COVID increases racial wealth gap: Blacks own 22 cents for every dollar held by whites

COVID’s effects worsen America’s racial wealth gap: Blacks own 22 cents for every dollar held by whites
Closing gaps would create 1.7 million jobs, add $300-450 billion to the economy

By Charlene Crowell

As the global pandemic continues to take lives and infect multiple generations, virtually every dimension of life is challenged. And people with the fewest financial resources before COVID-19 are being challenged more than ever before.

It is both a challenge and an opportunity for leadership in the Biden Administration, Congress, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with the private sector address to effect policies and practices that reverse the nation’s still-growing racial wealth gap. Tried and true wealth-building tools like targeted homeownership and expanded small business investments together would bring sustainable and meaningful changes to those who historically have been financially marginalized.

In an effort to better understand and solve the dual sagas wrought from centuries of racial discrimination and COVID, major universities, government agencies, public policy institutes and corporations are releasing new research that analyzes the pandemic’s added challenges that exacerbate historical racial inequities.

For example, from January through March of this year, Blacks on average had 22 cents for every dollar of white family wealth, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s Institute for Economic Equity These substantial gaps have remained largely unchanged since 1989 to the present, according to the Institute.

The gap’s disparities are also reflected in findings from research conducted by Harvard University. This esteemed Ivy League institution drew a key distinction between America’s income and wealth inequalities.

“Income is unequal, but wealth is even more unequal,” said Alexandra Killewald, professor of sociology at Harvard, who studies inequality in the contemporary U.S.
“You can think of income as water flowing into your bathtub, whereas wealth is like the water that’s sitting in the bathtub,” she said. “If you have wealth, it can protect you if you lose your job or your house. Wealth is distinctive because it can be used as a cushion, and it can be directly passed down across generations,” providing families more choices and greater opportunity in the present and the future… white Americans are benefiting from legacies of advantage…The typical white American family has roughly 10 times as much wealth as the typical African American family and the typical Latino family.”
While the issues raised by the Federal Reserve and Harvard may sound like variations on an old theme, a 150-year-old global financial firm, Goldman Sachs, urges targeted and sustained investment by both the public and private sectors to erase America’s racial wealth gap. While the report focuses on Black women, its projected outcomes would benefit Black men as well.
“If the improvements benefit Black women and men alike, we estimate larger increases in U.S. employment of 1.7 million jobs and in U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 2.1%, which corresponds to $450 billion per year.”
Titled, Black Womenomics: Investing in the Underinvested, the March 2021 report calls for access to capital, education, equitable earnings, health care, and housing to lay the groundwork to reverse historical disadvantages, while creating financial independence and personal wealth.

Most importantly, the report calls for the participation of Blacks – and especially Black women — to shape their own futures.

“[A]ny efforts to effectively address the issues can only be successful if Black women are actively engaged in formulating the strategies and framing the outcomes. Moreover, addressing discrimination and bias will be fundamental to real and sustainable progress…The large wealth gap faced by single Black women is particularly important because Black women are more and increasingly likely to be single and breadwinner mothers…Among Black mothers, more than 80% are breadwinners compared to 50% of white mothers,” states the report.
How existing financial disparities leave Black women more financially vulnerable is found in the report’s data points:
• Black women face a 90% wealth gap;
• The wage gap of Black women widens through their whole work-life, and especially rapidly between ages 20 and 35;
• Black women are five times more likely than white men to rely on expensive payday loans;
• Black women are nearly three times more likely to forego prescription medicine, and also much more likely than white men not to see a doctor because they cannot afford it; and
• The median single Black woman does not own a home, and single Black women are 24 times less likely than single white men to own a business.
Additionally, the nation’s shortage of affordable housing translates into 85% of Black women with families facing housing costs ranging from more than 30% to 50% of their incomes. Once the monthly rent is paid, these housing-burdened households have little left to cover utilities, food, childcare or other household needs.

Even Black families earning a median income will need 14 years just to save a 5% home down payment, according to a recent analysis by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL).

A legacy of historically modest incomes and little inter-generational wealth available to be passed down by families leaves most Black Americans without the comparable financial advantages enjoyed by other races and ethnicities.

These and other circumstances lead many women – especially women of color — to turn to high-cost loans of only a few hundred dollars. Although the typical payday loan of $350 is marketed as a short-term fix to an unexpected expense, the reality for many with modest incomes is that the high-cost loan – which can come with interest as high as 400% — becomes yet another long-term financial burden that worsens financial strains with[every renewal.

“Predatory, high-interest lenders pull people down into financial quicksand, making them more likely to experience a range of harms, such as losing their bank account, defaulting on their bills, losing their car, and declaring bankruptcy. It is low-income consumers, and disproportionately communities of color – whom the lenders target – that are being harmed,” said Ashley Harrington, of CRL in testimony this summer before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee.

The harms of wealth inequality also extend to the broader U.S. economy, according to the Goldman Sachs report. In its view, expanding opportunities for Black women who are often on the bottom rung of the economic ladder can create a pathway to individual and national prosperity. “Overcoming these adverse economic trends would make for not only a fairer, but also a richer society. We estimate that confronting the earnings gap for Black women could create 1.2-1.7 million U.S. jobs and raise the level of annual U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.4-2.1% each year, or $300-450 billion in current dollars.”

The sum of these findings underscores the frustration felt by much of Black America. The Civil War ended slavery and promised the emancipated 40 acres and a mule. The civil rights laws of the 1960s promised to eliminate discrimination in voting, housing, and public accommodations. Next, the affirmative action programs of the 1970s promised equal opportunity employment in fields that had been previously barred to Blacks and other people of color.
It is time for this nation to make good on its age-old promises. Creating neighborhoods of opportunity from poverty pockets would strengthen cities and suburbs alike. If corporate leadership would join with the Administration and Congress to ensure that Black America and other people of color share in the nation’s prosperity, everyone would be better off.

No person and certainly no community will ever beg its way out of poverty. But down payment assistance for first generation, mortgage-ready homebuyers would build family wealth. Similarly, creating an equity investment fund targeted to struggling small Black businesses would preserve neighborhood opportunities, including more permanent jobs. .

In the timeless words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “All we say to America is, ‘Be true to what you said on paper.”

Revisionist Theory

… and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center … For example, conservatives view racism as personal, liberals as … 47;Economist pollsters described racism’s systemic nature without … to include teaching systemic racism, white privilege, and … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

NIH-supported study suggests alternative to race-based kidney function calculations

News Release

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Alternate lab test shows comparable accuracy, non-biased results.

In a study supported by the National Institutes of Health, researchers propose changing a key measure in kidney disease diagnosis and treatment to eliminate the use of race as a variable, providing a non-biased kidney function test that does not compromise accuracy. The study suggests use of a blood lab test called cystatin C, which does not vary by a person’s race, to replace the current lab test called creatinine, which does. The findings come from a detailed analysis of data from the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Study, a nationwide longstanding study funded by NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The results are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Health care providers use estimated glomerular filtration rate, or eGFR, calculations as a primary diagnostic tool to learn how well a person’s kidneys function and to classify the severity of their disease, from mild loss of kidney function to end-stage kidney disease. The eGFR helps determine prognosis and treatment, such as when hemodialysis or a transplant may be needed.

Since 1999, race has been a variable used in estimating GFR. Current eGFR calculations also use a person’s age, sex, and serum creatinine levels. Serum creatinine, which the kidneys filter out, is a waste product from the normal metabolism of muscle cells in one’s body. Studies have shown that Black Americans, on average, can have higher levels of serum creatinine in their blood, independent of kidney function. To account for this difference, eGFR calculations include a person’s self-reported race to give more valid results.

“Using race as a testing factor risks kidney disease misdiagnosis. There is great variance within the genetic ancestry of people who identify as ‘Black’ which means we cannot reliably view ‘Black’ people as being from a single ancestral group,” said Afshin Parsa, M.D., NIDDK program director for CRIC. “Misdiagnosis could lead to a person receiving incorrect drug dosing, or delays in receiving dialysis or a kidney transplant. Current eGFR calculations could be exacerbating racial inequities in a disease that disproportionately affects Black people, so this study set out to identify factors that wouldn’t rely on including a person’s race to calculate eGFR.”

CRIC researchers found that even when adjusting for a wide range of factors, using serum creatinine to calculate eGFR without using a race term can lead to systematic bias and race-related misclassification of kidney disease status in people tested.

Yet, unlike serum creatinine, most biomarkers – substances that can help identify disease or stages of a disorder – aren’t affected by race or ancestry. By analyzing data from CRIC participants, the researchers found that using cystatin C – which is not affected by race or ancestry – as a race-independent replacement biomarker for serum creatinine provided accurate and non-biased results.

“We hope this study’s results will build momentum toward widespread adoption of cystatin C for the purposes of estimating GFR. The alternative eGFR test requires no special equipment, can be standardized, and the more it’s adopted, the less it would cost,” said Chi-yuan Hsu, M.D., professor and chief of nephrology at University of California, San Francisco, and lead author of the study.

CRIC is one of the largest and longest-running studies looking at the causes, frequency, and consequences of chronic kidney disease, or CKD, in the United States. Nearly all CRIC’s participants are people with mild to severe loss of kidney function. Since Black people are at higher risk for CKD than other groups, approximately half of CRIC participants are Black. This analysis used more than 1,200 CRIC participants’ data, including measures of body mass and muscle mass, genetic ancestry data, and self-identified race.

“An accurate eGFR formula that does not rely on self-reported race is a huge leap forward for all people with, and at risk for, chronic kidney disease,” said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D. “NIDDK is committed to addressing health disparities, and we hope this study’s finding leads to positive changes in how CKD is identified and treated—helping address the risk of systemic bias and error in diagnosing and treating a disease that already disproportionately affects Black people.”

CRIC received funding through NIDDK grants DK060990, DK060984, DK061022, DK061021, DK061028, DK060980, DK060963, and DK060902.

About the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): The NIDDK, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), conducts and supports research on diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. Spanning the full spectrum of medicine and afflicting people of all ages and ethnic groups, these diseases encompass some of the most common, severe, and disabling conditions affecting Americans. For more information about the NIDDK and its programs, see

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®


How To Plan A Road Trip Scavenger Hunt

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Three local school districts mandate student vaccines. Others to follow?

School districts in Oakland, Hayward and Piedmont this week became the Bay Area’s first to require eligible students to get COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks, and others soon may follow after California’s top health official said Thursday he’s mulling whether to issue a statewide mandate.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said state officials have been closely monitoring what steps local school districts are taking to ward off the virus’ spread, which has been driven by the highly contagious delta variant since early summer.

“That conversation is happening — certainly as part of what we’re considering as a state — but no definitive action or decision is being made at the moment,” Ghaly said.

He acknowledged the COVID-19 vaccine has raised concerns even among some parents “who have their kids fully vaccinated against the number of other vaccine-preventable illnesses” but emphasized that student vaccine mandates are “not new considerations” in California or the U.S.

Schools nationwide have a decades-long tradition of ensuring that students are protected against communicable diseases. In California, students must be inoculated against polio, measles, chickenpox, tetanus and other illnesses.

“To date, protecting young kids from COVID has been led by getting the adults around these young Californians to be vaccinated,” Ghaly said. “Soon, we hope, I hope — as a father of three kids under the age of 12 and a pediatrician — that we can soon vaccinate many of our students and wrap a thicker blanket of protection around these school communities.”

Los Angeles Unified last month became the first and largest school district in California to declare that students age 12 and older must be fully vaccinated to attend classrooms.

The Oakland, Hayward and Piedmont school boards approved similar vaccine mandates Wednesday night. Meanwhile, a handful of other school districts are on the verge of being next.

Berkeley Unified’s school board discussed such a proposal Wednesday night but did not take a vote, and West Contra Costa Unified’s board had been scheduled to consider a vaccine mandate Tuesday until its meeting was cancelled so several logistical details could be resolved.

Two of the region’s biggest school districts — San Jose Unified and San Francisco Unified — have not introduced any vaccine mandates.

The hours-long discussion at Wednesday’s Oakland school board meeting mirrored the broader statewide debate over whether students should be forced to get COVID-19 shots or lose their spots inside classrooms.

In a 5-1-1 vote taken close to midnight, the Oakland school board decided that students 12 and older must be vaccinated “unless prohibited by law.” They’re currently eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, which received the FDA’s emergency approval for that age group.

Exceptions will be made for “personal belief exemptions” if students provide a note from a doctor confirming that information about COVID-19 vaccines was provided. It’s unclear what beliefs other than religious would qualify.

School board vice president Sam Davis, who called for the vaccine mandate, said he hopes it will persuade people hesitant about getting shots to talk to medical professionals about their concerns.

But school board member Mike Hutchinson said he worries about approving an order that — if enacted right away — would prevent many students from going to class.

“I’m concerned about passing a mandate that (says) half of Black and Brown students can’t come to school,” Hutchinson said. According to the district, roughly 34% of African-American students and 55% of Latino students have been vaccinated.

Board president Shanthi Gonzales, who abstained from voting, shared Hutchinson’s sentiment.

“My concern is sending those families a message that they’re not welcome and not allowed to come to school anymore,” Gonzales said, adding that even allowing for a personal belief exemption with a doctor’s note, there would still be barriers for students without regular access to a doctor or full health care.

Samantha Pal, a student member of the school board and a junior at Oakland High School, said the students she’s heard from prefer an approach that would educate families about the benefits of getting vaccinated instead of issuing an “alienating” mandate.

Some parents and other community members expressed anger at the prospect of a vaccine mandate.

“Why do you want to force the vaccine that is still undergoing vaccine trials?” one speaker asked. “Not you, the CDC or the FDA can make guarantees as to outcomes.”

Others thanked the board for taking steps to protect the health of students and teachers.

“We support adding the vaccine for COVID to the list of vaccines already required at schools,” said Dr. Lynne Rosen, a pediatrician who works for health clinic La Clinica. “It will help minimize disruptions for school instruction.”

The district still needs to determine when the mandate should take effect and how it’ll be enforced. Board members directed Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell to return next month with recommendations.

In Piedmont, the school board decided all eligible students must receive both Pfizer doses by Nov. 17. Students younger than 12 must be fully dosed no later than eight weeks after they become eligible for shots.

Students who aren’t vaccinated would be referred to independent study and not allowed inside classrooms unless they’ve been excused from taking the vaccine by a licensed physician. Those students will be required to be tested for COVID-19 every week, however.

Hayward Unified trustees unanimously approved a policy similar to Piedmont’s, although students there won’t have to be fully vaccinated until Dec. 17.

“It’s a challenging choice,” Hayward school board member Gabriel Chaparro said about parents deciding whether their child should get vaccinated. “I know when someone tells me, ‘I will do this,’ I have a hard time holding my middle  finger down because no one is going to tell me what to do.”

The Centers for Disease Control and other prominent medical institutions have deemed the vaccines safe and effective in reducing the risk of dying or suffering severe respiratory and other health complications caused by COVID-19.

Staff writers Fiona Kelliher and Peter Hegarty contributed to this report.

Leon Bridges on Billie Eilish and playing Governors Ball 2021

It’s a good time to be Leon Bridges.

In the last two weeks, the Grammy-winning R&B artist has attended the Met Gala, appeared on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and performed his song “River” with Jon Batiste during the In Memoriam tribute at the Emmys.

And on Friday, Bridges, 32, will take the main stage during this weekend’s 10th-anniversary edition of the Governors Ball music festival at Citi Field. He’ll be showcasing material from his new album “Gold-Diggers Sound” — recorded at Gold-Diggers complex in East Hollywood — which finds the singer branching out from his retro-soul roots with a more modern style.

Here, the Fort Worth, Texas, troubadour reveals his must-see Gov Ball act, why he brought cowboy couture to the Met Gala and the actors who were coolest to meet — and hardest to say goodbye to — at the Emmys. 

Leon Bridges performing
Leon Bridges will perform on the main stage at the Governors Ball music festival on Friday.
Getty Images

Who are you most looking forward to see at Gov Ball?

I really want to see Billie Eilish. She’s playing on the same stage that I’m playing — obviously [she’s] headlining. So I would love to check her out. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Met Gala, and she was sitting at my table with her brother Finneas, but I didn’t get to have any conversation with her. I was too nervous to even start the convo.

You rocked a whole cowboy look at the Met Gala. How’d that come together?

I was just responding to the whole theme of American fashion, which is a wide spectrum of things. But my interpretation of it is just that whole Western look. I think the biggest misconception is that that look is unique to white people, and there’s black folks that rock it as well.

Leon Bridges
Leon Bridges paid homage to his Texas roots with his cowboy couture at the 2021 Met Gala.
Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

What’s your most memorable festival experience?

The dopest festival I’ve ever experienced was Afropunk. The one I played was 2019 in Brooklyn. As a black artist, it’s just hella-refreshing to play to a crowd full of black folks, because most of these festivals are predominantly white. I love that Afropunk is a place where black people can be themselves.

How did the Gold-Diggers complex inspire your new album?

We wanted to find a space where it was aesthetically inspiring to spend a lot of time in, and Gold-Diggers was that for us. It’s a multifaceted complex — there’s the hotel aspect of it, there’s the studio aspect of it, and then there’s the bar. It’s almost like this refuge in the midst of this gritty city. I was living there, which was really nice, because normally you’re having to commute to whatever studio and you kind of lose momentum that way. I loved the vibe of literally waking up, walking downstairs, clocking in and getting to it. The experience was so significant, I wanted to name the album in honor of it.

Leon Bridges and Jon Batiste
Leon Bridges (left) performed his song “River” with Jon Batiste at the 2021 Emmys.
Getty Images

Who was it hardest to say goodbye to during the In Memoriam tribute at the Emmys?

Michael K. Williams. That one definitely hit the most. I was able to cross paths with him at this bar that I frequent in LA called Doheny Room. I was hanging with my homeboys, and Michael K. Williams comes up and was just showing love. It’s amazing when people that you look up to know you exist and are fans of the art. It’s definitely heartbreaking that he’s not with us anymore.

Who was the coolest celeb you met at the Emmys?

As I was leaving, Angela Bassett complimented me on the performance, and she mentioned that she wanted to come to a show. And I was like, “Of course! Would love to have you.” That’s tops for me.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

How Lil Nas X made the most radical run of queer music videos in pop history

Lil Nas X’s new video for his single “Thats What I Want” is as much an old-fashioned love story as anything starring a teenage Taylor Swift.

In the clip — directed by Bad Bunny’s 21-year-old Colombian creative director, Stillz — he meets his male crush at a school football game, they hook up in shower-steamy fervor and take a bucolic firelight camping trip together. Things don’t work out — the guy chooses a hetero family, alas — so Nas walks himself down the aisle in a wedding dress, dripping mascara with a hair-metal electric guitar slung on his shoulder.

It’s a sweet, sincere ending to perhaps the most radical run of queer pop music videos in history.

“These videos are hugely important. They’re such an antidote to the toxic masculinity rampant in the Trump years,” said Virginia Kuhn, a cinema professor at USC who teaches feminist film theory. “In a culture dominated by visual media, to disrupt that core imagery is so powerful. He’s taking on football and Christianity, prison, childbirth and marriage. This has it all. It feels like the ’80s with Madonna’s videos.”


The 22-year-old pop star released his Columbia debut LP, “Montero,” last week to wide acclaim. But as much as he is a rapper, singer and songwriter, his startling visual concepts and increasingly deft, sly performances in music videos and social media campaigns put him at the vanguard of queer iconography in the TikTok era. For a young fan base who made “Old Town Road” a viral sensation, Nas’ sensibility opens up gender-flexible possibilities much like icons Freddie Mercury, Elton John and Prince did for previous generations.

While foregrounding the Black male body — nude and dancing, cheekily pregnant or resplendent in a wedding dress — he makes his subversiveness look delightful, and his aesthetic bounty feel radical.

“So often, we see subversive work like this not be pleasurable,” Kuhn said. “That’s why he’s so important right now, it’s so joyful and visually lush. He has such a sense of humor, but he makes you examine your assumptions. Artists can get caught up in the industry where videos are just a way to sell music. He’s making music videos essential again.”

From Little Richard’s barely veiled appetites on “Tutti Frutti” to Sylvester’s celestial disco and the first waves of house music, to ballroom and vogueing culture percolating up through Madonna’s hits, Lil Nas X comes from a long tradition of Black queer music creating and remaking popular culture around it. In contemporary TV shows like “Pose,” fashion lines like Hood by Air and Telfar, Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator’s candor about same-sex desire, and the queer rap underground of Le1f, Mykki Blanco and Cakes Da Killa, the strains of art that Lil Nas X absorbed have circulated above and below ground for generations.

But few have made it as artistically, commercially and culturally meaningful to throw ass on Instagram.

Lil Nas X came out as gay in June 2019. When he began this album’s long rollout back in March, the Luciferian lapdance of “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” did exactly what he hoped for. The clip, where Nas frolics in a Y2K-era digital Eden before dropping down a stripper pole to Hell, scandalized the Christian right and needled Nike’s lawyers with a blood-injected shoe spinoff.

If Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion sent right-wingers sputtering with “WAP,” “Montero” finished the job for Republican politicians like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who said, “This is outrageous, disgusting and perverted and on #PalmSunday no less. Somehow @lilnasx thinks that Satanic worship should be mainstream and normal.”


It was virtuoso trolling, and everyone from Nas to Noem seemed to get what they wanted out of it (publicity, laughs and fundraising — Nas directed fans to charities like the Bail Project for every track on “Montero”).

But the fact that a rap-aligned gay Black artist — let alone one who’s also such a country fan that he covered Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” — could pull this off atop the charts was startling. Hip-hop artists like Young Thug sometimes toyed with wearing dresses to illustrate their free spirits, but Lil Nas X made a not-obvious choice to put gay love and desire at the center of his craft. Male pop acts don’t often cover female acts’ love songs, and when Nas X sings “Jolene, I’m begging of you please don’t take my man,” the weight of a whole straight culture presses down on him as well.

The nude shower choreography of “Industry Baby” blew up the prison-set rap video cliché. Lil Nas X winked at both “Brokeback Mountain” and his own “Old Town Road” with a cowboy sex sequence in “Thats What I Want,” which ended in a teary drag sequence played straight-to-camera. He committed to the bit of treating his LP rollout with the serene, floral joy of a celebrity Instagram pregnancy announcement, rotund belly and all.

Christian Breslauer, director of the “Industry Baby” video, said Lil Nas X had a vision for everything from color palettes to storyboards to camera moves, and deserves to be counted as a force in contemporary film.


“He had every visual planned,” Breslauer said. “Directing him was like dancing with a partner who had practiced all the moves.”

Breslauer has directed plenty of hetero-sexy videos, including Doja Cat’s “Streets” and rap hits like Roddy Ricch’s “The Box.” But he saw Lil Nas X’s foregrounding of Black male nude bodies in the dance scenes, and his playful flip of a grim, confined space like a prison cell, as meaningfully subversive.

“A lot of artists over time have had to stay in the closet because of their fan base,” Breslauer said. “But there’s a reason he collaborated with Elton John, who was louder than life and owned it. There will be kids in the Midwest who haven’t come out but who learn his dance moves and feel free in themselves.”

For queer film fans like Annie Rose Malamet, Lil Nas X’s ultra-contemporary music videos allude to generations of NC-17 experiments that revamped film’s capacity to shock, thrill and illuminate.


“You can see all these queer cinema references like ‘Pink Narcissus’ and ‘Flaming Creatures.’ If a gay person is playing with Satanic themes, you can’t not think of Kenneth Anger and Satan as a liberator,” said Malamet, a writer and podcaster on the history of queer genre and horror films. “But a whole new generation might not know those references. I find it extremely refreshing. That he’s not afraid to imply being a bottom in a sexual situation, I don’t know if people understand how radical that is.”

Malamet also thrilled to the notion that, while lesbian sex has long been fetishized in music videos, Lil Nas X turned the tables on rap and pop fans. “We don’t ever see explicit man-on-man sex,” she said. “Normani dancing on Teyana Taylor is more ‘acceptable.’ I hope the impact is that young queer people see it and then go look for what isn’t mainstream.”

Kuhn, for her part, plans to screen Lil Nas X videos in her classes alongside more experimental fare like Su Friedrich. His clips stand on their own as boundary-smashing art, she said, and she suspects future queer film scholars will see them in the same tradition.

“Other mainstream queer films aren’t breaking taboos like this right now, not institutionally. These videos will have staying power long-term,” Kuhn said. “He trusted his instincts, and that’s so rare for a young pop star. Using this pulpit to announce his sexuality was very gratifying to see.”


Then she laughed, recalling the hot-and-bothered devil of the “Montero” video.

“Well, maybe ‘pulpit’s’ not exactly the right word for that.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment