Former Oscar Winner Mo’Nique: ‘I’m Just a Girl From Baltimore’

Former Oscar Winner Mo'Nique: 'I'm Just a Girl From Baltimore'

In the week leading up to this year’s Oscar Awards celebration, 2009 Best Supporting Actress winner Mo’Nique is opening up about being shut out of Hollywood. The 47-year-old actress told The Hollywood Reporter that only recently learned that she’s seen effectively blacklisted in the industry for not “playing the game” and being “difficult” and “tacky.” As she told THR, according to E: “That’s why I have my beautiful husband because he’s so full of tact. I’m just a girl from Baltimore. But being from that place, you learn not to let anybody take advantage of you.”

Since winning the 2009 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Lee Daniels’ “Precious,” the actress has appeared in just a handful of minor roles. Her BET talk show debuted in 2009 and ended two years later. During the 2009-2010 awards season she faced criticism for asking to be paid for promotional appearances.

Daniels, who reportedly told the actress about her status in Hollywood, told THR: “Mo’Nique is a creative force to be reckoned with. Her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community. I consider her a friend. I have and will always think of her for parts that we can collaborate on, however the consensus among the creative teams and powers thus far were to go another way with these roles.”

Read more.

This 2014 infographic on the lack of diversity in the Academy Awards helps explain why Mo’Nique’s situation matters:



Jason Collins, EJ Johnson Team Up for #ThisIsLuv Townhall

Jason Collins, EJ Johnson Team Up for #ThisIsLuv Townhall

A new initiative called #ThisIsLuv is underway to dismantle the idea that the black community is more homophobic than any other, and it’s already got two big names on board: EJ Johnson, the openly queer son of NBA legend Magic Johnson, and Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player. They will headline a town-hall discussion next week on the subject. 

“Too many people within the black LGBT community believe this myth and never allow themselves to be loved by their families,” Wade Davis, a former NFL player and co-founder of You Belong, told #ThisIsLuv partner “Our goal is to make it known that love for black LGBT people exists in our community.”

#ThisIsLuv launched on February 16 and it will last throughout March. Along with the townhall meeting and “Empire” watch parties, it is inviting activists, celebrities, writers and others to share photos and video blogs that depict supportive relationships that transcend sexual identity using the hashtag #ThisIsLuv. (Lee Daniels, the creator of “Empire,” has said that he is depicting Lucious Lyons’ vitriol toward his gay son, Jamal, to “blow the lid off of homophobia” in the black community.)

“Part of what we wanted to offer is space to place black LGBT-affirming love front and center,” campaign co-creator Darnell Moore told “Many of us are loved by our families and friends and some of us have experienced alienation and hurt, but isn’t that the case for so many others? We are hoping people will use this an opportunity to further dialogue.”

The town-hall discussion will take place on February 22 at the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. Along with Collins and Johnson, the event’s special guests will include Daniel Moodie-Mills (Politini), Mychal Denzel Smith (The Nation), Lori Adelman (Feministing), Miss Lawrence (“Real Housewives of Atlanta”) and Tiq Milan (GLAAD).

You can follow along with #ThisIsLuv on FacebookTwitter and Tumblr.

Maya Rudolph Resurrected Her Beyoncé for SNL 40

Maya Rudolph made her return to “Saturday Night Live” for the show’s 40th anniversary, and she brought out one of her most beloved characters: Beyoncé. She joined Martin Short for a segment that was just over 12 minutes long, and pretty hilarious. Watch.

Beyoncé has become one of Rudolph’s most adored characters when she returns for guest spots. (She was on the cast from 2000 and 2007.) Here’s a look at her in character last year:

And here’s a look at her doing impressions of Beyoncé on “Ellen.”

Did Racism Strip Jackie Robinson West of Its Little League Title?

Even though Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League team was stripped of their title last week for allegedly recruiting ineligible players, they’re still getting their championship rings. That’s thanks to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who told reporters over the weekend that he still considers the team champs in the Windy City.

“These young men demonstrated tremendous character both on and off the field, and Chicago will honor them as the champions they are,” Emanuel told reporters. “The memories they created will last a lifetime, and so will the championship rings they have earned.”

But whether or not that title was actually earned has become one of the sports’ world’s biggest stories in recent weeks. The team fielded an all-black lineup with players from the South Side of Chicago, and their march through the Little League World Series was one of those feel-good stories you only see every once in a while. But a tip, allegedly from a salty opposing coach, led to an investigation that found the team had falsified its boundary map. The team and its supporters are now fighting to have their title reinstated.

 To consider just how big of a deal this battle is, consider the storyline that captured the country’s attention back in August:

Much of the controversy has swirled around whether racism played a role in the increased scrutiny of the team’s makeup. At a press conference last week, Rev. Jesse Jackson asked reporters the question point blank: “Is this about boundaries or race?” He went on: “This decision’s untimely and inappropriate at this time. It should not take six months after a team has played a championship game to determine eligibility to play the game in the first place.”

Azealia Banks Better Never Come For Erykah Badu’s Queendom Again

Erykah Badu has this thing about the Internet where sometimes she fuckin’ owns it. She brings all of her down-home Dallas b-girl voodoo swag and keeps it all the way real with ordinary boring-ass humans who try to come for her. And the occasional group of traveling nuns:

Over the weeknd, Azealia Banks made the unfortunate life choice to question Badu’s taste in music. Never mind that this is an artist who’s got 19 more Grammy nominations and four more albums than Banks, the immensely talented but hopelessly troubled 23-year-old Harlemite who’s more known for fighting on Twitter than releasing the signature brand of so-called “witch hop” she claims to be pioneering. Anyway. Here’s what had happened:

One of Badu’s fans asked her on Twitter if she listens to Banks’ music, and she replied honestly with one telling word:

And then Banks, who obviously trolls Twitter for any and every mention of her own name, responded by accusing Badu of throwing shade and being jealous:

And then Badu, watching her timeline blow up with the petulant rants of a frustrated artist who thinks that 43 is old, got even realer by turning on her location (she was Queens, a train ride away from Banks’ beloved Harlem):

That had all of Black Twitter reppin’ hard for Badu like:

erykah-badu-o.gifFans even invoked T.I., who’s been on the receiving end of a few of Banks’ rants: 


Then Banks committed the cardinal sin of coming for Badu’s oils and headwraps. Girl. You never come for another black woman’s oils and headwraps. That’s just Combahee River Collective-style Black Feminism 101:

To which all the black people watching were just like:


This isn’t the first time that Badu has subtly and swiftly slayed people on the Internet. Remember back in 2008 when she told salty bloggers hating on her third pregnancy to “kiss my placenta?” Yeah, this was almost that good. We luh you, Ms. Badu:


Fox’s ‘Empire’, a Pulitzer Prize Winning Author and Kendrick Lamar

Fox's 'Empire', a Pulitzer Prize Winning Author and Kendrick Lamar

First off: Kendrick Lamar doesn’t seem to need a lot of help. At this point, he’s at the top of his game, and his highly anticipated follow up to 2012’s “Good Kid, m.A.A.d city” is already one of the most talked about album in years — and it still doesn’t have an official release date.

But when the rapper dropped his latest track, the searingly political “The Blacker the Berry,” he created another wave of excitement, the ripples of which are being felt by one of the year’s biggest TV dramas and one of America’s favorite authors. 

Lamar didn’t just drop his latest gem anonymously. He let Taraji P. Henson, star of Fox’s enormously popular hip-hop drama “Empire,” listen to the album and choose which single he should release. Henson chose “The Blacker the Berry,” which she tweeted out to her three million followers:

The song caught fire, gaining more than one million plays in less than 12 hours. The day after it was released, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon took up the task of annotating it for the the website Genius, which has tasked itself trying to give context for society’s big cultural products. While Lamar rapped, “So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street?/ When gang banging make me kill a nigga blacker than me?/ Hypocrite!,” Chabon wrote:

In this final couplet, Kendrick Lamar employs a rhetorical move akin to—and in its way even more devastating than—Common’s move in the last line of “I Used to Love H.E.R.”: snapping an entire lyric into place with a surprise revelation of something hitherto left unspoken. In “H.E.R.”, Common reveals the identity of the song’s “her”—hip hop itself—forcing the listener to re-evaluate the entire meaning and intent of the song. Here, Kendrick Lamar reveals the nature of the enigmatic hypocrisy that the speaker has previously confessed to three times in the song without elaborating: that he grieved over the murder of Trayvon Martin when he himself has been responsible for the death of a young black man. Common’s “her” is not a woman but hip hop itself; Lamar’s “I” is not (or not only) Kendrick Lamar but his community as a whole. This revelation forces the listener to a deeper and broader understanding of the song’s “you”, and to consider the possibility that “hypocrisy” is, in certain situations, a much more complicated moral position than is generally allowed, and perhaps an inevitable one.

Complex offers up more detail in this video:

It’s already been one helluva week for Lamar. He won two Grammys, dropped a classic song, and has already helped shift the cultural conversation around policing and racism in America. And it’s only Wednesday.

Azealia Banks Tries, and Fails, to Defend Her Use of a Gay Slur

Azealia Banks has been in, and courted, many, many Twitter beefs. And while on Twitter, she’s casually dropped the word “faggot” often enough that fans and critics alike have taken issue. But during an interview with Xorje Olivares on Sirius XM, she tried to explain why she won’t stop using the word. “When I use the word ‘faggot,’ it comes from a feminist point of view,” she told the radio host. Listen below:

Gawker’s Rich Juzwiak pretty much nailed it when he wrote about Bank’s use of the word a couple years back. ” This time, [her use of the word] immediately struck me as an overly comfortable invocation of an epithet that is not hers to reclaim, a sign that she considers herself so down that she is allowed to say what most people are not.”

But since then, as Michael* Arceneaux writes at The Root, Banks’ shtick has gotten old and her defenses are often contradictory.

“Banks can complain about white gay media all she wants, but I am very much black and I am someone who has monetarily supported her. And based on what she says about gay men, I’m with them. She makes constant homophobic comments, and she cannot hide behind cries of sexism in defense. Yes, some gay men are very much misogynistic, and that is a problem. Even so, when you compare men to women in order to insult them, what does that say about you?”

Arceneaux’s entire column is worth a good read

*Post has been updated to correct writer Michael Arceneux’s name.

Texas College Students Host Racist Border Patrol-Themed Party

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the racism. A University of Texas fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, is under fire for a loosely themed “Western” party that some have said was actually a racist “border patrol” party. 

Students, most of whom were white, were dressed in ponchos and sombreros. Some wore construction uniforms with Hispanic names written on them, while others donned military uniforms, according to USA Today.

Some photos from the party popped up on Twitter:

In response to the party, some UT students have written an open petition asking for institutional accountability. The letter reads, in part: 

We have created this petition in order to express our concern at the reoccurrence of these themed parties and to ask for your support in denouncing these parties. Moreover, it is our goal that The University of Texas at Austin actually implement proper repercussions for organizations who choose to partake in such activities that promote the ridicule of different cultures. There has to be an end to these parties.

Read the letter in full here

NBA All-Star Stephen Curry Asks for Mo’Ne Davis’ Autograph

NBA All-Star Stephen Curry Asks for Mo'Ne Davis' Autograph

Even stars get a little starstruck from time to time. Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is quickly establishing himself as one of the new faces of the NBA, but that didn’t stop him from asking pitching ace Mo’Ne Davis for an autograph before a game on Monday.

Macklemore Becomes a Casualty of Snoop Dogg’s Grammy Diss

Macklemore Becomes a Casualty of Snoop Dogg's Grammy Diss

The importance of the Grammys has long been debated among hip-hop’s elite, Snoop Dogg notwithstanding. The hip-hop categories weren’t televised this year and it’s almost a given that the year’s best albums wouldn’t be crowned Grammy winners. This morning Snoop took shots at the awards show on Instagram:

Fuck the Grammys we need a hip hop show for real niggaz. 🌟✨💵 n real mcs.

A photo posted by snoopdogg (@snoopdogg) on

Kendrick Lamar’s New Track Played More Than a Million Times in Less Than a Day

Kendrick Lamar dropped a new track called “The Blacker the Berry” last night and, judging by how often it’s been played in less than 24 hours, it’s already a hit. The track is a seething look at racism in America, and perhaps even a response to critics of his ill-formed comments about activists. It’s been played more than a million times in less than 12 hours. 

On the track, the rapper openly embraces his contradictions. Check out the song’s lyrics below:

Six in the mornin’, fire in the street
Burn, baby burn, that’s all I wanna see
And sometimes I get off watchin’ you die in vain
It’s such a shame they may call me crazy
They may say I suffer from schizophrenia or somethin’
But homie you made me
Black don’t crack my nigga

[Verse 1]
I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015
Once I finish this, witnesses will convey just what I mean
Been feeling this way since I was 16, came to my senses
You never liked us anyway, fuck your friendship, I meant it
I’m African-American, I’m African
I’m black as the moon, heritage of a small village
Pardon my residence
Came from the bottom of mankind
My hair is nappy, my dick is big, my nose is round and wide
You hate me don’t you?
You hate my people, your plan is to terminate my culture
You’re fuckin’ evil I want you to recognize that I’m a proud monkey
You vandalize my perception but can’t take style from me
And this is more than confession
I mean I might press the button just so you know my discretion
I’m guardin’ my feelins, I know that you feel it
You sabotage my community, makin’ a killin’
You made me a killer, emancipation of a real nigga

The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
The blacker the berry, the bigger I shoot

[Hook: Assassin]
I said they treat me like a slave, cah’ me black
Woi, we feel a whole heap of pain, cah’ we black
And man a say they put me in a chain, cah’ we black
Imagine now, big gold chain full of rocks
How you no see the whip, left scars pon’ me back
But now we have a big whip, parked pon’ the block
All them say we doomed from the start, cah’ we black
Remember this, every race start from the block, just remember that

[Verse 2]
I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015
Once I finish this, witnesses will convey just what I mean
I mean, it’s evident that I’m irrelevant to society
That’s what you’re telling me, penitentiary would only hire me
Curse me till I’m dead
Church me with your fake prophesizing that I’mma be just another slave in my head
Institutionalize manipulation and lies
Reciprocation of freedom only live in your eyes
You hate me don’t you?
I know you hate me just as much as you hate yourself
Jealous of my wisdom and cards I dealt
Watchin’ me as I pull up, fill up my tank, then peel out
Muscle cars like pull ups, show you what these big wheels ‘bout, ah
Black and successful, this black man meant to be special
CAT scans on my radar bitch, how can I help you?
How can I tell you I’m making a killin’?
You made me a killer, emancipation of a real nigga



[Verse 3]
I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015
When I finish this if you listenin’ sure you will agree
This plot is bigger than me, it’s generational hatred
It’s genocism, it’s grimy, little justification
I’m African-American, I’m African
I’m black as the heart of a fuckin’ Aryan
I’m black as the name of Tyrone and Darius
Excuse my French but fuck you — no, fuck y’all
That’s as blunt as it gets, I know you hate me, don’t you?
You hate my people, I can tell cause it’s threats when I see you
I can tell cause your ways deceitful
Know I can tell because you’re in love with that Desert Eagle
Thinkin’ maliciously, he get a chain then you gone bleed him
It’s funny how Zulu and Xhosa might go to war
Two tribal armies that want to build and destroy
Remind me of these Compton Crip gangs that live next door
Beefin’ with Pirus, only death settle the score
So don’t matter how much I say I like to preach with the Panthers
Or tell Georgia State “Marcus Garvey got all the answers”
Or try to celebrate February like it’s my B-Day
Or eat watermelon, chicken, and Kool-Aid on weekdays
Or jump high enough to get Michael Jordan endorsements
Or watch BET cause urban support is important
So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street?
When gang banging make me kill a nigga blacker than me?

Happy 71st Birthday to Womanist Warrior, Alice Walker!

Happy 71st Birthday to Womanist Warrior, Alice Walker!

Alice Walker has spent the better part of the past 50 years bringing a radical black woman’s consciousness into mainstream America. Born to sharecroppers in rural Georgia, Walker gained acclaim with her Pullitzer Prize-winning 1983 novel “The Color Purple.” But her life’s work has spanned more than three dozen novels, short stories, poetry and essay collections. Here are some words to remember her by on her 71st birthday:


Beyoncé: ‘I Sing For Families That Have Lost Their Sons’

Beyoncé just shared a behind-the-scenes video of a rehearsal for last night’s Grammy performance. In it, the star talks about why she chose a chorus of all black men. 

“I wanted to find real men that have lived, have struggled, cried and have a light and a spirit about them,” said Beyoncé“I felt like this is be an opportunity to show the strength and vulnerability in black men.”

“My grandparents marched with Dr. King, and my father was part of the first generation of black men that attended an all-white school,” Beyoncé adds. “My father has grown up with a lot of trauma from those experiences. I feel like now I can sing for his pain, I can sing for my grandparents’ pain. I can sing for some of the families that have lost their sons.” 

‘Stop Telling Women to Smile’ Art Goes to Mexico City

'Stop Telling Women to Smile' Art Goes to Mexico City

Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh touched a nerve when she debuted her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project in Bed-Stuy a few years back. She touched on the pervasiveness of street harassment that millions of women face everyday by glueing stenciled posters to neighborhood walls with defiant-looking women saying things like, “My Name is Not Baby,” “I Am Not Here For You,” and, of course, “Stop Telling Women to Smile.”

Now, as Anna Holmes documents at FusionFazlalizadeh to Mexico City:

Street harassment, also known as “acoso en las calles,” is an enormous problem in Mexico City and the country as a whole, where rates of sexual violence against women are some of the highest in the world. In Mexico, as elsewhere, says Laura Martinez, director of the Association for the Integral Development of Raped Persons, female bodies are seen as objects, as “something a man can have access to, even if the woman doesn’t want”; a United Nations report in 2010 ranked Mexico number one globally in sexual violence against women, estimating that 44% of females have suffered some sort of sexual violence, from groping to rape. The situation is so bad that Mexico City offers female-only cars on the city’s subways and, in 2008, introduced female-only buses, painted the color pink.

Read more and watch video of the project over at Fusion.  

Iggy’s Hair, Rihanna’s Quinceanera: Best Memes of 2015 Grammys

Last night’s Grammys were filled with brilliant performances and hilarious surprises, all of which got the proper meme treatment on Twitter. Here’s a look at some of the night’s best:

Post has been updated. Content added since publication.

Black Lives Matter at the Grammys, But What About Black Talent?

If you’re looking for one picture to sum up last night’s Grammy Awards, take a look at Prince’s, “bitch, please” face:

Prince made the look when he took the stage to present Beck — Beck! — with the award for best album of the year. Never one to be passive, the iconic singer took the opportunity to hammer home to importance of full-length musical projects over one-off songs that currently flood the industry. “Albums — you remember those? They still matter. Like books and black lives, they still matter,” Prince stated.

Kanye started to rush the stage, but then thought better of it. Still, he told reporters after the show, “[Beck] should’ve given his award to Beyonce.”

Pharrell added some drama to his exuberant hit “Happy.” During his performance, his dancers wore hoodies and raised their hands in a “don’t shoot” gesture as a nod to protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.

Blue-eyed soul singer Sam Smith was the star of the night, taking home four awards for best new artist, song of the year and record of the year for his tantalizing hit “Stay With Me” off his debut album, “In the Lonely Hour.” He also took the stage with Mary J. Blige to perform the track, and later gave a shoutout to the heartbreaker who inspired the album.

Beyoncé — not Ledisi — helped close out the night with a moving rendition of the gospel standard, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” Flanked by black male singers dressed in white and standing in a “hands up, don’t shoot” pose, the singer’s words and gestures easily made for the night’s most powerful moment. The singer also took home three awards for her self-titled album.

Kendrick Lamar’s single “i” won awards for best rap performance and best rap song, which made Taylor Swift very, very happy. Interestingly, the rapper wasn’t in attendance

But while black artists proved the point that black lives matter at last night’s awards, what about black talent? That was a question that seemed especially resonant in this year’s hip-hop category (which wasn’t televised), as Eminem beat out Iggy Azalea for best rap album for “The Marshall Mathers LP 2.” It was a moment that showed how white artists rob black artists of hip-hop culture, according to Renee Graham at the Boston Globe

Cultural appropriation is a scurrilous label older than Elvis, and as revolting as Pat Boone’s literally and figuratively pale versions of early rock n’ roll classics by Little Richard and Fats Domino. Such concerns center not only on who makes the music, but who claims its legacy and shapes its future. Nowhere is this discussion more fractious than in hip-hop where the music is culture and the culture, for many, is life. In a genre where its most devoted acolytes still believe authenticity is everything, newcomers are expected to earn the right to stand alongside legends.

Luckily for Iggy, she didn’t walk away completely empty-handed. Her braid damn near broke the internet. 

John Legend Backs Out of Performance Over Venue’s Anti-LGBT Stance

John Legend Backs Out of Performance Over Venue's Anti-LGBT Stance

Here’s John Legend doing some good in the world:

The magazine LA Confidential had planned to honour R&B musician John Legend at a pre-Grammys party at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Thursday night, but it will have to do so without him present. The Oscar- and Grammy-nominated singer and pianist has cancelled his appearance at the annual awards-season party in protest at the misogyny and homophobia of the venue’s owner

Read more at the Guardian


2Pac Had Plans to Collaborate With Outkast, E-40 Before His Death

2Pac is still regarded as one of the most prolific rappers of his time. He recorded hundreds of songs before his untimely death in 1996 at the young age of 25, many of which have been released posthumously. But he still had plenty of left to do.

Okayplayer published a handwritten letter in which Pac explains his desire to collaborate with some of the industry’s biggest names at the time, including Outkast, E-40, Scarface and Smif-N-Wesson, and The Roots on an album called “One Nation.”

tupac_020615.jpgRead more

TAGS: 2pac hip-hop

This People of Color and Mental Illness Project Will Move You

Nearly half of all Americans will develop some form of mental illness during their lifetime, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health. But people of color often face additional barriers to treatment, including the stigmas associated with mental illness in their communities and discrimination in predominately white clinical settings, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Dior Vargas, a Latina feminist mental health activist, is out to change that. Vargas launched a new photo series aimed at breaking the stigmas associated with mental illness among people of color. The project, hosted on Vargas’s website, is still accepting submissions. 


Jay Smooth Has the Last Word on Marshawn Lynch

The Seattle Seahawks may have lost last weekend’s Super Bowl, but Marshawn Lynch is still winning. In a new video, Jay Smooth makes sense of Lynch and what he calls “the theater of disobedience.” Take a look.

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