WaterCoolerConvos

Our 10 Best Posts of 2014

logo2014 has been a year of amazing growth for Water Cooler Convos. We covered everything from the most notorious events in pop culture to the egregious acts of violence against Blacks. And when you look at our top 10 posts for the year, a portrait of our diverse content presents itself. Grab a cup and join us for this walk down Memory Lane.

First, here are our honorable mentions. These are our favorites that didn’t make the Top 10 cut:

Here is a countdown of the year’s top 10 posts:

0614_Blue110. White Beauty, Black Hair, and Blue Ivy

This year, there was an actual Change.org petition called “Comb Her Hair” referring to Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy. As sickening as that is on the surface, we dove in deeper and explained just why this act was so sinister. White beauty is set as the standard, and the kinky and curly Black women are left out in the cold. As a result, many in the mainstream just don’t understand how “different” operates, opting to either demonize or make a spectacle of the “other.” And it is all made worse as it falls on the head of a child.

thug-kitchen-couple9. Thug Kitchen

One of the most ridiculous developments of 2014 was the popularity of the “Thug Kitchen” couple. Bolstered by a huge endorsement from Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway rose to prominence on the backs of fervor for vegan cooking and witty use of curse words and black dialect. The problem isn’t their cooking (though we admittedly haven’t tasted any of their “kick ass” recipes). It’s their disregard in using the term “thug.” In a world where Black people being labelled thugs and shot in the street, it’s a bit nauseating that this white couple would use the term for financial gain.

John-Crawford8. John Crawford Tragically Killed ‘Shopping While Black’ And Holding a Toy Gun

This year, it seemed like doing anything while Black was a enough reason to be thought a threat or a criminal and killed. One of the most troubling was the murder of John Crawford in Ohio. This showed the double-standard America has for gun ownership (just like with Tamir Rice). This showed that if White people call the police with any level of distress, cops will show up in a moment with their guns drawn and bullets flying. This showed that doing the right thing isn’t enough if you are Black.

aamer-rahman-water-cooler-convos7. Aamer Rahman Discusses White People, Racism, and…Magneto?

This year, we had the pleasure of interviewing a plethora of amazing individuals. There was Traci Braxton, Kristin Howerton, Olivia Cole, Brandon Bell and Marque Richardson from Dear White People, and of course Tim Wise. At the start of the year, we had the pleasure of getting acquainted with comedian Aamer Rahman. We were immediately blown away with his set on “reverse racism” and could not wait to interview him. If you missed it, check out our discussion on walking the line with racial comedy, not being a social change-maker, post-racialism, and the notion of getting an Asteroid M-like haven for brown people. It’s an interview like none other. It was blunt. It was humorous. And it was the beginning of a great relationship we’ve built our good friend Aamer. Be sure to follow him on Twitter at @aamer_rahman.

conspiracy_20theory_20rock_medium6. Five Boston Marathon Bombing Conspiracy Theories Debunked

Technically, this post doesn’t belong on this list since it was published back in 2013. However, it received enough hits in this year alone to take the #6 spot. That’s no easy feat. But why would a post about Boston Marathon conspiracy theories be so popular this far from the event itself? Well, people love a good conspiracy, especially when it casts doubt on the motives and actions of the big bad government. There were some doozies floated about the Boston Marathon bombing, my favorites being that a Sandy Hook principal that was killed in that shooting also died in the bomb blast. You deceptively orchestrate a major bombing like that and then accidentally say that a woman killed in another major event was killed there too? Yeah, most conspiracies are easily debunked.

katy-perry-appropriation5. Racism Doesn’t Work Both Ways and Neither Does Cultural Appropriation

I’m not sure why, but plenty of White folks lost their damn minds this year. They were wearing blackface, making lynching jokes, and letting Iggy Azalea make a fool of Hip Hop. But one of the most prevalent tools of an ignorant White person is false equivalency. If White people can be racist, then everyone else can be racist against White people (HINT: this is false by definition; what they are really looking for is bigotry or prejudice). The same goes for cultural appropriation. Context matters.

babyface-toni-braxton-portrait-press4. Toni Braxton and Babyface ‘Love, Marriage & Divorce’ Album Review

We reviewed our asses off this year. We saw releases from Daley, Candice Glover, Robin Thicke, Tank, Luke James, Traci Braxton, and D’Angelo. But the numbers don’t lie, and our visitors were clearly most most intrigued by Toni Braxton and Babyface’s collaborative effort “Love, Marriage, & Divorce.” And we can understand why. The re-teaming of the two rekindled that magic that catapulted Toni Braxton to superstardom in the first place. For those that might have had their doubts, Braxton and Babyface delivered in droves.

sjsu-student-rally-water-cooler-convos3. On-Campus Racism: SJSU Students Arrested for Torturing Black Roommate

Truthfully, we all should have seen the mounting issues with race coming. Back in 2013, these stories were starting to gain prominence. One of the most disturbing occurred at the end of 2013 involving students from San Jose State University. Three white students systematically tortured their black roommate by calling him “three-fifths” and “fraction”, placing a U-shaped bike lock around his neck, and barricading him in a closet (knowing he was claustrophobic). Nope, America is not post-racial. Not even close. So even though this post was published in 2013, it is no surprise that it made it into our top 3 for the year.

Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” is Most Certainly Racist

2. Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” is Most Certainly Racist

This is easily our most commented on post. Scroll down to the comments section (the ones we haven’t blocked, banned, or deleted) and you can see the arguments for and against Taylor Swift’s craft. The main debate centered around whether black women (or any women of color) were spotlighted under the dance genre of ballet. The fact that this was argued so passionately speaks to the underlying issue. The post’s popularity even prompted a follow-up piece on how Swift and Nicki Minaj are no where near the same. Even still, people are looking for any excuse possible to exonerate Ms. Swift of any wrongdoing. Why are people so invested in defending her? Why is the apparent casting by race dismissed by so many Whites? We may never know. But one thing is certain: our short, blunt, and curt analysis of her antics definitely rubbed some folks the wrong way, no matter how spot-on they were.

White Fear: The Single Greatest Killer of Black People in the US

1. White Fear: The Single Greatest Killer of Black People in the US

Another of our most commented on posts, it was written as the events on the ground of Ferguson, MO were unfolding in the wake of the murder of Michael Brown. Many people took immediate issue with the title. Is it inflammatory at first glance? Yes. But it is also true. Our post built from the initial outrage from killing of Michael Brown. When we speak of “White fear,” we are not speaking solely of White people shooting Black people. It is much deeper than that. “White fear” has ingrained itself in the lives and minds of every person in the country. White fear has manifested itself in so many structural ways that it has become part and parcel with the fundamental functions of every private and governmental institution in this country.

 


 

There is no doubt that race was a point of contention over the course of 2014. A unconscionable number of atrocities were committed this year, and people continue to protest across the country for justice. But there was a lot of joy in the year also. A lot of laughter. A lot of growth. So as we enter into 2015, we’d like to just say thank you to those that have been along the ride with us as well as those that recently joined up. We appreciate the support, and we’ll see you in 2015!

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Daren W. Jackson

Co-Founder/Editor
Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.

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