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Why Voting Is Actually Important…

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I’m mad. And not just the regular mad I’ve been since White people elected their president, I am rabid dog angry, fightin’ mad.

I am angry at the number of Black, seemingly well-educated people who are currently posting these philosophical rants about why voting doesn’t matter, how voting is irrelevant, how voting means nothing, how some radical Black movement is going to come by and save us all.

Side note – The last time a gang of Black people were all on the same page to do some radical shit was the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and even then, the wayward negro had to be threatened and cajoled to keep it going. I would love to see a radical movement that brings Black people together across skin color, social, class, gender, and sex lines. I would love to see it, but it’s just not feasible.

Don’t listen to what these intellectuals are telling you online, take your Black ass to vote. Click To Tweet

Yes, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act has significantly reduced the democracy inherent in voting. And yes, those in power have systematically made it much more difficult to vote, especially for people living in low income communities, who often do not have the flexibility to take off work to vote (to learn more about the dismantling of the voter’s rights act, here is a good article), but that doesn’t mean that we have to give up on voting.

Here are six good-ass reasons to vote.

1. Voting is your civic duty.

The first time I voted in a presidential election, the candidates were George W. Bush and Al Gore. For my second presidential election, I had to choose between George (again) and John Kerry. I can tell you that neither of those options gave me wet dreams. I wasn’t that excited to Rock the Vote…but rock the vote I did because, for me, it was important to make my voice heard.

And it sucks because I remember the fervor and passion people had about President Obama’s campaign. People were lined up for hours to vote. Black people, across the country, were fired up in a way that they hadn’t been fired up about voting since Bill Clinton played that saxophone on Arsenio Hall.

Side note: We talked cash shit about Hillary Clinton and that Crime Bill, and as someone who actually lived during that time, I can tell you that most of the Blacks and the Whites were 100% supportive of that Crime Bill. Yes, now we know better, obviously, but I think revisionist history put a stank on Hillary that she didn’t deserve.

A candidate that lights your political fire and gets your panties wet is a rarity, and that’s just real. Voting isn’t usually fun and mostly, you’ll be rolling your eyes as you pull the lever or fill in the bubbles, but it’s like any other chore you have to do – mow the lawn, rake the leaves – you just get it over with.

2. Voting actually does work.

I’d like to pooch on down to Brazil and have a look at their history and current political climate to illustrate my point. First, Brazil was the last country to abolish slavery, is reported to have imported more Africans for enslavement than any other country, and was considered one of the most brutal places to be enslaved (the average life expectancy of a slave was four years). The racism, police brutality, and abject poverty experienced by Blacks in Brazil rivals anything you’ve seen anywhere, including America. The country is currently ruled by President Michel Temer who aside from snatching services from millions of impoverished people, is a blatant advocate of violence as a tactic to suppress social justice movements. The safety of Black life is so precarious in Brazil that most activists have been terrorized into submission and silence.

Who should emerge in the midst of this but Marielle Franco. Marielle Franco, a Brazilian activist turned politician, was an outspoken activist against police brutality and extrajudicial killings, and a staunch supporter of the rights of Black women, and LGBTQIA people. Franco ran for city council and was supported by votes from primarily poor Black women and people living in favelas (these are the poorest of slums). On March 14, 2018, leaving a meeting, she and her driver were murdered by masked gun men – shot down in her car. You know what happened next — 1,237 Black women are now on the ballots for local, state, and federal elected positions in Brazil. These women have been activated to make change. They understand that change begins in the voting booth. They know that’s the place to demonstrate their power. Protests don’t matter because they are ruled by an administration (much like the one in America) that doesn’t give a damn about their little protests and will actually kill you in the street for having the audacity to hold up a sign critiquing the government. Knowing this story, and the story of all those who came before makes it hard for me to understand how people can say voting doesn’t matter. If these Black women, living under the shadow of the murder of their fearless leader can get the courage to not only vote, but to run for office, then I (and you too) can certainly go vote. It is the absolute LEAST we can do. #MarielleResists

3. You do realize there’s more than just presidential candidates on the ballot, right?

After you fill in your bubbles or pull your lever for the President or Senator or House Rep, you have the opportunity to vote for local issues, like allocation of funds for schools, youth programs, or new roads, like sheriffs and judges, like raising the minimum wage which research shows helps everybody. So do you really care about your community or are you just talking about it, because if you actually care, these are the kinds of issues that your vote directly affects, almost immediately?

4. I know you know this, but Black people died for this right to vote, and we shouldn’t forget that.

Listen, I know it’s been said to death but I feel compelled to say it again — Black people died, literally died, for the right to vote. During Reconstruction when Black people were trying to figure out how to survive in a country where they had nothing and no rights to get anything, one of the first demands was the right to vote because they recognized that their power was in their collective vote. Their collective vote was probably one of the only things they had during that time of deep, overt racism, aggression, and subjugation. Their collective vote was the only way they had to demonstrate their humanity. And if you don’t have some reverence in your heart for that, well, that’s a damn shame.

5. If the Supremacists and Republicans are working so hard to suppress your vote, it must be powerful.

Bruce Carter, who founded Black Men for Bernie, was seduced into the Trump campaign and paid good money by Trump and ‘dem to convince Black people to vote for Trump or not vote at all. According to Charles Blow’s op-ed, Russian interference in the 2016 election included direct attacks at the “woke” black vote. And it didn’t help that several prominent voices in the Black community – Colin Kaepernick, Mark Lamont Hill, Killer Mike, Michelle Alexander, J. Cole – were either dead set against Hillary Clinton or publicly denounced the act of voting. During one of Trump’s rallies, he is reported to have said in reference to the huge reduction in Black voters, “They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was a big — so thank you to the African-American community.”

Side note – I think we can all agree by now that Hillary Clinton, 1994 Crime Bill transgressions and all, would have been a far better leader than who White people elected. I think we can also agree that Black men who either didn’t vote or decided to vote third party like stupid ass Marc Lamont Hill, let misogyny outweigh their good sense.

Have you noticed that the same rhetoric used by supremacists to deter Black voters aligns with the rhetoric of the “I’m Black and too woke to vote” crew? If your argument against voting aligns with the arguments of Russian bots, you need to sit down and re-think your entire life because it went very, very wrong somewhere.

6. For now, with this current administration, voting is the most radical thing you can do.

They don’t want you to vote – their policies, their rhetoric, their rejection of your political needs proves that. That makes voting that much more important. Have you noticed that the fervor of the Black Liberation Movement has died down since Trump has been in office? By no fault of their own, their movement doesn’t matter in the same way it did with President Obama in office because these current dummies in office don’t care, at all, they aren’t even pretending to care. However, your local politicians who need your votes to stay in office, they actually might care a little, and the way the world is going, that sliver of possibility is enough for me.

 

Don’t listen to what these intellectuals are telling you online, take your Black ass to vote.

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For The Culture

Alexandra Shipp Doesn’t Understand Colorism and It Shows

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Alexandra Shipp is suffering from the same light-skin plight that Tinashe claimed stifled her career two years ago. Oh well…

After hearing that KiKi Layne was in talks to step into her queendom as Storm, Alexandra Shipp wasted no time chiming in on Twitter. Her hot garbage take has since sparked yet another conversation about colorism in Hollywood. Alexandra stated, in so many words, that Black people aren’t supporting her because of her skin tone. Proving she, like so many, does not understand colorism as a system of oppression, Alexandra makes it clear there’s still work to be done.

You see, Alexandra, no one is attacking you for having light skin. They’re simply expressing joy over the much-anticipated portrayal of Storm as she was intended — a dark-skin, beautiful Black woman. This was a monumental opportunity for you to offer praise. Instead, you chose self-pity because a skilled actress is taking a role you aren’t entitled to. Let’s look at receipts, shall we?

KiKi Layne has been nominated for:

  • The Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
  • The Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor
  • The Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble.

You, Alexandra, have been nominated for a Teen Choice Award and a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award.

Because you, and others who look like you, have not had to search for representation to feel included, you may not know how to respond to this. I get it, You think you worked hard, earned that role, did it justice. Sorry, baby, but you thought wrong. The one-time wife of T’Challa deserves to be a dark-skin queen and there’s nothing you should do about it.

It’s bigger than you.

For two decades, we have waited for the mantle of Storm to be assumed by a woman who truly looks like her. For once, little Black children who share that skin-tone would feel seen as they look upon their favorite superhero. Imagine children looking at Storm the way they knew her and the way they thought they could be; strong, beautiful, dark-skinned, and more talented than you.

Furthermore, your conflict with the change in the cast should not be conflated with other pressing issues. Don’t weaponize Black Lives Matter to represent losing a job because you’re talentless. Where is your grace, queen? You’ve been coasting on mediocrity in an industry that has made you proud of your light-skin privilege. Now that dark-skin is profitable, the industry is accepting of some actresses with melanin more popping than yours, and you want to play the victim? Ms. “90 percent of the racism I’ve experienced in my lifetime has been at the hands of fellow Black people.”

Girl, bye.

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Protests Ensue Over Death of Jameek Lowery

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Jameek Lowery streamed his final moments as he sought assistance from officers in a Paterson, New Jersey station. Having passed in police custody, community members and family want answers.

Scared and Alone

Jameek Lowery was disoriented, foaming at the mouth, and shoeless. Asking for water and visibly unsettled, 27-year-old Jameek admitted he’d taken ecstasy just moments earlier. Hoping officers would help him find proper care, Jameek trusted them with his life.

Police say they called an ambulance and accompanied him to St. Joseph’s Hospital, but what happened during transport is unclear. The Passaic County Prosecutor claims although hospital records do not indicate acute trauma, Jameek suffered physical force and compliance holds during the ride. While transport took between five and twelve minutes, the prosecutor alleges that Jameek was unresponsive upon arrival. Jamir King, Jameek’s brother, says Lowery suffered a fractured eye socket and broken cheekbone after the recording.

We want answers now!

Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale maintains everything that could be done to help Jameek was.

 “They will do the autopsy, everything will come up and then we’ll know where we stand, and the answers will be given to you. I want you to have those answers. Right or wrong, I want you to have those answers.”

Jerry Speziale, Paterson Police Director

Unhappy with what Paterson Police have provided since Jameek’s death Saturday, protests have ensued. Hawk Newsome of Black Lives Matter attended the Tuesday night protest, providing his support to the family and commenting on what he knew so far.

“He was extremely paranoid, he was terrified, and he had no shoes on. What I did notice was his face looked good and within a few hours he was dead.”

Hank Newsome, Black Lives Matter of Greater New York

City Council members were also present during the protests, providing comfort to the family as they begged for answers. Lowery’s sister Jamilia Laurie said, “My heart hurts, I can’t explain how I feel because I don’t know how I feel. I can’t go to sleep at night. I’ve been up since this happened. I cannot sleep.”

Justice for Jameek

Late into the evening, things came to a head as protestors clashed with police on the street, spilling out of City Hall where the rally took place. Holding cell phones to record the officers, police lined up on the other side, equipped with mace. People began chanting “Justice for Jameek,” “Black Lives Matter”, and “No justice, no peace”. Police fired upon the crowd with mace and a large crowd was seen fleeing the Paterson Public Safety Complex building, shielding their faces and coughing.

Wana Fulcher, a protestor on the scene commented on the frightening state of police relations in Paterson.

“I have four sons myself and this is very scary. Your child can’t even walk down to the store without being harassed by an officer. Who can we run to?”

Wana Fulcher, protestor

Community leaders and Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh are supporting the investigation into what happened to Jameek. Several news outlets have attempted to reach Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale for further comment with no success.

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On the Subject of R. Kelly

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I was 14 years old when R. Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography. It was 2002. TP-2 had been out for a while and everyone was vibing to “Fiesta” and “Feelin’ On Yo Booty”. He was preparing to perform at the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City when the story broke. A videotape had surfaced, allegedly showing R. Kelly urinating on an underage girl. The Black community was silent.

I overheard my adult cousins discuss the tape at family gatherings. Everyone that had seen it seemed to agree. Without a shadow of a doubt, they all knew they were watching Robert Kelly, the pied piper of R&B. Yet there was no outrage, no public outcry or demands for justice. It was sickening. At the time, I lived in Detroit, Michigan, home to DSA. DSA was known as The Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, but it was famous for birthing the princess of R&B, Aaliyah Dana Haughton.

Buried

When Aaliyah married R. Kelly in 1994 in that secret ceremony with forged documents, Detroit knew. When conversation surrounding the nature of their artist-protégé relationship was questioned, Detroit knew. In televised interviews and radio segments when their voices and body language could be dissected, the truth was bare and as a community we denied it. For the second time, I watched a city turn a blind eye to R. Kelly’s predatory behavior for the love of his music. For what? Because it was more difficult to hold one man accountable for his hebephilia than sacrifice music to bump to? We collectively did ourselves a disservice, the same disservice we do to little Black girls and boys who are preyed on by family and religious figures.

Ignoring the presence of sexual deviance in the Black community does not make the trauma survivors battle daily disappear. I couldn’t understand why people made excuses for rapists or held victims accountable for their pain. “Just separate the art from the artist.” How? Why? The artist is using his status and artistry to directly engage, lure, and abuse Black girls. R. Kelly isn’t the only person to do this. Many celebs have used the promise of fame for sexual favors. Hell, employers use this exact same tactic. In the working environment, people in positions of power will dangle promotion and incentive to bargain sexual favors and people excuse it.

Second Chances

As a community, we must demand better. From the moment those 21 counts of child pornography surfaced following the release of the infamous tape, R. Kelly’s career should have been over. But it wasn’t. He went on to release the Chocolate Factory album, selling more than 3 million copies and going platinum. With the help of a delayed trial, he worked diligently, released gospel music to clean his image. By the time he went to trial in 2008, the Black community had two-stepped his depravity out of their memory. He was found not guilty.

People use twisted language like “Those girls were fast. Where were their parents?” Working long hours to clothe and feed that child. No parent is in all places at all times so save that bullsh*t. Such rhetoric does absolutely nothing to absolve sexual predators of the reality that they took advantage of naive adolescents or starry-eyed adults. Just call it what it is. Or are you afraid that acknowledging his deviance means calling out the same evil in those around you?

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