We Mattered in ‘Joker’

Like most of the world I went to see Joker the day it was released. It lived up to all the praise it got in my eyes and I’m eager to see it again. Prior to its release there were individuals who felt we were under represented in the trailer and equally under represented in the movie itself too. This is true in terms of literal screen time BUT, our roles are quite pivotal to Arthur’s journey and transformation and I’m here to show you how. This goes without saying but SPOILERS AHEAD

Social Worker – The film opens with Arthur talking to this woman. He has several conversations with her however, their last one is perhaps the most impactful. She informs Arthur that they can no longer meet as the program she works for has been cut. Upon hearing this Arthur inquires how is he supposed to get his medication to which she has no answer. The situation is out of her hands as she tells him “They don’t give a shit about people like you, Arthur. And they don’t give a shit about people like me either.”

Image via CelebrityNewsy

Yet, Arthur also accuses her of not listening to him when he tells her of his troubles and this could represent how the mental health system is flawed. In 2019 we have multiple organizations that advocate and push the conversation in the right direction but in the 1981 when this film takes place that is not the case. The social worker perhaps does not even fully understand Arthur’s situation as she has no direct response to him writing “I just hope my death makes more sense than my life” in his journal. Instead, she goes into the generic “How does it feel to have to come here?” narrative after reading it aloud. 

Woman on Bus (and her son) – Following the social worker scene, we see Arthur in the midst of society. He is making funny faces at a woman’s young son which she does not approve of. Upon getting briefly chastised by her Arthur bursts into laughter because of his condition called the pseudobulbar affect or simply PBA. Naturally she is very surprised at this and he hands her a card explaining his condition to which she responds “I’m sorry”. One can only imagine how many times this situation has occurred in his life. Being that the very next time we see this occur it ends in tragedy and is the “first step” in Arthur’s transformation it is a direct contrast to show the difference in people this movie showcases. The woman feels sympathy for him as well as apologetic for how she treated him prior to. The men he meets on the subway mock his condition and antagonize him for it. 

Image via Twitter

Carl (Arkham State Hospital Clerk) – Carl, played by Brian Tyree Henry only has one scene in this movie. But this one scene leads to Arthur discovering he is adopted which completed his transformation. This scene takes place in Arkham State Hospital (Arkham Asylum for all my comic book/video game readers) Carl senses something is off about Arthur when Arthur alludes to his murders and recommends Arthur see someone. This small moment of care shows that Carl represents an individual who sees Arthur from the outside and wants him to get better knowing that he cannot help carl at all as he is “just a clerk”. After releasing Arthur is the son of a former patient, he gets defensive of the file which results in Arthur stealing his mother’s records directly from Carl’s hands.  Had this exchange not occurred Arthur may have never learned the truth about his mother and his own origins – and thus would have never killed her. To theorize for a moment, the environment Carl is in at the hospital looks very dirty and the walls are yellow and the lighting is dim. However, at the end of the film and in flashbacks when Arthur is in this exact same location again the walls are white and the lighting is bright. Why would a change like this happen during the middle of the flow of time from the beginning to the end of the film? 

Image via Pajiba

Sophie – Sophie, played by Zazie Beetz is the epicenter of the biggest twist in the film. At first we see her and Arthur meet in the elevator which is semi awkward but cordial. He then begins stalking her which she confronts him about, but she does not seem to mind. Then, after Arthur murders the men in the subway, essentially feeling liberated he goes to her room and kisses her to which she happily accepts. We also see them on a date after she has attended his show which she enjoys. He confesses his murders to her to which again she approves of and supports. We later learn all these exchanges were actually hallucinations by Arthur.

Arthur’s love for Sophie shows that despite everything happening he wants human interaction and wants it at a romantic level. He seeks validation from others and wants them to understand that he has a purpose. He also wants them to support him through trials as he also hallucinates her being at the hospital with him the day his Mom gets there. She is the only person he’s close with outside of his mother in the movie however the irony is that his closeness is as far away as it could possibly be. 

Arkham Psychiatrist – This woman is the final person Arthur talks to at the end of the film and as far as the timeframe of the movie his final victim. The conversation between them begins with Arhtur laughing, much like his opening conversation with the social worker at the beginning of the film. At the beginning, Arhtur’s laughter is not questioned and one can assume it is due to his condition that is revealed shortly after this scene. At the end of the film, the psychiatrist asks him “What’s so funny?” as if she is either completely unaware of his condition or if this is genuine laughter from Arthur. This conversation also ties into the theory of whether the final (and other) moments of the film are real or not as Arthur’s response to her is “I was just thinking of a joke” which she further inquiries about to which he responds “No…you wouldn’t get it”. This woman shows a much greater interest in Arthur than the woman at the beginning of the film but this could be because she sees him as a case study – something she can learn about and not sympathize for. 

We have a few roles in Joker and this is fine. Truthfully, there are no major black characters within the Batman Universe overall except for the man who supplies him with most of his technology, Lucius Fox. So perhaps we are actually the most important figure in his life when it comes down to it. This film showcased us in multiple ways with each one playing a role that mattered in the grand scheme of things. And, it made BANK so like Denzel Curry said “I may be overlooked, but I’m never underpaid.” 

A Recap of Travis Scott’s Look Mom I Can Fly Documentary

Summer 2018 had a lot of music releases we are still talking about this year. One of the most popular and anticipated ones was Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD which arrived after a huge promo run and had its own share of controversy that came after its release too. A year later we have now gotten Look Mom I Can Fly, A Netflix Documentary that showcases the tour that followed the release of ASTROWORLD, his Super Bowl performance from this year (2019), his night at the Grammys and everything behind the scenes before, during, and after all this. 

Many people have called this documentary inspiring and this is a take I think we call can agree on. In the documentary’s opening moments we see a young braidless Travis performing in a daytime slot at a festival for a crowd of about 30 people. Moments later we are treated to multiple shots of him performing in sold out arenas across the US, including Madison Square Garden. This journey took him about 5 years. The cliche “trust the process” fits here perfectly. Nowadays success can literally happen overnight but usually the hard work still needs to be put in. Those who deserve it, work for it. 

In “beibs in the trap” from Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight Travis croons “Pulled out of the hood Toyota/Drove back to the hood Lambo”. This flex takes on another layer when we see him leave his Granny’s house in his instantly recognizable chocolate brown Lamborghini. Seeing them at the house as he shows us his old bedroom is especially satisfying as Travis has referred to his family in lyrics and interviews his entire career. Hearing these lyrics then seeing them in the documentary singing his praises in home videos when he was a child to still singing them now just brings it all full circle. Family should always support you and ride for you the entire journey. 

Just like the family aspect, the community aspect is equally important to him. Essentially the terms are interchangeable. The city of Houston officially declared November 18th 2018 “Astroworld Day” following the success of the AstroFest event held there. Travis spoke at the ceremony saying “…I kinda just wanted to bring back that feeling and give this city something they could always have, just something fun to do. They try to take us away, but as long as we stick together and create, we don’t need nothin’ special, as long as we got each other.” Right after this we see backstage footage from 2017 where Travis’ high school principal and counselor show up and you can see how he truly feels indebted to them as he says he would not have graduated without them. Lastly, at his Houston stop on the AstroWorld Tour he was awarded the key to the city by the Mayor during the show. It’s safe to say Travis has some sort of impact on anyone he comes in contact with.

The ONLY gripe I had with this documentary was how little in studio footage there was. For music as layered as Travis’ a glimpse of the process for any track is definitely welcomed. The clip of him in there with Kevin Parker of Tame Impala listening to the “SKELETONS“ instrumental AND ending with him playing the early version of “ASTROTHUNDER“ was fantastic for sure. Another great moment was him laying the foundation for “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” in the car after getting off the plane then continuing in the studio. Unfortunately , moments like these were few and far between. Although, we are able to see him hear the final version of “NO BYSTANDERS” and see his excitement there’s nothing like the raw in studio footage. 

The footage from the Grammys was easily the most vulnerable moment from the documentary. After performing a slightly modified version of the solemn yet excellent “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” and an unforgettable hype “NO BYSTANDERS” Travis eagerly awaited the winner of the Album of the Year Award. There were multiple cameras pointed at him and with Kylie by his side Travis stood on standby ready to go on stage…

His name was not called.

As we all know Travis is an extremely expressive person but upon hearing Cardi’s name his semi subdued yet clearly frustrated reaction and walkout echoed what a great deal of people felt that night.  However the Mayor of Houston had the perfect response saying “Sometimes you don’t get what you want, but you don’t stop “ and I believe this is advice we can all take. 

In the midst of all of these musical accomplishments, Travis also had a daughter with his girlfriend (or wife?) Kylie Jenner. Named Stormi, Travis threw her a birthday party called “Stormi World” which included rides, snacks and live performances for her and her guests. While some may call it excessive for a toddler, we already know Travis goes all the way in with everything. He also has Stormi as a producer on the documentary – so she’ll be making bank off it too. 

Look Mom I Can Fly has the perfect title. Travis has catapulted himself to success and has done so by staying true to himself and making music that resonates with listeners all over the world. This documentary shows that he is a force to be reckoned with and isn’t someone to just graze over when discussing impactful artists. From having a daughter to performing at the Super Bowl to shaping an entire album, tour, and festival around something birthed in his hometown Travis is Flying High and has passed the stars…where will he go next?

ComplexCon Comes to Chicago: A Look Into the Festivities.

Courtesy of Complex

Towards the end of July, ComplexCon left it’s home of Long Beach and took over the city of Chicago. For those who don’t know, ComplexCon is a major hypebeast paradise that in my opinion, is somewhat like an expo. It’s a place where you can pick up and shop for the latest streetwear fashion, sit in on panel conversations featuring many major people in the industry, and rock out to some musical performances from the hottest artists out right now. As being a Chicago native and a huge music head, it was only right for me to find a way to attend the first ever ComplexCon invading the city. I was fortunate enough to attend the event on behalf of Glosse Magazine and wanted to share my experience with you all.

When the day arrived for the event, words could not show how excited I was. ComplexCon is originally taken place in Long Beach, California, As a music lover, I have always wanted to go and experience what I would see on social media. When they made that announcement of bringing it to Chicago, I couldn’t hesitate on making sure I was in attendance. The festival was approximately two days long and I was ready to take it on. The check-in process of getting into ComplexCon was very smooth and I had no hassle. However, the thing that was pretty entertaining yet kind of weird was the reaction of the people that were finally being let into the event. Adults of all ages were literally running in due to the excitement of being at ComplexCon. It was a wild sight to see but it was the first day so I can’t really knock them for it.

A lot was going on. Other than visiting the different booths and speaking to the amazing, creative individuals that were in charge of putting these clothing lines together, there was so much more happening. There was a point where the artistic director Takashi Murakami was on the floor and was welcoming the fans with a meet and greet in honor of it being the first day. It was pretty cool to see. I personally believe other than the musical performances and shopping, the panels that are taken place is also something that many other people look forward to.

Hot Ones is one of my favorite interview shows ever. Sean Evans is one of the best interviewers of this generation and the fact that he was in Chicago to do a live taping of the show brought out the giddy child in me. The show featured Chicago native Juice WRLD and they covered a lot. Juice WRLD was definitely taking those wings like a champ until the last two (which I completely understand because I tried them and they are indeed very very HOT.)

Courtesy of Complex

I would have to say, the hottest spot to be at that festival was the PUMA booth. There was so much going on over there. Puma debuted a new collection with Alonzo Jackson and it was very colorful and original. Also, Dreamville Records gave fans at ComplexCon an opportunity to listen to 3 additional tracks that is supposed to be on the deluxe version of Revenge of the Dreamers 3. I will tell you those songs were hard and I can’t wait for everyone to hear them. Dreamville artist Omen stopped by during the time, as well as fellow Chicago artist Dreezy and rapper G-Eazy.

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Courtesy of Complex

Over at the Hennessy booth, A$AP Mob member A$AP Ferg was in the building and stopped by to promote his new collaboration with Felipe Pantone and Hennessy. There was a drink that he crafted that was served on the menu and it was DELICIOUS.

The night ended with Grammy award winning singer Ella Mai performing some of her hit singles “Boo’d Up” and “Trip.”

Courtesy of Complex

It was the final day of ComplexCon and it was the day I was looking forward to the most. The day consisted of people shopping and checking out the booths and just having a good time.

The first thing I attended that day was attending the panel the hip hop panel that featured The Root’s Black Thought and Questlove where they talked about their upcoming show Hip-Hop: Songs That Shook America which focuses on hip hop music and its influence on the major things going on in our community. It had to be one of my favorite panels to sit in on and listen to. They were dropping so many gems.

Courtesy of Complex

Throughout the day was pretty much the same energy as the first until it was time the headliners of the night. DJ Miss Milan got the crowd pumped and ready for Saweetie’s set and Saweetie came and dominated. She definitely represented for the ladies and performed her hit singles “My Type” and “ICY GIRL.” The energy was still very on the high end when it was time for Rick Ross to come out and perform. The MMG Teflon Don took me back down memory lane performing many of the songs he has released throughout the years such as “MC Hammer”, “Hustle Hard”, ” and “Bugatti”. Closing out night two, Top Dawg Ent’s ScHoolboy Q hit the stage with a high energy performance that literally set the room on fire. Many of the fans were singing along to every lyric of his most popular songs such as “That Part”, “Studio”, and “Collard Greens.” 

Courtesy of Complex

Overall, ComplexCon was surely a weekend to remember. For it being the first one held in a new city, everything was very well organized and I did not run into any issues while there. I am hoping there will be more events like this in the future to bring the city together again.

A$ap Rocky v. Sweden

The trial has begun for American rapper, A$AP Rocky, (legal name Rakim Mayers) who could be facing two years in prison for an alleged assault in Sweden if found guilty. Mayers has been held in custody since early July, after being charged for the incident which took place on June 30.

Details of the case concern the 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari. With a friend, he persisted Mayers and his entourage in the streets of Stockholm until an altercation broke out. The facts of how the fight started are still vague; what is clear are the videos posted on social media from Mayers showing the altercation first-hand. The videos show A$AP Rocky, with two people — including his bodyguard — pleading with Jafari for several minutes to stop following the group, until the fight ensued. Rocky’s defense lawyer commented to the press on his behalf stating, the group “didn’t want any trouble,” and “He has been harassed in the past — the bodyguard made the assessment that these people (Jafari and his friend) should move on — and not to come close.”

Swedish prosecutors for the case, want to paint an alternative narrative, by showing videos in court, also taken at the scene, exposing the group’s responsibility for starting the altercation. Prosecutor Daniel Suneson specified, “The artist is the one who threw the victim to the ground and then, together with two other suspects, dealt him blows and kicks.” They also intended to prove that there was excessive force being used by Mayers’ team for throwing a glass bottle at the alleged victim.

These videos have not surfaced yet to the public. Meaning that we can only speculate about the evidence which will play a major role for the outcome of this trial.

There are followers of A$AP Rocky who blame the issue of known systemic racism in Sweden, as reasoning for the pursuit of this harsher punishment. G-Eazy, a White American rapper first suggested this by comparing this case to his own arrest in Sweden. Posting, “The difference between me and Rocky’s treatment and process in Sweden brings to mind two concepts — white privilege and systemic racism. Let’s call it what it is.”

While in Sweden, last year, G-Eazy was arrested and charged with assault, possession of drugs, and use of narcotics. There was no video of the assault. Although, he was given a plea deal anyway by prosecutors, was released after one-and-a-half days for the crime and paid a 10k fine. Mayers has been detained for three weeks after surrendering to authorities on July 2, because he was seen as a “possible flight risk” by the judge and might try to evade punishment by leaving the country.

Another injustice raised by a petition for Rocky stated, “Upon being detained, Rocky was denied his request to counsel which is in violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which Sweden is a signatory.”

Those who have rallied around in support of A$AP Rocky, do so, not because of his wealthy status, but because they are aware of the nonstop over-policing of people of colour. Which when gone unnoticed can lead to serious cases of injustice.

Unfortunately, Sweden does not have a squeaky-clean reputation against racism of their Black and minority communities. “The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” issued a report, “last year expressing concern for the rising levels of anti-Black racism in the Nordic country.” This included hate speech directed towards Afro-Swedes, with the widespread use of the “n-word” becoming more problematic. 

A$AP Rocky continues to receive massive amounts of support from his fanbase, our only hope is that he is receiving fair and equal treatment throughout this court proceeding. The trial is set to continue today, where witnesses will be expected to testify.

Future Planned Films by Marvel to Possibly Change the Face of Action and Superhero Cinema

Marvel has recently announced their upcoming releases they have planned. With this list there several that stands out in particular. The movies planned to release are Black Panther 2, the Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Blade — all of which feature Black lead actors. This is something that is very rarely seen in action and superhero movies. At its release Black Panther, staring Chadwick Boseman, broke a number of records in the film world. One record includes grossing over $1.35 billion — becoming the 3rd highest grossing film ever in North America, the 9th highest grossing film ever, and becoming the highest grossing film by a black director.

Although announced for a release in the near future, Blade had an original run starting in 1998, played by Wesley Snipes. The Blade series ended in 2004 after spawning 2 sequels — Blade ll and Blade: The Trinity. Marvel’s new Blade will be played by Academy award winner, Mahershala Ali.

Photo: @marvelstudios via Instagram

Finally the Falcon and The Winter Soldier series on Disney+, an exclusive streaming service coming before Fall 2020, will feature Anthony Mackie as the lead. Although he is not new to the Marvel cinematic universe, this series will be the first as Mackie as the lead role.

Photo: @marvelstudios via Instagram

These two films and series will address a major problem that currently faces the film industry: the lack of Black representation in action/superhero movies. As of now, it can be seen that many films in this genre failed to have any sort of representation for Black audiences. We saw this during the Black Panther film. With the film breaking numerous records and receiving critical acclamation, it was proven that a great action superhero film could be achieved by Black lead characters. Along with Black Panther, the original Blade films were met with great acclaim and popularity from Black people of all ages. After years of absence, Twitter showed their excitement as Marvel announced the return of Blade

Finally, the new series, The Falcon and Winter Soldier starring actor Anthony Mackie. With being in the background to a number of Marvel movies, he will finally getting the lead in his own series. After the ending of Avengers Endgame, it could be seen that Mackie’s character would make him the new Captain America. Of all Marvel characters, Captain America could be seen as the most iconic since he is America’s superhero. With him representing the idea of the “American Value,” Mackie’s role as the new Captain America could be proven to be a revolutionary role in the world of action and superhero cinema. In a similar case, these two films were groundbreaking for women in action movies: Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel films.

Photo: @marvelstudios via Instagram

With the past success of the first Black Panther film, will these projects be met with same success? If there are any indicators from the past, it should be acknowledgement that the film power house of Marvel Studios are known for putting together successful strings of movies one after the other. If this is so, maybe these movies could change the face of film industry and prove that Black lead superhero movies will be here to stay. With the recent rise of other major black directors, such as Jordan Peele and Ava DuVernay, there will be a rise of influence for young Black film directors and writers who will gain more interest in breaking into the film industry by way of superhero and action films. With these film announcements, there will sure to be many who will be influenced by the direction of the films to make the choice of taking this influence into their own personal creative endeavors.

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With Recent Nominations Beyonce Has Chance to Add to Legacy

With the her recent Emmy nominations, Beyonce has the chance of going the elite EGOT class. The EGOT, standing for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, signifies those who have won an award in from each of those categories. As of now there are on 15 winners who are EGOT, with Beyonce having the chance of becoming the 16th member. Her Emmy nominations for her film Homecoming are in the categories of outstanding writing for a variety special, outstanding music direction, and outstanding costumes for a variety special, outstanding special, outstanding costumes for a variety and outstanding production design for a variety special. Along with her her six Emmy nominations, her sing “Spirit:, which is featured in the new Lion King adaptation, will have a very strong chance for her to grab an Oscar nomination next year. 

Throughout her career she has won 23 Grammy Awards and with this upcoming award season she will have the chance to take home a Emmy and Oscar award. That would leave her with needing to get a Tony award, which is an award that recognizes Broadway Productions. This will all remain to be seen, but with her recent nominations it makes it all the more plausible that Beyonce will add on her legacy. 

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Bossing up at the BAUCE HAUS

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend an exclusive one day summit for BAUCE HAUS, an event that introduced women to self-made and ambitious Black women who provided tips and tactics on how to execute goals and be our own boss, and I must say that it was nothing short of amazing. Let’s start with the ambiance in itself, the venue was the perfect space for an intimate setting without compromising comfortability. From the details in the decor to the perfect product placement and the framed words of affirmation, I was already looking forward to what the event would entail.  

Photo courtesy of Demtri Julian

The summit included multiple panels and workshops, with topics ranging from how to get control of your finances to learning how to manage your life and career and building self-motivation. There were so many tools and pieces of advice provided by 39 successful Black women, being in a room and feeling like you could relate to these successful women, was such a reassuring feeling. Every panel was great and useful, but the ones that resonated with me the most were, “Changes: when to pivot in business & life”, “Building a creative brand that resonates”, and “Soulful storytelling that sells”. The approach of the event was meant to come off as personable and it was executed flawlessly. It was more than business talk, it was life talk. Ridding toxic relationships, how to work on your self-confidence and true self-care were topics that opened up a powerful dialogue. For the creative and corporate women, there was literally something for everyone.

Photo Courtesy of Demtri Jordan

Aside from the electric energy throughout the venue, there was also a BAUCE shop, featuring Black women-owned products available for purchase, wonderful catering with great food and cocktails provided at the end of the event. DJ ZSA ZSA was the vibe curator and she did just that with the tunes, at one point there was a walk off contest as well as traditional twerk session, it was beautiful. There were so many gems provided by women that I admire, and getting to hear their stories was a wonderful, eye-opening experience. With so many points provided, the biggest takeaway that I got from the event was being told to give ourselves grace and flow. Mistakes are inevitable and our journey will be flawed, but the key is to keep going and not be hard on yourself, like many of us are.

Photo Courtesy of T Events

What founder and CEO, Liane Membis has created with the entire BAUCE brand is not only needed in our community, but it’s a great representation of hardworking and ambitious women of color that are personable and inspiring. I am so honored that I was able to share this experience with so many other young Black women, just like me. I left motivated and hopeful, and nothing feels better than that!

Check out the live recap here!

When They See Us Review

Like a majority of things on Netflix, I found out about When They See Us via Twitter. Many people were discussing how well made it was, how much they hated  Linda Fairstein and how it is only one of many situations that series how flawed our justice system is. There were also a large majority of people sharing how they would not be watching due to already being exasperated with the amount of stories plaguing our community daily. With all that being said, When They See Us is extremely effective at depicting the facts about the entire ordeal both inside and outside the courtroom and causes the viewer to never forget the names of the Central Park Five.

Beginning the same way any well done period piece does, When They See Us drops us in late 80s and early 90s New York with the sounds and looks of the time. Eric B and Rakim and Public Enemy blasted as we see the boys out like they would be any other time. These few minutes are the most lighthearted of the series and show how their innocence was stripped away from them. As I watched and heard the sirens my heart literally sped up as I knew what was going to happen but I didn’t want it to. This was one of the many moments where the actors shined. The anguish, fear and sadness they expressed with their faces and voices were gut wrenching as a night that was seemingly normal took the worst possible turn. And the interrogation scenes including the scenes where they were told what to say…if you can watch them more than once more power to you.

The courtroom scenes did two things: They showed how frightened the parents of the boys were and they showed how the lack of evidence should made this case open and shut. Seeing the lawyers go back and forth with their points was very well done, especially when the people went to the witness stand. The scenes of the boys seeing/calling their families while in jail provided a small sense of happiness. They kept the conversation simple by asking them what they were eating and how they were doing. Seeing the boys smile was a great feeling too. In a creative sense the way the time progression was shown for Raymond as his brother went from a newborn baby to a toddler to a young boy was interesting as it was heartbreaking to see how many years had gone by.

Seeing the boys all grown up and trying to re-enter society was yet another harsh reality of situations that happen every day. Raymond saw no other option other than dealing after being laid off from the one job that actually accepted him. Antron also picked up a job however the woman in his life referred to him as an “inmate” during a argument. All five men suffered from the situations of their past and those around them who continued to hang it above their heads.

All of this ceased when they were exonerated.

At the closing moments of the series we are told what all five men are doing today. This was the perfect way to end the series by not only showing the real people behind the story but also what they did – and are doing – to advance the community. Just this past week they were awarded the Roger Baldwin Courage Award which was presented to them by Michael B. Jordan. This is just one of many occasions to come that the men will be honored for their bravery as more and more people are touched by their story. While they will always be defined by their past, they are also taking steps to help shape the future for the better too, in hopes of preventing another horrific situation like this from happening again.

Where Are They Now?

Raymond Santana Jr. – Raymond used his portion of the settlement money to start his own clothing line called Park Madison NYC. The name comes from his hometown. Currently available are men’s and women’s shirts with a list of the names of all the Central Park Five members. A portion of the proceeds from these sales will go to the Innocence Project which helps those who have been wrongly convicted. There is also a shirt with Raymond’s mugshot on it which he says represents “the ups and downs, the road I traveled , to become the man that I am today.”

Yusef Salaam – Yuseff has become a published author of poetry as well as a public speaker on the subjects of  “mass incarceration, police brutality and misconduct, false confessions” and multiple others. He is both an educator and advocator for these policies traveling all over the country to spread the message. He has led workshops and more on these topics and also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama in 2016.

Korey Wise – Korey established the Korey Wise Innocence Project in 2015 at Colorado Law School. This project analyzes legal cases for wrongful conviction. Korey visits the school regularly.

Kevin Richardson – Kevin has also become an advocate for criminal justice reform and was honored with his high school diploma in 2017 by the Bronx Prep Academy. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

Antron McCray – Antron lives with his wife and six children in Georgia. He has preffered to stay out of the spotlight outside of a couple of interviews as he is still dealing with the mental effects of the past.

When They See Us was an exceptionally informative and emotional story. It may be hard to get through but it is worth it because we should be thankful we are aware of the story and it’s not being hidden from history like countless others.


Her Body, Her Choice: Reasons Why Women Seek Abortions

Disclaimer: This article is not completely unbiased. It is pro-choice.

Abortion bans and heartbeat bills passing in several states such as Alabama and Georgia is the latest hot topic of discussion. Abortion has been a hot-button issue in politics for years, but since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Roe v. Wade in 1973, people across the nation never thought a woman’s right to privacy and right to choose to have an abortion or not would be stripped away. Now many girls, women, and trans men are panicking, and they should be––these anti-abortion laws are not pro-life, they are anti-choice and anti-women. Along with the discussion of the bills and laws themselves, many have talked about rape and incest being the main reason––and to some, the only reason––women should be allowed to have an abortion. However, there are many more valid reasons women seek abortions and should have the right to have one. 


According to a research article published on July 5, 2013 by BMC Women’s Health, 40 percent of participants stated not being financially prepared as their reason for seeking abortion. Although not being financially prepared was listed as the major theme, subthemes such as women not being able to afford a child and having financial problems (38 percent), lack of employment and underemployment (4 percent), lack of insurance or inability to get government assistance (0.6 percent), and inability to provide for a child without government assistance (0.4 percent) were included. One 32-year-old woman, in school full-time stated, “I’m unemployed, no health insurance, and could not qualify for any government-assisted aid, and even if my fiancé decided to hurry up and get married, I still wouldn’t have been covered under his health insurance for that.”

There seems to be a misconception that teenage girls are the main group to get abortions, which also seems to fuel outrage in people who think abortions should be banned because “teenagers shouldn’t be having sex anyway.” However, according to the CDC in an Abortion Surveillance report, in 2015, adolescents less than 15 years old and between 15 and 19 years of age accounted for 0.3 percent and 9.8 percent of all reported abortions––this group had the lowest rate of abortions out of the three age groups observed in this study. The majority of abortions accounted for and the group with the highest rate of abortions in 2015 were women in their 20s. Women aged between 20 to 24 and 25 to 29 accounted for 31.1 percent and 27.6 percent of all reported abortions. The second group who had the most abortions were women in their 30s and past their 40s. According to this study, in 2015, women aged 30 to 34, 35 to 39, and equal to or past the age of 40 accounted for 17.7 percent, 10 percent, and 3.5 percent of all abortions. The majority of these women are old enough to make an informed decision on abortion.


Another reason women were seeking an abortion, according to the research article published by BMC Women’s Health, was because of partner related reasons (31 percent). The relationship being bad, poor and/or new (9 percent), the respondent wanting to be married first/not a single mom (8 percent), partner is not supportive (8 percent), partner is wrong guy (6 percent), partner does not want baby (3 percent), and partner is abusive (3 percent) are among the subthemes for this category. In this research article, 29 percent of women expressed their need to focus on other children as their reason behind seeking abortion––25 percent stated it was too soon after having had a child, they were busy enough with current children, and they have enough children right now, while 5 percent had concern for other children they were rearing. Among the 5 percent, a woman stated, “I already have 5 kids; their quality of life would go down if I had another.”

Only 4 percent of women in 2015 stated they do not want a baby or to place their baby up for adoption in the research article on “Understanding why women seek abortions in the US” published by BMC Women’s Health. These tend to not be seen as sufficient enough reasons to have an abortion to some people. According to Planned Parenthood, “In 1965, illegal abortions made up one-sixth of all pregnancy-related deaths — and that’s just according to official reports; doctors think the actual number was a lot higher.” Roe v. Wade allowed the access women needed to safe and legal abortions so if a woman does not want a baby, she has the right to choose and have a safe one. And though many suggest putting the baby up for adoption, according to Children’s Rights, there are around 443,000 children in foster care in the U.S. on any given day and that “in 2017, more than 690,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care.” According to an article written in 2017, the National Foster Youth Institute stated:

 After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless.
 Only 1 out of every 2 foster kids who age out of the system will have some form of gainful employment by the age of 24.
 There is less than a 3% chance for children who have aged out of foster care to earn a college degree at any point in their life.


The research article published by BMC Women’s Health included many more reasons women were seeking abortion including that a baby would interfere with future opportunities such as educational or vocational plans,women not being emotionally or mentally prepared, health related reasons such as their own health or health of the fetus, influences from friends or family, and so on. Many women who participated in the study gave more than one of these reasons for why they were seeking abortions (which is why the subtheme percentages do not necessarily add up to the major theme it is under), and all of these reasons are valid.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2018, the population of the U.S. is estimated to be 327,167,434 with 50.8 percent of the population being female. Slightly more than half of the U.S. population’s rights are being threatened in the name of pro-life. No one knows the circumstances of every individual woman. Whether they need an abortion due to their life being threatened or they want an abortion because they are not ready for a baby, women deserve that choice. 

Additional information about the recent abortion bans, heartbeat bills, and laws passed:

 According to the Washington Post, “Lawmakers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah have passed new antiabortion bills, and similar measures are pending in other states.”
 According to CBS news, Alabama’s law is not scheduled to go into effect until November of this year, while Georgia’s law is not scheduled to take effect until January 2020. 
 There has been talk of the recent abortion bans and heartbeat bills being used to try to overturn Roe v. Wade. According to the Washington Post, Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins, who sponsored the bill, said, “This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection.” 
 According to Time, “Governor Mike Parson is expected to sign a bill that would ban abortion in Missouri after eight weeks of pregnancy. Doctors who perform later abortions would face five to 15 years in prison, although people who receive abortions would not be prosecuted.”
 According to the New York Times, “Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio stopped short of outright bans, instead passing so-called heartbeat bills that effectively prohibit abortions after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, when doctors can usually start detecting a fetal heartbeat. Utah and Arkansas voted to limit the procedure to the middle of the second trimester.”




Pushing For More (Accurate) Representation in Media

In 2018, it’s no secret that representation in media is important for all people. Proper media representation means that children of all shades, size, shapes and sexual orientations can see all the opportunities available to them. It means they won’t grow up thinking that they should look, speak or act a certain way to be successful.

However, representation can only mean these things when it is rooted in speaking the truth for everyone, not just a few. While it is a huge accomplishment to get POC, trans or disabled characters on screen, it’s not necessarily enough. The characters have to be as multi-dimensional and complex as the real people they are meant to represent.

Since 2017, Netflix has released a campaign called, “First Time I Saw Me.” In multiple, short online videos, Netflix representatives sat down with actors and directors of all races, genders, sexual orientations, shapes and sizes to ask them when they first saw themselves in an on-screen character. Netflix sat down with Black Girl Nerds; directors like Ava Duvernay and Spike Lee; and stars of Netflix originals like “Dear White People” and “Orange Is the New Black.” This June, the streaming service also created a YouTube playlist in collaboration with GLAAD for trans voices in honor of Pride month.

For actresses Selenis Leyva and Logan Browning, they saw themselves in Lauren Vélez’ character on “New York Undercover” and the Mowry twins on “Sister, Sister,” respectively. Comedian Marlon Wayans said he saw himself in his older brothers and Eddie Murphy. Early representation for them was crucial and made a difference.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone. In one video, Duvernay explains that although several characters from “The Cosby Show” were the same hue as her, she couldn’t relate to them because her parents weren’t a doctor and lawyer. Several of the trans people, including Jamie Clayton of “Sense8,” noted that they didn’t see themselves in on-screen characters, even the ones meant to represent them.

Proper representation in media is not just what characters look like. It’s more than that. Representation encompasses where they are from, how they think, what culture or subcultures they participate in. It’s about the entire characterization being presented. It’s important to have characters who are diverse in outward appearance, thought, action, etc.

Personally, the first time I saw me represented in media was Raven Baxter from “That’s So Raven.” I related to Raven for more than just her skin complexion. I appreciated the way her character was written and how she interacted with her family and best friends. For the first time, I saw a character that I actually wanted to be like. At seven years old, I didn’t realize how rare that feeling would be.

My freshman year of college, I began watching “A Different World” and found two characters that I love and relate to: Whitley Gilbert & Winifred “Freddie” Brooks. Now, I didn’t grow up watching “The Cosby Show” so I had no way of knowing about this spin-off. However, I gave it a try and was instantly hooked.

I identify with both Freddie and Whitley for a few reasons. For one, I have a big curly afro like Freddie and a part of me loves the activist in her. She’s literally always down for the cause. Whitley, as spoiled and bougie as she may be, wanted nothing but to work hard and be her own person. Okay, she really wanted a husband but that isn’t the point. The point is I identified with Freddie’s optimism and Whitley’s work ethic, even when they both did things I disagreed with. I don’t look exactly like either one, but that’s what real representation does. It goes deeper than the surface.

Today, there are shows like “Blackish,” “Fresh Off The Boat,” “Orange Is The New Black” and so many others that are taking steps toward diversity in its many forms, but there is still a lot of work to be done. It’s not enough to feature characters of color who are also LGBT+. Their storylines have to be about more than just the color of their skin or who they love.

No show on TV is a perfect representation of any group of people. From shows like “Empire” and they fit into a much bigger problem, to the ongoing need for representation of LGBT characters who aren’t white men, there is still a lot of work to do. The point isn’t that a character that represents an entire group of people. That leans toward impossible. The ultimate goal is to create a multitude of diverse, complex characters, so that everyone has someone they can relate to.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-76RIIUuOwM(Black Girl Nerds)



https://theblackdetour.com/stereotypes-black-people-media/(Representation of Black characters)

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ne3kdk/lgbtq-representation-on-tv-still-sucks(LGBT representation)