Sweet 16: Top Television Series of 2016

It’s one of my favorite times of the year. It’s where I review the best and brightest that television had to offer in the previous year. If you haven’t already, you should check out my Top Films of 2016. Go ahead, check it out, I’ll wait. No really, I’ll wait.
You back? Awesome.

As is the standard with my movie year-in-review, my television selections have to pass the Upkins Media Litmus Test.

Without further adieu…..

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Gamechanger: Upkins Media Litmus Test

Originally published on Mental Health Matters

They say necessity is the mother of all invention. One thing was certain, I found myself in desperate need a few years back.

As a speculative fiction author and a queer person of color (QPoC), I’m constantly frustrated not only with the lack of diversity, but the nonstop misogyny, racism, and queerphobia that continues to be the status quo in media.

More than that, as someone who suffers from depression, high anxiety and ptsd, I found the subliminal bigotry taking a toll on my mental health. Not only was I having trouble writing and creating, but some days I found myself physically ill and under the weather.

Not one to sit around and do nothing, I decided to take action.

I always appreciated the idea behind the Bechdel test. Designed to call attention to gender equality and combat sexism, the Bechdel test must satisfy three requirements:

  1. The movie has to have at least two women in it
  2. who talk to each other
  3. about something besides a man

As wonderful a tool the Bechdel test is in combatting misogyny, unfortunately, it doesn’t address the racism and homophobia. Similar racial criteria have also come up short for me. This was certainly an opportunity to fill a void for QPoCs such as myself.

The Upkins Media Litmus Test is a set of questions I’ll pose before I even entertain watching a television series, movie, reading a novel, a comic book or any other form of media.

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Diamonds

Okay so here’s another fun post.

One of the things my buddies always tease me about is that even though I’m a gay male, I’m repeatedly told that I have exemplary taste in women, in terms of admiration and being a fanboy.

Case in point my “religion” is the Goddess known as Gina Torres, aka Perfection Herself aka she who is married to Laurence Fishburne, the Emissary of Excellence.

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But Torres isn’t the only boss chick who has warmed my heart. One thing I’ve observed is that the women I admire are like diamonds. Each of them vastly different, but a unique treasure. Some I admire for their beauty (external and internal), their talents, some their minds, some their swagger, you get the idea. The unifying traits among them, they’re each strong, intelligent, beautiful, gifted and powerful.

While there’s no way for me to list every phenomenal woman, the following is a small sampling of the diamonds I treasure.

See what I did there?

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Character Study: Zoe Washburne

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So over on Nashville Geek Life, I’ve launched a new series called Character Study. Essentially I provide an analysis about a character in spec fic and explain what makes them unique and interesting.

With February being Black History Month, I wanted the inaugural post to focus on a character who personifies ‪#‎BlackExcellence‬. A Big Damn Heroine. A cowgirl by the name of Zoe Washburne, portrayed by the Goddess known as Gina Torres, perfection herself.

click here to continue reading….

Xena Was Black

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File this under things you learn every day.

Amina was born around 1533 in Zaria, a province of today’s Nigeria. She was the daughter of Bakwa of Turunku. Their family’s wealth was derived from the trade of leather goods, cloth, kola, salt, horses and imported metals.

When Bakwa died in 1566, the crown of Zazzua passed to Amina’s younger brother, Karama. Their sister, Zaria, fled the region and little is known about her.

Although Bakwa’s reign was known for peace and prosperity, Amina chose to hone her military skills from the warriors of the Zazzau military. As a result, she emerged as leader of the Zazzua cavalry. Many accolades, great wealth, and increased power resulted from her numerous military achievements.

When her brother Karama died after a ten-year rule, Amina had matured into a fierce warrior and had earned the respect of the Zazzau military and she assumed the reign of the kingdom.

Amina led her first military charge a few months after assuming power. For the rest of her 34 year reign, she continued to fight and expand her kingdom to the greatest in history. The objective for initiating so many battles was to make neighbouring rulers her vassal and permit her traders safe passage. In this way, she boosted her kingdom’s wealth and power with gold, slaves, and new crops. Because her people were talented metal workers, Amina introduced metal armor, including iron helmets and chain mail, to her army.

To her credit, she fortified each of her military camps with an earthen wall. Later, towns and villages sprung up within these protective barriers. The walls became known as Amina’s Walls and many of them remain in existence to this day.

According to legend, Amina refused to marry and never bore children. Instead, she took a temporary husband from the legions of vanquished foes after every battle. After spending one night together, she would condemn him death in the morning in order to prevent him from ever speaking about his sexual encounter with the queen.

Legend also decrees she died during a military campaign at Atagara near Bida in Nigeria. Her exploits earned her the moniker Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man.
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Now if Amina’s story sounds incredibly familiar to many of you, there’s a reason for that. Amina was reportedly used as a model for the fictional heroine Xena: Warrior Princess.

Given the fact that Amina’s origins and exploits reads almost verbatim to Xena’s, I’m inclined to believe it.

You know what this means right? Xena was based on a historical black woman. You know, I used to joke for years that Xena had a bit of a sister in her. Everything from her swagger, to her weakness for the brothers. NOW it makes sense, and I wasn’t projecting that.

The real Xena was black ya’ll. I knew it!

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Now anyone who’s known me for five seconds knows how much I love me some Xena: Warrior Princess. In addition to being a great show, it broke a lot of ground and paved the way for female and queer protagonists. I would even argue that Xena will probably go down as television’s greatest action hero of all time. And whether she’s on Xena, Battlestar Galactica, or Spartacus, folks also know I’m down for all things Lucy (F)Lawless. But damn, we should’ve had a Black Xena.

Imagine if instead of getting cast for the role of Nebula and Cleopatra on Hercules and Xena, the goddess herself, Gina Torres was handed the role of the warrior princess. She would’ve have redefined the term awesome, more than she does now. If that’s even possible or imaginable.

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DAYUM! Now I want a Black Xena, RIGHT NOW! Somebody make that happen! Fuck. I guess I gotta write that story myself.

Further Reading:

http://blackhistorypages.net/pages/amina.php

http://www.answers.com/topic/amina-of-zaria

Personal Resolutions For 2013

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Why yes my hair is channeling some serious John Barrowman.

 

As I do around this time every year, I’ve been reflecting and making New Years resolutions or personal commitments for self improvement. Interestingly enough, I’m actually good about keeping my resolutions as last year proved.

So as of now, the following are my personal resolutions for 2013.

1) I will continue to work on my novels and stories (obviously) and seek out areas of opportunities to improve my craft and take my career to the next level. I’m also going to figure out a way to get more organized about my writing times.

2) I’m going to continue to socialize with friends and loved ones and try to hang out with them when the opportunities present themselves. It definitely helped last year in regards to stress, sadness and whatnot so I’m definitely going to continue to do that.

3) I have tons of books I need to read and catch up on. I need to organize a schedule for that as well. And I need to remind myself it’s okay if I don’t get to all of them at once.

4) I’m going to review my longterm goals and decide where I want to be, what I’m going to do and make moves to achieve those goals…..when I figure them out. This won’t happen overnight but I’ll definitely be looking at what I want career-wise, where I want to live, what’s feasible and what are my options.

5) Continue to improve on myself, physically, mentally and spiritually. Continue to be patient with other. It’s just as important that I be patient and forgiving of myself.

6) Continue to play video games. It’s good as a stress reliever. Especially when you work 10 hour shifts and quite frankly I’m acting like a kid again which is weird because when I was a kid I was 10 going on 45. *shrugs shoulders*

7) I’m going to start having some Gina Torres marathons be it Suits, Firefly, Serenity, Angel, the Matrix, Hercules, Xena, Justice League or any other show/movie the Goddess has graced. Because you can never have too much Gina Torres in your life.


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Just saying.

 

8) Continue to spend more time with Casper (my iPhone 5) who has just been a godsend.

9) Try to take more vitamins. I hear they’re good for you.

10) Give myself a reprieve if I’m not able to do any or all of these things. I’ll just simply start over and try again. And that’s okay.

 

 

So those are my personal resolutions for 2013. What’s yours?