Forget resolutions — this year, bet on the person who knows you best

John Kennedy
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6 min readJan 5, 2021

Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From managing your new year’s expectations to the week in racism, from pop-culture picks to a must-read LEVEL story, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you’re loving what you’re reading, tell a friend to tell a friend.

January has arrived! Which means, well, lots of things. For one, you’ve survived the landfill of a year that was 2020, albeit with some drama and trauma that’s rolled over like minutes on your old cell phone plan. And as with the start of any new year, there’s a very human penchant to declare resolutions: game-plans to make your next 365 your best. But life is drastically different since the last ball drop and calendar flip. With 2020 having proven how uncertain the future can be, perhaps it’s time to tweak the yearly tradition this go-round and simply strive to live in the moment and be the best versions of ourselves possible.

Sure, it might sound a little corny, but let’s keep it a stack: Odds are you wouldn’t stick to any tangible resolution you set during normal times. And 2021 brings its own new set of variables. Who knows if Covid-19 vaccines will be administered to the public quickly enough to contain the stateside surge of cases. Or if remote work will remain the corporate standard. Or whether a shaky economy will lead to even more jobs evaporating. (Last year, my resolution was to cut down on alcohol. Take a wild guess how that turned out.)

That’s not to say that you can’t use this fresh start to focus on self-improvement. But maybe instead of a measurable goal, you should focus on feeding what makes you you. Think about your character, values, passions, the principles by which you’d like to live. By aiming to fortify those aspects of your personality on a regular basis, you can better show up for yourself and the people in your life. (And, it’s worth noting‚ for Black women.) That will look different for everyone — maybe it’s embracing meditation, calling your folks more, activism, philanthropy, or, sure, working out regularly. But by identifying your actualized self, you can work backwards to create a compass that can be instructive regardless of the inevitable bullshit that 2021 throws our way.

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While we clean up the rubble from last year and slay the obstacles that are ahead, we’ll all need to be the best we can be for ourselves, our loved ones, and our role in the world at large. Consider this a challenge. You game?

— John Kennedy, senior editor

This Week in Racism

🗑 If You’re Trying to Win Back Your Ex-Girlfriend, May We Suggest Avoiding Racist Graffiti?

Walking outside in the morning to find a swastika and the N-bomb spray-painted on your garage can’t be a great feeling. But it’s gotta be worse realizing that the person who did it is your daughter’s ex-boyfriend. That’s what happened to a Tennessee family on New Year’s Eve — and because the genius was so clearly captured on their security camera, police arrested the guy later that day. Turns out this wasn’t Ian Grau’s first go-round with a can of spray paint, either; earlier last year, someone filed a police report claiming that he’d defaced a car at the same house. Here’s to you, Ian; if you’re this smart at 22 years old, we can’t wait to see what you accomplish when you really get cooking! (WKRN)

🗑 You Had Us at “A Traditionally-Minded Son of Europe”

Murdock, Minnesota is a small town. Like, fewer than 300 people small. But more than 50,000 people have signed a petition trying to stop the Asatru Folk Assembly from opening a church there. See, the organization, based in California, is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — and we’re guessing that statements like “activities and behaviors destructive of the White family are to be discouraged” have something to do with it. Here’s something we’ve never quite understood: if you’re trying to recruit people to your fake-ass church that’s founded on vaguely defined “ethnic European” principles, why do you always go to the least populated places to do it? Seems counterintuitive. Anyway, best of luck “oppos[ing] the cultural marxists who would reduce all of humanity to an indistinguishable gray mass”! (NBC News)

🗑 We’ll Take “Assholes” for $800, Alex

If you’re filling out your 2021 Things We Probably Won’t Remember By the End of the Year bingo card, you’re gonna want to make sure “Bean Dad getting Milkshake Ducked” is on there. See, over the weekend, a guy named John Roderick told a long Twitter story about his nine-year-old daughter figuring out how to use a can opener. Charming, right? Absolutely. Well, at least until people realized that Roderick — who happens to co-host a podcast with Jeopardy legend Ken Jennings — also had a long, long history of tweeting n-bombs and antisemitic garbage, either in some misguided attempt at irony or because blithe fiftysomething White dudes still have trouble wrapping their brains around the idea that they’re not actually hilarious. Jennings didn’t exactly make things better when he came to his friend’s defense, claiming that a guy who’s pro-Israel couldn’t possibly say antisemitic things. Either way, Roderick deleted his old tweets, Jennings is still rumored to be Alex Trebek’s replacement as Jeopardy host, and everyone is still forgetting the obvious fact that he needs to get out the way so Kenan Thompson can do it. (Hollywood Reporter)

The LEVEL Up: Culture Picks From the Editors

📖 Mama Phife Represents: A Memoir

Hip-hop fans knew the late Phife Dawg by many aliases: the Funky Diabetic, the Five-Foot Freak, Mutty Ranks. But to famed poet Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, he was simply Malik Izaak Taylor, her son. And in this new book — composed of anecdotes, journal entries, dreams, and prose — she bares open her grieving heart and humanizes the A Tribe Called Quest MC as only a mother could. (Haymarket Books)

📺 Headspace: Guide to Mediation

If your new year’s resolution is to find some serenity for once, we’ve got you covered. This new animated miniseries — presented by the mindfulness-focused platform Headspace — walks viewers through methods of meditation to help you navigate the whirlwind of emotional states you might experience in these crazy times, so you can zen the fuck out, word to Big Sean. (Netflix)

📱 Verzuz: Ashanti vs. Keyshia Cole

Let’s try this again. The first scheduled showdown between these scorned singers was postponed due to Ashanti testing positive for coronavirus. But once again, it’s on. Don’t be foolish: Log onto IG Live and pay homage to two queens who reigned R&B throughout the 2000s. (1/9 at 8 p.m. ET, Instagram)

LEVEL Read of the Week

I Love Time Off, But This Holiday Break Hit Different

After chronicling the many faces of corporate fuckery in 2020, LEVEL workplace columnist The Only Black Guy in the Office took a couple of weeks off over the holidays to recharge. At least, that was the plan. Turns out hangovers don’t only come from the cheap liquor served at office parties — and shaking off the last 12 months wasn’t as easy as copping a Christmas tree and Netflix binging. What’s next for him? Read the story

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