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

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The Emmy-winning drama reminded us that gay White men aren’t the center of the LGBTQ universe

Clockwise from top: Billy Porter, Mj Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson. Photos: FX

“Live. Werk. Pose.”


JUST RANKIN’ SHIT

These upward-failing crime bosses should’ve been canned a long time ago

Photo illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: HBO via HBO Max

5. James St. Patrick (‘Power’)

Dude. You literally had one job: Don’t have a romantic affair with the person investigating you. It’s simple. Ghost went above and beyond the ideals of trash kingpinning by destroying his family and his criminal empire over a COP he’d had a crush on back in high school.

4. Tommy Buns (‘Belly’)

We’re glad this man found a higher calling, because he may have been the most unhinged drug dealer of all time. Getting so drunk and high that you rile up your little homies to gun each other down in a fancy Olive Garden? Getting so hooked into the game that you’re now…


18 years after its premiere, the reality show finally has a Black man at its center. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

Photo: Craig Sjodin/Getty Images

This week, after resisting it for nearly 18 years, I finally watched The Bachelor. And the first four words out of my mouth were “Wait, that’s a dildo!”


Level Q

One of few Black journalists to anchor a prime-time news show, Lemon keeps a candid camera

Photos: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Don Lemon loves the moment — in all its complexity. The CNN anchor has been hate-tweeted from both sides of the color line, mocked by Dave Chappelle and slammed by Donald Trump. He’s admonished Black boys for sagging their pants, and issued an on-air smackdown to actor Terry Crews in defense of the Black Lives Matter movement.


Channel 37 wasn’t just one of the first Black-owned stations in the country — it was a launchpad for Bay Area stars

Photos: Soul Beat TV

Back in early March, Rynell “Showbiz” Williams was on the phone with his friend Yancey Richardson, a producer who also does promotion work for Atlantic Records. Williams, 40, is a radio DJ in Monterey County on California’s Central Coast — but like Richardson, he grew up farther north in Oakland, and the two began reminiscing about Soul Beat, the cable TV network that was only available in their hometown and a few East Bay suburbs. …


Master Class

The ‘Insecure’ showrunner shares his keys to success

Photo illustration. Source: Getty / Bonchai Wedmakawand / Emma McIntyre / Staff

Writer, producer, and director Prentice Penny has spent his entire career making the best out of every situation — even though his break was a pretty damn good one.


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Shoutout to Scott’s Tots!

Photo Source: NBC/Getty Images

7. Martin Nash

In “The Convict,” this former white-collar crook (played by Wayne Wilderson) trolled Michael by convincing his co-workers that jail is better than working at Dunder Mifflin. (Although to be fair, some might prefer hard time to Kelly’s incessant chatter.) He only appears in two episodes, yet inspiring the character of Prison Mike solidifies his spot here.

6. Val Johnson

The Office shows a glimpse of Black love, as this warehouse foreman is clumsily courted by the ever-cool Darryl (Craig Robinson).

5. Lonny Collins

Ever wonder why most of the warehouse staff was Black? Lonny (played by the late, great Patrice O’Neal) subverted workplace dynamics in the…


Too many famous Black men are so fearful that they turn on the most vulnerable among us

Photo: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Rickey Smiley’s contribution to the recent outpouring of stupidity from famous Black men on sexuality and gender is not the most brutish example, but considering the massive platform he has, it may be the most damaging. In a now-deleted tweet originally posted on Monday, the radio and television personality shared a meme that argued the U.S. vilifies Black boys and men for certain characteristics, such as having locs and wearing hoodies, but celebrates those same Black men and boys when they don attire deemed “feminine.” The meme concluded: “#SocialEngineering.”


Yes, there are monsters out there, and you’re not a monster. But if I’m in danger from a man, that man is more likely to be you than a megarich superstar.

R. Kelly standing at a status hearing, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit
R. Kelly standing at a status hearing, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit
Photo: Antonio Perez /Getty Images

Last night, I watched the first two episodes of Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning, Lifetime’s latest docuseries about the disgraced R & B icon. What I already knew: He’s a monster. What I learned: He’s a monster far beyond what we could have even believed after last year’s original Surviving R. Kelly. (Allegedly.)


Our staff weighs in on writing that sets the tone for what you can expect in 2020

Happy 21st birthday to us. Wait, no — happy 21st day to us. Tomorrow marks three weeks since Level, Medium’s publication for Black and Brown men, was born. Personally, we can’t imagine life without it. But with 2020 fast approaching, we thought we’d take stock of what’s appeared in the publication so far and salute a few standouts. Consider it a primer to what we’re all about. So read up, cool out, and we’ll see you next year.

Drug Kingpin Frank Lucas Told Me Not to Forgive Anyone,” Aliya S. King

I would hear about Frank Lucas on Wednesdays, the day after he and Aliya S. King sat down to work on his…

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