Commentary Strange Fruit

“We are professional code-switchers, hair-flippers, hip-shakers, and go-getters. We hold Ph.Ds and listen to trap music; we twerk and we work. We hold it down while lifting each other up, and we don’t have to justify or explain our reason for being. This is us.”

That’s how Dr. Yaba Blay describes the inspiration for her latest project, Professional Black Girl. The video series features interviews with 17 Black women and girls ranging in age from 2 to 52, and aims to challenge racist expectations of what is “respectable.”

And a lot of the interviewees talk about a topic that sits right on top of their heads.

“Some of my closest friends, one of the things that we tend to bond over, laugh about, kiki, has to do with hair memories,” Blay says. “Whether it’s old-school hairstyles or old-school products.”

Blay joins us this week to talk about the project, which debuts on YouTube September 9 (and features our own Dr. Story in one episode!).

And two stories from the wide world of sports have us scratching our heads this week: Professional boxer Yusaf Mack had been the victim of homophobic slurs online, so he tracked down his harasser at a barbershop and gave him a professional-strength beating. The whole thing was caught on video, and the man who got whooped said he would fight the boxer again.

And former WNBA guard Candice Wiggins made headlines this week when she told the Chicago Tribune she was bullied by teammates for being straight.

“So many people think you have to look like a man, play like a man to get respect,” she was quoted as saying. “I was the opposite. I was proud to a be a woman, and it didn’t fit well in that culture.”

Other WNBA players have denounced Wiggins’ comments as untrue.

Listen to this week’s episode in the player above and subscribe to Strange Fruit wherever you get your podcasts.

Laura is the producer of Strange Fruit, a weekly talk show focusing on race and gender, and oversees WFPL's Curious Louisville project.