Jonita Davis is a writer, film critic, and professor. She’s a member of NABJ, AAFCA, a Rotten Tomatoes critic, and an adjunct professor.

Beyoncé has a song about broken relationships called Sandcastles. One very notable verse goes something like this…

“Your heart is broken ’cause I walked away.

Show me your scars,

and I won’t walk away.

But although I promise that I would stay,

Every promise don’t work out that way.”

The verse perfectly describes an unseen but very toxic relationship between marginalized people and fandoms. After a year like 2020, many of the marginalized are tired and ready for a breakup. Just like the couple in the song.

To understand the relationship, you must understand how fandoms work. They are communities of people who enjoy and “follow” a certain artist, genre (of music, books, films, etc. an example is horror fans), or another pop culture entity. There are Swifties who are fans of the artist Taylor Swift, Potterheads who are fans of the Harry Potter book collection, and K-pop fans who love the genre of Korean music that is based on 90s hip hop. …

Dr. Ben Stong guides us through the hard truths about the vaccine.

The news as of late has been all about the COVID-19 vaccine. So many people are looking at the vaccine announcements as the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Vaccines are being touted by some on social media as the key to opening public gatherings back up — the ticket to travel again, to live away from home, to get out of the house. Unfortunately, the information coming out about the vaccines contradict these expectations and warrant a serious discussion.

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Benjamin C. Stong, MD is a facial plastic surgeon who runs a full practice and surgery center in Atlanta. Dr. Stong has followed the vaccine news closely. He will need this info to protect his employees and patients when the vaccine becomes available.

In fact, the information is so confusing that I recently reached out to a physician who is following the information closely. Benjamin C. Stong, MD is double-board certified in facial plastic surgery. His Atlanta, Georgia practice also has a surgery center attached, so Dr. Strong has been following the vaccine closely so that he can inform patients and get his own staff vaccinated when the time comes. He not only breaks down the public information about the vaccine, with a warning to everyone. …

The argument essay is one that English teachers and professors all dread. This essay is often the toughest to teach and the driest to grade. Every semester we look at that stack of arguments and think out ways to get them graded without actually reading them all. So, far no one has figured out how to grade without reading the essays. However, I have found a way to make the essays much more interesting than they were before — by structuring the argument like good gossip.

In my nearly 15 years of professional writing, one of the things that my editors have taught me is that the writing has to be interesting before it can be good. Why interesting? Because the reader must be able to get through it without passing out or wishing they could be doing anything else. You must engage the audience or they will click away to someone else's work. …

[Abridged interview, edited to fit the space]

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21Poster for the ‘Superman and Lois’ Show coming to CW in January 2021. Nadria Tucker warns of a potential lack of “color” in the upcoming show.

The internet knew of Nadria Tucker’s work before they heard of her struggle. She was a writer on the ground-breaking Syfy show Krypton and the beloved series Underground. Krypton is the story of Superman’s family, the House of El. The show never lacked diversity in fact, that was a controversial point within the fandom. The Zod family are known villains within the comics, where they were also depicted as white-skinned and evil. In Krypton, the Zod ancestor is a dark-skinned Black woman who intimidates all men who enter her path, except her husband. This change and the fresh origin story were captivating and the reason so many fans of color are eager to see the CW’s Superman & Lois series. …

About a month into a nation-wide shutdown, Time Magazine editor Tom Weber tweeted out a series of CNN screenshots that caught my eye. In each one, the President was giving his usual briefing, but the headline revealed something else going on.

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Today, two days after the still contested Presidential election, Trump is at it again, claiming voter fraud in the ballots that states are counting. He has at press time, sued the states of Michigan and Georgia to stop the vote counts. Both cases have been denied and the counting goes on. …

Racism is insidious. It allows covers for the most heinous acts against Black and brown people. Meanwhile, its practitioners persist in publicly denying that the very idea of a racist act is ludicrous, unimaginable. I experienced this firsthand (here). My supervisor called the teaching of race-related topics in the writing classroom an agenda that I forced upon my students. This came before a racist attack on my appearance and followed by requests that I tone down my Afrocentric physical traits to comfort my roster of predominantly white students. I learned then that racism needs darkness and intimidation to thrive.

A Black Actor’s Story of…

Are we raising boys who are free to be themselves?

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A still from “#blackAF.” Photo courtesy of Netflix

A young Black boy comes into the house crying. When his parents ask what’s wrong, he explains: His classmates forgot his birthday. He cries harder, beginning to hyperventilate. The mother comforts the boy, tells him to breathe. It’s the picture of loving parenthood. The father, though, stands back with a look of disgust, shaking his head. On the screen, a mock scouting report appears distilling the 10-year-old’s disposition: He is the “sweet, sensitive, moist towelette of the family.”

This is a scene from Netflix’s #BlackAF, the latest comedy from Blackish creator Kenya Barris. Though the show portrays an entire family, it’s largely presented from Barris’ own POV — after all, he created, wrote, and even stars as himself, surrounded by an ensemble meant to be satirical versions of his own family. …

This is the third essay in the series that will encompass lessons drawn from current events and circumstances that teachers can incorporate in their writing and reading curriculum. These lessons are tested in my own classroom and will sometimes include some stories from my own teaching adventures.

Every day, the President gets up to debrief the country on the latest pandemic news. However, audiences quickly found that the briefings were not a source of credible information. They became fearmongering sessions full of outright lies and several fallacies.

Here are just a few examples and how they are affecting our lives in the coronavirus pandemic. …

This is the second essay in the series that will encompass lessons drawn from current events and circumstances that teachers can incorporate in their writing and reading curriculum. These lessons are tested in my own classroom and will sometimes include some stories from my own teaching adventures.

Many teachers feel anxious about talking privilege and other controversial topics in the classroom. Things may get passionate amongst students and out of hand for the teacher. Passion is good, however. It means that the student is engaged and invested in the conversation. This is a student who is ready to learn and who will be more than happy to write their views in a short essay. …

This series will encompass lessons drawn from current events and circumstances which teachers can incorporate in their writing and reading curriculum. These lessons are tested in my own classroom and will sometimes include some stories from my own teaching adventures.

Privilege is not an easy topic to teach. First, as a teacher, you must come to terms with your own ideas of privilege, trying them out to be sure they are accurate. I say this because so many people have the wrong idea of what privilege truly is. Others have a tough time conceiving of it outside of a racial context. …

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