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Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

Holidays

In LEVEL. More on Medium.

Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Not even a day off work is worth commemorating these travesties

Photo: RiverNorthPhotography/Getty Images

We’re not gonna go full Frederick Douglass on you right now, but trust that the most you’ll get out of Black people for “Independence Day” is some love for fireworks. Celebrating freedom in the same country with a prison-industrial complex? Might need to wait for July 34th for that to happen.

Any holiday that encourages debauchery is skating on thin ice, but when the debauchery is this unrelentingly Caucasian, there’s no point in even debating it. Turning beer green is only the beginning of the grossness, which invariably ends in city streets that look like a Roman purgatorium. …


The Only Black Guy in the Office

Being reunited with work has never felt so good

A Black person, lying on a couch in front of a window showing a snowy cityscape, eating a chicken drumstick.
A Black person, lying on a couch in front of a window showing a snowy cityscape, eating a chicken drumstick.
Illustration: Michael Kennedy

In normal times, my outgoing text messages would be full of optimistic and excited notes to loved ones about the new year. I’d think “2021 is mine,” jotting down the goals and resolutions I had for the next 365. After taking some time to unplug (and maybe even piece together a vision board), I’d return to work recharged. But as much as I want to beam this positivity, I didn’t expect it to be so tough shaking off the bad vibes of last year — and that reality has only become more palpable during the holiday break.

Don’t get me…


JUST RANKIN’ SH!T

These movies were definitely not born in a manger

Photo illustration; sources: Roger Harris/Getty Images, Natalya Danko/Getty Images, Cube Vision/HBO Max

A bespectacled boy from segregated Indiana has local gang beef, a gun fetish, and a mouth like a goddamn sailor. How does this get burn every December?

More White boy shenanigans. It’s bad enough these negligent parents are clearly unfit (and, based on the extravagance of their lifestyles, involved in some shady shit). But after witnessing the Wu-Tang-level torture that young Macaulay Culkin inflicts on his petty-thief adversaries, we all could use a little prayer.

There’s a reason most Christmas films don’t include a noose. Sergio Pablos must’ve missed that memo when making this animated Santa origin story.

Oh, you…


JUST RANKIN’ SH!T

Check this list twice if you need to, it won’t change the truth

Photo illustration; sources: EuropaNewswire, Roger Harris, Natalya Danko/Getty Images

It’s hard to believe PETA hasn’t subpoenaed the whole Claus operation by now. After 364 days of presumed inactivity, this guy rides the shit out of those reindeer ‘til their sleigh bells fall off — all for the sake of procrastination. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and nem deserve better, for real.

The reindeer are just the start. You really think that after hundreds of years of busting their asses to be Santa’s “helpers,” no elves have organized for better working conditions? Much respect to Elf on the Shelf for branching out as an independent contractor, but the story as a whole…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Turns out Christmas spirits don’t have to taste like melted pudding!

Photo illustration; sources: Roger Harris, Natalya Danko, bhofack2/Getty Images

True story: I knew a guy who used to walk up to people and say, in a breathy Marilyn Monroe voice, “Hi, I’m Toddy. Hot Toddy.” Thankfully, the drink is good, too.

A foolproof formula for grown-ass fun: Take any childhood staple — musical chairs, telephone, Twister, hide-and-seek — and add alcohol. That’s it. You get to relive the joy of your carefree days as a kid, and nine months later, you might even end up with a new kid of your own! Anyway, warm apple cider paired with spiced rum makes for a fine time.

This variation of hot…


Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From our last-minute gift guide 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.

Back in the days when sites like NahRight ran the internet, the best way to stunt on fellow blog denizens was by marking your territory as its most ardent visitor. You’d strive to leave the first comment on every published post…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

With holiday shopping season in full gear, you don’t want to fall for these non-wishlist traps

Photo: Picture Alliance/Roger Harris/Natalya Danko/Getty Images

It happens every year: A pair of Air Jordan sneakers hits the market, sending kids into a frenzy to get their hands on them. Those same kids get their asses handed to them by the Nike SNKRS app. (So do adults.) But there’s always a well-meaning relative who tries to step in and save the day by buying a widely available, and affordable, pair of Team Jordan variants. Don’t set lil’ buddy up for a rotisserie roasting once he returns to IRL schooling.

Your kids’ futures are on the ballot in Georgia just a few days after Christmas. Getting Mitch…


Dear Level

Whether you’re long-term or still in the honeymoon phase, you might need some tips on how to get in your bag like Santa

Illustration: Olivia Fields

The holiday season has always been a stressful time for gift giving within a relationship. You’re not only celebrating the season; you’re also letting your partner know exactly where y’all stand. Sometimes you’ll get it right — sometimes you won’t.

Once, years ago, I was expecting a present from my partner that said “We’ve been dating for a few years now, and I once nursed you through a bout of food poisoning.” Instead, I got… a book. It was a great book, and it was one that I’d previously shown interest in. But still: a book. There’s not much you…


THE ONLY BLACK GUY IN THE OFFICE

Trading gifts with co-workers makes for some laughable moments

Photo: Michael Kennedy

I can’t front: The holidays are my favorite time of the year. It’s a chance to kick it with family. You get multiple weeks off from work (thank God!). And it offers the perfect excuse to revisit jolly Christmas albums, from the soulful and iconic (Jackson 5) to the thugged-out and ironic (A Dipset Xmas). Nothing says the most wonderful time of the year quite like Gucci Mane singing about assault rifles to the melody of “Jingle Bells.”

Of course, Christmas has been degraded to a commercialized holiday that entirely contradicts the principles of the religious figure it’s said to…


I won’t miss the war zone that extended-family meals inevitably became

Photo: Christin Noelle/Unsplash

There was a time, not so long ago, when whole families gathered together for Christmas Day, experiencing the Hallmark moment of passing the ritual meat across the table as all smiled beatifically at one another.

Is this how you remember your Christmas?

Mine, not so much.

It would begin calm enough. The in-laws would arrive, and we would all greet each other warmly — except my mother-in-law, who came armed with a passive-aggressive statement to launch at the mother of my children. …

LEVEL

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