Photo Cred: Joey Chou
We’re only halfway through this year and y’all, melanin has been running everything in a way that you wouldn’t believe! If you thought February, 2016 was one to remember, it was only prepping us for the most blackity black I’m blacker than black year of life…
Deshauna Barber is goals on so many levels. The 26 year old from Washington D.C. represented women in the military with a grace an poise that was indescribable. Throughout the contest, the commentators noted time and time again how Barber’s military training gave her a sense of discipline that none of the other girls had. It showed in the way she walked with her head held high each time she had her chance to sashay on the runway. Her interview answers about the military proved that she was not only a beautiful face, but she also had a wise depth of understanding about issues affecting our service men and women. She is currently an IT Analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce. She hopes to bring more awareness to veteran health issues. This crowned beauty is everything and I’m here to see what else she will do.
Renowned director Ava Duvernay is having the blackest year ever. Hot off of the success of “Selma” in 2015, Ava has been getting recognition from everyone! She has been slated to direct the classic book “A Wrinkle in Time” and she was even honored with her own Barbie® from Mattel! The Ava Duvernay Barbie® has been flying off of the shelves. Little black girls are able to have a doll that represents such a positive role model in our community. Rock on sister!
Representation matters, and this year comic fans of color have been able to see reflections of them like never before. Not only have black actors been given the opportunity to portray characters that would typically have been cast with white actors, such as Michael B. (Bae) Jordan as Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four; black characters have been getting more recognition in their own right. Black Panther is a superhero that Marvel created back in 1966. As the first mainstream black superhero, he exudes the strength of an African King. This year, Marvel has given the amazing opportunity of writing new comics for Black Panther to renowned author Ta-Nehisi Coates. The third edition has been released and they’ve been getting rave reviews. Black Panther has also shown up in the latest Captain American movie portrayed by heartthrob Chadwick Boseman. He will also be getting his own feature film set to be released in 2018 directed by the incomparable Ryan Coogler. The cast is already setting up to be blacker than black (my boo Michael Bae has just signed on). Marvel’s black representation has not stopped there. They are set to release their Netflix series centered around Luke Cage at the end of the year, Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur has been doing really well, and so has Nighthawk which recently just shouted out one of my favorite black podcasts “The Read”. Oh yea, it’s SUPER LIT.
I don’t know if it was motherhood that did it or just feeling comfortable in her position as a mainstream artist but Beyonce has decided that in 2016 she was gonna let y’all know that she is “not here to play with you hoes”. I for one am here for it. In the past, Beyonce has been criticized for her blonde European weaves and seemingly white washed in L’oreal ads. But if you had any doubts about about how in tune and in love with her blackness Beyonce truly was; she laid all them bad boys to rest with the release of her hit single and video “Formation”. Set in New Orleans, “Formation” was full of vivid images of blackness. We all stood back in amazement as we watched her lay on a police car drowning in a lake and gasped as a little boy danced in front of a row of police officers with their hands up. Of course, whites lost their damn minds. It’s as if before this, they did not realize that she was in fact actually black as depicted by this skit from SNL . Who knew? But Beyonce’s peak blackness did not just stop with the release of “Formation”. She actually performed the song at the Super Bowl dressed in all black reminiscent of the Black Panther Party (again, they were mad). Then she announced, that same night, that she’s going on a world tour, the Formation tour began in April and dates are selling out like crazy in the U.S. and abroad. THEN, she released the visual album “Lemonade”. Just like “Formation”, the rest of “Lemonade” was chock full of images that were just so black at ultimate levels. There were so many cameos from beautiful black celebrity women – from Selena Williams twerking to cameos from the mothers to Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner – for us to take in. The sisterhood exuded still has all of us standing in formation until the Queen says otherwise. Hold up… THEN Bey announced her athleisure clothing line Ivy Park… chile!!! #BeyTooLit
Editors Note: I could’ve made this entire article about Beyonce but, you know, other things happened in 2016 (so they say)
*Sigh* Can we all just pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that we are in the final days of his presidency? Okay. POTUS has had quite a few extremely black moments over his stint in the Oval Office, but this year it’s really sinking in that he’s done and he’s just run out of the fucks to give. The best instance of this came from his speech at this 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Flexing his natural comedic skills with quotes such as this one about Kendall Jenner, “We had the chance to meet her backstage and she seems like a very nice woman. I’m not sure what she does but I’m told my Twitter mentions are about to go through the roof.” He also quipped about being on CPT, or “jokes that white people should not make” and that he was going to work at Goldman Sachs to, “earn me some serious Tubmans”. He ended his speech in the blackest way imaginable; “Obama Out” as he dropped the mic! Yaaaaas for blackness at peak levels. Also of note, Larry Wilmore, black comedian and political commentator from “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” hosted the event. He had one of the most memorable quotes of the evening, not only for its blackness, but also for the controversy that was sparked by him saying two simple words: “my nigga”. We all understood the exchange as showing endearment, respect, and friendship. But racists were up in arms over the use of the word that they’re so enraged they’re not allowed to use. WE DON’T CARE, STAY MAD! Anyway, you can watch the entire video here.
We made it to February before we lost one of our legends. Maurice White, founder of Earth, Wind, and Fire went on to glory on February 3, 2016 at the age of 74.
Denise Matthews or as we knew her, Vanity, passed on February 15, 2016. She was only 57 and her death was felt too soon. We came to know her as one of Prince’s many proteges and little did we know that he would soon be joining her.
The role of Apollo Creed’s trainer was how most of us grew to know Tony Burton. He portrayed the gritty loudmouthed trainer that pushed Creed in the ring. He left us February 25, 2016, exactly 3 months after the release of the movie Creed at the age of 78.
Malik Izaak Taylor, better known to the world as Phife Dawg passed at the young age of 45 on March 22, 2016. He, along with Q-Tip founded A Tribe Called Quest in 1985. A Tribe Called Quest became one of the legends in the Hip Hop world.
The Buckeye Nation wept on April 9, 2016 as senseless violence stole away from us the New Orleans Saints and former The Ohio State University Buckeyes defensive end. No one could’ve expected that this bright star’s light would be dimmed by a thoughtless act following an auto collision. He was only 34 years old.
57 does not seem like a long time, but Prince Rogers Nelson in his 57 years of life accomplished more in the world of music than any other artist. There is no genre that he has not left his impression on. He played and mastered more instruments than you could count, changed the sounds that we were used to, danced, and sang all while wearing better clothes than your auntie. His legacy is alive through so many artists that have been influenced by his presence. It rained in purple on April 21, 2016.
This one is fresh and hurts so much. We’ve lost the G.O.A.T. Muhammad Ali. He was more than an elite athlete, he was defiantly black and Muslim in a time where being those two were almost criminal. He was confident in a world that felt he should be demure. There will never be another like him. After an long 32 year battle with Parkinson’s Disease, Ali passed on June 3, 2016 at the age of 74.
Like every other year, 2016 has had its supreme ups and downs, but this year seems to be one rife with triumph in spite of the trials. This first six months holds so much promise, can’t wait to see what else twenny sixteen has in store.
Growing up, I was always told I have “good hair”. People loved to tell me how easy I had it because I could just wet it and go. However, I HATED my hair. It was weird to me. It wasn’t straight enough like white hair. On the flip side, it wasn’t kinky enough to look like my classmates. If it got braided, they were frizzy by the next day; same with any updos. I struggled because I didn’t know anyone whose hair was like mine nor did I know anyone who was natural. There was no natural hair care section in the hair aisle or YouTube tutorials. People loved my hair, but no one was able to show me how to care for it so that I could love it too. That led me to cutting it all off and slapping that good old creamy crack in it so that I could maintain my new sleek Rihanna-esque do.
Luckily for me, my relaxed days were short and few. I only relaxed my hair for about four years between ages 22-26. By the time I decided to let it go, it seemed as if the world had begun to embrace what I lived with most of my life. Now there were people I could reach out to for tips and methods. I finally learned how to care for, maintain, and LOVE my natural healthy hair.
Finding out that I was going to have a daughter, a black daughter, I knew one of things that I wanted to instill in her early on was how to love her hair. I, for one, am very glad that I am raising my child in a time where we are fully in love with and unapologetically celebrate our hair in all its kinky, curly, and coily magnificence. Here are just a few of the things that I do with my daughter to care for her hair as well as teach her appreciation of her hair:
I inundate her with images of people that look like her – We read books, she has dolls, and we listen to songs like “I Love My Hair” from Sesame Street. It’s imperative to me that she sees a reflection of herself and her people everywhere.
I keep a steady hair routine – Each head is different and what works for us may not work for you. But, what I’ve found that has helped my daughter’s hair remain healthy with very little to no breakage is co-washing it once a week. Throughout the week for styling, I use a conditioning detangler and moisturizing curl cream. I do protective styles once a week for a day. Her hair is quite soft and very vulnerable to breaking so I don’t want to pull too much. My baby gonna have edges when she’s older!
I make sure she watches me in my hair routine – I want her to see how important it is to keep her hair healthy. Although my routine is much more involved than hers, I make sure that I talk to her and explain as I’m doing things.
I don’t use the term GOOD HAIR! – Seriously, what the hell is that? Who really determines what makes a type of hair better than the next? I don’t want her growing up with a complex either thinking that her hair doesn’t live up to someone else’s or think that she’s above anyone else based on her hair. So I am nipping that conversation in the bud any time she comes home and uses it. Nobody has good hair. You have the hair you have and that’s just fine.
So go on and rock those baby hairs and afros. I hope you love yours, cause I love mine!
2016’s Black History Month will go down as one that defined a generation. Women were the ones who became the face of Black discontent and achievement, whether they danced on stage before millions in Black Panther inspired costumes or broke boundaries by heading major broadcasting networks. It was a February that I was honored and privileged to witness, one that I hoped my nieces and younger relatives saw and said, “That’s me!”
The first thing that comes to mind is Beyonce’s release of her song Formation and the Super Bowl performance centered around it. It was a bold step for pop’s biggest star, one that has brought about a fair share of controversy as being anti-police, anti-establishment, anti-whatever. But, the symbolism of seeing pop’s biggest star sing about race, her love for her roots, and her earned status as Queen Bey was something that we (Black people) needed.
Despite the tense social landscape of a post-Sandra Bland, post-Tamir Rice America, there was still a lot of dancing to be had– and it seemed like a nice bit of it happened in the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a Black History Month celebration where Debbie Allen taught African dance in one room with Fatima Robinson teaching hip hop in another. On a separate occasion, a 106-year old Virginia McLaurin danced with both President Obama and the First Lady, saying that she never thought she’d see the day she would get invited to the White House. These events were a testament to the progress we have made as a people.
The sheer variety of fields in which Black women asserted their greatness is vast. One night we could watch Black Panthers: Vanguard of The Revolution and witness a Black woman (simply named Peaches) shoot at police in self-defense, the next day we could witness the first African American president be announced as president of a major network. We could see Melissa Harris-Perry protest MSNBC one morning and President Obama appoint Carla Hayden as head of the Library of Congress the next. This month showed Black women as exactly what they are– fearless, trailblazing, influential, intelligent, and beautiful.
We as a race needed this Black History Month.
It’s February 2016 and within the span of not even 2 weeks, Black History Month suddenly became one of the most epic BHM’s EVER and black social media had no problem celebrating all of this blackness. From Beyoncé’s modern day Black Panther slayage in the form of a Super Bowl performance to Kendrick Lamar’s artistic and musically creative way of saying, “White people, you gon learn today!” as he demanded the stage at this year’s GRAMMY’s, I believe that it’s safe to say that black people are definitely winning right now! To add to the BHM score, ABC Entertainment Group recently announced their new President, Channing Dungey, a black woman and check this…THEE FIRST black woman to lead a major TV network!
To some this may not be a big deal.
But seeing how many L’s the black community has been taking over the last few plus years, I am honestly excited and this is wonderfully DOPE! From police brutality and killings, Beyoncé performance critiquing, Bill Cosby accusations and character assassinations, Tomi Lahren misunderstanding and hating, “Aunt Viv” vs. Jada Pinkett Smith, the Republicans still making President Obama’s job (and existence in life) impossible, Kanye West’s media meltdown and alleged debt, Spike Lee’s horrible movie “Chi-Raq” and much more…anything remotely relative to being black has been losing, but who’s counting?
So yes, Channing Dungey has officially won and she deserves her kudos! Let’s take a quick glance at who she is as we get familiar with the new President of ABC, during a time when the lack of diversity in Hollywood has become a more publicly expressed concern:
It is only right to end this spotlight with some of Beyoncé’s Formation lyrics because Channing Dungey SLAYS:
“I dream it, I work hard, I grind til’ I own it…Okay ladies now let’s get in formation. You know you that b*tch when you cause all this conversation. Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.”
I know, I know, you’ve seen these lists a million times with a million similar titles. “Songs Every Bad Ass Chick Needs,” “Top 10 Girl Power Anthems.” You read one, you’ve read them all. And yes, they all include a requisite two Beyonce, Rihanna and/or Nicki Minaj songs.
Now, I’m not going to lie, I am 100% getting ready to give you a list of Top 10 songs for bad chicks that feel powerful, or whatever. But, what I won’t do, hopefully, is give you a list of the same overdone songs that appear on EVERY SINGLE list.
I have a few songs, assuming that we all do, that get me hype to work, exercise, drive to work/Starbucks, be a bad b*tch, etc. These songs here get me motivated to do my best at being me, twirl on my haters (if I have any) and drop it down hella low!
These might already be your jam, they might not and okay, I lied, they’re probably those same, overdone songs on every other list… but they’re near and dear to my heart and slightly rhythmic bodacious bod…
m. lauren’s Top 10 Get in Formation Jams
1. Formation x Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter
(excuse this annotated version but yall know Tidal wasn’t giving up the deets, this was hard to find)
First off, no, I am not in the Beyhive. I am a business casual fan of Blue Ivy’s mother with an affinity for dance and ratchetry. I find that no song gets me hype off top better than Formation does. The first time I heard it (which was when I was watching the video) I was like “ehh.. girl, idk?” By listen 2, I was vibing so hard that I think the cars next to me probably called 911 in case I was seizuring. Relax, rhythmically challenged car neighbor, I was just dancing! Now for what I love about Formation:
Much like 7/11, I don’t give a damn about the lyrics, I’m going to dance, sing along and be black as hell no matter who’s watching.
Fave Lyric: I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it/I twirl on my haters, albino alligators/El Camino with the seat low, sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser
2. Migrate x Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey is yet another Queen that I highly doubt is as sweet and coy as she makes herself out to be. We all know that she is the queen of shade and randomly wearing booty shorts when you least expect it. So, I fully believe MC to be just as sassy and put-you-in-your-placeable as my favorite auntie. That is why I love Migrate so much.
This is a fun song featuring T-Pain where Mariah entertains me with her regaling* tale of going out to the club to kick it and forget about her whack ass ex. I’ve been listening to this song since E=MC2 came out and I am just now fully understanding the magic. Mariah is letting yall all know that she is coming out, she is not playing with you and your whack crew and she is ready to get down and do whatever. We gonna migrate to the club, migrate to the hotel, migrate away from these hoes…. Girl, this is my jam!
Fave Lyric: Everywhere we go they gon’ flock/Them boys migrate to where it’s hot
3. I’m Every Woman x Whitney Houston
Ever since I was a child, I have loved both Whitney Houston and her rendition of I’m Every Woman. I am very familiar with the Chaka Khan’s original version and I am fond of it but not as fond as I am of Whitney’s.
I fell in love with the song by watching the video as a kid, all my favorite artists were in the video jamming so hard, hell, I thought they were singing backup. The older I got, the more I began to really feel I’m Every Woman. It’s all in the lyrics, and that’s what makes this song so great. It’s one of the most literal, girl power type songs ever created. Literally she is singing, “I’m every woman, it’s all in me, anything you want done baby, I do it naturally.”
As a woman, I relate to this on obsessive levels. I may not be some mythical goddess that can lift a building with her pinky finger, but I can damn sure make some things happen in every area of life if I need, choose and want to. Listening to the background vocals reminds me that not only am I capable of being great as shit, but I am not alone and my struggle is not unique. Every woman has some similar challenges and we have to be there for each other.
Fave Lyric: I ain’t bragging/Because I’m the one/Just ask me/Oh, it shall be done/And don’t bother/To compare/I’ve got it
4. I’ll Take Your Man x Salt n’ Pepa
I’ll Take Your Man is my all time favorite jam by any person, in any time period, in any genre. Yes, I can rap the entire song from memory (as well a Shoop and Whatta Man) as I am an 80’s baby when a penchant for arrogance in my own freestyles. Yes, I freestyle and I am very good at it! But do not attempt to battle me, I rap for fun, okay?
Back to SnP…
Salt n’ Pepa may be one of the greatest groups of all time. When it comes to feeling amazing about being a woman, they top my list for musical empowerment. Whether rapping about being free in their sexuality, practicing safe sex or having a good man, they let you know that they meant what they said and were not to be messed with. I’ll Take Your Man may not be the most empowering message but the song jams so hard. Not only am I dissing you, I’m dissing your man, yall both know you’re getting dissed AND on top of that, I’m gonna take him from you because you couldn’t keep your mouth shut! I might not ever want to steal somebody’s man, in real life, but I guarantee you that this is the most classic insult amongst the young and braggadocious and I will use it at every single turn. You mess with me and I will most definitely (threaten to) take your man!
Fave Lyric: I’ll take your man/whenever I feel like/this aint a threat or a bet/it’s a damn promise
5. Caught Out There x Kelis
I just bet you thought I was going to say Bossy didn’t you? I thought about it, but I kinda sorta promised not to be super cliché. Plus, if Caught Out There never existed, we would never have had a reason for Bossy to even exist. Also, it took me a really long time to appreciate Bossy so we’ll give it a nod and just focus on the very first time I heard and recognized that I was hearing Kelis.
You know what I love about this song? Besides the fact that it’s kind of a sad (well, angry) love song – my favorite genre of music? I love the lows and highs of the song. Kelis comes in talking that grown woman shit to her man, like, dude, “I gave you the best head of life and whatnot”. And then she sings all melodically to ol dude about his trash ass behavior. You get to the hook and she’s yelling about how she hates this dude, right now (which tells me she just might take him back but who knows?)
I love this because rather than crying about some FB and his BS, she lets him know what’s up, shows real emotion and then moves on. She isn’t wallowing, she’s just expelling her feelings and then you know she’s probably gonna go slash his tires, throw his clothes on the lawn and find a new boo. Although this isn’t how I deal with breakups, I can only aspire to not be a bumbling, sniveling ball of snot every time someone harasses my heart. Guess I’ll live vicariously through Caught Out There.
Fave Lyric: So sick of your games, I’ll set your truck to flames/And watch it blow up, blow up, tell me, how you gonna see her now?
I had a lot to say about my fave jams and I didn’t want to take all of your precious time, so…
Check out Part 2 of my favorite hype jams by WOC!!
When I saw the Formation video for the first time, one of the first things that I picked up on was the sound of Big Freedia’s voice (I DID NOT COME TO PLAY WITH YOU HOES…) blasting through my speakers. My ears perked up so fast, I could not even begin to believe that Bey had gotten the QUEEN DIVA of Bounce on her new single. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge Freedia fan! I love bounce music unconditionally even though, for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to twerk like a N’awlins girl. When I heard Freedia go in on that short snippet, I lost my mind! I wish Beyonce would gather her life and do a full remix with Big Freedia.. COME ON QUEEN!!!
Anyway, check out this video of Freedia talking about getting the call from Beyonce! GAAAAAAAG!!
Me either, Freedia, me either!!!!!
P.S. I need to know who beat Freedia’s face cause that deep mauve is giving me total life!!