T. Martin T. Martin

How to Talk to Young Black Women About Trayvon Martin

In the wake of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, many are writing about how to talk to Black boys about this tragedy. But, how do we talk to young Black girls and women? With a nod to writer/comedian Touré for his “Eight talking points about the potentially fatal condition of being Black,” here, then, are seven talking points for young Black women:

1. You are not the problem, although sometimes you may be made to feel like you are. One day you will grow up and become aware of all the “research” out there that blames Black women for the ills of the Black community. You will learn about everyone from Senator Daniel Moynihan of New York (who saw the possibility of you growing up to raise a child on your own as the major cause of our community’s problems) to Life Always, (a pro-life group which insists that the most dangerous place for a Black child is in your womb).

I hope that you will recognize this for what it is: an offering of Black women as a scapegoat for a society where being Black is still one of the most dangerous things that you can be. Trayvon Martin has taught us that the most dangerous place for Black boys is not your womb or your household. The most dangerous place for Black children is still the streets of America.

2. It is okay, even wise, to nervously clutch your purse when you run into a Black man on a dark, deserted street. This is the same nervousness you should feel when you run into any man on a dark, deserted street. Do not fall prey to the characterization of Black men as inherently more dangerous than their counterparts of other races. You know better.

3. You are not safe, little sister. Just as negative stereotypes have led to the perception of 17-year-old Black boys armed with nothing but a bag of Skittles as dangerous criminals, you will have to deal with stereotypes that portray you as immoral, aggressive and hypersexual.

Since coming to this country, your body has been bartered and sold everywhere from slave auctions to popular culture. Even if you grow up to become the First Lady of the United States, people will still have no more qualms discussing your “big butt” than if you were a girl in a rap video. Be on the look out for individuals who seek to emotionally or physically harm you based on what they have “heard” about “girls like you” – i.e. Black girls.

4. Unfortunately for you, you are the daughter of two of our country’s greatest social ills – sexism and racism. You have been raised your entire life in a society that does not see you as the beautiful, intelligent, strong and worthy individual that you are. In our country’s seeming war on women and war on minorities, it is hard not to end up a POW.

Sometimes white women will not understand your loyalty to your Black brothers and sometimes Black men won’t understand the depth of your feminine pain. This is your cross to bear. While I would like to believe that this duality will soften or fade in your lifetime, I refuse to give you false hope. Being Black and a woman will not be easy, but I have faith that you will shoulder this burden with strength and grace, just like those who have come before you.

5. I know this is hard to hear but our justice system is not your knight in shining armor. Historically, African Americans have not been granted the same protection of the law as their white counterparts. Trayvon is one striking example of this. You could be the next.

The Victorian concept of "true womanhood" that characterized white women as unquestionably moral and pure, also labeled African American women as depraved and sinful. Such notions are still alive and well in the minds of many. Under these terms of engagement: no matter how dire your straights, you will never be a “damsel in distress.”

6. Being Black is going to make feminism more difficult for you. We could never belong to a movement which would turn us against our brothers but it is okay to love Black men fiercely, fight for them always and still challenge them to love and respect you just as deeply. Make their fight yours and help them make your fight theirs.

7. Most importantly: be careful, little sister. Be careful of the places that you go and of the people you are with. Be careful of what you are wearing, whether it is a mini skirt or a hoodie. And, if ever you find yourself in a dangerous situation, never assume that your civil rights are a given, never lose your cool or your dignity and never, ever forget Trayvon Martin.

Trayvon is your brother. Trayvon is you.  Trayvon is us.

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Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

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Actress Gabrielle Union attends the Being Mary Jane premiere, screening, and party on January 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)
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BET To Unveil Edible Billboard For 'Being Mary Jane' Wedding Finale

As Being Mary Jane comes to an end, BET is willing to offer fans a taste of what's to come in the series finale.

The network has enlisted the help of Ayesha Curry, celebrity cook and cookbook author, to create an edible billboard that also doubles as a wedding cake. The sweet treat will commemorate Mary Jane's (played by Gabrielle Union) nuptials in the two-hour series finale.

On April 20 from 1:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal in New York, fans will be presented with the edible billboard. At the intersection of Ashland Place and Hanson Place, the closer Being Mary Jane enthusiasts get to the billboard the quicker they'll notice that the four-tiered wedding cake is created from individual boxes, each containing a slice of Curry's prized wedding cake.

All fans have to do is pull a box from the billboard, snap a picture for the 'Gram, take a bite and enjoy. Although lovers of the show won't be able to celebrate with Mary Jane herself, biting into a slice of her wedding cake, for free, is the next best thing.

Don't forget to tune into the series finale of Being Mary Jane on Tues. (April 23) at 8/7 c.

Also, check out what's to come on the series of Being Mary Jane below.

Save the date! 👰🏾It'll be worth the wait. Join us for the series finale of #BeingMaryJane TUES APR 23 8/7c only on @BET! pic.twitter.com/jEwkbC71OW

— #BeingMaryJane (@beingmaryjane) March 29, 2019

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The North Face

Ella Mai On The North Face's 'Explore Mode' Campaign, New Music And Living In The Moment

Ella Mai is in her own age of exploration. Her eponymous debut album scored her a platinum plaque with her breakout hit, "Boo'd Up" earning her a Grammy for Best R&B Song. But the accolades aren't driving her creative path. The arc in her compass is all about the places she's traveled, the people she's met and the lessons learned along the way.

"To be honest, personally, exploration is like growth. I feel like if you don't explore new things, whether it's going outside, meeting people or trying new food, you won't ever grow because you're just stuck in your little comfort zone which can be super scary to come out of," she tells VIBE at The North Face's Explore Mode event in New York on Monday (April 15). The singer is one of three women (including model-activist Gabrielle Richardson and chef Angela Dimayuga) who teamed up with the brand to share a message of enjoying the outside world without digital confinement and the global initiative to make Earth Day a national holiday.

The London native's urge to explore came in handy over the weekend when she performed in the brisk desert of Coachella. Inspired by artists like Rihanna and Ms. Lauryn Hill, Mai helped fans enjoy the hazy sunset as she performed hits like "Trip" and her latest No. 1 song, "Shot Clock."

"It's such a good feeling, especially when it comes to radio," she shared about her track reaching No. 1 on the airplay chart. "I wasn't even sure if people listened to the radio because people have so much access to streaming platforms, but obviously having all three of my singles from my debut album, go number one on urban radio is incredible."

That energy was brought to the Coachella stage with the festival being her biggest artistic exploration so far.

"My favorite part of the performance would have to be when I performed "Naked" and because it was dark, and I performed when the sun went down, I couldn't see how far the crowd actually went back. But during "Naked," it was such an intimate moment I asked everyone to put their lights up (phones) and when I saw how far it went back I was like, "Woah." That moment sealed it for me."

"Even there were two people in the audience, I still would've done my best," she added. "But just to see the crowd be so engaged, even if they didn't know the music, was a really good feeling. I had so much fun."

As the festival energy in Indio, Calif. continued to thrive, another rested on the streets of Los Angeles following the loss of Nipsey Hussle. With the singer having ties to those close to the rapper like DJ Mustard, she says the shift in the city was hard to ignore.

"As weird as it sounds, you felt it," she said. "Even in the weather, it was super hot and then everyone got the news and it started raining. Just a weird energy shift." As a new L.A. resident, the singer says Nipsey's influence cannot be denied.

"I feel like the energy shift went both ways; everyone was really sad, grieving and mourning but everyone feels more inspired by what he was doing that they want to go out and do something and change in their community. It's still a very touchy subject in L.A., especially the people that I'm around since they were very close to him. I think everyone is super inspired to do better and try to be more like him, which is great to see. YG's whole set at Coachella was dedicated to him, I know Khalid had a dedication to Mac Miller. Everyone is super aware of what Nipsey was trying to do and how he wanted to change the world."

Engaging in The North Face's mission to explore seemed to be in the cards for Mai. Like many of us, Mai was familiar with the brand's effective coolness factor. "I remember running home and telling my mom that I needed a Jester Backpack because my cousin had one as well, and it's similar to the other stories, I wanted to be like my older cousin (laughs) so my mom ended up getting me one." But there's also the incentive to showcase the importance of stepping away from the phone screens and into leafy green forests.

"I'm such a live-in-the-moment person," she says of her lack of identity on social media. While she might share a thought or two on social media, Mai is interested in appreciating the world around her. "I feel like everyone is so consumed about documenting the day, you don't really get to live the day. You just watch it back but I like to have the memories in my head. Of course, sometimes, I'll take out my phone but I try to live in the moment as much as possible."

Part of that mission is ensuring Earth Day is celebrated the right way. With the support of Mai, Richardson, and Dimayuga, The North Face officially launched a petition to make Earth Day a national holiday.

“The North Face is no stranger to exploration and this Earth Day we are proud to join our partners and fellow explorers in a global effort to make Earth Day a national holiday,” said Global General Manager of Lifestyle at The North Face, Tim Bantle. “We believe that when people take time to appreciate the Earth, they feel more connected to it and are more likely to protect it. Explore Mode urges us to unplug from our digital lives to connect in real life to the world, each other, and ourselves in the effort to move the world forward.”

Mai hasn't hit her all of her exploration goals just yet. "I really want to go to Indonesia or Bali," she said. "That's one of my Bucket List places I really, really, really wanna go." For her essentials, the singer knows she has to bring along a windbreaker set and of course, a jester backpack. "I think the backpack is the most important thing."

In addition to a few trips around the globe, one destination includes the studio for new music. While she hasn't had time to lock down a moment to record, the inspiration is sizzling.

"When I work in the studio, I like to be like there for a good amount of time," she explains. "I like to block off two to three weeks at a time, I don't like to go to different studios and different places, it's just a comfort thing but I'm very excited to get back cause I have a lot of talk about. I've seen so many different places and met so many new people and a lot that I didn't get to experience last year."

Learn more about The North Face's petition for Earth Day here.

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