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Ye: White Dollars Matter

Left to Right: Rapper and Fashion Icon Ye and Conservative Political Commentator Candace Owens. Photo from PageSix.com

Reluctantly, I address the rapper and fashion icon Ye “White Lives Matter” t-shirt controversy. I’ve been hesitant to because, although I don’t know Ye personally, I’ve come to know his tactics. Right before he releases an album, a new shoe or style, he does something drastic. He gave his support to Donald Trump and then asked him on live TV to release incarcerated alleged Chicago gang leader Larry Hoover. Ye “ran” for president and then released an album shortly thereafter. Now, within a week of wearing a White Lives Matter t-shirt, news sources reveal he’s purchasing a conservative media company.

But is it OK for Ye to wear a White Lives Matter shirt? By asking that question, you’re giving him what he wants. Say what you will about Ye, but he’s a marketing genius. His critics will point to the interview he did for LeBron’s The Shop which was cut after the WLM stunt. The critics will use this as proof that Ye’s bound to fail.

However, LeBron has become a lighting rod for white conservative rage. They see him as a spoiled rich crybaby who’s perpetuating a false idea of Black racial oppression. From their perspective, Ye was exercising his right to free speech when he wore the WLM shirt. LeBron’s axing Ye’s interview is proof that those on the left are trying to rob Conservatives of their rights. No matter how little sense it makes, to Conservatives, Ye is the victim.

Moreover, Ye has been seen with Conservative commentator Candace Owens who’s made a living out of being the Black person who’ll say the hateful things white Conservatives won’t say publicly; it’s gotten her wealthy and notorious. She speaks out against Black people at every turn, attempting to brainwash them and lead them to slaughter as she makes a profit. Seeing how willing Conservatives are to pour money into Black people who publicly drag their own, it’s not surprising Ye sees a way to easy money.

Kanye’s WLM shirt doesn’t matter. Yes, he’s the same guy who said on national TV in 2005 that George Bush, then-president, “don’t care about Black people.” Neither does Kanye. His goal has become to get filthy rich as quickly as possible by any means. Does Kanye’s WLM shirt really change anything? The mere fact that were having this conversation gives Kanye the win.

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Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears: Comedians or Pedophiles?

Left to Right: Comedians Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears. Photo from CNN.

Recently, news broke that Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears are being sued for child abuse. A 22-year-old woman accuses Tiffany and Aries of manipulating her and her now 15-year-old brother into filming sexually explicit child pornography skits for Funny or Die. The accuser is a child of Tiffany Haddish’s longtime friends. Tiffany and Aries deny the accusations. I have seen one of the videos in question, and it is bizarre.

In a 2014 video called “Mind of a Pedophile”, Tiffany plays the mother of the boy who was 7 years old then, while Aries plays Tiffany’s creepy uncle. Over the course of the video, Tiffany makes up different excuses to go out. Aries reluctantly agrees to watch the boy each time.

In the first scene as R. Kelly’s “Bump and Grind” plays in the background, Aries peeps through holes he cut in a newspaper to peer at the boy. The boy plays on the floor, dressed in nothing but his underwear. Aries licks his lips as he watches the boy.

Next, Tiffany leaves the boy in the tub and Aries in the bathroom with him. Aries makes some creepy faces and eventually crawls into the tub with the boy.

In the last scene, the roles are reversed, and when Tiffany leaves, the boy peeks through the holes of the newspaper and watched Aries. Then the boys begins to rub baby oil on Aries as R. Kelly’s song continues to play. At the end, a caption reads “Watch Who You Leave You Kids With” or something of that nature. It’s placed there as a disclaimer of sorts that lets the reader know the video is addressing a serious issue in a satirical way. However, is there more to the story? Are Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears molesters?

Are Tiffany and Aries Wrong?

The 22-year-old victim also described another time where Tiffany and Aries coerced her into mimicking fellacio for a skit in 2013. The victim was about 13 years old. This too made her feel uncomfortable. The purpose of this video hasn’t been addressed by Aries or Tiffany.

Child abuse is an issue within the Black family that many times go unaddressed. The accused is usually somebody close in relation to the child. The victims grow up feeling damaged and may suffer psychologically. What’s done to them can’t be undone. Though they might heal with time, they will always remember what happened to them. So, shedding light on this issue is important. However, what Tiffany and Aries did was counterproductive.

Although Tiffany and Aries may argue they shot “The Mind of a Pedophile” with good intentions to bring awareness to sexual abuse within families, the pair did a terrible job of executing it. The video with the boy is disturbing at best; at worst, it’s criminally sick.

Some might say the warning “Watch Who You Leave Your Kids With” was placed there to protect Tiffany and Aries. They might say the two knew how the video could be perceived and decided to place the warning there in the event of public fallout.

Still, questions are unresolved: Who was the adult in the room? Who’s responsible? Funny or Die, the comedy video website, acknowledges working with Tiffany and Aries but deny having anything to do with the videos. Authorities must conduct a full investigation into Tiffany, Aries and this company and its practices.

What Does This Mean for Tiffany and Aries?

I had been a fan of Tiffany Haddish for more years than I care to count. Her story of coming from an abusive family and growing up poor stuck with me. Even when she was cracking jokes in front of an audience of ten, I always knew her future was bright. Now, that brightness is dimming.

I’m not sure how the world is going to treat Tiffany. The allegations against her are a mountain of trouble. At least one video exists, and from this, many will draw their uncomfortable opinions. Hollywood doesn’t want to fight for actors or comedians. It is a heartless place focused solely on its bottom line. This might be a five-to-ten-year setback for her.

Aries Spears was hot in the ’90s and early 2000s. His career had been on the decline until recently. He’s been hosting a podcast and appearing other places. His money doesn’t come from the mainstream as much as Tiffany’s. So, he’s not as vulnerable as Tiffany Haddish because Hollywood is about done with him anyway.

Also, as furious as we may become, some might point at that similar things have happened in Hollywood. For instance, in Godfather, 16-year-old Simonetta Stefanelli was forced to be bare-chested for a sex scene with 30-year-old Al Pacino. That movie lives on in Pop Culture as a classic, although it literally has child pornography in it. Furthermore, in 2019, Seth Rogan released Good Boys, a film where three real 13-year-old boys watch porn, play with sex toys and do other sexually inappropriate things.

The Takeaway

Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears did produce at least one inappropriate skit starring a child. It was done for laughs, but it fell flat and crossed too many lines. In the end, they harmed two kids who have to live with the haunting memory of being used in such a disgusting way. What the future holds isn’t clear, but one thing is for sure: this is going to cost Tiffany Haddish a lot more than it will Aries Spears.

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Don’t Jump to Conclusions about Texas Nurse Who Allegedly Killed Six

Traveling nurse from Texas Nicole Linton, 37, has been charged with six counts of murder and six counts of manslaughter after allegedly speeding through an intersection, leaving six dead. Citing a record of Nicole’s alleged thirteen previous wrecks, the prosecution claimed she was a danger. A judge gave Nicole a two-million-dollar bail, which was increased to nine million before being changed to a no-bond. The loss of life caused by this incident is sad, but we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about Nicole’s guilt, especially since people in similar situations faced probation, and she may not even be fit to stand trial.

Nicole Linton/Facebook

At the age of sixteen, Ethan Couch in Burleson, Texas, killed four people, paralyzed two and injured a total of nine people while drunk, high and driving on a restricted license. He fled the scene of the crime but was ultimately arrested and charged with manslaughter. His defense was the “Affluenza” defense, claiming Ethan was so wealthy, he couldn’t tell right from wrong. Though he was convicted, Ethan got probation. He eventually fled to Mexico, was caught and sentenced to 720 days in jail. He did some of the sentence and got out.

Although Ethan was a juvenile, he could very well have been charged as an adult. However, it’s not surprising that a white teen from a wealthy family basically faced no consequences for his actions. For the same actions, the Black woman Nicole Linton is facing up to 90 years in prison. Already, people have judged her, and the judge has given her a no-bond. According to her lawyer, Nicole may have some mental health issues, but it doesn’t seem the court is taking this mitigating fact into consideration.

Nicole is a traveling nurse, and many nurses work twelve-hour days. No one knows what was going on inside that car with her. She could have fallen asleep, had a jammed gas pedal or something worse. Though lives were loss, this is not a time to hang her out to dry. Nicole deserves to have her side of the story heard. If Ethan Couch can kill four people and paralyze two while high on drugs and drunk and get probation, we should be willing to hear the defense of a nurse who helps to save lives.

Nicole may have a mental illness, according to court records and her attorneys. Those suffering from mental illness need compassion. They should not be prisoners; they should be patients. Let’s not forget we live in a country that puts more money into bombs than it does healthcare. Nicole may not even be fit to stand trial. Stop yourself from judging her. Let her team tell her story, and listen with open ears and caring heart.

J Reed, MFA is an adjunct English professor and writer from Chicago, who writes fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

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Six Years a Blogger: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful

Six years ago I thought, “There should be a website about me where I voice my opinion.” That thought birthed WhoIsJreed.com AKA TheReedersBlock. This was before I became an Adjunct English Professor. At the time, I was a grad student navigating the nuances of higher learning and finding my voice. I couldn’t have predicted the success of this site that focuses on all things from self-help to politics. To say it’s been easy would be an untruth. Having gone from grad student to Adjunct English Professor over the lifetime of this site, I’ve interacted with the good, the bad and the beautiful.

The Good

When I started WhoIsJreed.com, I’d already tried starting blogs before, all of which failed. From those failed experiences, I gained humility and insight into the difficulties of running a successful website. I had to create content to drive traffic to my site, spread the word and be consistent. Instead of being fueled by unreasonable expectations and no experience, I approached this site with goals and a plan, even if they weren’t specific enough.

Creating this site fit well into what I was already doing as a grad student in the MFA program: writing and blogging. Because I was already doing so much creative writing in my program, I used class assignments I’d done as content for my website. With my professors’ highlighting the errors in my assignments, I didn’t have to proofread as much.

Also, my bachelor’s degree is in English Professional and Technical Writing. I already had a good grasp of English Writing, so I didn’t struggle to put my ideas into writing. They flowed naturally from the tips of my fingers to the screen of my computer without many errors, not to say there were none. I’ve found regardless of how much I proofread a piece before publishing it, there’s always an overlooked missing comma, awkward phrase or something to correct. Having studied English made it easier to write with fewer mistakes.

Also, I employed what I had learned in college: always edit, revise and proofread. Being familiar with the writing process, I understood the importance of each of these steps. The average blogger who doesn’t have an extensive background in writing may publish five or ten articles or blog posts weekly. However, because they have so many errors in their writing, their audience doesn’t take them seriously. Their audience loses interest. The tighter a piece is, the more likely it is to inspire repeat visitors. So, I made sure to clean up my pieces as much as possible.

Creating good content is hard because it requires being in the know. In grad school, I was around an assortment of writers who had blogs, websites and podcasts. Having them to converse with and bounce ideas off gave me insight into what people were talking about. Using this information, I created content in connection with some of the biggest news happening. Because of this, almost all my content is successful, and some is extremely successful. The more relevant your writing is to your audience, the more successful it will be.

The Bad

When I started TheReedersBlock.com, I just wanted a space to say what I wanted when I wanted. Other than readership, I had no long-term goals. If my site made people smarter, more active or feel better, then I’d done my job. So, I created entertainment, political and self-help content. I didn’t understand how to use my site as a funnel to sell more of my books.

In hindsight, you deserve to be paid for the content you produce, but creatives always feel icky for selling things. Asking somebody to buy your books makes you cringe harder than you do listening to the telemarketer trying to sell you a vacuum. I suffered from this too. As introverted as I am, the idea of trying to convince somebody to buy something made my skin crawl. Now, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to put a monetary value on what I produce. You don’t have to be a starving artist.

Though TheReedersBlock.com keeps a steady stream of visitors, the content varies so widely that readers are here for various reasons. Because of that, it’s difficult to funnel some of the visitors to my books. I don’t plan on slimming down the content areas of TheReedersBlock. However, PainByAnyName.com –my newest site — is succinct, focusing on helping people cope with pain, be it physical or emotional. With a newsletter, books and cheat sheets centered around the subject of pain, my niche will be more fulfilled.

The Beautiful

TheReedersBlock.com has acted as a public journal for me, allowing me to vent into the world and have somebody care to read it. I don’t know many of my readers personally. I’m not sure why they come the first time or what makes them come back. I do know thousands of people from over half a dozen countries visit my site regularly. My hope that they found hope keeps me going. This site is my therapy.

During grad school, I worked hard getting straight A’s. On nights I had a paper due or content to turn in for the university’s blog, I toggled between working and working on this site. It was fulfilling to be putting what I was learning into action. Sometimes, you ask yourself, why am I in college? Whenever I asked this, my site reminded me. College was my vessel to make connections and learn how to be effective in my writing. Maintaining my site became its own form of therapy.

The most beautiful part of running this site is the many visitors. I may not know all of you personally, but I appreciate you nonetheless. You make this site relevant. Without you, who am I writing to? So, thank you all for caring what I have to say. This site documents my transition from student to teacher (professor) literally, and if it weren’t for you, I probably wouldn’t have documented it.

So, that’s my life as a blogger over the past six years. Follow PainByAnyName.com to get new articles and a newsletter by me surrounding coping with painful situations.

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Lizzo’s Obesity and Bad Fans

J Reed, MFA is an adjunct English professor and writer from Chicago, who writes fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

If you’ve been on social media, you’ve likely heard of Lizzo, the 34-year-old Minnesota rapper whose popularity has been growing. She’s actually a classically trained flutist as well. While some appreciate her music, others are turned off by the controversy she causes with her style of dress and behavior. Women have come to her defense when her critics made comments about her weight. While the heavyset Lizzo has come to represent the freedom women seek in body confidence, others say her behavior is shameful, but who’s right?

To Dress or Not to Dress

Even being plus-size, Lizzo is known for wearing revealing clothes that leave little to the imagination. Labia nearly exposed, Lizzo has performed in front large crowds in one-piece outfits without fear. Though she has a wave of support from her fans, others wonder why she has to dress so provocatively. Those who cringe when she pops up on television are offended seeing her dress in a way that inspires her young followers to do the same.

Her supporters note rappers before Lizzo like Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B and others use sex to sell albums. If no one complained about the other rappers before her, why should they complain about her? Actually, Lil Kim and Nicki Minaj as well as other female rappers face backlash for their overt sexuality and some of the clothing they wear.

One of the most prominent critiques of Lizzo’s provocative dress is, how Lizzo wears her clothes is the problem. For instance, in today’s pop culture, a thin guy wearing extremely baggy clothes may be mistaken for a bum. Skinny jeans – or at least jeans that fit well – are in. Lizzo wears clothes the wrong way. Instead of her clothes accentuating her curves, parts of her body spill out inappropriately through designer cuts in the fabric. Her critics are basically saying, wear what you want but be classy about it.

Lizzo’s Health

Others who disapprove of Lizzo are concerned about health risks associated with her weight.  A couple years ago at the start of the pandemic, fitness expert Jillian Michaels asked, “Why are we celebrating [Lizzo’s] body?” Jillian followed up by saying, “… it isn’t going to be awesome if she catches diabetes.” None of Lizzo’s doctors have come forward to say Lizzo’s weight is killing her or putting her at a higher risk for disease. However, generally speaking, it’s well-known obesity can cause diabetes, heart disease and sudden death.

People came to Lizzo’s defense and claimed Jillian was “fatphobic”. Though Jillian issued a statement via Twitter acknowledging the beauty and worth of every person, she didn’t back down from her position that we shouldn’t be celebrating obesity, a deadly disease. Still, the wave of Lizzo fans accused Jillian of fat-shaming people. Jillian faced calls for her to be cancelled, and this brings up the issue of political correctness.

Cancel This

Jillian is a fitness expert who has worked on shows like The Biggest Loser in hopes of helping contestants lose weight. Her purpose in the public eye has always been to assist others in achieving healthier lifestyles through exercise and diet. Taken in context and considering who she is, her remarks matched with who she is and what she does. Even if her statements fell short of insulting or malicious, Jillian still dealt with the threat of being cancelled.

However, it seems those who defend Lizzo have given her an image immunity card and created a false reality in which being obese isn’t a potentially deadly medical issue; it’s promoted as her living her best life. It seems that she and her fans prefer living as if obesity doesn’t kill instead of addressing it. Her fans drag any person who says anything about Lizzo’s obesity.

Behind clothes doors, you can only wonder what’s happening in Lizzo’s personal life. Those who really care about her – those who know her personally – are likely concerned about her health and her image. It’s fine for Lizzo to live her best life. A person’s best life shouldn’t come before their health. Fans rarely see the signs which is why when singers such as Amy Winehouse made songs about refusing to go to rehab, fans didn’t know how serious her alcohol addiction was until it killed her. Until then, fans simply thought Amy was “living her best life.”

The Takeaway

Lizzo is a rising star with so much more to accomplish, and she doesn’t have to overexpose her body to get there. How she dresses is up to her, and no woman should be judged solely by what she wears. Still, there’s a classy way to wear any article of clothing. With heart disease and other ailments arising from obesity, Lizzo must take her health seriously. Fans who encourage adverse health conditions don’t help. If you love Lizzo, you want her to live as long as possible. Lizzo has to dress better and take care of her health.

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Guard Gives Keys to Male Inmates to Rape Female Inmates

J Reed, MFA is an adjunct English professor and writer from Chicago, who writes fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

Corrections officers of Indiana’s Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville are being accused of renting keys to male inmates so those inmates could roam the jail and rape female inmates. Allegedly, ex-corrections officer David Lowe is responsible for selling the keys to inmates for about $1,000. About 28 women have come forward, alleging to have been assaulted by inmates after Lowe gave the keys. The events occurred throughout October 23, 2021 and into October 24, 2021, and Lawyers have filed two separate lawsuits on behalf of the women who endured this torture. Clark County Sherriff Jamey Noel has been named as the lead defendant in the case.

Officials who allowed this to occur must be held accountable. Although Lowe benefited off the crimes of that night and is allegedly directly responsible for giving the male inmates the keys, there was a breakdown in the system. The area where the female inmates were located was under 24-hour surveillance. This means a number of individuals had to turn their heads to allow this to happen.

The Federal Government needs to perform an evaluation and investigation of the Clark County Jail in which this heinous act occurred and promptly fire and replace those in charge. The system doesn’t need rebuilding; the rules are there. It needs new personnel. No progress can be made just by changing the paperwork. Policy on paper that isn’t enforced is a waste used to protect officials who don’t abide by it.

As this story develops, continue to call for the arrest and prosecution of all officials who contributed to the rape and abuse of women.

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Remaining Yourself in the Workplace: Protecting Your Identity

J Reed, MFA is a college adjunct English professor and writer from Chicago, who writes fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new self-help articles. Follow him on Twitter @jreed913.

Remaining Yourself in the Workplace

You’ve made it past the interviews and landed the job you wanted, but the hard part is remaining who you are while working with your judgmental coworkers. Every morning, you crawl out of bed before the crack of dawn and get jammed in traffic on your way to work. It’s not easy, but you do it every day, making sure nothing you did the day before inhibits your ability to make it to work on time. The hardest part of work is dealing with your judgmental coworkers, but there are ways to remain true to yourself.

Mastering Yourself

To master yourself, you must know yourself.

The workplace is crammed with coworkers who drive a Mercedes, Tesla or other vehicle they’re paying hundreds of dollars for a month. Some carry Gucci bags or brag about the shrimp at restaurants you have to reserve a spot at weeks in advance. Your coworkers red-bottomed shoes clack through the halls as she struts around. Your coworkers have pizzazz, a certain flare that comes with vacationing overseas. You on the other hand are just you, no luxury vehicle, no designer names across your jeans, unimpressive, you think. Where do you fit in your workplace?

The workplace can be like social media. I once saw an optical illusion photo of a house any celebrity would be excited to call home. Though the house in the picture looked real, it was an illusion. The “house” really wasn’t the astounding property it appeared to be. These are the types of pictures that make it to social media: glorious and beautiful but lacking the whole story. As they do on social media, people share what makes them look best. They give you clips. Your coworker might brag about the tan they got while on vacation, but they won’t tell you about the person they caught their significant other French kissing on that same trip.

Knowing your coworkers share what they want and drive luxury vehicles for status and stares, you must know where you fit into your work environment. Are you the luxury car type or the type who drives whatever gets you to work? Are you a fitness nut, or do you eat what you want? Are you a social drinker or not a drinker at all? Introvert or extrovert? Though these things may seem small, all of them are things you’re judged on in the workplace. Your vegan coworker may frown when he hears you eat chitterlings. Your coworkers might laugh in the breakroom about the loud, shaking vehicle you drive.

So, the question becomes, how comfortable are you with yourself? If you waver under the gaze of a judgmental coworker, you’ll not only look weak but you’ll feel weak. Who are you? What are your values? Are you single or married? What information will you share with your coworkers? What information will you omit? You must know who you are and what you stand for. Otherwise, you will be molded by what people think of you.  

Before sharing information about yourself with coworkers, consider what you want to share. Remember, you don’t owe anybody any explanation of who you are or decisions you make in your private life. Your identity is your own to share – or not share – as you see fit. It’s fine to associate with coworkers, but there is a very fine line between sharing and oversharing. Don’t invite too many people into your personal life with the details. Be careful of the coworkers you associate with.

Naturally, there are argumentative or drama-loving coworkers in every field, so be selective with whom you have coffee. Some coworkers can’t help spilling everything they know or gossiping behind the backs of others. They aren’t hard to spot mostly, but sometimes they come off as a “helpful” person. Oftentimes, they offer to help you with your work, and you accept that help sometimes. Behind your back, they’re probably telling the supervisor how they “had to help” you. Regardless of your coworker’s intentions, their sharing this information can make you seem lazy or incompetent. This is why you must keep your circle small and master who you are.

Mastering Rude or Judgmental Coworkers

Depending on where you work, you have dozens or hundreds of coworkers, all with their own personalities. In certain work cultures like that of college campuses, nearly everybody has a title. To protect the image that helped gained them their titles, people walk with their noses tilted upward. They ignore “Good mornings” that come from the title-less or those they consider beneath them. People like this set themselves apart by the clothes they wear, cars they drive or communities in which they live. To feel big, they make people feel small. Rude and judgmental coworkers make you cringe, but you can handle them effectively.

You’ve likely had a coworker make a not-so-flattering comment about how you dress. Or your supervisor hinted she doesn’t care for your cologne. Whatever the case, you feel picked on or singled out. This is something bullies do to make themselves feel good. Coworkers who always have something negative to say about you are miserable. You could argue back and forth with them or ignore them. Nothing gets a bully’s skin boiling quicker than being ignored. This is an effective way to avoid escalating the situation.

Sometimes, ignoring a bully is like pouring gasoline on a barn fire; their egos won’t allow them to be shrugged off. They might snicker more loudly or use profanities as you walk by, and that stings like a wasp. You have to look them in the eyes and tell them to leave you alone. It’s important you make eye contact, so you appear unafraid. Fear feeds the egos of judgmental coworkers, so don’t display it. Nine times out of ten, a cowrker won’t punch in the face. In the off chance you are, a good lawyer might turn that face punch into a pay day.

If your coworker makes rude comments about your style of dress, the way you wear your hair or anything else, address that coworker. Tell them why you don’t like their comments and that you want them to stop. Do not threaten to report them. If you tell them you’re going to report them before you do, they might report you first. Even if you’re the victim, proving it once somebody makes a claim against you is difficult.

For the feistier bunch, when your coworker says, “Your car is nice, but the color is ugly”, you can say, “You have nice shoes, but your personality is garbage.” Meeting insult with insult isn’t the best way to deal with a judgmental coworker. In situations where you can’t depend on management to address the issue, you might have to resort to delivering insults back. Fights have started over smaller issues. Just be cognizant of that.

In Case You Are an Introvert

If everybody drove a Lexus or Mercedes, spoke the same way and ate the same foods, individuality would not exist. Since the early 1900s, this country has been promoting the “extrovert”, the people’s person who can fit in with any crowd. The workplace demands leaders who work well with others and fit in with the culture of the workplace. Employers prefer smiling, waving extroverts over tight-lipped introverts who’d rather stare at their shoes than into the eyes of another person. There are as many introverts as extroverts, but people commonly identify as extroverts to avoid the stigmas that come with being an introvert. However, the push and yearning to be an extrovert fails to consider the value of introverts.

By nature, introverts would rather observe a conversation than to dive into it. They think more than speak and find small talk hard to engage in. Many of them prefer being alone over being around crowds of people. They are often brilliant in how they find solutions to problems. Though they are not people pleasers, they are loyal, focused and dedicated to whatever they put their time into. If you are an introvert, you know the pressures of new social situations, but you also know how to navigate them unnoticed.

The push to meld the individual away within work culture is inspired by fear of the individual. Employers prefer employees who fit in because disrupters challenge the status quo. Disrupters ask questions, stand up for their rights and speak their mind. In workplaces where elitism prevails, everybody wears a mask of fakeness and having a pedal stool is common, the introvert is feared.

If you are an introvert, don’t pretend you want to talk about football if you don’t. When somebody questions you about your personality, shrug. You don’t owe anybody anything. You’re the best thing to happen to you. Be awkward; be shy; be observant. Whatever you are, be you.

Takeaways

Workplaces can be cesspools of judgement, and you have to know yourself. Your coworkers are on diets, paying high car notes on a Benz or spending their last on Gucci bags. They do all of these things for the reactions of others. Hearing someone say “That’s a nice car” makes their hearts flutter. Without recognizing the fakeness, you risk becoming a person more concerned with impressing others than being who you are. Master yourself and your identity. Know what you want and who you are. Being an introvert is a benefit not a crippling disorder. If you master yourself, you master your workplace.

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Five Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt in Job Seeking

J Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who writes fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new self-help articles. Follow him on Twitter @jreed913.

For as long as you could remember, you’ve been working in fast food or as a cashier. You’ve thought about changing careers, but you often feel inexperienced or unready. The thought of switching jobs stresses you out because, what if you fail? You often ask yourself, What do you have to offer? That’s called self-doubt. We all have it, but there are ways to five ways to overcome your imposter syndrome issues.

Don’t Think About Your Competition

Sometimes, you wake up for work and just don’t want to get out of bed. You don’t smile during work or find those small moments of joy that make you enjoy being there. There’s at least one career you’d rather be doing, but what about people who have more experience than you? What about the people who apply to the same job as you who know more than you? What if they have a higher level of education than you?

I’ve been hired as a Reprographics Technician, government Clerk, a Professor, Coordinator and more. For those positions, I didn’t meet all of the so-called requirements. In some instances, I didn’t have the number of years of experience the job listing called for. In a few others, I didn’t have all certifications I needed. Because these were high-paying government jobs, I knew my competition would be older, more experienced and refined. This is the point when most people talk themselves out of applying for a position. I doubled-down and got hired.

You should be the only competition you’re concerned with. These days, with most interviews being done over the phone or online, you likely won’t ever see your competition. Even if you do, so what? When you focus too much on the advantages your competition has over you and what you lack, you end up losing confidence in what you’re doing.

Imagine you are a first-class private jet and your confidence is the fuel. Depending on how much you have, you can circle the globe or be able to go only a few feet. Your potential altitude is determined by the amount of confidence you have.

Identify Your Self-Doubt

Identifying self-doubt in real-time is vital to boosting your self-esteem. Passively, we tend to embrace negative ideas about ourselves and never question them. You might say things like, “I’m not good at interviewing” or “I’m bad at math”. Whatever it is, you embrace those negative ideas to the point they prevent you from applying to certain positions. Throw those negative thoughts away.

Furthermore, self-doubt sneaks up on you, disguised as logic. Logic tells you, “Don’t waste your time. You’re not qualified.” It tells you to find something more fitting for you because this isn’t your lane. If you want to break past these depressing thoughts, you have to check them in real-time. It sounds easy, but it happens so subtly, it’s hard to notice in the moment.

So, take out a sheet of paper, or pull up a word processing program. Think about a job or career you really want. Write it down. If you need to, research the position’s duties, qualifications and requirements. Make two lists, one entitled “My Pros” and one entitled “My Cons”. List all the things that make you qualified. Then, list all the things that make you unqualified. Afterwards, throw away the “Cons” list. Whenever you have those doubts again, read over your “Pros” list to remind you of how you’re qualified.

Know Confidence from Cockiness

There’s a difference between being confidence and being cocky. Your parents probably used to tell you to be humble. After all, no one can stand a person who rides a high horse and treats others as a bad king would peasants.

You likely know people who have to preach about every car they have, the money they earn or the number of degrees they have. They’ve pushed you to ignoring their calls or completely avoiding them at work. Cockiness tends to push people away from you, while confidence behaves like a magnet.

Confidence is walking with your chin up, back straight and the overwhelming belief that no matter the challenge, you can overcome it. Being confident doesn’t mean you won’t have nerves. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with being a bit nervous. Know you have nothing to worry about.

To build confidence concerning employment, research the position well. Find sample job interview questions with answers and practice them. Write down some questions you want to ask the employer or interviewer. Search YouTube for related videos. Preparation builds confidence. When you do your research, you build trust within yourself because you know you have the knowledge. You just need to apply it.

Know What You Want

It’s OK to want something different out of your life, but you have to know what that is and why. Do you want to make more money? Do you want better work conditions? Sometimes, you might know you want change, but exactly what change you want can be difficult to identify. You must consider your happiness when considering employment. It’s a place you’ll be spending over a third of your weekdays most of the time, so you want to make sure it’s a nontoxic work environment.

We hear the word “happy” so much as adults, it’s closer to an ideal than something that happens in practice, but you’ll be miserable without it. What does happiness mean to you? Does it mean having friendly coworkers? Does it mean having a less strict supervisor? Again, take out a pen and jot down the things that would make work an enjoyable place for you.

On top of happiness, earning a comfortable living is important as well. Which matters more to you: Making more money or doing something you enjoy? Kanye West once said something to the effect of, having money isn’t everything, but not having it is. Simply put, having a vast amount of money isn’t the world. When you don’t have money, though, that can change your life in bad ways. There’s a balance to be struck between being happy with your career and making money.

A friend of mine is a dean of a college and earns a great living. Without any children to support, she’s living the life she wants. Still, she sighs when she speaks of work and generally doesn’t feel fulfilled. The upside is, all her bills are paid, and she doesn’t struggle to treat herself to vacations and the like. Yet her being unhappy is draining the joy from her soul. Is that what you want?

Do

When you talk less about what you’re doing or going to do, you get more done. You know those people who are “going to go to school” but don’t ever register or those who say, “Watch this” but then do nothing. Those who feel compelled to update the world on everything they’re doing usually aren’t doing whatever they allege they’re doing. My grammar school teacher used to tell his students a rhyme about a wise old owl. It went like this:

There was a wise old owl that sat in an oak.
The more he heard, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
You should be like that wise old bird.

Speaking without action is addictive. In the moment, somebody listens as you tell them about how good your life is about to get. Then, the conversation ends, and you go back to hating your job. During those conversations, the other person probably just nods without much conviction. They didn’t get a chance to speak, and what did you learn from that conversation? As in the “Wise Old Bird” rhyme, if you listen, you learn. If you speak without conviction, people remember it and bring it up.

When you tell people you’re going to get a better job or accomplish a certain goal, some of them doubt you. In their mind, your friends, family and foes alike hold you to what you said you were going to do. They have less faith in you when you don’t follow through. The next time you tell them about something you plan to do, they might call you out and say, “You always say that” or “Sure”.

Emotionally, when you don’t have the support of your people, it can make you want to sit in the corner and cry or give up. Don’t give people fuel to disbelieve you. If you constantly do the opposite of what you tell others, they’re going to hold it against you eventually. The best thing to do is, write it down.

If you don’t have a journal, get one. Write down your goals and list clear, specific ways you plan on getting there. For instance, if your goal is to register for school, one of the first steps is applying. Know what you want and how you plan to get there.

Conclusion

You can achieve your goals, but you need confidence to do so. Building that confidence entails ignoring your competition. Don’t think of them. It’s You Verses You. Be confident and know what you want. Create lists that include your pros and cons. Keep a journal of your goals with specific directions on how to achieve those goals. When it comes to getting anything done, do it. Don’t talk about your next job. Get it. In this world, you’re your only competition.

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Kevin Gates: Why Nice Guys Finish Last

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

Recently, rapper Kevin Gates, 36, released the song “Super General” in which he alleged his wife Dreka, 35, cheated on him with her 51-year-old personal trainer. Dreka and the personal trainer’s supposed affair began on a farm, where the two grow their own food. Kevin says on “Super General”, “Personal trainer violated my personal space/deep down it devastated me.” Some outlets have noted Dreka may have been pregnant with her lover’s baby when Kevin Gates was in jail. It seems like Kevin Gates’ emotions got him in the situation with Dreka.

If you keep up with Kevin Gates, you know he wears his heart on his sleeve. For instance, he and rapper NBA YoungBoy had beef. As part of their reconciliation, Kevin Gates got a tattoo of YoungBoy’s face on his own body. When asked why he’d made such an odd move, Kevin Gates responded by saying, “Because I love [NBA YoungBoy].” Before the cheating rumors emerged, Kevin Gates named one of his studio albums Dreka, after his wife. He made his love and attraction for her obvious, but she still broke his heart. So, what does it all mean?

Kevin Gates is not a perfect man, yet he has made it a point to uplift women and treat them with respect. Doing so is honorable. In his music and interviews, he places women on a goddess-like pedestal. He created an atmosphere for his praises to blow up in his face. No human is flawless, but that’s how Gates spoke of his wife. In the end, he proved something the world already knew: Nice guys finish last.

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Did Rick and Morty Wear Blackface?

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

*This contains spoilers of Rick and Morty season four, episodes seven and eight.

When we watch television, we do so to escape reality, and nothing does that as artfully as the Adult Animation Sci Fi show Rick and Morty. Linked by celestial violence and obscenity, the grandfather-grandson duo make entertainment look easy. However, there is a silent racial overtone to the show that I have henceforth overlooked.

The racial elements of Rick and Morty more clearly materialized in season four episode seven “Promortyus”. In this episode, Rick and Morty’s bodies and minds are taken over by parasites that latch on to the face. It is later revealed that Summer has been taken too. Even though she’s queen of the face-sucking creatures, she doesn’t have one stuck to her face.

Rick with a parasite stuck to his face. Image from Forbes.com .

At any rate, the face parasites are brown-faced with dark blue tentacles and have thick, oval-shaped dark pinkish lips reminiscent of older racist animation of Black people by Disney. With the creatures on their faces, one can’t help but notice how much Rick and Morty seem to be wearing blackface. This, for me, was a particularly troubling idea. It was one I had written off during my first binge of the series.

…but I noticed something odd in episode eight.

When I first saw the episode in question, I said, “Maybe these writers know nothing of blackface. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Blackface disguised as alien parasites is a stretch.” But as I binge-watched the series for the fourth time, I noticed something odd in episode eight, “The Vat of Acid Episode” which is directly after the episode in question.

On Rick’s far-right side, someone holds a sign that reads “BLACKFACE.

At the end of “Vat of Acid”, protestors, law enforcement, and others Morty has wronged surround Morty’s house. He climbs in a vat of fake acid to fake his death. However, the bones floating to the top of the vat didn’t catch my attention. The sign reading “BLACKFACE” did.

Could it be that right after the accidental “blackface” parasites, the writers coincidentally included the word “Blackface” in the very next episode? Maybe. Morty was, at the time of episode eight when the sign appeared, being accused of horrendous and ridiculous crimes. Or maybe the showrunners thought it would be funny to trigger people with blackface.

Seventy percent of Republicans believe in the [Great Replacement Theory].

Some would wonder, if the parasites represent blackface, on a grander level, what are the creators and/or writers of Rick and Morty saying about Black people? Are they equating Black people to parasites who want to take over the world? What if this is the furtherance of the “Great Replacement Theory”, a false belief that Black people are intentionally attempting to replace white people? Seventy percent of Republicans believe in this theory, and there’s no telling how seeing it emerge in so many forums will influence its believers.

Rick and Morty is a legendary show of cosmos-wide adventures that take us places our otherwise grounded reality cannot. Although the show is entertaining, some of the images may be a bit racial. The team behind this show has made powerful statements with Rick and Morty and must continue to do so. Still, in the interest of the show’s diverse audience, maybe the showrunners should steer clear of racially provocative images.

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Social Media’s Impact on Black Millennial Relationships

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Self-Publishing “Guru” Emeka Ossai’s New… Scam 🤷‍♂️???

A few weeks ago, self-proclaimed self-publishing “guru” Emeka Ossai announced plans to close his My Self Publishing Blueprint course. I had written a blog on Emeka where I questioned his claims of the self-publishing success on which he founded the legitimacy of his course. I was relieved recently to see he was closing the course, but I wondered what he would do next. He answered my question with a loudspeaker.

Emeka promises 12 Zoom calls with him over an 8-to-15-month timeframe.

Emeka sent me an email with my name and wrote, “Jermaine I made this just for you, please give it a look and let me know what you think.” I’m not sure it was sent specifically to me or if it was a mass email with my name on it. Anyway, the email led me to a Google Doc with Emeka pitching 12 calls with him for nearly $5,000.

In the document, he promises 12 Zoom calls over an 8-to-15-month timeframe with unlimited emails. These calls and emails with him will supposedly help self-publishers increase profit.

Emeka Ossai.

I have a few contentions with his offer. One issue is, Emeka mentions a book he’s working on and promises the book will be a major success. For the five years I’ve been following Emeka, I haven’t seen any of his books, not even on Amazon. He claims to have sold thousands but has offered no verifiable proof.

Moreover, he didn’t even name the current book he’s working on. Even if he is really working on one, he’s banned on Amazon. I’m not sure he’s sold as many books as he claims.

What can Emeka tell you for $416 an hour?

The salesman that he is, Emeka claims the $4,997-course is “technically free” since it is one’s investment in one’s self. This is such a condescending way of selling things to your audience. He’s basically saying, “They’re so dumb, they’ll pay me and think it’s free.”

Also, at $4,997 total for the 12 Zoom calls and some emails, that’s the equivalent of paying Emeka roughly $416 per hour. What can he tell you for $416 an hour you can’t learn with a little YouTube focus and books, if you want?

Emeka Ossai Early on in His Career.

Moreover, Emeka plays some reverse psychology in his document by saying he is only accepting 4 – 5 self-publishers. Basically, he pulled the ole, “Hurry up and buy because space is limited.”

He isn’t even trying to sell anymore. He isn’t hustling. He’s sending out emails and promising Zoom calls to avoid any heavy lifting.

Emeka declares results are not guaranteed.

Five grand is a lot of money, and if you have it, you’re better off throwing it in a pit of fire than giving it to Emeka. Even with all his hype about his Zoom calls, he declares results are not guaranteed. It’s a gamble. Remember, no matter how much you think you’re winning, the House always wins in the end.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

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F*ck Those People: Take Control of Your Own Life

In life, we sometimes struggle and then have to deal with bad advice from nosey people. We have a problem at home, and our best friend becomes a relationship counselor. Or a coworker overhears you in a disagreement over the phone and feels the need to chime in with their opinion. It’s time for you to turn down bad advice and take control of your life.

[You have to] defend yourself.

Sometimes, you feel the need to vent. You’re not looking for advice but an avenue to express yourself. However, when you do so with a family member or friend, you find yourself arguing to defend yourself.

It is human to want to open up about your struggles. However, doing so within your inner-circle could cause uncomfortable disagreements. To take control of your life and express yourself, see a counselor, start a blog or go to a support group.

NFL Player Russel Wilson and Singer/Wife Ciara Photo by People.

Also, before pouring out your emotions, you could start off by telling the person you’re talking to that you just want to vent. Tell them you’re not looking for advice or to be judged. This should make the conversation more comfortable for both of you. Also, you have to set boundaries with coworkers.

I’ve dealt with a pushy coworker who insisted I allow them to buy me things. It was a very uncomfortable experience brought on when this person asked me if I’d ever tried a particular thing and I said, “No.”

I took coworkers’ advice because I felt pressured.

Although the moment I turned down my coworker’s offer felt awkward, I ultimately felt better in the end. I don’t know where things would have gone had I accepted the offer, but I do know I felt extremely uncomfortable.

The coworker I mentioned was also very nosey, having their ear to every office door in the building. A few times, they insisted I take their advice. Many times I did because I felt pressured to. And that’s where I went wrong.

Arguing Coworkers. Photo by Black Enterprise.

In human communication, there will be uncomfortable moments. You must confront them head-on. It’s OK to say, “No. I got this.” That applies to family as well.

We like to think our family’s advice is always coming from a place of love. However, when our families dislike our spouses or have hidden jealousy towards us, their advice might be tainted. Take their advice with a hint of doubt.

You have to stand up for yourself.

Everybody has that nosey friend who makes it seem like their own life or relationship is perfect. Actually, it isn’t. They just don’t fill you in on the negative issues. Because of that, it seems they have it all together. They don’t.

Still, we fear what our family and friends will say behind our backs if we continue to date the person they don’t like. We are reluctant to stand up because we don’t want the drama.

Friends and family genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Photo by Black Enterprise.

Tell your family and friends you don’t need their advice. Keep them out of your business. If they try to discuss it, change the subject. Avoid going there with them.

That said, everybody goes through things. It’s up to you to make your best decisions. It’s fine to tell a coworker you don’t need their help or advice. It’s better you avoid discussing personal issues with your friends and family they use to judge you. You are amazing. You got this.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

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Amber Heard: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck 2022

To be clear, no one really knows what happened between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard, though he’s currently suing her for $50 million for defamation. Johnny says Amber accused him of domestic violence when she, in fact, was the abuser; at worse, his legal team claims, it was “mutual abuse” between the two. Back when the couple initially fell out, the media and social media took Amber Heard’s side. Now, we’re questioning cancel culture and asking what a “victim” really looks like.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a 2016 book by blogger Mark Manson. Part of Mark’s argument in said book is, some people like playing the victim and social media fuels this. His point is not to blame the victim. His point is, we give too much credence to those only playing the victim, as some would argue in Amber Heard’s case.

We give too much credence to those playing victim…

There are controversial social media sensations like Kevin Samuels who contend women abuse men but society doesn’t take it seriously. In a tape played by Johnny Depp’s defense team in court, Amber seems to argue the same thing. In the audio, she says, “Tell the world Johnny, tell them Johnny Depp… I, Johnny Depp, a man… I’m a victim, too, of domestic violence. Let’s see who believes you. Let’s see who believes a white man, a white man of privilege can be a victim over a woman? Go on.”

[Cancel culture] is like a blunt object wielded by a toddler…

What Amber says is inflammatory but true. Johnny is in a bad situation because of his gender and fame. As a white female, Amber could do just about anything to him and without hardcore proof, Johnny would be dragged and made to seem like the bad guy. Indeed, it is was happened, some argue. So, what does this say about cancel culture?

Twitter user accuses Johnny Depp of Domestic Abuse.

Cancel culture’s purpose is to challenge controversial figures who would otherwise go unchallenged. It is supposed to be a system of checks and balances to ensure we the people don’t empower people intending to tear us apart. In that way, it is an honorable idea. In practice, it is like a blunt object wielded by a toddler who likes to throw temper tantrums.

Again, Johnny and Amber are pointing fingers at each other, so it is hard to decide who’s telling the truth. However, the aforementioned audio may convince some that Johnny isn’t the bad guy in this case. But what if Johnny Depp really isn’t the bad guy?

We must check cancel culture…

With the way the media sometimes jumps on claims without verifying them and how rumors spread like wildfire on social media, an innocent man being attacked is natural collateral damage. The accused will remain guilty, and, even if he’s found not guilty in court, he will remain guilty in the public eye.

Therefore, cancel culture as whole must be checked. Social media platforms must remain objective and moderate posts with false news so that the image of good people isn’t ruined. This is an age of information and an era of victims. Everyone shares everything, and some overshare for attention. Some love the support that comes with being a victim. We must check cancel culture or watch our world become a cesspool absent self-accountability.  

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

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Brittney Griner: Runaway Black Girl Theory (RBGT)

Imagine LeBron James gets on a plane to Russia only to end up a prisoner to the country at a time it is at war with a country the U.S. is supplying with weapons and other aid. The headlines would be innumerable, and the outrage would be tangible. Every reporter to politician would be seeking answers. In the case of Brittney Griner, her case has not gotten a quarter of the attention it deserves.

WNBA player Brittney Griner went missing in February of 2022. Originally, articles focusing on her disappearance were scarce. When the public finally found out she had been detained in Russia for allegedly possessing a marijuana vape pen at a Russian airport, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie said that officials had instructed Griner’s team to remain mum on the topic.

Silence… is hurting more than helping…

It is fully arguable and understandable that authorities would want to avoid causing ruffles with the public. Griner is captive to an enemy state, and avoiding antagonizing Russia is a smart move. However, silence in this case is hurting more than helping.

Many people don’t believe the United States government is doing enough to secure the safe return of Brittney Griner. There have been some talks between Griner and American government officials, but none of those talks have led to her release. Usually in a situation like this involving someone of Griner’s stature, reports concerning her would be headlining every station.

Photo of WNBA Player Brittney Griner by NBC News.

Race and gender have played a role in the mishandling and seeming indifference concerning Griner. It’s similar to the “Runaway Black Girl Theory” (RBGT); when a Black girl goes missing, instead of labeling her a missing person and pouring in resources to find her, authorities sometimes suggest a Black girl in this situation is a runway. Doing so gives them the cover they need to ignore her case.

As for Brittney Griner, some will say, “She had a vape pen and brought this on herself.” However, this does not excuse what seems to be the American government’s indifference in relation to Griner. Americans are known for causing trouble overseas and being saved by their country.

Brittney Griner deserves the same American government… intervention Fay got.

Michael Peter Fay is an American who vandalized over 18 cars in Singapore in 1993. In 1994, he was sentenced to a number of whips with a cane and ordered to pay fees. America fought hard to bring Peter home and get his sentenced tossed. Eventually, America was able to get Peter home, though he took six cane whips across the butt and paid a fine before Singapore freed him. He later committed several new crimes in America for which he was either given a slap on the wrist or allowed to walk away from without a conviction.

The above acknowledged, although Griner and Fay’s cases are not the same, they share similarities. Brittney Griner deserves the same American government backing and intervention Fay got. However, it does not seem that will happen. Some in America say they don’t see color; I’m beginning to think it’s true. They can’t – or just choose not to – see us.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

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Emeka Ossai: Is he worth listening to?

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 .

If you’ve ever looked into self-publishing on Amazon, you’ve probably heard of Emeka Ossai. A charismatic Canadian with a disarming smile, Emeka claims to know the way to sell thousands of dollars worth of books. Through his My Self-Publishing Blueprint course launched over five years ago, Emeka claims to reveal the ways to self-publish a profitable book. As of 5/01/2022, My Self-Publishing Blueprint is closed, but was there any merit to it to begin with?

From poking around online, I found Emeka allegedly has been banned from Amazon KDP, the self-publishing leg of the online giant. Because of shady review practices, he is supposedly not allowed to self-publish on Amazon. In a few of his YouTube videos, he addresses these accusations. And this is where the story gets fuzzy.

It is hard to see where the truth ends…

However, Emeka claims to have sold thousands of books and made a profit doing so. Still, he presents no tangible proof. Instead, he claims to have ghostwritten books that he can’t name due to non-disclosure agreements. In his defense, he does present people who allegedly took his course and made money. It is hard to see where the truth ends and mistruths begin.

I have been told, as cliché as it is, to believe half of what I see and none of what I hear. Emeka’s Self-Publishing Blueprint course is not one I have taken. I’m not sure how beneficial that course is, but I know I have not witnessed any real proof from Emeka that would funnel me into purchasing his course. Maybe the best thing to happen to this course is its closing.

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Netflix: The Closing

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 .

When Netflix originally launched in 1997, it offered DVD rentals and sales. Eventually, it focused just on DVD rentals, before becoming the biggest streaming platform on the market. However, due to unbelievable price jumps, defending offensive comedians and more competition, Netflix may be the next big business to fail.

Since the beginning of the 2022 quarter, Netflix has lost over 200,000 subscribers and may lose up to two million more this year. That may seem like nothing, considering the platform has over 222 million total worldwide subscribers. However, if this trend continues, Netflix may have to close its doors. Some have asked, is Dave Chapelle to blame for the fall in subscribers?

Netflix has laid off twenty-five full-time employees…

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer aired in 2021, Dave was accused of making transphobic jokes. Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos chose to stand beside Dave, even with bad press and employees boycotting the job. Quite frankly, Sarandos grossly mishandled the 2021 incident. And membership to the platform is now down, so much so that Netflix has laid off twenty-five full-time employees. Naturally, it would seem the Dave Chappelle incident played at least some role in the in losing subscribers, but the incident may be only one part of the issue.

The Dave Chappell controversy happened during the same time as many other impactful events. At the same time, Netflix continued raising prices of subscription. Since 2015, Netflix has increased its subscription prices as much as sixty-six percent. As a person who has gone through at least three price hikes with the streaming platform, I was just not ready to do it again at $19.99. A lot of subscribers to Netflix feel this way and may not think its worth it.

Employees protest Dave Chappelle outside of Netflix Headquarters. Photo by Al Jazeera.

For instance, under certain bundles from other providers outside of Netflix, subscribers can get HBO and Disney+ together for under $12.99 a month. Also, Hulu is a great streaming platform with shows like Woke that make it a fitting alternative to Netflix. And Hulu isn’t on the offensive about account sharing like Netflix is.

Although the Dave Chappelle controversy may have turned away some subscribers, it is not solely responsible for the decline. Netflix’s prices are too high, and they may not come with benefits like a subscription to a music streaming service or other streaming service. Hulu, Showtime, Starz and other streaming services have content that is as good as Netflix’s or better. Netflix made an assumption about its worth that viewers are proving they just don’t believe.

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TV Show “Woke” Puts Me to Sleep

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 .

*Spoiler Alert: This post contains a lot of spoilers.

The first season of Hulu’s show Woke introduced the audience to Keef Knight, a Black cartoonist who experiences police brutality. This experience jars Keef awake socially, and he begins to really see racism for the first time. Though season one left us on a promising note, season two of Woke is proving to be a snoozer.

The art of enjoying television is partially based on your willingness to suspend disbelief. This suspension is tempered by the world in which the characters live. That is, you’re more likely to accept vampires in The Walking Dead than you are to accept vampires in Miami Vice.

Situations in Woke are compromising the viewer’s tolerance…

The above stated, although Keef does talk to live garbage cans, markers and other normally inanimate objects, other situations in Woke are compromising the viewer’s tolerance for suspending disbelief.

For instance, Keef gets into a deal where he unknowingly distributes shoes that contain 5G and tracking technology to homeless individuals. Complicating the issue further is that the data is being sold to the City which is using it to find and disband peaceful homeless encampments.

Here, Fonzie jumps the shark. This stunt is allegedly what cost the show its viewers.

This is a stretch at best and just plain bad writing at worse. For me, it’s like the moment Fonzie jumped the shark. Maybe it’s not unbelievable that a private company or the government would put tracking devices in shoes. It is unlikely it would be done in such poorly, openly brazen manner.

And wandering how Keef has this season looking for a fight, he now has to battle against something he helped start? So, Keef begins a fight against Laura, the Silicon Valley archetype that helped invest in and start the “Keef Knight Project”, after the company she works for goes after Keef’s friend Ayana.

Keef accomplishes nothing…

After organizing a rally against himself to ruin his own name and making it seem like the 5G shoes hurt him, Keef threatens to sue the company Laura represents if the company doesn’t drop its suit against Ayana which it seems will happen. At the end, Keef rides off with Clovis’s dad in search of himself.

To say the least, a lot happened and nothing happened simultaneously in Woke Season 2. Each twist and turn led to nowhere. Keef accomplishes nothing on a grand scale and grows in no meaningful way. In sitcoms many time, characters do not grow. What set Woke apart was its potential to push boundaries sitcoms normally don’t.  

Keef Knight and his crew. Photo from TomsGuide.com.

This season of Woke is not worth the time it takes to consume. It’s like getting a big, juicy-looking steak only to find out it’s just meaty air. This season served no purpose. Keef did not move or grow as a character. His agenda has not been furthered. And, honestly, it wasn’t that funny.

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Abbott Elementary: A Step Back Concerning Women?

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcastand subscribe there to hear more.

ABC’s new hit show Abbott Elementary is a fun mocumentary with a cast that has viewers holding their sides every week. With a diverse body of teachers balancing the pressures of educating America’s youth, the show has captured the hearts of many. However, there is a particular detail that plays to a stereotype of successful women.

Ava is unbelievably unqualified for her job.

Stuck in her ways, Ava Coleman (played by Janelle James) is an atypical principal. She dances, openly insults some of her staff and shows a general disinterest in the welfare of the school. This coupled with the fact that she’s the most powerful person in the school makes her golden for viewership.

However, Ava is unbelievably unqualified for her job. She has it only because she caught the superintendent in a compromising situation that could have ended his marriage. She used this as leverage to become principal.

Greg’s reaction to Principal Ava Coleman. Image from Tenor.com

Furthermore, the audience finds out teacher Gregory Eddie (played by Tyler James), the straight-man amongst the madness of Abbott Elementary, was supposed to be the principal there. He was beat out by Ava’s strong-arming the superintendent. Greg is actually qualified to be principal and seems to lack any respect for Ava.

It may be problematic that in this day and time, some writers are still depending on old stereotypes of women in the workplace. In the case of Abbott Elementary, the writers relied on the disproven idea “a woman in power doesn’t get there by her qualifications alone.”

Principal Ava Coleman Poses Outside of Abbott Elementary. Photo from EntertainmentWeekly.com.

Though Ava is hilarious and fresh, her backstory could have been more enriched and giving, some would say. Her backstory could have been one of success while still being fun and inviting. Abbott Elementary is progressive in some ways, but it has failed viewers in this instance.

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Superstore’s Garrett McNeil Doesn’t Like Black People

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcastand subscribe there to hear more.

Garrett McNeil, played by Colton Dunn, is the sarcastic and sanest character on NBC’s hit show Superstore. Wheelchair bound, Garrett doesn’t disclose what led to his being confined to a wheelchair. He can be cynical and petty, and when someone suggests a terrible idea, he is the first person to encourage them to act out the bad idea, as he sabotages them along the way. Being the only Black male main character on the show, one would expect Garrett to be more than what he is: A Black man who actively participates in the disenfranchisement or dislike of other Black people.

Garrett Confronting Vendor about Bud Light ale.

On Season 03 Episode 18 “Local Vendors Day”, Garrett samples a Black woman vendor’s ale. After a few sips, he says her ale tastes like Bud Light. She denies using Bud Light. Throughout the episode, Garrett pressures the woman to reveal the origins of her ale. When she won’t admit she uses Bud Light, Garrett loudly tells her potential customers that the woman is selling re-labeled Bud Light. To save her business, the vendor pulls Garrett aside and admits she buys Bud Light wholesale and sells it under her own private label.

Garrett threatens [the vendor’s] livelihood.

Garrett’s handling of the ale situation with the Black woman vendor was poor and unnecessary. Out of pure selfishness, Garrett attempts to expose a Black woman doing the exact same thing many companies do: sell brand name products under their own private label. By telling other potential customers the vendor’s secret ingredient, Garrett threatens her livelihood. To be fair, Garrett did ask the vendor out after she admitted she was using Bud Light, so one could argue Garrett used this attack on her business to have a reason to connect with her.

On Season 03 Episode 04 “Workplace Bullying”, Jonah walks in on a thief robbing the store’s safe. Jonah freezes, but Dina catches the robber. In the aftermath of the robbery, Garrett suggests to Glenn, the store manager, that Glenn should fire the security guard (who’s Black), who should have been there to stop the robbery. Due to being late to work, the security guard, should be fired.

Glenn confronts the security guard Garrett wants fired.

The call to fire the security guard could have come from anyone. Glenn is the store manager, and if he wanted to fire the security guard, it would have been at his discretion. One could argue that Garrett was simply looking out for the store and the safety of his coworkers. However, that is not Garrett’s nature. Maybe the security guard should have done his job better. However, Garrett is not a supervisor. He does not have insight into the security guard’s personal life or what led to his being late to work the morning of the robbery.

Furthermore, Garrett is seen as the cool person in the store. Although his advice usually comes from a place of wanting to make things worse for the advice seeker, his coworkers feel comfortable asking for his guidance or opening up to him. When Erick, played by Phil LaMarr, visits the store, Garrett is stuck between awe and envy. Erick is a video game voice artist, who has voiced a number of popular games, and Garrett seems to idolize him.

Phil LaMarr as “Erick” having an awkward sit-down with Garrett.

However, the usually bold and outspoken Garrett chokes up in the presence of Erick. A sit-down between Erick and Garrett ends badly, with Garrett accusing Erick of not being so cool. Garrett goes on to note that he is the coolest person in the store. This interaction shows how threatened Garrett feels around other Black people. Cloud 9 doesn’t have many Black men as main characters, and Garrett looks to keep it that way.

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How I Got My First Book Deal and How You Can Too

Image from RedBubble.com.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

Everyone says, “I should write a book.” Then, they jot a few words in Microsoft Word or whatever writing app they’re using, close the file and never look at it again. But that’s not you. You’ve written a book or are just about finished, and you’re thinking, “How do I get a book deal?” I thought the same, and getting a book deal was simpler and more complicated and simple as I thought it would be.

When I penned my first serious story, it was a full-length action book, over 75,000 words. Depending on the genre, a novel can be anywhere from 60,000 to 90,000 words. That’s a lot to write and even more to revise, edit and proofread. To hone my craft, I began writing short stories. Within a few months, I wrote dozens, focusing on dialogue.

At the same time I was receiving rejection letters concerning my short stories, I had begun writing Operation Soul Cast

As I began sending my short stories out to magazines for publication, I kept noticing a recurring theme in the rejection letters: The reviewers said I “told too much.” They said I didn’t show enough. They also complained that the exposition didn’t allow them as readers to make their own conclusions.

At the same time I was receiving rejection letters concerning my short stories, I had begun writing Operation Soul Cast, a Science Fiction novella (a short novel) with about 30,000 words. When I finished writing this novella, I sent it out and got similar feedback from Tor.com, a reputable publisher.

…the novella of 30,000 words, I wrote in a weekend.

With every rejection, my face reddened a little more. Inside, I questioned my own talent. Outwardly, I blamed the publishers for being closed-minded and unable to spot talent. After throwing a Kanye-like fit, I read and reread the rejection letters.

After rewriting two short stories and parts of the novella I previously mentioned, I sent the pieces out to publishers, and all three got picked up.

I didn’t write my first serious story until I was in my mid-twenties.

In full disclosure, I have a bachelor’s degree in English Writing and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. You don’t need a degree to be an author. However, you do need some of the skills associated with college-level writing and insight into creating fiction.

I haven’t always been a fiction writer. Though I attempted to write stories as a younger teen, I didn’t write my first serious story until I was in my mid-twenties. I thought writing fiction was all about the grammar and punctuation, but I was wrong.

For your manuscript to shine, it must show more than tell.

If your manuscript is filled with error upon error, no publisher is going to take your writing seriously. My command of the English language gave me an advantage, but it isn’t the only thing that sealed the deal in terms of my getting a book deal.

For your manuscript to shine, it must show more than tell. That means describing actions more in-depth than “He ran quickly” or “The cave was hot.” You have to describe the sound footsteps as the person ran or the sweat that drenched them as they stumbled by cactuses in the desert.

…no one told me about elevator pitches, query letters or synopses.

Moreover, you must revise, edit and proofread your manuscript as well as possible. Some writers ask if they should hire an editor or proofreader. How confident are you in your command of grammar and punctuation? If you are not that confident, hire an editor or proofreader; if you are confident but can spend the money without jeopardizing the rent payment, hire someone. If not, prepare to spend hours upon hours perfecting your manuscript.

To continue, in all the blogs I read about getting published before I actually got published, no one told me about elevator pitches, query letters or synopses. If you’re writing a novella, novel or full-length nonfiction book, having all three would be safe; but you’re definitely going to need a query letter (one page) and a synopsis (500 — 800 words. An elevator speech is usually 18 — 25 words). Follow the links within this paragraph to learn more about each.

What matters is how you use the rejections to your benefit…

In closing, after publishers rejected my manuscript for my book Operation Soul Cast, I huffed and puffed and took the advice. There are a couple types of rejections in the publishing world: general and personalized. General feedback is nonspecific and is a ready-made rejection letter. Personalized or specific feedback gives clear examples of how the manuscript failed and could be better. If you get the latter, use it to rework your manuscript. Rejections come and go. What matters is how you use the rejections to your benefit to make a stronger manuscript that will help you get a deal. If you follow the steps, getting a book deal is easy; if you don’t, getting a book deal is the equivalent of solving a Rubix cube on your very first try.

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Post-Valentine’s Edition: How to Keep a Man (Late Post)

In this photo, a woman argues with a man. Photo from Guy Stuff Counseling.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

This post-Valentine’s Day, in this age of information where social media dominates, the percentage of Black men and Black women cohabitating is at what some say is an all-time low. Many Black women ask, “Where are the good Black men?” They exist, but getting them and keeping them is a task in and of its own, from what a successful Black professor/grammar school professor/teacher told me.

This is not to be taken as a comment on all Black men or all Black women, to be clear. My friend, we’ll call him Greg, has been in a decade-long relationship but is contemplating leaving his wife. Of the many reasons, he cites poor communication on her part and lack of submissiveness.

… the average Black successful man’s road… to success has been filled with unimaginable trials.

Black men, as Black women, have dealt with/deal with indescribable social barriers. For the average Black successful man, be he a lawyer or barber, his road to success has been filled with unimaginable trials. He has figuratively had to fight for everything in his life. As my friend Greg notes, the last thing he wants is conflict at home.

The above stated, Greg says, “I’m tired of arguing. I just want peace.” His wife holds a master degree as he does, but for all of her education, Greg believes she is a poor communicator. For example, when he initially suggested they leave the state together for career opportunities, she said yes. When the time came, she refused.

In this photo, a woman waves a man off. Photo from Bauce Magazine.

Furthermore, Greg explained his view of what he meant by “submissive”. “For any successful business to run, you need a sole CEO. Two people can’t be in charge at the same time. There has to be a tiebreaker of sorts. When there’s an important decision to be made and we don’t agree, I want her to trust in me that I will make the right decisions for us.”

“There’s nothing wrong with an independent woman,” Greg says. “The problem is when independence is used as leverage to treat or talk to a man any kind of way.” As he and some other men see it, he says, the word “independent” has been weaponized. It is sometimes used as a euphemism, signaling a woman has no respect for a person she’s dating because she doesn’t need that person.

My independence doesn’t make me believe I can disrespect a woman.”

As Greg notes, “I have a car, house and two great careers. I’m independent, but I still treat my woman with the utmost respect. My independence doesn’t make me believe I can disrespect a woman.”

This is a photo of a Black man accused of crack cocaine possession. Photo from News10 ABC.

Due to the crack era, over-prosecution of Black men and other social issues, many Black men have been benched, to a degree, in society. In the absence of the Black man, some Black women have had to do it all: Go to school, take care of the kids and house and work. Being the most educated group in America, Black women have worked hard to earn their way in this country, even though they don’t always get the recognition they deserve.

Because of this, some Black women have a different experience in life than their white counterparts. Having to shoulder the burden of life so long alone, some Black women are tougher. Greg contends “they wear their independence like a suit of armor: it’s as much for protection as it can be for show.”

Where are the good men?

Constantly, the question “Where are the good men at?” is thrown around on social media. But Greg, like some other men, ask, “What is considered to be a good man?” Greg is employed, educated and faithful, but he feels his wife treats him as she would any guy she’s in a relationship with.

Still, in this 21st Century, we have seen gender roles flip; women are no longer expected to be housewives who set aside their own dreams and aspirations. Therefore, many of them expect something different than their grandparents did in the past.

Screenshot from social media.

In the above screenshot, the person posting it asserts the logic that it is fine to disrespect someone because this person has materialistic possessions. I once read somewhere to judge a person not by how they treat their superiors but how they treat their perceived inferiors. How someone treats someone who they think doesn’t have any social importance shows their true character.

[Some women] display an attitude that will turn most “good men” away, Greg contends.

So, the person who posted that screenshot believes financial stability gives them the right to treat men badly. Their financial stability has made them believe a man has no value. In another lifetime, the man was the expected-breadwinner. These days, if a woman is the breadwinner and she believes men can help only in that way, she may not see the other values in men.

Therefore, when she dates, she may display an attitude that will turn most “good men” away, Greg contends. He says, “Some women create force fields against good men and wonder where they are. Ladies, don’t be those women.”

In this photo, a man and woman smile and dance. Photo from iStock.

That acknowledged, you have to be real with yourself. Would you date a man with kids, and how many kids do you have? Do you view men as more than a “provider”? What do you expect from a relationship, and what are you willing to bring? Being real with yourself and who you are may be the only ways to keep a man.

Show your a man that you value him. Be nice. Smile. Keep your heart open. Don’t fall for your usual type. If you do those things, you’ll be the woman a good man loves, values and cherishes forever.

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Wendy Williams Masturbates in Front of Crew and Manager

Talk Show Host Wendy Williams (Center). Photo by PageSix.com

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

Since 2008, The Wendy Williams Show has based its success off juicy gossip. Most famously, Wendy Williams once accused Judge Greg Mathis of snorting cocaine and having a threesome with his wife and another woman. As noted by Judge Mathis during a radio interview with Wendy at that time, Wendy Williams was experiencing her own controversies. Her husband had left her for, or was at least cheating on her with, a younger woman, and Wendy had relapsed back into cocaine addiction, leading her to miss important days of filming her show. Most recently, she has been accused of masturbating in front of her crew and manager. The question becomes, is this the end of the road for The Wendy Williams Show?

Is this the end of the road for The Wendy Williams Show?

According to multiple news outlets, last year, the 57-year-old Wendy Williams stripped naked and masturbated in front of her crew and manager. The incident allegedly occurred while she was filming an episode of the show and had become excessively intoxicated.

Photo of Wendy Williams from All About the Tea from Twitter.

Of course, Wendy’s actions are a cry for help. Drug abuse is a symptom of depression, and so is alcoholism. However, it is hard to feel bad for a person who for years spread embarrassing news of others and showed no remorse. It seems as though Wendy only cared about the ratings but not the people she hurt with offensive and sometimes unsubstantiated gossip.

It is a well-known fact that before her show, Wendy suffered from drug abuse. She even referred to herself as a “functioning drug addict”. This is nothing to poke fun at; rather, this is a time to see how one of the most influential television personalities ended up in her current situation, where it seems she may lose it all.

Wendy has made millions disclosing the secrets of others to her audience.

Because Wendy has spent so much time digging into the personal lives of others, it is apparent she did not have time to properly care for her own. She is not to be blamed for a cheating husband. Still, one wonders, how much time could a person who knows the status of everyone else’s marriage properly care for her own?

Moreover, Wendy has made millions disclosing the secrets of others to her audience. She has behaved as judge, jury and executioner in controversy that has taken down dozens or hundreds of others. If nothing else, Wendy is getting back with interest what she has paid out.

Wendy Williams and Her Former DJ, DJ Boof, Who Agrees Wendy Needs Rehab. Photo by Johnny Nunez of WireImage.

Although the last few years of The Wendy Williams Show has been ripe with Wendy’s own personal scandals, her show has not been cancelled. In an age where ratings matter more than the health of the host, as long as Fox Broadcasting can make money off of her, Wendy’s personal end may come quicker than her professional end.

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Fresh and Fit Podcast: Disrespectful to Black Women

Fresh and Fit podcast hosts Myron Gaines (left) and Fresh (right). Photo from http://www.TheShadeRoom.com .

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

Fresh and Fit Podcast Hosts Fresh and Myron Gaines, who are Black, have made headlines, after woefully disrespecting African American women, calling them “Shaniquas”. As for dating Black women, the two argue they “don’t dabble in the dark.” They said they would probably be romantically involved with a “redbone” — lighter-skinned African American women — but Black women are generally not their “preference”. Are their statements a matter of preference or a symptom of self-hate unfairly projected onto Black women?

Gaines and Fresh show their bias when referring to Black women as “Shaniquas.”

When defending their statements about not dating African American women, they did what most prejudice cowards do: they hid behind the word “preference”. Dating preferences are fine. No one should dictate who another person loves, but Gaines and Fresh show their bias when referring to Black women as “Shaniquas.”

Rapper Asian Doll (directly center) having a heated argument with Myron Gaines and Fresh on their podcast, before walking out. Photo from www.HotNewHipHop.com .

Collectively calling Black women “Shaniquas” shows how careless Fresh and Gaines are and reveals a certain level of contempt of Black women. Though unsaid by the two, one walks away feeling the underlying message from these two is, Black women lack diversity in personality and uniqueness that set them apart from one another. Gaines and Fresh’s statements are ruled by gender and race, without taking into account any Black woman’s individuality.

Black women bring education, financial discipline and spiritual wealth

For instance, according to ThoughtCo., African American women “are the most educated group in the U.S.” Moreover, Black women are “among the fastest growing entrepreneurs,”noted Forbes. These things considered, Black women bring education, financial discipline and spiritual wealth, wherever they go. With all these facts being true, what is the issue with the statements made by Gaines and Fresh?

Although Black women saw the ugliest parts of slavery — rape, child abduction and worse — they have constantly had to battle popularized stereotypes about their personalities, attitudes and social usefulness. The statements by Gaines and Fresh reinforce these false ideas.

Podcasters Myron Gaines (right) and Fresh (left) being trashed by Black Twitter.

Also, when Gaines and Fresh say they might date a “redbone”, they boost the idea that light skinned Black women are more attractive than darker skinned Black women. This assumption is based solely on skin shade and gender and nothing else. It also upholds the disproven theory that lighter skin is somehow better or more attractive than darker skin. Mixed with ignorance, misogyny of Black women and a terrible understanding of the socially negative effects of these statements, Fresh and Gaines spread a disdain for Black women.

Fresh and Gaines don’t deserve an audience…

Before hearing of these statements this week, most people probably didn’t know who Fresh and Myron Gaines were and didn’t listen to their podcast. These two have nothing to talk about, other than spewing ignorance against African American women. Their statements are cringeworthy and offensive. Those who support their statements are just as much the problem. Fresh and Gaines don’t deserve an audience; they need an educator.

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2021 in Review: Formula for Success

Hip-Hop Mogul and Entrepreneur Jay-Z pops a bottle of champagne. Image from www.Google.com

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

In quiet moments of self-reflection, I have continuously examined who I am and who I want to become. To say this year has been a complete success would be untrue. Yet I have experienced more professional success this year alone than I have any other. The question becomes, where do I go from here, and how do you yourself achieve such success?

This year, I have become an English professor for two different colleges, three if counting the one my tight schedule obligated I turn down. Now, I am the coordinator of a center as well. I contribute this success to the timing of the Universe, my exceptional résumé writing skills and my dynamic interviewing style.

I came from a place that got more bad press than anything.

At this relatively youngish age, I have jumped tax brackets twice over and experienced meaningful careers that drive me. However, it has not ever been about the money for me, though it helps. Positively impacting the future of students who will change the world for the better is the fire that ignites me.

Kids play in a water from a fire hydrant on a hot summer day near the Robert Taylor Projects on Chicago’s Southside. Image from www.BlackPast.org

People often wonder how I did it. From humble beginnings, I came from a place that got more bad press than anything. But I didn’t ever doubt myself. And self-doubt is something you must learn to avoid.

Recently, I was speaking to someone experiencing a rough patch in life. This person complained how no one was doing anything for them. I listened with both my ears and my heart. Yet I had to let this person in on a secret: no one cares.

[People] may not always have the… resources necessary to help you

The world can be dismissive and cold. It can turn its back on you when you need it the most. It’s not always malicious. People have their own lives, bills and situations to deal with. In their strive to do better, they may not always have the time or resources necessary to help you.

As I explained to the previously mentioned person, accepting responsibility for your own life is the first step to success. If you believe that your life is yours to control, if you do not blame others, if you hold yourself accountable, you will achieve more than you ever thought possible.

Hip-Hop Mogul and Fashion Guru Kanye West celebrates. Image from www.CelebrityNetWorth.com

Life is a series of decisions, and there will be good times and bad times. Your success is determined by how well you maneuver the bad times. No one’s life is without trial and error. What separates those who make it and those who do not is the will power within the person.

Tell yourself, my life is mine to cherish and control

When you are alone, utilize that time. Examine your situation. Ask yourself, what do I want? How can I get what I want? Write it down and then act on it. Tell yourself, my life is mine to cherish and control.

A student’s failed exam. Photo from www.TheDailyCougar.com

As an English professor, I have heard students brag and say, “I got an A on my essay.” When their assignment is not as successful, they say, “The professor gave me an F.” In the instance of success, they own it. In the instance of failure, they blame their professor. In both instances, this student wrote the essays. So, this student earned both grades.

self-accountability + planning + action = success

The above noted, I can say success is not easy. It is not infinite, either. You must work to keep it, or it will be washed away by the ever-present tide of failure that is not ever fully at bay. Success has a formula: self-accountability + planning + action = success. Failure is empty words + no action + no accountability.

This has been a wildly successful year for me but only because I live by the formula for success. None of this was given to me. I earned it with the backing of the Universe. I do not know where further success will land me, but I know that there are no limits. Don’t doubt yourself or let failure dishearten you. Own it, grow your wings and take off.

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Jury awards $26 million in Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally civil case

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Overcoming Being Judged

Two strong-willed women from the movie Black Panther. Image from uhighmidway.com

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

Maybe someone recently told you that you’re too “fat” or too “dark”. Maybe someone at work doesn’t like the way you dress or wear your hair. When you come around, your coworkers, frenemies or family members whisper about you. You bravely smile or ignore them, but deep down inside, you’re on fire with embarrassment. During these moments, you feel lost or hopeless, but there are ways to overcome the feelings of rejection that naturally come with being judged.

Focus on the positive.

One of the most important things you have to do is focus on the positive. Too many times, we allow ourselves to focus on the negative. We post a picture on social media and get fourteen “likes” and a bunch of supportive comments. However, the one discouraging comment from a troll is what aggravates us. This shouldn’t be the case.

Realistically speaking, not everything we see or hear about ourselves is going to be positive. We find ourselves scrolling social media and see the high school friend with the new career. Or we see our coworkers riding in a luxury car or going on a dream vacation and wonder, why isn’t my life that good? Why am I not as successful?

Optical illusion of a house that is not a house. Image from loveproperty.com

Imagine a nice-looking house being situated in a landfill. The person living in that house takes a picture and crops out the piles of trash in the background and posts that image to Facebook. All anyone is going to see is an appealing house. No one will know the house is surrounded by trash or smell the rotting garbage. This is what social media is: people posing in the landfill they call life and cropping out the trash. Their life isn’t perfect; it’s cropped.

That being acknowledged, what good is going on in your life? You may not have a mansion, but you have somewhere to live. You may not have a Tesla, but you have transportation to work. You may not have your dream job, but you’re employed.

Be confident in yourself.

Moreover, self-validation matters more than the validation of others. If you struggle with weight, there are a multitude of people who will appreciate your figure. Plenty of people may find your crooked smile attractive. Still, you have to be confident in yourself. If you are not comfortable with yourself, no one will be. Low self-esteem is almost tangible, and it attracts bullies and people with terrible intentions.

However, it is OK to want more. It is fine to want to lose weight or find a better job, if that is what you want to do for yourself. Losing weight isn’t all about aesthetics. You may have a health condition linked to your weight. Know that you can reach whatever goal it is you want to reach.

Woman being bullied at work so much so that she is stressed and can’t get her work done. Image from verywellmind.com

If you are being bullied at work because of your weight, age, skin color or for other reasons, address the people who are doing this to you. It may be uncomfortable at first, but if you don’t stand up, it will become even more uncomfortable for you. If it continues, talk to the appropriate person at work. Doing so almost guarantees the harassment will stop. People have a tendency to appreciate their job over harassing coworkers.

Not all family is worthy of your presence.

Also, family is always beautiful to have, but sometimes you have to distance yourself from those within your family who cause you stress. We are taught family is everything. This is true, but not all family is deserving of your presence. Stay away from those who try to tear you down or judge you.

Photo of Stephanie Yeboah. Image from theguardian.com

To conclude, you are more powerful than you think. Everyone has a certain level of self-doubt. Some just mask is better than others. Distance yourself from those who tear you down. Address coworkers who do, and if they continue, get the appropriate manager or supervisor involved. You will feel better when you do. You’re fine the way you are, and there is always self-improvement for everyone. But don’t change anything about yourself, unless you’re doing so for yourself.

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Harvey Justice: The Hennessy Robe Guy

Picture from Harvey Justice III Facebook Page

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

If you have ever visited Facebook.com, intentionally or unintentionally, you have come across the hilarious Harvey Justice, who got his stardom making videos about Hennessy. Harvey uses his favorite cognac in everything from liquor-infused food recipes to outlandish drinking sprees. With over 1.2 million Facebook followers and over 90,000 YouTube subscribers, the comedian-turned-entrepreneur Harvey has tried to monetize his fame. In doing so, he has created a not-so-concise but intriguing brand that promises to make him rich(er) someday. With a blossoming music career, one has to wonder how Harvey went from making videos about hilariously misusing Hennessy to being a rapper.

…his base product of robes seem well-made and to be in high-demand.

Usually clad in one of his “Daddy” Robes, Harvey’s image is based on mock-sexual appeal and his relentlessly genuine interaction with his fans surrounding his comedy and “Daddy” brand. The brand includes condoms, soap, sleep masks, his comfy robes and more items associated with relaxation. Oddly enough and befitting of his quirky personality, his products are priced with two or three of the same digits in a row. Though expensive, his base product of robes seem well-made and to be in high-demand. Outside of that, Harvey has been making music, and shockingly, it’s not half-bad.

Harvey Justice Modeling His Episode 27 Mink Robe

Harvey Justice’s music is a direct reflection of his image: laidback and stress-free. His song “Love Me Back” is smooth as Hennessy over ice and tackles the woes of love. In it, he asks to be “loved back” and be “loved first.” Over a mellow beat, he pours his heart out concerning the insecurities that come with love, including sex and potential heartbeat. He rebukes hate, claiming to have had enough of it. But Harvey is not a one-hit wonder.

His pain and anguish are almost palpable.

In another song called “Forget About Me” which is about love, Harvey recounts a girl’s telling him to “forget about [her]” if he can not distance himself from other girls. Harmonizing more than rapping, he recounts a close girlfriend becoming his enemy. A step away from his usually playful personality, he laments the ailments of losing a girl whom he has conflicting feelings about. His pain and anguish are almost palpable.

Also, Harvey has a song called “Pancakes and Hennessy” that is reminiscent of the quirkiness that initially got him famous. If he had not made this song, he wouldn’t be himself. While discussing a bad view of girls, he recounts the joys of Hennessy and Pancakes. Unlike many of his other tracks, the beat to this one is hard and bass-heavy. Though some may find the lyrics distasteful, the song itself is more comedy-based than reality.

“Daddy” is a microcosm of the man himself.

From “Daddy” robes and prophylactics to chill, smoke-by-yourself lyrics over butter-like beats dripping heartache and comedy, Harvey Justice demonstrates his many talents and urge to be financially set. Though the “Daddy” brand may be in need of a more concise message, “Daddy” is a microcosm of the man himself. Harvey comes off as a relaxed guy who doesn’t take life too seriously. This magnetic attitude is likely what draws his fans to him in the first place.

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Has Dave Chappelle Gone Too Far with The Closer Special, or Has He Not Gone Far Enough?

Photo by Mathiue Bitton of Netflix

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

Dave Chappelle speaks controversy as a second language. In many of his stand-ups, Chappelle attacks cancel culture. In his Netflix special Sticks and Stones, Chappelle does an impression of a group of people attacking a comedian for saying something controversial. He then tells the audience the impression is of them; as fans have cancelled the great Kevin Hart, Chappelle’s argument is, one day his loyal fans will do the same to him. He believes that those who practice cancel culture are too sensitive, have too much power and that they should relax a little. However, with his new Netflix special The Closer, many are wondering if his own predictions of being cancelled are now coming true.

[Chappelle] goes on to say “gender is a fact”.

In The Closer, after mentioning J.K. Rowling’s being cancelled for what some deemed anti-trans ideas, Chappelle defends the author of the Harry Potter novels, while asserting that he himself is a TERF: Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. He goes on to say “gender is a fact”. This view is directly opposite of those who believe gender is a social construct used unfairly to dictate the roles of people based on a gender that was assigned to them at birth.

Furthermore, Chappelle says he wants to “negotiate the release of [the rapper] DaBaby”, who recently took some financial hits because of disparaging comments concerning the LGBTQ+ community. Chappelle downplays DaBaby’s words and argues for his inclusion in the music industry.

Employee of Netflix Terra Field who spoke out against Dave Chappelle and was suspended by Netflix but later reinstated. Photo from NY Post.

some of the employees are planning a walkout to boycott Netflix.

Following The Closer special, backlash reigned down on Chappelle in the form of Netflix employees storming a meeting in which Chappelle was a part of. The streaming guru suspended said employees. This being seen as an attempt by the company to silence the voice of trans people, the move did not sit well with many. Shortly thereafter, at least one of the employees was reinstated, but some of the employees are planning a walkout to boycott Netflix.

Up until this point, Netflix has defended Dave Chappelle, arguing that comedy is supposed to push the boundaries and that none of it is about discrimination or bigotry. The company further argued that what it produces as comedy does not reflect its values or workplace environment.

Comedian Dave Chappelle juxtaposed to Terra Field, who confronted the comedian about the trans jokes he told in The Closer. Photo by NY Post.

To protect himself and Netflix, Chappelle strategically released The Closer last in his installment of specials. Although the comedian has previously made jokes about the trans community, none have been as boundary-pushing as the jokes in The Closer. Chappelle has already been paid, and he does not have to worry about an upcoming special being boycotted in the near-future. Also, in this final Netflix special, Chappelle said this would be his last for a while. So, what happens next?

How does [Netflix] strike a balance between defending Chappelle [and] ensuring its viewers will not experience bigotry?

The above noted, Dave Chappelle likely knew the potential fallout from his comments. That is why he hinted previously that at some point, fans would turn on him or want to cancel him. However, Netflix is fighting up a slippery slope. How does it strike a balance between defending Chappelle while also ensuring its viewers will not experience bigotry at its hands? There are a few possibilities.

Firstly, Netflix could continue its defense of Dave Chappelle and risk losing a significant number of subscribers. This is unlikely. Though the company initially defended Chappelle, executives made sure to note that Dave Chappelle’s comedy is just comedy and does not reflect the company’s views towards the trans community.

Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos. Photo from Fox Business.

Also, the company could pull Chappelle’s specials and bury them, while issuing an apology for the material. This could be a likelihood. After suspending activists for barging in on the Chappelle meeting, the company quickly reinstated at least one of the suspended employees. This shows a crack in the company’s resolve in defending Chappelle. It seems that the fire of cancel culture is turning up the heat on the streaming giant. But what about Chappelle?

[Some] companies [value] return on investment…more than human equity.

Chappelle is one person. He is not a company. His fears are not losing an entire company. With a fanbase as loyal as his, being cancelled is not a strong likelihood. Whether it is through another streaming company or a cable company, Chappelle’s ability to bring revenue is undeniable. In many cases, some companies value return over human equity.

Dave Chappelle out with his wife. Photo from The US Sun.

Moreover, the question becomes, where is the line between comic and bigot drawn? Toward the end of The Closer, Chappelle vowed to stop making jokes about the trans community until he is sure he, his audience and every community are laughing together. Though he made these “jokes” under the guise of comedy, some believe he actually holds a disparaging attitude towards the trans community and that his remarks may incite violence against trans people. Is Chappelle right for cracking jokes and pushing boundaries or wrong for seemingly perpetuating negative stereotypes about gender and gender identity in regards to the trans community?

Whatever the case may be, while some laughed deeply while watching The Closer, a number of people didn’t find it so funny.

The question remains though: Is cancel culture strong enough to take down Dave Chappelle? Should he be cancelled for what some see as bigoted, dangerous remarks about the trans community, or should he be given a comedic pass? Whatever the case may be, while some laughed deeply while watching The Closer, a number of people didn’t find it so funny.

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VLAD TV: The Bane of Black America

In this photo, DJ Vlad throws up “West Coast”, a symbol popular amongst rappers, though he is not a rapper and was born in Kyiv, Ukraine

About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and Creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Updated 2/18/2022

On playgrounds across America, before the pandemic, one child with their hands extended would stand between two other kids and say, “If you’re bad, hit my hand.” The purpose of this is to instigate a fight that the two combatants are not that enthused about initiating. Interestingly enough, the instigator usually doesn’t have to worry about being punched in the face. This instigator is like Vlad who uses hip-hop radio and vlogging to single-handedly send more Black men to fight petty wars between each other than white slave holders. It is time to cancel Vlad for good.

Vlad… keeps up conflict that should have evaporated… decades ago.

Vlad Lyubovny, known professionally as DJ Vlad has made a name for himself instigating rap beef between artists. One would think Vlad would be covering timely issues, but he has managed to keep up conflict that should have evaporated into thin air decades ago.

For instance, Vlad had rapper Young Buck on his show in December 2020. During the interview, Buck mentioned that rapper Juvenile and others from Cash Money Records had left him stranded in California. Recently, Vlad had Juvenile on his show and mentioned Buck’s interview. Juvenile called Buck several derogatory names during the interview with Vlad and this caused a bigger stir between the two rappers.

Detroit rapper Royce Da 5’9 took to Twitter to accuse Vlad of stoking the fire between Buck and Juvenile

In this photo from No Jumper, Detroit rapper Royce Da 5’9 calls out DJ Vlad

While the world was waiting for Young Buck to respond, Detroit rapper Royce Da 5’9 took to Twitter to accuse Vlad of stoking the fire between Buck and Juvenile. Royce went on to say how Vlad is poisoning relationships in hip-hop by using his platform to create tension amongst rappers. This is a true assessment of Vlad, because, other than causing conflict, Vlad’s show has no purpose or substance. It’s trash journalism/vloggism at best, the video equivalent of the National Enquirer tabloid.

Rappers are not forced to appear on Vlad’s show, but that does not mean Vlad has no responsibility.

Once upon a time, comedian/entertainer Nick Cannon expressed some stressing sentiments on Vlad’s show. Nick’s contention was that Vlad was corrupting rap music by creating a space where rappers are invited to incite confrontations and incriminate themselves. Vlad’s argument, as his supporters’ is, is that these rappers appear on his show without duress. This does not address Dj Vlad’s instigating.

Rappers are not forced to appear on Vlad’s show, but that does not mean Vlad has no responsibility in the drama he perpetuates. In the law, any person who creates an environment where bad things happen are responsible for that. As an example, if an adult throws a party where there’s underage drinking, the adult is responsible.

Here, Nick Cannon appears in a Howard University sleeveless hoodie

DJ Vlad is a culture vulture who means rappers no good. Due to contracts and wanting to promote their music, rapper sometimes use Vlad’s platform as an outlet. However, he preys on them and coaxes them into violent situations or snitching on themselves. He does not care that things may turn deadly from his instigating.

Moreover, Vlad has no moral compass beyond dollar signs. The more beef he starts, the more clicks he gets. His show is nothing more than a pre-fight club. It is where rappers go to ruin their careers and be made a puppet of for Vlad’s gain. He is untrustworthy, greedy and selfish.

rap music is art

Also, “hate” is a strong word, but does “love” describe what Vlad has for hip-hop culture? Black culture? People will say, “Vlad didn’t force those rappers to say what they said.” Some will go a step further and say, “Rappers talk about killing each, sex drugs and money all the time. How is what Vlad doing any different?”

To begin with, rap music is art. As white multi-platinum rapper Eminem who threatened to kill then-Vice President Mike Pence on record said, “A lot of people think that what I say on record…I actually believe. Well, if you believe that, I’ll kill you.”

Former Rap Group NWA, known for their hit “F*ck the Police”, pose for the camera

Sometimes, when kids who are not POC draw guns or non-POC men paint a nude woman or a non-POC woman makes a sex toy, it’s considered art. It should be marveled at; it should not be picked apart, some in America say. And if a non-POC rapper “threatens” to “kill” the Vice President, it’s art but not a threat.

it is time to cancel Vlad and the bloodsucking, culture vulture part of society he so adequately represents.

However, Black people’s art has rarely been appreciated by America; it has never been understood. It is why the 1619 Project by Pulitzer Prize-winner Nikole Hannah-Jones caused such a stir and Black rappers who have not threatened the lives of sitting authorities are portrayed as a threat. Hip-hop is rooted in storytelling, grand pseudo-luxury realities and pessimistic hope. It is about struggle and overcoming it, about being someone other than who the rapper truly is. Rap is an expression of everything good and bad the rapper has experienced. Hip-hop/rap is art.

Black America was told not to run numbers, not to smoke cannabis, not to use “Ebonics”, correctly known as African American Vernacular English. Then, America became rich off the lottery, richer off African American Vernacular English by using it in their promotions and became legal billionaires with the same marijuana that sent Black men to jail for decades. Vlad is an embodiment of the social leech that has always been on the groin of Black America, and it is time to cancel him and the bloodsucking, culture vulture part of the world he so adequately represents.

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