Lil’ Kim and Society’s Problem With Black Skin

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During my youth, a female rapper by the name of Lil’ Kim emerged into the mainstream during the mid to latter 1990’s. When I heard her spit her rhymes, I admittedly was stunned, but in a good way. Her lyrics were raunchy, in-your-face, unapologetic and downright hardcore. And she seemed to give no fucks about what critics were saying. Kim propelled a new era not only for female MC’s, but for the whole hip hop and rap game altogether by not shying away from censorship or living up to male standards as to how women, especially black female artists, should conduct themselves within a patriarchal music business.

But something dark happened.

Over the years, people have noticed that Kim’s facial appearance was changing. She looked less and less like she did since her first videos came out. Not to sound funny – because it isn’t – but Kim started look more cartoonish and less human. Some people joked about it while others expressed disbelief.

Recently, a set of pictures of a woman’s face have been trending on social media. The lady appeared white at first glance. When I saw them, I didn’t know who it was. The captioned at the top read that it was Lil Kim. I didn’t believe it. I thought it was some internet joke. It looked nothing like her.

I came to find out that it was her! That white-looking woman is the Queen Bee herself!

Yes. Something happened. Something we already know. And the proof is as plain as the nose on her reconstructed face.

Like Zeba Blay said in her article, Racism, Colorism, Sexism, Misogyny, Abuse…

Kim expressed her self-esteem issues and dealing with men who treated her poorly as seen in an article in Newsweek by Allison Samuels:

Even before her parents divorced, when she was 8, she suffered her father’s disapproval. “It was like I could do nothing right,” she says. “Everything about me was wrong–my hair, my clothes, just me…All my life, men have told me I wasn’t pretty enough–even the men I was dating. And I’d be like, ‘Well, why are you with me, then?’ ” She winces. “It’s always been men putting me down just like my dad. To this day when someone says I’m cute, I can’t see it. I don’t see it no matter what anybody says…

I have low self-esteem and I always have,” she says. “Guys always cheated on me with women who were European-looking. You know, the long-hair type. Really beautiful women that left me thinking, ‘How I can I compete with that?’ Being a regular black girl wasn’t good enough.” And the implants? “That surgery was the most pain I’ve ever been in in my life,” says Kim. “But people made such a big deal about it. White women get them every day. It was to make me look the way I wanted to look. It’s my body.”

It’s never our place as men to tell women what to do with their bodies. That’s why I will not stand on a soapbox and lecture readers on what Kim should’ve done or not done with her body. Why? Because that’s what happened to her. That is part of the problem.

Throughout history, society produced this standard of beauty, power and acceptability that’s almost exclusively Eurocentric with white skin being the main – if not only – trait. It’s everywhere! Even God is seen as white by damn near everyone, including people of color!

Though disappointing as it is, it’s no surprise that there are people of color who despise their own people or themselves due to the opposite side of the same propaganda machine. While whiteness is seen as superior, beautiful and normal, blackness is seen as inferior, ugly and abnormal.

Black folks have to deal with this all day, everyday for the rest of their lives. We adapt by accepting it or fighting it. Either way, it’s almost pure hell living in a white man’s heaven.

We shouldn’t berate Lil’ Kim for changing her looks. She’s a human being that’s mirroring society’s unyielding disrespect and abuse of people of color, especially black women.

Remembering Prince

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On April 21, 2016, the universe has lost a shining star. The force of nature known as Prince has passed on to the other side. And like so many people worldwide, his death was more painful than a kick to the groin.

I’m still in great disbelief, thinking this is all a dream, or rather a nightmare. The shock has never left my system and will likely remain there for some time. And even though I’ve never known the brilliant artist, I still feel like a part of me died with him. Like millions around the world, I only knew of him through his music. And oh, what great music it is!

I’ve listened to Prince’s songs ever since I stopped sucking my thumb. I remember watching his video “When Doves Cry” (before it was edited) and listening to his lyrics. Even though I was little, I considered that song to be a masterpiece. To this day, I consider it one of the best songs ever made in modern history.

I’m no music expert. So, I can’t break down what made the song so majestic intricately. All I can say is that it was part of my soundtrack to the 80’s.

Then came the turn of the decade. Batman was out in theaters. As a side note, it’s my second favorite version of the caped crusader. My first is the animated series’ version, and my third is Adam West.

Anyway, I didn’t go see it at the movies at the time. But I was given the VHS tape of the film for Christmas. As someone was into movies enough to even watch the closing credits, I enjoyed myself listening to Danny Elfman’s rousing score.

Then came Scandalous. I especially loved Scandalous. Oh man, do I love Scandalous! Only Prince could make an awesome baby-making song as part of an album based on a popular comic book character. Only, I was only ten at the time, and had no clue where babies came from.

As I grew, other songs came from the Purple One. And then, I got word that he dropped his name in place of the now-iconic symbol. At the time, I thought that the symbol was cool to look at, but I was ignorant to know what the deal was. I thought it was just another creative idea by the talented musician. I didn’t realize that it was actually a political move, one of many.

Prince was a rebel. He rebelled against the music industry. He rebelled against the norms of masculinity (Even as a straight man, you thought he was gorgeous.). And he rebelled against the nation for the treatment of black life. He did it his way, and he did it with style.

As I say goodbye to the man who redefined music, I want to touch on the reality that we only have one life to live. Prince helped to create music that I enjoyed during my upbringing. The “soundtracks” of all people are still being produced by gifted and talented artists. And I’m sure that most of them contain a song or two by the Purple One.

Prince, like any other artist, will live on through his music. However, there will never be another like him. He was in a class of his own. And he will be forever missed.

Rest in Peace Prince, you sexy muthafucka.

R.I.P. Billy Paul

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From the NY Daily News:

R&B singer Billy Paul died at the age of 81.

Paul was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was hospitalized last week at Temple University Hospital, his manager Beverly Gay told Philadelphia news outlet NBC 10.

He died Sunday at his home in Blackwood, N.J, according to Gay. A message was posted on his website shortly after his death.

Paul was known for the ’70s single “Me and Mrs. Jones,” for which he won a Grammy.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

R.I.P. Prince

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At first, like many people I thought this was just another internet rumor that would be disproven eventually. But it turns out that it’s true. We lost another talented human being.

From the Huffington Post:

Prince, the legendary musician who brought us countless hits, such as “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry,” has died. He was 57.

The singer’s publicist confirmed the tragic news to The Huffington Post on Thursday.

“It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57,” the rep said in a statement. “There are no further details as to the cause of death at this time.”

TMZ was the first to report the news.

Earlier this week, the performer was treated for the flu after his plane made an emergency landing.

A representative for Prince told TMZ that the singer was feeling under the weather during his shows last week and began to feel worse on the plane. After the emergency landing, he was treated at a hospital and released three hours later.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

R.I.P. Joanie “Chyna” Laurer & Doris Roberts

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From Deadspin:

Former pro wrestling star Joanie “Chyna” Laurer was found dead in her home today, according to her manager. She was 45 years old. Her official Twitter and Facebook accounts both confirmed the news:

“It is with deep sadness to inform you today that we lost a true icon, a real life superhero. Joanie Laurer aka Chyna, the 9th wonder of the world has passed away. She will live forever in the memories of her millions of fans and all of us that loved her.”

Click here to read the rest of this article.

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From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Doris Roberts, who played the tart-tongued, endlessly meddling mother on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” has died, a family spokeswoman said. She was 90.

Roberts died overnight in her sleep, spokeswoman Janet Daily said Monday. Daily was told of the death by Roberts’ son, Michael Cannata.

The cause of death was not immediately known. Roberts had been healthy and active, Daily said.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

Black Stereotypes are Media Worthy

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A video found on Buzzfeed’s website has a lot of black folks shaking their heads. The video was about black people asking questions about why black people do certain things. Fellow blogger Abagond has the complete list of questions. There are 27 in all. And all of them were drenched in stereotypical thinking as if they are things all blacks do. None of the questions have any substance or ask for any critical view.

I haven’t seen the video, nor do I plan on watching it. So, this I won’t be critiquing it. The news site has apologized for the video. But the damage was done. Or I should say, the damage continues yet again.

Black people are pissed. Black people are angry. But one thing black people can’t or shouldn’t be is surprised. The video is just another addition in a long, continuous tradition of using black stereotypes to entertain or inform the general audience. Most of the time, there are white people behind the scenes who think such ideas are good enough to be produced and that the people who approve are mostly white themselves. And I use the words ‘most’ and ‘mostly’, because there are black folks who would jump on such ideas without a shadow of a thought.

Even though it’s expected or suspected that the people behind such forms of media are white, a painful fact remains that there are black people who gladly participate in shaming black people. Brothas and sistas who appear on trash talk shows, reality TV shows and internet videos such as the one released by Buzzfeed made a choice to grab their 15 minutes of fame by giving the black community a lifetime of shame.

What’s even more fucked up is that there are black folks who only consume such garbage. Their steady diet consists of programs like any reality TV program on Bravo and VH1 featuring black people, The First 48, Maury and World Star Hip Hop videos of black people fighting each other.

Selling out is a human trait, but with black people, it’s a special case. We were forced into accepting the lies about our inferiority. We were literally beaten into submitting to white power while accepting their prejudices in order to survive. To this day, some brothas and sistas do not have the heart, awareness or pride to reject racism’s machinations against them. As such, more programming showcasing black stereotypes will keep coming.

Sometimes, black people don’t have to willingly participate in order to make fools out of themselves. Somewhere in America, a black person did something wrong. It will be reported and/or recorded for the public to see. In this society, if a black person fucks up, it must be told and told as often as possible.

Don’t expect much of the white-owned media to display a positive balance to their negative projects when it comes to the black community. If it does, it will most likely be concerned with black people on the field, on the court or behind the mic. But don’t expect too much of that though.

Buzzfeed was, up until now, seen as the exception, but it failed miserably with their video. Even though the fire has subsided a little, somewhere in the media landscape, someone will approve something else that will humiliate black folks. And it will gain some considerable undeserved attention.

Venting About That “Black-on-Black Crime” Argument

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I was in a twitter war with some white dude who complained that an article written by brilliant author Ta-Nehisi Coates. The article argues that black people aren’t ignoring ‘black-on-black crime’ as the popular notion goes, but have – and still are – working ways to fix the problem and that it’s part of the larger problem of white supremacy. But this fool believed that Coates was “blaming whitey” for the problem.

Long story short, this turned into a lengthy back-and-forth with someone who preferred to stick to his guns. I moved on as it was like being on a merry-go-round and I started getting dizzy as hell. Basically, he was just being an asshole suffering from diarrhea of the mouth.

Nothing I will rant about is new. More skilled writers have addressed the criticism towards the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and all things wrong with them. So, what I’m doing is just more of the same.

The BLM movement has always been heavily criticized, and the number one disparagement has always been that the movement, or the black community in general, should be focused on ‘black-on-black crime’, a term that I hate with a passion. The argument follows that black people are killing other black people at rates higher than police-related murders. The latter is seen as rare compared to the former. Thus, black folks snuffing each other out is way more important than some police-involved death. And those murdered by cops, in some way or another, had it coming.

The latest condemnation came from former Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis who parroted the same ole’ argument in a recent video. But this is coming from a Negro who was a part of the problem in the first damn place!

I noticed that it appears that most people think that black folks suffer from selective outrage. That’s insulting enough. What I also see is that apparently we can’t tackle more than one issue we face. Black people, in general, have – and are – taking on crime and police murders as well as other matters. Then again, police killing black people isn’t much an issue to some people. Instead, intraracial crime is ‘deduced’, and I use that term loosely, as part of a larger problem with black folks that self-appointed, mostly do-nothing critics felt as their duty to address.

The million-dollar question is always about what the fuck is wrong with black people. And the winning answer is always related to ‘black culture’, a coded couple of words used in a frail way to avoid sounding racist. To list factors that point to an institutional set of barriers, restraints and castigations based on a skin color caste system is to invite the argument that you’re “blaming whitey”.

And frankly, I’m tired of explaining why that’s false to unapologetic simpletons.

I don’t give a fuck if I’m accused of blaming white people. (That’s not even what’s happening.) Why should I, or anyone, care about those who have a beef with three words put together? The bitterness towards the words ‘black lives matter’ and the flagrant ignorance towards actual facts that prove that black folks give a damn about intraracial crime only shows how much black lives don’t matter in this society. And what we do or don’t do according to these bastards is not motivated to please or seek approval from douche bags who are proud of being douche bags.

BLM and movements against intraracial crime is done out of love and respect for black lives. Those who have problems with that can go straight to hell wearing gasoline underwear.

Resume Check

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Resume Check‘ is a term that writer and author Touré coins with that he says is a tendency for people with social privileges, usually white and/or male, to question people of color and women who enter a certain space where most or all of the people are of a certain race or gender or have acknowledged a particular like that is usually seen as something only certain races and genders like. Touré discusses a particular moment where a staff member of a magazine who is a black woman was questioned by a white male writer:

At a recent conference in Boston, the white writer Gay Talese asked the Black New York Times Magazine staffer Nikole Hannah-Jones if she was truly a New York Times Magazine staffer and who over there hired her and why.

You would think that with all of these questions Talese must work for the Times. He does not. Despite that, he was determined to perform what I call the resume check. That’s when a white man asks you to prove you belong. There’s a difference between being curious about a person’s journey and all but telling that person that you don’t understand how someone who looks like them could have gotten that job. Hannah-Jones is clear that Talese wanted her to prove herself to him. “I felt defensive,” she told a writer from Rewire. “I feel like I’ve been explaining why I’m in a room where apparently people think I’m not supposed to be most of my life, so I know when someone is asking me that question.”

Even though Talese didn’t work for the Times, he felt authoritative enough to question why a black woman was present at a conference. White males have the privilege of being viewed as competent, qualified and worthy of authority in almost any given setting.

Reading this, I’m reminded of the affirmative action arguments racists make when they are threatened by black people in high positions. They believe that blacks only ‘made it’ because they are benefiting from skin color due to an unfair policy against whites, never because they actually worked hard. Then again, most racists don’t believe that black folks work hard anyway.

So, a black person in an executive position, like say…the Office of President of the United States, inherently doesn’t belong there. Que the endless stream of bullshit racist excuses.

I also think back to reading about women attending gatherings like Comic Con. There’s a stereotype by many male sci-fi and comic book fans that women are not into either. Even male comic book writers and artists believe this. But that’s not too surprising when you see how female superheroes are portrayed.

That’s why a lot of the female characters in fantasy media are sexualized in some way. But I digress.

Women who attend these conventions wearing the costume of their favorite character are sometimes interrogated by fan boys as to who the character is. They would quiz them on the back-story of that character not to out of fun – not for the female cosplayer at least –  or for small talk, but to see if she ‘belongs’ at the convention and have a right to wear her costume.

There are few spaces where people of color and women can go without being questioned as to why they exist in a particular area or feel threatened in general. The adversity they face is that their presence is suspect even if they haven’t done anything wrong. But to privileged groups, the fault lies in those people for making whites and/or males cynical just by being there due to racial and gender biases this world has yet to confront.

R.I.P. Merle Haggard

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From Daily Kos and The Tennessean:

“It’s really almost criminal what they do with our President. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he’s doing certain things that he’s not. It’s just a big old political game that I don’t want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I’m sure some of it’s true and some of it’s not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.”

-Merle Haggard

Click here to read more on what Haggard said about President Obama.

Merle Haggard, the working man’s poet, an architect of the Bakersfield Sound and a fiercely independent artist who influenced country music like few others, died Wednesday in California, surrounded by friends and family.

He had just turned 79 and had been in failing health for some time, leading to the diagnosis of double pneumonia and subsequent cancellation of several concert dates, including two nights at the Ryman Auditorium that were originally scheduled for March.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

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