When I say I want to be a conduit of opportunity, Whitney Elizabeth Houston is one of the gold standards to me of creating and opening doors for other performers.
This is the woman who declined performing the role of Cinderella as was originally offered, promoting Brandy for the role in her place. The woman who could have done another fire solo soundtrack for Waiting To Exhale, but brought on over fourteen additional artists to perform tracks (many of which became hits and quiet storm staples). As a filmmaker she produced The Princess Diaries films, the Sparkle remake, and - yes, hunty - Cheetah Girls 1&2. #strutlikeyoumeanit
In 1999 she helped Mary J. Blige’s explosion into the mainstream stratosphere by bringing her onstage as a special guest during Vh1 Divas Live ‘99 - still a record-breaking broadcast that is a large reason Mary became a household name outside of the hip hop and R&B audience. In the studio and on stages she would pass the mic to Monica, Kelly Price, Karen Clark Sheard, and others, an unabashed fan of vocals and technique.
This was a woman who loved being a woman, who loved being Black, and, despite mounting obstacles in her personal life, still promoted quality entertainers and produced quality content that showed positive images of other women and other Black people AND other Black women. Who can forget Raven-Symoné (back when we didn’t have the problems we do now) dropping and posing in heels and skintights while weighing more than her Cheetah peers and the film allowed her to be thought of as driven, desirable and accessible as a contemporary lead who was not Hollywood conventional - something we didn’t really get again until Annalise Keating showed up on our screens two years ago.
Too often she’s been reduced to her voice or her issues. Here’s to just another facet of an American Black Diamond. Here’s to Whitney the conduit. Black history is world history. Salute.
one of my admittedly many favorite things about gansey is that in theory he’s this old money, dignified, highbrow intellectual and passionate researcher into the unknown
but in practice he’s an awkward teenager who wears terrible boat shoes and can’t hold a conversation without talking about magic and thinks about how he’s indirectly making out with blue when he eats yogurt with the same spoon she used
how would one tell the difference between a crow and a raven?
You might be surprised to learn there are a lot of different species of raven and crow! The taxonomic difference between a raven and a crow (that is, whether a species gets named of or the other) is size and lifespan rather than genetic grouping. When comparing the species most of us are most familiar with – the American crow (C. brachyrhyncos) and common raven (C. corax), which will be the two I’m focusing on here – you can’t exactly tell the bird’s age most of the time, so if you have other animals or objects to compare the bird to, size is often the first clue.
The common raven is is massive for a passerine. It’s the size of a red-tailed a hawk, with a wingspan over four feet. Crows, on the other hand, are typically about the size of an African grey parrot. Compare someone holding a crow vs someone holding a raven:
And lemme tell ya, it’s one thing to READ about how big they are, but it’s another to SEE it.
If you see a corvid in flight and can’t get a bead on its proportions, the shape of the tail and flight feathers is another good identifier. A crow’s tail is triangular or fan-shaped, while a raven’s is wedge-shaped (ie the middle tail feathers are longest). Both have well-defined primaries, but a raven’s are much deeper and tend to spread wider. Ravens tend to soar a lot, too; crows are consistent flappers.
Finally, if you can get a good look at the head, the differences are pretty obvious. A raven has a beak that hooks at the end and is as long as its head (or in the case of a Chihuahuan raven, longer than!) while a crow’s beak is straighter, shorter, and lighter-looking in general. Both have nasal bristles, but the shape these bristles form is different due to beak size (a raven’s often looks squared off). Crows are kinda shiny and a bit fluffy; ravens are iridescent and have a very distinctive “beard” of shaggy feathers at their throats which bristles up like hackles when they call.
Finally, their voices are a bit different – a crow’s flat, high caw vs a raven’s deep, resonating kronk – but both species have a very wide range of natural vocalisations and are accomplished mimics. [This video] has some great examples of the caw vs kronk sounds.