Nearly 30 years ago, five teens from New York were convicted of a crime that would ultimately rewrite the narrative of black youth in America and paint a horrific picture of how black Americans are mistreated by police and the criminal justice system as a whole.
The late-eighties were a tumultuous time for race relations in this country where everything was seen in black and white. This was made abundantly clear after a 28-year-old white woman was found bloody, beaten, raped, and left for dead one night in Central Park, making teen in the area a suspect. After a night of subpar police work, detectives had five black and brown boys in custody for a crime that we would later learn they did not commit.
After garnering a whole gang of false confessions and literally no substantial evidence, five boys, aged 13-16 were convicted of rape, robbery, attempted murder, and sexual abuse, and were sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
Ava Duvernay's four-part Netflix series When They See Us tells the story of these young boys and their families who fought for justice and were ultimately cleared of all charges. Since the limited series was released, the world has reacted in a major way, even causing lead prosecutor on the case, Linda Fairstein to delete her social media pages. If you haven't seen it yet, it's time to hit up your ex for that Netflix password, sis, because this series offers vital information that we can all learn from when it comes to protecting ourselves in this country. Here's a few things you might not have known about the case:
Donald Trump Helped Create The Narrative
Racism. Injustice. Corruption. It's only right that 45 take his rightful place in this history of f*ckery. Donnie was making problematic political moves way back in 1989, when he paid for full page ads in New York newspapers (totaling about $85,000) that called for the five boys to face the death penalty after their convictions.
Even after the victims were cleared and the real perpetrator was convicted, he stood strong on his belief that the five men were guilty and refused to issue any form of apology.
It's Been A Hard Week Linda Fairstein, And It's Only Monday
Listen, Linda. You know you done f*cked up, right? While I'm sure her original intentions were as pure as any white woman with undeniable racial bias, Linda Fairstein is a true example of the type of people we DO NOT need in our criminal justice system.
Her willingness to demonize and take the lives away from five young boys based on a whim was criminal and according to Black Twitter, we're not opposed to street justice via social media. Since the documentary aired, the former prosecutor has deleted all of her social media accounts and a petition has been created that calls for Amazon, Audible, and all other book retailers to remove all of her books from their platforms.
The Central Park 5 Asked Ava To Tell Their Story
After the debut of Ava Duvernay's film, Selma, in 2015, everyone was dying to know what Ava had up her sleeve next, including Raymond Santana, who reached out to the popular director via tweet. After a brief exchange via DM, Ava put her thinking cap on and got to work.
"I found myself at a dinner in Harlem with Kevin [Richardson], Yusef [Salaam], and Raymond. It was very powerful to have them all together. The thing that really struck me is no one's ever heard their story beyond 'the crime,' or the night itself. The documentary does a beautiful job of recounting that night, but when I sat with them and they told me about everything else, that was really fascinating."
Two years later, the series was announced and the boys would finally have a chance to tell their story in its entirety. Although there had been a wildly popular PBS documentary that shed light on their experience, they expressed that no one had ever told their story beyond their alleged crimes.
Ava told Vanity Fair that although she was honored to tell their story, it wasn't easy and she even provided a crisis counselor on set.
"It wasn't a very healthy thing to do. But they asked me to do it, and I wanted to tell their story. Their story wasn't told when they were boys. It was told for them and it was twisted and it was lies. There was so much more to it, and I wanted to tell it for them."
The Real Reason The Last Episode Is Dedicated To Korey Wise
When creating the limited series, Korey expressed that his experience was much different from the Central Park Five, because as the oldest of the group, he was treated much differently both before and after his conviction. Ava explained that because of this, she wanted to make sure that she told his story much differently.
"When I first met Korey, within 15 minutes he said, 'There is no Central Park Five, it's four plus one.' And I never forgot that. He looked me in the eyes and he said, 'They had an experience and I had an experience. They are not the same.' He had some pain and some anger about being lumped into the Central Park Five when the four were in juvenile hall detention."
Korey, who only went to jail to accompany a scared friend, wasn't even on the list of suspects but was eventually coerced into a false confession on-camera that would eventually seal his fate at Riker's Island and other maximum security prisons for the next 14 years. His time in prison would ultimately allow him to uncover the true culprit in the Central Park jogger case, but nothing could give back to him the last decade and a half that had been spent in solitary confinement.
"They eventually all went to adult prison, but they got out when he was continuing to serve time. And he was always in an adult prison; he never experienced juvenile detention. Going into Riker's at age 16, as you see in the piece, it made a very singular experience. And I wanted to honor that, so I knew I had to find a way to break him out."
New York Never Admitted Any Wrongdoing
A true sign of maturity is being able to admit when you're wrong, so we're going to need the New York Police Department to put on their big girl panties and apologize. Like our current POTUS, the NYPD proved to be sore losers after the convictions of the Central Park Five were overturned and vacated.
While the city settled the case, offering the men a total of $41 million, they admitted to no wrongdoing. Ava told NPR:
"The city never apologized; they settled. No one on the side of the prosecution ever apologized. They've stuck by the fact that even though the real man came out and said: I did it, I did it alone. Even though all of that physical evidence was from him, was matched to the victim, and it was in fact him, and only him, these people still refuse to acknowledge that they — not made a mistake — lied. Lied."
When They See Us is now streaming on Netflix.
Featured image courtesy of Netflix.
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Taylor "Pretty" Honore is a spiritually centered and equally provocative rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a love for people and storytelling. You can probably find me planting herbs in your local community garden, blasting "Back That Thang Up" from my mini speaker. Let's get to know each other: @prettyhonore.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
We waved farewell to summer last week, along with all its highlights. Now we warmly embrace music that encourages us to feel, calm down, and think back on the last enjoyable months and their aftermath. Some of the aftereffects of our summertime delights, like "Lil Boo Thang" and "Guarantee," will make us feel content and that our time was well spent. Other repercussions, like "I Just Wanna Feel Your Love Again" and "No SZNs," are more severe and will leave us contemplating some ill-placed steps while we spiral into deep despair.
Whichever side you find yourself on during this change of seasons, or if you're between, consider adding some of these new singles to your playlist to help mourn what's left of this summertime weather. While also welcoming the possibilities that only autumn's beautiful breeze can create.
1.Doechii - "Pacer"
Oh, Doechii, how we have waited for you at every door and corner for what seems like an eternity; yet we are so grateful that you have finally arrived. Doechii has released another single to further demonstrate her versatility after releasing one of the summer's most popular songs. With "Pacer," Doechii, who stunned us with her vocal range on "What It Is," goes back to her rapping roots. The TDE phenomenon starts the song out completely unhinged. With a blood-curdling scream, similar to fellow TDE artist Jay Rock, Doechii gathers her clique to prepare for battle, as though she had just returned from a fierce altercation.
However, instead of amassing casualties upon those who doubted her, Doechii plans to render them inept under the weight of her accomplishments and accolades. She acknowledges that she has arrived at her success later than she had hoped, but says she is on "God's time," and that while reaching her level of achievement later than others, she has done it regardless and with enough assurance to intend to remain for a while.
2."No Statements" - ScarLip
No matter what rap music you play these days, there is always a critic waiting to proclaim that rap and hip-hop are dying. Although part of what they say is true, they haven't yet detected the faint pulse that keeps the business alive. If the naysayers would quiet down long enough to hear that fading pulse, it would be the sound of female rappers smashing through locked doors in an attempt to reclaim its strong and steady beat. One of those rappers, besides Doechii, is ScarLip.
ScarLip, who is 22 years old, fresh off the success of her 2022 "Glizzy Gobbler," has dropped her newest single "No Statements." The rapper says in "No Statements" that she is not in the business of snitching, making statements, or leaving a paper trail of her wrongdoings, but rather needs to be fully aware of the circumstances so she may proceed with her decisions. It would be difficult to not hear people humming this song for weeks to come, because of the catchy chorus and straightforward lyricism. Maybe after this, critics can follow her lead and refrain from making detrimental statements.
3."How Were We To Know" - Emeli Sandé
How were we to know? We ponder this question after a relationship has ended and everything has been put out on the floor to be either picked up and rebuilt or swept away and abandoned. How were we to tell if the connection would burn to the ground or vanish into thin air? How could we have known that the person we intended to spend forever with would be gone the next day? How were we to recognize all the signs when they were arranged randomly and incomprehensibly? In this query, we pardon ourselves for not being omniscient. We accept responsibility for failing to recognize the apparent facts that were put in front of us.
Emelie Sandé asks the same questions in her most recent song, "How Were We To Know." She ponders how she might have known that the relationship was doomed. But as the song goes on, it becomes obvious that she, just like the rest of us, could have easily figured it out if we had communicated better, assigned blame less frequently, and set aside our egos.
4."Angel" - Halle (Acoustic Performance)
At the beginning of August, Halle Bailey released "Angel," her debut single as a solo performer. In less than a few hours, the piano-driven ballad that explored what it is like to be a Black woman growing up in this tiresome, neglectful environment captured millions of listeners and became an anthem for all sun-kissed girls. With beautiful lyricism that acknowledges the weight unfairly burdened upon Black women, Halle reminds audiences that they are in fact angelic, despite the demons that appear out of the woodwork to tell us otherwise.
When one falls, they fall "onto clouds" and find a way to make their way through the limitless struggles bestowed by simply existing. After all, as I said before, black women are the only things to ever grow without nourishment. As if the song couldn't be lovelier than the original rendition, Halle debuted an acoustic version of the smash a couple of weeks ago to demonstrate just how genuinely heavenly she is.
5."No SZNS" - Jean Dawson and SZA
Every day is like the day before. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and everything beautiful and dismal that can happen occurs in between. The seasons bring a certain ambiance that allows for differentiation between the past and the present, but only if you're in a place where it matters, and the changing of seasons can be felt. If not, then every day is every day. In "NO SZNS," by Jean Dawson and SZA, this simple fact is mentioned repeatedly in the chorus; but the reality of every day being the same creates an unshakeable melancholy that can only be felt through their lilting vocals and sometimes abrupt instrumentals.
They appear to be pleading for some other truth, because they find it difficult to accept that each day will be the same as the last, and that, despite the passing of time and the changing of the seasons, we are doomed to repeat the at times idyllic, terrifying cycle.
6."Black Dress" - 070 Shake
It's unfortunate that not as many people tune in to 070 Shake as frequently as they ought to. Despite becoming popular with her song "SCAR" on Beyoncé's The Lion King: The Gift, many people are still unaware of how good she is as an artist. The unclassifiable New Jersey musician, whose music is tough to define, has released "Black Dress," in preparation for her second album, You Can't Kill Me. The brand-new 070 Shake track "Black Dress" is a sensation with a haunting feel.
The song has strong, churning guitars, hazy synthesizers, and trap 808s that help to create an eerie and encapsulating, daunting melody. Shake plays the sole survivor of an aircraft accident in the popular song's music video, which was shot by Noah Lee. She is originally stranded in a tree with her parachute before descending to the burning wreckage below. When she finally touches the ground, she performs a song deserving of the fame she will one day enjoy.
7."You" - Lola Brooke ft. Bryson Tiller
What's that I hear around the way? Oh, another female rapper here to save the day? With the help of Bryson Tiller, Lola Brooke's newest song, "You," aims to kick off this cuffing season in the 90s. The rapper, who is relatively new to the hip-hop scene and who recently released the single "Don't Play With It," samples Foxxy Brown's popular song "Get Me Home" on this nearly three-minute tune.
In time for the fall, Brooke and Tiller's powerful voices and sensuous vocals have created the ideal song to dance to while searching for love. In her lyrics, the 29-year-old displays both her Brooklyn heritage and the characteristics ideal in a potential suitor. By the end of the song, it is clear that Brooke plans to move through this cuffing season with intention and refuses to settle for anything less than what she deserves.
8."Guarantee" - Black Eyed Peas
No matter how far into the future we are, you can always depend on the Black Eyed Peas to come from a more vibrant, lively, and distant time period than our own. The trio speaks about having what other people need in their newest song, "Guarantee," off of their 2022 album ELEVATION. In this single, they assert that they can elevate all that is freely provided to them, leading to greater love, knowledge, and total pleasure.
Promising endless satisfaction, they show what is guaranteed if only given the opportunity. With a fun summer mix and poppy, futuristic beat, "Guarantee" is one of the dance songs the endless heat has to give.
9."Lil Boo Thang" - Paul Russell
It is almost ridiculous how often this song has been played throughout the summer, to not have made it in time to be a summer hit. But with only the first 30 seconds available to audiences via TikTok, it had no other choice but to be a glimmer of what it could have been. Nevertheless, now that Paul Russell's "Lil Boo Thang" has been made available, it includes a much lengthier version of the endearing summer song about liking someone enough to be open and honest about one's intentions.
In this short song, he sings of all the potential and affection he can bring to the relationship if only given the chance. Concluding with a nice homage to The Emotions' "Best of My Love," "Lil Boo Thang" might be able to reclaim the love it was unable to receive in the summer this fall.
10."I Just Wanna Feel Your Love Again." - Montell Fish
If Kevin Abstract, Leon Bridges, and Moses Sumney had a baby, I'd imagine it'd be this Montell Fish single. In "I Just Wanna Feel Your Love Again." Fish laments the end of his relationship and the unrestricted love that came with its demise in this song. Without her affection, the need and want to be with her consumes his weekends and moments, but he is always left pleading and alone.
To make matters worse, he is compelled to navigate the world knowing how wonderful it is to experience everlasting love and realizing that he is unlikely to come close to doing so again. As he sings over a guitar and echoing backing vocals, the song has a loneliness that cannot be placed into words. Ultimately, his longing to once again experience his love's devotion feels almost unearthly and forever out of reach.
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