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

Race

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Representation isn’t reason enough to bask in Black trauma on television

Photo: Amazon

Along the course of writing this essay on Amazon’s new series Them: Covenant — in which I intended to recount my deep history with horror films and how Jaws ruined me for life — Duante Wright was killed by police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Shortly thereafter, body cam footage from the March 29 shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago hit the internet.

As I write this, Black America is reeling, the bodies of our people shoved through a systemic machine that churns out stacks of Black victims. We hadn’t even gotten to the hashtag part of one killing before…


If you believe Kid Cudi’s ‘SNL’ attire threatens Black masculinity, it’s time to do some soul searching

Photo: Will Heath/Getty Images

It’s spring again, and with the opening of businesses after a year of Covid-19, it’s apparently become necessary to once more consider one’s personal fashion before stepping outside. You’d think that after a year of pandemic couch-surfing this would be a low priority, but as it turns out, if you’re a Black man, you still can’t wear just any old thing. Somehow, in light of all of the problems we face in the most racist country in the world, it is still ungenteel to wear dresses.

Last week, Kid Cudi appeared on Saturday Night Live in a dress. The decision…


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…


Earl Simmons channelled his pain into his art — and forever changed the world along the way

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

The largest angels rarely live the longest. For centuries, intellects and clergymen from the Eastern Hemisphere have spoken on existence being dictated by purpose. It’s been said throughout a myriad of cultures that once a person has completed his or her education, as student and teacher, their time in human form expires. Wherever your spiritual philosophies lie, Earl “Dark Man X” Simmons being a gift not only to music, but, more importantly, to the society of music lovers should be universal comprehension. Yes, the present was DMX’s presence. Moreover, the gift was a sum of his God-given gifts. …


Try as he might, the Florida congressman will not be able to evade the consequences of his scandals

Photo: Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

What a surprise that the former racist president — who was serially accused of sexual assault and abuse — has at least pondered whether to tag himself into the plight of another accused pervert.

Late last week, The Daily Beast reported that Donald Trump is monitoring the garbage fire that is the professional life of Matt Gaetz. (Yes, that would include the Florida congressman’s dream of a post-government career in conservative media that has absolutely no chance of happening now.) …


It’s time for a musical litmus test for enlightenment

Photo: Gems/Getty Images

After the most recent Verzuz event this past Sunday, I’ve come to a social determination: There can be no further race conversations with people who are not familiar with Earth, Wind & Fire’s catalog.

The Verzuz format is so simple that it’s collectively embarrassing that no one thought to put it into motion prior to the pandemic: Put two legendary musical acts in the same room and make them have cookout debates over whose catalog is better. Almost none of the acts bring competitive energy to the challenge, with most artists appropriately deferring to each other’s greatness throughout. …


To kill a word, you first have to kill an idea

Photo: Julian Myles via Unsplash

The last time somebody called me a n****r, I was on holiday.

I’d just arrived in Skopje, North Macedonia, innocently searching for something to get the taste of airline food out of my mouth, when I heard a shout from across the street:

“Hey! You! Uh… you are n****r.”

I looked over and saw a boy, no more than 18 years old, sitting on his bike. He waited for my reaction, his foot poised on the pedal in case I decided to chase him. I hadn’t provoked him. He was half my size, his English was barely up to the…


What you see in the artist’s latest is a function of what you bring to it

Still: Lil Nas X

The video for Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” may not shock everyone who encounters it, but I think it’s safe to say that it is shocking to most people who encounter it. I find this shock largely amusing, but then I’m a Prince fan who played Dungeons & Dragons in the ’80s. I’ve seen this kind of pearl-clutching before.

Everything about Lil Nas X is hilarious and his resting smirk face suggests even he thinks so. He knows what he’s doing with his music, and his videos, and his presence, and he doesn’t care that you…


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

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. …


When a hiking trip goes wrong, assuming the worst about people does no one any good

A sign on the Centennial trail that reads: Do Not Enter, Dangerous Overlook.
A sign on the Centennial trail that reads: Do Not Enter, Dangerous Overlook.
Photo: George Rose/Getty Images

I’d loaded my pack and set out on a hike into the Black Hills to clear my head. I was 955 miles into that spiritual journey when I got lost.

Granted, I’d spent 950 of those miles driving from Chicago to South Dakota, but it certainly sounds better than admitting that I managed to get lost five miles into a 100-mile hike.

The plan had been to spend two weeks backpacking alone on the Centennial Trail — one of many trails nationwide of the same name. …

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