Janelle Harris

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I'm one part word nerd writer, one part shoe hoochie fashionista, and all parts mother of Skylar, the flighty but fabulous 14 year old who is the object of my undying affection (when she's not immersed in teen funkiness). Aside from storytelling for The Stir, I pen pieces for Essence, Ebony, Vibe, Clutch and just about anyone else who'll have me. On any given day, I find solace in Five Guys fries, Hello Kitty paraphernalia and crime TV. Love me anyway, please.


Sipping on:

Sprite on the rocks. Oh, you thought this snarkiness was alcohol-induced?

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    Shanesha TaylorLast week, Shanesha Taylor left her children, ages 2 and 6, in her Dodge Durango. The windows were cracked and the doors were locked when a passerby heard the baby crying from the backseat and reported the unsupervised little ones to the authorities. When Taylor returned, the police were waiting for her in the parking lot of the office complex she left her truck in.

    She explained that she had been on a job interview and didn’t have anyone to watch her kids while she was there. The 35-year-old was arrested, charged with child abuse, and photographed in what may be the most heartbreaking mugshot I’ve seen in years.

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    The thing about living in a country that celebrates and prides itself in being a multicultural melting pot is that society in general doesn’t get to dictate what should and shouldn’t be insulting to the smaller groups of people that make up the whole. We can’t tell gay folks to let the arbitrary use of the word “faggot” roll off them. We can’t tell Jewish people that they really shouldn’t be insulted by “shyster.” So, in that vein, we can’t explain away blackface and tell African-Americans that it’s really not all that offensive. Julianne Hough is the latest celeb to get caught up in public fallout from a failed Halloween costume. She should know better. There have been more than enough examples set and fingers wagged before to derail her bad decision-making and the PR nightmare she’s in now. 

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    Because we needed a reminder that sometimes, when things go wrong, they can still turn themselves upright, there’s this story: Vickie McBride had her son, Maurice, when she was just 13 years old. That’s jarring, even by our almost un-jarrable standards. As you can imagine, she was local gossips’ favorite thing to whisper about in her Georgia hometown, but with the help of her mother, a retired teacher, she shut them up by staying in school. Education was an inherited importance. So it was probably a kick in her stomach when Maurice dropped out when he was 16. But there’s a happy ending for the one-time barely teenage mom and her former high school dropout son. They both graduated from the same university with their PhDs on the same day. Yep, these two went allllll the way in school in a double doctoral victory. (In your face, hateratti.) You just gotta love that kind of win-win for the underdogs. 

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    You knew it was coming. If you didn’t, you should have. College kids are generally our most unobstructed and free-thinking minds, what with all of the exposure to new people, theories, knowledge, and such. But somebody at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, didn’t get the memo and instead dreamt up the concept of a sorority strictly for straight people.

    An email originally posted by an anonymous student on Tumblr -- which has since been stripped off -- invited classmates to join her in creating an “exclusive” chapter of Delta Gamma specifically for the school’s piteously underserved and marginalized straight girls. Because there just aren’t enough organizations in the world for heteros to dominate. Except, like, almost every organization that’s ever been created.

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    Not this messiah. The other one.OK, so turns out you can name your kid “Messiah.” That other judge was just blowing off steam about her Jesus love and whatnot. This time it’s for real. “Messiah” is a go. In a complete up yours to the previous ruling handed down in—of all places, child support court—a higher judge in Tennessee reversed a magistrate’s decision that told Jaleesa Martin she had to change her 8-month-old son’s name from “Messiah.” 

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