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I just want the best for him — but I fear he’ll be othered

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Drop-off at my son’s daycare follows a familiar script: We leave home in my quickly aging Kia with its speakers throbbing, as I match the lyrical flows of the ’90s rappers who raised me. Upon approaching the nursery, I slowly reduce the volume and compose myself before parking alongside Audis and Teslas owned by consultants, marketers, lawyers, and the like. Before stepping out of the car, I silently remind myself that my family deserves to experience the same privileges that they do — even if we’ve shaved our budget bare-bones to afford the cost of preschool enrollment.

My Tejano and…


Music stars and activists alike have exploited Black death and protest imagery for profit

Lil Baby performs at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards on March 14, 2021. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

A James Baldwin quote plays. Two White male police officers confront and question a Black man sleeping in his car, quickly pinning him to the ground. The man (played by actor Kendrick Sampson) breaks free, flees, and is shot down. This recreation of the June 2020 killing of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police was all a setup for Lil Baby’s performance of his song “The Bigger Picture” at Sunday night’s Grammys — but it wasn’t the end of the theatrics. …


Black awards shows exist, yet artists never seem to hold them in the same regard

Smokey Robinson and Charlie Wilson perform during the 2020 Soul Train Awards presented by BET. Photo: Leon Bennett/STA 2020/Getty Images

The Weeknd’s never been known for seizing the spotlight. Even dating back to his mysterious early mixtapes, the R&B artist has chosen to let his music do the talking. But last November, after his Billboard-busting, Super Bowl-sized album After Hours received zero Grammy nominations, the normally reclusive artist let it fly. “The Grammys remain corrupt,” he said on Twitter. “You owe me, my fans, and the industry transparency…” His countryman Drake echoed the sentiment later that day on Instagram, comparing the Recording Academy to “a relative you keep expecting to fix up but they just can’t change their ways.”

Corruption…


If we want to give players a better chance, we’ve got to stop the cycle of exploitation before it starts

If you work hard, you should get paid.

It’s an idea as simple as two-plus-two, as old as capitalism, as American as apple pie. But now that a new super league called Overtime Elite is announcing it will pay six-figure salaries to the world’s best high school basketball players, I can already tell you what’s going to happen — the old guard is gonna lose it.

Whenever anyone suggests paying young athletes, people start throwing all kinds of questions at the wall: What about amateurism? Can these players be trusted with money of their own? How much change is too…


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 created a weekly racism surveillance machine. …


It’s not harmless banter — it’s immature and offensive

Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

In high school, the talk around the lunchroom table was peppered with some now-questionable phrases.

It was almost impossible to get through a conversation without a chorus of interruptions — “Ayo!” and “Whoa” the usual two — indicating that you’d fucked up. And when that happened, the only appropriate response back then was to “pause” yourself:

“I could never be vegetarian; I like meat too much. Pause.”

“Yo, can I get another sausage? Pause.”

Any unintentional double entendre, any sentence that could be viewed as vaguely homoerotic, required us to pause the conversation and reclaim our manhood that was now…


Ending a central Black character’s life isn’t something Hollywood knows how to handle

Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Over the course of four years, actor Daniel Kaluuya has amassed a catalog of film work that has loomed large in pop culture discourse, especially among Black folks. Those movies are 2017’s Get Out, 2019’s Queen & Slim, and this month’s Judas and the Black Messiah. You could add 2018’s Black Panther and Widows to this list based on film quality and Kaluuya’s performance, but I want to focus on the other three because they all have one thing in common: They all featured Daniel Kaluuya playing characters who meet traumatic ends.

In Queen & Slim, Kaluuya’s Slim is brutally…


Black folks don’t trust the system because this is what it looks like when it works

A man speaks with a member of the National Guard after receiving a coronavirus vaccine in the parking lot of Six Flags on February 6, 2021 in Bowie, Maryland.
A man speaks with a member of the National Guard after receiving a coronavirus vaccine in the parking lot of Six Flags on February 6, 2021 in Bowie, Maryland.
A man speaks with a member of the National Guard after receiving a coronavirus vaccine in the parking lot of Six Flags on February 6, 2021 in Bowie, Maryland. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

As far as the effort to vaccinate my Black ass goes, I don’t require much in the way of convincing. Whatever gets me back to some semblance of normal life — which in my case would be the ability to rap Cardi B’s “Up” out loud at a bar, party, or Walmart parking lot in the South maskless without fear of death — I’m down. But based on my text messages, conversations with select kinfolk, and surveying social media, others in my demo are going to need a wee bit more convincing.

In a New York Times op-ed released on…


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 created a weekly racism surveillance machine. …


The new public resource seeks to reduce domestic violence in Bogotá by eradicating machismo and providing a safe space for callers

Photo by Siavash Ghanbari on Unsplash

In Bogotá, Colombia, a phone operator listens intently to the man on the other end of the phone. The caller, 23, is reeling from his girlfriend’s decision to leave him. It’s a development that’s devastating, but not completely unexpected; after all, he regularly accused his partner of infidelity without justification, often questioning the nature of her male friendships. Despite knowing he was in the wrong, he also felt he had nowhere to turn to deal with the insecurities that had a toxic — and ultimately terminal — effect on his relationship.

Luz Fedra Rua, the psychologist facilitating the conversation, is…

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