Freedom Song: A Conversation About the State of Black Liberation Music

In the lyric pamphlet to Black Messiah, D'Angelo's third album after 14 years away from the spotlight, the soul-savant explains his reasoning behind its title and sudden release: "Some will jump to the conclusion that I am calling myself a Black Messiah," he begins. "For me the title is about all of us...It's about… » 3/25/15 4:34pm Wednesday 4:34pm

The Great Internet Debate Over Not Reading White Men

Hello, dear reader, and welcome to The Kerfuffler! I'm your host, fantasy writer, essayist, and mad tweeter, Saladin Ahmed. Every other week I'll be looking at America's seemingly endless culture wars playing out online, tracing their fault lines, and wading hip-deep into comment sections so you don't have to. » 3/11/15 3:42pm 3/11/15 3:42pm

SHOCKER: Oscars Had the Lowest Ratings in Years

This Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony—hosted by #1 Neil Patrick Harris fan, Neil Patrick Harris—received the lowest ratings of any Oscars broadcast since Hugh Jackman hosted in 2009. That means more people tuned in to watch James Franco and Anne Hathaway's hosting debacle in 2011 than they did this weekend. Ouch. » 2/24/15 2:45pm 2/24/15 2:45pm

Vanity Fair's Hollywood Issue Only Slightly Less White Than Oscar Race

There are three things that are constants in this cold, suffocating life: death, taxes, and the ghostly whiteness of everyone on Vanity Fair's annual self-congratulatory Hollywood issue. And in its 15th year, on a just-released cover, we've gotten... more of the same. Vanity Fair, old reliable. All-white people in… » 2/03/15 10:50am 2/03/15 10:50am

Students' Stories of Depressingly Common Run-Ins with Campus Cops

Saturday night, after reading Times columnist Charles Blow's account of his son's detainment at gunpoint by Yale campus police, I was transported back to my own run-in with UCLA campus police in 2009. It was a typically relaxed Sunday evening, and I was headed home from the library. As I passed Ackerman Student Union… » 1/27/15 4:49pm 1/27/15 4:49pm

How to Talk About Race with Your Kids

It'd be wonderful if you could just say to children, "People might look different and come from different places, but we're all equal and should be treated the same" and leave it at that. But if recent news has taught us anything, it's that reality is not so simple, and we need to face the topics of race and racism… » 1/23/15 2:06pm 1/23/15 2:06pm

Dark-Skinned Black Girls Suspended 3x More Than Light-Skinned Girls

Today, the New York Times ran a crucial piece about school-age girls and the massive disciplinary imbalances that effectively segregate them, both by race and also by skin color. Tanzina Vega's report begins with the case of Mikia, a 12-year-old in Georgia who was caught vandalizing a school bathroom with a friend.… » 12/11/14 6:10pm 12/11/14 6:10pm

Who Really Burns: Quitting a Dean's Job in the Age of Mike Brown

My grandmother was born in the 1930s, the seventh living child of black sharecroppers in Greenville, South Carolina. She spent her adulthood raising four children, caring for her husband, and working 30 years on factory lines to help pay the mortgage on the family home in Manchester, New Hampshire. » 12/02/14 12:10pm 12/02/14 12:10pm

My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK

The fourth time a Poughkeepsie police officer told me that my Vassar College Faculty ID could make everything OK was three years ago. I was driving down Wilbur Avenue. When the white police officer, whose head was way too small for his neck, asked if my truck was stolen, I laughed, said no, and shamefully showed him… » 11/30/14 2:30pm 11/30/14 2:30pm