Recent Posts by Preston Mitchum

No teen, no matter academic status, deserves to die

On Saturday night, Balch Springs, Texas, police officer Roy Oliver opened fire into a car full of teenagers who were attempting to leave a party. As a result, he fatally shot and killed 15-year-old and high school freshman, Jordan Edwards.

The Dallas News reports that Officer Oliver has since been terminated, but we know that won’t necessarily solve the quick and negligent actions of law enforcement in taking the life of yet another black child. By all accounts, Edwards was attempting to leave the party and get home safely, and yet he never made it there. What’s worse, what has happened since his untimely death: the validation of Edwards’ life only because of his academic excellence.

Read the full article on The Grio.

When Incarcerated People Die, Blame the Prison-Industrial Complex

Early Wednesday morning, Aaron Hernandez joined the long list of incarcerated people, including Sandra Bland and Kalief Browder, who allegedly committed suicide while in prison, or soon after being released.

We should not be mistaken about who or what is to blame: prisons and jails. The prison-industrial complex and the various ways it promotes the profiteering of black and brown bodies—coupled with lack of mental and emotional support, sexual violence and shoddy investigations into reported abuses—must be held responsible for its complicity in violence and death.

Read the full article on The Root.

Let’s stop making mentally ill people the scapegoat for violence

On Easter Sunday — while most of us were leaving church service, headed to the nearest brunch, or about to devour food at a neighborhood cookout — Steve Stephens took to Facebook Live to tell his friends, followers, and anyone who would listen that he allegedly killed 14 people in Cleveland, Ohio, and was looking for more. It was a pretty sick event that thousands could see happening before their very eyes. He wouldn’t stop his killing spree, Stephens notes on video, unless and until he was contacted by Maggie Green, his mother, and Joy Lane, a former girlfriend of three years and the person Stephens ultimately blamed for his own twisted actions.

It didn’t take long for the internet streets to do two things: first, place blame on Lane, a black woman, for Stephens’ actions and demanding she contact him (some even unnecessarily referring to Sunday as the #JoyLaneMassacre), possibly putting her in harm’s way; and second, automatically deduce his violent rage to experiencing a mental illness.

Both are problematic.

Read the full article on The Grio.

STD Awareness Month: I’m a Black Nerd Who Went on PrEP and I Encourage Others to Do the Same

As a black queer man, I understood at an extremely young age that I didn’t have the ability to be as sexually free and liberated as my heterosexual male counterparts.

Whether it was because black gay men are merely looked at as a health statistic or because our freedom comes at a deadly cost, it was apparent that our sexual appetites were to be suppressed. Now, although that suppression isn’t quite the same, and it looks quite different from how it did 20 years ago, it’s clear that some queer individuals are still expected to be too “respectable” to desire sex, let alone consensually act on that desire.

Take me, for example. I am a 31-year-old, self-described black queer nerd with a penchant for social justice, activism and community involvement. I also enjoy sex. But if I had a dime for every time a person connected my alleged intellect and community involvement with an inability to like sex, or merely rejecting it as a practice, I would have been wealthy many moons ago. That’s because in some twisted world, people are learning that being a black and woke—for lack of a better word—nerd and enjoying sex are somehow mutually exclusive. Trust me, they are not.

Read the full article on The Root.

The Danger of Forcing the ‘Runaway’ Label on the Missing DC Girls

Double-digit numbers of young black and Latinx girls in the nation’s capital are missing and, as expected, there has yet to be a national outcry. Instead, within the past week, Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department and other social media outlets are now focused on emphatically underscoring the message that social media distorted the stories and numbers of those missing.

The effort to find a handful of missing teenagers is being used to illustrate how a community is supposedly lying. But what’s still abundantly clear is that young black girls are missing, and many don’t care. The lack of rage over these young girls reveals a troubling truth: Missing girls are oftentimes immediately thought of as “runaways” who are not being harmed by systems of exploitation and victimization.

This mindset allows black girls to experience harm and trauma, while the assumption that girls are runaways puts the blame on caregivers, removes the government’s role and implies that these girls got what they deserved for being “fast”—stereotypes of oftentimes physically, emotionally and psychologically abused girls.

Read the full article on The Root.

Why Grooming Habits for Men Need to be Normalized

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I sat in my bedroom watching the television screen, totally mesmerized by what I was looking at as time seemed to pass in slow motion: perfect spiral curls, with even blending of brown and blond and not a hair out of place, though it swayed effortlessly through the wind. No, I’m not talking about Beyoncé; I’m referring to Odell Beckham Jr., football’s favorite “carefree” star. Since his National Football League debut, his persona has challenged the hypermasculine NFL while inspiring a nation of young men to get more in tune with their grooming habits, fashion, and carefree spirit. However, like many men concerned with notions of beauty and how to indulge them, Beckham has met with accusations of being “effeminate” and homosexual throughout much of his career, as male beauty and how men access it is still very much a taboo subject in American culture.   The discussion of men’s grooming has primarily been centered around gender norms and conformity, with anything outside the context of getting a haircut seen as a threat to masculinity. Men typically aren’t allowed to explore the grooming habits that have been attributed to women without confronting some form of stigma and discrimination usually tied to sexuality.

Read the full article in Teen Vogue.

‘Get Out’ reminds us only we can save ourselves

In Get Out, his feature directorial film, Jordan Peele takes us on an intense, don’t-close-your-eyes, emotional rollercoaster. It’s a necessary film requiring close attention to fully understand the complexity — intentional or not — situated throughout the film.

There are many underlying themes: the potential dangers/fetishizations of interracial dating between black men and white women (because: history); understanding that white women can almost cause another’s peril and still survive; and how “nice racism” and white liberalism/progressivism, particularly due to its covert, microaggressive nature, are never to be trusted.

As viewers, we also bore witness to the development of each main character — except Georgina, who’s most intriguing because we literally know nothing about her; the erasure of black women in Hollywood and white women’s obsession, to be sure. Two weeks later, many of us are still connecting the dots and discovering gems from a film that many did not expect to be nuanced and layered.

Read the full article on The Grio.

Man Leads Day Without a Woman March to the White House

Preston Mitchum, a policy research analyst at the Center for Health and Gender Equity, rallied women at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. for a march to the White House during the Day Without a Woman strike on Wednesday afternoon.

The Day Without a Woman is an international strike in which women are to "refrain from paid and unpaid work" and "refrain from shopping in stores or online." The goal of the strike is to "highlight the economic power and significance that women have in the US and global economies, while calling attention to the economic injustices women and gender nonconforming people continue to face," according to the Women's March website.

"When abortion rights are under attack, what do we do?" Mitchum yelled through his megaphone to the crowd.

Read the full article in the Washington Free Beacon.

Get Out Proves That ‘Nice Racism’ and White Liberalism Are Never to Be Trusted

Last year was a difficult time for many black people in America. We saw now-President Donald Trump making his way to executive power through sheer racist, sexist vitriol. We witnessed the continued state of institutional violence against black bodies, such as those of Korryn GainesKeith Lamont Scott and Terence Crutcher. Black people saw the deaths of many beloved celebrities, like legends Prince and Muhammad Ali.

It was apparent that now more than ever, we needed something that spoke to our experiences, even if that outlet was in the form of a fictional film representation. But Get Out also spotlighted a pervasive problem in this country: “Nice” racism and white liberalism are never to be trusted.

In October 2016, Get Out released its official trailer of only two minutes and 33 seconds, and took the world by storm. Although I didn’t know the specifics, here is what I knew: The movie involved a black man (Chris), a possibly “progressive” white woman (Rose Armitage) and, for the first time I could remember, a black man publicly showing just how frightening it can be to trust white America.

Read the full article on The Root.

Betsy DeVos releases statement on HBCUs, Twitter points out she’s clueless

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is being dragged on Twitter over a statement she released after attending a listening session with historically black college and university leaders at the White House.

In a letter issued to the public, DeVos, who’s confirmation as head of Department of Education required a historic vice presidential tie breaker in the senate, said that it is the Trump administration’s “priority” to “develop opportunities for communities that are often the most underserved.”

“We must be willing to make the tangible, structured reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential,” the statement added.

Read the full article on The Grio.

Get the Fuck Outta Here: A Dialogue on Jordan Peele’s GET OUT

Writer and educator Law Ware had the wonderful idea of he and I having a dialogue on the recently released horror film, Get Out. The film, written and directed by comedian Jordan Peele, stars Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington, a photographer dating a white woman named Rose (Allison Williams). Rose takes Chris home to meet her “liberal/progressive” parents in their New England home and that’s when shit, literally and figuratively, goes left.

The film is multilayered and speaks quite deftly to the terror of being black in the United States. Law and I were anxious to get the conversation started. We spoke on Sunday, the same day as the Oscars, where the specter of race hung over everything like a noose on a poplar tree. There was so much to talk about and as much as we unpacked, there was still so much left to cover (like the end scene, for example). We might need a part two.

Read the full article on Medium.

‘I Am Not Your Negro’ erased the sexuality of James Baldwin. What if it wins an Oscar?

On Sunday, the 89th Academy Awards will honor some of Hollywood’s cinematic achievements of 2016.

When I was younger, my family would gather around our living room to watch the Oscars — especially, when black actors and actresses were nominated. Usually, this meant being disappointed by the results; black narratives and white voters don’t usually go hand-in-hand. That’s because in Hollywood, black films rarely fare well under the white gaze. This year, however, viewers may receive some redemption by way of the number of black films being honored: MoonlightHidden FiguresFences, and I Am Not Your Negro are leading the pack in undeniable ways.

Read the full post on ThinkProgress.

Letting Chris Brown go will be the best thing for all of us

hris Brown’s self-titled debut album was released in late 2005, almost twelve years ago. My little sister was infatuated with him, and by extension, I had to be too.

Our love for him began to dissipate after accusations of him physically abusing his then-girlfriend, Rihanna, in 2009. The images of Rihanna’s vicious attack — her black eyes, busted lips, bloodied nose — have never escaped me. Even since then, Brown has remained in the limelight for his music and singing on every single hook in music’s history.

Let’s face it: Hollywood has never had an appropriate response to misogynists, only seeming to make them more famous following horrid allegations — Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson, Dr. Dre, R. Kelly, and the list continues. We simply refuse to let the reality of who these individuals are impact our love for them, no matter the deeply-rooted toxic nature of that love.

Read the full article on The Grio.

50 Trendsetters To Watch #15: Preston D. Mitchum, Washington, D.C.

“If you don’t work for your dreams, you’ll work for someone who worked for theirs.”

A May 2008 honors graduate from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, minor in Pan-African Studies. I am a May 2011 graduate of North Carolina Central University School of Law. In May 2012, I graduated from American University Washington College of Law with an LL.M. in Law and Government. I aspire to be a defender and protector of the constitutional rights/liberties of the LGBT community, women, impoverished individuals, and racial minority groups.

Read the full article in RizeUp Magazine.

Raise the Bar: Discrimination in Queer Safe Spaces

Over the past month, an image and a subsequent email exchange has caused quite the controversy for Washington, D.C.-based and gay-owned bar, JR’s.

In 2012, the manager of the popular bar requested their then graphic designer from the LGBTQ publication Metro Weekly to produce a flyer for an Olympic-themed happy hour. When the proof was forwarded to the manager, David Perruzza, he requested that the image be changed to a “hot white guy” instead of a black man because “[t]hat’s more of our clientele.”

The image never came out and the bar ultimately decided to remove the black model from the image and use no one. But this past week this exchange has quickly become just another piece of evidence to queer people of color in Washington, D.C, and even across the US, that LGBTQ bars continue to be a place where people of color are not welcome.

Read the full article in Out Magazine.

White lies, black bodies: Emmett Till’s accuser exposes ugly truths

In Luvvie Ajayi’s book I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, she notes “[a]t the intersection of racism and sexism is white women’s privilege, and while some feel like they’re dismantling one system, they’re often upholding another.”

The history of white women’s lies proves just how true this statement is for black people everywhere. That’s no alternative fact.

White lies have caused the death of many black people, especially boys and men. Historically, black boys and men have been accused of sexual assault by the same white women who want to escape persecution by their white friends for engaging in consensual sex with a non-white person. This has caused many to not believe survivors, even when we know real physical force (or threat of physical force) has occurred. And at times, it’s hard for me to blame people for their uncomfortable tension with this reality.

Read the full article on The Grio.

Without strategy, Democrats fighting all fires won’t help anyone

Since Jan. 20, 2017, it’s been hard not to believe we are living our last days. It’s almost as though George Orwell is playing a sick joke on us, and his book, 1984, is coming to life as the United States appears to be under a totalitarian regime.

Reality television star-turned politician Donald Trump, as an evil dictator, has taken us on quite the ride in just two short weeks, and Democrats, particularly members of Congress, are panicking with half-hearted attempts at responding to his every move, with no real strategy other than “it’s all on fire, now react!”

That’s unfortunate.

Read the full article in The Grio.

What Obama Meant to Black Millennials

The Howard University Gospel Choir performs for former President Barack Obama at the Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House on March 30th, 2016 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

The first time I saw him, he was the rookie senator from Illinois — a mix of cleverness and cool. He was slated to address the 2007 College Democrats of America Convention, which took place in Columbia, South Carolina, where, conveniently, I lived. More convenient still, a friend of mine was one of the event’s organizers, so I also had the luck of joining a small group of people, plucked from the hundreds in attendance who met the senator before he went onstage. It was over in a few seconds. But that was all my 17-year-old self needed. For the next year and a half, the only thing I wanted was for this man who shared my skin to be my next president.

Read the full article in Pacific Standard.

Conflicted U.S. capital prepares to host Trump’s inauguration

Rob Cortis calls it the “Trump Unity Bridge” - a bulky, metal 45-foot structure welded to two wheels and bedecked with red, white and blue signs echoing President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign themes.

He has towed it more than 20,000 miles (32,000 km) across the country. But as he arrived in Washington on the eve of Trump’s inauguration on Friday as America’s 45th president, he struggled to navigate the city’s crowded potholed streets.

“I’ve been on dirt roads that are smoother,” said Cortis, who lives in Michigan.

Read the full article on Reuters.

Recent Comments by Preston Mitchum

No comments by Preston Mitchum yet.