The Amerykhan Promise vs. 42 Laws of Maat

Amerykahn Promise is, quite possibly, the track I underrated most on "Nu Amerykah." That's probably due in part because I wanted to groove when I first got the album, I wasn't really listening. It is also due in part because Track One kinda freaked me out even though I really didn't understand it at first. Nearly 9 months later, and with yet more perspective behind me, I have a better grasp.

But I am still vaguely surprised that I haven't heard much more about hearty amount of critique Ms. Badu levies of contemporary notions black, racial and political identities with this album, with this track even. It initially reads as a commercial, and then sashays into a freestyle riff over funkadelic background, "Promise Promise, Amerykahn Promise." The song lays out all of the things that we uphold as part of the Amerykahn Promise. She speaks authoritatively to a presumably largely black listenership about our over-consumerism, our addictions, our intra-racial color consciousness, to name a few things. But yet and still, she cultivates a kind of maternal sensibility with the audience, via her always compassionate reflections- "And I salute you Farrakhan, 'cuz you are me"(Just Me, Track 3). It's one of the things that makes her a great artist to me - that she give the air of a decent human being.

"Hold On-- MY PEO-PLE!"

The relationship I have with music is like that of me and past loves. There is a kind of intimacy I feel listening to it - the getting to know you. And I admittedly will play a song or album to death because I thrive off of the energy that enjoying the music brings - sorta like the honeymoon phase. But at some point you burn out, and you just need to take some time to flush your system of the overload - the break up.

I take space from Erykah's music like I do breakups - each time knowing there will forever be that lingering familiarity. It reminds me that I miss her presence, her depth and eventually I come back around to remembering why I appreciated even her quirks in the first place.
I've started playing "Green Eyes" more lately, sort of as an act of mourning [from an actual break-up] and at the same time an act of discipline and humility. That song invokes a level of emotional vulnerability and honesty I'm sure many of us find difficult to muster. But after being humbled by all of the things that it reveals to me about myself, I felt like I needed to tap into a different spirit of Erykah.

Green Eyes - Erykah Badu

And so, I reached for "Nu Amerykah" once again.
It is my album for 2008, partly because it raises so many questions pertinent to this era and about just showing basic decency to one another. If folks listened a little more closely that I think would obviate the stupidity of some of our greatest struggles, even today, between one another (be it race, gender, sex, sexuality). With the election at our backs, a Black President in place, gay rights on the fritz - and the race debates emerging as a result, I was in need of perspective. I've been needing to write.

Early into my the listening session this afternoon. I took it upon myself to look up the quote from the end of "Amerykhan Promise" when the little girl, who I learned is called when Ma'at, asks "Has anyone seen my 42 laws?" I came upon the following.

The 42 Laws of Maat
  • 1. I honor virtue
  • 2. I benefit without conflict
  • 3. I am non-violent
  • 4. I respect the property of others
  • 5. I affirm that all life is sacred
  • 6. I give offerings that are genuine and generous
  • 7. I live in truth
  • 8. I regard all altars as sacred
  • 9. I speak the truth
  • 10. I consume only my fair share
  • 11. I speak words of good intent
  • 12. I relate with understanding
  • 13. I honor animals as sacred
  • 14. I can be trusted
  • 15. I care for the earth
  • 16. I keep my own council
  • 17. I speak positively of others
  • 18. I remain in balance with my emotions
  • 19. I am trustful in my relationships
  • 20. I hold purity in high esteem
  • 21. I spread joy
  • 22. I do the best I can
  • 23. I communicate with compassion
  • 24. I listen to opposing opinions
  • 25. I create harmony
  • 26. I invoke laughter
  • 27. I am open to love in various forms
  • 28. I am forgiving
  • 29. I am kind
  • 30. I act respectfully of others
  • 31. I am non-judgmental
  • 32. I follow my inner guidance
  • 33. I speak without disturbing others
  • 34. I do good
  • 35. I give blessings
  • 36. I keep the waters pure
  • 37. I speak with optimism
  • 38. I praise divinity
  • 39. I am humble
  • 40. I achieve with integrity
  • 41. I advance through my own abilities
  • 42. I embrace the all
* These laws were rewritten and updated from the ancient texts by 9 Priestesses of the Temple of Isis (California) travelling in Egypt from Nov. 22 to Dec. 22, 1995

If this isn't a dignified code to live by, I don't know what is. I could go off on a riff about how under the laws of Maat, a gay marriage ban probably would not have existed. But I have other thoughts to spit on the aftermath of the election. And while my first thought was "Why do we carry on traditions of bigotry and hatred, but forget or deny benign and peace driven principles like those above?" I followed it with another of Erykah's lyrics:

"They be tryna hide the history/ but they know who we are." (Soldier, Track)

How many of ya'll know about the 42 Laws of Ma'at?
Check out T'arr.a's Take
Loc Loc: Who's there?: Mmm, oOh


On Nader's Whiteness: Uncle Tom Obama

Whether or not his deeper meaning has an iota of truth in it is becomes irrelevant if he is incapable of addressing his inappropriate use of a racially charged and derogatory trope to offer a message. This isn't a KRAMER situation because it isn't the N-word, but it is in a similar vein. I'm appalled that this fool has the NERVE to be INDIGNANT! Shame on you Ralph Nader. You just set the third party movement back so far, on the eve of the end of your career.

My Homegirl Speaks on the Nader Vid:
While that was political suicide .. saying the words Uncle Tom .. what Nader is suggesting ahs been a discussion amongst African Americans throughout this whole race... YES he is Black ... and that is AMAZING but his actions as a Black man and just that are to be compromised, thats politics, he didnt run as a "Black " man per say and although i do not agree with how Nader presented this discussion its one that is a viable one, and an interesting one and oen that we will see unfold during his time as president. Nader is right about Obama never mentioning the lower class, and I hope Obama proves to be the unifer I hope he is. But wow Nader WOW !

My Response:
I feel you. Honestly, my feeling is, Nader did the shit strategically but it was stupid.

He got his message across, which is what he is supposed to to as a member of the 3rd party movement, but he also set that movement further back by doing so in such a poorly planned way. Uncle Sam nor Uncle Tom are tropes he should be using in relation to Obama. PERIOD.

It was quick, on the fly, he thought it was "witty" and it was in absolute POOR taste.

Whether or not black people feel similarly, what he used was insider language that frankly is inappropriate on a national scale. That's like a straight dude saying, after we get our first gay president Ok so we're happy for our first gay president but is he gonna be TRADE or be a FAG." Not something you say from the outside... PERIOD.

Furthermore, a lot of black people that are skeptical don't know shit about Obama, politics or anything outside of their own personal interest. Its the same way white people decided they wouldn't vote for him because "he's an Arab and a terrorist" FUCK THAT. The man started out working for the poor, he's been talking about the poor with re: to tax cuts, health care, the economy, and the fact that he is called a socialist/Re distributor-in-Chief by McCain (because he said that wealth is poorly distributed in this nation) are examples of that commitment.

I read the speech again. He missed a lot of people in it. But it wasn't intended as a "stroke everybody's ego" speech, it was an acceptance speech. He touched some of the key groups that people think of when they think "diversity" but sure he left some people out rhetorically, he was speaking to everyone though.

He left transgender people out, but I'm sure most people over looked that. Just as people overlooked his use of Hispanic rather than Latino. If you don't know to be bothered, you won't be. But the most important gem of his words was his call to action. To remind people that when he is in office it is NOT about him, its about US. Every last person. And I can't even try to be mad at him for that.


Cautious Optimism on Election Day 2008

I'd been disappointed in myself for not contributing more to Barack Obama's campaign - and then last night, on the last leg of my commute home, I stopped to spend two hours phone banking for his campaign in Downtown Oakland.

And not because it was in any way glamorous, there were people at tables making phone calls from their cell phones in a last effort to make sure to get everyone out that we could to vote for Senator Obama. But I was amazed because people were organized, they were giving their time, their energy and their love to a man few of us have ever met in real life. I went home with happiness in my heart and an optimistic spirit. I resolved to make 2008 great when the year started. And despite the turmoil and the struggles I believe that it has been, partly because of Obama's potential to be President.

Trying to go to sleep last night reminded me of what Christmas Eve was like as a child. I was tired, but restless - and even thought I knocked out, I know I didn't get restful sleep. I set my alarm for 6:45a so that I could calmly make my way to my polling place, VOTE and still get to work on time. I didn't leave quite that early. I used that time to tidy my room a bit, get all of my notes on the various propositions (NO on 8!), have a bowl of cereal, and then put on some red, white and NY Yankees blue.

Being at the polling place was bittersweet. When I got to the polls I was ofcourse disappointed to see a car covered with "Yes on 8," in the YELLOW no less, and parked in the lot. The discrimination propaganda was to be expected. On my walk down Seminary Ave. every telephone poll was adorned with shameful "Yes on 8" sign. My neighbors have them on their front gates, and as decals on their car. It is doubly unfortunate to consider since there are so many other Propositions more applicable to their lives that it would be more appropriate for them to be supporting that they may not known much if at all about.

I was glad, however, to see even a small line formed as folks waited to get their ballots and then for a space to make their selections. And EVERYONE was there for OBAMA, so even if only for that, we are headed in the right direction. Today is HISTORIC. My grandmother is working at the polls in my old neighborhood in Flushing. My Fairy God Mom is workin' for Obama in Los Angeles. We are all enthusiastic about Obama. I can't say that I felt the same way four years ago. It wasn't until the last second that I decided to put my bid in for Kerry. Hell I donated to the Nader campaign. But I'm all about Obama.

I sent a mass text to as many people I love as I could muster (sending texts to 50 plus ppl takes dedication!) offering the positive energy I was feeling for having voted. It was a good excuse to be in touch with those whom I'd lost contact with over the past few months, and a good way to spread a little cheer to folks who I know migth be feeling the same way that I am.

I'm anxious. Happy but I don't want to get too happy and then again I don't want to be a pessimist. As I sit upon the precipice of what might be one of the greatest days in my young adult life YET, I can't help but be overcome with emotion. I went to the same High School as our current President, and went to the same college as the man who might become our next President. Can't say that I haven't been in priveleged space. As I wait I hope for, as Pamela from phone banking last night described as the moment when the results make it look like "someone knocked a blue inkwell over on our map." Maybe that's expecting a lot, but Barack has sold me on the possibility of change.

When Obama wins, my next effort will be figuring out how to hold him accountable.
(If McCain wins, I might seriously consider planning my return to Denmark!)



On Cali's Prop 8: Tolerance Isn't Enough


On November 4, California voters will decide on proposition 8. If passed, Prop 8 would undo the California Supreme Court decision to grant same sex couples the right to equal marriage under law. The change would exist on the grounds that marriage between two people of the same sex impedes on the religious freedom of some. But since when did my rights to love someone of my choosing have anything to do with another person’s right to worship her God?

The proposed change would affectively strip people of rights guaranteed to all citizens and grant them second class status in the name of "tolerance."

To me, tolerance denotes the short space between bigotry and acceptance. Being tolerant of someone by no means amounts to treating them equally. Sadly, we tolerate young people like Sakia Gunn and Lawrence King being murdered because they were queer. We turn a blind eye of tolerance to children and adults taking their lives, rather than live openly and authentically queer.

And while I am starkly opposed to Prop 8, I’ve come to the conclusion that neither side has listened to the other. As a result, the more important issues like addressing institutional homophobia, racism and sexism get lost in the fray.

It's important to remember that this effort shouldn't just be about personal beliefs; it should be about mutual respect. And contrary to what you may have heard this isn't about the word "marriage," it's about rights. We may disagree on how those rights are distributed. But we agree that as people we are all entitled to them. We may also agree that the right to our beliefs important. Even if we refuse to allow another's beliefs restrict our rights.

As published on Wiretapmag.org


Green is the New Black (Market)

In a struggling economy where, in particular, energy resources are scarce, it is no wonder that green related thefts are growing . I recently came across a couple of articles reporting on the rise in PV (solar) Panel thefts throughout California. Where victims range from homeowners, to large businesses.

Thinking about it, the situation has it's pros and cons. While on the outset, it might suggest that solar has become more popular and consequently more valuable. On other hand, it may very well be simply that the high price tag for the equipment makes for a hot sell on the black market.

Those interviewed are convinced that purveyors of these thefts are assuredly industry insiders; because of the precision with which the thefts have taken place. The first certified green farm was robbed of 26 such panels - which would require a large truck and whole lot of wo(man) power. In another large theft, that's just what someone had. Fortunately the homeowner came home and caugh them red-handed and they fled the scene.

It seems like this might put a damper on any high hopes of getting solar to be more marketable to a larger segment of society, but that may or may not be true. It might just up the ante on the market for securing solar panels and protecting the interests of would be energy harvesters. Of course, we're only JUST getting this now because we've been so slow to adapt these technologies, whereas security measures are more commonplace abroad... GO Figure LOL

Check out more articles:
Solar Panels Are Vanishing, Only to Reappear on the Internet (NYTimes)
The Shocking Truth About Solar Panel Theft (NY Times)
Solar Panels New Hot Property For Theives (UK Guardian)


Living in Cycles - Twinkle '07 = Network '76

A friend of mine recently posted a YouTube link on my facebook profile of the movie Zeitgeist and it reminded of this post (which I started in March but never published) about how apropos Erykah Badu's most recent release was to this year, 2008. But more specifically the track Twinkle. I'm sure it was at least in part a consequence of the political fervor at the time. Late February to mid March was exciting, energizing even. Then I found myself trying to keep a tab of all of my favorite blak-politico artists and the dope tracks that they kept pouring out. Lupe and Erykah were at the top of the list. But Erykah has been and probably always will be in my mind "the quintessential artist." Her work is somehow always on time and seemingly effortless. When I first bought Nu Amerykah, I couldn't get it out of my car stereo. Each song was like a little slice of blak-politico heaven. She never ceases to amaze me. Even though I don't have it on as constant of rotation, I might have to revive the practice even if only to inspire myself to action . But I digress... The track "Twinkle" (07), contains an interlude in it that is too pertinent and real to ignore - CHECK THE SONG and LYRICS BELOW

Twinkle - Erykah Badu

I don’t have to tell you things aren’t good.
Everybodyknows things aren’t good
We know the air is unfit to breathe,
and our foods unfit to eat.
Young punks are running the street
No one knows just what to do, and there’s no end to it
The dollar buys a penny’s worth and banks are going under
Cobbler’s keeping a gun under the counter
We sit watching our idiot boxes
While some local anchorman tells us that today we’ve had 18 murders and 80 violent crimes
As if that were the way things are supposed to be
We know times are bad, worse than bad
People are crazy!
It’s like everything everywhere is going utterly mad
So we never leave our homes
We sit in our comfy abodes while the world is getting smaller
And we say,
"Come on! At least leave us alone in our family rooms.
Let me have my microwave and flat screen and my 20" wheels and I won’t say anything.
Just leave us alone!"

But I’m not going to leave you alone!
I want you to get angry!
I don’t want you to riot.
I don’t want you to protest.
I don’t want you to write your Senator, because I won’t know what to tell you to tell him.
I don’t know what to do about the recession and the inflation and the crime in the street.
All I know is that you’ve got to get mad.
You’ve got to say, "I’m a human being, dammit!
My life has value!

There is no doubt that those words are pertinent today as they were when spoken by Howard Beal in Network (1976) over three decades ago. Of course, with a few small, yet powerful, alterations.

Apart from what are the more superficial adjustments, to account for a passing of time, it is precise in the way it appears to speak to a different audience. In Network, Beals speaks to what is portrayed as a primarily, if not exclusively, white middle aged middle class audience. I read the subtext in "microwave and flat screen and my 20" wheels and I won’t say anything" to insinuate a presumably black significantly younger and somewhat less well off audience. Twenty inch wheels are a popular phenomenon - self soothing symbols of wealth some folk adopt as a way of keeping up with the Jones'.
Further the piece about "and I won't say anything," speaks to the kind of invisibility that people, and in my experience - especially black people, think they have to engage in order to have a good life, "to be lef[t] alone in [their] family rooms."

A little reflection.

Obama - The Economy

For all the "right" has to say about Senator Obama not laying out his plan, this video seemed to nip that in the BUD. If you support McCain, DO YOU, but I am tired of people acting like Senator Obama is some sort of slouch or buffon, because the man is brilliant - PERIOD. Human still, but brilliant nonetheless (and I'm not just saying that because we both went to Occidental!)

All that aside. I found this video, after watching Barack on Tavis Smiley, after being PEEVED about the OBAMA Waffles fiasco. As much as I'd like to rip the ignorance of blatantly racist white folks to shreds, I'm just gonna let you hip you to Pam's House Blend and let you click to your heart's desire. I tire of addressing things that are beneath me, or any other self-respecting intellect. These people are RIDICULOUS and c'est la vie. The Obama campaign didn't dignify it with a response either.


A Typical Day in tha Bay

I see and experience all kindsa random ish since moving to the bay, especially since I have been riding public transportation. There is so much that you miss (good and bad) when you rely on the modern convenience (or not- in this economy) of a car. On my way to work, last Monday morning, I saw this in front of the local bar, and I HAD to take a picture.


It says all that it needs to. And while it's more than facetious (some have argued that for once our administration has offered an appropriate response re: the Russia Georgia situation) it still resonates given our administration's track record.

The sign was perhaps foreshadowing for what was to be a DAY OF COMEDY. That Sunday was FULL of surprises. First, I had an inspiring conversation with an elderly white woman with whom I shared my career ambitions while waiting for the Muni (the network of buses, trams and other transportation in SF proper). She encouraged me to be contented with what small positive influence I can personally have on this world, and not to give up. All this after she and I both were snubbed by two buses that were too busy competing for the road to notice that we were trying to board - ironic.

But I had an awkward moment with her when as I boarded the bus the driver assumed I was a "young fella," no matter how often it happens, and then later I was a young woman in another context. Gender is SoOoo HILARIOUS here! I watched the elderly woman as she disembarked, and I worried for her, she was using crutches and had a cast on her foot. But she was so self sufficient and independent. I found myself wanting to keep in touch but also feelin' like she appeared right on time and departed just the same.

Later, as I rode Bart from Embarcadero, I found a seat next to a black MIL (masculine identified lesbian) and we struck up a conversation and exchanged numbers. She was real cool and down to earth and I think we both took refuge in one another being clearly in the minority on that particular car - although quite a regularity in OAKLAND. Can we say BLACK STUD MECCA much!?

And THEN, after THAT -- YEP THERE's MORE -- I witnessed one of the most hilarious interchanges between an AC Transit bus operator and a woman who clearly might have an addiction problem. It was the stuff that an "In Living Color" sketch might have been made of ::LOL:: I tried to capture some of it on video, but the result was fuzzy and kinda hard to hear. Needless to say - myself and a couple of other folks got a good chuckle listening to the two of them go back and forth - The bus driver talkin' smack to the woman probably because she in some way was judgmental of the woman's presumed addiction issue and how she carried on when she got ON the bus.

See, the addicted woman didn't have enough fare to get on and initially was trying to haggle the bus driver with something like "I got 50cent and a transfer." (LMAO) To which the bus driver replied "I am not negotiating with you, that is not the fare!" Fortunately someone covered the other dollar for her and she had enough fare, but that only made the woman indignant, and a little self righteous. There was another interchange later when the bus driver got snippy with an elderly woman and the addicted woman came to her defense, saying to the driver "You must be having a bad day" and only aggravating her further. The bust driver threatened to stop the bus and kick her off and the woman replies "I paid my fare I aint gettin' of NOTHIN!" LMAO! There was so much said. A video would have been so much better.

But suffice to say, the bus driver was trife... probably at the end of her line, and her patience -- understandably so -- you couldn't pay me to drive a bus in OAKLAND! BUT STILL! She drove past a man CLEARLY tryin to get on, not too far from where I get off. And I tried to help the brother out by getting off the bus slow so he could catch it, only to watch the bus driver wave him off (even though he'd made it to the door before the light changed) and blow dust in his face.

All I could do is chuckle, knowing full well I've had a bus driver wave me off and keep on pushin'. I WAS PISSED. I felt sorry for the brotha, but I've learned -- that's just typical here.


3 Year Anniversary of Katrina - Preparing for Gustav

It seems too easily forgotten that 3 years ago today Hurricane Katrina and it's aftermath ravaged so many lives, did irreparable damage to families and left so many homeless in the Gulf.

And while today marks the three year anniversary, I have seen little dedicated to remembering these folks and the concern that yet another storm might hit this blighted area that our nation has YET to really address.

So much of our energy and focus is tied up in Long Weekend plans, parties, the very calculated choice of VP for Senator McCain, and Senator Obama's historic bid for the presidency.

But I URGE you, PLEASE - Do Not forget to consider New Orleans.

Please, stop and think about it.

Please, don't forget.

Please do not consider CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN, without considering the right of return for so many people.


Communication Skills: AC Transit #57, Oakland High School & Me

There are some days where my optimism for the world's potential is blindsided by the coarseness of stubborn ignorance.

I’m new to Oakland, and for that reason I’m usually quiet. I spend most of my time observing the good and bad about my surroundings. I make notes about things that I haven’t seen since my childhood, and things I’ve never seen before. I am reminded why I was so pressed to get to Andover, and why when I got there I still wasn’t settled and couldn’t wait to leave.

I am overwhelmed by my self-awareness/consciousness and and I’m frustrated that I’m still learning how and when to pick my battles, be it about race, sexuality, class or something else.

Being in Oakland, I have less to worry about when it comes to my blackness – by and large Oakland is a black place, a brown place and a poor place. San Francisco is a whole different ballgame, and when I finally get up the nerve and the energy to go across the bridge to San Francisco and I am once again in the minority. But in Oakland, I am constantly aware of my woman-ness and how it conflicts with the masculine exterior I adorn and what that implicitly means to most – that I’m a Lesbian. I am shocked though, when even amongst black people, I sometimes pass as being a boy. In L.A, it usually only happened around other races, and I attributed to the fact that masculinity is racialized, and is oft associated with blackness. But I am learning this isn’t always the case.

I don’t know if I passed while I was on the bus yesterday coming home – freshly cut fro, button up, tie, slacks and square toed shoes. I sit proud on the bus – I’m not too proud to take public transportation, even if it can be unreliable at times, and I enjoy being around black people more often – even if the young kids on the bus make me embarrassed for their parents. But I can’t quite understand how it came to be that these young black women felt it appropriate to be openly and loudly homophobic, while sitting next to me unless they THOUGHT I was a boy.

Most times I listen and take mental notes when people come out of pocket. I prefer not to provoke the situation, lest I risk my safety and get into an argument that I still am not confident in having with people whose minds are made up about what my sexual orientation IS and means in their lives.

But I went out on a limb yesterday – perhaps because I’d just gotten another job offer, perhaps because I had already sat quiet listening to homophobia rear its ugly head at the barbershop and partly in the hope that I could reach these little girls.
The interaction wasn’t stellar, to say the least and while I didn’t expect to change their minds I did impress upon them the problem with speaking your thoughts, loudly and in mixed company – you’re subject to challenge. I also made it a point to shut down the biblical BS about how “They’re (We’re) going to hell” and “It’s in the Bible.” I told one of them that her judgement made her just as much a candidate for hells gates as the gay people she was talking badly about. And I even blew their minds when I told them that I knew Lesbian pastors and ministers.

But what kinda jarred me, beyond the comments, was when I noticed that the loudest and most antagonistic of the bunch employed and arguing tactic that I use, but was never quite able to understand. She looked straight ahead rather than look at me when she spoke. She raised her voice to talk over me, still never looking at my face. I learned to do that when I had hard conversations about sexuality with my mother (or rather sat through lectures). I do that when I have hard conversations with my partner and I’ve done that with my friends. It’s a sign, to me, of intimidation – I hate confrontation and I rather not acknowledge my participation in it (even when I am) than take it on full steam ahead.

I don’t know that I made a difference in their mindsets. I am glad that I at least aggravated their train of thought long enough that the conversation simmered a bit, got quieter and in effect came to a pause. And as pissed of as I was when I got off of the bus, and frustrated with the Mis-Education I generalized that our youth were getting, shorty taught me something about myself. And to her lil’ homophobic self, I’m thankful for that.


BBTV, Make BET say "UHHHH! Na, Na, NaNa!"

I reminded why one should never doubt the seeds of Black Ambition - 'cuz a tree will sneak up on you!

I've been settling in, post my move to the Bay Area, and have neglected to offer any new posts. But an email I just received was just the right thing to spring me back into action.

I got wind of a press release stating that in a year, New Orleans native and Hip-Hop Entrepreneur (Percy) "P. Miller," formerly known as the grumbling Master P, will launch "Better Black Television." A company statement that the network will offer "positive content for a black and brown culture." (The Gazette)

As the only other cable network in existence of this type, it will naturally rival the network that people, for better or worse, have been subject to for nearly three decades, Black Exploitation Entertainment Television. BET is criticized for it's salacious content, particularly for "BET UnCUT" which features videos not fit for daytime TV, and is shown during the wee hours of the morning, and serves as the veriable substitute for pornography. It is also noted for its repeated refusal do away with content that generates the stereotypes of the black community that we are so desperately trying to shake. Fortunately (for BET I guess), they've a year to clean up it's act if it is to compete with what is sure to be a provocative business venture on behalf of Miller.

I'm sure people will line up see how well the network to do, if they should be so optimistic. I'm not naiive, I know they are looking upside this black man's head like "This RAPPER is going to start a positive network?" YES. He is, I hope. I can't say that I worry that like BET this venture might fall short of the seemingly innocuous ideals set forth. At the very least, it might inspire BET to approach the straight and narrow, since henceforth protestations from segments of the black community have done little to amend the situations.

I can't say that I know that it won't succeed. Even for a lack of lyrical skills (IMHO- LOL) Mr. Miller has been a successful entrepreneur and CEO of a major organization. He has to get credit for that. I think I've been awed by his growth over the years, I think much of which can be attributed to his hustler spirit and fatherhood. He set an example for his son and they continue to do good things, including their joint venture into starting a clean record label called "Take A Stand."

I think this project is promising, if not only to inspire other folks to make change. Too often we think that because something already exists for black people, that means it is the only organization that can exist. That's a marginal mentality. No one notices that nearly every other cable network could be considered a "white" organization. Whenever a new cable channel begins, it is at odds with other cable channels for those ever important Nielsen ratings. Black channel(s) -- well channel to date but channels come August 2009 -- should be no different.

Furthermore, folks in marginalized communities often tolerate sub par businesses, customer service etc. because we think "We have to support" or because there is known alternative. It's as if it is essential part of bLaK-ness (whether your Black, Latino, a woman, gay, transgender or otherwise). But it just takes ONE person to add something to it and give you options that can change the game.

So don't sleep on my boy Percy. I'm willing to give him an opportunity to give us something we can be proud of. And trust, the man is NO dummy.

"BBTV advisory board members include Oscar winner Denzel Washington; Vault Load Films president Jim Finkl; NAACP executive director Vicangelo Bullock; NBA player Derek Anderson; cable industry veteran Prof. Sal Martino; hip-hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc and entrepreneur Olatokunbo Betiku." (The Gazette)
Check out the Preliminary List of Better Black Television Programming:
   -- Sunset and Vine -- Hosted by Vyshonn Miller and Brittany
Phillips -- This video show will showcase the top 8 at 8pm, the top
hip-hop and R&B acts as well as play classic videos and will feature
a section where you can vote on new indie unsigned artists who will
showcase their talent and the audience will have the option to place
them in the "You Pick It Video" section by voting for them online.
-- One Shot Comedy Show -- will consist of clean hilarious comedy and
will be hosted by Gary Johnson (a.k.a. G-Thing) and some of the
funniest comedians around. It will give upcoming comedians the
opportunity to hit the stage.
-- Gee Gee the Giraffe -- Children's educational show featuring Gee Gee
the Giraffe, a magical friend that takes kids on educational
adventures focused on reading and writing. (Will air on BBTV Kids
Saturday Morning Show).
-- Manage Your Money -- Featuring financially successful people lending
information to viewers to help promote financial literacy.
-- Close to the Starz -- A behind the scenes show that takes the viewers
up close and personal to their favorite celebrities.
-- Karma TV Show -- Bilingual soap opera with an African-American and
Latino cast.
-- What's Cooking TV Show -- Talk show that covers wide aspects of
entertainment and current events while cooking and enjoying a good
meal. The host and guests prepare healthy, budget-conscious meals.
-- The Black List Movies -- Family friendly content featuring or created
by top filmmakers and actors. From the classics of the past to the
biggest stars of today, from original BBTV productions to quality
independents, you'll find them on "The Black List."
-- Hip-Hop Garage Show -- Saturday show that will play nothing but the
hottest new and upcoming artists in their latest music videos and
interviews selected with content appropriate to BBTV's mission and
The site opens with a playlist of music (lyrics cool, but family friendly content questionable LOL).
What do you think of the venture?


The Girl Effect

Thank you Rebecca Walker for sharing.


Big Granny Cane & a DOG Chain!!

Meet Big "Granny" Kane

Back Story:
  • Granny walks in on teenage lesbians having sex
  • Non-familial lesbian exits
  • Granny commences to beat the crap out of familial lesbian

  • Granny THEN takes familial lesbian (limping)
    • To non-familial lesbian’s house to make sure HER parents know too.

If this wasn't the content of my worst nightmare comin' up I don't know WHAT is. I used to have these dreams of someone walking in on my while I was “doing the do.” And I was one of those kids dreamt in color and surround sound. I felt my dreams so deeply that, unfortunately it meant I woke up sobbing, scared or on my bedroom floor (falling dream) more than once. Reading the story, I could almost feel the sting in the back of my legs.

Thankfully, I had a little more common sense at 16. No matter how oppressive or unfair certain things felt, I complied until I provide a space of my own. As such, I wouldn’t be caught dead having sex, hell having thoughts, in my grandmother’s (or any of my relatives’ house) for fear that my life would end shortly thereafter. Unspoken rule …

But STILL! Joyce Bedell is all KINDS of wrong!

She is perhaps the personification of what queer youth of color fear when determining whether or not, and when to come out of the closet. Coming out, or being pulled out (as I was) many times can mean homelessness, defamation, and even (as in this case) violence. “BGC” is just one of the reasons why some of us feel there is no choice but to lead inauthentic lives; hiding parts of ourselves in deep closets with padlocked doors.

I’m thankful to those who can be critical of this story in context. Like Renee at “Womanist Musings” who dropped this story a couple days ago, talkin’ bout “Lock Her Damn Ass Up.” She be breakin’ (LOL) but always spits truth! To date she is also the only blogger thus far that has managed to do the story a level of justice. Addressing both bL-aKtivist and womanist perspectives on it.

In an article for the Amsterdam news, Alton H. Maddox wrongheadedly argues that the “White prosecutors destroying Black life,” offering a legal explanation for what makes this case (and others) patently racist. The article is all over the place, but he takes an extra side swipe at gay and lesbian people when he writes:

"Same-sex advocates argue that the struggle for same-sex marriages has a kinship with the civil rights struggle. Wrong! There may be parallels in the two struggles, but there are different rationales. Moreover, many same-sex couples are racist to the core."

First of all, how did BGC become a beacon of "Black life?" She's was hard working, providing a home and beat the crap out of a teenager with a cane. Second, what different rationale is there? Bigotry is bigotry is BIGOTRY. Third, that there are racist same-sex couples is of no consequence, there are racist opposite-sex couples too, your point? It's like saying "Moreover, many black peolpe are sexist to the core." AND? It doesn't make those black people suffer any less from racism because they still manage to inflict oppression on folks -- so goes the argument for same-sex couples that are racists. Furthermore... I'm bLaK! And I am one half of a same-sex couple, HELLO! Black folks that overlook that we are among the same-sex population kill me.

Maddox goes on to mention slave culture and how that may have had an effect on Bedell as well as the existing justice system. Asserting that she was taught" “if you spare the rod, you spoil the child.” Cool, I can deal with the analysis but we need to stop forwarding this myth that abuse equals discipline.

Renee makes a great point about corporal punishment doing little more than creating fear resentment and low self esteem. I believe it. Maybe if we stop beating our kids we can influence them to make better decisions, and build a rapport with them that will encourage dialogue around sex and where respect is earned.

This story is ripe with complexity. So much so that I have a hard time organizing my thoughts on it. But Beth's comment struck a chord:

“That’s so sad, and unfortunately not at all uncommon. -- Even more common are the ‘quieter’ abuses; the daily verbal and emotional diatribes and weights levied (sic) against children and teens who fall outside the narrow confines of the middle road. -- Maybe one day the world will change.”

I was one of those teens and perhaps it ‘hits’ a little too close to home. I am thankful for finding the space, and subsequently the courage, to live more authentically each day.

All that said, I am sympathetic to Joyce Y. Bedell even if thoroughly enraged. Sympathetic because she is a 61 yr. old woman, presumably being held in a correctional facility, no matter how foul her actions against her granddaughter were. Sympathetic because she is now subject to a criminal justice system that was never built to serve her or people who look like her. Joyce doesn’t just need punishment, she needs HELP.

I don’t doubt the possibility this story could turn into some eff-ed up sketch in somebody’s stand up show. There is a level of irony that black folk will relate to without considering the problematic homophobic overtures.

The story is heartbreaking. And I am disturbed that it hasn’t gotten more mainstream press, they wasted no time reporting when two lesbians in Los Angeles were abusers. Why not value all black lives the same? I am not surprised, even if I am still disappointed; black lesbian lives have proven time to be thought of as dispensable. Think Sakia Gunn, Khadijah Farmer, and Tanya White.

Other Stories:

The Good with the Bad:

What I Like to Call "Ignant":

This foolishness might take the cake:
georgiamama's Avatar
georgiamama georgiamama is offline
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: GA
Posts: 2,795
Originally Posted by goodgood4u View Post

georgiamama says: WOW that's harsh. The elderly should be respected.


Black & GAY: Questions Straight Folks STILL Ask!

So I published this piece about Sakia Gunn a few weeks back (thanks to those of you who checked it out) and I have to say the number of responses that it's gotten was overwhelming; in a good and a bad way. I've read EVERY comment (all 230 of them - last I checked). The responses have been both refreshing and alarming. But it set off a light bulb...

So... I'm working on a project and I wanted to tap folks for their input.
What are random questions straight people ask you? [and straight folks out there if you have a burning question (that you aren't sure you should ask someone- for whatever reason) email it to me.]

I think addressing them might be helpful in debunking some painfully archaic myths and perhaps work on building s between us. At the end of they day we are STILL BLACK!

Here are a few examples I came up with:

1. Do you believe in God?
As if being gay necessarily means that a person can't be spiritually grounded. LOL

What boggles my mind is that EVERY time something gay comes up, homophobic black folks go running for a bible, a scripture, a cross, somethin'... to save them from the scary gays. It's ironic that on pages where they show pictures of scantily clad women, and post the lyrics of the men that debase them, we don't hear folks pullin out the good book and recite scripture the way we do for anything that has to to with being gay. A little ODD... Then ensues the diatribe about sin etc. but last I checked, we are ALL sinners and no sin is bigger, more weighted or important than another. It's the PEOPLE who give it more or less meaning in their lives, and those people don't want to admit that they simply have an ick factor when they think about the parts that really don't concern them...

2. Were you molested? Did that make you gay?
Touchy subject. Folks perpetuate this idea that people "turn" gay because they are a victim of sexual assault, as if there aren't any straight adults who have been subject to sexual assault. It comes with value judgments about the effects of sexual assault, that are problematic. Think before you ask, get educated about sexual assault.

3. Why are gay people so flamboyant?
Which sometimes translates to "Why are some gae boi's constantly Stuntin'?" LOL Truth be told, I ask myself this too, but all in fun cuz it aint as if straight folks don't be actin' up sometimes.

But this often also means "Why are we(gay folk) OUT, OPEN and publicly affectionate with our partners."

To which I would reply, "Why are STRAIGHT people so flamboyant? Because I can't go a day without seeing a couple hugged up and/or kissing in public. I can deal, you can too, boo boo!

4. Gay men and lesbians can't reproduce, why do they want children?
That's besides the point. There are straight people who can't produce for health reasons. It doesn't prevent them from wanting to raise a family with the person they love. What's more, even if there weren't alternatives for gay people to have children, there are many children out there, in the foster care system, on the streets or in abusive or unhealthy homes, that gay couples could and are willing to take in.

5. Why do gay people choose to live that lifestyle?
I chuckle at this one.

LIFESTYLE? First of all, you sound OLD!

Who uses lifestyle outside of magazine headers or on a website? LMAO... Let's get our terminology STRAIGHT (pun intended)

Making $2,000 a month but driving an Escalade in Los Angeles is a "lifestyle" choice, its called "living beyond your means..."

Having a couple baby-mommas and being at the club every weekend rather than at home with your kids is a "life-style" choice, its called "absent daddy" (or some other choice words that (unfortunately) I'm sure more than a few of my woman friends can come up with).

Both are poor lifestyle choices... And we hope for better for all those who choose them.... But being gay? LOL C'mon!!!

That's the other reason I chuckle... and someone addressed this myth that being gay is a CHOICE similar to picking which chucks buy at the store.
I mean REALLY?!? Do you REALLY think gay folks wake up in the morning and decide "Hmm, I think I'll welcome a life of being ostracized, experiencing discrimination and hatred into my life (for the REST of my life). Werd! That's HARD!"

Newsflash- It don't work that way, boo boo. A least not for those of a more SANE kind.

6. What's wrong with saying "NO HOMO"?

Plenty. LOL. First of all... It's disrespectful, hence the strike through.
Second, why do you have to make sure people know you're not gay, unless you're really trying to hide something or really scared someone would ACTUALLY THINK you are. DUH!

Got any other good ones? Give 'em up.

Also...Check out this new spread on AOL Black Voices:
Famous Gay <Black FOLK>


Sketchin' In SaMo


Why Same-Sex Marriage Should Matter To People Of Color

From the Jordan Rustin Coalition:
On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that restricting the word "marriage" to opposite-sex unions was discriminatory, unnecessary and unconstitutional. This decision also proclaimed that sexual orientation is as protected a class as race, gender and national origin and prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
This ruling will undoubtedly affect the future of same gender loving (lesbian and gay) people in California, and by example, the nation. What we need to know as double minorities is that this ruling is not a political farce, a ploy or only applicable to a limited segment of the population. It is for anyone who ever dreamed of growing up to marry the one they love and formally securing the benefits that society confers on marriage for themselves, and their family. The State of California is willing to help you realize these dreams by providing same-sex married couples the same benefits available to heterosexual married couples.

For a variety of reasons, some LGBT people of color have regarded being gay or lesbian as something white; something strange; something too out and loud about what they do in their bedrooms and certainly not affiliated with the person they see in the mirror. This reasoning is reinforced by a community that threatens to ostracize you from your family, friends, church and social network if you present as anything but stereotypically heterosexual.

The State of California already provided registered domestic partnerships. Beginning in June 2008, marriage for same sex couples seeking legal protection will become a reality. Once entered into, both registered domestic partnerships and marriage tell the state that you are knowingly assuming the rights and responsibilities provided to committed couples. These rights, privileges and responsibilities are color-blind. If you choose not to take advantage of these rights, privileges and responsibilities, you do so at your own peril. The court will not have the authority to right a wrong where steps could have been taken to remedy that wrong. In other words, if a couple breaks up and they did not enter into a marriage or domestic partnership, the court will continue to treat them as roommates and the couple would not be able to take advantage of the marital laws regarding property division and alimony. This is certainly an incentive to know your rights!

Domestic partnerships and marriage certainly force us to communicate honestly with one's partner and loved ones by entrusting us with much responsibility. Both these institutions bind us to one person in the eyes of the law for as long as we choose to be bound. These institutions now allow same-sex couples to approach equality with our heterosexual counterparts.

We must fight to keep this victory. First, there may be a ballot initiative in November 2008 that would take away same sex marriage and it must be defeated! It is a losing strategy for us to sit on our hands idly and let others take away our hard-earned rights. Second, if you are in a relationship, do you value it enough to protect it? Then choose how you will do so. Please consider reviewing your options to determine if getting married and /or entering into a domestic partnership is something that best protects your family..[i]

[i] JOHN TEAL is a paralegal in Los Angeles, CA.


Coming of Age Amid Depression 2.0

I feel as though it would be redundant to say that “The world is a scary place to live in today,” because such has been the case for as long as I can remember. But it is in the context of those past periods of fear and insecurity, that I look at what is going on in the world today as being particularly frightening. Perhaps that has something to do with my full awareness of the world as it existed then, as compared to now.

I’ve heard people remark on the fearlessness of children (and youth as a whole). It seems that we adults have to develop that level of fear and uncertainty over time, it is something we necessarily learned. This was underscored earlier today as I watched Maury counsel single parent moms and their unruly teenage daughters. I was bothered by what are clearly bigger issues troubling these young women, but also awed by the sheer audacity that these young girls demonstrated – showing no care for the opinions of anyone but themselves, and convinced that reaching their teens was in some way indicative of them finally being “grown.” Ultimately, and with a degree of predictability, Maury offers these women an old school remedy of culture shock; sending the young women to be “scared straight” by women inmates at a nearby prison.

As much as I am a little tickled at the sight of felons screaming in the faces of their would be-teenage protégés, I’ve seen it time and time again(yawn…Sally Jesse Raphael, Montell, I’m sure they’ve all had a special). And I know there are alternative forms of rehabilitation. Perhaps a multi-step program? A mentor… something?

That is neither here nor there, the point is…while I was in no way an “unruly teen,” like those girls I was overwhelmingly consumed with the trivialities of my immediate life. And because I didn’t have to worry about finding a job that would adequately support me and allow me to functionally cover all of my expenses, I wasn’t totally aware of what was going on around me.

No one could overlook the shock, awe and fear produced by the September 11th attacks and subsequent anthrax scares. But I don’t think I fully grasped the magnitude to which it scared the adults in my life. Despite it all, I applied to do a semester in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill, amid the intensified security, and while folks were still on the look out for suspicious mail. I opened the mail EVERY DAY.

That said, I realized that I’ve arrived at adulthood. I am scared about the economy, I can barely afford gas (among other necessities as a resident of California. I want to do something about the floods that hit New Orleans. That help is long overdue and our government has been absolutely NEGLIGENT about dealing with it. And I worry about the status of our nation as tornadoes hit middle America and scenes like those from New Orleans now plague more and more of our citizens. The sad part is, I fear that these new catastrophes will overshadow the plight of New Orlean-ians, and that the work that needs to get done, will continue to be delayed.

Depressing? Mmm… slightly, but it’s real.

My next step? ...Well... another lesson we learn as adults… avoidance. I am going to get back to thinking about the things my heart and mind can stomach pondering. On a less avoid-ant tip, I will focus on the things I can do to affect change, and knock those micro issues down until I can put my bid in for what we need to do on a macro level.

Two Parts Make a Whole: Married and Gay (read Happy!)

They wed under a chuppah, a traditional canopy that symbolizes the home that they will create in Jewish tradition, held by close family and friends, flanked by the media with Gloria Allred at their side. Robin Tyler and her partner (now her wife), Diane Olson said their vows, led by Rabbi Denise Eger, and beamed with joy. As they stepped on glass, a gesture of good luck in both Jewish and Colombian traditions, I felt Goosebumps rise on my forearms (in between the massive mosquito bites from my weekend’s venture back east to Massachussets – the only other state with legal same sex marriage). If all goes well I will be able to have my own marriage here in California, and it will be an equally emotional event.

But over an over again I go query myself and others, why is marriage for same sex couples even a debate?

  • Because our education system is sub-par.
  • Because there are an abundance of U.S. citizens who don’t quite conceive of the separation between church and state.
  • Because we give credence to Christian views over other religious traditions.
  • Because those who believe themselves to be the most faithful of Christians, base it on their belief in the literal word of the bible (despite their having never read it, or only read the parts that can actually be carried out in 2008 – i.e., stoning someone in a square, uhmm not acceptable by law –

I’d like those so-called Christians, who hate on gay couples to tell me where in the Bible does god prescribe how we should appropriately use the internet? Funny how that isn’t there right? Let’s really think about these literal readings again and try to find something that is consistent through the bible that can’t really be touched past present or future… LOVE. Exercise that!

Hate is like sitting on a couch, it doesn’t require a great deal of effort

But alas, if your church is disapproving of same sex relationships, so be it. Gay couples will go elsewhere to places of worship that do. But too many don’t understand that gay couples seek not to affect the relationships or perspectives of those who hide behind religious belief to justify bigoted views (ok that’s sort of a lie, in a perfect world, there wouldn’t be bigots, but we’ll settle for co-existing with bigots, so long as our rights are acknowledged by law).

Those who argue that marriage is a religious word, meh… So you mean to tell me that in one breath folks are quick to say their religion is THE religion, and in the next will align themselves with other faith traditions in order to ensure that queer folks can’t get married?

Sounds like changing the rules to suit one’s purposes… I’m not buying it.

To all of the couples tying the knot in California, thank you for your courage, thank you and I wish you all the blessings I can muster up. Darian snagged a great quote from Laura Douglas-Brown when he wrote his marriage blog today, which reads:

"…within our own community, we also need to acknowledge that marriage is more than the sum of its parts. Not just a mere collection of individual rights, it’s a collective statement about whether our relationships, and thus we as gay people, are worthy of respect, equality and justice.

More than just saying ‘I do,’ marriage is about saying ‘we are.’"

Their union is symbolic of a step forward for our nation, even if we are short a miracle. As we move forward we’ll still be dragging behind us those who would oppose the loving relationship of two committed partners because they are of the same sex. But a step forward nonetheless.

To see more photos of Robin & Diane's wedding.


One Step Closer to Change...

Introducing the first black man (read African-American) to be the presumptive Presidential nominee of a major party and his equally awe-inspiring wife, Barack & Michelle Obama.

And they're still BLACK!

For the record it's not a "FIST BUMP" idiots, it's called a "DAP" also known as a "POUND." And to clarify, this is only ONE version! SHEESH! I know some people haven't interacted with a lot of black folks but c'mon people! You don't watch SPORTS?!


"When [T]olerance Breeds Murder" - On Gender & Sakia Gunn

AOL Black Voices Published My Piece on Sakia Gunn!!
You can read it in it's entirety here: When Intolerance Breeds Murder

May 11, 2008 marked the 5 year anniversary of the death of slain teen Sakia Gunn, whose story bore a very special relevance to my own life. Like Sakia, I am black, a woman and a lesbian in a world that has often been unkind to all of the above. What's more, like Sakia I am assumed to be "identifiably lesbian," as I am often more boyish in dress.

My Tomboi Swagg
I remember the first time I was referred to, by my then babysitter, as a "tomboy." I'm almost certain that my mother took offense at the moniker(just as a parent might be aghast to have their son called a sissy), no matter how true my gender performance was to the definition. I on the other hand, wore the label with a badge of pride. Not because I wanted to be a boy, but because I never felt restricted by any pre-concieved ideas about what being a girl or boy had to mean. Thanks to my mother, I have always been about being my best self; as good as the next person, boy, girl, woman, man or anyone else, if not better.

Sakia's young life was taken in 2003, only a month before I would graduate from high school. That year was especially poignant because I secretly went to prom with my then partner, in a tux. I was fortunate to go to a somewhat affirming high school. It also happened to be very elite and largely white. Unfortunately, my sexual orientation has long been a troublesome subject for my family; as has been the case for many of my peers.

The Gender Paradigm
Gender identity is too often misunderstood, misread and under analyzed within heterosexual constructs. It is assumed that "men" will be "masculine" and "women" will be "feminine" no matter how arbitrary it is to categorize people in such a way. However, as it pertains to those of us in the pan-queer (trans, bi, lesbian, gay) communities, it is almost absolutely the opposite.

I've often heard the un-assuming straight person ask their gay friend -- begrudgingly burdened with undue responsibility to educate her about same-sex relationships -- "So who's the man and who's the woman in the relationship?" As if, by default, such pairings NEED exist. Gender is a great deal more complex than most are able to comprehend. It doesn't fall into the somewhat neater lines of sex (male, female, intersex) - classified somewhat more objectively by the sexual organ a person possesses. It is instead judged on how well do (or do not) fit into roles assumed appropriate for the respective sex. It is for these reasons that it was newsworthy that Senator Clinton cried during the New Hampshire primary, or that night time talk show hosts get a rise out of their audiences by mentioning her "pant suits." None of her opponents were as closely watched for gender-specific and inconsequential happenings.

Remembering Sakia and Others
Last Monday (May 26), Sakia would have turned 21.

I am grateful to AOL Black Voices for running the piece and I am glad people have stumbled upon it and found a part of themselves in it. I am grateful that people who until now have been unaware will know her story. I hope they also know about some of the more recent victims of hate. Simmie Williams was murdered just a week after a teen from California was killed (Lawrence King) but did not get nearly the same amount of media attention because the murder hadn't been ruled a hate crime.

I hope this will plan a seed in the hearts of parents who are still struggling to accept, and/or affirm their gay children. I am especially hopeful to those parents who stumble on this issue because of perceived theological difference. Because no matter what you believe, there is never an excuse to act in violence against another person because of that difference in belief or worship.

Krys (urB'n skoLa)

A couple of folks reposted it!
BlackHairMedia.com (Loving the dialgue going on here)
Living Out Loud with Darian
Professor Kim's News Notes
Cranky Lesbian

For More Info On Sakia:
without grace: sakia and the Newark Lesbians case
Youth for Socialist Action
Keith Boykin.com
Democracy Now!
Professor Kim re: McCullough's Plea Bargain
Professor Kim on the 3 year Anniversary


Fashion, Hip Hop, Growth, Movement

I love late night public television for its simplicity and straightforwardness. Compared to primetime broadcasting, especially during sweeps week, it’s significantly less frenetic. I’m particularly fond of Tavis Smiley and Charlie Rose. They’ve nailed the formula-- timely and relevant guests, simple backdrop without the bells and whistles (nor audience that claps or laughs on cue) and a focused line of questioning.

“Growing Pains”

Wednesday night I watched a re-run on the Tavis Smiley show where he interviewed the Stars of the Heart of the City Tour; none other than Hip Hop entrepreneur Sean “Jay-Z” Carter and the Queen of R&B Soul Mary J. Blige. Smiley was obviously giddy at the opportunity to interview with Jay, and spent much more time engaging him than long time friend Mary. But he was particularly interested in the way themes of struggle and growth played out in their careers. And is particularly interested to hear from Jay what they can do to debunk help the myth that “it's easy; you get a record deal and you rich.” They don’t come to a conclusion, but talk about what distinguishes the millions of folks with deals from those who are actually successful; highlighting the work ethic and diligence it really takes.

Later they talk more about the entrepreneurial side of their work, the branding even without using those terms. Jay talks about how much he pays attention to his audience, and how that lead him to Rocawear. Later they discuss the branding of Mary’s image, the dark sunglasses and black lipstick that signals the point in the show where Mary’s about to perform the Waiting To Exhale classic “Not Gon’ Cry.”

If there is anything they’ve both branded, it’s their own paths of evolution. Jay for better or for worse has been able to keep his game tight. Whether you dig Jigga (lyrics or otherwise) or not, there is no denying the man’s entrepreneurial prudence.

Unfortunately Mary’s lyrical content suffered at the expense of her happiness. She profited greatly from the sad songs that she made, because… well… as the saying goes, “Misery loves company.” But it’s a good thing that she’s happy now (she talks about this in another interview), because if she didn’t grow or learn from her past, she’d still be dangerously depressed, her fan base in tow.

I’m glad they are doing this tour together. I’m happy they both seem to be happy and successful, are married appear to be content with their success.

“Contentment has to be defined by your SELF" – Sarah Jessica Parker

Last night I watched as Charlie Rose sat with Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Patrick Smith as they talked about Sex and the City, the movie which hits theaters today. Charlie quizzed them on everything from what the production process looked like, and how they got everyone back on board, to the impetus behind developing the movie after the television series wrapped so well.

It got interesting when Rose queried Smith on how he manages to know women’s emotions so well. Even I got uncomfortable as I watched Smith; visibly a little skittish as he tried to logically explain:

“I grew up with three sisters… they were my friends… I didn’t think boys were better than girls… people are just people…”

Some might view his response as progressive, anti-sexist even. But I can help but wonder if it reveals some thing deeper. I think I got uncomfortable because I as listened, I wondered if in being so direct, Rose unwittingly and perhaps innocently may have pushed Michael into a familiar and unpleasant space. It doesn’t seem far fetched that as some point he’s had to defend his, arguably less than apha-male, masculinity, lest he be thought gay. It’s a narrative of male identity that I hope more an more men will be comfortable in resisting. If Smith is gay, I hope he is out, or will come out soon. If he isn’t I hope he will grow more comfortable with himself, especially in situations such as this.

Toward the end I think Charlie tried to squeeze a spoiler out of Jessica, asking “Are you happier than Carrie” to which she cleverly replied “I’m very happy” working not to reveal anything before folks get a chance to judge for themselves.

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