IAmGaryThomas.com | 22ND ANNUAL AFRICAN AMERICAN MARKETPLACE & S.E. MANLY SHORT FILM SHOWCASE

I'm always excited when I get the chance to cover events celebrating the arts. In fact, when I got the call earlier last week to attend opening night of the 22nd Annual African American Film Marketplace I couldn't have been more stoked. As you may know, I'm a creative writer (Number of completed scripts: 75% of a feature and 25% of a short - but that's not the point), so you know I was anticipating rubbing elbows with a few black film pioneers.

Opening night, commonly referred to as the Black Academy Awards, was held at the Harmony Gold Theater on Sunset, and was dedicated to honor those who've paved the way for many black entertainers. The red carpet was lit with some of the brightest up and coming filmmakers in black Hollywood.

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IAmGaryThomas.com | STEREOTYPING, OR JUST SPEAKING YOUR TRUTH?

... That is the question.

News flash. I'm a black woman. I'm a natural sistah, I speak very loudly and I'm all about empowering other people of color - even if that means being a little radical; All of which are stereotypes of one particular kind of black woman, and all of which are true when it comes to me. I'm not ashamed - I fit that mold.

Stereotyping is wrong; not all black people love fried chicken and watermelon (I do, though), not all Asians are good at math (debunked), and not all Muslims are terrorists (ignorant). But what if some stereotypes happen to be true? Is that even a possibility?

Let me explain...

I witnessed a very uncomfortable conversation earlier this week - well, not quite a conversation, more like a comment gone south. Without giving too much detail - a group of folks were talking about moving to a new space. When one of the folks asked if they had to pack their own boxes, another individual responded sarcastically,

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IAmGaryThomas.com | THE WIZ LIVE – NOT YOUR AVERAGE REVIEW

I watched The Wiz Live last night, just as every other black family in America did, I'm sure. It was amazing. So much melanin. So much soul. So much life. I love my people.

This morning, I woke up just as every other living human did. Not sure how your day started off, but mine wasn't so pleasant. Against my better judgment I checked my social media accounts - leading with Instagram and wrapping everything up with Twitter. I was anxious to see if Black Twitter was as thrilled about The Wiz Live as I was, and most were. What I didn't expect to see as I searched "The Wiz" terms was an unsettling amount of white folks complaining about last night's NBC special - sporting their white privilege per usual.

It's funny how white folks feel entitled to point out when they're feeling left out of the conversation.

"If The Wiz had an all white cast black people wouldn't be too happy."

"I'm tired of black people always screaming about 'discrimination'. This is discrimination against whites!"

Really?

I'm sure if The Wiz Live premiered on BET, there wouldn't be any complaints. You see, as long as people of color stick to their lanes and don't infiltrate prime time media they're not offending anyone. Having an all black cast in ANYTHING on public television channels just isn't 'American'.

I was tired.

I was done.

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IAmGaryThomas.com | YES. TRUMP REALLY IS THAT BAD.

Remember this?

Is Donald Trump really that bad?

Yeah... I pretty much answered my own question.

Donald Trump REALLY is THAT bad.

Let me start from the beginning...

I initially wrote a post about recognizing Trump for his candor and honest racism / prejudices. I thought is was refreshing, and in a way it still is. No other candidate has been so expressive and unapologetic with their positioning on race relations in America, immigration or foreign affairs. What was once tacky, yet appealing, to me is now (still tacky) disturbing.

Trump tweeted the most upsetting "facts" this past weekend about the murder rates of blacks. You can imagine my frustration - and of course, I sent him a very furious tweet in response.

"Black on black crime does not exist!"

And it doesn't, but one very lone / trolling (Trump supporter?) didn't get what I was trying to convey.

"So, are you saying that blacks killing other blacks isn't a crime?"

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IAmGaryThomas.com | SHARING SESSION: MY BLACK AWAKENESS STORY

So, I've been tuning into a ton of Buzzfeed content - I mean, everything from their podcasts to the viral YouTube videos on all things Race in America.

I was inspired to share my Black Awakeness story after listening to one of the older episodes of the Another Round podcast. Unlike many others I've heard from, my Black Awakeness didn't happen until the latter part of my life. College to be more exact. You see, growing up, I always shied away from discussing my blackness. I went to predominantly white schools the majority of my life, and didn't want to offend any of my classmates. 

My blackness started to peek through in high school. Again, surrounded by mostly whites in my neighborhood, I felt myself recognizing ignorant and racially driven comments, from both students and teachers, about people of color. Comments that I never picked up on before were now being implanted into my psyche - replaying all of the time. I never spoke up because I didn't want to be an "angry black women" – 'cause you know, being an "angry black woman" is "wrong".

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IAmGaryThomas.com | What's Wrong With You?

I’ve seen the video. I’ve read the news. I’ve listened to Raven-Symone continue to make an ass of herself…

 

Bottom line: a child was thrown out of her desk by a male officer, who decided to flex his muscle instead of grabbing his balls, and using his badge to gain compliance. She was a child and should’ve been handled as such – not as a criminal. The child refused to get up from her desk after being asked by the teacher to refrain from disturbing the class. The officer used extreme force to remove her from the desk because he didn’t have enough manpower to get her to comply otherwise. The person with the real issue is the officer – not the child.

What’s even more disturbing are the numerous outcries from previous students affected by the officer’s history of abuse. He’s notorious for his violence against students. Why was he allowed to work with children if he couldn’t discipline without using violence? That should be the topic discussed on national news – not the child’s distressed past and post-partum issues… Because, again, this issue is not with the child, but rather with the officer.

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IAmGaryThomas.com | BOYS IN BLUE, GIRLS IN PINK

Something tragic, well to me, happened this past Thursday. A normal Thursday to boot – I dropped Jace off at daycare a little earlier than usual because I had a client meeting in Pasadena, but still normal nonetheless. Me fighting to get him to wake up, fighting to get him to put on some clothes, trying to pry his mouth open so I could brush his tiny teeth – you know, the norm. Had an awesome meeting, and as a result, got to leave Pasadena a little earlier than expected in the afternoon. I went home to change into something a little more comfortable and to grab Jace Michael’s “diaper bag” (we were going to a friend’s house) before heading to scoop him up.

I walk through his classroom door only to find that the little nuggets were out on the playground. I opened the door to outside, searching for my kid. Looked high and low – all over the playground. Just then, a sweet voice and warm body attached itself to my legs while screaming “Mommy!” I knew it was Jace! I reached down to pick him up, and to my surprise Jace Michael was decked out in a pink and orange, floral printed, peplum top with an orange bow to accent his waist.

Double-you. Tee. Eff.

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IAmGaryThomas.com | #NIGHTLYRANT: THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE

Ya’ll know I’m all about black power, and will fight to the death for the respect and fair treatment of my people. I’m so enveloped with black culture and black issues that I, sometimes, neglect to even recognize the mistreatment and blatant disregard of other minorities on this land.

Truth moment.

While #blacklivesmatter, and will always be a priority of mine to stand up for, I feel it’s also my just due to bring awareness to the historic genocide of our Natives. Yes. The true owners of this land.

It’s sad.

I don’t remember ever learning about Native history in grade school. As far as I was concerned, Natives were the savages who made Columbus’ job a little tougher. Boy oh boy, the ignorance you unveil when you take someone else’s word for it. At the end of the day, we know nothing about an entire race of people whom we continue to subconsciously disrespect.

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IAmGaryThomas.com | DEAR WHITE LADIES,

Dear white ladies,

There's been a ton of talk surrounding cultural appropriation lately. Between Amandla Stenberg's eloquent rant on Kylie Jenner's Instagram pic, and Azalea Banks going ham-sammy on Igloo Australia, I can see how a ton of you are still confused on the issue. Why can't you just live life, wearing what you want, listening to the music you'd like, and continue dipping your toe into the pool of chocolate, black American men? Why are you scrutinized for simply being "yourself"? Why are black women "jealous" of you? Well, I'm here to be your go-to girl, answering any and all questions you have honestly.

Dear white ladies,

No one cares about you rocking cornrows and dashikis. But when Elle Magazine considers both to be a hot new "trend", we have a problem. You see, little black girls have been wearing both since birth. Big butts and plumped lips were birthrights to most of us. It's ghetto when we embrace our God given curves, but fashion forward as soon as someone of your persuasion doctor's up. And that's the issue.

Dear white ladies,

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IAmGaryThomas.com | AN OPEN LETTER TO MCGRAW-HILL

So, Facebook is the devil. I've said this before and I would be remiss to not mention it again. If you need to be somewhat productive, opening a tab to simply "check your notifications" will jack your morale alllllll the way up. Just. Don't. Do. It.

Today's post isn't about the ratchetness - well, sort of. Let's just say a well-known textbook publisher pissed me off. Royally.

McGraw-Hill, the textbook publishing conglomerate, decided that slavery has been misunderstood. Apparently, we've been making a bigger deal out of it than we should've. African slaves were simply immigrant workers.

Pause. Breathe, in and out. Pause.

Dramatic pause.

Instead of flipping my top, and because McGraw-Hill offered up an apology and made refinements to the chapter, I've decided to pen a, frank, letter to the publishing house.


Dear McGraw-Hill and its prominent advisors,

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IAmGaryThomas.com | ARE NEGRO GIRLS GETTING PRETTIER?

…. Graced the front page of a 1966 Ebony Magazine article. “Are negro girls getting prettier?”, meaning negro girls aren’t usually?

As the knot in the pit of my stomach began to quadruple in size I flashed back to a 8th grade bus ride I had while attending Snelson Golden Middle School in Hinesville, GA. My hair was still in a red and black weaved up-do that I sported at the past weekend’s homecoming dance. Not exactly sure how I was feeling that morning, but I don’t, for the life of me, remember feeling bad or anything. Not exactly sure if I was expecting something out of the ordinary – I just remember it being a typical Monday morning. What I am certain of is that I didn’t expect to be greeted with a backhanded compliment from one of my white, male classmates. “I like your hair. You’re really cute for a black girl.”

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IAmGaryThomas.com | IS DONALD TRUMP REALLY THAT BAD?

Wake up! Election season is upon us!

You read the title of this blog and said to yourself “Ash is trippin’.” – I know, I know, but hear me out.

I’m in no way endorsing the ignorance of Donald Trump, in fact, unless you follow me on twitter you’ll probably never know my candidate of choice. It’s my job to give you the facts and to help stimulate your mind, and I plan to do just that.

Now back to Mr. Trump. You may disagree with his stances and prejudice ways, but you can’t deny that his candor is refreshing – at least I can’t. Trump is the furthest thing from being politically correct and I’m here for every bit of it.

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