Archives for the month of: February, 2020

And that’s why y’all ain’t get sh*t last Thursday and Friday.
I went to Alabama. On vacation. On purpose.
I was in the COUNTRY country, y’all.
And I did stuff that is so unlike me that I have to tell you about it:
I got a fried catfish plate. With mac & cheese and green beans
(because while I enjoy being a stereotype when it comes to loving music and watermelon I hate greens)
Anyway. Not the surprising part. BUT. I GOT IT AT A GAS STATION.
Honestly, y’all. It was SO GOOD. But I would still never do that in Los Angeles, California.

You know something else I’d never do in LA? Go to a Mardi Gras parade! Because we don’t have them!
But I kinda did. Because I went to Lower Alabama (LA)/Mobile, Al and went to theirs!
I had the BEST TIME. Not so much drunken revelry (it was early), but lots of beads and moon pies.

And then I came back home and said to myself (per usual): “Self, WTF kinda BHFOTD are you gonna pull outta you’re a$$ when you spent your entire vacation eating at questionable eating establishments with the locals?”
SO THEN I looked up “What Mobile Alabama known for?”
TURNS OUT, Mobile is known for having the oldest organized Carnival/Mardi Gras in the US!
It was started when Mobile was the capital of Louisiana, 15 years before New Orleans was founded.
The More You EFFING Know, right?! Because I truly did not know EITHER of these things!
There’s more. Of course. But since my fact is actually NOT about Mardi Gras, I’m gonna move on.

Anyway. My point was that I was completely surprised that Mobile was not most known for racism*!
Because ALABAMA. Ya dig? Like. I was totally nervous about driving the back roads after dark because
I WAS IN ALABAMA, which seems pretty ridiculous only my family is from the South and so maybe not as ridiculous as you’d think.
So Mardi Gras was a day trip. And on the way back to the car I saw this:

The Slave Market Marker

Inscription: After the abolition of international slave trading in 1808, dealers transported slaves from all over the South into Mobile. On this site, Africans were sold as chattel to southern planters through public auction. Between auctions, a three-story holding facility housed the slaves until they were displayed and sold. In an attempt to make this inhumane and abhorrent aspect of slavery less conspicuous, the City banned slave depots from the downtown area. A developing rail system eventually made Montgomery, Alabama, the principal slave market. However, planters who sold cotton in Mobile continued to buy and sell slaves in this City.

And that’s today’s BHFOTD kids.

** Also I was kinda right about racism: Laws in Mobile regulated activities based on race during Carnival season. In 1845, A Mobile city ordinance prohibited free blacks or slaves from holding balls at their place of residence. In 1866, laws restricted noise or any party where “immoral or disorderly persons” might gather. Give you one guess who was assumed to be immoral and/or disorderly?


So. One random afternoon I went out with a friend to grab a beer. Or rather HE got a beer and I got booze because Imma just keep it a buck with y’all and tell you that booze > beer and the only time I MIGHT choose beer over booze is if they have SOURS and this bar didn’t. I’ll tell you what else this bar didn’t have: the beer that my friend wanted to have. But because this dude was a good bartender, he asked what kind of beers he liked so that he could try something comparable.


Friend: I like dark beers.

Bartender: How dark?

Asshole & Bartender::::: looks at me::::

“Friend”: Darker


ANYWAY. I’m telling y’all this completely ridiculous story about skin tones (and I guess black ones* in particular) to STILL not talk about the Oscars. Not because I don’t have a fact (because I do and it’s a gimme per usual), OR EVEN because there wasn’t a lot to work with ‘cause there were only 5 black nominees this year – down from 15 last year and I guess we can all go back to runnin’ our business since they gave so many black people nominations LAST YEAR and that should be plenty to show that the Oscars aren’t racist  #SOWHITE right? Because it’s not like the Oscars and the Movies haven’t been biased down to the very FILM from the very beginning right?

Wait. What?


Today I learned that if you developed film between the 1940’s through 1990’s (which was 30 years ago!) the accuracy of your photos were based on this photo or a photo like it with some random white woman.


This photo is called a color reference card. Also known as a Shirley card. Interesting. Not Becky or Karen. Okay. Alright. (But can I just say that whenever I think of Shirley, I think of HER not this woman in her graduation photo wrap? No?)

ANYWAY. After that card became an industry standard, many color reference cards began to be known as “Shirley cards.” These cards generally showed a single white woman dressed in bright clothes, and color film chemistry at the time was designed with a bias towards light skin. IMAGINE THAT. The bias towards skin with higher reflectivity meant that there were often exposure issues when shooting non-white folks.

Things started changing in the 1970’s when WOOD FURNITURE AND CHOCOLATE MAKERS BEGAN COMPLAINING THAT KODAK FILM WASN’T CAPTURING THE DIFFERENCE IN WOOD GRAINS AND CHOCOLATE TYPES*. (NOT. BECAUSE. OF. PEOPLE. :::rage screams into the void:::: clears throat:::: Coincidentally, film and TV industries ALSO began becoming more diverse.

In 1995, Kodak introduced a new multi-racial skin color reference card that featured a Caucasian, Asian, and African woman with different skin and clothing colors:

everyone card

Kodak also began advertising its films as being able to capture darker tones in low light.

Color film and digital color sensors have a much broader dynamic range, and many of the technological biases have since been corrected, but the LEARNED BIAS toward lighter skin in technology (and film, and loans, and education, and housing and jobs) still exists.

*tbh, describing my skin tone in beer color is way better than describing in chocolate or wood. Unless, of course, it’s this wood..







I wish I was back on vacation. I had a great time! I did NOT take a lot of pictures because I spent most of my vacation in sweats and no makeup. MOST. I don’t need to put on brows if I’m not leavin’ the house you guys. Which, YOU ARE WELCOME. We’ve taken lots of photos over the years where I look like a PERSON and I’m in PUBLIC and I’m wearing makeup. I was going to add that I was acting like a normal person only… have we met?


So here’s a picture of me giving Zero Fux in front of the police. This is 100% the level of NotGivingAFuckness that I aspire to daily, but ESPECIALLY this month:

color crime

And if you’re wondering HOW in all the world I’m about to turn this into a fact, well. Today while I was doing stuff, I ran across this photo that gave me the same energy. Like to see it? Here it go:

water fountain

[This photo, taken by Rendell Harper, is a picture of Cecil Williams coming back from a trip in 1956 photographing South Carolina’s segregated beaches for Jet Magazine. They stopped at a (closed) filling station, and Cecil grabs a drink from the “white only” water fountain.]

Cecil J Williams is an American photographer, publisher, author AND inventor (!!!) who is best known for (the above photo. And) his photography documenting the civil rights movement in South Carolina in the 1950’s.

When Cecil was 9, his brother passed down his camera and he was the picture taking-est child from that moment on. At 11, he photographed his first wedding and at 12, he was asked to take photos of churches of Clarendon County – which happened to hold the families of the DeLaine and the Pearson families from the Briggs vs. Elliott petition (one of the five cases that was combined into Brown vs. Board of Education). At the age of 14, he was one of 25 photographers around the world freelancing for JET magazine. JET caught wind of the movement growing in Orangeburg, they needed an onsite correspondent for constant updates, and someone to be there all the time documenting the events for them. The only time Williams made the cover of JET was during the 1969 Charleston hospital workers’ strike, and his picture of Coretta Scott King speaking at the protest.

In 1960, Williams graduated from Claflin University with a degree in Art. Although better known for photography, Williams’ painting, art, graphics, and architectural renderings, represent proficiency, especially among minimalists. Because of his race, he was barred from attending Clemson University in his state to study architecture, he drew plans for several residences; one of which was featured in the June 1977 issue of Ebony; Space Age Home.

And since he couldn’t be a student at Clemson, he documented Harvey Gantt’s desegregation of Clemson University in 1963. HE ALSO documented the 1969 Charleston hospital workers’ strike and the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre. The massacre involved the South Carolina Highway Patrol shooting and killing three African American males and injuring 27 other South Carolina State University students. AND He worked as the official photographer for the South Carolina branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, South Carolina State University, Claflin University and National Conference of Black Mayors, Inc. for more than 20 years, beginning in the 1960s. His work has been exhibited at many institutions and museums, such as Claflin University, University of South Carolina, Columbia Museum of Art, Clemson University, Columbia College, Furman University, Rice Museum in Georgetown, South Carolina State University, Museum of the New South in Charlotte.

In 2015, he invented the FilmToaster, a camera scanning platform and system and digitizes film negatives faster than other methods.

He CURRENTLY owns a portrait studio, event, wedding photography business based in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He serves as the director of Historic Preservation at Claflin University. He is a Getty Images contributor and photographer. He also tours the nation giving presentations at conferences, events and institutions about his work during the civil rights movement. He is 82 and I am tired just copying all this sh*t he did.

AND LAST SUMMER, Williams opened the Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum to house hundreds of images and artifacts from the civil rights movement.  The Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum looks like an ultra-modern day home which Williams designed himself in 1983-36 years before he made it into his own museum. The theme for his museum is “The South Carolina Events that Changed America”. The museum will also double as the neighborhood community center.


Hope it has a water fountain. It gets hot in the South Carolina.




Alllll my bosses skipped out early and I had done all I was gonna do before I spent several days not giving work a second thought, I was just here spinning around in my chair and I took a long lunch and personally hand walked things over to people that I normally woulda just scanned because OHMYGAHIAMSOFAKINGBORRRRED, but THEN I remembered that my job had been stalking me because HEY WE NEED BLOOD AND WE HEARD YOU HAVE THE GOOD SH*T AND IF YOU COULD JUST SPARE SOME WE’LL GIVE YOU A MOVIE TICKET. And generally there’s a raffle, but they were BEGGING BEGGING so strictly quid pro quo. [<- – – did you need a definition? Because I linked one here] One blood for one ticket.


Normally, I don’t have to enter a raffle when I donate ‘cause I DO in fact have that good good (blood. Although…never mind) and my blood is given to patients with particular blood disorders who can only receive blood from people with specific blood types and markers. And all I did to find this out was donate. They did all the type matching and checking for fancy stuff and then they ASKED ME if I would agree to being in this program to help patients.  That’s as specific as I can get because “Mitochondria is the power-house of the cell” is really as scientific as I can get at any given point in time. I AM NON-CLINICAL STAFF, YOU GUYS. I DON’T *HAVE* TO SCIENCE. BUT I’M *GONNA* (sorta) SCIENCE BECAUSE THAT IS THE PERFECT LEAD TO TODAY’S BHFOTD, which is…Loretta Pleasant.



Loretta Pleasant was born to Eliza and Johnny Pleasant August 1, 1920. Nobody (??) seems to know when her name changed from Loretta to HENRIETTA, but did you know that Hennessy was created in 1765? *she was nicknamed Hennie. When Henrietta was 4, her mother died giving birth to her 10th (10th!!!) child and her father moved the family to Virginia where the family was distributed among family. Henrietta ended up with her grandfather, Tommy Lacks, and shared a room with her cousin/future husband David Lacks. They married and moved to Maryland in 1941.

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins, the only hospital in the area that treated black patients, because she felt a “knot” in her womb. She had told her cousins previously about said knot and they assumed correctly that she was pregnant. But after giving birth, things did NOT get better. She went back to Johns Hopkins where her MD took a biopsy of the mass on Lacks’ cervix and was told she had malignant epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix. [in 1970, physicians discovered they’d misdiagnosed and she had an adenocarcinoma, but this would not have changed treatment options] She was treated with radium tube inserts and discharged with instructions to return for x-ray treatments. During her treatments, two samples were taken from Lacks’ cervix WITHOUT HER PERMISSION OR KNOWLEDGE (healthy tissue/cancerous tissue) and given to George Otto Gey, an MD and cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins. The cells from the cancerous sample eventually became known as the HeLa immortal cell line, a commonly used cell line in contemporary biomedical research.


George Otto Gey, the first researcher to study Lacks’s cancerous cells, observed that her cells were unique in that they reproduced at a very high rate and could be kept alive long enough to allow more in-depth examination. Lacks’s cells were the first to be observed that could be divided multiple times without dying, which is why they became known as “immortal.” Gey was able to start a cell line from Lacks’s sample by isolating one specific cell and repeatedly dividing it, meaning that the same cell could then be used for conducting many experiments. They became known as HeLa cells, because Gey’s standard method for labeling samples was to use the first two letters of the patient’s first and last names.

The ability to rapidly reproduce HeLa cells in a laboratory setting has led to many important breakthroughs in biomedical research. SUCH AS:

Jonas Salk using HeLa cells to develop the polio vaccine.

Research into cancer, AIDS, effects of radiation and toxic substances, and gene mapping.

Testing human sensitivity to tape, glue, cosmetics, etc.



HeLa cells were the first human cells successfully cloned in 1955.

Since the 1950s, scientists have grown as much as 50 million metric tons of her cells, and there are almost 11,000 patents involving HeLa cells.


ANYWAY. Neither Henrietta Lacks nor her family gave her physicians permission to harvest her cells. At that time, permission was neither required nor customarily sought. And I’m pretty sure this had nothing AT ALL to do with her being a black woman in the 50’s. I’ve skipped over a lot of things because this is getting long BUT. In March 2013, researchers published the DNA sequence of the genome of a strain of HeLa cells. There were objections from the Lacks family about the genetic information that was available for public access. In August 2013, an agreement was announced between the family and the NIH (National Institutes of Health) that gave the family some control over access to the cells’ DNA sequence found in the two studies along with a promise of acknowledgement in scientific papers. In addition, two family members will join the six-member committee which will regulate access to the sequence data.




ON MY BORN DAY, 1996, Morehouse School of Medicine shamed Johns Hopkins held its first annual HeLa Women’s Health Conference. Led by physician Roland Pattillo, the conference is held to give recognition to Henrietta Lacks, her cell line, and “the valuable contribution made by African Americans to medical research and clinical practice” [Chile. Can’t nobody shade you like southern Black folk]. The mayor of Atlanta declared the date of the first conference, October 11, 1996, “Henrietta Lacks Day”


Some other stuff happened here, but again. This is getting long and I have things to do.


In 2010, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research established the annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture Series to honor Henrietta Lacks and the global impact of HeLa cells on medicine and research.


AND THEN. On October 6, 2018, Johns Hopkins University announced plans to name a research building in honor of Lacks at the 9th annual Henrietta Lacks memorial Lecture surrounded by several of Lacks’ descendants. “Through her life and her immortal cells, Henrietta Lacks made an immeasurable impact on science and medicine that has touched countless lives around the world,” Daniels said. “This building will stand as a testament to her transformative impact on scientific discovery and the ethics that must undergird its pursuit. We at Johns Hopkins are profoundly grateful to the Lacks family for their partnership as we continue to learn from Mrs. Lacks’ life and to honor her enduring legacy.” The building will adjoin the Berman Institute of Bioethics’ Deering Hall, located at the corner of Ashland and Rutland Avenues and “will support programs that enhance participation and partnership with members of the community in research that can benefit the community, as well as extend the opportunities to further study and promote research ethics and community engagement in research through an expansion of the Berman Institute and its work.”


**closes Wikipedia**


And so there you have the story of how a black woman has been/is saving [what’s left of] the world.  And per usual was getting NO CREDIT. The End.



*TO BE FAIR, her great-grandpa and great-uncle were rapists slave owners so maybe it’s possible they knew what henny was? No?



Which means that y’all ain’t getting’ another fact until Monday.


I KNOW. How effing DARE me?

Short answer: I DO WHAT I WANT.

Long Answer:

Every year for the last few years I’ve been taking some time off to watch the Oscar’s Best Picture Nominated flicks with friends.

That’s right, you guys. I have friends. SURPRISE!

What does that mean exactly?

It means that instead of harassing y’all with black history facts, I’m gonna be watching movies with little to no black people

Because the Oscars continue to be SO SO WHITE. (And also very male, but I’m totally not here for this. RIGHT NOW)




Because even though today’s BHFOTD IS about the Oscars, I still managed to find the blackest thing I could find about it.

Which is that in 1971, Isaac Hayes was the first African American to win an Oscar in a non-acting category: Best Original Song*.

He was ALSO the first person to write and perform an Oscar winning song during the televised ceremony.

What song, you ask? The “Theme from Shaft” from the blaxploitation film, um…*checks notes* Shaft.


I don’t think you can get blacker than that guys. So anyway, that’s today’s fact.

See you guys Monday with possibly ANOTHER Oscar BHFOTD if I can pull one out of all this whiteness.

Who knows?

[I know you’re thinking EYE do, but even though I keep saying Imma plan these out, I don’t, so honestly I won’t know until Monday rolls around]

But until then. Please enjoy this picture of Isaac Hayes looking like your mama’s favorite rapper. You’re welcome in advance.


[No. I am not sorry]




*I feel like there’s an inappropriate joke in there about the only other category where there are a large amount of black Oscar winners are in music (including my faves Oscar winners 3 six mafia) but *squints* I’m not gonna make it. TODAY. (Month’s not over folks. There’s a pretty good chance I’ll make it before the month is over)




And you know what that mean.

It means…I get to give y’all a gimme.



HELLO everyone! WELCOME to Black History Month!

It’s me, Briya – your teller of ridiculous facts and whatever else I feel like telling y’all

‘cause I write the songs that make the whole world sing facts.

So please to enjoy a month of black people doing stuff because they can but then it ends up being history

because nobody wanted black people to do stuff until they did it.


ANYWAY. Back to y’all’s fact:


AND I…didn’t watch it.

Yes it’s a political stance, NO I’m not about to knock those of y’all who watched it.

(Congrats Kansas City! I heard y’all are from Kansas* played a good game!)

And! Because I love you, I *STILL* dug up a fact from the Super Bowl 2020.



That the FIRST Black person to serve as a field official in Super Bowl history was Burl Toler? In 1965?

That’s only 55 years ago! I am completely blown away.

I feel like some THINGS were happening around 1964-65 with Black people but…well.




‘Cause I said I was gonna dig up a fact from YESTERDAY’S SUPER BOWL.

In Two Thousand and Twenty.

And that fact is that yesterday, on the second day of Black History Month

The NFL gave to us, FIVE Black officials working the Super Bowl!

Which is the most for ANY NFL game, including The Big Game. (Honestly I just got tired of typing out SUPER BOWL)


The five African American officials that worked Sunday’s game are: line judge Carl Johnson; side judge Boris Cheek; field judge Michael Banks; back judge Greg Steed; and umpire Barry Anderson.

(I had no idea football had an umpire. The more you know.)


And that’s today’s gimme. A random black history fact for the biggest football game of the year where there are ALREADY so many black people, they added FIVE MORE.


Hope you enjoyed today’s BHFOTD! If you didn’t there’s always tomorrow!




*y’all’s (never my) president is DUMB AF.