Bill Cosby is Guilty. Period. Spectra Speaks.

Bill Cosby is Guilty of Sexual Assault. Period.

In case you missed it, Bill Cosby is guilty of sexual assault.

Yup, I said it. I loved the Cosby Show, too. I grew up with him, too. I’m as horrified, saddened, angry, confused as you are, too. But the judgment, shame, stigma associated with coming out against a (loved) public figure like that, plus the horrible comments online attacking/blaming his alleged victims, are all the proof I need that Bill Cosby assaulted these women (or the majority of them, if you really need to maintain your skepticism).

I don’t need specifics. I don’t need for these victims to relive their trauma bit by bit, tear by tear, so as to ‘remove all reasonable doubt’… because their speaking up, his silence, and how messed up we still are as a society that we’d default to immediately defending an alleged serial rapist than advocating for justice for his *multiple* victims, says everything to me.

I think about self-righteous religious people that say things like “well you made a choice to be LGBT”, in full knowing of what the world does to you when you dare to speak the truth about who you are, and I think about these poor women facing so much hate for the “choices” they made… to be drugged, groped, and raped, apparently, by a man way more influential and powerful. What complete and utter bullshit.

The crap I’ve been reading in the media, and even my own personal feed – especially from men – demanding all this evidence for us to believe that the women who’ve come out to speak aren’t lying is a disgrace to us all as a human race.

How is it still okay to blame people, who have suffered at the hands of others, for their suffering?

Please explain to me which organism on the entire face of the planet deliberately puts itself in harms way? Please explain to me why ANYONE would risk such vitriol by accusing a very wealthy, powerful, and beloved comedian of rape if it actually did not happen?

Where on earth is our collective compassion?
Where on earth is our empathy?

You cannot possibly still defend Bill Cosby in the face of all of these allegations. Even if just 1 out of the 12 (or 13, I’ve lost count) is telling the truth. Bill Cosby sexually assaulted SOMEONE. And that is NOT okay.

Bill Cosby is guilty of rape.

And I’m sticking to that verdict until HE – with his millions of dollars, social clout, and resources – produces valid evidence that it didn’t happen. The burden should NOT fall on the women currently under attack for daring to expose him. If they’re lying, or wrong, they should pay for it, because this fucks everything up for every other woman brave enough to stand up for herself, even years after it happened. But…

I don’t buy that they’re lying.
I don’t care that the details are hazy.
I don’t care that Janis Dickinson is a bit of a rogue.
Rogues have feelings too.
Rogues don’t deserve for their bodies to be violated.
Victims needn’t be saints to get justice.
Victims shouldn’t be villainized for standing up to villains!

Bill Cosby is guilty. And if you have any compassion for ANYONE who’s ever had to stand against a goliath and say, Not Today, For the Sake of Some Other Woman, Not Today, you’ll stand with them. You’ll stand with them so fiercely, and send the message to perpetrators of sexual violence everywhere that the world is changing, and we’ll no longer put up with this BULLSHIT.

Bill Cosby is guilty. Period.
(Don Lemmon is an idiot. Period.)

And to the women standing up to him – and against a culture that blames rape victims – you are my heroes.

Online Revolution Spectra Speaks Jay Smooth

The Revolution Will Be Online: Spectra Speaks with Jay Smooth on Activism in the Digital Era

standardtwitterpicExciting news! I’m going to be on a panel with one of my favourite video bloggers, Jay Smooth of Ill Doctrine!

The Revolution Will Be Online (A Panel at Ford Hall)
Date: Thursday, October 2, 2014
Time of Forum: 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., EST
Location: African Meeting House, Museum of African American History, 46 Joy St., Boston, MA 02114.

Featuring Jay Smooth (blogger, The Ill Doctrine), Spectra Speaks (blogger, Spectra Speaks), and Andrew Ti (blogger, Yo, Is This Racist?), and moderated by Callie Crossley (broadcast journalist and radio host, WGBH’s Under the Radar). This event is co-sponsored by The Museum of African American History, ArtWeek Boston, and the Boston Literary District.

We’ll be chatting about a topic that speaks to the crux of all my work: the power of online conversations to propel change in the digital era. Check out the event description below, with my favourite part in bold.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, Ford Hall Forum convenes this panel of popular anti-racism bloggers to discuss how far we’ve come – or haven’t – since 1964. What does racism and anti-racism look like from a Millennial perspective, and how do activists relate to those who came before them? This nuanced conversation will touch upon multiracial contexts, the value of intersectionality, the perils and perks of connecting via commenting, and more. Broadcast journalist Callie Crossley sits down with Andrew Ti, Spectra Speaks, and Jay Smooth for an in-person discussion on how, 50 years later, racism is fought through the world’s electronic town hall.

Don’t Mind My Pre-Panel Pontification

I’ve never described myself as an ‘anti-racist’ blogger; I write about love, empathy, relationships, and media as powerful tools for change. This, of course, includes tackling racism, among other things — democratising storytelling, promoting African voices, ending homophobia, and challenging single-issue politics. Ironically, my online platform and networks are expansive, allowing me the freedom to fully participate in a variety of cross-conversations about making the world better. It’s in ‘real life’ I constantly have to fight against political fragmentation.

intersectionalityCase in Point: As I previously committed to attending this forum to discuss racism in honour of the Civil Rights Act 50th anniversary, I was unable to attend the History Project’s “Historymaker Awards Ceremony,” in which I would have been introducing a really good friend of mine – Omar Thomas, a black gay composer who wrote the first civil rights anthem for the LGBT community – for his award. Similarly, by being in the US for LGBT history month, I’m missing a series of really awesome events back home (and in the US actually) for Nigeria’s 100th year of independence. Le sigh.

Yes, life happens. Calendar conflicts happen. No one’s out to make my choices – of which political event to attend – more difficult. But in the spirit of this upcoming conversation about identity, digital media, and revolution, I feel compelled to share that my connections online grant me far more freedoms to express (and educate others on) the multiple facets of my identity and experiences, than the connections in what critics insist is my “real life” offline.

But While I’m On the Subject: Online vs. Offline Activism, Let’s Discuss

For the record, I don’t believe our lives online vs offline can be so finitely distinguished. If you take a look at how the Kony 2012 social campaign influenced thousands of people to “real life” take action, or how localised efforts to bring back the kidnapped Nigerian girls were bolstered by the #bringbackourgirls hashtag, it shouldn’t be hard to see how interdependent our digital and physical spaces have become (and always have been). That said, there are nuances worth discussing.

Online, I just am: Spectra talking about racism, Spectra talking about love, Spectra talking about Africapitalism, and technology, and X-Men, all from the same channel. Needless to say, my followers are frequently confronted with the fact that I am more than just this or that, but the sum of all my parts, a fact which is more easily overlooked in offline spaces, that aren’t as ubiquitous.

For example, African-Americans who began following me *in solidarity* for my article about Hollywood’s racist casting of the Nina Simone biopic, got to hear me rant quite bitterly about the US black media’s erasure of Lupita Nyong’o’s African identity — mainly referring to her as black the minute she won an oscar — just a few months later. A quick glance of my twitter feed (or overly political bio) may likely have helped folk reconcile the two: she’s a black woman, and she’s Nigerian/African, ah I get it.

If only using my full self to contextualise my political perspectives were that easy in physical spaces.

Online vs Offline NetworksOffline, fighting against isms feels more silo-ed, complicated, compartmentalised even. This is evidenced by how many times I’ve been invited to speak at a prestigious college, say by a minority student group for black history month, and then asked, for example, to “just focus on the race side of things,” as adding in my African identity may be “too complicated.” (No lie). I may have been able to avoid countless awkward interactions with African feminists who upon proclaiming their disdain for the gays ruining Africa, I relayed I was in a same-sex relationship. (Yikes, where’s a halo-like twitter bio when you need one?)

Meanwhile, all this talk of online revolutions has also got me thinking about the way we talk about media, merely as a communications channel, a resource we all should be using to raise hell about the issues that make our blood boil (provided we’re all granted equal access).

As we discuss whether or not we think the revolution will be online, it’s important that we don’t forget that media is more than just a channel; media is a battleground in and of itself, one which not everyone has the privileged to fight within. 

For decades, we’ve been discussing the mis- and under-representation of minority voices in major news and media, which influence public opinion, government, and society as we know it. Yet, across the most popular social media platforms, there are more marginalised groups ‘participating’ as consumers than there are producers, a category of influence still dominated by rich, white men – yes, the same ones who own the corporations that don’t just monitor, own and control your content, but sell private information to the highest bidder.

Access to technology is influenced by socio-economic factors and controlled by the ruling class. Even now, in this new era of democratised media power — even online, the most vulnerable of us are still not safe: women still experience sexual violence; LGBT people are still outed against their will; women of colour are still dehumanised, and much more.

So, will the revolution be online? Oh I think it has to be. The revolution should be wherever we need to defend ourselves with all manner of armour and weaponry. 

Love As A Revolution Sucks

Love as a Revolution Totally Sucks

Dear Reader,

I’ve missed this space. But I hope it hasn’t been too long since we last connected. The piece below came to me during a morning reflection earlier this week. I’d been experiencing interpersonal issues with someone very close to me and was wrestling with myself as to the best way through to the other side.

I’m not sure why I’m sharing it… I guess I’m hoping that others who’ve experienced deep feelings of frustration, with their beliefs or themselves, will reach out so we can at least give each other a virtual hug.

Here it goes,


Love as a Revolution Totally Sucks

Leading with Love, especially when you’re hurt, angry, wounded etc, is so difficult, mainly because it’s… well, just plain unfair.

You will not explode, you will not explode, you will not explode...Really, to repeatedly “rise above” the most frustrating, painful, or otherwise emotionally debilitating situations due to racism, sexism, homophobia, other power struggles, or even our personal relationships, practically demands we deny our human instincts: to flee, to defend, to scream in the face of violence.

And all for what? For the sake of “elevating ourselves”, and in so doing, others, to a lighter, healthier place? Why should I have to bear the burden of elevating so many other assholes to a lighter place?? Why should people who continue to wreak havoc upon those with less power benefit from the rest of us trying to be our “best selves”?

On days like these – when I can feel my blood about to boil over, and I have no patience to teach others how to treat me better, and would rather just open my mouth and use my literary talents for revenge, I have to remind myself that the alternative is much worse.

Succumbing to my emotions, placing my own needs above everyone else’s, reacting from a place of anger, pain, and whatever else – especially against people who I do not understand, and I feel so strongly have wronged me in some way – doesn’t make me any better, or different; it just makes me a hypocrite.

And I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to use as many tough moments (as I have capacity) to practice re-centering myself in compassion. I want to nurture my curiosity about others feelings and emotional contexts so diligently that it eventually begins to kick in more often than my survivalist instinct to fight or flee.

I want to walk the talk, practice what I preach, be able to look others and myself in the face, and do much better than say “do better”, but “well done.”

That said, I’m human. So, on some days, my emotions do get the best of me, and I clam up, retreat, raise my voice, say mean things, and I let myself down.

Rather than beat myself up, I need to remember that this is okay, too. Because it reminds me that I’m no better than the folks I’m trying to “rise above.” That personal growth is one half perspective, and one half harsh truths. And that the most important thing to remember isn’t the person you are, or even the person you’re striving to be, but the journey that exists between the two.

Don’t ever stop trying.

Love As a Revolution Always Wins


Interview with Omar Thomas, Jazz Composer of Monumental LGBT Civil Rights Hymn, “We Will Know”

I recently got the chance to interview award-winning composer, Omar Thomas, about his new album, ‘We Will Know’, a monumental work of art that breathes new life into the word “movement”.

We Will Know Omar Thomas LGBT Civil Rights

Following the success of his debut release, I Am, Omar secured a grant in 2013 to compose, arrange, and produce an album to reconcile the perceived incongruities between LGBT and Black communities in the United States.

Per the virtual release event, existing at the intersection of black civil rights and LGBT civil rights, “We Will Know” is a historic, first-of-its-kind original work which invokes genres of music unique to the black American experience as a way of underscoring the experiences of LGBT persons in America over the past 90 years.

In Omar’s artist statement, he states: “The beauty and madness of this work is that it is a composition based on juxtaposition, promoting a social movement written in a genre (jazz) pioneered by a group that historically has an aversion to the group for which the piece is created. Though it is written in solidarity with the LGBT movement, it is anchored by styles and songs created by and for the African-American experience.”

Each of the four movements plays a specific role in framing the realities of LGBT persons across the country.

  • The first movement, “Hymn,” is a rallying protest song – that glue which holds together all significant social movements – which the LGBT movement has been without for all these years.
  • The second movement, “In Memoriam,” is a brief elegy that commemorates the lives of those lost and those facing real danger in the face of ignorance and fear.
  • The longest of the movements, “Meditation,” provides the listener a safe place for reflection and catharsis.
  • And, the final movement, “May 9th, 2012,” combines the original hymnsong with Charles Albert Tindley’s iconic black civil rights song, “We Shall Overcome,” to celebrate the day an American president (and also our first black president) first publicly supported marriage equality.

LGBT civil rights are at the forefront of contemporary social and political discourse. The power of music to serve, inspire, and archive movements is a necessary part of that conversation, one that Omar Thomas, a hauntingly talented musician and self-described ‘artivist’ is committed to facilitating through his music.

On Music, Movements, and Identity: Interview with Black and Gay Composer, Omar Thomas

SPECTRA: I’m gonna get right into it… “We Will Know: An LGBT Civil Rights Piece in Four Movements.” That’s a bold title! And, if I must say, such a beautiful gift to black LGBT people, or any of us who live our lives at the intersection. What inspired the project?

OMAR: I got the idea to compose an LGBT civil rights piece after numerous failed attempts at sounding intelligible on an “It Gets Better” video.

SPECTRA: No… Haha! Really?

OMAR: True story. I really wanted to contribute to the message and success of the “It Gets Better” campaign, but couldn’t find the words. I’m not a writer. I’m a musician. So it dawned on me in that moment — that music is a language at which I’m adept, my chosen language of love and protest. I mean, clearly I was failing so miserably in English while trying to make that video. So I decided right then and there that I’d made my contribution to groundswell of awareness and support – “the movement’ – using my natural talent: music.

SPECTRA: Mmm, I love that. It’s a really beautiful thing to witness someone stepping so boldly into their purpose. Did you ever imagine you would release an album like this?

OMAR: To be able to communicate so effectively using music is a gift. It only made sense that my contributions to human rights take the form of a musical statement. And honestly, the creation of this piece felt inevitable, really, as if my growth as a composer, educator, and socially-conscious citizen were all leading to the creation of this work.

We Will Know Banner

SPECTRA: This is your second album. Your first won a Boston Music Award in 2013 for Best Jazz Artist. You’ve called ‘We Will Know’ one of your most important pieces of work to date. What hopes do you have for the EP?

OMAR: From the side of the music, I hope the movements in ‘We Will Know’ highlight the gamut of emotions that have underscored the LGBT civil rights struggle – and triumphs – of the past century. I want the experience of listening to the album to feel like catharsis, of the personally political kind.

SPECTRA: The album is definitely a conversation starter.

OMAR: Music is a commonality we all share. It’s just one of many, many commonalities we all share. And its universality makes it the ideal ambassador for the connections we share across experiences. And its convening power bring us all closer to the ideas of oneness, a singular human story that I truly believe is at the nucleus of the human experience.

SPECTRA: Omar, you teach “Harmony” at Berklee College of Music. (smile). Can you explain – to those of us with a limited jazz vocabulary — what that means? Listening to you talk about music, movements, and unity, it seems fitting as the name of a class you would teach!

OMAR: *laughs* Harmony at Berklee College of Music is the study of contemporary music theory. The study of melody, harmony, and rhythm in popular song. As music mirrors life and vice versa, I always find creative ways to discuss various aspects of life in my classes.

SPECTRA: Speaking of teaching, has your identity as a black gay man influenced or impacted your role as an educator in any way?

OMAR: I’d like to think it has been positive. I have a simple personal mandate: to live authentically and to do the best I can, as an educator, as a musician, and as a citizen, so that those who feel empowered by the labels of “gay,” “black,” and the combination of the two will feel seen, uplifted. I’m not the only gay black musician out there. There are many who came before me, whose shoulders I stand on, and more will come afterwards. I honour them by being visible.

SPECTRA: Somewhat related. On visible black and LGBT icons. Each year during black history month, I see the same names of Black and LGBT leaders mentioned e.g. James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Bayard Rustin etc. Many writers, political activists etc. As a young, gay, black, and aspiring musician, who did you look up to?

OMAR: Billy Strayhorn. Hands down. The right hand man to the great Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington. So great was his talent, his poise, and his presence that literally no one cared about his orientation. Okay, maybe they did but they got over it. Who knows. I’m sure he had his own share of struggle. But he never minced words about his sexuality, nor did her ever hide. In the early half of the 20th century. In America. As a black man. As a gay, black man. What courage! His story has always resonated with me.

SPECTRA: I have to ask… especially given that you’re a black and gay musician who’s just released an EP calling for equal rights. And Macklemore just won a Grammy for Same Love. Where do you stand on musical accolades being about the music vs. the political messages they convey? Can we, actually, separate them?

OMAR: For me, being a musician, or a chef, or a writer, or a painter, or a dancer, is all about authenticity and vulnerability. If one’s art is to ring true, one’s identity must ring true THROUGH one’s art.

Anyone who is using their voice to further ideas of universality and oneness deserves to be commended, but only if they do so with respect to context, meaning where their contribution fits in the narrative of those who’ve come before them in this fight.

That being said, a positive message is a positive message, and good music is good music. These two concepts are mutually exclusive. If a work is to be critiqued based on the strength of its message, then so be it. If it is to be critiqued on its musical strengths and merits, so be it. If both are present and are formidable, all the better.

SPECTRA:Anything else you’d like folks to know?

OMAR: I’m encouraging everyone to start using the hashtag #iamtheintersection to continue the dialog about multiple identities, shared history, and oneness. You can follow me at @omarthomasmusic on Twitter and Facebook/omarthomasmusic to join the conversation.

Do yourself a favour and listen to the first movement, “Hymn” below. (I’m in tears every single time!)

‘We Will Know: An LGBT Civil Rights Piece in Four Movements’ is now available for purchase on iTunes. A limited number of commemorative physical copies, which include comprehensive 4-page timeline of milestones of the LGBT movement over the past century, are also available for order on the official Omar Thomas website,

Walking the Tight Rope: An African LGBTI Anthology

Call for Submissions (Poetry, Prose, Photography): Walking the Tight Rope: An African LGBTI Anthology

Cross posted from QWOC Media Wire .


QWOC Media Wire was founded on the belief that there is incredible power in telling our own stories, and highlighting reasons to celebrate as much as our vision for what we hope to change.

In the wake of anti-LGBT laws and the barrage of negative media attention currently being directed towards Africa, we are so excited to present the following call for submissions:

Walking the Tight Rope: An African LGBTI Anthology (of which our very own founder, Spectra, is an editor) seeks poets, writers and photographers within Africa and the Diaspora to share their stories.

Walking the Tight Rope: An African LGBTI Anthology

Call for Submissions in Prose and Photography

Thanks to the high interest in the new African LGBTI Anthology and the engaging poems we received in our original call for submissions in poetry, we’ve decided to expand the focus of the anthology to include prose – more specifically short fiction and short (creative) lyric essays – and some photography.

As before, we encourage writers who identify as gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, or transgender, living in Africa and first or second generation Africans living in the Diaspora (i.e. if you are African or one of your parents is African) to send their best work for consideration. Works will be chosen solely on merit.


We prefer works that are unpublished. All prose should be no more than 600 words (exceptions can be made in rare circumstances) and in English or English translations. All submissions in photography should be in either JPG or TIFF format.

We encourage writers to submit photography and prose addressing the following themes:

1) Relationships
2) Body
3) Self
4) (Re)Definition. Works addressing other themes will also be considered.

Since we have a good representation of Nigerian and South African writers, we especially encourage writers from other parts of Africa to submit their work. Also, we urge the use of pseudonyms where writers feel threatened.

Submissions should be sent through Submittable under African LGBTI Anthology.

Questions can be sent to Abayomi Animashaun via email at Please include “African LGBTI Anthology” in the subject line. Our deadline is April 15.

For more information, please visit the anthology’s website:

Plugin from the creators ofBrindes Personalizados :: More at PlulzWordpress Plugins