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Let’s Talk About Jesse Williams’ Explosive Speech

Freedom is somehow always conditional here. You’re free, they keep telling us, but she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so free.

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Jesse Williams drops the mic.

Last night, I actually watched the BET Awards in real time. My sole purpose was to see how exactly they intended to memorialize Prince after Madonna’s catastrophe at the Billboard Music Awards. Since the tributes were sprinkled throughout, I had no choice but to stay. Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar wasted no time in getting to the Black of it by performing her song “Freedom”. I watched as Erykah, Bilal, Maxwell, Janelle Monae, and the incomparable Sheila E. did the damn thing on stage. Hs Royal Highness would be pleased.

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But the most mind-blowing moment? When actor Jesse Williams took to the podium to claim his humanitarian award. And he blessed the crowd with more than a thank you.

The gems:

what’s going to happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function in ours

Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So, I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich

If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

…Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.

And the entire transcript, just in case the powers that be make it extra-hard to view the video. Just read the whole thing, and then read it again:

“Peace. Peace. Thank you Debra. Thank you, Nate Parker. Thank you, Harry and Debbie Allen, for participating in that. Before we get into it, I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight — I just want to thank them for being here and teaching me to focus on comprehension over career. They made sure I learned what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also, thank you to my amazing wife for changing my life.

“Now, this award, this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. All right? It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.

“Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.

“Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s going to happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function in ours.

“Now, [standing ovation] I got more, y’all.

“Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So, I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich.

“Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012, than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.

“Now, the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money that alone isn’t going to stop this. All right? Now dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back. To put someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid with brands for our bodies. There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax they haven’t levied against us. And we pay all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. You’re free, they keep telling us, but she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so free.

“Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter but, you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And let’s get a couple of things straight here, just a little sidenote. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job. All right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo. And we’re done watching, and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us. Burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them. Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though, the thing is, that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.”

This may very well be one of the most important speeches in contemporary culture. Thank you, Jesse Williams.

The Hotness: The Perf-ect Paddle Suit

I’ve been spending alot of time in the water lately. This year has been one filled with a bunch of athletic pursuits, and after running my first marathon, and a few more races, my next threshold to cross is the triathlon. Just a tiny problem. I can’t swim. So I’ve been taking lessons, and even joined the local triathlon team to get a feel for what I’m in for with this 3-part race. My tri coach warmed me not spend more than $30 for a swimsuit, so I dutifully picked up a simple black version on sale at Modells. But this morning, this beauty caught me:

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How sexy… And supportive…And sexy! (I said it twice!)

Now, I might not wear this for daily practice, but I wouldn’t mind taking it out for a few leisurely swims. Because I wanna be the hottest athlete in the pool.

Perf-ect Paddle Suit, $118, Lululemon

The Hotness: Christian Louboutin Lipstick

CLoubI want this lipstick for no other reason than the fact that I adore the case.

Lipstick, $90, Saks

Bell Hooks Takes Her Lemonade With Salt

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Bell Hooks praises Beyonce’s Lemonade, but with a word of caution: the black female experience cannot be neatly tied up in an hour-long visual presentation; that there is no glamorization in rage; that in order to overcome hurt we must let go of the romanticizing of patriarchal-led relationships. Read her poignant article here.

Michelle Obama Rocks in Givenchy at the 2016 Correspondents’ Dinner

I’m so reckless when I rock my Givenchy Dress

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…And here’s everybody else…

Model Daniela Lopez arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Model Daniela Lopez arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Rosario Dawson arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Rosario Dawson arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Regina King arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Regina King arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Television personality NeNe Leakes arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Television personality NeNe Leakes arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith arrive on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith arrive on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Gabrielle Union arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Gabrielle Union arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Vivica A. Fox arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Vivica A. Fox arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Tracee Ellis Ross arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Tracee Ellis Ross arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Kerry Washington arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actress Kerry Washington arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Singer Aretha Franklin arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Singer Aretha Franklin arrives on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actor Tony Goldwyn, television producer Shonda Rhimes and actress Kerry Washington (R) arrive on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Actor Tony Goldwyn, television producer Shonda Rhimes and actress Kerry Washington (R) arrive on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: Arianna Huffington (L) and DJ Khaled attend the 102nd White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on April 30, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/FilmMagic)

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 30: Arianna Huffington (L) and DJ Khaled attend the 102nd White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on April 30, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/FilmMagic)

It’s Cutting Season

Check out 5 Black-Owned Fitness Businesses in NYC To Try This Spring

by LAVISH at Mode

Purple Lemonade

#RipPrince

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It’s still taking me some time to process the passing of Prince. Yeah, I know Beyonce just dropped a major film and album, of which I watched and listed. Lemonade was great, and I mean that with all honesty. But in listening to her album, and so many other recent hits, I immediately heard the artists and visionaries of those who came decades before her. The artists who have been copied to death, revered to the heavens. And, as great as Beyonce’s new album is, there will never be another Prince. He lit a fiery path that has yet to be duplicated.

Prince. He was a concrete part of my childhood. My uncle would blast his albums day in and day out, and I marveled at this queer sound, full of pulse, passion,  rock and roll and blackness. Where Michael Jackson filled me with girly giddiness, Prince ushered me into womanhood, allowing me to relish in my sexual being. We partied to Prince, made love to Prince, smoked to Prince. He was the soundtrack of my youthful coming out. Song after song reminds me of past boyfriends, Alphabet City, stolen issues of Penthouse, and trips to Paramus Park mall.

Prince. Rest in Power and Soul.

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Below, the images and albums that personally touched me:


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On Harriet: The Black Body As Currency

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I having mixed feelings. On the one hand I am ecstatic that Harriet Tubman will be the face of the new $20 bill. For once, every American and visitor will have to face a defiant Black woman as a primary means of conducting their daily affairs. This is a slap in the face of every open and closeted white supremacist, and nothing short of avoiding currency altogether can keep them from acknowledging the magnitude of this change.

But what does it truly mean to have a woman, a Black woman, who was formerly a slave, her body formerly a monetary instrument, to be used once again on a piece of currency? That the same body conjured such shock and anger amongst Americans, that it would be worth a premium bounty of $40,000? I would venture to say that it seems ironic, if not unabashedly shameful. That the black body was repeatedly passed between hands for centuries, in an emotionless, matter-of-fact manner only to come full circle several hundred years later is pretty deep. How long after the initial hype of the new Harriets wear off will people begin to look at that note with less enthusiasm, and just a symbol of day to day commerce, her face regularly smudged with the countless hands of strangers, crumpled in pockets, stained, ripped, lost, left behind. What legacy is this?

The new Harriets will be amazing, but lets not forget that such a move is problematic and can be viewed as tokenism at best. Sure, we may add the face of this Black woman to the American monetary system, but this is in no way penance for over 400 years of the atrocities and the after effects born of the slave system.

Seydou Keita: Exposure

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I regret not getting the chance to see this photography exhibit while I was in Paris. Whenever I hopped on the train, I saw a new, stunning black and white photograph by Malian photographer Seydou Keita that stopped me in my tracks. Maybe it was the beauty of his subjects, the simplicity of the genre, the sharpness of the smallest detail. If you’re going to be in Paris this spring and summer, pop into the Grand Palais and see this exhibit.

Exposure
Seydou Keita

March 31, 2016 – July 11, 2016 | Grand Palais, Galeries nationales

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Spandex & Tumbleweeds

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It’s been awful quiet around here. For the past several months I’ve been focusing on rebuilding my health, training for races, and my first marathon, in Paris (I’ll post on that over on my travel blog). Hence the over-saturation of health-related posts on my Twitter timeline! But in immersing myself in the world of health and fitness, I had forgotten about my love of fashion. No doubt working out has caused me to lose tons of pounds and inches (over 40!) but my weight loss and lifestyle has relegated me to a sea of spandex and running shoes – both out of fear and complete confusion.

A recent glance at my closet had me realizing that I had nothing to wear. All my clothes were just too big, unflattering, or just not my taste anymore. So I’ll be taking the next few weeks to gather some Instagram and Pinterest inspiration, while I find my new style. Nothing like a fresh start.

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