Summer TV Recap: Reflections on HBO’s Ballers

by Kendra James

HBO’s Ballers is one of the most confusing yet simplistic shows to debut this summer. It doesn’t require more than 30 minutes of your attention a week, and if asked what it’s about you need only three words to explain: Entourage with football.

Starring Dwayne Johnson, John David Washington, Dule Hill, Omar Benson Miller, and Rob Corddry, the show was billed as a comedy about the lives of current and retired football players in Miami that would entertain while also highlighting some of the issues the NFL has faced (or tried to quietly sweep under the rug) over the past decade.

In reality, calling it a comedy would be an overstatement. It is better described as a show with an occasional guffaw. The pilot was directed by Peter Berg, who also directed the film and eventual pilot for Friday Night Lights before sticking around to executive produce that show’s entire run. That pedigree, and the fact that Ballers debuted before Berg shared a transphobic meme about Caitlin Jenner, had me inclined to at least give the pilot a chance.

The confusion in watching Ballers comes when you realise that you are still watching Ballers. By the time you’ve reached the finale you’re done trying to explain why you’re watching Ballers: an uneven show being kept afloat by nothing (really, nothing) more than the charm of the cast and the frustration of knowing that underneath the luxury porn and sex jokes there could be something there.

Wyatt Cenac on Twitter- -There's maybe only one response to being in a Miami hotel when room service finds you watching 'Ballers.' Holler out -YOLO- and over tip.-.clipular


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Straight Outta Compton, Black Women, and Black Lives Matter

By Guest Contributor Marquis Bey

A friend of mine asked, two days before the theatre premier of Straight Outta Compton, what impact I thought the N.W.A. biopic would have on the Black Lives Matter movement. My answer, since I had not seen or read much about the film, was insufficient and characterized by stock hip-hop feminist answers: white viewers and critics of the Movement may very well use the film to say, “See! They’re advocating violence, glorifying it even!”; hopefully it’ll give historically contextual backing to the legacy of violence visited upon Black bodies to which Black Lives Matter is speaking directly; and, of course, as with all things venerating hip-hop, I worry about the gendered violence and erasure of (Black) women.

This last point — the violence and erasure of Black women in particular — is what the conversation in the car ride with a few other Ph.D. students at my graduate school revolved around. And rightly so.

If we are to allow the film to speak to the plight of Black bodies in contemporary America and use it to do the work of Black liberation, then we must honor the aims of the Black Lives Matter Movement—and the three queer Black women who founded the movement—by critiquing the normalization of violence against Black women.
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Photo Gallery: Back in time on Governor’s Island

There are two weekends each summer in New York City when you might find yourself riding the downtown subway next to a flapper and her bootlegger dressed partner. They’re not elaborately costumed film extras, and you haven’t found yourself stuck in an episode of Doctor Who. This was the 10th year for the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island, and August’s Saturday date didn’t disappoint when it came to fashionable attendees.

For your enjoyment this morning, a lighter side of Racialicious. Check out our gallery of Gatsby era attired POC attendees below.



In His Own Words: Julian Bond (1940-2015)

By Arturo R. García

The American social justice movement mourned the loss of pioneer and lawmaker Julian Bond on Saturday, after he passed away at the age of 75.

The Nashville native was at the center of two of the Civil Rights Movement’s most pivotal groups, helping to found both the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Poverty Law Center, while also serving as the first president of the latter. From there he served 20 years as a lawmaker in the Georgia House and Senate, and another 12 atop the NAACP.

But as The Root reported, there was a moment in time when he almost added another superlative to his record: presidential candidate. The executive council National Black Political Assembly approved a resolution calling for Bond to represent its party. However, Bond declined the nomination shortly before the group’s 1976 convention.

“Ironically, key elements of the NBPA’s platform were strikingly similar to the political agenda of Barack Obama, the man who became this nation’s first black president,” The Root stated. “Among other things, the assembly’s platform called for national health insurance and a livable minimum wage.”
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March to honor Sandra Bland and protest deaths of black women in police custody Minneapolis, Minnesota July 31, 2015 A few hundred people marched through the streets of downtown Minneapolis to honor Sandra Bland and protest the deaths of black women who have died in police custody.

We already know: white liberal racism denies Black personhood

By Guest Contributor Danielle Fuentes Morgan

Trauma often feels inevitable for bodies of color. It is the leitmotif of life in the United States. And regardless of the safeguards we may have, either intentionally-structured or as benefit of birth, the impact is real. We often speak in terms of macroaggressions and microaggressions, terms I hesitate to use because they imply that without hoods and burning crosses the assaults should be tolerated. It feels like another way to discount the feelings of people of color—a nuanced way of telling us to get over it.

I am sitting in the doctor’s office where two older white men are talking very loudly and unabashedly about why Bernie Sanders is the only person with the common sense necessary to save the United States. I’m absorbed in my phone, reading articles on Sandra Bland and searching frantically to find if the rumors that she was already dead in her mug shot have any credence. Suddenly, one of the men says, more loudly than before, “This is the most important conversation. Everyone needs to pay attention. Including this young woman!” thrusting his finger in my direction.
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Racism Made Me Who I Am Today

By Guest Contributor Ellen Oh

When I was a little girl, I was already very aware of what racism was. It felt like the cigarette burn to my flesh by the high school girl who called me a dirty chink. I was eight years old.

Racism has been seared into my psyche, like the shame that filled me when a white boy spat on me as he screamed “Go back to where you belong!” It sounded like the laughter of the crowd of middle school kids, both Black and White, that surrounded me and called me chink and gook. It looked like the jeers and smirks on the faces that pressed close, like nightmare images I couldn’t escape. I was 10 years old.

It was the fear I felt as I held my little sister’s hand tightly as we ran away from a group of Puerto Rican girls who pelted us with rocks and told us that slanty-eyed chinks don’t belong in their neighborhood. I was 11 years old.

It was the pain of my hair being torn out of my head by the middle aged Russian woman who spoke no English but knew every dirty, filthy word that she could use with “ching chong,”when I confronted her for stealing from my parents store. I was 15.

It was having a kind looking white grandmother scream at me to go back to my own country because she didn’t want my kind ruining the USA. I was 22.

It was having the managing partner of my law firm ask me if I had any relatives on the Golden Venture, the smuggler ship that ran aground in NYC with over 200 illegal Chinese immigrants. I was 24 and not Chinese.
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Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World