Brittney Cooper

America's 'Prince' Problem: How Black People - and Art - Became 'Devalued'

Near the end of the 2015 Grammy Awards, musical icon Prince presented the Grammy for Best Album, with this preamble: “Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter.” In just over ten words, Prince reminded us that the Black Lives Matter movement that captured our attention in the last five months of 2014 is having the necessary consequence of sparking a new chapter in our national artistic imagination. A long-held tenet of our liberal American credo is that art is integral to politics.

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America’s Real Racial Double Standard: How the Law (and White People) Turn “Race-Neutral” Into “Pro-White”

In 2011, high school senior Taylor Bell, a local rapper in Itawamba County, Mississippi, made a song in support of several female classmates who claimed they had been inappropriately touched and subjected to harassing comments by two male coaches. In Bell’s song, he rapped: “Looking down girls’ shirts / drool running down your mouth / Going to get a pistol down your mouth.” For these remarks, school officials accused Bell of harassment and intimidation. He was suspended and sent to another school. In the next few weeks, the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case of Bell v. Itawamba County School Board.

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The Big Father Figure Lie: Race, the Kardashians and the Latest War on Black Moms

Cosmopolitan magazine has declared the Kardashians America’s new first family. Certainly, this symbolic dethroning of the Obamas is shot through with every kind of upsetting racial implication, a point Black Twitter has been swift to point out. Apparently now that the official first family is African-American, achievement of a nuclear family is no longer a mainstream cultural aspiration. While Black families continue to labor under the burden of being exceptionally normal like the Obamas or escaping the supposedly normal “pathology” of the non-nuclear Black family, Cosmopolitan is now giving white Americans an opportunity to visually revel in and experiment with embracing a white female-centered family structure. The cover image for Cosmopolitan’s November issue features America’s new chosen “first family” consisting of six white women, including Kris Jenner and her five daughters, three by her first husband, and two by her former husband Bruce Jenner, who has now transitioned into Caitlyn Jenner.

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Matt Damon’s Staggering Meritocracy Lie: What His 'Project Greenlight' Blow-Up with Effie Brown Really Shows

The uncomfortable exchange that occurred between Matt Damon and movie producer Effie Brown on the season four premiere of HBO’s “Project Greenlight” is indicative of everything that is wrong with current cultural understandings of diversity. The incident went like so: When challenged about her preference for a directing team composed of a Vietnamese man and a white woman, Brown (a respected producer in her own right) defended her choice by asking her white colleagues to consider the optics of a room full of white people choosing a white male director to make a film about a Black female prostitute.

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The Vengeful God of Kim Davis: The Powerful Forces We Ignore When We Fixate on One Kentucky Clerk

I used to be a conservative evangelical Christian. As a teenager, I was obsessed with remaining a virgin until marriage, appalled at the choices of a couple of my friends who needed to terminate teen pregnancies, and obsessed with my “sins” and everyone else’s. So I understand the thinking that informs the asinine and misguided show of (un)righteous indignation that is Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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The Psychological Warfare Being Waged Against Black Lives Matter

Earlier this week, just before bed, an old high school debate teammate, a white man that I once loved affectionately as a younger brother, posted on my Facebook wall, “Do you have sympathy on police officers who are killed on duty?” Though we have been Facebook friends for a number of years, it has also been literal years since our last significant interaction via the site. This was a curious question that seemed forthrightly accusatory in its tone.

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The Ludicrous Reason These Black Women Were Thrown Off of a Train

Over the weekend, the Sistahs on the Reading Edge Book Club, composed of 10 Black women and one white woman, were kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train for laughing and talking too loudly on their way to a vineyard tour. These women were enjoying themselves and participating in a wine tasting when several passengers began to complain about them being too loud. They admitted to talking loudly, but indicated that they were just having a good time, and were not being disrespectful.

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White America Needs to Wake Up: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders & the Unacknowledged Crimes of American Justice

When Hillary Clinton met with the members of Black Lives Matter chapters in Massachusetts last week, they were very interested in hearing her speak about her personal transformation on race. In a later CNN interview, Daunasia Yancey and Julius Jones, BLM leaders who participated in the meeting, indicated that they needed to hear her personal narrative in order to trust her. They began talking to Clinton about what the movement “needs to do to change white hearts,” but she replied, “I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way that systems operate.”

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Ferguson’s Dark, Twisted Lesson: What Police Crackdowns & 'Oath Keepers' Reveal on the Anniversary of a Tragedy

On Friday, the 363rd day after the killing of Michael Brown, Jr., I visited his memorial in the Canfield neighborhood of Ferguson, Mo., where his bullet-riddled body lay for four and a half hours last August 9. Having spent the day speaking at and in participating in a conference at a local church about the role of scholarship and the church in the Movement for Black Lives, I had not readied myself to encounter Canfield for the second time. But as my comrades and I got out of the car, and peered a few feet away at Mike Brown’s memorial, lined with teddy bears and marked on either end by two orange traffic cones, the devastation settled into my stomach yet again. The tears started dripping faster than I could catch them.

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The Hideous Truth About Donald Trump: Why the 'Trump Surge' Is Here to stay - Even If His Campaign Isn’t

Donald Trump’s formidable lead among Republican contenders for the presidency suggests that good political common sense is officially in short supply. My statement does not lack for hyperbole, but it is entirely commensurate with the alarming cultural farce that is a Trump campaign for president. Nothing makes clearer the kind of social hysteria and lack of reason driving politics on the right these days than widespread support for Donald Trump, a candidate who up until now has provided endless entertainment of the slightly racist uncle who vocalizes outmoded views at the dinner table variety. Such characters usually exasperate us and they may even manage to make us laugh, but no one takes such figures seriously.

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