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'The Chi' Recap: Ep. 1 Explores Black Women's Strength And The Mortality Of Black Youth

Season 2 of 'The Chi' already reveals how the black woman's resilience is tested and young black boys are growing up too quickly and in the wrong ways.

In a cinematic gut punch, Lena Waithe’s The Chi kicks off its second season with one of the most disturbing scenes on television. Admittedly, it’s hard to stomach the brutal assault of an elder, in this case strong-willed Miss Ethel (LaDonna Tittle) in the Southside home she’s lived in for decades. The assault only lasts 40 seconds, but an elderly black woman being kicked repeatedly in the face, thrown against a wall and having her bloodied face dragged across the floor is seldom seen on TV, so it was jarring for Waithe to utilize the arresting visual. Parts of the assault mirrored the real-life assault on a 78-year-old woman by a 36-year-old man on a New York City subway in March, a connection to the real world we live in that makes the scene an emblem of the infuriating exploitation of black women that happens in their own communities. Episode One shows how precarious black lives can be in their own neighborhoods.

The elderly are often pillars of the community, maintaining order even if it means watching a neighbor’s child while they’re out at work or pulling out a shotgun to ward off delinquents, as we’ve seen Miss Ethel is known to do. The truly heartbreaking part of the scene is the fact that what happens to her is becoming more prevalent in America, with the assault rate for elderly women over the age of 60 increasing by 35.4 percent between 2002-2016. The young black assailant in The Chi is able to get Miss Ethel to lower her defenses by mentioning his involvement with the Homeless Veterans Agency, as well as implying her donation would keep a veteran, such as himself, out of trouble. Her’s grandson Ronnie (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine), who is in prison for shooting last season’s Coogie Johnson (Jahking Guillory), is a veteran, so Ethel's attacker is probably someone from the community that may have even grew up around her and already has an idea of her soft spots. The Chi doesn’t paint women as simply exploitable, but also resilient.

Too often on television, the love from a black woman is used as a safety net for a black man. So, it was great to see Waithe, both the series creator and the episode’s director, place scenes in the first episode where it appears as if black women will succumb to their love for an exploitative black man before flipping the script and forcing him to fend for himself. When Emmett (Jacob Latimore) screams into his mother’s intercom that he’s homeless after his mother moved into a one-bedroom apartment without him, the scenes of him trying to do right by his son and being assaulted after sleeping on the train from earlier in the episode make him a sympathetic figure. However, the visible pain on his mother Jada’s face (Yolonda Ross) as she listens in silence, knowing she’s helping him grow into a self-sufficient man, was a powerful reminder of the resiliency of the black woman. The real issue, which The Chi delves into, is the generational guidance that would lead Emmett to thinking his utilitarian view of women was right.

Another poignant theme was the correlation between how men are raised and the subsequent interactions with the women around them. It truly takes a village to raise a man, and the knowledge passed down to the youth from older generations will ultimately help mold their actions. When Emmett’s older boss, Sonny (Cedric Young), tells him “all the girls you know, one of them ought to let you spend the night,” it’s no surprise that it takes Emmett less than half a minute to spot two women he would later try to use his charm on in hopes they’d let him crash. That small conversation with Sonny, and Emmett being willing to sleep in random beds and on the train before asking his father for a place to stay, is a profound commentary on how the abandonment of black boys by past generations of black men stunts their development and plays a paramount role in the exploitation of the black woman.

To that point, growing up in a place like Chicago can force young black men to grow up more quickly than they should. Between September 2011 and late 2018, 174 people under the age of 17 were murdered in Chicago. Chicago’s youth come face to face with their own mortality in ways few youth groups do elsewhere in America. Waithe expertly conveys this by bookending the episode with a choir of children chanting “I wish I could live forever” on Towkio’s “Forever” and Kevin (Alex R. Hibbert) telling his therapist what he wants to be if he grows up. There’s something eerie about children acknowledging their own mortality, but this speaks to the behavior they’ve learned throughout generations.

When Kevin tells his mother “therapy is for white people,” it’s hard to see someone as young as Kevin developing that stereotypical perception on his own seeing as he’s grown up in a progressive household with two mothers, one of which tells him why that thinking is wrong. Add in the fact there’s historically been a negative stigma around therapy in the black community and Kevin’s reluctance to accept mental health treatment after shooting a man is even more devastating because he’s probably too young to realize the choice he’s making is not one of his own.
Ahead of episode one’s airing, The Chi’s star Jason Mitchell told VIBE this season will have moments with his character Brandon and inherited brother Kevin that are more emotionally challenging than anything they did in the first season. With the way Season Two started, we should all prepare for the worst.

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From left to right, Kennedy Center Honor recipients Verdine White, Philip Bailey, and Ralph Johnson original members of Earth Wind and Fire photographed at the Eighteenth Street Lounge in Washington, D.C. on November, 16, 2019.
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Earth Wind And Fire Hint Towards Duets Album At Kennedy Center Honors

Earth Wind & Fire's music has stood the test of time and it seems like more tunes might be on the way. On Sunday (Dec 8), the iconic band was officially inducted into the Kennedy Center Honors, making them the first African American group to receive the honor. The group's original members Philip Bailey, Ralph Johnson and Verdine White were in attendance at the 42nd annual event with the exception of the group's founder Maurice White, who died in 2016.

In addition to celebrating White's creation and the group's legacy, the remaining members hinted towards a new project. “We’re making a list, and checking it twice," Bailey told Billboard of a possible duets album. “And you’ll hear about it soon.” We can only imagine many artists would clamor for the opportunity. During the event, the group was treated to reworkings of their biggest hits by Cynthia Erivo, John Legend, the Jonas Brothers and Ne-Yo. The group has remained mum on the details of the album but were proud to celebrate their rich legacy and how proud White would be of the feat.

“You can’t play any Earth Wind & Fire songs without Maurice’s DNA being on it, so he’s always here and we’re always celebrating him and his vision,” Johnson told Billboard. “People are still coming together and having fun.” Since the release of their first album in 1971, the group has strongly influenced R&B, disco and soul. The biggest artists in the world have sampled the group including Jay Z, Drake, the late Mac Miller, Missy Elliot and Nas.

Next year will celebrate their 50 years in the industry with many more to go. The 42nd Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 8pm.

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Ashanti Douglas attends "It's a Wonderful Lifetime” first holiday party of the year at STK Los Angeles on October 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California
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Ashanti Joins Omarion's Millennium Tour

Our prayers for a female presence on Omarion's Millenium Tour have been answered with one of the most talented singers in R&B.

On Thursday (Dec. 5), Omarion announced singer-songwriter Ashanti as a special guest for the upcoming tour. "So excited to announce that Ashanti will be joining The Millennium Tour lineup!" he said in an Instagram post. The singer announced the follow-up show last week to what was perceived as a B2K reunion tour featuring Mario, Lloyd, Pretty Ricky, Chingy, Bobby Valentino and the Ying Yang Twins earlier this year.

Hailed as The "Millenium Tour 2020," the new bill features Soulja Boy and Sammie, with the Ying Yang Twins, Pretty Ricky and Lloyd returning to the mix. The tour will also include Bow Wow, who has several jams (and an album) with Omarion like "Let Me Hold You" and "Girlfriend."

Before joining the tour, Ashanti was a special guest during Lloyd's performances of their 2004 hit, "Southside." With such a large and memorable discography, fans will be thrilled to hear some of the Grammy-winner's biggest hits like "Foolish," "Only U," and recent releases like "Say Less" featuring Ty Dolla $ign and "Pretty Little Thing" featuring Afro B.

This will more than likely be a another big financial boost to the tour. The inaugural Millennium Tour grossed $6.7 million from its first eight reports, according to Billboard and set a career-high for B2K. They also went on to earn $5 million from three additional dates at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. (April 13-14), State Farm Arena in Atlanta (April 4-5), and Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. (April 12).


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Fabolous Clarifies Comments About Shiggy And Paid Promotional Posts

Fabolous is all about his friends–including Shiggy–making their bread. The rapper cleared up an assumed incident between himself and the comedian during an interview with Ebro in The Morning after he was criticized for slamming Shiggy for demanding a check for promoted social posts.

Earlier this week, an exchange between Fab, Casanova and Shiggy about the matter was seen on Instagram Live after Shiggy explained why he doesn't create "challenge" dances for free. In light of his new single "Choosy," he asked his pal for a #ChoosyChallenge dance post to support it. Shiggy said he would be down to do it–but had to receive a check first.

Shiggy's profile has skyrocketed since he created the #InMyFeelings challenge in 2018. The challenge helped boost Drake's single and led to the comedian going on tour with him. He's also found himself in some awkward situations with rappers nearly bullying him into providing his influence for their music. During Shiggy's exchange with Casanova and Fab, it seemed that Shiggy's request was frowned upon.

Speaking to Ebro, Laura Stylez and Peter Rosenberg, Fab says his criticism of Shiggy was a joke and he's well aware that the comedian should receive a check for his services.

"It was all a play to play with Shiggy," he said. "Shiggy is a joking person, so you joke back with him. So my joke to him was, this first time I'm seeing him, he was at my show, and just like, 'Wow, look at Shiggy.' So I hit Shiggy just because we was starting the challenge of it and just because I know him personally. We have a cool relationship.  So I was just like, 'Yo man, it'd be cool if you do something for the new joint, for 'Choosy.'' And he's like, 'Yeah, yeah, see if you get me a check or something.' And even when he said it, I didn't take no offense to it, because I even see now, social media and the social media influencers, record labels do that. But me personally, I don't personally pay people, you know what I'm saying? I even told him like, 'I'mma see if Def Jam can get you a check. Let me figure it out.'"

Shiggy hasn't responded to the drama but he did say in his Instagram stories, "I didn't change, I just learned my lesson."

Check out the rest of Fab's interview below.

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