This Tweet Sums Up Why We Need #BlackGirlsRock


Cosmopolitan has come under fire after this poorly executed beauty list reemerged online. The magazine used black celebrities and models to demonstrate what styles were out of fashion in 2015.

This tweet sums up why affirmations like #blackgirlsrock are still necessary:

Photo: Cosmopolitan/Screenshot

The Color of Violence: A Space Where People at the Margins Are Centered


By Dominique Hazzard


My small group, one of my best friends and three folks I had just met, was charged with creating a world together. We decided on an an Earthlike planet with an underwater, communal society that was recently colonized by corporate, oligarchical land dwellers who instituted a carceral system and hijacked oceanic portals to the ancestors for commercial use. This world we wrote during the science fiction workshop, hosted by Octavia’s Brood, was a fantasy.

The Color of Violence 4 conference — where melanin, queerness, and femininity were the norm- sometimes felt fantastical itself, like the Hyatt Regency was hosting an delightful, imaginary world. But, luckily, it was all real. COV 4 was a space where people at the margins were centered, and where alternate realities were spoken into existence. It was a space where dreams — a world without prisons, queer family structures without patriarchy, social movements that heal the spirit — were articulated with a certain firmness and determination.

Even with all the beautiful people milling about, with all the healing and affirmation, there was a sense of urgency and danger in the building, as there should have been. Indigenous women are missing. Trans people are dying. Black women are being criminalized. Families are being torn apart by the state in so many ways. And there were questions in the air that have no easy answers — how can we develop strategies to deal with the violence we enact upon each other, even in a space like COV 4? How do we center trans people in our work? What does it look like to ally ourselves with indigenous communities, even as we live on their occupied land? How do we call out anti-blackness in POC spaces? What should accountability look like when organizations make mistakes?

But my weekend in Chicago made me believe that we can answers these questions, and renewed my faith in this declaration: I believe that we will win.


Dominique Hazzard laughs in the face of the white heteropatriarchy while skipping merrily through the District, creating interfaith tools to address poverty, and eating bacon.


Photo: Color of Violence

Noose Found Hanging From Tree on Duke Campus


A noose was found hanging from a tree on the Duke campus Wednesday morning.

A picture of the noose and statement was posted to the Duke People of Color Caucus Tumblr:

“To all black students, staff, faculty, and/or Durhamites on campus and in the area: Please take care of yourselves and each other. This campus is not a safe space, and has proven beyond any doubt that it is a hostile environment for any and all black people.”

This incident follows a case of racist chanting just two weeks ago, writes the Duke Chronicle. In that case, a black student claimed that white students chanted the same lynching song as the Oklahoma University SAE chapter at her while she was walking on campus.

Photo: Duke People of Color Caucus


Afro-Mexicans Tell Their Story In Short Documentary

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A new documentary is collecting the stories of the oft-overlooked Afro-Mexican community.

From Remezcla:

One young filmmaker and anthropology student of Afro-Salvadoran descent, feeling sympathy for the plight of invisible Afro-Mexicans, took it upon himself to make a very independent documentary exploring Afro-Mexican identity in the coastal communities of La Costa Chica — a region spanning the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca that has the highest concentration of Afro-descendants in Mexico. Titled Así Somos: Afro Identities in the Coast, the short doc admittedly features an extremely raw and unpolished style, but director Andy Amaya does a fairly good job of letting his subjects speak for themselves as they reflect on experiences with discrimination, their Afro-linguistic heritage and labels like ‘negro’ vs. ‘afromexicano’.


h/t Remezcla

13 Queer Creative Influencers That Are the Black Future

By Candice Iloh

At the same time every year it seems the whole country focuses in on the same extraordinary black trailblazers of the past. They are the ones that have made the cut into your history books and who have managed to remain on the tongues of even the youngest black kids coming up in 2015. But what about the future? What about the many black pioneers who are creating and continuing to build as we speak? There are actually entirely too many to include all on one list given the limitless nature of the diaspora. Even further, black excellence is commensurate with black queer excellence. These 13 writers, creators, and activists are pioneering ways of affecting change that impact the lives of those in either category, but moreover, for the oft-overlooked persons who check both designations.


Darnell Moore 


Darnell Moore does it all. He is a writer, cultural worker, critic, and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. An ever-present voice in the queer black community, Moore has held several leadership positions in national LGBTQ organizations, including YOU Belong, a social good organization he recently co-founded alongside NFL player Wade Davis II. YOU Belong is the nation’s first ever LGBTQ summer camp that pairs queer youth NFL players. He is largely known for his work as national speaker and diversity trainer advocating for a myriad of LGBTQ concerns largely centered on black experiences. (Photo: Courtesy of Darnell Moore)


Tiona McClodden 


Tiona McClodden is an award-winning filmmaker and visual artist residing in Philadelphia, PA. She is also the Executive Producer and Director of the Harriet’s Gun Media, a company that aims to produce and distribute multi-genre art that “critiques issues at the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality.” At HGM McClodden also facilitates the HGM Black Queer + Women + Trans Artist Booking & Management program in which emerging and and established artists are guided through the process of creating and getting their art out into the world. (Photo: Courtesy of Allison McDaniel)


Hadaiyah Bey 


Hadaiyah “Yaya” Bey is writer, educator, and community organizer who resides in Washington, DC but hails from Queens, NY. She is the curator of the Sanaa Project a creative initiative that operates as a growing guerrilla community organizing mechanism facilitated through house parties and arts festivals throughout the East Coast. An educator by day and an artist by night, Bey is one third of an up and coming band by the name of Gully Waters and the author of The Adventures of Trill Yeezy, a biographical collection of poems about love and childhood. When not organizing an event, teaching, writing, or performing, she donates her time protesting anti-black police violence. (Photo: Courtesy of Hadaiyah Bey)


Morgen Bromell 


Morgen Bromell looked into a space that carried nothing that welcomed her and created it. She is the Founder of Thrust, a new dating app created for those who are want to explore the world of online dating but couldn’t relate to the internet’s staple offers. Frustrated with the white-washed and heteronormative structures of these online romantic spaces, Bromell generated this new app for the young and single who has suffered tirelessly at the hands of limited and fetishized dating websites that continuously lock people like herself out of the opportunity to meet future partners. (Photo: Courtesy of Morgan Bromell)

Shantell Martin 


Shantell Martin is New York-based visual artist who literally draws on everything. Her recent exhibit “Are You You” at the MoCada museum in Brooklyn displays her genius with many of her musings drawn on the walls and, in some cases, on guests of the museum. Seen often throughout New York, Martin’s forte is creating thought-provoking visual messages centered on identity with the simple and skilled use of a black wide-tip sharpie marker and white space. Her hand-drawn illustrations can be found in several public spaces and she regularly facilitates live digital drawings at musical performances and conferences. (Photo: Courtesy of Shantell Martin)

Kai M. Green 


Writer, scholar, and filmmaker Kai M. Green is actively examining those awkward instances in which racialized violence and gender expression collide. In his film It Gets Messy in Here specifically takes a look at what often occurs with transgender men and masculine presenting women of color in spaces such as the bathroom. Beyond this, Green serves as a member of the Community Coalition to End Sheriff on Inmate Violence in LA County Jails and also the community advisory board for the In the Meantime Men’s Group, an organization that advocates for the health and wellness of black gay men. (Photo: Courtesy of Kai M. Green)




Formally known as the Peace and Bodyroll Duo, Boomscat is a musical experience. Made up of Asha Santee (BOOM), keyboardist-drummer-producer, and Jennifer Patience Rowe, singer-songwriter, the two are relatively new to the music scene as a duo but young veteran musicians in their own right. Their latest project, No Life Jackets, shot into the top 20 on iTunes on the first day of its release. BOOMscat opened for Kindred the Family Soul shortly after. (Photo: Courtesy of Boomscat)


King Texas 


King Texas is a photographer based born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Known widely throughout queer communities on the East Coast, he has spent a significant number of years capturing the downtown NYC nightlife while also honing his skill as a photographer that reels in on the vast spectrum of gender within the black diaspora. Texas is currently working on his ongoing black and white portrait series BLACKNESS. (Photo: Courtesy of King Texas)


Crissle & Kid Fury of The Read 


Writer and co-host, Crissle West, and self-proclaimed media-mouthpiece and co-host, Kid Fury, together are the highly-opinionated, poignant, and hilarious voices of the the infamous podcast, The Read. Together, the duo produce are refreshingly honest weekly show featuring recaps of the previous week in news and pop culture while also jam-packing the time with social commentary and the always highly-anticipated letters submitted by listeners with questions ranging everywhere from the dynamics of LGBTQ relationships to the qualms of navigating awkward moments with white romantic partners. The show periodically features a black excellence segment, as well as celebrity guests, and is liable to have you cry-laughing and shouting amen in public on your morning commute to work. (Photo: Courtesy of The Read)


Tiq Milan


Tiq Milan is a trans activist, author and the Senior Media Strategist of National News at GLAAD. Featured in several national LGBTQ campaigns, he is often responsible for training national trans activists, such as Cece McDonald, in best practices to ensure maximum impact when speaking to the media. He also works directly with several of these news media outlets to strategize on the most accurate and fair ways to report on transgender people. He has published articles on LGBTQ issues with The New York Times, Rolling Stone, VIBE Magazine, and is requested for workshops, panels, and trainings across the nation. (Photo: Courtesy of Tiq Milan)




Stas Irons and Cat Harris-White are THEESatisfaction. The musical pair, solely responsible for the writing, production, and performance of their own material describe their soulful tracks as funk-psychedelic feminista sci-fi epics and have been known to rock several memorable parties and events, such as Black Weirdo, a magical black party experience put on in major cities the couple hosts together that aims to celebrate blackness in all of its facets. THEESatisfaction’s latest project, EarthEE, was released this month featuring their single, Recognition. (Photo: Courtesy of TheeSatisfaction)


Danez Smith 


Danez Smith is a blazing example of what poetry can be and who it can represent. Poet and Minnesota native, Smith writes transparently about his experiences as a black man; as a young black man; as a young black gay man and resists the urge to wince away when it gets too painful and real. His vivid citations of even the most seemingly minute components of this existence in his first full-length project, [Insert] Boy, are a colorful exploration of the beautiful and often times murky waters of everything from violence against black bodies to gay sex to partying to depression. (Photo: Courtesy of Danez Smith)


Allison “Alice Wonder” McDaniel 


Allison McDaniel is the co-founder and special projects director of Mambu Badu, a black female photographer collective, as well as the producer & graphic designer at Harriet’s Gun Media. Specifically invested in work that investigates and explores the idea of identity construction in marginalized communities, her work often focuses in on the lifestyle of queer black creatives in social environments. McDaniel’s keen sense of movement and eye for raw beauty in often over-looked spaces where black and brown bodies inhabit themselves freely will cement her for years to come as a bonafide documentarian of thriving black life. (Photo: Courtesy of Danielle Scruggs)



Candice Iloh is a poet, creative writer, and educator residing in Brooklyn NY whose work has appeared in Insight Magazine, Blackberry Magazine, and Fjords Review. She is a Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation Alum and the Managing Editor of Quiet Lunch Magazine. She can be contacted at

Comedy Central Stands Behind Trevor Noah

trevor noah

Comedy Central reiterated its support of Trevor Noah who has been chosen as the new host of The Daily Show.

“Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included,” Comedy Central said in the statement. “To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central,” the network said in a statement.

Trevor responded to criticism with this tweet:


h/t The Guardian


Photo: The Daily Show/IMDB

The Best Music This Month

By Sam Fleming


kendrick lamar cover

Kendrick Lamar, ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’:

The Compton MC, Kendrick Lamar has taken over mainstream rap in the past few years with two albums that have been dubbed instant classics and a mixtape. He has established himself as one of the most lyrical and versatile MCs in modern rap, as well as found his place on the radio by writing catchy and interesting hooks. After three years of relative silence, Kendrick surprised the world with a follow up to Good Kid M.A.A.d City, further solidifying his place in rap. To Pimp a Butterfly is centered on a poem that Kendrick has written and each song stems in some way from it. The album takes a more jazzy approach than his previous efforts and focuses less on being catchy or telling a story. Instead, Kendrick paints a picture of American society and what it means to be black in America. The production on this album is handled by a variety of producers and shines especially on tracks like King Kunta and Alright. The producer Flying Lotus collaborates with the esteemed bassist Thundercat to add their own spin to the album;  Much of it sounding like an extended version of  Flying Lotus’ excellent song with Kendrick, –Never Catch Me.

Behind the music on To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick delivers a deeper message. Throughout the album he compares his younger self to a caterpillar. He consumed everything around him because he was a product of his environment and that was all that he knew how to do. He speaks on the tracks Institutionalized and These Walls about how trapped he truly felt. At some point he realized that he could eat his way out of his environment, escape his cocoon. Eventually he does escape and emerges a butterfly. At first he is thrilled to have escaped, but he quickly begins to feel survivor’s guilt and starts to lose the people he loves most. On the song u he expresses his true regret by criticizing himself, saying “You ain’t no brother, you ain’t no disciple you ain’t no friend/A friend never leave Compton for profit or leave his best friend.” Even when Kendrick escapes his cocoon, he sees everybody that he loves still trapped in their own, and he doesn’t know how help them escape. He realizes that he’s been so caught up in the thrill of having escaped that he’s been ignoring the people that have helped him get where he is. This leads him to self-hatred and depression until he realizes that the only thing that he can do is love and give back to his community in whatever way he can. Even when he realizes that he needs to give back, he still struggles with greed and temptation which he addresses on the song How Much A Dollar Cost. Once Kendrick emerges as a butterfly he realizes that gang violence and black-on-black crime is fighting the wrong enemy. Instead of killing ourselves we should be supporting each other and trying to succeed as a race. His message is largely ignored and he finds that nobody wants to hear somebody who has escaped their situation preach positivity. On the last track of the album Kendrick opens up to his fans and the world and it is clear that he feels in a place where he is comfortable with his ideas and has embraced who he is.

Kendrick addresses what it means to be successful and black in America and spreads an important message about self-love. He doesn’t sugar-coat anything and his hatred for what white America represents is clear, especially on tracks like The Blacker the Berry. This album was not made to make white people feel guilty, or to spread hatred, but it perfectly portrays the sense of oppression and fear that comes with being black in America. He feels that he is a butterfly being pimped for his talents by people who care more about money and power than his culture. He realizes that there is no point in bragging about his talents or wealth if he can’t give back to his community. By ignoring his culture he becomes just what the people that are pimping him want.

This album is an exploration of modern and old school west-coast hip-hop and it ends up being one of Kendrick’s best. With his last few albums Kendrick has redefined west-coast hip-hop and he will likely continue to change the perception of rap in general. The great underlying theme combines with a sonically amazing album to create one of the best hip-hop albums in a decade. This album is a necessity for anybody that appreciates good music, and especially those who love west-coast hip-hop.


Death Grips, ‘Jenny Death’

Death Grips, an experimental hip-hop group from Sacramento, announced their breakup this summer via a note scrawled on a napkin. Since their “breakup” they have continued to push out music and recently announced a world tour. Their newest double LP, Jenny Death, shows two different, but equally good sides of Death Grips. Niggas on the Moon, the first half of their double LP, has sharp shouted lyrics, open beats and a Bjork sample in every track. The first half is bizarre and experimental, with MC Ride’s lyrics often dark and sparse. The second side shows Death Grips in their natural form with songs like Pss Pss and Why a Bitch Gotta Lie. On this side, they incorporate guitar samples that help the music to sound much more organic. The songs  on the second half of this LP seem to flow together, without losing their punch. Overall, this album is an excellent experimental hip-hop effort and measures up to many of their best previous projects. Jenny Death is definitely worth looking into for any experimental hip-hop fan, or anybody that appreciates great production and rage filled lyrics.


Earl Sweatshirt, ‘I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside’

Earl Sweatshirt has grown to be a musical outlier in his record label, Odd Future  . He has wandered down a darker path than many of his label mates and this album is no different. While Doris, Earl’s last album, felt angsty and like he was trying to prove something, his newest effort feels natural. Earl has never left anything up to the imagination with his lyrics, but with this album it no longer feels like he’s saying things to shock or to get a reaction, but rather speaking his mind for all to hear. On the song Grief, Earl speaks about how gang violence is the least of his issues because the police are the ones that really target him. Earl tackles issues like depression, drug abuse, and the death of his grandmother head on in a way that doesn’t alienate the listener. On I don’t like shit, Earl makes the listener empathize with the pain he’s feeling rather than act tough and push the listener away. He still rarely goes into depth on any one specific issue, but when he brushes by one he makes his true feelings clear  and understandable. I don’t like shit, is a great album if you enjoy an introspective rapper who doesn’t  sugarcoat anything and is still finding himself. It is a solid project and definitely shows a more mature version of Earl than we have seen in the past, as he begins to discover who he wants to be as a rapper.

Action Bronson, ‘Mr. Wonderful’:

Action Bronson takes an interesting approach to his major label debut, Mr. Wonderful. The Chef, turned rapper from Queens, New York, brings his goofy lyrics and his sing-song style to his newest project and attempts to tell a story. This album is great for a laugh and about half the album, with songs like Baby Blue, Terry and Actin Crazy is really solid. The last half of the album, however, really loses focus. Although it’s not terrible, it is underwhelming. Bronson usually excels at painting grand pictures with his lyrics, but in the second half of this album he emptily brags over beats that all begin to mold together. Bronson has always been goofy, but at points on this album his lyrics and beats come off as corny and boring. This is a lighthearted album and is a fun soundtrack for the spring, but its hard to take it too seriously. The first half of the album is exactly what would expect from a major label Bronson debut and I would definitely recumbent giving the first half a listen.


Tinashe: Amethys

Tinashe was brought to the broader public’s attention last year with her inescapable hit single 2 on, followed up by her pop R&B fusion album Aquarius. Her music has typically fallen  between the softer, slower side of R&B and the lighter side of pop. With Aquarius, however,  she took a different direction. She took a much more poppy approach and although it was not bad, it did not showcase her artistry. With her new mixtape, Amethys, she shows that she has not forgotten her roots. In these seven tracks she opens up and shows who she is as an artist without fancy production. The entire tape was recorded in her bedroom and it has a very DIY feel. The beats on Amethys compliment her soaring voice well without overshadowing it. Instead of this tape sounding cluttered (like many other DIY tapes), the music’s simplicity is soothing. This mixtape isn’t mind blowing, but it is a soothing and relatively exciting listen.



Pss Pss- Death Grips

All Day- Kanye West

Grief- Earl Sweatshirt

Just the way I like You- Tinashe

Baby Blue- Action Bronson

47 Bars- Ab-Soul

Ratchet Commandments- Tink

Hood Politics- Kendrick Lamar

Push It- Pusha T

Lampshades on Fire- Modest Mouse

How Could You Babe- Tobias Jesso Jr.

Photo: Top Dawg Entertainment