Beyoncé Criticized by Has-Been Piers Morgan
Morgan writes Beyoncé is now a "born again Black woman" who plays the "race card"; Twitter erupts.
Piers Morgan, British journalist and former CNN talk show host, wrote an essay published Monday in the U.K.'s Daily Mail titled "Jay-Z's not the only one who needs to be nervous about Beyoncé, the born-again-Black woman with a political mission," criticizing multi-platinum artist Beyoncé Knowles' "Lemonade," a visual album.
The hour-long visual album or short film debuted Saturday night on HBO and features videos for 12 of the songs on her sixth solo album of the same title. Morgan, the U.S. editor-at-large for the publication, begins his essay with fond memories of Beyoncé when he interviewed her in 2008 on his CNN show "Piers Morgan Live," which was cancelled in 2014.
Back then, he said, she was "at pains to be seen as an entertainer and musician and not as a Black woman who sings."
"Lemonade" has created conflicting feelings for Morgan. He writes:
I have to be honest, I preferred the old Beyoncé. The less inflammatory, agitating one. The one who didn't use grieving mothers to shift records and further fill her already massively enriched purse. The one who didn't play the race card so deliberately and to my mind, unnecessarily. The one who wanted to be judged on her stupendous talent not her skin color, and wanted us all to do the same.
It seems he prefers the "Bootylicious" Beyoncé years to her new "Formation," one of the singles on "Lemonade."
Piers Morgan Whitemansplains the World: Coming to you at 8PM EST / 9PM CST on Thursdays
— nana addae esq. (@shrekfacedkilla) April 25, 2016
my issue w/ @piersmorgan is he, like many straight white men, thinks his opinion (good or bad) of Bey/#LEMONADE is needed/important–it's not
— Mark Sundstrom (@106th) April 25, 2016
I don't know what @piersmorgan said about LEMONADE but I don't wanna hear anything a white man gotta say about it. IT WASN'T FOR YOU.
— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) April 25, 2016
Morgan tweeted on Tuesday:
To clarify, I love @Beyonce & Lemonade's a great album.
I just didn't like the politically/racially charged video that went with it.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 26, 2016
Actor Matt McGorry of ABC's "How To Get Away With Murder," also joined the conversation:
— Matt McGorry (@MattMcGorry) April 26, 2016
The visual album features Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, who was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson; Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, who succumbed to an illegal chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo; and Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, fatally shot by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, each holding a photograph of their son. Other artists have also been supportive of the mothers. For example, Prince, who died unexpectedly on Thursday, donated money to Martin's family.
Morgan said Beyoncé is using "grieving mothers to shift records," but she and her husband, Shawn "Jay Z" Carter, have donated substantially to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The video for "Formation" caused a stir when it was released on Feb. 6. Beyoncé's anti-police brutality message is reflected in scenes including "Stop Shooting Us" spray painted in black against a white brick wall and a sinking New Orleans cop car at the video's conclusion.
That message didn't sit well with law enforcement unions across the country, which called for a police boycott of her tour. And she received backlash after performing the single during the Super Bowl 50 halftime on Feb. 7.
But, the "Formation" video also makes reference to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. And the lyrics to the song also celebrate her southern roots and being a Black woman:
My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana
You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama
I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils
Earned all this money but they never take the country out me
I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag …
Morgan said his issues with Beyoncé's visual album aren't about race. He takes issue with entertainers getting political. However, politics and music have a long history of intertwining.
For example, in the 1960s artists such as Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary, Odetta and Pete Seeger supported the Civil Rights Movement with their music. U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is an intentionally political song. For the past 30 years, Bruce Springsteen has been a political singer who endorses presidential candidates.
Morgan was also annoyed by a sample used in "Lemonade" in which Malcolm X says, "The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman."
"Lemonade" prominently features Black women including Serena Williams; actresses Amandla Stenberg, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Zendaya; singers Ibeyi and Chloe x Halle; and model Winnie Harlow.
The short film includes the poetry of 27-year-old Somali-British poet Warsan Shire. Also incorporated are nods to the literary styles of Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston, and the music of Nina Simone.
"Lemonade" is "based on every woman's journey of self-knowledge and healing," Tidal, the music streaming service owned by Jay Z, said in an announcement. The mix of spoken word, imagery and lyrics on love, betrayal, infidelity and anger also has social media wondering if Beyoncé's newest release is directed toward her husband.
Celebrities are seeking out ways to fight the mental health stigma within the Black community.
Studies show Black men are particularly concerned about the stigma of mental illness, and apprehensive about seeking help.
Wizdom Powell, PhD, MPH, director of the Health Disparities Institute at University of Connecticut Health and associate professor of psychiatry, said that men of color are generally discouraged from seeking any kind of help, including help with mental health issues.
But some brave men in the very public eye, have decided to tackle the issue hoping to change the way the Black community views getting help.
Earlier this month, Chance the Rapper donated $1 million to help improve mental health services in Chicago. Six mental health providers in Cook County will each get $100,000 grants, and SocialWorks is starting an initiative called "My State of Mind" to help connect people with treatment.
NFL player Brandon Marshall, who struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder, started a nonprofit Project 375.org to help eradicate stigma, increase awareness and improve training and care for youth. He wrote a powerful essay called "The Stigma," last year, where he was candid with his own battles and some of his coping mechanisms that included meditation and journaling.
The conversations around health are happening in other ways, in interviews, on albums, online and on screen.
Jay-Z has come out in interviews to talk about how the experience of therapy helped him grow as a man, overcoming situations, which he describes in his lyrics.
On his album "4:44," he released a mini documentary "Footnotes for MaNyfaCedGod," where he gathered a group of Black men to talk candidly about therapy, self-care, and mental health awareness.
He also advocated for therapy at younger ages and in schools.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson posted about his mother's suicide attempt on social media and went on "Oprah's Master Class" on OWN to discuss his own depression and how important it is to know that you are not alone in your struggles.
Rapper Kid Cudi, in posting about and seeking help for his anxiety struggles back in 2016, inspired users on social media to start the #YouGoodMan hashtag, which became a place for Black men to share knowledge and their stories with support.
Primetime TV shows are breaking the silence in the Black community as well.
Sterling K. Brown star of "This Is Us," Romany Malco Jr. of "A Million Little Things," and Kendrick Sampson and Issa Rae of "Insecure" all struggle on screen with issues and survive.
These actors are tackling conversations around getting help for depression, suicide ideation, panic attacks, and trauma — many issues that plague the Black community based on everyday living experiences.
And talking about it helps.
Marcus and Markeiff Morris, twin brothers and NBA players talked to ESPN about their struggles with depression and trauma from growing up in a violent neighborhood. Marcus Morris, who shared their story, encouraged others, "If you have depression, you should be trying to get rid of it instead of bottling it up and letting it weigh on you and weigh on you and weigh on you."
Markeiff, initially agreed to speak about his illness, but bowed out, possibly a sign that he's not quite ready. There are many men like him.
Hopefully, the more men that come forward to advocate and share, the more others will feel empowered to do the same.
Reader Question: Why do you think Black men struggle to speak openly about their how stress impacts their mental health?
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"This is America 2018 right here. Racism and discrimination," Hamdia Ahmed said.
The multiple Grammy-winning artist turned down the offer to perform because she doesn't agree with the NFL's stance.
Rihanna, one of the best-selling music artists of all time, has turned down a coveted offer by the NFL to headline the 2019 Super Bowl Halftime Show because she stands in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and NFL players who take a knee.
Shooter on trial might face life in prison, if convicted.
Jeffrey Zeigler, who is on trial for shooting at a lost Black teen in Rochester Hills, Mich., watched as his wife, Dana, broke down in tears in Oakland County Circuit Court on Tuesday, while testifying about the April 12 shooting, and watching a video of the incident.
Dana said she was frightened when she saw Brennan Walker, a 14-year-old Black teen, on her porch.
"What are you doing on my porch?" she recalled. "I saw a Black person standing at my door and I screamed at him, and I asked him what he was doing there."
Her report to police: "A Black male was trying to break into her house and her husband chased after him into the yard."
The video shows Zeigler aiming at the teen, despite the claims that he tripped and his gun fired.
Rochester Hills Michigan 6 months ago.
The surveillance footage was just released.
14 y/o Black Teen misses the bus to school & figures he knew the route well enough to walk the 4-mile route. He gets lost, stops to ask for directions, & nearly loses his life.
WHY WE KNEEL! pic.twitter.com/k3cnL3kO6u
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) October 11, 2018
Prosecutor Kelly Collins said that "being a bad shot does not negate one's intentions."
Walker, then age 14, had missed his bus to school that morning and came to the Zeigler's door for help. After his wife screamed, Zeigler fired a shotgun at the teen, but missed him.
Zeigler had referred to Walker, in an interview with a sheriff's deputy, as "that colored kid" at his front door. The defense initially claimed it was the interviewing officer who said "colored."
Zeigler also said he was "tired of being a victim."
His attorney, Rob Morad, has said that "race was not a factor in the shooting, but rather actions from passion instead of judgment," Morad told jurors. He said the couple had five previous break-ins and were on "high alert."
Walker's mother, Lisa Wright, who was also in tears in the courtroom watching the video of her son flee for his life, said that she believed the shooting was a hate crime and that she wanted to see the prosecution push this to the fullest extent.
In April, she said that she believed this was racially motivated. After watching a video near the time of the incident, she said: "You can hear the wife say, 'Why did these people choose my house?' Who are 'these people?' "
Walker testified that after he knocked on the front door, which is behind a screen door, Zeigler's wife accused him of trying to break in.
"I was scared," he testified. "I was trying to tell them that I was trying to get to high school, but they weren't listening."
Zeigler was arrested and released on $50,000 bond and ordered to wear a tracking device. He was charged with assault with intent to murder, which could lead to life in prison, Oakland County District Attorney Jessica R. Cooper said, along with use of a firearm in a felony.
Zeigler also has a conviction for firing a handgun at another motorist during a dispute in 2004.
Reader Question: Watching the video, would you say Zeigler is innocent or guilty of intent to murder?
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Kiah Morris said the racism she endured for years was taking a toll on her husband's health. She chose her family over politics.
Kiah Morris is a former state representative in Vermont — a nearly all-white state. Morris recently stepped down because she had endured years of racially motivated harassment and threats — even local teens targeting her home.