tune that is such a blueprint of soul vocal stylings, that many of the R&B (and pop) girls of today continuously thieve those distinctive riffs and runs.Sorry. I had a moment. That is what Soul Music can do to you - freeze you, make you feel and possibly, even shed a tear (I’m not crying…).Other classic singers of the early days of the genre are Marvin Gaye, his gone-too-soon duet partner Tami Terrell (their song, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, is, and will always be, everything), Sam Cooke and James Brown. The Modern Soul SingerAs time moved into the 1980s and '90s, the sound (and look) of Soul Music transitioned a bit. The music became slick with the advent and use of MIDI (basically, electronic music made with the use of keyboards and beat machines) and popular white soul singers (commonly referred to as “blue-eyed soul”) like Michael McDonald, started to make a come up. Disco, funk and even hip-hop began to overshadow Soul Music, but then, the mid 90’s welcomed an unexpected resurgence.Neo-Soul, something that most would consider a sub-genre of Soul Music, gave new life to the space. D’Angelo’s debut album Brown Sugar seemed to have set the fire for a slew of similar artists such as Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Maxwell. The sound was sexy, but the coolness of the new soul didn't change the heart of it. I remember older cousins burning mix CDs full of the music when going out on dates. I discovered exactly why when I got older and made a few of my own …The 2000’s introduced a line of new Soul Music creators that infused fresh energy to the genre, while cleverly taking it back to its roots. Anthony Hamilton’s aching voice soared on his breakthrough record, “Charlene”, Musiq Soulchild had everyone and they mama attempting to blow “Love”, and Alicia Keys, with her song, “If I Ain’t Got You”, was a celebrated return of an artist sitting at a piano and pouring out their emotions.I grew into adulthood during this time, so I can go on and on about how Soul Music shaped and shifted back into prominence. Like my parents in the '60s and '70s, the sounds of the genre from the 2000s were the soundtrack to my life.*I can’t leave without giving a mention to Jazmine Sullivan, an incredible soul singer who is TERRIBLY underrated.The New Soul SingerThe soul singers of today are the most unique artists sitting in the music industry. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and they commit to writing honest, often autobiographical, musical stories. Another interesting thing that I find most of them have in common, is that they often sound like they, vocally, could fit perfectly in the early days alongside Aretha and Ray.Leon Bridges broke out to critical acclaim in 2015 with his debut album Coming Home, Andra Day dominated radio with her song “Rise Up”, BJ The Chicago Kid sliced through the noise in 2016, and my managing editor unknowingly pimped me onto Anderson Paak, who, after listening to his album, is by ALL means, the definition of Soul Music today (and should’ve won that damn Best New Artist Grammy. ROBBED!).And I would be dead wrong if I didn’t point out the “blue-eyed soul” of today. Do I even have to name those dominating artists? I think they are wildly talented and deserving of every bit of success, but there is nothing like a black artist delivering Soul Music. The pain, the joy, the sex and the struggle just seem more honest, relatable and effortless. It’s genetically in our blood. It’s not one relationship we went through, it’s our parents’, grandparents’ and great-grandparents stories we’ve connectedly lived too.Listen to Anderson and BJ tell it, seamlessly intertwining Soul Music with rap, taking the sound to new heights.What in the world will Soul Music be like in the next decade? As you can see, the genre has gone through so many changes (sometimes extreme) but has managed to thrive. And that is no surprise. Soul Music was built on hope, heart, and survival, and because those things are such an integral part of our lives every day, it’ll always be around…and deep within our hearts.Who are your favorite Soul Music singers and how has their music cut deep within your life? Let's talk about it...
Ain't no love like the love of our girls. The love that black women can find within our sisterhood is unparalleled and forever necessary. If you're blessed to have a couple of solid black female friends in your corner, you know just how much of a support system they can be. We laugh together, we cry together, and we spill tea together. We fuss, we fight, we smile, and most importantly, we love.All in all, black sisterhood is a force. While we continue to push for more representation in the media, fictional or otherwise, there have still been some iconic black female friendships that cannot go unnoticed. Here are 15 that remind us why ain't no love like the love of our girls.1. Gina and PamThe only thing that makes this duo more iconic is the fact that Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold are best friends in real life. After decades of friendship, in the words of Tisha, they're "still here."2. Oprah and GayleOprah and Gayle are the OG besties. Oprah isn't afraid to let Gayle know when she's ashy, and the two always have each other's backs.3. Sinclair, Maxine, Khadijah and Regine When you're thinking of a '90s kind of world, you have to think of the ladies of Living Single. These women taught us about how to navigate New York, friendship and romance. NBC derived an entire show titled Friends from the concept, so you know they're iconic. *Sips tea.*4. Beyoncé and KellyThese two have been through every up and down of life together and still manage to hold it down. Even as their careers led them on different journeys and Rowland admitted to envying her sister half, their friendship remains. 5. Savannah, Bernadine, Robin and Gloria At a time where black sisterhood wasn't prevalent on the big screen, the ladies of Waiting to Exhale filled a void. Through all their trials, the quadruplet stuck together, and they're pretty much gang goals. 6. Whitney and Mariah Sometimes the greatest of enemies become the best of friends. From throwing iconic shade to creating an award-winning duet, these two divas remind us what happens when you realize the girl you never liked is just as dope like you. 7. Maya, Lynn, Toni and Joan Girlfriends was the flavor we needed in a Sex and the City type of world. These four ladies taught us that sisterhood sometimes means personalities will clash, goals re-adjust, but the love of your girlfriends conquers all.8. Rihanna and Melissa FordeTalk about carefree black girls. Rihanna and her best friend, Melissa, live a turnt up, fun-loving lifestyle that most of us can't help but to see and say "goals." Rihanna stayed true to her day one, and she brings her best girlfriend along on each step of her ladder of success. We love Rih, and we love Melissa, too.9. Tia and Tamera Tia and Tamera have had our attention since their hit sitcom Sister, Sister. Their friendship reminds us that our blood sisters can be our best friends, too.10. Penny and DijonayAt a time where there weren't many cartoons centered around the lives of a black family, we were gifted with The Proud Family. One of the best relationship dynamics was between Penny Proud and Dijonay. Despite being opposites, these two always stayed cool like the other side of the pillow.11. Kim and Whitley Kim and Whitley remind us that sometimes we need that down-to-earth friend to mellow out our bougie. Even two friends who come from a different world can make a great pair.12. Issa and Molly Issa and Molly have very quickly become one of our favorite pair of girlfriends. We've seen both when they were up and down (which is a lot, but that's why we love them).13. Nisi and Mickey Our favorite black American princesses. Get you a friend who's gonna ride with you on the quest to "livin' large and takin' charge!" among the rich and famous. 14. Cleo, Stony, Frankie, and TiseanNot everyone can say they have friends who are willing to rob a bank with them. Friendship like that comes once in a lifetime. 15. Lisa, Sasha, Ryan, and DinaIf we learned anything from Girls Trip, it's never to let men get in the way of your girlfriends because some friends are forever. We also learn that getting ratchet with our friends is necessary once in a...
As a result of the zero-tolerance policy implemented by the Trump administration, children and families seeking asylum in the “Land of the Free” will receive permanent trauma instead of security and empathy.
Throughout the years, the topic of immigration has always served as a controversial subject as lawmakers, policy enforcers and public servants alike have sought resolutions to the consistent arrival of immigrants upon United States soil.Recently, the media has been exploding with pictures and videos of the harsh and overwhelming treatment of families seeking safety and asylum from their current living conditions in other countries. Despite the debatable procedures that have been in circulation, I, just like millions of other individuals, have been left shocked due to the cruel and immoral treatment of human beings.Since his inauguration, the 45th President of the United States has made outrageous claims and remarks about his goals to reclaim the sanctity of America by enforcing stern measures to combat immigration. Most historically, many of us were taken aback by his delirious sentiments to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In the time that has passed since those remarks, we became appalled at his lack of genuine care displayed toward minorities who have continued to be on the losing end of racial, social and judicial battles due to negligence from the society in which we live.Implemented in April 2018, the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy has served as an atrocious and unfortunately accurate display of a country that has allowed an ill-fitting individual to promote his inhumane and uncompassionate agenda to the masses.Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty ImagesSince the Trump administration put the policy into effect, it has separated an estimated 2,300 children from their families, according to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Recently, HHS requested the Pentagon, one of the world’s largest office buildings and most well-known symbols of the U.S. military, to house 20,000 migrant children on military bases beginning in July until the end of the year.In response to the seething backlash his administration received due to the overwhelming sight of disconnected families, Trump performed a hurried stunt by issuing an executive order designed to end family separations by allowing them to be detained together while also retaining the administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy.Despite all the measures and publicity stunts the president and those in his administration make to distract citizens in the wake of this war against human rights, the reality still stands that the lives of black and brown people have been forever affected.You can’t reverse this. If it wasn’t apparent before, it must indeed be clear that we now live in a nation that has exchanged the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for death, deceit and the deferment of dreams. As an American citizen with West Indian roots and grandparents who immigrated to America from England, I’ve realized that as much as I’ve been thankful for the sacrifices my family members made to provide a better future for me in America, I have also been privileged to the point of taking my freedom for granted.As a toddler, I remember getting separated accidentally from my mother in a store. Although lost for only a few minutes, it felt like hours isolated from my mother, the one constant I had in my life up to that point.Today, I feel my share of guilt as it serves as a nightmare to think of how traumatic it might be to be separated from my mother at a vulnerable and tender age without any knowledge of where she is or when I could expect to see her again.In a video excerpt courtesy of ABC News, Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, emphasized the severity of this human rights crisis by outlining how the health of young infants and toddlers separated from their families can be permanently and negatively affected. For young children, the brain does most of its development from the moment they’re born until they turn three; as a result, enduring trauma like being separated from their parents and family members can severely impede their ability to be well-minded children, teenagers and adults.Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty ImagesIn addition to the executive order not calling for the reversal of the zero-tolerance policy, it’s evident there is no comprehensive plan in place to reunite the thousands of children already separated from their families. In the coming weeks, we should expect for the government to try tricking us into thinking that positive efforts are being put forth via visual and verbal depictions of families reunited with smiling faces and tears of joy. Don’t fall for it; it’s all a part of the political and media scheme.According to Axios, the Justice Department has been and is still criminally prosecuting all adults who are caught crossing the border illegally. Due to immigrant parents having to go through this prosecution period, the DOJ is requesting a judge modify a 2015 ruling stating child migrants can only be held in detention centers for no more than 20 days so children can be kept for more extended periods of time, if necessary.Furthermore, endless questions continue that the White House hasn't answered: What happens to adults who receive charges as a result of illegally crossing the border? What happens to the children if the federal judge doesn’t extend the 20-day holding period? Will there be a formal process established to reunite all of the children who have been separated from their families and already transported to sponsor or foster families or detention centers?It’s beyond unsettling to live in a country that has politicians who will continue to flip-flop their statements to please the temperament of the American people seeking answers as to why this injustice can continue. As social and civil justice journalist Shaun King wrote in a recent article, this current period of separation of families is a repeat offense of previous time periods and instances where African-Americans and Native-Americans have been forcefully split apart from one another with many never seeing each other again.What kind of country do we live in where Attorney General Jeff Sessions uses a Bible verse to justify an adherence of the law that separates children from the very people who birthed and raised them?What type of government are we depending upon where the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen sidesteps every question and refuses to apologize for forcing migrant children into “tent cities” but then attempts to eat dinner at a Mexican restaurant?Even the first lady of the United States, Melania Trump, used this latest ordeal as another prime opportunity to showcase her lack of consciousness by donning a jacket with the words “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?” written on it as she traveled to visit immigrant children at the border detention centers. Whether directed toward the media (doubt it) or about something else, it was stupid.Photo Credit: AP/Zara/CNNThrough all of this, we must internalize a shocking truth which is our country can be beautiful one moment and revolting the next. Since our elected and appointed officials won’t tell us the truth, we must say it ourselves: Due to the recent policy, some of the parents and family members of detained children will never see their children again.As you’re reading this, you might be telling yourself you don’t know where to start, or you’re not informed enough about politics to feel confident in your ability to take action. You’re wrong. We all can do our part to make sure our country doesn’t continue to lie about who we are and turns over a new leaf in the face of controversy. Better days are ahead; we must stick together to weather this storm.--Are you interested in learning how you can help advocate against family separations? See below for more information on how you can take a step in the right direction.The most widely circulated effort being created to combat Trump’s zero-tolerance policy is SB 3036, the Keep Families Together Act. Today, do your part by dialing 202-224-3121, giving your zip code and stating your support of SB 3036.Additionally, take a few minutes to call your congressperson to express your dissatisfaction with the zero-tolerance policy. Although all Senate Democrats have already stated their support of the bill, you should make your request clear that you would appreciate your congressperson’s representation in opposition to family separations, regardless of your political party affiliation. To further help, the ACLU has a script you can follow here and will even route your calls to the correct representative.For more ways to help take a stand against the zero-tolerance policy, click...
High school is an amazing time in many people’s lives. Maturity begins to peak through, responsibilities in various forms are accepted and lifelong friends are made. But it’s also a time of enormous pressure, with the idea that all the work you do academically and in extracurriculars will culminate into significant adult life paths, opening or closing the number of choices you have for your future. It’s a lot to think about, and many students don’t make it through. And if they do, for some, higher education is not an option for various reasons.So, it’s a fantastic feat that a high school in New York City is boasting a 100 percent graduation rate and, on top of that, a 100 percent college acceptance rate of those graduates. Enter, New Heights Academy Charter School in Harlem.New Heights Academy has pulled this feat for four years now and shows no signs of slowing down. “One of the great things that we have is that we’re trying to build a culture of college access and college success, getting them to apply and be successful in what they’re applying to,” Zoraida Torres, one of two of the school’s college and career counselors told Blavity.Part of the secret to the school’s astounding success could be that many of its leadership grew up in New York City, or nearby, and are people of color — a reflection of the New Heights majority Latino student body. Torres is from the Bronx, the high school principal, Fred Givens, is from Newark, New Jersey, and the executive director, Christina Brown, is from Jersey City, New Jersey. Brown expanded on the idea of relating to the students’ environment by stating, “My high school experience was very different from this one [at New Heights], but it gave me the idea to make sure that every child applied [to college] and that freshmen and sophomores went on college tours, because that was my experience in a parochial school.” She continued, “So, we tried to bring that here because we want to make sure that the same types of service that kids that go to those types of schools receive, receive here in Harlem and Washington Heights.”The faculty and staff pulled out all the punches to celebrate the 2018 graduating seniors’ success by throwing a beyond lit pep rally, complete with celebrity appearances. The Bronx born and bred Remy Ma appeared in the past. This year, on June 8, the forever turnt up rapper Desiigner came through. “I wanted to congratulate all the kids that made 100 percent four years straight,” Desiigner told Blavity on why he wanted to support the event. “I didn’t come from a school like that. At my school, everybody didn’t graduate. I was one of the kids that didn’t graduate.” He further detailed, “I didn’t have a senior year. Kanye [West] grabbed me in the 11th grade [for my music career], and my credits were kinda bad. So for the seniors, I admire that! That they kept the journey for themselves. They saw where they were at. They were put in an environment and made themselves comfortable enough to do what they wanted to do. I just really give them that gratitude. I look up to that!”After being secretly escorted through the twisting hallways of the building to the school’s lunchroom, where the pep rally was taking place, Desiigner burst into the crowd of surprised New Heights seniors and began a fiery mini-set of his songs, which included the hit, “Panda.” The excited senior class completely let loose and celebrated the blood, sweat and tears of the last four years. The energy was thrilling and moving.After the pep rally, Blavity spoke to two of New Heights' outstanding graduating seniors, Angelica and Jorge. Throughout their high school career, they often discussed what their futures could look like with their friends. “We definitely have talked about what we want to study in college. I have a few friends who want to do criminal justice, homicide detective, business and marketing. We really have talked deeply about the future,” Angelica told Blavity. Jorge added, “ Specifically, these last two years, the junior and senior years, have been focusing on what we’re going to study in college, what we would like to accomplish throughout our lives and how we’re going to stay in touch.”When asked about their individual future aspirations, Jorge detailed, “I hope to do a variety of things, but primarily, I want a lot of my work to be focused on uplifting marginalized communities, such as the black and Latino communities.” He continued, “I’ve already been doing a lot of that work just as a high schooler, through being a student advocate, working with multiple organizations that have developed different plans to specifically fix the high school admissions process, and how segregated the New York City school system is. So, I hope to continue to develop that work while at the University of Rochester, and ultimately work in some way to truly affect policy and help out my community.”As another freshman class enters into New Heights Academy this fall, you can’t help but be excited about their journey through the school. And as the 2018 senior class graduates, there’s just as much excitement about their adventures through college and out into the real world. Their success as our leaders of tomorrow is one that feels supportive, safe and super smart, just like the community of leaders and educators that created their solid...