The Anxious Thoughts That Haunt The New Graduate

I want to open by firstly saying congratulations to the many new graduates that are preparing to or that have already walked across the stage. That moment is one that you will never forget that is accompanied by a feeling that is extremely hard to describe. You did it. The late nights of partying studying, sitting through countless lectures, and doing your best on your final exams have all paid off. This is your moment to enjoy and cherish. There are many responsibilities that loom over your head like dark clouds once the smoke from graduation clears. Things like loans, a job, and a place to live all haunt your thoughts at every innocent moment of relaxation. Some are lucky enough to have it all secured before graduation or shortly after, but for others, the search can lead to a sense of terror post-graduation. I’m here to offer a bit of advice and share some kind words that I think can help calm whatever nerves may be bothering you a few days removed from graduation.

Don’t panic. Very easy for me to say right? But honestly, I think panicking is what leads to most of our post-grad woes. Sure, there are a plethora of responsibilities that come with graduating college, but to panic only makes matters worse. Take a breath. Everything will fall into place as it should. Do have a sense of urgency, but panicking and stressing over what former classmates are doing after college and comparing that to your own situation is extremely fugazi.

Take a break from social media for awhile after graduation as you prepare for your next chapter. Instagram after graduation gets cliché af. It is like a revolving door of everyone trying to one-up everyone else. Oh, you got a new puppy? Well, I got a new car. Oh, you moved to NYC? Well, I’m homeless in Brooklyn. Oh, you’re an engineer at Microsoft? Well, I’m an entrepreneur and I don’t see how yall do that 9 to 5 shit. It gets crazy over there dawg trust me. But once you are back from your little break then you get your own turn to stunt on all your ex-classmates if you’re feeling petty.

Utilize your support system if you have one. I’m really not sure where this stigma came from of being horrified to move back home for awhile to figure things out. Sometimes I wish I would have gone home for a bit after wrapping up college. I think that black graduates especially feel they have to get shit popping as soon as they finish posing for that photo after grabbing their degree holder. Its understandable I mean that man is leading the country and you never know what’s going to happen next but I for one find it weird how a lot of our white counterparts are out here traveling and exploring new hobbies while we’re just out here trying to stay afloat. So I’m here to say if you’re able to go home and figure things out, do it. If you want to backpack through Europe and you’re able to do so, do it. Someone told me once how we have our whole lives after college to figure things out, and I’m finally starting to believe it. Don’t plan to have it all figured out a year removed from college, this universe is weird and you will be surprised how things work out.

I hope this blog finds all my new graduates in a good place. Your mental health is important always but especially after graduation. Life after graduation is fun but at times can be very shocking and depressing. This is a time of immense change and you’d be surprised how easy it is to become derailed. Stay focused and determined, but remember that you have time. Lastly, I hope you guys didn’t skip too many 8 AM classes, because life after college is really just waking up for an 8 AM class for the rest of your life. Too soon?

Yours Truly,

Joe.

The Astounding Task That Is Coming Back To The Blog

As I sit here graciously praying for a Bulldog victory it dawned on me that it had been awhile since I last updated my blog. It’s honestly hard to grasp that we are all getting ready to wrap up another year. Since it is my first post here since late September, I feel like there is a need for a bit of catching up. I almost can’t even really remember what I had going on in October. That month flew by so fast I can’t tell you whether I was coming or going. A very stagnant month for me as far as growth is concerned. I do think it’s important that we go through and grow through moments of self-doubt that rear their ugly head from time to time. I was just at a point where I was very uncertain with where things in my life were going, where I was going, and if the people in my life even truly meant anything to me. I didn’t create because I just didn’t have the passion. So I took a break and I’m glad I did because I come back to BlackGradLife refreshed.

At some point during Scorpio season, I started to feel like myself again. Oh yeah, my first blog post at 25 and shit. So I had a birthday at the beginning of November which pretty much kicked off a busy month. A bottle of Virginia Black, a trip to Atlanta, and four Thanksgiving plates later here we are. That sentence is a short and sweet way to define my favorite month of the year. November was definitely calm but heavy. I’m thankful because it is the only month this year that I can recall not ever having the thought, “Damn this month flew by”. And not to mention that the only moments from the past month that were cringeworthy deal with me passing out at 9 p.m. on my birthday and being Undergrad level drunk in a Waffle House. Very on brand if you ask me.

We’re also just about a week shy of my blog’s birthday. So really I’m just thankful that I was able to keep this shit up for a year. More years and writings and ideas and moments of self-doubt are sure to come but I am ready for it all. This is the moment where I say to everyone who is reading that is working towards something that it is already written and waiting for you to claim it.

There is still a lot to be done before I close out the year, but I really wanted to check in. Thank you for still rocking with me if you’re reading this. Happy Holidays if you celebrate and keep it locked with me for the remainder of the year and beyond every Saturday for all things music, the black experience, and life after college.

Yours Truly,

Joe.

 

We Can’t Just Stick To Our Jobs With a White Supremacist In Office

“Just stick to sports” a phrase that I have seen mentioned on the news and social media a lot lately. It’s a phrase that is being used by uncomfortable people of Caucasian descent who hate seeing people of color stand up for what matters. Why does it make you so uncomfortable that we are seeking the justice that we deserve? Your own president ran on a slogan that says this country isn’t great. Anyways, I woke up this morning to a tweet from now a stranger, telling me that I can’t deny that the bum Donald is bringing back the America though. What the fuck is “the” America? When I think of “the” America my mind goes to the Jim Crow south, the white only water fountains, the water hoses, the slave ships; An America that doesn’t serve the brown and black people that built this joint for free. No, I’m sorry the bum isn’t bringing back anything. If anything he is uplifting and creating more hate than ever before. And there are people who years from now will have to explain to their children’s children how they were okay with his stances because of the first amendment. I want no parts.

Colin Kaepernick, Stephen Curry, Serena Williams, LeBron James, and a slew of other colored athletes who move the culture can’t afford to just stick to sports. The bum Donald is basically saying that black athletes should be “do good” boys and girls. Just do your job boy, run that ball boy, don’t disrespect master boy. Sounds familiar right? That’s cause it is. If these white owners can’t see the relevance and need for these superstars to utilize their platforms for so much more than maybe they should get off their old asses and play themselves. People don’t like these athletes just because they are good at their perspective sports, kids look up to them in hopes that they are good people. It’s about setting an example of what a kind and just human being is supposed to be. Sometimes I wish we would just have our own leagues and leave them with hockey, bowling, and baseball.

The fact of the matter is that we can’t just stick to our jobs with a white supremacist in office. None of us can. That goes for the athletes, the musicians, the engineers, the artists, the janitors, all of us. If keeping a job means that I can’t stand up for what’s important to me then it isn’t worth it. It’s us or else. It is so important right now that we look at ourselves and among ourselves. Extract yourself from those who don’t support causes that affect you. Leave behind racists who support racists. Extract your wisdom, don’t give them any explanation, because trust me the people who still need shit to be explained to them on what is wrong with this world today are apart of the problem. They aren’t allies. They never had intentions to be and never will be. If I leave you with anything just remember to always be cautious of people who are sick of the race problem in this country but have yet to see any perspectives from the other side. If Justin Bieber knows that Black Lives Matter the Starbucks super fans with daddy’s money should know as well.

Yours Truly,

Joe.

 

4 Lessons Jermaine Cole Taught At For Your Eyez Only Tour

This past Wednesday I had the privilege to soak in music for a couple of hours with hundreds of other people in Orlando. It was a stop for J.Cole at Amway Center on his For Your Eyez Only Tour. Rap concerts have always been therapeutic to me, having attended shows by a slew of different artists all across Florida. August 16th was different. The circumstances of this country are completely different than the last time I attended a show of this caliber. It was healing. It was motivating. It was everything that I needed at this particular moment to remind me that I have to keep pushing no matter what. You can easily head over to Google to catch up on everything that is wrong with this world right now, I am not here to catch you up on any of that. For a minute I had gotten a bit stagnant at preparing for the future. I didn’t think there was going to be a future anymore. And any “future” that we were going to have was going to be even more heavily stacked for those in vineyard vine polos and red hats. Fuck those thoughts. We all fall cruel to negative thoughts, but I come back to you reborn from the ashes. J. Cole, Jermaine, the Dreamville guy who I thought was too boring in the beginning taught me a handful of things that night. These are lessons that I think all black youth should have been present to receive. I know that wasn’t possible for all of us this go around so I’ve got you covered with the 4 lessons Jermaine Cole taught at his For Your Eyez Only tour:

1. There’s Beauty In Living For The Moment

“Living only for the moment you’re going to feel the whole weight of it good or bad,” Cole told us. It is very easy to miss the blessings that you are currently getting when you are so caught up on what’s next or what happened in the past. Sure you may not be planning as aggressively for your future plans, but you are appreciating every blessing for what it is at that exact moment. This hit me hard because I know that I can easily obsess over what’s next or get caught up in the past that when good things are happening in that moment I don’t give them the proper attention that they deserve. Now I know that there is nothing wrong with taking everything for what it is and feeling it to the max. A piece of advice that I am going to hold close as I transition to new things this year.

2. The Black Family Is Beautiful

Cole took a seat and gave the audience an intimate performance of “She’s Mine Pt. 2”. The screens in the stadium were filled with home videos from various black families. They were all so happy, calm, and beautiful. Nowadays we hardly have images of a happy black family on television. Our families are ridiculed of needing assistance, of being homes without fathers, and homes of violence. That isn’t the case for most black families and I loved how he championed them that night. These images are encouraging and uplifting at a time where we don’t have our Obamas to look at so elegantly as we have for the past eight years.

3. Build A House In Our Communities When We Get Bread

The first thing we as black men especially do when we get a little bread is get a house in the white neighborhood. This ended up being Cole’s kryptonite as all it took was a little call to the police about suspicious “black activity” for them to assemble a SWAT team to his residence. Jay even spoke on this as well in his latest LP. Buying up our communities and building them up is crucial to our existence at this point in history. I think a lot of times we seek inclusion when we really should just be putting ourselves on. A very important reminder for me when I seek to become a home owner in a few years.

4. Black Men Can Be Carefree

There was a moment where Cole told all the tough men that it was okay to unfold their arms and let them sway Wednesday night. It was okay to lose yourself in the music and sing every word not worrying about how cool you look. Black boy joy is more necessary now than ever so I made it my mission to act a fool in that moment. I mean I was going to act a fool anyways but having permission I really did. Black men, we can be carefree, we can have fun, we can live without boundaries and still be black men.

All in all, I wouldn’t mind being buried at a rap concert. The energy is unmatched and outside of a couple R&B concerts here and there, I never want to attend music events outside of this genre. Music is always therapeutic, but there’s something about breathing the same air as an artist and really listening to the words they are saying that is incredible. I hope these lessons stir some thinking on your end as they have on mine, and as always I am here with you to talk about music, the black experience, and life after college, only on Black Grad Life.

Yours Truly,

Joe.

Featured Image: Andres Tardio @AndresWrites on Twitter.

Vinyls, Game of Thrones, & Not Left Off Bad And Boujee

I think updates are in order. It’s been about a month since I last posted my thoughts here. Not to worry, I have still been pushing my pen elsewhere. It was my pleasure to review Pretty Girls Like Trap Music for Off Tha Record earlier this month. I also as of last night dropped a first listen review to Vic Mensa’s Debut, ‘The Autobiography’. This review over at blacpire.com is where I will frequently be covering music among other things. I started the BlackGradLife to give myself a voice on topics that I didn’t feel were accurately broadcasted elsewhere. While I will continue to use this platform as a place to speak my opinion on all things black culture, the black experience, and life after college, I will also be working hard to get my work published on other avenues. Which at the end of the day was my main goal when I started all of this last Decmber.

I got the chance to spend the first couple of weeks of this month back at home in Georgia. Being able to go home is always amazing for recharging your energy. It is reassuring to see familiar faces and familiar buildings still holding up. It is what inspires me to keep going.

Not much has changed since you last heard from me. I’m still playing vinyls in my apartment, obsessing over Game of Thrones, and not getting left off bad and boujee. I guess I’m just working harder at zeroing in on my skills. I’m taking much longer to edit, I’m pitching and working with editors, and I’m not aspiring for anything. I am in the act of doing and being, life is to short to aspire. I guess I’m just getting better at keeping promises to myself. Which at 24 is more than I could have hoped for. Six months ago I didn’t think I would be getting paid to write my thoughts. So not only do I want to keep promises to myself, I want to keep a promise to my blog as well as my readers. A promise that I won’t quit pursuing what makes me happy. I think alot of times we as people get discouraged from hearing so many no’s that we forget that all it takes is one yes.

Currently it is raining for probably the 100th straight day in Florida. Pyramids by Frank Ocean is blaring from my bedroom. I opted to write from the couch today. Besides the lights from the tv and over my stove, my apartment is completely dark. My thoughts are scattered between ordering delivery from Texas Roadhouse later, what Diddy’s set is going to consist of on OVOSound radio tonight, and at exactly what minute is this thunderstorm going to knock out my power. I’m just thankful for the smallest things these days. Like how I don’t have any adult responsibilities today. Like the laugh I’ll have when my mother calls me tomorrow to complain about my father not cleaning up after Sunday dinner. Anyways, it will always be the black experience, music, and life after college here at Black Grad Life.

Yours Truly,

Joe.

How To Successfully Avoid Police Shootings On Social Media​

We live in a world today where almost nothing can happen without it being posted on social media. The sandwich you had at lunch, your outfit of the day, your night out, and most recently police dash cam footage. The latter, however, can not be unseen. Seeing a young man or woman gunned down by a police officer murderer never leaves your mind. It leaves somewhat of an imprint. What makes it worse is that even after the footage surfaces on social media we are hardly ever given the justice that we deserve. That the victims and their families deserve. Cops are given a slap on the wrist, paid leave and or maybe they are fired. It is completely demoralizing to the youth who now have to grow up with the fear that they could be next at any given time. Safety is very important these days, not only in our neighborhoods but in our minds. No matter what side of the fence you may stand on in the argument, there is no reason why there should be a list this long:

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Unless you have been living under a rock or are completely unplugged from social media (I applaud you), you will have seen headlines on the release of the police dash cam footage of Philando Castile. I had to sit this one out. For the sake of my mental health, I could not expose myself again to any footage where people that look like me were getting killed in cold blood. So I figured I’d share a few tactics that have kept me mentally safe this past week.

For starters, you have to master the “super scroll” like it is nobody’s business. I pretty much programmed my brain to wherever I saw any type of video attached to Philando’s name, my thumbs and eyes would immediately move forward. This took a little time to get used to. Mostly because I know there are people, silent “allies” who have been scrolling past these events for the past five years without even an ounce of compassion. You just have to remember you aren’t scrolling because you want to remain ignorant. You are scrolling so that you can continue to have a positive mental state. You are scrolling so that you can continue to show up for life.

Next, if you are like me you may have people on social media who share these events. I can understand sharing to bring more attention, but I know my mother would never want strangers sharing my death on social media no matter the circumstance. So now may be a time to temporarily unfollow/unfriend those people. You don’t need that constant reminder every day, and this will save you from that. If you can utilize a mute feature that could also substitute. Mute those keywords that are bringing up media that you do not need to see. I muted “Trump” for a couple weeks earlier this year. It was such a vacation, but just like how all vacations come to an end so did that. I realized that I had to unmute it just in case he decided it was time to legalize slavery.

Lastly, make sure you take some time to do the things that relax you and make you happy. I think as young adults we can forget about this sometimes. Everyone is so caught up in making it seem like they have it all together so much that when they really aren’t there they panic under the pressure. Whenever I think that this world is stressing me out I just think about the PlayStation 1 startup sound, or Christmas in 2000, or maybe even turn on my favorite movie.

Speaking of movies, I just also want to speak on them and television and how often art can imitate real life. My featured image is from the season 2 premiere of Queen Sugar. I don’t want to go into a review for anyone who hasn’t seen it, nor am I going to promote that you watch it. This was strictly for me, and I just wanted to say thank you to Ava DuVernay and the writers of Queen Sugar for not letting this situation end like so many of them have in real life. I also want to take a moment to memorialize Philando Castile, the angels listed above, and the countless other people whose lives have been turned into hashtags. I pray that your families find peace, and I’m sorry that it has to be like this. Here’s to one day where none of this ever happens to anyone.

Yours Truly,

Joe.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for the Second Job Search

I find myself in the midst of preparations for my second big job hunt out of college. My one year anniversary at my first job post graduation falls on Tuesday and wow have I learned a lot. Not only have I learned about the corporate world and the intricate workings of the work refrigerator, but I have learned a lot about myself and what I want when it comes to a career. I felt that it was only right to share my cheat sheet for this job search with you guys in hopes that it would maybe help someone else on this journey. I know the second job can be seen as kind of scary from afar. You have to meet new co-workers, get equipped to a whole new work culture, and start over fresh. There is also this feeling of guilt that you may have about leaving your first job. They were the first ones to believe in you and give you a chance. They might have even responded to your follow up e-mail and given you another interview when no one else did. You have to shake this feeling because we are now in an era where people don’t keep the same jobs forever. The whole “getting a job and working there for thirty years” thing is over and it is time you snap out of it and catch a grip. Well let’s get to it, these are just a few things that I think will be vital on the job search.

  • LinkedIn Jobs App

The LinkedIn Jobs app is a major key for job hunting. I don’t think I used it at all when I was applying for jobs my first go round. Sure, I had my LinkedIn profile cleaned up and looking nice, but I didn’t take advantage of this easy app. Not only can you search for all kinds of jobs in any state or country you want, but they also have this dope feature called Easy Apply. With Easy Apply, for jobs that have it enabled, you can just send your profile directly to the recruiter. This cuts out all of the grunt work of updating a resume in Microsoft Word. You do want to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is clean and up to date though. You can also even set up notifications for jobs you want or maybe even a certain area you want to move to and you get a notification daily right on your phone.

  • Your Friends

Don’t forget that word of mouth goes a long way. Let your friends know that you are on the hunt for a new job. You’d be surprised how quickly the conversation over drinks at happy hour can turn into you being recommended for a position by your friend to one of their friends. Also stick close to those friends who are doing exactly what you are trying to do. Pick their brains and learn what you can from them. Make sure they know that you are trying to do what they are doing. A good friend like this can always be a walking referral while they are doing that job that you want day to day. Another thing to keep in mind is that you may have friends who work for companies that offer bonuses for referrals. Trust me they will want to get you hired and will do everything to make sure that your resume is sitting on their hiring manager’s desk.

  • Spending Time Looking for Jobs

This one may seem like a no brainer, but it actually does take some time and effort. I would suggest spending atleast a half hour to an hour a day applying for jobs and or editing your resume. Having that level of intensity will ensure that you have options in the long run. And that is what you want…options. At the end you want to be sorting through offers like the top high school football prospect. Also don’t be afraid to follow up. You actually should be following up until you die. Every millenial’s tombstone should have the quote, “Just wanted to reach out and follow up”. You’d be surprised how much following up helps. It shows that you are actually interested in getting the position. It shows persistance.

  • Tailor Your Resume for the Jobs You Want

Another important thing is that you can’t just clean up your resume. You also need to tailor it to the exact job that you want. Get rid of the stuff that is not important for the job that you are going out for. No one cares that you were the assistant manager at the smoothie bar for two years when you are going out for a position as the lead editor for a magazine. You should actually have multiple resumes that fit for different jobs that you can use accordingly. Lastly, make sure you look up sample cover letters or templates for the job you are going out for if they require them. Should they require a cover letter you will have already worked on one that is molded specifically to their criteria.

  • An Amicable Relationship with Current & Past Employers

This is really important if you value references. Form a good relationship with your current employer so that you can use them as a resource for your next job. And don’t feel scared to hit up past employers to make sure they remember you. What you don’t want is to blindly use old employers as references, and then when they are actually contacted they have no clue who you are. Next you want to make sure that you don’t just dip on your old job. Give your boss proper notice so that they have time to replace you. You also want to make sure you don’t burn bridges. No matter how much you may have hated your job or co-workers don’t burn bridges. You never know in five years they may have a new position that fits you perfectly. If the bridge is still intact you can feel free to cross back over if you see fit.

  • Highlight What You’ve Learned Since Being Employed

This is where you can shine. These highlights don’t have to just be work skills, but also what you have learned since joining the work force. This is what will set you apart from all of the new grads. Make sure you are highlighting things that you are actually and truly skillful at. Things that you are comfortable ellaborating on in an interview and not stuff that you might have touched on junior year that you now no longer remember. It could get very awkward if you are asked about a skill that you really don’t know anything about. At this point don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Talk about all those milestones and deadlines you helped meet. Talk about how you were the president of all those organizations. Talk about the projects you have been apart of. Sell yourself.

  • Negotiate

My favorite part of job hunting is negotiating. Now if you didn’t get a chance to do this on your first go round of the job search, please utilize it this time. Trust me, if a company likes you and sees that you are a fit for them, they will do just about anything to get you before someone else does. Negotiate for relocation, a sign on bonus, an earlier/later start date, negotiate it all. Now of course you have to know when you are getting a little outrageous, but honestly no one is going to give you anything unless you ask about it. Negotiating salary may seem like a tender subject, but forget all that. I mean salary is the reason why you are even looking for a job anyway. If the numbers aren’t looking like what you expected don’t hesitate to negotiate a better number. If they like you they will do whatever they can to make sure you are happy with your salary and any other bonuses they may be offering. Don’t forget to mention what you were making on your last job and what they offered as collateral. And the last thing with negotiation is to make sure that you don’t settle. Don’t settle for the first thing that sounds good unless it is your dream job. Let them know that you are interviewing else where, let them know what other companies are offering you. In parting make sure that you remember that you are the prize. These companies don’t want to just pay you because you have a great personality. They want to pay you because they believe you will benefit them in the long run.

I hope you can take something from this in whatever type of job hunt that you may be embarking on. Lastly, just be patient if you can afford to. Don’t feel ashamed if you have to move back in with your parents or stay at that job you may not like for a little while longer until everything aligns. Because trust me, trouble doesn’t last always and neither will this situation. Ten years from now you may be working a position that isn’t even thought about today. If that doesn’t help the grind I don’t know what can. If you’re reading this with a little bit of uncertainty about moving on from your first job, feel free to check out this post for some motivation: 5 Hints it’s Time to Move on From Your First Job

Yours Truly,

Joe.

Not A Kendrick Fan But I’m Still Playing DAMN.

I was the one who didn’t give a shit about To Pimp a Butterfly or Section 80. I don’t even have the Good Kidd…notice I don’t know how many O’s or D’s I need for that tittle, but yeah I don’t have that in my library either. I have never been much of a Kendrick fan. I respect his art and his casual featured verse here and there, but I never considered myself a fan. His music just never really stuck with me. I’ve given albums like TPAB a listen or two, but they never garnered a “Keep in Rotation” notion for me. DAMN is different in this setting. I’m not sure if it’s the production or the lyrics, but DAMN has done what the previous LP’s of Kendrick’s has failed to do for me. And that’s keep me interested.

Before you Hip Hop heads born in 1993 start to shout for my hanging, if you know me you know what I like when it comes to the music. Hopefully you’re not reading this crucifying me for not being “intelligent enough” to get the concepts of Kendrick’s bars…because if so exit left please. Let’s be honest here, I’ve always felt that if I needed a so called “conscious rapper” then that man for me is and always will be Jermaine Cole.

For me what Kendrick does differently on DAMN is that yes he remains conscious, but what he does differently on DAMN that he ceased to accomplish on TPAB, was that he was able to attain consciousness while staying on the radio. K.Dot remained conscious while also being able to play in the club as well. A stat that many of the die hard fans will be quick to brush off. Not saying that I neccessarily want to hear Kendrick while I’m out getting faded, but it is definitely a nice change up. Humble, the lead single succeeds in being a conscious record with a message all the while staying true to this image that the rapper has laid down for himself. I’m in no way equating success to having your record played in the club, but I think this flair for Kendrick is what helped me to be able to keep looking up DAMN on Apple Music.

At the time of TPAB I thought Kendrick was a huge hypocrite for calling out for our youth for needing to be more respectful to the cops all the while dropping an album centered around the culture. That turned me off. Especially coming from a black man with influence. In an environment where we have youth that are being gunned down whether they are respectful or not.

For me, I am jamming for most of the album, but then I fade out after XXX and then pick up when he puts the album on reverse in Duckworth. The replay value stands out for DAMN. For anyone who is not a strong fan of this guy like me, you will appreciate the flow of this album I promise.

This is me speaking exlusively for tracks 1 through 12. And for all of you comparing this to More Life please kill yourself :). Now I am not saying that this is converting me to any type of fan to this young man, but it is for DAMN sure a start. Until next time…

Yours Truly,

Joe.

 

 

Why We Have To Check our White Friends When They Use the N-Word​.

With everything going on in the media these days surrounding the use of the N-word, I felt it was only right to deliver a synopsis on why we as black people must hold our counterparts accountable when they use the word in our presence. I think the reason for the recent spike in the bravery of non-people of color using the term not only sparks from the election of their president but also simply that they don’t have friends checking them on their shit. I’m not putting all of the blame on them though. You’d be surprised how many people can just laugh it off when Greg or Samantha jump stupid. Now you may have heard all of the excuses under the sun, and I am here to tell you that none of them are valid.

First, it does not matter who they are friends with or who they grew up around. That is completely irrelevant to the narrative. Furthermore, those friends they may be speaking of are not you. To just assume that because their childhood friends let them say it, that you should let them say it is just wrong. This comes back to the accountability that I mentioned earlier. They aren’t used to being held accountable, hence the people they grew up around. So now it is up to you to actually set some standards for them to follow.

Something that has nothing to do with checking these friends is just the fact that they shouldn’t want to say the word. The N-word has a heavy history, a history that depending on the friend, their ancestors started. Your great great grandfather Jefferson definitely wore out the original term enough for you not to want to even whisper it. I can understand that it may seem cool, because we reclaimed the word and use it completely different now, but still you just shouldn’t want to be in on this one.  This stumbles into my next point…somethings are just for us by us. Everything isn’t for you and this doesn’t just go for the N-word, but this applies to life as well. Just like you know you can’t handle the conversion of day drinking into going out for the night, know that you can’t handle this either.

And for those of you who are “famous”, I would for damn sure just leave the word alone entirely if your skin tone doesn’t match because Black Twitter does not forgive.

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Poor YesJulz is the most recent victim. After posting a picture to Twitter featuring the N-word on an article of clothing that she considered wearing to an upcoming festival, she was hit with so much hate that she was even dropped from two upcoming events in Toronto. She has since taken to Snapchat to apologize in a slew of videos where she speaks empty I’m sorry’s aligned with some thrifty crocodile tears. Cases like this make me wonder if she even has any black friends with any sense. I mean this is a girl who openly profits off the culture for her own financial gain. You would think she would have some type of friend or maybe even a decent publicist to tell her she should leave the N-word off all her social media accounts. And it’s not just NahJulz, a reporter in Atlanta recently resigned after sliding in a Twitter user’s DMs using the word to try and get the latest scoop. I don’t even feel bad for the Jenny’s at this point, no one can legit be that stupid.

“I don’t want to make it awkward.” Why are you worrying about this? If it is awkward it is very easy to drop their ass. We are supposed to be checking our friends for the dumb shit they do on a daily. And if you are worried about making something awkward, then they really can’t be solid friends, my guy. Another one I love, “It’s just a song. Am I supposed to censor myself?” Hell yes. I don’t care what you have lined up on your iPod when the song comes on and we’re out, you sing the clean version. You don’t mouth, you don’t say it…you can think it, but yes you censor yourself. This is just best for both of us, especially if we are out in public. Could you imagine, you are out with your white friend and they just freely rap the N-word along to the song around other black people they don’t know? All I know is if five random OGs want to jump you because you couldn’t censor yourself, you are taking that beating alone homie. 😅😅😅 I might even get a couple kicks in for the culture and for you potentially putting me in danger.

In conclusion, it does not matter what part of the “White Spectrum” your friend sits on. Machine Gun Kelly white can’t say it just as much as Voted For Donald Trump white can’t. And just remember that it is up to us to educate and hold up the standard in everything we do. Sometimes people just jump stupid out of ignorance, and if they are truly your friend they will understand where you are coming from.

Thanks for rocking with me through 20 posts of The Black Grad Life. When I wrote my first sentence on here, I didn’t know if I was going to be consistent with this or where it was going to take me. I have enjoyed having this outlet for my thoughts and views, and I will continue as long as I have you here reading with me.

Yours Truly,

Joe.

Cookout Essentials for Summer 2017

With graduation SZN on the horizon, I find it a very opportune time to put out the blueprint for the perfect cookout tunes. The coveted cookout playlist has always been a stroke of genius. You were in awe when the family DJ would take your favorite song and mix it into Return of the Mack. You never had to experience biting into your burnt hot dog to a top 40 hit. If you can’t relate, I’m sorry. For those of us who didn’t spend as much as thirty minutes from where the music was spraying from, you have been being primed for this moment for years. Now while every great cookout playlist is lined with classics like Summertime, I wanted to touch on a handful of current to somewhat current jams that I feel are ready to be inducted into the cookout hall of fame. Feel free to leave your cookout favorites in the comments or tweet me, as I’m always up for making a playlist.

  1. Unforgettable (feat. Swae Lee) rs-french-montana-unforgettable-swae-lee-cdd3a3a0-0126-4cda-998e-73c09c4c7dd9

    We’ve recently been hit with a string of “dance challenges” over social media, and this bop falls right in line. From the catchy hook down to the smooth beat, this song definitely shows why it should stand up amongst the senior cookout playlist tracks. With the spark Unforgettable got from the challenge videos, it is safe to say the cool cousins will definitely be making their own version when this drops as the sun starts to go down on little Ray Ray’s birthday bash.

  2. Slide (feat. Frank Ocean & Migos) CALVIN

    I MIGHT! Sorry, I couldn’t contain myself there. This track might have 1,600 plays on my iTunes alone, but that’s none of your business. I didn’t know I needed a Migos x Frank Ocean collaboration until I got one. Not only is Slide good enough for the younger generation, but I’m willing to bet you that the favorite auntie will definitely bust out the electric slide to this joint. Well she was going to bust out the electric slide anyway, because that’s all the auntie’s go to. That is neither here nor there, I didn’t think Calvin Harris could pull a more genius move than dumping Taylor Swift, but boy was I wrong. This track definitely deserves to get remixed in a few times throughout the cookout as new guests enter and exit. Just act like you’re in the zone when you hear somebody say “We already heard this”.

  3. Work (feat. Drake) rihanna-work-video-drake-2016-billboard-650-1

    If this isn’t our oldie at the cookouts in 2060, then all of this was for nothing. I mean come on, Work spent 9 weeks at the top of the charts. It would be utterly rude to leave it out of the cookout discussion. Just picture it, it’s around 4 p.m. and you didn’t eat all day waiting for this food thats about to bless you. The angst has built up at this point, but then the DJ throws on this joint and instantly you are at peace. No matter the mood or the time of the day this is going to rock, and it deserves to follow Mary J. Blige’s Real Love on the playlist or else.

  4. Shining (feat. Beyoncé & JAY Z) beyonce-parkwood-entertainment.jpg

    This should actually be playing as you pull up to be honest. I forgot they robbed Bey at the Grammys when Khaled dropped this single. I thought about ribs with all the fixings by the time I got to the end of my first listen. Jay and Bey are not new to the cookout playlist, I mean you should hear them together and separately a few times at the cookout or the DJ is slacking. “All this winning? I been losing my mind.” Sounds like every senior’s thoughts after seeing their final grades.

  5. Passionfruit drake-sade

    This came into the rotation while you were in the kitchen sneaking that last little bit of crown into your coke. Your mama’s friend caught you and just started laughing because what can she say, you are a grown man now. This is the jam you save to the later parts of the cookout when all the randoms have made their ways on to the next move. Sure ya’ll are fighting off the mosquitoes, but once you get back from packing your to-go box, you can discuss with the family over Passionfruit what your future plans are. The vibes this track exudes are undeniable. The older crew will definitely approve. Get ready to have your singing interrupted by all of them asking every other five seconds, “Is this Drake?’.

  6. Redbone Childish-Gambino-2-–-photo-credit-Ibra-Ake-1479413359-640x427.jpg

    Stay woke. A reminder for every black individual on this Earth. Now while cookouts bring us together for many things, the summer is normally a host to cookouts dealing with graduation or going away get togethers. While both of these situations represent a new chapter of life, this track from Mr. Glover is definitely essential to not only soothe the mind, but also to remind us to remain vigilant. The old school vibe of Redbone will also pair very well with some of its older counterparts. Making it a very easy choice from current selections to be added to the mix.

  7. That’s What I Like bruno-mars-thats-what-i-like-video-1488420227

The whole 24K Magic album could bump at any point during the cookout and you’d be safe, but this is definitely a crucial bop. Bruno adds a little funk to this that is just too hard to resist. The youngsters won’t be able to discern this track from the old jams that they’ve heard in the past. But don’t get it twisted, when you hear this tune early on Sunday, it isn’t your mom warning you that it is cleanup day, but that it is time to get the alcohol flowing and throw the steaks on the grill.

Now, I didn’t give you a whole playlist, but if this isn’t motivation I don’t know what is. I don’t know about you but now I have a whole playlist that I need to get started on, and I already got dibs on the playlist title: ISSA COOKOUT, so I better not see it anywhere 🙂

Yours Truly,

Joe.