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Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Rest in power, weird-ass kings and queens!

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Dishmantled via Quibi

Yes, the premise was exactly what it sounds like: Blindfolded MCs navigated an obstacle course populated with swole-ass gladiators, rapping all the while. And the only reason this is the least-weird entry on the list is because Eric Andre actually managed to prove its potential on his self-titled Adult Swim show. Honestly, if Quibi had lived long enough to add the show to its platform, we might have become paying subscribers.

Only in 2020, a year in which everyone was at home and a billion-dollar company was absolutely desperate for content, could “a bunch of actors re-enact The Princess Bride


Showtime turning the siege into a show tells us everything we already knew about this country

Photo:Olivier Douliery/GettyImages

Within just two months, the attempted fascist coup by White nationalists caught its first Hollywood green light. Last Thursday, Showtime announced that the network has ordered three scripts about the Trump-incited riot on Capitol Hill for a series to be helmed by Billy Ray, director of political drama The Comey Rule. The three-part act has been made plain: the waning days of the pumpkin presidency, the insurrection, and its aftermath.

The speed with which this happened was as predictable as tax season. Twitter saw it coming from a mile away: A conspiratorial assault called forth by fascist animus and a…


Two years ago, I debated the ex-‘Good Morning Britain host — and he was exactly who you’d think

Still from a Good Morning Britain broadcast. Jeremy Heller, a Black man with a shaved head, above a chyron that says: “Developing story. Jeremy Helligar: Writer and journalist,” and in front of a blurred photo of a worried-looking Liam Neeson holding a cellphone to his ear.
Still from a Good Morning Britain broadcast. Jeremy Heller, a Black man with a shaved head, above a chyron that says: “Developing story. Jeremy Helligar: Writer and journalist,” and in front of a blurred photo of a worried-looking Liam Neeson holding a cellphone to his ear.
Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid interviewed me on ‘Good Morning Britain’ in February 2019. Photo from my personal collection.

This month, Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan clashed on air with three Black people — his colleague, Alex Beresford, and two GMB guests — over his dismissal of Meghan Markle’s charges of racism in the royal family. Royalist Morgan was determined not to let a pesky inconvenience like white supremacy spoil his whitewashed view of England’s first family. In the space of two days, he was roundly rebuked on his show by all three, ultimately quitting GMB.

Watching the trio of YouTube clips sparked an uncomfortable flashback for me. Two years ago, I had my own on-air encounter with…


Don’t be fooled by the new ‘woke’ race coverage — it’s business as usual

Colin Jost and Michael Che on Weekend Update, “Saturday Night Live.” Photo: YouTube

“A change is gonna come,” Sam Cooke sang on his 1964 album, Ain’t That Good News. Five months later, with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it did. But the burden of being Black in America has barely budged.

Changes, though, keep coming. Ever since George Floyd’s murder last year ushered in a new age of racial unrest and reckoning in the U.S., many mainstream publications have shifted focus to race-related content. That has resulted in increased awareness and more freelance work for me, but I’ve remained wary.

Is it just about keeping up appearances, or do the White editors…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Hit dogs holler, that’s all we’re saying

Photo: Zero Creatives/Getty Images

Totally, man. Calling for Trump to face (legal) repercussions for his (legal) violations is far, far worse than fantasizing about murdering elected officials, based on a conspiracy theory that has been dismissed in courtrooms across America due to not having even a shred of evidence to support it. The only thing you forgot in this gem is telling us we’re the real racists.

You know that phrase “do your research”? Wait, what we are even asking? Of course you do. People love trotting it out before revealing that their conclusions are based on doctored videos and citation-free journalism. …


This Week in Racism

It’s an embarrassment of riches in our weekly roundup of the world’s most preventable disease!

Death and taxes used to be the only two certainties in life — but no matter how much progress it feels like we’re making sometimes, the sad fact is you can probably slide racism into that list. Are we in a moment of uprising that feels like it has the potential to create real, systemic change? Yes. Do people and organizations still show their ass on a daily basis? Oh, most definitely. And to keep tabs on all that ass-showing, we’re pleased to introduce our weekly racism surveillance machine. …


If not me, then who? A 40-year-old White man?

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

When the video of Jacob Blake getting shot seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin, reached my timeline, I did what I usually do when Black trauma becomes a matter of mass consumption. I got angry.

I shared a Twitter post and an Instagram story, then deleted both. What made Blake’s shooting different from the last time an unarmed Black man was shot, or the time before? My cycle of grief continued; I tried to distance myself from it all by deactivating all of my social media.

The torched Department of Corrections building was a new sight, but the…


Living and documenting Black pain is too much of an ask

Photo: Jon Feingersh Photography Inc/Getty Images

Black writers are expected to write about pain.

We’re regularly asked to suffer on the page for a voyeuristic White gaze, that feeds off cathartic writing from people of color.

It allows the reader to consume pain without feeling guilty. This is a trend. These are words on a page. This is not real. Our stories, and the trauma that births them, manufacture high demand for stories that only see us through the lens of pain.

It further incentivizes editors, publishers, and even Hollywood to demand people of color root out their pain and hold it up for everyone to…


Illustration: Chris Visions

It wasn’t just Pets.com and eToys — 20 years ago, a slew of hip-hop and ‘urban’ sites became early casualties of the first dot-com bubble

At the very end, Adam Kidron needed a multimillion-dollar loan just to pay severance to the people he was laying off. Some of his employees at Urban Box Office, the company he had co-founded, had to be taught how to apply for unemployment. They were kids, really; many had never had a real job. “I was a twentysomething high school graduate from the Bronx,” says Steven Samuel. “UBO paid me six figures. It was about our worth, not our formal education.” Kidron even made sure all the content creators retained the rights to anything they did at UBO. …


Level Q

One of few Black journalists to anchor a prime-time news show, Lemon keeps a candid camera

Photos: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Don Lemon loves the moment — in all its complexity. The CNN anchor has been hate-tweeted from both sides of the color line, mocked by Dave Chappelle and slammed by Donald Trump. He’s admonished Black boys for sagging their pants, and issued an on-air smackdown to actor Terry Crews in defense of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The rare Black journalist to anchor a prime-time news show, Lemon backs up his chippiness with chops, refusing to suffer fools or sycophants. When former Ohio Gov. John Kasich praised the tone of a recent Trump speech about coronavirus, Lemon pressed him in…

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