Donald Trump
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Opinion: The Unbelievable Reality Of Our Nation's Most Controversial Election

Republican party, you created this. Now, brace yourselves for the next four years.

Well, the people have spoken and, to the chagrin of many, Donald J. Trump is our nation’s next president. But how did we get here? How does a man who has so passionately discriminated against Muslims, gays, women, minorities, the disabled, POW’s and more become president? How does the man who has absolutely no political experience, win against one of the most qualified candidates in the history of the United States?

From the start of his campaign, Donald Trump has thrived on the narrative of being vile, hurtful and divisive. His dismissive rhetoric and blatant lies appealed to the most gross and racist parts of Americans. His campaign successfully painted Hillary Clinton as a she-devil who needed to be locked up with the key thrown away. His surrogates such as Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich have blatantly disregarded the plight of many disadvantaged citizens who are harassed just because of who they worship, what they look like and the color of their skin.

Words cannot even begin to describe how to feel for Hillary Clinton. This woman, who has dedicated the better part of her life to helping others by challenging housing discrimination, famously declaring that “women’s rights are human rights," and championing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, has been defeated by a man who many consider an unhinged, vengeful egomaniac with no regard for others. What do we tell our daughters? That no matter how hard we work, there will always be a barrier to get ahead? That the glass ceiling is still standing? Do we tell them that no matter how hard they work, they still will have to compete in a world consumed by blatant sexism? A world that still believes that a woman is unfit to run the nation? Even in the face of defeat, Hillary provided hope to millions of young girls in her graceful concession speech, encouraging them to “never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.” But sadly, no matter how progressive America claims to be, we are still miles behind many countries who understand that women are just as capable of being leaders as men.

This historical election is undoubtedly a setback for many progressives who hoped to capitalize on the success that President Obama has made. His many strides, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage, the Paris Agreement regarding climate change and the passing Affordable Care Act, are now at risk of being reversed. We’ve somehow managed to elect a man who believes that global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese. Americans have elected a man who not only believes that women should be punished for getting abortions, but a man whose VP believes that the government should force gays to participate in conversion therapy by directing tax dollars “toward those institutions to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” Not to mention, Vice President Mike Pence also championed an Indiana bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against customers based on their sexual preference. In a nation that champions diversity, acceptance, and equality, how can we continue to allow such vile and backward thinking by those who are elected to lead us? Why have we awarded the highest office in the land to two men who think so little of this country and the people who make it up?

In many ways, this election is an eye-opener. Trump appealed to every fear of the white working class in America and, through their votes, they showed us their true colors regarding their respect for the millions of Americans who will be directly hurt by Trump’s policies. Through his hateful, bigoted words and actions, such as suggesting that an Indiana-born judge was unfit to do his job due to his Mexican heritage, he has successfully convinced white working class voters that the Mexicans are taking their jobs and raping their women, and morally corrupting our country. He has successfully convinced them that he will bring jobs back and defeat terrorists by not only “bombing the hell out of them,” but killing the families of terrorists as well.

How has it come to this? Do we blame James Comey and the FBI for violating the Hatch Act and tanking Hillary’s poll numbers? The issue of Hillary’s emails has unequivocally tainted her campaign, and Comey’s October surprise cast a dark shadow on her prospects of winning office. Or do we blame Trump supporters who, in public, stayed silent on the issue or even vocally supported Hillary, but in private, cast their vote for Trump? Or should we blame the media, who gave Trump nonstop coverage and failed to call him out on his blatant lies and fear mongering? Various news networks who strived to be “fair and balanced” created a false equivalency in a world where Hillary’s emails were just as appalling as Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. As news of Hillary’s emails dominated the airwaves, Trump was simultaneously being accused of child rape, sexual assault, fraud, tax evasion, discrimination and more, and yet his supporters still chose to overlook all of these accusations in favor of emails that have been vindicated by the FBI and Justice Department.

Even fellow members of his party denounced him, calling his words the “textbook definition of racism,” and his actions “a cancer on conservatism.” In the final days of his campaign, Trump’s team decided it would be a good idea to revoke his Twitter privileges. How can we trust a man with the nuclear codes, but not trust him with his own Twitter account? Well Republicans, this is a monster that you’ve created. Your party has so viciously attacked President Obama, continually obstructing his appointments, disrespecting the legitimacy of his office and even encouraging Trump during his racist “birther” rampage that suggested that President Obama was not in fact born in the United States. You failed to stand up to your radical colleagues who yell “you lie” while POTUS is giving a speech, and refused to disavow fellow party member, Senator Mitch McConnell, who vowed to make Obama a “one term president” by opposing every single piece of legislation that he put forward.

Perhaps what is most damning for this nation is the fact that not only did Donald Trump win the office, but Republicans have also gained control of the House and the Senate. While we champion checks and balances, liberals will have a hard time passing any progressive legislation within the next four years. House Speaker Paul Ryan will possibly and successfully pass his budgets that adversely affect Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and many other safety nets that Americans hold so dear. And perhaps the worst news of all for liberals is that Trump will now be in a position to elect a Supreme Court judge, perhaps even more than one, who will enact decisions that will affect us for generations. With a conservative court, rulings such as Citizens United will continue to allow an insane amount of money to roll into the elections. Decisions like Roe vs. Wade are at risk of being overturned, threatening the choice of many women to have safe and legal abortions. What's most at risk is Obamacare, which Trump has vowed to repeal on the first day. Many Americans who are now afforded healthcare are at risk of it being taken away in favor of something that Trump vaguely describes as “great.”

But who knows, maybe Trump may do as he promises. Maybe he will bring jobs back and truly “Make America Great Again.” But when has it ever been great? Was it when European settlers arrived, engaged in the buying and selling of slaves and committed mass genocide toward Native Americans? Or was it when Jim Crow ruled our nation during a time when blacks lived in fear of being lynched, beaten and even hosed down just for demanding equal rights? Or perhaps was it when Japanese citizens were held in internment camps, when being gay was labeled as a mental illness or when being a woman severely limited your role outside of the house? The truth is, America has never been greater than it is now, but the fear of losing power has encouraged white America to revolt against all the progress we’ve made as a nation. The selection of Trump was done in hopes that he’ll take it back to a time where minorities were docile, subservient and content with their status as second class citizens.

Following this election, there should be no excuse for ignorance. There should be no claims that we live in a “post-racial society” when America has elected a man, fully endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, to lead our nation. But as liberals, it’s time that we recoup. Hillary has won the popular vote, which should provide some hope for our nation. Just as the Republicans mourned in 2008 and 2012, it is now our time to mourn. But let’s not mourn for long. Let’s go back to the drawing board and see where we went wrong. Let us get revved up to participate in politics on the local level and start a new movement from the ground up. Let’s rush to the polls in 2018 to regain control of the Senate and House of Representatives. We should not be defeated. This loss is only a minor setback for a major comeback as we watch America deal with one of its biggest mistakes - nominating the most dangerous president in modern history.

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John Witherspoon arrives on the red carpet at the world premiere of Columbia Pictures' "Hancock," June 30, 2008 at Grauman?s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California.
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A Word On John Witherspoon: The Black Voice Of Reason And Unfiltered Comedic Joy

You gotta be a real one to be called “Pops” where I'm from. Anybody with a little snow on the roof and a story to tell can be an “old head” but “Pops” is somebody who you actually want to listen to. With a smile and a wink, Pops will instruct you to heed the angel on your shoulder but leave a little room for what the devil has to say too.

John Witherspoon was was all of those things.

He was “Pops.”

John Witherspoon neé Weatherspoon was born in Detroit, Michigan–the northern soul of Black folks. The comedian, writer, and part-time model exuded Black cool without trying. There’s a select ring of respect for performers who were able to guest star on both TV shows like Martin and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air because he could make all of us laugh. In those moments, he managed to inspire many of the comedians shining on the stage and on the screen.

“Everyone young and old had a reason to love John Witherspoon and his self-awareness to remain connected to the community that loved him,” says The Daily Show’s Roy Wood Jr. "The loyalty to his roots was reflected in his material which remained as relevant now as it was when he started his career.”

Spoon’s work speaks for itself. The man worked as a cast member on The Richard Pryor Show, played the ill-tempered boss in Hollywood Shuffle and guest-starred on Good Times, 227 and Amen (look it up). Basically, if it was Black and funny, you had to have Witherspoon and his specialized brand of comedy come through and make a sitcom writing staff look like geniuses.

His star turns on those legendary shows pale in comparison to what he gave us on June 28, 1992– the day Eddie Murphy’s Boomerang debuted in theaters.

In only 3 minutes and twenty seconds of screentime, he gave us “COOOOOrdinate” “Don’t be p***y whipped, whip dat p***y!” and the phrase that would be his calling card, “Bang! Bang! Bang!” I don’t give a damn how funny, original, or scene-stealing you call yourself, if you claim to have never quoted Willie Jones from Boomerang, I’ll call you a liar.

”John Witherspoon was the guy who felt like family and you could always depend on making you laugh,” says comedian Yamaneika Saunders. "Put it this way, the man stood toe to toe with Eddie in his own damn movie, using only a guest spot. There’s no such thing as small roles. If they give you one line, make it the one line everybody remembers. But Pops tripled up on it."

Legend is a word overused when we talk about our greats who have moved on to that leisure suit in the sky, but Spoon gifted us with over five generations of comedy.

His relevance was staked in his ability to reinvent. Comedian Aminah Imani recently opened for him at the DC Improv, making her dreams a bigger reality. “The one thing that gives me peace of mind is the fact that he was loved and adored by his fans,” she says. “I was introduced to him in Boomerang, I grew up with him on Friday and The Wayans Bros., and I learned about how the world works through Grandpa, Huey, and Riley on The Boondocks."

 

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Thank you @dcimprov and @johnnywitherspoon for a weekend of sold out shows!!! This was definitely one for the books💎 #standupcomedy #dcimrpov #hosting #standup #live #laugh #love

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When he convinces Ice Cube’s character, Craig in Friday how our generation is so quick to pick up a gun because we're “too scared to take an ass whoopin” ...we felt that. So many Black men in Detroit, Chicago, Philly, and many other cities across the country avoided a fatal outcome because Pops told us to use the only two weapons God gave us. “You win some, you lose some, but you live to fight another day.” Those thirteen words granted many of us to have another day to fight for.

While “America’s Dad” may have gone on a couple of years ago, Pops was right there all along. Always working.  Always there for us.

I can’t even fully open a new pair of sneakers without crooning “new shoes, neeeew shooo-ooes,” like his Granddad character from The Boondocks. Inside of every Black man exists a mix of a conscious-outthink-your-enemy like Huey and a chest-out-in-ignorance Riley-like character that are dually at odds.

Witherspoon’s Grandad was the voice of reason we'd aspire to mature into. It’s a holy trinity of our daily battle against making the wrong decisions. You win some, you lose some, but you live to fight another day.

Legacy is not appreciated as much as it should be in Black entertainment. We like to differentiate between generations and downplay anyone not doing as better as yesterday's icons. But John Witherspoon was a direct plug between Pryor and the many young up-and-coming comedians he was gracious enough to let open for him.

Comedian Lil Rel had plans to showcase some of that legacy soon with Witherspoon in mind. “The crazy thing was how I was talking to my publicist last week about creating a real show or special or something that celebrated our Black superstars that don’t necessarily get the Hollywood legend tap until they pass away,” he reflects. “I only thought more about that after watching John Witherspoon on the DL Hughley Show. This dude is a damn legend and we haven’t for honored him for that.”

He wasn’t too cool to do an Instagram video of him cooking with no shirt, while still headlining clubs and colleges all over the country well into his 70s. My condolences pour out to his wife of 31 years Angela, and sons Alexander and John David. We just say thank you for sharing him with us.

They remain the same for any black comedian who has done the following:

Needed a line from a movie to make everyone laugh. Understood the importance of Witherspoon’s business decisions in the world of comedy. Who needed a word from Pops to simply tell us what to do.

Bang, Bang, Bang.

Clark Jones is a comedian who starred in shows like Crashing and Night Train With Wyatt Cenac. He's also the host of the Classic Black Dude podcast. Get a laugh or two in from his socials @theeclarkjones. 

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The Amber Guygers Of The World Don't Deserve Black Forgiveness

Forgiveness isn’t an easy pill for me to swallow. As a writer, it could be the actual word that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it's because had it not been “for” one’s actions then I wouldn’t be forced to “give” you, the transgressor, a grace you’ve proven undeserving of.

The mental and emotional gymnastics a victim must complete in order to get to a place of healing is too great for me to believe the offenses—whatever they may be—are mere mistakes, and when you are black in America that realization is crystallized with every acquittal.

Botham Jean was in his apartment watching his television and eating his ice cream on the night of September 6, 2018, when Dallas officer Amber Guyger barged in and shot the St. Lucian businessman because she confused his home for hers.

I remember reading about the Rodney King verdict and can recall exactly where I stood in New York City’s Penn Station when I learned of George Zimmerman’s acquittal. I have accepted that the justice system does not believe in "justice for all" its citizens and was fully prepared for Guyger to be found not guilty.

In a surprising turn of events, she was convicted. However, this is America. Before I could breathe a sigh of relief, I knew a slap in the face wouldn’t be too far away. The next day, it was revealed at Guyger’s sentencing she would serve 10 years in prison, just above the minimum. Prosecutors asked for 28 years, one for each of Jean’s life.

Kalief Browder served a third of Guyger’s 10-year sentence for a book bag that was never found by an accuser who was never publicly named.

Yet among all the topics that trended following Guyger’s sentencing, "forgiveness" was the most pronounced. At the tail end of 2019 and at the height of cancel culture, forgiveness—the act of showing softness and grace to those who deeply puncture you—became a polarizing talking point when Botham Jean’s brother hugged Guyger in the courtroom.

In America, forgiveness has always been a bitter root shoved down the throats of the oppressed by the oppressors, and it is my radical belief that my people’s empathy and breathtaking forgiveness aids in our own mental bondage. We are of flesh and bone just like those who deny us our humanity and kill us, yet even in our own justifiable grief, we’ve been taught (or adapted for survival) to soothe those who kill us. Maybe it’s because we know another blow will come soon and we must make room for future disappointments.

An argument can be made that true healing cannot take place without forgiveness, but who hugged Sybrina Fulton, Lesley McSpadden, Gwen Carr, Geneva Reed-Veal or Samaria Rice? Who draped their arms lovingly around the men and women who buried their children in some instances, a mere 12 years after their birth?

The embrace between Brandt Jean and Guyger will be tokenized as the gold standard in how one should move on from tragedy, but where is the how-to on not shooting and killing an unarmed black person? Where is that righteous symbol of compassion for other police officers to follow?

Surviving family members from the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting also forgave domestic-terrorist Dylann Storm Roof for killing their loved ones in their place of worship.

There is no beauty in the oppressed having to be bigger and emotionally better than those who cause our oppression and pain. The Samson-like strength needed to simmer one’s rage, sadness and maybe desire for revenge shouldn’t be diluted. And yet, for Guyger to be on the receiving end of a hug after bestowing bullets into Botham Jean’s flesh is a lopsided exchange of humanity that has been our responsibility to bear.

How much social justice currency did the hug heard 'round the world gain us? The oppressed must bear the weight of injustice, teach you how to recognize our humanity, and then shower you with kindness after you wrong us?

Go hug your damn self.

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Paras Griffin

Remy Ma’s Comments On Antonio Brown Show That Conversations On Sexual Violence In Hip Hop Media Lack Range

Following Monday’s episode of Revolt TV’s State of the Culture, Remy Ma’s commentary on former NFL player Antonio Brown’s rape allegations stirred up frustrations with how sexual violence is discussed in hip-hop media. Brown’s situation has been a hot topic so it was no surprise that it was a show segment, but Ma’s soundbite proves conversations in the space on sexual violence desperately need more empathy, nuance, and depth.

Some context: Earlier this month, Britney Taylor, a trainer from Florida, accused Brown of rape in 2018 and filed a federal lawsuit (the amount would be determined in court). She has not filed criminal charges against Brown. Brown denied the allegations and refused to shell out $2 million in a settlement with Taylor, ESPN reported. Remy called out Taylor’s decision to seek money via civil court before filing criminal charges, during the show.

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What are your thoughts? #SOTC

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“If you rape my daugher, my sister...I don’t want your money,” Remy said. “I tell y’all all the time. I want you castrated...the things that I want done are crimes. Worst-case scenario I want something to happen to you to where you’re removed from being able to do this to someone else. When you come to me with a number, and say, ‘Hey give me two million dollars and I’ll go away,’ now to me that’s like you’re being paid.”

“But some people feel that that’s the compensation that they want,” co-host Eboni K Williams, who is also an attorney, rebutted.

But Remy continued to push back. “It seems like in a lot of these alleged sexual assault cases, the women are asking for money, ‘Hey give me some money and I’ll feel better.’ To me in any exchange with sexual acts are being compensated with money that’s prostitution.”

Host Joe Budden corrected Remy, but she doubled down on her comments by mocking victims who recount their traumatic experiences.

The truth is many people think like Remy and see victims who want to be compensated as extortionists scheming for a big check. Brown’s lawyer has chosen this messaging in response to Taylor’s lawsuit. Remy has previously caught heat on the topic when the show discussed Bill Cosby and R. Kelly’s cases in 2018. In both instances, viewers criticized her for being more defensive of the famous men than their alleged victims. This shaming is one reason why most victims don’t come forward with allegations.

Implying that Taylor and others who want compensation are money-hungry and not possibly seeking an alternative route to justice ignores that going the path of filing criminal charges can be a humiliating experience. Last year, President Trump called out professor Christine Blasey Ford for not filing a police report against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh for sexual assault allegations when they were in high school. This birthed the hashtag “#WhyIDidntReport” in which thousands described why they felt isolated and silenced after being assaulted. The stats support their sentiments. Out of every 1000 sexual assaults, 995 perpetrators will walk free, according to the resti (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. Three out of four cases go unreported, the organization states. Most don’t report to the police because they fear retaliation and think the police will not help.

Remy also shamed victims of sexual assault who seek compensation by shaming sex workers. Sex workers already face a difficult fight for human rights so these comments harm them too. Firstly, sex work is when money is exchanged for sex between consenting adults — as Joe Budden stated. But once someone’s sexual boundaries have been violated, whether at a party, on a date or during an exchange of sex for money, they have been assaulted. And if the victim seeks compensation in the aftermath, that is called restitution, not prostitution. As Williams brought up during the segment, a victim may seek compensation because they need to pay for medical and or therapy bills or have to be out of work for several months as they cope with the incident.

Ultimately, no one has the right to tell a victim or survivor what justice should look like to them, whether it’s pressing criminal charges, seeking compensation, or restorative justice in which a survivor may want an apology face to face from the person who assaulted them.

What’s also disappointing about Remy Ma’s comments on sexual violence is that they don’t align with her advocacy on behalf of black incarcerated women. Remy was released from prison in 2014 after serving six years for shooting a former friend in 2008. The rapper shed light on how black women in prison are often neglected. “I've gotten to meet women that haven't seen their children in a decade that live 40 minutes from them,” she told Fader in 2017. “Women who have husbands that they haven't seen since they got incarcerated 20 years ago. Women whose friends have signed them off as a loss,” she continued. She said incarcerated men often received so many visitors that visits were cut short. In 2018, Remy also launched a clothing line with VIM Vixen that donates proceeds to her foundation, which is working to empower women and their families who have been negatively affected by incarceration and the re-entry process.

Research shows one obstacle women and girls who are incarcerated face is sexual assault. The sexual abuse to prison pipeline is real and it starts young. Thirty-one percent of girls in the juvenile system have been sexually abused, according to a 2015 report by the Human Rights Project for Girls, Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and Ms. Foundation for Women. Eighty-six percent of women in jail have experienced sexual assault prior to being incarcerated, according to the Vera Institute. This especially impacts black women and girls, who are three-and-a-half times more likely to be imprisoned than white women and girls. Their victimization can lead to their incarceration. Take Cynotia Brown and Alexis Martin cases as examples. Not to mention women also face sexual assault while in prison. Given that the issues of incarceration and sexual assault intersect, how can Remy be an advocate for these women while consistently showing little empathy for survivors and victims of sexual violence? It isn’t adding up.

Some have brought up that Remy is also a victim of sexual assault, but that does not make her an authority on the subject. And although women are more likely to face this issue, women can still internalize and preserve misogyny. Discussing sexual violence requires knowledge and sensitivity, and Remy is unfortunately unequipped. The segment was not a top 10 rappers of all-time list, in which people can debate their own tastes. They were discussing something that happens to Americans every 73 seconds, according to RAINN. This means you or someone you know has been assaulted. The issue dates back centuries and intersects with other issues like poverty, gender identity, and sexuality. Sexual violence can result in emotional, physical and generational trauma, lead to economic insecurity, and even more extremely, death. Having researched and or worked with those who have experienced these issues should always be required before speaking on it.

Remy wouldn’t be the first woman in entertainment to be called out for their commentary on sexual violence. Da Brat and Erykah Badu have also been criticized recently. And countless men in the business continue to be rape apologists. But it’s time for platforms like Revolt to make it commonplace to consult organizations that have done work on sexual violence, like Black Women’s Blueprint, Survived and Punished, or the Georgetown Law Center's Initiative on Gender Justice and Opportunity before these discussions. These conversations need more visibility, but if the individuals on the panel lack basic understanding and spew harmful viewpoints, then the message fails viewers. Instead of dismantling sexual violence, these moments uphold it and the culture does not need it.

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