Tag Archive | race

Is The Character Olivia Pope On TV Show Scandal Just The White Man’s Whore?

I agree with the black lady’s You Tube critique of the hit ABC show Scandal that the character Olivia Pope is the white man’s whore. I understand, that a lot of black women love Scandal because it is the first show since 1974 to have a black lady in the lead. Olivia Pope isn’t a mammy or a maid which is often a popular representation of a black woman on television. Remember, Nell Carter’s 1980s hit show Gimme A Break? Carter’s character was a maid for a white middle class family.

A common image of a black woman on television is to be mammy the black female character is usually overweight, unattractive, a loudmouth, and of course asexual. On another ABC show Grey’s Anatomy, Chandra Wilson’s character Dr. Bailey is a mammy she doesn’t really have a life of her own. Dr. Bailey is tough but she’s also very loving and nurturing she conforms to the black mammy stereotype.

Scandal is different from Gimme A Break and Grey’s Anatomy because Kerry Washington is a very attractive black woman she’s presenting a more feminine image of a black woman. Washington’s character on Scandal Olivia Pope is intelligent, sexy, and she gets to wear fancy clothes. However, beneath the surface, there are some subliminal messages that I find unsettling.

Scandal presents another stereotype of the black woman, the oversexed black whore. There seems to be no in between for black female characters on television they are either maids, a mammy, or a whore.

First, the relationship between Olivia Pope and President Grant is based on lust and sex that’s it. The You Tube critique is correct, Olivia Pope is the white man’s whore because she isn’t getting what she wants which is a loving relationship where is treated like an equal. One argument is, Scandal is a television show so why can’t black characters be flawed just like white characters? There is some veracity to this argument that black characters do not need to be noble saints.

However, given the fact there are very negative stereotypes about black women in pop culture in relation to sexuality Scandal simply engenders and reinforces these representations of black women.

Second, Olivia Pope sleeps with the President but she’s not his wife she’s his side chick, she’s the mistress, the jump off but she’s not his wife. Olivia Pope is never going to be more than the president’s whore that’s all she is. President Grant gets to have sex with Olivia and go back to his wife Mellie and have sex with her too. President Grant is getting what he wants a lot of sex without the commitment from Olivia Pope.

I don’t think Olivia Pope is like Sally Hemmings, but I do believe there is a strong power imbalance in the relationship.
Shonda Rhimes the executive producer of Scandal is also a black woman but she doesn’t have a problem making Olivia Pope so weak, fragile, and vulnerable.

Third, Scandal isn’t a positive image of a black woman because it depicts the black woman as being licentious and all about sex. The interracial relationship is hidden from the public’s view it is treated as though it is a secret not something that people should respect. Yes, certain characters are aware of the interracial affair but the general public do not. The fact that the interracial relationship is a secret simply magnifies the fact it is considered negative and bad.

I believe the interracial element to Scandal is indeed it is still taboo for a black woman to have an affair with a powerful white man. The Scandal is indeed the interracial relationship it is considered dirty, dangerous, and could be disastrous.

Where is Olivia Pope’s dignity? Doesn’t Olivia have enough self respect to break off a relationship with a man who clearly doesn’t love her?

I am aware that Olivia Pope did have a black male love interest in the second season but the black senator was an old man. The black male love interest wasn’t someone who could have become a serious threat to President Grant.

Hopefully, as Scandal progresses Shonda Rhimes will allow Olivia Pope to become more independent from President Grant but I doubt it. The audience seems to like Olivia Pope being the white man’s whore which is sad. Scandal isn’t progressive the program depicts black women as loose sluts willing to drop their panties for powerful white men.

Racialicious Article Criticizes Macklemore Says Mainstream Media Put Him On Pedestal Because He’s A White Straight Male.

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Race + Hip-Hop + LGBT Equality: On Macklemore’s White Straight Privilege

On March 6, 2013 ·

By Guest Contributor Hel Gebreamlak

Macklemore (left) and Ryan Lewis in video for “Thrift Shop.”

Much of the nation was introduced to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis this past weekend, thanks to their appearance on Saturday Night Live, a major accomplishment and promotional tool for any musical artist. Considering the indie-rap duo’s already growing popularity with their chart-topper and multi-platinum seller, “Thrift Shop,” it is important to examine the impact of their success.

Macklemore has already been touted by several media outlets as the progressive voice on gay rights in hip-hop since the release of “Same Love,” his second single to chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song, which peaked at No. 89 last week, tries to tackle the topic of gay marriage and homophobia in media and US culture, focusing specifically on hip-hop with lyrics such as, “if I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me.”

Though Macklemore is not gay, “Same Love” has gotten many accolades from fellow straight supporters, as well as members of the gay community. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where DeGeneres introduced them by saying, “Here’s why you need to care about our next guest. No other artists in hip-hop history have ever taken a stand defending marriage equality the way they have.”

But, how can this be the case when there is already an entire genre, Homo Hop, comprised solely of queer hip-hop artists? Whether it is intentional or not, Macklemore has become the voice of a community to which he doesn’t belong in a genre that already has a queer presence waiting to be heard by mainstream audiences.

Mary Lambert performs “Same Love” on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

We should also examine the song’s hook, performed by lesbian singer-songwriter Mary Lambert. Lambert first gained notoriety as a spoken-word artist, and it is important to remember that spoken word, like hip-hop, is rooted in Black culture. They are both a response to white supremacy.

However, Lambert, like Macklemore and Lewis, is a white artist. This begs the question: what does it mean to have three white people–two of whom are straight–be the beacon of gay rights in hip-hop?

In “Same Love,” Macklemore does not address these concerns. Instead, he raps about hip-hop as if it were his. The song lyrics even take it a step further by conflating Black civil rights and gay rights, which are both about identities he does not possess and oppressions he does not experience:

A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em
Call each other f*ggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference

Nov. 2, 2008 protest against Prop. 8 in California. Image by John Hyun via Flickr Creative Commons.

Macklemore speaks of hip-hop as if his whiteness is irrelevant when criticizing the genre as a whole for being homophobic. These lyrics are very reminiscent of much of the shaming of people of color that occurred in 2008 after the passing of Prop 8 in California, where Black people and Latin@s were accused of being responsible for the anti-gay legislation passing while seemingly ignoring the millions of dollars raised by white Christians to ban marriage equality. Though Macklemore may not be blaming Black people for homophobia, by focusing on homophobia in Black community spaces as opposed to the pervasiveness of homophobia everywhere, white people get to remove themselves from the problem.

On top of this, the same argument that suggests that Black people should be more understanding of homophobia because of their own oppression is used both in the lyrics of “Same Love” and in many racist pro-marriage equality campaigns. This line of argument suggests that homophobia perpetrated by people of color is somehow worse because they should have known better as people who are also oppressed. Furthermore, when white people are homophobic, it is less condemnable because they don’t know what it is like.

Along with not acknowledging his white privilege in “Same Love,” Macklemore uses the homophobic slur “f*ggot” in the second verse seemingly without any consideration of his straight privilege. Though he is condemning the use of the slur, there are ways he could have held this conversation without inciting the word itself, since many folks within the queer community feel hurt by straight people using that word in any context. And in the third verse he raps, “and a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all, but it’s a damn good place to start.” For many queer people of color who have not seen themselves represented in the marriage equality campaign, it can be very hurtful to have a straight person–let alone a white one in a musical genre that was created to address white supremacy–tell them where the best place to start is.

In a November 2012 interview with Chris Talbott of The Associated Press, Macklemore expresses his fear over touring in states like Idaho, Montana, and Texas as a pro-gay artist. Macklemore was afraid that there would be backlash from the heartland, however, was pleasantly surprised when the rap duo was met with open arms. “Those were three places where people probably sang the loudest,” Macklemore said.

Macklemore’s fear of traveling these states demeans the reality that there are queer people there to begin with, who are already living in communities that are theirs. He also fails to acknowledge that he is straight and, therefore, experiences the privilege of not being gay-bashed.

This line of thinking appears to have informed the song “Same Love” from the start. The single supports the idea or, at least, implies that people of color–particularly Black folks who created hip hop–are more homophobic than white people and that there are no queer people who feel supported in these communities. This is very dismissive of queer people of color who consider communities of color their primary communities, who have experienced racism by queer communities, and for queer hip-hop artists of color who have found a home in the undervalued sub-genre of homo hop.

However, Macklemore distances himself from his privileges. Continuing to focus on hip-hop, he talked about misogyny and homophobia in hip-hop culture with Kurt Andersen of Studio 360:

Those are the two acceptable means of oppression in hip hop culture, Its 2012. There needs to be some accountability. I think that as a society we’re evolving and I think that hip hop has always been a representation of what’s going on in the world right now.

By making statements such as these, Macklemore not only gets to remove himself from straight and male privilege–both of which he benefits–but he also gets to be the white savior of hip-hop. Macklemore pleads for hip-hop to be more accepting of non-queer women and queer people, but he does not promote the work of non-queer women and queer hip-hop artists of color. In fact, he does not even include a queer person of color in the song “Same Love,” but instead chose Lambert, a white person whose success was also found in a Black art form.

Macklemore acknowledged the complications of being a white artist in hip-hop earlier in his career, in the song “White Privilege”:

[W]hite rappers albums really get the most spins
The face of hip hop has changed a lot since Eminem
And if he’s taking away black artists’ profits I look just like him
Claimed a culture that wasn’t mine, the way of the American
Hip Hop is gentrified and where will all the people live

Despite knowing that white artists get more recognition due to racism, Macklemore has not taken any steps to minimize this reality. He has not been accountable to homo-hop artists of color, who not only are impacted by homophobia in society as a whole, but also go unsupported because of homophobia and racism that favors white straight men like Macklemore. Macklemore has not corrected the misinformation that he is the most pro-gay voice in hip hop, when what could be more pro-gay than a gay artist within the genre? And none of the artists featured on “Same Love” have been openly accountable to the fact that they are profiting in a genre that does not belong to them at the expense of queer artists of color.

Lambert’s website calls the song “revolutionary.” But, is it really revolutionary to take up space in a genre that exists in response to a system of oppression you benefit from? Is it revolutionary for Macklemore, as a white straight man, to assume that gay people–including gay people of color who may find strength in hip hop in the face of racism–must feel that the genre hates them as is stated in the first line of the second verse in “Same Love”?

And, is it revolutionary for white people to get mainstream recognition for talking about homophobia in hip-hop, when queer hip-hop artists of color are routinely ignored? The fact of the matter is the success of “Same Love” is largely due at least in part to white audiences being more receptive to white straight men talking about oppression than oppressed people, as well as the comfort of being able to remove themselves from misogyny and homophobia because the oppression at hand is the fault of Black people in hip-hop. What could be more revolutionary than that? How about listening to queer people of color?

Hel Gebreamlak is the co-founder of Writing Resistance and author of the blog Black, Broken & Bent.

Global News: Violence In The City Of Toronto Is A Serious Problem Yet Strained Race Relations Between Black Community & Police Force Ignored.

Toronto’s black community has a serious problem with gang crime.  There is no need to lie about it because the recent shootings in Scarborough this summer where two innocent young people died was pernicious. In addition, the shocking shooting at Eaton Centre in June is terrifying because violence can occur anywhere in the city of Toronto.

There too many young black  who are so apathetic to the concerns of others. My question is, why are young black men getting involved with crime? What has happened to these young black men that they don’t value life or care about the well beings of others? Now, I know these young black males who get involved in crime have parents, families, siblings. So what happened to this generation? What went wrong?

Now, essentialists are going to make racist assumptions that it has to do with the “essence” within black males which causes some to commit crimes. The other possible explanations are poverty, unhappiness, despair, lack of education and employment opportunities leads young men to crime.

However, the white Canadian media never look beneath these surface explanations. Perhaps it is time for Toronto’s black community to not be so reticent and acknowledge there is a serious problem here?

There are programs for at risk youth, basketball camps, after school programs to assist children that are in danger of entering into crime. I believe these programs are important but are also band aid solutions to a deeper, more subliminal problem.

I can understand why some black people are irritated and annoyed by the media whenever gun violence occurs. Why should black people who are hard working and good citizens care about the bad behaviour of others? Why should the actions of a few tarnish the reputation of an entire race? It is ludicrous that people of colour are generalized in this manner.

Are white men generalized as psycho murderers like James Holmes shoots up a theatre in Aurora Colorado? Are young white men demonized in newspapers are psychopaths and killers?

Recently, a white supremacist murdered innocent people in Michigan at a Sikh temple. Are the media pathologizing young white men as being violent? Is there an essence to these young white males whiteness which causes them to go psycho and shoot and kill innocent people?

There questions are never asked in the mainstream white media because we live in a white society.

White privilege allows whites to generalize the actions of some in the black community yet the mirror image is never reflected at the majority.

Remember, white people control the Canadian media, the news which is broadcast on television, in the newspapers, and on the internet is based on white privilege. An editor decides in an editorial meeting what is the news. What sells more papers? What gets people talking? The media has a critical role in how race is shaped and constructed in Toronto.

In the classic 1988 essay, Peggy McIntosh a white feminist wrote an article called White Privilege The Invisible Knapsack. McIntosh’s article was groundbreaking because she is a white woman and she acknowledges the privileges she has simply because she was born white. According to McIntosh, whites are conditioned by the media and white society to ignore their privilege. Just like men ignore our male privilege and the freedom we have to walk freely in society, white people don’t have to think critically about race. A white person can live his or her’s own life in North America and not think about how race affects their lives.

People of colour we don’t have the luxury of not having to think about race. Race is in our face every single day of our lives whether we want to admit it or not.

It is understandable that some in the black community are angered that when crime occurs suddenly the entire race is to blame for some idiots dangerous actions.

Why are blacks generalized for the actions of a few? Why should I personally care if a black man shoots someone just because we are the same race? I don’t shoot anybody, I’m a citizen minding my own damn business.

The counter argument is, the white press in Toronto claim that black people need to become more vigilant and just trust the police force. The quandary is, a lot of black people in Toronto do not trust the police due to strained race relations.

Another point to consider is, some black people are terrified and afraid they don’t want to be the next statistic and get shot.  It is a vicious circle that seems to be getting worse in the city of Toronto. There is a lot of bad feelings, anger, resentment.

It is disconcerting to see young black men shooting and killing innocent people. I think something has happened to the minds of these young black males who get involved in crimes.

Frantz Fanon the black psychiatrist and author of the book  Black Skins, White Masks argues in chapter five called The Lived Experience of the Black man that  the psyche of black males are shattered due to racism.

The black man sees himself in the third person he does not see himself as a three dimensional human being because the white man has the power to control the images and representations of the black man.

Now some people might argue that the city of Toronto is a multicultural paradise where racial harmony exists.

The danger of multiculturalism which the Toronto media engenders is it ignores racism and pushes it beneath the surface. Racism is a serious problem in Toronto yet Canadians like to pretend it does not exist.

The power structure in Toronto is still based on white privilege. For instance, Toronto has an idiot  white mayor Rob Ford he’ is obnoxious,  pathetic, unprofessional, and abhorrent. However, Ford is praised by the white right wing media in Toronto. The mayors of Toronto and all the police chiefs are white people. Even though, the city of Toronto has a very large non white population the people in power are still white.

The Toronto police force is also a problem there aren’t enough black officers on the force in positions of power. Real change needs to occur inside the police force in order for racism and barriers of indifference to break down. Why would a black person suddenly trust a white police officer in crime ridden neighbourhoods? The so called anti racism policies are a farce. The question still remains, why do people still not trust the police to inform them about criminal activity? Why are people so afraid to speak out?

The media is also to blame because the real subliminal problems that are not visible are not discussed in the public sphere. Serious and hard questions about inequality, racism, and discrimination, are not brought to the surface. Canadians still have an apathetic attitude towards race which is disconcerting.

In  America, despite the race relation problems between blacks and whites they are more honest about racism. In the United States, people are not afraid to discuss race.

CNN, ABC, Fox News, NBC, and the major American media outlets constantly discuss racism in the public sphere. Americans are aware of racism in their country they don’t hide and pretend it doesn’t exist. By contrast, Canadians believe in the illusion of multiculturalism which is dangerous.

In order for Canada to progress, people need to stop being afraid to discuss race, inequality, white privilege, and other social problems in the public realm.

Surprising News: White Gay Publication The Advocate Devotes An Entire Issue To Frank Ocean & Black Gay Queer Artists.

The Meaning of Frank Ocean

When the up-and-coming musician came out, he drew praise from celebrities and his hip-hop collaborators, and revived the question of whether gays have a place in the industry.

BY TERRANCE DEAN

SEPTEMBER 06 2012 4:00 AM ET

It was a sweltering Fourth of July. People across the country were in parks, in backyards, and lined up along waterfronts anxiously awaiting the fireworks displays. The smell of barbecue, hot dogs, and hamburgers being grilled wafted through the air. It was a celebration of our great nation. And all the while, Twitter and Facebook were buzzing about an entertainer, a relatively unknown young man from California who posted a letter on his Tumblr page about having been in love with another man. The Internet was suddenly in a frenzy about this guy.

“Who is Frank Ocean?” a million tweets asked. Google searches began.

In 2010, Frank Ocean, born Christopher Breaux in New Orleans, became a member of the alternative hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. His solo debut mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra, was released the following year to critical acclaim. He released two singles, “Novacane,” and “Swim Good,” and both achieved chart success.

Ocean’s first full-length studio album, Channel Orange, was set to be released July 17, and a letter in which he declared his first love, for another man, was initially meant to be a part of the album’s liner notes. But following an early listening party, BBC Radio 1Xtra personality Max pointed out that the lyrics referred to “he” and “him” instead of “she” and “her,” which she took to be an indication that Ocean is gay or bisexual. Ocean took matters into his own hands, and on Independence Day he posted that letter on his Tumblr for the entire world to see.

My hope is that the babies born these days will inherit less of the bullshit than we did. anyhow, what I’m about to post is for anyone who cares to read. It was intended to fill the thank you’s section in my album credits, but with all the rumors going around…I figured it’d be good to clarify…

His letter went viral and traveled worldwide in a matter of moments. Suddenly, everyone knew his name.

4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence…until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless…. It was my first love, it changed my life.

Instantly, it seemed those words changed the entertainment industry. The letter caused its own firework

“It was sheer joy because he was the first national well-known artist to come out and announce his sexuality,” says Lloyd Thurston “Gyant” Dinwiddie, referring to Ocean as the first black artist to come out to a hip-hop audience. Gyant, the gay media personality and blogger at Gyant Unplugged,was one of the first to share the story online. “Frank Ocean is cemented in music history forever. Anyone who has walked in the LGBT shoes knows that story. His message related to people, and for him it was a weight lifted off his shoulder.”

July 4, 2012, marked a declaration of freedom for 24-year-old R&B soul singer Ocean. It was his coming-out party, and we’d all been invited to the virtual parade. His image, that of a serious-looking, handsome young man with a strong jaw line, a short beard, and a short fade haircut, was circulating along with his letter. Those who hadn’t previously heard of Ocean quickly learned that his announcement was significant, and especially significant to watchers of hip-hop. But it wasn’t a shock to everyone.

“I was like, What’s the big deal? It’s not like we all don’t know homosexuality exists and has its place in hip-hop,” says Reggie Osse, entertainment attorney, author, former TV executive, and host of The Combat Jack Show. Osse has represented artists including Damon Dash, Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Puffy, and DMX. He was instrumental in helping Jay-Z secure his first recording deal.

“I was really happy that Frank Ocean took his life and career into his own hands and made his proclamation,” says Osse. “It’s the first announcement of someone making a statement willingly. But let’s not act like this doesn’t exist.”

Frank ocean’s letter spoke of an unrequited love. More than simply coming out, Ocean was inviting the world into his emotional state at a vulnerable moment. In beautiful prose Ocean shared the raw intensity of wanting to fully experience love with the object of his affection and being met with an unwilling heart.

I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best, but he wouldn’t admit the same. He had to go back inside soon. It was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs. He wouldn’t tell me the truth about his feelings for me for another 3 years. I felt like I’d only imagined reciprocity for years.

Tyler the Creator (left) and Ocean dance onstage during a performance at the 2012 Coachella music festival in April.
Before long music celebrities including Russell Simmons, Solange Knowles, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé began tweeting and posting messages of support for Ocean. Even Odd Future member Tyler the Creator, who’s well-known for his use of the word “faggot,” tweeted how proud he was of his brother and friend. It seemed as if the hip-hop industry, which has notoriously been a closed boys’ club that shuns and ostracizes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, had experienced a change of heart. Hadn’t Jay-Z, a towering figure in hip-hop, just recently announced his support of marriage equality, following a message of support by President Obama? Jay-Z had seemingly just given Ocean a pass and ushered him into the boys’ club. And not from afar: Ocean had written and performed on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s hip-hop album Watch the Throne.

“I’m surprised that a lot of young gay people flocked to him, like he was doing something big,” says gay rapper Deadlee. “My first reaction was like he didn’t do anything. It didn’t seem to me like it was that big of a deal. But then I did research and discovered he was a part of Odd Future, and Tyler the Creator, who is always saying ‘faggot this’ and ‘faggot that.’ I was like, Whoa! This dude [Ocean] never checked him. Maybe they knew the whole time, and they were taking the word back and not tripping on it.”

The words “gay” and “faggot” have been a mainstay in hip-hop since its inception. In Grandmaster Flash’s 1982 song “The Message,” a portrayal of inner-city life, we are introduced to a down-low man hiding his secret:

Now you’re unemployed, all non-void Walking ’round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd / Turned stickup kid, look what you’ve done did  / Got sent upstate for an eight-year bid / Now your manhood is took and you’re a may tag / Spend the next two years as a undercover fag

The hyperbolic masculinity of rappers, lyrically slaying homosexuals and degrading LGBTs, continued as the culture of hip-hop evolved from party anthems to aggressive gangster thug styles by performers including 50 Cent, DMX, Busta Rhymes, and Eminem. As men boasted about their cars, bling, and hard lifestyle, women and LGBTs bore the brunt of hip-hop’s lashings.

Reggie Osse, describing homophobia in hip-hop, says, “I had a conversation with rapper Lil B last year. We were talking about the changing values thematically and what these new rappers are doing. However, the old-guard rappers are like Republicans and want things to stay the same. Whereas hip-hop is changing, and many who are born in this culture are taking it to another place. There are some old-school cats who want to keep rap conservative. Some of my friends who are in hip-hop are very adamant that there is no place for gays. They begin quoting the Bible, and they are coming from an antiquated way of thinking.”


Left: Gay hip-hop artist Deadlee
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has called on record labels and hip-hop artists to end the name-calling and anti-LGBT behavior, and protests have been lodged over lyrics by Eminem and Jamaican dancehall/hip-hop artists Beenie Man, T.O.K., and Buju Banton, among others. From the birth of the musical genre, gay acceptance and hip-hop seemed incongruous. But Eminem performed with Elton John and later announced support of marriage equality, and Beenie Man, in the face of canceled shows, recently made a public apology for his history of antigay lyrics and public remarks. But Frank Ocean’s coming-out is a marker of a different kind, and it revived the question of whether the treatment of LGBT people is truly better than it was just a decade ago. Or are the changes for the better just cosmetic, on the surface?

“I think there is more of an acknowledgment that LGBT people are part of hip-hop culture,” says Tim’m West, a scholar, youth advocate, and gay-identified rapper who founded the groundbreaking rap collective Deep Dickollective. “Hip-hop is one of the last territories and spaces where gays cannot be part of the culture, instead of being the stylists, choreographers, and hairdressers. We can be behind the scenes, but not in front of the mike. The climate has changed around homosexuality, and it’s one of the civil rights issues of today. Hip-hop previously didn’t think we were in the room. We were not visible, out, and present. Now we are.”

Many LGBT figures view hip-hop’s historically homophobic attitude as tied to the black church’s deep-rooted issues with sex and sexuality. Condemnation of gays by an institution central to many black communities has the effect of deeply entrenching antigay hostility.
“Some people are not inherently homophobic,” says West. “It’s cultural, and a lot of homophobia is not from a deep-seated hatred of gay people but more by what is socially acceptable and what they see others doing.”

“I believe in…one’s right to be free,” says legendary rapper MC Lyte. “When we as a community, be it African American, the entertainment industry, or just the block, allow someone’s sexual, political, or religious preference to cloud our ability to see their true spirit, we lose. We lose the opportunity to fully embrace another one of God’s children. Truthfully, no matter how much an individual would love to point out the differences between themselves and another, we are all one.”

Ocean may have received support by some influential hip-hop figures. But the list of artists who were not willing to discuss him for this article is revealing. B.o.B., Lupe Fiasco, Trey Songz, Jaheim, and Wiz Khalifa declined to discuss the subject. The representatives for Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, and Nicki Minaj said their clients were busy and unavailable for comment.

Jay-Z, one of the many artists to voice support for Ocean, performs onstage.

“I’m an advocate for those in my family and those who I am close to, and I am an advocate for the homosexual community,” says rapper Murs, a member of the hip-hop groups Living Legends, Felt, and the 3 Melancholy Gypsies. He is also part of a punk fusion band, the Invincibles, out of Jacksonville, Fla., and is prepping for the release of his new album, This Generation, with fellow rapper Fashawn.

Murs recently released a shocking music video for his single “Animal Style.” Both the single and video feature a young man as he struggles with his sexual orientation, and portray the conflict he feels as he begins to date another man. Murs plays his boyfriend. In the video, the two men share a kiss. He explains that he spoke with his wife prior to making the video, and she fully supported him and the concept.

Murs faced significant opposition in making the song. “I wanted to do this song for five years, and for five years producers did not want to touch the song,” he says. “They didn’t want to be associated with the subject matter. However, those same producers are now calling me and supporting me and saying they are proud of me.”

Murs says he did the video and song to let his gay friends, associates, and fellow rappers know that he was aware of their being closeted and that he still cared for them. “I wanted to give them their moment and let them know that the door is open and I am going to take a stance for them,” Murs says. “And I think with artists like Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, and myself, homophobia in hip-hop will disappear.

“Teenagers are killing themselves,” he continues. “We have to stop this because people are losing their lives and getting beat to death. It makes me extremely sad. I can’t watch children die.”

While gay men and lesbians in hip-hop have often been pressured to stay closeted so as not to invite public, family, and personal shame, for many artists being openly gay was considered career suicide. Many performers are still strongly encouraged by agents, managers, and label executives to not be out—or even identify as one of the letters in the LGBT acronym.

“No one will support you if they know you’re gay,” Tim’m West says. “The notion in the black community [is that] coming out is a social death, and you might as well die. For white artists, such as George Michael, Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, and Elton John, their record sales did not plummet, nor did their careers suffer. It’s only within the black community.”

Ocean has largely refused to do interviews on this subject, and even in his interview in the British newspaper The Guardian, he doesn’t address the issue of labels.

“A lot of people were giving Frank Ocean props and saying that he was letting everyone come into his world, as opposed to coming out,” Deadlee says. “In his letter he never used the word ‘gay,’ and this guy is getting more props for not even using the word or even identifying in his letter. I’m gay and I’m not afraid to use the word. I hope that Frank Ocean comes to the point of not being afraid to use the ‘gay’ word.”

Though he doesn’t give his sexual orientation a label in the letter, Ocean does describe relationships with women. “Frank Ocean never said he was gay or bisexual, he just said he was in love with a man,” says Ebony Utley, an assistant professor in communication studies at California State University, Long Beach. “It was others who needed to identify and label him instead of him, and allowing him to do it for himself. Let’s let the man define himself… Besides, he was wise not to say anything beyond his letter, and that’s what he needed to sell his record.”

The kiss in Murs’s “Animal Style” video.

Though the declarations of support for Ocean by 50 Cent and Jay-Z were a milestone in hip-hop, Utley notes, “Frank Ocean is an R&B singer. Let’s be clear, hip-hop hasn’t had its first openly gay artist. No rapper has come out. Honestly, we don’t know what the support will be for an openly gay rapper because one has not come out.”

The distinction is quite significant for music industry watchers, including Utley, who feels R&B is a more open environment for LGBT musicians. R&B artists Rahsaan Patterson, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Donnie had already publicly acknowledged being LGBT, and each was with a major record label when they did so. Donnie was signed to Giant Step Records and Motown Records when he publicly disclosed that he was gay, in 2007, and he was the first male to do so. The velvet-voiced R&B singer-songwriter has worked with India.Arie and recorded and released two albums, The Colored Section and The Daily News.

“There was nothing said about my sexuality with Giant Step,” Donnie says. “When they signed me they already knew. They signed me because of my art and felt it could sell.” From Giant Step, Donnie was signed over to Motown Records, and the discussion of his sexuality wasn’t brought up there either. “I figured Motown already knew about my sexuality because when The Colored Section was released I wasn’t on television or in videos acting like I was in love with a woman or singing to women. It was nothing for me to say in an interview I was gay. It was just like I was saying I was black. Besides, if you got gaydar, you can see I was gay. So why hide?”

Donnie grew up in a very strict religious family, which practiced the Hebrew Pentecostal faith. He attended the same church as singer Marvin Gaye. Donnie says he struggled with his sexuality as a young boy because the pastor of his church would single him out and speak to him in code via the sermons. “My mother made me go into his office and tell him that if whoremongers can play the instruments, then sissies can sing.”

Rapper MC Lyte (left) performs onstage during VH1 Divas Salute the Troops in December 2010.

Donnie’s music is much more about social messaging, as he addresses ideas that have perplexed the black population and society as a whole. “The music I do is political. I will mention being gay and talk about homophobia, but my songs are not love songs,” Donnie says. “I didn’t want to play the pronoun game and say ‘she’ when I meant ‘he.’ When you’re a songwriter and you’re writing a song, you want people to be involved. I am going to say ‘you,’ ‘we,’ ‘us,’ and ‘they.’ I am not going to sit here and say ‘she’ because it blocks a lot of people out.”

Singer-rapper-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello wasn’t ashamed to speak about her bisexuality. She was one of the first artists to be signed to Madonna’s record label, Maverick Records, in 1992. Her latest album, Pour une Ame Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone, is due out October 9.

“I was very lucky in that Maverick Records saw it as a benefit and not a hindrance,” Ndegeocello says. “They thought of it as a marketing angle. I totally understood that. I never had to deal with pressure from them.”

On Ndegeocello’s controversial single “Leviticus: Faggot,” she spoke candidly about a young man discovering his homosexuality and the rejection from his family.

    •  Bisexual crooner Meshell Ndegeocello (left) performs during the Melbourne Festival finale concert at Sidney Myer Music Bowl in October 2010.
      “I saw people like Ellen [DeGeneres] and what she had to go through for people to accept her and all that she achieved,” she says. “She is a ray of light. That is what I’m trying to bring to the LGBT community. We are exceptional people. Let’s share our gifts, and don’t shun my gifts because of who I have a personal relationship with. Especially the NAACP and the black pastors who quit and are upset over Obama and him supporting gay marriage. You embrace a religion that aided in slavery, but you judge me on my sexuality? Let’s be rational. I want to help people to rise above that.”Though a few brave artists have come out, rising above homophobia will require significant effort from the R&B and hip-hop communities, both gay and straight. Ndegeocello acknowledges the difficulty: “I think it’s harder for men,” she says. “Men need a movement. It’s harder to be black, gay, and male. It makes me have the utmost respect for black gay men in an industry of hypermasculinity.”

      For several years hip-hop has been described as being at a tipping point with regard to homophobia, yet the toppling of a pervasive attitude has yet to be achieved. Frank Ocean hasn’t yet said what it means to be Frank Ocean, but with each significant coming-out, the haters have less standing to insist that LGBTs have no place in hip-hop.

      “The ones who are hiding are the main ones with the commentary, and want to beat you up,” Murs acknowledges. But he says there’s a greater purpose in coming out despite the difficulty. “You don’t have to be afraid. You can come out. All the directors, rappers, producers, and all your homeboys, why don’t you all come out together instead of partying in the hills and being secretive? You have to stop being selfish, and come out and help some other young person who is struggling.”

LA Times Article: Frank Ocean’s Coming Out Could Be Watershed Moment In Black Music Views About Homosexuality.

Frank OceanFrank Ocean performs at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Related photos »

By Gerrick D. KennedyJuly 4, 2012, 11:45 a.m.

Frank Ocean’s Def Jam debut, “Channel Orange,” isn’t due for two weeks, but the album has had Twitter abuzz for days.

As the Odd Future crooner previewed the highly anticipated disc for press, attention shifted to his sexuality after one blogger’s brief mention that when he sings about love on a number of tracks he uses “him” as opposed to “her.”

It was that quick line that has dominated the blogosphere.

PHOTOS: Gay celebrities, who is out?

What was fascinating about the rampant speculation about Ocean isn’t that it spread so quickly (much of this week’s headlines have centered on Anderson Cooper confirming his sexual orientation), but rather how many blogs haphazardly drafted their own analysis, most of them without having heard the album.

Now we know for sure: Tuesday evening Ocean took to his Tumblr to address the spreading headlines. In a preface post, he wrote that he would be posting what was originally meant to appear in the liner notes for “Channel Orange.” He made clear that he lived the lyrics in his songs, which he sings with such an intense passion, urgency and plainness. This was his story.

“With all the rumors going round.. i figured it’d be good to clarify..,” he wrote.

In the letter – actually a screenshot of a note document – he describes the first time he fell in love with a man and how the relationship progressed. He bluntly stated, “I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore.”

“4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide,” Ocean wrote in part of the letter. “Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence … until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless…”

The straightforward letter – which can be read in its entirety here – is undoubtedly the glass ceiling moment for music. Especially black music, which has long been in desperate need of a voice like Ocean’s to break the layers of homophobia. There are plenty of reasons this moment has so much weight. Too many for any single article to explore.

Ocean has never talked at length about his personal life, leaving his music and its often-complex narratives to drive the conversation. But in a culture where the gossip increasingly and frustratingly outweighs the music, Ocean’s casual and candid approach to addressing his personal life, and revealing his personal truth of having loved a man, will be seen as groundbreaking.

There was no cover story, no anonymous sources or PR-orchestrated announcement (though this is not to demean those celebrities who have taken those approaches to this issue). Sure this will be seen as his “coming out” but it should be noted he doesn’t use the word “gay” or “bisexual,” and his letter isn’t about caving to the pressures of the labels we are so quick to pass out.

Ocean told his story on his terms and in his own words, something virtually unheard of in hip-hop and R&B — genres he has already pushed forward artistically with his work, and could push further.

Thursday, Ocean played the disc for a small group of music reporters at Los Angeles’ Capitol Records.

“This will take about an hour of your life,” he said before focusing on the control board and bobbing his head to the album, a stellar kaleidoscope of atmospheric beats, lush harmonies and those complex narratives he’s known for.

“It’s a bad religion, to be in love with someone who can never love you,” he muses over an organ on “Bad Religion,” one of the track’s catching attention along with the Andre 3000-assisted “Pink Matter” and the album’s wrenching closer “Forrest Gump,” where he sings of a boy he once knew.

“You’re running on my mind, boy,” he offers on the track.

The reaction to Ocean’s revelation is still uncertain –- although any negativity can be drowned out by the album’s raw beauty and masterful craftsmanship. The outpouring of tweets supporting Ocean has made it clear that he’s going to get a fair amount of love from fans and the industry, with some already touting him as a hero and a trailblazer. Being someone of his stature will place a heavy burden on his shoulders as being the “first,” but this moment was so very necessary.

Hopefully, in the wake of his letter, the urban community will fully embrace Ocean for his honesty and bravery. It’s impossible he’s alone.

Is Actress Kerry Washington Making A Mistake For Agreeing To Star in Quentin Tarantino’s Slave Film Django Unchanied?

According to the website Deadline.com, actress Kerry Washington has agreed to star in Quentin Tarantino’s controversial slavery film Django Unchained. Django Unchained will be released in December 2012.

Kerry’s character Broomhilda, will be raped by white men multiple times in the film. According to the Django Unchained script,  there are suggestions that Broomhilda is “in love” with a white male slave master.

Is this really possible? Could a white slave master really fall in love with his female slave?  The black female slaves had no choice they either slept with the white male slave master or they were murdered. I don’t think it was “love” at all.

Also, some black women during slavery wanted their slave children to obtain freedom so they slept with the white master.

In fact, Broomhilda will also appear  nude in many scenes in the movie. I understand that interracial sex did occur during slavery because white men owned their black female slaves. I am not disputing that white men raped black women during slavery or had mixed race offspring.

However, I am concerned about Kerry’s decision to appear nude in the film and being raped multiple times by white men. Is Django Unchained just Quentin Tarantino’s racist sexual fantasy to treat the black female body as a sexual fetish for white men? I wonder, because Tarantino has a history of depicting black women in his movies in very sexualized and stereotypical roles.

Does Kerry really think appearing in a degrading film will launch her career to the A list?  I wonder if Kerry has thought it through? Why would Kerry want to take on such a degrading role? Isn’t Kerry cognizant of how Hollywood stereotypes black female sexuality as licentious?

I also wonder, is a slave movie the best role a young black actress can get in Hollywood?

Does The Gay Community Stereotype Gay Black Men Based On The Skin Tone?

I really enjoyed this conversation because in the black community there is a problem with internalized racism.  Some black people believe a person with lighter skin is better. For instance, some black men will date a lighter skinned woman because they want to be closer to a white image. Some gay black men do the exact same thing.  I thought it was profound when the light skinned gay man in the video said he hated it when people told him they liked him just because he is light. He was insulted because he feels there is more to him than just his skin colour.

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