Recent Posts by Preston Mitchum

Let’s Love Hood Girls Who Aren’t Famous as Much as We Love Cardi B

It’s time for us all to admit that our beloved Cardi B is a national treasure and will save a nation. But it’s also time to reckon with the fact that our rightful adoration for Cardi B reveals a troubling truth: We dismiss, denigrate and force white-appeasing standards on black and Latinx women like her every day, then pretend to love them when they achieve fame.

To be clear, my love for Cardi B knows no bounds. Last month I went to the club for a night of drinks, dancing and hookah-smoking with a few close friends. This wasn’t an unusual weekly tradition, but we always made an experience out of it: pregame and a night out in our best outfits, followed by a night of the greasiest food known to humankind. As luck would have it, the moment we stepped out of the car and into the club, Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” was glaring from the speakers. It was as if God herself were blessing us from the high heavens.

Read the full article on The Root.

If Black Gay Men on TV Were All Masculine ‘Professionals,’ Would We Still Care About Diversity?

On modern-day reality-television shows, audiences often bear witness to stereotypical, one-dimensional representations of black queer men. From the iconic Miss J. Alexander on America’s Next Top Model to the frequent appearances on Real Housewives of Atlanta and even Love & Hip Hop, we have often seen narrow depictions of the black male queer experience: divas applying makeup, giving someone a blowout or teaching young women how to model.

In the op-ed “Do You Understand Me? Black Gay Men Are More Than What You See On TV” last month, writer Tim Pulliam made a scathing critique: “[T]his imagery of the gay man represents only part of the community, which ultimately misleads and provides a false, damaging perception to the general public of what it means to be Black and LGBT.”

Pulliam’s perspective is understandable, though I struggle with the word “damaging” because it implies a perceived danger or detrimental effect that I’m not seeing, and the suggestion of a detriment is dangerous in itself. Further, it places the focus on straight people’s reactions as opposed to black queer people’s lived experiences. That’s not my ministry.

Read the full article on The Root.

We should all be worried about how we’re discussing Usher and herpes

For centuries, Black people have had our bodies exploited, demonized, and then commodified for pecuniary gain. Because of this I must be upfront in the beginning: jokes about Usher, sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), number of partners, and sexual intercourse are moments we should not take lightly and is not a laughing matter.

Living with herpes can lead to stigma, discrimination, and isolation – and it is perpetuated based on unfounded fear and lack of knowledge. In 2014, The Atlantic published “The Overblown Stigma of Genital Herpes” noting how herpes is a common disease and the most debilitating symptoms are shame and isolation. Unfortunately, three years later, this is still an accurate reflection.

Read the full article on The Grio.

The Fact That Bobby Valentino May Not Have Paid a Sex Worker Is a Problem; the Fact That the Sex Worker Is Trans Is Not

On July 31, a transgender sex worker recorded R&B singer Bobby Valentino running out of a room after allegedly not paying for sexual services. Valentino has since denied the accusation and stated, through his representative, “Misrepresentation and deception were maliciously used to target [him]; during the encounter, Valentino was victimized and threatened by acts of extortion, which continued after his departure was captured on video.”

Valentino made sure to note that he was unaware the sex worker was transgender.

For some, this makes sense—many cisgender heterosexual people incorrectly believe that no one would be attracted to a trans person unless they had been “tricked.” Fortunately, many of us know better. We know better because we see cis heterosexual men intentionally targeting trans women for paid and unpaid sexual services in profiles posted online on sites such as Jack’d and Grindr.

Read the full article on The Root.

From ‘The Breakfast Club’ to White House, transphobia takes center stage

From the corners of hip-hop to the nation’s capital, trans lives are on display in a violent intersection of politics and pop culture. During the same week that President Trump announced a military ban on transgender service men and women, popular radio show “The Breakfast Club” has yet again found itself in hot-water after guest, Lil Duval, a low-budget comedian, joked about…
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Trump’s military trans ban is disgusting and sadly expected

President Donald Trump has again proven to be no friend to the LGBT community. In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, he makes clear that transgender individuals cannot serve their country in any capacity.

According to your president:

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow… Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming… victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.

Last June, the Pentagon ended the ban of transgender people being able to serve openly in the U.S. military. Under then-President Barack Obama, this was part of the increasing progress of the inclusion of gays, lesbians, and bisexual service members. Certainly everything was not perfect and much was to be desired about military service – because the focus was more on inclusion and visibility than safety – but it was a conversation worth happening.

Read the full article on The Grio.

PrEP and Pleasure: We Need More Holistic Sexual Health Conversations

I have concluded that I hate condoms: the smell, the feel, the removal of pleasure. Hate them.

I understand that not wearing them -- and not forcing sexual partners to wear them -- could expose me to a greater likelihood of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (with the exception of HIV, as I am now on pre-exposure prophylaxis [PrEP]). But, I have enough sexual health knowledge to understand the informed decision I am making. That's the beauty of holistic sexual health and informed consent: understanding potential risks from actions, but being invested in one's body enough to realize that bodily autonomy and integrity also matter.

Read the full post on The Body PRO.

Maia Campbell’s viral videos are no laughing matter

Recently, a video surfaced online of former actress Maia Campbell appearing to go through a relapse or experiencing a mental health break. The video shows Campbell missing a tooth, wearing a black bra, pumping gas, and describing an alleged rape. For people born in the 1980s, what makes this painful to watch is that we saw Campbell – and all of her beautiful dark-skinned glory – star as Tiffany Warren in NBC/UPN’s In The House featuring LL Cool J and Debbie Allen, from 1995-1998.

What’s even more heartbreaking is the realization that a person – “friend” (a rapper later identified as “T-Hood”) or otherwise – was quick to record a troubling interaction as opposed to finding a way of being helpful. In the day of hoping to find popularity from a viral video and using a person’s pain as fodder, this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Read the full article on The Grio.

NRA’s racist propaganda will get Black people killed

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is no stranger to using white supremacist rhetoric to target Black people. Founded in New York in 1871, the NRA is a U.S.-based organization for firearms safety training, shooting skills, and most significantly, gun owners’ rights advocacy. NRA boldly hails itself as the oldest civil-rights organization, a claim as laughable as it is fictitious. What is factual, however, is the historical anti-Blackness of the NRA and that is clear with its latest recruitment video—an all-time-low, even for this racist organization.

In a short, 1 minute and 4 second clip, the NRA exposes viewers to America’s longest, never ending tradition: racism. Though the video— ‘The Violence of Lies’—stops just short of explicitly calling for violence against Black and brown people, it’s rather simple to understand the video’s intention.

Read the full article on The Grio.

Black and Latinx queer people need safe spaces, too

This past Pride month marked the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla. At approximately 2:00 AM, 29-year-old Omar Mateen – who allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS on a 911 phone call during the hate crime and terrorist attack – walked into Pulse on June 12, 2016, killed 49 people, and injured 53 others on the club’s weekly “Latin Night.”

As a Black queer man, it’s hard not to see myself in the victims and survivors. Despite much of the media’s attempt to whitewash this tragedy, the fact that the victims were largely Latinx and Black queer and trans people matters because our communities are often told that safe spaces are not a reality, and only part of our fictitious imaginations. But if Pulse made anything apparent, it is that spaces for Black and Latinx queer people are now, and always have been, necessary.

Read the full article on the Black Youth Project.

Hey Kodak Black, Who Taught You to Hate Yourself?

Kodak Black.

His is a name that inspires disgust on the tongues of Black women who don't care for him and Black men who are indifferent to him. At least for the last two weeks. Personally, I found myself thinking about him recently, since I never have before, after he reasserted himself into cultural conscience once again by restating how much he hates [dark-skinned] Black women.

Oh, sorry. That he prefers "light skinned women" or "redbones."

Read the full article on BET.com.

The interconnected injustice of Philando, Charleena and Nabra

There isn’t a day that goes by when Black and brown people are not thinking about what oppression looks like. From the moment we’re brought into this world, we realize just how quickly racist institutions will render us nonexistent.

With the acquittal of Philando Castile‘s murderer and the recent killings of Charleena Lyles and Nabra Hassanen, these past two weeks have been unbelievably difficult. These senseless acts of violence – already setting the tone for the summer – make it easy to see how injustice is interconnected.

Read the full article on The Grio.

Limit(less) Reminds Us That Africans Can Be Queer, Too, and Debunks Stereotypes

For centuries, U.S.-based evangelical Christians have traversed the continent of Africa spreading messages of homophobia and transphobia against the LGBTQ community.

People like Scott Lively, an anti-gay extremist, for example, who was subjected to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (pdf) because of his travel abroad to promote Uganda’s anti-gay propaganda—the Anti-Homosexuality Bill—in 2014. Although the law was annulled that same year, it did not change widespread perceptions of how LGBTQ people were viewed: as toxic, immoral and ungodly.

This misperception—the colonialism, pillaging and thievery—has led to one unfortunate misapprehension: that people cannot be both African and LGBTQ. Queer Nigerian American Mikael Owunna resists this rhetoric in his groundbreaking project Limit(less).

Read the full article on The Root.

Remembering the Pulse Nightclub Tragedy: 1 Year Later

One year ago June 12, I awoke to a flurry of text messages and missed calls from friends demanding that I turn on my television. It was a Sunday morning, and like many black gay men who reside in the nation’s capital, I was in hibernation, sleeping off one too many Jack and Cokes.

When I finally found my remote, buried in between the comforter, I turned to CNN to a headline that read, “49 Killed, 53 Injured in Orlando, Fla., Nightclub Shooting.” My heart skipped a hard beat when I realized that it was at a popular LGBTQ nightclub, one like the one I had just patronized the night prior.

Despite some historical disagreement, Pulse is now known as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, taking the lives of mostly black and Latinx queer people during the club’s “Latin night.” But to people who went to Pulse nightclub monthly, it was known for much more—a place where people could build lasting friendships over a house beat, a drink and a two-step.

Read the full article on The Root.

Public Service Announcement: ‘Black Pride’ Is for Black People Only

If you reside in the nation’s capital and, at the end of every May, don’t notice thousands of black LGBTQ people descend from the gay clouds in their fiercest outfits to slay the weekend away, then you may be living under a rock.

To be sure, Memorial Day weekend is certainly when we honor those who have served and lost their lives for a U.S. military often known for unnecessary and violent interventions. On that day, I dedicate much of that time giving honor specifically to black people who fought—and died—in the name of freedom for a country that never wanted them to access it.

That same weekend, however, is also Washington, D.C.’s Black Pride, so the sea of melanin is an embarrassment of riches.

Read the full article on The Root.

Trump administration’s new drug policy is War on Drugs 2.0

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to all U.S. federal prosecutors to stop seeking leniency for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders and start seeking the toughest penalties possible.

That’s right: the war on drugs is back, except this time not only will black people be targeted in increased numbers, so will poor white people – unfortunately, the same who voted for now-president Donald Trump. True enough, this new memorandum is reflective of what happened to the black community – from President Nixon’s “war on drugs” in the 1970s to the draconian Rockefeller laws – when mass criminalization was at its highest.

We should make no mistake that the purpose of Sessions’ push for non-leniency is to drive the number of black and brown people entering prisons and jails and is also an attempt to undo any progressive drug policy implemented by former Attorney General Eric Holder – and by extension, under the Obama administration.

Read the full article on The Grio.

The 2017 Miss USA Is a Proud, Black HBCU Graduate, and She’s Also Problematic as Hell

For the second consecutive year, Miss District of Columbia, a black woman and HBCU graduate, has been crowned Miss USA. Outgoing 2016 Miss USA Deshauna Barber crowned her fellow Washington, D.C., resident, Kára McCullough, 25, Sunday night in Las Vegas.

McCullough is a chemist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Two black women were named Miss USA, back to back, in front of a white audience. I am not the biggest fan of pageants—or any related beauty competitions—but even for me, this made me smile.

For the past few years, the nation’s capital has watched as it has slowly changed from chocolate city to vanilla latte city, so it was good to see the District maintain some semblance of melanin on a national stage. But the more McCullough talked, the more I realized that her comments epitomized the adage, “All skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.” While recognizing this, I was still happy to see a black woman—an HBCU graduate, no less—be crowned by her successor, another HBCU graduate. These are not mutually exclusive.

Read the full article on The Root.

Some LGBTQ Activists Are Upset That Miley Cyrus Will Headline DC’s Pride Festival

Not everyone in the LGBTQ community is thrilled that Miley Cyrus will headline DC’s Pride festival concert in June. Cyrus’s quotes about hip-hop in a recent Billboard magazine interview have refreshed long-simmering criticisms of the singer, and two activist groups contacted by Washingtonian had harsh words about the booking.

In the Billboard interview, Cyrus discussed her musical evolution away from hip-hop and toward country sounds, saying she liked Kendrick Lamar‘s song “Humble”: “I love that because it’s not ‘Come sit on my dick, suck on my cock,’” she told John Norris. “I can’t listen to that anymore. That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little. It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock’ — I am so not that.”

Read the full article in the Washingtonian.

Dear Miley Cyrus: Hip-Hop Culture Never Needed You and It Won’t Miss You

We often see celebrities evolve before our very eyes, for better or for worse, especially if we have been exposed to them since childhood. Beyoncé, for example, went from creating mainstream pop music to making music more reflective of black women’s lived experiences in her critically acclaimed Lemonade. Then there are celebrities like Miley Cyrus. These…
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‘Stealthing’ Is Just Rape by a Different Name

Lately I have been seeing “stealthing” on my social media timelines. Intrigued, and likely against my better judgment, I searched for clearer meaning. In short, stealthing is when a man intentionally removes or damages his condom without his partner’s knowledge and/or consent. While stealthing may not be a new phenomenon, we should make no mistake about what to call it: sexual assault.

There is unspeakable vulnerability in sex and bodily pleasure, particularly deciding when and if to engage in condomless sex. Allowing oneself to be penetrated, granting another human being intimate access to one’s body, leaves a person vulnerable. This is true no matter how many times it has been performed. Although, in previous articles, I’ve focused on sexual intercourse without condoms, there has always been one critical theme: consent. That’s because the decision to have sex—and, more importantly, how we choose to have sex—should never rest within just one person.

Read the full article on The Root.

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