Janet Mock to Anna Holmes: ‘I Am Completely In Tune With Myself’

In the second installment of Fusion’s “Self Evidence” series, Anna Holmes talks with Janet Mock about the incredible journey she’s had since coming out in “Marie Claire” back in 2011.

“So much of my journey, specifically growing up as this young trans girl, was about fighting other people’s expectations of how they expected me to kind of be or to perform gender or to perform self,” she tells Holmes. “I knew that that was the first step in being able to free myself from, I think, a self imposed silence that I put on. Once I stopped being silent I don’t think it’s a surprise that I was able to free myself, right? Be more authentic. And tap into, as Oprah would say, my inner greatness.”

(h/t Fusion)

New Nina Simone Film Will Be Available on Netflix This Summer

Mark your calendars.

The highly anticipated new documentary on Nina Simone called “What Happened, Miss Simone” will be available on Netflix starting on June 26.

The film (which, no, is not the controversial one starring Zoe Saldana) made its debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Made by Academy Award nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus, it charts how deeply interwoven her politics were with her music. Here’s a look at the trailer:

(h/t Shadow and Act)

ICYMI: Watch This Adorable Little Girl Recite Maya Angelou’s ‘Phenomenal Woman’

Black History Month may be over, but we try to celebrate black folks each and every day.

(h/t Makers)

Michelle Rodriguez Defends Her ‘Stop Stealing White People’s Superheroes’ Comment

On Friday, actress Michelle Rodriguez broke a lot of people’s hearts when she shot down rumors of a starring role in the “Green Lantern” franchise. In response to a TMZ reporter’s question about diversity in Hollywood, Rodriguez said: “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard, I think it’s so stupid because of this whole minorities in Hollywood thing. It’s so stupid. Stop stealing all the white people’s superheroes. Make up your own. What’s up with that?”

Over the weekend Rodriguez clarified her comments. “I stuck my foot in my mouth once again,” she laughed at the camera. “Instead of trying to turn a girl character into a guy, or instead of trying to turn a white character into a black character of Latin character, I think that people should stop being lazy and people should actually make an effort in Hollywood to develop their own mythology.”

Oakland’s Answer to Hipster Fixies: Scraper Bikes

Meet Tyrone “Baybe Champ” Stevenson Jr., an Oakland native who for years has been changing the way youth of color ride in the city. In this video from Grit Media, Stevenson explains his passion for “scraper bikes” — tricked out bicycles named after the infamous cars of the Hyphy era of Bay Area music and culture.

Doc Film Wants Trans Women to Shout: ‘I’m Still Here!’

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, who goes by “Miss Major,” has spent her long life at the intersection of struggles around race, gender and sexuality in the U.S. Born in 1940 in Chicago, Griffin-Gracy came out as transgender during the nascent LGBT rights movement in the late 1960s. She was at Stonewall when New York City police raided the bar in 1969, setting off what became known as the Gay Liberation Movement. And she was incarcerated at Attica in 1971 when riots broke out and inmates demanded better living conditions. Those two seminal events inspireddecades of activism. These days Miss Major is executive director of the Gender Variant Intersex Project, which works with imprisoned transgender women.

Griffin-Gracy’s life is now the subject of a new documentary film called, “Major!”—and filmmakers Annalise Ophelian and StormMiguel Florez are asking transgender women to participate. They’re using one of Griffin-Gracy’s favorite sayings — “I’m still fucking here!” — and putting out a call for video selfies in which trans women boldly repeat the line (Or, “I’m still here” if you don’t curse). Those video selfies will then appear in the film. The deadline to submit is April 15, 2015. You can also read more about the call and the project. Here’s a trailer of the film:

MAJOR! Trailer from StormMiguel Florez on Vimeo.

The impetus behind the project is clear. Trans women, particularly those of color, have been murdered in cases that have made headlines in recent years. There have already been six documented murders of transgender women in 2015 — and it’s not even March. Last year, the deaths of women like Aniya Parker in Los Angeles and Yaz’min Shancez in Florida led to a national discussion about an epidemic of violence against trans women

You can also check out an example of what the filmmakers are looking for over on the film’s website.

Watch How a 25-Year-Old Helped Revive Oakland’s Turf Dancing

Meet Johnny Lopez, a 25-year-old Oakland native who was recently profiled by Fusion’s Ingrid Rojas in a look at that city’s rich legacy of turf dancing:

Turfing is a mostly black artform that’s existed in Oakland for years. In 2009, it went viral because of video of one group, Turf Feinz, dancing in honor of a recently slain friend:

Marshawn Lynch Wants to Trademark ‘I’m Just Here So I Won’t Get Fined’

Marshawn Lynch Wants to Trademark 'I'm Just Here So I Won't Get Fined'

Marshawn Lynch’s future with the Seattle Seahawks may be up in the air, but he’s still proving to be a very savvy businessman with a bright future away from the field. The controversial running back, whose standoffs with sports reporters at press conferences included such memorable phrases like, “Thanks for asking” is seeking to trademark his most memorable line: “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”

Here’s what that looked like during the run-up to the Super Bowl:

The Seattle Times reports that Lynch isn’t so much trying to make money off of the phrase so much as trying to prevent other people from doing so. He’s previously obtained trademark protection for “Beast Mode” and “About that action, boss.”

Remember Chinese-American Rapper MC Jin? He’s Back (Sorta)

Remember Chinese-American Rapper MC Jin? He's Back (Sorta)

It’s been nearly 15 years since MC Jin burst onto the rap scene. In 2000, the fresh-faced recent high school grad from Queens broke out on BET’s “106 & Park.” But Jin’s was an uneasy type of fame. He proudly called himself “the original chink-eyed MC,” playing up stereotypes of Asian-Americans that were pervasive in American pop culture. He wound up getting signed to Ruff Ryders, where he released the deeply problematic song “Learn Chinese.” 

“I’m at a point now where I don’t cringe if I hear ‘Learn Chinese,’” he told Jeanho at BuzzFeed. “But I don’t think there was ever one point when I was genuinely, genuinely proud of that song.” He adds, “I definitely still cringe at that video.”

As Jeanho writes:

The video for “Learn Chinese” is a study in the hackneyed stereotypes of Orientalist fantasy. Jin plays two characters in it: the villain in an eye patch and thin mustache who leads a gang of karate-chopping henchmen, and the hero who rescues the sexy Asian girls from some den of iniquity deep in the bowels of a glamorized Chinatown ghetto. The concept is intercut with shots of Jin in a maroon jogging suit rapping underneath an arched, neon-lit Chinese gate, a diamond-encrusted “R” chain swinging from his neck, the famous logo of the Ruff Ryders.

His music has predictably evolved since then, and so has his political consciousness around what his work means:

The first single is “Chinese New Year,” a revelatory celebration of Jin’s Chinese-American identity, the story of his family’s immigrant, working-class roots, and a candid acknowledgment of the failures in his rap career thus far — including regret over “Learn Chinese,” the first single off The Rest Is History, and probably still the most recognizable song in Jin’s oeuvre.


Jin blames his youth and industry naiveté for the misguided execution. “I look back, and I had this opportunity to make a statement. That was my first single to the world that the label was going to get behind. My criticism of it now is: You had this opportunity, Jin, and that was the statement you made?”

Read more at BuzzFeed


TAGS: hip-hop MC Jin

Actors of Color Slayed the Fashion Game at This Year’s Oscars

While it’s true that this year’s Oscars were dominated by white actors, actors of color showed up in full force and looked stunning on Hollywood’s biggest stage. 

The Jokes Were Mostly Bad And Sometimes Racist: #OscarsSoWhite Recap

Here’s how Twitter took down #OscarsSoWhite during the actual ceremony: 

John Legend, Alejandro González Iñárritu Won The Night With Their Oscar Speeches

You knew John Legend’s acceptance speech for Best Song at the Oscars was going to be good when he quoted Nina Simone and said, “It’s an artist’s duty to relflect the tmes in which we live.” From there, he called out the attacks on voting rights and racial disparities in incarceration. His performance with Common of the “Selma” theme song “Glory” was the night’s most moving moment, but his speech really brought down the house.

First, here’s Common and John Legend’s powerful performance:

 And here are the speeches that followed:


Alejandro González Iñárritu, director of “Birdman,” which closed out the night by winning the award for Best Picture, managed to overcome Sean Penn’s racist “Who gave this son of a bitch a green card?” joke and called for “dignity and respect for immigrants” in his speech:


Watch Janet Mock Interview ‘Awkward Black Girl’ Issa Rae

On her MSNBC show, So Popular, Janet Mock sat down with actress and writer Issa Rae to talk about her new book “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” The book, of course, is based on the popular Web series that shot Rae into stardom and onto Pharrell’s radar. The book is out now and just made the New York Times bestseller list. In the sit-down, Rae says that writing the book was therapeutic and remembers the days of AOL chat rooms. Take a look.

‘The Reid Report’ Canceled Amid MSNBC Shake-Up

MSNBC is shaking things up at 30 Rock. The network announced on Thursday that it’s canceling Joy-Ann Reid’s “The Reid Report” and Ronan Farrow’s “Ronan Farrow Daily.” The hosts will still reportedly be involved with the network, but each show struggled with ratings over the past year.

Reid has been a longtime contributor to the network and has been so popular that fans even began a petition to get her show on the air.

Reid, along with Melissa Harris Perry and Janet Mock, was one of only a handful of black female cable news hosts in an industry dominated by white men

These infographics from Media Matter show the race and gender imbalances in cable news: gender-diversity-cable.jpg ethnic-diversity-cable-3.jpg

Here’s a look at an interview with Rep. Barbara Lee that represents just some of what Reid accomplished:


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.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38