Daily Dose: 12/6/17 Craig Melvin rumored to be up for ‘Today’ show gig

Back at it on television Wednesday, folks, so tune in to ESPN at 5 p.m. for Around The Horn. Going for my second win in a row, so we’ll see if it happens! But speaking of Around The Horn, our new Advent Calendar is out, and I got to be a part of it!

Time magazine has named its Person of the Year. It’s the women of the #MeToo movement, the hashtag started to call attention to sexual harassment and assault across the globe. This has been the year that this country has apparently started to take this matter seriously, with men losing their jobs all over the place, for good reason. In a very weird way, though, this feels a bit disingenuous because last year’s person of the year was … Donald Trump, who has admitted to sexual assault on a few occasions.

Every once in a while, some people come up with really good ideas. Craig Melvin replacing Matt Lauer on the Today show would absolutely qualify as such. I’ve been a fan of Melvin ever since he was on NBC4 here in Washington, D.C., and his wife Lindsay Czarniak used to work for ESPN (as well as with him at the local station, where they met). If he makes this jump, it’ll be a great way to recover for NBC as Melvin is not only deserving, but also very well-liked. We’re really hoping this happens.

Right now, wildfires are destroying the greater Los Angeles area. These kinds of natural disasters happen with some regularity, but the pictures from today are truly mind-boggling. I’ve genuinely never seen anything like this in my life, and if I did, I don’t know how I’d just continue driving like nothing was wrong. This stuff is next-level scary and it feels like a movie just looking at it. Alas, those flames are on a path of damage and shutting down operations all over the area. Including the UCLA basketball game.

The NFL is all over the place right now. They’re suspending dudes for head hits, then not suspending others and none of it seems to make much sense at all. If you’re going to say that hits to the head are a priority, but allow guys to get away with WWE moves after plays, the message you’re sending is that you, in fact, don’t care. Now, the guy responsible for handling a lot of this, the commissioner of the league, has signed a new contract to the tune of $40M a year. No word on the private plane or lifetime health care for his family.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Jordan Peele has had an incredible year. After the success of Get Out, he’s basically become Hollywood’s go-to scary movie guy, which is cool. Now, he’s on board to reboot The Twilight Zone, which is a brilliant move for CBS.

Snack Time: Y’all gotta get your girl Rachel Dolezal. Homegirl has a new calendar out for 2018, with photos of her in various states of dress and some black history facts thrown in. What on earth??

Dessert: There are emergencies. Then there are EMERGENCIES.

Daily Dose: 11/14/17 Ibtihaj Muhammad gets her own Barbie doll

Tuesday’s a TV day, so be sure to tune in to Around The Horn at 5 p.m. on ESPN. Otherwise, I’ll have some updates for you soon on what the radio schedule will be for the holiday season.

A year ago Tuesday we lost Gwen Ifill. It feels like so much longer, considering what this country has endured in the past year and how important journalism has been to the entire landscape. She was a legend, an incredible professional and a beacon in the business. Now, on the anniversary of her passing, Simmons College will name one of its schools after Ifill, who graduated from the Boston school in 1977. Frankly, a whole lot more institutions, not just academic ones, should follow their lead.

Meek Mill officially has the whole ‘hood behind him. After it was ruled that he’d be going to state prison for at least two years as a result of yet another parole violation, people from all walks of life came out to support him. Fans and Eagles players showed up at a rally for the Philadelphia native rapper Monday night. The owner of the 76ers wrote a letter to the judge on behalf of Meek. His label head, Rick Ross, was in the building as well, but most interestingly that rumor about the judge involved has gone even further, which is weird. Kap has his back as well.

Remember Rachel Dolezal? The lady who said that she’s transracial and went on that whole media tour to sell books about the matter? She claimed she “identified” as black and therefore should be respected as such? That nonsense? Yeah, well, now she’s got a follower. Some dude in Florida is claiming that he is, in fact, a Filipino man at heart, which he claims to be true because he really enjoys the food. In case this needs to be clarified, all of this is laughably absurd.

Ibtihaj Muhammad is an Olympic fencer. She also happens to be a Muslim woman, and the first woman to compete for the United States while wearing a hijab. I had the fortunate pleasure of meeting her once for a panel discussion, and she was one of the smartest, nicest people I’ve ever met. Now, the trailblazer has been named as part of Barbie’s new “Shero” line. In other words, she’s getting her own Barbie doll, which is amazing. So, if you’re looking for something for a child this holiday season, get after it.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Speaking of hijab, do not ever remove another person’s for any reason. It is, No. 1, a personal space violation, secondarily an assault and arguably a hate crime. They are religious headscarves, period. One teacher decided to join her students in removing one girl’s in class. Unbelievably infuriating.

Snack Time: If you don’t know who Anita Hemmings is, she’s the first black woman to graduate from Vassar College. She also passed as white to do so. Thanks to Zendaya, her story is coming to the big screen.

Dessert: When you make the World Cup, do this.

In wake of the hate crimes in Maryland and Oregon, self-protection becomes a priority Highly publicized, race-motivated crimes are forcing black America to think about legal carry … or not

Should we bring a gun?

It’s not exactly the question you think would come to mind while planning a leisurely getaway. But as my husband and I packed for a long weekend of culture, Southern cuisine and a well-deserved rest, it was one we repeatedly and seriously asked ourselves.

We were headed to the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, where the heat and history can be oppressive. It’s a city that sometimes feels like a foreign country, but it’s as all-American as it gets. You can stand where men, women and children were shackled, poked, prodded, bought and sold — you can feel their ghosts. Some 40 percent of the enslaved in the 13 colonies during the trans-Atlantic slave trade came through the city. And yet, here we are, a black woman and white man, mixing and mingling and applauding with audiences and performers of all races at what’s become a major tourist draw.

In Charleston, the past is never past, as unapologetic racist Dylann Roof proved when in 2015 he chose historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, known as Mother Emanuel, a spiritual and civil rights bulwark, as the site of a hate-filled killing spree, murdering nine parishioners after praying with them for the better part of an hour. In North Charleston, unarmed African-American Walter Scott was shot by a police officer in the back; it was considered imperfect justice when Scott’s killer, Michael Slager, pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge after a state jury could not agree on a verdict despite video evidence.

Charleston has its special history. But is it all that different from the rest of America?


In New Orleans, the decision to remove and move monuments to the Confederacy, some erected long after the Civil War’s end, is debated and resisted.

Portland, Oregon, has its own Western brand of exclusionary racism baked in the soil, exemplified by Oregon’s policy barring blacks from living there when the state entered the union in 1859 and the legacy of those actions since then. In Portland, a man has been charged in the murder of two white men and the attempted murder of a third when the three came to the aid of two African-American women, one wearing a hijab, being harangued and harassed on public transportation last month. The accused attacker was known for expressing white supremacist views at rallies and on social media.

In Maryland, my home state, an empty chair took the place of 23-year-old Richard Collins III, a recently commissioned U.S. Army second lieutenant, at his Bowie State University graduation; his life was ended as he waited for his ride at a University of Maryland bus stop. A 22-year-old white man, who was a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich,” has been charged in the stabbing; authorities are investigating whether it was a hate crime.

When crowds in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesting a City Council vote to remove a park statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee marched, shouted and carried flaming torches, all that was missing was a burning cross.

There is aggression in words as well, and no one is immune. So Cleveland Cavalier great LeBron James was not that surprised when a racist slur was spray-painted on the gate of his Los Angeles home.

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you,” the saying goes.

America’s focus has turned to the danger from without, from foreign terrorism and the bad actors entering the country with mayhem in mind. Those are the stories making the headlines, though in truth, domestic terrorism is the threat many people of color fear the most.

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks attacks by extremists and domestic terrorism and threats by hate groups, which saw an increase in the years of the Obama presidency and continue to rise.

So it made sense for my husband and me to investigate the South Carolina gun laws. The state’s “your home is your castle” Castle Doctrine extends to vehicles and workplaces, meaning our registered piece could indeed travel with us on a journey we hoped would be routine but feared could escalate in an instant.

Laws for self-protection and the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms are tricky and possibly dangerous for African-Americans, as those rights once applied only to whites — and some would say they still do. A registration did not stop legal gun owner Philando Castile from being killed in Minnesota in July 2016 by a panicked police officer, who was found not guilty of any crime this past week despite shooting into a car with a 4-year-old girl as a passenger.

Many, however, have decided taking that chance is worth it, and it has been reported that gun ownership among African-Americans is increasing.

In Charleston, in between programs of opera, dancing and jazz, we made the pilgrimage to Mother Emanuel, quiet and protected. It sits on Calhoun Street, which honors South Carolinian John C. Calhoun, a defender of slavery as a “positive good.”

On these streets, our marriage would have been a crime 50 years ago, before the Loving case removed the legal barriers. In 1998, when South Carolina threw out its unenforceable state ban, 38 percent of voters wanted to keep the pre-Loving status quo.

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is planning a memorial to peace and justice in Montgomery, Alabama, acknowledging the lynching and legally sanctioned racial terror that traumatized citizens and left a legacy. “Our goal isn’t to be divisive,” Bryan Stevenson, the director of the EJI told The New York Times. “Our goal is just to get people to confront the truth of our past with some more courage.” The museum “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration” would be one of many memorials.

Are these reminders needed? Last month, tourists visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington found a noose in an exhibition on segregation. In an email to staff, museum director Lonnie Bunch said, “Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African-Americans continue to face.”

Will America face this enemy within?

As for our final decision on that gun, we decided not to carry after all. It would have been legal, but it may not have been wise. We did, however, pack a big honkin’ knife.

Pots & pans: Whites no longer have a monopoly on winning A Japanese driver finished first at the Indy 500, but some people can’t accept that

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Takuma Sato, one of my people, won the Indianapolis 500. After the race, Sato, short like me, drank deeply of the white milk, a liquid victory lap and the traditional ambrosia of Indy winners.

A native of Japan, Sato races for the Andretti family, whose auto racing patriarch, Mario, immigrated from Italy after World War II and made his last name synonymous with American speed and power.

Terry Frei found the whole scene tough to swallow: “I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during the Memorial Day Weekend,” Frei wrote in a tweet.

Sato might be short like me, but he’s of Japanese descent, unlike Frei, the now-former sportswriter for The Denver Post, which fired him. To Frei’s way of thinking, Sato is from a country the United States fought during World War II (as it did the Andrettis’ Italy). Consequently, it’s hard for Frei, a veteran journalist with wide-ranging interests, to embrace Sato winning the great American race.

No matter Frei’s height and interests, his remarks made him appear small, his worldview narrow, parochial and exclusionary.

And yet, Frei’s remarks place him firmly in the tradition of those who have seen broad aspects of American society, from sports to elective politics, as a kind of invitational tournament with white people deciding who gets invited and under what circumstances.

It’s that tradition that Jack Johnson challenged and shattered when he became the first black man to win the world heavyweight boxing championship in 1908, setting off tremors in boxing and America that would not be stilled until Jess Willard beat him for the title in 1915.

More than 30 years later, Jackie Robinson continued the assault on artificial boundaries when he vaulted over Major League Baseball’s color barrier to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In 2008, Barack Obama became the first black man to win our nation’s presidency, unleashing a whirlwind that continues to uproot and overturn assumptions about race and power in America up to this very moment.

What Frei and others with his mindset can’t understand or believe is that this is (or should be) the “open era” in sports and other aspects of society, here and abroad.

Sato can win Indy. Ichiro Suzuki, another native of Japan, can dazzle Major League Baseball with his hitting, fielding and baserunning. And Americans and other foreigners can compete and win in Japanese sumo wrestling.

Ultimately, Sato’s Indy victory and Frei’s reaction to it remind me that much of America continues to need what I think of as the “Little Joey Talk.” It’s the kind of lecture you’d give a child who confuses what he wants to happen with the way things are or should be.

For some reason, I can imagine the talk being delivered in President Donald Trump’s voice, perhaps via Twitter.

The talk goes like this: Little Joey or Little Terry. This is America. Everybody should get the chance to play. If everybody plays, anybody can win. And anybody who has a problem with that is a loser.

Pots & pans: Troops of color gave their lives for America Remember their sacrifice by fighting for our rights here in America

My cousin Harry’s name is written on a wall in Washington. He didn’t write his name himself. In 1968, his name was written by artillery, mortar and rocket fire that claimed his life in Vietnam. He was 19 and weeks into his tour of duty.

He will always be 19. And his name will stand at attention on a wall: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, a long black-and-granite line into eternity. His name will stand shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other names, representing a tapestry of our Vietnam War dead who were born everywhere from sagging small towns to splintering big cities.

When I close my eyes, I can see Harry’s face, black and proud, black and beautiful. When I close my eyes, I can see him dance to the music. When I close my eyes, I can see his little brother Levi, a Marine, standing straight and tall, saluting his big brother’s casket, the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.

Years later, Harry’s mother told me that her oldest son had enlisted in the service. She remembered her son explaining that the government was going to draft him anyway.

For whatever reason or circumstance, black people have long fought in America’s wars. And some have died, giving what Abraham Lincoln called the fighting man’s last full measure of devotion.

Black troops fought America’s war of American Independence, though many were not free from slavery. More recently, black troops have fought and died in America’s war against foreign terrorism, though at home, the nation has failed to free itself from the chains of anti-black racism.

Next week, as we celebrate another Memorial Day with beer, beaches and barbecues, let’s remember the sacrifices of our troops fallen in war. Let’s hail them with our prayers. Let’s place flowers at their graves. Let’s give poetic, powerful and patriotic speeches.

But let’s remember that those gestures, heartfelt though they might be, fall far short of our responsibilities to generations of past war dead and the nation’s future.

We, too, can fight for America, fight for America’s highest ideals and principles, the America promised in the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution. We can fight in the classrooms. We can fight from the picket lines. We can fight to gain access to voting booths.

Let’s salute the military men and women who died in service to America, especially in war, by joining the fight to make our country a better place to live in peacetime.

White police officer sues city for discrimination after finding out he had 18 percent African heritage and getting ridiculed for it

When news first crossed my desk that a white man was suing his city in Michigan for discrimination, I shook my head. It instantly felt like another one of those bastardized versions of what people like to call reverse racism was rearing its head, and thus paradoxically exposing the real nature of white privilege. Or, to put it more plainly: Discrimination complaints likely don’t get heard until a white person claims to be the one affected.

There’s a lot to unpack with this. No. 1 is the obvious general culture around this police force and racial humor. According to a report, this problem started when a prank was played on the officer during the Christmas season, when someone in the department put a black Santa Claus with 18 percent written on it — the figure represented the percentage of his heritage that’s African — in his Christmas stocking. That, and people apparently calling him “Kunta,” set him off.

But there’s one single detail in this story that is hilarious. The man’s name is Cleon Brown.

Cleon. Brown. Look, I don’t have to go into a whole historical breakdown of names to point out that if you heard his name without seeing the person, you would automatically assume he was black. For what it’s worth, Cleon is actually a Greek name, but you know how these things go with years of conditioning and other societal factors that push people to give their kids different monikers.

Now, this is funny to people because folks like laughing at so-called nontraditional names. It’s also funny because it goes to the extreme. If that officer’s name is Justin White, this is an entirely different story in that regard. I’m willing to believe that being named Cleon Brown might have been the reason that a guy in Hastings, Michigan, would choose to investigate his heritage to begin with. As someone who’s been told that he sounds white — whatever that means, but we know what it means — I’m fascinated by this situation.

Most importantly, though, are the details of the nature of his concern. This paragraph in particular is telling.

“Brown filed a federal lawsuit alleging state and federal civil-rights violations and violation of the state’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act. He claims intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Basically, he’s saying that he couldn’t possibly bear the burden of knowing that he’s partially black. Look, the insults and so on are obviously out of line, but the concept of defending one’s whiteness as a reason to levy a lawsuit is astounding. It’s not reverse racism. It’s reverse Rachel Dolezal.

Another interesting component here is that the only reason his department knew about this is because Brown chose to tell them. He says that people unfriended him on Facebook and “didn’t allow him to play in annual charity basketball games,” presumably because his newfound blackness probably gave him an unfair advantage on the court. This would be a good time to drop in this not-so-fun nugget about Jeremy Lin finding that the Ivy League was more racist than the NBA. Shocker.

Anyway, what Brown is asserting is that after telling them that he might have African blood in his heritage, his superiors and co-workers started treating him … like he was black. Nothing like finding yourself on the wrong side of the privilege line to find out that racism is real and thriving in the United States of America.

We can only hope that if nothing else, this informs his next decision when he pulls someone of color over.

Don’t buy what Rachel Dolezal is selling The newly named Nkechi Amare Diallo’s mindset is misguided and dangerous

“I was born to two white parents, but I do have an authentic black identity.”

That’s what Rachel Dolezal told Dr. Phil in an episode that aired as part of the promotional tour for her new book In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World.

By this point, we all know who this woman is. After she was outed as a white person heading up an NAACP chapter in Washington state, her stature rose to prominence in the U.S. when she deservedly became a target of ridicule. At this point, in trying to sell product and art to make a living, she was staring homelessness straight in the face. She’s gotten multiple platforms to spew this nonsense. England’s BBC Newsnight sat her down for an interview. She put her harmful rhetoric on full display, saying, “The idea of race is a lie.” First off, no it’s not. It might not have scientific merit at the core of its existence as anything more than phenotypical differences in humans, but that doesn’t make the effects of said construct any less real. Secondly, if that were the case, you wouldn’t be claiming to be black. Obviously.

Then, The New York Times decided to allow her to reply to reader questions on Facebook Live, for reasons that are still unclear. There, she dropped the word transracial, claiming to be such. In short order, here’s why that doesn’t make sense. When it comes to said matter, it is not a choice.

“The fundamental difference between Dolezal’s actions and trans people is that her decision to identify as black was an active choice, whereas transgender people’s decision to transition is almost always involuntary,” Meredith Talusan wrote for The Guardian in 2015. “Transitioning is the product of a fundamental aspect of our humanity – gender – being foisted upon us over and over again from the time of our birth in a manner inconsistent with our own experience of our genders. Doctors don’t announce our race or color when we are born; they announce our gender. People who are alienated from their presumed gender and define themselves according to another gender have existed since earliest recorded history; race is a medieval European invention.”

Or, in short, there’s no going both ways. Black folks cannot just declare themselves white because they make some cosmetic changes and start listening to Dave Matthews. Not to mention that if she were actually black, she would never have gotten this many chances to plead her mediocre case to various outlets around the world. Even the most respected of our women are routinely denigrated and insulted in public spaces, no matter what.

We’re not even going to get into the absurdity of her changing her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo (but not as her pen name. Yay, whiteness!). The most fundamental portion of her argument is demeaning when it comes to the African-American experience. What she’s essentially asserting is that all blackness is an act. On a basic level, this is where people’s issues with blackface come in. But in reality, it’s far more insidious than college kids painting their faces and saying “n—a” when they sing songs.

Her entire concept of transracialism is closer to what the white family is trying to achieve in the movie Get Out. The idea that blackness is just something you can wake up and feel and thus become is frightening. How little do you have to think of black people to feel like you can just decide it’s something you want to do? It’s the height of a supremacist’s logic. By deleting the experience of actual black people and erasing the years of societal abuse, conditioning and dehumanization we have endured, what you’re saying is being black is so easy that any white person could do it. It’s not just a ridiculous punchline to say you identify as black. It actively reinforces the idea that black people are lesser beings than others.

For her, it’s not enough to love, respect, nurture and support black culture. She’s got to steal it. In the film, the blind man who wants to steal the main character’s brain doesn’t even view himself as racist. Yet, the fact that they keep choosing black people to body-snatch is a clear sign of his ignorance to his own bigotry. Dolezal is no different. Blackness is thus presented as something that exists for the purposes of white taking.

In an interview with VICE News, which traveled to her home in Spokane, Washington, she lays out this terrifying vision while reminding the audience that a lawsuit alleging that one of her family members was sexually abused by another is how this whole situation blew up to begin with.

“What is whiteness or blackness? Or, you know, what does it mean to fall in between,” she says. “In what ways are we who we are? I’m not part of that. Owning, praising, living whiteness. That’s not me.” You could posit that by trying to help black people through her work, her lifestyle and her passion, she was actively making a choice to move away from whiteness as a power structure. But, frankly, she could have likely done a lot more to help others as an actual white person. That’s how privilege works.

At this point, it’s not enough to just say, “Don’t give her a platform” and expect her to go away. While she might be an extreme example, the root logic of her thinking is nothing short of dangerous. Black people have had enough stolen from them in this nation over centuries, so if someone is legitimately trying to rationalize a fake race through some level of science, that’s scary.

Killing, raping, jailing and trying to dishonor black folks is a tradition as old as America itself. But trying to steal our existence from the inside out is quite another. If the idea becomes accepted that somehow people can declare themselves black without connectivity to the problems that come with it, we’ll be setting ourselves up to be wiped out in plain sight, without even having to be removed.

We wouldn’t be the first group in America to suffer that fate, either.

Daily Dose: 4/21/17 A shooting death last night on the campus of NC A&T

Clinton Yates is not here today. He’s hard at work on a $500 device that puts milk in your cereal. Take that, Juicero.

There was a fatal shooting at North Carolina A&T on Thursday night. Campus police said a female visitor at the historically black university was approached by an armed man at one of the school’s residence halls, and after a struggle the gun was discharged. The woman wasn’t shot, but once officers responded to the area they found another man suffering from a gunshot wound. He later died at a local hospital. There’s not a lot of information out at the moment, but this was reportedly the third fatal shooting in Greensboro over the past 24 hours and the third shooting-related death involving NC A&T in the past six months.

(Update: the Greensboro Police Department have stated the man who was killed was not an NC A&T student. The shooter has still not been identified.)

The NBA playoffs continued last night. Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson was back doing Lance Stephenson things, and Paul George scored 36 points — but LeBron James showed who’s owned the playoffs the past six seasons, bringing the Cleveland Cavaliers back from a history-making 25-point halftime deficit to go up 3-0 in the series. The Memphis Grizzlies snapped a 10-game postseason losing streak against the San Antonio Spurs, and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo blocked a shot WITH HIS ELBOW!

It’s been one year since the death of Prince. This time last year, the world was shocked when TMZ broke the news that the 57-year-old singer’s body was found at his Paisley Park compound in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Since that time, there have been moving tributes — from Bilal at the BET Awards, as well as Bruno Mars and Morris Day and the Time at the Grammys — mass re-viewings of 1984’s Purple Rain and, of course, controversy. A former Prince producer tried to release an unauthorized new album for the anniversary, but the singer’s estate scuttled that in court earlier this week. The New York Times reported recently that Prince concealed his painkiller addiction by “mixing various prescription pills in bottles for everyday products like Bayer and Aleve.” Nevertheless, The Undefeated is celebrating The Purple One all day.


Quick notes:

1. If you haven’t come across it yet, writer Ijeoma Oluo Ethered/SHEthered/Takeovered/Hit Em Uped Rachel Dolezal.

2. The NFL schedule was released last night. Sixteen teams will play 16 other teams. It doesn’t matter in April.

3. The entire city of Wyoming, Minnesota, might be high. From the police department setting “#420” traps on Thursday to this local man who narced on his own wife because he thought her cocktail straw was drugs.

Can Drake stop trying to control women’s sexuality? Examining the rapper’s lyrics ahead of ‘More Life’ release

With the impending release of his fifth studio album — the first since the four-time platinum, Grammy-nominated 2016 Views — Drake has many questions surrounding him. Can he again move a million units in a week? Can he prove all the doubters wrong after two years of ghostwriting allegations? Can he top “Hotline Bling” or “One Dance”? Can More Life overtake Take Care as Drake’s undoubted classic album?

But also, can he, like so many artists in 2016 — Beyoncé (Lemonade), Solange (A Seat at the Table), Rihanna (Anti), Kanye West (The Life of Pablo), Young Thug (Jeffery) — take risks on his new album, exposing a deeper version of himself? Drake and his legion of fans — and his seemingly equal number of detractors — are waiting with bated breath for March 18 to see what the 6 God has been cooking up. But before we can call the new project “classic” or “trash,” before we spend the next few weeks debating the best and worst tracks, here’s the most important question that Drake has to answer: Can he stop attempting to control women?

Over the past eight years, Drake’s built up a reputation as being the compassionate and less threatening (read: soft) rapper who appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, cuddles up with professional athletes, and gets tattoos of Aaliyah. He’s played the role of Nice Guy by constantly smiling, and apparently wearing his heart on his sleeve. This appeals to the sensitivities of the women in his fan base. But, as is often the case with these so-called nice guys, Drake plays the charmer — he’ll call you beautiful, open doors for you and send you smiley-face emojis — but the minute he has sex with you, or you move on to someone else, he turns into Michael Ealy in The Perfect Guy.


Drake’s corniness, outward kindness and lack of sexual aggression has been misinterpreted as an overarching respect for women. He’s even been referred to as a feminist. But Drake is as much a feminist as Rachel Dolezal is a black woman. His entire catalog is steeped in respectability politics, accepting women so far as their body count goes.

Those songs pale in comparison to “Shot For Me,” “Marvin’s Room” and “Practice.” They are Drake at his worst.

While he’s constantly praised Nicki Minaj over the years, Drake belittled the Grammy-nominated artist during his beef with her former boyfriend, Meek MillIs that a world tour or your girl’s tour? — implying that it’s emasculating for a man to receive second billing to his significant other.

As with stars of rock and country music, almost every successful rapper today, from Jay Z to Future to Chance the Rapper, has at some point performed lyrics that objectify or exploit women. J.Cole’s music has taken on more social justice elements over the years (Drake has spoken out for black causes as well). But Cole, in a 2013 song, called women “b—–s”I got smart, I got rich, and I got b—–s still/And they all look like my eyebrows: thick as hell — and patriarchally dismisses female sexuality on 2014’s “No Role Modelz”:

My only regret was too young for Lisa Bonet, my only regret was too young for Nia Long/Now all I’m left with is hoes from reality shows, hand her a script the b—h probably couldn’t read along

Even so-called progressive rappers fall into this trap, namely the androgynous Young Thug and the genderfluid Young M.A.


Sometime between Drake’s early rise and his third mixtape being converted into 2009’s So Far Gone, the rapper known for singing about his romantic feelings and the pressure of newfound fame — with a flow that made every 16 bars sound like the hottest verse ever — became his own worst enemy. Drake, known for hits like 2009’s “Best I Ever Had” and 2010’s “Find Your Love,” became synonymous with quote-heavy memes on social media, and fake Twitter accounts such as @drakkardnoir pumped out fake deep quote after fake deep quote.

But the rapper’s verses about loving and being proud of college-educated, independent women — Sound so smart like you graduated college/Like you went to Yale but you probably went to Howard — paved the way for hypermasculine diatribes against the sexual agency of seemingly any woman he’s ever encountered. Through an examination of Drake’s four studio albums, plus mixtapes, collaborative projects and guest features, it is clear that the man who made music for folks who couldn’t get over their exes was himself struggling with the basic concept of “moving on.”

While So Far Gone doesn’t count as a studio album — it was his final mixtape before signing with Universal Republic — it gave listeners a sneak peek into the troublesome lyrics Drake would release in subsequent years. On the soothing track “Houstatlantavegas,” he raps about “saving” an exotic dancer from a strip club:

You go get f—– up and we just show up at your rescue/Carry you inside, get you some water and undress you.

I give you my all and the next morning you’ll forget who or why, or how, or when/Tonight is prolly ’bout to happen all over again.

Thank Me Later, Drake’s 2010 debut studio album, features the rapper slut-shaming women for having previous sexual partners. From “Karaoke” (I hope that you don’t get known for nothing crazy/Cause no man ever wants to hear those stories ’bout his lady) to “Miss Me” (Work somethin’, twerk something, basis/She just tryna make it so she’s right here getting naked. I don’t judge her, I don’t judge her/But I could never love her) to “Thank Me Now” (Alohas to women with no ties to men/That I know well, that way there are no lies), Drake positions women with previous sexual experience as undesirable. On the Rihanna-assisted “Take Care,” he seems to open up to the idea of women having sexual agency, relenting I’ve asked about you and they told me things/But my mind didn’t change and I still feel the same.

Thank Me Later was also at times a celebration of independent women – appreciating women’s “book smarts and street smarts” on “Shut it Down” and “Fancy” — but set the foundation for 2011’s Take Care, which was, at that point, the peak of Drake’s overt misogyny and objectification of women. On Take Care, which won Drake a Grammy for best rap album — he continues his focus on sex workers with “Lord Knows”:

To all these women that think like men with the same intentions

Talking strippers and models that try to gain attention.

Even a couple porn stars that I’m ashamed to mention.

“Under Ground Kings” (Sometimes I need that romance, sometimes I need that pole dance/Sometimes I need that stripper that’s gon’ tell me that she don’t dance) even creates a binary of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. While Drake has an infatuation with exotic dancers, he also makes it clear that admiration only goes as far as sex. “Trust Issues,” which Drake said he made for “fun” and thus didn’t include on the album, has Drake playing into the thoroughly debunked myth that women can’t want sex as much as men, rapping And it’s probably why I’m scared to put the time in/Women want to f— like they’re me and I’m them.

Those songs, though, pale in comparison to “Shot For Me,” “Marvin’s Room” and “Practice.” They are Drake at his worst, going beyond the behaviors of the paternalistic and disapproving ex. He goes from telling a woman she’s drinking away the pain she feels due to leaving him on “Shot For Me” — Yeah, I’m the reason why you always getting faded — to cursing out another for finding happiness with a new lover on “Marvin’s Room” (F— that n—-a that you love so bad).

Despite admitting that he’s a flawed individual in the latter song, in the former he tells the woman that he “made” her and calls her a “b—-.” This then leads to Drake’s most confusing and disturbing song to date, “Practice.” While acknowledging that women can have sex — the song is about a woman having multiple partners — Drake then spins it to his advantage: All those other men were practice, they were practice/Yeah, for me, for me, for me, for me. He senses “pain and regret” in the woman from her past, and then reluctantly accepts the fact that she has casual sex. He tops the song off with an uncomfortable, familial request: You can even call me daddy, give you someone to look up to.

But, Drake can still change. His lyrics paint the picture of a man who is constantly questioning himself.

It’s 2016’s “Hotline Bling” that ignited the re-examination of Drake’s entire catalog. The song is the rapper’s second-best-selling single of all time (behind fellow Views track “One Dance”), and won him two Grammys at last month’s award show. Not to mention, the visuals for the song will go down in music history as one of the most memorable music videos of all time.

But while the chorus is equal parts infectious and mesmerizing, Drake sneaks in two verses and a bridge full of “reductive stereotypes” and body-policing lyrics about an old fling. Whether about said woman “wearing less and goin’ out more” or “going places where you don’t belong,” Drake makes it apparent that he’s offended that she has the audacity to move on with her life. By the end of the song, Drake’s become so desperate that he’s even concerned that the woman is “bendin’ over backwards for someone else.” Textbook narcissism.

His guest appearances have been a mixed bag as well. On rapper The Game’s 2011 track “Good Girls Go Bad,” Drake raps Who’s still getting tested?/Where’s all the women that still remember who they slept with? and a year later added to 2 Chainz’s “No Lie”:

She could have a Grammy, I still treat her a– like a nominee

Just need to know what that p—- like

So one time is fine with me.

Over the past couple of years, Drake has put out two mixtapes, a solo effort If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and What A Time To Be Alive with Future. His male chauvinism can be found on tracks “Legend,” “Energy” and “Madonna” and repeatedly calls a woman “ungrateful” for living her life without him on “Diamonds Dancing.” As writer Tahirah Hairston pointed out, Drake has also had questionable lyrics on “Wu-Tang Forever,” “Own It,” “Furthest Thing,” “I’m The Plug” and even notable feminist Beyoncé’s “Mine.”


Back in October, Drake released three tracks from his upcoming More Life album — “Fake Love,” “Sneakin’,” and “Two Birds, One Stone.” Looking solely at those tracks, it appears Drake has let up a little on his control, instead rapping about success, fake friends and his long list of haters. Even his appearance on labelmate Nicki Minaj’s diss to Remy Ma, “No Frauds,” he steers clear of trying to preserve women’s sanctity.

For nearly a decade now, Drake has wrapped up his alarming lyrics inside catchy, Instagram-caption-worthy choruses and tunes. The “light-skinned Keith Sweat” gets away with this because he carefully crafted a “nice guy” persona that deflects the criticism that, say, a 21 Savage, Kodak Black or the Migos would receive.

For many men, Drake’s attitudes reflect their own attitudes and desires, which in turn reflect a patriarchal society that views women as sexual objects meant to be gazed at. For women, they’ve had to deal with sexism in the arts since the beginning of time, so choosing to not enjoy an artist because of his views on sexuality would mean giving up on music all together. And at the end of the day, Drake is just that good at his job, unquestionably the most influential and popular musician in the business right now.

But Drake can still change. His lyrics paint the picture of a man who is constantly questioning himself, consistently trying to become a better person, whatever that entails. From So Far Gone to More Life — age 22 to 30 — he’s learned all the lessons life can teach, from whom to trust to what forms of happiness money and fame can buy. But it seems he’s yet to learn that women aren’t sexual objects. They’re human beings. If the only women of the world were all exactly like the women he seems to respect — his mother or Rihanna or Aaliyah or Serena Williams — we’d call him Aubrey the Riveter. But, they aren’t the only women who deserve his respect.

He knows that. But it begs the question: Does he care?

Daily Dose: 3/2/17 P.K. Subban set to return to Montreal for first time

March is Women’s History Month and few things sum up the transition from February like this amazing video.

Jeff Sessions is in some serious trouble. The man who grinned and laughed his way through his Senate confirmation hearing to become U.S. attorney general is accused of having had contact with the Russian ambassador, but did not disclose said information. Mind you, he was then a Trump adviser and he said he had no contact with the Russians at all. He’s also on the commission designed to oversee whether Russia interfered in U.S. elections. Yeah, that’s not good. This is not going to end anytime soon. Some want him to resign. Also, check this out.

When news first broke that Beau Biden’s widow was dating his brother, people jumped with reaction. Beau, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, died from brain cancer in 2015 and was a veteran with a budding political career when he died. His brother, Hunter, recently separated from his wife with whom he has three daughters. Between the two tragedies, apparently the two found a connection and have the blessing of the family. On the surface it seems a tad weird, but considering the circumstances, it’s not. Great sitcom premise, though.

Rachel Dolezal is completely bugging. You remember her, right? The woman who claimed to be “transracial” after trying to pass as a black person and heading up an NAACP chapter? Well, her life took a bit of a twist. She lost her job and is on food stamps (no shame in that, btw), but she’s taken things a bit further by changing her name. And not just any old name, she’s reportedly changed it to, wait for it, Nkechi Amare Diallo. Please, hold your applause. I mean look, I’m sorry, but come on. I’m having a hard time taking this seriously.

The trade deadline passed in the NHL, if you weren’t paying attention. And while we’re not going to chalk talk all the transactions across the ice, there is one particular story that we are extremely interested in. P.K. Subban, one of the top five stars in the league, is coming back to Montreal for the first time since being traded to Nashville. Nobody really knows why he was dealt to begin with, but when a Canadian player who happens to be black is viewed as a little too flashy for a franchise’s taste, who knows. His reception oughta be interesting.

Free Food

Coffee Break: When we first saw Gary from Chicago on the Academy Awards stage, he was just another prank victim who was really into taking pictures of things on his smartphone. It was adorable, in an old black family kind of way. Turns out he’s got quite the backstory, which is an interesting look at how sentencing and rehab can work.

Snack Time: There are disturbing death cases. Then there’s the case of a Muslim teen found hanged in the woods. It was initially ruled a suicide. Now the family is asking the FBI to investigate. Very troubling.

Dessert: Just watch this. You’re welcome.