I told y’all I was gonna be on my worst behavior, hitting you all with a couple of blog posts back to back. Here’s numero dos:
Can we take a moment to bask in the genius that is Shonda Rhimes? Last night’s “Scandal” and “How To Get Away With Murder’s” jaw-dropping cliff hangers left me sitting in front of my TV screen like #WTF.
But beyond the intoxicating addictiveness of Rhimes’ shows, something much bigger is going on behind the scenes at Shondaland. Rhimes is creating opportunity.
Example #1 (and the only example you need): On Sunday, Viola Davis made history, Black history. She became the first Black female to win an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for her lead role as Annalise in “How To Get Away With Murder.” In Davis’ acceptance speech she stated:
“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”
Without the vision of Shonda Rhimes, characters like Annalise and Olivia Pope would not exist. So thank you Shonda Rhimes, for not only guaranteeing me two hours of entertainment every Thursday night, but for also throwing a splash of color on my TV screen, challenging Black stereotypes, deconstructing the standard image of beauty, and depicting Black women in positions of power. You’re the real MVP. ✊🏾
A new blog post is long overdue. But I’m here, and I plan to be on my worst behavior, hitting you all with a couple of blog posts back to back. Numero uno:
Some people get super excited for the first day of fall because it brings promises of cooler, more colorful weather. This year, I welcomed the first day of fall with open arms, embracing the return of color to America’s TV screens. Although “Empire’s” season premier passed by, undetected by my Black radar, I was able to catch the season premier of “Black-ish” on Wednesday night. To my delight, the season started off by tackling a much-debated topic in the Black community: the N-word and who can use it.
While “Black-ish’s” main character, Andre, admitted the N-word is an ugly noun, he argued Black people have reclaimed the word as a term of endearment, thus making it an exclusive word limited to the Black community. Andre’s wife, Rainbow, vehemently disagreed. She argued the N-word is a hateful slur with an ugly past; therefore, no one should use it. Andre’s parents chimed in their two cents, dismantling Andre’s argument, stating the N-word should only be used to refer to individuals you dislike.
Meanwhile, members of the show’s youngest generation held various opinions. Zoey (the eldest Johnson kid) thought anyone should be able to use the N-word, despite its history. She claimed the N-word has acquired new meaning over the years.
Jack (1/2 of the two youngest Johnsons) hadn’t quiet formed his own decorum for the N-word, while his better half, Diane (twin sister), had a clearer sense of when and where not to use the word.
Junior (the middle child) arguably had the most insightful opinion on the N-word’s usage, representing, what I believe to be, the main idea “Black-ish’s” writers wanted to get across. Junior suggested maybe it’s okay the Black community does not have an agreed upon “how-to” usage guide for the N-word. I agree.
“Black-ish” did a great job at showing how generations within the Black community have experienced the N-word differently due to the distinct historical contexts in which they’ve lived. With that said, Black individuals should be encouraged to decide for themselves how to use the N-word.
So cheers to you, “Black-ish” writers! Thank you for peeling back the intricate layers of the N-word, urging viewers to examine the word at its core. I wasn’t quiet sure how you were going to tackle the topic, but you did a great job at addressing contrasting perspectives and leaving it up to the viewer to form their own opinion.
So let’s hear it media whistle blowers. What do you think about the N-word?
BET Awards (n): The BET (Black Entertainment Television) Awards show was established in 2001 to celebrate the achievements of African Americans and other minorities in entertainment. Over the years, somehow Robin Thicke, Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea and the likes have made their way into the awards show nominee mix.
Every year, millions of Black people gather around their televisions to watch the “biggest awards show on television,” the BET Awards. And every year (more recently in the awards show’s history), millions of tweeters convene on Black Twitter for annual Black celebrity trash talking, commentary on the show and awards show memes. This year was no different.
Growing up, watching the BET Awards was a household event, something my family marked down on its calendar as a mandatory bonding activity. Over the years, however, this Black household staple has turned into a junk food I may or may not consume on an annual basis. The necessity of being a part of the BET Awards experience seems to have also lost it’s vitalness for A-listers who used to make an annual appearance at the show. I can’t remember the last time Beyonce and Jay-Z were at a BET Awards show. Even Rihanna confessed that the only reason she showed up was to premiere her #BBHMM video. Niki Minaj has received so many BET Awards that she can no longer remember what each individual award is for.
This year, when she received the Viewers’ Choice Award, she started her acceptance speech and mid way through asked, “What was this award for? I’m sorry,”
Needless to say, the BET Awards has lost some of its intrinsic value for Black viewers and celebrities in the past few years, but this year I had to watch. I had to see how the awards show was going to address a mourning community whose hit single, #BlackLivesMatter, has topped the news cycle charts several times this year. Just three weeks prior to the awards show being televised, police bullied Black teens at a pool party, grabbing a Black girl by her hair and slamming her head into the ground. Less than two weeks ago, a white man trying to start a race riot killed nine Black people in their place of worship. And then there are the countless instances of police brutality that have happened throughout the year, leaving several unarmed Black men and women murdered in American streets. So how did the BET Awards fit these current events into the show?
Actor, Michael B. Jordon (famous for his role as Oscar Grant in the movie “Fruitvale Station”) gave a speech, acknowledging the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the men, women and children behind it. A tribute to the nine lives lost in the Charleston, SC church shooting was also part of the BET Awards show.
Not only did the BET Awards make it a point to address current events concerning race relations and injustices in America, but it also acknowledged a recent win for the LGBT community. Jussie Smollett from Fox’s “Empire” show sang his rendition of “You’re so beautiful,” the song his “Empire” character used to come out to the world. This made for the perfect opportunity to shout out the Supreme Court for their recent decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states.
“We live in a nation where freedom is what we represent, yet we are still fighting every day for the basic freedoms of all of our people…Let the Supreme Court ruling be proof of how far we have come. Let the deaths of sisters and brothers be proof of how far we have to go. No one is free until we are all free.” -Jussie Smollett
(Photo by Mark Davis/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Smollett wasn’t the only artist singing the court’s praises. At the end of her performance with Tamar Braxton and K. Michelle, Patti Labelle took the time to make her own statement concerning the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage:
“We celebrate the Supreme Court decision that all people can love who they want, and they can even get married.”-Patti Labelle
Whether you were a fan of the performances or agreed with who won which award, it’s fair to say the BET Awards made a huge political statement Sunday night. It showcased to the world that Black people just don’t sing and dance. We are conscious people, constantly fighting to be seen as equals in the eyes of our fellow Americans. So kudos, BET, for being more than an awards show. This year, the BET Awards gave millions of Black Americans a voice they could stand behind that said “this is who we are: bold, beautiful, Black, and resilient.”
In the words of Kendrick Lamar who opened the show with a powerful political performance visual of his song “Alright”:
“When you know, we been hurt, been down before, nigga
When my pride was low, lookin’ at the world like, “where do we go, nigga?”
And we hate Popo, wanna kill us dead in the street for sure, nigga
I’m at the preacher’s door
My knees gettin’ weak and my gun might blow but we gon’ be alright.” -Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
If you missed the BET Awards, don’t fret, it’s custom for it to be on every night for the rest of the summer. Peace.
In honor of “Empire” breaking a 23-year ratings record, I want to share this open letter I wrote to an “Empire” hater. A few weeks ago, my mom messaged the family, informing everyone of why she won’t be watching “Empire:”
Let me start off by saying that you make some very valid points in the above video, informing the world of why you won’t be watching “Empire.” Your critiques of the show’s stereotypes and your speculation of a propaganda war are fairly noted and should be closely monitored with a critical eye; however, I had the following qualms with your 13-minute rant.
Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
Your opinions would be more valid if you had actually watched an episode of “Empire,” but because you are forming your opinion based off of speculation generated from what seems to be a 6-year-old beef you had with Bill O’Reilly, you can have several seats, sir.
Your assumption that Cookie was a whore ’cause you saw a clip of her walking down the street, exchanging money, sort of provides an insight into the patriarchal view of street life that T.V. has mediated and that you have adopted. Because a woman is making money on the street, she is automatically a hooker? Cookie was a drug dealer. Get your facts straight.
Do you know Lee Daniels personally?
You chastise Daniels (co-created of “Empire”) for displaying his “mental illness” on screen and accuse him of force-feeding us media messages that are a reincarnation of his childhood abuse. I think it is extremely inappropriate for you to psychoanalyze Lee Daniels, especially when psychology is not your field of study. Daniels has positioned himself to be able to provide a view of the world through his own lens. Who are you to say he is abusing this right of self-expression? Artist insert themselves into their work all the time, just like you inserted your personal beefs into this critique, which undoubtedly influenced your opinion about this show.
Sounds like you have a phobia of homophobia.
Your comments on homophobia in the black community being overdone on “Empire” were…interesting. I listened as you walked on egg shells, conscious of the line you were teetering between sounding homophobic and supporting the gay community. Be careful when preceding your comments with statements similar to those a racist makes before they make a racist comment: “I’m not racist [homophobic], but…”
So I end this letter with one final food for thought: Is “Empire” a modern day minstrel show intended for a white audience, or is it a good story laden with truthful stereotypes? Cause I mean, let’s face it, we can’t expect all shows about black people to take place in the utopian setting of “Black-ish.” That’s just not the reality most black people live in.
Some people watch the Super Bowl for the game, I watch the Super Bowl for the ads. While some Super Bowl commercials were hilarious (minus Nationwide’s depressing depiction of childhood deaths), others were inspirational like this Always ad:
Kudos to Always for taking advantage of the 100+ million viewers at its finger tips and choosing to promote gender equality. By asking the audience when did doing something “like a girl” become an insult, this commercial begins to deconstruct gender stereotypes that have been mediated to us. And to my #LikeABoy hashtag users? Take several seats- Beyoncé already told ya’ll who runs the world.
I’ve been following this talented natural beauty, comedian, actress and writer since her YouTube series “Awkward Black Girl.” According to this Indiewire.com article, HBO is moving ahead with a pilot order for “Insecure,” a comedy project that focuses on “the awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern day African-American woman.”
I am interested to see how Rae will transition from an internet sensation, to the realm of television. Hopefully, she will maintain the awkward, black voice that I first identified so closely with four years ago.
THIS. SHOW. IS. HILARIOUS! On Wednesday night, ABC aired a two-episode premier of its new show “Fresh Off the Boat,” which is loosely based off of celebrity chef and food personality Eddie Huang and his book Fresh Off The Boat: A Memoir. According to NBC News,This is the first network primetime show to feature an Asian-American family in 20 years!
To my delight, the first episode effortlessly addressed the racism that Asian-Americans encounter from both black and white people in a classic lunch room scene. The plot also touched on the pressure of cultural assimilation.
Needless to say, I will definitely be watching this show religiously!