Must See TV: 'Black Lightning' and '9-1-1'

Nafessa Williams, Cress Williams, China Anne McClain
By Mwabi Kaira

It's been a long time since black audiences have had an actual variety of shows led by an entirely black cast or lead black actors to choose from. It feels like a 90’s resurgence right now and boy, does it feel great! These two shows are off to a great start and they are MUST SEE TV.

Proud Mary Entertains at the Box Office!

Taraji P. Henson
By Mwabi Kaira

When I first saw the Proud Mary trailer over the holidays I knew that this would be the movie that would take me back to the theaters. I hadn’t been to the movies since Girl’s Trip back in the summer. The trailer showed Taraji P. Henson being a badass, the poster was shaped like an afro and all I could think of was that this was going to be the updated female blaxploitation like Foxy Brown, Coffy, and Cleopatra Jones.

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Showtime's 'The Chi' Shows the Humanity of Chicago


The Chi Cast
By Mwabi Kaira

Chicago was known for deep dish pizza, the greatness of Michael Jordan as a Bulls player and the once upon a time genius of Kanye West until gun violence took over as its focal point. Some have suggested that the National Guard and The United Nations step in to help gun violence in the city. Two Chicago natives have had enough of hearing about the ills of their beloved hometown and have done something about it.

Emmy award winner Lena Waithe co-wrote the new Showtime series The Chi, and Grammy/Emmy and Oscar-winning rapper Common executive produced it to show a different narrative. Lena got the inspiration for the show after watching yet another news report about gun violence in the city. The Chi follows four working-class families on the South Side of Chicago as they face their highs and lows. Crime constantly threatens to destroy their worlds.

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Grown-ish Gives Us the Real on Millennial College Life

Yara Shahidi & the cast of Grown-ish
By Mwabi Kaira

Fans of the Johnson family on ABC’s hit show Black-ish now have Grown-ish to fall in love with. The oldest of the Johnson clan, Zoey played by Yara Shahidi, is off to college and a spin off is born just like Denise Huxtable of the Cosby Show. Denise went to Hillman, a fictional HBCU school in A Different World and Zoey goes the Higher Learning route (shout out to Malik, Deja and Fudge) and goes to California University of Liberal Arts where she is in the minority.

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Action Packed Film 'Down for Whatever' is Coming to TV One in 2018!

LeToya Luckett, Bre-Z, and Hosea Chanchez
By Mwabi Kaira

TV One recently announced production of the original film, 'Down for Whatever,' the network’s first film in the action-thriller genre. Written by Tim Folsome, the film is a 2017 American Black Film Festival  (ABFF) winning screenplay, that will star fan favorite and newly married LeToya Luckett as Tracy, a young successful doctor and her detective husband Mike will be played by Hosea Chanchez of 'The Game' fame. Production will take place in Atlanta, Georgia.

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5 Things Moms Are Teaching Their Sons About Rape


By Mwabi Kaira

When rape and sexual harassment claims were brought against Harvey Weinstein we knew it was a serious issue but were able to keep it “over there” until Lupita Nyong’o spoke out. It became an ‘us’ thing and we were on high alert. Then Terry Crews spoke out and it was hard to wrap our minds around a man of his stature being violated by another man in front of his wife. But since allegations have recently been brought against Russell Simmons the conversation has shifted to us. Nine women have accused the media mogul of sexual harassment and assault. Four of these women, Drew Dixon, Toni Sallie, Tina Baker and Sherri Hines have accused Simmons of rape and the NYPD has opened an investigation. In response, Russell has started his own hashtag #NotMe to state his innocence.

This is a teachable moment for our sons and we cannot ignore the important conversation that needs to be had. I have taught my sons about accountability since they were young in all areas of their lives including sex. I have many friends who are raising sons as well and I reached out to them to ask what they are teaching them about rape. Their sons range in age from 16 to 21 and are athletes, one plays in the league. We had a long discussion and this is what we are teaching our sons about what they should know about rape...

Taking A Stand: 'The Good Place' Actor Reveals He's DACA


Bambadjan Bamba 
By Mwabi Kaira

"The Sunday before the announcement, the President called a national day of prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. So I posted on social media, “here’s one thing we can agree on.” Then a friend hit me up and said, ‘what are you agreeing with him for? He wants to cancel DACA!’ I thought, no way. Then sure enough, the following week they announced the cancellation. My heart sank. It was the same hopelessness that I felt before I got DACA. I looked at my daughter and I knew I had to do something." -Bambadjan Bamba

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8 Reasons She’s Gotta Have It is Binge Worthy


The Cast of 'She's Gotta Have It'
By Mwabi Kaira

I was 10 years old when Spike Lee’s movie She’s Gotta Have It was released. I obviously didn’t see it.  When it was announced that Spike was recreating the movie as a Netflix TV series, I was excited to have something of melanin to watch.  After hearing the cast on the Breakfast Club early last week, I decided to watch the movie to refresh my memory because I seriously couldn’t remember if I’d seen it.  I got acquainted with Nola Darling and instantly fell in love and wondered what the reviews were back in 1986 because Nola was not one to be played with!  I began my binge Thursday (just one episode before I headed out for Thanksgiving festivities), paced myself to episode 5 on Friday and finished episode 10 Saturday.  I was not disappointed and haven’t stopped talking about it since.  Spike did an amazing job of bringing 2017 to the series.  If you haven’t binged the series yet, here are 8 reasons why you should:
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How to Survive the Holidays Meat Free

Photo via Mwabi's instagram
By Mwabi Kaira

I was listening to an interview about the importance of eliminating what we consume and how what we don’t eliminate becomes disease.  I had been practicing meatless Mondays on-and-off and would do a week of being meat free here, a month of it there, and always saw it as a reset before I went back to meat.  This particular interview got me to thinking and I realized elimination was always easiest when I consumed more fruits and vegetables.  I decided to start with a week of being meat free and I felt so much better after the 7 days that I just decided to keep on going.  That was 5 months ago.  My taste buds have adjusted and I don’t miss meat.  Eventually, I’ll go vegan but for now I’m happy.

Being vegetarian or vegan is easy in your own home where you can prepare your meals.  There are not as many choices once you venture out for meals outside the home, but there are choices that just require some research.  The hardest part has to be family gatherings and the holidays.  There will be vegetables at the gathering but they’ll probably have meat in them and for the vegans, it will be hard to find dishes not cooked with eggs, milk and butter.  Fret not, you can still enjoy your holidays and be meat free by doing these things...

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African-American Runners on the Rise! Here's Why To Consider It.


Runners in Berlin #berlinblackish2017
By Mwabi Kaira

It was winter 2012 and I had my fuzzy slippers on, sipping on a cup of tea with my feet up flipping through my copy of Essence magazine when I read something about Black women runners. I took a mental note and thought one day I’ll run something and went about my day. At the top of the year I met Shonda, my college friend for lunch, and she brought along another friend. Turns out, that friend belonged to the same organization I was reading about; Black Girls Run! I told her I was interested and in March I laced up my tennis shoes and went to my first Black Girls Run! I couldn’t run to the mailbox at the time, but something inside told me I could do this and I listened.

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Why Michelle Obama's Comments About How We Raise Our Sons Gave Me Pause.

Michelle Obama
By Mwabi Kaira

Michelle Obama was recently interviewed by poet Elizabeth Alexander at the first annual Obama Foundation Summit.  What she said about parenting is not a new sentiment.  Michelle said, "It's like the problem in the world today is we love our boys, and we raise our girls. We raise them to be strong, and sometimes we take care not to hurt men and I think we pay for that a little bit and that's a 'we' thing because we raise them.  It's powerful to have strong men but what does that strength mean?" she asked. "You know, does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion? Or are we protecting our men too much so they feel a little entitled and a little, you know, a little self-righteous sometimes? But, that’s kind of on us too as women and mothers, you know, as we nurture men and push girls to be perfect."

Here's why Michelle's words gave me pause.

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Actress Reagan Preston-Gomez's Mom Sued The Detroit Police Department For Sexual Harassment And Won

Actress Reagan Preston-Gomez and her mom Cheryl Gomez 

By Mwabi Kaira
Listening to Queen Sugar actress Reagan Preston-Gomez’s podcast Reaganomics last week, featuring her mother Cheryl Gomez, I could not believe that her sexual harassment story that happened back in 1982 sounded exactly like the many sexual harassment accounts by women today.  Thirty five years have gone by, and here we are still experiencing the abuse of power by men who believe that taking advantage of women sexually is part of their job description and women should simply accept it as the way it is.

This Cancer Is On The Rise In Millennial Women. Know The Symptoms.


By Mwabi Kaira

A week before Thanksgiving in 2014, we celebrated my brother and sister’s joint birthdays with a party. Somewhere between the dancing, the drinks and cutting the cake, my big sister casually mentioned that she hadn’t been feeling well and google had told her that she probably had colon cancer.  I rolled my eyes and thought she was being dramatic.  Everybody knows that Doctors despise google and the self-diagnosis it brings.  I told her to make the appointment to ease her fears and I would accompany her.  At 41 it was an uphill battle to get a colonoscopy scheduled because she was young and female.  Routine screenings are not recommended for adults under 50 and colon cancer has been more common in males historically.  A month later, I was in the waiting room scrolling my timelines when the doctor came out to inform me of the cancer he had found in my sister’s colon and the surgery he had to perform right away.  She had Stage 3 colon cancer.

Why The 'White Designers Appropriating African Fashion Debate' Is Old News

Stella McCartney 2017


By Mwabi Kaira

The internet exploded this week with news that fashion designer Stella McCartney’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection featured African prints.  Everyone took to hash tagging cultural appropriation and voiced their outrage all over social media that a designer could show white women wearing our designs.  I’m an African woman by way of Zambia and Malawi and my first thought was not outrage, it was confusion.  I wondered where these outraged folks had been because this is nothing new and has been seen on runways for decades.  And, as far as the models, girl, where have you been? What fashion week shows by non-black designers have you seen more than a few black models rip the runway?  I had to conclude that folks just haven’t been paying attention.  

'This Is Us' Gets It Right With The Reality Of Transracial Adoption

 

'This Is Us' stars Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, & Justin Harley

NBC's “This is Us” took America by storm when it hit the airwaves last year. The show follows twins Kevin and Kate, and their adopted African American brother Randall, who was incidentally born on the same day, as they navigate their adult lives and flashbacks of their parents. Randall (played magnificently by Sterling K. Brown as evidenced by his recent Emmy win), though successful with a beautiful family of his own, still wonders who his birth parents are. We see the pain he endured growing up with little-to-no African-Americans in his predominantly white community, and the questions. Was it worth it?

Esperanza Spalding Gives Facebook Fans A Virtual Front Seat To Her New Album


By Mwabi Kaira

Ever wonder what it would be like to have a front row seat to the making of your favorite artist’s album? Multiple Grammy-winning vocalist, bassist, and song-writer Esperanza Spalding's newest album ‘Exposure’ did just that. Making good on an idea she came up with months ago, she recorded a live album over the course of 77 hours, before the watchful eyes of fans.

Sidra Smith On Launching Her LGBTQ Web Series Indiegogo Campaign

 
  








By Mwabi Kaira 

 Imagine, 18 years ago, before ‘Queer As Folk,’ ‘The L Word,’ or ‘Noah’s Arc,’ a film centered around the lives of four black lesbian women navigating friendship and love. The name of the film was, ‘A Luv Tale,’ it was written, directed and produced by Sidra Smith, and it starred Tichina Arnold, MC Lyte, Gina Ravera (Soul Food), Michele Lamar Richards (The BodyGuard), and Angela Means (Friday).  Shown at a host of film festivals, it was a fan favorite that won many awards, including the Audience Award at the Hollywood Black Film Festival. Now streaming on amazon for the past month, ‘A Luv Tale’ is racking up record breaking viewership numbers- with no advertising- and a perfect 5 star rating. 

Being Mary Jane And Messy Love Triangles In Your 60's



(Photo: Richard Roundtree, Margaret Avery, Fred Williamson) 
By Mwabi Kaira

We hear about getting older and not caring about what people think. Look at our beloved Queen Maxine. I can’t wait to be like her when I grow up.  They say you finally get it together the older you get and I believe this but as with everything there are exceptions.  Being Mary Jane showed us this with the recent love triangle between Mary Jane’s parents Helen and Paul and an old friend Frank.

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