8.21.2016

How about we stop defending male perversion?

Couple things. First, it’s not like the news of Parker’s history was on some special Google for stars of Black Netflix or some shit. A regular google would have found everything about the case. It resurfaced in the sense that more people are talking about it now, but it’s always been there.

And more people are talking about it now because more people are talking about Nate Parker now. When he was starring in
Rome & Jewel and Pride and Blood Done Sign My Name, no one — at least no one in entertainment media — gave enough of a damn about him to investigate his past. But he’s a big deal now. And when you’re a big deal with tens of millions of dollars invested in you and your project, everything about you and your past becomes media fodder. Particularly something as serious as a rape allegation. He’s not the first and he won’t be the last person — Black or White; man or woman — to make it big and then have some unflattering details about his life become news. - Damon Young, Very Smart Brothas
As the Blackest year in modern history starts to wind down, let's make a pact that by the time 2017 starts, we will no longer defend men who sexually violate women and girls.

As Nate Parker joins the ranks of Bill Cosby and Shane Sparks, we see the same tired, defensive narratives coming into play.  Folks are talking about "bringing down another Black man", "smearing the messenger", the "fishiness" of the timing, and all that other bullshit.  This has nothing to do with timing, or a conspiracy to bring down yet another Black man.  This has everything to toxic masculinity and its unhealthy fascination with sexual assault.  I don't call it "non-consensual sex" because rape and molestation are not sex; they're a form of assault.  It's crucial people learn to make that distinction.

The stories of Parker, Cosby, and Sparks read like Greek plays, in that each one is the central character whose past actions bring about his own downfall after he attains great heights.  And the catalyst is always the same - each man engaged in some form of sexual assault, and did so with the confidence that his actions would never come back to haunt them.  Nate Parker was acquitted at his rape trial in 1999.  His accuser then committed suicide in 2012.  To your average rapist/child molester, these are optimal conditions.  But now, in Parker's finest hour, in his moment of triumph as an artist, after making multi-million-dollar history at the Sundance Festival, the ghost of his accuser speaks yet again.

That's not conspiracy, children.  That is karma.

So instead of bitching about all the damage done to Bill Cosby's legacy, or the inconvenient timing to Nate Parker and Shane Sparks's careers, let's focus on the social, psychological, and legal factors which influenced their behavior in the first place.

I'll be honest; I was a fan of all three.  Like many people, I grew up watching The Cosby Show.  I think Shane Sparks is a very talented choreographer. I was rooting for Nate Parker when he first revealed he was working in a Nat Turner project.  But I cannot in good conscience be a supporter of men who are in denial of their wrongdoing and refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions.

Cosby admitted to drugging women.  Sparks was convicted of molesting a child.  And Parker's victim initially wanting to go home after drinking, but he refused to take her.  She testified that she woke up to find both Parker engaging in intercourse with her while his friend used her for oral sex.  And way too many men and boys see absolutely nothing wrong with this behavior.

Just a few months ago, I went to a party hosted at a bar and I had a blast.  I had one drink, danced with some friends, and being old and weary, I decided it was time to head home early.  Now, one of the acquaintances I danced with offered to walk me to my car.  I was slightly buzzed in that warm, feel-good sort of way, but my mind was still sharp.  I was also in this mood of being easily amused by everything, like the fact that this guy was offering to walk me to a car parked a just few feet away.  It was right in front of the bar, in a brightly lit parking lot, surrounded by people.

Once we got to my car (a whopping thirty seconds later), dude hops into the passenger seat uninvited.  Still amused, I take out my phone (for the usual reasons) and he displayed this irritable impatience, even going so far to try to push the phone out of my hands, while saying something to the effect of, "No, no, no, don't do that".  Since we were surrounded by folks, he kept insisted on needing to be alone, basically demanding that I drive us somewhere more secluded.  When I didn't jump at his command, he irritably grumbled, "Could you just do it, please?"

Now, I wasn't worried about anything because my mind was sharp, we technically weren't alone, and I'm one of those lunatic women who sometimes pins up my braids with a long, sharp silver hairpin for more than just cosmetic reasons, feel me?  So the moment I heard that "tone", the pin came out and the braids came tumbling down.  If need be, at any moment, I could have easily stabbed him in an eyeball...or the throat.

Thankfully, it didn't come to that.  But while he kept trying to have sex with me in my car, and I deftly kept fielding his advances, every so often that tone would return, that irritated, impatient attitude which betrayed a sense of entitlement.  And right here is where I think we as a society need to press the pause button, and replay in slow motion for analysis.

Some of you will recall the hashtag #NoWomanEver, which was trending a while back.  With #NoWomanEver, the main theme was how easy it is to be swayed and seduced by sexual harassment...said no woman ever.  And while I liked that hashtag and what it represented, I felt the premise was off in that the assumption was men didn't realize that harassing and terrorizing women was never going to work.  Men already know this, and yet they do it anyway.  Why? Because this is a driving force of toxic masculinity; men and boys are taught that sexually devaluing women is an acceptable form of sexual expression (at least, to them).  The fantasy they cling to is that they are all physically desirable, well-endowed Nice Guys™ who should be having great sex with the best-looking women all the time, if women just weren't so stupid/stubborn/difficult (think Elliot Rodger).  Meanwhile, the reality is, well...we all know what the reality is.

So men and boys have learned to deal with reality by not only hurting women, but deliberately creating situations in which to do so.  Thus, when a man catcalls a woman in the street, he knows fully well it's a turn off for her, but that's not the point.  He's just waiting for his cue; the minute she ignores him or says something back, that's his opportunity to call her something derogatory, or physically assault her, or even kill her.  Hence why the rape, torture, and murder of women is increasingly popular in film and television (and constantly justified as "historical accuracy" or a necessary plot point/metaphor).  For many men, it's scintillating.  Since in reality, women and girls are generally unwilling or incapable of consenting 99.9999% of the time, too many men and boys have decided that forcing themselves on women and girls is simply the new sexual standard.  Nothing's ever their fault, because in their eyes, they did nothing wrong.  It's women and girls who are at fault for not being easier, for "needing" to be drunk, or drugged, or beaten over the head and held hostage caveman-style.

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: too many men and boys are deeply screwed up about sex.  The problem is not that they don't understand the concept of consent, it's that they simply don't believe they should have to adhere to it.  To them, it's not a matter of yes or no, but rather the hard way versus the easy way.  The easy way is if the woman just says yes and cooperates.  The hard way is when she declines, and the man feels he needs to either force the issue, or berate/assault/kill her for saying no.

In other words, after all this time, human beings are still stuck at a point where #TooManyMen refuse to take no for answer.  So what do we plan to do about it?

8.06.2016

#Represent: Danusia Francis at the Olympics


Looks like Jamaica's getting a second representative!

Funny story about Danusia: She was born in Britain, currently lives in Los Angeles and attends UCLA (whom she also competes for).  She was a reserve gymnast on behalf of Britain in 2012, but because she represented Jamaica at the 2015 World Championships, she qualified to test for their Olympic team.  Needles to say, she passed.

I'm really excited that Danusia is at the Olympics because she's known for her flexibility, which I can only describe as, well...insane.





This truly is the Blackest year ever. Someone said this year's Olympic gymnastic event is going to be a bloodbath, and well...yes and no. I'm so glad all these Black and Brown girls are making/going to make history this year, so it's win-win either way. However...they all have eyes on the gold, and they all can't have it.

Let the games begin.

7.30.2016

Hip Hop Griots: Le1f




***Bonus Vid***


7.25.2016

Karen Chen, #Represent


Previously

The Bar Loves Nathan Chen (no relation)

If you haven't already, stop by Nathan Chen's GoFundMe page on your next pay day and show the dude some love.  I want him to go the 2018 Olympics, land his quads, and snatch the gold.  Not the silver, not the bronze - the gold.

While you're showing Nathan some love, do the same for your girl Starr Andrews.  Some of you remember when she was a tiny human and did an incredible routine to Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair"; that video has garnered 40 million views thus far. Starr's now a teenager with her eye on Olympic gold in 2018 and 2022.  And since she's the only African American skater with an actual shot, I want her to snatch *clap* that *clap* gold.

In case you didn't get the memo, tonight's theme at the Bar is Melanin on Ice.  *sips vodka and ginger ale*

I stumbled across Karen Chen by accident; I was searching for a specific competition, and noticed there was abundant footage and focus on the White girls, but not the girls with Asian-sounding names in this listing.  The minute I saw "Karen Chen", I automatically starting searching for her videos.

Hip Hop Griots: Rapsody



7.23.2016

What did I SAY about the Brown girls????

L to R: Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Simone Biles

Previously

But What about the Brown Girls?

If you're not paying attention to elite artistic gymnastics right now...I don't know what you're doing with your life.  2016 is not only the Blackest year ever, it's the Brownest.

Follow along, good people.

America is sending the Dream Team to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, which just so happens to include history-making Olympian Gabby Douglas, the inimitable Simone Biles herself, and senior newcomer Laurie Hernandez.

I know y'all remember Laurie Hernandez.

7.17.2016

The Bar Loves #BlackAndSexyTV


I love Netflix.  I love Hulu.  I love a few things about HBONow.   But there's something depressing, exhausting even, about looking for something to watch on the weekends and seeing a seemingly endless sea of White faces.

Thank the gods for Black & Sexy TV.  Originally a crowd-funded labor of love on YouTube, it is now a Chromecast-compatible streaming app with a fully stocked treasure trove of independently-produced Black shows and films.  Usually priced at $6.99/month, they're currently offering a free 2-week trial and 25% off the the first free months.

Needless to say, I've signed up.

I've picked where I left off back on YouTube, and that's with Hello Cupid.  But I'm looking forward to watching everything.  I'm so proud of the quality of media that I could cry - from the writing to the casting to the wardrobe to the music to the lighting to the directing and editing....  I can't wait to binge-watch and review and fangirl in the months to come.

If you've already got a subscription, let me know what you're watching and what you think!  If not, sign up!  This is a Black-owned business providing some desperately needed content, and they need our support.

7.09.2016

Elayna Monts Returns to the Bar (Guest Post)

Previously

A Mother's Fear
Seriously White Women...We're Really Not Jealous

**SPOILER ALERT**

NOT ALL OF MY FRIENDS WILL AGREE WITH WHAT I AM ABOUT TO SAY. IN FACT, SOME OF YOU MAY UNFRIEND ME, BUT I HAVE BEEN STRUGGLING WITH THIS FOR SOME TIME NOW AND I HAVE TO PUT MY WORDS OUT THERE AND LET THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY MAY.

The Subject: Black Lives Matter

I will begin by saying that this is not a rant against police. We all know how difficult enforcing our laws is. We should also all know how important it is to do the right thing, the right way, and all be subject to the same laws that govern our country.

Now, I know that many of my Caucasian friends and Caucasians in general counter Black Lives Matter with All Lives Matter and while they do so with passion and strong belief, I believe that that declaration is irrelevant. I say this because it’s easy to use that response. It’s more difficult to understand the root of the Black Lives Matter issues unless and/or until we can walk in the shoes of those who are being persecuted, beat down, run over, shot at and killed.

7.02.2016

The Bar Loves Nathan Chen


As I was saying on the Black Girls Club, I love spending my weekend mornings watching figure skating videos.  Normally, I focus on the ladies, and the Brown girls in particular, because while many of us love figure skating, the sport tends to not love us back.

And it's not just the gals; I noticed this tendency again when I recently happened by upon the now 17-year-old American skater Nathan Chen.  Nathan is the only competitive skater in the world - not the youngest, not the only American, but the only competitive skater in the world - who can land four clean quad jumps in a free skate.  Translation for the lay people: this guy can do four jumps in which his body does four ("quadruple") full rotations in the air and then he lands on one foot without problem.

...No, seriously.