Why I’m Not Mad At The Chi-Raq Trailer

I was going to lament for about 500 words about why I’m not mad at the trailer for Spike Lee film ‘Chi-Raq‘ but I’m not going to do it.

Why?

Because most of the people that are outraged aren’t going to see the movie anyway. Because most of the people outraged haven’t seen a Spike Lee joint since ‘Crooklyn.’ Also because Damon Young at VerySmartBros already broke it down for it to forever be broke.

Just like the outrage we saw over Ebony Magazine’s November cover that had people are up in arms without reading a single word of the piece, people have already made up their minds about the film and haven’t seen a single scene of the movie.

If anything folks should have been more upset at the ‘Welcome to Chiraq‘ documentary Noisey produced glorifying gang culture last year. I was livid but hey the streets loved it.

What did people really expect from Spike Lee? A “Boyz N The Hood“or maybe a “Menace II Society” about Chicago’s violence problem? That wasn’t going to happen.

I was initially annoyed and concerned when I learned Lee named the film ‘Chiraq.’

I have written about how much Chicagoans hate the word Chiraq and why people should stop using that word before and my feelings remain the same. But I feel strongly about the arts and believe that creators should be allowed to bring a message to the people however they see fit.

That’s why I’m not tripping on the trailer or the film.

Lee is an unconventional director but he’s the only widely known director bold enough to make a film in Englewood and Auburn Gresham. He also participated in a several peace marches and rallies during the filming of ‘Chiraq.’

When the film hits theaters, check it out.

Or cop the bootleg, which most of y’all were going to do anyway.  Then you can write you 1,000 word think piece about why it sucks.

Until then, be easy.

Someone Get T.I, Tip & Clifford Harris The F**k Out Of Here

“Not to be sexist but, I can’t vote for the leader of the free world to be a woman. Every other position, I believe a woman could do well. But the President? I just know that women make rash decisions emotionally and later they make very permanent decisions emotionally – they make very permanent, cemented decisions – and then later, it’s kind of like it didn’t happen, or they didn’t mean for it to happen.”

Y’all.

Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. aka T.I, Tip and now ATL fuckboy uttered these words on DJ Whoo Kid’s radio show when he was asked if he was going to support Hillary Clinton‘s Presidential campaign.

He could have easily given a politically correct response and said  ‘I need to see where she stands on the issues’ or ‘I like Bernie Sanders’ but noooooo, he had drop his most sexist bars to date.

I’m pissed but I’m kind of not surprised.

We fell for T.I and his perfectly cocked hat when Trap Muzik dropped in 2003. There’s a 99% chance that I’ll loose my mind at this moment if Get Loose came on right now. He rode that ATL trap music wave from the trap house into our hearts. When he got locked up (the first 2 times) we (women folk) were there for him.

We watched him vote for the first time in 2008. He was excited! He had an amazing TV show, T.I’s Road To Redemption‘ on MTV encouraging young people in Atlanta to get out of the streets.

Throughout the years, we’ve watched him grow as a man & raise his children on the popular T.I & Tiny’s Family Hustle. We’ve watched him be super protective over his daughters yet encourage them to be the best they can be without a man.

But lately Tip has been sounding like that uncle who claims to know everything about politics but never voted a day in his damn life. From his almost unwavering defense of Iggy Azalea to his ridiculous fight with Floyd Mayweather,  T.I seems to have forgotten who made him successful: women.

His biggest hits: Whatever You Like, My Love, Blurred Lines wouldn’t have been successful without women! Although he blatantly rejects those fans in the interview for his ‘core’ audience, bruh remember you wouldn’t have been able to land on your feet during your multiple arrests without women.

Who held T.I down during multiple arrests? Tiny! We’ve known from his possessive behavior on Tiny’s short lived series ‘Tiny & Toya‘ that Tip is possessive and controlling. So it isn’t surprising that he uttered those dreadful words.

But for real nigga?

It should be noted that he also said that Abraham Lincoln did us a solid and ‘freed the slaves’ and had consensual sex with Black women at the beginning of the interview. BRUH!

T.I was way too comfortable saying those words because he was politicking with fellow fuckboy (do your googles) Whoo Kid.

Save your Oswald Bates apology.

We don’t want to hear that shit. You meant every word of that sexist statement.

You’ve already burned your paper trail with me.

Why I Needed To Work In Black Media

ME& Allie

With Allison, the managing editor of HelloBeautiful.com

Last year I started working at a website for and by Black women. It was literally was a breath of fresh air. Everything that was and is curated on the site is for Black women. I am a Black feminist. I am for all things Black and all things women.

Growing up, I was obsessed with magazines. YM Magazine (Young and Modern, R.I.P) was my absolute favorite but I devoured all of the titles of that time: Seventeen, Teen People, Black Beat, Word UP!, Jane, VIBE, the ever-present Ebony & Jet and Essence to name a few. I just loved everything about glossy’s –  the covers, the fashion and even the advice that didn’t apply to me at the time. But it was the writing that made me fall in love.

After seeing Queen Latifah as a writer/publisher on ‘Living Single‘, I knew exactly what I was going to do. And after watching Carrie Bradshaw, I knew there was only one place where I could truly be Khadijah James: New York City.

Prior to working in my current position, I had never worked at a job where it was more than a handful of Black folks. I had even gotten use to not working with Black folks. I didn’t like it but I didn’t see that changing as long as I was working as a copywriter or in marketing.

It’s one of the reasons why I quit one gig and was monumentally relieved when I got fired from another gig.

From the moment I started college in 2003 to today, the things that I have heard come out of the mouths of privileged white folks have been unbelievable yet unsurprising. Some of the comments run the gamut from believing AIDS was spread because Africans were eating monkey brains to a coworker telling me George Zimmerman was right to follow Trayvon home that fateful night to a marketing VP saying “Lupita didn’t sound genuinely grateful” in her amazing Oscar speech. A white British coworker even told me that I sounded like I had an attitude in an email when I defended myself after he tried to accuse me of something I did not do.  

After the Zimmerman verdict, I literally didn’t want to go into the office the next work day because if someone said the wrong thing to me, I was going to lose it.

Before I worked at an all Black space, I knew I wanted to be around more Black folks but I also knew the likelihood of that was slim. The reality is positions at Black publications are few and far between. You’re lucky if you can get in as a freelance worker.

The thought of not being able to fully work & thrive with my people is frightening. I definitely know and understand that where I work isn’t the only place that employs mostly Black folks but it’s literally so hard to get a writing gig anywhere that the reality ( I hate to say) is that my next position will probably be with mostly white folks.

Sadly, the reality of working in Black spaces also carries a lot of uncertainty.

The position that I am in is only a contracted position. I’m currently working in an all Black space but I’m well aware that I can have the rug pulled out from under me at anytime. I was even let go in August but brought back due to unforeseen circumstances. Many of my creative friends, myself included have been laid off numerous times and we certainly don’t make the amount of money we deserve.

But in the meantime, I’ll keep writing and working and continue to support all-Black spaces because we need the support.

Escape To NYC: How I Finally Left Chicago To Chase My Dreams

EscapeToNYCpicI’ve been meaning to post this for over a month. It took me nearly 4 months to write. But it’s finally finished. 

I finally did it.

I moved to New York City. It seems like it happened really fast but I had been preparing to move to NYC for 7 years. I wanted to move right after college but it didn’t quite work out that way. I spent 7 long years in Chicago, working and living in different apartments across the southside.

I was able to get a few writing positions but nothing I was in love with. After working for a company for close to 4 years, I was unceremoniously dumped (read:fired) right before Christmas. While it was a temporary setback, it made something very clear to me: 2014 would be the year I moved to New York. I didn’t know how it was going to happen but I knew it would happen.

I began working on my exit Chicago strategy. I was soon able to get another job a week after I lost my old one. I was also working part-time at Macy’s so I had 2 streams of income. The job I landed was absolutely nothing I wanted to do but it paid well. I was at that job a good 2 months when I realized that I hated it. I read the reviews of the company after I was hired on backdoor & they were horrible. But they were all true. People were telling stories of the great pay but shitty insurance and the company working people to death. I could definitely relate; I worked until nearly 8 p.m. many times.

I continuously applied to gigs in NYC.

I finally started getting some bites on my resume in June. I had an interview in Jersey City. It wasn’t in the city but it was a train ride away. Frankly, I didn’t want the position but I wanted New York. I had to do a presentation for the interview and it was horrible. I had booked a 6 a.m. flight for the 1 p.m. interview. Looking back, I had to look horrible. I was tired and had no clue what I was talking about. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. I keep on trucking.

I had an interview in NYC every month from June – October. Luckily with my multiple streams of income, credit card and airline points, I was able to constantly travel back and forth between cities. But after my 4th interview, I had gotten weary and my savings had gotten low.

I was also completely fed up with my day job and put in my 2 weeks notice. That place was wearing on my spirit in a way that even the money couldn’t fix. My last day was August 8th, the day before Michael Brown was murdered.

I wasn’t worried; I was relieved. I don’t believe in doing something you hate for any reason. For money, for kids. For anything. There’s nothing you can pay me to be miserable. For the next few weeks, I applied to over 150 jobs everywhere from Chicago to New York to places I knew I would never live like Minneapolis and Memphis. I have an excel document I used to keep track of all the positions. I’m still getting emails months later like “Unfortunately, you don’t meet our qualifications, etc.” rejection emails.

I applied to everything: full-time positions, part-time gigs, internships, fellowships, temp positions, EVERYTHING. I finally got the call that I had gotten a writing position. Before I got the call, I had almost given up. I had made it up in my mind that my 5th interview was going to be the last for a while. Flying back and forth without anyone knowing was exhausting. No one knew of my plans. I believe in moving in silence. Only my homegirl, Omowale (who’s from Brooklyn) knew about my secret trips.

When I got the call that I got the gig, I had a mixture of emotions. I was happy, nervous, excited and scared all at the same time.  I even second-guessed myself like “Am I really moving to a new city where I don’t know anyone?”

Hell Yeah! I ain’t no punk. I’m from Chicago. Ain’t shit I can’t handle.

My family and friends were shocked. My dad was cool but my mom on the other hand was not with it. She sent me a text (she never texts) that said “Please don’t go.” She was very upset.

So I packed up as much as I could and my homegirl Iman came to the city to help me with the daunting task of finding a place to live. After an entire day of searching, we couldn’t come up with anything. I turned to spareroom.com and met a nice Black couple that owned a brownstone in Bed-Stuy, my preferred neighborhood. It was expensive but it was available. Rooms in gentrified Bed-Stuy are now running at $1200/month. Ridiculous.

The transition was difficult. I had been living alone for almost 5 years. To go from having my own 1 bedroom apartment to living in a tiny room with a small closet was humbling. I also realized I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay at the brownstone for very long. I started the search for my next apartment 3 weeks after I landed in NYC. I found a more affordable place in Harlem with a girl who was looking for a roommate. I moved to Harlem a month later.

The first 2 weeks were difficult. The shower didn’t work properly and the apartment wasn’t adequately heated. But I’m glad to say it’s finally coming together.

Getting used to the city has been a challenge. The old adage that New Yorker are rude rings true every time. It’s not that they are rude with their words; they are physically rude. They’ll push you, bump you and don’t even think about a man letting you walk into a door first. I’ve rarely seen it happen. The buses in Harlem are packed as shit all the time.

But I’m adapting well. I’ve already made more strides in my career in the last several months than I had in all those years in Chicago. I’ve been able to meet writers that I’ve admire, go to events that would never happen in Chicago and just completely started over.

Moving to NYC was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Now that I’m here, I’ve been trying to recruit my friends to move here. Most of them are like hell no but I bet I can get at least one of them here in due time.

I’m happy to be here. I’m broke as hell but happy to be where I’m at. I can see myself going far here, if the city doesn’t break me first…

Now Y’all Mad?

Snoop is out of line for his comments towards & about Iggy Azalea.

But are we surprised? Should we be?

When I think of the music I grew up on, Snoop is at the top of that list. Doggystyle was released in 1993 and like so many millions of others, Gin & Juice remains one of my favorite songs ever. But let’s not forget that Snoop also kind of pioneered that whole Bitches ain’t shit phase that we’re still in over 20 years later. He definitely wasn’t the first rapper to say that sentiment but, If you didn’t know that bitches wasn’t shit, then you knew.

He’s continued his bitches ain’t shit reign for most of his career until last year when he emerged as Snoop Lion after taking a trip to Jamaica and immersing himself into Rastafari. At the time, he said it was important to him to have something that he’ll be able to perform at the White House, which he was able to do in December of 2013.

Despite the fact that Snoop has engaged in this type of language about women for years, it’s only until he’s attacked a white woman (Iggy Azelia) that other hip hop sites have even made an attempt to call Snoop out on his continued misogyny and disrespect. We shouldn’t be surprised by this behavior. It’s been part of the Snoop persona from day 1.

But because he’s Uncle Snoop, color me surprised when I saw a piece that should’ve been called “We’ll Always Love Uncle Snoop” on one of the premiere so-called women sites. But that’s neither here nor there.

When it comes to black women being attacked in music, movies and the like the narrative has been a code of silence amongst most hip hop mags and sites.

So I’m really expecting the see the Calvary show up this week for Iggy.

He’s Uncle Snoop. An elder statesmen in hip hop. I don’t expect any rapper or anyone else to actually call him out on anything.

Case in point: Dr. Dre. Despite repeated evidence of being a woman beater (See Michel’le and Dee Barnes) we’ve never (and will never) see a rapper or even a site call him out on this.

Did ya’ll expect anything to change about Snoop?

20 years as a misogynist, he verbally attacks a white woman and now y’all mad?

Veronica

Sketchy is the New Black

Growing up in Chicago, you’re never really surprised at the subtle but overall glaring racism that occurs here. It can be as simple as my mother letting me know early that “we don’t go to Bridgeport” to the pervasive stop & frisk that has been occurring in the city long before it hit the headlines in NYC.

Image courtesy of a google search.

Image courtesy of a google search.

More recently as the headlines have gotten louder and the crimes have gotten more attention, the code language has become more acceptable for folks to say. Working in the private sector gives you the opportunity to really get to know people. Folks are easy to let certain things slip because it doesn’t seem to be a problem or it doesn’t sound racist. Oh but it is.

For close to 4 years, I worked in the western suburbs of Chicago. The main expressway that leads there from the city is I290, the Eisenhower Expressway also known as the Heroin highway as it is the main artery between the west side of Chicago, known for its drug trade and the comforts of the upscale suburbs like Naperville and Downers Grove. On those really bad traffic days (and trust me there were many of them) there are a few shortcuts you can take to get to the job. Those short cuts would take you through the Westside and through the upper middle class suburb of Oak Park.

One morning my former boss was telling other coworkers about how she had to drive through “those sketchy” (read: black) neighborhoods to get to work. Nevermind the neighborhood she was referring to Oak Park and that it was 8 o’clock in the morning. Apparently, there was a hidden danger there that I wasn’t aware of.

What’s even more disturbing is how comfortable she and others like her feel about saying shit like that. It’s kind of like when a white person calls something ghetto. Well what’s ghetto? What is exactly sketchy? So it was really no surprise when the news broke that 2 “budding entrepreneurs” created a sketchy neighborhood app.

I mean it doesn’t sound racist right? Sketchy is code word for black.

Period.

What determines a neighborhood’s sketchiness? The crime rate? Who lives there? The diversity? Or lack thereof?

The reality is that most people rarely venture into unknown area or areas they’ve never been. For decades, Black folks have been pulled over and questioned, accused and even murdered for being in the wrong neighborhood.

Have you ever seen a car of Caucasians really in danger in the so-called hood?

You would literally see the Calvary strolling down King Drive to make sure that they’re safe.

Child please.

XOXO

Veronica

Marilyn

I’m a thrifty shopper.

Spotted at Rainbow.

Spotted at Rainbow.

I’ll admit it. Although I work part-time at a retailer, I don’t buy anything there unless it’s on clearance. The art of the deal is everything. That’s why you can catch me shopping everywhere from Macy’s to Express to Rainbow and Danice. Judge me not. You wish you could bargain shop and wear medium/low (definitely not high/low) like I can.

A constant staple in these stores in the ever-present image of Marilyn Monroe. Whether it’s the image of her in the infamous white dress or more often simply her face, she is on shirts everywhere from Chicago to Brooklyn. I don’t know where this idea to have Marilyn on every shirt for young girls came from. I don’t remember it being a staple when I was growing up in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

If I did see it, it was really a thing for white girls. I don’t remember black girls flocking to her and her image. But not anymore. Where did this praise come from?

Marilyn Monroe is perhaps the most known and glorified mistress in history. Born Norma Jean Mortenson in Los Angeles, Marilyn Monroe started out in films in the early 50’s. Next to Stevie Wonder, her rendition of Happy Birthday to President Kennedy is perhaps the most famous version of the song. There’s also the infamous story of her threatening a jazz club owner  to let Ella Fitzgerald perform at his club.

Her untimely death of acute barbiturate poisoning has been the subject of conspiracy theories for over 4 decades. Marilyn’s fame in death has more than surpassed the fame she experienced while she was alive.

Of course it all leads back to whiteness as the standard of beauty. Marilyn, with her vitamin D whole milk complexion and curvy figure was the envy of the women of her time.

I think I’ve only seen a handful of shirts that celebrate the beauty of black women and most of them were purchased at concerts or through independent sellers online with images of Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Rihanna and Michelle Obama on them. I think I’ve seen one shirt with Dorothy Dandridge on it and I’m sure it was a shirt that someone made at home.

I don’t even think it’s that black women and girls are fascinated with Marilyn Monroe has much as I feel like the image is being forced upon us. And of course, being the society influenced culture that we are, we eat it up. I’ve seen numerous girls in their late teens and early 20’s wearing a Marilyn Monroe shirt.

I want to ask them what if anything to they know about Marilyn. Not to be shady or anything but seriously. Why are you wearing a shirt with this woman on it?

But I’ll let them live.

Veronica