To assume will only make an ass out of yourself, and leave me laughing at you.

In response to “Justin Timberlake is rebranding himself as a white Man” From The Outline. An article about upcoming album “Man of the Woods” by Justin Timberlake.  

Dear Ann-Derrick,

This is satire, right? It has to be. I hope it is.

But just in case it isn’t…

I’m not a journalist, and I don’t try to be.  I’m just a casual blogger that has a lot to say and I read your post this week, only because I’m a big Justin Timberlake fan.  So yeah I may be a little biased, but I’m not blind.

Or maybe I am…However…

Something tells me that you’re probably not a fan of Justin Timberlake.  Something tells me that you have no earthly idea of how he’s carried himself through the entertainment and music industry for the last 23 years he’s been doing this thing.  We’ll just focus on the last 13 or so though, since his solo career is what you seem to have a problem with.

“Justin Timberlake is rebranding as a white man”. 

???

When was Justin Timberlake ever not white?  Ok Ok, I know, too literal, right?  So let’s look at it from a cultural standpoint.  From the start of your article, you visualize the settings from which Justin’s album teaser is set from (You did a good ass job with that, by the way).  And for some strange reason, I don’t have any idea why, you immediately think “Damn this is some white people shit”.  Just because he’s in some wilderness setting.

“White colonialist fantasies aside, there’s something very familiar about this pivot in Timberlake’s style.” 

These are your words.  Mind you, the album, NOR the single has even dropped at this point when you posted your article, so how is this pivot familiar? What pivot? What are you basing your opinion on? Additionally, how is this quote even related to his race? Oh, the visuals? Because this is some “white people shit”?  White people love the outdoors and wilderness.  But here’s a news flash.  Probably not many, but black people tend to love this as well, but that’s beside the point.  You’re assuming here that Timberlake’s visual association of wildlife to be sort of a “celebration” of his whiteness, and we all know what assuming things get you.

Authenticity is quite marketable now, and for white pop stars that means shifting away from the hip-hop and R&B-influenced sounds that made them famous, and toward the sounds of Southern and country rock. For Timberlake, the pivot should be sonically natural: Originally hailing from Tennessee, Timberlake has never been shy about celebrating his Southern origins. And considering Pharrell and Timbaland are both producers on the album, Man of the Woods is likely to retain some familiar influences.

So why are you even typing this article right now?

But with his insistence in the video that this album will be his most personal yet, Timberlake is indulging in the inexplicably popular fallacy that music with heavy country influences is somehow more profound or emotionally acute than music that is electronic, lyrics that are rapped, or songs that inspire listeners to shake their asses.

Have you heard the track yet? Because all of this assumption is just really causing a problem for me.

Not to straight up copy and paste your whole article here, but you are reaching SO MUCH.  I feel that you are reading too much into this.  Justin Timberlake has essentially grown over the years as an artist.  From a young teen heartthrob (Justified), to the sexy young adult (FutureSex/LoveSounds), to the experienced sexy adult (The 20/20 Experience) to full out husband and family man (Man of the Wild). He’s calling this his most profound and personal because this album is reflecting his personal life.  If writing about your family isn’t considered profound just on it’s own without including race then I’m not sure if you have a full grasp of the word.  How in the hell do you get “Justin is rebranding as a white man” out of this, is beyond me.

Timberlake has a long history with hip-hop and R&B, genres invented and dominated by black people(…)His first single as a solo artist featured legendary hip-hop duo Clipse and was co-written by The Neptunes.

Justin Timberlake has worked with Timbaland and The Neptunes for the vast majority of his solo career.  If anyone is to blame for him appropriating black culture, they share the blame.

Now that that is out of the way, Justin Timberlake’s first single “Like I Love You” with Clipse was a Pop track with a Rap feature. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that track on a single Hip Hop station growing up.  To add to that, Justified was solely a Pop album with hints of hip hop flare due to Timbaland and The Neptunes.  With the exception of “Cry Me a River”, Timberlake’s songs were rotated on Pop stations.

It wasn’t until FutureSex/LoveSounds when Justin got more play on Urban stations and even then only half of the album (if that) consisted of a straight up Urban tone. The rest of it was Pop.  Tell me the last time you heard “SexyBack” on a Hip Hop radio station? Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

With the 20/20 Experience, Justin ventured into Pop Soul, which had his most Urban influence for an album.  But it wasn’t that he was straight up jacking the hip hop style, he involved Pop into something different. Into something great, and I implore you to go back and listen to it.

Again I don’t think that you’ve really listened to Justin’s music.  Which I guess you don’t really have to, to come up with this crazy notion of an article you’ve written here.  Also, I feel that people of color don’t really appreciate Justin’s music other than his singles that play on urban hip hop stations.  Justin has never branded himself as black.  People just tend to have this mindset that he’s appropriating the culture and I feel that that’s where you get this notion about him branding himself as a black person.  And you know what, it’s fine to feel that he’s appropriating the culture, because to an extent, he is, but I feel that he’s appropriating by association, and who’s to blame for that?

Maybe that’s a conversation for another day…

 

Edit:  After speaking with a few friends on this topic, I may have missed the ultimate point of the original article.  However, I do feel that the original author is jumping the gun prematurely at the fact that the music has not been released. So who knows if Justin will be embracing his “white roots”.  Being able to “play the field” due to privilege is more of a societal issue than it is a personal issue. And maybe one day we can work on that.

Much Love

 

Y’all…

Let it be known that as of RIGHT NOW, the first week in January of 2018 will be forever know as “Malc got his music life” week!

First Justin Timberlake…

Now Bruno and Cardi B?!?!?!?

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Now, I already LOVED Bruno Mars’ Album 24K Magic. AND “Finesse” was like my freaking JAM just because it had 90s flare dripping ALL throughowt that joint! When I first heard it I was legit mad I didn’t have anybody to do the “Kid N Play” dance with.  I started Bell Biv DeVoe’n by my damn self at work!  I was hype AF when I heard that joint.

So to my wonderful surprise, I open up Spotify this morning and see that one of my ALL. TIME. FAVORITE. artist had a new song out.  A remix.  With Cardi B? On one of my beloved songs off of 24k? (And yes I’m a Cardi fan, even though I don’t know her mixtape shit, I recognized her talent with “Bodak” don’t try it. I’ve been looking out for her ever since. Yes I’m late to the party, whatever.)

I played the track and to make a long story short, I LOVED IT.  Cardi kept true to the feel of the song, and did pretty great on her verse.  Even though the flow was 90s, her lyrics were 2010, and you know what. I’m down with it.

BUT

Somebody informed me there was a Video…

Say wha nah? (Pulls up YouTube)

Y’all…

IF THIS WASN’T THE MOST 90S SHIT I’VE SEEN IN MY DAMN LIFE.  Nostalgia isn’t something I dwell into much, but 90s music nostalgia, I AM ALL ABOUT.  From the opening cut,  they literally were dripping of Fresh Price of Bel-Air swag.  Fucking awesome! The colors! The Clothes! The…Vibe was just right!

Then Cardi’s verse finishes and you see Bruno “dancing”. (Like, I know he has SOME moves, but Bruno’s dancing needs a little work, just saying). And I’m like “OK, what’s this”. Because all you see is Bruno, and two other dancers and just some colors in the back during the first verse.

Then they show the wide shot…

IS THIS…IS THIS THE MOTHER FUCKING “IN LIVING COLOR” SET?!??!?!

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Then I thought back to the beginning of the video and was like, “Wait, THAT WAS THE IN LIVING COLOR INTRO!”

(My mind gets away from me sometimes)

I was done at that moment…I don’t even need JT’s new single tomorrow. I could die today and feel the love.

This video was so simple, that it was brilliant.  Showing a few flashes of Black Greatness through entertainment in the 90s and just showing how we just liked to dance and have fun and just let loose back then.  I do hate that they didn’t portray some other great images of the 90s in the video, but I’ll take this for what it is.

Music was fun in the 90s…This video helped me live that again for 3 minutes out of my day…

Application for Diversity

A month ago, my daughter introduced me to a new app as she routinely does. What typically happens is I notice her playing something incessantly and download it to see what it is. I then obsess over it for a few days until I reach some awful level that I can’t beat and I give up. This time, however, has been different.

Sandbox

Quite possibly the best time wasting app I have ever come across. I have yet to figure out how the name relates to the app. It’s a color by number app. That’s it. No levels. No time limits. Only constraint is you have to pay for access to more detailed pictures, which I promptly did to color in order to color this lotus flower.

It also does this awesome time lapse video after you fill it in.

So there are all sorts of pictures you can color. Flowers, cars, cartoons, people, cartoon people in cars holding flowers. Okay maybe not that one but anything is possible.

The other day, however, I noticed something when a picture popped up. I had been coloring in very detailed and beautiful pictures of white women. Pictures like this.

And this

And I just want to throw out this picture of a tiger in here, because it’s awesome

There were also some really cool cartoon white people as well

But after playing for almost a month this was the first person of color that I colored

Do you see the problem?

If you don’t. That’s another post for another time. But for those who already get it let’s proceed. If you don’t, you can still proceed and maybe you’ll catch up.

I really didn’t want to believe this person was black but as I filled her in and the complexion was completed and that awkward butt thing finished I had to acknowledge it. This was their first and only black woman or even person of color all month. Unless you count this guy

And I don’t.

This one came later, but I wasn’t sure if they were black or a seriously tanned version of Gene Simmons

Even these clearly non white characters just looked like white people in costume

This initially started me writing a post in my head about white privilege. White privilege is seeing yourself represented in apps automatically and not having to question why there are no people of color.

But then I decided to try something. I never review apps or leave comments. This time I did. I left a comment for sandbox pointing out the lack of diversity and how it would be nice to see more detailed pictures of people of color and men (white men included). Diversity is an amazing thing.

I honestly didn’t expect much. Maybe a response about how they were working on it. Or no response at all.

But y’all…the most beautiful thing happened.

Every morning I wake up to 5 or 6 new pictures to color. THE VERY NEXT MORNING this is what I saw.

DO Y’ALL SEE THAT?!? Not the astronaut or the gems or the watermelon or that angry knight in the corner. No. Right there. That beautiful, detailed, obviously BLACK woman!!!

I can not describe how full my heart was when I saw that. I immediately got to work coloring her in to see how gorgeous she was. With every shade of brown that I applied my heart grew bigger. I ran to my daughter and her friend and told them what had happened. What I had done.

Yep. I’m taking full responsibility for this one. Maybe they were already working on it. But that’s a huge coincidence. THE NEXT DAY!! I’ve had guys take longer to respond to a text message than it did for this app developer to respond to my suggestion.

And then I got to thinking. Why isn’t it always that easy. That’s all it took. Correcting the issue. They didn’t have to respond. They didn’t have to apologize. All they had to do was correct the issue. No questioning. No trying to convince me I was making things up. No defending why they hadn’t had a diverse selection of skin tones up until this point. No blaming. No finger pointing. No all coloring lives matter crap. Just correction of the problem. Why can’t it always be this easy?

Maybe one day the rest of the world will learn from the Sandbox app and quickly acknowledge and correct racism when it is pointed out. Until then I will keep admiring this beautiful lady I colored in and count this as one itty bitty teeny tiny step to equality.

Here she is!

Here’s her video

And just a few days later I got to color in this possible Cardi B image that I love too

(Or is that Miley?!?)

Ps. My daughter says that if you want some good entertainment read the other reviews to the app.

The Oppressor can not be Oppressed…

This is the same as reverse racism. Sure, if defined in text, can be explained simply.  But this is simply NOT a simple issue.

Now, let me preface by saying this; You all know, I’m not the best writer, and I don’t speak much on social things because I’m just not that good at expressing my thoughts and how I feel completely.  I tend to have incomplete thoughts and also tend to not get my point across properly at times.  BUT! Know this. I know what side I stand on. And this here thing…I’m not standing with.

Look at the following image.  This image comes from some training material about workplace harassment. Note: This training was not generated from my company, but sourced out from another training resource.

reverseOpression

Now…

Being an African-American male, living in America, working in Corporate America.  My first response is exactly what the “contestants” in the image show.  TRUE TRUE TRUE MOTHERF**KING TRUE!

Why?

Because the oppressor cannot be oppressed.

What does this mean? Someone who benefits from racism cannot suffer from racism.

Now, being that this is a training resource, to be politically correct and whatnot about this, the answer to this question is False, by definition.

BY. DEFINITION.

But that’s just the problem with this image.  You cannot just simply paint a black and white picture for this.  In most cases, a non-minority would not face any type of racial harassment, due to the fact that he/she is white.  Putting it in perspective on a high level (we’ll get to a lower level, deeper conversation a little further down in this post), a non-minority person would never have an issue with this. I can never in my life recall any time any of my white friends suffered from ANY type of racial harassment, and I have a LOT of white friends.

Who in the HELL thought this was a good question to put in training information in the first place?

The company I work for, at the corporate level, is probably around 75% White.  Keep in mind that this is just an estimation, so I know I’m wrong on the actual percentage, but I’m probably close enough.  If you look at only my office within the company, and go deeper to my specific department, that percentage is even higher. With my team undoubtedly being >85% white, as I can count the total number of African-Americans on one hand. If I include other minorities, I think I may get up to 10 total, but not much higher.

So this image here, in all it’s glory assumes that white people are subjected to suffer from workplace racial harassment.  Which, sure they can, at a definition level.  But how? Tell me when this would most likely happen? This picture screams to me that “white people have it just as bad as black people when it comes to racism”, which that could not be any more wrong. As mentioned in a wonderfully created movie “Dear White People“, there was a line stated that Black people can’t be racist.  Why? Because black people can’t benefit from it.  White people, on the other hand has benefited from racism for CENTURIES.  Black people and other minorities are at a disadvantage EVEN BEFORE THEY ARE BORN, because of the color of their skin. Yet, I’m sitting here looking at a video of an African-American man, asking a question about if it’s True or False that a non-minority in the workplace can be a victim of racism.

Excuse me sir…Let’s not…

Even the white “contestants” has more sense than that.

And I can already hear the moans and groans of white people all over America right now because they speak words of how everyone is equal and racism isn’t a thing anymore and we won’t “let it go”.  I implore you to read my blog post from a while back about Growing up an “Oreo” in America.  This is a minority’s reality.

Resources like this perpetuate the idea that racism can be played on both sides, but that’s just not true.  And for this to be in training material for a pretty big corporation that hires thousands of people, It makes me sick.  Then I think about how many companies are using the same training resource.  This is just a form of institutionalized oppression, spreading the idea that you can be racist toward white people, and that’s just not true.

For years, black people have had to have shows like “Black-ish” and networks like “BET” and celebrate holidays such as “Black History Month” or “Juneteenth” to show our greatness. Why? Because of racism.  Because we needed somewhere to go to celebrate our culture, our greatness of who we are, because white people kept us from showing how great we were.   White people don’t have these things, because they already control all of it.  Their culture bleeds throughout every facet of life.

So I ask you to read the question again and if you think that someone can be racist towards white people.  I urge you to think outside of the black and white box.  Stand back, take a look at your life, and ask yourself, if you’ve ever suffered from or was ever at a disadvantage because of racism.

My Christmas Wishlist

The following is an incomplete list of things I would like for Christmas.  If I were to get any one of these, I would consider it a Holiday Miracle.

  1. My bills paid
  2. Lottery scratch offs
  3. Women to get respeck
  4. Men to stop acting like every little interaction with a woman is considered sexual assault
  5. Toys for my puppy
  6. Reese’s cups (the BIG ones)
  7. Donald Trump to stop being president
  8. Donald Trump’s Twitter account to be suspended permanently
  9. To lose weight, easily
  10. Shoes
  11. A new car; Without the car payment, obviously
  12. Endless supply of coffee
  13. Police to stop shooting black people
  14. Chick-fil-a to stop putting crack in their chicken
  15. Black people to realize their worth
  16. Walmart to stop being so terrible at everything
  17. Net Neutrality
  18. Healthy food to stop being so damn expensive
  19. Equal pay for all
  20. Equal rights for all
  21. Donald Trump to stop being president.
  22. AND A MAN WITH A LOT OF MONEEEEEEEYYYY

I am Not My Hair or My Edges

I love being Black. I love being Woman. The two together make me feel strong and powerful AF, and I feel great joy and pride to think about my ancestors and who they may be and what they fought for. I feel a strong sense of connection to other Black people, giving a nod, or smile as if I belong to a secret society of magical melanin. I  love all people, but I love my people in a unique way. We are a people of triumph. And black women, well, we come in shades, sizes, and shapes of wonder. We have learned to celebrate our beauty.

Well, kind of.

Like any group of people on this planet, we have adopted some oppressive beauty standards and use those to ostracize others, and promote unrealistic and unhealthy ideals of beauty. Two of these include hair and ass. Both of which I personally struggle with.

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This is an extremely difficult meme, as funny as it may be to some, because honestly, these both are hard for me, and one time, this may have made me feel depressed for days.

Today, I will discuss hair, in particular, edges.. Edges seem to be the holy grail of beauty in our community or the foundation of endless humiliation. For those of you not familiar with this seemingly very important issue, it is when you don’t have much hair or have some loss of fullness around your temple, sometimes even a little further back, often due to tight braids or hairstyles (especially when young), but also due to, and often complicated by, nutritional issues, genetics, medications, and stress. This can result in alopecia, specifically traction alopecia, but also often in combination with other types, if any of the factors are involved. You scalp may easily scar and this can kill the follicle, making it difficult for hair to regrow. Some women can do whatever they want to their hair and never experience hair loss, and some may have one hair style, med, or accident, that causes this to happen. Many times, it isn’t our fault, or we didn’t know better, or a well meaning hair stylist, over relaxed, too tightly braided, or over-styled our hair. And we all know how hard it is to sometimes correct a hair stylist, especially if you’re shy like me (I tend to just go home and cry when I hate my hair lol).

It’s not a fun thing to have. Trust me, I know. I have some hair loss in my temples. Additionally, if my hair does not remain braided or put up, I begin to lose hair in the middle of my head. I have been ashamed since day 1, when it started happening around ages 10-12. I wore styles to hide it (making it worse over time), I used sprays to make my edges look fuller, I cried every time I thought about it. Every blog, every joke, every rant about edges made me feel like a personal failure. Like I should have known better, prevented it, etc. I wouldn’t (still won’t) go to new hair stylists for fear of being judged (I had a wonderful stylist once in Charlotte who was so kind and actually helped stop future hair loss and now designs wigs for me). I would be scared to show my friends my hair. I wouldn’t look at myself in the mirror. And even though I realized there was treatment for this, I did not seek treatment until 4 months ago, because of the intense amount of shame I carried about my temples.

Why was I so ashamed? Well, men (who are going bald, which is baffling to me) would make jokes and comments on the web. Stylists put things about hair loss and who they won’t serve on their website. Websites talk about how Black women are losing their hair and edges because of their vanity. Everyone has a topical solution or a vitamin that will restore your hair, and every time it fails, you feel like you fail. And well, a quick Google search  shows the feelings about hair loss in our community, as we joke about anyone struggling with this.

 

These seem funny… I have laughed to hide my pain when these are posted or people joke, and I’ve learned to not take them so seriously, but they are emotionally damaging to many people.

One thing that really gets to me is the way other Black women talk about one another in this situation. We tear each other down about it. We humiliate one another. We act like this is the worst thing that can possibly happen to a person. It also seems that Black women are made to feel that this is wholly our own doing and we are failures because of it. What’s interesting, is when other women of different races have hair loss, there is a different take on hair loss. It seems to me that it is looked at as more of a medical issue; something to get treatment for, embarrassing, maybe, but not a telltale sign of your worth. I am guessing this stems from the complicated relationship Black women with have hair, which I believe pre-dates me and results from historical racial trauma and many years of internalized oppression. We have come to see our worth in physical terms and beauty as very one dimensional. Along with hair, comes the natural versus relaxed, weave versus non weave, the right way to be natural versus the not right way to be natural. I’ve been judged by all of these things – not natural enough, wearing wigs, too kinky of hair, all while dealing with this shame – it is difficult to be a woman.

As I mentioned, 4 months ago, I ventured for the first time to see a dermatologist after trying every remedy ever; a beautiful, smart black woman doctor, who had excellent reviews. And I muttered those words that I have been scared to tell anyone, “I have hair loss.” She took a look and I wasn’t sure what I thought she’d say, but prepared myself for a lecture as I’d received from so many other women. Instead she was the most reassuring human being I had ever met about this. She was compassionate, she didn’t blame me, and she didn’t make it seem like a big deal.  I was so ashamed I didn’t even once consider this as a medical condition, that would be covered by insurance. She assured me that it was, and that this was as real of a medical condition as any condition. She made me believe I deserved treatment. I didn’t realize that up until then, I truly believed I didn’t deserve treatment for my hair loss. It was another thing that I used to validate the idea that I wasn’t worthy or good enough. And so, I began injections, the standard treatment for alopecia of all sorts. The rest of my hair is luckily a big full kinky afro (mainly because I keep it braided – like I said, I lose my hair in the center of my hair easily), but I know that is just luck. It’s early, but the prognosis of my hair recovery is good, but slow, and I can see a little improvement. Had I not let my shame stop me, I might could have had better results faster.

Many women, especially Black women, probably know how hard it is to write a post this vulnerable and transparent about hair. I’m putting myself at huge risk of being ostracized and criticized. Maybe my future boyfriend will read this and decide to not be my future boyfriend. But I want others to know that those seemingly harmless and “funny to you” jokes might be hurting someone. It may be reminding them that they are not worthy for yet another reason. It may be reinforcing stereotypes of beauty. Also, really, is losing your hair the worst thing that can happen to you? I mean why is that even a thing? Men get to go bald and look debonair or distinguished (I admit to loving me a bald man). Wigs and extensions exist for a reason (for both fun and functional reasons – which I use them for both and probably always will, I don’t care what you think about me). For heaven’s sake it is JUST HAIR.

There is an amazing online website for women with hair loss. I don’t ever comment (yet, anyway), but listening to women – both in treatment and others just accepting it and rocking their hair bald or with extensions and wigs – has been eye opening for me. I remember one woman saying, after many failed treatments, said something like “fuck it, it’s not that serious, I’m just going to rock my fabulous wigs, because I am still beautiful. Life goes on. This isn’t the most important thing in life.”

Her stance is what I’m coming to adopt and accept in my life.  Do you think my courageous ancestors that walk with me are concerned about my edges as part of my life purpose? Do you think Harriet Tubman worried about her edges while trying to free slaves? I think not. She had a purpose to fulfill, a great life to live, people to help. And no one ever doubted her impact on the world. People write about her heart, her bravery, her convictions, but never her hair. And I’m sure men and women fell in love with her soul. And I’d rather have a full soul, than full edges. And maybe I can have both. And if not, that’s ok too.

So please, stop shaming other women about a medical condition. We’re all beautiful. Edges or not.