Aretha Franklin: 7 Unforgettable Moments from a Queen

Aretha Franklin
By Brenda Alexander

By now the world has learned and is mourning the passing of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. For the past 60+ years, she’s provided a musical soundtrack crossing as a backdrop to an ever changing world. Donned one of the greatest voices of all time, her gift crossed multiple genres, generations, racial, political, social and gender barriers. A true artist, she led with her voice, remaining mum on an evolving tabloid driven industry, sharing only what she felt she owed us- her music.

Outside of her catalogue was a world-class diva with a sparkling personality who gave fans much to watch whether dressed to the nines or throwing the best shade. In her honor, here are some of my favorite moments from Re-Re.

The National Museum of African American History & Culture Cheat Sheet

Brenda Alexander (far right) & fam 
By Brenda Alexander

After almost two years of trying to get passes for the National Museum of African American History & Culture in DC, I finally registered and recently had the pleasure of experiencing the magic of the new Smithsonian addition. I was outdone by what I bore witness to. When everyone told me, “It’s impossible to get through the museum in a day,” I thought they were exaggerating, because our people love the dramatics. But my was I wrong.

BET's 'Killer Curves' Shows the Risks for a Bigger Booty

Blac Chyna, Kloe Kardashian & K. Michelle 
By Brenda Alexander
The black woman’s curvaceous booty is nothing new. We all envy that one sis in our family/friend circle for being shaped like a Coca Cola bottle: small waist, nice hips and a plump butt. But what happens when a woman desperately yearns for a shapely figure and the operating table is their top choice? BET’s documentary Killer Curves: Bodies to Die For puts that question to the test by highlighting the dangers associated with surgical enhancements to your backside.

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Is the Man You're Dating Financially Responsible to Your Kids?

Ciara, Russell Wilson and Ciara's Son
By Brenda Alexander

Coming into a relationship with children can add layers of difficulties. A mother and child are a packaged deal, so when you date her, you essentially date her kid(s) also. The reality is, there are risks associated with dating a woman with children. And, if you decide to go steady, those risks turn into obligations. There is an expectation that once a man becomes seriously involved that he should take an active role in her children’s lives both emotionally and even financially. But how much should a man contribute financially to his girlfriend’s children? That’s the question and debate that was sparked after this social media post.

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Behind The Lens: Producer Kareem Johnson of Nelly's Infamous "Tip Drill" Video 15 Years Later

Kareem Johnson
By Brenda Alexander

Recently, I highlighted BET’s digital doc-series VIXEN and the backlash Nelly’s “Tip Drill” video received, which featured the infamous credit card swipe down a bountiful model’s backside. The producer of the video, Kareem Johnson, not only shared the article on his Instagram page; but, agreed to an interview to talk about his 24-year career in and outside of the “Tip Drill” mayhem. With a resume as impressive as his- the Bronx-raised producer has worked with everyone from the legendary Notorious B.I.G., Erykah Badu and current phenom Cardi  B. (to name a few)- we're glad he did.

50 And Floyd: When Two Petty Personalities Split

50 and Floyd during happier times
By Brenda Alexander

Former BFF’s Floyd Mayweather and 50 Cent’s beef doesn’t seem to be dying down any time soon. They’ve been exposing each other’s skeletons on Instagram for weeks. So far, they’ve thrown shots at Floyd’s illiteracy, 50 as an absentee father, Floyd as a woman beater, 50’s a rat, neither of them having any street cred and they are both broke. And that's the PG-13 version.

"Code Switching" Is Part of Our Daily Routines Without Us Realizing It

Screenshot via Refinery 29 IG Video
By Brenda Alexander

“I need to find something for my hair to lay my edges down before this TV interview tomorrow. I cannot be on camera with fuzzy edges,” I say to my aunt, who looked at me in shock before she proceeded to preach about my edges and camera time being unrelated. She then scolded me about what I felt was a need to appear "presentable," considering I donned faux locs, a hairstyle that many consider the opposite of societal norms. And, I never opt to tame my edges any other time. Surely, in her eyes, that was contradictory. To her, not only was my intelligence enough to handle the interview, but I was beautiful regardless of how rough I thought my edges looked.

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Why Saying Goodbye to Lawrence of Insecure is Actually a Good Thing

Issa Rae and Jay Ellis 
By Brenda Alexander

Fans are excited about the return of Insecure but we are split on how we feel about our beloved Lawrence being written off of the show. Last season ended with Issa and Lawrence having a final heart to heart about the demise of their relationship and brought some closure to both characters. With that in mind, the storytellers behind the scenes felt it was time to close that chapter in Issa’s life.

After the trailer was released that featured an absent Lawrence, Issa explained why:

R. Kelly Admitted He Did It in New Song...Now What?

Robert Kelly
By Brenda Alexander 

The hood’s favorite Uncle Robert released a new 19 minute track yesterday titled, “I Admit It, I Did It” where he “addresses” his reputation as a pedophile. He also attempts to give some context into his flawed behavior and attraction towards underage girls, his obsession with sex and and the current “stagnant” status of his career. In the song, he goes on a tirade in disbelief about how he is now subjected to protests, blaming his alleged victims parents for bringing their underage daughters his way in an effort to get their music careers started, while denying any wrongdoing and gloats about being found innocent during his child molestation trial.

Oh, he is feeling himself.

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BET’s Docu-Series VIXEN Explores the Rise & Fall of the Video Model

Rapper Nelly with video model in his Tip Drill music video
By Brenda Alexander 

After watching BET’s 30-minute digital docu-series “VIXEN," I was left wondering: was video modeling a legitimate starting point for Hollywood hopefuls that could spearhead a dream career? And did the supposed tell-all 'Confessions of a Video Vixen' by Karrine Steffans change the narrative and perception of video models to hoes?

Carrying Beef for 20 Years...Brandy, it's Time to Let Monica Go

Monica & Brandy
By Brenda Alexander 

So Brandy is still mad at Monica and no one knows why. There’s nothing worse than an adult throwing subliminal shots day in and day out but remains elusive when asked what’s true tea.

At this year’s Essence Fest, Brandy took it upon herself to alter the lyrics to she and Monica’s classic duet, The Boy Is Mine, to “the song is mine,” once again bringing light to the fact that she doesn’t see it for Monica.

***Insert confused face emoji here***

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Hey Girlfriends, There is a Way to Get a Girlfriends Movie Made

The 'Girlfriends:' LaVeris/FilmMagic
By Brenda Alexander

Like many, I was disappointed in the lackluster season 8 finale, which turned out to be the series finale (cancellation), of Girlfriends. Fans who grew close to the characters and related to their relationships, were left with no real resolution, or even a happy ending. After years of failing in love, Joan Carol Clayton had finally found it in her fiance Aaron, only for him to be deported to Afghanistan. Free-spirited, once homeless, always jobless and sexually free Lynn Searcy had found steady work and passion as an indie artist with a record deal and an uncertain future at her label. Our beloved “5th girlfriend” William and his wife Monica were pregnant; and, I can’t even remember what the hell was going on with Mya and Darnell post his mid-life crisis gig as a race car driver, their son acting a teenage fool and Mya’s rise and stagnant position as a black self-help author. The most devastating part of it all was that we never got to see a reconciliation between longtime frenemies Joan and Toni. Talk about a cliff hanger?! I mean, I have the series on DVD and watch it from beginning to end in a repeated cycle because I feel like I was robbed of a proper ending.

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Looking at FOX’s History, Their Racist Viewpoints Started Before Fox News

Fox News commentator Rachel Campos-Duffy 
By Brenda Alexander

White Hollywood is apparently enraged with their employer, 21st Century FOX, over FOX News coverage of #45’s controversial border policies, which over the past few weeks have held immigrant children separated from their families and detained in unfamiliar (and horrible) territory. If you’re not familiar with 21st Century FOX as a company, it is Rupert Murdoch’s parent company of all FOX run content, including 20th Century FOX, FOX Sports, FOX Television Stations and of course FOX News - home to FOX & Friends and any other right-wing panel style show in which white journalists give their take on politics, social issues and entertainment that skews towards prejudice and racist commentary on any minority group. Not that FOX News has never done this before, they are known for it; but, I guess seeing images and videos of young children held in monstrous conditions was too much for the world, and white society, to take in. 

When it Comes to Relationships, Here's Why T.I. is the Original F*ck Boy


Rapper T.I. 
By Brenda Alexander

I tend to ignore the opinions of black men who coin themselves the embodiment of a standup guy yet they have such minute views on women, relationships and marriage. As my good girlfriend Amanda Seales recently said in her interview with The Breakfast Club, “Everyone is not a thought leader.” We’ve all had to deal with these new norms from public figures over the past few years giving their opinions on black women as it relates to their value, how they should carry themselves, what they need to do to get and keep a man and so on and so forth. Tyrese has become famous for this, Steve Harvey credits himself as a “relationship expert” and T.I. inserts himself often.

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Summer Just Got Hotter With These 7 Braid Styles!

IG @marihsantosss
By Brenda Alexander

I’ve always loved braids because they were easy and convenient. But, I would get bored after a few weeks of having them because they were one dimensional. I started working as a teenager and in some places of employment, they were even considered unprofessional. And now that I look back, regardless of how insensitive that perception could be, I can see how it may have appeared that way.

With the styles available now, there’s no need to stress over a lack of choices or looking like a misfit in any setting. And, with summer in full effect, now is the perfect time for protective styling and hair that’s durable yet fashionable at the same time. Here are the top braiding options to keep your hair (and body) on guard from the heat while also slaying.

Why Aunti Vi is Queen of the Small Screen

Tina Lifford
By Brenda Alexander

Aunt Vi, played by Tina Lifford on Queen Sugar, is a character unlike any middle aged black woman we’ve ever seen on the small screen. She’s older but with a young spirit and swag, sexy without trying and motherly without seeming elderly. To top it off, she has a man at least 20 years her junior and has just as much, if not more, spunk than him and the women his age chasing after him. She’s the gap that’s finally been filled to represent the black woman on the other side of 50.

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Pusha T's Album Cover: When Artistry Goes Too Far And Why We Need to Let Deceased Celebs RIP

Whitney Houston
By Brenda Alexander 

Everyone who knows me knows that my love for Nippy (Whitney Houston) runs deep. So imagine my disgust when I saw that Pusha T’s album cover was the photo of her alleged drug den of a bathroom, taken circa 2006. The photo in question was taken by her then sister-in-law during the height of her drug use, sold and subsequently published in the National Enquirer to be absorbed by the masses. Making matters worse, Kanye West paid $85,000 for the “artwork,” which he purchased from said ex-sister-in-law.

In an interview with Angie Martinez, Pusha T explained previous artwork was chosen but changed per Kanye last minute, stating: “He changed my artwork last night at 1 a.m. He wasn’t feeling it.”

That’s the explanation provided. Nothing further.

Tired of Subpar TV? OWN’s Line Up is #BlackExcellence


By Brenda Alexander

When OWN debuted, I was disappointed. Between the reruns of Dr. Phil and 20/20, I couldn’t figure out what the hell Auntie O was doing. Fast-forward to today and she's developed some of the greatest quality shows and content television has ever seen.

OWN’s seasonal campaign is “See Yourself” and that’s exactly what I’m able to do with her current programming. There’s a little something for everyone. For those who have grown tired of Bravo, WeTV and all things Viacom, look no further than OWN to satisfy your needs of multi-faceted stories that depict us in all forms. Here’s a look into what you’ll find in its current rotation.

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If You're Not Watching Real Housewives of Potomac, Here's What You're Missing!

Real Housewives of Potomac Season 3 Cast Promotional Photo
By Brenda Alexander

Whenever I ask friends if they watch Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Potomac, I’m hit with the same response: “I’ve heard about it and saw a few clips, but haven’t watched it yet. I hear it’s good.” Well, what you’ve heard is correct, Real Housewives of Potomac has been slept on and I’m here to wake y’all up!

Why The Suspcicion Around Brandy's Weight Gain Is Symbolic of Our "Body Goals" Obsession

Brandy's interview with True Exclusives 
By Brenda Alexander

Brandy has always been thin. Like no curves, straight up and down, pencil thin. So when pictures of a relatively thicker Brandy started surfacing, people speculated she was pregnant. She denied she was with child but the rumors persisted, as if her added pounds couldn’t be voluntary, or something more serious like a medical issue. How rude?!

After so much talk, Brandy finally addressed her weight gain in a recent interview with True Exclusives and put the body shamers and social media thugs to rest. While explaining that after 7 years of going hard in the gym, rigorous tennis and boxing workouts and eating clean, Brandy had enough and wanted a “foodcation.”

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