13 Songs That Are Perfect for Your Carefree Black Girl Summer Playlist

By L.G. Parker

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For the black girls braiding hair all summer, the black girls looking up MFA programs for hours after work, the black girls who get misgendered,  the black girls who are stepping outside of their comfort zone to wear that two-piece to the pool, for the black girls who sometimes forget to take their medicine, the black girls looking for the right swimming trunks for the summer, for the black girls spending their first summer doing political organizing, the black girls working through depression, the black girls working a minimum wage job to get their first car, for the girls working through shame, the black girls dealing with the cat calls, the black girls spending the summer developing their start-up, for the girls gearing up for their first summer as a mother, the black bois with the sharp fades, and the black girls looking to have a good time after a rough spring and winter — press play & turn it up.

1. Nicki Minaj — Feeling Myself (Audio) ft. Beyoncé

2. D’Angelo — Everybody Loves the Sunshine

3. Kendrick Lamar — Blow My High (Members Only)

4. Lion Babe (feat. Childish Gambino) — Jump Hi

5. Beyoncé — Flawless (Remix) ft. Nicki Minaj

6. Fetty Wap — Trap Queen

7. Kendrick Lamar — i

8.     #shine!☀ x @brikliam

9.     Beyoncé — 7/11

10. The Internet — Dontcha

11. Lianne La Havas — Unstoppable

12. Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment — Sunday Candy

13. Janelle Monáe — Yoga

L.G. Parker is a poet and writer living in Richmond, VA. She is a Callaloo fellow and regular contributor to Elixher Magazine, Blavity, and the Black Youth Project.

Why I Won’t Watch the McKinney Video

McKinney

By Arielle Newton

Confession: I have not watched — nor do I intend to watch — the video from McKinney, Texas. From what I gathered from my various social media feeds, the video shows a cop viciously pinning down a 14-year-old bikini-clad Black girl who was attending a pool party.

Why haven’t I watched the video? Short answer: self-care.

Triggers are very, very real. And in my commitment to Black cultural empowerment against a forever-adapting system of white supremacy, I find myself triggered quite often. Especially as I approach my pro-Black activism with a consistent Black feminist lens.

This isn’t the first time I’ve actively, strategically, and directly avoided topics that cause me great pain, anxiety, sadness, and frustration. I haven’t spoken on Caitlyn Jenner and the growing white-centered dialogue about “womanhood” because nothing about her journey speaks to mine. I haven’t analyzed the Brelo verdict because that gets me angry as hell. And I haven’t put forth an opinion on Chris Brown’s mythical light skint woes because … why bother?

Actively avoiding certain topics comes with great risk, both personally and structurally.

As a blogger, consciously remaining “ignorant” drastically reduces my ability to produce content, which ultimately weakens my capacity to grow BM’s readership. For example, in regards to McKinney, I could offer an analysis that suggests part of the reason why the image of a Black girl penned down by a G.I. Joe-wannabe angered so many was because she was in a bikini, thus creating a layer rooted in the historic and current hyper-policing and -sexualization of young Black girls in some manifestation or other.

But I can’t thoroughly explore such a thought because I refuse to click on any links or play any videos in which her image is so unsympathetically smeared.

Structurally, should we remain silent about the most egregiously racist and anti-Black provocations, then our voices aren’t heard at all, and the system of white supremacy remains unchallenged or unaccountable. And we all know that’s a big ass problem.

So where do we draw the line? Short answer: I have no idea.

Deciding which images we post, what recent events galvanize us, or what videos we share is — without question — subjective. We all have our triggers, stemming from our custom-made lived experiences. We respond to events differently, are focused in specific issue areas, and are more motivated by some things over others.

So I guess I can only tailor that question to me.

I find that I’m quick to share heinous incidents of anti-Blackness, especially within the scope of police brutality. I’m quick to respond to negativity. And while it’s important that I do, I’m challenging myself to create space for positivity.

So for me, I’ll be more intentional about sharing videos and writing articles that shows the majesty of Black brilliance. I’m charging myself to lift up Black creativity and cover Black talent. That’s my commitment to the digital space.

So here’s a video of a Black community in Harlem who successfully ran off an undercover NYPD who tried to arrest a Black girl. May this video spur inspiration of what Black Girl Resilience and Resistance looks like.

Photo: Screenshot/Youtube

Arielle Newton is the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Black Millennials. 

Dear Kalief Browder; A Homeboy’s Open Letter

Kalief

By Jayy Dodd

Note: Kalief Browder was falsely accused of burglary at 16 years old, held in Rikers Island prison and after 3 years out committed suicide.

Dear Kalief Browder,

Brother man, I wish you peace from this world that told you daily you weren’t human. I wish comfort and care to your family who is grieving. Though Black folks hearts are heavy with trauma, your death will not be in vain.

Earlier this year, a dear friend of my overdosed after trying to survive years of depression and trauma. Of the fraction I feel comfortable saying I know about his pain, I could locate similarities in my own and multitude of other personal hurts. As someone who lives with depression and anxiety, I remember the sickness of grief and jealous that plagued me in the days after he passed. Grief for the loss of a friend, and unspoken jealousy that he was finally free. He would never have to face the terror in which Blackness has been painted again. Any physical pain gone, any emotional hurt released. Kalief, Black boys are both tortured through incarceration and policed into fear in public, every day you attempted to survive mattered. While you could no longer take it, so much me of bears witness to you.

You didn’t get to see 23. You won’t get to see how our generation changes the world. You were not allowed to grow and laugh and regret your teens. You were not allowed to be a child. You were denied the possibility of young adulthood, the woes and joys of surviving in this age. I cannot imagine the three year terror of torture and abuse. We as a people have varying levels of knowledge to the horrors of the carceral state, so I could not even entertain patronizing with empathy.

I am filled rage that our language of justice yet again proved fallacy. That such flagrant and callous abuse of the “legal” system broke your will. While we may never know the depths or vocabularies of your hurt, we see the effects. We see how the world outside did no better than the world inside. We see how trauma can eviscerate Black life.

If anything, brother, I wish we knew. I wish our people had a critical mass of awareness, then, to rally and support. But the system that killed you, divides us, denies us the power to speak freely, though thankfully we are finding new ways. We have developed new tongues and means of organizing for justice, rest knowing your death will not be in vain.

It is unfair to assume or believe, that just because Black folks have survived abject horror, we are beyond fatalistic thought. Folks don’t see us as human. They didn’t see you as human. We see you Kalief, unconditionally. We see you as a young man that deserved possibility. I see you as a homeboy I could have known. Your family sees you as a son they were blessed to have. All we can do now is offer you peace in rest and promise action from our movement.

In the words of fellow incarcerated brother George Jackson: “They have learned that resistance is actually possible. The holds are beginning to slip away.” We will show them their holds are decomposing. We will show them your possibility.

Photo: Screenshot/Youtube

Serena Williams Is the Greatest of All Time

By Marion Andrew Humphrey, Jr.

Mark this year as Serena Williams’. She just won her 20th Grand Slam title (2nd of the year), making her arguably the best tennis player of all time — men or women.

Serena Williams is world treasure, not just a national one (I mean, she has a home in Paris).  She’s arguably the greatest woman athlete of all-time, and in my opinion, encroaching on the Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan considerations of greatest ever period.   Why, you ask?  Hard facts.  In tennis, she’s put together a resume in singles and doubles very few can compete with.  Her twenty majors top all Americans.  The Serena Slam—held all for majors at once.  13-0 record in doubles major finals with sister Venus (don’t even get me started on older sister).  And, domination of highest level of competition any great champion has ever faced plus over 20 years in the game.

In those 20 years, however, she’s encountered a more complicated response to her greatness.  Her father, who openly shared that his desire to have two more children came about after watching a tournament winner take home a $40,000 check in 1980, received backlash in the sisters’ early years for his audacious prophecies about their future success.  Verdict on those prophecies: not one lie was spoken.  That backlash in combination with tennis’ country club, anti-black racism had crowds harshly rooting against them from day one, even on their home courts.

In 2001, after older sister Venus defaulted from a semi-final match against Serena in Indian Wells, CA—the closest premier tournament to the Williams’ hometown of Compton, CA—the crowd heaved racial slurs and boos towards Serena during the entirety of her championship defeat of Kim Clijsters the next day.  Until earlier this year, Serena had not returned to Indian Wells since 2001, which made her glorious return, fueled by a successful charitable campaign for the Equal Justice Initiative, even more remarkable.

And don’t forget the constant body-shaming she and sister Venus have faced throughout their careers. Just last year, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation called them the ‘Williams Brothers.’ And after celebrating her record 19th major win with jumps of joy, men’s tennis player Ivo Karlovic (don’t know him?  No worries; he hasn’t done much) tweets a line associating her jumps with the causes of earthquakes. Note, these racist, sexist comments have not been exclusive to white men neither.  The oh-too-often excused barbershop critique of Serena’s physique has bled into our radio stations, our sports commentators, and our media. Brothas, as much as anyone, contribute to the misogynistic, transphobic, sexist, and racialized comments that police her body and bring harm to young black girls everywhere whose natural shapes are more well-thought out by the creator than Serena’s more slender white competitors.

Fortunately, Serena absorbs criticism as fuel to prove her haters wrong. She exemplifies what it means to be unbothered and seemingly lives by the late great Maya Angelou’s adage “still, I rise.” And rise she has.  At 33 years of age, she’s the oldest Australian Open champion, the oldest number one ranked player, and she continues to set herself apart from her competition.  She accepts her French Open trophies speaking French, her Italian Opens speaking Italian.  And she holds the number one ranking as only she can: undisputedly.  As equally of importance, she continues to leave her mark in a charitable space, a historical space, and she never fails to lift up her own close-knit family—one she cherishes and supports.

Since Venus’ win at the 2008 Wimbledon, Serena’s been the only American to win majors—10 of them—carrying the most decorated tennis country solely on her back.  In comparison, the last American man to win a major was Andy Roddick in 2003.  There’s no doubt that the insurgence of young American women talent such as Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens, both recent major semifinalists, and Taylor Townsend, former world number one junior girls’ player, who are all women of color can be directly attributed to the Williams’, especially as the men fail to produce the same level of top-notch talent.

Serena Williams is the greatest athlete competing today and maybe ever. She’s transcended tennis like none before her and has done so with an unfair share of critique.  She’s brilliant, intelligent, beautiful, fierce, charismatic, and dramatic—all things that make for a true champion. But, it’s her resilience and drive that ranks supreme.  Not to mention, she’s unplayable at her best.  Serena shows us that one can be the queen of something through hard work, not bloodline.  Serena Williams: The Queen of sports.

Photo: Serena Williams/Instagram

Marion Andrew Humphrey, Jr. is a Little Rock, Arkansas native, DC resident, writer and organizer. Writes about criminal justice, community safety and organizing, mental health, and all things black, free, and beautiful.

#BlackKidsMatter: McKinney, Texas and the Truth About Your Black Friends

McKinney

By Jay Dodd

News broke over the weekend of a Dallas suburb police officer terrorizing a group of Black and Brown kids attending a swimming party in an affluent neighborhood’s community pool. The graphic video depicts Corporal Eric Casebolt dragging a Black girl across a yard, shoving her to the ground and waving his gun at several unarmed teens. The community pool was the location for an end-of-year celebration, of which many had guest passes. In other words, they were invited to this space to celebrate with their friends and ended up face to face with state terror because, Black.

While pundits and racists muse whether the officer had probable cause; all of those opinions are trash. In what universe does an police officer need to press both his knees into the back of an unarmed child wearing a bikini? Moreover, why were the police called in the first place?

The McKinney Police department reported:

“The initial call came in as a disturbance involving multiple juveniles at the location, who do not live in the area or have permission to be there, refusing to leave. McKinney Police received several additional calls related to this incident advising that juveniles were now actively fighting.”

However, teens shared that the fight began between adults slinging racial slurs at the Black teens enjoying the pool; dismissing them back to “Section 8 [public] housing”. So when the cops arrive panic ensued.

Hmm, you call police on a bunch of unarmed Black teens and they freak out and run away? Go figure.

While many of the White teens present at the time attempted to advocate for the Black kids and themselves, this incident is a wake up call for any “white ally” who thinks simply having Black friends is enough. Black kids aren’t afforded childhoods. Our boys will never just be boys. Our girls aren’t allowed to be carefree. Black kids are read as terror. Even the white boy who filmed it is quoted saying “[The cop] didn’t even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible.”

We have seen state violence take children before. We have mourned Aiyana Jones and Tamir Rice. We have mourned Cameron Tillman and VonDerrit Myers Jr. Anti-black state terror doesn’t see age; it doesn’t afford Black children their youth.

And seemingly for the first time ever, no Black lives were lost in this instance of state violence.