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The actor/artist’s janky Jamaican accent and “White Boy Summer” highlight the importance of Black people telling their own stories

Photo: Axelle/Getty Images

Chet Hanks, son of Tom Hanks, has become one of the most polarizing culture vultures across the World Wide Web. And honestly, it was kind of funny at first. You might’ve been able to laugh through dude’s cringe — dubbing himself Chet Haze and White Chocolate, roaring his best renditions of Jamaican patois. But things became much less amusing a couple weeks ago, when he declared the months following the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the United States as “White Boy Summer,” followed by the release of a music video for a song of the same name.

“I’m not talking about…


After years of making us laugh at our pain, the most likable man in comedy focuses on the most painful thing of all: our jobs

Photo courtesy Roy Wood Jr.

Roy Wood Jr. is the kind of guy who makes everyone comfortable. He has a talent for making strangers feel as if they grew up with him on his street in Birmingham, Alabama. Even if you have dissimilar viewpoints and values, you’d still want to sit and have a beer with him. It’s part of how Wood has been able to spend his career tackling difficult topics. It’s also why the 42-year-old comedian has remained busy, even in the midst of a pandemic.

In addition to being a correspondent on The Daily Show, Wood recently launched Roy’s Job Fair, a…


It was a year of loss, but that’s not the only thing he’ll learn

Photo: Unsplash

In March 2020, my wife and I went on our last date outside the house. Here’s the story I want to tell my son about that night and all that happened during his first year of life.

Your mother and I hit up Samantha’s Tap Room in Little Rock’s River Market District and feasted on a quail appetizer, steak, and pasta. We’d been watching the news and realized this could be our last time enjoying dining out because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s the dating activity we enjoyed most.

I sipped wine and tried to savor this last night together…


Let me tell you about my most faithful friend, Georgia May

Georgia May, my ash blonde pitbull sitting at the edge of the river, the green mountains of Puerto Rico looming in the background.
Georgia May, my ash blonde pitbull sitting at the edge of the river, the green mountains of Puerto Rico looming in the background.
Photos courtesy of the author.

March is here on the island of Puerto Rico; the sun hangs a little higher in the sky as trade-wind breezes stir the ocean swell. Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and with it, Georgia May’s birthday. She is seven now, with a soft tide of gray hairs encroaching her whiskers, but her pit bull eyes still shine with youth. A mixture of hope and sadness has defined her longing gaze ever since I brought her home six years ago. …


I’ll always long for the alleyways and boulevards of my youth

A snow covered street in midtown during a winter storm on February 1, 2021 in New York City.
A snow covered street in midtown during a winter storm on February 1, 2021 in New York City.
The winter storm on February 1, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

As I write these words, it’s snowing in New York.

It doesn’t snow here where I am, at the tail end of the West Indies. In Puerto Rico, the place where the Caribbean sea sidles up to a pounding Atlantic, my winters can barely be called winters at all.

Instead of bitter chill, I awake most mornings to zephyr-like breezes. The trade winds at play off the coast. Palms dance beneath the fat yellow sun, less relentless than in summer but still bringing sweat to my brow. …


Transforming a landfill into an oceanside oasis isn’t easy, but it’s necessary

Against the backdrop of a cloudless blue sky, the sun washes over an enormous dune and the handful of palm trees that stabilize it.
Against the backdrop of a cloudless blue sky, the sun washes over an enormous dune and the handful of palm trees that stabilize it.
Photos courtesy of the author

As you drive down Puerto Rico’s Route 466, the Spanish-style houses and roadside panaderías start to peel away. The road buckles and plunges toward a white-capped Atlantic. Seaside cliffs rise, and trees stretch gnarled limbs into a semi-canopy.

Driving farther still, you reach the remnants of a dune sea tracing the asphalt. Beyond the sandy, mangrove-dotted hills, the sound of the ocean rises as it hammers the shore. This is the Mabodamaca Community Natural Reserve in Isabela, Puerto Rico. …


It’s time for some early spring cleaning

Photo: jidaley/pixabay.com/FreeIMG

I was only four years old when my family left the U.S. Virgin Islands to pursue the mainland American dream in Florida. Since then, I’ve been back just once, for my cousin’s wedding in 1994. I’m sure it was a beautiful ceremony, but I don’t recall much about the nuptials other than something the bride’s father, my uncle, said during his reception speech. He warned the local guests — particularly the ones prominent in business, as he was — not to allow White people to disrupt the Black heritage of the island of St. Thomas and infringe upon their Black…


Stanley Nelson tells a story that still lives in all of us

“Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy.” Photo: Netflix

My family is full of storytellers.

Many of us come from families where the yarn of our existence isn’t noted down in some book somewhere. It’s messier. It slips off the tongues of those closest to us, vague in the way of memory. The stories of people we may have never met become real to us.

My aunt Cookie used to tell the story about the night her car died in Williamsburg’s industrial district; it’s one of my favorites. The walk, just a handful of blocks to her apartment on Wyckoff Avenue, became an interminable journey. The neighborhood wasn’t the…


I feel like a nappy-headed stranger in a genre I’ve loved all my life.

Morgan Wallen in the “More Than My Hometown” video. Photo: YouTube

The late singer Charley Pride, country music’s first Black superstar, once shared how the legendary Webb Pierce had welcomed him to the genre. “It’s good for you to be in our music,” Pierce had told him. Pride’s response? “It’s my music, too.”

I understand his sentiment. As a lifelong country music fan, I’ve often reacted the same way to side-eye welcomes by self-anointed gatekeepers. That’s how I felt when a shopkeeper in London in the 1990s nearly had a stroke when I brought the international version of Shania Twain’s CD Come on Over up to the counter. …

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