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Jay Smooth: Sandra Bland, Sam DuBose and the names we'll never know

Jay Smooth looks for lessons and signs of hope in the tragic deaths of Sandra Bland and Sam DuBose.

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Jay Smooth: 12 symbols of Southern pride actually worth celebrating

In this installment of the Illipsis, Jay Smooth tackles the controversy over the Confederate flag and considers the ways in which Southerners can take pride in their culture without celebrating symbols of white supremacy. And lest anyone think that he's directing his criticisms solely at those south of the Mason-Dixon line, Jay has a message for Northerners too: Namely, that they aren't exempt from the need to grapple with the uglier parts of United States history. "That legacy of racism is not a southern legacy, it’s an American legacy, and all us Yankees are very bit as complicit and connected to that history," he explains. "But one side effect of the persistence of the Confederate flag down there is that it lets us go under the radar with our denial of history up here...lets us keep getting away with Ben Afflecking that history away instead of wrestling with it like we need to."

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Jay Smooth: On Amy Schumer, comedy & dealing with criticism

In this installment of the Illipsis, Jay Smooth looks at the very human tendency to respond to criticism defensively — most recently demonstrated by Amy Schumer in her response to a critique in The Guardian — and considers why standup comedians seem to find it so difficult to deal with criticism. "Most standup comics came up in the world where you had to be tough, when you were up on stage you had to deal with negative attention in a tough way, you couldn’t show vulnerability to a heckler," he says. "But it’s not compatible with the internet; you need different survival tactics for this terrain."

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"Empathy does not preclude accountability:" Jay Smooth on Rachel Dolezal

Last night, while I was in the midst of making a video on the Rachel Dolezal situation, the news broke of this horrific racist killing in Charleston South Carolina. After much deliberation we have decided to release the video as scheduled, and I believe its core message is still relevant to the moment. But please know my whole heart is with the people of Charleston, Emanuel AME Church, and everyone affected by this wholly unthinkable yet all too American act of terrorism. - Jay Smooth

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What not to do when covering a woman running for President

Another election season is getting underway, which means another season of superficial, trivialitizing and downright insulting coverage of the women who run for office. In this installment of the Illipsis, Jay Smooth enlists Kat Lazo, Jennifer L. Pozner, Zerlina Maxwell and Samhita Mukhopadhyay to advise journalists and pundits on how to talk about female candidates without completely embarrassing themselves.

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The problem with political horse race journalism

In this installment of The Illipsis, Jay Smooth welcomes the presidential campaign season by railing against the ubiquity of "horse race" journalism, "this cycle where we’re constantly focused on discussing everything that matters the least about the political event that matters the most.” And he poses a challenge, both to himself and to other media movers and shakers: Cut back on the journalistic junk food. "What I’m going to do for this year, is commit to a 50-50 horse race human race challenge," he says. "For every 100 words, for every 2 minutes that I spend on the latest optics, the latest gaffe, the latest personality quirks, the latest move on the [political] chessboard, I’m going to spend an equal amount of time talking about what’s REALLY at stake."

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"Why do they never try to save them?": On Walter Scott

In this edition of The Illipsis, Jay Smooth's thoughts on Jay-Z's streaming music service Tidal are interrupted by the latest national tragedy: 50 year old African American father Walter L. Scott was shot in the back eight times while fleeing a police officer after a traffic stop went horribly wrong.

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Racial Me Time, or, how to recover from awkward racial conversations

In this installment of the Illipsis, Jay Smooth speaks out publicly about his much-publicized appearance last week on MSNBC'S "All in with Chris Hayes," blackness, self-identity and how corporations like Starbucks can actually make a difference to the cause of racial justice.

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"If my defense of racism was a Robin Thicke song, would I get sued for it?"

In this installment of the Illipsis, Jay Smooth laments the endless cycle of gaffe, backlash and defensiveness that dominates media coverage of racism, and wonders how the "purists and connoisseurs" of racial justice can dig deeper for the vital conversations that don't get as much airplay.

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Struggle, success and celebrating Selma

Jay Smooth explains how the struggles of activists and leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can inform how we make progress today.

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The Oscars and learning the craft of being good

In this installment of The Illipsis, Jay Smooth turns a critical (side) eye to the Academy Awards. While this year's presentation was the most "explicitly political" Oscars ceremony in years, the academy selections and nominees also managed to represent "the most exclusionary, white-ish, dudebro-ish" aspect of Hollywood. The mentality of the anonymously quoted "Oscar voter" revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, explains how the Academy's view of racists as "cretinous snaggletoothed hillbillys" masks the more insidious, covert racism that continues to taint the Academy's reputation.

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Marshawn Lynch and the theater of disobedience

Jay Smooth caps off the most recent NFL season by celebrating "this season's real MVP," Seattle Seahawks running back the Marshawn Lynch.



Why Kendrick Lamar is right. Even though he's kind of wrong

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On Ferguson, riots, and human limits

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  • All Articles 2 posts
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