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Why Solange’s unapologetic blackness is what we need right now.

Solange’s "A Seat at the Table" transcends black and white spaces, and it's awesome.

When Solange asked me and basically every other black person to finally take a seat at the table, I brought a chair and a stool.

‌While listening to "A Seat at the Table," which is now easily one of my favorite albums of the year (surrounded by the likes of "Lemonade," "untitled unmastered," and "Blonde"), I went through several stages of emotion: pride, relief, excitement, but most importantly, mutual understanding.      

Solange’s knowledge of the black struggle — both current and past — was strongly represented in her new album, and people noticed. The singer/songwriter and producer received praise both in and out of the music industry for her unapologetically black ethos, and the album has already reached #1 on iTunes.  


But what's most important is that her album, while explicitly created for black people, will probably reach the ears of people everywhere — not just in the black community.

Solange (who is Beyoncé's sister) has spent the last few years of her career straddling the line between R&B, neo-soul, and indie, a genre generally filled with white musicians.  

In an age when unapologetic blackness is seen as a radical political act and when black bodies have continued to be brutalized by police, Solange's ability to straddle multiple genres is more important than ever. Her undeniably indie aesthetic is a welcome entrance of black voices in spaces that were initially appointed as white ones.

Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Lexus.

When you look at the history of rock music, it's even easier to see how big of a move Solange is making with her new album.

One only needs to be reminded of Elvis Presley’s appropriation of black culture in rock music to understand how far back the fractured history between race and rock 'n' roll goes.  

Of course, all rock 'n' roll music is not racist. But there are certainly racist lyrics and overtones in some songs that often match the actions of those listening to the music.

Solange isn't immune to the racism, either.  

In a Twitter recap, Solange explained that she was recently at the German electronic pop band Kraftwerk’s concert with her husband and son. Surrounded by a predominantly white audience, Solange began dancing along with the music. But four white women began to berate Solange and her son, yelling at her to sit down and eventually throwing a lime at her.

Solange's story sparked debate on Twitter and raised awareness of how difficult it is for black people to simply exist without being harassed in predominantly white spaces.

Seeing black faces in white spaces is still a point of dissent for many, making this album even more crucial in today's music scene.    

Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images.

Solange has merged black pride and various music styles in such a way that her words will reach a multitude of ears — a necessary act when the world so clearly still has yet to acknowledge why loving one’s blackness is a beautiful thing.    

Not too long ago, lyrics that talked about the complexities of blackness and the issues surrounding black life in America were found only in rap and R&B (think Sam Cooke, Billie Holiday, and 2Pac), and they were typically heard by black people. Now, those messages are being taken to people outside traditionally black circles. Her album will more likely be heard by those who probably need to hear it most — people like those who threw a lime at her while she was dancing with her husband and child.    

Bold lyrics can change the world. Black faces in white places can change minds.

But it's also clear that Solange created this album for black people first.

In the leading chorus of “F.U.B.U.” — a sure-to-be anthem of black liberation — Solange boldly declares:    

All my niggas in the whole wide world / Made this song to make it all y'all's turn / For us, this shit is for us.    

This beautiful piece of work was a welcome gift for people of color like me. We are still expected to validate our existence in America and around the world. And these lyrics, lyrics of empowerment and ownership, will flow through the ears of many non-people of color. We should all be listening closely.    

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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