The internet was yet again a mess this week. Highlights: Lizzo, O’Shae Sibley, Henrietta Lacks, the Shakurs, country music, Halle, Doja Cat, Cardi B, Hoochie Daddies, and competitive eating.
By far Lizzo was the biggest story this week. Known as being an advocate to all and “embracing body positivity and celebrating her physique,” the singer has been accused of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work enviornment, and fat-shaming by three former dancers, Crystal Williams, Arianna Davis, and Noelle Rodriguez.
Filed in Los Angles Superior Court, the lawsuit “also accuses the captain of Lizzo’s dance team of proselytizing to other performers and deriding those who had premarital sex while sharing lewd sexual fantasies, simulating oral sex and publicly discussing the virginity of one of the plaintiffs.” Other people who have worked with Lizzo have since come forward, expressing they experienced similar things, and Beyoncé has stopped saying the Lizzo’s name while performing ‘Break My Soul’ on her RENAISSANCE world tour.
While mean people and outlets or focusing on the fat-shaming aspect of the lawsuit, there are a lot of other allegations that need scrutiny. Further, people are inexcusably using the allegations of fat-shaming to fat-shame Lizzo. And, importantly, as of now, the allegations are just that: allegations. As Donnovan Thompson wrote “[this] news is hard… It’s complicated… it’s sobering… it’s sad… but the #fatphobic, anti-Black woman rhetoric shows how simple and asinine many of us are.”
There is no excuse for the abuse of power, but we also need nuance. We need to ask ourselves, and Thompson continued, “Why are these stories of abuse on repeat? How can we as Black people avoid the status quo?”
It is the summer of RENAISSANCE, Beyoncé’s “love letter to Black queer dance culture.” Last Saturday, “on July 29 — the one-year anniversary of “Renaissance’s” release — Sibley, 28, and his friends were voguing to songs from the album at a Brooklyn gas station when a group of men hurled homophobic slurs at them and demanded they stop dancing.” Sibley was killed during the altercation. His murder, on the same night Beyoncé performed at MetLife Stadium just a few miles away in New Jersey, is a stark reminder that “while Black queer performers are increasingly celebrated for their inextricable influence on mainstream pop culture and art, the pervasive threat of violence remains.”
The family of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were taken for research without her consent, have reached a settlement with Thermo Fisher Scientific on what would have been her 103rd birthday. The terms of the settlement are confidential. Lacks’ cells, known as HeLa cells, have “been used to develop the polio and COVID-19 vaccines and the world’s most common fertility treatment,” creating millions (if not billions) of dollars in revenue for the company. The lawsuit questioned “who owns those tiny pieces of her” that “were taken while she received cervical cancer treatment in a segregated Johns Hopkins Hospital ward more than 70 years ago.”
Lacks’ “descendants insist her cells belong to her, because they are part of her, and companies like Thermo Fisher must pay for the privilege to use them in research and product development. Company officials previously said they shouldn’t be singled out for using HeLa cells without the family’s consent because countless others around the world do the same thing.” Just because other people do it doesn’t make it right. I am very happy for the family.
I love Keisha N. Blain’s work, and I am always interested in what she is reading! In this review, Blain considers Santi Elijah Holley’s An Amerikan Family: The Shakurs and the Nation They Created, which centers the Shakurs, a family that included “Salahdeen Shakur, a leader in the Revolutionary Action Movement, a student-led Black nationalist group; his two sons, Lumumba and Zayd, leaders of the Black Panther Party in Harlem; and revolutionary activists Assata Shakur and Afeni Shakur (the mother of the famous rapper Tupac Shakur).”
Blain focuses on how “the Shakurs committed themselves to the cause of Black liberation and challenged white supremacy in the face of intense government repression, through various revolutionary groups, including the Revolutionary Action Movement, the Black Panther Party, and the Black Liberation Army,” and Black families. Not all of the Shakurs where blood relatives, but they were brought together by “their global political vision and praxis, deeply rooted in a history of resistance to oppression. They maintained a belief in Black radical politics and the possibility that systems of oppression could be overturned.”
While the family did not donate millions of dollars like other influential families, they represent how “in a white supremacist society, where Black people are still fighting for full freedom, the Black family offers a buffer of protection and, at times, a space for resistance.”
Although country music has long had a race problem, it has slow become more of a mainstream discussion over the past few years, with multiple incidents last month. Tressie McMillan Cottom has long been a fan of country music, has written about it for years, and is one of my favorite voices on the topic. Cottom joins Sam Sanders on Into It and “unpacks why mainstream country music is so, so white, how Black artists built the genre, and the gulf between the vibrant city of Nashville and the regressive politics of the “Nashville” music industry.”
SInger Halle Bailey released her first solo single and it is exactly what one would expect. Known for her ethereal vocals, ‘Angel’ leans into Halle’s innocent image. I’m curious to see what she releases next.
At almost the opposite side of the spectrum from Halle, Doja Cat also released a song on Friday. Wearing a shirt that says ‘feral,’ and declaring that she “said what I said” the song seems to double down on ongoing tensions she’s had with her fan base—many of whom recently unfollowed the singer over antagonizing the fan base, and abuse allegations against her reported boyfriend. But if there is one thing that is for sure, Doja can write a song and create a visual. The ethics of consuming her work, however, is another story.
Rapper Cardi B is not facing criminal charges after throwing a microphone at a fan. In a viral clip of the July 29th performance, Cardi B can be seen throwing her microphone at the crowd after the person threw water on her during a performance. In the clip I’ve seen most widely circulated, the water seemingly comes from nowhere. However, in other clips the rapper tells the audience to splash her with water, except in her face. The water that garnered her reaction, was thrown directly in her front, and appears to hit her face in the video. After the microphone was thrown, “members of the security team then quickly began to surround the person who threw the drink.” This is just one of a slew of recent incidents involving audience members throwing things at performers.
“Other incidents include P!nk, who was left confused after a fan tossed their dead mother’s ashes onto her stage in London, Harry Styles being hit in the eye by a mysterious object thrown at him in Vienna, and Ava Max being slapped in the face by someone who ran onto the stage. Drake has also been hit twice by objects hurled from the audience while on his tour with 21 Savage.” Singer “Bebe Rexha was left needing stitches after a member of the crowd threw a phone at her face as she was on stage. It was later reported that the concertgoer who threw the device did so because he thought ‘it would be funny’.” To be honest, I get why Cardi threw her mic—people are getting way too possessive of celebrities, people they don’t even know. People are going to defend themselves.
One of my friends told me to watch Hoochie Daddies, the tubi reality show where studs compete to be Top Hoochie Daddie. As this article title states, “I cannot begin to describe what transpired.” I applaud Carmen Phillips for writing this because I could not.
Phillips perfectly describes the vibe of the show: “this reality show more in the style of the aughts Vh1 cult classic I Love New York. One of the contestants described the house as “at least it’s not the Blair Witch Project” and another contestant is asked to sleep in a closet, while someone else is given a blow up mattress.
That said, what Hoochie Daddies lacks in budget, I gotta say, not to be overtly corny, but it makes up for it in heart.” Additionally, she also gives a brief history of hoochie daddies, how they got their name, and mostly importantly, that they are “Black mascs, studs, and their friends who are here for a good time and a hot, hot summer.” If you are bored, this is 💯the show for you.
Every now and again, a video of someone eating an obscene amount of food makes its way to one of my feeds. I always watch, wrapt with curiosity, wondering how someone can fit that much food into their body at once. Those videos aren’t of professional eaters though (at least not to my knowledge) and are usually people with accounts dedicated to various food challenges.
Joey Chestnut ate 62 hot dogs and buns to win this year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Part of the Major League Eating, the competition aired on ESPN2 and is the biggest annual event. Jamie Loftus profiles the event, the leagues, its major players in this comical piece. Honestly, I would consider watching next year’s hot dog contest after reading this.