After watching the first 2 episodes of FOX’S hit series, Empire & the 2nd experiencing a ratings dip of 3+ million viewers, is the show also losing your interest?
I AM AN EMPIRE FAN and have been a loyal viewer since January 2015. However, I am one of the series supporters who was only initially pulled in by the Jamal Lyon storyline, as well as Cookie’s sass & dominating on-screen personality. Terrence Howard also immediately captivated my attention as Lucious Lyon. I don’t think any other actor could have been hired to effectively pull off his intense, alpha male role.
Meanwhile, some people are arguing that the series was never really “good” and we simply rallied around it because of the excitement & thrill of seeing a predominately black cast framed in a primetime drama slot. Just as with ABC’s Scandal, people seemingly jumped on the “Empire” bandwagon via social media in an effort to not be left out of what quickly became a television phenomenon. Others are presently stating that the recent focus on celebrity guest stars and gay themed plot lines are spoiling this second season. There’s already talk of a spin-off series in development, but IT MAY BE TOO SOON.
I will admit that I don’t hear the same level of post-show chatter or see the onslaught of online commentary that followed the pilot season episodes. And I will also admit that I am having a difficult time identifying with the riff between Jamal & Cookie, while trying to enjoy the particular songs/rigid musical numbers that have been performed thus far. I have also experienced difficulty over the past two weeks in connecting to the lack of depth or growth in central characters between season 1 and the most recent episodes.
I do realize that we still have 16 shows to view this season, but I’d like to see MORE FOCUS placed on Andre’s battle with his mental illness. I think it’s very impactful socially for the series to focus on how Andre’s mental health affects the Lyons family short & longterm — especially since black people are just recently beginning to openly discuss the issue. It makes perfect sense right now that Andre would be experiencing increased levels of anxiety and out-of-control rage now that he has lost hold of one of the more important aspects of his livelihood — his job. Andre’s character isn’t being given the screen time to react or reveal the inner workings of his present, mental state. We hear Andre express his frustration and share his dismay before Cookie. However, the intensity of the internal warfare that would be boiling inside of someone who endures mental instability isn’t present AT ALL.
I also feel that we don’t know who Rhonda or Becky truly ARE, aside from their very secondary roles as Empire Records employees. I’m interested in what makes these two ladies tick internally. We’ve already seen them both be FUNNY. That’s no longer enough now that the second season has launched. What are Becky & Rhonda’s relationships with their loved ones? Are either of them involved in romantic relationships? What are their creative passions & personal fears? How do they feel about themselves as women in the world and do they have dreams/goals that extend beyond their temporary assistant jobs? As of right now, neither character appears to be significant to the overall series, as they both simply provide occasional comic relief.
Becky’s character is displayed as nothing more than the girl in high school who has the gay best friend and is liked by everyone because she’s “so nice”. I want to see and know more about each woman outside of the Empire offices.
In comparison, Hakeem’s character is becoming less and less significant to the structure of the Lyon’s family. We know very little about the internal battles that are truly plaguing Hakeem as a young, black man living in America. He should have been standing alongside Cookie on stage during the second season opener and chanting, “Black Lives Matter”. If the show wants to deal with real, social issues, Hakeem is then the perfect character to target the epidemic of black men losing their lives carelessly on American soil. The show very lightly taps into Hakeem’s passion as an artist or his personal feelings of being neglected by mom AND dad in the past. We see Hakeem catch attitudes, TALK about his music and make other little snide remarks, but the pain he obviously carries around each day isn’t presented on-screen in such a way that the audience can truly empathize with him.
Every time we see Hakeem, he is ALWAYS paired alongside one of his brothers or one of the other supporting characters. He is rarely framed ALONE, and that is partially why viewers dont know who HE IS beyond the “rapper” and youngest sibling. Strong, well developed characters have to be displayed privately — alone with their emotions and able to successfully portray them in silence in order to reveal the layers that an audience will care about. I am thinking about the pivotal scene in the first season of “How To Get Away With Murder” when Annalise is home alone, sitting in the mirror, peeling off her wig, removing her makeup and taking off her lashes after a grueling day of being “seen as” strong and seemingly having it all together.
I can’t truly say who Hakeem is beyond his character description. We have not been privy to layers of his emotional being or even his reactions to other characters that aren’t immediately seen as being defensive.
I was also very taken aback to see Jamal romantically paired again alongside Michael. While I certainly understand that couples split and get back together all of the time, it would have been great for the audience to witness the very challenging process that couples endure between their first breakup and that moment where they decide to rekindle the flame. I don’t personally believe that Michael is strong or passionate enough to exist as Jamal’s central love interest.
Ryan Morgan (the filmmaker from season 1), was closer to the TYPE of guy that someone like Jamal would logically choose and organically connect to. Ryan pushed Jamal professionally, encouraged him personally and aggressively forced Jamal to see certain aspects of his life. It was Ryan’s presence in Jamal’s life that planted the seed of change in how Jamal’s character presented himself publicly for the remainder of the first season. Ryan’s character and that particular storyline should have never been so prematurely dismissed.
I do, however, appreciate that Jamal’s sexuality has been bumped to the backseat of his now leadership role amongst the “Empire” ranks. I don’t necessarily believe that a son would ever betray his nurturing mother to side with his physically and verbally abusive father, but I love the way Jamal’s new position has brought out the more aggressive sides of his personality. I think Lee Daniels realized very early on that Jussie Smollett had become the “fan favorite” amongst the brothers. It’s also obvious based on social media postings that Jussie & Lee have grown close off screen as well. It was a great choice creatively and business-wise to increase the role responsibilities of Jamal Lyon this season.
As for Cookie and Lucious, their battle against one another to frame EMPIRE RECORDS against DYNASTY RECORDS will carry the interest of the viewers throughout the next 16 episodes. I think watching Cookie build her business from the ground up will allow the audience to experience firsthand the inner workings of Cookie’s mental savvy — the know how that helped her secure the $400,000.00 Lucious used to ignite Empire.
Meeting Cookie’s older sister in episode 8, to be played by Vivica Fox, and potentially meeting her mother as well, will definitely add layers to her character. I am confident that behind the scenes, Taraji is pushing to give Cookie depth beneath the catchy one-liners, sharp attitude and ongoing feud with Anika. It’s undeniable that Cookie is the focus of the Empire series, even if her character wasn’t intended to lead the cast. Viewers tune in each week to be entertained by her antics. However, the series cannot stand on another season filled with surface behavior and quick, sharp dialogue spewed from Cookie’s mouth. This second season will hopefully reveal all of the internal strength, passion and intelligence that allowed Cookie to transition between drug lord 17 years ago to now being an aspiring, legit businesswoman.
Empire hasn’t lost my interest, but I am hoping that before a spin off season goes into development, each of the central characters are given a fair chance to grow. I do feel that it is way too soon in the fruition of this series, for the Lyon’s family to be sharing such increased screen time with random, celebrity guest stars. The inclusion of celeb cameos could work if these celebrities were playing themselves and appearing in diminished roles, much like they did during the final 5-10 minutes each week of FOX’s “New York Undercover” series during the early 1990’s. It honestly makes no sense to include these singers, comedian’s and reality stars in roles that solely seem to have been created JUST TO make room for them. I applaud Lee Daniels for using his favor and media opportunities to create positions for our black stars, but I’d prefer to first feel connected to the characters who matter to the core of the series before being bombarded by guest stars whose roles are only good for pieces of one or two episodes.
I am looking forward to watching this second season pan out. Despite any of our personal or collective opinions about the showcase, I think we all can relate to the dynamics of family and loyalty, the themes of jealousy and competition, as well as the universal language of music that are all combined to make EMPIRE the hit series that it is – still 14 million viewers STRONG.
Trying to connect with a guy over the phone can be an extremely daunting task. As KIK exchanges and direct message (DM) conversations have dominated contemporary means of communication, it almost seems awkward to ACTUALLY engage in regular, verbal conversations. Once upon a time, building up the nerve to ask a guy for his phone number was a supreme challenge. Now, figuring out what to say to him once he requests to TALK as opposed to TEXT puts many teens and twenty-something’s into a space of oblivion. No one wants to place themselves in the position of being the one to call, but feeling extremely uncomfortable trying to figure out HOW to fill those long, silent pauses. The easiest and most common convo starter is to ask, “what are you doing?” —
but what do you say to follow up when he simply responds with that one word reply… “nothing? “
COME UP WITH OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS – The honest truth is that most guys are very dry and draining when it involves engaging in phone conversations. They have become extremely use to typing their responses and often asking someone in the background what to say first. Therefore, being forced to verbally interact with a new romantic interest can really catch him off guard. The majority of his responses are going to be quick, one-word replies — as he will most likely not throw the same questions back at you. This is why everything you ask him should be a question that requires details or the telling of a story of some sort. One of the best questions to present to a guy during the first major phone conversation is, “why did your last relationship end?” – This question not only forces your potential new dude to speak in full sentences, but his response will truly give you insight into how he handles his heart, his role as a boyfriend and the feelings of the individual he’s romantically linked to. It makes little sense for you to present open-ended questions that won’t provide the types of information that you will need to make an informed decision about moving forward with him. Remember, the first phone conversation exists as the precursor for the first official date.
LISTEN INTENTLY TO HIS RESPONSES – A lot of people don’t realize that LISTENING is actually a skill that many of us lack. Often times, when we are engaged in a face-to-face or phone conversation, we are simply waiting for the other person to shut-up so we can chime in with our own thoughts and opinions. We hear the other voice on the receiving end, but are rarely tuned in to what the other individual is actually saying. When we take the time to actually listen to the new guy we’ve met, he will usually say something very intriguing or otherwise important that will easily allow you to guide the next phase of the conversation. As he is speaking, he may be answering your initial question, but more than likely, his reply will include information that raises even more questions or curiosities. Listening to him speak in detail certainly provides the necessary cues to bring up other topics of conversation.
My experience has taught me that guys are most honest and forthcoming with what you really want or NEED to know during moments when they aren’t being interrogated. When he starts talking, just let him go on and on and on.
PLAN AHEAD FOR THE PHONE CALL – Even though it may seem a bit corny to have your first phone conversation outlined, it really is a good idea to somewhat know which topics your new guy is most interested in. If your previous text messages and DM conversations have revealed that he loves to eat all of the time or really enjoys cooking, it makes perfect sense that you bring up food, recipes or inquire about his favorite restaurant during that initial convo. Even if you couldn’t care any less about working out, if exercising is his “thing”, it will help ease the tension to discuss his gym routine. You can even stroke his ego a bit by asking how he gets his arms so big and cut up.
People really do underestimate how much certain guys really do enjoy talking about themselves. Some of them won’t initiate conversations where they discuss their hobbies or other interests. However, once someone else presents the opportunity for them to delve in, guys will more than likely entertain the moment. Never hesitate in the beginning to address the topics and issues that you already know gets him excited, passionate and verbally engaged.
DO NOT DOMINATE THE CONVERSATION – Regardless of how dry and draining this guy may seem over the phone, never spend the entire time simply talking about yourself. These actions will more than likely turn your potential new dude off and he will avoid all future calls. If he is seemingly boring or shy, still make attempts to ask the open-ended questions or ignite topics that you know are already of interest to him. Of course you should openly share personal stories, your individual likes and other life experiences. Simply make sure that the two of you are taking turns being verbally expressive. To let truth be told, a lot of guys don’t want to be on the phone in the first place. So, once you do get him to set aside the time to talk, make sure that you are being fair in giving him the room to speak. If you have to ask, “ARE YOU STILL THERE?”… It means you are indeed dominating the conversation & he has gone silent in hopes that you will shut up.
MAKE YOUR FOLLOW UP PHONE CALLS SPORADIC – Just because the initial phone conversation went exceptionally well does not mean that the next few will be just as successful. There is no need to call his phone every single morning or every single night at the same time. When you have constant phone contact with someone new, it can sometimes limit what the two of you have left to discuss. The daily, back to back calls may even contribute to those awkward, silent moments that many of us try our best to avoid. If you stay on the phone three hours the first night, maybe allow the following day to be filled with a fun exchange of text messages and the third day spent face-timing or skyping. There is no rule that states two people HAVE to talk on the phone every single day in order to truly get to know one another better during the initial dating phase of their relationship.
Successfully getting through our first phone call with a new guy can be a challenging task. However, when we plan ahead, ask open-ended questions, listen intently, and refrain from dominating the convo, we create a space where this potential love interest will want to talk to us again. And as the two of you grow closer and your dude becomes more comfortable, maybe he will choose to carry the weight of guiding the follow up conversations.
written by Bryanna A. Jenkins & edited by Xem VanAdams
I first began my transition in 2008. At that time, I would have never imagined as a black transgender woman from Baltimore City, that I would see a day where other black transgender women were being recognized nationally for their contributions to entertainment. In recent years, it has become commonplace to witness my sisters dominate television screens, grace the covers of magazines, be included in conversations about feminism and also receive admiration for their beauty, poise and decorum. Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Isis King, Madison Hinton and Amiyah Scott all exist as shining beacons of excellence amongst black transgender women. I applaud each of these ladies who are birthed from the struggles in our community, but use their platforms not only to entertain the masses but to educate and consistently advocate for change amongst the treatment and acceptance of all transgender people.
However, my high is interrupted and I am slapped back to the reality that black transgender women are facing a state of emergency. One of the gifts that the increased media visibility of black transgender women provides is that is has amplified our multiple oppressions.
I’m forced to remember that 17 of my sisters: transgender women of color spread across this country have been senselessly murdered in 2015 alone. I remember that two weeks ago our community lost 5 sisters in one week — with 3 bodies identified in a single day. I have to face the hard truth about a large majority of my sisters being murdered at the hands of men of color who each lady was engaged with intimately or romantically. Every time I see a new headline detailing the story of how one of my sisters has been callously murdered, I think of missed conversations about how necessary it is for black families especially to embrace their children who are transgender and to also continue loving, protecting, and pouring into them. I also think of missed conversations about how space needs to be given to black men who are trans-attracted – helping each one to understand and accept themselves so that they can love transgender women instead of hiding or harming them in fear of social repercussion. I remember that when most of my sisters’ deaths were reported, they were each mis-gendered, misnamed, and vilified in the news. And the one thing that I remember the most is that the same people praising the Amiyah’s, Janet’s, Isis’ and Laverne Cox’s, are the same individuals excusing and condoning the murders of black transgender women on ground level.
There is an ironic dichotomy between black transgender women who have received media visibility and black transgender women who maintain regular everyday lives.
The same people who look to mainstream transgender women as a source of information and entertainment fail to see the humanity of everyday black transgender women whose bodies are constantly under social and physical attack through systems of patriarchy and white supremacy.
There exists a hard misconception regarding the idea that since a few black transgender women have “made it”, that somehow all is well with the black trans community as a whole. I know that is not the case. Black transgender women exist at the intersection of multiple oppressed identities. In America, the oppression of being a person who is black, female, and transgendered is a unique experience that more often than not leaves most black transgender women at the fringes of society. We are most disproportionately affected when it comes to homelessness, unemployment, victims of violence and harassment, faced with discrimination, difficulties accessing healthcare, and being murdered in drove numbers.
Society is still very much uncomfortable with having real conversations about transgender people. The common understanding of our lives is limited to our body parts and neglects our lived experiences. Our narrative has been neglected for so long or has carelessly been clumped into the real stories and tales of gay males.
Additionally, black transgender people have always existed within the structure of the black community at large, but we have always been erased from cultural consciousness due to social levels of hate and intolerance. The experiences of black transgender women have been separated from the experiences of black people as a whole. The increased media visibility has ignited the process of black transgender women socially realigning with the black community in this current climate of black liberation movements.
“Blackness” or what it means to be a black woman in America is diverse and it is indeed varied.
I believe that the work truly begins by having intentional inclusion of issues that affect black transgender women interwoven into movements that are working to address black liberation such as: #BlackLivesMatter. The inclusion would help to change the trajectory of how black transgender people are not only talked about in social spaces but how our humanity is protected and uplifted.
It also remains important for those trans women who start to receive mainstream media visibility to continue bringing the issues of black transgender women to the forefront – using their popular platforms to help dismantle systems of oppression that work to diminish and devalue our lives.
There is a lot of work that still has to be done that will not only involve the visibility of more diverse black transgender women but it will also involve SOLIDARITY from those cisgender people who call themselves friends and allies to our community. Intentional efforts of using cisgender privilege to interrupt patterns of discrimination and erasure for transgender people will be vital if we are to fight for the liberation of the black transgender women we love to see entertain us online, via television or otherwise.
I am hopeful that I will still be living to see a day where black transgender women will not only be celebrated for their contributions to the world at large, but we will also be celebrated for living our most authentic lives — free of judgment, ridicule and shame.
Bryanna A. Jenkins, B.S., M.A.
The Baltimore Transgender Alliance
Founder & Director
Trans Activist, Writer
Facebook: Bryanna A. Jenkins
The summer of 2015 has unified black people under an umbrella of consciousness that encourages the development of our own ideals and unique forms of expression. Seasonal events such as Curl Fest and Afro Punk have been designed to magnify the voices of black people and to also offer a platform where the black experience is celebrated instead of brutalized or interrogated. Each local and national gathering seems to attract a crowd of African-American people who are often young, eccentric and easily distinguishable from those who regularly represent our race and culture within the framework of mainstream media. These crowds are dominated especially by a slew of women adorned in their dashiki dresses, wedge sandals, big, wooden jewelry and big, shea butter infused, twist-outs to match. These women exist as this generations ethnic, online icons – the card carrying members of #TeamNatural. Seen by onlookers up and down numerous tumblr timelines, Instagram feeds and various blogs dedicated solely to their subgroup amongst black women, #TeamNatural seeks to embrace beauty on their own terms by first accepting their natural, physical traits.
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a surge in African-American women who are consciously choosing to display their tight curls and natural coils as opposed to wearing Eurocentric, chemically enhanced styles. Mainstream Hollywood starlets like Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o and Tracee Ellis Ross are walking red carpets and taking center stage under a spotlight that reinforces the beauty of cropped, kinky, spiraled hairdos — challenging America’s obsession with long, straight, blonde locks. Young, black girls are witnessing a change in the tides. Their big sisters, aunts, classroom teachers and moms are truly beginning to cultivate the roots of our ancestors by now embracing their natural wave patterns, instead of heating and straightening their hair strands or hiding them beneath bundles of Brazilian weave. Still, however, as more and more women begin to dump their perm kits and elect to wear hairstyles that cater to the likeness of Angela Davis, I have to wonder if #TeamNatural is all but another contemporary, pop-culture trend or a permanent movement towards changing the narrative for black women.
In light of current political and social protests against racism, ignorance and police brutality, it seems that black women are joining forces to disengage themselves from the physical standards of beauty that have been structured by American society. Within this raging climate, #TeamNatural seems to represent not only a simple hairstyle, but also a sense of empowerment for women of color. Just as the civil rights movement of the 1960’s highlighted the civil wrongs on American soil, people began wearing AFROS as a revolutionary political statement. More than just simply an expression of fashion or style, the natural textured fro became a distinguishable representation of black power. Now, over five decades later, it’s not too farfetched to believe that the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement has ignited the reemergence of progressive statements that black women are making by using their virgin hair to represent self pride.
My sister exists as one of the only women amongst her core circle of friends who still gets her hair permed every 6-8 weeks, visits the salon twice each month for professional styling and sometimes elects to have her strands highlighted with honey blonde streaks. While she has spent this past summer wearing long, Senegalese braids, my sister admits that she often feels judged by her female peers and other black women alike for not jumping on the #TeamNatural bandwagon. She does not ever wear weaves, extensions or wigs. Sometimes my sister wears her hair straight, bent at the ends and a short bang that edges slightly above her eyebrows. Mostly, however, her hair is styled in shoulder length curls that fall all around her head. As a professional, corporate woman who engages in yoga and other gym related exercise programs at least 3-4 times each week, my sister has shared with me that it’s simply easier and more convenient to manage her hair when it is processed and permed.
Meanwhile, despite her personal preferences and choice of convenience over the now popular twist-out hairstyle, it seems that my sister, along with other women in her position, are possibly being looked down upon. These women may be seen by those who exist along the #TeamNatural spectrum as “still” simulating whiteness and conforming to the mainstream standard of beauty.
But if #TeamNatural exists as more than a contemporary, pop-culture trend, then it suggests to me that the movement is indeed open to enveloping all women who support the idea of progression. As black women join forces to increase their visibility on movie screens and magazine covers, inside of board rooms, along the front lines of major political parties and amongst the ranks of the powerful, decision makers in the world, ones decision to wear her hair in its natural state is only a part of the fight. That very brave and powerful decision can possibly be paired alongside the responsibility that comes with redefining a generation.
The movement could begin challenging its members to live an overall, organic lifestyle. Wearing your hair in tight curls or a kinky updo does not necessarily make one natural, conscious or socially aware. I’m also thinking of the black women who elect to have thick, afro-textured, wooly fake hair sewn into their real, braided hair as a method to merely achieve the “look” of being natural.
The natural hairstyles are merely the top layer that sits above a pyramid that can include organic eating, African dress, minimal to no facial makeup, the full use of natural soaps, toothpaste, juices and other organic, skin care products as well. Beneath the Afros, must exist an understanding of what wearing natural hair represents politically, as well as a train of thought that is focused on total abandonment of processed living.
It is my hope that #TeamNatural and all of it’s card-carrying sisters remain as visible and collectively strong long after the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag fades from online, trending lists. I want to feel that black women truly understand that their natural, physical beauty shouldn’t only be celebrated in mass numbers as opposition to racial unrest or the fight for equality on American soil. Being proud of our skin and our nappy or kinky hair isn’t a trend that only coincides with a social climate riddled with hatred and earthly damnation against black people.
If #TeamNatural continues to reign supreme in the pages of our magazines, on our billboards and amongst our everyday communities, black women take back the agency in deciding the value and politics of their entire being amongst contemporary, westernized society.
Xem VanAdams Presents
Love, Dating and Relationships Between Men
The iPhone Group Chat Live
*In association with XemSays.com and Emerald Eye Entertainment
The themes of love, dating and relationships between men of the LGBT community frame this 30- minute, real life video segment. Over the past three years, out writer, speaker, advice columnist and online personality, Xem VanAdams has spent countless hours throughout each day engaged in a series of group text message and screen-cap exchanges with his two good friends, NATE and DUANTE. On Saturday, July 11, 2015, the trio invited three other guys to join them in Washington, DC for a roundtable discussion that would bring to life their iPhone group chat conversations. MATTHEW, BRANDON and CHRISTOPHER were added as round table contributors to the candid conversation. The video release offers a balance in the images, ideas and experiences that comprise the spectrum of the modern day gay male.
With the unprecedented success of FOX’s latest musical-drama, Empire, it’s no secret that the character of Jamal Lyon has especially resonated with cross-cultural audiences. Jamal’s passion, talent, confidence and external strength appeal to not only the gay male, but also to the special women in our lives who support and champion our journey. Behind closed doors, if Jamal were to be sitting with his close, same gender loving friends, this video visually peers into how the group conversation may look and possibly sound. “Love, Dating & Relationships Between Men: The iPhone Group Chat Live (Washington, DC)” invites viewers to witness and embrace some of the backstory that creates our personal lives as open, gay men living in a major, American city. Filmed by Joshua Cristos and his Malak Media team, this group of guys engages on film in a 30-minute conversation that successfully addresses the relationship dynamics that frame their individual lives, which then ultimately ties them all together.
Join us today by watching and possibly posting, sharing or linking this special Xem VanAdams video segment that has been released exclusively via youtube.com/XemVanAdams, XemSays.com & XemSays.tumblr.com.
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Xem VanAdams is a writer, speaker, advice columnist and nationally known online personality. Xem offers love, lifestyle and self-esteem advice through original articles posted to his XemSays.com website and a series of informational and entertaining videos recorded for his youtube.com/XemVanAdams channel.
I have spent the majority of my time over the past seven years sitting and existing behind closed doors. While writing, recording and collaborating with other creative types, my journey hasn’t provided many opportunities to form new, close relationships. I have created a space for myself, consciously and subconsciously where I am forced to rely on the random contact with friends who have been a part of my life since Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski reigned over Saturday mornings. It makes me feel good knowing that the individuals who fill the positions in my circle are people who listen to me, share with me, and like me as I AM – even as I have grown and changed into someone who isn’t as publicly social. In my daily struggle to reach mainstream media success, I have chosen to remain in regular contact with those who give me good advice when I ask for it, assists in taking action that will help me reach my goals, and works alongside me to help figure out what to do next in moments where I am facing difficult times. My goal is to maintain a crew I can tell anything to and know they will not betray my confidence.
In many circumstances, this generation has lost sight of the significance and supreme purpose of surrounding themselves with a group of people who can truly be considered friends. Instead, many teens and twenty-something’s have opted to simply hang out with individuals who engage in constant fun when out and about, while in the process — looking good standing together for group shots. The “MY CREW IS BETTER THAN YOUR CREW” slogan dictates a contemporary, collective status of surface qualities: pseudo notoriety and second hand loyalty amongst the ranks. Many young people are choosing their friends based on convenient connections that have very little to do with creating a circle where the interactions enrich their individual lives. Everyone wants to be accepted by the “cool kids” – even if that top tier of the social paradigm only provides temporary self worth and gratification. It has seemingly become enough however — in a world where including non-talent related booking information in an online bio has replaced the honor of listing degrees, certifications and other substantial achievements.
“MY CREW IS BETTER THAN YOUR CREW” should be measured on the basis of collective accomplishments and group success if indeed one circle is even to be compared to another. Are the majority of the people you call your “crew” involved in daily tasks and activities that somehow contribute to the growth and productivity of the communities from where they stem? When others see your “crew” walking into a venue or standing side-by-side at a Sunday, rooftop party, are you all being greeted with looks of admiration and handshakes gripped in respect? There’s a huge difference between a crowd being physically attracted to most or all members that comprise a crew and that same crowd feeling drawn to each member as a result of their positive energy and personal vibes. This generation sometimes confuses the surface attention their circle of friends receives, with the levels of high regard that is often afforded to those who are making great, individual strides.
It’s so easy to get caught up in this whirlwind of group praise and adulation when people don’t fully understand who they are behind closed doors or what their purpose is in the world at large.
People who are constantly attaching themselves to other social groups, unable to walk outside alone or attend events without being seen with a slew of others are often dealing with issues of inferiority. Somehow, they don’t feel confident enough to face the world as a solo entity — in fear that their insecurities and weaknesses will be exposed on the front lines. It’s easier to hide our lack of confidence or pride in self behind the names and reputations that others have built and established for themselves. Individuals who often jump between social circles, hanging with this group today and that crew tomorrow – are usually in search of their own identity. Because they are unknowingly confused about what they want to do with their lives or how to create a plan to reach certain goals, they constantly ride the coattails of people who are seemingly powerful & revered. “MY CREW IS BETTER THAN YOUR CREW” is only as relevant as ones perception. When each person who comprises the crew isn’t able to stand on their own accomplishments and ride the wave of their solo merit, it echoes a very empty reality. When someone has to rely on the company they keep to cushion the shattered framework of their self-esteem, that individual has to begin building their internal strength.
When we force ourselves to engage in public and private activities that don’t involve the distractions of television, music, the internet or the presence of other people, we begin figuring out who we are at the core. The silent time we spend with ourselves allows buried thoughts to rise to the surface of our minds and hidden feelings to pump their way through the largest vessels in our hearts. We give ourselves the space and time to not only identify some of our pain, confusion, frustration and self-doubt, but we allow our minds to process methods in dealing with these internal battles. Constantly hanging out with the “crew” only creates a situation where we train ourselves to only feel comfortable and confident within group settings. Alone time then becomes a nightmare of sorts – igniting a fear of being with our own struggles and demons behind closed doors.
WHO ARE YOU WITHOUT YOUR CREW? Sit by the water for two to three hours on a Sunday afternoon with no ipod, ipad or partner alongside you. Patiently wait and allow the tides to turn on your mind. The answer can only be uncovered when an individual separates themselves from the outside world, and deals with the mental and emotional layers of their stripped down character. It may be uncomfortable but it IS necessary.
At this time, my entire core audience is well aware that a major video project is being released next Sunday, August 16, 2015 via this official XemSays.com website, the youtube.com/XemVanAdams channel, as well as XemSays.tumblr.com. Five weeks ago, promotions began featuring a group of men sitting and standing together on a residential set located in Northeast Washington, DC. Following a series of candid photos appearing across the various Xem VanAdams social media networks, specific information and details regarding the content of the filming session was released appropriately. Now, we exist exactly one week prior to the distribution of a filmed, 30-minute, roundtable discussion where six men speak candidly about their direct and indirect experiences associated with love, dating and relationships. The segment is being released on August 16, 2015 to commemorate the seven year anniversary of the first viral video to be spread across the world wide web from Xem VanAdams on August 16, 2008.
Now that the entire cast has seen the professional, final copy of “Love, Dating & Relationships Between Men“: The iPhone Group Chat Live (Washington, DC), I elected to share a small segment of the footage with the audience who will be the first to embrace the material in full next week. Pulling 5 minutes of spliced visuals from the completed version, this preview highlights various pieces of the conversation where Xem VanAdams inquires about individual dating rituals and romantic life experiences. With each individual sharing different points of view and opinions, this quick clip offers a peek into what is to be expected from the upcoming video segment.
PLEASE PREPARE TO WATCH THE EAGERLY ANTICIPATED VIDEO PROJECT WITHIN THE FIRST 24 HOURS OF ITS RELEASE ON SUNDAY, AUGUST 16, 2015. If you have never shared a public comment within the past 7-8 years on any of the Xem VanAdams blogs, articles, videos or other posts, please make this release your first offering of online feedback. Additionally, it is being requested that you click the “THUMBS UP” button that will exist at the bottom right of the uploaded video content. Regardless of the amount of “LIKES” that the video has garnered at the time of your viewing, PLEASE add yours as well — for each “LIKE” counts as a visual display of support. We will need you to extend your support even further within the first 24 hours of release by also SHARING THE VIDEO LINK on your twitter timeline, within your Facebook groups, on your tumblr page, reposting Xem’s promo image from the video and accompanying caption on Instagram after it is uploaded between 8pm EST and 9pm EST, as well as embedding the video to your personal website or other online forums where you may be registered. Help this video release achieve massive viewership and widespread reach.
THANK YOU for continuing to engage with Xem VanAdams and the quality content that is released as a stem of the Xem Says brand, as well as the umbrella, Emerald Eye Entertainment vision.
If we are being completely honest with ourselves, no one actually wants to breakup with their boyfriend, fiancé or husband after discovering his first cheating scandal. Ideally, “he cheats once and I’m gone” is the motto many of us carry entering into a new relationship. However, after years of building something comfortable and establishing a familiar space alongside someone special, most people aren’t going to let go of their romantic investment simply because their man makes one mistake. Whenever we tend to discuss the realities of cheating amongst our social circles, people who have never experienced a long-term relationship are quick to suggest that a side-piece should never be approached. Some individuals feel that the man we romantically involve ourselves with is the only party who should be answering our questions or providing an explanation about his involvements outside of the relationship. And while I do agree that the man we love should be held responsible for all of his disloyal and unfaithful ways, a man is rarely going to offer the entire story once he gets caught.
Men sit quietly and listen to their partner scream, holler and GO OFF about his cheating antics because he needs to figure out how much information you’ve actually discovered. A man’s responses will usually only address the simple facts or assumptions you’ve laid before him. So, unless you’ve physically caught him engaged in a sexual act with someone else, his details regarding the other person are going to strictly align with the basics of what you may have found out or been told.
When you are wondering why your man isn’t saying anything as you are screaming to the top of your lungs and presenting your evidence against him, it’s because he is waiting for you to reveal all of the facts that you have gathered. He is never going to respond in the middle of your rant – possibly incriminating himself by addressing a portion of his affair that you know nothing about. Hence the reason you may want to address the side-piece first.
In contemporary culture, playing the role of the side piece has become a glorified, made for reality television career. Intentionally pursuing men who are knowingly involved in long-term relationships has become a routine that is now being practiced publicly. The side piece, known commonly as the “other man” or “other woman” is often an individual who isn’t necessarily looking for love – but instead has set their sights on a social or financial come up by way of a guy who seemingly “has it all”. People are now plotting situations to connect with married, engaged and other romantically linked men as a ploy to cause trouble and create pseudo opportunities for themselves. Sometimes, our men are to blame for igniting the initial stages of the rendezvous with the other person. However, in some circumstances, he is merely guilty of stepping into a bait trap and getting caught up in a situation that he had no business entertaining in the first place.
In some circumstances, the other individual your dude is dealing with has no idea that he is involved in a solid, romantic relationship. This is why approaching his side-piece in a mature fashion can benefit the outcome of this unfortunate situation. In the event that he was the pursuer, he possibly presented himself as a single man who is free to date, deal and sleep with anyone he so chooses. And it’s in this instance that the side-piece will be so disgusted and feel so degraded being lied to and played as second best, that he or she will immediately cut all ties with your guy. You will still have to make the logical decision to either continue being romantically involved with your man or not, but by addressing the side-piece directly, you have potentially eliminated the length of time it may have taken for him to end the affair.
Despite his admittance to any and all wrongdoing, a man isn’t going to immediately unfollow a side-piece on social media or send a text stating that all communication needs to cease. He isn’t going to rush to verbally tell the other person that he is actually involved in a relationship and has decided to focus his attention on that romantic commitment. Yes, it is a man’s job to end any sexual or inappropriate relationships that he has involved himself in outside of his established partnership. Sometimes, however, taking matters into our own hands resolves the surface issue quicker — that surface issue being the physical presence of this third party.
The other skanky and cantankerous type of side-piece are the ones who pursued your man and were fully aware of his relationship status in the very beginning. This type of side-piece is indeed jealous of what you’ve established with your man and has convinced themselves that by messing with him, the interaction places their questionable status on your social and moral level. Once approached face to face, this type of “other person” will more than likely share all of the details of the affair in an attempt to hurt you or knock you down a few pegs. Some of the information will be over exaggerated of course, but much of what you were unable to uncover on your own will be laid on the table for you to decipher.
At least by first approaching the other person in this instance, you are able to present your dude with a full spectrum of details and events surrounding his indiscretions. Instead of sitting back and only having to address the minor details that you are able to lay on the table upon stumbling across that first late night text message, the information that you’ve gathered from his “other”, forces him to address the entire, sorted situation.
Keep in mind, however, that a side-piece is only as relevant and threatening to your relationship as your man allows that individual to be. If your dude truly honors and respects the sanctity of what he has established alongside you, there isn’t another person walking who can seduce him into violating your trust or his loyalty to you. Sometimes, men do give in to physical temptations. Once you find out about the cheating, whether it is mild flirtation or an intense, ongoing relationship, you have to decide very quickly how to best effectively handle the situation. Do you approach him with the minor, initial information that you have uncovered on your own or do you approach the side-piece first to seek details and to make your position as the boyfriend or girlfriend, understood?
Either way, there is nothing socially or morally wrong with deciding to stay with your man after discovering that he has indeed cheated. However, a cheating mistake repeated more than once then becomes a conscious decision. You can accept his apology and promises the first time, but do not ever tolerate a recycling door that your man leaves open for other people and side-pieces to constantly enter your relationship. It is totally unacceptable.
COMING SOON: “LOVE, DATING & RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN MEN“:
The iPhone Group Chat Live (Washington DC) — Sunday, August 16, 2015
to be exclusively released via youtube.com/XemVanAdams, XemSays.com & XemSays.tumblr.com
between 8pm EST — 9pm EST