Beyoncé & Chrissy Teigen Do Other Things Behind the Scenes To Impact Social Culture – #HometownChat

Hot Shot (Old-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Oprah Winfrey, TV Personality & Media Mogul

Hot Shot (New-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Sergio Garcia – Pro Golfer

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#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”

It’s safe to say that two things driving pop culture are music and fashion. Take a look through any popular magazine and there’s so much to see in style pictures. You’ll find it at Awards Shows too starting with the Red Carpet. But Beyoncé & Chrissy Teigen do other things behind the scenes to impact social culture.

Beyoncé has grown in mainstream relevance since her time in Destiny’s Child. These days as mother and wife she’s preparing for her new twin arrivals. Beyond what she does in studio and on stage, she’s also inspiring a growing list of colleges offering courses with content in the area of ‘Bey Brandalicious.’

Teigen who made a name for herself on the fashion runway is also playing that nurturing family role. Her dude John Legend keeps turning out music that puts him in the Billboard Awards arena. It’s also their acts of civic consciousness that seem to drive topics of conversation in the classroom and on social media.

Lessons from their celebrity-life chapters & verses remind us of how the value of pop culture is more than just hooks and looks. It’s why these college classes might show that when pop culture is at its best, celebrities and other personalities make a difference in ways that are not just trendy but also timeless by:

  1. Sharing information that widens the scope of general understanding.
  2. Spotlighting showbiz moments that bring thrills to everyday enjoyment.
  3. Celebrating stories that give sense to today’s new realities.
  4. Spreading views that provide clarity to free-speech in public spaces.

Remember those times of what’s hot and what’s not? Well it’s been said that you live life forward, but understand it backward. This is true for those who’ve grown-up before our eyes. The things we see from watching them go through growth and change might have true meaning to our personal experiences.

There’s a special feeling in thinking back to the before-and-after times in general understanding. That’s one reason why fans can become die-hard supporters of their fav artists. What they provide as an experience in fun and dance is just a part of why they’re admired and cause others to be so inspired.

Sometimes it’s being able to say ‘I was there when.’ Whether it’s going to a concert or performing in the mirror, there’re moments in pop culture we savor because of a certain thrill it brings to everyday enjoyment. Beyoncé has a way of pulling this off in her appearances, even if it’s just in a snap or gram.

Furthermore, in each decade from the past we find those moments that stick in our cultural memories. Some can point back to the hippies of the 60s, the discos of the 70s, maybe the styles of the 80s and so on. Along with these flashbacks are certain signature events in the life and times of those decades.

These days many look to social media to get the skinny on what’s happening culturally. Teigen who reigns supreme with her posts recently did something for someone whose goal was to finish beauty school. So Teigen paid off the balance of what was needed in tuition to complete the program.

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Celebrating stories like these can help us respond to today’s challenging realities. It’s one way of providing hope when others feel like life’s saying nope. The person receiving this random act of kindness from Teigen might view this gesture as an example of what pop culture has done for her lately.

The U.S. Constitution affords us as citizens the benefit of free speech. This means that people are able to have and hold opinions without fear of reprisal. Now, not everything someone says or believes is necessarily all there is to know on a subject. We have the option to hear and study these ideas further.

Beyoncé and Teigen aren’t the traditional social experts. But they seem to have a way of cutting through the noise and bringing clarity to free-speech in public spaces which can be easier said than done. They know sometimes it’s better to get a point across through art or poetry than through theory or prose.

The cultural dilemma nowadays is balancing the voice of the people and the views of the pundits. It’s getting past the bad news and connecting with the good news. It’s stepping-up our game in order to do the things that bring change, gain a measure of choice and give us the courage to face those challenges.

How pop culture moves us is similar to how the weather shifts. Sometimes the temperature at the start of the day doesn’t change much throughout the day. Other times there can be a huge swing in temperature from daybreak to nightfall. Sometimes we have small shifts and other times huge swings in social culture.

The real story in what we express and enjoy about pop culture is in how love looks good or music makes us go or how we grow and have fun. The benefit from savoring this depends on if we take an approach that’s forward-looking or backward-looking. In the end, these times have helped many reach their best.

Block Talkback: When it comes to taxes, if the storyline of ‘Everyday America vs Enterprise America’ never goes away, how should folks bridge the gap and feel like there’s enough breaks to go around?

Groove-tracks: Janet Jackson – What Have You Done for Me Lately – https://youtu.be/r9uizdKZAGE

Usher – Love Looks Good –  https://youtu.be/AC2t6cjss1E

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President Lincoln & Dr. King Might Have to Step out of History to Reset Their Story at Obama’s Final Presser #HometownChat

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#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”

History seems to have a way of repeating itself. That’s true when you consider the events leading up to and around another King Holiday. Some people are having flashbacks to the 60s with the number of ‘conscience rallies’ planned. Maybe Lincoln and King will have to step out of history to reset their story.

Lincoln moved America leaps and bounds to end the Civil War in the 1860s. King and the Civil Rights movement did their part for social justice in the 1960s. Lincoln is an idol for many politicians including president Obama. King holds high honor with many Americans, so too does Congressman John Lewis.

So after days of back-and-forth since 2017, there’s concern this is no time to get happy, but to get woke and huddle-up. We saw a southern American city try to re-name the King Holiday. Along with the John Lewis episode there were other surprise Twitter & SNL moments. What’s to come is anyone’s guess.

So as President Obama holds his final press conference, the goodbyes will be hard to swallow. But what if Obama were to invite Lincoln and King to the presser, how would they speak up and make it plain? They’d have four things to #LetThePeopleKnow as Obama’s set to go. We might hear them telling us to:

  1. Educate ourselves in communities of color and beyond on the 3Rs and other social issues.
  2. Elevate the broader public square to new levels of civic awareness.
  3. Evaluate the truth on who’s fooling who and who’s zoomin’ who (that’s right Queen Aretha).
  4. Escalate a commitment to change for the better (not just for PR or as a vote getter).

After the Civil War and Lincoln’s term ended, there was a ‘repeal & replace’ backlash that followed. Many newly elected officials didn’t want to appear supportive of progressive programs. This is like buying a new car and then having the HD radio removed because you don’t like the artist’s (Obama’s) name on display.

With new found freedoms and opportunities came a push to reverse them. Things went from a new normal to a new abnormal. So as time went on more HBCUs were started with renewed efforts to educate people on the 3Rs and their civic rights. Maybe Dr. King as a Morehouse Man would share this reminder.

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Many years after the Civil War, the focus was also on elevating the broader public square to new levels of social awareness. What we know as Black History Month today started as a weeklong effort to inform and inspire. Some modern day history books have a way of leaving blanks or telling tales just to make sales.

One debate is whether Lincoln issued the Emancipation to save the union or free the slaves. This can take on a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario or go from truth to spin to lies in a few seconds. So in our current political climate Lincoln might have us think on who’s fooling who and who’s zoomin’ who then and now.

Often when candidates run on ‘change’ it’s fair to think change for the better, not just for PR or as a vote getter. History will assess this for our outgoing President as it will for the incoming. But when King said ‘I Have a Dream’ he also wanted us to see change as the ‘We’ from bottom up that moves the ‘I’ from top down. It’s how we might shine as ‘hidden figures’ through Community MRBs – Mission Ready Blocks, Mission Rhythm and Blues.

The post Civil War and post Obama eras seem to have some similar sketch-lines. What we see today as a fight against Obamacare was a fight then to stall Emancipation’s progress. What we see in the rise of certain ‘alt’ groups today was the rise of fringe groups then. Plus, we see the potential for gamesmanship in politics to overshadow the purpose of service in politics. The pendulum swing is real so what now?

Well, this is where Prez Obama would step back letting Lincoln and King take it to the bridge. Lincoln the politician might say ‘we must be a country that chooses to plant seeds over weeds.’ Weeds can overrun a lawn and make it look shabby. We must overspread the American landscape with less weeds and more seeds. The spreading of racism, sexism, xenophobia and the rise of false-reality news & views are a bad mix of weeds across the homeland.

King as the Baptist preacher might paraphrase words from the Apostle Paul reminding us that ‘you reap what you sow.’ And to add a common touch King might say ‘you can fool some of the people some of the times, but you can’t fool God none of the times.’ That’s true whether we’re regular folks or big timers.

Those who keep sowing social media weeds can’t expect to grow seeds of trust and respect. It’s when we choose to operate higher than this that we bring honor to the legacies of King and Lincoln. In due season, God can decide to harden, humble, hasten or hijack a man’s heart while steering us on another path.

Godspeed President Obama!

Groove-tracks: Ledesi – Higher Than This – https://youtu.be/I4yva8U-78U

Usher, Stevie Wonder, Shakira – Higher Ground –  https://youtu.be/0PEPrPRAp4M

What the Olympic Games & Presidential Campaigns Say About The American Dream in ‘Spaghetti Gymnastic’ #HometownChat

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The America I’ve come to know isn’t quite the America I first knew. Some of this is from a false image of ‘streets paved with gold.’ Now that I’ve emigrated here for 35 years and seen the streets, I’ve come to my senses. So let me explain using a couple top stories from the Olympic Games & Presidential campaigns.

The dust hasn’t quite settled yet in Rio. Many athletes have returned home to big cheers. That wasn’t the case for Ryan Lochte who’s doing damage control. Meanwhile, the Presidential campaigns have been like a roller coaster of fact checking. So how do the Games & Campaigns jibe with the American Dream?

The Games were exciting. The Campaigns have been mind-blowing. This might seem absurd but who really feels Lochte was robbed? And who really thinks that the best way to handle immigration is to build a wall? What we’ve learned from these situations is the difference between straight-shoot and street truth.

As we look at the Olympics through the ‘media engine’ we see a commercial bonanza. But when we look through the social lens we might wonder about the ‘citizen effect.’ It is the citizen effect that tells us the street truth. For some communities the American Dream feels less like a commercial bonanza and more like ‘spaghetti gymnastics’ because:

  1. They feel like they’re competing against a system of inequities.
  2. They’re faced with setback after setback of event injustices.
  3. Their emotional sanity is challenged by repeated inconsistencies.

A recent report revealed American towns where local authorities use excessive enforcement to balance their books on the backs of citizens. The net result is a build-up of animosity and distrust. Then after a while the pressure cooker boils over into skirmishes and civic disturbances that catch officials by surprise.

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Much attention is given to what’s happening on Wall Street. It seems there’s so much on the line. Others are pretty concerned about Front Street in support of small businesses. But maybe the folks on Back Street USA feel left-out or overlooked. Maybe the word on those streets gets lost in ‘campaign hustle.’

Some might say building a wall is a closed-door old-school approach. Others might see it as a gated-community ‘Wall Street’ kind of solution. Either way, in local communities it’s seen as another way of speaking over or speaking around the real issues and not addressing chronic social injustices.

It’s hard to explain to those on Back Street why folks from the other side of the tracks can catch a break but they don’t. That’s how some people felt on social media regarding Lochte. If it wasn’t for video he would have been believed. But even with video, folks on Back Street USA get the short end of the stick.

These days political campaigns can put us through ‘spaghetti gymnastics’ in trying to separate straight-shoot from street truth. Yes, straight shoot might be unscripted and happening in ‘real time.’ But it pulls us in conflicting directions. Street truth is what Dr King gave us 53 years ago with ‘I Have a Dream.’

So while the American Dream is alive and well in Olympic stories, it feels out-of-reach for others. We celebrate those who made it to the biggest event on the world stage. But for folks whose streets aren’t paved in gold, there’s a potential disconnect with the Games, Political Campaigns and living in America.

Groove-tracks: James Brown – Living in America –  https://youtu.be/c5BL4RNFr58


Aerosmith
– Dream On – https://youtu.be/qzTZ76vhnKk