Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Now That Michael Jackson Is Gone Is Black Music Dead?

I think with the passing of Michael Jackson that black music is official dead, but I posed it as a question because I'd like to get lots of feedback on this. Of course there will continue to be black artists releasing music. Many of those we consider legends are still with us. There are quite a few artists moving through the ranks who are special. What of future generations though? I posit our time of dominance has left with the spirit of Michael Jackson. 

The specific contributions of African-American's musical legacy from r&b, blues, to jazz, to Motown, to rock, to techno were significant. What is going to replace it? What is its continuation? If something doesn't adapt it dies. No offense to those who like or release rap and hip-hop but with its original preponderance for sampling others' work it's not an entirely "pure" form, it's a hybrid. If you have to use someone else's compositions for the core of your work isn't what you're creating more of an homage to that prior work than doing something significant on your own? Of course sampling isn't left exclusively to hip-hop anymore, but that's what made it a popular device. Since the composers of those sampled songs weren't originally paid until a white songwriter sued a black rap artist, one could also say music was being legally stolen until these licensing agreements were ironed out. With the well-documented history of black artists being ripped off by white artists who would re-record an entire song and release it with no recourse wasn't it ironic when black artists did it to each other?

If anyone wants to prove me wrong I will gladly recant when the next huge pop star is a cultural phenom, an accomplished musician and someone who’s able to write and produce music without complete reliance on others. They won’t be praised as being beautiful by the sole existence of light/white skin, they won’t be known for shaking their body parts in a video, they won’t steal songwriting credits, they will have something important to say that we know we can review in 20 years where it will still have relevance. They won’t be a derivative of a copy. They won’t sound like anybody else. They will be “ours” and we'll get to share them with the rest of the world. When we have such an artist coming up let me know.

Now this is no offense to all of the artists currently releasing music this doesn’t apply to. Some people don't care. They use Autotune and wear $400K chains. They are not thinking of the long-term damage to the collective because they are making a quick buck. Some are simply not able to do that because that's a really high bar. Of course I'd also add much of what passes for music across all genres has greatly reduced its quality quotient. So it's bigger than soul music. Talents like Bessie Smith, Dinah Washington, Marvin Gaye, Donnie Hathaway, Luther Vandross and so many others set the world alight with stars that dimmed too soon. 

I have a problem with quite a few contemporary artists who are being elevated and topping the charts right now because of the poor quality of their music and their callous get rich quick schemes. Some call it branding. I call it sell as many products as you can because your music stinks. The audiences are so used to mediocrity that they place some of these newer artists in the same category as the greats. They do not hold a candle to them. Still if you have a desire to entertain and the chance to do so who’d turn it down? These record labels are factory farms of mass breeding trying to produce as much from the cow until it drops so they can throw out the carcass and move onto the next one. They could care less, but they used to. Of course they were also interested in exploitation but that’s why you have to careful. It’s a business not play acting. 

There are quite a few innovative artists making music. There are even more who have not had the opportunity because the gatekeepers loathe to invest in quality. Or they’re DIY and will remain on the periphery. I think it’s unfortunate but this is where the audience comes into play. Accepting the poop with whipped cream on top still means there’s you know what on the bottom.  

There's also a hierarchy in existence where males still dominate the power positions. Black male producers have been allowed to extend their light/white skin racism by elevating these lighter/whiter female artists who are usually only marginally talented. If I was one of these artists I’d take the opportunity though but being pretty to look at doesn't guarantee record sales! See one contrast would be Quincy Jones who though he has chosen that in his personal life, musically he has long elevated and promoted black music. He’s worked with a variety of artists true, but always took care to treasure the AA musical heritage. His work with MJ was some of MJ’s best of course. He heralds back to the time when people took the time and effort to learn to read music and pick up an instrument and master one. There won’t be videos on YouTube where a random person discusses how they heard his beat on Apple’s free music program GarageBand.

As I discussed in my Deploying A Little Negro Spirit series, many of us have abandoned our cultural touchstones. Some still protect theirs. You don't see a host of white artists taking over reggae. It could happen as anything's possible but it's likely to be rejected. Collaborations are allowed but turning over the keys has not happened. I can't say the same for other genres being as cherished or protected. That's no one else's fault but our own.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Vortex of Coonery: BET Awards Withholds MJ Tribute to Get Us to Watch Their Crappy Show

We were hoodwinked and bamboozled last night!! So many of us turned to watch in the hopes for a glorious celebration of a music artist's legacy. Instead we got the ol' bait and switch. So V.O.C. it is. That's the new term I've coined and the first application is being used for last night's BET Awards. What happened to that "promised" Michael Jackson tribute? 

So many people are still rendered speechless and feeling the loss of the greatest artist of our generation that we needed something to relieve the pressure. We wanted to celebrate the music. We wanted to dance in our living rooms and feel a little bit better. We're just fans and feel horrible. We can't imagine how it must be for this who really cared about MJ feel. Especially with the crap that passes as music today, we really need something familiar comforting and good. And let's face it, music is one of the few things blacks have left holding the collective (that's left) together in some cohesive form where we can relate to each other.

Well wouldn't you know Debra Lee did diddly squat for a tribute. She had the nerve to stand on stage and discuss how much work and effort they made throwing something together on three days notice. They added a few segments attached to prior scheduled performances. That's not a tribute. If that was the best they could do she needs to be fired! BET will reap the rewards of getting their highest ratings I'm certain. Most of us don't even watch BET anymore because the programming offends us so.

Jamie Foxx was the ringmaster for this lunacy. His opening sequence was funny if for no other reason than he looked ridiculous. His continuous plugging his upcoming tour became the running joke of the evening. Had it been a drinking game, I would've been plastered in no time.

Here's a message sent on Twitter which sums it up: After its MJ tribute fiasco, Viacom, BET's parent co. says BET is changing its name to WSN [We're Sorry, Negroes]
New Edition who were the first post modern boy band heirs to the Jackson 5 did a brief medley. We thought there was more coming but that was basically it for the rest of the night. Apparently all of the top-tier talent decided they were going to do their own tribute on their terms. I'm now really grateful they weren't involved in this fiasco. The other highlights were bringing out Keith Sweat, Bell Biv Devoe and Guy but it wasn't their performances that set the stage on fire - it was the fact these songs actually sound better 12+ years later than what's out now. Of course if we also deconstruct where the insults began we can look squarely at BBD for that horrid song Poison, take aim and fire at them.
The labels were clamoring for their artists to perform current material. I have to say the people they had on were boring, boring, boring or highly offensive. Mary Mary sang what I guess is supposed to be gospel song because it has the word God in it. The video quality is so-so but so is the song! Another set of artists following their version of religious dogma to disapprove of the "gay lifestyle". Yet they're right there in the gutter with the rest of the "heathens". The song, God In Me is set to the music used for Foxx's song Blame It On the Alcohol. This is considered progress? Not even Queen Latifah adding a rap could save it. By the way why was she of all people performing with them?
Maxwell gave the best performance of a current song so his label should be pleased. He was a calm moment in a sea of chaos.
I nearly lost it as I figured out the song Lil Wayne was rapping (Every Girl) was about sexing as many women as you could when he and the other male performers had allowed under-aged pre-teen girls to share the stage with them - including his own daughter! That was completely unacceptable - to us only apparently. What is this, an R Kelly recruiting fest? Can we open a case with child protective services for that? It took me so long to figure out what he was saying to begin with because everything was bleeped out to the point where I wondered out loud why he'd even bothered.

Beyonce wore a couture outfit that made no sense and her performance of combining Ave Maria with Sarah McLachlan's Angel with something else did not work. It was just awkward because the pacing for the show was so off.  But I was so glad to see her because at this point everything else had been so bad that I knew she'd at least elevate it from the gutter. We decided she was dressing as a bride for Michael Jackson like a version of A Nightmare Before Christmas.
The OJay's had already had a pre-planned tribute and they even performed. It was a welcome relief as more than half the show was over and people were despondent by this time. They weren't even trying that hard and outperformed everyone who'd been on previously!! If anyone deserves kudos Eddie Levert should get it. He's lost two sons in the prime of their youth and is still kicking butt as a live performer. I hereby declare the Hunger Strike episode of the Boondocks to be real, not satire. In it Huey decides he won't eat again until BET changes its programming. Debra Lee is reimagined as Debra Leevil, Reginald Hudlin pontificates about his Harvard degree and they discuss how BET's real agenda is to destroy black people (I featured the 1st half of it in yesterday's post). Leevil is dissatisfied because she doesn't think their efforts are fast enough. I think we can assure her the destruction is moving along quite nicely. The only difference is that Stephen Hill took Hudlin's place.
When I watched the commercials in between the Awards show, they really showed the plan for destruction in action. One is a reality show featuring Toya & Tiny: one is the woman who's the ex-wife of Lil Wayne (was that her child on stage?) and "T.I.'s woman" as the other one describes herself. I have no idea what the purpose this show will serve other than to give a forum for more foolishness. Another features the mother (who's an admitted former drug addict) and the sister (in garish makeup) of R&B singer Keyshia Cole. Who also had a reality show. Ditto. The others are talk/gossip shows hosted by Mo'Nique and Wendy Williams respectively. 

Two actors decided to do a reenactment of the movie Baby Boy on stage which apparently plays on BET quite often where the male and female leads yell at each other over their child. One was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year. She should hope no Academy members watched her being in her "element" last night. Martin Lawrence and Jamie Foxx decided to do a "spoof" movie trailer where their characters Wanda and Sheneneh rob a bank. I fear that it was in fact a movie idea that's been pitched. 

Like surviviors from a war we tried to bargain with each other by making up a new meaning for BET. It wasn't Black Entertainment Television, it was Blacks Eliminating Themselves for example. I made a comment that if Harriet Tubman knew what would come to pass she would have turned around and left an increasing majority of those she helped flee enslavement. I wasn't joking. 

The one thing many of us had in common while watching was our collective and increasing outrage that we'd been duped. We won't be fooled again. One other interesting thing occurred. All ten of the trending topics on Twitter were related to the Award show or the artists performing - or those we'd wished were there to save us from viewing hell. These topics are automatically generated based on the content of messages. Apparently a few whites were upset by the momentary lack of focus on them as indicated by a Tumblr account captioned: "OMG Black People!" We're in a post-racial world white people so there's no complaining allowed. You have to share if you don't want us "complaining" about your domination tactics and singular focus. The page has since been pulled. Oh snap! People forget their Twitter stream of messages are public unless they lock them.  Every account featured on that page with the names of the people who made racist statements was distributed so these people could be directly confronted.  

Joseph Jackson was highly suspect as he chose to spend red carpet time discussing his new record label than the legacy of his son. Considering Michael labeled him cruel and abusive one would imagine it was an understatement. The only thing that saved the show from being a complete waste of time was the appearance of Janet Jackson and she spoke at the end. I could've skipped the entire thing and watched the highlights on Youtube. I wish she had just been taped off-site. She didn't need to be there wading through that mess.  
The other thing that bothered me was how people in the audience derived pleasure from and recognized these songs and were singing along. The Lil Wayne grooming girls for rape fest aired right before this sequence. There's blood on the dancefloor but people are oblivious to it. The same people were effectively on stage the entire night but didn't help uplift the quality of the show. I think the majority of us online were thinking, "This is what passes for black music nowadays? I feel old". We're not (that) old people; it's just utter crap being produced. I would say we could storm the barricades but I fear that war has been lost. We can only free ourselves, separate and not watch ever again.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Toure: Trying to Pull A Perez Hilton & Failing

I read the Black & White On Martha's Vineyard article several days ago. It was the subject of a very lively discussion at a popular black political blog. I immediately thought if I'd had it in print form it would've immediately been relegated to the trash bin. Or used for doggie liner. At least it would've served some purpose. I also wondered why that particular writer had been hired. What - was Dream Hampton or Lawrence Otis Graham not available? Then it occurred to me. This wasn't really about the tea and horsey set, it was a hit piece on Michelle Obama (and black women considered dark(er) skinned).

Say it ain't so! I'd seen this type of bait and switch before. A white editor hires a black writer to do an attack piece thinking skin color and a few positive words would confuse enough people into missing it. Exhibit A: the Salon article by Erin Kaplan that I deconstructed back in November. Now how many black people are regular readers of New York Magazine or Salon? So these weren't articles for us.

This is another case of a Pseudo-Intelligentsia Slave Catcher that I wrote about seven months ago. How can it be we're still grappling with these issues of black hatred? Clarence Thomas is doing his best to send us back to enslavement. I'm not joking folks! Some people also seem to be confused and think these situations involve blacks who are self-hating. No, their egos are firmly intact. They just abhor other black people. In this case it may have been about envy of (the status of) a particular black woman, but what goes for one goes for all. This is why David Letterman got smacked down publicly for targeting white women for denigration. This is why black women have not been protected as a collective and the writers of these hit pieces lie about their efforts at gaining the approval of racist whites, contributing to white supremacy and get away with it.

So let's get to the article shall we? This was supposed to be a discussion of where the Obamas would stay when they come to the Vineyard and getting responses from the residents. My feedback is in bright blue.
The Only Ones deal with glass ceilings at work, unfortunate misunderstandings in their neighborhoods, condescension from blacks who think their education or class makes them inauthentic, and identity crises in their kids....And while the Only Ones embrace each other, they can be dismissive of other blacks.

If you refer to yourself as an "only one" don't you think that you've set yourself apart from people in the first place and maybe you're the problem? Class envy is real, but so is contempt.

"When you see a beautiful black family with their kids, it makes you feel really good about being black,” says Chrisette Hudlin, wife of Reggie and a lifelong Vineyarder who travels there every summer from L.A. “As a person who’s high-achieving and striving for the best for their family, you’re looking at these other black people who have the same goals, and it makes you feel good as a black person. You don’t feel out of place.”

If you have to see other black people, in a specific setting to feel good about yourself then again, that's an internal character issue within you. Reginald Hudlin used to work for BET and greenlit such gems as "Read a God*amn Book" and "Hot Ghetto Mess". His contempt is so well-known Aaron McGruder's Boondocks "Hunger Strike" episode that skewered him was pulled.

Let's go the tape:

Trey Ellis says, "The black part of the Vineyard is like, I would imagine, being gay and going to the Castro. It’s this mecca where you can be yourself and be with people who have so much in common with you. No one has to feign some street cred when they’re playing tennis."

Well having lived in San Francisco I can tell you the Castro has a mix of LGBT & hetero with a lot of young kids thrown in the mix. Not to mention the fact that not all LGBTs have the same interests. The main thing that distinguishes the residents is income status as SF is grossly overpriced with 2/3s of its residents renting. Plenty of people from all social strata play tennis. You should have said yachting instead.
Obama is more a man of the people,” says a Vineyarder who’s part of black high society. “He doesn’t seem to identify with affluent black people. His wife definitely doesn’t; she is basically a ghetto girl. That’s what she says—I’m just being sociological. She grew up in the same place Jennifer Hudson did. She hasn’t reached out to the social community of Washington, and people are waiting to see what they’ll do about that.”

Ahem, when has Michelle Obama ever referred to herself as a ghetto girl? You know some of the real black elite and not these poseurs featured in this hit piece want to throttle these loose-lipped lucys right now.
This is the one particularly inflammatory piece that got everyone buzzing. It's also the one quote attributed to an anonymous source. Given what I discussed above, this is why I took the writer to task on Twitter. I would have done the same to Erin Kaplan had I had means of directly contacting her. This isn't personal. I could care less about Toure, but I do care about black women. An enemy is an enemy no matter shade or gender they come in. He wanted to dismiss his detractors as not understanding the tenets of journalism and the use of anonymous sources. Then it was about our being emotional (Angry Black Woman alert). I think it's a made up quote by the writer - who has publicly displayed his contempt for black women (which I'll discuss below). At the very least if it is a Vineyard resident it's someone who is jealous of Michelle Obama - and Jennifer Hudson! If you're an Only One why do you care about these women? What editor worth their salt would've allowed a piece like this to get published as written? This isn't investigative journalism or involving a government operative. It's pure fluff - and vitriol. That's why I know it's a hit piece.

Toure is a wanna be Perez. Perez is not a journalist either but he is a media star. Sometimes the allure of the camera, smell of cash and the pat on the head is just too much for some people. This is why you have so many lining up to participate in the Negro Superbowl aka State of the Black Union every year. Hat tip to Gina McCauley, blog host of What About Our Daughters for coming up with that one-liner. For those not caught up in the journalism swirl he is NOT respected. This article has been panned across the board but he’s going to try to milk the outrage for all he can to create more opportunities for himself.

That’s fine but I will not sit by idly while he does it at the expense of black women. Pick somebody else! You don’t get to throw rocks and run and hide. Be a man and stand up for yourself! That’s my conclusion after reading this article. Pure drivel. I know it’s hard out there for a journalist know-a-days but did you have to let yourself be used so thoroughly Toure? Ha- he volunteered for it!

Kaplan had the same excuses and mock outrage and free speech protestations. If you’re going to write something STAND BY IT don’t try to OBFUSCATE. If I’m called to “explain” myself with this post I am fully able to do so. I seek justice across the board. My motives are clear. We have to police the behavior of the would-be black assassins who are here to attack us from within. They’re so darn obvious and predictable that picking them off should be easy. The damage they do is as serious as a heart attack though. It's a slow moving poison that spreads on contact tearing away at the esteem and fiber of many, but it's especially damaging to black women.

This isn’t about a difference of opinion, the right to use anonymous sources or writing about a difficult subject. The Obamas didn’t need to be in the piece at all other than a mention in passing if that was the case. The pointed dig at Michelle was the intention behind the article. The unspoken subtext of how a brown-skinned woman from the South Side of Chicago not being “good” enough to be the First Lady is what’s at stake here. Only certain types of black women are good enough and it usually involves lighter skin, a different hair texture and other superficial traits. As someone mentioned in the comment section at NY Mag if Michelle Obama looked more like Michelle Fenty this wouldn’t even be an issue.

Exhibit B:http://www.topnews.in/people/michelle-obama

I realized what this person had made clear in their quote: it was the paper bag test all over again, but worse. The only thing Michelle Obama and Jennifer Hudson have in common is similarities in their height and city of birth. They are a generation apart, grew up in different neighborhoods and have nothing obviously in common to compare the two. Oh wait...they do have one thing in common. They have similar coloring - and they'd fail that test. These so-called elites (and now their wannabes) have been using advancement as cover for their assault on other blacks for many years now.

So let's get this out in the open once and for all and call it for what it is: skin shade racism. Blog host Evia at Black Female Interracial Marriage E-zine so aptly coined this term. We like to use flowery words, like colorstruck. As if it's something that has taken over us that we have no control over. By "we" I'm talking about black men using it against black women - and other black women are taking their cues from them to bash each other. These men always like to discuss and defend their racism as a "preference" or in the case of this writer who asked on Twitter why he (and by proxy other black men) couldn't talk about how much he liked light skin and found it to be beautiful when so many praise the beauty of darker skinned women. Which many black woman labeled darker skinned can attest to the fact that does NOT happen. He isn't fooling anyone. Black men (and the foolish black women who agree with them) and their preferences have been killing the black collective since post-slavery. There's no need for white racism when black people are the first in line to knock each other down for free. That's when it clicked (for me at least) why he had been hired for this piece.

About preferences: I really enjoy coffee. After trying many varietals and beans from different countries I’ve found a combo that appeals to me. I have a special occasion brew as well. It also has to be prepared a certain way and I use a specific sweetener combination. Now if I’m away from home and can’t make it the way I prefer I’ll settle for something else but I won’t really be satisfied with it. In fact I already know before I drink it that it’s a temporary fix. Sometimes I’ll skip it altogether and have a tea instead. That’s the thing about preferences. You really love it above all else. It suits you. Nothing else really compares and if you had the chance to have it all the time without the costs outweighing the benefits you would. So when you hear people talking about preferences and this is where BM come in talking about their preferences for light/white skin, the BW should know she’s been relegated to the dustbin to be pulled out and used when other options aren’t available. If she's foolish enough to stick around. And she’ll go right back there when he’s through. Preferences are desirable and coveted. If you aren’t a preference then you are not considered to be of any value beyond what resources can be taken from you (sex, money, attention, a couch to crash on).

In full disclosure I'd sent him messages asking for a clarification. Just because you read one Tweet doesn't mean you've grasped the entire conversation. He hadn't replied at that time and since I went to his page and didn't see it as part of a larger conversation I took him at his word. Mind you this is a man married to a white woman and I'm not here to disparage that. I think all black people, especially black women, African American women in particular (since so many seem to have a problem with the concept) should exercise ALL their dating and mating options, stop chasing after this mythical Black Prince (that doesn't exist) and get out in the real world and be cherished by fully functioning men who are able to love you back faithfully and unconditionally.

He only responded to me after another black male writer entered the conversation and only about this article (the you don't understand what journalism is spiel). If people had more character and a little backbone the entire collective wouldn’t be disintegrating before our eyes. Instead people mourn dead musical icons (rightfully so) but will go back to their apathy and inaction. Or as I like to refer to them as "Excusers and Deniers". The building is on fire people. Discussing the burn rate (how things aren’t that bad), which room will go first and not caring if it’s not your section of the property (classism) or insisting that a firefighter (new leadership) will show up to put it out DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO STOP THE FIRE.

People like this writer represent BM who are of little or no value to BW. Appearance, education or notoriety without character is like whipped cream on top of poop. These famous athletes, rappers, actors, music artists – whatever - are no different from the guy on the corner selling dope. They all have a hustle: to enrich themselves, usually at another’s (some easily duped BW) expense. They will pretend to be your friend, have sex with or call on you for ego stroking duty but they will not honor, cherish or marry you. Unless you have something they want: Euro features, money or access to things they want. And if they do they will not be faithful and they will still dog other BW. (Re-read that again before you get your hackles up - I said men like that not ALL black men.)

Exhibit C: Let's go to the tape -
According to Ne-yo, "All the prettiest kids are light-skinned - normally." Do you still think this is a joke? A preference? If being light-skinned is normal then what is being brown-skinned? ABNORMAL. When BM like this music artist feel so open to allow their pathologies to be on public display the entire collective is headed for destruction. And we wonder why Michael Jackson seemed so tortured and why it turned so many of us off? Looking in the mirror and seeing the truth isn't always a pretty sight.

Now if I’ve somehow misunderstood some aspect of this I am certainly willing to reconsider a point or two. What I will not do is argue about “journalistic practices” and “use of anonymous sources”. I am not a journalist, but I am a writer and I have common sense. I also care about the support and uplift of black women. No one can challenge me on that. I also stand by what I’ve written. I’ve left the Matrix. I’m honing my mind and cutting through much of the confusion that has left many of us walking in circles. I may still trip over my feet from time to time (by asking about black men stepping up collectively) but I’ve left the burning building and I’m not going back.

What about you?

I will continue this conversation to further discuss class, advancement and intra-black racism next. I had so many ideas while writing this post it would've been five pages long!
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

You're So Lame Award of Shame: Trashing Michael Jackson & Republican Foolishness

Things were looking to be chugging along until we got the news that rocked our world. I started working on a post comparing the emails of SC Gov Mark Sanford to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick but Mrs. Sanford's kick butt and taking no prisoners attitude had me rethinking that. I celebrated her triumph from a weak-willed man instead. Not to forget about Ensign and his mistress, her husband and son...but that's just too twisted and I'm not soiling my mind with trying to figure that one out!

Then I'd heard that Mr. Truthiness himself, Stephen Colbert had made a "tranny" joke which is a big no-no. Also John Stewart had the nerve to insult Malcolm X's memory by comparing him to those hypocritical Republicans. He theorized the Democrats were like MLK. His comparison makes zero sense though and trying to deconstruct his pea brain on this one isn't worth the effort to me. See, that's why these comedians have staff writers. They're not so brilliant, irreverent or funny without them. 

I've been hearing about but not wanting to watch the widow Russert Maureen Orth on MSNBC or hack writer Toure playing in endless loops on tv trashing MJ one way or the other. Of course Orth's entire career has been solely based on trashing Jackson so this isn't surprising. CNN is asking whether Jackson transcended race which is a stupid question to begin with. Fixed News immediately chose to give unflattering coverage but that's not a surprise. Entertainment Tonight decided to show us MJ's not quite dead body being worked on by EMTs. Perez Hilton said he got slapped by a Pea and whined about it. He also claimed MJ was faking an illness for media attention. Gee here's someone who'd know all about that. 

This year's BET Awards airs tomorrow and with it's planned MJ tribute will likely be its highest rated show ever. Boy timing is everything. You know I have a BET ban in effect but broke it to see Maxwell's debut video and I'll be watching (and critiquing) this one. Chris Brown and a whole other cadre of BW beaters/abusers/haters will get to take center stage. Hurl. One thing MJ did not advocate was violence and he always spoke highly of Black women so this is an insult of the highest proportion to mar his legacy by throwing these idiots in the mix. So drumroll....the award goes to: All of Them.

There's so much foolishness going on this week they all deserve it.
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Burger King Repeat Offender: First It's Baby Got Back, Now It's Deep Throat!

If Burger King keeps up with this foolishness I may have to become a vegetarian. Just kidding! That's so not gonna happen. I can make a pledge to never set foot inside one of its stores though. Remember the cross-branding with rap artist Sir-Mix-A-Lot and Nickelodeon where these geniuses came up Sponge-Bob Got Back and used an offensive rap song to sell a kids meal? A kid's meal!!! 
Burger King ad spot/SpongeBob Squarepants

Now they're going after women and they're promising you'll be left oh so satisfied. Aside from the fact this sandwich looks to be loaded with cholesterol and fat with an entire day's worth of calories, it's also not even remotely subtle in sexual innuendo.

Burger King is stumbling in its market share so I'm certain they are welcoming the controversy as long as it means their name is on someone else's lips. In other words, their brand is crappy so the best offensive is being offensive. So I say to Burger King: your desperation is showing baby and nobody wants to be with a needy person. Second, we're just not that into you...or your messiness.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Jenny Sanford: New Role Model for Women Who've Had Enough

In what has to be another once-in-a-lifetime event, the First Lady of SC isn't crying for Argentina! She's not "standing by her man" or "suffering in silence". In the Curious Case of Yet Another Cheating Republican this story has a major plot twist that goes against the grain. Hallelujah! 

Just to bring you up to speed, the Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford went missing for nearly a week. It turns out he was in Argentina with another woman. A woman he's had a long-standing extra-marital relationship with. He was gone during the weekend that included Father's Day despite his having four children. What kind of man abandons his kids to go chasing after another woman that he's not married to? A selfish jerk that's who! 

There's about a zillion emails that would rival the text messages sent between former hip-hop Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his piece on the side. Now it's yet another same old-same old of monkey see - but do not do what I do -  as he was one of the Republicans who'd called for President Clinton's impeachment, cited family values and recently refused Federal stimulus money. You know  - a real tool! He isn't offering to resign either. Arrogant to the end this one.

The corporate media had irrefutable proof of the man's cheating and lying but sat on it for MONTHS. This shows you how deeply imbedded they are in obstructing the will of the people in favor of sharing profits and giggles with crooked politicians. I know "crooked" and "politician" is an oxymoron. Just ask Monica Conyers. 

Anyhoo, Mrs. Sanford did find out about the relationship because these types of things do not stay a secret forever. She gave him time to get his priorities together. I guess he's showed who and what's most important. Not the job he was elected for and definitely not his family. What was different this time is she didn't attend her husband's fake mea culpa press conference with her head bowed, she's not trashing the other woman and she hasn't retreated to the background in shame! Luv it. Is it really 2009 or something's in the water? 
Jenny Sanford said Thursday that her husband Mark Sanford's political career is "not a concern of mine" and that she'd be just fine -- regardless of whether their marriage survives. “He’s gonna have to worry about that, and I’m going to worry about my family and the character of my children,” she said. (CNN) 
I think Ms. Jenny is not only NOT singing "Stand By Your Man" but will be in fact singing "D.I.V.O.R.C.E." very soon! Good for her. You know sometimes women put up with a lot of things because the overall benefits seem to outweigh the sacrifices. Then there's crossing a line that should never be broken. When a woman is fed up that's it. She seems to have enacted boundaries and standards for herself and her children for what she will and won't tolerate. After she basically funded and has been an integral part of her husband's political career he has a funny way of showing his gratitude. This is a valuable lesson for all of us to learn. The sooner the better. Don't sacrifice yourself for another person. When you do too much for them they do not appreciate it, they come to expect it. Then you've lost your identity.   

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Celebrating the Music & Magic of Michael Jackson

           But it was also amazing how cool he could look.With Outfits like this...
Since the white-oriented corporate media has decided that today is bash Michael Jackson in death (as they did when he was alive) I have decided this is CELEBRATE MJ Day. I'm still in utter shock and may shed a tear or two but that's okay. He may have been an entertainer but he fully lived up to that description. He ENTERTAINED and THEN SOME!!!

Otherwise why would we be able to listen to a single note of a song we recognize and have our hearts beat a little faster? The smile would often appear at the corners of our mouth before we'd even had a chance to recognize it. It was so much more than the music, so much more than the choreography, so much more than the "Shum-On". He had a divinely acquired gift at moving people. People from all walks of life, from all corners of the world, all generations. I think his impact was even more profoundly felt outside the United States. We forget the influence of African-American artists and the unique impact we have on the world. 

When you live in a different part of the world there are a completely different set of circumstances for the denizens of that country. They have other cultural influences. Michael Jackson was an ambassador of our cultural heritage and did more for spreading "American" values than any government initiative. He was more iconic than the Golden Arches!! Think about it. Who doesn't know about the Jackson family? His music did so much to uplift the image of Black people around the world.

Remember this video released at the beginning of the year? I still couldn't believe prisoners had reenacted Thriller after two decades but here they are:

His music was able to resonate with so many because he wrote and recorded songs that reflected light and joy. Not a "woe's me" or " I hate the world" or "I live in the hood and drink 40's" in the bunch. His songs spoke of universal themes that everyone could relate to - and dance to. I can still listen to an MJ song and not feel embarrassed. I could play his songs in a corporate work setting and not have them deemed inappropriate.

Most artists today hope to have one song that has that kind of impact, but he had a catalog of dozens, probably hundreds like that. I'm very curious to see what his estate will do with all of the unreleased material. You know there have to be some gems in the mix. He worked with a who's who in the industry after all. 

The networks are planning a slew of tributes (so they can get ratings) and it is right and just that they give him his proper respect. He influenced at least two generations in his short time here on earth: the Boomers and Gen X. I was explaining to my youngest sister what it was like to watch the Motown 25th Anniversary show when MJ performed Billie Jean and Moonwalked how much of an impact he had on us and why that performance was so special. The Millennials and younger still get a taste of his brilliance but they're not experiencing it for the first time. They don't understand the roads he paved over to clear a path for the artists that came after him. 

Some of his best songs don't have videos but the ones he made were always gravity-defying and cutting edge. The fact that he put so much thought, time and money into them - his excellence is why we're still talking about him now. A lesser artist whose life may have been less controversial still wouldn't have left such a gaping hole in the world as the passing of this once-in-a-lifetime legend has. 
Who wasn't in this video!?
This was MJ giving us the sexy I admit I felt uncomfortable thinking of my childhood crush as a grown man...and getting it on with uber goddess Naomi Campbell, but it was tasteful.
We clamored for a Jackson x Jackson duet and we got it!! I just realized how similar their voices sound. The talent in one family is still astounding.
I'll leave you with one of my favorite songs. When he starts off singing, "Girl close your eyes" oh my! The pure joy on his face while performing this is evident. He also still looked the MJ of our youth. I think this when he was at his best. RIP!

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

The King of Pop Is Dead - Long Live the King!

After a lot of speculation and disbelief it has been confirmed that Michael Jackson has indeed passed today from cardiac arrest. 50 years old is too young to die! My heart is heavy because of the cultural and musical impact that Michael Jackson had on the record industry and in particular the hearts of Black people around the world. 

An economically struggling but talented family gets signed to Motown and makes history. We can all remember the little boy at the center of it all with the dance moves to rival James Brown and the soaring tenor. So many great songs that were the soundtracks to our childhoods, we thought they were part of our families!
We watched the family grow up because we grew up with them. Their music spanned generations. Where else could grandparents, parents and children alike all find something to enjoy? There were rumors of trouble but the music kept coming and we kept coming back for more. Who doesn't remember practicing dance moves and singing the songs along with the brothers or watching their Saturday morning cartoon?

When Michael went solo it was like a bolt of lightning. He was no longer the little boy of innocence but a young man whose music was fiyah. He gave us Off the Wall and went into orbit. Songs like Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough with its intersection of disco and soulful pop didn't sound like anything else on the radio. He was just getting started. We wanted that Beat It jacket. I had to wear a fresh pair of white socks with my black penny loafers to get that MJ shine.
When Thriller was released it was as if a bomb had hit the world. Every song was a gem. Every video on point and completely innovative. MTV had to be threatened because they were racists who wouldn't play videos by Black artists. Isn't it ironic that if you turn to the station right now, they've ceased all programming to play....his videos. Michael had arrived and the world took notice. Nobody could touch him musically!!

For he wasn't just a Black artist, an R&B artist, he was an international star, its biggest star of these modern times. Elvis Presley had been awarded with the title of King riding the musical legacy of Blacks, yet Jackson's insistence on being given the same deference was met with derision. He is and will always be the King of Pop. He'd earned the right and it should've been respected.

Just when we thought he couldn't be any more fabulous there was the infamous Motown 25th Anniversary show where he was reunited with his brothers, but it was his solo performance of his signature dance move, the Moonwalk that brought the house down.
More music was coming and with it the revelation of personal demons. I can't offer a proper tribute without acknowledging the struggles. Every genius has a somewhat tortured existence. It's part of what makes them brilliant - that sensitivity and being so emotionally attuned. We have no idea how many demons were at his door. I still have a hard time with discussing the allegations of child abuse and the way prosecutors had laws changed in order go after him. I don't condone any harm he may have caused but I certainly don't ignore the fact many were out to exploit him for profit and fame as well. 

Still on a bad day the music that Jackson released was so far superior to much of what passes as standard fare today. I know there is NO ONE out right now, or who was his contemporary who could touch him when he was at his peak and at his best. There is no one coming up in the industry that even comes close. Sorry folks, that talent ship has sailed.

I am so grateful that I got to grow up in the era where he was in his prime, releasing quality music that did not embarrass or denigrate Blacks. I hated the disrespectful way some in the media spoke of him and I attribute it squarely to their racism at having to give a non-white respect. His influence was unparalleled and it made many uncomfortable. 

He was just a man, a man who went on to have his own family and live his life without being harassed or belittled. So I just had to get some words out to release some of this pressure on my heart. I raise my hand in salute to you, the one and only MJ. May you rest in peace. Your music lives on forever!!! 

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V for Victory: The Policing Continues As Perez Says He's Sorry!

Well color me...surprised. Perez Hilton has offered a (rather tepid and fake as a $200 Fendi bag) apology. I have a funny feeling somebody read my blog post from Tuesday and as you review the following you will find out why. Let's deconstruct this one shall we? My response is in bright blue.

"People make mistakes. I have made many in my life, but this past week I have made more than I can count on one hand.  Thinking I could continue getting away with foul behavior.

I am sorry. And I mean it. No one is forcing me to write this. I am not feeling pressured to say this. I am speaking out because I realize that the last few days have been more hurtful to me - and many others - than the repeated blows I suffered to my head in Toronto this past weekend.

Pity me because I was properly censured.

I have been filled with incredible sadness and regret.  That I was vilified in public.

I am sorry that any good work I have done for promoting equality may be tainted by me reclaiming a hurtful word - that's been personally used against me and the gay community - to hurt someone that was verbally attacking me. It was stupid. 

Perez has bashed women, outed the trans teen of celebrities and a host of other vicious things so yes he is the great equalizer of vitriol.

Apologizing for me is not easy. Writing this was not easy. Life is not easy. But everything happens for a reason and I will take away a lot of valuable lessons from this experience.  Ok now give me my cookie!

Violence is never the answer. Never.   But your poison pen still flows.

Victims should not be mocked.   I will claim oppression when it's convenient.

The "F" word will never be uttered from my lips again. Just as others use the "N" word to insult and hurt - or as part of their everyday speech - I challenge them to remove it from their vocabulary as well.  Oh please!

Hindsight is always 20/20, they say. I should have been the bigger man and walked away from an unfortunate situation. Instead, I chose - in a very misguided way - to stand up for myself and only made things worse by how I - under pressure and diress - handled the situation. My ego couldn't cash that check!

I am sorry.  Sorry it blew up in my face. Don't you know I'm gay and oppressed, oppressed I tell ya!

I am NOT apologizing to GLAAD. I could care less about them, my former employers.

Somehow I'm not believing you, but maybe it's the DONORS and ADVERTISERS that got your attention!

I am apologizing to the gay community, to anyone who was hurt by my my choice of words, and to all the people who have ever emailed me to thank me for all that I have done to fight for gay rights over the last few years.

I have reached out to Isaiah Washington, someone I incorrectly labeled a homophobe in the past, despite his own public statements that he was not.

HOLD UP! Now what does Washington have to do with a situation between Perez and the Pea? Could all the hypocrisy chickens have come home to roost? Perez was instrumental in ruining the man's acting career. He owes Washington so much more than an apology. He owes him about $5M in lost wages!!

I will be donating any money collected from my lawsuit against Polo Molina, road manager for the Black Eyed Peas, to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.  

If that lawsuit ever sees the light of day - since he couldn't decide who'd actually hit him. Also the defense will be subpoenaing all his messages on Twitter, other social media and the video where he contradicts himself. But whatevs Perez. File away.

And I will continue to speak out for equality and support the great work done by LGBT organizations, such as LAMBDA Legal and HRC.




Now let me state for the slow section that I don't condone violence either, but Perez is a grown man, not a girl and not physically weak. He chose to engage another man physically. I have no idea what exactly happened, who threw the first punch or what transpired. I'm certain the pending lawsuit will determine who was at fault - or not. This is not a case of dating violence OR gay bashing and should not be couched in any victim terminology

He thought he could continue using his orientation as a shield from being held accountable from his history of instigating trouble. Many people don't have a problem with him being gay, they have a problem with him being petty and mean. Did he go to court and whine about discrimination or intimidation when he was sued for not paying license fees for the photos he'd placed on his blogs or his original logo and all the other illegal things he did while growing his blog AND CHARGING HUGE AD FEES? He may be self-made but it was made while stepping over plenty of people - of course one could argue it's the American way. So be it, but that doesn't make it right.

Perez's blog used to be a place I'd have a laugh at until the level of open hostility became too much. Besides D-Listed is so much funnier. I have also noticed how white gay males dominate these gossip blogs. You don't get to claim oppression while exerting your skin shade and gender privileges. It's time to grow up Perez. You're famous now and quite wealthy at the expense of attacking others in print. It was just a matter of time before it spilled over to real life. Perhaps you will do some soul searching  - if you have one.

Now the other issue at stake here is the response to the unexamined undercurrent of racism on his part. He clearly has an issue with Blacks and Black men in particular. I'm not here to ride the rescue wave. That's not my job, but it needs to be mentioned and resolved. The GRIC needed to police the behavior of one of their own (despite his claims of having nothing to do with them). Of course he does. Others - including other Black LGBTs - paved a way for him to enjoy his cushy lifestyle and his freedom of movement. For him to deny that is atrocious. 

We'll see if he's actually learned anything by his behavior a few months down the road. In the meantime, the GRIC needed to step up and at least give the appearance of caring because Perez was making them look bad. Like what certain white men did with Letterman, they had to do with Perez because he'd crossed a line. 

I feel a sense of victory not for myself but for the efforts toward equality and having standards that actually paid off in this scenario. I am now hopeful that some aspect of African-American culture and the lives of some women and children can be salvaged. I am sincerely hoping this was bigger than Black male protectionism. The image of Black women that has been so battered in so many ways can be pieced back together. We can hold the obstructionists, infiltrators and do-nothings accountable. We just need a few good men to get the ball rolling.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Fight For Justice Is An Inconvenient One At Best

But it's a necessary one.

So I'm wondering what type of buffoonery awaits in the news today. Or what accident will claim the life of some unsuspecting person? Who's child will go missing? What act of violence will occur? Who will feel so utterly hopeless that they wish they hadn't been born.

There's always something isn't it?

I am so tired...of being angry or dismayed or outraged or thinking about what I have to do to speak out on something. There's no Utopia out there waiting for us. See I feel compelled to do so. I can't be silent, or bury my head in the sand or say "oh that's somebody else's problem". We live in a world where we are interdependent on each other. Despite some thoughts to the contrary many of us do care but we may not even know where to begin to scratch the service.

Sometimes we just have to get through the day and we think we'll be okay..and then we can do something. Funny, but that time won't ever really come though. It's what we do right now when it's not convenient, when we're tired, when we'd rather be sleeping, when we have our own struggles is exactly when we do need to step up. 

Now I'm not advocating martyrdom and Lord knows some of us have already taken on more burdens than one person should bear. I'm referring to people whose consciousness has been piqued a bit but who are hesitant to take action. Start somewhere, fumble a bit and learn. Your efforts are needed. Don't expect an immediate reward or any type of kudos. Just do it. 

We have far too many who are only interested in their particular causes, issues, talking points or points of view and once they get their pat on the head they'll be off to LaLa land. I'm not talking about Los Angeles but sticking ones fingers in ones ears and ignoring the suffering of others. There's a difference between living a life of inconvenience and one of abject poverty. There's a difference between not being able to be just as much of a jerk as your neighbor, dangling a carrot above another's head and having to be abused verbally/physically in order to keep your low-wage job. 

We live in a country that tells us it's our "right" to do whatever we like to get ahead. Acquire and consume. Trash and start again. Crash and burn. Blame somebody else for your problems. If only "those people" weren't in the way you could "get yours". It's all a lie. There's a ruling class that works in concert with each other to retain power. There's a racial and gender (and orientation/identification) hierarchy. It takes focused and consistent efforts from a cross-section of dedicated people who will not be deterred to make any inroads in shifting that. For it's never quite dismantled. If some of those people can be convinced to accept a cookie instead of holding out for the real reward any efforts will fail. A backlash will occur and a regression will in fact happen. 

Can't you see it going on all around you right now? If you stand very still, cut through all the distractions and noise it will reveal itself to you. Sometimes it's not about the outrage but about the hope. Sometimes it's not about the fight but the surrender. Sometimes it's better to stop talking about the wrongs and find the good to highlight. We have to find a way to move past points of disagreement and look for solutions.

We have to remember that we are seeing, speaking, breathing and living PEOPLE. We are not animals. It has to be about principles but even those must start from somewhere. It can't be only about darkness and heat. We need light and air to breath. All we have is each other. 

Justice is just about us. It's worth the effort it takes to achieve it.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

If These Gay Rights Groups Don't Come Down On Perez Hilton They're Done!

I think I should have titled this "I'm Done With the Gay Rights Industrial Complex". 

Yeah this is supposed to be about the big bad blogger who uses his 1st amendment rights to bash other people for laughs and profits. This is supposed to be about our discussing how it's wrong for people to get into physical confrontations. Apparently Will.I.Am and Fergie approached blogger Mario Lavaderia, who writes as Perez Hilton at the Much Music Awards show (it's the MTV of Canada for those not aware) to complain about his pissy behavior. Things got heated and his manager hit Perez, according to...Perez. It's a little hard to tell since he's changed his story a few times. 

So in what is highly suspicious behavior Perez sends a message on Twitter for readers of his blog to call the police. He retaliates by verbally attacking Will.I.Am - not the manager. He uses several choice "F" words including the one universally accepted as an anti-gay slur. Then he proceeds to make a video to talk about it. He claims he was "intimidated". That's code word for "he's a Black dude and they're downright dangerous". Perez is like 6' while Will.I.Am is like 5'5". Now if that isn't *itch behavior I don't know what is!

I read this and I rolled my eyes, honestly because we have so many more important things going on, but this hasn't died down yet. Perez is using this to draw further attention to himself and his blog. Again, I thought I was going to ignore this as the actions of stupid, immature person, but now I'm a little peeved because another blogger posted a link on Twitter today's Dish Rag column in the LA Times AND I watched the video:
Said Hilton in his video: "I made the split-second decision -- that I was gonna say what I thought was the worst possible thing that thug would ever want to hear" -- which was a handful of assorted F-bombs.  {No I'm not linking to it}

Oh so calling a Black man a thug and faggot is okay, Perez....really?

Per GLAAD rep Rashad Robinson: "These are vulgar anti-gay slurs that feed a climate of hatred and intolerance toward our community. For someone in our own community to use it to attack another person by saying that it is, quote, ‘The worst possible thing that thug would ever want to hear,’ is incredibly dangerous. It legitimizes use of a slur that is often linked to violence against our community. And it sends a message that it is OK to attempt to dehumanize people by exploiting anti-gay attitudes.”

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has asked Perez Hilton to apologize for slurs he hurled at Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. 
I'm taking big breaths here....they've ASKED? Um Perez...could you pretty please with sugar on top not be such an hypocritical *sshole because you're drawing too much attention to our hypocrisy and we can't have that.

First of all how many Black people work for GLAAD? In positions of authority (i.e check-writing ability)? In Kat Williams voice: I'll wait.

This is the ongoing argument and unresolved problem with the Gay Rights Industrial Complex. It's run by a bunch of cis-gender white men who will be the first to cry discrimination when it suits them but engage in their own version of racist/sexist/gender identification terrorism and erasure from the table when it suits them. Of course there are white women in charge as well so they don't get off the hook either, but I'm focusing on the majority ruling class here.

Why only ASK? How about DEMAND?!!!

See I remember not too long ago when a Black man (I know some of you are surprised I'm taking up the cause of one as I'm critical of so many...whatever) on a certain tv show was vilified in the press for MONTHS and subsequently FIRED on the mere ACCUSATION of using the word Faggot.

That would be one Isaiah Washington. 

Can I just say how much the show blows and the Dr. Burke character was great but the actor got sold down the river for not showing enough deference to a white man. I still don't know how an argument with one actor turned into a anti-gay railroad job involving another actor who wasn't even involved (and has now taken his overinflated ego elsewhere). Except that I think he and a certain blond actress (who decided to stay on the show) used the conflict to their advantage for more money and increased air time. Don't tell me Hollywood isn't cutthroat!! 

Perez Hilton was all over this with multiple postings about Washington and saying some particularly nasty things. Have I also mentioned that Perez used to work for GLAAD? Well...I digress. My point is the GRIC needs to come and police their wayward enfant terrible with a quickness! They need to devote air time and hand-wringing over one of their own being JUST AS DISCRIMINATORY (EVEN MORESO) as they've accused others, including Washington of being.

Otherwise I don't want to hear about how unfair it is that "we're" not supporting ENDA, DOMA and other discrimination. Don't ask me for money or to participate in your campaigns either. As an African-American woman I have enough crap to deal with yet I still spend time and energy devoting myself to injustices that occur everywhere. 

Right now this is looking like good old fashioned white racism on Perez's part. He doesn't get to run to the Discrimination Safety Zone by using his orientation or ethnicity when it suits him while actively engaging in it against others. The silence from the GRIC will only confirm they are in agreement with hating on Black people.

You are either in support of justice across the board or you are full of it!

**Update a little birdy on Twitter told me that somebody read my little post...and Perez has "officially" apologized.** Imagine that! Now it's time to start reigning in all the wayward Blacks that are dragging down the perception of the entire group with their foolishness.
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