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Photo illustration: Save As; Source: Everette Collection

After pulling the trigger in Hollywood’s most ominous drive-by, Lloyd Avery II began to mirror the lifestyle of the gangster he portrayed on-screen. But the late actor’s demise is much deeper than life imitating art.

Based on numbers alone, Lloyd Avery II’s character in is a minor role. Four scenes. About eight lines of dialogue. At most, two minutes of screen time. He’s listed in the credits as Knucklehead #2, but fans of the film know him as the Blood who shot Ricky. He’s best remembered emerging from that cardinal red Hyundai clutching a sawed-off shotgun like he’s death incarnate, set to perpetrate one of the most tragic movie murders of all time. Radiating intensity, Avery’s charisma elevates this nameless henchman into an iconic villain.

“Lloyd had a presence that I…


The Only Black Guy in the Office

I keep it realer than most while on the job, but there are limits to how freely I’ll speak around my co-workers

Illustration: Michael Kennedy

Around this time last year, I had a professional breakthrough. Last summer, in the midst of various American institutions being taken to task for upholding systemic racism, I decided to shed my code-switching ways once and for all. Longtime readers may remember me pouring out a lil liquor for my White voice and making a personal promise to more closely align my out-of-office and on-the-clock personas. I’ve been logging on to work as my full Black self ever since.

I have no regrets about this subtle yet meaningful choice. Keepin’ it real hasn’t gone wrong yet. But if I’m being…


D-Nice’s DJ sets have become an Instagram staple — and the source of some enduring life lessons

Photo: BET2020/Getty Images

On March 18, 2020, Derrick Jones set up some DJ equipment in his kitchen, went live on Instagram, and immediately began to change the world. That might feel like an exaggeration — just put it in your back pocket and we’ll revisit it later.

Jones grabbed some wine, started playing music, and just like that, the “Homeschool social distance dance party” was born. What followed was nine hours of digital festivities, virtually attended by the likes of Common, John Legend, and LL Cool J, in addition to thousands who prefer using their real names when they go to work.

When…


Revisiting K-Dot’s genius in the midst of unprecedented times

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

As Black lives haven’t mattered and cities that were one-time citadels of Black excellence have been roiled by manic, racist antagonism, I’ve kept an ear open and eye out for one note of salvation: King Kendrick. The Negus. The good kid in a “m.A.A.d city.” The un-pimped butterfly. And I’ve heard nothing.

Maybe the age of pop-aspiring rap was so choked with snap-trappers, marble-mouthed mumblers, and turnt-out turn-ups that we were too devoid of our souls to receive the power of a cultural statement from Kendrick Lamar in the mainstream.


And the overturning of his sexual assault conviction doesn’t make him any less of a monster

Photo: NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

The only thing worse than a rapist is a sanctimonious one that doesn’t know when to shut the fuck up and rot in silence. No reasonable person should’ve ever expected Bill Cosby to be quiet though.

Based on the Twitter profile maintained while he was incarcerated, the comedian and accused tormentor of allegedly 60 women fancied himself as some sort of political prisoner. This nigga ain’t Nelson Mandela, but sadly the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has provided this monster more material to play the martyr. …


After years of assimilation, I relearned the importance of loving myself — and my Puerto Rican culture — in full

First days of swim team, one of my first steps towards assimilating to life in the States. Courtesy of author.

Once upon a time on a Caribbean island, I would climb palms, knock down coconuts, and sell them for a dollar. But 35 years have passed since my family left Puerto Rico for the States. That’s three decades for this transplant to sprout new roots, time enough to bear three ripened fruits of my own.

My core formed on the tiny tropical island of Puerto Rico. Surrounded by the different hues of Caribbean blues, I grew up swimming anywhere that kept me cool. Then, when I turned 10, my dad’s government job transferred him to Texas. …


It’s bigger than drow elves and trolls. The cult classic board game’s recent shakeup evokes how oppressors retain the status quo.

Photo Source: Getty Images

When I was around 10 years old, on an otherwise unremarkable Saturday afternoon at the Main Library in Downtown Columbus, Ohio, I had my life changed.

I was walking through the children’s area when I saw a large group of kids seated around two tables that had been pushed together. Sheets of paper covered every surface and everyone had their own set of weird candy-like dice. A young man older than the rest of the group sat at the head of the table with a cardstock screen standing in front of him, hiding hand-drawn maps on graph paper and several…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Stop being cute and just describe the damn thing!

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Getty Images

6. Exuberance

For any general color you can think of, there are dozens of Pantone varieties. Take orange: There’s Orangeade, Jaffa Orange, Apricot, Orange.com (whatever the hell that means), Tangelo, D’angelo (okay, not that one), and the list goes on. Most of them at least sound orange. And then there’s… exuberance. We’re all for poetic license, but can anyone explain this one to us?

5. Urban Red

If we were being generous here, we’d say, “Clearly, Pantone was trying to evoke the deep-red hue of the bricks from which so many cities’ apartment buildings are built.” But we’re not that generous because we know


This Week in Racism

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

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Getty Images

🗑 Florida man forgets that anger doesn’t also have to be racist

In Crystal River, Florida (surprise!), police arrested a man for vandalizing a van for…


Questlove’s new documentary ‘Summer of Soul’ is an in-depth look into the soundtrack behind Black American life during the fiery summer of 1969

Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

The year 1969 was one of those touchstone periods in United States history. As the ’60s came to a close, the worlds of American science, politics, and music, to name just a few, would never be the same. The decade produced a marine coast of watershed moments. For people of color, though, many were unforgettable tragedies. The most powerful advocates and heroes of the disenfranchised — along with their hope — were killed.

The first half of the 1960s saw President John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X plotted against and assassinated. In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy announced to the country…

LEVEL

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