LEVEL
Higher Learning. A Medium publication for the interested man.

A taxpayer-funded settlement does not equal justice for victims of police brutality.

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Photo: Jeff Dean/Getty Images

So much for arresting the men who killed Breonna Taylor. Earlier today, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that a grand jury had declined to indict two of three Louisville law enforcement officers who fired their weapons into Taylor’s apartment in March. The third, detective Brett Hankinson, was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment — charges predicated not on Hankinson shooting Taylor, but on his shooting into a neighboring apartment.

At the press conference, Cameron declared that the “use of force” from the two other officers present, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, had been in response to Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opening fire after his door was being broken down in the middle of the night. …


The world acted like everything was fine. I knew it wouldn’t be.

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Photo: Antonio Iacobelli/Getty Images

Here’s what happened: Almost eight years ago you brought your newborn son home. A day later, he stopped breathing for 30 seconds that felt like 10 years. He turned blue. You repeated the CPR directions from the 911 operator to your wife while she breathed life into his lungs. The color came back. Briefly.

He turned blue three more times that day in the ICU. You spent the night with him by yourself while your wife recovered from labor and the nurse came in and drew blood from his foot every 45 minutes. He cried and held your finger like he wanted you to save him from the agony. …


Whether being used as a political pawn or giving cover to racists and fools, his antics aren’t just harming himself anymore

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Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Last week, Kanye West relieved himself on one of his Grammys and declared himself “the new Moses” on Twitter. …


Corner Store Chronicles

The sisters who’ve carried on the store their parents built, Cardenas Grocery, adapt and adapt in a community that often forgets them

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Illustration: Derrick Dent

When 2020 is said and done, it’ll likely become known as the year of massive uncertainty. But with so much instability (from Covid-19 to crimson skies on the West Coast), corner store culture remains familiar. LEVEL’s “Corner Store Chronicles” series pays homage to the power of the store that delivers the warmth and care that ACME will never replicate. Whether known as bodegas, tienditas, or another term of endearment where you’re from, our hoods would be nothing without them.

In 1949, it was just a fruit stand window.

Linda Cardenas is standing near the same window over seven decades later. It’s now inside and behind the bar part of Cardenas Grocery Bar & Grill. Behind the neon-lit Bud Light clock and above an industrial sink is the window — which Linda’s carpenter father built, and out of which her mother sold fruit to the neighborhood. …


Writer Joel Leon wants to answer your questions—with the help of Jigga—every week.

If you’re a fan of Shawn Carter’s moves, you’d probably love some wise counsel from the man himself. While we can’t get Jay-Z on speed dial, we do have the next best thing: advice from his lyrics, as filtered through the keen mind of Medium writer (and LEVEL contributor) Joel Leon.

Keep up with Joel’s weekly column—over at his new personal blog!—for some Hovspiration.


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

These scales are tipped in favor of Black women!

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Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

8. Vladamir Putin

Gotta give a hand to a guy who’s been treating Trump like a ventriloquist dummy all year.

7. Ashanti

Take one look at the former Murder Inc. singer’s Instagram account and tell us she’s not out here flourishing.

6. Will Smith

Sure, the Fresh Prince saw his marital laundry aired out on the internet, but the ordeal also gave us a new 2020 buzzword and easily applicable meme. …


In July, David Dennis commemorated John Lewis’ passing by acknowledging the frustration and rage that has mounted inside so many of us in 2020. Today, when the Kentucky Attorney General has failed to charge Breonna Taylor’s killers with any crimes beyond shooting into a neighboring apartment, it feels all too resonant all over again.


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Fall back!

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Photo illustration; image source: Guasor/Getty Images

5. It’s the only season with a rap name

Everyone loves a good alias, and fall’s is even cooler than its dwindling temperatures. Autumn has been a perennial pick as one of the 100 most popular girl names for more than 20 years. Unlike Spring, with its square-ass solitary name, Autumn could be one of the A$APs or YBNs.

4. Back-to-school time

This has always been a boon in previous years — parents finally get their kids from up under them every minute of the day, running in and out the damn house, letting all the good air out. Some learning and socialization away from home is good for everyone.

3. Homecoming

With the return of the school year comes another one of the most joyous times of the year: homecoming! The time of year when HBCU alums return to campus — PWIs do, too, but it’s like expecting Essence Fest and getting Bonnaroo — to act even more of an ass than they did during undergrad and brag to outsiders about how their college hosts the best festivities. (Howard grads, we’re looking at you.) …


I said no. My rapist didn’t hear me.

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Photo: kali9/Getty Images

I said no when we met at the wine bar in downtown Palo Alto.

I said no when we talked about his book collection in his two-bedroom apartment.

He even acknowledged that he wouldn’t touch me, and I actually believed him. Yet, he must have misplaced his memory because I had to repeat the word “no” when he looked into my eyes — and he still did exactly what he said he wouldn’t do.

My chest tightened. …

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