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

Women

In LEVEL. More on Medium.

Women like Vanessa Bryant and Lauren London are deserving of respect, regardless of their connections to beloved men

Vanessa Bryant speaks at the Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Over the weekend, Vanessa Bryant logged onto Instagram to once again address a grievance on behalf of her family. This time it was about an ill-considered punchline from Meek Mill on a recent song: “If I ever lack, I’m goin’ out with my chopper, it be another Kobe.”


Dear Level

Why commitment-phobes need to keep it movin’

Photo: Prostock Studios/Getty Images

Growing up, most of my friends were boys. I was always more interested in things like capturing bugs than applying makeup and shopping for purses. To be honest, not much has changed since then. No, I’m not out here climbing trees as a grown-ass woman, but I keep platonic members of the opposite sex in my circle, and I still think makeup is gross.


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.


LEVEL Best Man 2020

Instead of holding each other accountable, Black men rushed to support celebrities who displayed the worst of us

Illustration: Franco Égalité

Hip-hop’s brooding edgelord antagonism toward Black women didn’t appear out of nowhere — blame Western patriarchy for that — but it’s thrived because of power-hungry Black men. And in 2020, no instance made this clearer than what went down between Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez, and an internet full of hip-hop fans.


Hip-Hop At a Crossroads

Four women in different parts of the culture discuss how hip-hop can value and embrace them like they deserve

Clockwise (from top left): Danyel Smith, Clarissa Brooks, Drew Dixon, and Shanita Hubbard

For all of hip-hop’s undeniable good, in 2020 it has seemingly counteracted every positive with a negative — and worse, one that further marginalizes or mistreats Black women. Talib Kweli went on a weeks-long abusive tirade against a Black woman. J. Cole’s first rap response to the moment was a song demanding Noname watch her tone when correcting him. After Tory Lanez shot Megan Thee Stallion, 50 Cent posted memes making fun of it while Cam’ron posted a transphobic joke about it. All the while, rappers like Cee-Lo were publicly clutching their pearls at the way “WAP” gave women agency…


Allegations have dogged the singer for years — yet, he only tries to discredit those from women without power

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Another year, another woman accusing Trey Songz of intimidation and harassment.


Too many times, a progressive image has crumbled under misogynistic acts

Talib Kweli. Photo: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

Back in 1998, André 3000 put his own spin on that old adage about judging a book by its cover. “Is every nigga with dreads for the cause?” he mused rhetorically on the title track of OutKast’s third album, Aquemini. “Is every nigga with golds for the fall?” The point was clear: Seeing ain’t always believing, especially for his materialistic and conscious rap peers. And more than two decades later, the answers to his questions feel clearer than ever.


Since before this country’s founding, Black women have been treated as vulnerable—and disposable

Protest signs in Brooklyn, New York on July 25, 2020. Photo: Ira L. Black — Corbis/Getty Images

12:38 a.m. was the last peaceful minute of Breonna Taylor’s life.


From misogyny to transphobia to accusations of “playing the victim,” the rapper’s recent shooting has brought out the worst in people

Photo: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

Megan Thee Stallion reminds me of home — like a sausage, cheese, and jalapeño kolache from Shipley Do-Nuts (a compliment of the highest order) or an oppressive amount of humidity (seriously). If you’re from Houston, you know. Everything about her feels familiar, from the part of town she grew up in to the quality that has since made her an ever-rising star, like the other H-Town hottie in my life, Beyoncé: She’s genuinely nice and doesn’t really fuck with anyone. …


THE ONLY BLACK GUY IN THE OFFICE

Sure, I got promoted — but it wasn’t the career advancement I’d anticipated

Illustration: Richard A. Chance

The day I sat behind a set of turntables with a kente print mask snug under my glasses watching Seattle’s Black folk roller-skate around a concrete court might just be one the most carefree occasions of 2020. For the few hours of Juneteenth I had off — for whatever reason, the “office” was closed on Blackout Instagram Square Day but not on the actual holiday celebrating Black liberation — I was excited to dust off my music hard drive and watch ATL-worthy skaters snake walk to Lloyd’s “Get It Shawty.”

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