The Very Smart Brothas Guide To The Levels of Blackness

TetrisBetween Meek Mill, Candy Crush, and Very Smart Brothas, levels are having the greatest year ever. The fun part about levels is that they’re something people can understand, unlike Matrix 2 which nobody could understand, well except for the people who claim that they could understand it when nobody else could which makes some sense since, ya know, there’s levels to this sh*t. See what I did there?

By the way, its important to note that, “Levels” – the song by Meek Mill, the most yellin-est rapper of all time – is a smart dumb ninja song. It’s one of those songs that’s not deep at all, but some people will claim its deep, thereby informing you and everybody around you that said person who thinks its deep has either been to jail or is likely to go jail at some point. See also Pastor Troy “Vice Versa”. I do judge people who find “Levels” to be a song with any depth to it.

Moving on up to the east side…

While Champ did such a good job of illustraing the perfect levels of Blackness, it seems almost counterproductive to not discuss the various levels of Blackness that must exist for there to be a perfect level. You cannot have hot without cold which yields you the perfectly docile and splendid, warm. Just like you can’t have The most perfect color in the Republic and/or the Union, pewter, unless you have both black and white at the ends. If there’s perfect then there are various other levels. Like?


Really Really Black

You know something is real when you use the adjective twice (or adverb, I was never good at American). Things that are really, really Black are those things where pretty much nobody but (we’re talking 95+ percent) Black folks dwell, enjoy, participate in or appreciate like Detroit, Belly, weave pats, Donald Goines novels, Tyler Perry, red kool-aid flavored chicken gizzards, chicken gizzards, shooting dice on the corner or anywhere really, public school system in most major cities, etc

Pretty Damn Black

This level is where you still have a majority of Black people actively leading the charge for independence (what?) but you get a pretty significant number of others involved, and bougie Black folks are present but there’s definitely division amongst the reading ninjas. Such things that are pretty damn Black are: HBCUs, Project Pat, watermelon, Popeyes chicken, “Swahili” names, Kwanzaa, the last half of Mariah Carey’s career, Atlanta, Lupe Fiasco (he’d be more on the other side of Blackness except he’s gon’ full fledge conspiracy theorist lately), conspiracy theories, Final Call, Nation of Islam,

Perfect Level of Blackness

Covered by Champ

Not As Black As You Might Think

This is kind of explanatory. We’re moving to the side of things where there’s definitely some Blackness, but just because its led by the Blackness doesn’t mean that only (or even mostly) the Blacks indulge, though there’s still enough Blackness associated that we could claim them/it in the race draft. Such as? Wu-Tang Clan, Common (hey, he said its just coffee shop chicks and white dudes), hip-hop, Barack Obama, watermelon, fried chicken from Popeye’s, driving hoopties, saying hooptie, the itis, the sugar, the pressure, Bill Cosby, Drake, cognac, Moscato, etc.

And finally…

Not That Black At All (Or Just Black By Default)

This is the category where something is created by or inspired by the Blacks but has pretty much gone so mainstream that they’re just Black by default because they’re..well, Black, but they’ve transcended (though we’re still claiming), like Beyonce, Tiger Woods, Micheal Jordan, or Michael Jackson, Jordan’s, Lil Wayne, Kanye West (currently), crime (I keeed, I keeed), Scandal, The Butler, The Help, The Shoe Shine Boy (you’re saying that doesn’t exist yet? My bad), Soledad O’Brien, well you get the point.

Those are the levels of Blackness I came up with while listening to Meek Mill yell at me and tell me that he was a boss. I mean, there are levels to this since we probably don’t wear the same clothes or feathertickle the same women. It’s true.

So what are the levels of Blackness that you’ve observed? Or did I get them right? WHAT SAY YOU?


Significant Moments in Black History That Never Really Happened

You know why this cat never got work again? Because this n*gga SHOT RICKY!!!!!

You know why Lloyd Avery’s career never really took off? Because this n*gga SHOT RICKY!!!!!

Once upon a time not long ago, when people wore pajamas and lived life slow, we got freed. At last. In order to get to that point, a lot of very important people and occurrences had to happen. It’s the reason we celebrate Black History Month here in America. Without that month, we’d forget half of the accomplishments of great Black people like Tiger Woods and Robin Thicke.

Wait. What?


Well because we tend to be a jovial, communicative, and emotive people, those events hold near and dear places in our hearts. Deuce. But because we care so damn much about our peoples, those events aren’t just limited to the Dr. Martin Luther Tha King, Malcolm X’s and Beyonces, traffic lights, spinners, and beatings by police officers…they extend to things that actually didn’t happen but matter a whole heap anyway. We got heart.

Is there a heart in the house tonight? Stand up.

So here are a few things extremely significant moments in Black history that never actually happened in real life. Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike…


Yo, you can go into nearly any Black home in America or gang outpost and yell out the name Ricky and everybody will know exactly what you’re talking about. Chauncey shot him dead in the alley when Ricky zigged when he should have zagged. Actually he didn’t zig or zag which is likely why he got hit in the leg before he got hit in the back with the sawed off shotgun (hand on the pump). When Ricky died, then his mama opened up the SAT test scores to reveal that Ricky had gotten the 700 score he needed to receive a football scholarship and make it up out the hood and go to college like Trey and Brandy were going to do, the hopes and dreams of the hood all song cried. That sh*t hurt. It still hurts. Ricky been dead for 22 years now. Doughboy too. MJ gone. Our nword dead too. Just saying, that was a significant moment in Black history is all I’m saying.

2. Stringer Bell’s death

Notice a theme here? Maybe its the way he died. Maybe its because of all of the people on The Wire who died, he’s the one who deserved his death the most. But that was a pivotal moment in Black history if only because Stringer was the quintessential prototype of who most educated ninjas want to be and who most women seem to be in love with. Idris hasn’t managed to shake the Stringer ethos and why would he want to. He’s tried to. Lord has he tried. Not quite as poignant a death as Ricky, but when String got shot, I heard Black women’s vagina’s scream from my third floor window. Too much? Possibly. Hi, my name is…Panama Jackson.

3. Dwayne Wayne breaking up Whitley’s wedding…and then marrying her

I can’t lie, I’ve often been amazed at how many women love Dwayne Wayne. I always viewed him as goofy as sh*t but somewhere along the way, he became “the man”. Either way, none of us wanted Whitley to marry Byron Douglass III even though that made total sense. So in that wedding episode when you could tell Whitley was losing it and then Dwayne hit her with the “baby PLEAAAAASE…” (that was possibly the most sincere beg in the history of begging – Keith Sweat gave it a 10 and a thumbs up) everybody jumped up and got excited. And I was like…13 at the time? Even I wanted their love to prevail. And it wasn’t real. Which might explain why the show lasted only one more season.

4. THE Fresh Prince Episode

You know which one I’m talking about. The one where Will Smith became WILL SMITH.

I can sum it up in 6 words and keep it moving before I start crying…

“Why he don’t want me, man?”

Man, it still hurts. And it wasn’t real. Will knows his daddy. I never looked at Ben Vereen the same again. She looked like Ben Vereen…b*tch don’t call here anymore.

5. The moment where Martin started to suck

Two words: Shaquille Sunflower

That boy was never the same after that. AND IT NEVER EVEN REALLY HAPPENED but the community took Martin sucking as likely the true beginning of the end of hip-hop. Wait…what? Exactly. This one might be a stretch. But that’s what she said. So we’re even.

That’s 5 significant moments in Black history that actually never really happened in real life that had an impact on the community. What else you got?

Can you think of any moments that occurred in some fictional environ that impacted our community at large?

Talk to me.


Who I’m Iz In 5 Karakters Or Less…

1330010904_35icj4It’s Friday. And on Friday at VSB we try to have a little bit of fun around here. Well, a few days ago I made a few references to the movie Class Act which starred Kid and Play. I’ve long been associated with Kid. I always get told that I look like him, which I’m totally on the fence about. But real talk, I can totally associate with Kid’s character in the House Party movies. I didn’t have an overbearing comedian father who died and went to heaven in part two of my life story, but we are both lightskint.

Well, this got me to thinking, what five characters in movies or television shows, or whatever, would encompass the greatness that is Panama Jackson. And there’s a lot of greatness here to encompass.

So here’s my shot at picking characters that I think would best make up moi, Panama Dontavious Jackson.

1. Harper Stewart (The Best Man)

Minus admitting to be a b*tch a**, Harp was an ole writing arse ninja who put too much of his business out there for world consumption and paid for it dearly.  He almost got thrown from a roof. That’s never happened to me as I’m not Vanilla Ice (even if it is a myth I find it hilarious), but the writing and putting it all out there is similar. I’ll take the Oprah shoutout but you know she ain’t caaaaaaallll me? Anyway, Harp’s on my list.

2. Andre “Dre” Ellis (Brown Sugar)

I promise I won’t make this a Taye Diggs-a-thon. But Dre was the hiphop dude who got caught up in trying to keep it real while trying to keep it profitable. Hello, VSB? Constant struggle. Granted, I feel like his hiphop knowledge was a bit fugazi and mine is extensive as a ninja rocking Extenze with a Swedish penis pump, but thats just splitting hairs.

3. Preston Meyers (Can’t Hardly Wait)

I was the quintessential guy everybody knew who was pining away for the girl who had no clue I existed back in high school. Though thats not completely true. I had a girlfriend. I just shouldn’t have. But I did have a crush on a girl back then. And she ain’t care. But I was a cool kid and everybody knew me. The stoners loved my theories. The skaters loved my wheels. The black folks were my friends and the white folks respected my intellect. I was cooler than you. Word to the guy who sings that song.

4. Steve Urkel (Family Matters)

Hopeless romantic with a good heart extraordinaire. And the killer glasses and suspenders set. Not in 2013. But in 1995? Awwww…that’s me.

5. Will Smith (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

I was never really a Theo. I was more Will. But Will who applied himself in class and school. But even now. I’m cool as a fan but goofy as all get out. Goofy in the…well I don’t know how to describe it fully, I just know that in my own estimation, I feel like i matchup well with Will Smith from the Fresh Prince. I could be lying to myself, but now I’m lying to you all too.

So those are 5 characters that I feel help make up the essence of Panama Jackson. Who makes up the essence of you? And why? Share with us like you are Brother Numpsey.

It’s Friday. Happy weekending.

Somebody’s birthday is Monday.


Characters Who Need Spin-Offs

(Today we have a guestposter, Morgan Collins, who I came across via Twitter amid a conversation/debate we were having about Black movies. Please welcome her to the podium with a soul clap.)

tyrone-biggums1Every now and then, a movie or TV show will have a supporting character that keeps our attention as much as the lead does. Here are a few characters I wish we could see more of in their own spin-off or sequel.

Roger from Sister Sister

After Tia and Tamera got boyfriends, went to GA Southern, and turned into some freaks, I still wonder what happened to annoying next-door neighbor Roger Evans? Yes, Marques Houston, the real-life Roger and Jaleel White’s half-brother, if you believe the Internet, went on to work on a solo music career with mild success, but what I still need the type of closure that a singing cameo on the show’s finale episode couldn’t provide. The first revamp of the Roger character that comes to mind is a show in which he helps police catch criminals using the advanced stalking techniques he groomed while living next to the twins, but more lighthearted fare would be better. No, Roger’s show would revolve around his relationship consulting business. Grown-up Roger, after trying to forget has mackless past, now helps other unlucky lovers–with the occasional slip-up. Har-dee-har-har!!!

Gerald from Hey Arnold!

Though Arnold was the coolest 4th grader, Gerald Martin Johansen was a close second, and even the second coolest 4th grader deserves his own show. Why? In addition to being a confidant and wing-man to Arnold, Gerald was the glue to kid culture in his role as the Keeper of the Tale (maybe a tribute to Are You Afraid of the Dark?). Just a little bit of bongo playing and Gerald would recite all of the legends of the hood with a flair deserving of a half-hour show. Imagine a mystery-adventure show in which the legends come to life as crimes. Gerald, the only person who knows the legends like the back of his hand, is forced to solve them and the save the day without messing up his (super) high-top fade.

Tyrone Biggums from Chappelle’s Show

It’s been 10 years since Chappelle’s Show and seven years since the show abruptly ended after host Dave Chappelle’s received a fame reality check. And yet dudes still dress up as Tyrone Biggums for Halloween and sometimes just for an ultra casual Casual Friday. Though Chappelle had many great skits, a few I would argue that are better than the Tyrone series, this loveable crackhead still resonates with us, which is why Tyrone deserves his own feature-length movie. It may seem hard to imagine Tyrone being able to have the desire to do anything that lasts up to 90 minutes other than smoking rock, but as many an episode has shown us, if you give a crackhead the possibility of some rock, he’ll ask you for some hot sauce. Tyrone’s Excellent Adventure would be in the vein of National Treasure, only instead of money, there’s a giant, mythical crack rock hidden in an exotic locale. A repentant fellow crack addict passes on the Legend of the Golden Rock to Tyrone, who sets out on an adventure around the world to find this elusive treasure. Before he can reach it, he has to battle the toughest crackheads in the world and his own inner demons, brought out by his would-be Narcotics Anonymous sponsor played by Andre Royo, AKA Bubbles from The Wire, in an amazing cameo.

Daughter of a Son of a Gunfighter from Django Unchained

Most of the conversation surrounding Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained was about whether it was too racist, too long, or too anachronistic. This thought-provoking dialogue surely made for dozens of well-written pieces of film criticism. But with all this heavy analysis most people skipped over Amber Tamblyn’s brief cameo as the Daughter of a Son of a Gunfighter AKA That Girl In the Bandana. You probably missed this too if you took a quick nap around the time Django was having a good ol’ country shopping spree. Her character’s name is a little long-winded but not the product of a Tarantino cocaine-induced writing binge. Tamblyn’s father, actor Russ Tamblyn, made several westerns for MGM, including Son of a Gunfighter, in which Tamblyn Sr. seeks revenge for his mother’s death. Supposedly intended as an inside joke for Western fans, this was a failed opportunity for an interesting character. It’s not surprising in a movie where all attempts at developing complex female characters were as half-hearted as throwing a tampon into a flood. To make up for this, and to give a job to an actress whose talents are severely underrated, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants notwithstanding, Tarantino could develop a Daughter of a Son of a Gunfighter TV show. The setup? Think Deadwood meets Xena. The Son of a Gunfighter is on his deathbed, and he needs his daughter to settle some unfinished business, and of course the Daughter will be able to fill his gun holster.

So, what other characters do you think should have a spin-off?


A graduate of The University of Florida, Morgan Collins writes about TV and film at Soon she’ll learn how to write movies and TV shows as a graduate student at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. She currently lives in Brooklyn. Follow her on Twitter as @mashclash.

Hey, Come Back Here With My Magical Negro!

Now, if I die die, if I die…remember me….ballin’.

But if get the chance to come back reincarnated as something other than a boulder, I’d like to be a magical negro. What is a magical negro you say?

You know what a magical negro is. He (or she, though mostly it’s a he) is the Black gentleperson who shows up to help the white protagonist overcome his demons and rise to the greatness within….then he usually dies, disappears, or becomes Uncle Ruckus.

Zip-a-dee-do-da, zip-a-dee-day, my oh my, what a wonderful day. <;---- Uncle Remus, magical Negro extraordinaire.

Now, contrary to what you may think, I'm a big fan of the magical Negro oeuvre.

(You like that right? How I used oeuvre? All scholarly and sh*t. It was almost magical. RUH-ROH!)

See, I've always felt that The Blacks were a pretty insightful bunch, often being the spirit and soul of a country or the people. Hell, we have soul music. In fact, have you seen Beats, Rhymes, and Life, the documentary about A Tribe Called Quest? Q-Tip called Jarobi the spirit of ATCQ. Black folks...we just like that We are the pulse. We're the funk in your left thigh, trying to become the groove in your right. All that jazz. We're jazz. We're even Jazz being thrown out of the house.

So it stands to reason that if there are a bunch of white people around, that a ninja would show up, drop a cliche about life, the white people have moments of clarity, then the ninja disappears into the water even though we don't swim. In fact, that's my favorite part about magical negroness: the fade out we do. I tried that sh*t in real life. It didn't work so well. Apparently peopel could still see me for like 20 minutes after I started walking away...that's a long time to watch somebody make an exit. It loses its punch after like 20 seconds.

Anyway, since I loves me a good magical negro (I wish they sold them in stores!...actually I'll bet white people which they sold them in stores), here are a few of my favorite magical negroes.

Sidenote: Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I'm the magical negro for one of my coworkers. I can't tell you how many times he comes to me for guidance and asks me questions about life. He's also at least 25 years older that me. So maybe I've already gotten my wish, I just didn't realize it because, well I've yet to disappear on him. I'M WHITE, it'll get done! No I'm not. So it won't. Dammit.

1. Bagger Vance

The Legend of Bagger Vance is a great terrible movie. Not that I could see him playing the role anyway, but rumors that Will turned down DJango because of the racism have to be unfounded considering how much shucking and jiving he did as Bagger, who magically(!) showed up out of nowhere and not a soul questioned it at all. He was annoying but special and a total whiz on the golf course. He helped Captain Randolph Junuh overcome his demons and storm back from 12-under (!) against the two best golfers in the world. IN ONE ROUND. On a course where the other two golfers – the two best golfers in the world – can’t break par. As far as magical negroes, go…Bagger is a first ballot hall of famer JUST because of that.

2. John Coffey

The Green Mile is ALSO a great terrible movie. Hmmm, there’s a theme here. I know it’s Stephen King, but still. John Coffey might be the ultimate magical negro in that he “takes it back” and then sends it into the ethos with little flying things that disappear. He took a man’s urinary tract infection and gave his wife back some of that good lovin’. He took “the cancer” from another woman. The only thing he couldn’t take back was death. And he was electrocuted for it even though he didn’t do it. (He was accused of killing two (?) little white girls). Real spit, John Coffey – like the drink, only not spelled the same – might have been the sweetest, nicest giant of a man ever. And I can’t front, when they eletrocuted him, I almost cried. Hell, the prison guards all did. One of the best quotes ever in a great terrible movie, Paul: “On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That it was my job? My job?” John Coffey: “You tell God the Father it was a kindness you done. I know you hurtin’ and worryin’, I can feel it on you, but you oughta quit on it now. Because I want it over and done. I do. I’m tired, boss. Tired of bein’ on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we’s coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?”

3. Rafiki

Five words: “Correction…I know your fatha!”

4. Bubba

I’m not sure if Bubba from Forrest Gump qualifies, but he was a simple, sweet, caring, enterprising, young ninja who knew everything there was to know about shrimping and helped Forrest learn it all too. They were a perfect match with Bubba being just boring enough that you likely didn’t cry when he died. Forrest couldn’t save his magical negro, but he did save others trying to and he got the Congressional Medal of Honor. Bubba made Forrest better though I’m sure that’s not who Fab and Ne-yo were talking about in their smash single.

5. Chubbs

That damn gator took his hand and then his life at the end of the day…hmmm, what is it about magical negroes and golf? The movie, Happy Gilmore. The magic? Well, Chubbs turned Happy into the man who could get his grandma’s house back. Wallah, magic.

Those are my favorite magical Negroes? You got any?

Talk to me. Petey.