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Opinion: Should The N-Word Be Compared To The Confederate Flag?

A week after the tragic shootings in Charleston, S.C., that took the lives of nine churchgoers at Emanuel AME Church, racism continues to be the center piece of nationwide discussion. The alleged manifesto belonging to Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old shooter, details his "racial awakening" and disturbing views of the black community. Meanwhile, protestors in South Carolina marched to the Statehouse on Saturday (June 20) to demand that the Confederate flag flying above the building be removed.

President Barack Obama also used the N-bomb during a recent podcast interview to make a point that racism is still prevalent in America. “Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say n***er in public,” he said. “That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.” In another bold move from a high-profile figure, CNN's Don Lemon recently held a sign of the N-word on-camera.

With recent acts of police brutality and gun violence still dominating headlines, VIBE's staff contemplates the weight of the N-word in comparison to the Confederate flag. Should both be banned?

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I've only been called a n***er one time in my life. It was this year, actually, just a handful of weeks before my 25th birthday. My friend and I were riding the 6 train home from a Jazmine Sullivan concert, recapping the evening's events. A homeless looking man with stringy white hair hobbled his shriveled body through the crowd and over to us just to say, "Don't you n***ers know to be quiet?"

Stunned and a bit slow on reflexes, I muttered loudly to my friend, "At least I have somewhere to go home to," before getting off at my stop. Admittedly, it was a weak response in comparison to the rage I felt in the moments after. I wanted to say much, much more, but I hadn't had much prep prior to the scenario. I've gotten unfunny Oreo and Kool-Aid jokes in jest, but nothing malicious like that. Hearing the cuss word equivalent come from a white mouth shocked me way more than it hurt, because it's not a term I identify with at all.

In the same token, when I hear black kids and young adults dropping N-bombs loud and proud (but mostly loud) in a crowded subway car of multicultural commuters, the discomfort hits me like a brick crashing through a glass window. I want to look around and read the white faces scanning my own for a reaction or to pass judgement on my people. But instead, embarrassed, I bury my eyes downward and rummage around my purse looking for nothing in particular, desperate to disconnect myself from how freely the word is being used in public. Being used in the presence of both the ones who once spat the title at brown bodies in disgust and those whose ancestors felt the pummel of its blow not too long ago. A shared property.

The ease at which the N-word rolls off the tongue regardless of company simply shouldn't exist in 2015. We, as people of color, shouldn't be using it so comfortably, so inclusively with anyone who historically didn't feel oppressed by it. Even more outrageously, our own getting up on stadium stages and encouraging lily white faces to sing along with us at shows? Who thought that was a good idea? More specifically, who thought that was a progressive idea for us as an American people? An American people who we all KNOW are still struggling to remove resilient strains of hatred from their deeply rooted lineage?

I'm not going to put the blame on the entire black community and say we are responsible for the old school white, southern, Confederate or whatever community's lack of respect towards people of color. That's a slap in the face to us all. But how can we be mad or surprised when they use the phrase freely behind our backs and to our faces unashamed (and unchecked!) when some of our own virtually give them the thumbs up to use it under the guise of a friendship title? Or a song lyric? A stamp of coolness? A fashion line? (Hi, Mr. West.) It just doesn't add up.

I know the discussion at hand is about people being okay with mass usage of "the new N-word" versus proud Southerners flying their Confederate flags freely despite their blatant ties to racism, but I can't even move forward with it because the former is bothersome on its own. Of course, I don't think we should casualize (yes, I made that up) the N-word, a symbol of black hatred in its origin. So of course I don't rhink we should casualize the Confederate flag, a symbol of black hatred in its origin. It's foolish. It's insensitive. But more importantly, it's wrong.
—Stacy-Ann Ellis, Assistant Editor

SEE ALSO: Rappers Weigh In On Whether Or Not The Confederate Flag Should Be Banned

I'd never seen a white person shout "n***a" with my own eyes until I attended the Bonnaroo music festival last week. And that sh-t pissed me off.

When my people were called "n***er" during the time of the word's inception, it was obviously no term of endearment, and the way in which we use it now amongst ourselves is not the same. It's not filled with hate, and it's not a way to create a sense of inferiority. And that was our choice. We flipped the word and created a new way to reference our counterparts. "N***er" belonged to those hateful people. "N***a" belongs to us. And no, our use of it does not give white people the right to say it - because they were never beaten, spit on and killed over it. Coming from their faces, it's still an ugly version of historical déjà vu.

Don't white people get away with breaking enough rules? Don't they have enough dominion over the happenings in our society? Do they really need to establish a sense of "freedom" by using our goddamn word? Can anything be sectioned off just for us, and they just respect it? Is that really too much to ask? Telling black people to diminish the word "n***a" from their vocabularies, just so that white people don't use it too, is just another way to communicate that they have ultimate control over the social climate. We certainly had no special treatment then, and we don't get any now. F**k your word, "n***a." You know nothing belongs to you in this country.

The key difference between black people saying "n***a" and a redneck's attitude toward the Confederate flag is that we now want the right to create new symbolism; they just want to reiterate its original message. So when they fly it, wear it, and put it on their license plates, it's a slap in the face to the people who were victimized in the name of their beloved flag. They are not intending to create a new way of looking at things; they are simply keeping an old outlook alive. "N***er" was transformed into something different, the Confederate flag is still the same old Confederate flag. Just holla at Dylann Roof's backward-a** manifesto for proof.

I am not naive, however. I understand that it is virtually impossible for rappers to scream the word "n***a" in the catchiest of songs and expect the average hip-hop consumer - a white kid in middle America - not to follow suit as they sing along. We've made it cool to be a "n***a." But white rap fans are just our "n***as" in jest, not our n***as in real life. They're down to sing our fun songs, but still hit us with the #AllLivesMatter hashtag when black folks are slaughtered like animals. So sing that song in the confines of your mom's basement, bruh, because proponents of the Confederate flag are really down with their racist cause. White people who scream "n***a" with Jay Z aren't about to care about our issues with the same vigor.

As the saying goes, "Everybody wanna be a n***a till it's time to be a n***a."
—Iyana Robertson, News Editor

SEE ALSO: Opinion: VIBE Editors React To #CharlestonShooting

I was born in Washington Heights to Dominican parents, and raised between South Bronx and central Florida. In those adolescent years, I never once had to defend my use of the N-word. After all, it was stitched into my vernacular. While my immigrant parents never used it, all of us first generation kids of Quisqueyano descent dapped each other up and used “my n***a” as a term of endearment. As did our next of kin, our African-American and Caribbean black counterparts. More importantly, for years, we’ve reclaimed that word in our poetry, in our spoken word and in our neighborhood cyphers.

It wasn’t until I was living in Tallahassee, Fl. going to school at a historically black university that I was approached by an Omega and asked why I said it when he heard me in earshot. No one had ever asked me that question before. I was 20 and a hippy sophomore in college. “Latinos were also lynched. They were called n***ers too.” My response, I could tell, was not one a thoroughbred Southerner expected to hear. The truth is, while African-American history is severely distorted, the Latino one is often, in parts, completely left out of textbooks.

Fast forward to 2015 and I’m no longer sure anyone – black or brown – should be using it. For years, I had been detached from the predominantly white world. I went to a historically black performing arts high school, attended a historically black university and, today, I’m a writer in hip-hop and Latino culture. When I returned to academia as a 26-year-old grad student at Pratt Institute, I found myself, for the first time in a long time, to be a brown speck in a pool of white. For the first time in my life, I wanted to watch what I said. I wanted to make sure I never uttered the N-word around my melanin-deficient classmates, because I didn’t want to give anyone the incentive to feel like he or she could use it.

Is it my responsibility as a woman of color to set the precedent in an era where so many are now desensitized to the word and its historical context? Should I also stop using it in my ebonics? In my poetry? In cyphers? Do I completely eradicate it forever?

What about the Confederate flag? The confederate flag is a not just “a symbol of Southern pride.” It’s cemented in racism as an emblem of hate and white supremacy. And it was flown all around the places I lived in Florida; on school grounds, hanging over windows, trailing from the tail end of a car. I hate to compare the two, considering the N-word was reclaimed and remixed by the very people it was used against as a form of dehumanization. But isn’t that what’s at stake here—historical context? No matter how we look at it, the two take root in slavery.

I certainly need Confederate flags and merchandise to stop being sold at Walmarts, and for the government to not allow it to be sold as a license plate in any state. I’d love to see the Confederate flag be completely eradicated forever. I’d also love for Kanye West to stop speaking for black people and giving his European friends the “permission” to use “n***a.” But really, what does that all mean when real internal and external change is ultimately the responsibility of the individual?

Even if we “forgave” it, like Emanuel AME Church forgave Dylann Roof for the massacre of nine black bodies, then what? Dylann Roof will likely die the same person he was the night he sprayed a faithful group of disciples in their time of worship. I’m not saying that getting rid of the N-word and the Confederate flag can’t aid in change. I’m saying it has to go beyond that. And until the collective white mass starts to speak out/act out for black problems, nothing will irrevocably shift.
—Marjua Estevez, Viva Editor

In a 1961 interview, author and cultural critic James Baldwin said, "The only thing that really unites all black men everywhere is, as far as I can tell, the fact that white men are on their necks." Fifty-four years later, Baldwin's still correct.

But for some reason, some black people believe they've "loosened" the pressure by taking ownership of the N-Word, flipping it on its ear and redefining a term that has been rooted in centuries of oppression and bloodshed, and for me, that's the truest sign of mental slavery.

Yes, as Columbia Associate Professor John McWhorter pointed out in his TIME opinion piece, referring to the word isn't the same as using the word, and not being able to refer to the word, prohibits honest—maybe even uncomfortable—conversation about race.

But professor, if I may, we're past that point. Eric Garner was placed in an illegal choke hold and killed for selling loose cigarettes. Dylann Storm Roof walked into a historically black church, killing nine people with the intent to start a race war, and upon arrest, police bought him Burger King, proving white privilege is even given to the guilty, so forgive me if I don't want them referring to it, saying it or feeling entitled to it anymore than they already do.

The N-Word merits a real life SMH when I hear black kids and teeny boppers freely use it in public places, but then stings when whites feel comfortable enough to use the phrase colloquially among their friends. I don't care what Jay Z or Kanye West told you, he doesn't speak on behalf of me or all black people. Watch ya mouth, bruh!

If all black people stopped using the N-Word, I can't say that all Confederate flags would be taken down. The N-Word is a direct result of the flag, not the flag itself.

But what I am saying is this: be very careful about what you say around me, N-Word included. It won't be a pretty situation for you.
—Shenequa Golding, Editor

SEE ALSO: Band Of Brothers: Friends Of Charleston Shooting Victim TyWanza Sanders Honor His Life And Legacy

When we first thought of this comparison, I immediately felt that we totally owned the word n***er. As a culture for hip-hop, it has always felt like "our" word. Not to be used by others not down or involved with our culture. It's a versatile word that is a term of endearment, ridicule, violence and humor. But it carries so much hurt from previous years of oppression that, just like the Confederate flag, represents a stance that a certain group of people want to have a connection to. Yet, the debate on the word and the symbol stops for me when government institutions embrace what can be viewed as an icon for hate, flying high and unmovable at the South Carolina Statehouse.

An artist can have the word "n***er/n***a" emblazoned on their album cover, perform a song with that title on late night talk shows and tour the country doing concerts with thousands of people singing the word and it still will not have the same tint when viewed with those making legislative decisions for a state full of families under a racist flag.

One is a mindstate and one is a mandate. Which is more harmful to the people is debatable. What isn't debatable is if your laws and regulations are formed in the shadows of oppressive, historically racist supporters (those in the S.C. Statehouse letting the Confederate flag fly) then all the n***er shouting songs in the world don't compete for social deterioration, as entertainment and laws are not judged the same. Now, the laws and regulations that are upheld and formed in that building are made with a cloak of racist views, based on the Confederate flag they support that waves above their heads everyday. You can ignore entertainment, you can't ignore laws.

I should be able to say any word, however hateful or degrading, that I want. That's free speech. But if the law abiding rules I am to follow as a tax-paying citizen are controlled by people that are showing me they hate me and my black skin in the government (allowing the Confederate flag to fly) are allowed to do so, why are we showing them any respect?

There are no swastikas flying from government institutions anywhere Jewish people are paying taxes. It's not happening. They wouldn't stand for it. So why should the African-American community?

If a law-abiding citizen wants to wear a Confederate flag, that's their right. But to have the flag tied to government for this long with so many regulations to protect and support the hateful views and spirit of slave-owning Southerners is beyond ridiculous.

I'm going to still cringe when the N-word pops up in songs and conversation with white people at work and concerts and such... I won't when I'm around friends and adult family but will when I'm around my kids and songs like "Hot N***a" by Bobby Shmurda comes on. So even in my defense of the word, I have my own issues with it to deal with. Yet, Obama is right that there is a permanent place for the Confederate flag to rest...in a museum and not in the highest place of government praise like capital buildings.
—Datwon Thomas, Editor-in-Chief

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CIRCA 1980: Photo of Bill Withers
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Bill Withers' Greatest Hits: Remixed, Sampled And Covered

The recent loss of legends in jazz, soul and classical music have saddened the music industry and reminded us of their touching gifts to music. The passing of Manu Dibango, Krzysztof Penderecki, Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bucky Pizzarelli and Alan Merrill brought endless tributes from peers and fans with the recent loss of soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers doing the same.

With a mirage of hits, the iconic songwriter left his mark on music with the release of his debut album Just As I Am in 1971. "Ain't No Sunshine" put a spotlight on his songwriting while 1977's "Lovely Day" reminded the industry of his signature vocals. Withers released eight studio albums, one live album and garnered three Grammys for his powerful songs that gave hope and love to fans to this day.

Hip-hop and R&B have gained the most from Withers as his music went on to inspire records like "No Diggity" by BLACKStreet, "Roses" by Kanye West and other songs from UGK, Dr. Dre, Jill Scott and more.

Take a look at some of Withers' finest tunes covered, remixed and sampled below.

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8. “Lovely Day” | Menagerie (1977)

Sampled On: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999) LunchMoneyLewis - “It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day” feat. Aminè | Pets 2 Soundtrack (2019) Swizz Beatz - “Take A Picture” |One Man Band (2007)

Standout: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999)

Short for "The Whole Damn Yay," the group used Withers' sample while throwing a splash of The Bay's laid back flavor. With cameos from future legends like E-40 and Ray Luv, the single already embodied the best of R&B and hip-hop with guest verses from Too Short, Mac Mall and Otis & Shug. The mimosas and yacht are also a great touch.

Covered By: Jill Scott, The Original Jill Scott from the Vault Vol. 1 (2011) Alt-J, This Is All Yours (2014) Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2 (2013) Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Standout: Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Who was going to beat a chorus singing to the lordt? Franklin's take on the classic gives us stirring gospel and appreciation for Withers and God. There are plenty of covers that have lifted the same vocals as Withers, but the ones listed have put their unique spin on the track.

7. “Ain't No Sunshine” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001) Lil B - “Up And Down” | Based Jam (2012) 2Pac- "Soulja's Story" |  2Pacalypse Now (1991)

Standout: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001)

"No Sunshine" served as the only single from DMX's film alongside Steven Seagal, which gave everyone the perfect backdrop to the movie and X's intricate storytelling. Both the original and flipped version points out the dark elements of our lives. Withers penned the song after watching the film 1962 movie Days of Wine and Roses, he pondered over the toxicity in his life. "Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you," he said in 2004 to SongFacts. "It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of."

Covered By: Soul For Real | Candy Rain (1994) Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972) The Boris Gardiner Happening | Is What's Happening (1973) The Temptations | Solid Rock (1972)

Standout: Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972)

At 14, the future King of Pop gave a riveting cover of Withers' hit for his debut album, Got To Be There. From his vocal control throughout the track to the instrumentation, his cover takes the song to another level of heartbreak.

6. "Grandma's Hands” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996) Big K.R.I.T. - “I Gotta Stay” | K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (2010) Brother Ali - “Waheedah's Hands” | Champion (2004)

Standout: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996)

R&B heads are well aware of BLACKstreet's neverending ballads and the genius of Teddy Riley. But the pivot of their sound for their sophomore album Another Level was due to Withers and the William “Stylez” Stewart. Speaking to Fact Mag in 2017, the creator of New Jack Swing gave credit to Stylez for bringing him the sample of "Grandma's Hands."

“If he hadn’t played that sample for me, there would never be a ‘No Diggity’ And if he didn’t write it according to the melody I gave him so it would sound that way because I wanted it to sound funky,” he said. “I wanted it to be appealing to everyone, but mostly to women. I wanted every woman to feel like they were the ‘No Diggity’ girl and that song was about them and it came across. And now, still, today, that song plays and people are on that dancefloor.”

Covered By: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981) Merry Clayton, Merry Clayton (1971) Barbra Streisand, Butterfly (1974)

Standout: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981)

Gil Scott-Heron's version of the soul classic reminded us of his versatile talents. From spoken word to his vocal abilities, the Godfather of rap music always came through with his own sound and style. Reflections was one of four albums the late artist dropped in the 80s with critics looking to it as one of his finest projects. Other cuts from the album included "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and "B Love."

5. "Use Me" | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012) J. Cole- "Dollar And A Dream II" | The Warm-Up (2009) Leela James - “So Good" | Fall For You (2014) UGK - "Use Me Up" | The Southern Way (1992)

Standout: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012)

Lamar's take on "Use Me" blended right into the themes of his debut album, Good kid, Maad City allowing the artist to create another world on the project. To make things even better, Lamar also sampled Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine" for the track.

Covered By: Grace Jones, Indigo Nights, Live (2008) Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit  (2004) Issac Hayes, Dr. Dolittle Soundtrack (1998)

Standout: Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit (2004)

On his third solo album, Jagger linked with Rick Rubin to test his creative energy, allowing him to work with Lenny Kravitz on their version of "Use Me." Colliding worlds was one thing but to hear Kravitz's vocals come in on the bridge, set the track apart from the rest.

4. “Kissing My Love” | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: J. Cole - “The Cut Off" featuring kiLL Edward  | KOD (2018) Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992) Masta Ace- "Movin On" | Take A Look Around (1990) Master P- "Bastard Child" | The Ghettos Tryin To Kill Me! | 1994

Standout: Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992)

"Kissing My Love" is one of most sampled from Withers catalog, thanks to its feverish drums. It's also why it fits into Dr. Dre's single and the G-funk era.

3. Grover Washington's “Just The Two of Us” featuring Bill Withers | Winelight (1981)

Sampled/Covered On:  Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997) Eminem- "Just The Two of Us" | Slim Shady EP (1997) Keri Hilson- "Pretty Girl Rock" | No Boys Allowed (2010)

Standout: Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997)

Touching and soulful, Smith's dedication to his eldest son Trey is just too cute for words.

2. “Let It Be” | Just As I Am  (1967)

The Original: The Beatles - “Let It Be” | Let It Be (1968)

"Let It Be" is a pretty special record. Aretha Franklin recorded a version a year before the release of The Beatles' version and Withers gave his take on the record in the 70s. Slightly faster, his upbeat take on "Let It Be" just hits different.

1. “Rosie” | Menagerie Re-Issue (1977)

Sampled On: Kanye West - “Roses” |  Late Registration (2005)

As the somber part of Late Registration, "Roses" brings us into Kanye's world where he contemplates the mortality of a loved one. It's a sentimental take on the sample and one of the artist's most underrated songs. It's also a hidden gem for Withers as it isn't featured on Menagerie's LP. It was added as a bonus track on

Enjoy the jams in playlist form below.

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Remain Calm: 5 Ways To Curve Negative Effects Of Coronavirus Isolation

Self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak seems to be best practice in keeping our families and peers safe but it's also a shift in our normal social behavior. As millions of families around the country get adjusted to self-isolation, the state of our mental health and how our bodies react to the practice are changing by the day, especially lower-income and marginalized groups.

Speaking with Wired, John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, shared how apathetic behavior can rise to the forefront, making space for anxiety and depression.

“People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” Vincent says. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.”

But the biggest reason behind the uneasiness isn't the self-isolation but just how long it will last. Details of COVID-19 are changing by the day with the most cases now coming out of New York. Yet, there's still little to no information on what happens next.

“Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” Samantha Brooks of King’s College London told the outlet. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.”

Uncertainty hitting low income and marginalized groups is also a problem within itself. As virtual parties and celebrities opening up on social media happen on a daily, there are people who might not access fun distractions on the web.

“Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower-income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.”

To make self-isolation less than a bore or a daunting task, experts suggest creating a schedule to dictate control in your home.

1. Work It Out

Gyms are closed, but your home can be transformed into a personal training center. Use heavy bags for weights and if you can, create a playlist of workouts on YouTube. For those who have memberships for Blink or Peloton, the platforms have streamed their workouts on apps.

2. Mindful Meditation

Meditation isn't about dumping your thoughts, it's about staying aware and mindful. AQUA has developed online that leverages the power of "Mindful Meditation and Mobility Movements" for flexibility and fluidity in the body. Classes are free of charge but feel free to donate.

3. Take It Back To High School

Give your friends a call or indulge in a FaceTime party. Feel free to use the Wifi in your home to reduce the amount of data used on your phone. Lala Anthony held a too-cute FT birthday party for writer Kiyonna Anthony with a 70s theme. You can also find creative ways to hop on the phone with friends and family instead of constantly chatting about 'rona.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

We made the best out of our quarantine situation🎉‼️FACETIME 70s Party💃🏽🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE @kiyonnathewriter ❤️❤️💃🏽💃🏽SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY ARIES ♈️ MAKE THE BEST OF IT!!!😘

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on Mar 23, 2020 at 7:14pm PDT

4. Start A Journal

Journals just aren't for kids. The practice not only gives you something to do, but it fuels creativity and a new level of self-awareness. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently developed Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, with over 150 inspiring questions and quotes that connect to key themes in her memoir. The journal will also help bring readers to terms with the importance of family and personal reflections as well as the goals they'd like to make a reality.

5. Have a Dance Party or Enjoy Lo-Fi Beats To Quarantine To

If you don't have data or battery power to watch a virtual DJ party, make your own. If you have to pull out your record player, do it! You can also hop on your favorite streaming service and create a playlist all your own.

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From Teen Sensation To Vocal Bible: Brandy's 15 Best Songs

September 27, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the multiplatinum self-titled debut album by one of R&B’s greatest voices, Brandy Rayana Norwood, or simply Brandy. She was already well on her way to stardom prior to her debut as a background vocalist for Immature and one of the stars of the short-lived ABC series, Thea. However, it was the album Brandy that set her on the path to tremendous success.

Since officially bursting onto the scene in 1994 sporting her well-known braided crown of glory, she has been a force to be reckoned with. She was handpicked by her idol, the late Whitney Houston, to portray the role of the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her show Moesha was one of the longest-running black sitcoms. Brandy was also a CoverGirl in 1999 and became a friend of Barbie that same year when Mattel released the Brandy Doll. In music, she’s released six studio albums, sold more than 40 million records worldwide, headlined three world tours, and won more than 30 awards including seven Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. Brandy deserves her flowers.

Let’s check out the top 15 songs that helped solidify Brandy as your favorite singer’s favorite singer (just ask Solange) and earned her the title of the “Vocal Bible.”

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