This is not a vacation day. This is sick time.

When the police killing of a Black person makes the news, I call off work the next day.

It’s not anything I announce or work out with my boss. I don’t go on social media and put my foot down. I simply commit to watching as much verifiable news about the story as I can stomach, go to bed, and when my alarm goes off the next morning, I call or email to say I won’t be working. That’s the rule.

It doesn’t matter where the Black person was killed. It doesn’t matter if the officer’s body cam was working…

An underwear shot revealing a little bit of a gut isn’t exactly the bravery we’re looking for

Source: Will Smith / Instagram

Let’s get one thing clear right away: Will Smith isn’t fat.

Smith recently posted a couple of pics of himself on social media with no shirt on, exposing his lack of six-pack abs. It’s probably the first time he hasn’t had visible abs since the mid-90s when he made his sex symbol debut as the trigger-happy cop Mike Lowrey in Bad Boys. It appears that Smith, like millions of other people the world over, added on a few pounds during the pandemic, and I’m almost spot-on with the amount. But by the time you read this, he will have likely…

Reckoning with the mortality of music gods

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Getty Images

In the span of two weeks in April, hip-hop lost DMX, Black Rob, and Shock G. Their ages were 50, 52, and 57, respectively. Fans could barely show proper respect for one fallen rapper before the next one passed. I won’t belabor the specific details of their deaths here, as the circumstances behind them are only now becoming fully documented—but also because the telling of them is painful. Besides, this isn’t a eulogy. It’s a plea.

For a time, the fatal shootings of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. seemed to have a chilling effect on hip-hop, drawing a line…

By refusing to cop to ingrained oppression in the U.S., political leaders are living in denial

Photo: Bonnie Cash-Pool/Getty Images

Many Americans have been mulling over Republican of South Carolina, Senator Tim Scott’s wildly fantastic rebuttal to President Biden’s address to Congress earlier this week.

These remarks, delivered Wednesday night, found Scott offering jaw-dropping observations about the Republican party that the last four years of American life have proven patently false: that the GOP had a Covid-19 relief plan; that GOP changes to Georgia voting laws will somehow make it easier for more people to vote; that the GOP opposes Supreme Court-packing. It was a fun house mirror of appraisals.

Being a Black person in America, there was one line…

The Marvel series finale undermines its own bold stab at systemic racism

Photo: Marvel Studios

Marvel’s series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was doing just fine.

Its initial episodes were action-packed, mature, and solid applications of a couple second-tier characters. The series largely exists because of one funny scene in a car in Captain America: Civil War, and the show has taken great pains to make Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) totally worth getting to know. Alas, the series, now concluded at six episodes and available on Disney+, didn’t stick the landing in its finale.

There are a lot of reasons why this is true. FWS features a lot of…

I can’t find solace in Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict when police continue to kill Black people

Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

Rattled by the emotional dichotomy of the Derek Chauvin moment, I found myself questioning the nature of justice: how fluid and elusive it is when its recipients are Black, how it can’t seem to find us most days even when we call out for it by its Christian name. I considered how when justice does manifest, Black folks so often question its credentials. It appears so frequently on our doorsteps selling snake oil that we dare not trust it entirely when it offers us the real thing.

The whole world seemed pregnant with angst waiting for the Chauvin verdict, as…

Five years after the icon’s death, a deep dive proves his catalog to be timely — and political — as ever

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Prince died as Donald Trump was on the warpath to becoming president in 2016, and I’ve spent the last five years fighting the superstitious urge to connect those dots. Trump was boorish (and criminal) enough during America’s four-year red fugue state to justify any disgust and blame that could be lobbed in his direction, and I haven’t yet fully pivoted into this shiny new age where we don’t have a boogeyman as president. It’s been a hard five years since Prince died, both because he passed away and, despite that fact, what with all the glowing-hot White supremacy and rampant…

Representation isn’t reason enough to bask in Black trauma on television

Photo: Amazon

Along the course of writing this essay on Amazon’s new series Them: Covenant — in which I intended to recount my deep history with horror films and how Jaws ruined me for life — Duante Wright was killed by police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Shortly thereafter, body cam footage from the March 29 shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago hit the internet.

As I write this, Black America is reeling, the bodies of our people shoved through a systemic machine that churns out stacks of Black victims. We hadn’t even gotten to the hashtag part of one killing before…

If you believe Kid Cudi’s ‘SNL’ attire threatens Black masculinity, it’s time to do some soul searching

Photo: Will Heath/Getty Images

It’s spring again, and with the opening of businesses after a year of Covid-19, it’s apparently become necessary to once more consider one’s personal fashion before stepping outside. You’d think that after a year of pandemic couch-surfing this would be a low priority, but as it turns out, if you’re a Black man, you still can’t wear just any old thing. Somehow, in light of all of the problems we face in the most racist country in the world, it is still ungenteel to wear dresses.

Last week, Kid Cudi appeared on Saturday Night Live in a dress. The decision…

It’s time for a musical litmus test for enlightenment

Photo: Gems/Getty Images

After the most recent Verzuz event this past Sunday, I’ve come to a social determination: There can be no further race conversations with people who are not familiar with Earth, Wind & Fire’s catalog.

The Verzuz format is so simple that it’s collectively embarrassing that no one thought to put it into motion prior to the pandemic: Put two legendary musical acts in the same room and make them have cookout debates over whose catalog is better. Almost none of the acts bring competitive energy to the challenge, with most artists appropriately deferring to each other’s greatness throughout. …

Scott Woods

Writer and poet holding down Columbus, Ohio

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