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Kendrick Confirms It: February 2016 Is The Blackest Black History Month Ever

February is the month designated to be Black History Month. It is also the shortest month of the calendar year. This happens to be a coincidence — today’s Black History Month is the evolution of Carter G. Woodson’s “Negro History Week,” created in 1926 and intended to be recognized the second week of February — but I still wouldn’t begrudge or dismiss anyone who does believe this is a slight. And that this slight is intentional. The Black American’s experience in America could be categorized as a cauldron of “less-thans”; a collection of zero-calorie meals congealed and cooked in a way to attempt to convince us they’re complete. It stretches from our initial status as chattel, extends past our stint as three fifths of a human, and bleeds into today, where just the suggestion that lives possessed by Black people also matter is considered revolutionary, disruptive, threatening, and even insulting. So I will forgive those who believe, even in the face of contradicting evidence, that Black History Month’s relative brevity is another snub. 

Yet, an unintended consequence of this status has been the cultivation of a culture of celebration. And not a celebration of being considered less than. But a celebration of achievement, of virtue, of éclat, of survival in spite of those conditions and this consideration. Black people tend to shout because, well, we’ve earned it. 

And this, how these successes and the celebrations of these successes have been earned came to mind last night while watching Kendrick Lamar’s watershed Grammy moment. It was brilliant. It was ethereal. It was heroic. It was bold. And it was Black as fuck. But this Blackness wasn’t just sublime. It was so celebratory, so ebullient, so clear, that it was antagonistic. Callous in its unapologeticness. Sociopathic in its regard to the predominately White audience and predominately White viewership. And no, celebratory Blackness isn’t inherently antagonistic or “anti” anything other than anti-anti-Black. But context matters. American history matters. America matters. And the celebration of something we’ve been conditioned and expected not to celebrate is an unambiguous affront to those whose status is connected to and determined by our lack of it.

Which means that this Black History Month must especially suck for them. For them, this Black History Month must be like eating the soggiest and shittiest potato salad ever. (Potato salad soup, basically.) For every meal. For an entire week. This Black History Month is the worst. month. ever.

To wit, February of 2016 is just barely halfway over. But the following has already happened:

1. Beyonce forever ruined the Super Bowl, the song “Single Ladies,” and Cheddar Bay Biscuits for White people. 

2. Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court’s most prominent conservative, died. Which means President Obama will likely get to choose the next justice. Which prompted a tsunami of preemptive White tears — seriously, Mitch McConnell might just be a puddle with glasses at this point — all wishing, hoping, imploring that this Black man just goes away and leaves White people alone. Which made President Obama basically say “Nah.” (That Loretta Lynch happens to be the most likely candidate is the icing on the White Tear funnel cake.)

3. Kanye went Peak Kanye. And his milkshake has been bringing White Tears to the yard since 2005.

It’s apropos that the last Black person to perform on the Grammy stage last night was Brittany Howard, the lead of Alabama Shakes. During their performance of “Don’t Wanna Fight,” Howard donned a white cape over a white dress; her voice penetrating and powerful as her guitar rang and her alabaster garments swayed. The image evoked was unmistakable: On that night, the 15th day of the best and Blackest Black History Month ever, Jesus was a 27-year-old Black woman from Alabama.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. And a columnist for EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't.

  • Vanity in Peril

    For all the welps in Welpville, White America is having the worst month ever.

    • LOL that’s what she gets.

    • Chazz A

      LOL

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      If you want to be poetic, we can say Black America is that sink.

      Now you see what happens when you step on us.

      • Vanity in Peril

        Yup

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          Black Dynamite FTMFW!

          I love this movie

    • Mary Burrell

      lol

    • CookieGugglemanFleck

      LOLOLOLOL!!!!!

    • Mochasister

      Is it wrong that I cackled like a hyena?!

  • DBoySlim

    This year is getting blacker and more darker. Word to Ruckus.

    • And then mo’ blacka and mo’ darka

  • fxd8424

    “It stretches from our initial status as chattel, extends past our stint as three fifths of a human, and bleeds into today, where just the suggestion that lives possessed by Black people also matter is considered revolutionary, disruptive, threatening, and even insulting.”

    All of this Damon, all of this!

    • Mary Burrell

      That was eloquent

  • Cleojonz

    Kendrick’s performance was the only exciting thing about the whole boring a** Grammy awards this year. This performance was electric. I don’t even know if black is a strong enough adjective for what it was.

    Unfortunately white people like him too. They don’t see him or his message the same way we do. They take it as a sort of performance art thing I think. They really don’t get it.

    • Lady Gaga’s performance was hot too. But Kendrick won the Grammy’s.

      • Val

        Really? I thought Lady Gaga seemed really stiff. Like she was moving like a 70 year old lady. It was totally distracting.

        • She was, until I looked at some vids of Bowie and realized she was trying to emulate his robotic movements from some of his shows. The only song I know of his is Fame, so it was cool to see her go through some of his catalog.

          • Val

            Oh okay. I thought she caught arthritis from Tony Bennett. Lol

            • you ain’t right lol

          • miss t-lee

            Yeah, that’s exactly what she was doing.

      • Cleojonz

        Uggh I did NOT like Lady Gaga’s performance. Its not that she didn’t sound good I just hate all the vocal affectations she does because she actually can really sing so it’s so unnecessary. It seemed way too theatrical to me, which I guess is what people think of Bowie but I don’t.

        • Dee

          It was like she was impersonating Liza Minelli, doing a tribute to Bowie?

      • Mary Burrell

        I love Gaga and she is the right one to do the Bowie tribute but I was underwhelmed. I usually am down with her but last night was disappointed

    • C. Bizzle

      I think your second paragraph is SPOT ON.

    • DBoySlim

      I thought Hamilton and the little boy on the piano were dope. Everything else was kinda meh.

      • Cleojonz

        Hamilton too. Made me try to look for tickets again. Alas unless you want to promise an unborn child there is no buying a Hamilton ticket for regular retail price.

        • DBoySlim

          It was nearly impossible to get a ticket before the Grammys. Now? Muy imposible.

      • Mary Burrell

        Hamilton is on my bucket list and that little kid on the piano was amazing Herbie Hancock was impressed

    • Mary Burrell

      Well I understand your perspective and I asked the same question. I don’t think white people really understood his performance. I don’t even like HipHop but I have been watching YouTubes and he has a lot of stuff going on with him. He was candid about his depression and the deaths of his friends and he is concerned about the people who are struggling in Compton. I actually like him.

    • Jasmin

      That is so true!

    • Mochasister

      Lol at unfortunately white people like him too. Yeah, you know we can’t have anything to ourselves. As soon as they discover how good something or someone is, they tend to take over. Yet we are inferior to them.

      • Nik White

        Well he performed (actually tore ish up) with a group last year so they been liking him a while

  • Ari

    February 2016 has white people fearfully looking over their shoulders in anticipation of an “inevitable (ficticious) race war.” What a difference a month (two weeks) makes.

    • …and Birth of Nation hasn’t even been released nationwide yet…

      • Ari

        BOY – completely forgot that Nat Turner has yet to touch down.

        • Mochasister

          I might have to actually go to the movies to see that. I very rarely go to the movies nowadays but I will definitely support this.

      • miss t-lee

        Cannot wait.

        • Epsilonicus

          I want opening night tickets

          • miss t-lee

            ALSO.

  • Watching Kendrick perform…I felt a lot of things. I want to credit ALL of those things to Kendrick…BUT I did JUST get my period, so…basically my hormones loosened up the cap for him. Anyway. His EVERY choice in that performance was brilliant and powerful. It just commanded attention and respect. It was SO for black people in the FACE of all those white people. He did that, and it was beautiful. Truly.

    • Jennifer

      Embrace those hormones! They allowed you to be ready to feel and embrace that beautiful work of art.

  • Chazz A

    Unapologetic, in yo face, black power performance! “We gon be alright”, nuff said, word is bond!

    • Mary Burrell

      Yes he was definitely serving up some real unapologetic blackness. I actually liked his performance especially the African dance that was injected into the piece. He definitely is an artist.

  • Mary Burrell

    I don’t like HipHop but it seemed like a mix of dance and a hodgepodge of other artistic mediums. I thought it was an interesting performance.

  • Mary Burrell

    I wonder if the white people understood what was happening in his performance? Some of them looked kind of confused.

    • TeeChantel

      Not. At. All.

    • It was 3 6 Mafia winning an Oscar all over again.

      • Val

        Shoot, that confused the heck out of me too. Lol

      • Junegirl627

        lol

      • fxd8424

        2520s lost their minds on my job when 3-6 Mafia won. Talked about it for weeks.

      • Mary Burrell

        lol

    • miss t-lee

      They most definitely were confused…lol

      • KB

        This had me laughing loudly

        • miss t-lee

          The faces were the best. Folks made gifs and I was hollering.

        • miss t-lee

          She looked like she wanted to speak with a manager…lol

        • Junegirl627

          she looks like she wants to scream all lives matter

          • Mary Burrell

            Giggles

          • Mochasister

            Nah, she found out that Jesus really IS Black.

        • She looks like the villager from a WWII movie who tells the SS where the Jewish townsfolk are hiding.

          • Junegirl627

            If y’all don’t stop making me choke….

        • Conrad Bess

          First, Damon, I love this site. I don’t even know how I discovered it, but I glad I did. I was waiting all day to see who was gonna write about Kendrick, glad it was you (no shade to the rest of the writers. You got a top notch crew).
          Second, who is this lady? I knew she was becoming a meme once the camera passed her in the audience.

        • Mary Burrell

          Sour face biddy

        • Lmao@ the caption above the pic

      • Mary Burrell

        That’s the way it looked.

    • NoGames

      Absolutely not.

      • Mary Burrell

        teehee

    • Overheard on the sales floor today:

      “I didn’t know what that was about. Were they in the jungle?”

    • Nik White

      They were scared that the revolution was being televised.

  • Kat

    How did he find grown men and women shorter than him.

    • NoGames

      *giggles*

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