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.
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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.
We recently took the plunge and participated in our first class at Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy here in New York City. If you don’t know who Renzo is (pronounced Hen–zo), as a 6th degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he’s from the legendary Gracie family of BJJ and has titles, awards, and trophies in every major Martial Arts prestige from the UFC to the Pride Fighting Championships.
The beginners class includes a 30-minute tutorial from one of the school’s many talented instructors, a practice Gi, and 2 additional classes (either BJJ or Muay Thai). All of this is free! They don’t try to hustle or harass you into joining. There are no questions asked and they really give you the opportunity to learn and see for yourself if you like the academy and martial art before discussing any kind of pricing or packages.
After learning the basics in the 30-minute intro class (Stance, Falling, Rolling, Half Guard) we joined the hour-long white belt class. The class was full of people of all shapes, sizes, color, ethnicity, and gender. Even though we were clearly new to all this, everyone was welcoming and accommodating.
We started with the warm-up (if you want to call it that). We’re typically pretty active ourselves. Dougie Boxes at Gleason’s twice a week and Idris lifts and crosses fools over at the Y on Thursdays. He’s nice with the fadeaway (RAINDROPS!). But the warm-up was still enough to get a good sweat going. I can only really describe it as a lighter version of circuit training designed to work every part of your body and get the muscles that you’ll be doing while practicing BJJ engaged. We can’t lie, we were both a little gassed afterward. Honestly, that shouldn’t scare you off. The warm-up and full program are very accommodating and although it designed to give you a full-body workout, you can go at your own pace without any meatheads screaming in your face.
Warm-Up — Several rounds of jogging, push-ups, rolling, sit-ups, side crawls, knee highs, squats, shrimp , etc.
Idris Grey: Yo, this is the warm up? How many laps we doing?!
F. Dougie: Stick with me fam! Don’t leave me behind!
Idris Grey: I need some milk!
F. Dougie: You’re fine fam.
Idris Grey: I think I pulled something. Yup definitely pulled my groin.
F. Dougie: Damn, you won’t be fucking for 2 weeks at least!
10 minutes later…
Idris: I’m done. I don’t know if I can do anymore…
Dougie: I’m drenched in sweat…I thought I was in decent shape. Hold’up, there’s more class left?! How long were we warming up?!
Idris: It’s all good. Everyone else is sweating too. We got this.
The basic principle of having a strong base is key here. This is so the opponent is less likely to be able to move or control your body. Keeping good posture is also paramount. This is done by keeping your head up, so your opponent cannot easily break your head down and control your body. Where the head goes, the body must follow. Strong frames keep your opponent at a fixed position and enable you to move in a fashion which will after proper positioning, allow you to escape the typical schoolyard bully strategy of headlock.
Keep your chin down to hinder their grips from reaching your neck. (You don’t want to get choked out. Your shoulders are up, making it harder for the opponent from choking you from behind. Your elbows are tight to your body and your hands are protecting your neck. We’re fairly certain that all members of the Wu-Tang Clan have mastered this technique. (“Protect ya neck!” ) Your head goes to the ground, your back moves to the ground. Here is where we look to escape. As soon as someone gets their hooks in, your head should be going down to the mat. Early prevention is best.
Better yet…never let anyone take your back. It’s the most dominant position in all of combat.
This one is more advanced but still worth a close look. Delariva is an old-school, new-school guard, named after BJJ legend Ricardo De La Riva. No guard is a real guard without the principle of kuzushi. A Japanese term which means to unbalance one’s opponent. Simply, no guard is a guard if it does not have a push AND a pull.
Overall, we highly recommend at least giving Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy a shot. It’s an amazing way to stay in shape. It’s a lot of fun too, once you get past that burning in your chest. It tests your cardio, flexibility, strength, and even your creativity. Like we mentioned, even the warm up had us looking for the nearest water fountain. But even more importantly, learning to defend yourself these days is paramount. Hate crimes are at record highs and people are more hostile than ever. People get into altercations on the subways and on the streets for as doing as little as accidentally bumping into one another.
We are not saying that you need to become a ninja or assassin or anything like that, but learning what you don’t know could help save you from bodily harm or worse. Do you know how to escape a basic headlock? These guys can teach you to reverse and control someone twice your size and strength with 2 easy motions. Learning not to panic in a difficult situation or knowing that the most simple technique can help diffuse a bad situation can give you greater peace of mind while you navigate through these mean streets.
We saw men women and even children with the confidence and determination to know that they were in control, and that is real power. Give ‘em a shot, and tell em OB sent ya.
We also noticed many of the students wearing what were called Rash Guards and Spats. These are base compression layer of protective wear that eliminate friction, rubbing, bruises, and are also antimicrobial & anti-fungal! They are like a layer of high-tech armor to eliminate damage and help you recover faster. Honestly, they are stylish and comfortable as well and are a great buy around $19.99 each.
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Jordan Peele’s newest film dropped this March, 2019. Since winning an Oscar for the thought provoking Get Out, he’s been one of Hollywood’s most sought after Director/Producers. Not only is he producing several upcoming projects, he’s been hired by CBS to relaunch “The Twilight Zone” this fall on CBS.
Ever since we heard the unmistakable low tones of “I Got 5 On It” during the trailer for Us last fall, audiences have been eagerly awaiting Peele’s 2nd feature film with anticipation. Get Out was not only horrifying and starting, it also delivered in making audiences socially and politically uncomfortable by commenting directly on how black and white Americans interact with one another socially, romantically, and politically.
Part of the anticipation for Us was the nervous wondering aloud: “Can Peele do it again, or was Get Out just a once in a lifetime film”?
The answer for us is a resounding “Yes”.
Idris Gray: Going into the movie I had high hopes and preconceived notions about what I was about to see. I figured Jordan Peele was going to flip the typical scary movie/thriller on its head and give us something new and thought provoking. Something that made somewhat of a social or political statement. Here at Objectively Black we are not about spoilers or robbing our readers of any surprises so I’m not going to tell you if those expectations were met. But what I will say is that I came out of the movie thoroughly satisfied with what I had seen.
The movie scored high for me on the storyline alone. The plot and subsequent plot twist was so well written and led you on a journey that had you questioning what the fuck was going on for the better part of two hours. The movie gently grabs your curiosity and pulls you in more as you continue watching eventually you start trying to put all the clues together as you watch. Do yourself a favor and don’t try and figure it out, just watch the film.
As far as the cast goes, they all did an amazing job. If you’ve seen the trailers then you know at the very least that the main characters are confronted by antagonists that look exactly like them. No spoiler there. So essentially each actor played 2 separate roles through the course of the movie. And oh, lets not forget Lupita Nyong’o. She really went in on this role. If it wasn’t for the ominous music providing a constant reminder, you’d end up wondering if Us is a horror, thriller or drama. And that’s mostly because of her performance.
I don’t want to give away anything more than this. I know I’m not telling you much besides “It’s great”. But you really won’t be disappointed here. Whether you are a casual or die hard fan of the horror genre or more so someone who doesn’t watch scary movies but just liked how poignant “Get Out” was, you’ll enjoy this film. I’ll definitely be watching again.
F. Dougie: So first of all, I thought that the concept was incredibly interesting. The duality of playing people against evil versions of themselves has always been one of my favorite fantasy tropes. This iteration of that idea was expertly written and executed. The movie is very heavy on setup, but even though the first 20 minutes or so are big on exposition, the payoff (if you are paying attention) is huge. It has a way of keeping you on the edge of your seat because you just want to understand what the hell is going on.
This is a flat out horrifying movie in a genre that has a tendency to get kind of cheesy. I thought that Lupita Nyong’o did an amazing job leading the cast in a role that called for her to essentially play 2 different characters. She hit every emotion that you could hit as an actor and if this is the kind of performance that warrants an Oscar, she should definitely be in consideration.
Winston Duke bought the funny as the goofy, boat-loving and loveable patriarch of the family. Without giving too much away, his corny dad jokes are so on point, that by the time we actually need him to toughen up, it’s hard to believe that he could actually hurt a fly.
All of the characters were very developed and the new young actors did their thing as well. Especially the young daughter.
All in all, I’ll definitely be seeing this one again. Unlike Get Out, it’s not political per se, but there are possibly some heavy ideas here for you to chew on while Jordan peele is scaring the hell out of you. Aside from the above, I can’t help but shake the feeling that Peele is making some pointed comments about America and the way that we deal with others. We love to “point fingers”, but most of the damage to our country has been done from within. Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemies.
Recently, celebrities like R. Kelly and Michael Jackson (RIP) have come into the spotlight because of allegations of child molestation. These conversations have prompted people to stop playing their music. Some companies and media outlets have taken themselves out of the conversation by removing their content altogether. With all the recent conversations about not supporting problematic figures, we want to see what people think. Our question is:
Is it ok appreciate the art or contributions of allegedly or convicted ‘problematic’ artists?
The list of pop-culture icons who have been accused is becoming endless. These people were basically considered gods in their respective fields:
Bill Cosby (Convicted of rape)
Woody Allen (Alleged pedophelia and staurtory rape of his daughter)
Michael Jackson (Alleged molestation of children)
Harvey Weinstein (On trial for sexual assault)
For the sake of argument, considering those that have been accused and are alleged troublemakers, if we assume all of the allegations are true, (we have our doubts about MJ specifically) do we stop consuming the contributions these people have made to art and popular culture? Considering the issues with mass-shootings and white nationalism, the timing of these topics and coverage by the media seems odd at best.
Your President denies collusion with a foreign power and also denies the rise of white nationalism despite all evidence to the contrary. Black people are shot down like animals in the streets on what seems like a regular basis. The media barely shines a light on the subject and then the next week it’s on to the new Kardashian love triangle. It all seems like a distraction, but we digress.
So, if we are cancelling the contribution for one artist in a medium, why aren’t we doing this for every problematic contributor across the spectrum? These are the questions that we want people to discuss.
Also, as black men, we want to let you know that we see things differently. Listen, we aren’t defending the acts of any criminals but one of the main questions that we have about people ‘cancelling’ these men is, why is the media taking the microscope to black artists and not anyone who has ever committed an alleged atrocity?
Where are the crusades against the catalog’s of Elvis Presley, Woody Allen, and David Bowie for their supposed actions? It’s seems to us that acts by white artists or counterparts are not held to the same standards or scrutiny. If you do that for one you have to do that for everybody, right? Our point is if you want to get self-righteous and indigent for one artists issues, keep that same energy when they come for your Elvis collection.
Additionally, is this how we want to live? The sad thing is, if you look closely enough at anyone they probably have some dark secrets. That goes double for artists and politicians now in today’s digital age.
Again, our point is this, let’s not be hypocrites. Let’s dive in a little bit more to give you a few examples of problematic shit that has gone untouched by the media for years:
Our “Founding Fathers” — On our legal U.S. Tender we celebrate the pictures of U.S. heroes who were also oppressors. Think about that. We have Slave owners on our currency.
Catholic Church — These sickos are caught in controversy after controversy, year after year involving abuse against underaged boys. But sure, your scheduled vacation to Rome to see the Vatican ain’t sus. In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.
National Anthem —The anthem that we are told to stand for and support was written for Americans before slavery ended and even had a verse at the time that referenced slavery directly.
Don’t let us get started on tech companies like Apple and Facebook selling your data. And apparel companies like Nike that employ problematic labor practices.
To get you thinking about how life is affected when we start removing art from our lives, we’ve created a playlist of artists who people say you shouldn’t listen to because of the alleged crimes they have committed.