The past few years have been tough for Black Americans – a reality muddled with police brutality, “WTF”-worthy comments from politicians in complete denial that racism is still a thing, culture appropriation on unabashed levels and harsh reminders that we are a long way from the racially harmonious America Dr. Martin Luther King envisioned in his “I Have a Dream Speech.” Recent pop culture events have made it possible to add a dash of humor to the uncomfortable topic of race. Those who typically turn a blind eye to the significance of this celebratory month are now paying attention, thanks to a few epic music and social media moments reminding us to be proud of who we are and why this month exists. Perhaps that’s why some are calling February 2016 one of the best Black History Months ever…and we’d have to agree. Take a stroll with us down memory lane as we reflect on the most unapologetically Black pop culture moments of the last 29 days.
Twitter Wishes Stacey Dash a Happy Black History Month
You’d think at this point, we would’ve washed our hands with Stacey Dash and her off the wall opinions about race, yet the actress turned political commentator (we use this title very, very loosely) always manages to outdo herself. The country let out a resounding “bish whet?” when Stacey Dash stepped on her soapbox of reverse racism and called for an end to BET and Black history month. “…there shouldn’t be a Black History Month. You know? We’re Americans. Period. That’s it” Dash said during a segment on Fox News’ Fox & Friends. Unsurprisingly, Twitter took petty to another level on February 1st, by dragging the Clueless actress with memes like the above.
Beyoncé Puts Us in Formation
On the eve of her anticipated Super Bowl performance, nobody expected Beyoncé to drop the surprise song and video “Formation.” And certainly nobody expected an artist with a pristine image like Queen Bey to tackle such a divisive issue. Laced with proud statements like “I like my Negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils,” this is Beyoncé’s first song that inarguably champions Black culture. And to make the message even clearer, Bey boldly pranced on the Super Bowl stage with an army of Black Panther clad dancers. This made people upset and evoked a sea of think pieces from the right wing accusing her of race baiting (Tomi Lahren, we’ll get to you in a minute).
Kendrick Lamar’s Black Out at the Grammys
The day after the 2016 Grammy’s, hardly anyone was talking about the awards or the red carpet looks. Nearly everyone was talking about Kendrick Lamar’s explosive, jaw dropping medley of “The Blacker The Berry,” and “Alright” – songs that, like much of Kendrick’s work, explore deeply-rooted structures of institutionalized racism. Limping to the mic in a prison suit, shackles and a bruised face, Kendrick ferociously rapped line tom “The Blacker The Berry” to the mixed audience: “I’m African-American. I’m African. I’m black as the moon. Heritage of a small village. Pardon my residence. …You hate me, don’t you? You hate my people. Your plan is to terminate my culture.”. As the drums blared louder and Kendrick’s voice becomes more furious, the stage essentially becomes a tribal celebration of blackness and pride. And then we see it. The large shape of Africa with bold white letters “Africa” inscribed. Following the already heated climate of Blackness in mainstream music ignited by Beyoncé, Kendrick promised to bring Black back to the Grammy’s…and he did so flawlessly.
Kanye West Cares About Black Music
Difficult as it may be to comb through Kanye West’s stream of self-inflating Twitter proverbs, you may find a few bits and pieces of truth from the rap mogul when it comes to the intersections of race and art. Two days after the release of The Life of Pablo Kanye apparently had enough of mainstream music critics reviewing rap and R&B music without acknowledging its racial context. “I love love love white people but you don’t understand what it means to be the great grandson of ex slaves and make it this far,” he tweeted. And in case you were confused on exactly who he’s referring to, he named some names for ya. Ye’ asked music mags like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone to politely STFU when it comes to Black music. He also preached some truth about Black artists that are frequently underrepresented at Grammy’s despite their undeniable influence. “You like your black people a certain way also. [The Grammy’s] wouldn’t have Future perform and that man owned the clubs last summer.” See more of what he had to say below:
Charlemagne Tha God Shuts Down Awful Beyoncé Hater
Up-and-coming conservative news host Tomi Lahren took issue with Beyoncé’s Black Panther-themed performance at the Super Bowl and decided to flex her first amendment rights by attempting (key word) to get Queen B together for paying tribute to a “terrorist organization.” Tomi even hit below the belt, drudging up Jay Z’s drug dealing past to paint Beyoncé as a hypocrite. Though we’re tempted, the word limit for this article is much too short to read Tomi for filth over those misguided comments. And since Tomi already received the dragging of a lifetime compliments of The Beyhive, why go there? Thankfully, there was a teachable moment for Tomi in this, and Power 105’s Charlemagne Tha God flawlessly schooled the young anchor for her obnoxious comments…and on her own show no less. T’was a shining gem of Black History month, indeed.
Remember those embarrassing but hilarious photos from your hood phase in high school that you keep locked away? Well, Black History Month means we can all exchange ours and not give a single solitary F—k because there’s no better time to keep it all the way real. The results of the #TwitPicTheBlackestPictureInYourPhone were nothing short of epic.
Beyoncé’s controversial Super Bowl performance ruffled conservative feathers not only because of its pro-Black message, but also because many were, and still are, virtually clueless about what The Black Panthers stood for. Thankfully, PBS showed up right on time to shed some light on their legacy with the exploratory documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. In it we see parallels between the BPP and the Black Lives Matter movement; two groups that challenged police brutality and the over-policing, and mobilized their community with programs and community funding. In an interview with Teen Vogue, former BPP member Ericka Huggins expressed, “I am just grateful to [Beyoncé] for choosing to use her art for the upliftment of black people and humanity in general.”
Free Event in Flint on #OscarsSoWhite Night
(Michael Kovac/Getty Images; Daniel Zuchnik/FilmMagic; Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)
Rather than adding to the flood of complaints about the shut out of Black films and actors of color at the Oscars, a few elite members of Hollywood banded together for a noble cause. Filmmakers Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay, Grammy nominee Janelle Monae, Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams ad comedian Hannibal Buress spearheaded #JUSTICEFORFLINT, a star-studded and free event raising awareness for the tap water crisis in Flint, MI (a town predominantly Black and impoverished). The event streamed live during last night’s Oscars (as the award show desperately tried to compensate for their failure to recognize Black talent, but we digress) The rally’s organizers say the intent was to both provide alternative entertainment for those boycotting the show and to fall on the final day of Black History Month.
Using the hashtag #TrapCover, social media geniuses decided to explore what happens when you place kitschy Top 40 hits like Taylor Swift’s ” You Belong With Me” against a bumpin trap beat. Turns out, the results are glorious. Let’s face it: a trap beat can only do wonders for painfully corny tunes. So without further ado, let’s take a look at how Adele and Britney Spears sound over those 808’s:
We thank everyone who participated in this new Black History moment.
The film Race certainly hasn’t received the kind of publicity that it merits, but that doesn’t make it any less deserving of our attention. Released on February 19th, the biopic tells the tale of Jesse Owens, an African-American track start who won a record-breaking four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. As you can imagine, this was a time period where Blacks weren’t exactly celebrated in worldwide sports, but what made Owens’ plight especially historical was embarrassing Hitler and his Aryan regime on their own soil. On February 15th, an advanced screening of the film was shown at Owens alma mater, The Ohio State University. His two daughters spoke to the crowd of his global impact and life.
While we did have fun during BHM 2016 there are somethings we can take with us into the new month and beyond. Check out this clip on how to snatch one of Beyoncé’s many looks from “Formation.”