Sunday, November 30, 2008

Excusers, Deniers, Enablers and Accomplices Pt. 1

It's time for Black women who get it and our allies to start drawing a definitive line in the sand. On November 20th students at Princeton University published what can only be described as racist, sexist, hateful material in the "Foreskin" newsletter where they trashed President Elect Obama. To add further insult to injury they targeted Dr. Yolanda Pierce, a Black woman who's an Associate Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. 

Yes, let me repeat that: the attack was generated by students against a Black woman. So false religiosity trumps racism, common sense and actual MORALITY yet again. So far Princeton has done nothing but issue a punk ass blurb about how they're going to 'hold a committee' to discuss this. Oh really? Here's what will happen unless we take action:
Well we know they misspoke about a few things and were maybe a bit over the top, but they're good kids. Things just got a little out of hand. Why can't you rise above this? You're just overreacting. After all, your people know a little something about facing obstacles. Everybody deserves a second chance. Why do YOU want to punish some kids for a little ol' prank?
This sounds like a cross between the rape defense of blaming the victim and trying to excuse attempted murder by reason of mental defect. The perps know the difference between right and wrong. The end! Prosecutors are trying to charge 12 year olds as adults so what's their excuse? How many other times have these perps gotten away with inappropriate behavior growing up? Their sense of entitlement to privilege must be addressed. Princeton must take responsibility for fostering an environment where racism flourishes.

Why is it when Black people are attacked we are expected to take a breath and let someone else evaluate the situation and tell us how we should feel? Where is the outrage that harm has been caused to an esteemed Black woman and the community at large? You'd better believe if this was a white professor being attacked somebody would have been expelled already no investigation or conversation necessary. I'd also like to know what action - if any - Dr. Cornel West will take on this matter. He just loves to pontificate to hear the sound of his voice - does it extend to a fellow colleague? 

So now the administrators think they can allow a few teachers and students who weren't attacked determine the fate of the perpetrators? Not this time. This will be tried in the court of public opinion. By the way we still don't know who they are because the school has been shielding them. They don't deserve the protection. Let free speech reign  - but you had better be prepared to take full responsibility for the consequences when you throw a Molotov cocktail to start racial arson.  Just ask former Police Chief Johnson of Palo Alto. 

How many times has the word un-American been bandied about since after 9/11 for anyone questioning the effects of our militarism and the ongoing blowback? How many times are Black girls called 'fast', which is a convoluted way of saying they're inherently promiscuous after they've been sexually assaulted and some would try to deny accountability?  

I am tired of hearing twenty ways how a situation is not that situation when it's slapping you upside your head. I have loads of compassion. The gun fired at me is just as lethal whether it comes from a friend or a foe, whether it was intentional or an accident. Somebody might like to offer an apology or an excuse why the gun was discharged but that won't make me any less dead.

Contact the administrators and let them know nothing less than full public disclosure will be acceptable. The perpetrators need solid disciplinary action and make amends in a way satisfactory to those violated. They also need to do community service with populations they usually insulate themselves from to get an idea of what life is really like for the less privileged. I'd say they should be evaluated prior to their graduation, have a permanent note in their student records and still face possible expulsion if they do not meet the requirements set forth. All of this addresses the students but we must focus on cutting the head from the body and follow the money trail of the school. 

I'd also recommend lodging protests with the NAACP as well as the Governor of New Jersey but making sure we don't leave things to the benevolence of others to speak on what's important to us. Princeton gets money from the Federal Gov't and any Civil Rights Violations and racial attacks should be brought before the Feds and the State of NJ. If they're gonna be gangsta and want to harbor racists and spread hate speech they should have all gov't sources of funding and taxpayer money revoked! 


Future research and continued efforts should include acquiring:
  • Lists of endowments
  • Lists of those serving on Boards
  • Alumnae (see my sidebar for new link)
Nancy Lammers Gross
Dean of Student Life
Princeton Theological Seminary
210 Templeton Hall
Princeton, NJ 08542
Phone: 609-497-7880

Iain R. Torrance
Princeton Theological Seminary
132 Administration Building
Princeton, NJ 08542
Phone: 609-497-7800

NAACP Trenton Branch (looks to be the closest)
Phone: (609)392-6772
Fax: (609)392-7742
Address: P.O. Box 1355 Trenton, NJ 08608

New Jersey Governor Jim Corzine
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625

New Jersey Dept. of Education
Office of the Commissioner
100 River View Plaza
P.O. Box 500
Trenton, NJ 08625
Telephone (609) 292-4450
Fax (609) 777-4099
Lucille E. Davy, Commissioner

Update: We are monitoring the uptick in traffic from New Jersey as well as logging all IP addresses. Those of you monitoring this and other sites for activity are duly noted.

For continued action see my next post: When White Racism Hits the Wall 

Update: Princeton Seminary has a new Diversity Initiative with an email address. Let them know we don't need "healing" we want the gavel of justice with swift action and punishment. Talk is cheap - because people lie to get what they want all the time. In this case the perps want to be let off the hook and Princeton continues to allow hate crime perpetrators to walk around. 

Make no mistake: words have meaning. There is a breath of difference between hate speech and hate violence. One proceeds the other. This is NOT the time for puppy dogs and smiles. This is the time for dismissals, firings and expulsions so people know there are CONSEQUENCES for spreading hate!!!! 

Additional update 12/21 Princeton has previously engaged in allowing their student newspapers to be used for hate speech in attacking people of color - and used other non-whites to do it so they could claim it wasn't racism. They didn't PUNISH THE GUILTY and tried to let it go - and we can see where less than 2 years later the SAME THING happens AGAIN!!! 

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Saturday, November 29, 2008


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Friday, November 28, 2008

It's Way Past Time for a Major News Network Black Anchor

Update: It looks like David Gregory is getting the job. Affirmative Action for the least qualified of the bunch in the form of white male privilege. We'll see how long it takes before it tanks!

I have to remind myself that we're going into the year 2009, not 1959. Yet time seems to be going backwards with the erosion of some of the gains that were made during the 70's and 80's. Remember Max Robinson? There hasn't been a non-white evening news anchor for a national news program since he left ABC ***. They did briefly flirt with Elizabeth Vargas (who's bi-racial) in a co-anchorship at World News Now but quickly shuttled that and stuck us with Charles Gibson. Do I need to remind people about Cable News Network choosing a comedian (D.L. Hughley) over journalist Roland Martin (or somebody else who isn't an idiot) to show how serious an issue this is?

After Civil Rights and Affirmative Action caused momentary shame network heads decided to throw a few bones. There was a group of journalists and reporters that moved up the ranks only to hit the Black glass ceiling. Like any benefit issued at will it can also be taken away at whim. Furthermore a lot from that group have either passed away or retired. In my local market there is one permanent evening co-anchor on the CBS affiliate, Dana King.  

Max Robinson fought with management all the time about the way Blacks were portrayed by the media/in the news and may have had his own internal struggles but he was an excellent journalist. Oprah might be the Queen of All Media but it's with a talk-show format. The fact that she owns her show is as vital to her success as her skill. We need to get control of our media narrative and be able to set the tone. Or at least be able to mount a powerful counterpoint to the foolishness that gets distributed. 

So with the election of a Black President it's time for us to let them know the jig is up and we want equal representation (for real this time). This isn't going to happen based on benevolence. We must DEMAND it, plan for it and keep it this time. NBC execs are still deliberating about who to elevate to fill the Meet the Press slot. Gwen Ifill is supposedly being considered and is by far the most qualified person for the job, especially in comparison to the other contenders on the short list. David Gregory, Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell are being considered as well. 

Mitchell should be eliminated immediately because she is a blatant and obvious suck up the Clintons with zero objectivity. How do you think the Hillary as Secretary of State rumors were promulgated? Gregory and Todd are in the running because they're white men. Sorry, but that ship has sailed. NBC News hired Tim Russert's son after he passed away in what has to be the most blatant display of nepotism or reaffirmation of white male patriarchy we've seen perhaps since Bush Sr. helped Shrub get "elected". In other words, their integrity is on shaky ground right now. 

Hiring Gwen Ifill should not be about making 'history' but it is way past it's time for a Black female solo anchor/moderator at a major network. Someone who looks likes an 'average' Black woman, not a racially ambiguous fashion model. No offense. It was Tim Russert who suggested she sub for him on numerous occasions. There is no reason she can't step into that position and make it her own. She's already worked for NBC but left for more amenable opportunities at PBS. She is the Moderator and Managing Editor of Washington Week and Senior Correspondent at News Hour with Jim Lehrer. The fact that she's been writing a book on the rise of Black politicians seems to indicate her staying on top of current events and offering a unique perspective given her lengthy career. 

This doesn't address the nightly news situation but it's a start. Meet the Press is the most watched Sunday morning political program and with the obvious bias and lack of boundaries creeping in (okay it's totally saturated) there needs to be an appearance of objectivity. 

Now we need to let Upper Management know what we want. Bring da noize and bring da funk. Perhaps a little chat with the NAACP is in order as well - what good are these organizations if we don't demand more from them! 

Jeff Zucker
President & CEO
NBC Universal
Steve Capus
President NBC News 

*** I haven't forgotten about Connie Chung's sharing the desk with Dan Rather, nor about the way she was mistreated by him and CBS execs. Max Robinson shared segments but sat at his desk alone. Katie Couric is the first woman at a major network to have a solo desk from the beginning. 

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Barack & Michelle Meet Barbara Post-Election Edition

Here's the video from last night's Barbara Walters Special. I am soooo glad it's the Obamas going to the White House and not some of the other (cough) contenders. To just be able to listen to people speaking with a measure of intelligence without avarice is such a relief! I hope Oprah gets first dibs on a White House interview.  

A viable economic plan is priority #1. He clearly states he is not a Messiah. Now put the altar away and get back to work.....

Obama promises a focus on protecting Americans from terrorism. He displays an otherworldly calm and steely resolve about not focusing on the personal threats to his safety. He doesn't want to be too insulated from the lives of the average person either. Let the man keep his Crackberry!

Michelle keeps Barack grounded. Love the sheath dress. She gets the last word! For all the hand-wringers: Michelle is happy, content and isn't even thinking about you. Stop projecting your disappointment onto her.

Their children will be cared for and have chores. Children of the staff and neighbors will have a place in the White House. Safety, privacy and comfort is a must. The weeMichelles still believe in Santa Claus!

Barbara discusses their plans for the Inauguration. Thou shalt not clash with Oprah. Just in case somebody thinks Michelle was 'toned' down for the comfort of some people, she does interject a lot and is (drumroll) sassy! She's not cooking Thanksgiving dinner either.  

No girly dogs for Barack! (If videos don't load let me know).

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Holiday Hijinks

I love this commercial! I took me some time to track it down though - success comes to those who don't give up. This straddles the fence between cute and annoying convincingly don't you think? Happy Turkey Day!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vision of Change Comes From Me

Well I have to say how pleased I am that Obama is having almost daily press conferences to let the American people (and the world) know that he's not going to sleep at the wheel! Particularly in light of this current administration's incompetance where every week Henry Paulson announces how yet another 'rescue' plan has failed  - but claims this is the time they're gonna get it right. It'll just cost another $20B here or an additional $300B+ there. 

I made this off-the-cuff comment about Bush getting in his last acts of vengeance against the American people before he leaves office in another post. That doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore if you look at the state of the economy, the criminal actions of those in gov't and how hated we are. 

Where are they getting this money? Monopoly is a fun game but that paper has no real value. The US dollar is not being backed up by gold anymore and flooding the markets with it only devalues it further, but I'm not an economist so what do I know?

Now Obama has to do something bold because once he's inaugurated it's all on him. Never mind that it took 9 years of focused sabotage to create this mess. Both political parties are responsible - but it has been the expressed goal of the Republicans since the time of Reagan to get rid of all regulation and protections. Not to mention union-busting. Add to that the cost of war mongering (which goes far beyond national security) and can anyone still doubt how things got so messed up? 

So I really like the idea of an outside economic advisory board. I like the idea of a President having people who don't rubber-stamp and say yes to everything he/she wants. If our current President had been more humble and less theocratic the country would be in a much better place. Obama seemed to be making a statement to progressives and political bloggers to stop the hand-wringing over former Clinton appointees and see the big picture.  Hence the title of today's post. He's in charge!!

I am all for accountability and being diligent and as agents of change for ourselves we should take care to do so. What we don't need is either blind allegiance or overreacting to every move by Obama while he's in office. He's going to need time to fix a lot. We have no idea how bad things really are. He's only going to get a 25-day grace period before the bill becomes due though. I'd hate for him to end his term looking 20 years older with a broken spirit or for his wife and daughters to feel they've been neglected. I'm sure they'll work that out. We can do our part by getting involved, being knowledgeable and making sure we've learned our lesson!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tyra Banks Says She Has No "List"

So I was watching the Tyra show yesterday and I wish I had recorded parts of it to play back for this discussion. Half the time when I watch I cringe or find myself shaking my head (and turn it off). Other times I think she covers topics of great interest. No, I don't have to watch but I see Tyra struggling to elevate her consciousness and do something of value. Either way Tyra always finds a way of interjecting her own personal history and projects that onto her guests. I'm not sure if it's narcissism or naivete, but she does have a platform with which to do great harm or benefit. I don't think she's intentionally trying to introduce negative influences but we all harbor a perspective viewpoint that may need to be reexamined. Specifically in relation to the quality of the lives of Black women and girls and finding our place in this world.

This episode featured two women who were the subject of a focus group evaluation of the status of their lives. The group members were split amongst people that knew the person and strangers. Now I like the concept of women being able to get a no-holds bar assessment. Of course due to time constraints and other factors it wasn't a complete evaluation of all aspects and it failed to offer long term solutions so as to wrap things up within the hour format. It could certainly be seen as a good start though. 

One of the women featured was a young Black woman who wanted to be married. She was attractive but I thought her desire for landing a husband by the age of 30 wasn't realistic when she is currently 29. She didn't state her education background or current occupation either. She mentioned an affinity for designer goods. I thought she was a little unpolished socially and immature but certainly not unappealing. What I found interesting was the way the Black male in the stranger group reacted with such hostility towards the woman's desire for a partner and her requirements.

See she had a list. She wanted this future husband to have a job that paid a six-figure income, to have a nice car, a house and other things. Though the focus was a bit superficial I would go so far as to say she doesn't specifically know what she wants from a more grounded or spiritual perspective and went for the easily recognizable traits you can point to that would indicate a suitable mate.  

So this guy objected specifically to the income requirement and labeled her a gold digger. He then went on to say she was beyond gold and jumped to platinum! It was a bit ridiculous, because I got the impression that he was reacting more to his own sense of inadequacy than anything she had to say. I could literally see him counting pennies in his head and coming up 20 cents short of a dollar. 

He had to tear the woman down to boost himself. In the earlier segment he had been equally critical about the first guest featured who had gained weight and she was white. Tyra then aptly pointed out that he was in fact overweight himself, but he claimed he'd take it as an impetus to make changes in his own life. Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.

What was wrong with the Black woman wanting a man who could adequately provide for a family and why would anyone object so strenuously to her seeking out the best she can get? It was even suggested that she was reaching beyond her 'place' by wanting that. Then Tyra mentioned that though she'd made 'some' money she didn't have a list when it came to seeking out a man for a relationship. She said her friends have teased her about picking men beneath her (though she didn't word it that way). This is where I'd get upset with Tyra for reinforcing outdated models of behavior, because she's still single herself and has mentioned some past relationships with other unsuitable men she's dated. 

In fact this was a nice lesson to learn though it was so easy to miss. When we have no requirements we end up with less than what we deserve - or nothing at all.

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Double Standards for Black Female Athletes

Brace yourself I feel a rant coming on!

Marion Jones was one of nearly 700 who requested a pardon or commutation of their sentence from Shrub. She was denied. One of the more notable pardons was granted to John Forte (Fugees) who was charged with intent to distribute narcotics because he went to the airport to retrieve a suitcase that contained $1.4M worth of cocaine.  We all make mistakes, but come on.

Marion was sent to prison for lying to Federal prosecutors about her use of performance-enhancing drugs. She was retroactively stripped of all her Olympic medals as well as her relay teammates, removed from the entire history of the IOC and had to return her prize money. Martha Stewart was sent to prison on a similar charge over a $50K stock trade. There's also the fact that taking questionable drugs cause long term damage to the body of an athlete. Now we can argue the merits of guilt and need for punishment for breaking the law but I feel uncomfortable with these results. Especially in comparison to the way crimes are viewed when committed by certain men. I know race, class, privilege and as usual - connections can make all the difference in how 'justice' is meted. Paging Scooter Libby....

Genarlow Wilson has been touted as a victim of harsh sentencing. Somehow if you and a group of your friends decide to have sex one after the other with a passed out girl (drunk/physically impaired = no consent = rape) in a hotel room and then move on to getting fellatio from a 15 year old and taping it for kicks, you the oppressed Black male is being railroaded by the 'system.' 

Moving on, one other thing that really irritates me is how the mental prowess and strategizing techniques of the elite athlete is completely ignored for physicality when the athlete is Black. Like with Serena and Venus Williams. If I hear one more correspondent talk about "their power" or how they "overpowered" their competition I will scream! Sheer strength is not enough to become the number-one ranked tennis player and remain for multiple years. 

Which is why I think the use of performance-enhancing drugs is far more prevalent than what the powers that be would have the general public believe. Is it with tacit approval but a 'don't ask don't tell' policy, where if you get caught you're on your own? After all, the US of A wants world dominance in every area including athletics. Who gets to decide what's legal and what's not? Alcohol used to be banned - and it never will be again no matter how many impaired people get behind the wheel of a vehicle and injure or kill others. So why was Marion Jones so publicly humiliated and jailed when she got caught? Was it the severity of the crime or was there more to it? She could've been potentially charged with other crimes - which she may have been acquitted of by a jury of her peers. Was it race or gender or both that motivated the prosecution?

Monday, November 24, 2008

What Are You Thankful For?

We have a holiday of sorts coming up this week. I always found Thanksgiving to be kinda weird. I was always glad to have a reason for our family to get together and do something special, but didn't quite buy the historical reasons for this 'great celebration'. I wondered how the nice unsuspecting indigenous people could be so generous and come together with the latest 'visitors' (for I don't think the Europeans were the only ones to come to the Americas) only to be slaughtered later on. That Pocahontas mythology also doesn't quite jibe. The saying goes that history is created by the victors. 

Anyhoo, so many of us may be feeling a little less carefree this year despite doing everything possible to change the outcome and have to find a way to keep striving. So I think reminding ourselves of every little thing that we do have that's good, that's kind, that's loving and that's here right now will do us good. 

Can you name 5 things that you are grateful for right now? Don't think of 5 pat answers while smirking either. NO snark allowed. 

1. I had a great conversation with my mother on Saturday. 
2. I've received solid words of encouragement about my writing.
3. I am renewing my mind and taking actions that support growth.
4. I am living on less these days but I am independent and free to make choices.
5. I am looking forward to the following year and can't wait to see how things unfold. 

**6. I loved last night's prequel episode of 24. I am glad this season will focus on child soldiers being recruited by numerous militias in African countries, the US gov't involvement and all the other accompanying conflicts. Even though it's a tv show millions of people who might not have otherwise thought about these things are having their consciousness raised. Combined with the unprecedented involvement in all things political this past year, I think it would be an opportune time to shine a light on this and make some very needed change happen!

Enjoy your day!

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

What Are Your Acts of Faith?

No I'm not talking about religiosity, though investing in a spiritual practice certainly doesn't hurt. I named this blog Acts of Faith because my name is Faith and I wanted to propose a call to arms, a mantra, a doctrine if you will for all of us to step out on a limb, past our comfort zones or familiarity and challenge ourselves in love....and life. And everything that encompasses. I had no idea I was trying to turn around my thinking, I just knew I was stuck in a rut and wanted to get out. I want to to stop berating myself for not being perfect while not meeting my full potential. I want to let go of all my doubts about what I feel my purpose is and how my hopes and dreams have run smack into a brick wall called uncontrollable circumstances and disappointment. I want to let go of apathy, hopelessness and confusion. I want to get rid of all negativity. I want my joy back, the spunk I used to have when I felt the world was unfolding before me and not working against me.  I want to be ok with not adhering to some false standard of Blackness and womanhood that stifles my potential and keeps me bound by someone else's standards. I want to not eschew knowing 'God' more deeply because I've seen numerous cults and pseudo-religions speaking with authority about a mean and spiteful God and setting a list of rules to follow instead of a offering a moral compass and genuine care. I want to be a friend to myself and others without fear. I want to attract positivity and wisdom. I want requited love that is equally reciprocated. I want a government that doesn't make me cringe or be angry with and citizens who take responsibility for it. I want people to be happy, content, well fed, safe from harm and productive. I want to be the best version of myself and know it.

What do you want out of love and life? How are you getting it done?

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Soap Operas Are Boring and Then They Die

Has the death knoll been rung for the entire genre of serialized drama? That's highly unlikely but change is afoot. NBC announced the departure of two of its veteran actors from Days of Our Lives. Wow, I never thought Marlena and John would get the axe. I must confess I haven't watched DOOL in years but my favorite plots were when Marlena got possessed by the Devil and the original Roman came back from the dead. You can download the possession episodes courtesy of Supernatural 66. They're a hoot to watch!

The 'stories' as they're affectionately called in the Black community, are losing viewers left and right. That year they were bumped off the air to show us the spectacle of OJ and the Trial of the Century showed that we could live without them, ha! Executives can't seem to figure out how to retain current viewership or attract a wider audience. Sounds just like the auto industry, still trying to do it the old way instead of being more efficient and paying each executive some fat salary. Well, I can tell you why for free. The plots are contrived, they don't follow continuity and your staff and casts are not diverse enough. 

How many Black writers and producers are employed? How many Black actors are prominently featured with equal airtime with a major plot line? Only showing Latino actors who are as white-skinned as possible (doesn't stop Telemundo) to feed some unspoken 'quota' so the networks can claim diversity is far too obvious and a failure. Second and third-tier plots and having a side kick or only pairing PoC with other PoC is majorly lame and doesn't reflect society at large. The other trend is to pair the Latino actor with a white actor who almost always has blonde hair. It's usually the only type of interracial parings you'll see. Don't believe me? Take a look at the casts and get back to me. 

The Young and the Restless has been the only soap to have a core Black family consistently, but I still feel they drop the ball when it comes to giving all the characters as good a story line as the white actors on the show - some of whom haven't been on as long but still get more screen time. Also, this is a pet peeve of mine but they can't seem to cast and retain actors who are somewhat racially ambiguous, thereby denying the audience the full representation of the beauty of all Black people. That's something ALL the soaps do - when they cast Black at all. 

I used to watch One Life to Live during the years Renee Goldsberry was on portraying Evangeline, the lawyer with a heart of gold and held out hope because her role was expanded and they cast an actress as her sister. I was hoping for a viable, three-dimensional leading lady with a major story. Just when things were leaning towards a Todd/Evangeline coupling, the actress and ABC broke off negotiations for a contract renewal and she left. 

Now I will point to one interesting casting choice on the Bold and the Beautiful when they chose an obviously Black male actor to play the long-lost son of Donna Logan. Also General Hospital has the Night Shift series with a zaftig Black actress and Billie Dee! Alas it only airs on Soap Net. I wasn't expecting that. The thing that really gets in my craw is how the actresses are all so bland looking and could be interchanged on so many shows. Almost without exception they're a size 2 now like the rest of Hollywood and it's just....boring and unrealistic. 

When Genie Francis expresses concern about her appearance being an impediment to her acting on General Hospital because she's a bigger than a size 6 I think there's a problem with the industry. The audience doesn't care - they just want to see Luke and Laura around to have another adventure. I am tired of being distracted by frozen faces and emaciated bodies. 

Finally this push to cast younger actors and incorporate them isn't really working. For one thing, they keep casting people who can't act! If I'm a veteran viewer I don't want to see some contrived teen angst plot with 20-something actors playing 15. This constant dumbing down and pandering to the audience is blatant and insulting. It was great writing and talent that drew an audience not gimmicks. Reality tv may be popular amongst a certain set but trying to turn soap operas into one with lower production values and limited investment will always backfire for those with higher standards. 

Update: I know All My Children put out a media blitz to announce the return of Jessie and Angie, the first (and only) Black super couple. I was skeptical because I knew it was a ratings ploy from the get go. I wondered how long they'd stay on before someone was curiously written off for no reason. I also wanted to see if they got a long-term high profile story arc. ABC also added a few other younger Black actors and Mario Van Peebles (yum). Well....can I say color me disappointed - again? They had the chance to pull in a new viewer and blew it. I expect to be engaged, not just see a Brown face. Until they do something about that they deserve to keep losing what little audience they have left.  

Also as one of my visitors so aptly put, Black people don't own these shows or a network so we're stuck in beggar mode. There was that unsuccessful bid of Bill Cosby's to buy NBC back in 1992 but he couldn't get the wealthiest Blacks to pool their resources together. Some may be mad at his methods, but at least Mr. Cosby was looking at the big picture. I wonder if Oprah will allocate a budget for a brand new soap on OWN when it launches next year? 
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Grandmaster Flash Had It Right

Although I feel like I have to cover my ears and say lalalalala over most of the popular songs that pass as hip-hop/rap nowadays I can always listen to old skool (and indie) music.
Don't push me cuz I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head 
It's like a jungle sometimes
Makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
I think more and more people can relate to these lyrics. Bush signed a Federal extension for unemployment benefits so we won't have to knock off the Salvation Army jingle janglers for money this holiday. Before we think wow what a great thing, remember Bush is going to push through all sorts of nefarious legislation and pass out pardons to his war criminal cronies as his last act of vengeance against the American people. 

This is the real cost of the war folks. With every state running in the red, every city cutting vital services and every sector taking a hit this is the legacy of the Bush administration and both the Democrat and Republican politicians that assisted him. We closed our eyes after 9/11 and said, let somebody else take care of this. Wall Street gets a bail-out, the Big 3 Automakers may be next and all we have is a lousy t-shirt. Ugh!  

California's unemployment rate for new claims has jumped to 8.2%. Since that doesn't include those already receiving benefits I'd say we could likely double it for a total population count. Bush signed a similar extension back in 2003, so this country has been bleeding jobs for years. The housing bubble only masked it. I have no idea what the Obama administration has planned but I know that sticking a bandage over a gaping wound won't work. I hope we'll be able to hang on until a solution has been implemented. On the other hand we still have our lives. Which brings me back to the song.

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Palo Alto Police Chief Resigns

My, my, my what a turn of events. Chief Lynne Johnson is out! I've discussed this ongoing inflammatory situation with the Head Officer in Charge who in late October said every Black man in the vicinity was subject to search by the police because there was an increase in crime. 
"When our officers are out there and they see an African American you know, in a, in a congenial way, we want them to find out who they are. The one suspect was wearing a doo-rag. We, my officers see an African American who has a do-rag on his head, absolutely we will be, the officers will be stopping and trying to find out who that person is."
She said this during a public meeting and was given every opportunity to 'clarify' what she 'actually meant'.  She stood by what she said. That is, until the public outcry. By the way, the police have not put out an APB for head gear: they've been harassing innocent civilians since. She still claims she "mis-spoke", but she offered an oops.  

This isn't an offer of praise to the City of Palo Alto for decrying racism and racial profiling as the usual suspects of apologists and excusers are out in full force. Also she wasn't officially fired. She is retiring however, and I hope they do a complete overhaul of their procedures. Apparently 34 years on the force didn't teach her how to get rid of her prejudice. Crime stats don't support the profiling incidents - but one can always find a way to put a spin on things. You can follow my previous posts here and here

As a side note I will offer another take on this. There are crimes being committed and those perpetrators should be held accountable, but the focus should not be on some vs. others. Assuming everyone and no one being guilty based solely on skin tone is just lousy police work.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Transphobia, Prop 8 and Racism = Same Thing

For all the continued brouhaha over the failure of the No on 8 campaign I am curious how many of the protesters bothered to pay attention to other ballot measures that have an equal or greater impact on the LGBTQI community. I also wonder if the court challenges are successful and Yes on 8 gets shot down will the Gay Rights Industrial Complex pat itself on the back for a good job and ignore all the lack of involvement with communities they're still trying to blame?

There's this great open letter written by Adele Carpenter, a fellow SF resident who asks why was there a lack of support of Propositions that would have made life a little easier for a lot of people and potentially saved some as well. She also mentions how the State of CA incarcerates a high percentage of some of its citizens. I've not seen a larger discussion about how that's tied to Prop 8 by many others. This is also why I am supporting Kamala Harris' run for Attorney General. Read Ms. Carpenter's letter here.

What were some of those Propositions?
Prop K: To decriminalize prostitution. Yeah I know that's a yucky topic for many but since we know it's the 'oldest profession' why not make it legal and safe for those that do it? Also SF is a big market for human trafficking and we'd actually prevent people from abusing children.
Prop B: Affordable Housing initiative. We know how ridiculous rents are here. Enough said.
Prop 5 & 6: More treatment, less jail and an increase in crime prevention programs. List of other results are here.

LGBTQI is a long acronym and usually the Q(ueer) and the I(ntersex and Questioning) are meant to be encompassed in the first four but they're not really. I know a Queer woman who I thought was a lesbian because she was dating a woman but as it turns out she likes men as well - though she's not bisexual. I don't need to understand to be supportive. Our identities are mutable and should be our own choice.

L = Lesbian
Probably the only time the "Gay" community will put a woman first.

G = Gay
Lots of straight people still think it's men in short shorts making out at clubs.

B = Bisexual
There's still some resentment and questioning whether you can truly be bi and not just being greedy choosing between genders.

T = Transgender
It's one thing to like and love someone the same gender, what do you do when you think you're the wrong gender?

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. From Gay/Straight Alliance Network site:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is held in November each year to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender, each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people. The list of deaths available at Remembering Our Dead only contains those deaths known to the transgender community or that have been reported to the media. The Day of Remembrance is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
I wanted to write about the life and death Duanna Johnson, a beautiful ebony woman who's life was taken less than one week ago. She was a transgender woman from Memphis who was arrested on a prostitution charge (it was later dropped). She suffered a vicious beating by the police back in February while being held and objected to being called he/she (and probably ni**er) by them. Thank goodness the officers involved were fired, and there's a lawsuit pending. One of the reasons this tape came to light was the officer filed a complaint that he wasn't getting help in beating Duanna! I hope the killer(s) will be brought to justice.
So this is why I think the Gay Rights Industrial Complex is intentionally being short-sighted by focusing solely on marriage equality as the issue of importance. This does nothing to address the lives of working class people or those whose work is not met with societal approval. This does not address the inequality of our lives and the specific danger transpeople of color face. I hope that singular agenda will be reassessed and the ignored people and their 'less important' needs will be given their "props". I'm not counting on it though.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

CA Wants to Cap Students But Give Admins Raises?

Ineptitude strikes again! The State is facing an $11B deficit but the Governor can't make the legislators come together to fix the budget? There's talk of slashing every vital service down to the bone, including limiting the number of new students attending State Universities and Community Colleges while raising fees. But wait for it, the Board of Governors is handing out raises like party favors. Not a piddly 3% cost of living increase but 10%, 13% and even as much as 19%!!! 

This is beyond infuriating. With the economic downturn it is even more important for people to beef up their education and remain competitive in the job market. This is not going to be 'fixed' any time soon either. Obama can't wave a magic wand and cure all that ails the market. The Bush administration (father and son) along with the Clinton one (yeah I said it) proceeded to roll back every barrier to prevent a run on the banks and Federal Reserve. Shrub encouraged people to shop after 9/11. People have been living on credit. The gov't lives on credit. It took years and years of concentrated plundering to make it this bad. That bogus bail-out was all for the benefit of the top 1% and the rest of us were forced to pay to keep them wealthy. 

Is this a blip, a speed bump or an asteroid hurling from space to destroy us?

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Rep. Barbara Lee to Chair the Congressional Black Caucus

Barbara Lee

In a return to some common sense and real leadership the CBC voted unanimously to elevate Oakland, CA Congresswoman Barbara Lee from Vice-Chair to Chair of the CBC starting with the new term in January 2009. Goodbye Mama Kilpatrick and all the still-stewing drama from your son, the former self-professed hip-hop Mayor of Detroit. Well, not exactly. She still has her seat but if you recall she almost lost her bid for re-election thanks to supporting the crimes of her son and ignoring the voters of Michigan. 

Barbara Lee has been a tireless advocate for the disenfranchised. She is the epitome of a low-drama politician who gets work done. She was one of a handful of politicians who opposed the authorization for war with Iraq. She also opposed the so-called economic bail-out and wants an increase of HIV funding and research. Congrats!!!  

For a comprehensive list of bills Lee has sponsored go here to review but here are a few for good measure:

H.R. 3000
The Josephine Butler U.S. Universal Health Service Act would establish a United States Health Service (USHS) which would put people before profit. Specifically, the bill would increase the availability and continuity of health care through integrated systems; while financing the training and education of health care workers and professionals-establishing a set standards for performance. H.R. 3000 would allocate health services to all communities in proportion to their population, with additional funds and support for communities experiencing inequalities in health status and access to services, and for special needs such as epidemics

HR 1050
This bill is a comprehensive effort to ensure a living wage and jobs for all Americans. Known as the "Living Wage, Jobs for All" Act.

HR 174
H.R. 174 reauthorizes and funds Public Housing Drug Elimination Program (PHDEP) grants, for the purchase of: • Hiring security guards for public housing and coordinating programs with local law enforcement and emergency responders. • Providing after-school programs for at-risk teens and youth including Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Big Brother Big Sister, and intramural sports; • Offering residents alcohol and substance abuse counseling; • Providing courses for job training and workforce preparedness; and • Installing security cameras to protect families, the elderly, and the disabled who reside in public housing. 

Update 11/21:  Thanks for the shout-out from What About Our Daughters.

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Pseudo-Intelligentsia Slave Catchers: Black on Black Crime

Well I guess I inadvertently coined a new phrase: pseudo-intelligentsia slave catcher. When we think of the Slave Catcher in reference to Black history we know there were white people with a vested interest in retaining as many enslaved people as possible. Did you know that there were Black people who sold each other out to curry favor? Before and after slavery officially ended. Today we can easily spot the them. Republican hacks. They're usually trying to outdo the racist, misrepresent Affirmative Action as a quota for 'unqualified slobs' and would be the first with the rope. Their disdain for all things Black are glaringly obvious. What about the others? 

Which brings me to the Salon article from yesterday. See my last post. Quite a few blog hosts are talking about it with equal dismay. Except there's always somebody that's gotta make excuses or ask why this is a big deal. I have one word for you. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Does having a couple of degrees make you any less culpable for perpetuating the lowest common denominator behavior? Why not direct a booty-shaking video while you're at it Erin Kaplan. Like I asked yesterday, does shooting at someone make it any less unlawful and dangerous when fired by a Black woman? How stupid are we supposed to be? I say keep writing to Salon and tell Joan Walsh to kiss our Black asses

Salon likes to think of itself as a liberal leaning publication but their racism is just as prevalent as views presented in the National Review. This is the same mindset behind the infamous New Yorker cover they claimed was satire. So yet again another media engine run by all white people all the time misses the mark so thoroughly.  Walsh wants to duck, cover and hide behind Black writers while ignoring the fact they are being used to add a few flames to racial arson, not put it out.  All in the name of "diversity". 

There's a number of thoughtful, evocative writers of color who could be hired - and not just for freelance work - but as permanent contributors with a masthead. But somehow a slur isn't supposed to be a slur when it comes from someone who sorta looks like you. Yes we get it, Mrs. O is a stunner, but she's certainly not the exception to the rule. There are plenty of attractive Black women out there. How about hiring writers of conscious instead?

A lot of the misunderstanding comes from this attitude 'why is this is a big deal, it's a compliment'. Black men need to realize once and for all they don't own us. Black women: we don't belong to Black men. Our loyalty should be first and foremost to ourselves. They can't have it both ways, expecting Black women to 'hold it down' for them when they've abandoned us in every way possible. We should be free to walk down the street without harassment. We should not have such a high rate of mostly unreported sexual assault. No more excuses for older men preying on underage girls. 

Perhaps the conversation should be about how women are either under-or-over eating and how too wide a swing on the pendulum is not a good thing. Then perhaps the sight of a normal looking body size wouldn't be such a shocker. There is NO reason for any public discourse about Michelle Obama's body or any other Black woman we don't know.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Salon's 1-2 Hit Job on Michelle Obama

The mis-education about the Negro continues.  Now that Michelle is slated to be our next First Lady she's being set up to represent all Black women and our fortunes may rise or fall with her. We can argue against it (we are individuals) or deny it (she's working class and not a socialite) but I'd rather tackle this head on. Of course we're responsible for our own lives and having Michelle as FLOTUS isn't going to wave a magic wand and turn us all into Cinderella at the ball. This should be just the beginning of many First Ladies of Color. This should be the realization for Black women that we can remove all barriers for any who doubted. This should be the established precedent for those that would think less of us. That time is over. She has been positioned well and isn't a creation of the entertainment industry. She will be an icon! 

Now comes the maintenance. We can try to ignore the media coverage at our own peril. There's discussion about whether the Obamas sending their daughters to private school is a good thing. As if putting them in substandard schools is an option. Now Salon is taking it's cues from Fox News. 

Last week Salon writer Rebecca Traister poo-poo'd that poor Michelle has to give up her career to be a 'mere' mother and wife in the "Momification of Michelle Obama":
"In all the worrying about how Sasha and Malia will adjust to having their lives turned upside down, in all the fretting about how Obama will move his Chicago-style shop to Washington, why is there so little curiosity about how Michelle will adjust to the loss of her own private, very successful, very high-profile and very independent identity? How will Michelle Obama feel as she becomes what she has long resisted -- an extension of her husband?"
What loss of identity? The Obamas are in a very unique position. As for the rest of us, it's my understanding a lot of women would love to stay at home and raise their children but can't for financial reasons. Other women want to pursue a challenging career path. It's not about the 'right' choice it's about being able to make the 'best' choice as you see fit, not society. This is one of the arguments for those that oppose feminism in theory as being a cause for the destruction of the family structure. Individual pursuit at the expense of everything and everyone else. That in no way fits Michelle Obama.

Besides the majority of Black women have not had these options historically. We were feminists before the term was coined, not from a need to be 'liberated' from oppressive men and not to follow our bliss. It was for survival and it was not fun. Also can I add that raising children is not easy.  The writer is thinking from a prism of white female privilege and a particular class structure to lament another woman's choices as if she were the rightful authority on how Michelle (and other women) should live.

Michelle is not interested in using her husband's political currency to cash in on her own. She will not try to insert herself into his administration. Barack has shown solid moral leadership so far and has not embarrassed his family with public indiscretions. Though they may share a political party, the Obamas are not the Kennedys and they're certainly not the Clintons. As anyone with two eyes can see Barack and Michelle adore each other. I don't think she's suffering, lol!

To add insult to injury, now it's all about her boo-tay. In an article by Erin Aubry Kaplan titled, "First Lady Got Back" (no - seriously) she writes:
"But what really thrills me, what really feels liberating in a very personal way, is the official new prominence of Michelle Obama. Barack's better half not only has stature but is statuesque. She has corruscating intelligence, beauty, style and -- drumroll, please -- a butt. (Yes, you read that right: I'm going to talk about the first lady's butt.)"
Somehow because she's a Black woman we're supposed to give her a pass for writing this drivel?! I don't think so. Imagine if a man had written this, a white man. Would all of you who think this is nothing still be okay with the article as is? You're not gonna convince me. Why? I have two words in response: Hottentot Venus. It will never be okay to reduce a woman to her body parts - and definitely not the First Lady - but if you're a Black woman any such deference goes out the window of course. This is the epitome of raciallized sexism. I can recall Salon contributor Joan Walsh made it a point to decry sexism during the primary season and state it was the most virulent form of oppression out there. 

So we can see the newest tactic to be deployed in racial arson will be not just come from whites but will also include other Blacks (pseudo-intellegentsia, haters, contrarians, slave catchers and lawn jockeys). We will use social media to bring light to and counterbalance any attacks. Why? It's for our own good. We need to join together and not just protect what's going on with the First Family but pool our resources to determine our futures collectively so they are the best they can be.

In case you disagree and think this is harmless here's the response from Joan Walsh.
"I have loved Erin Aubry Kaplan’s writing since before I joined Salon, and I’m proud of this piece. If having a black president and first lady is going to narrow what we talk about, wow, that would be sad. But I promise it won’t — at least not on Salon." 
So there you have it. Joan Walsh already wrote a piece earlier this year where she called Barack "uppity". It's open season on the First Family. If we ignore it we can expect further denigration of Michelle and by extension other Black women. Up yours Joan Walsh and Salon. I'm not going to stand by and let the most prominent woman in the country be reduced to a someone's idea of a misguided cowed woman or a body part.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

What I Learned From Watching Bill Maher

Thanks to the heightened interest in the election I found myself watching more television news and political comedy shows than ever. Usually the bulk of my television watching habits encompass a smattering of a few weekly series, PBS and a LOT of cooking and design shows. I usually record them and transfer them to my laptop, edit and burn to DVD so I have a series of shows from chefs all around the world. I really like Australian Chef Kylie Kwong whose selection of seafood is prepared in ways I don't think I have the expertise to try yet. 

I'm preparing for when I have my dream kitchen with a center island, 6 burner stove (Viking or La Cornue?), copper/aluminum cookware from France, built-in fireplace with bay windows overlooking the water and all the kitchen electrics to rival a restaurant. If you're gonna dream you might as well dream big, right? I think it's good to dip our toes in unfamiliar waters. We can't always hit the ball out of the park at first swing. 

Which brings me to this week's episode. I find the comic funny at times and irritating at others, but he doesn't go so far off the ledge to turn me off completely. He has issues with how he expresses his disdain for the actions of people who are a. female and b. religious that he doesn't agree with. He tends to lump all people who have a religious tradition as being one in same and as overzealous. When he criticizes women he focuses it through a gender-based lens. 

How many times do we make sweeping generalities of people we disagree with? Sometimes we're so focused on getting our point across and being right our reactions are unduly harsh. You lose people who might agree with you in theory but cringe at the heat of your anger about it. I also believe it displays an underlying problem of unresolved conflicts that have nothing to do with the matter at hand.

I also realized this show is meant for entertainment purposes. Not education. Not reform. Why didn't I realize that before? Well the host is intelligent and has a variety of guests representing both major political parties, journalists and celebrities. At the very least I get to see representatives from other states that I wouldn't be aware of otherwise. I think this is a great way to be an informed citizen. The thing that is missing is real public discourse. 

When I hear the same Republican talking points from their assigned people even after the results of the election, it disheartens me. When I hear a celebrity who voted for Obama (as if that was some great thing they did) talk about how he had been leaning toward McCain because he's an honorable person (barf) and how he ran a noble campaign it really pisses me off. I want to remind them our President-Elect has had the largest number of death threats EVER and that's partially due to how the loser ran his losing campaign by calling for harm to his political rival. What honor lies in that?

Then I realize what's missing from the 3-panelist format are real people. People who have opinions that don't fit into the round hole. Real activists. Righteous anger vs. intimidation tactics. I then wonder why did I expect that from a television program and I don't have an answer for that. Then I remind myself HBO is owned by Time Warner and it's all corporate BS anyway. Our information is still being filtered and sanitized and I really want that to change. I don't want to rely on alternate sources with low wattage and limited coverage. I want some form of the Fairness Doctrine reinstated by the FCC. I want independent voices being heard. I want the path less travelled. We need it in our personal lives and we definitely need it in our gov't and media. 

Now this segment between Bill and Sean Combs (whatever he's calling himself these days) was probably the highlight for me. There was a depth and a humility I don't recall seeing in this man before. He is certainly not someone I'd consider a moral role model by any means, but he surprised me. It just proves we have many facets to ourselves and there's always an opportunity to grow. 

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