With both arms above my head, I ascend the armoire like the Undertaker in his infamous cage match against Mick Foley. I sing my own intro music and jump from the perch six feet up, flopping onto my older brother like a pancake tossed high in the air. Immediately, we begin to tussle. Arms flailing, legs kicking, elbows thrown, we re-enact moves from our favorite show at the time, WWF SmackDown! Moments before my mother calls us down for dinner, my brother shouts, “DO YOU SMELLLLLLLLL WHAT THE ROCK…IS…COOKING?!” I attempt to squirm my way out of the grapple. With…


“Queen & Slim” had revolutionary potential, but falls flat precisely where it should soar. I’d like to blame the worst parts of “Queen & Slim” on James Frey. Frey is wealthy, and famous for lying in his memoirs. Perhaps it is unsurprising to some that he is also a white man. What is surprising is that he was invited in the writer’s process in the first place. Which begs the question, who invited him?

(Image from the University of Miami Africana Studies’ Facebook page)

I was in college during the assassinations of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. The year Black Lives Matter won Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, I…


( Photo by Alasdair McLellan)

For years, Eddy Bellegueule arranged the meeting time and place where his childhood bullies attacked him. He wanted to control the conditions of his humiliation. It seems to me that the author, Édouard Louis, has a similar relationship with control. Now a 27 year-old literary phenomenon armed with a respectable pen name and best-seller status, the survivor believes shame can motivate the French ruling class to change. Despite his excoriations, high society has claimed him. At least the Brooklyn bourgeoisie, who paid for his talk at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with Alexandra Schwartz of The New Yorker, have claimed…


I used to love Drake. Now our relationship is far more nebulous. I still party to him, and when nostalgia washes over me I’ll even close my eyes and sing along; wishing it was all the same. Picture this, an eighteen-year-old Black boy from the suburbs who previously defined himself by his taste for alternative rock and American Eagle graphic tees. He’s driving down a highway late at night when “Marvin’s Room” comes on the radio. A distorted female voice enters the car through the speakers. She’s responding to a series of questions. “‘Did I go out’ yeah I went…


When I first got the blues, they brought me over on a ship,
Men was standin’ over me, and a lot more with a whip.
And ev’rybody wanna know why I sing the blues.

— B. B. King

(Image of Robert Johnson courtesy of NPR)

The grown folks always warned me not to sell my soul to the devil. They told me the story of Ol’ Bob Johnson from the Mississippi Delta. Legend has it that Bob Johnson was the runt of the litter, last born of ten kids to a family of sharecroppers. Johnson was so poor as a kid, he thought shoes were a luxury…


“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49 (NIV)

Fire and brimstone are all I could remember from the sermon. I sat in the backseat of my mom’s SUV submerged in guilt. God was going to obliterate me for wanting to fuck my pastor’s son. Earlier that Sunday I sat through a charged sermon against homosexuality. Vitriol popping off my skin like bacon grease, I listened to men I admired denounce Barack Obama because he supported same-sex marriage. …


Photo Captured On My iPhone

On Friday September 14, 2018 I joined about twenty-thousand people in Madison Square Garden for Childish Gambino’s last tour. The concert was good enough. It had the requisite lighting and crowd interaction expected of mainstream pop stars in a post-Beyoncé era. Gambino was animated and vulnerable. He wound his hips, popped his shoulders, and spent more than an average amount of time sitting on the floor with his legs crossed. Conspicuously missing from his final set were singles from his first project Camp- the one Pitchfork gave a 1.6, but also the one that made me and my fellow suburban…

Mischaël Cetoute

Haitian-American educator working at the intersection of schools & prisons. I like hip hop, yoga, and politics.

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