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Special featuring Sean Diddy Combs, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Snoop Dogg and others to highlight disproportionate impact

Celebrities have highlighted the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people of color in the US, which is especially stark in cities.

Latinos across the US are disproportionately getting sick from coronavirus. In some regions they are infected and hospitalized at up to three times the rate of white Americans, a Guardian analysis found.

In a survey conducted across 14 US states, the CDC recently found that 33% of people who had been hospitalized with Covid-19 were African American, yet they represented only around 13% of the population of those states. According to research from Johns Hopkins University. of 26 states reporting racial data, African Americans account for 34% of Covid-related deaths.

The facts are sobering, theyre depressing and theyre tragic, said musician and entrepreneur Sean Diddy Combs during CNNs The Color of Covid one-hour special on Saturday night. African Americans helped to build this country and make this country great. We dont deserve to be in this position. We dont deserve to always be thought of last.

I want to say to my people: Lets not wait on nobody to save us. Lets use this as a reset, Combs added.

Combs was joined by actor America Ferrera, composer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda and rapper Snoop Dogg. Basketball legend Magic Johnson also joined the broadcast, which was hosted by Don Lemon and and political commentator Van Jones.

If theres anything I can tell you, we got to do what were supposed to do, Johnson said. Stay at home, social distancing. You cant have car parties, you cant have parties at all, you cant have gatherings at all. You must stay at home and practice social distancing. This is killing our community, this virus.

We need each other now more than ever before, said Miranda. Stay home if you can, stay safe.

Latinos make up a large proportion of the essential workforce of grocery store staff, restaurant workers, caretakers, cleaners and delivery workers, and are putting themselves at the frontline of the pandemic. Many are unable to access healthcare systems and unemployment benefits that could bring relief.

Ferrera drew attention to US farmworkers, around 80% of whom identify as Latino, according to Farmworker Justice.

I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all, Ferrera said. Theyre putting their lives and health on the line by planting, picking, and packing the food we all need.

But, she noted, farmworkers are reporting that they do not have enough food to feed their own families. Even though the government has deemed them essential workers, they are being denied essential benefits. These frontline workers need our help.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health, said last week that the crisis is shining a bright light on how unacceptable that is, because yet again, when you have a situation like the coronavirus, [minority communities] are suffering disproportionately.

Snoop Dogg said he joined the broadcast to send some words of encouragement to all of my people out there.

Yo, I want you to have some fun, I want you to make the most of your time at home, the rapper said. Spend some time with your loved ones, get in tune with yourself. Go to Instagram, watch some funny stuff, check out some good movies. Keep your spirits up.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/19/celebrities-decry-coronavirus-disproportionate-impact-blacks-latinos-us

In an extract from Set the Night on Fire: LA in the Sixties, Mike Davis and Jon Wiener look past the sun and surf to a radical fight for equality and justice

In August 1965, thousands of young Black people in Watts set fire to the illusion that Los Angeles was a youth paradise.

Since the debut of the TV show 77 Sunset Stripin 1958, followed by the first of the Gidgetromance films in 1959 and then the Beach Boys Surfin USA in 1963, teenagers in the rest of the country had become intoxicated with images of the endless summer that supposedly defined adolescence in southern California.

Edited out of utopia was the existence of a rapidly growing population of more than 1 million people of African, Asian, and Mexican ancestry. Their kids were restricted to a handful of beaches; everywhere else, they risked arrest by local cops or beatings by white gangs. As a result, Black surfers were almost as rare in LA as unicorns. Economic opportunity was also rationed.

Surfers
Surfers in Malibu, 1965. Photograph: Jonathan Blair/Corbis via Getty Images

During the first half of the 60s, hundreds of brand-new college classrooms beckoned to white kids with an offer of free higher education, while factories and construction sites begged for more workers. But failing inner-city high schools with extreme dropout rates reduced the college admissions of Black and brown youth to a small trickle. Despite virtually full employment for whites, Black youth joblessness dramatically increased, as did the index of residential segregation. If these were truly golden years of opportunity for white teenagers, their counterparts in South Central and East LA faced bleak, ultimately unendurable futures.

But LAs streets and campuses in the 60s also provided stages for many other groups to assert demands for free speech, equality, peace and justice. Initially these protests tended to be one-issue campaigns, but the grinding forces of repression above all the Vietnam draft and the LAPD drew them together in formal and informal alliances.

Thus LGBT activists coordinated actions with youth activists in protest of police and sheriffs dragnets on Sunset Strip, in turn making Free Huey one of their demands. When Black and Chicano high school kids blew out their campuses in 196869, several thousand white students walked out in solidarity. A brutal LAPD attack on thousands of middle-class antiwar protesters at the Century Plaza Hotel in 1967 hastened the development of a biracial coalition supporting Tom Bradley, a liberal Black council member, in his crusade to wrest City Hall from rightwing populist Sam Yorty.

A
A air of Black Panther party buttons, one reading Free Huey in reference to Huey P Newton, co-founder of the party. Photograph: The Frent Collection/Corbis via Getty Images

In the same period, the antiwar movement joined hands with the Black Panthers to form Californias unique Peace and Freedom Party. There are many other examples. By 1968, as a result, the movement resembled the music of LA free jazz pianist Horace Tapscotts Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra: simultaneous solos together with unified crescendos. Historians of 60s protests have rarely studied the reciprocal influences and interactions across such broad spectrum of constituencies, and these linkages are too often neglected in memoirs, but they provide a principal terrain of our analysis.

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The 60s in LA have obvious bookends. The year 1960 saw the appearance of social forces that would coalesce into the movements of the era, along with the emergence of a new agenda for social change, especially around what might be called the issue of issues: racial segregation. In LA, those developments overlapped with the beginning of the regime of Sam Yorty, elected mayor in 1961. 1973, on the other hand, marked not only the end of protest in the streets but also the defeat of Yorty and the advent of the efficient, pro-business administration of Tom Bradley.

There were also three important turning points that subdivide the long decade. 1963 was a rollercoaster year that witnessed the first: the rise and fall of the United Civil Rights Committee, the most important attempt to integrate housing, schools and jobs in LA through non-violent protest and negotiation. (Only Detroit produced a larger and more ambitious civil rights united front during what contemporaries called Birmingham Summer.) In California it brought passage of the states first Fair Housing Act repealed by referendum the following year in an outburst of white backlash.

1965, of course, saw the second turning point, the so-called Watts Riots. The third, 1969, began as a year of hope with a strong coalition of white liberals, Blacks and newly minted Chicanos supporting Bradley for mayor. He led the polls until election eve, when Yorty counterattacked with a vicious barrage of racist and red-baiting appeals to white voters. Bradleys defeat foreclosed, at least for the foreseeable future, any concessions to the citys minorities or liberal voters. Moreover, it was immediately followed by sinister campaigns, involving the FBI, the district attorneys office, and both the LAPD and LA county sheriffs, to destroy the Panthers, Brown Berets and other radical groups.

Joan
Joan Didion evoked a sense of dread in her essay collection The White Album. Photograph: Julian Wasser/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

This is the true context underlying the creeping sense of dread and imminent chaos famously evoked by Joan Didion in her 1979 essay collection, The White Album. If helter skelter was unleashed after 1970, the Manson gang were bit players compared to the institutions of law and order. For the past half century, a number of stereotypes have framed our recollections of this age of revolt, but the Los Angeles experience confounds most cliches. In the standard narrative, for instance, college students, organized as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Free Speech Movement (FSM) in Berkeley, were the principal social actors, and the great engine rooms of protest were found at huge public university campuses in places like Berkeley, Madison, Ann Arbor, and Kent. (The exceptions, according to this narrative, were some historical Black colleges and Ivy League Columbia.)

In Los Angeles, however, it was junior and senior high schools that were the principal battlefields, and the majority of protesters were Black and brown. Indeed, as many as 20,000 inner-city teenagers and their white Westside allies participated in walkouts and demonstrations between 1967 and 1970. Members of college radical groups as well as the Black Panther party played significant roles as advisers to these protests, but the indigenous teenage leadership was most important. These struggles recruited hundreds of kids to groups like the Panthers and Brown Berets and gave birth to a unique high school New Left formation, the Red Tide.

The terrain of college protest in Los Angeles also differed from that of the mainstream. Of the two flagship local universities, the University of Southern California was a citadel of campus Republicanism, birthplace of Nixons so-called USC Mafia (and, as it turned out, the alma mater of several Watergate conspirators). UCLA, for its part, saw only episodic mass protests, most notably during Nixons invasion of Cambodia in spring 1970. The real homes of sustained student activism were the three inner-city community colleges (LA City College, Southwest College and East LA College), along with Cal State LA and Valley State (later Cal State, Northridge).

The latter was the site of a 196970 uprising by the Black Student Union and SDS that was quelled by police batons, mass arrests, and a staggering 1,730 felony charges against Black students: repression on a scale that rivaled or exceeded the more famous battles at San Francisco State.

The
The Black Panther minister of information, Eldridge Cleaver, addresses an estimated 7,500 students at UCLA in 1968. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Historians and political scientists have generally conceded that the one hundred or so ghetto insurrections of the 1960s should be regarded as genuine protests, but they have usually described them as leading to mere chaos and demoralization. Conventionally, rioters have been portrayed as the opposites of organizers and builders. This does not describe events in Los Angeles.

The 1965 explosion unified and energized a generation of young Black people, ended gang conflict for a number of years, and catalyzed the extraordinary Watts Renaissance, the citys most important arts and literary movement of the decade. Black Power became an aspiration shared by thousands, and in 1967 this grassroots unity found expression in the emergence of LAs Black Congress the more radical successor to the United Civil Rights Committee. It included SNCC, the Black Student Alliance, the Che-Lumumba Club of the Communist Party, the Black Panthers, and the powerful Us organization (or Organization Us) led by Ron Karenga. (The congress would later be destroyed by a violent conflict between Us and the Panthers, instigated and fueled by the FBIs secret Cointelpro program.)

Contests over public space were also extraordinarily important in Los Angeles. In part this was the legacy of earlier decades when the LAPDs notorious Red Squad had been the enforcer of the anti-union open shop doctrine, and when city hall supplied draconian anti-picketing and antifree speech ordinances. The 60s saw a renewal of this unsavory tradition.

Police
Police search African American youths in 1966. Photograph: Everett/Rex Shutterstock

The LAPD, aided by the LA county sheriffs, conducted an unending siege of bohemian Venice, tried to drive teenyboppers and hippies off Sunset Strip, regularly broke up peaceful love-ins and rallies in Griffith and Elysian Parks, suppressed lowriders on Whittier Boulevard, harassed kids selling the underground LA Free Press, raided coffeehouses and folk clubs, and invoked obscenity as an excuse to crack down on artists, poets and theater groups. No other major city outside of the deep south was subjected to such a fanatic and all-encompassing campaign to police space and control the night. Along with minorities, many young whites were also routinely victimized, leading hatred of the LAPD to grow into a common culture of resistance.

The cops, however, had a formidable opponent in the ACLU of Southern California, the national organizations most hard-charging and activist affiliate. When national ACLU director Roger Baldwin and a majority of the national leadership publicly embraced anti-communism in the late 1940s, AL Wirin, ACLU SoCals legendary chief counsel, pointedly challenged the ban on representing Communist party members in trial proceedings, taking on several cases in private practice.

Moreover, in 1952, the local branch chose as its new director Eason Monroe, a state college professor from San Francisco who had been fired for refusing to sign a loyalty oath. A decade later, Monroe charted a novel course for the affiliate by not only defending the local civil rights coalition in court but also joining in its leadership. Significantly, it was an ACLU team, led by UCLA professor John Caughey and his wife LaRee, that launched the legendary 1963 lawsuit to force integration of LAs de facto Jim Crow school system an effort that would reverberate for three decades. No other ACLU branch claimed such a large role in the decades protest movements.

Understanding Los Angeles in the 60s also requires rewriting the histories of gay liberation and the womens movement. Indeed, New York City was not the origin and center of everything. Los Angeles had the first gay street protest in America over police raids on the Black Cat Bar in Silver Lake, two years before the Stonewall uprising; it had the first gay church the Metropolitan community church, now the largest gay institution in the world; and it had the first officially recognized gay pride parade on Hollywood Boulevard in 1970. LA also witnessed the nations first police raid on a womens health clinic, following which the organizers were tried for practicing medicine without a license.

Finally, the course of events in Los Angeles challenged the myth that the Old Left was irrelevant in the 60s and that the New Left had invented itself ex nihilo. The Communist party, for its part, never appears in the standard narrative except as an unattractive corpse. But in Los Angeles its most unruly and dissident branch remained very much alive under the charismatic and eventually heretical leadership of Dorothy Healey.

Two
Two young Chicano men during a protest in Los Angeles, 1970. Photograph: BBC/David Fenton/Getty Images

Despite the partys devastating losses following Soviet secretary Nikita Khrushchevs 1956 Crimes of Stalin speech, Healey was determined to resurrect what she could of the 1940s Popular Front and to reach out to the new radicals on campus, in the ghettos and in the barrios. Still under the threat of a prison sentence, she found a niche at KPFK, the new 75,000-watt Pacifica Radio FM station, in 1959, where her Communist Commentaryimpressed even hostile listeners with its intelligence and wit although it almost cost the station its license. In 1966 she ran in the primary for county tax assessor and received a staggering 85,000 votes. By then the local Communist party had confidentially rebuilt many of its links with progressives in the Democratic party and had assumed an important role in the Peace Action Council. Its youth members, relatively unconstrained by a party line or adult control, played innovative roles in the early 60s, including participation in Southern Freedom Rides, and later, more influentially, as the Che-Lumumba Club which would become the political base of Angela Davis. For two generations Healey defined radicalism in the public eye.

This is a movement history of Los Angeles that looks at the city from the vantage points of its flatland neighborhoods and bohemian beaches where the young heroes of this story lived. We have tried to give human faces to social forces, to understand rebellion as a constant debate about goals and tactics, and to recall the passions of struggle, especially the power of love. It was also important to describe in some detail the machinery of racial oppression that kept good schools, well-paid jobs and suburban homes out of the reach of people living inside the citys ghettos and barrios.

At epic moments in the long decade the United Civil Rights campaign in 1963, the Watts uprising in 1965, and the wave of high school revolts from 1966 to 1969 the movement tried mightily to break through to the other side, only to face the batons and drawn guns of the LAPD. By 1973, repression had dug nearly 100 graves and put more than 10,000 protesters in jail or prison. An enormous effort has been made to trivialize the 60s and to bury its dreams in a paupers grave. But its unruly ghost, like that of the 1930s, still shakes its chains in the nightmares of elites.

  • Set the Night on Fire: LA in the Sixties, by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener (Verso), is out now

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/15/los-angeles-black-brown-activism-1960s

From Lil Nas X to Billy Porter on the Grammys red carpet, Yee Haw fashion is everywhere. It is helping to finally put black cowboys, long erased from history, on the agenda Read more from the spring/summer 2020 edition of The Fashion, our biannual style supplement

I have been archiving the black cowboy experience online for about a year. Ive lived in Texas for most of my life and have always been interested in the aesthetic.

I think the ubiquity of the white American cowboy myth reflects a lot of deep-rooted ideas about heteronormativity and whiteness in the US. It also speaks to the historical erasure of the black cowboy most people dont know that one in four cowboys were actually black.

I called the movement, and my Instagram account, which began in March 2019, the Yee Haw Agenda as a play on the gay agenda. A lot of straight people have issues with gay people or gay content being so popular and feeling as if its being forced on to children, which Ive always thought was ridiculous. This has never made sense to me because the LGBTQI community has contributed so much to culture in general, stuff that they havent been credited for. Its similar to the way black cowboys have not been historically credited. There are people who actually hate the term Yee Haw Agenda, but its funny to me because it was never meant to be as serious as it has become.

Mary
Mary J Blige in 2000. Photograph: Steve Azzara/Corbis via Getty Images

Black erasure is something thats happened since the beginning of time. Its still happening today, because the chairmen, the CEOs, the company heads, the people behind the scenes and the people who are in positions to actually change things still all look the same the same as they have always looked. So I think its great and important when something becomes so popular, like Yee Haw. It means people cant ignore the disparity any more. And the people in power are forced to open the doors that have been closed for so long. These days I think social media plays a huge part in that.

Historically, the most significant Yee Haw looks have included Diana Rosss cowgirl style for her 1969 TV special, the Gap Bands look from the early 80s, singer Nicole Wrays artwork for her first album in 1998 and Lil Kims look in the 1999 Get Naked music video with Tommy Lee. But the first person that comes to mind, when I think about who exudes the Yee Haw look as we know it today, is Mary J Blige. I dont think she gets the praise for taking as many chances as she did, style wise, in the late 90s and early 00s, but she was never afraid of a good cowboy hat and boot combo. I would include Destinys Child in there as well. They always made being from Texas look fly, even though they got criticised for some of their earlier outfits.

Destinys
Destinys Child in 2001. Photograph: Sipa/REX/Shutterstock

Lil Nas X was very significant to Yee Haw: Old Town Road is literally the biggest song of all time [the song holds the record for the longest time at number one in chart history], so it goes without saying. Seeing his rise was entertaining and made perfect sense, because hes really good at using the internet to his advantage. His stylist, Hodo Musa, is also amazing: my jaw always hits the floor when I see the looks they put together. A lot of the older people who have a problem with him now, mainly forgotten homophobic hip-hop stars, cant keep up with his wit. He always deflects any shade thrown his way.

Recently, I saw an Out magazine headline that read The Gay Yeehaw Agenda Hit The Grammys Red Carpet, accompanied by a photo of Lil Nas X, Billy Porter and Orville Peck [all of whom wore cowboy hats to the awards ceremony]. It made me smile. The only real agenda at this point is to continue to spread the word about Yee Haw so maybe the world wont be as shook the next time a black cowboy makes their presence known.

Diana
Diana Ross in 1979. Photograph: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Right now, Im just taking things a day at a time, with the growth of the account [Malandro now has 13.5k followers on Instagram]. I spoke at a festival a few months ago and got to meet some amazing people who participate in the rodeos of today. Im working on incorporating them into the movement and helping put a spotlight on more active cowboys and cowgirls.

I dont think the Yee Haw movement will end any time soon, because its more than just one moment. There may be people who lose interest, like anything that sees a spike in popularity, but fashion will always repeat itself and black cowboys will still be there, like theyve always been.

As told to Priya Elan

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/feb/21/one-in-four-cowboys-were-black-the-yee-haw-agendas-founder-on-the-politics-of-cowboy-style

The actor and activist has backed up Harrys desire to protect his family, while Stormzy has said there is no credible reason to dislike Meghan

Hugh Grant has defended Prince Harrys decision to step back from formal royal duties and seek a self-financed life based partly in Canada.

Speaking on Andy Cohens Radio Andy show on Sirius XM, Grant said: Im rather on Harrys side. The tabloid press effectively murdered his mother, now theyre tearing his wife to pieces.

Grant was reminding listeners of the circumstances surrounding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was in a vehicle being pursued by paparazzi, which then crashed, killing three of the four passengers, in Paris in August 1997.

Grant added: I think as a man, its his job to protect his family, so Im with him.

Grant was promoting his new film, The Gentleman, alongside co-stars Charlie Hunnam and Matthew McConaughey. In the film, Grant plays a seedy and unscrupulous tabloid reporter.

Grant has been a vociferous campaigner against press intrusion for nearly 10 years. His activism stepped up after the revelation that the voicemail of murdered teenager Milly Dowler had been hacked by the News of the World.

In 2018, Grant donated a payout from Mirror Group Newspapers to the Hacked Off anti-hacking campaign. MGN apologised to Grant and others for its morally wrong actions in hacking their phones.

Speaking to Cohen, Grant described his relationship with the tabloids as very poor.

Grants defence of Harry again pits him against longtime antagonist Piers Morgan, the former editor of the Daily Mirror with whom Grant frequently clashes on Twitter. Morgan has called the Duke and Duchess of Sussex the two most spoiled brats in history.

Grant won considerable acclaim for his portrayal of the disgraced Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe in the Stephen Frears miniseries A Very English Scandal, which was broadcast in 2018. The Gentleman has earned more mixed reviews so far.

Speaking on Tuesday, the musician Stormzy also came to the couples defence, saying there was no credible reason for people not to like Meghan.

In
In the firing line Stormzy. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

In an interview with New York radio station Hot 97, he said: Meghan is a sweet woman, she does her thing and they just hate her.

The rapper referred to a clip of Eamonn Holmes on TalkSport, where the presenter says: I look at her and I think: I dont think Id like you.

Stormzy said that if those expressing such sentiments were made to write down the reasons for their negativity, they would find there was nothing credible to it.

He also discussed the backlash to an interview he recently gave in which he was asked whether he believed Britain was racist, to which he replied Yes, 100%.

The quote was taken out of context by numerous outlets to imply he believed the UK was entirely racist. Its the classic media spin, he said.

They know what theyre doing. Theyre weaponising what I said. A lot of people thought I was trying to incite division but thats what [the media] did, really.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/jan/15/hugh-grant-defends-harry-tabloids-effectively-murdered-mother-stormzy-meghan

From Black Lives Matter to #OscarsSoWhite, the decade would not have been the same without black voices on social media

There is power in numbers. No internet subsection displayed this fact better than Black Twitter, which touched nearly every sphere of American culture and politics this decade.

In the 2010s Black Twitter become a cultural force to be reckoned with.It promoted Black Lives Matter and raised awareness around the tragic deaths of Sandra Bland and Eric Garner through hashtags such as #SayHerName and #ICantBreathe. Its anger over Kevin Harts homophobic tweets pressured him to drop out as a host for the 2018 Oscars ceremony. It pressured Pepsi to retract and apologize for a Kendall Jenner-fronted commercial accused of co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement. It created hundreds of delightfully viral moments such as eyebrows on fleek.And it helped a wild 180-tweet thread in which a stripper recounts an adventure-filled road trip to Florida become an A24-produced, feature-length film.

I would absolutely say this decade wouldnt be the same without Black Twitter, says the UVA professor Meredith D Clark, who is currently writing a book on the internet subsection. But I also think it was a continuation of our larger relationship with black American communities. Black culture has been actively mined for hundreds of years for influences on mainstream American culture.

Bizzle Osikoya (@bizzleosikoya)

Caption This pic.twitter.com/HtPDWwqVWG

July 21, 2017

The thrill and intrigue of scrolling through Black Twitter often crossed cultural and racial lines. At the risk of getting randomly harshed on by the Internet, I cannot keep quiet about my obsession with Late Night Black People Twitter, an obsession I know some of you other white people share, because it is awesome, Choire Sicha wrote for The Awl in 2010, before Black Twitter had become the accepted moniker.

Defining Black Twitter continues to be difficult. The meaning is slightly amorphous, but it refers to a particular collective of black identities and voices on Twitter taking part in collective, culturally specific jokes and dialogues that affect the community from discussing colorism to dishing out jokes about common black mom phrases.

The Georgia Tech professor Andr Brock says Black Twitter allowed mainstream, white culture an unprecedented glimpse at how black people talk and joke among each other.It was one of the first spaces that white people could see how creative black people are with our discourse, and how we used a technology that wasnt originally designed for us.

Free Atlas (@Hampton)

When Popeyes made that Chicken Sandwich pic.twitter.com/9GaTWitcDg

August 20, 2019

One of the first viral Black Twitter moments of the decade came in response to the documentary Kony 2012, a 30-minute YouTube film that looked at the kidnappings of Ugandan children by a guerrilla group and efforts to find them. The video received over 120m views in only five days and redefined what virality meant, with donations towards the cause quickly surging.

However, members of Black Twitter were some of the first to criticize Invisible Children, the charity behind the film, for its sources of funding and misleading reporting. The critiques were surprisingly nuanced for a social media space, some citing the call for donations as another incident of slacktivism, a term used for low scale, feel-good displays of charity. Invisible Childrens campaign quickly faded in popularity, and the charity later struggled to survive after its viral moment.

This would be the power of Black Twitter over the course of the decade a diligent, occasionally merciless watchdog for problematic behavior.

Calling out cultural appropriation was a chief focus of the space in the early 2010s. Celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Kendall Jenner and Miley Cyrus were critiqued (and roasted) for adopting traditionally black hairstyles and/or dances. Its ability to prevent major business deals would also be flexed. In 2013, Black Twitters outrage was largely responsible for corporations ending their affiliations with chef Paula Deen after she admitted to using the n-word. Later, a juror from the 2013 George Zimmerman trial lost out on a major book deal when Black Twitter voiced disapproval. Users were able to directly put pressure on the jurors literary agent, Sharlene Martin. You know that the stains from blood money dont wash off, right? one user wrote at the time.

timanni (@positiviTeee)

How the world portrays Jesus vs how the Bible describes him. #MetGala pic.twitter.com/AOSrHDIaY8

May 8, 2018

Here are just some of the celebrities and companies Black Twitter cancelled this decade: Roseanne, Pepsi, Meghan McCain, Gucci, Don Lemon, Iggy Azalea, Karamo Brown, Jeffree Star, Jussie Smollett, Kevin Hart, Kanye West, TI, Jay-Z, the NFL, Gina Rodriguez, Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Brown, Matt Damon.

Brock says the litany of cancellations that occurred on Black Twitter this decade were not simply rooted in anger and outrage, as media outlets frequently depicted them. They were moments of catharsis. People who have been affronted or hurt or wounded finally had a voice to make gatekeepers take notice, he says.

Clark says the subsection is not a monolith, but actually composed of numerous, small personal communities and networks, which then band together when an incendiary event or something that triggers discussion occurs.

Clark argues the term Black Twitter often led to racial biases (ie, depictions of the group as an angry mob) during media coverage. Whenever you put black in front of anything, people think its deviant from whats mainstream. I think that led to a lot of confusion for folks who were outside of Black Twitter. The term doesnt necessarily signal the cultural richness we found within the space.

Black Twitter has its roots in the low-tech forums and blogs of the early aughts.

Black
Black Twitter has raised awareness around the tragic deaths of Sandra Bland and Eric Garner through hashtags such as #SayHerName and #ICantBreathe. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Brock says, prior to 2010, black-centric blogs would try to pressure mainstream media into covering underreported topics, like 2006s Jena Six case (which saw activists protesting the excessive charges six black boys faced for beating a white classmate). Lipstick Alley, BlackPlanet, OkayPlayer, Crunk and Disorderly these sites were digital watering holes for early black internet users. However, their presence was nowhere near the scale or visibility of Black Twitter.

Blogs couldnt talk back to media in real time the same way Twitter can, Brock says. That ability to talk back to corporations and media, and for the talk back to be visible is what distinguishes Black Twitter from previous incidents of black communities online.

During the 2010s, Black Twitter would prevent the tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and too many others from being glossed over by news outlets. It proved the power of a hashtag through well-crafted digital campaigns. One study found that the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was used over 1.7m times in the three weeks following a grand jurys decision not to indict the cop who killed Michael Brown.

However, there were downsides to the immense attention.

April Reign, who started the popular #OscarsSoWhite campaign, says media companies often surveilled the space, looking for ways to report on the black community without actually engaging with it. Its hard when you see someone who is having a profound discussion about a particular issue, and a media outlet will extract all these tweets and put a sentence at the end and call it an article, she says. That person got paid for writing the story and the media outlet got paid through advertising dollars for someone elses tweets. The person who wrote the tweets never sees a dime.

This would be a frequent problem throughout the decade, brands adopting popular phrases and jokes born in the space for advertisements. At 16, Kayla Newman had her eyebrows on fleek saying popularized through a re-circulated Vine video and became slang for flawless and perfection. Kaylas unique saying was used by brands like Dominos, Ihop and Dennys in advertising without her ever seeing a dime.

Denny’s (@DennysDiner)

hashbrowns on fleek

September 30, 2014

I gave the world a word, Kayla Newman told the writer Doreen St Felix in 2015. I cant explain the feeling. At the moment I havent gotten any endorsements or received any payment. I feel that I should be compensated. But I also feel that good things happen to those who wait.

There would be numerous occasions where Black Twitters lexicon provided new terms for popular culture: thot, bae, cuffing season, throwing shade, lit, turnt up. The exchanges were fun (even if they were often misused by white people), until companies began using the slang to sell T-shirts and other miscellaneous products online.

Of course, there were also major winners from the space. For the lucky, success on Black Twitter could be monetized. Lil Nas X who broke boundaries as an out gay, black man in rap and country mastered the arts of memes, retweets and follows to make his song Old Town Road an unexpected viral hit. Lil Nas X was allegedly able to go from running a Nicki Minaj stan account, under the handle @NasMaraj, to Grammy-nominated artist. (Lil Nas X has not confirmed running @NasMaraj, despite reporting, urls and time stamps strongly suggesting he did.)

Lil
Lil Nas X at the 47th annual American Music Awards, in Los Angeles, 24 November 2019. Photograph: Stewart Cook/REX/Shutterstock

Meanwhile, the social media accounts of fast-food chains like Popeyes and Wendys connected with audiences and sold product through lifting phrases and slang from black and gay communities on Twitter.

Elsewhere, the comedian Shiggy became an internet star when he danced to Drakes In My Feelings record, creating the dance challenge of 2018 and later appearing in the rappers video for the track.

As 2019 comes to an end, the power of Black Twitter is being demonstrated through the 2020 presidential campaigns. Joe Bidens story about CornPop, a racially charged pool confrontation in the 60s, provided the basis for numerous memes. Kamala Harris virality on Black Twitter was so strong that Maya Rudolph, while impersonating Harris on SNL, joked Mama needs a GIF! to boost her poll numbers. And conversations about reparations once thought of as a far-fetched, in-group topic were held by major candidates.

Ira Madison III (@ira)

Kamala Harris seems like shed suggest splitting up in a haunted house

July 29, 2019

Brock believes the outsized influence and visibility of Black Twitter will continue through the 2020s. As much as people complain about Twitter, it has a mindshare wildly out of proportion with its user base, he explains. I dont see a service that offers that same level of access, distribution, and open conversation on the horizon.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/dec/23/ten-years-black-twitter-watchdog

While most of us see ourselves as not racist, we continue to reproduce racist outcomes and live segregated lives

I am white. As an academic, consultant and writer on white racial identity and race relations, I speak daily with other white people about the meaning of race in our lives. These conversations are critical because, by virtually every measure, racial inequality persists, and institutions continue to be overwhelmingly controlled by white people. While most of us see ourselves as not racist, we continue to reproduce racist outcomes and live segregated lives.

In the racial equity workshops I lead for American companies, I give participants one minute, uninterrupted, to answer the question: How has your life been shaped by your race? This is rarely a difficult question for people of color, but most white participants are unable to answer. I watch as they flail, some giving up altogether and waiting out the time, unable to sustain 60 seconds of this kind of reflection. This inability is not benign, and it certainly is not innocent. Suggesting that whiteness has no meaning creates an alienating even hostile climate for people of color working and living in predominantly white environments, and it does so in several ways.

If I cannot tell you what it means to be white, I cannot understand what it means not to be white. I will be unable to bear witness to, much less affirm, an alternate racial experience. I will lack the critical thinking and skills to navigate racial tensions in constructive ways. This creates a culture in which white people assume that niceness is the answer to racial inequality and people of color are required to maintain white comfort in order to survive.

An inability to grapple with racial dynamics with any nuance or complexity is ubiquitous in younger white people who have been raised according to an ideology of colorblindness. I have been working with large tech companies whose average employees are under 30 years old. White employees are typically dumbfounded when their colleagues of color testify powerfully in these sessions to the daily slights and indignities they endure and the isolation they feel in overwhelmingly white workplaces. This pain is especially acute for African Americans, who tend to be the least represented.

While the thin veneer of a post-racial society that descended during the Obama years has been ripped away by our current political reality, most white people continue to conceptualize racism as isolated and individual acts of intentional meanness. This definition is convenient and comforting, in that it exempts so many white people from the system of white supremacy we live in and are shaped by. It is at the root of the most common kind of white defensiveness. If racists are intentionally and openly mean, then it follows that nice people cannot be racist. How often will a white person accused of racism gather as evidence to the contrary friends and colleagues to testify to their niceness; the charge cannot be true, the friend cannot be racist, because hes a really nice guy or she volunteers on the board of a non-profit serving under-privileged youth. Not meaning to be racist also allows for absolution. If they didnt mean it, it cannot and should not count.

Thus, it becomes essential for white people to quickly and eagerly telegraph their niceness to people of color. Niceness in these instances is conveyed through tone of voice (light), eye contact accompanied by smiling and the conjuring of affinities (shared enjoyment of a music genre, compliments on hair or style, statements about having traveled to the country the other is perceived to have come from or knowing people from the others community). Kindness is compassionate and often implicates actions to support or intervene. For example, I am having car trouble and you stop and see if you can help. I appear upset after a work meeting and you check in and listen with the intent of supporting me. Niceness, by contrast, is fleeting, hollow and performative.

In addition to niceness, proximity is seen as evidence of a lack of racism. Consider the claims many white people give to establish that they arent racist: I work in a diverse environment. I know and/or love people of color. I was in the Peace Corps. I live in a large urban city. These are significant because they reveal what we think it means to be racist. If I can tolerate (and especially if I enjoy and value) proximity, claims of proximity maintain, I must not be racist; a real racist cannot stand to be near people of color, let alone smile or otherwise convey friendliness.

In a 1986 article about black students and school success, Signithia Fordham and John Ogbu describe a fictive kinship between African Americans, a kinship that is not consanguineal (by blood) or affinal but derived from the assumption of shared experience. The racial kinship white people attempt to draw from niceness might be seen as a false or fabricated affinity. Most white people live segregated lives and in fact have no lasting cross-racial relationships. We are in the position to choose segregation and often do. The claims of non-racism that we make are therefore based on the most superficial of shared experiences: passing people of color on the street of large cities and going to lunch on occasion with a co-worker.

Note that our cursory friendliness does not come without strings. Consider the case of a white California woman who called the police this past May when a group of black Airbnb guests did not return her smile. The expectation is that the nod of approval, the white smile, will be reciprocated. This woman, like all the other white people who have called the police on people of color for non-existent offenses, vigorously denied she was racist. After all, she did smile and wave before reporting them.

I have heard many black Americans talk about the awkwardness of white people over-smiling. The act is meant to convey acceptance and approval while maintaining moral integrity, but actually conveys white racial anxiety. Over-smiling allows us to mask an anti-blackness that is foundational to our very existence as white. A fleeting benevolence, of course, has no relation to how black people are actually undermined in white spaces. Black friends have often told me that they prefer open hostility to niceness. They understand open hostility and can protect themselves as needed. But the deception of niceness adds a confusing layer that makes it difficult for people of color to decipher trustworthy allyship from disingenuous white liberalism. Gaslighting ensues.

The default of the current system is the reproduction of racial inequality. To continue reproducing racial inequality, the system only needs for white people to be really nice and carry on to smile at people of color, to go to lunch with them on occasion. To be clear, being nice is generally a better policy than being mean. But niceness does not bring racism to the table and will not keep it on the table when so many of us who are white want it off. Niceness does not break with white solidarity and white silence. In fact, naming racism is often seen as not nice, triggering white fragility.

We can begin by acknowledging ourselves as racial beings with a particular and limited perspective on race. We can attempt to understand the racial realities of people of color through authentic interaction rather than through the media or through unequal relationships. We can insist that racism be discussed in our workplaces and a professed commitment to racial equity be demonstratedby actual outcomes. We can get involved in organizations working for racial justice. These efforts require that we continually challenge our own socialization and investments in racism and put what we profess to value into the actual practice of our lives. This takes courage, and niceness without strategic and intentional anti-racist action is not courageous.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/16/racial-inequality-niceness-white-people

The story of the American cowboy is so white, which is frustrating for black riders right after the civil war, more than a quarter of cowboys were African American

I shot this on a trail ride with the Delta Hill Riders in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. The gentleman in the foreground, Joe Wrenn, organises this group ride every fall in the hilly terrain to the north of the Mississippi delta. Ive been going for a few years.

Trail rides are universal in the American cowboy tradition. In other states you might find thousands of people on a single ride. Here there were about 100 people, many riding, and others, who you cant see in the photo, on dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles.

Most of the delta region is completely flat. Up here, though, are rolling hills, which is where the group gets its name. The ride wasnt following a trail part of it was along an old logging road. We had all stopped for a break. People were relaxing, playing music and then, when we started back out, Joe drove the truck up alongside these three horses. I shot I dont know how many frames. I remember feeling so excited at getting both Joe and the kids on their horses silhouetted against that beautiful, late-afternoon sun bursting through. That is Joes grandson on the first horse.

Elsewhere, I have photographed a great-grandmother who had just turned 92 her husband, now deceased, was one of the first cowboys to start organising these rides in the delta. And Ive photographed little kids, maybe four or five, riding around a horse show.

Being a Delta Hill Rider is like being a member of a biker club. They have been riding horses for generations, and they take great pride in passing down the skills riding, grooming, competing from one generation to the next. The riders go to R&B clubs dressed as cowboys and the DJ will play cowboy songs and zydeco music.

My interest started by chance, in December 2016, when I was working as staff photographer at the university in Cleveland, Mississippi. I stumbled across a small group of riders during the annual parade and asked one of the riders if I could come and photograph where they keep their horses. He was excited that somebody was taking an interest. He invited me to a Black Heritage rodeo, which was happening the following month.

To begin with, I had very minimal knowledge of the deep history of black cowboys. Right after the civil war, more than a quarter of cowboys in the country were African American. But I think even people who have lived in the delta their whole life might not know about this. Mississippi is not really thought of as a cowboy state in the way that Texas or Oklahoma are. Beyond that, though, the story told of what the American cowboy is has been so white its John Wayne, the stoic white man. I know from oral-history interviews Ive started doing with [black] riders that this is frustrating for them. Theirs is a part of history that has been overlooked.

Meeting the Delta Hill Riders has been life-changing. I grew up in Maine, in a place that was not diverse. This was the first time in my life that I developed a deep connection with the African American community. I am really grateful for that. I feel like, if people made the time to get to know neighbours who were different from them, it would relieve a lot of the tension and divisive thinking that we have.

Rory Doyles CV

Rory
Photograph: Christopher P Michel

Born: Maine, 1983.

Trained: Journalism at St Michaels College, Vermont.

Influences: Ron Haviv, Diane Arbus, Alex Webb.

High point: The excitement of getting my first magazine assignment. It was a huge honour to have someone believe in my artistic approach.

Low point: I struggled to find an enjoyable career right out of university, and photojournalism helped me get out of that rut.

Top tip: Never feel as if youre done learning.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/dec/05/rory-doyles-best-photograph-the-black-cowboys-of-tallahatchie

Leading a creative revolution whose ripples were seen from Kanye to Donald Glover to Little Simz, Beyonc consigned the idea of performers sticking to the music to history

By now, its a cliche. You have as many hours in a day as Beyonc, the saying goes. You can find its words slapped on mugs, T-shirts and Instagram quotes or murmured into the bathroom mirror as a bleary-eyed morning affirmation. The backlash (largely led by white women) to this tongue-in-cheek attempt at self-motivation has already pointed out its blind spots around class. Of course, you, regular human with looming mounds of debt and bills, cant maximise your time like a pop star with entire creative and personal teams to eliminate her drudgery. Thats obvious.

But the sentiment that Beyonc would, at one point, have been a nobody just like you, with as much time to work with still holds true. Like her or not, she leveraged a childhood work ethic into a career that spreads beyond her role as a performer. Yes, Beyonc is a singer. Yes, she often co-writes. In addition, she is also an all-round entertainment mogul, directing documentaries and music visuals, executive-producing film soundtracks and commanding a wider, ephemeral level of cultural influence not to mention moving into fashion.

She isnt alone. Over the past decade, black labour in music has produced a new understanding of musicians as curators a word that neatly describes the ways black artistry has evolved with the times. As music has become more visual and omnipresent, weaving itself into ads, apps and other art forms, the most impactful acts of the 2010s have found ways to integrate those outlets into their own output: theyve become industries unto themselves. Music may be their anchor, but for everyone from Rihanna to Janelle Mone to Kanye West, its just one part of their contribution to culture. Working within the framework of an exploitative industry, these black musicians have created a space that allows for at least a semblance of autonomy.

Her
Her work functions like a mirror held up to black women … Janelle Mone performing in October. Photograph: Chelsea Lauren/WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

In January 2010, Beyonc announced a hiatus. She retired her Sasha Fierce alter ego and didnt release new recorded material until the following year. (For Beyonc, a hiatus only lasts 18 months.) It marked the first time she had put an explicit homage to soul, classic R&B and more ambitious arrangements ahead of profit. Shed never sounded blacker.

She also retired her father, Matthew Knowles, as her manager and took on that responsibility herself, via her company Parkwood Entertainment. When I decided to manage myself, it was important that I didnt go to some big management company, she said in 2013. I felt like I wanted to follow the footsteps of Madonna, and be a powerhouse and have my own empire and show other women when you get to this point in your career, you dont have to go sign with someone else and share your money and your success you do it yourself.

You can almost follow a direct line from this moment to her current work, which is increasingly pro-black, self-examining and intimate. Her quest for self-affirmation played out publicly when she came forward in 2015 as one of the artist-owners of streaming service Tidal, along with husband Jay-Z and just about every A-list musician around at the time. With more economic freedom came the ability to do as she pleases: that much was obvious from her heavily autobiographical self-titled album, surprise-released in 2013, then Lemonade in 2016.

This transition reverberates in the work of peers whove followed in her wake. On opposite sides of the pond, London rapper Little Simz and Afro-futuristic artist Janelle Mone embody the importance of owning the means of production. Simz self-released her first mixtape in 2010, aged 16, on label Age 101 a place for her and the rest of her Space Age rap collective to share their work. By 2013, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar had taken notice. Since then, Simz has branched off into comics, curated a genre-hopping festival Welcome to Wonderland: The Experience and returned to acting (see her now in the Netflix revival of Top Boy). Shes navigated the industry as both an eternal outsider and one of Britains most talented rappers, which seemed to frustrate her at first. The business caught up eventually a Mercury shortlisting here, some Radio 1 airplay there though these days she appears less bothered about external validation, perhaps having realised that the industry needs her more than vice versa.

Rihanna
Rihanna scaled unprecedented levels by becoming the first black woman to head up a luxury fashion brand. Photograph: Caroline McCredie/Getty Images for Fenty Beauty by Rihanna

Mone, meanwhile, co-founded the Wondaland Arts Society which is a film and TV production company, a record label and an organising core for activism in Atlanta. When she moved there from Kansas City in 2001, her art-pop sound and left-field approach soon piqued the interest of Outkasts Big Boi. He introduced her to fellow polymath Sean Combs, who signed her in 2006. As a producer, social justice activist and actor (Moonlight, Hidden Figures) she chooses to uplift black people while acknowledging our complexities. Her 2018 album Dirty Computer confronted questions of gender, sensuality and desire; she can model in a Cover Girl campaign, lead a Black Lives Matter march and be CEO of a record label all roles that show dark-skinned black women theyre more than a worn-out stereotype. Her work functions like a mirror held up to black women, offering them representation in ways that white gatekeepers wouldnt instinctively understand.

This decade, I watched black musicians defy other traditional gatekeepers in the hard-to-crack world of fashion. Like Beyonc, Rihanna entered music as a teen, signing to Def Jam at 17. Now, shes scaled unprecedented levels by becoming the first black woman to head up a luxury fashion brand, with Fenty in partnership with French company LVMH. At the start of the decade, few would have seen her evolution coming. During her Loud era, all shrill EDM production and flame-red hair, she felt easy to dismiss as a pop-machine puppet, singing words written by other people. Now shes a savvy businesswoman, equally at home with music as with philanthropy, acting, design and beauty. Her line Fenty Beauty has shaken the cosmetics industry to its core, forcing a diversity of makeup shades into the market as her competitors scramble to react a sign of what will become a norm. Her Savage x Fenty line does the same for lingerie, essentially ringing the death knell for the Victorias Secret catwalk show by employing a diverse cast of models, as she did at New York fashion week in September.

This matters on two levels. Rihannas success in fashion and beauty moves her away from seeming like a product that belongs to her record label. She becomes a person and force of her own Fenty, after all, is her real-life surname. And by steering all these seemingly disparate parts into one brand, she is creating a new set of norms for black art. Plenty of her peers have seen how investing in and executing a broader vision can support, rather than distract from, their music. Consider the likes of Tyler, the Creator, Solange, Kanye West, Dev Hynes, Frank Ocean and Donald Glover, and you realise how their multifaceted work shaped some of the most important western pop culture of the decade.

Our notions of what counts as black art no longer need to be defined by the global norths white mainstream. Since the 80s, black genres from hip-hop and house to R&B have led countercultures. But those genres used to be put into neat boxes black culture, to be consumed in specific ways and places, without needing to care about the experiences behind the work. Now, black music soundtracks global teendom. Now, Kanye West can endure being laughed out of fashion circles before turning Yeezy into a billion-dollar company. West brought a certain kind of self-conscious tastefulness to his work as a designer, continuing to kick back against convention just as he had as a middle-class art-school kid during his mid-2000s backpack-rap era. (Hardly the usual thug life backstory easier to sell to white consumers.) Glover, meanwhile, can rap (and sing) as Childish Gambino, and also create and executive produce a TV show as lush as Atlanta. Solange can create performance art, with installations for New Yorks Guggenheim and LAs Hammer Museum and Londons Tate Modern. Once you realise youre more than a preconceived notion of a black artist, or of black industry, entire worlds open up.

These
These polymaths show that you can eschew one neat categorisation and do so on your own terms … Donald Glover as Earn in Atlanta. Photograph: FX Productions

These musicians stories are aligned in a quest for true independence. Such a thing cant exist within the parameters of a business designed for profit historically, recording contracts let labels exploit artists. Yet this type of multifaceted black labour rebukes the idea that youre only worth the figure on your first contract. Frank Oceans Endless album/livestream, a quick way out of his Def Jam contract before he released Blonde, brought these delicate chess moves to life. One of the most boring critiques of Beyonc is that shes just a cog in a corporate machine. But the fact that any of these artists turn their talent into products doesnt negate their overall value.

Black children are always taught that we have to work twice as hard to gain half as much recognition. These displays of black labour, of a relentless drive to excel in various ways and a refusal to be defined by one skill, push that adage to an extreme. These polymaths show that you can eschew one neat categorisation and do so on your own terms. Black American fans of Beyonc would have recognised the cultural references others missed in Homecoming, her 2018 Coachella festival performance, an ode to historically black American universities. Later, it was turned into a Netflix special produced by you guessed it Parkwood Entertainment. The decade in Beyonc drew to a close with her executive-producing 2019s pan-African Lion King reboot soundtrack, The Gift, in addition to voicing Nala in the film.

The idea of performers just sticking to the music is all but dead. In the next decade, it may well become the norm for black artists to explore other creative avenues without being mocked or cut down. As pop music shifts away from English as lingua franca, new global acts could begin to dominate in spaces previously only held by this crop of multitalented public figures.

Seen at a glance, they can inadvertently make hard work appear effortless, and as though youre failing if youre not squeezing as much productivity out of every day as Beyonc. But that misses the point. These artists have poured buckets of themselves into these accomplishments, and have done so while working in an industry still mired in institutional racism, sexism and one that treats duty of care as an afterthought. They made the choice to seek self-determination sometimes at a high cost. What you do with your 24 hours is up to you.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/nov/19/work-work-work-beyonces-labour-of-liberation

Like other black conservatives, the rapper and designer downplays racism while promoting bootstrap virtue-signaling

Kanye Wests middle name, Omari, means God is highest. So it is fitting that the producer-rapper-designer has found himself spreading the gospel. While touring the country promoting his new album Jesus is King, West has professed commitment to his faith in what appears to be both a promotional and redemption tour. This weekend West will appear at the megachurch of the prosperity pastor Joel Osteen, who was caught in controversy for reportedly waiting days to open his church doors to Hurricane Harvey victims.

Over the decades of Kanye Wests career, the multi-hyphenate artist has been many things. It was perhaps inevitable that this would create some contradictions. Recently, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, West lectured a Gucci-wearing black lottery winner about the importance of eschewing luxury consumer goods even though West purchased his eldest daughter a $62,000 tiara when she was barely a year old.

While signifying black cultural and religious traditions his album is peppered with samples of black church staples like James Clevelands God Is West advances the gospel of white evangelicals. Although he has challenged conventions in nearly every aspect of his artistic life, Kanye West has been born again as a conservative.

Its easy to descend into overwrought analysis about Kanye Wests tortured genius. But perhaps the simplest way to understand Kanyes otherwise incoherent ideology is to remember that hes a rich man acting as a rich man does. His endeavors, including his path to salvation, are thus colored by his station in life. Jesus is King is a testimony, and a believably earnest one, about having gone through emotional depths and leaning on a higher spirit to come out on the other side. Having emerged relatively intact, West embraced the teachings of free market liberalism, not black liberation theology. While he may not fully preach the prosperity gospel, his brand of Christianity centering on personal salvation and individual triumphs, rather than communal uplift suggests hes at least a prosperity parishioner.

Like other black conservatives, West downplays systemic racism while promoting bootstrap virtue-signaling. His dad was a Black Panther and mom a participant in civil rights sit-ins, as he is prone to tell interviewers. But, he alleges, they looked past racism. Like Condoleezza Rice and Clarence Thomas referencing their black, southern roots, West wants to maintain some legitimacy in a community that he also wants to divorce. Hes a product of good old-fashioned hard work, he believes, and afforded the liberty to wear a Maga hat without scrutiny. This is not the liberation espoused by Moses or Harriet or Fred Hampton, but the personal freedom of white Nimbys and states-righters.

Viewed that way, it begins to make sense how Kanye could so flippantly claim slavery was a choice. This rhetoric is typical to the conservative framing of healthcare, housing, education and any other social service they assert should be unfettered by big government. This language is seductive, and it at least partly explains how 14% of black men who went to the polls in 2016 voted for Donald Trump. If the American right wing were not so tinged with white supremacy, it would likely attract even more. The demands of black men in a patriarchal society that both expects their leadership and extracts their resources can make any charlatan preaching about prosperity seem like a prophet.

The reality of black economic subjugation also means that black communities have created their own versions of the self-help paradigm, and it possibly shaped Kanyes worldview. Tenets of self-determination doing for self, and not relying on handouts from The Man are prevalent everywhere from the Nation of Islam to the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense to the New Afrikan Peoples Organization. But unlike the Reagan-era trickle-down bastardization of self-determination, doing for self was also paired with doing for each other.

It is through this self-help and communal-help prong of the black power movement that black liberation theology emerged in the midwest, including in Kanye Wests own hometown of Chicago. It grounded the teachings of Chicagos Jeremiah Wright, Detroits Albert Cleage, and Northwestern-trained James Cone. But these theologians were not millionaires arguing with Forbes about adding the adequate number of zeros in their net worth. Despite the trove of black church traditions West could pull from, he went in the opposite direction, associating with the Trumps and Osteens of the world. Aligning with power over people is merely Kanye doing what a rich man does.

While making remarks reminiscent of Bill Cosbys infamous pound cake speech, West descended into stream of consciousness ramblings with a Fast Company interviewer last month; he lambasted black people for wanting Popeyes chicken sandwiches and voting for the Democratic party. True to Kanyes trademark contradictions, he dedicated an entire track on Jesus is King to Chick-fil-A, the fried chicken sandwich maker owned by homophobic, evangelical Christians.

While Jesus may save Kanye West, black capitalism wont save the rest of us, no matter how many gospel samples accompany the self-serving proselytizing.

  • Malaika Jabali is a public policy attorney, writer and activist whose writing has appeared in Essence, Jacobin, the Intercept, Glamour and elsewhere

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/15/kanye-west-christian-conservative-prosperity-gospel

Incident has landed the prime minister in hot water as his Liberal party fights to secure another term in a tightly contested election

Canadians have long been aware that Justin Trudeau likes to dress up.

His tendency to appropriate dress and customs from other cultures has prompted gentle mockery from rival politicians and the media: on a trip to India last year, he was photographed in a kurta on numerous occasions. He has Indigenous art tattooed his shoulder. He wears Ramadan socks and dances to bhangra music.

But the emergence of three damning images of the Canadian prime minister in blackface have shattered the prime ministers carefully curated image as a progressive leader.

The incident has landed the prime minister in hot water as his Liberal party fights to secure another four-year term in a tightly contested federal election.

Trudeau quickly apologized Im pissed off at myself. Im disappointed in myself, he told reporters but the damage may already have been done, said Amarnath Amarasingam, a professor of religion at Queens University.

I have a difficult time seeing him wiggle his way out of this one. Hes not an authentic kind of messenger on the race issue. Hes not an authentic messenger on the discrimination issue because hes never led that conversation in the country before, he said.

The timing for Trudeau is particularly bad: only weeks ago, the prime minister publicly castigated the Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, over a recently unearthed video clip from 2005, in which Scheer expressed skepticism over the idea of gay marriage.

Scheer has seized on the blackface images, saying Trudeau has lost the moral authority to govern.

But the Conservative leader also has to grapple with that fact members of his own party have a history of racist or homophobic statements and social media posts. Scheer told reporters he would stand by candidates who showed genuine remorse for previous actions a standard he appeared unprepared to offer to Trudeau.

The more we get caught up in dichotomization of You said something racist and therefore youre bad, the more were likely to miss the real point, said Aditya Rao, an Ottawa-based human rights lawyer. I worry that people are looking to score political points off of this.

While Trudeau will likely sustain political damage in the coming days, hes unlikely to be facing an existential crisis, said Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto.

The immediate winners may be the leftwing New Democratic party. The NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, gave a powerful speech on Wednesday, in which he described the chilling impact the images had on him and on millions of other Canadians who faced racism growing up.

The kids that see this image, the people that see this image, are going to think about all the times in their life that they were made fun of, that they were hurt, that they were hit, that they were insulted, that they were made to feel less because of who they are, Singh said.

But that boost for the NDP may fade away as the election draws closer: progressive voters turned off by Trudeaus escapades are unlikely to transfer their support to Scheers party. A lot of those people will just fall back to the Liberals, because their primary objective will be to vote against the Conservatives Its going to be a rough few days for the Liberals, but I dont think its gonna move the needle in the polls much as the Conservatives might hope, said Wiseman.

Beyond the immediate political frenzy, the emergence of Trudeaus blackface images has also cast a spotlight on a deeper thread of systematic racism in Canada.

Canadas Indigenous population is disproportionately represented among murder victims, prison inmates and the child welfare system. First Nation communities struggle with enduring poverty and exclusion. Black residents of Toronto are 20 times more likely to be shot dead by the police than their white neighbours.

Canadians generally see racism through the lens of what we are not. We are not the United States. We are not Europe. Were not having tiki-torch marches, said Amarasingam. We always feel like were kind of above the rest when it comes to issues of race and racism and discrimination.

Balpreet Singh of the World Sikh Organization, describe Trudeaus use of blackface as mocking and hurtful but then pointed to Quebecs provincial government which recently introduced legislation banning public sector employees from wearing religious symbols a law that disproportionately targets visible minorities.

A picture of the prime minister in blackface is bad. But the fact that theres a province in Canada that is telling the members of certain religious groups that theyre second-class citizens and wont be employed thats really a thousand times worse, he said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/19/how-will-justin-trudeaus-blackface-photos-affect-canadas-federal-election