HHBMedia | STIMULATED

Everyone seems to think it’s funny – everyone except me, that is.

Tyga released his mixtape “Fuk Wat They Talkin Bout” recently. The exact date, I’m not sure. Just know that it was released sometime after Kylie Jenner turned 18. Now, just in case you’re unfamiliar with Tyga and King Kylie’s connection, I’ll fill you in: Kylie is Kris Jenner’s youngest daughter and she’s been secretly dating ex-Young Money artist, Tyga, for God knows how long. Why has it been a secret, you ask? Because Tyga is well into his mid twenties and Kylie just turned 18 on August 10th.

Normally, I would never address the release of anything from Tyga seeing as I’m not a fan of his music (no shade. It’s just not appealing to me), but this particular project has got everyone on edge – including me. On the mixtape is a track, not just any ol’ track, but a track proclaiming to the world that he’s been having sex with Kylie since before she turned the big 1-8. Stimulated left me feeling disgusted. With the, now, infamous line “She’s a big girl dawg when she’s stimulated,” Tyga has definitely proven the statutory rape rumors to be true. It’s a little disturbing.

While the whole world is glorifying Kylie Jenner and all of her appropriating ways, I’m sitting on the sidelines wondering if she’s truly happy. Observing from the outside, her childhood was stripped with her family’s sudden stardom and she was never able to just be a kid. I want to like Kylie. I honestly think that she’s a dope trendsetter, but my heart breaks for her when I think about how she was forced to grow up so fast.

When you look at her, she doesn’t seem like your typical teenager. In fact, she hasn’t looked like a typical teenager since she was about 14 years old.  I’m no expert and I wasn’t in the operating room, but it seems to me like she’s even had a bit of plastic surgery before her 18th birthday. And then Tyga’s grown-behind wants to release a track coincidentally after Kylie’s 18th birthday bragging about how he pretty much preyed on her tiny-teenage self BEFORE she was even legal? This is absolutely mind-blowing, and as a parent I can’t help but to give Kris Jenner the greatest side-eye ever known to man.

I’m not one to criticize other’s parenting styles because I believe that it’s all trial and error, but I can’t turn a blind eye to this. Tyga just pretty much incriminated himself, and I can’t help but to be rubbed the wrong way about this whole situation-ship. I guess the world is truly yours as long as you can afford to buy it. Rules, laws and morals need not to be applied…

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in September 2015

HHBMedia | Reality Television and all its goodness

Call me ratchet, but I started watching reality television again this weekend.

I divorced the Love and Hip Hop’s and Basketball Wives about a year ago, after feeling convicted with taking a stance against Sorority Sisters. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Mona Scott Young is the creator of all things ratchetly addictive. Love and Hip Hop is just one of her many babies, and this past year she brought another potential reality goddess to the forefront: Sorority Sister’s, a show following the lives of 6-7 Divine 9 sorority members, who happened to be, at very least, 5-6 years post-grad.

This show didn’t even make it 2 episodes before every NPHC sorority member vocalized their disdain, which eventually resulted in the show being pulled from Vh1’s line-up. I was one of them – completely against everything that it “stood” for.

Conversations around the portrayal of black women on reality television programs were born, and I decided to stop watching all shows that portrayed my people in a negative light.

Fast-forward about 9 months later, and I found myself binge watching Basketball Wives LA and the recent Love and Hip Hop ATL reunions.

 

Oh. My. Goodness.

Talk about reality television GOLD.

 

I know what you’re thinking – “Ashley. How could an educated and socially conscious woman like yourself get caught up in that trash?”

I missed the Puerto-Rican Princess and Stebie J. Seriously. Watching their dysfunctions makes me feel so much better, and secure, about my life. I couldn’t help it.

 

Blame Facebook. I got sucked into watching the reunion after seeing memes of MiMi Faust giving a “Let’s be Sister Wives” speech to Joselyn on that black hole of a social media site. And I missed Jackie Christie. She makes me feel better about myself as well. There’s something about seeing 50+ year olds throwing drinks and spitting on young women my age that just gets me going. Like, I’m amped to start my day every morning. Like, knowing that a senior citizen is somewhere acting less mature than me makes me feel on top of the world.

 

Shade? Not really. Just facts.

My life is pretty simple (I’m not kidding. Check my Instagram), so living vicariously through some of the most distasteful women on television reminds me that I’m not missing out on much. Half of the things they’re doing or going through, I’ve already dealt with during my college years. The life lessons they seem to be stumbling upon have already been written in my early-twenties diary.

I’m reminded that being the weird chick will always trump the too familiar / booty model / Instagram boutique owning / ratchet Hollywood socialite any day.

But they get money, though. *insert sarcastic emoji here*

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in September 2015

 

 

HHBMedia | My Beef With PETA

… Or really animal activists altogether.

 

Hold the cyber-slander.

Hold the temper tantrums.

Hold the tears.

 

I care about animals too, in fact, if you’ve read my blog [www.bashinla.com] you already know that I try to be conscious of the food I prepare for my mini family; More water and natural seasonings than juice and Lawry’s; and more produce than meat.

I admire the fight that white people muster up when it’s time to stand up for something they believe in – Cecil the Lion or animal rights in general, [white] feminism and adding gluten free options to public school lunch menus.

No shade – I genuinely think that all of that is kind of dope. And as I look back on it, it would’ve been pretty cool to have gluten free options during my high school years.

Nevertheless, when white people get together and decide to fight for something ruthlessly, they’re, more times than not, taken seriously (or at least heard). When non-whites get together and fight for, what I see as, slightly more important issues, our feelings, thoughts and concerns are usually thrown by the wayside.

This doesn’t sit well with me; so when I hear of organizations that fight harder for animal’s rights than those of actual humans, I have an issue.

A huge issue.

I can’t tell you how many Facebook posts, tweets and empathetic YouTube videos I came across on the day the world found out about Cecil the Lion. I mean, the non-coloreds went H.A.M. I’m not usually one to compare, but I oddly don’t remember seeing as much outrage shown for other injustices happening in, say, America.

Don’t get me wrong – I think the doc who hunted Cecil down has a serious issue with narcissism, and reading articles on the disheartening living conditions of farm animals makes me want to never touch a burger again. [Almost, never. In-N-Out is the devil.]

You’re ready to riot when you learn of Cecil the Lion, but not a finger is raised or a single-tweet cultivated when you learn of the senseless and animalistic murders of Trayvon Martin or Mike Brown? You know… People – citizens - children?

What, or who, should take priority? Imagine the damage we could do if we combined the manpower spent fighting for the rights of animals with the current fights for civil liberties to all living and breathing human beings?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – how about, People for the Ethical Treatment of other People?

I’d seriously like to go a day without worrying about the unjustified treatment that is inevitably going to meet my son one day.  And until you can promise me that his God-given rights will be recognized fully and without condition, I say frankly and with every breath in my being, “F#CK your animals.”

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in August 2015

HHBMedia | Television Review: I Am Cait

Against everything that I decided previously, I watched the first two episodes of I Am Cait. To preface, this is to - in no way offend or crucify the transgender community, or Caitlyn Jenner for that matter. And before we begin you should read my opinion piece on Caitlyn Jenner’s transformation, here, juuuuust to get a little background on exactly where I stand with everything.

I don’t want any hate mail – and you don’t want these problems

 

The series opens with a look into Caitlyn’s current life – introducing her bestie / assistant, giving us a view into her family’s support system, and acceptance into the transgender community. Originally, I didn’t think that the show would have much substance and wrote it off as just another Kris Jenner plot to take over the world, but this time at the expense of real people who deal with transgender issues. I didn’t like that they took a very serious situation and attempted to turn it into a media stunt. I hated the fact that America was focused on Caitlyn Jenner’s wardrobe instead of, what I thought to be, the more important details.

I was judge-y. I was wrong.

But I wasn’t the only one to approach the reality show in such a negative way. In fact, the very ones making appearances on the show shared the same sentiment.

 

Within the first two episodes we were introduced to some very vocal, and key players in the trans community. These women were there solely to familiarize Caitlyn with the more common-folk issues that they face on a daily – ones that Caitlyn would probably never get the chance to experience because of her race and socioeconomic status. While this may have seemed like a great idea off rip, it quickly became very uncomfortable to watch. Not because of the topics at hand (I just reminded myself to Google “sex work”), but because a few of the “guides” were extremely combative and judgmental to Caitlyn’s views of trans community matters; Trying to shove their views and stances down Caitlyn’s throat as if her opinions were null; making her feel as if she doesn’t hold a stake in this fight.

This was the first time I witnessed, second or third hand, just how sheltered and closed off Caitlyn truly is; and not by choice, but because she’ll never be accepted. The transgender community is already alienated by the world around them for – what they believe to be – living their truest life, and Caitlyn is alienated within the community because her socioeconomic status exempts her from having to deal with some of the undesirable consequences that can come with transitioning.

No, Caitlyn will never have to perform sex-work in order to sponsor her transition.

No, Caitlyn will never have to worry about discrimination in the workplace.

Should this make her feelings or opinions any less valuable?

Caitlyn’s journey to becoming a transgendered woman (please correct me if my terminology is off. I’m still trying to learn more about everything) is her own. She doesn’t owe anything to anyone, and to shame her because her struggle doesn’t meet your standards of what a “struggle” should look like is ludicrous.

 

I’m not here for the reality show and probably won’t be tuning in for future episodes… Solely because of the hypocrisy of Caitlyn’s appointed community allies – making her feel “less than” because she doesn’t fit the mold that they think she should be fitting into.

At this point in her life Caitlyn just wants to stunt on everyone real quick, rocking the hottest outfits and stepping out of the mutha-eff’n Porsche, while the transgender community demands that she becomes their savior…

Can she live?

*** This piece was published on HHBMedia.com in August 2015

HHBMedia | Sandra was human.

Anger was the first emotion I had when reading the recent (or not so recent) reports of police brutality and senseless killings of unarmed black Americans. Sympathy followed soon behind, but never fear. Not until I watched the dashboard cam footage of Sandra Bland’s unwarranted arrest.

I guess it never really hit home for me until I saw myself leaving my vehicle in a maxi dress and being bullied by threats of getting “lit up” by the police officer’s taser. And I say “myself” not to take anything away from Sandra Bland… It’s just… I saw myself in Sandra’s place when watching the footage, and heard myself when listening to the audio, and felt a pit in my stomach and lump in my throat as I tried to picture myself handling the situation any differently than she did. Truth is, I would’ve reacted – to the T – the exact same way.

 

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve always been a “rebel”; not easy to back down when facing authority, especially when I know my rights. And after watching a few #SandySpeaks, I see that Sandra and I have a lot in common; educated black women who weren’t going to back down from anything, especially not an antagonistic police officer and his inappropriate threats. My mom always told me that my mouth would get me into trouble one day. How much trouble? I never knew – at least not until Sandra showed me.

Sandra was confident and sure of herself. There wasn’t a meek bone in her body. She knew her rights, and dedicated her adult life to educating other young people of theirs. She acknowledged her humanness, and refused to compromise her position for anyone. I love this about her – I love this about me.

 

Can you imagine? Getting pulled over for a reason that you, or anyone else for that matter, aren’t 100% sure of? And as you pull over, the cop, whose sole job is to protect and serve, acts as a bully instead of a civil servant. He goes out of his way to annoy you, antagonizing your, now not-so-friendly, mood – Demands that you put out your cigarette which, by the way, you’re well within your rights to smoke.

Instead of telling you why he pulled you over initially or simply writing you a ticket, he points out that you’re being rude and demands that you exit your vehicle. Standing up for yourself, informing him that you know your rights and choosing to stay in your car is conveniently met with threats of “lighting you up” with his taser.

At this point, the taser is aimed at your skull, and you, being the educated black woman that you are, know very well that electric shots to the brain can quickly result in brain damage, so you choose to obey by his ridiculousness and get out of your car. He roughhouses your 6-foot tall frame to the ground for “not using a traffic signal” and handcuffs you. Puts you in the back of the police car and books you in the county jail.

I can’t.

 

Sandra handled the situation just as I would’ve. Whether you say she was “rude” or “had an attitude” she was well within her right. I would’ve copped a crazy attitude too.

 

Humans are allowed to have emotions.

Getting annoyed with a police officer does not warrant an arrest.

He antagonized the hell out of her.

 

He bullied her, and you all are victim-shaming Sandra?

 

Where is your dignity?

 

This whole situation is strange.  A suspicious mug shot, a 6-foot tall woman suspected of hanging herself, and an edited dashboard camera video just doesn’t make sense to me. Either way, the blood ultimately falls on the hands of Brian Encinia; for without his wildly inappropriate conduct Sandra Bland would still be alive, and this post would not have been born.

Sandra was smart. Sandra was tired. Sandra was human.

Stand up for yourselves, and for Sandra Bland.

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in August 2015

HHBMedia | Nobody's Chattel

We spend far too much time and money researching and analyzing the motives, plans and actions of foreign organizations. I only wish we spent as much effort studying our homeland terrorist groups. You can write me off as being a complete Looney tune, call me crazy or ill-informed, but I firmly believe, without doubt, that we should be far more worried about the neo-nazi / white supremacists in this country than ISIS.

Be honest – what comes to mind when you hear the term “terrorist?” Don’t have, or want to answer that question?  Well, ask a group of young middle-schoolers what a terrorist looks like.  Ask them to be specific. From skin color to traditional garbs, I’m sure that 9 times out of 10 they’ve identified someone of middle-eastern decent. And to be frank, their depiction of what terrorism is or what terrorists look like is fair. We’re taught to think that any group, outside of America, is a threat.

But there’s levels to this, B.

The only reason the country is in an uproar over race relations is because we refuse to allow it to be continuously swept under the rug. Social media gives all of us international voices. We’re privy to insider-information that would have never been leaked once upon a time. We break our own stories and no longer rely on “that one news site” to spill the tea. Why regress now?

We know what and who the real threats to this country are – far-right extremists. Not saying that we shouldn’t be aware of ISIS’s plans to blow us into oblivion, but I’d much rather study the patterns of our very active, homeland terrorists; Seeing as they have a long history of putting their money where their mouths are.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the Confederacy being homeland terrorists, and a few of ya’ll suggested that I may have “taken things too far…”

 

Terrorism (n.): the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

The Confederate States of America consisted of eleven southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia), all of which seceded from the United States of America, antagonizing the Civil War.

In simpler terms, a group of (seven out of the eleven) Southern, slave driven states banned together to create their own confederacy because they didn’t want to fall in line with what the majority saw fit. They were terrorists.

 

Terrorist (n.): a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims.

They started a war on American soil because they didn’t want to follow the rules. They cared more about their farms and livestock than the basic human rights of their free labor. They wanted to keep their superiority and refused to share their privileges with “the help.”

You can only imagine the amount of bitterness these very Southerners had after losing the war. They insisted on keeping they’re superiority – which fast-forwards us into the Civil Right’s movement. Mobbing, lynching, beating and murdering anyone who didn’t agree with the “White is Right” mentality, and trying their hardest to keep an iron-fisted grasp on their status. Brutally beaten colored folks and bombed places of worship are a little too candid. White-hooded robes, confederate and Nazi flags, and “The South Will Rise Again” tagline are easier to swallow – subtle reminders of the dark and twisted heritage of America.

 

Against popular belief, white supremacists are a threat to the citizens of this country. We don’t hear enough about these extremist organizations because they’re white, and white extremists are able to disguise themselves effortlessly in politics.  What better position to be in if you’re sole mission is to oppress or terrorize? You have top priority when it comes to the latest information, funneling what you choose to share with the public – ultimately, manipulating the thoughts, emotions and actions of those on the ground floor. Making us all believe that our biggest threat is the nation of Islam and not the clan of good ole boys next door.

Now that we have access to current events at our fingertips and boots on the ground in the midst of it all, we are starting to take some of that power back. We no longer depend merely on what’s reported in prime-time news. We’re waking up.

Let’s continue to stay woke. Ask yourself who / what are the real threats to this country.  Is it the group of people praying in the mosque, or is it the gang of good ole boys equipped with machine guns protesting outside of that very mosque?

 

 

Election season is rapidly approaching us. I pray that we aren’t moved by the childish mudslinging of the moronic candidates and focus on what should be most important to our country – domestic terrorism.

I encourage everyone to pay attention to all of the candidates, ask tough questions and weed out the Klansmen. Don’t get intimated during talks of foreign affairs and the economic state of America; ASK ABOUT WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT!

Join me in taking a genuine stand against racism and discrimination. If a candidate doesn’t acknowledge domestic terrorism, make them.

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in July 2015

HHBMedia | Money and Violence

 

I think I may have come across the best webseries ever.

Everyone knows I'm the queen when it comes to this YouTube stuff (check out my weekly recap vlogs, here), so I spend a ton of time surfing the net for new content. A few months ago, my friends from the Detroit podcast FRM SCRTCH told me about a new show that they thought I'd be into - and my goodness, were the right.

Money and Violence, a story about a group of young Black and Latino New Yorkers trying to survive in the streets of Brooklyn, is probably one of the best shows that I've seen all summer. At first glance, the acting is a little amateur and the production is kinda low budget, but the story lines are AMAZING. Creator and director, Moetivation has truly gone above and beyond to bring viewers the "authenticity" that street-shows like Power lack, at least in my opinion.

After binge watching the entire first season last weekend, I found myself even more intrigued to learn about Money and Violence's back story. This is Moe's first time taking a shot at directing, and I'd have to say, he's done an awesome job; So much so that he has me falling in love with the villains [BR Malie, call me if you happen to come across this :) ].

In fact, all of the actors involved are first-timers - working their 9 to 5's, learning lines and shooting until the crack of dawn, only to do it over again the next day. Moe was truly blessed to have had such a dedicated cast, and the cast is just as blessed to have such a loyal motivator.

Not sure if you can tell, but Money and Violence definitely pulled at my heart strings. Witnessing the passion and devotion that went into pulling the production off (through watching online interviews of course) is enough to make me want to back the show with my own money. Not only do you learn lessons about street life, Moe also hits you with a few gems of wisdom in each and every episode. I've grabbed onto so many of Moe's street credits and lessons on loyalty, I feel like I can survive on the mean streets of Brooklyn. But, I won't be calling the moving trucks just yet - those winters are viscous.

I don't want to spoil the show for you if you haven't checked it out yet, so I'll end the gab here. Check out Ep 1 below and let us know what you think!

 

You may want to hurry up and jump on the bandwagon before it blows up (word on the street is that they'll be teaming up with RevoltTV for the next season).

Thank me later.

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in July 2015

 

 

 

 

HHBMedia | Tyshaun Granger – Real or fake, he inspires

Passion is an understatement when it comes to Tyshaun Granger, a Chicago teen who was recently fired from his position at a local McDonalds. No, this is not a piece on discrimination or the unfair treatment of blacks in the U.S. No, Tyshaun didn't curse anyone out or steal anything. He was fired for replacing toys with his mixtape, Tales From a Real N*gga, in children's happy meals.

Bizarre, I know, but this story has me intrigued - no matter how off the wall it sounds. Real or fake, I think we all can learn a thing or two from Tyshaun Granger. 

In an era where most of us have "day jobs" and channel our creativity into our dreams part time, we miss opportunities to truly hone into our crafts. What if we took full advantage of our circumstances, turning dreams into reality by just pushing a little harder? Instead of turning the creative switch off while working his day job, Tyshaun saw McDonalds as a stepping-stone instead of a crutch - something that most of us should begin to do.

Some may call it "tampering with children's food,” but I call it "marketing.” He wanted to spread the word about his newest mixtape, and so he leveraged McDonalds customers to do so. 

I see Tyshaun as an inspiration to many; Ludicrous, yet genius at the same time. Being dedicated and relentless, grabbing every open opportunity by the balls to reach his dreams of becoming a hip-hop mogul.

Now, I don't suggest pulling a Tyshaun, but there's something to be said about that young man's passion to succeed. Real or fake, I love it and I'm here for every bit of it.

 

Are you someone who has a day job and works on your passion part time?  How can you use your day job as leverage to reach your end goal?

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in July 2015

HHBMedia | #BETAwardsWeekend #DopeNetwork – Drumma Boy's VIP Industry Brunch

I kicked off my BET Awards Weekend (kind of late) with an awesome celebration honoring Memphis' own and award winning producer, Drumma Boy. The rooftop industry brunch was laced with gracious sponsorships, such as Moreno BHLV and an eclectic group of talent.

With sounds provided by DJ Cash, even the slight rain couldn't melt the morale of the crowd. The attendees networked while enjoying the gourmet breakfast spread and spiced rum throughout the venue.

I had the pleasure of interviewing a 17-year-old DJ and producer, by the name of DJ Young Slade and gained a bit of inspiration after speaking briefly with the creators of 7 Percenter Clothing. Guests such as Wild N Out's DJ D-Wrek and Hit the Floor's Jonathon McDaniel were also in attendance. However, Monster Inc's CEO, Noel Lee stole the show with his tricked out Segway and sweet demeanor, and gave the media an exclusive look (and test drive) at his awesome rose gold, 24k headphones.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and will definitely be routing for Drumma Boy tomorrow while tuning into this year’s BET Awards show. Not only is he an enormously talented musician, he knows how to throw a great party – Spectacular event, with an even more spectacular crowd.

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia in June 2015

HHBMedia | Shepherds and hate crimes

This has been extremely hard for me to write.

My heart is heavy – I get a dry lump in my throat each time I try to talk about it.

After seeing what the effects of hatred can lead someone to do, I’m hopeful that the rest of America will finally believe that we’re not crying wolf.

Racism still exists.

 

The murderer (whom shall not be named) walked into a historically black place of worship and deliberately took 9 precious lives. Not because he was mentally ill, not because he had too much to drink, not because the music was too loud, not because he felt threatened, but because he hated black Americans. He hated the color of their skin for pathetic reasons, and believed that his life was far more valuable than his bible study mates.

He forced his way into a beautiful, AME church with the intent to kill black people.

He prayed with our elders and listened to testimonials of how good God’s grace is. He was welcomed into a safe haven for many, and willfully murdered our relatives.

His only mission was to “kill black people.” His hope was to start a “race war.”

 

Silly rabbit – we’re already in a racial war. 200+ years strong.

 

I tried not to watch the news when the story initially broke. I knew that I couldn’t stomach it. I couldn’t escape it, however; Charleston was everywhere.

But the murderer’s hate didn’t trigger me to write this piece – I’m fully aware that racism is real – but I was triggered by those broadcasting on the airwaves refusing to tell the public the truth.

“This was a terrorist attack on Americans.”

“He hated Christians.”

“He was mentally ill and originally intended on shooting up a local college.”

One media outlet even went as far as searching for the murderer’s only “black friend” to declare that he wasn’t a racist, but hated “everyone.”

No.

This was blatant hatred fueled by ignorance and fear of losing control. This was a hate crime. There’s no need for further investigation.

But even with proven facts and direct quotes from the murderer, the media still tries to masks the truth.  It’s disgustingly disrespectful.

I’m hoping that Charleston opens the eyes of many, if the other current events haven’t already. I’m hoping that everyone – black, white, purple and green – sees the attack in Charleston for exactly what it is, a hate crime, and isn’t brainwashed into believing what the media wants you to.

Isn’t it funny how most of us know the murderer’s name, but can’t remember the names of the victims?

Isn’t even funnier how we know Rachel Dolezal’s government but can’t recall the name of the 14-year-old young woman who was manhandled at an end of year pool party by some pig?

 

I’m not a sheep – Quit trying to “shepherd” me.

 

*** This piece was originally posted on HHBMedia.com in June 2015

HHBMedia | There's no such thing as "transracial", My beef with Rachel Dolezal

2 words. Rachel Dolezal. And I'm not here for any of her shenanigans. Don't know whom I'm referring to? Google her.

I've had enough. I think the whole situation is bizarre. She's clearly obsessed with black American culture, and her obsession could possibly land her in an asylum. That's no shade to anyone dealing with mental illnesses - I think everyone should get the help they need. Rachel Dolezal's case is just extremely disturbing to me.

I, as a black American woman, feel offended. Not only has she sported natural-esque wigs and self tanner to make herself into a pseudo-light skinned black woman, she's told false stories about growing up in an abusive home and overcoming the "black woman's struggle" as if her life was a Tyler Perry flick.

Sure, she's done great things in her community - serving as the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP and being a mentor to young black Americans at Eastern Washington University - but her great works are somehow overshadowed by her fraudulent lifestyle. At least for me... It's absolutely crazy.

Were her motives to simply support the movement of fair treatment and equality, or were they to solely uphold a demented agenda to become more "black?”

I get it - being "black" is poppin’ right now. Black culture is hip, cool and dope. While the Iggy's of the world are content with perpetrating and appropriating, Rachel Dolezal wanted more than butt implants and lip injections. She wanted the genetics, she wanted the struggles, and she wanted the accolades.

This can be quite flattering, I mean, I'll definitely agree that being a black woman is pretty sweet. But I'm not cool with Rachel Dolezal's backhanded-homage - a nappy wig and blackface doesn't make you "black.” Just because you feel "soulful" doesn't mean you have a black woman living inside of you (and might I add that I HATE when I hear non-blacks say this. It's extremely offensive).

There's no such thing as "transracial.” You either are, or you are not; and Rachel, my dear, you are NOT.

Admire from afar, but wearing a costume doesn't give you a piece of my struggle. I refuse to share that with you. Be a supporter, but you're not entitled to any of my reparations.

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in June 2015

HHBMedia | Center Theatre Group / Ahmanson Theatre: Matilda The Musical

I was thrilled to learn that I'd be attending Matilda The Musical this past Sunday. My mother and sister had the chance to see the musical in New York a couple of weeks ago and couldn't stop raving about how awesome it was - which in turn made me a wee bit jealous. You see, growing up Matilda (starring Mara Wilson) was one of my favorite movies and the mere thought of seeing it in musical form filled me nostalgic glee.

Now, if you know me you know that I'm a huge fan of musicals, but this by far was unlike any one I've ever attended. The very first number completely blew me away. The children performers were absolutely flawless. From what I could tell, every note, 8-count and mark was hit. They commanded the audience's attention and impressed us with their professionalism.

Matilda, played by Mia Sinclair Jenness, was the sweetest little actress I've ever seen and Miss Trunchbull, played by Bryce Ryness, was the comedic relief that the ensemble needed. Quinn Mattfeld and Cassie Silva, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, introduced the audience to new depths of the neglectful parents than we've witnessed in the film - something that was charmingly unexpected.

I genuinely enjoyed the musical. The creativity of the set designs paired with the musical orchestrations was the perfect topping to a great evening.

I could tell that everyone involved worked extremely hard to make this a night to remember for the audience. Seeing Jenness so overjoyed in the closing number literally brought tears to my eyes. I left feeling so proud of the cast and can't wait to come back for more.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, Matilda The Musical will be hitting the stage from now until July 12th. Be sure to check them out while they’re in our backyard! You won't be disappointed.

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia in June 2015

HHBMedia | Nightly Rant: Dr. Seuss a racist?

My mother sends me the most off-the-wall articles to read, usually followed with intense opinions and commentary. I'm talking stuff along the lines of "Don't let your kid drink tap water because another parent did in Timbuktu and now her kid has tape worms.” And don't let the little fella resemble Jace Michael (my son) in the least bit; she'll really be stressed.

But the article she shared with me this past Friday really tripped me out. The headline read Racist Dr. Seuss drawing up for auction. Call me naive or ignorant to previous reports, but never would I ever have thought that "racist" and "Dr. Seuss" would appear in the same sentence. My heart was bruised just a little.

Dr. Seuss is a childhood staple of mine, and now, my son's. We're members of a book club where we receive monthly selections of Dr. Seuss books - everything from Green Eggs and Ham to The Bernstein Bears series. My deep-rooted affection for him no longer mattered in that moment, however. With everything going on in the world today, I can’t bring myself to support anyone who's a known "racist.” No matter who you / they are…

Apparently, Dr. Seuss has a drawing that he created at the age of 25 up for auction. It's an offensive cartoon portraying blacks as slaves with blackface and over-exaggerated bright, red lips. Per usual, the illustration was complimented with racial slurs.

I'm now going to say something that will probably throw you for a loop.

After reading the article and gathering all the info I could about it on the web, I was left unbothered. Like...

So what?

You read that correctly.

So what?

Dr. Seuss created this cartoon at the age of 25, 8 years before he started publishing children's books. Yes, the cartoon is extremely offensive. I would never negate that fact. And if it, or anything else relative, were created in the latter part of Dr. Seuss' career I'd have a whole lot more to say.

People do dumb stuff when they think no one is watching. That shouldn't be a surprise with the direction social media is going.

 

Tangent - I've been a member of Twitter since 2009, and I'm sure if you were to dig through all 50,000+ of my tweets, you'd find some pretty offensive stuff.

I'm just being honest.

It sucks to have found that the beloved Dr. Seuss had a racist bone in his body, but is it too hard to believe that he may have created that crap in a dark and immature time in his life? And since he's not here to defend his self, I refuse to be the one to point fingers when I KNOW I've said, or tweeted, some pretty crappy things in my younger years.

It would suck to be crucified for the stupid actions of my past, especially since I'm not that person anymore.

I'm not making excuses for Dr. Seuss. I think what he did was disgusting. After learning about this and other racially offensive drawings from his past (that he may, or may not have apologized for) I choose not to purchase another book by Dr. Seuss, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to burn every childhood literature memory of my son's because the author may have been a prick at the tender age of 25.

I'll do my part by not financially supporting the foolishness, but I also don't think it's fair to tear down his legacy when he's not here to defend his self.

And if you ask me, removing his books from public libraries and banning them in schools is a bit extreme and only does a disservice to the children. Whether you like it or not, Dr. Seuss has made a positive imprint on childhood literature – but I digress.

I don't know all the facts, and I'm not about to jump on the "burn in hell Dr. Seuss" bandwagon just yet...

 

*** This piece was published on HHBMedia.com in June 2015

HHBMedia | A Foreign Perspective

My friends had a barbecue this weekend in observance of Memorial Day, and I got a lot more out of it than just good food and tasty beer.

Racism was the topic of discussion and with a mixed crowd of white Americans, black Americans, Romanians, Asian-Costa Rican - a little bit of everything - things got interesting.

We talked about the usage of the "N" word, America's history of oppression, slavery, and discrimination in today's society, the usual patterns of race relations. And of course, I stood my ground, sticking to my guns and not budging when my opinion differed from others. Unexpectedly, my demeanor softened as soon as I talked to a Romanian actor, another guest at the party, about his views on America's issue of race and discrimination.

My first thought "What can he teach me about race in America that I don't already know?" And, I must humbly admit that I couldn't have been more wrong.

He told me a story about how before coming to America, he wasn't versed in our issues with race and didn't understand why it was such a big deal. His black American friends recommended a few historically black films for him to watch in order to help educate him in this subject. He watched everything from Amistad to Selma, but it didn't really hit home for him until he saw 42.

That's right. 42.

Seeing racism in a context as simple as a baseball game really got to him. Whites Only signs, racist baseball players and seeing the hardships that the Robinson family had to endure put everything in perspective for him.

He said, and I'm paraphrasing here, you can have the greatest movement leaders in the world (I.e. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and pass all of the anti-discrimination laws you desire, but nothing will change. He said, you can't solve racism politically or legally; you have to change hearts.

Oh. Em. Gee.

Someone who's not from this country just called bullsh*t on everything that we've been fighting for over the past multi-decades. Maybe, just maybe, we've been taking the easy road in a sense; passing laws and bills to set the parameters around acceptable behavior instead of flipping the switch on what hate we have in our hearts, and simply doing better.

According to my new Romanian friend, it's all about choices.

And in reference to his new cultural fave, 42: because Jackie Robinson chose to keep his cool, history changed.

Can you imagine having that type of impact on the world?

*** This piece was originally published for HHBMedia.com in May 2015

HHBMedia | Musicology Presents a Panel discussion with RevoltTV Executives

Four, young and driven executives from Revolt TV stopped by Los Angeles Film School this past week for a panel discussion; zoning in on all things music, education and professionalism. Besidone Amoruwa, Chris Roy, Amrit Singh and Neil Dominique delivered sound advice and boosts of inspiration to the crowd of aspiring entertainers and entrepreneurs.

Inspiration was definitely the theme for the night. Each #RevoltUniversity panelist candidly walked the audience through their fearless journeys to becoming who they are today, and I'm sure the testimonials did not go unheard.  

Seeing the young panelists speak with such assertiveness and professionalism made me that much more interested in the Revolt TV movement. The passion that they shared for the contemporary brand was undoubtedly contagious.

Revolt TV is new, and different, and scary to most. It's unlike any other cable network out right now. The fact that they entrust the viewers to choose their content can be mind-boggling to most.

Revolt TV is a rebel, coming to shake the face of music and television up - something that the industry was in desperate need of. Diddy choosing the right, youthful team to spearhead this movement is a direct reflection of what any mogul should do if they truly want to "keep an ear to the streets.”

The panelists wanted everyone to realize that each audience member is a brand influencer, and ultimately directs the entertainment industry to what's hot, a responsibility that shouldn't be dismissed or taken lightly. Empowering the young generation and giving them a sense of ownership to the Revolt TV movement is working in their favor.

Revolt TV is definitely a network worth supporting. They look to the new generation to tell them what to air - tailoring their programming to match the hearts of the viewers instead of force-feeding them fabrications of what they feel cool should be. More established music networks should take note and hop on the bandwagon before it's too late. After all, it's all about the culture and who better to look to for direction than the culture.

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in May 2015

HHBMedia | Why Girls Love Beyonce

Last week, my piece was dedicated to Kim Kardashian so it's only right that I give one to the Queen…

 

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, slaying all of you since 9/4/81, is held to such high standards. Any and every thing that she touches turns to instant gold. Even if you don't enjoy her music, you still respect her. Those who try to rip her apart, simply disappear. Ask Keri Hilson.

Now, I know I'm coming off sounding like a complete Stan - and that's exactly what I am. I proudly Stan for the Queen. She's definitely someone who I pull inspiration from. Not for the superficial reasons you may think, but because she's the poster child for simple girls, from simple upbringings, wanting to achieve simple success.

Beyoncé is a Plain Jane. She represents for all the normal, wholesome girls who like to turn up the ratch every now and then, but can still be taken home to meet your mother. I admire her normalcy.

And I know what you're about to say: "How can she be normal with her level of celebrity?"

Let me explain…

 

She pops.

Every little black girl who grew up in a typical black family learned how to pop. Not twerk. But pop. Popping is the classier version of twerking. Beyoncé took this normal, basic dance move and turned it into social media gold. Whenever we see the Queen pop in a dance sequence we lose our sh*t. Why? Because she embraced her little black girl-ness and took it to the big stage. Beyoncé's routines are so basic and fool proof - any fan with the least bit of rhythm can pick up one of her 2-steps.

 

Speaking of 2-step - Have you ever tried to bust out a Ciara dance routine? No? Me either. It's too complicated. Ciara is a trained dancer, Beyoncé isn't. Yet, I guarantee that if you had a choice between seeing Ciara or Queen on the main stage, you'd surely choose the latter. Not to mention, Beyoncé's stage presence is infectious.

 

She simply sings.

Queen's lyrics are always easy to understand, which in turn makes her more relatable to her fans. Simple lyrics with simple melodies makes for a perfect anthem. I don't know about you, but I want to sing songs that I could imagine myself writing. Beyoncé doesn't try to intimidate you with her lyrics. She says what she means, and she means what she says - simply.

 

She's country and proud.

In every bit of the word - Beyoncé reps Houston to the fullest. Queen loves her Church's Chicken and Lays potato chips.

 

She's one of us.

In a world where Instagram models are trying to claw their way to the top of social media awareness, we, or I rather, can get sucked into the hype occasionally. Analyzing every part of my body. Envying the next chick for their smaller-than-life waistlines. If waist trainers and Instagram boutiques are the new status symbols, then I'm out of the loop. What they try to make seem so unattainable, Beyoncé reminds us that it's all within our reach. Beyoncé isn't the most exotic looking beauty, but her normal-look is what makes us follow her every step.

 

So pretty much, girls love Beyoncé because we see bits and pieces of ourselves within her. And it’s that simple.

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in May 2015

HHBMedia | Special Needs Network - Seventh Annual Pink Pump Affair

I had a beautiful time attending The Seventh Annual Pink Pump Affair this afternoon. And if you're unfamiliar with this powerful event, it's a fundraising gala supporting underserved families who are touched by Autism. With this year's theme being Viva Las Vegas and hosted by CBS2 Anchor and Award-winning Broadcast Journalist Pat Harvey, I knew I was in for a treat.

Awards for philanthropy and advocacy were given, with Hollywood-beauty Nicole Ari Parker winning this year's Trailblazer Award. St. John kicked off the gala with their Couture Fashion Show - showcasing pieces heavily inspired by Former First Lady Nancy Reagan.

From the V.I.P. reception to the High Tea, a constant presence of warmth and sisterhood was felt amongst those in attendance. Smiles complimented the sea of pink attire throughout the venue.

Even more inspiring was Areva Martin, Esq.'s amazing story of how founding the Special Needs Network helped to change not only her family's life, but support so many other families in need. SNN was created to raise awareness of the issues affecting those living with Autism in underserved and marginalized communities. Areva's son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2 and she continuously pays it forward by sharing the knowledge she's obtained about the disability with others.

Today, Autism affects 1 in 68 children, and 1 in 42 boys; boys are nearly 5 times more likely than girls to have Autism (facts provided by autismspeaks.org).

It's no secret that when it comes to Autism, a significant amount of folks are ignorant to the statistics and the impact that it has on families. Organizations like SNN are one of the pioneers helping to equip families of Autistic loved ones with the knowledge and support they need to live happy and healthy lives.

This year's Pink Pump Affair was expected to raise approximately $200,000, and the funds will be used to send children with disabilities of low-income families to summer camp.

What better of an event to raise both awareness and resources in an effort to spread the good news - pressing this commendable movement forward.

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in May 2015

HHBMedia | Movie Review: SHAKE THE DUST

SHAKE THE DUST, executively produced by Nas, is an inspiring story of how hip-hop and break dancing is used to heal communities around the world. What makes this film so special are the personal testimonies of those who had their lives positively transformed by the genre.

Highlighting communities from Uganda to Cambodia, from Yemen to Columbia, SHAKE THE DUST does a great job of showing the interconnectedness between the very distinct cultures, weaving them together with hip-hop.

I don't know about you, but I, as an American, never really thought about how much of an impact the hip-hop / B-boy culture has on those outside of the U.S. To see how lives were rehabilitated with simply bass, beats and break dancing gave me a sense of pride. I'm sure you can agree, the hip-hop culture within the States has an ugly wrap to those who are unfamiliar.

A genre that tells the angry and volatile stories of thugs and criminals could never reinforce progressive behaviors within the youth - at least that's what an "outsider" would think.

Hip-hop music and the culture save lives. Kids from across the globe, who have grown up in the most unlikely conditions and who may have an ugly past, are using the music to inspire and challenge those admiring to do better.

I would highly recommend everyone to check out this film - it's seriously unlike anything I've ever seen. SHAKE THE DUST expresses how hip-hop bridges the gap between every fan, in every country around the world. It's not exclusive to any one language, religion or culture - Because "Hip hop goes wherever we go...”

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in May 2015

HHMedia | I love Kim Kardashian. And I'm not ashamed.

I pride myself on being an upfront person. When it comes to sharing general interests or giving my 2-cents on the latest celebrity gossip, I'm definitely not one to hold my tongue - even when I know that my stance may be uncommon or controversial.

Office conversations are usually kept on the surface - you know, super p.c. and mainly around television and entertainment. Everything is pretty much fair game for debate and criticism, except all things Beyoncé. Sly comments are usually made about my obsessiveness, but for the most part no one steps out of line.

Now that's Beyoncé. Everyone loves Beyoncé. And even if they don't, no one rags on her too much in public.

Kim Kardashian is another story.

 

I adore Kim K, and have for years. You can only imagine the type of hell that came upon me when I came clean. Why people have so much disdain towards this woman is beyond me. Sure, she can be a little extra sometimes. And of course there were instances where I felt like she was being less than sincere, but when did the public hate for Kim get this bad?

She's never gone on a crazy, racially motivated Twitter rant. She's never shot and killed an unarmed black man. She's never extorted a ton of money, or robbed the elderly out of their retirement savings. Yet, everyone treats her as if she committed some heinous offense against humanity.

Since when has wearing cute clothes and monopolizing off your beauty become such a taboo?

 

"She's a hoe!"

What type of inside scoop have you been provided with? Or better yet - what's your body count? Glass houses, people. Glass houses.

 

"She's not a role model!"

For whom? Young girls? Do you think you slut shaming or throwing darts at someone's character should be modeled behaviors for young women?

 

"She's not even that pretty!"

Lies. You. Tell.

 

Again I ask, what has Kim done to make people dislike her so much? She comes from a wealthy family and had a mother driven enough to discover unconventional ways to create an empire.

 

"But... What is she famous for?"

Breathing. The Kardashians are famous for just being themselves. They make money by purely living, and although I'm totally envious of their luxurious careers, I can't bring myself to join the gang of anti-Kardashians. Maybe it's my own self-esteem / confidence, but I don't get off on bringing someone else down.

 

I'm not saying that she's the niftiest, most enlightened woman in the world - but she's definitely far from a bigot.

So, why so much disgust?

It sounds like a bit of hater-ation to me.

 

*** This piece was originally published on HHBMedia.com in May 2015