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Y’all almost got out of here without my yearly Black History “Disney ain’t sh*t” post! ALMOST. Because this morning somebody asked me why Stevie Wonder* is everywhere and after I checked to make sure he wasn’t dead, I said, “I dunno. But will he be my next BHFOTD? Find out on the next Dragon Ball Z!” And he almost was! Steveland Morris is a musical genius and I love him (and I wished his people loved him the way I did because if they did they’d tell him to just gon’ and shave off those last 4 braids he’s clinging to. He can’t even see them! Or can he?). ANYWAY that is NOT the point. HE IS NOT TODAY’S FACT.

I guess now is just as good a time as any to point out that YES, I’m always saying things that a) other people are thinking and b) keep me from having nice things. Did y’all know that back in the blogger days (and also the BEFORE times), I spent a lot of time going to Disneyland? Because one of my favorite couples always got free passes and even though MOST bloggers could ask for free tickets, EYE could not because every year I tell people that Disney ain’t sh!t and then I show my work?

TO BE FAIR (and I am, it’s the libra way) they’re workin’ on it. I mean, it took Disney until 1997 to make a Black HUMAN cartoon characters (The Muses. You’re welcome). It should be noted that the first Disney movie was released in 1937 and I’m almost POSITIVE there were Black People in 1937. Again, not the point. The point is that in *checks notes* 2020, Disney/Pixar featured its first Black LEAD character. [hmm…1997, 1998 *counts on fingers* you know what? nvmd]

That movie was Soul, and having a black lead was not the only first in that movie! The first Black lead in a Pixar flick also had the first Black co-director, Kemp Powers. Written by Pete Docter and Mike Jones, Pixar recognized that if the lead was going to be Black, “we’d better get some black people in here quick! need a lot of help.” Britta Wilson, the company’s vice president for inclusion strategies, helped build an internal “Cultural Trust” made up of some of the studio’s Black employees, a group that was diverse in terms of gender, jobs and age. Further complicating their work was the fact that animation is a medium of caricature; the Pixar crew strove to create characters who were recognizably Black while avoiding anything that recalled the racist stereotypes in old cartoons, like The Jungle Book and Dumbo. [:::shifty eyes::: those aren’t the examples used in the article I found, BUT I AM NOT WRONG] Docter, who has written about animation history, acknowledged, “There’s a long and painful history of caricatured racist design tropes that were used to mock African-Americans.” In fact, Pixar and Doctor integrated Black culture in order to remove their caricature, stereotypes, and tropes and not just make white characters who were brown-skinned.

Reflecting on the creation of “Soul,” Powers said, “When someone told me I was Pixar’s first Black director, I said that can’t be right. Pete said — and my hope is — this is an indicator of changes that are going to be pretty rapid.” There are more animators of color and women in the business than there were 15 or 20 years ago, he noted. “It’s sad it’s taken this long, but I’m glad it’s coming finally.”

*closes up all the tabs I had open to talk about this film I’ve never seen* YES, I KNOW. It’s on my list. Anyway. That’s ALSO the end of Black History Month for those of you who aren’t black ‘cause EVERY DAY is Black history when YOU are. Hope y’all enjoyed this year’s talk about black people doing stuff while I’m trying to ALSO do stuff. See you next year! Or whenever I have something I feel like talking about. BYEEEEE!!!

*I have exactly TWO Stevie Wonder stories. But I’m going to be nice (LOLOLOL) and tell you the one about how when auntie’s baby got dedicated/christened at one of the blackest churches in Los Angeles, Stevie Wonder was there and the pastor had Stevie come on up and sing a song because of COURSE he did which meant that we were there MUCH longer than we expected to be even for a black church which ALWAYS runs longer than… umm.. LONG (yeah, I was gonna say something crass but this is a church story so just kidding) and also, the pastor mispronounced by niece’s name.

I’m late (as usual) BUT February 23rd in 1870 Mississippi was FORMALLY readmitted to the Union!

Along with S. Carolina, Mississippi was one of only TWO states in the union in 1860 in which the majority of the states population were enslaved. Mississippi joined the confederacy ‘cause it heard the rest of the union talmbout “all men are created free and equal” AND THE HELL YOU SAY, THEY PAID FAIR AND SQUARE FOR THOSE PEOPLE THEY STOLE FROM ANOTHER CONTINENT. So they bounced.

Anyway, blah blah blah, Civil War. Yakety smakety… Emancipation Proclamation. All of Mississippi had been declared “in rebellion” in the Proclamation, and Union forces accordingly began to free slaves in the U.S.-controlled areas of Mississippi at once. According to one Confederate lieutenant from Mississippi, slavery was the cause for which the state declared secession from the Union, saying that “This country without slave labor would be completely worthless … We can only live & exist by that species of labor: and hence I am willing to fight to the last.”

Where was I? OH. The confederacy lost and in order to come back to the union, Congress required Southern states to draft new constitutions guaranteeing African-American men  the right to vote(Is *here* where I say that Black WOMEN weren’t allowed to vote until 1965, orrrr?). The constitutions also had to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment*, which granted African Americans equal protection under the law.

Two days after Mississippi was readmitted to the union, Hiram Revels was sworn into office as a U.S. senator, becoming the first African-American to sit in Congress. Southern Democrats opposed seating Revels. They based their opposition on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which had held in 1857 that blacks could not be citizens. They argued that since no black man was a citizen before the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, Revels couldn’t satisfy the requirement for nine years’ prior citizenship.

In 1875 white conservatives in the state came up with the “Mississippi Plan” to insure their victory in the upcoming elections. This plan used intimidation of black voters and outright fraud to guarantee that white Democrats would take control of the state government. I…just want to take a moment of silence while we all look at the current republican plan of action regarding black votes. Also if you don’t know that republicans and dems switched sides, I’m gonna need you to read a g-ddamn book.

White Democrats took control of the judicial branch of government as well in 1876, and Congressional Reconstruction in Mississippi was all but finished. The next year saw the official end of Reconstruction, with the Compromise of 1877 that made Rutherford B. Hayes President of the United States, removed all military forces from the former Confederacy, and the authorized southern states to “deal with blacks without northern influence.” Even in this environment, Black Mississippians continued to be elected to local office. It would be another 100 years before another Black would be elected to the Senate (Edward Brooke, Massachusetts 1967-79).

Black residents were deprived of all political power after white legislators passed a new state constitution in 1890 specifically to “eliminate Black people [“the n-word”] from politics”, according to the state’s Democratic governor, James K. Vardaman. It erected barriers to voter registration and instituted electoral provisions that effectively disenfranchised most black Mississippians and many poor whites. Estimates are that 100,000 black and 50,000 white men were removed from voter registration rolls in the state over the next few years. Seeing the success of this deliberate “Mississippi Plan”, South Carolina and other states followed it and also achieved white Democratic dominance.

Anyway, welcome back Mississippi, I guess. So glad to see how much has changed in 150ish years!

*This completely ignores the fact that the 13th Amendment allows slavery/involuntary servitude if you are punished of a crime and WOW HOW SURPRISING THEY STILL MANAGED TO KEEP SLAVERY UNDER A DIFFERENT NAME. It’s almost like this country cannot function without slave labor. I…feel like I read that before RECENTLY. Like EARLIER IN THIS SAME FACT.

Which is interesting in that most of my family sings surprisingly well AND I *will* sing but mostly not in public and almost always when it’s inappropriate and/OR when what I want to say/talk about has a lyric that goes along with it*.

FOR INSTANCE: I have been “working out” and by working out what I mostly mean is that I’ve been doing yoga and some strength training on an app. I don’t count derby because derby is just me learning how to skate on a banked track without busting my butt which, I gotta be honest happens a lot more than I talk about but this last time I fell was a doozy and luckily falling on the track hurts less than falling on the inside of the track which is cement. But apparently I’m pretty committed to learning how to skate derby (for fun), so I guess no pain, no gain. [also,  this song is from 1988, so yannow. I WAS VERY YOUNG]

Wow look at me getting in a favorite song AND the BHFOTD toute-de-suite. That’s right kids! Today’s fact is about Betty Wright! An original bad girl!

Born Bessie Regina Norris on December 21, 1953, she was the youngest of seven children of Rosa Akins Braddy-Wright and her second husband, McArthur Norris. Bessie began her professional career at the age of two when her siblings formed the Echoes of Joy, a gospel group. Heh. She contributed to vocals on the group’s first album, released in 1956. She and her siblings performed together until 1965, when she was 11 years old. Following the group’s break-up, Wright, who was already using the name Betty Wright, decided to switch musical styles from gospel to rhythm and blues, singing in local talent shows until she was spotted by a Miami record label owner, who signed her to her first label (Deep City Records) in 1966, when she was 12. She released the singles “Thank You Baby” and “Paralyzed”, which found Wright local fame in Miami. Her first album, My First Time Around, was released when she was age 14. Her first hit single was “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do”. In 1970, while still in high school, she released “Pure Love” at the age of 16.

About a year later, Wright released her signature song and side piece anthem “Clean Up Woman“, written by Clarence Reid and Willie Clarke and recorded when she was 17. The record reached number two on the R&B charts, where it stayed for eight weeks. It crossed over to the pop charts [which is just a fancy way of saying that even white people liked it], peaking at number six and staying on the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks. Where it eventually sold over 1 million copies and was certified gold in 1971. Wright struggled with a successful follow-up until 1972 when the single “Baby Sitter” (one of Wright’s first compositions) reached the top 50 of the Hot 100 and peaked at number six on the R&B charts. Another hit that emerged during this early period was 1973’s “Let Me Be Your Lovemaker”, which peaked at number 55 on the Hot 100 and number 10 on the R&B chart, it was the first instance (after “Baby Sitter”) where Wright showed off her powerful whistle register vocals. She kept on singin’ and went on to form her own label, Miss B Records, issuing the album Sevens the following year. In 1988, Wright made history as the first black female artist to score a gold album on her own label, when her 1987 album, Mother Wit achieved that certification. The album was notable for the come-back hits “No Pain, No Gain,” which returned her to the top 20 on the R&B chart for the first time in a decade, and “After the Pain”.

Betty Wright’s legacy can be found all through hip hop and R&B, her music has been sampled by:

Mary J. Blige: Real Love

DJ Quik: Tonite

Slim Thug (ft. TI and Bun B): 3 Kings

Candyman: Knockin Boots

Color me badd: I wanna sex you up (Which. Was not a cleared sample. She won 35% of royalties for righting the song)

AND I JUST WANT TO POINT OUT THAT THERE WOULD BE NO LIL’ KIM, FOXY BROWN, MEGAN THEE STALLION, CARDI B OR NICKI MINAJ WITHOUT MISS BETTY EFFING WRIGHT.

[ALSO MARIAH CAREY. Because before Mariah, there was Betty. And also Minnie Riperton, but y’all know what I’m saying]

*No, I’m never sorry as anybody who has heard me singing loudly and aggressively off key can attest.  

** ALSO. IT’S TWOSDAY. So I’m giving you a second favorite song: YOU’RE WELCOME.

And in the middle of all those twos is a ONE. And today that ONE (First, if you will) is Autherine Juanita Lucy, the FIRST Black student to attend the University of Alabama (in 1956. That is 66 years ago for those who like to talk about how racism is So! Long! Ago!*). In 1952, she and Polly Myers, a civil rights activist with the NAACP) applied to University of Alabama because Lucy wanted to get a second undergrad degree, not for political reasons but to get the best possible education in the state and separate was definitely not equal. Women were accepted, but their admittance was taken back when they found out that they were not white. Lucy and Myers charged the University with racial discrimination in a court case that took almost three years to resolve. On June 29, 1955, the NAACP secured a court order preventing the University from rejecting the admission applications of Lucy and Myers (who had married and was then known as Pollie Myers Hudson) based upon their race. Lucy was finally admitted to the University but it rejected Hudson on the grounds that a child she had conceived before marriage made her an unsuitable student. Even though Lucy was officially admitted, she was still barred from all dormitories and dining halls. Days later, the court amended the order to apply to all other African-American students seeking admission.

At least two sources have said that the board hoped that without Hudson, the more outgoing and assured of the pair and whose idea it originally was to enroll at Alabama, Lucy’s own acceptance would mean little or nothing to her, and she would voluntarily decide not to attend. But Hudson and others strongly encouraged her, and on February 3, 1956, Lucy enrolled as a graduate student in library science, becoming the first African American ever admitted to a white public school or university in the state. Lucy attended her first class on Friday, February 3, 1956. On Monday, February 6, 1956, white people LOST. THEIR. SHIT. Riots broke out on the campus and a mob of more than a thousand men pelted the car in which the Dean of Women drove Lucy between classes. Threats were made against her life and the University president’s home was stoned. The police were called to secure her attendance. These riots at the University were what was, to date, the most violent, post-Brown, anti-integration demonstration. After the riots, the University suspended Lucy from school because her own safety was a concern and also they didn’t want her there.

Lucy was known and described as “the architect of desegregating Alabama’s education systems.” Thurgood Marshall helped win the 1954 landmark Supreme Court desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education. The Brown decision said that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional (illegal). Marshall had a great amount of confidence that if the Supreme Court decided something, then the rest of the country would follow its decision. (HA. HAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. *cough*) Attorneys for Lucy and the NAACP helped build a lawsuit against the University because they believed the school helped the white mob by not having protection for her and prevented Lucy from attending class. A series of legal proceedings lasted from 1953 until 1955.

While Lucy felt defeated from being expelled and losing the court case, Thurgood Marshall, who would become the first African-American Supreme Court Justice in 1967, thought differently. In a letter to Lucy, he said, “Whatever happens in the future, remember for all concerned, that your contribution has been made toward equal justice for all Americans and that you have done everything in your power to bring this about.”

ANYWAY. In 1988, her expulsion was officially annulled by the University and she enrolled in the grad program and received an MA degree in 1992. The University named an endowed fellowship in her honor and unveiled a portrait of her in the student union. The inscription reads “Her initiative and courage won the right for students of all races to attend the University. She is a sister of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority.” [Hey Nisha and Auntie’s baby!] THEN, in 2010, the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower was dedicated in a new space honoring her, Vivian Malone, and James Hood (the Malone-Hood Plaza)—three individuals who pioneered desegregation at the University of Alabama. The Plaza is located beside Foster Auditorium, where, in 1963 – which is AFTER 1956, Alabama Governor George Wallace unsuccessfully attempted to bar Malone and Hood from registering at the University. Additionally, on September 15, 2017, a special marker was erected in her honor near Graves Hall (home of the College of Education) on the UA campus. Lucy returned to speak at the ceremony and compared the crowd that welcomed her with the hatred she had encountered the first time she entered the university. Almost feels like all that hollering Alabama and states like it did about “Heritage not Hate” actually meant their “Heritage IS Hate”,  but I, a California girl am just speculating because California likes their racism to look like concern as to why random black person who is minding their black  ass business is somewhere they don’t want to see black people.

Oh that’s right! Back to University of Alabama and all this sucking up to their first Black student because well, University of Alabama is in Alabama. In May 2019, Lucy attended the University of Alabama’s spring graduation, where the school presented her with an honorary doctorate.

AND MY FAVORITE THING: In 2022, the university added Lucy’s name to what was formerly Bibb Graves Hall, now known as Lucy-Graves Hall. Why is this my favorite thing? Because Bibb Graves was a Ku Klux Klan member and ALABAMA THOUGHT LEMME JUST ADD THIS BLACK WOMAN’S NAME TO THIS KKK MEMBER’S BUILDING AND THAT WON’T BE WEIRD AT ALL.

Surprisingly, the announcement was met with backlash! Students and alumni and faculty joined together to ask WHAT THE F*CK IS WRONG WITH Y’ALL?!

ANYWAY. On February 11th. Of 2022, they voted to reverse the decision and removed Graves name. “Well, somehow the honoring of Autherine Lucy Foster sort of took the background to us honoring white supremacy and that’s not what we wanted,” trustee John England Jr. told the university’s student paper, The Crimson White. “We’ve heard enough from people whose opinion matters to us — students, faculty, staff — that we can do that in a better way than what we’ve done.”

See? Look at me. Givin’ y’all a first and a story where an institution tried real hard to hold on to it’s white supremacy and the people of said institution pried it from them! This all coulda been avoided if they had just done the right thing, but here we are.

*I know that NOBODY who gets these e-mails would EVER say anything like “this kinda racism was SO LONG AGO” ‘cause I raised y’all better than that. But in case you decide to send this out into the ether, please let ‘em know! My mama is older than 66 years old which, I know, SEEMS impossible considering that her oldest grandbaby is 30-something and I ALSO am only 30-something which should realistically make her 40-something and yet here we are. Sometimes the math don’t math! Lean into it!

And this week has been A WEEK. These people are actually expecting me to WORK at my place of employment [no. I’m not sorry. You know what you signed up for]. I’m just kidding people who get these emails who ALSO work here. I am always on my job. ALWAYS. I EAT, SLEEP AND SH*T THIS JOB.

Did I… go too far?

Anyway. My point is that I’m busy. But I love you* and so I took the a break to “write” you a fun fact about how even though people pretend everything can’t POSSIBLY be about race in america it very much is. And really I ain’t write this fact either, but I’m passing it along like I did because it’s what I do. Along with praise. And also not sleep. And this next fact definitely sounds like a fact somebody found because they weren’t sleeping.

Do y’all know why Oklahoma is shaped like a pan?

WELL. Lemme tell you a story about Texas and ITS panhandle! The panhandle traces its origins as being part of New Spain [aka colonizing, ¡pero en español!] The Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819 between Spain and the United States set the western boundary of this portion of the Louisiana Purchase at the 100th meridian. With Mexican independence in 1821, these lands became part of Mexico. With the formation of the Texas Republic, they became part of Texas. When Texas sought to enter the Union in 1845 as a slave state, federal law in the United States, based on the Missouri Compromise, prohibited slavery north of 36°30′ parallel north. And Texas said EFF THAT. WE KEEPIN’ OUR SLAVES. Y’ALL CAN HAVE THAT RAGGEDY PIECE OF LAND! And they surrendered its lands north of 36°30′ latitude.

The 170-mile strip of land, a “neutral strip”, was left with no state or territorial ownership from 1850 until 1890. It was officially called the “Public Land Strip” and was commonly referred to as “No Man’s Land.” The Compromise of 1850 also established the eastern boundary of New Mexico Territory at the 103rd meridian, thus setting the western boundary of the strip. The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 set the southern border of Kansas Territory as the 37th parallel. This became the northern boundary of “No Man’s Land.” When Kansas joined the Union in 1861, the western part of Kansas Territory was assigned to the Colorado Territory but did not change the boundary of “No Man’s Land.”

After the Civil War, cattlemen moved in to the area and started organizing themselves into ranches and whatnot, but the land was still considered public domain because it hadn’t been surveyed. And because it hadn’t been surveyed, the land could not be officially settled. Settlers by the thousands flooded in screaming BOOMER SOONER to assert their “squatter’s rights” anyway. They surveyed their own land and by September 1886 had organized a self-governing and self-policing jurisdiction, which they named the Cimarron Territory and tried to attached the territory to Kansas. That clearly did not happen.

In 1889 the unassigned land were opened for settlement and The passing of the Organic Act in 1890 assigned the Public Land Strip  to the new Oklahoma Territory. The End.

So TL;DR – Race. Texas preferred to keep people enslaved rather than keep land. Which isn’t surprising when you consider that Juneteenth exist because Texas did not tell enslaved people they were free TWO FULL F*CKING YEARS after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

ALSO: Isn’t it funny how that strip of public domain was originally called Cimarron Territory most likely named after the Indigenous people who were most likely booted off that land to give to SETTLERS while they were shipped off to reservations of land that they mostly THEN took from them and or violated in the name of gold or oil or both? No?

No.

*been a while my favorite song is BACK, baby! Also, can you believe this is a SEVEN MINUTE SONG?

Because I be busy! I mean, sometimes it’s also because I’m not here, but this time I was busier’n a cat covering up shit on a marble floor [I’m gonna pause for just a second to give y’all a second to ACTUALLY VISUALIZE THAT. You’re welcome] I know. Sometimes I say some country*ass*shit* [my work filters work hard but I work harder] and that’s just the way it is because also my mama’s family is country so even though I am a born and bred Cali girl with deep California love (except for the middle part of Cali because WTF do they be doing over there?), I sometimes say things that make people question if when I say I’m from LA do I really mean Lower Alabama or Los Angeles. Which is Very Amusing, if you know me at all. If you don’t and somehow you ended up here, ask whoever signed you up for this nonsense.

But it’s whatever. I can see how being raised by people from the South can trip me up. What I never understand though, is how you confuse me with someone who looks nothing like me aside from yannow. Us both being black*[you guys I have a new story!].

And with that let’s get to the super bowl BHFOTD!

SO. The Black woman on the right is  Jhene Aiko. She’s a hodgepodge of color! Her ancestry is listed as: Spanish, Dominican, Japanese, Native American, Black and German-Jewish. She’s a singer, and she sang at the super bowl. NBC confused her for the Black woman on the left. Look closely kids. Embiggen that picture if you hafta. Squint if it helps because you’re too lazy to put on your reading glasses to Get A Good Look. They are BOTH singers that sang at the super bowl. They are BOTH Black. And yet. Here we are. Not being able to recognize two different looking black people. Like, EYE didn’t know who Black woman on the left was but IT WASN’T MY JOB TO KNOW. But I definitely knew who it was not. In fact, Not Jhene Aiko sang the “National Anthem” and is the BHFOTD: The super bowl edition.

That there on the left is Mickey Guyton. Country Singer. Which is absolutely the reason I had never heard of her. BUT I GUESS I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HA.

Mickey Guyton, born in Arlington, Texas is the 2nd oldest of 4 kids. Her family moved around a lot due to her father’s job, and in an interview with NPR discussed how she continued to experience racism all over Texas which is Very Surprising because I heard we live in a post-racial society. Something about The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther (the) King Jr. Anyway. Mickey began singing as a child and developed an interest in music around 5 years old. She often performed in her local church because of course she did. She was inspired to begin a singing career after she saw LeAnn Rimes sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the start of a Texas Rangers game, and moved to Los Angeles after high school to pursue country music professionally while studying at Santa Monica College. She studied business and also worked several jobs to support herself. Several of the jobs included work as a background vocalist, including an appearance singing in Nick Cannon’s film Underclassman [without getting pregnant ‘cause babeh I bet you that was REAL WORK]. AND, she sang on demonstration records and auditioned for American Idol.

After moving to Los Angeles, Guyton met record producer Julian Raymond. Impressed by her singing voice, he introduced her to country music industry professionals Gary Borman and Steve Moir. Both men helped launch the music careers of country artists such as Faith Hill and Keith Urban. The initial meetings with Borman and Moir prompted her to move to Nashville, Tennessee in 2011. Guyton soon became part of the city’s country music songwriting community. she was then signed to UMG’s Capitol Records Nashville division. With her signing, she became the genre’s only black female artist signed to a major label. In 2011. As she developed her artistry, Guyton was warned by industry professionals that she would be unsuccessful if went outside traditional country music boundaries: “Make sure your songs sound really country because white listeners are racist might think you’re being disingenuous. Don’t make your songs sound too Black R&B,” she recalled to CNN. In 2016, she began moving away from what was considered safe for country performers: “I did Nashville the Nashville way for so long, and I had seen so many women do Nashville the Nashville way, with very little results.”

In 2019, Guyton chose to write music that reflected more of her struggles as a Black woman. In early 2020, she released a single that came from those songwriting sessions titled “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” During this period she also wrote the song “Black Like Me”. Based on the book of the same name, the song described Guyton’s experiences with racial discrimination. The song was largely ignored by commercial country music radio [Quelle Surprise!], but received significant attention via social media platforms and streaming services, with Spotify including “Black Like Me” on their “Hot Country Playlist”. Critics ALSO took notice of the track with Jewly Hight of NPR praising Guyton’s blend of country, gospel and pop vocal styles. The song was since nominated for Best Country Solo Performance at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. The Grammy nomination put Mickey on the way to several firsts:

  • First Black female to be nominated in the country category
  • first Black female artist to perform at the Academy of Country Music awards
  • Due to a song she collaborated on with Canadian country singer Dean Brody, first Black woman to top the Canada Country chart
  • In 2021, Guyton co-hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards with Keith Urban, becoming the first black woman to host the ceremony

Mickey’s debut album came out in 2021, called Remember Her Name, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic wrote that “Guyton’s specific experiences of being a Black woman in country music are a distinctly American experience, and those struggles inform the heartbreaking ‘What Are You Gonna Tell Her’ and rousing title track. A good portion of the record is devoted to lighter songs of love, dancing, and drinking — the topics that are country music’s bread and butter — and they showcase Guyton’s versatility as a singer”. He concluded that “Guyton is broadening and expanding the genre-bending sounds of 1990s country-pop”. I guess we ain’t seen the best of her yet. [I know you didn’t think I wasn’t gonna figure out a way to add this in here. Also it’s streaming on HBOmax right now]

*THE NEW STORY: So my boss emailed me to say that one of my docs said he gave me a document.

Me: I’m working from home. I can assure you he didn’t give it to me. He must have given it to my co-w. Who is there. In the Office.

[ALSO MY HAIR IS BLUE]

I haven’t really been watching (the first/last game I saw were the games that decided who was going to the Super Bowl) because honestly the NFL is just RIDICULOUS and I’m tired. But also whew did y’all see Brandy sang the National Anthem ( not MY National Anthem, but yannow, Brandy be SINGING singing)? So nice to see a hometown girl, sing for her hometown football team.

Anyway. I totally don’t know where I want to go with this since IN THEORY this is just the warm up BHFOTD before the Super Bowl BHFOTD because SURPRISINGLY, there is always a fact tucked away in these football games even though the football is just lousy with black people that play football. Play. Not coach. To date there is exactly 1.5 Head Black Coaches (they fired Houston Texans and Brian Flores. And they replaced Brian Flores with Mike McDaniel who identifies* as a Human Being but has a Black Father, and chile, I guess. He said HE ain’t no diversity hire).

Do I want to talk about Kenny Washington?  The first Black man to sign a contract with a National Football League (NFL) team in the modern (post-World War II) era (1946). When the Cleveland Rams moved to Los Angeles, Los Angeles said if you want to pay in the Coliseum that was paid for by the public and that includes the Black public, we better see some Black people playing some football.

Or maybe Greg Coleman? The first Black punter for the NFL; he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. Though the Bengals drafted him, Coleman never played a single game with them. He started his career with the Cleveland Browns in 1977. Strangely enough, there have only been 5 black kickers. Turns out that like coaches, it’s just so hard to find blacks for this position.

SO. MANY. CHOICES. I could even talk about the SIXTY EIGHT YEARS between the first Black head coach, Fritz Pollard (1921) and the SECOND Black head coach, Art Shell (1989). Shit. For all of that Art Shell is the second FIRST coach ’cause DANG.

But I’m not. Imma just tell y’all that today while I was looking for something to talk about I found all of this AND I found out that Snoop dogg and Brandy (and I guess, Ray J) are first cousins.

*I also just want to point out that the REASON Mike McDaniel “identifies” as Human and not Black is because whether or not he said it out loud, he is white passing Very Well Aware of how they treat Black people here in ‘murica. I started to say contiguous states because honestly, saying that these states are united is…quite a stretch, but I guess they are firmly united in their racism, so I guess there’s that.

I get up V V early to workout and then even though it SHOULDN’T take forever to get dressed it does. Mostly because every morning there is a dance party while I shower, but listen…WHO DOESN’T NEED A MORNING DANCE PARTY? Yeah, I’m sorry people who are not morning people, I am an annoying morning person who does not need coffee to be bright eyed and bushy tailed also if I drank coffee in the morning my co-workers would probably murder me because this one time I saw a tweet that said doing some drug (can’t remember what) is like drinking a 1,000 red bulls and while I DO NOT DO DRUGS ( I am, in fact writing this from my work email because I like to live on the edge and also my parents and kids get these emails so anyway I said what I said), this is exactly how I feel when I drink coffee. For reference once I accidentally got a shot of coffee by accident (I *wanted* a caramel macchiato but since I rarely get coffee I ordered the wrong thing and I figured it’d be fine ‘cause it was just a little bit of coffee) and I ran an interoffice memo to the 24th floor from the 10th floor. And back down. My co-worker said if I ever drank coffee in the office again she was gonna lock her office door to keep me away from her.

Anyway. THEN I have to drive from my house to Beverly Hills and it’s 13 miles but in LA minutes ISSA LOT.

OR.

It could be the fact that I sleep like crap and when I should be trying to go back to sleep, I’m not. In fact, this meme is definitely a gratuitous picture of me:  

How was I only 2 when this song came out and I knew this song word for word?

I gotta be honest with y’all and say that I concluded that Barbara probably was playing on her phone* and Barbara got tired. Seems far fetched except that did y’all know that Barbara is the reason that we all be looking at our phone ring instead of picking up when certain people call?

That’s right! Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson is an American physicist, and the eighteenth president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is the first African-American woman to have earned a doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is also the second African-American woman in the United States to earn a doctorate in physics.

In 1964, she graduated as valedictorian from her high school and proceeded to M.I.T., where she was one of the very few women and black students. Her professors at the time thought that science was not appropriate for a black woman but I’m guessing she was not interested what most assuredly was a white man’s opinion in that age and time and earned her B.S. in 1968. In 1973, she earned her PhD and went ahead to complete several years of postdoctoral research at various laboratories, including Fermi in Illinois, before being hired by AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1976, where she worked for 15 years.

During that time, Shirley worked in the Scattering and Low Energy Physics Research Department from 1978, and moved to the Solid State and Quantum Physics Research Department in 1988. At Bell Labs, Jackson researched the optical and electronic properties of two-dimensional and quasi-two-dimensional systems. I don’t know what any of that means but I do know that just now I was looking at my cell ringing and did not pick up because the caller ID said Scam Likely. Thanks Shirley! You a real one!

Dr. Jackson taught at Rutgers University from 1991–1995. She was subsequently appointed the chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by Bill Clinton. In 1999, Jackson became 18th President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she served until 2017. In February 2020, Shirley Ann Jackson joined the Nature Conservancy Global Board due to her accolades and her dedication to nature conservation. She will be serving on this board till October 2029. That’s right y’all. This history fact is about a person who is still with us!

She’s accumulated an impressive amount of honors in her lifetime: Martin Marietta Aircraft Company Scholarship and Fellowship, the Prince Hall Masons Scholarship, the National Science Foundation Traineeship, and a Ford Foundation Advanced Study Fellowship. She has been elected to numerous special societies, including the American Philosophical Society. In 2014, she was named a recipient of the National Medal of Science. She’s received a bajillion honorary doctorates, as well as being the recipient of the Hanz Christian Oersted award, which was awarded to her in summer 2021.

*AS AN FYI: Caller ID was invented in 1987 and woman to woman was released in 1974 and ALSO Shirley BROWN sang it but I’m absolutely Shirley Jackson knows exactly how Shirley Brown felt. Also Shirley girl, I hope you rid of that raggedy man. You definitely deserved better.

But I didn’t find it/ did a light google search and it’s entirely possible I talked about this in the time before y’all bullied me into blogging these, SO ALLOW ME TO RE(PEAT)INTRODUCE MYSELF, MY NAME IS BRIYA! And I’m a foo fighter* fan. And yes! I can say that three times fast. Anyway. In the before time (long before covid and I could stay out late on a school night) The Foo Fighters did a pile of secret shows all over LA and I went to… a lot of them.  Because also, they were free. Sometimes living in LA is pretty fun you guys. This is back when I had a shitty flip phone, but I would absolutely blow up my facebook feed with music clips. My favorite has ALWAYS been monkey wrench. Because Dave ALWAYS does a Very Chuck Berry riff and I really do love that brown eyed handsome man. I also really love a guitar playin’ dude (HELLO BOY.)

One of the things that I love specifically, is how EASILY the Chuck Berry riff FITS. That also makes sense when you remember that Chuck Berry** is the “Father of Rock and Roll” even though people like to pretend that Elvis didn’t slap a white face on black music is. In fact, your favorite white rock and roller has DEFINITELY been influenced by black music. Dave Grohl recently did an interview with Pharrell where he tells him that he ripped off Nirvana’s most famous drum beat [click the link guys! It’s safe for work!]

And! If you wanna get EVEN DEEPER, and you know I do *waggles eyebrows*: Did y’all know that Kurt Cobain was both a fan, and a roadie for the band Bam Bam, led by the Black Woman Tina Bell, known as the “Godmother of Grunge”?(!)

Tina Marie Bell. Badass.

Tina Marie Bell was the front woman of the Seattle based band Bam Bam. The band with Bell was considered one of the founders of the grunge music scene. Bell was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, the eldest of 10 siblings. She got her start as a singer by singing at the Mount Zion Baptist Church in Seattle, and her first experience on stage was performing with the Langston Hughes Theater, also in Seattle. While looking for a French tutor so that she could sing French lyrics in a Langston Hughes Theater production, she met guitarist Tommy Martin, who she eventually married and formed the band Bam Bam with. The band also included bassist Scott Ledgerwood, and drummer Matt Cameron (Cameron went on to join Soundgarden and then Pearl Jam).

According to Seattle Times: “The legacy of Bell, a Black woman, has often been overlooked in a genre typically associated with long-haired white guys.” These include Seattle breakout bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and others of that ilk. She was sometimes the victim of racial attacks while on stage, but the Bell-led Bam Bam was popular with local audiences. Although Bam Bam were courted by punk rock label C/Z Records, they opted instead to independently release their EP Villains (Also Wear White) in 1984. This was the first grunge record made at Reciprocal Recording studio, the location where later Nirvana made their demos for the Bleach and Incesticide albums. Villains predated the better known grunge recordings by about a year.

After the mid 80’s, both Ledgerwood and Hendrickson left the band, but Bell continued to front the band with a new rhythm section, along with Martin on guitar. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, Bam Bam performed in concerts with popular bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. After not receiving the local recognition of the other emerging “Seattle Sound” bands, Bell and the band left Seattle for London in the late ’80s, hoping for success in Europe, which did not happen.

Bell left Bam Bam in 1990, and eventually quit music entirely. Bam Bam chose not to replace her, and instead continued as a 3-piece instrumental band. Her story didn’t have a happy ending. Bell died in her Las Vegas apartment of cirrhosis of the liver at age 55, and the coroner estimated her time of death as a couple weeks before her body was found. All of her belongings — except for a DVD player, a poster, and a chair — had been thrown away. All of her writings such as lyrics, poems, diaries, along with Bam Bam music, videos, and other memorabilia went in the trash without her family even being notified.

Woulda been nice if she coulda gotten her flowers while she was around to smell them, BUT. On July 9, 2021, Seattle musicians formed a tribute band and played a show at Central Saloon to honor Bell’s legacy. Om Johari, singer for Bad Brains tribute band Re-Ignition, had the idea for the show after CBS News’ Gayle King contacted her to do a story on Bell. The Bam Bam tribute band included musicians such as Matt Cameron, guitarist Kendall Jones of Fishbone, guitarist Ayron Jones, and bassist Jenelle Roccaforte. Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard also participated, as did black women Johari selected who were influenced by Bell’s music. This included Eva Walker of The Black Tones, Shaina Shepherd of BEARAXE, Dmitra Smith of Ex’s With Benefits and Dejha Colantuono, songwriter. The band played a selection of Bam Bam songs at the show.

*Wow! I managed to slide the foo into these facts EARLY this year! Even EYE am impressed!

** Do I have a favorite Chuck Berry song? Of course I do! Brown Eyed Handsome Man is my second favorite.

So this weekend, I was flipping through HBOmax looking for a movie to watch with my mama and every time I have to CHOOSE a movie I get anxiety because one thing about me is that if you present me with too many options I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CHOOSE. Also, I get distracted because HEY did you know that 3:10 to Yuma (2007) is streaming? I added it to my list ‘cause nobody in my house likes cowboy movies but me really, and I actually REALLY LIKE this movie both the old one AND the new one (because I REALLY LIKE Christian Bale) which I first saw coincidentally when I lived in Yuma. I used to work in graveyard shift and I watched whatever movies they had to rent for guests in this hotel where I used to work and NO this is not part of the BHFOTD this is just how my brain works when I’m writing so I hope nobody ever expects anything different. ANYWAY, THEN I got to thinking about how a) I love cowboy MOVIES but not SHOWS which are two VERY different things in my brain and b) there really aren’t a LOT of black cowboy movies (I looked, because I like to show my work and I am insulted to say that they called the dark tower a black cowboy movie and NO).

And then I remembered that a black cowboy movie JUST came out last year and REASON that I remembered it at all is because it Yuma Territorial Prison is a main character in BOTH of these movies. I loved this movie guys! And while I was looking into this NOT BHFOTD I realized a couple things:

  1. I wrote a fact already about the star of this movie, Nat Love and this story wasn’t in it because it’s fiction! But still a good story. Also,
  2. Did you know the original Lone Ranger was black?
  3. He was ALSO in The Harder They Fall, by his actual name: Bass Reeves!

Bass Reeves was born into slavery in Crawford County, Arkansas, in 1838. He was named after his grandfather, Bass Washington. Reeves and his family were enslaved by Arkansas state legislator William Steele Reeves. When Bass was eight (about 1846), William Reeves moved to Grayson County, Texas, near Sherman in the Peters Colony. It appears plausible that Reeves was kept in bondage by William Steele Reeves’s son, Colonel George R. Reeves. When the American Civil War began, George Reeves joined the Confederate Army, taking Bass with him. It is unclear how, and exactly when, Bass Reeves escaped, but at some point during the Civil War, he gained his freedom. One account recalls how Bass Reeves and George Reeves had an altercation over a card game. Bass beat the brakes off George, and fled to the Indian Territory where he lived (and learned their languages) among the Cherokee, Creeks and Seminoles until he was freed by the 13rd amendment in 1865.

As a freedman, Reeves moved to Arkansas and farmed until 1875 when Isaac Parker was appointed federal judge for the Indian Territory. Parker appointed James F. Fagan as U.S. marshal, directing him to hire 200 deputy U.S. marshals. Fagan had heard about Reeves, who knew the Territory and could speak several Native languages. He recruited him as a deputy; Reeves was the first black deputy to serve west of the Mississippi River (where the green grass grows all around all around, where the green grass grows all around). *Clears throat* Reeves was assigned as a deputy U.S. marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, which had responsibility also for the Native reservation Territory. He served there until 1893. That year he transferred to the Eastern District of Texas in Paris, Texas, for a short while. In 1897, he was transferred again, serving at the Muskogee Federal Court in the Native Territory.

Reeves worked for 32 years as a federal peace officer in the Indian Territory, and became one of Judge Parker’s most valued deputies. When he retired in 1907, Reeves had on his record over 3,000 arrests of felons. Historian Art Burton makes the argument that based on the sheer number of people Reeves arrested without taking any serious injury, coupled with the fact that many of these arrested were incarcerated in the Detroit House of Correction, the same city where the Lone Ranger radio plays were broadcast on WXYZ.

This theory has been disputed. Because Hollywood would Never Change the Race of A Real Person To Make Them White. [Again. I like to show my work, kids]

Anyway. Bass Reeves’s legacy lives on!

  • In 1992, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
  • In 2011, the US-62 Bridge, which spans the Arkansas River between Muskogee and Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, was renamed the Bass Reeves Memorial Bridge.
  • In May 2012, a bronze statue of Reeves by Oklahoma sculptor Harold Holden was erected in Pendergraft Park in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
  • And in 2013, he was inducted into the Texas Trail of Fame.  
  • He has also been memorialized in books, games, television and film. He was most recently played by Delroy Lindo’s fine ass in The Harder They Fall in 2021. Ride ‘em, cowboy, or whatever the gals be saying.

Happy Monday! Hope you enjoyed today’s blackity black fact! If you’re wondering what I ended up choosing to watch, I chose Miss Congeniality, then promptly took a 2 hour nap and missed the entire movie.