February ’19 Hot Topics

In the spirit of establishing blog traditions for Straight Gurl Talk, here is my list of February 2019 hot topics. Of course, there are tons of topics I could include here but I just wanted to touch base on a few elements that I think stirred the pot a little bit this month and just add my two cents on them. So lets jump right into it…

  • Jussie Smollett Attack. #inthenews On January 29, “Empire” star Jussie Smollett reported being beaten and doused in bleached, which was perceived as a hate crime since his attackers said racist and homophobic slurs during the attack. Where events took a turn for the worst, was when Chicago police said that Jussie set up the whole thing by paying his attackers prior to the event. So they are basically saying that his alleged attackers, who happen to be brothers, and have worked on the set of “Empire” with Jussie and work as a personal trainer for him, have proof of a transaction that took place between them. This apparently equates to Jussie paying them to stage the hate crime just so that Jussie could get a raise from “Empire” production. I know most are saying he’s an attention whore and is guilty, (there are some mean memes circulating social media) but I just don’t think Jussie is that stupid to set himself up like that and with someone that can easily track back to him. I guess we will just have to wait and see how it all plays out and who has the most believable storyline because it seems like it’s going to be a “he said, she said” type of case.
  • Black History Month. #celebrate I’m pretty upset I wasn’t able to make a post about the importance of celebrating black history month but I for sure wanted to include it here as we look back on the month of February. And I think the main thing I saw in the media regarding BHM was people disrespecting the African American culture and people (of course, there were black history celebrations and honors as well). There was a huge controversy with Gucci Mane and his turtlenecks, then there was the school that created black face representations during a BHM song tribute, and then there were numerous instances of blacks attacking blacks like the whole Steve Harvey and Monique square off. I just think we as a people (not just African Americans) can do better and should do better in celebrating the black community and how far we’ve come as a people.

There’s a saying that goes: you have to know where you came from to know where you’re going and I think that’s the true purpose of BHM; to learn about black history in its entirety and learn from it.

Furthermore, if you would like to broaden your horizons and knowledge, there is a great application provided via Facebook Messenger called Push Black that will send out daily, weekly, or even monthly updates (you pick how often you want to receive notifications) on black history. I signed up for it a couple months ago and do the weekly updates and it has really opened my eyes and educated me on black history in every which way. Moral of the story: don’t sleep on black history, it’s a critical aspect to the fabric of the world!

  • The 91st Academy Awards. #movies For the first time in the past 30 years, The Oscars was produced without a host due to the Kevin Hart debacle (if you don’t know, he had posted a series of homophobic tweets) that happened late last year. Needless to say, the show proceeded fairly quickly and many complained that it wasn’t as “put together” without a host. Regardless, there were still some memorable highlights from the award show such as Lady Gaga’s and Bradley Cooper’s groundbreaking performance of “Shallow,” Black Panther becoming Marvel Studios first Oscar winner, and the official Lion King trailer being released during the show. Also, in an effort to thwart the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Spike Lee finally won the Oscar he should’ve gotten years ago for Best Director, Black Panther racked up three golden globes, and Regina King won Best Supporting Actress for If Beale Street Could Talk. There was a major uproar with the movie Green Book winning Best Picture, as the leading upset for the entire show. However, it was a great year for Lady Gaga making history as the first person to win an Oscar, Grammy, Golden Globe, and BAFTA in a single year!

With that said, I think the Oscar’s does shed light on movies that just might be worth watching that you might have not considered before. So if you weren’t able to catch these films at the movies, maybe go check them out (at least, all of these movies have been added to my must-see list):

  1. If Beale Street Could Talk
  2. Green Book
  3. A Star is Born
  4. Bohemian Rhapsody
  5. Black KKKlansman
  6. The Favourite
  7. Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse
  8. Roma
  9. Free Solo
  10. First Man
  • The Grammys 2019. #musicmatters This year was the 61st Annual Grammys Awards and boy was it one for the books. There were grand performances from Kacey Musgraves, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Travis Scott, Camila Cabello, H.E.R., Cardi B, Shawn Mendes, and Miley Cyrus, just to name the few. Profound moments were in abundance throughout the show such as Jennifer Lopez’s Motown tribute (which was a huge controversy beforehand within the black community), Dolly Parton performed with Kacey Musgraves, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry after being named as the MusiCares Person of the Year to honor her charity work, Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance during the show opening, and Andra Day, Yolanda Adams, and Fantasia performed A Natural Woman Tribute to Aretha Franklin. The notable winners from this years show were: Cardi B becoming the first solo woman to win best rap album, H.E.R. won two awards, including Best R&B album, Childish Gambino’s “This is America” won four awards, Ariana Grande won her first Grammy, and Kacy Musgraves won four awards, one of which was album of the year. Needless to say, the award show featured a considerable amount of amazing performances, celebrity appearances, and fashion statements maintaining its claim as the most prestigious musical celebration award shows. I know I will now be downloading Kacy Musgraves album to my Spotify to see firsthand what I’ve been missing out on all this time.
  • Tax Season. #taxreturn January 28th marked the official start of the tax season which is the best time of the year for some or the worst for others. You either see people balling out with their tax refund acting like they never had any money or you see the people who are paying money out their ass back to the IRS for whatever their situation may be. So which one are you? Do you take less money in your paycheck throughout the year for a larger payout during tax season or do you like to see your money in your paycheck and just take the lower tax refund during tax season? Based on the simple time value of money, you should prefer to see most of your money in your paycheck and forego the larger tax refund because you are basically giving the government an interest free-loan if you choose the latter. Here are some facts for you, the average tax refund is down by double digits this year in comparison to last year. Precisely 17% lower. Last year tax refund average was around $3169 and this year has lowered to $2640. This due to the change in tax law which eliminated some popular deductions and revised withholding tables which caused many taxpayers to under-withhold their income for taxes.

Therefore, we need to wise up and adjust accordingly when it comes to taxes so here are a few tips I have for you:

  1. Check your W-4s make sure your tax withholding is in your benefit. I say take as much money in your paycheck as you can get!
  2. Don’t be a thirst for your refund check! Meaning: don’t be dependent on your tax refund to make stuff happen, save throughout the year so you aren’t pressed, manage your money wisely year long.
  3. Get your refund direct deposited into your bank and leave it there! Currently, I work as a bank teller and let me tell you we absolutely dread when tax season rolls around because people really get upset when we run out of money because everybody and they momma wanna pull out their entire refund as soon as it hits! I really think it would be more beneficial if you just leave your tax refund money in your account and watch it grow. Use it as a jumpstart to your emergency savings or at least use it to pay off some major bills, don’t use it all trying to flex and going on a full blown shopping spree.

There you have it ladies, those are some of my major takeaways from the month of February. What else would you say was a hot topic from February 2019??

The Day of Love

As soon as Christmas passes, store aisles are decked out with heart shaped balloons and chocolates, teddy bears galore, and an unbearable amount of pinks and reds. Valentine’s Day has become one of the worlds most profitable holidays, coined as a grand marketing scheme Saint Valentine himself couldn’t have imagined. Designed to put pressure on people to showcase their love for the rest of the world to judge, and those who are lacking love to run and hide. Regardless of how you feel about the holiday, there is an added pressure on us gurls to hold the holiday to a higher regard unnecessarily.

Valentine’s Day has a mixed connotation associated with it, specifically with women, that needs to be addressed:

  • Love Day. If you see it as an issue that you are single and not in a relationship on Valentines Day you are unrightfully setting yourself up for a gloomsday. With that said, I thought it was important to address the negative juju associated with the holiday because one day should not have the power to magnify your singleness to the point you feel lonely. And, there is absolutely no need to feel a certain type of way about the holiday just because you are single at that particular time. The holiday is not to solely celebrate your love with your significant other but it is meant to celebrate love, which comes in many forms. Relationship or not, you have some sort of love relationship with someone, whether it be your parents, or child, or even your friends. So I say, if you are single, relish in your singleness. Enjoy being alone. Take yourself out on a dinner date. Send yourself some flowers. Because remember no one’s going to love you like you do anyways.
  • Relationship Pressure. Most of those in relationships, dread the holiday because of the price tag and romantic expectations associated with it. Generally, women expect their significant other to spoil them with flowers and chocolates, and a grand romantic gesture. Restaurants are packed so that you can flaunt your relationship to the rest of the world. Quite frankly, we want chocolates and flowers and jewelry so that we can run and tell our gurlfriends about it or put it on Snapchat. However, I know plenty of couples that don’t even bother with celebrating the holiday because it’s unrealistic to limit showing your loved ones how much you love them to one day within a year. It should be done throughout the year.
  • Love Making. I’ve spoke to many women who feel that giving it up on Valentines Day is their partners gift or there are the women who reserve that night for pulling out all their tricks in the bedroom. However, the main flaw here is that we believe giving up our body is a requirement on Valentines Day which couldn’t be farther from the truth. If that’s the tradition you and your significant other have started then believe you me, I am not hating. But, what I want to stress is that if you’re in a new relationship and feel pressured to take this next step, please remember you are not required to do so in the name of love.
  • Gift Giver or Receiver? Or both? The hallmark holiday has been marked with consumerism and commercialism at the forefront which generally places additional pressure on men to show up and show out for their partner so that they don’t end up in the dog house. I’m not going to lie, I am a sucker for Valentine’s Day. I enjoy the flowers and heart shaped chocolates because they are available in an abundance around this time of year. However, I try not to make a big deal about it because I don’t want my husband to feel like this is the one time he can do something nice for me. He needs to be showing me love year round. On the other hand, I do make sure I do something nice for him for Valentine’s Day because I’m not as lovey-dovey as I should or could be, so it serves as a friendly reminder for me that my husband needs love too and it’s my job to show it to him. So ladies, if you are celebrating Valentine’s Day and expect a gift, get your partner something too!
  • Singles Awareness/Appreciation Day. Most singles refer to the holiday at Singles Awareness Day (SAD) adding a depressing vibe to the holiday. However, February 15th is now known as Singles Awareness/Appreciation Day, created as a humorous holiday to celebrate being single. I literally just found out this was a thing this week, and I love the idea it was founded on–the day following Valentines Day was chosen to allow single people to turn it into a joyous occasion versus a festival of self-pity. This day was made as a reminder to embrace your singleness to the umpteenth power!

The main point I’m trying to drive home here is that Valentine’s Day is held at way too high of an regard with pricey expectations. If you really think about it, it really is a silly holiday. So if you’re able to really see it for what it is, you won’t put those societal pressures on yourself that come with the occasion. Just allow yourself to fall in love with love all over again on this day because that’s the point. 

Regardless of your relationship status, take on Valentine’s Day as a celebration of love. Celebrate your partner, your parents, your children, and don’t forget yourself. And let the holiday serve as a reminder to the power of love and how we need to show it to one another more often.