Quiz: Exactly How Threatened Are You By Lupita Nyong’o’s Beauty?

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You’ve likely heard by now that Lupita Nyong’o was recently named People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Person. Considering the year she’s had, this shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Lupita’s approval ratings aren’t even measured in percentages anymore. Just emoticons.

Still, the idea that a woman with dark skin and short hair can be considered beautiful seems to be a hard concept for many people to grasp. Perhaps because it counters and threatens everything that think they know about beauty.

In light of that, I’ve decided to do a little quiz to determine just how threatened you might be by Lupita’s popularity.

1. Are you a Black American? (If yes, add 3 points)

2. Are you a Black man? (If yes, add 2 points)

3. Are you a light skinned Black woman? (If yes, add 2.5 points)

4. Have you granted or happily received “light-skinned points” at one time in your life? (If yes, add 8 points)

5. Have you ever called someone “cute for a darker-skinned girl?” (If yes, add 9 points)

6. Are you from a state below the Mason-Dixon line? (If yes, add 5 points)

7. Is your name Yung Berg? (If yes, add 122 points)

8. Are you an AKA? (If yes, add 7.5 points)

9. Were you in Jack and Jill? (If yes, add 10 points)

10. Did you think the new Aunt Viv was an upgrade? (If yes, add 5 points)

11. Do you own a glue gun? (if yes, add 4 points)

12. Have you recently called someone a THOT? (If yes, add 12 points)

13. Are you a Laker fan? (If yes, add 4.5 points)

14. Do you just not “get” Toni Morrison? (If yes, add 8 points)

15. Are you stupid? (If yes, add 7 points)

16. Are you stupid, and on Twitter? (If yes, add 27 points)

17. Did you root for Lisa in Coming to America instead of Patrice? (If yes, add 5 points)

18. Have you incorporated the term “redbone” in the chorus of a rap song you created? (If yes, add 33 points)

19. When asked to describe your background, do you make sure to always list Korean, Italian, Native America, red dot Indian, Swedish, Saudi Arabian, Martian, and Alaskan even though you’re a Black chick from Detroit? (If yes, add 14 points)

20. Do you have hate in your heart? (If yes, add 11.5 points)

Results: (0-10 points) Congratulations! You’re not threatened at all by Lupita’s beauty, and there’s a very good chance you either own or are sleeping with someone who owns a “Black Girls Are Magic” t-shirt. Good for you!

(11-35 points) You’re not mad about Lupita. Not at all. But, her success has made you reflect on some of the thoughts and ideas you’ve had about beauty and Black women. Oh, and you’re probably a Delta. Which is better than being an AKA. But still.

(35-49 points) So that was you at Target the other day, buying up all the brown paper bags for some “throwback party” you’re having. Mmhmm. You aint foolin noone, Nick Cannon.

(50 points or more) If you’re not a rapper from the south, you might as well be one.

—Damon Young

On Acquiring A Very Particular Skill…And Watching Your Marriage Murder It

"Ok. She's finally close to me. Try not to slobber this time."

“Ok. She’s finally close to me. Try not to slobber this time.”

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.

I’m sure most of you recognize this quote from Taken. It’s part of a phone conversation; the most memorable scene in a movie filled with memorable scenes. It’s so good that excerpts from it were even used in the trailer. What made it so effective was the level of confidence and control Liam Nesson (“Bryan Mills”) was able to convey. It didn’t matter if his daughter was in Uzbekistan or Youngstown, you knew he was going to find her, you knew he knew he was going to find her, and you knew he’d do anything necessary to do it. (Well, I didn’t know he was going to shoot his homeboy’s wife during dinner. That was a f*cking surprise.)

Yet, as great as that scene was, what really resonates with me were the early scenes showing how mundane his life had become. Here was this expertly trained and highly skilled government operative in peak physical and intellectual condition living in some hotel next to an airport, eating cheap wings with his buddies, and losing pissing contests to his daughter’s stepdad.

Granted, this “new” life was voluntary. He chose to be more normal so he could spend more time with his daughter. But damn. Without his dumb-ass daughter and her fast friend getting kidnapped, all those years of training and combat would have continued to waste away in a Rent-A-Center barcalounger and a bottle of Jack. This wasn’t just a tiger losing his stripes. This was a tiger shopping at Urban Outfitters and ordering gluten-free couscous at Mercola.

Why does that scene resonate with me, especially now? Well, I don’t possess the skills necessary to murk an entire room of murderous kidnappers with a paper clip and a pair of New Balances, I’m not cold-hearted enough to electrocute someone after they already told me everything they know, and I don’t own an Armenian to English dictionary.

But…I can relate.

You see, I too have spent decades working very hard to acquire a particular set of very useful skills. Skills that don’t make me a nightmare for people like you. But did help me sleep very well at night. I am also better at this particular skill right now than I’ve ever been. (And there’s still room for improvement!) On July 19th, though, these skills will no longer be necessary. I will be a tiger with a bowtie and a bottle of honey Jack.

There are some boys who seem to be born with an innate ability to be comfortable around girls. At least more comfortable than most other boys. I was not one of those boys. The moment I realized I was attracted to girls was also the moment I realized I was completely and undeniably frightened by them. As I got older and entered high school, this fear began to subside. But I never was comfortable. Fortunately, I was good at basketball (and I had nice Nautica jackets) so girls started to notice me. Still, even with them noticing me, I still had to actually talk to them, and all the witty jokes and articulate thoughts swirling through my head were reduced to monosyllabic mumbles when forced to talk to one I actually, gasp, liked.

I got better when I got to college. And by the time I reached my early 20s, the fear was pretty much gone. I could approach women I liked, and I felt relatively comfortable around them, but now I was faced with another obstacle: What the hell do I say???

It took a few more years to realize that being myself — and not a representative of myself — was the best way to pull this off. Just be silly, slightly awkward, and surprisingly inappropriate me…and own it. And, if she doesn’t like me for me, she’s not the one for me. In hindsight, this seems like an easy concept to grasp. But, well, it wasn’t. At least not for me. I guess I’m a slow learner.

It took a couple more years of trial, error, and success for this to all come together. And “all this” includes a better sense of timing, an appropriate attitude and demeanor, a slight tinge of “I-don’t-give-a-f*ck-ness,” the ability to be self-aware, and the insight to know which types of environments are better for people like me and which types of women I’m most compatible with.

That’s over 20 years of very intentional work at getting better at talking to and cultivating romantic interest in women I’m romantically interested in. Today, I am better at this than I’ve ever been. And to be clear, I’m not saying this to portray myself as some Idris/Leonidas hybrid. Just acknowledging that I’ve never been more confident of whatever it is I bring to that table.

But, I’m getting married on July 19th. And those decades of work at refining that very particular skill will all be for naught.

Ok, ok, ok, ok. I know how this sounds. If I used these skills to help find someone I’d eventually fall in love with and propose to, can I really say I acquired them for naught? (No.) Isn’t this the appropriate end to those means? (Yes.) Isn’t what’s happening on July 19th the point of all of that? (Yes.) Don’t you realize you sound like a fisherman who finally caught the BIG FISH and can retire from his earnings but still bitches about wasting all this minnow bait he bought last week? (I do.) Do you expect anyone to have any sympathy for anything you’re saying right now? (I don’t.)

Also, this is a completely voluntary decision. As much as I might have enjoyed field tests with these skills, my relationship is better than that. Much, much better. And, I’m sure these skills will be applicable in other areas. Perhaps I’m done getting phone numbers, but I’ll still be able to get free bagels and hotel room upgrades.

But, let’s take the romance/marriage part out of it. Wouldn’t feel weird to spend a decade learning how to be a sharpshooter, only to never shoot a gun again after hitting a difficult target? Or to wish to be a doctor, go through a decade of medical school, graduate, and decide to teach Zumba instead? Or to develop a discerning palate at a young age, take cooking classes in high school, study all the cooking-related materials you can, enter the culinary academy, graduate, get invited to (and win) an episode of “Chopped”, create the perfect meal…and retire from cooking right when you have enough capital and status to start your own restaurant?

Nevermind. Don’t answer any of these questions. Just know that I have a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. But, since they’re not of much use to me now, I’m selling them to the highest bidder. The auction starts Sunday, July 20th, at midnight. The tiger stripes will be first.

—Damon Young

The Differences Between Northern Blacks And Southern Blacks

If you can guess where this pic was taken, I'll give you...nothing. Because it's an easy f*cking answer

If you can guess where this pic was taken, I’ll give you…nothing. Because it’s an easy f*cking answer

(A timely blast from the VSB past. Happy Friday.) 

Question of the day: Aside from accents and the always hilarious soda vs pop battle (it’s #teampop all the way, bitch), are there any other behaviors, characteristics, and mores separating Blacks from the north and Blacks from the south?

(Oh, and just to be clear, although the south technically starts once you pass the Mason-Dixon line, I’m going to throw the entire DMV — well, the entire DMV except for the backwoods of Virginia where they breed 400 pound rottweilers and things named “Marcus Vick“ — in with the north.)

This is (obviously) a rhetorical question. Why? Well, OF COURSE there are intraracial regional differences. The only thing left is what I plan to do today — determine exactly what these differences are.

Oh, and before I continue, there’s a couple things I want to add:

1. This “determination” will be completely anecdotal. I’ve done no studies, surveyed no people, and slept with no cousins to understand what it’s like to be from Mississippi. These are just observations I’ve made, that’s all.

2. I realize that limiting this to northern and southern Blacks leaves out midwestern Blacks, west coast Blacks, northwestern Blacks, and n*ggas from Youngstown. If you’re a member of one of those neglected populations, please feel free to add your own observations in the comments.

Anyway, let’s begin.

Southern Blacks are more likely to…

…attend HBCUs, be Greek, attend church, be Baptist, have stupid-ass names that are hybrid combinations of other names (i.e.: “DeLadariusray Jenkins”), get married at a younger age, get married at all, buy expensive American cars, buy cheap-ass American cars and put $35,000 worth of added expense in them, know their fathers, hate White people but date and/or marry interracially, be killed by White rednecks, coordinate outfits, have happier, more fulfilling lives, eat everything on a pig except its eyeballs and anus, buy Steve Harvey books, look like Steve Harvey, be colorstruck and not realize that being colorstruck is a bad thing, breed better women, rock braids/cornrows/locks (the men, at least), be provincial, be socially conservative, be unpretentious, have children, and be generally better people.

On the other hand, northern Blacks seem to be more likely to…

…attend PWIs, scoff at HBCUs while secretly wishing they had decided to attend one instead of paying 75 grand a year to attend some bullsh*t liberal arts college in Poughkeepsie, New York, be anything (Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, Laker Fan, etc) but Christian, be smart, have stupid-ass names that have absolutely no connection to anything remotely human name sounding (i.e. “Powerful Godbody Jenkins”), convince themselves that they’ve willingly chosen to stay single, buy European, be cool with white people even though they’d never actually date one, be militant, get killed by white rednecks with billy-clubs and badges, not be decedents of American slaves, rock ceasers, coordinate furniture, have better, more fulfilling lives…on paper, be more worried about how they’re perceivedread Hill Harper books, look like Hill Harper, look like someone who’d date someone who looked like Hill Harper, abstain from pork for no apparent reason, be staunchly liberal and close-minded at the exact same time, be somewhat lame, but migrate to the south and be the sh*t down there, be professional and promiscuous, live generally “better” lives.

Did I miss anything?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

On Mourning An Adult Entertainer

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The deaths of Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis were probably the celebrity deaths that hit me the hardest. Part of this had to do with age. (I was 11 when Gathers passed and 14 when Lewis did.) But, even more than that, I felt connected to them. I didn’t know either of these men. But they were basketball players, like me. And they both died on what was supposed to be the safest, friendliest, and happiest place a basketball player can be: the basketball court. Both deaths saddened and scared the fuck out of me. (Sadly, my friend and former teammate Richard Jones died in a similar manner 10 years ago.)

I mourned them through memory. I (obviously) didn’t have the benefit of going to YouTube and watching old highlight clips, so instead of remembering them as they were in their last moments, I’d think of how they were on the court. And I’m sure many of the hundreds of thousands who also mourned their deaths did so in a similar manner.

This process wasn’t too dissimilar from how most of us mourn entertainers. Instead of thinking of them as dead, we tend to recall and reflect on the reasons why we were fans. We listen to their albums again, read their books again, watch their movies again, laugh at their stand-up routines again, read and watch all the features and interviews about them again; sometimes we’ll even scour the earth to possess all the things they produced that we don’t already possess. And sometimes, their deaths will make us consume even more of their work. 

We do this for two reasons: One, because it helps us feel better. We want to remember and embrace why we were fans because it makes us smile. The smiles are bittersweet, but they help. Also, this consumption is how we, as fans, honor their memories. We didn’t know them personally, so we can’t reflect on personal memories. Shit, in most instances we don’t even know what type of person they were. But we do know how their work resonated, and a posthumous recognition of their work is our way of eulogizing them.

With one exception.

Angela Rabotte was a 26-year-old mother who was found murdered last week. She disappeared two Fridays ago, and her body was found Thursday. She had been shot.

This by itself is a tragic story. Rabotte was a mother, a daughter, a friend, and much more. A person people loved and will miss.

But, as tragic as Rabotte’s death was, I’m writing about her today because of her (former) occupation.

Those familiar with the thousands of WorldStar/YouTube/Vimeo, etc twerking and/or stripping videos out there might recognize Rabotte as “Sexy Climax”, a popular Atlanta stripper. I’m not sure which club(s) she worked at, but I do know she was popular enough to be featured in a few WorldStar videos.

Perhaps you never heard of Climax. But you might be familiar with the Twerk Team, Cubana Lust, Lanipop, and the dozens more strippers, twerkers, video vixens, and porn stars who’ve been able to use the internet to garner some national name recognition.

Regardless of what you think of their particular type of entertainment, you can’t deny that they’re entertainers. They work to create and cultivate a sexual fantasy, and the people who consume their form of entertainment might spend as much time watching their videos as they do watching their favorite actors or listening to their favorite rappers.

But, when an adult entertainer dies, the process we use to mourn other entertainers just doesn’t seem to fit. I’ve seen Sexy Climax at work. But now that she’s dead, it just doesn’t feel right to watch her videos anymore. Same with all the other adult entertainers I’m familiar with who have passed. I don’t re-watch the videos I’m familiar with, I don’t scour the internet to find work I haven’t seen yet, and I definitely don’t fantasize about them anymore.

And I think that’s it. The fantasy part is what makes things…different. For instance, Whitney Houston existed as a singer, but we also recognized that she was a real person while appreciating her voice. Angela Rabotte was just as real of a person as Whitney Houston was. But, the people whose work revolves around sexual fantasy tend to be processed in a different way by the people who knew of them because of their work. Basically, they’re objectified. Appreciating her work posthumously the same way you appreciated it while she was alive doesn’t just feel wrong. It feels rude.

This idea transcends entertainment. Think of the cute barista in your work building or the co-worker you have a crush on. If they died tomorrow, would you still have the same sexual thoughts about them you did before? I doubt it. The nature of sex-based thoughts makes it rather, for lack of a better term, “creepy” to have them about someone no longer alive.

I’m sure there is someone out there who’s compiling an archive of Sexy Climax’s work. To honor her memory the way he (or she) remembered her. Which is their right, of course. But, I can’t do that. Because every time I think of Sexy Climax now, I think of Angela Rabotte instead.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Five Times It’s Perfectly Okay Not To Fight For Your Girl

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***In light of the news that Columbus Short seems to be taking this “Gladiator” thing a bit too seriously, I decided to revise and repost a piece that’s quite apropos.***

“Would and could he fight for me?”

It’s a question that somehow manages to be completely relevant and completely irrelevant at the same damn time.

It’s relevant because it’s never not at least a consideration when a woman is deciding whether she wants to commit to a man. Perhaps “Would and could he protect me?” isn’t the first question she asks herself, but she’ll definitely ask herself that question.

It’s irrelevant because, well, no one actually gets into fights. Actually, lemme rephrase that. Some adults still do get into fights. But it’s a very small percentage of us. And, the 7% of adults who still somehow get into fights at least once every other month probably make up 97% of the adult fight total between themselves. And they’re not reading this. Because adults who get into fights have corns. And people with corns spend all their internet time researching corn remedies.

If you asked one of the 93% — the corn-less non-fighters — about the last time they got into a serious fist fight, I bet most answers would fall between 5th grade and “That time in 9th grade when I thought that I was big enough to talk back to my dad. I was wrong.”

A few days ago, Columbus Short apparently sucker punched a guy who said something disrespectful about his wife, breaking his nose and knocking him out.

I’m not sure if the wife was there, or if she personally felt threatened. If so, although a sucker punch is some sucker shit, he’s somewhat justified. (Extra emphasis on “somewhat.”) You’re supposed to defend your wife. But, is there ever a situation where your woman is disrespected in some way and you’re actually not supposed to fight for her? Of course!

In fact, here are five of them!

1. If she kinda, sorta, had it coming. 

Lemme put it this way: If I’m at a club, and I see some dude push my girl and call her a “bitch,” we are going to have a serious physical problem.

But, if my girl happens to be Erica Mena-ish, and she’s talking shit, throwing drinks, and spitting in people’s faces for no reason, and I happen to see one of the guys who she spit on push her out of his face and call her a “bitch,” we are going to have a…conversation. And then we are going to leave. And then I am going to stop at a gas station. And then I am going to ask her to get me a pack of purple Now & Laters. And then I am going to drive off and leave her there.

2. If you’re definitely going to lose…badly.

Look, I can handle one Kimbo Slice. And by “handle one Kimbo Slice” I mean “sucker punch and run from a Kimbo Slice.” (And yes, I would expect my girl to keep up with me. What’s the point of being in Black Girls Run if you don’t take it literally?)

But, if my girl comes over to me upset that some dudes disrespected her, and she points to a table of three Kimbo Slices and three “Comb That Nigga’s Chest Hair” dudes, I figure a slight scowl in their direction is an appropriate response.

3. If you’re definitely going to win.

If you’re 6’5 and 350 pounds and the Kevin Hart doppelganger at the bar calls your girl a bad name, he’s actually putting you in a no-win situation. You can’t put your hands on him, cause you’ll be a lame for fighting a dude half your size. But, you can’t not do something either.

My advice? Just pull out your dick, with your arms extended outward in the “Ta-Da!” pose.Hopefully this’ll shame him into silence. (This also has obvious backfire potential, but you have to do something, right?)

4. If you’ve been wanting to break up with her for some time, but haven’t had the opportunity or guts to do it.

Usually, men in this predicament try to sabotage the relationship by cheating and hoping he’ll get caught. But, why do that and expose her to all types of STDs? Just let her get disrespected in front of you, and let her get mad enough at you that she ends it. Now, you’ve rid yourself of a problem and you saved her from syphilis. It’s a win win.

5. If you’re busy.

It’s not your fault she picked the 4th quarter of game seven of the NBA finals to get disrespected. She needs to learn that if she wants a good defense, she needs better timing.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)