“The Dean Collection, founded by legendary music artists Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Alicia Keys, is a contemporary, family art collection focused on the support of living artists. In addition to being custodians of great artworks, TDC develops platforms that encourage progress in all facets of artistic practice.”
Thursday night’s gallery was presented by local NYC artists, Faile and Bast. Deluxx Fluxx obscures the lines between artist and consumer, and viewer and participant in an attempt to recapture the recent history of the Lower East Side as a haven for anti-elitist art practices such as graffiti and punk rock. It blends elements from the golden age of arcades, 80s-era basements, and the visual culture of nightclubs. It features the arcade’s signature day-glo palette and ten custom video game installations. Its simultaneously an interactive art project and an active performance venue.
The entire venue was an interactive visual delight. People were encouraged to dress in black-light accentuated clothing. People were dressed in neon’s with neon hair and danced like fools all night. It was a magical place. A place where the beer flowed like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talkin’ bout a little place called… Deluxx Fluxx.
One lady (CLEARLY married and out for the night) wanted a piece of anything with a Y chromosome. We even found her in a crowded men’s bathroom at one point trying to prove she’s still got it. Slow down Ma. Chill.
Our homie Swizz was dressed to impress and started a lively DJ set right on time. He spun old school two step classics, NY staples like HOV, Nas, and Biggie, and a few choice tracks from his legendary catalog of hits. Swizz was more than gracious and allowed fans to take pictures and videos with him before encouraging people to put away their phones and really enjoy the experience. But that was short lived because all hell broke loose when his boo Alicia Keys hit the booth.
Looking effortlessly gorgeous, Alicia danced and encouraged the people to have fun. Phones and cameras are nice, but its not often that you get a chance to party with legends as gracious and humble as Swizz Beats and Alicia Keys. People really started to dance and make use of the entire space. Swizz’s pops even hit the floor and joined in the fun. It was a family affair for sure.
This event was one in a million. Keep your eyes open because there are always amazing events like this if you know where to look. DJ set or not, we encourage everyone to experience more of NYC’s art scene. You never really know what you’ll run into.
Ava Duvernay’s “When They See Us” tells the story of the Central Park Five. In 1989, a heinous crime shook New York City to its core. A white banker who would become known in the media as the “Central Park Jogger”, was raped and beaten almost to death during an evening jog in central park. Falsely accused, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, and Antron McCray, kids ages 14, 15, and 16, who were wrongfully convicted Despite no DNA evidence, fingerprints, blood, or semen linking any of the boys to the crime, would grow up grew up in prison, each one spending between six and 13 years behind bars before the real perpetrator was found. Their lives are the basis for Ava DuVernay’s Netflix miniseries.
The miniseries does an amazing job of showing the kids as typical teenagers with normal lives. This is exactly what they were before they were wrongly accused. New York in the 80’s was crazy. Especially at night in Central Park. The aftermath tho, and it’s painful comparisons, parallels how black children are treated to this very day. Its UNCANNY. It seems like not much has changed.
The whole series is well done, but the second episode in particular was especially captivating. It very clearly showed how public opinion, and the justice system turned against the five youths. It makes it clear that the arrests and the events following never should have happened at all. (If you are at all uncertain, please watch the documentary “The Central Park Five“) The main facts? These kids barely knew one another. Their “confessions” (coerced by cops using brutal tactics on underaged teens) were inconsistent with one another. DNA found near the scene did not match ANY of the boys. Didn’t matter. The brutal fact: A white woman had been brutalized, and America wanted blood. We see the media really sink their hooks into the circus surrounding the accusation of this crime.
In addition, his insane tv interview proclaiming that he understood the mind of “a black” in America:
When They See Us is primarily focused on the racist logic of NYC policing, court, and prison systems that cost the five defendants their childhood and humanity. As masterful storyteller Ava DuVernay has done this before. She wants to make sure that we really see the Central Park Five this time. And we do, Ava. We really do.
The film masterfully sheds light on the inherent problems in American criminal justice system, the perspective of the families involved, as well as from others working in the law. Viewers get an intimate glimpse of mothers, fathers, and siblings fighting for the freedom of their loved ones; law-enforcement authorities classifying these same boys as “animals”. Again, to us it’s all too familiar.
You typically watch films like this to gain a better understanding of the past so that we can avoid a bleak future. But given the current direction of our country and leadership, its evident that the same mistakes and injustices are being repeated ad nauseam with no real solutions or progress.
The question is and always has been, “What do they see when they see us?”
Judging how things have played out since the late 80s…not much.
It’s graduation season and I’m sure you all remember the pride that you and your loved ones felt as you walked across that stage. Some of y’all are still struggling in that Accounting 101 class, don’t stress, you’ll figure it out.
4 years of blood, sweat, tears, and money went into that degree of yours and now it’s time to enter society and make a living for yourself. But that ain’t the end of the story, because some of y’all will be paying Uncle Sam or Sallie Mae until you retire. You might not be able to afford a car so you’ll name your daughter Alexis.
If you don’t know who he is, Robert F. Smith is an entrepreneur and founder of the investment firm, Vista Equity Partners. He’s worth about $5 billion, according to Forbes and is the richest black person in America. The 56-year-old Smith was a chemical engineer for Goodyear and Kraft before attending business school. He worked for Goldman Sachs, specializing in tech investments before starting his firm Vista Equity in 2000. According to the company website, Vista Equity invests solely in software, data, and technology companies and boasts capital commitments of $46 billion.
While giving the commencement at HBCU Morehouse College’s 2019 graduation, he surprised the crowd by declaring that he’d created a grant to pay off all of the debt of each member of the graduating class.
“On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re going to put a little fuel in your bus. Now, I know my class will make sure they pay this forward. I want my class to look at these these beautiful Morehouse brothers and let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure we have all the opportunities of the American dream.”
Now, we at OB often talk about creating black wealth. We have conversations about what we need to do in order to make a dent in the wealth gap that black Americans are beholden to.
F. Dougie: This reached out and touched my heart. It really did. Not too long ago, we wrote an article about how fed up we were with all of the negativity and killing out there in society. Given that many of us are always taught that we should lift each other up as brothers and sisters, It hurts even more when we as black people are doing it to each other. But when we see people like Mr. Smith lifting up young black men, it really makes us feel like there’s hope. It’s really true, When you have to service debt, the choices about what you can go do in the world are constrained. Now, hopefully these young men can use their gift as an advantage to make intelligent decisions and do even better than their parents before them. The possibilities are endless.
Idris Gray: This is truly touching. As someone who is still paying for loans, I can’t help but to wish that I too was apart of this class. Or better yet, that my sister was a part of this class so that perhaps her loans could be taken care of. DO NOT CO-SIGN LOANS, PEOPLE!
Anyway this is really amazing for these young people and I envy them and applaud the selfless act of Mr. Smith. I don’t care how much money you make, you don’t want to spend $40 Million of it on an investment you’ll probably never see monetary gains on. That being said, the homie was sitting on 5 BILLY! I digress, but even if he never gave those students that loan forgiveness, he gave them something special. Inspiration. When we talk about the 1% we picture old white dudes, not black ones. So just seeing that this kind of thing is possible for black people to attain is dope.
It’s too easy for black men relegate themselves to being happy with any kind of employment when the stereotype is “broke black man”, or just straight up “criminal”. When thoughts like that run through your head you tend to accept the bare minimum instead of pushing yourself to get all the things you want out of life. Sometimes you forget that anything is possible with hard work and dedication regardless of skin tone. The list of great black business people, medical professionals, artists etc isn’t short. Still, we are depicted in a negative light on the news and in the media.
It’s time we stop feeding into this narrative. There are too many successful black male figures outside of sports and music. We are CEOs, entrepreneurs, writers, directors, engineers, and doctors, lawyers, and everything else. It’s over for all that. We need young black boys to know that they have more options than ball or rap.
Last week, Tiger Woods completed one the greatest comebacks in sports as he won The Masters Golf Tournament after an 14 year hiatus and several knee & back surgeries. Many in the sports world told Woods to hang it up. Many said he’d never win ever again and that he was washed. Woods proved everyone wrong by reconstructing his golf game from the ground up. The result was an epic and historic win at the biggest tournament in the sport.
Today, Woods will visit his good friend Donald Trump at the White House to receive the highest honor that a civilian can be awarded, The Presidential Medal of Freedom. People are understandably upset that Woods is going and isn’t using this as a chance to take a stand against all the fucked up shit that Trump has done in his 2 years in office, but looking at the bigger picture, Woods has never stood up for big issues (in the black community or otherwise). This isn’t surprising considering he’s good friends with Michael “Republicans buy Jordans too” Jordan.
Why do we even care? We’ve always known who Tiger Woods is (even if Elin Nordgren didn’t). Do we expect too much of athletes? Black athletes especially?
F. Dougie: Look, people can do whatever they want. I don’t think that we should be propping people up as heroes and telling them how to live or engage with the black community….But when you have Colin Kaepernick out here giving up his career to speak up for black people, when you Have LeBron James out here always speaking up for the black community and trying to empower us and emulating the example of Ali….. Visiting the biggest catalyst for the rise in white nationalism and hate crimes this century makes you look like an Uncle Tom.
Considering how many championship sports team have declined to go to the White House citing Trump’s racism, this presents itself as an opportunity for Trump to align himself with a popular athlete. I just see this as a lost opportunity and shame that Trump can once again use a black prop to show himself as a champion for black people when all the while he’s been winking and nodding at white supremacists.
Idris Gray: You’re right. People should be able to do whatever they please. I’m actually not mad at all about the honor I think it recognises the impact that Tiger has had on Sports. He’s basically the MJ of golf right? But I’m just being consistent. I didn’t want to see NFL or NBA champs in the White house because of the Don, and I don’t want to see Tiger in there either. You’ve stated the reasons already. He is a clearly the representation of hate for minorities. He’s also a misogynist. I don’t really see how anyone could want to associate themselves with him knowing his opinion of people who look like us. Perhaps this honor is too big an honor to boycott? But that’s exactly why I think that refusing to participate in the ceremony would send waves.
I often wonder about the idea of selflessness when things like this come up. Perhaps Tiger doesn’t feel at all slighted about the various things that Donald Trump has said and done in the past. Maybe he doesn’t identify with the various groups that have been impacted by the hate his presidency has encouraged. But at some point you still need acknowledge the problem even if you don’t feel them directly yourself. That’s why that O.J quote you mentioned is very problematic. The fame and wealth that you’ve created as an athlete shields you from the plight of average black man. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans Mark Ruffalo Chris Hemsworth Scarlett Johansson Jeremy Renner Don Cheadle Paul Rudd Brie Larson Karen Gillan Danai Gurira Bradley Cooper Josh Brolin
We finally made it. We reached the end ofMarvel’s Infinity Saga. The most ambitious and successful cinematic universe ever created on film.The reviews are glowing(96% Positive Reviews with a 94% Audience Rating as of this article’s writing) and the film broke damn-near every record imaginable by making $1.2 Billion in its opening weekend. You guys know the story by now.
When Marvel Studios launched Iron Man in 2008, they did so in the Marvel comic book style of storytelling beginning a 12-year epic saga (Imagine Game of Thrones or Harry Potter for comic movies). The creators and producers wanted to create a world in the movies that mirrored the Marvel Comics. Not a world where new characters would just appear in sequel after sequel, but a cinematic experience where those stories would work was as their own tales but also work towards a larger goal. A world where Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man, and Captain Marvel could just drop by unannounced. In the comic world, these characters and stories were often tied together into larger overarching stories to tell a massive publishing wide epics.
Their first goal was to introduce the world to several stand-alone superheroes and bring them together as the world’s greatest superhero team. The Avengers. The film was the biggest movie of its time and began Phase 2 of the next 8 years of storytelling. We came to grow with and love these characters. We watched their journeys and immersed ourselves in one of the most unique movie-going experiences ever created.
Years of character growth and development, seeding plot, easter eggs, hints, reveals, and meticulous planning has gone into this finale. The main actors contracts are up and it’s time for someone else to begin a new story. At this point, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Evans as Captain America are as iconic as Christopher Reeves was as Superman. As fans, we’ve been loyal and patient. We’ve wanted an ending and some closure, but we’ve also been on the edge of our seats waiting to find out if the good guys can save the day.
Without spoilers, what did we think of the film and experience?
F. Dougie: You already know how I feel.
There were soooo many amazing moments. I feel very rewarded for being a true fan of this experience. We’ve been rewarded for our loyalty. The cast and crew got a great send-off, and the characters were all put in what I think were the right places. We laughed, we cried (I cried), we cheered.
I honestly don’t think something on this scale will ever be pulled off again. The bar has been set. I’ll share this experience with my grandkids. Yes, I’m sure they will make more movies. There is too much money at stake for them not to, but as far as this saga? For me, it was perfect, and nothing will ever take this away from me.
I’d consider myself a fan of the genre and a big fan of action movies in general, I’m nowhere near the size fan that Dougie is, but I’ve enjoyed all of the Marvel films and like everyone I have my favorites. Remember that scene in Winter Soldier where bucky rips the steering wheel off and Falcon just has that “I’m fucked” look on his face? How about Killmonger yell and point is this your king after handling T’challa? Listen there are a million scenes in the past 20+ films that we’ll remember forever, and Endgame just adds a whole lot more to that list.
Without getting into any specifics, there’s just never been a final movie in a series quite like Endgame. It stays true to the spirit of all the prior movies that came before it, while offering up a brand new element that had previously only been touched in a prior movie. They really dove into some new territory here, and it worked. They really did Stan Lee proud with this one.
The Infinity Saga is over and we’re more than satisfied with its conclusion, but we also can’t wait to see what the next generation of filmmakers does with these amazing characters. Here’s to another decade of Marvel movie magic.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running. Thank you for your support!
Here’s how the story usually goes. Someone (usually a celebrity) says something racist, bigoted, sexist, or problematic and ends up offending a certain demographic or group of people. Cancel culture takes place and a bloodthirsty mob descends like a plague of locusts to drag, humiliate, and disown the person. Sure, some folks got us fucked up (Roseanne, any one who works for Trump, and our one time hero Kanye West). But are we really jettisoning these people into the sun without further analysis and introspection? Exile them forever for a shortsighted statement?
The problem with cancel culture
Cancel culture perpetuates the idea that one uneducated or wrong opinion invalidates ones entire existence. It assumes that any other contributions you may have are now negated forever.
But there is a huge problem with that method of thinking. If someone does something wrong, and we don’t have a conversation about what they said or why they did something, we are losing an opportunity to educate and potentially improve that person’s viewpoint. And even improve our own. If a racist or sexist person says some outlandish shit and we just cancel them without trying to engage with them, they aren’t learning anything and we’ve likely lost an opportunity to change their minds. Don’t believe us?
Basketball player Kyle Korver is a brilliant example of this. The Utah Jazz guard recently wrote an article for The Player’s Tribune called “Privileged”. Korver’s article has gone viral for stating that white members of society need to have more empathy and should better better allies for people of color. He did a wonderful job of unpacking his white privilege and coming to grips with the fact that his black friends and co-workers are treated differently and thus differently in the same society.
One of the main examples that he exhibited was an interaction that he had with teammate Thabo Sefolosha after he was arrested and beaten by the police at a club outing:
By all internet standards, Kyle Korver should have been cancelled by his teammates right then. But if we cancelled his for his ignorant and unwoke words, he probably would not have learned, and would not have reached greater consciousness by diving into these attitudes with his friends and teammates.
Cancel Culture and the Criminal Justice System
For us cancel culture is too similar to the criminal justice system. When we throw men and women in jail (often for minor infractions) aren’t we essentially cancelling them?
Often, there is no rehabilitation. When people come out, more often than not, they are worse off then when they went in.
We are giving up on these people and essentially saying, “Hey, you fucked up and we just aren’t going to deal with you any longer. We aren’t going to devote time or energy to you“. Now, prison is prison, but out here we should be trying to educate each other and live together, right? In a nutshell, you’ve given up on that person and you aren’t even going to try to help or rehabilitate them.
We’re all for boycotting for the right causes and not supporting people that are a blight on our society…But to cancel someone completely, to say that they no longer matter as a human being? We don’t know if we’re with that. Let’s draw a line between folks who have committed actual crimes and atrocities, and peers or celebrities who may commit what we deem as problematic infractions. It just devolves turns into bullying and shaming people.
Remember Civility? People treat each other like trash for having differences of opinion instead of engaging in discussion and trying to find common ground or educate each other. If anything, we should be cancelling social media.
Last night, Beyoncé dropped her Netflix Movie and Live-Album of the same name, “Homecoming”. Both are recordings of her legendary 2018 Coachella performance. Written, directed, produced by the singer, and filmed over eight months, the Netflix special is part concert/documentary with a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to put on a performance of this caliber.
Just in time for Summer cookout season (please check to make sure you’re invited first), make sure you peep B’s rendition of Frankie Beverly’s “Before I Let Go“.
Being two broke boys, we weren’t able to fly to Cali to attend her performance last year, but even after watching this on film, Queen B has a way of leaving you feeling inspired. This was Black Excellence. Unadulterated Blackness. Pride. College Marching Bands. Culture. The embodiment of the Black College experience on full display. For me personally, having attended an HBCU, this truly felt like coming home. Ms. Knowles-Carter nailed it. To give you a sense of why this portion of the show is so important to black people in general, let me give you a quick primer on HBCUs.
Brief History of Black Colleges and Universities
Before the Civil War (yes, we are going that far back) higher education for black people was not a thing. After the war ended, freed slaves were not granted admission to colleges and universities. But, we struggled and we fought, and we found ways to educate ourselves regardless. Black clergy and white allies helped to start smaller schools around the South to educate freed slaves. Howard. Hampton. Fisk. Morehouse. Spellman. More than 100 of these schools are still open to this day (thanks in part to federal funding starting in 1964) and they are known as Historically Black Colleges or Universities, or HBCUs
Why are these schools still important? Well, the United States is still dealing with institutional racism in higher education. Historically, not being admitted to attend segregated colleges and universities, HBCUs were our saving grace during these times. HBCUs are still necessary today because they have been the mainstay of educating African Americans at the college and university levels. Black communities throughout our nation are still being devastated by economic polarization and by racial discrimination endemic to higher education at white institutions and black universities help to educate our people and give us a more level playing field.
Well. That was a lot. So let’s get to the fun stuff.
For those that “don’t understand the big deal about Beyoncé” , and the hero worship shown by her followers, let us break down the shit for you. People love Beyoncé not only because she is an amazing singer and performer, she’s also pure Black Excellence personified. She is unapologetically black and our community feels pride in what she has been able to accomplish. She has ALWAYS put her and our blackness front and center:
Formation – A black child dances in front of a line of cops wearing SWAT gear, bringing attention to the inequalities that we see in the media and on our streets. Young black children, men and women are gunned down and brutalized on a regular basis. Her message? We see you. And we will stand defiant.
Super Bowl Halftime Show (x2) – Where she paid homage to the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, and Michael Jackson.
Lemonade visual album – in which she recreated images of American wealth and power with black women at the forefront giving us all something to aspire to.
“Beychella” was another direct example of black culture on full display. The music. The style. The marching bands. The black college experience. All of it is uniquely ours and to see it on display at the biggest music festival in the world is something special in and of itself.
From incorporating Black southern classics like Juvenile and Pimp C to performing a powerful rendition of the black national anthem (Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing), all this comes together to cement this performance into Coachella history. Not only because she was the first black woman to ever headline Coachella (mind boggling), but also because she transformed a historically white and corporate festival into an HBCU homecoming.
This past weekend we witnessed the UFC fight that has a good chance of going down in history as the best interim title fight of all time. Perhaps even the best title fight period. On a night where the main event included 1 of the top 5 pound for pound fighters in the world and a mixed martial artist with over 20 fight under his belt in the UFC alone, you’d think I was talking about the Holloway and Poirier bout. But you’d be wrong. That greatest of all time title fight was actually the Middleweight fight between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum.
We are huge fans of the UFC, and when any match up is announced that includes Israel Adesanya, we are extremely excited (Especially Idris). This is because Adesanya is a tactician on the feet, the likes of Jon Jones and Conor (whether you like it or not). Adesanya always delivers a compelling match. His last fight with Anderson Silva was originally slated to be a co-main event fight but was changed to a main event after Robert Whittaker vs Kelvin Gastelum was pulled after a life threatening injury to Whittaker. Needless to say Adesanya delivered.
He managed to out strike Anderson Silva, who is regarded by many to be the best striker to ever fight in the UFC. And sure Silva was past his prime when these two fought, but Adesanya and Silva put on a great fight. Which at the end of the day is what the fans wanted to see. That fight set up this past weekend’s fight with Israel Adesanya facing off against Kelvin Gastelum. And again Adesanya delivered.
In round 1 Kelvin comes out swinging hard, throwing bombs and actually surprises Israel in round one. Nothing too serious but he planted him with a couple shots and put him on notice with how close he gets to Landing a few Haymakers. It’s at this point I realized that this isn’t going to be such an easy fight for Adesanya. Gastelum is faster and stronger than I thought.
In round 2 Israel Adesanya gets comfortable. He attempts several head kicks and sets up his combos a lot better. This is Israel that we’re used to. Really dynamic striking and great head movement.
Round 3 is a bit more of the same for Adesanya, he’s mixing up his striking well going to the legs and the abdomen a Kelvin Gastelum. But that’s mom’s not sleeping either his job is reaching Israel and you can tell that Israel is feeling them. Still, I think at this point I’d Adesanya is winning the match.
Round 4 is it where it gets really interesting! Towards the end of the round, Gastelum catches his opponent with a clean left kick. Israel right under his chin and wobbles him. Calvin has a chance to take real Advantage here but instead of moving forward with more punches he looks for the clinch?! This is probably where Kelvin lost the match, as this was his biggest opening to take his Israel out.
In round 5 is where Israel Adesanya cemented himself as a star! After some forward pressure from Kelvin, Israel to the surprise of most everyone in the bar traps Gastelum in a guillotine. Calvin slips out but is forced to the ground where Israel puts him into another submission attempt, a triangle! Didn’t know Israel had that in his bag… Kelvin escapes and they both end up on the feet. And that’s where the fight stays (for the most part). At this point is real has found his Mark and continues to rock Calvin with punch after punch. It turns out that Kelvin Gastelum is The Terminator and cannot be stopped in a match. He survives but this is a clear victory for Israel Adesanya
This fight is just one of the many great fights that we’ve seen from the UFC this year. The fights and cards keep getting better. I don’t know how long they can keep up this pace, but I hope they do. As for Israel, we’ll be looking forward to his next match to unify the championship with Robert.
Like most of Glover’s projects, Guava Island is hard to pin down or classify. Glover and his Director, (Hiro Murai of Atlanta fame) almost seem to delight in the fact that they have almost no obligation to follow any kind of tv or movie making rules. The film is shot entirely in Cuba in the atypical 4:3 aspect ratio, giving the sense that it’s older than it really is.
The film incorporates the most recent songs from Childish Gambino‘s (Glover’s musical alias) most recent catalogue. We’re feeling some real MJ/Thriller vibes as the film seamlessly switches from movie to music video. At only an hour so its an easy watch.
Given the rabid fan anticipation over Rihanna’s upcoming album, fans my be slightly disappointed that her role (especially musically) isn’t as pronounced in this film, but make nor mistake, her presence is felt. Ms. Fenty is still coming into her own as an actress and this project was a brilliant way for her to flex some of those chops on a smaller scale before taking on another more prominent role.
Plot: Kofi (Rihanna) narrates the animated opening sequences, telling the tale of Guava Island as a folk and fairy tale that all children on the island know. Her friend Deni (Glover) would come to her window every night to sing her songs and make her feel like living on the island wasn’t so mundane.
Fast forward to present day, and Deni is now a musician, dock worker, and radio station DJ where he plays live music to the people of the island while they work their difficult jobs. He dreams of writing a song so amazing that it will bring together the entire island and defy the evil ruler of the island, Red Cargo (Nonso Anozie). To reach this end, Deni plans a secret all-night music festival (this film was released during Coachella weekend. Wink wink) which angers the boss of the island because people will miss work the next day… I get it. Not terribly intricate but this film is more about the music so you might have to give them a little latitude.
Glover and Murai seamlessly tie Childish Gambino’s music into the story and that is where I think the film excels. Without giving too much away, our favorite scene takes place at one of Deni’s jobs. While at work, a co-worker wonders aloud how great it would be to leave the island and go to America. In typical Deni fashion, he makes light of the man’s naïveté and ignorance taunting him with the lyrics to “This is America“:
These last couple of weeks have been pretty tough. With another lackluster attempt to Rock-Bottom President Donald Trump out of office, another mass shooting, and the death a prominent figure in the hip-hop community. We have too many thoughts rattling around our heads and not enough words to fully express the outrage we have with everything. We know that many of these issues warrant a larger discussion and we plan to address some of them again, but we thought it would be good to get our thoughts out. It’s cathartic and we need this. So get ready, it’s time to vent.
And here, in no particular order are the things that “we mad about right now”…
Black Community – Nipsey
Idris Gray: Why? Just why? Why is it that when a positive force is moving, there’s always another random energy ready to stuff it out? This is self-hate in a nutshell. Why do we hate the come up? Why are we jealous of our fellow man? Why do we hate to see people who look like us winning? Nipsey was that positive energy. Say what you want about hip-hop and the larger entertainment industry, but sometimes there are individuals who use their voice and influence for the good of the common man. Nipsey Hussle was one of those people. And on March 31, 2019, he was taken from us. A silver lining here is that his death did spark some good, but we also imagine what he could have done if he was still here to inspire us.
F. Dougie: I hear you fam. This shit hurts my heart. Sure, I follow some other artists much more closely, but when I heard that Nipsey was murdered in front of his own business that he built in his own community, my faith was shattered. For all the things that we are fighting against, for all the progress that we are fighting to get back… One of our own guns down his brother in the streets? For What?! Here we have a young man that for all intents and purposes, made it out of a historically dangerous and tough neighborhood and then turned around to invest money back into the same community that gave him hardship as a youth. Most people wouldn’t do that. I don’t know if I myself could go back. He devoted himself as a partner and as a father only to be gunned down by the same people he was trying to empower. Nah son. I can’t take it.
Music – Why can’t a black man write a country song?
Idris: By now you’ve all heard about the Old town road. If you haven’t I guess you can consider yourself lucky. Not because it’s a bad song, rather because it’s too damn catchy. It’s all I hear when I close my eyes now. It’s like 2015 all over again, when that damn “Sorry” song came out (JB my boy tho). Anyway, the song was taken of the Billboard country charts because let’s face it, it was by a black kid. Billboard can use any words they’d like to justify this as a less than racist action, but we know what it is. Y’all ain’t fooling us. Plus, this ain’t the first time they’ve done shit like this. And while we are happy to report that a Cyrus stepped in to “save the day”, we can’t ignore how fucked the situation is that puts us here. It’s 2019 Y’ALL, wake the fuck up.
Dougie: First of all. We created country music. Shit, we created damn near every form of popular music! To me this seems like one of those, “we love black culture, but not black people” situations. Y’all can steal our dances, music, vibe, our speak, and the way we wear our clothes, but the second that we come back to country music, “it ain’t country enough”.
For all the damage that his progeny has done to our culture and community, it took country music artist Billy Ray Cyrus to co-sign the homie Lil Nas X. Sure, Cyrus will get paid and will possibly have his first #1 single in decades, but the point is the same, If y’all are inviting y’all selves to the cookout, then we damn gon show up to the square dance with Timbs and Du-rags on.
New Zealand massacre
Idris: That’s right, Just when you start to forget about the last mass shooting, some crazy bigot swoops in to confirm your suspicions that the world is going to shit. Quick recap – Some crazy person opened fire at 2 different mosques… holy places… on men women and children, killing 50. In one day this terrorist, monster, crazy asshole killed 50 people and affected a larger group of families and freinds. How can you not feel for the families here? Entire generations of families gathered together for fellowship and met with pure hatred and evil.
Let’s not lie to ourselves, this is kind of thing is becoming more and more prevalent. Not just the mass killings but the rise of hatred for minorities across the globe. White supremacy is seeing a resurgence. And while Donald Trump may not have been the start of it, he is certainly given other bigots like him the boldness to enact their hatred.
Dougie: Hate crimes are up almost 300% in this country in the last 2 years. Swastikas are brandishing our schools. Black Churches are burning. Mosques are being vandalized and shot-up. We have a “leader” who panders to racists, bigots, and religious zealots and then denies an increase in white supremacy. These psychopaths are literally citing him directly as a reason for many of their actions. Nationalism is being rampant across the globe and these sickos are truly convinced that they are the victims. They are convinced by outlets like Fox News (from whom Trump gets his information) that brown people are coming here to steal their jobs, rape their women, and commit white genocide.
Thank god New Zealand has a true leader in Jacinda Ardern. If not for her compassionate words, quick action on gun control, and empathetic reassurance that racism and bigotry have no place in her country, things could have spiraled even more so out of control. Must be nice to have real leadership, huh?
Relationships – Ghosting
Idris: Ok so in the grand scheme of things this is pretty ‘lite’. But it still annoys the shit out of me. What ever happened to common courtesy y’all? The whole game is fucked up! Ghosting is becoming a way too common practice now-a-days. And while disappearing after a couple dates still counts as ghosting and is shameful, I’m speaking more at those of us who carry on for weeks only to disappear like a hood David Copperfield. And I know it goes both ways so I’m calling us all out. Guys and girls.
A piece of advice for my people on the receiving end. Honestly, that person is doing you a favor. That dude or chick who got snapped up by Thanos never to be seen again is helping you… Do you really want to be in a relationship with someone that inconsiderate?
Dougie: If you are actively communicating with someone, you have a relationship with them. Period. This ghosting shit has gotten out of hand. People begin relationships, and then flat out disappear with no warning or notice. I’ve even read about people who have ghosted marriages and even their jobs with no explanations! When did this shit become acceptable?! Has social media made us this disjointed from each other and this uncaring for other people’s feelings that we’ll literally just stop pretending they exist after developing a relationship? Everyone hates dating. It’s not fun. No one wants to put themselves out there and get hurt. Honestly, ghosting is partly why. How can we trust one another when we are afraid that the person we’ve invested time in is just going to disappear like David fucking Blaine or the Great Goddamn Houdini?! This ain’t The Prestige. Fuck outta here.
I don’t care who you are. If you ghost someone, you are a coward plain and simple. The bad karma that you have been putting out into the world shall be visited upon you 100 fold. Shame on you. Shame, and a curse upon your house!
Politics – Mueller Report and Trump’s Tax Returns
Idris: Once again we are a witnessing the magic that is Donald Trump – the teflon don. Honestly will anything stick to this man? Should we just focus on the next race and pretend like we’re ok with the fact that the leader of the free world is a complete moron? A misogynist? A bigot? A racist? I sometimes pretend like my girlfriend is Rihanna. But this is a stretch. (Don’t worry she pretends that my last name was Elba. It’s really a win win for everyone.)
Dougie: You know what….I can’t. I won’t. I don’t have the energy. See y’all in November 2020.
The American Prison System
Idris: Last week, a report came out detailing the terrible conditions of Alabama prisons. In the report guards and other authority figures of the prison were said to be ignoring extreme cases of assault, rape and even covering up murders as deaths by natural causes. This shit is straight up despicable. We already know that the prison system in this country is a joke, we recommend reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander if you really want to understand the depths of the problem – but this article was a reminder of all the bullshit happening today in this country that we are so far removed from. “Criminals” are often treated like animals and reform is not the object of these prisons.
Dougie:The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The 13th by Ava DuVernay. The truth is out there, and that shit hurts. One major step would be to remove all private prisons but only a few Presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders have even entertained the discussion. Don’t get me started on detention in schools being used as a weapon to criminalize black children and get them ready for the American prison systems via the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
We need something positive, Y’all. We need some Ws in the win column and we need them yesterday. Can someone show us some real progress? Something really beautiful going on in the world to counterbalance the state of our country, the planet, and the way we treat each other around the world? Because right now, we just ain’t seeing it.We feel like Captain America and Iron Man at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Please. Someone show us the light.