Women like Vanessa Bryant and Lauren London are deserving of respect, regardless of their connections to beloved men

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Over the weekend, Vanessa Bryant logged onto Instagram to once again address a grievance on behalf of her family. This time it was about an ill-considered punchline from Meek Mill on a recent song: “If I ever lack, I’m goin’ out with my chopper, it be another Kobe.”

Bryant’s response was short and to the point. “I find this line to be extremely insensitive and disrespectful. Period,” she wrote. “I am not familiar with any of your music, but I believe you can do better than this. If you are a fan, fine, there’s a better way to show your…


The Nike sneaker-buying experience has been brutal for years. When will fans get too fed up to keep supporting the brand?

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The demise of Blockbuster Video lives in my head rent-free. It’s the perfect parable about America’s brand of capitalism and what happens when people are given a choice that frees them from greed. Sort of.

Blockbuster thrived in the late ’80s and early ’90s because it scaled explosively, opening new stores and buying out competitors; in many places, it was the only way people could watch new movies that were just out of theaters. It leveraged its near-monopoly in predatory ways, charging people exorbitant late fees for movie rentals and even damaging people’s credit scores for not being able to…


Ending a central Black character’s life isn’t something Hollywood knows how to handle

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Over the course of four years, actor Daniel Kaluuya has amassed a catalog of film work that has loomed large in pop culture discourse, especially among Black folks. Those movies are 2017’s Get Out, 2019’s Queen & Slim, and this month’s Judas and the Black Messiah. You could add 2018’s Black Panther and Widows to this list based on film quality and Kaluuya’s performance, but I want to focus on the other three because they all have one thing in common: They all featured Daniel Kaluuya playing characters who meet traumatic ends.

In Queen & Slim, Kaluuya’s Slim is brutally…


Trump’s presidency showed us America’s worst. America’s best is just as depressing.

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Like most Black people, I’ve spent my entire life waiting for America to reveal its worst self to us. For as bad as, say, Reagan or Bush(es) or mass incarceration or drone strikes or overthrown governments were to us, it always felt like this country was preparing us for a floor to the despair. Donald Trump’s presidency felt like that floor: the moment when America fully embraced White supremacy without any pretense, without any attempt to act like this country is run on anything but anti-Blackness. Trump’s presidency wasn’t a revelation so much as a confirmation.

The movement that brought…


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We always rooted for Earl Simmons — but seeing his joy as he turns 50 has helped us find our own

Tonia Colon-Seals wasn’t sure what to expect when a guy named Earl showed up at her door in Lithonia, Georgia, in the winter of 1997 wearing a red flight jacket, jeans, and a pair of Timbs. All she knew was that he was a rapper, and her friends Joaquin and Darrin Dean (Waah and Dee), brothers who ran a management company in New York, had sent him down south to stay out of trouble while he finished his debut album.

The album, of course, would be a multiplatinum behemoth; It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot snatched hip-hop out of the…


Thousands of fans flocking to Atlanta will have devastating consequences

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On Friday night I went to pick up food from a couple of restaurants at Cumberland Mall right outside of Atlanta. It might be hard for you to visualize what I saw because it’s so foreign to what so many Americans are experiencing right now, but here goes: the first restaurant was packed inside, with zero seating restrictions. Patrons sat clustered in booths and shoulder-to-shoulder at the bar, hardly a mask in sight. The next restaurant was not only packed, but its waiting area was standing room only. As I was waiting for my food, I kept walking around trying…


You expect a movie about getting through a rough patch — but what you get is something far darker

John David Washington and Zendaya portray their characters in the kitchen on the set of “Malcolm and Marie”
John David Washington and Zendaya portray their characters in the kitchen on the set of “Malcolm and Marie”

I thought I knew about Malcolm & Marie when I sat down to watch it. I knew it was a black and white movie, was filmed during a pandemic, starred John David Washington and Zendaya, and was written and directed by her Euphoria collaborator Sam Levinson. I also knew — or thought I knew — that it was about relationship fights, the kind of squabbles and bickering that we all experience. I expected a movie about marriage and partnership that I could identify with.

You may be going into the movie expecting the same. But you should also go in…


WWE’s newest sure thing is primed to dominate 2021 and beyond

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I’m a wrestling fan. I’m Black. This presents a conflict: Wrestling is massively racist and always has been. The older I get and the more I understand this, the more I appreciate the Black talent that persevered despite the obstacles in their way. These are the people who captured my imagination and made me fall in love with the genre; their accomplishments are only amplified by what it took for them to succeed. Sadly, the same things that held them back also often lessened their respective impacts — so I want to give these Black wrestlers their flowers.

The Royal…


The Capitol police officer shouldn’t have almost lost his life to be honored

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Eugene Goodman saved America. That’s not an exaggeration.

The Capitol Hill officer put his life on the line by weaponizing a White mob’s racism against them. He knew that his Blackness would be the only thing White supremacists focused on. He put himself in the line of that generational rage that has killed so many who look like him. By doing so, he diverted the mob away from members of Congress, saving their lives and preventing a successful coup.

So, yes, Eugene Goodman is a hero.

As a result of his heroics, Goodman was rewarded the duty of protecting Kamala…


Mourning broke through our self-constructed dams and made us vulnerable. We still haven’t gone back to inspect the damage.

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Even a year after Kobe Bryant’s death, his memorial service at the Staples Center still feels like something ripped from our darkest dreams. Some of our most visible sports heroes emoted in ways we hadn’t really seen before or even imagined possible. There was Shaq, the hulking Superman who had torn down rims and plowed through grown men, weeping over both his former teammate and his sister, whom he’d lost to cancer months prior. We saw Michael Jordan, a man we’d only seen cry when winning championships or lamenting that he couldn’t rip out people’s hearts on the court anymore…

David Dennis, Jr.

Level Sr. Writer covering Race, Culture, Politics, TV, Music. Previously: The Undefeated, The Atlantic, Washington Post. Forthcoming book: The Movement Made Us

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