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Terrence Howard

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“The moment you brought that White woman into my house, I knew then I couldn’t trust you. I knew then you didn’t want to be apart of my family.”

To Black people, this conversation is familiar. “Don’t bring no White man home,” my mom would say. It’s not like she’d stop loving me if I did, but it was made clear to me, from a young age, Black women and Black men should be together. (My parents would also say things like “Black Power” with their fists raised.) Considering the times, it seems ignorant to hold such views but I’d be dishonest if I said, I don’t subscribe to the beliefs. And since it left Lucious’ lips last night, I know I am not alone.

One of Lucius Lyons’ sons is gay, another is dating an older woman (Naomi Campbell) because he has “mommy issues” and the eldest is shacked-up in his paid-for condo with a White women who is the mastermind behind tearing his family apart. It was all confronted in one hour, last night, and it was nothing short of epic, entertaining and nail-biting all the way through.

Tears filled my bottom lids as I watched Cookie kiss her children “goodbye” before facing a judge who would eventually bestow a 17-year sentence upon her, in the opening scene. It would tear her away from young Hakeem, Jamal and Andre and her husband Lucious — who sang to her a hip-hop rendition of “You’re So beautiful.” Howard, who has the tendency to overact with permanent watery eyes, was appropriate and appreciated.

Shortly after that touching scene, “Empire” picked up where it left off last week, Cookie demanding Lucious leave Boo Boo Kitty, or that “fake a** Lena Horne” (whichever insult you prefer) to be with her. “You want Cookie’s nookie, ditch the b*tch,” she instructed.

Like most men, Lucious agreed. How could he not? Cookie promised to make him immortal through a “Lucious Lyon Legacy” documentary and family album. However, Lucious Lyon’s legacy excluded one crazy a** motherf*cker — his son Andre.

A majority vote from Empire’s board of trustees would place Andre in the Vice President position of the label and the leader of the company if Lucious should peril (and with ALS slowly crippling him from the inside out, his death is inevitable.) With the split decision vote resting in Lucious’ hand, he answered “Nay,” with a cold stare leaving Andre embarrassed as he walked out the conference room.

Peep game.

Andre eventually confronted his father which all led to one of the Blackest discussions we’ve ever seen on TV.

“The moment you brought that White woman into my house, I knew then I couldn’t trust you. I knew then you didn’t want to be apart of my family,” Lucious said with conviction. We almost forgot Terrence didn’t marry a not-Black woman.

“They will never accept you. They will accept your money Dre, but they will never accept your Black ass and I don’t give a damn how many White women you marry, they will never accept you.”

The sentence rocked me to the core. I agree. Am I stuck in the past? Or is it what Lucious said the ugly truth? “How To Get Away With Murder” lead character Analise Keating was married to a White man and everyone thought it was so damn progressive. But what is more progressive than a Black man just being able to be with a Black woman and it be OK?

The perception that a Black man has to be with a White women to be accepted fuels the conversation that being just Black isn’t good enough. Hence, Lucious Lyons’ impassioned speech that labeled Andre a sellout. Kanye West famously said, “And when they get on they leave ya a** for a White girl,” which is a sort of explanation to Black men seeking validation through White wife trophies once they’ve reached success. Despite the attempt to be accepted in the White community, do Whites ever really accept Blacks? Black men especially?

This is no unheard conversation in the Black community, but it’s not something often talked about on mainstream TV with 13 million viewers — Black and White — staring at their TV screens in their living room on a Wednesday night. “Empire” is as real as Analise Keating’s “kitchen,” as unapologetic as Rihanna’s last opus and as Black as Allen Payne’s character in “CB4.”

“Empire” is the truth and it took a prideful gay man named Lee Daniels to direct the TV show that feels more like a big budget Hollywood production, stretched out over time. Around episode seven, where most shows tend to lose momentum, “Empire” is pacing full speed ahead with a plot thicker than Kim Kardashian’s hips. And the ratings prove it — “Empire’s” audience grew yet again to a 5.3 rating among adults 18-49 and reaching 13.75 million people, marking a season high. For perspective, “Empire” was the most-watched telecast of the night.


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