"Light n***a, dark n***a, faux n***a, real n***a, poor n***a, rich n***a, house n***a, field n***a...still n***a".
The hook to the recent popular and controversial "The Story of OJ" song by rap megastar Jay-Z may have ruffled a few feathers with the overuse of the "N word" ,a Hip Hop term of endearment, or one that is culturally insensitive(depending on who you ask), but his message was very clear throughout the song. There are many different variations of African American people, but at the end of the day we are all BLACK. Since that's the case one would think African American would be a united force fighting their way through the struggles of being black in America in 2017 right? Wrong. We definitely know how to stick together for things such as Black Lives Matter and various movements that are geared toward making a statement to other races, but what happens when the curtains are closed in our communities, shutting out the rest of the world?
Recent headlines in black pop culture or should I say the reactions to recent headlines have illustrated exactly how treat each other as a whole. Over the past few weeks we've seen black idols in entertainment splashed across many online platforms, but I'll be mainly focusing on Usher, Bobby Valentino, and Rihanna.
So by now we all know the story that R&B superstar Usher is in the news for allegedly exposing several people to herpes. Two of the three accusers have remained anonymous but Quantasia Sharpton held a press conference stating her truth. Now the issue at hand is problematic enough if proved to be true but the bigger issue is the nasty criticism being thrown at Sharpton. Comments like "Usher went from Chili to chitterlings" and "If she's suing for catching herpes, he should sue for catching diabetes", all references to her weight have been floating around in various memes. The spotlight was quickly shifted to weight shaming instead of the state of sexual health amongst African Americans in this country. Even if the accusation proves to be an untruth, another angle that needs to be addressed is a possible mental health issue for Sharpton. Mental health is still a taboo topic in the community. Calling her crazy isn't a resolution.
Another story that has become equally popular is the viral video of singer Bobby Valentino leaving a trans woman's apartment for allegedly not paying for sexual services. Once again, the focus should be on the transgender community sexual solitation rate. African American trans women face many struggles that often leave them ossercized from society. Many have difficulty finding employment which leads to homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and prostitution. The majority of the comments being tossed around all pertain to shaming Bobby Valentino for his alleged sexual preference. Even other celebrities in the hip hop culture have made made transphobic remarks regarding this story. We are showing Valentino that if the allegations made against him are true, he can't live in his truth without dealing with peers both personally and professionally judging him. Instead, we have created the story line that he must have been "tricked" because there's no way on earth a black man would have sex with a trans woman knowingly, and that she should be physically harmed or killed for non disclosure. So far, 16 murders of African American trans women have been reported this year. As sad as this information is the only conversation on the table is Bobby Valentino being a "Tranny F****r".
Lastly, Pop songstress Rihanna "broke the internet" after posting a photo wearing a costume at the crop over festival held in Barbados(her native country). The very sexy picture received thousands of comments regarding her body; many celebrating her curves. Within a few hours, the conversation quickly turned into photoshop accusations and comparisons to other beautiful women attendees of the festival. Some went as far to post side by side photos with captions such as "Rihanna who?". One woman received wind of her photo floating around in competition with the Barbadian beauty and she took to social media to say "She's beautiful. Please don't put me in a competition I don't want to be apart of". I'm sure Rihanna just wanted to share something special with her fans but what she didn't know is that she stirred up a popular tactic of pitting women of color against each other as if there can only be one in each category. We've seen this displayed in the media over the years with everyone from Naomi Campbell vs Tyra Banks to even sisters Venus and Serena Williams.
The headlines above at a first glance just seem like another day in entertainment news, but what I see is a cry for help yet no one is listening. The phrase "woke" has become very popular due to the current political climate but as a whole it seems we as African Americans are still fast asleep. We are so quick to defend ourselves against other races, but when are we going to learn to lift up our fellow brothers and sisters? We are so distracted having endless conversations about the wrong issues. I challenge you to dissect the next story you read on your favorite entertainment blog and ask yourself. What is the real problem here? We can no longer be a victim of being our own worst enemy. It's time to find what issues we are passionate about and become advocates in our communities, and realize we are all in this together because as the saying goes... United we stand; divided we fall.