By Brenda Alexander

There isn’t an episode of Martin that I don’t find hilarious. The show has classic episodes and one-liners: from Pam’s buckshots to Tommy’s lack of employment, Martin was the classic fool.

Aside from the comedy, Martin and Gina’s relationship made the show great. They were the original #RelationshipGoals for the young 20 somethings of the 90s. From the beginning, their on-screen chemistry was lit and remains unmatched since its time. You couldn’t tell me Martin and Gina weren’t a real thing. But if you wonder why such a successful show ended seemingly before its time, that may just be the reason why. According to Tisha Campbell-Martin, Lawrence took their on-screen love affair and tried to have life imitate art.

Continue
Long before the “Me Too” movement’s breaking news articles of Hollywood Executives and Music Moguls being accused of chasing their subordinates around office chambers and cornering them in trailers on set, at the height of Martin’s success, Campbell-Martin filed a sexual harassment complaint against Martin, HBO (the parent company of the FOX Network at the time) and the show producers (Lawrence was also an EP), claiming that Martin was an intimidating predator who caused an uncomfortable work environment.


Image result for martin gina you so crazy gif
JET Magazine profiled the lawsuit in their January 1997 issue. Campbell-Martin alleged the conditions she worked under were “intolerable” and that she “was subjected to repeated and escalating sexual harassment, sexual battery, verbal abuse and related threats to her physical safety” by Lawrence. She claimed that since the show’s first season, Lawrence asked her out on dates and she declined. As seasons progressed, she alleged that Lawrence’s behavior worsened with tantrums, outbursts and threats when he didn’t get his way on set. She even went as far as requesting that writers stop incorporating scenes featuring she and Lawrence in bed together, saying that Lawrence took their love scenes too far with excessive groping and using tongue while kissing against her wishes. Lawrence denied the allegations and accused Campbell-Martin of using him as a pawn for her contract negotiations.

In November of 1996, the talented costar left the show and its 6.7 million viewers, leaving the producers to find creative ways to film without her. Her absence called for episodes that were interesting, to say the least. There was the episode where Martin and Gina planned to go on a cruise but Gina misses the boat, leaving Martin with a crazed vacationer played by Lynn Whitfield, a promotional ploy on his movie A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. They even tried to highlight the supporting characters Pam, Tommy and Cole with episodes focused on them. The damage was done. Without Martin and Gina, the show’s ratings dipped and was subsequently canceled in its 5th season. Even in the final episode, Campbell-Martin refused to film with Lawrence. The two-part finale featured no scenes with either of them together, despite both appearing in the episode.

There was little backlash against Martin compared to what we see with the likes of Bill Cosby and others who have suffered tremendous career blows. Martin continued with box office successes post the Martin era with Bad Boys II, Life and the Big Momma’s House franchise. There has been minimal interaction between Martin and Tisha since, at least publicly. Co-stars have even alluded to there still being tension and tip-toeing around definitive answers. In interviews with the cast, the lawsuit was never mentioned and reunions were shot down. Maybe that’s the brilliant work of publicists or a gag order was in place, it’s hard to tell. The only cast member who touched on the ordeal at all is Tichina Arnold. In a 2012 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, she said,
“The lawsuit was a very interesting thing to be a part of. Tisha and I have been friends since childhood, and Martin and I are still friends. There’s a point where you have to be professional and a point where you have to be personal, and I was very well aware of separating the two, and Tisha always respected that. It was very weird, but I handled it as best I could.”
Fast forward to February 2018 and black twitter’s prayers were finally answered with a simple picture:


Image result for martin and gina reboot
Tichina Arnold, Martin Lawrence & Tisha Campbell-Martin

I am just as excited as everyone else, but I have questions:

· What about the lawsuit and allegations?

· What come to Jesus moment took place in this meeting that warranted kisses on cheeks?

I consider myself a woman of faith and believe in the power of forgives. But ma’am, if I suffered anything close to what Campbell-Martin claims, I doubt I would fix my lips to kiss that said man on the cheek. Is this a happy ending for the fans? Hell yeah! Give me a two-hour special, some appetizers and cocktails and I’m content; but, I am slightly concerned for what this says for this current rise of women speaking out against abuse in the workplace. I’m eager to see how or if this will affect the promotion of the reboot. Especially, since the demise of the show has been attributed to the abuse allegations.

Is this a happy ending or what? Chime in!
Brenda is a Philadelphia native with a love for Marketing, Creative writing, wine and Jesus. Her work has been featured on Mayvenn’s Real Beautiful blog and she is the co-author of the book Christmas 364: Be Merry and Bright Beyond Christmas Night (available for purchase on amazon). Follow her on IG @trulybrenda_ and trulybrenda.wordpress.com


By Ta-Ning Connai

We all have a past. Some are tainted by shattered dreams, lost love or unbearable regrets. Others have enough scandal, dirt and drama to beat EMPIRE in the ratings. Fortunately for me, I'm just glad I didn't catch a case like Cookie or be left for dead like Lucious, 'cause that could've been me with my formerly crazy self! Whatever the case, the past can be haunting, with a grip that can cripple us and keep us from forging ahead.

Continue
Our minds have a way of reliving a matter over and over again until we manage to make it worse. Whether we're beating ourselves up or making excuse after excuse, the overthinking never ends. All the "coulda woulda shoulda" in the world won't change what was, nor should those words be allowed to contaminate the rest of your life. So when God comes to pull you out from the hold of yesteryear, do yourself a favor...Don't Look Back.

Lot and his family had a chance to escape a city doomed for destruction (Genesis 19:15-26). Right before the fire and brimstone were about to fall, the Lord sent angels to guide them to a place of safety. "Run!" and "Don't look back!" were the simple instructions given, yet for Lot's wife it was evidently just too much to ask. Looking over her shoulder took her one step backward. And that one step backward was her last step ever. She allowed the familiarity of the past to forfeit her future, by mediating on the way things were just a little too long. For rejecting God's grace and His gift of a second chance, she was turned into a pillar of salt.

Now, whether you take this as a true story like I do, or prefer to call it a myth, the moral remains the same. When God tries to move you forward by leaving your past behind, Don't Look Back. When God invites you into a brand new future full of new ideas and new plans, Don't Look Back. As we can see, a one minute pause can end up lasting forever. So do not hesitate and do not linger, unless you wanna stay stuck. I was once stuck for years…

A hot summer night in the 80’s, I was out joyriding with my criminal-minded boyfriend. That would have been bad enough, but I had the nerve to drag my lil' brother Mark with us. See, I was on punishment AGAIN, but because my bestie was having a birthday party right across the street, moms said we could go.

Midnight was our curfew, but by 10 the party suddenly ended with a bang...a bang from a GUN! Frantically, everyone scattered like wild cattle and, one by one, we all made it back safe to my boyfriend's car. Whew! You'd think we'd just go home early and be happy to be alive, but no, I had 2 more hours of freedom and I wasn't about to waste one minute of it! So true when they say "an idle mind is the devil's workshop"! And it's even worse when you have a bad influence you wanna impress. So, off we went to appease our boredom by being mean to innocent strangers. It was the joyride I'd live to regret.

There were only 3 simple steps to my induction into the Hall of Shame:
#1 Buy a 7-Eleven Big Gulp
#2 Speed wildly down a popular boulevard
#3 Throw drink out the back window into someone's face

Yes, I did this. And in front of my little bro! Oh how could I???!!! Now, I could go on to explain the various things that led to my desperate need for acceptance, but I won't because reasons are not excuses. I thought I'd feel great after proving I was so "cool," but going to such drastic lengths to be someone I'm not proved to be so so wrong.

If only my cherry soaked casualty would've just flipped me off or cursed me out, I could've handled that. Anger, bring it on. But the pain in his eyes, it really had me shook.

I had never seen such an expression of vulnerable helplessness before. And when I looked to my boyfriend for a moment of collaborated remorse, all he did was laugh. Nothing funny about watching your victim take on shame and embarrassment for something they don't deserve, but since I was the one who “pulled the trigger” so to speak, all I could really do was pretend it was alright. But it wasn't alright, and neither was I for a very long time.

It would be DECADES before I could actually forgive myself. One day I just closed my eyes, pictured my victim’s face and asked Jesus to relieve him of any lingering trauma that I may have caused. I asked the Lord to touch his heart and supernaturally reveal to him my sorrow and regret. And since I really believed that God could do it, I've been at peace ever since. Won't He do it!

God wants you to say farewell to all those skeletons in your closet. It's time to close the door on all the crap that's been wearing you down; that bad break up with what's his name or your decision to drop out of school; maybe it's the job you should've taken or the kids you had too soon, or didn’t have at all. Whatever your yesterdays, there's a better tomorrow waiting for you. When you accept God's Heavenly Do-Over, your bad choices become valuable lessons and your life gets filled with joy. All ya gotta do is let go of the past, forgive yourself, expect a better ending and PUH-LEEZ quit looking back!

Are you holding on to something that you need God to release you from?
TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column (originally launched on Facebook) that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present its message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of Brooklyn), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie!
Photo of Tai Allen by Taylor Flash
By Sharon Pendana 

Tai Allen is a multidisciplinary creative— poet, performer, music and event producer, graphic designer, to name a few of his many hats. He is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. His recently published chapbook, No Jewels: A Biography (of sorts) Writ in Stanzas, through revelatory poetry uses his violation and ultimate healing to illuminate the staggering statistic that one in sixmen have experienced sexual abuse or assault and offer hope that "pain and trauma do not need to be permanent. Love and contentment are better options.”

Long before he grew into commanding presence, towering height, and manhood, he was preyed upon by rapacious family members older than he (a male cousin and an undisclosed female relative) who desired manly acts from a boy with still "hairless parts." A summer of stolen innocence: locked-door Saturday baths and illicit midday trysts; what child should know of these?

While on a multi-city book tour, Allen spoke to Curly Nikki with guarded frankness about his traumatic experiences, and using his platform as an artist to give voice to those silenced by fear, shame, and stigma.

First, thank you for your willingness to share your difficult story. You were so young when it all started.
Yes, between nine and ten.

By being a relative, your abuser had greater access to you than someone who wasn’t part of the family. Did the person "groom" you for it so to speak?
I’m not sure. If she didn’t groom me before, she was certainly very active in trying to get me to forget about it. And I did for a long time. I forgot about it until I was about seventeen– it was like a eureka moment. She was always so nice to me, lavished me with gifts; I couldn’t figure out why. One day I just remembered. There were actually two situations; one with my cousin, but I punched him in the face and fought him off, and that was the end of that. My female relative was much older, late teens.

Despite her attempt at normalizing her actions, you always knew that they shouldn’t be happening? 
Yes, but I didn’t have the language to explain it. I never did until I got older. She was, I think, bipolar. Abuse is usually about power, but when it’s someone who’s not too well, it’s power and a level of insanity.

How did you handle the unexpected re-emergence of your childhood abuse in your consciousness during adolescence?
Not very well. [I felt] disrespected. Betrayed. Angry. Fooled. Gaslighted. Mad. Violent. It took me ten years to fully reconcile how wack both persons were. They both need therapy. And maybe, a good smack.

Although you didn't undergo therapy, you suggest it for others.
Yes, there is even a number to an agency for readers in the back of the book. I did not get therapy, but I had compassionate listeners. Expression and compassion work in unison. 

So, how did you find healing?
The assumption is that it was art, everyone assumes that, but it's not true. I am the son and godson of black militants. They were big on character and personality building. Ever since I was young, I was given the tools to deal with white oppression and supremacy and those same tools work when dealing with personal abuse. More than anything else, they gave me legacy. They gave me something to believe in. They made sure I had a real affection for community and the Diaspora.

Photo of Tai Allen by Azzie Scott, The Dream Dept. 
You may not have come to rely on your art as therapy, but do you think there is some catharsis through art? 
Hell yes! Sports, hobbies, art, it is about finding outlets that can return the soul to your center. Finding peace is the goal. I truly believe holding on to distressing experiences will create ailments.

Your experience made you vigilant of your two daughters. How did you teach your girls to protect themselves when not under a parent's watchful eye?
The girls require a conversation that reminds them all people and spaces are not safe. And the danger can come from males who sheep their intentions. I understand power is also emotional and mental; I pray I have informed them that sex can be used against them. From abuse to coercion to faux sympathy. Plus, my daughters are Black. Society is often not fond of Black women.

Although No Jewels directly addresses the experience of a male survivor of sexual abuse, its theme of moving through trauma, from surviving into thriving is universal.
I wanted to write a book that men—and others—could use as proof that trauma can be overcome. That proves pain does not have be wallowed in, no matter how terrible the horror.

Your poem “very afraid” touches on the specter of the abused becoming an abuser, in hiding. The book also shares that although many abusers have been victims of abuse, statistically most survivors do not go on to abuse others.
True, and there should be an acknowledgment for those who did not become generational predators after being victims. I see them.

You offer a downloadable Blues/R&B/Acid Jazz soundtrack to the book. What inspired it?
I am a multidisciplinary artist. Absorbing the project in multiple ways can only enhance receiving its message. I wrote the book using triolet (a French writing style), senriyu (a Japanese form close to haiku) and “song” to resemble the African oral tradition.  All three forms scream musicality. I just listened to the call.

Get the book and soundtrack on TaiAllen.com  Follow Tai on Instagram and Twitter

National Sexual Assault Hotline Call 1-800-656-4673  Available 24 hours everyday.

How have you found healing from abuse?

Sharon Pendana is the creator of THE TROVE, author of Secret Washington DCand on a relentless quest to discover treasures, human and otherwise. Find her on Instagram, Medium, Twitter or binging on Netflix and Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Snaps.

By Ta-ning Connai

Hellllloooooo Everybody!
Wow, I feel like when a singer steps out onto the stage for the first time, looks out over the crowd and says to themselves, "MAMA I MADE IT!" Yeah, I'm a drama queen, but darn it, that's exactly how I feel! No I don't sing, and thank God you'll never have to hear me try. And even though I've done A LOT of different things (I'm like a cat with 9 lives!), I always wanted my own column with an awesome online magazine! Ooooooh Weeee, welcome to TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY!

Um, I think I heard someone say, "Who the heck are you and what do you have to say?!"

My name is Ta-ning Connai and basically I'm a self-proclaimed "bridge" between the secular world and the church and I do my best to bring understanding and relatability between the two. The gap is way too big and it's causing people to fall, be hurt and get lost. I'm soooooo through with all that, aren't you?!

Now here's what you can expect...A mix of spiritual grit and humorous wit, while I take on topics like the pressure behind beauty trends, getting cheated on, haters, sexual harassment and more. Sometimes I rant and rave and throw my hands in the air, but it won't be as fun unless you do it with me. So come on, read along, and let's do this!

And speaking of sexual harassment, today's article is about how some women have it worse than others. So, whether you're a woman who says #metoo or a man simply trying to understand...there's more to the story, and I'm gonna be the one to tell it...
Continue
It took the lewd indiscretions of a famous Hollywood producer to spark mass media outrage about something that's been happening to the average woman by not-so-famous men for years. And while I thank the brave, innocent women that provoked so many (myself included) to band together through what I call the "virtual support group" #metoo, I can't help but think about the women whose shame and guilt from bad choices cause them to remain silent and in the dark.

Strippers, video vixens, pornstars. Groupies, goldiggers, prostitutes. Reports show that these women are sexually harassed, verbally abused and raped in rising numbers, and there's nothing they can do about it. Their cry is just a whisper and tells of "fun times" gone wrong and propositions that seemed way too good to pass on. But adage like, "Oh well you asked for it" and "You made your bed now lie in it" serve as the escape clause that allows perpetrators to go scott free and rape culture to remain alive and well. When we imagine the victims of sexual crimes, their faces are not the ones we see. But where's our compassion and outrage for them? What about #themtoo? Just because a person doesn’t have enough self love to pump the brakes on their own self destruction, doesn't mean abuse is alright. It's not ok, it's not ok, NO it's not ok.

The Bible has very choice words about The Seductress and the fiery warning for men to stay away rings loud like a smoke alarm (Proverbs 5:3-22). But there are also plenty of stories in which Jesus used a different frame of reference when forced to judge their situation. Jesus recognized the culture they faced back then (and He recognizes the culture women face today). He took into consideration everything that went into their decision making, including the voices that persuaded them to do so. He knew they were in the wrong place, but He knew they didn't get there on their own. So in essence, He blamed the men, forgave the women and challenged society to rid itself of the discriminating mindset that breeded ill treatment of God's most beloved creation. Jesus is still challenging us TODAY.

We have to start doing our part to make sure women feel better about themselves. No one's worth should be limited to their looks and their sex appeal. If we help women to find out who they are, in spite of what the ads, videos and song lyrics have to say, more women will be less apted to resort to low levels of acknowledgement just to feel like they belong. And they don't deserve to be VIOLATED! They shouldn't have to sleep with the club's best client just because it's their night to dance. A call girl doesn't deserve to be RAPED just because she put her own body up for sale.

Studies indicate that women who's earliest sexual experiences have been tainted with degradation of any kind, are more likely to become promiscuous, have some distorted view of sex and relationships, or engage in high risk sexual activities causing them the possibility of further violations.

We don't know the level of brokenness that gets such women where they are. But one thing we ought to know for sure. If we all got what we deserved, the planet would be HUMAN-FREE, we'd all be DEAD! The Bible says that "we are all like an unclean thing; all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags..." and that "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:23).

We are no better and they are no worse. So, don't let me be the only one, come on and say it with me... #themtoo #themtoo #themtoo.

Do you feel we pick and choose who gets to be a part of #metoo?
TA-NING is a former model (Essence, Vogue) and clothing designer (Neiman-Marcus, Saks) who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. She taught in ministry for several years, but always felt the tug to "go beyond"... TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column (originally launched on Facebook) that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present it's message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of Brooklyn), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie!

Viva Viola! 
By Erickka Sy Savané

In case you missed last night's Golden Globes it was perhaps the most refreshing award shows in recent history because the focus wasn't on who wore this and that or what underrated show or movie beat out someone more deserving. This time, stars wore black in solidarity with the #metoo movement and now the #timesup movement, started by women in Hollywood to say 'the clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace.' And like actress/writer Lena Waithe added, times up on racism and homophobia too. There were many winners from last night's show, but here are 7 that are sure to make you feel all warm and fuzzy!
1) While 'This Is Us' Star Sterling K. Brown made history as the first black male to win a 'Best TV Drama Actor Award' it was his recount of unexpectedly delivering his baby at home, as told to Ryan Seacrest, that is the real winner!