All Articles Tagged "Gabrielle Union"

“They Find New Ways To Kill Us Everyday” Gabrielle Union On The Challenges Of Raising Young, Black Boys

October 24th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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It seems like every other week, I find something new to admire about Gabrielle Union. Whether she’s speaking out about women’s issues, race and racism, or the industry, she always speaks thoughtfully and poignantly. And her thoughts on raising the sons she shares with Dwyane Wade. Naturally, as the children of parents in the industry, they have advantages that she and her husband weren’t accustomed to growing up. And so they both have to make sure that their children still remember the conditions of “the real world.”

Recently Union appeared on the cover of Essence and in a behind-the-scenes video she spoke about the challenges she faces in raising Black boys to take pride in themselves but to present as subservient when confronted with police.

“Our conversations about race and police are constant. Even if society didn’t give us hashtags everyday to prompt us. I was raised talking about it all the time, very aware. Whether that be from Black scholars, and other Black intellectuals, Black artists. My mom was just very diligent about supplementing out “education.” Now I have to use education finger quotes because I didn’t know anything. I got to college and was clueless. I think they teach us what they want to teach us. And it’s up to you to figure out what you don’t know and be clear that you’re ignorant and then you can do something about it. I try to make sure our boys are not as ignorant as I was. We are raising privileged Black boys, which creates an interesting situation. That me and D—we weren’t raised with that kind of privilege. So we’re kind of learning through their eyes. They’re rich kids. The kind of friends they have, talk kind of crazy to adults. ‘Not you guys.’ because A. that’s not the house we have and B. you can’t say crazy, disrespectful things to authority figures and think you’re going to walk away and make it home. That’s not your reality. You’re gonna have Uncle LeBron, Uncle Chris Paul and Uncle Carmelo. Those are your perks.”

Then she spoke specifically about an incident where she and Dwyane feared for their sons’ safety. The boys asked Gabby if they could go to their neighbors’ basketball court and play. She said no because it was after dark.

“I don’t trust our neighbors to not see our teenage boys, our tall teenage boys, as children and not as threats to put down like an animal. D didn’t ask me if the boys had asked me. They pulled the ole okie doke. He doesn’t tell me until 30-40 minutes later when I asked where they were. And he was like, ‘Oh yeah, they walked down…’ I panic and then I get him to panic. We hop in the car and we go track them down. We told them to stop where they were. If they were under a street light, to just stay there. And as we’re in route to them there are cop cars coming from [their direction]. And it wasn’t even the cops that I was necessarily afraid of. Our neighbors have personal security too and in a stand your ground state, an open carry state, they’ll shoot you first and get off later.”

I try to think of every scenario but they find new ways to kill us everyday. We try to make them as aware and as informed as possible without stripping them of their pride. That’s a tough thing. How do you arm our Black boys with all the knowledge and all the pride and all the power that we can but then ask them to be subservient when it comes to illegal search and seizure. I still struggle with it. And it’s hard to tell somebody this is how you have to act. You don’t have to believe that about yourself but this is how you have to act so you can come home.”

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @VDubShrug.

UPDATE: BET Responds To Gabrielle Union’s Lawsuit Over Being Mary Jane Contract

October 12th, 2016 - By Brande Victorian
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BET has issued a statement in response to Gabrielle Union’s lawsuit:

“While we hold Gabrielle Union in the highest esteem, we feel strongly that we are contractually well within our rights and are committed to reaching a swift and positive resolution in this matter.”

Sources tell Deadline the Network plans to respond quickly in court as well.


Just as we were getting started for the next season of Being Mary Jane, we’ve learned that all is not well behind the scenes. Gabrielle Union is suing BET and Breakdown Productions for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation.


When Union was first approached to star in Being Mary Jane she was hesitant to commit to a TV series because of the schedule, but “BET’s then-general counsel Darrell Walker assured Union’s representatives that the actress wouldn’t be required to appear in more than 13 episodes per season — but a corporate policy required her performer agreement to include a provision allowing for a minimum of 10 episodes and a maximum of 26,” The Hollywood Reported stated.

According to Deadline, that’s the matter the actress took issue with.

“Although BET represented and assured Ms. Union before she agreed to perform in Being Mary Jane that it would never produce more than thirteen (13) episodes per season of the series, BET now wants to shoot twenty (20) episodes of the series back-to-back and cram all of the episodes into a single season in order to fraudulently extend the term of Ms. Union’s contract, with no additional consideration, and to deprive Ms. Union of her agreed-upon compensation for the next two seasons of Being Mary Jane,” the suit reportedly states. It is outrageous that BET would treat one of its biggest stars in this manner after all she has done to support the network and contribute to its success.”

Because season 1 of the show only had eight episodes and season 2 had 12, Union’s legal team renegotiated her contract so she would be paid for 13 episodes, even if BET didn’t order that many. “In 2015, her contract was amended again to include an executive producer credit and to require that at Union’s request a BET executive be physically on set during taping, according to the complaint,” THP said. “The suit also claims that Walker has been appointed the executive on set despite no longer being a BET employee and having no authority to act in response to production issues.”


The other issue is Union is to receive a pay raise with each season, and if season 5 episodes are pushed into season 4, she won’t get that increase.

“By way of example, for Season Four of the Series, the Agreement provides that Plaintiffs are to be paid $150,000 per episode for a minimum of thirteen (13) episodes of the Series, and for Season Five of the Series the Agreement provides that Plaintiffs are to be paid $165,000 per episode for a minimum of thirteen (13) episodes of the Series,” the suit states.

It’s for that reason that “Union is seeking general damages of at least $3 million and a declaration that BET cannot seek more than 13 episodes for any season of Being Mary Jane,” Deadline reported.

According to THP, taping for BMJ didn’t begin filming until just last month and Union wasn’t notified until a week before principal photography began that BET was going to run all 20 episodes as season four. This comes out just after Union’s cover for the November 2016 issue of Essence in which she talked about being added as a producer on the hit BET series, saying:

“For the first time in my whole career, I’ve actually been invited to the writer’s room. I walked in there as if I was meeting the Pope.

“I don’t just want to be a hired gun. I want to have a little bit more control over the narrative. The only way I can be empowered to do that is to be a producer. Now with as many projects that will have me, it’s part of the deal.”

Unfortunately, it sounds like BET doesn’t quite want to own up to that deal.

Gabrielle Union Covers Essence, Says She Understands If You Can’t Support Birth Of A Nation

October 11th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Gabrielle Union is striking quite the fierce pose for the November issue of Essence, and talking about everything from her fears as a stepmother of Black boys, to aging, and the drama surrounding Birth of a Nation.

Inside the issue, the 43-year-old said that she doesn’t worry about aging because she has more important things to worry about.

“I’m at an age where my ego doesn’t live and die by how many lines I have,” she said. “There’s more to life than line counting.”

That “more to life” includes being a great stepmother to husband Dwyane Wade’s sons Zaire and Zion, as well as the ballplayer’s nephew Dahveon whom Wade has custody of. She told the magazine that she worries often about them all of the time, especially with all of the instances of police brutality that have been in the news as of late.

“Until they walk through the door, I’m terrified,” she said. “Sometimes I just want to stay off my timeline, because it makes those waits until they walk through the door a thousand times worse. One of my biggest fears is them being a hashtag on some bulls—t.”

When she’s not busy looking after the young-ins, Wade is busy shooting Being Mary Jane, which returns in January, as well as her films Almost Christmas, which comes out November 11, and Birth of a Nation, which just came out on Friday. Union said that while she hopes people will give the latter film a chance because of its powerful story, she understands if those put off by the controversy surrounding filmmaker Nate Parker choose not to.

“As a rape survivor and as an advocate, I cannot shy away from this responsibility because the conversation got difficult,” Union said. “I don’t want to put myself above anyone’s pain or triggers. Every victim or survivor, I believe you. I support you. I support you if you don’t want to see the film. I absolutely understand and respect that. I can’t sell the film. This movie has always been about more than one person, and for the outspoken feminist advocates and allies who risked a lot to be a part of this project—Aja Naomi King, Aunjanue Ellis, Penelope Ann Miller—we are okay if you have to sit this one out, and we’re okay if you don’t, and we understand.”

Union also shared behind-the-scenes video and a photo from her photo shoot on Instagram. It included her dancing in a fringe jacket to Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover”:

Behind the scenes at my #Essence mag shoot… Thank you glam ❤s @larryjarahsims @kristoferbuckle #StateOfTheUnion

A photo posted by Gabrielle Union-Wade (@gabunion) on

Behind the scenes at my #Essence mag shoot… Thank you glam ❤s @larryjarahsims @kristoferbuckle #StateOfTheUnion

A photo posted by Gabrielle Union-Wade (@gabunion) on

Don’t you love everything about this photo shoot and cover? Wade sure does. He was caught by The Shaderoom saying that he hoped his wife kept the trench coat she wore front and center because “I got plans for it.

Naughty, naughty…and we love it.

Gabrielle Union Supports Alicia Keys’s #NoMakeup Movement On Social Media

October 5th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Despite what everyday people may think about Alicia Keys’s decision to do just about everything sans makeup these days via her #nomakeup movement (many of you think it’s ridiculous — we heard you), it’s being fully embraced by other stars. We told you about Keys helping the Today show’s Tamron Hall take off her makeup live, and now, she’s made Gabrielle Union a believer — only temporarily though.

According to People, Union took to Snapchat on Tuesday to show the singer love. She rocked a look similar to Keys’s current style, wearing a head wrap while not wearing a smidgen of makeup. Per the usual, the freckle-faced actress looked amazing.

Union posted a selfie on Snapchat saying, “No makeup, head wrap, hey Alicia Keys I see you!” According to People, she captioned the video “Alicia Keys” and added a few hearts. Soon after, she shared another image of herself, skin radiant, wrap piled on top of her head.



Of course, Union loves a beat face, so the actress was back to wearing makeup as she returned to the set of Being Mary Jane (*squeals in excitement*). Still, seeing her show off a makeup-free look is always nice, and she’s done it more than once in the last week:

Lookin like my mama…

A photo posted by Gabrielle Union-Wade (@gabunion) on

In case you’re wondering what the secret is to her glowing skin, Union told Elle in 2014 it’s all about consuming water, an entire gallon if possible, every day.

“The biggest thing that changed my life, the best anti-aging secret weapon, is that in my mid-thirties I started drinking a gallon of water a day,” she said. “It’s made a tremendous difference with my hair, skin, and nails. Everyone is always like, ‘What did you do differently than everyone else? Why are you aging so slow?’ It’s something that everyone has access to and it not only helps with your beauty, it also helps with your fitness and digestion.”

Get to drinking, ladies!

Gabrielle Union Would Love To Get Privileged Hollywood White Women Together To Discuss The Oppressive Systems They Benefit From

September 23rd, 2016 - By Brande Victorian
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Film Premiere of 'The Birth of A Nation' - Arrivals Featuring: Gabrielle Union Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 21 Sep 2016 Credit: Apega/

Film Premiere of ‘The Birth of A Nation’ – Arrivals
Featuring: Gabrielle Union
Where: Los Angeles, California, United States
When: 21 Sep 2016
Credit: Apega/

A fire has been lit in Gabrielle Union and we have to say we are more than willing to follow where the flame takes her. Following up on her op-ed in the LA Times discussing Nate Parker’s rape allegation, Union, who stars in Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, had a conversation with XoNecole in which she discussed how that essay came to be, her advice on rebuilding your self-worth after sexual assault, and what she’s willing and ready to do to incite change in Hollywood.

Check out the highlights:

XONecole: When you published your op-ed addressing Nate Parker’s personal controversy, Colin Kaepernick and several other athletes were being criticized in the media and lost endorsements for speaking out against social injustices. Was there any worry that if your op-ed came across as in defense of Nate Parker that it would hurt your brand?

Everyone on my team was in sync about me doing an op-ed, in fact, they wished it had come out sooner. It took me a long time to craft what I wanted to say and it still be helpful. My first few drafts were not as educational, so I consulted a group of my close friends who are active feminists. I also spoke with several male friends, as well as my husband, and everyone had very different opinions. In talking to numerous people, most of whom are parents, I realized everyone had a different idea about what consent was. So if, as educated adults, we differ on what consent is, imagine what our young people are faced with. Through the op-ed, I wanted to make sure I was very clear that no matter where you stand on the issue of Nate Parker, moving forward, let us all come together and be affirmative what verbal consent truly means. I thought framing the piece like that was more helpful and more constructive.

In terms of going to the Toronto Film Festival and facing the press, there was concern about my brand and the other projects I have coming up. Being Mary Jane is written by a black woman, for black women, and women in general relate to the character so you don’t want to alienate anyone. Some people have said, ‘If you’re a feminist, you should boycott the film.’ And I was like, ‘But wait, my role in the film and the reason I signed on was to talk about sexual violence.’ So it feels ass backwards to shirk that responsibility when the controversy swirling around our film is around sexual violence so who better to speak on it than me?

And if I take myself out of the conversation because it’s uncomfortable and because I’m worried about my brand, then my brand ain’t sh-t if I don’t stand up for what I’ve always stood up for since I became a rape survivor.

What is your advice to young women who are attempting to repair their self-worth and self-esteem after going through a traumatic experience like rape or sexual assault?

Firstly, you have to forgive yourself for doubting yourself and doubting your memory because so much of it is internalizing it all and feeling guilt and shame for something we have zero control over. Many of the people closest to us will say, ‘That’s what you get for being fast,’ or ‘What did you do? What were you wearing? What did you say?’ Because in a lot of our families, identifying evil that looks like us, that we’ve invited into our homes, is incredibly difficult, painful and can leave you feeling very powerless. It can be difficult to acknowledge that it happened which can lead to repressed memories which makes the path to recovery so much more difficult.

Forgive yourself for acting like a human and having to experience that excruciating pain. Forgive yourself if your family support isn’t the same as someone else’s.

I strongly encourage therapy. I’ve heard from many people, ‘I can’t afford a therapist.’ There’s free group therapy and other free and low-cost options available through your local rape crisis center as well as through hospitals. Money or a lack of resources should not be a hurdle to your healing. Regardless of your race, religion, gender, the help you need to move forward exists.

You have to become your own best advocate to overcome the hurdles that might be in your path. Sometimes the people that are holding us back are the people closest to us. Sometimes your mom, dad, best friend or boyfriend isn’t supportive. Maybe they’re blaming you or questioning your truth and sometimes the only way to get around that is to distance yourself emotionally because a lot of us may not have the luxury of putting a physical distance between the people that doubt you, but you can develop the skills that allow you to have emotional distance when you can’t have physical distance.

After being a part of such a powerful film, do you think your The Birth Of A Nation co-stars are more cognizant of white privilege? What types of conversations are you having with your colleagues about using this film to really incite change?

In terms of our cast specifically, the way my scenes were shot I didn’t have the same downtime in between filming to have those conversations with my co-stars. I didn’t get to really know them while we were shooting but from what I gathered they [Armie Hammer, Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley] are definitely aware of what white privilege is. Now how aware they are of their own privilege, I don’t know because that comes with consistent behavior modification. We will see on their next film if they’re still talking about the necessity of addressing oppression and racial inequality.

I have, however, had conversations with people that are on my team, the cast and crew that I work with, friends from high school, etc., and it’s been very fascinating to see that so many people are so resistant to the idea of oppression in America. They think you can just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and work hard enough to achieve the American Dream. People will say, ‘My parents came from another country and didn’t speak English,’ but even so you still get the privilege of whiteness. Most of the people that I know have never truly had to function on a level playing field. They’ll say, ‘We all went to school together and worked our ass off to find jobs,’ and it’s like no, you come from a family that went to the same Ivy League college for generations so you didn’t have to have the same grades as a person of color to get in; you were accepted into this university based on being a legacy but no one ever looked at it as a leg up or affirmative action. Then after graduation, you got to work for your father’s firm where everyone looks like you.

[During The Birth Of A Nation press conference] I was challenging the journalists in the room to evaluate their social circles. What day-to-day work are you doing to recognize your privilege then actively dismantle it? The next step is figuring out what you’re willing to do that may not benefit you but will benefit mankind. Most people are savvy enough to say the right things but when it comes to hiring someone that looks like them because it makes them feel more comfortable, that’s an example of the big and the little things that go into dismantling the system of oppression that people who benefit from it aren’t interested in tearing down. The reason why most people aren’t willing to go the extra mile to really have equality is because it won’t benefit them. Most people are self-serving, which is human nature so you have to fight back against that.

In order to begin to see change start to occur, we have to be willing to have conversations with people who have different opinions than us. I’ve already talked to Lena Dunham; I would love to talk to Kate Upton and Amy Schumer. Maybe I can help to explain the oppressive systems that have benefited and allowed them to say these careless, insensitive and offensive things. Those conversations are awkward as f-ck and they get heated. Similar to watching people have conversations about consent.

For those people who don’t want to support Nate Parker, who don’t want to see “another slave movie” or for other races that think this is just a “black film,” why are you so passionate about people seeing The Birth Of A Nation? What’s so important about the film that people have to see it?

My mother took me aside in high school to teach me the story of Nat Turner because she saw that I had completely assimilated into white culture. When she was around, she would hear adversity come up and she saw that I would never speak up, I was always the one that didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself, I just wanted to fit in. So when I was 14, she took me to the library so I could research Nat Turner and I learned that what he did was a different type of resistance than Rosa Parker or Martin Luther King, Jr.

My mom saw that I wasn’t being a leader; I was being complacent so understanding black liberation and black resistance in the face of adversity and the face of oppression was so desperately needed at that time in my life. To stand up and lead, makes you a target and I thought that being black was big enough target so I didn’t want anyone to notice me but my mother said, ‘That’s not the woman I’m raising. I didn’t raise you to be silent.’

Nat Turner was a tangible American hero that I could look up to that dared to fight back and push back. There are a lot of us that need to see it’s okay to stand up and do what’s right no matter the cost. Our country is built on resistance but we can’t just acknowledge the resistance from British rule; we have to also acknowledge the slaves’ resistance of oppression.

If you’ve ever been a position where you didn’t feel strong enough to fight back and do the right thing, this film is for you. If you have an issue that you stand behind that you feel like doesn’t get enough coverage or resources and you want to stand up and feel inspired to fight for whatever cause you believe in, this film is for you. And if you feel like there have been too many slavery movies…there have been too many slavery movies where we’re not our own saviors. Instead, we’re waiting for the same white people who oppressed us to save us.

This is not ‘another slave movie.’ This film is about black liberation, our humanity, our hope and our love and I haven’t seen these topics portrayed in a film to this degree. There’s never been a film like The Birth Of A Nation.

But I understand those who may have an issue with Nate’s past and if you don’t like the way Nate is handling the present, I absolutely understand if you chose to sit the film out. I respect it because I would be a hypocrite if I said I hadn’t chosen not to see films that made me uncomfortable for one reason or another, but my hope for those that choose not to see the film is that you’re leading the movement from another direction and the conversation doesn’t die because you decide to sit the film out.

I hope that if you choose not to see the film, you’re still having conversations about black liberation, black resistance, racial inequality. This is still a part of our reality and we need to be a part of the solution and the healing so we stop hearing, ‘That happened to me too.’ I just don’t want anyone else to tell me, ‘Me too.’

I’m going to continue to live at that intersection because my womanness and my blackness are intrinsically linked. I hope that the film will inspire you to take the spirit of action, resistance and personal liberation and apply it to your own lives.

Check out the full interview on

43 And Fit: The Gabrielle Union Workout Plan

September 8th, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
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One major Hollywood star always makes time for fitness. Guess who? Actress Gabrielle Union, 43. She has a basketball star for a husband, so it’s not hard to imagine that they keep each other motivated. She’s in shape and has managed to look the same way for over a decade.

“With her body, she’s a natural athlete,” Union’s trainer, Ahmad Baari, told Us Weekly. “Depending on her schedule we’ll do about three or four months that I will see her regularly, she’ll leave and then come back and we work to get her back to where she wants to be. She tells me exactly what she needs. We try to keep it down to 90 minutes, each workout. That includes stretching about 15 to 20 minutes before and after,” he said of her workout regimen. He added, “As far as diet, I try to suggest lots of organic foods. It’s mind body spirit way of working out.”

After getting engaged to Dwyane Wade, Gab divulged her unorthodox approach to keeping her fabulous physique on Conan earlier this year: an exercise and diet regimen she dubbed “The Porn Diet.”

Her gurus? Adult film stars, who happen to work out at her gym.

When host Conan O’Brien asked whether she watches them exercise near her, like on the Stairmaster, Union amusingly replied, “Yep, and I’ll be on the next one going, ‘You’re not getting off before me!’ ”

“I’ll watch and see what they’re ordering [at the juice bar],” the Being Mary Jane star said, adding that they appear to adhere to a vegan diet. Who knows, but whatever she’s doing, it’s working.

Take a look at the actress off-duty and in the gym putting in work.

43 And Fit: Gabrielle Union Workout Plan



Lunchtime Chat : Why We Love Gabrielle Union’s Letter On The Nate Parker Scandal

September 2nd, 2016 - By Quindara Lazenbury
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Today’s episode of #LunchtimeChat discussed why we love Gabrielle Union’s response to the Nate Parker Scandal.  The ladies share their opinions based on a recent article where Gabrielle expressed her response to the allegations and what she plans to do to diminish rape culture.

Catch the chat and share your thoughts below! Make sure to tune in to #LunchtimeChat every weekday at noon on Facebook Live!


Gabrielle Union On The Nate Parker Scandal: “I Cannot Take These Allegations Lightly”

September 2nd, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Just the other day, we were sitting in the office, discussing the whole Nate Parker rape allegation scandal and we wondered what Gabrielle Union had to say about all of this.

After all, Union is a rape survivor. She collaborated with Parker as his costar in The Birth of Nation. And, as I learned this morning, her character in the film is raped. In our conversation, we wondered what she could possibly say about all of this. She is in an incredibly tough position. She dedicated herself to this project. Yet, she knows, firsthand, what it feels like to be violated, sexually. And while we assumed, Union would remain silent in all of this, she did not.

She recently penned an Op-Ed piece for The Los Angeles Times sharing her thoughts on the allegations, the film and the problem of rape culture in our society as a whole. Initially, I was just going to pull out key pieces from her essay. But all of it is important. You can read it in its entirety below.

Twenty-four years ago I was raped at gunpoint in the cold, dark backroom of the Payless shoe store where I was then working. Two years ago I signed on to a brilliant script called “The Birth of a Nation,” to play a woman who was raped. One month ago I was sent a story about Nate Parker, the very talented writer, director and star of this film. Seventeen years ago Nate Parker was accused and acquitted of sexual assault. Four years ago the woman who accused him committed suicide.

Different roads circling one brutal, permeating stain on our society. A stain that is finely etched into my own history. Rape is a wound that throbs long after it heals. And for some of us the throbbing gets too loud. Post traumatic stress syndrome is very real and chips away at the soul and sanity of so many of us who have survived sexual violence.  

Since Nate Parker’s story was revealed to me, I have found myself in a state of stomach-churning confusion. I took this role because I related to the experience. I also wanted to give a voice to my character, who remains silent throughout the film. In her silence, she represents countless black women who have been and continue to be violated. Women without a voice, without power. Women in general. But black women in particular. I knew I could walk out of our movie and speak to the audience about what it feels like to be a survivor.

My compassion for victims of sexual violence is something that I cannot control. It spills out of me like an instinct rather than a choice. It pushes me to speak when I want to run away from the platform. When I am scared. Confused. Ashamed. I remember this part of myself and must reach out to anyone who will listen — other survivors, or even potential perpetrators.

As important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly. On that night, 17-odd years ago, did Nate have his date’s consent? It’s very possible he thought he did. Yet by his own admission he did not have verbal affirmation; and even if she never said “no,” silence certainly does not equal “yes.” Although it’s often difficult to read and understand body language, the fact that some individuals interpret the absence of a “no” as a “yes” is problematic at least, criminal at worst. That’s why education on this issue is so vital.

As a black woman raising brilliant, handsome, talented young black men, I am cognizant of my responsibility to them and their future. My husband and I stress the importance of their having to walk an even straighter line than their white counterparts. A lesson that is heartbreaking and infuriating, but mandatory in the world we live in. We have spent countless hours focused on manners, education, the perils of drugs. We teach them about stranger-danger and making good choices. But recently I’ve become aware that we must speak to our children about boundaries between the sexes. And what it means to not be a danger to someone else.

To that end, we are making an effort to teach our sons about affirmative consent. We explain that the onus is on them to explicitly ask if their partner consents. And we tell them that a shrug or a smile or a sigh won’t suffice. They have to hear “yes.”

Regardless of what I think may have happened that night 17 years ago, after reading all 700 pages of the trial transcript, I still don’t actually know. Nor does anyone who was not in that room. But I believe that the film is an opportunity to inform and educate so that these situations cease to occur on college campuses, in dorm rooms, in fraternities, in apartments or anywhere else young people get together to socialize.

I took this part in this film to talk about sexual violence. To talk about this stain that lives on in our psyches. I know these conversations are uncomfortable and difficult and painful. But they are necessary. Addressing misogyny, toxic masculinity, and rape culture is necessary. Addressing what should and should not be deemed consent is necessary.

Think of all the victims who, like my character, are silent. The girls sitting in their dorm rooms, scared to speak up. The wife who is abused by her husband. The woman attacked in an alley. The child molested. Countless souls broken from trans-violence attacks. It is for you that I am speaking. This is real. We are real. Sexual violence happens more often than anyone can imagine. And if the stories around this film do not prove and emphasize this, then I don’t know what does.

It is my hope that we can use this as an opportunity to look within. To open up the conversation. To reach out to organizations which are working hard to prevent these kinds of crimes. And to support its victims. To donate time or money. To play an active role in creating a ripple that will change the ingrained misogyny that permeates our culture. And to eventually wipe the stain clean.

I cannot express how much I appreciate Union for taking the time to pen this essay. There are so many in her position who would have simply remained silent; or worse, would have issued a statement similar to Parker’s, speaking about the passage of time since the alleged incident. But she said that the wounds of rape throb, even after years, even after they’ve healed. She could have said that Parker’s personal life shouldn’t stand in the way of this important film. But she didn’t. She stood up for so many sexual assault survivors who haven’t had the will or ability to speak. Her essay speaks for the women, children and even men who have been afraid to do so or those who did speak and were dismissed. I absolutely love that she presented this as not just a woman’s issue but a Black woman’s issue, as we are so often asked and expected to put our gender concerns on the back burner for the overall uplift of the race. I’m hopeful that her piece will serve as another perspective in this discussion about whether the story told in this film is more important than the issues of rape, consent and rape culture that plague so many women around the world. She really didn’t have to. But for all those that she represents, I’m so glad she did.

Veronica Wells is the culture editor for She is also the author of “Bettah Days.”

Dwayne Wade Spits Bars About Gabrielle Union For #SoGoneChallenge

August 21st, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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#GabrielleUnion and #DwyaneWade hit the #SoGoneChallenge

A video posted by Baller Alert (@balleralert) on

The #SoGoneChallenge, a video freestyle to the Missy Elliott-produced beat of Monica’s 2003 hit single “So Gone,” has gone viral.

With over 2 million Twitter users participating in the fun freestyle, including Kevin Hart, Keke Palmer, and Chance The Rapper, Monica’s After The Storm cut has seen a significant boost in sales, Forbes reports. Apple Music even confirmed that the streams for “So Gone” increased by 2% with a sales increase of over 400% since Aug. 10.

Most recently, NBA superstar Dwayne Wade took to social media and posted his own #SoGoneChallenge with his wife Gabrielle Union by his side. “Happy wife, happy life. If it go south, she just might break out the knife,” he rapped.

Press play and peep Wade’s bars.

Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of Being Mary Jane

August 19th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Being Mary Jane may no longer have creator Mara Brock Akil at the helm, but the show will live on thanks to BET and the many dedicated fans. Since its inception, the network’s first scripted drama has ranked as the No. 1 one scripted cable series among Black viewers in the demographic of 18 to 49, most of whom are women. And with just cause. With a full-fledged, flaws and all lead character like Mary Jane Paul, beautifully played by actress Gabrielle Union, and a commitment to discussing issues that affect Black women, BMJ is one of the most fascinating TV series the network has produced in years. Click on for some secrets behind the making of Being Mary Jane.