'American Soul' Is The Kind Of Black History I Want More Of

Photo by Jace Downs/BET.

I can't stand another black-and-white photo of W. E. B. Du Bois

As a Black woman, I feel entitled and more than comfortable saying this: Black history, and the way it's celebrated, is stale. You know the drill: Shirley Chisholm, Rosa Parks, and Angela Davis are the names that come up year after year in February. This is occasionally interrupted by the introduction of literary pioneers like James Baldwin and Maya Angelou. It isn't that all of these people and movements aren't important to Black history—and American history; they most certainly are. But, in limiting our attention to this group during the 28 days of the year we've dedicated to Black history, we limit the narrative of Black progress to resistance efforts against oppression. While recounting that narrative is extremely important, Blackness has a history that goes beyond our shared struggles. I want more Black history that honors our innovation; our ability to flourish within an environment hell-bent on stifling us at every turn; our success within a financial structure that was built to exclude us. I want Black history that honors our humanness. I want to hear from Black titans of business, know more about the philosophies of Black artists, and be inspired by the emotional journeys of Black people. I want more shows like BET's American Soul.

With American Soul, BET—the historically Black network that recently found a niche in biopics after the massive success of 2017's The New Edition Story and then the 2018 Bobby Brown Story—is giving viewers an intimate look at the creation and influence of Soul Train through the eyes of its originator and host for over two decades, Don Cornelius. If you grew up in a Black household at any point between the '80s and late '90s, the chances that you've seen the nationally syndicated music and dance program are high. Even if you didn't, you can still catch the annual Soul Train Awards, find endless GIFs of Soul Train dancers, or, at a bare minimum, been forced to dance your way down a "Soul Train line" at a wedding or party. The show, which was on air for 35 years by the time its final episode came around in 2006, was integral to the continuation and distribution of Black musical and dance traditions. Being booked on Soul Train as a musical act meant that you were a big deal. And being a Soul Train dancer meant you were the baddest motherfucker on the block. Period.

Cornelius is the figure behind this influential program, and American Soul tells his story. Soul Train was modeled after American Bandstand, a show where young people danced to top 40 songs. Cornelius (played by Sinqua Walls) conceived of his show as a Black alternative. It ended up being way more lit. Not only did he make huge strides for African-American representation with Soul Train, but he also made a strong case for economic empowerment. As creator, host, and producer, Soul Train was Cornelius' show, not just one he was paid to lead. Today, "buying Black" is a buzzword. Hip-hop moguls like Jay Z and Diddy swear by it with the various claims they've staked in industries like fashion (Sean Jean and Roc-A Wear), technology (Tidal), and spirits (Ciroc, D'usse, and Armand de Brignac). Their enterprising spirits are helping to change the Zeitgeist on Black ownership in the U.S. and abroad, and it's no different than the position that Cornelius held when he sought to make Soul Train a nationwide hit with beautiful Black people at the helm and reaping the benefits.

More than a dramatization of just his business endeavors though, American Soul captures the man that Cornelius was both on and off the air. As is often the case with biopics, the subject's sacrifices and personal struggles get just as much attention. There was no shortage of them in Cornelius' life as an entertainment professional. American Soul actually opens with (spoiler alert) his 2012 suicide and then works its way back to the '70s where he was pulling from his own emergency funds to put Black pop culture on the map. Another pet peeve I have with the popularized Black history narrative is that it often erases emotional and mental health as a part of life that everyone deals with—including our cultural heroes. For this, the raw honesty of American Soul is appreciated.

The icing on this cake is the colorful cast of Black actors and artists who give us another chance to understand Black culture. In addition to Walls, Kelly Rowland appears as Gladys Knight, the iconic soul singer who agrees to appear on Soul Train to support Black businesses. Another Destiny's Child member, Michelle Williams, is Diana Ross. Bobby Brown plays soul singer Rufus Thomas, while Luke Cage's Gabrielle Dennis will bring Tina Turner to life during the 10-episode run. With their experiences as artists, many of them likely having grown up on Soul Train just like I did, they get to tell Black history while living and making it.

In my mind, Black history doesn't exist on a linear timeline that can be neatly explained chronologically. It's a mosaic-crafted web that transcends time and location thanks to a series of relationships and a rich legacy informing how the whole thing functions. American Soul is an examination of one small portion of that web, but also a separate entry all on its own thanks to a cast and host network that have already helped define Blackness for a generation of people. It's been said time and again that Black history shouldn't actually be limited to one month, and, of course, it isn't. Black history is all around us, and still being made, every minute of every day of the year. But, if we do have to bend to the will of a marketable calendar event, I want to see more programming like this and fewer black-and-white photos of W. E. B. Du Bois. I'm just saying.

American Soul premieres tonight on BET.

Photo by Handout / Getty Images.

From selling probiotic supplements to picture frames and umbrellas

A Kardashian-level of success doesn't happen overnight, and it certainly doesn't happen without proper planning. Kim Kardashian West clearly knows this because, according to TMZ, she has already filed for trademark protection on the name of her two-week-old baby, Psalm West. From personal appearances and entertainment services to probiotic supplements and scrunchies, she is leaving no stone unturned in terms of possible business opportunities.

Apparently, all of the Kardashian parents file these kinds of trademark protections for their kids even if the businesses never come to fruition. It's done as a precautionary measure to keep others from profiting off of their name and to make sure that, should they ever want to start a business, they don't have to worry about someone else getting to it first. The sheer length of this list speaks to the huge earning potential of baby Psalm, who can't even control his own neck muscles yet, let alone go into business. Still, this brings a whole new meaning to "securing the bag."

Below, a list of all the things Kardashian West is seeking usage rights for.

Hair accessories












Hair extensions

Ornamental novelty pins

Entertainment services

Personal appearances

Skin care

Probiotic supplements

Toy figures

Doll accessories

Computer software


Baby bottles






Skin moisturizers



Bubble bath


Body powders

Shower gels

Body oils

Skin serums

Nail polish

Nail polish remover

Nail care preparations



Toy jewelry

Toy cameras

Toy food

Bath toys

Baby gyms

Playground balls

Electronic action toys

Baby bouncers

Baby changing tables

Baby walkers




Picture frames


Baby carriers

Cosmetic bags

Toiletry cases

Duffle bags




Key chains



photo albums



Writing utensils

Collectible trading cards

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council

Photograph via @kimkardashian.


Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.