Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rebuttal to Gay Activism Article

I was reading the article "True Intention of Gay Activists" by Gwen Richardson after getting an email alert of new postings at the Black News website. There are so many things wrong with it I don't know where to begin. First of all the entire tone of the article seems to stem from a visceral negative emotional response that it takes away from any credible argument she may posit. In other words with statements such as below, she's so obviously judgmental I can't take her seriously.
Homosexuals have suffered no intergenerational discrimination, have never been denied the right to vote or own property, and can disguise their sexual preference for a lifetime, if necessary.
It seems in her world there is no distinction amongst LGBT, just gay and these "people" can pretend to be straight for their (read that as other's) convenience. Well I don't know what myopic world she occupies but that is simply not true.  Even if it was, don't you think we already have enough problems with men trying to live a lie to the detriment of not only themselves but the women they may be involved with? I say men, because Richardson offers no balance that women or non-whites may also be homosexual. I'd dare say she is lashing out at white men but she never clearly states that so there's little point of agreement for her theories. Furthermore she says this:
Yet, the claims of gay lobbyists that their rights are somehow linked to the freedom struggle of African Americans have slowly taken root in many sectors. But, after years of close observation, I have now uncovered the true intentions of gay activists: To silence, demote or excommunicate any individual who dares to disagree with the unbridled promotion of homosexuality and gay marriage.
Now I have personally stated my support for legalizing gay marriage for it offers many financial benefits and sets up a family structure. That may not be the one many of us are used to, but that doesn't necessarily make it any less valid. I also saw first-hand the outrage of certain white LGBTs who showed just how stuck on their privilege they are when they attacked Blacks specifically when Prop 8 failed. I even predicted it was going to fail because the campaign didn't reach out to people of color effectively. When the face of the gay movement is a white male then it does come across as just another means of pimping the oppression banner for individual power. 

If Richardson had been more subtle in her argument she could've had me. Instead she is adopting language and a tone that smacks a little close to those of white supremacists - and certain Republicans - against Blacks, "illegal aliens" and women's reproductive rights. The article further spirals downward into many falsehoods and disjointed connections between childhood molestation and the "advertising and acceptance of homosexuality" that will make more people gay. It makes her just another rhetoric-filled loudmouth with an anger problem. We all know how hard it is to dispel that "Angry Black Woman" meme!

Instead she should be looking at other causes and influences but she blames it all on teh gay. So her article is just one big vent-fest. She comes across as incredibly arrogant and intolerant. I'm certain she'd use the Bible as her excuse for being homophobic. There's a difference between following a religious tradition and using your beliefs to attack others whose lifestyle choices differ from your own. Especially when we know how many "church-going folk" are some of the biggest hypocrites out there. She's probably one of those Black women who's completely Black-male identified as well. The dysfunctional kind that is and would question a woman what she "did" if she was hit...or sexually assaulted. There are so many of us who are angry and confused and we don't know how to deconstruct the bigger issues so we focus on what looks to be the source of that problem. 

My suggestion to Ms. Richardson is that she focus a little less on what white gay men are doing and look at the state of the lower-class Black community. Addressing the pathologies of many who make choices against their self-interests would be of greater benefit to the masses than complaining about some who are setting an agenda for their advancement. In fact, despite the selfish nature as it may come across to many it is something we should be taking notes on and adopting for our own "groups". Lest we be left behind.

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John Stewart Skewers Specter, Steele & Sanchez

I had to post this video from the Daily Show because it was so funny. As you may have heard Arlen Specter decided to switch political affiliation because staying in power in so much more attractive than being voted out! Watch Stewart's response to Michael Steele for the biggest laugh of this skit.
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Comedy Central Commemorates Obama's 100 Days

IndecisionAn Indecision Exclusive!
Obama's First 100 Days
Funny Political VideoPolitical GamesJoe Biden Jokes
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

When It's Hump Day And You Don't Feel Like Writing Anything

Well that just about sums it up. I have numerous bits and pieces of posts coming down the pipeline but I don't feel they're quite publish-ready. Funny enough I have an idea for a book with a female lead about her loves and life. It's not a mere romance story or the dreaded chic-lit fiction. It's about someone with a journey to undertake and all the stops along the way. I'm not sure if I can fit everything I want to say with this character in one book or if it's in fact a series. I've written nearly 400 pages now so this is the farthest I've gone to date. 

I've always enjoyed writing short stories, poetry but have stacks of unfinished manuscripts. I also write songs. I even took a screenwriting class which I received a low grade because you're not supposed to put in camera directions in a script as a writer. So I guess that makes me a potential writer-director then, huh?! About three months after starting this blog I had set a personal goal for myself to write something every day. Which I did today with an early morning post so I'm set, right? Well I like providing quality content. I also want to be disciplined and get all the ideas sharing residence in my head onto the page. 

Since this isn't a gossip blog providing content takes a little time. Last year I was very focused on the election (and I guess we all were). So political commentary ruled. This isn't a political blog per se. It's a little bit of everything, but mostly about social justice. Well...I'm not 100% certain of that either. I think this blog is a reflection of what moves me and what I'm learning about as I become familiar with the works of others far more involved in activism than I. People who get it and are here to ring the alarm so to speak. 

I'm also here to challenge certain long-standing traditions within the Black "community" that many of us fondly remember but doesn't exist anymore. There's nothing like shaking up the comfort zones to get a reaction out of people. On the other hand I'm not getting paid to do this so why would I put that level of effort into it? Well I'm here to check myself and any long-held but useless patterns of thinking and behavior so the quality of my life improves. If anyone else learns something they can use all the better. 

I wonder how I'll keep up this pace when I have future commitments kick in. Obtaining a full life where my efforts are reciprocated is my goal and I look forward to the challenge. Blogging has been a great learning experience. Our thoughts rule our lives. If we can't have a vision for something and release ourselves to follow through on it we will not improve. So this is the time to plant some seeds, pull out the weeds and grow! What are your plans?

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Adam Lambert & Danny Gokey May End Up The Final Two on American Idol

I am officially an Adam Lambert stan and will plunk down $$$ to see him perform live. Sure this week's performance of Feeling Good was a little showy but between the white suit and the "I'm A Star" descent down the stairs it was perfect. 
As the judges said this is a competition. I've been dismissive of Danny Gokey as I usually find him okay, not spectacular. Now I just did some research and found out the man lost his wife a few weeks before his Idol audition. Awww. I'm still mad Anoop is gone because this week's Rat Pack theme would've been a perfect showcase for his voice. Allison was good but tonight Danny's amazing rendition of Come Rain Or Come Shine showed he wants to win - so I have to give him kudos for a great performance. 
I can't wait to find out who's going home tonight. Fox has declined the request to air the President's address - not sure that was a smart move on their part but we know what the agenda of Rupert Murdoch has been.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Danny, Matt Or Kris: Who Goes Home This Week on American Idol?

And then there were five. Though I'm still mad that Anoop was sent packing last week I'll have to live with it. I tried to call and could NOT GET THROUGH! Now that I'm totally sucked into this Season of American Idol I can't wait for it to be over, lol. I hate you Adam not really. All I'm saying is he's like a shiny object that your eyes keep following. I'm so over the competition portion of the evening and just want to get to the CROWN, okay? We will have our King soon.

Anyhoo, onto this week. Matt was saved by the judges which I was happy about until it meant Anoop got the axe. So now I'm mad at Matt for still being around. As I discussed in my post from last week, he would be leaning toward appropriation but his heritage cancels that out. Sorta. Kris is a Jason Mraz do-over without the pizzazz. Danny is the Taylor Hicks of the competition. Sure Taylor won but his album FLOPPED and where is he NOW? They are sooo boring to me even though they can sing. Plus if you recall Simon didn't really like Hicks. You could tell because Simon does NOT have a poker face. 

That leaves Allison who is a great singer and not at all polished as a performer - yet. When she is, it will be a sight to behold. So again that leaves Adam as the lead competitor, the most prepared for a career TODAY and the only one who really knows himself. He can sing anything and works well with others. Like I also said: he'd better win this sucker or else.....

Supposedly it's up to America to vote for the winner. We'll see.

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Compensation Inequity + UnMarried Status + Kids = Poverty

Blog for Fair Pay 2009
For all the women whose lives are the exception to this, count yourselves fortunate! This is for the woman who finds herself in a bind because her alimony or child support hasn't come through or is non-existent, who may not have a six-figure income and who may be relying on some sort of assistance from a county agency or not have a job. Today is blogging for Equal Pay and this has been an ongoing fight for women to be properly compensated. Women of Color are paid 1/3 less for doing similar work as a white male.

Here are some points of intersectionality:
  • sick leave
  • paid time off
  • commute time (whether you have a vehicle or are relying on public transportation)
  • women being paid less for similar work or steered into certain professions
  • child-care costing so much
  • health coverage
  • unemployment compensation 
  • racism
  • sexism
  • disability
  • gender status or expression
All of the provisions being set aside for the un(der)emplyed are very important right now. Quite a few states that have male Republican Governors are refusing stimulus funds and leaving the most vulnerable residents twisting in the wind. There's a nice warm spot in Hell awaiting for ya for it too! The United Nations Development Fund for Women seeks to address gender inequalities and give women tools of empowerment they can use.

We cannot ignore the vast increase of out of wedlock births. More mouths to feed means less resources. Some women choose motherhood without seeking a permanent partner. Aside from the need for children to have positive influence of both genders, there are many different types of families. Black women are going to be adversely affected by their choices more than other groups of women. It's a racist world and far too many of our self-appointed leaders have squandered all political gains made post-Civil Rights for their own interests.

The opportunities afforded by being in a particular class status would do much to alleviate day to day concerns. If we all had more money than we needed and adequate resources our lives would be much easier obviously. Not to say people can't survive obstacles but that certainly doesn't make it a life ripe for coasting with ease either. Why struggle when you don't have to? 

Patriarchy is a tricky thing. Some of us choose not to marry and procreate. Whether it's an empowered choice from fully exercising all options or an excuse we give to make ourselves feel better is open for debate. To pretend that marriage isn't desirable though is being facetious. LGBTs wouldn't be fighting so hard for it if it had little value. It's something straights take for granted totally. Why people have so much disdain for marriage today is not an example of progress I'd celebrate. Bad marriages are not the goal here. 

We can now talk about things much more openly and evaluate people better. Unless you're a person of means or famous or lucky you are not the exception and dreaming about eating caviar on melba toast everyday won't change that. With the economy doing so poorly, this conversation can be one of semantics, pipe dreams and shoulda/woulda/coulda or it can be one that accurately reflects the lives of those who are underserved, overworked and in situations that we would not want if we could wave a magic wand to change them.

The differences along race, social class and ethnicity can be further broken down by residency status. When I lived in the UK I had a work permit but I didn't get the hourly rate my skill set would have afforded me because I had a time limit on how long I was allowed to stay in the country. Still my compensation wasn't that bad and I found a position in three days. After I was hired my employer had decided to pay me an additional 1 pound per hour. I didn't ask why either. Considering I took a position mid-November and received full pay when the office was closed for two weeks between Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year's I was more than satisfied.

I had scheduled it so that I wouldn't go over a certain dollar amount before the end of the tax year. Now I was able to extend my permit to Ireland for an additional four months. As easy as my UK experience had been, Ireland was problematic. Getting temporary employment, the rate of pay and housing were all far more challenging than they'd been in the UK. They still owe me more than 300 Euros because they overtaxed me and the government takes the money out immediately and you have to apply to get it back. It's a beautiful country but when employers refuse to hire you even with a legal permit they need to reevaluate their work schemes.

I can't imagine how difficult it would be to come here to live. With the exception of a few I'm sure it's anything but a breeze. The US offers a green card lottery though where your name could be conceivably picked out of a hat. The devastation of other world economies drives many to seek shelter here illegally though which will lead to a consistent sharecropper population. Since the US government doesn't enforce its laws regarding illegal immigration and the corruption that surrounds it there is a criminal network hard to dismantle now. On top of that the corporations that employ such a workforce is also in violation of other laws and safety practices. It's no coincidence the outbreaks of food poisoning and poor food processing has occurred and will continue. On the other hand if US citizens could apply for open lotteries to live and work in the UK - or Canada - I'm sure many of us would consider relocating if we had the opportunity.

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Deploying A Little Negro Spirit: Gotta Have Soul

Ok, I wasn't trying to make this post a full-on charge of cultural appropriation. Though the question begs to be asked: When non-Black artists use Black gospel choirs in popular music does it convey levity to their songs? Or as Dave Chapelle would say, "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong." Is it blatant swiping of "Black cred" or something else? I also think we should consider the borrowing of "spirituality" by employing a choir. 

I want to specify that's it's African-Americans who are descendants of slaves that created this music. That's why listening to other Black artists of different ethnicities and cultures and who hail from other countries aren't quite able to capture that sound unless they're trying to imitate it. Why isn't it considered "cool" and "different" i.e. as VALID when Blacks of different ethnicities collaborate on projects? We're not all coming from the same place or perspective even if our skin shade is similar. 

So I'm going to post some videos because examples are sometimes more effective in conveying a point than mere words. I also thought Paul Simon's and Peter Gabriel's use of African musicians on their biggest hit albums as well as Sting adding Cheb Mami for that "exotic" flavor are applicable examples. Actually we can look at Sting's earlier solo work with his use of Black jazz musicians as if a Marsalis could be considered a mere "sideman". This conversation should continue as we deconstruct the history of Black musicians not being paid for their work and having copyrights stolen. 

What we're really talking about is an imbalance in power, tilted toward the "white musical genius". Who's aiding and abetting these artists? It's not all racism but also a refusal by many Blacks (in the US) to expand their musical repertoire. The formatting of R&B stations typically excluded numerous Black artists like Lenny Kravitz, Tracy Chapman, Joan Armatrading and others. Why was this tolerated by listeners when they had artists like Teena Marie, Hall & Oates, Queen and others on heavy rotation?

Now there's one cultural exchange I would not put in this category. There was a genuine collaboration between Shakira and Wyclef for the song "Hips Don't Lie", but I wonder if that's because it was a "woman's" project and not the other way around? 

What say you on this? What songs can be added to this list?

Our primer will be contrasting/comparing Alvin Ailey's seminal piece Revelations which uses three songs for each section: Fix Me Jesus, Rock-A-My-Soul and Wade In the Water. 

Then we move into the use of that energy/spirit into these songs. Which are good by the way.
Then things start to get a little questionable. Skip to 2:25 for the Bedingfield track.                       
Now he's giving credit here but I seem to recall some legal action by the musicians against Paul Simon. I am also aware of the extensive charity work of Gabriel. I also would love to be a fly on the wall at Rosanna Arquette's house to have two songs that are considered classics written about her! The other being by the group Toto, fyi.
I was almost done but had to add Madonna. We could deconstruct her trip through the rainbow tribe as an entirely separate post. Including her African Baby Rescue Plan. But do we really want to go there? Nothing says post-racial like a white woman dancing in front of burning crosses and catching the Holy Spirit!
I think this might be a good idea for a series of conversations. This is all coming to me via stream of consciousness right now. Stay Tuned for Part 2: When White Artists Go Black and Part 3: When Black Artists Flip the Script Part 4: Black Female Artists of Substance Being Ignored Part 5: The Responsibility of the (Sometimes) Buying Public. Ok, I think the well needs replenishing now.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Prince Speaks On Being Bullied & Getting Support

This is a preview of the must-see interview with Prince that airs Monday & Tuesday on the Tavis Smiley Show. Yeah we have issues with Mr. Smiley and his penchant for lashing out at Black female journalists who critique his State of the Black Union, but it is what it is. Prince as always rocks the high-heels!! When he shares this story I can't help but think about the rash of young kids who are suicidal because of the abuse they suffer for a myriad of reasons. I wish they had an outlet to escape to for relief. Check your local listing for air times. 

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President Ahmadinejad Throws Down the Gauntlet

Well the media and political maneuvers continue! Iran's President has indicated his nation wants a better relationship with the United States....and Israel. If the Palestinians are treated with justice and can make their own decisions. This has suddenly gotten very interesting. We'll see how sincere this gesture is and whether "conditions" will be met. All their hands are dirty. He's focusing on race but he needs to throw in gender prejudices as well. Note to George: the American people are clueless. Just like you and your fellow corporate hack/wanna-be journalists who don't do your homework and play gotcha games. Come back when you're all ready to come clean about EVERYTHING the US gov't has done covertly the past 30 years. Let's not forget what the Brits did before that. As I stated in my post about North Korea, Iran has the right to bear arms just like every other "ally" of the US. So I'm not holding my breath anything will actually change but this makes great copy.

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Weekly Wrap-Up

I'm condensing multiple posts into a one and giving some other blog hosts a shout-out. Please read them!

Did anybody use GeoCities? Nope me either. Another one bites the dust

Speaking of biting the dust, wearing a cheap cotton painter's mask won't protect you from the swine flu. Is this latest outbreak an accident or biological warfare being tested on populations is open for debate. Discuss amongst yourselves. FunkyBrownChick has an interesting take on things.
  • The Supreme Court will review Ricci v. DeStefano where white male fire fighters (who have like a 99% hire and promotion rate) charge they're being discriminated against as municipalities look into altering testing to bring in more POC. Now I'm not advocating the dumbing down of qualifications, but US firefighters have a hero complex and die at a rate of 8-1 compared to other countries because they rush into situations without evaluation. Despite San Francisco having a female Fire Chief it's still a rare occurrence and they had to be sued to allow women and non-whites in. So I'm just sayin'......
In the "It's A Post-Racial World - Not!" files: 

Michael Kors decides to have a little racism with his (black) coffee. Who wants to deconstruct the racism and sexism in this ad? Any takers? I wish these fashion people would just stop trying to use Black people to make a buck during this depression when they were perfectly happy ignoring us before. See the Field Negro blog.

We all know this won't be a Jeopardy question, "Who Is the First Person Convicted for Murdering A Trans teenager?" but a murderer got his due for the killing of Angie Zapata. Fem.Men.Ist is a great blog by the way and blog host Richard is a Black man who fights for women's equality. Just so you know I may write about the pathologies of some, but there are plenty of fully functional people of color out there.... 

How you plan on spending President Obama's 100th day in office depends on whether you were happy or sad he got elected in the first place.
  • I learned just how filthy our planet is. Have you heard of the trash vortex the size of Texas? Hmm maybe that's where we can send Gov. Perry! It has motivated some to take action. No wonder Klaatu came to get rid of us.
Unemployment rates have increased as projected. The state of California's is more than 11% now. Blacks with degrees have a disproportionately high jobless rate? Do you have a plan?
  • So many people seemed shocked, shocked I tell ya that the ignorance, apathy misogyny and prejudice they pass onto their kids actually takes effect. Why are people so reluctant to turn in the criminals in their families?
Airlines come up with yet another scheme to bilk us out of our money while sucking on the teat of corporate welfare. Well since we know people are getting bigger why do they keep making the seats on the plane smaller with less leg room? I bet you if all of us "fatties" stopped flying in protest they'd really start howling.

South Park does a send-up of Susan Boyle. 

I found out American Violet isn't a story of one Black woman's triumph, but the same ol' okey doke by whites making a victimization movie. Clink the link and it will take you to the Black Woman Blow the Trumpet blog. You can read the analysis of how this film is showing (some of) us at our worst. See Tyler Perry isn't the only one you know. Glad I didn't waste my time or money on this drivel. FAIL!!!

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bea Arthur Tribute: Maude's Dilemma Pioneered Reproductive Rights Before Roe V. Wade

Actress Bea Arthur passed away yesterday and many have mentioned her career as one of the premier comediennes of her generation. Many fondly recall the series Golden Girls from the 80's which was a definite precursor to Sex and the City. I still watch reruns from time to time and that show was very funny and ahead of its time. It also covered many issues around social justice before it became trendy i.e. "safe" to do. 

Her earlier series from the 70's Maude isn't one that I recall in detail except that Esther Rolle was featured before her character was spun-off to the series Good Times. Yes, there was a time when Blacks used to count the other Black people on television because there were so few of us. Now the fact that so many women were playing maids is another story...

I do recall the episode that caused a lot of brouhaha back in the day. Bea played the title character where Maude has an unexpected pregnancy and debates whether or not to have an abortion. This character is middle-class and married but at the age of 47 doesn't want to raise a child. It actually aired before Roe v. Wade completed its course through the legal system and the creators took a chance on it passing. So it was ahead of its time and controversial. 

You'd be hard-pressed to find a show today where the lead character decides whether or not she will have an abortion. The writers/producers almost always cop out and the woman has a miscarriage or almost loses the baby, has a change of heart and completes the pregnancy to term. It's not as if I'm advocating abortion, but it is a choice that's made by many women. Men who often are so resistant to the idea of having children don't take the steps they need to make sure they won't impregnate a woman by mistake. I'm certain it's a no-win situation for the woman but since the idea of motherhood is worshipped by so many, yet the quality of life for (poorer, non-white) children is so disdained it's not a surprise.

Now that the Dominican Republic has amended its constitution to outlaw ALL abortions it will be those least equipped to handle child-rearing, the poor as well as survivors of sexual abuse and rape who will pay the price. As always there's the element of personal responsibility for our choices and the consequences we may face when we make mistakes. Yet it goes without saying we're talking about women being left to shoulder the burden of them in these situations - usually alone.
This was a 2-part story arc which you can continue viewing here. There's been critical analysis of the impact of this storyline at The Beachwood Reporter. I'll let you view to find out what happens.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Racial Politics With Black Women's Hair

So Oprah mentioned two things at the end of her show Friday that enquiring minds wanted to know. One answered whether she actually sends her own messages on Twitter or if they're delegated to a producer or assistant. It's all her baby! She said that's why we see so few - she doesn't have much time to spend. She did include a link from musical guest Robin Thicke's performance of Lost Without You that wasn't included in the broadcast here

The second reply was much more loaded. She let the world know that she does not wear a hair weave. While the speculation on the length and texture of Ms. Winfrey's hair can be put to rest it begs the question of why it even matters. Despite the fact that many women wear hair pieces, extensions, wigs and weaves there's this extra fascination with how black women in particular style their hair. Updated with video courtesy of TMZ (yuk I know).

Where does the assumption that it's mostly black women come from? I'm not talking about non-blacks being so invested either, though at times there's this "visiting the zoo" fascination. I'm referring to the dirty little secret of racism amongst blacks. I blame it all the term "good" hair and the mentality behind it. It's the cousin of skin shade racism where the preferred status of black women is to look racially ambiguous (lighter skin tone, longer hair, European features). This has been reinforced by many black men and the more prominent or famous he has been allowed to engage in that practice unchallenged. This isn't a recent phenomena either.

Let's be clear, this isn't about preferences. This is about choices. This is also about the promotion of those choices as the only standard which if you watch the average R&B  or hip-hop music video has been made clear. It has also been expressed by certain men in public as they discuss why they specifically want a white-skinned woman. It is reinforced by other women and has left those of us who don't fit into a Euro-based model for appearance feeling unloved and undesired. 

Fortunately, we can reclaim our unique and individual beauty by recognizing we've been purposely devalued by other people for the promotion of their interests. We don't have to let someone else's preferences define us. We can seek out people who like and accept us as we are. We can find a beauty regime that brings out the best of our features.

Oprah has a team of professional stylists so why wouldn't the quality of her care be anything but top notch? There are plenty of black women with prominent African features who have long hair and don't use hair pieces. It's just too bad that some women feel embattled and think they can't do anything with their hair except to alter its texture. Or cover it in the finest Yaki - but that doesn't empower us to learn how to care for it. Hair grows 1/2 inch per month and the issue with shorter hair has to do with keeping the length not whether length can be attained. Chemical processing, use of products and styling choices will affect how much hair we keep on our heads. That's why so many are advocates of not altering our fragile hair texture with relaxers. It's all about choices and the freedom to exercise all of our options. 

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Friday, April 24, 2009

I Told You Obama Had to Watch Out for Those Democrats

Um hmm. So we're closing in on Obama's 100th day in office (really I thought it'd been like 4evr) and he's trying to get work done and such. Now I don't agree with all of his policies and he's more conservative than I prefer but I realize it's all strategic. Well some of it's CYA but we at least have a President we can have a conversation with. Ranting and acting a fool in public isn't going to yield the results some think they want.

Now I was very excited to hear about the reforms #44 wants to do regarding guaranteed student loans. It's a starting point as far as I'm concerned. The banks got a bailout, I think students and parents should be able write off a big chunk of the loans they have to take out. Particularly when schools count them as part of the financial aid award. Everyone doesn't want to have to attend community college or find alternate resources when the price of an education has ballooned far past the income growth rate. 

That's not the point though. After applying for all manner of scholarships/grants have been exhausted those loan interest rates and processing fees really add up. The banks get the money from the government for free but charge us more than 6%. That's the interest rate for a mortgage by the way (if your credit's good). So let me repeat that. The banks lend money that's already covered by the government from our taxes and then turn around and charge us a high interest rate, thereby making a really nice profit. Somewhere in the billions in fact.

Which when you go back to that bailout the banks got after grossly mismanaging money it's really beyond insulting! So aside from Larry Summer doing his drunken sailor routine we have some Democrats opposing the effort at reform. Senator Ben Nelson is getting a lot of attention but he's not going to be the only one. We already know some of the Republicans will oppose anything and everything just to prove their irrelevance, but I've been warning that if Obama isn't careful trying to appease all the factions it will render him ineffective.  

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Old School Friday

This week is yet another twist: This Song Should Have Never Been Made. Yikes. I can think of plenty of songs in the past 10, 7, 5, 2 years and artists I wish had NEVER gotten record deals. As well as the banning of Auto-Tune. It was cute when Cher did it for Believe but blame it on al-co-h-h-h-h-hol Jamie Foxx...not so much! 

I'm thinking of other songs that I think are degrading and objectify women that I won't be playing here that belong on this list, but I need to find something silly.'s gonna be....

Romanian twins/Autotune/Heavy Rotation in gay clubs = silly.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

You're So Lame Award of Shame - Asher Roth & Larry Summers

I was deciding between Jackie Chan and some others but then this just came in: Larry Summers fell asleep during a VERY IMPORTANT meeting between the President and members of the Banking Industrial Complex as they have to justify gross overcharges in credit card fees. I guess he hadn't had his Wheaties. This is a huge consumer issue and one where laws enacted to protect us from fraud need to be enforced. Especially after the CBC sold out the Black community in thwarting the ability to include certain debts in bankruptcy filings. Yes we bear some responsibility but we know the amount of credit being issued was usually more than what would be advisable. 

The one strike rule where if you missed one payment your interest rate could nearly double was ridiculous - esp when the banks ask for and get gov't bailouts, favorable rates and other concessions. Summers was already a controversial choice for the Obama administration with his conflicts over gender insensitive statements and his very public fight with Cornell West so you'd think the man would at least TRY to show up for work ready to work, but I suppose that's just too much to ask for!  
So I was all set to publish this when I spent a little early evening Twitter time and lo and behold I've got another entry for ya'll. Some dubious character named Asher Roth who's a rap artist and claims he's about the "culture" of hip-hop yet doesn't want seem to want to properly acknowledge that culture came from BLACK PEOPLE made some off the cuff joke about "nappy headed hos" because he was at Rutgers. Yeah the Imus assault all over again. At least he got a flood of responses from others calling him out on it. He quickly deleted it from his stream and said he was "sorry" - except it had been resent. 

Blogger Byron Crawford did a screen capture so we have the proof. I sent him a message saying he needs to read the posts at Racialicious blog about Hipster racism and get a clue. Oh and the excusers and deniers came out to defend his insult to Black women, because it "doesn't have anything to do with me personally" and "you're being overly sensitive". Including a few very CLUELESS Black women. When will we learn that every "little" slight leads to further depravity? I'm sure he's a nice person and it's all a misunderstanding because he said he meant no harm. Yeah because racialized sexism is just so darn funny, haha. As funny as a gas chamber, hey Roth? Two steps forward, five steps back people!

P.S. Now in the biggest CYA action in recent memory, his PR flunkies are now trying to claim his account had been hacked into. Oh really...then why apologize? People are so concerned about not APPEARING racist they never learn from their mistakes. BIG FAIL!
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Morning/Afternoon Jam

I heard this on the classic R&B station and was transported back to the 80's. Rockwell's song was too cool for school.  
When I hear that song I usually think of this one by Falco as well. It's a little pre-Friday old school video fest.
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Sometimes Parents (And Others) Just Don't Understand

I was reading this article in the Los Angeles Times about Sharron Pearson. She's a high school student who applied for - and was accepted to - an Oxford University summer program. She needs money to cover some of her expenses by the way, but it's the beginning of this story that caught my attention: 
When Crenshaw High School junior Sharron Pearson asked for permission to apply for a scholarship to attend a summer program at Oxford University, her father's response was blunt: "No. We can't afford it."

Sharron, 17, applied anyway. "Then I went to work trying to persuade my parents to reconsider," she recalled. "I just knew they'd come around and see things my way."
So Ms. Pearson has established a level of academic excellence but more than that she is actively seeking out opportunities for herself. What I find unsettling is the attitude of those closest to her who would have her make fear-based decisions and who have limited vision. I'm certain her parents love her but they do a great disservice to her by hindering her growth.

This is a situation where the haters/obstructionists/naysayers would come out to discourage someone trying to achieve something and sigh with relief when they stumble. For what does it say about them when someone they know and love comes from the same home/life circumstances but is able to achieve more? Nothing is being handed to her and yet I can almost guarantee someone in her circle is bound to be jealous and resentful.

So why is it that some children have to fight their own family to not just avoid being a lower-economic statistic but thriving in life? Children should not be cookie cutter images of their parents. We've all heard stories of kids that have been thrown out of their homes for being gay or facing disapproval for dating interracially. How can academic achievement be a point of contention? 

I can recall wanting to move to NYC after I graduated high school to attend college. It had been something I'd clearly stated as my intention for years and I got nothing but grief about it. I heard all of the scare tactics about how dangerous it was. I'd led a somewhat sheltered life up until then and not traveled anywhere. I was quite stifled in fact and had to go with $50 against my mother's wishes. It was my life to live though and I just couldn't understand why having dreams and setting out to accomplish them was so threatening.

Just because other people have gotten stuck in a rut or settled into a comfort zone doesn't mean it's okay to hold other people back and discourage them. Those of us who want to take risks must prepare ourselves for the obstacles that life presents - especially when it comes from people we may know and love. I know I've personally struggled with wanting approval from others for what are my life choices and how it has hindered me from achieving all that I can. That time is over. It's like a never-ending cycle, like being a rat on a spinning wheel. We must never apologize for wanting to have a fulfilling existence. Life is too short to take time and opportunities for granted.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Blackening of the Fashion Industry

So I hear American Vogue has had three Black women on their cover this year. One was Michelle Obama, one was Beyonce and the other was an actual model, Liya Kebede. Well....big whoop. Liya shared the cover with a bunch of white models (Jourdan Dunn is in the foldout), one's the biggest singer in the business and the other is our FLOTUS. So I'm not exactly breaking out the Dom now that Anna Wintour decided to jump on the bandwagon after Vogue Italia had their infamous all-Black issue which made her look bad. The added irony showed that while the editorial spreads may have featured Black models the ad space sold to financially support the issue was 99.9% devoid of one.Black.model. 

I still remember Wintour's rather apologetic Letter From the Editor way back in 1997 which seemed like the last time they featured a Black model on the cover with Kiara Kabukuru. It was the July issue, the leanest of all months to boot. Ms. Wintour was asking people to "forgive" her for daring to put a Black model of the cover - AS IF SHE DOESN'T HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE THAT DECISION. I remember I felt compelled to write her a response with some variation of kiss my *ss because I didn't need her to validate me. 

I used to subscribe faithfully but I had to rethink my support of magazines that weren't catering to me specifically. On the other hand Essence was way too old fogey for me and I really wanted something young and hip. By the way if I haven't made it clear I do actually like fashion. I was so happy when MODE and HONEY magazines were being published and equally crushed when they folded. 

By the way these fashion magazines had a continual snowflake fest of all white models for years after the decline of the Supermodel phase. I think it started with the grunge look and it stuck. Of course if you've heard about certain American designers whining about how Shelly O won't wear their clothes then you may also have heard their blatant discrimination with their use of to Jim Crow-era "No Blacks Need Apply" stance. So just like so many newspapers that are in financial ruins I have zero sympathy. They've been guilty of hiring discrimination for years and karma is a *itch isn't it?! Is it also too much to ask that they show some models of various sizes and not all skull and crossbones?

Now all the Black people that fell for the okey doke of chasing after hip-hop era bling had better take a second look at their designer purchases from companies that don't want to be associated with them, let alone employ them and stop throwing away good money after bad practices. It's just hilarious to me that Michelle doesn't have to make any statements or say one word. We know what's up. they know what's up. Bethann Hardison has been fighting the industry for years for inclusion. I appreciate her efforts but inclusion is not equality. I also can't help but notice how the Black Upper Crust has not done one thing to address this and they are the ones with the money and clout to pus against it, right? 

Having a Black First Lady has leveled the playing field. I've noticed the trickle down of hiring more Black models in catalogs like Spiegel but there's quite a ways to go. In the meantime I'm cracking up. Some of these designers just don't know what to do. It's really quite simple but they'd rather play dumb. I hope they grab some cheese with their whine, get a clue and remedy the situation.

Here's Oscar de la Renta eating crow and backpedaling from his criticism of Michelle Obama. In case he hasn't figured it out she'd be criticized for wearing one of his 300K outfits in this economy. Nor is she required to please the fashionista crowd. So she was going to get flack no matter what she did. 

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The Green Generation

Earth Day April 22
Today is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. Like many holidays it gets easy to take events for granted. But if the weather in CA is any indication of a change in climate then we should be concerned. 93 degree temperatures in San Francisco proper (not just across the Bay) isn't normal weather. Likewise neither is snow in Atlanta at the beginning of April or 35 degrees on the East Coast. I know it probably gets boring to hear about droughts in some areas while there's too much of some other condition elsewhere but this has significant ramifications. It affects how we get food, what kind of crop is yielded and its frequency. A farmer's livelihood depends on it. 

As the Obama administration rolls out the greatly-touted "Green Jobs" some of us will watch that ship pass us by if we aren't prepared to hop on board. From Van Jones being offered a position to Majora Carter's work in the low-income neighborhoods in the Bronx we do have people of color looking ahead to see how these things will impact all of us. Having clean water is a life and death situation for people in (re)developing countries but it also impacts those people in areas where there may be toxic waste in close proximity. It's usually an economically depressed area populated by people of color, like San Francisco's Hunters/Baypoint area.

We need to get off the coal teat once and for all. We need a national high speed rail system as well as an affordable and reliable public transportation scheme. I know a couple that refit the engine on their vehicle to accept cooking oil and they save thousands per year as their car only requires a minimal amount of gas now and they recycle it. We can do little things to save the environment and lower our bills by switching to long-life bulbs and unplugging appliances that aren't in use. Recycling and composting are other methods.

With the economy being so precarious now is a great time to take up knitting, gardening and other old-fashioned activities that the Western world may find "quaint" but that millions of people around the world utilize to this day. It also fosters a sense of community where people may be reintroduced to developing relationships with their neighbors. If people feel responsible for each other they'll be more likely to look out for one another, clean up their neighborhoods and take an interest in maintaining a functioning environment. 

Investing in locally grown food will sustain communities better than relying on off-season food being shipped in halfway around the world. With childhood obesity at an all-time high clearly parents have allowed cheap foodstuffs and advertising to take over their lives. As we know providing nutritious meals to children aids in their development and learning skills. The charity.water campaign is doing great things as well. So check out the official Earth Day website for information and a list of local events and national initiatives you can participate in. Knowledge is power!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

If Adam Lambert Doesn't Win American Idol...

It will speak volumes about how some people feel about men who are willing to display a non-hyper masculine identity and the blurring of gender. I won't state the he is gay because I don't know...but he has a certain flair. So it's telling how the judges and the viewing/voting audience respond to him. He is tremendously talented and I'd certainly hope the handlers weren't planning on basing his career on appealing to the tween crowd. 

Personally I'd love for him to win and not have to hide his orientation regardless of how he identifies. It's 2009 and it's high time we have an openly gay Idol. It's also time for someone to really be able to define themselves artistically without being pushed into a tightly-controlled package. This week's Idol was Disco and it was mostly one big yawn. As an aside I have to say that I don't like the way Lil Rounds is being treated by the judges. For she also isn't adhering to whatever expectations they are trying to hold her to either. It only shows how they're not interested in nurturing talent but generating product with no soul.

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Gavin, Gavin, Gavin!

These are the best of the times and the worst. San Francisco pretty boy Mayor Gavin Newsom has made it official. He's running for Governor! Le sigh! Now on one hand I figure the state is so far in the crapper thanks to all those (stupid) people that voted for Ah-nold's incompetence how can it get any worse? On the other hand I realize as bad as things are they could in fact get worse and why would we want to find out? So I figure Newsom has at least as much experience but I'm still not exactly whistling Dixie. 

See our Mayor is so much more than his good looks but he hasn't really shown us to what degree. He is intelligent for sure and if you go back to my July 2008 archives I wrote about meeting him at NetRoots Nation in Austin last year. I don't think he's Dr. Evil, but he is definitely a politician. I'm still a bit perplexed about his personal life and though we can say we don't have a right to judge you know we do! The way his first marriage ended after he got elected with his then-wife Kim Guilfoyle moving to NYC never sat right with me and made me suspicious of him. Then the scandal with him cheating with the wife of his campaign manager and friend was just low. These are indications of a person's character and the exercise in male white privilege to remain unscathed by this irks me. So it's no surprise that he found a blonde wife and is having a baby. Talk about camera-ready. Yeah color me cynical!

I suppose I should admit I was rooting for Matt Gonzalez during the Mayoral race. Newsom's corporate sponsorship and relation to Nancy Pelosi (by marriage) convinced me he was and will always be the establishment candidate, not a true progressive. The amount of homeless people wandering around San Francisco is problematic. To his credit he didn't round them up and shoot them like New York Mayor Guiliani (I kid, I kid..sorta), but the situation has not been resolved at all. Not when I see some of the same people on the streets 5-6 years in a row. The Care Not Cash program sucks quite frankly. The legal (but unethical) historical displacement of Blacks in San Francisco as well as the State of CA has yet to be fully remedied. I don't think that it will be either. 

I also don't blindly applaud his efforts at getting a gay marriage amendment passed. Now let's be clear I support it but as I said Newsom is a politician. There was a mounting recall brewing during his first term and he had to scramble to find something to rally public support and political currency. Unfortunately Civil Rights and helping the poor wasn't (isn't?) one of them. Apparently that's so 60's and it's all about the practically non-existent Middle Class. Which is because of the rampant greed that saw a net increase of wealth for some people by more than 800%. Which is a big part of the reason why there are so many poor people AND the near collapse of the Middle Class. It's also something those so-called teabaggers should be thinking about. So gay marriage it was! 

Now that he's trying to represent the entire state he's going to have to appeal to the downstate voters who aren't part of "liberal, gay-mecca" San Francisco. Which is a fallacy in the first place but perception speaks louder than words sometimes. The San Francisco Health Plan was a good start but we have yet to see Newsom as an activist Mayor supporting "radical" positions. 

The idiots (sorry I can't be partial about this) who voted for Ah-nold based on his being a movie star and bought into the image of him being a hero.'s called ACTING! Like our Mayor, like all politicians including during some point our President. They all have an image to present and want to be considered viable to as large a percentage of people as possible. 

So I'm adopting a wait-and-see attitude. We'll judge Newsom on his record and what type of campaign he runs. We will also have to find out who else runs - and I'm assuming Dianne Feinstein has decided against running. Jerry Brown hasn't stepped aside yet though. Either way we need someone capable of stepping into a leadership role. So good luck Gavin!

I'm still holding out hope that Karen Bass will run......

Here's his pitch - notice how "multi-culti" it appears but who's missing?

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Attack of the Sassy Black Woman

There was a line in an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie laments to her friends that she had to get on her "Sassy" horse. Now I assumed she was making a reference to the trailblazing yet defunct magazine edited by Jane Pratt for teen girls.

That's the good kind of sass. The following commercials for Popeyes and Vitamin Water may be teetering on the edge of the all-to-familiar stereotype that depicts Black women as shrews, tough or uncouth. While I don't find these commercials as offensive as the BK/Sir Mix A Lot/Nickelodeon debacle since that was specifically marketed to children, I do find aspects rather annoying. We need not fly into a tizzy but we should not ignore these "little" acts of racist depictions either. See for yourself.

Does a fried chicken company using a Black person automatically make it racist/offensive? I like Popeyes. I'm going to lean towards the "potentially oversensitive" reaction. Now if someone else finds it offensive they have every right to feel that way. I take offense to whites telling Black people what they should and should not feel about such matters like the bloggers at Jossip. I also admit I find the name of the commercial more problematic than anything else.

The thing is, I'm tired of being outraged. It's an emotional response that never heals and like a scab can be ripped off time and time again. We don't know whether the characters were written with that edge or if it was a choice of the actors. Ok, I'd err on the side of the powers-that-be pushing them to "Blacken it up", meaning to behave in an obvious and narrow way. I don't know though. I'm not sure if I'm entirely convinced because if these characters had been portrayed by white actors would they be deemed racist? Or Asian? Margaret Cho pulls off sassy very well. Still when certain portrayals are enacted by people of color the intention and the execution can be problematic and should not be ignored. If you think it should be addressed you must contact the companies directly and tell them. 
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