Michael Vick thinks Colin Kaepernick should cut his hair to be more “presentable”

Sadly, Colin Kaepernick still hasn’t been added to a roster in the NFL despite there being at least a dozen quarterbacks he’s better than who already have. Many fans and onlookers, myself included, suspect it’s because NFL owners have collectively decided to blacklist him due to his protest of the National Anthem to highlight social injustice. So what’s next? Well, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick has a controversial suggestion for Kaep – cut his hair. 

On ‘4:44’, maleness, and the performance of the public apology

This article was originally posted at WaterCoolerConvos and has been republished with permission

Recently, rapper Jay-Z released his thirteenth solo album 4:44. The album details his infidelity to his wife, mother of his three children, and perhaps the biggest superstar in the world, Beyoncé. He also covers his struggle with American capitalism and his reluctant growth beyond a young hustler to a mannish mogul.

Most people have fixated and heaped copious amounts of praise on Jay for his acknowledgement of his past wrongdoings. So grateful that he apologizes for being at various states of trash during parts of his marriage, many have been cheering on his “maturity” and vulnerability.

I’m not one of those people.

Politics and Promposals—how isms and phobias influence who gets asked to the dance

In May, 17-year-old Priscilla Samey’s interesting high school story made rounds throughout social media. This happened not because of her impressive achievement of gaining admission into seven out of eight Ivy League institutions, but rather for escorting one of her admission letters––Harvard’s––to her senior prom. While many lauded her for such a “bold” move, others in comment feeds described her as “lame,” and even suggested that the very act of substituting her acceptance letter for a prom date revealed enough about her personality to understand why no one asked her to begin with.

The small Minnesota town where Ms. Samey went to high school is home to only a handful of other folks who look like her; only .04 percent of the population in Champlin Park, Minnesota is Black. Although there may have been numerous reasons why Ms. Samey was not asked or did not feel comfortable asking a peer to the dance, like most things, race cannot ruled out so easily.

Though the topic of race, dating, and attraction is a messy one, it is not hard to see how misogynoir may have been at work in the fact that no one––no one––asked this highly intelligent Black girl to prom. One can only hope that her chocolate skin, wide nose, and full lips were looked upon with admiration, but in a society that is yet to expand its conventional understandings of beauty to include Black women, particularly those of a darker hue, that may just be wishful thinking.

Did anyone look at her achievements and think, “I’d like to spend more time with her?” Hard to believe, as that same society that hesitates to recognize the beauty of women who look like her simultaneously perpetuates the misogynoiristic tropes that deem such accomplished and self-assured Back women “hysterical” and “intimidating.”

But rather than launch a commission into who was or was not infatuated with Priscilla Samey and why, my aim in discussing her story seeks instead to focus on the event itself: high school prom. Though seemingly trivial, the complexities surrounding prom, race, and gender are anything but—they matter for a variety of reasons.

To put it frankly, prom is a big deal for most young people. With its elaborate gowns, rented tuxedos, fancy cars and ritzy venues, this one night is the closest many people—especially those on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder— will get to a red carpet event. A quick search on Pinterest will reveal just how much thought and planning an average teen puts into an event that lasts roughly four hours.

As innocent as it may seem, prom culture has absorbed almost all of the politics and prejudices that exist within society-at-large.

Along with anti-blackness, colorism, and misogynoir, beneath the veneer of high school fanfare lies the issue of the lack of acceptance of queer individuals within these spaces. Like clockwork, each year the months between February and June bring numerous stories of gay and lesbian teens either being forbade from attending prom with same-gender dates, or banned outright.

Therefore, who gets asked to the prom (or rather, who doesn’t) is a reflection of all of those ‘isms’ that perpetuate various forms of discrimination and social inequity.

In fact, the ACLU has devoted an entire section of their website to advising LGBTQIA youth on how to legally respond to such incidents of discrimination.

Aside from the rules that are (or aren’t) set in stone, there remain many unspoken boundaries and anxieties: can they kiss or dance on the dancefloor without fear of violence from homophobic classmates? Will there be drama over which bathroom they use? At the very least, can they enjoy the evening free from hostile stares and reactions? Why does their youthfulness and joy become something to fear and contain when they decide to embrace their full selves?

Then, of course, comes the fatphobia. Whether it manifests itself in the fitting rooms of the dress boutiques, or through internet reactions to the ever-scrutinized “prom photos,” larger bodies aren’t quite welcomed at prom with open arms, if at all.

And speaking of “open,” the issue of accessibility—both financial and physical—is often excluded from the conversation altogether. The most recent estimate of the average cost of prom hovers around $600.

That figure may even be on the lower end, as more and more teens are opting for hand-made gowns and pricey, luxury hair extensions. This is partly because, for some, prom truly might be the happiest, most elaborate night of their lives. And in the parts of the country where funerals have become more common than weddings or baby showers, one can better understand the urge to go over-the-top.

But where do poor teens fit into the equation?

Particularly the kids whose parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins don’t have the money to spare on a single evening of dress up? Do they attend anyway, bearing the mental weight of knowing that, due to circumstances outside of their control, they did not have the resources to #slay like the others around them did? Or do they just not attend at all?

Those who have physical disabilities have to go even further to ensure that they can even enter prom venues and transportation, as they are often relegated to forgotten-thought status by many of those responsible for organizing the festivities.

Even further, the trend known as “promposals”—defined by the Oxford Dictionary as an “elaborately staged request to be someone’s date to a prom”—has been criticized by some disabled individuals as being insulting and exploitative to members of their community. While the many views garnered by videos that show able-bodied teens pulling out all of the stops to ask their developmentally disabled or wheelchair bound classmates to prom can be considered heartwarming, they tiptoe along the lines of “pity porn”—just another way for those who do not have disabilities to pat themselves on the back for ‘being nice’ to someone who does.

So where does that leave us? How do we respond? Do we #shutpromdown until we can figure out what’s going on? Do we attempt to decolonize it? Do we pursue the separate but equal approach and do prom our way, making sure to center the Black, the queer, the poor, and the disabled?

I won’t attempt to prescribe an answer. After all, at its core, prom is young folks’ business, and far be it for me to tell the next generation how to live their lives and shape their world. But we fail those same young folks when those of us who know better fail to do better, or, at the very least, speak up on their behalf.

One seemingly harmless, de-politicized night is a crude reminder of centuries-long systemic harm directed towards our society’s most vulnerable. And that has consequences.

It’s time to rethink what we allow young marginalized folks to be exposed to completely. And if prom is an entry point into those reconsiderations, let us use it for something productive.

Black and Latinx queer people need safe spaces, too

By Preston Mitchum

This past Pride month marked the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla. At approximately 2:00 AM, 29-year-old Omar Mateen – who allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS on a 911 phone call during the hate crime and terrorist attack – walked into Pulse on June 12, 2016, killed 49 people, and injured 53 others on the club’s weekly “Latin Night.”

As a Black queer man, it’s hard not to see myself in the victims and survivors. Despite much of the media’s attempt to whitewash this tragedy, the fact that the victims were largely Latinx and Black queer and trans people matters because our communities are often told that safe spaces are not a reality, and only part of our fictitious imaginations. But if Pulse made anything apparent, it is that spaces for Black and Latinx queer people are now, and always have been, necessary.

Warriors reportedly won’t be visiting Trump’s White House

The Golden State Warriors are likely 12 hours into a non-stop celebration that won’t wind down for at least a couple more days. After winning the NBA Finals on Monday night, that’s to be expected. But the team is still making news in other, unexpected ways on the eve its second championship in three years.

Reports are coming out that suggest that the Warrioes have unanimously decided to not visit the White House due to the politics of the Trump administration, according to the Independent.

If true, this would be a huge blow to the presidency in the whole public relations department. When the New England Patriots visited the White House, only a handful of 50-plus players elected to not attend. But if an entire organization is electing to stay home instead, it’s telling of a larger issue [read: Our president is a complete jerk, for lack of more accurate but lesser appropriate words].

Let’s see how long it takes for right-wing “fans” to completely disown their team because they won’t sit down with the Donald. The twitter fingers are probably already getting started.

Hulu Handmaid's Tale

It’s even harder to watch ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ when you know Black women’s history

This article was originally published at Water Cooler Convos.

“I love you. Mommy loves you, Charlotte.”

I watched a character named “Ofwarren” speak those words to a rosey-cheeked baby before jumping from a bridge. She was attempting to end her own life. Ofwarren survived the plunge into the cold waters below. Yet, the image of a mother willing to die, and kill her own child, made the scene especially powerful.

It’s time to stop trying to integrate ‘SNL’

This article has been cross-posted with permission.

Saturday Night Live is what happens when white people enjoy something that’s anti-Black, systematically bigoted, and generally exclusionary to non-whites. SNL producers thought that throwing in a few Black people who we hoped had home-training would fix it. Because that’s not how white supremacy works. It took me a while to put all that together though.

Yara Shahidi is headed to Harvard this fall

Yara Shahidi, the Black-ish actress and soon-to-be star of her own spin-off, is headed to Harvard College this fall. While her character is headed to the fictional California University of Liberal Arts, Shahidi will be on the other side of the country.

“I committed to Harvard and I’m really excited!” Shahidi told ET in an interview.

Keep your white friends and partners away from Black Pride events

This June marks the 48th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a series of violent acts of resistance in New York City credited with sparking the modern Gay Rights Movement. The uprisings, led mostly by trans people of color and drag queens, are commemorated each year with celebrations across the globe during what is known as Pride Month. For many LGBTQQIA+ people, this is a time to reaffirm their right to life and liberty against the backdrop of anti-queer stigma and violence they experience at the hands, knife- and gun-points of society-at-large.