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

Women

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It’s time for Black men to step up and answer the call

Photo: Emmanuel Sasu Mensah

I was raised in an abusive environment. So when I see Black women mistreated, silenced, and erased, it hits close to home.

One in three Black women will experience either physical or sexual assault at some point in their lives. That number has always felt much higher in terms of the women I knew, given the cultural, political, and economic violence targeted toward Black women globally.

Many of the women I’m close to have shared countless stories of abuse in their personal and professional lives. In some cases, we’ve been able to work together to take meaningful action. …


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.”

Bryant’s response was short and to the point. “I find this line to be extremely insensitive and disrespectful. Period,” she wrote. “I am not familiar with any of your music, but I believe you can do better than this. If you are a fan, fine, there’s a better way to show your…


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.

One perk that comes with male friendships is having a front-row seat in the theater of men’s minds. …


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…


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.

The story’s been told, but it bears repeating. In July, after a post-party dispute, Tory Lanez shot Meg in both her feet. She posted pictures of them, and after some diplomatic restraint explained the whole story on her Instagram, calling out Tory’s team for seeding lies to hip-hop…


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.

On the podcast No Jumper last week, internet personality Celina Powell was joined by a friend who only identified herself as Aliza. When asked by the host about the “nastiest stuff she’s ever done,” Aliza claimed that a celebrity — later revealed to be Songz — urinated on her without her consent and prevented her from leaving his hotel room.

“He already got mad at me for talking about it,” Aliza said. “But every bitch I talk to about him says the same shit. And he’s psycho — like…


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.

Earlier this month, in the wake of the death of The Roots’ Malik B., singer Jaguar Wright hopped on Instagram to…


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.

On March 13, 2020, at 12:38 a.m., Breonna Taylor and her partner, Kenneth Walker, were asleep in bed. At 12:39 a.m., officers beat on her door for approximately one minute. During that 59 seconds of banging, Taylor shouted at the top of her lungs: “Who is it?” But no one said a word. “No answer,” Walker said later in a police interrogation. “No response. No anything.” The boogeymen kept beating. At 12:40 a.m., Louisville Metro Police Department Officers Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison as well as Sgt. …


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. …

LEVEL

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