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

Update: It looks like David Gregory is getting the job. Affirmative Action for the least qualified of the bunch in the form of white male privilege. We’ll see how long it takes before it tanks!
I have to remind myself that we’re going into the year 2009, not 1959. Yet time seems to be going backwards with the erosion of some of the gains that were made during the 70’s and 80’s. Remember Max Robinson? There hasn’t been a non-white evening news anchor for a national news program since he left ABC ***. They did briefly flirt with Elizabeth Vargas (who’s bi-racial) in a co-anchorship at World News Now but quickly shuttled that and stuck us with Charles Gibson. Do I need to remind people about Cable News Network choosing a comedian (D.L. Hughley) over journalist Roland Martin (or somebody else who isn’t an idiot) to show how serious an issue this is?
After Civil Rights and Affirmative Action caused momentary shame network heads decided to throw a few bones. There was a group of journalists and reporters that moved up the ranks only to hit the Black glass ceiling. Like any benefit issued at will it can also be taken away at whim. Furthermore a lot from that group have either passed away or retired. In my local market there is one permanent evening co-anchor on the CBS affiliate, Dana King.  
Max Robinson fought with management all the time about the way Blacks were portrayed by the media/in the news and may have had his own internal struggles but he was an excellent journalist. Oprah might be the Queen of All Media but it’s with a talk-show format. The fact that she owns her show is as vital to her success as her skill. We need to get control of our media narrative and be able to set the tone. Or at least be able to mount a powerful counterpoint to the foolishness that gets distributed. 
So with the election of a Black President it’s time for us to let them know the jig is up and we want equal representation (for real this time). This isn’t going to happen based on benevolence. We must DEMAND it, plan for it and keep it this time. NBC execs are still deliberating about who to elevate to fill the Meet the Press slot. Gwen Ifill is supposedly being considered and is by far the most qualified person for the job, especially in comparison to the other contenders on the short list. David Gregory, Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell are being considered as well. 
Mitchell should be eliminated immediately because she is a blatant and obvious suck up the Clintons with zero objectivity. How do you think the Hillary as Secretary of State rumors were promulgated? Gregory and Todd are in the running because they’re white men. Sorry, but that ship has sailed. NBC News hired Tim Russert’s son after he passed away in what has to be the most blatant display of nepotism or reaffirmation of white male patriarchy we’ve seen perhaps since Bush Sr. helped Shrub get “elected”. In other words, their integrity is on shaky ground right now. 
Hiring Gwen Ifill should not be about making ‘history’ but it is way past it’s time for a Black female solo anchor/moderator at a major network. Someone who looks likes an ‘average’ Black woman, not a racially ambiguous fashion model. No offense. It was Tim Russert who suggested she sub for him on numerous occasions. There is no reason she can’t step into that position and make it her own. She’s already worked for NBC but left for more amenable opportunities at PBS. She is the Moderator and Managing Editor of Washington Week and Senior Correspondent at News Hour with Jim Lehrer. The fact that she’s been writing a book on the rise of Black politicians seems to indicate her staying on top of current events and offering a unique perspective given her lengthy career. 
This doesn’t address the nightly news situation but it’s a start. Meet the Press is the most watched Sunday morning political program and with the obvious bias and lack of boundaries creeping in (okay it’s totally saturated) there needs to be an appearance of objectivity. 
Now we need to let Upper Management know what we want. Bring da noize and bring da funk. Perhaps a little chat with the NAACP is in order as well – what good are these organizations if we don’t demand more from them! 
Jeff Zucker
President & CEO
NBC Universal
jeff.zucker@nbc.com
——————————–
Steve Capus
President NBC News
steve.capus@nbc.com 
*** I haven’t forgotten about Connie Chung’s sharing the desk with Dan Rather, nor about the way she was mistreated by him and CBS execs. Max Robinson shared segments but sat at his desk alone. Katie Couric is the first woman at a major network to have a solo desk from the beginning. 

Bookmark and Share

Barack & Michelle Meet Barbara Post-Election Edition

Here’s the video from last night’s Barbara Walters Special. I am soooo glad it’s the Obamas going to the White House and not some of the other (cough) contenders. To just be able to listen to people speaking with a measure of intelligence without avarice is such a relief! I hope Oprah gets first dibs on a White House interview.  
A viable economic plan is priority #1. He clearly states he is not a Messiah. Now put the altar away and get back to work…..
Obama promises a focus on protecting Americans from terrorism. He displays an otherworldly calm and steely resolve about not focusing on the personal threats to his safety. He doesn’t want to be too insulated from the lives of the average person either. Let the man keep his Crackberry!

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

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

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

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

Bookmark and Share

Holiday Hijinks

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

Bookmark and Share

Vision of Change Comes From Me

Well I have to say how pleased I am that Obama is having almost daily press conferences to let the American people (and the world) know that he’s not going to sleep at the wheel! Particularly in light of this current administration’s incompetance where every week Henry Paulson announces how yet another ‘rescue’ plan has failed  – but claims this is the time they’re gonna get it right. It’ll just cost another $20B here or an additional $300B+ there. 
I made this off-the-cuff comment about Bush getting in his last acts of vengeance against the American people before he leaves office in another post. That doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore if you look at the state of the economy, the criminal actions of those in gov’t and how hated we are. 
Where are they getting this money? Monopoly is a fun game but that paper has no real value. The US dollar is not being backed up by gold anymore and flooding the markets with it only devalues it further, but I’m not an economist so what do I know?
Now Obama has to do something bold because once he’s inaugurated it’s all on him. Never mind that it took 9 years of focused sabotage to create this mess. Both political parties are responsible – but it has been the expressed goal of the Republicans since the time of Reagan to get rid of all regulation and protections. Not to mention union-busting. Add to that the cost of war mongering (which goes far beyond national security) and can anyone still doubt how things got so messed up? 
So I really like the idea of an outside economic advisory board. I like the idea of a President having people who don’t rubber-stamp and say yes to everything he/she wants. If our current President had been more humble and less theocratic the country would be in a much better place. Obama seemed to be making a statement to progressives and political bloggers to stop the hand-wringing over former Clinton appointees and see the big picture.  Hence the title of today’s post. He’s in charge!!
I am all for accountability and being diligent and as agents of change for ourselves we should take care to do so. What we don’t need is either blind allegiance or overreacting to every move by Obama while he’s in office. He’s going to need time to fix a lot. We have no idea how bad things really are. He’s only going to get a 25-day grace period before the bill becomes due though. I’d hate for him to end his term looking 20 years older with a broken spirit or for his wife and daughters to feel they’ve been neglected. I’m sure they’ll work that out. We can do our part by getting involved, being knowledgeable and making sure we’ve learned our lesson!

Bookmark and Share

Tyra Banks Says She Has No "List"

So I was watching the Tyra show yesterday and I wish I had recorded parts of it to play back for this discussion. Half the time when I watch I cringe or find myself shaking my head (and turn it off). Other times I think she covers topics of great interest. No, I don’t have to watch but I see Tyra struggling to elevate her consciousness and do something of value. Either way Tyra always finds a way of interjecting her own personal history and projects that onto her guests. I’m not sure if it’s narcissism or naivete, but she does have a platform with which to do great harm or benefit. I don’t think she’s intentionally trying to introduce negative influences but we all harbor a perspective viewpoint that may need to be reexamined. Specifically in relation to the quality of the lives of Black women and girls and finding our place in this world.
This episode featured two women who were the subject of a focus group evaluation of the status of their lives. The group members were split amongst people that knew the person and strangers. Now I like the concept of women being able to get a no-holds bar assessment. Of course due to time constraints and other factors it wasn’t a complete evaluation of all aspects and it failed to offer long term solutions so as to wrap things up within the hour format. It could certainly be seen as a good start though. 
One of the women featured was a young Black woman who wanted to be married. She was attractive but I thought her desire for landing a husband by the age of 30 wasn’t realistic when she is currently 29. She didn’t state her education background or current occupation either. She mentioned an affinity for designer goods. I thought she was a little unpolished socially and immature but certainly not unappealing. What I found interesting was the way the Black male in the stranger group reacted with such hostility towards the woman’s desire for a partner and her requirements.
See she had a list. She wanted this future husband to have a job that paid a six-figure income, to have a nice car, a house and other things. Though the focus was a bit superficial I would go so far as to say she doesn’t specifically know what she wants from a more grounded or spiritual perspective and went for the easily recognizable traits you can point to that would indicate a suitable mate.  
So this guy objected specifically to the income requirement and labeled her a gold digger. He then went on to say she was beyond gold and jumped to platinum! It was a bit ridiculous, because I got the impression that he was reacting more to his own sense of inadequacy than anything she had to say. I could literally see him counting pennies in his head and coming up 20 cents short of a dollar. 
He had to tear the woman down to boost himself. In the earlier segment he had been equally critical about the first guest featured who had gained weight and she was white. Tyra then aptly pointed out that he was in fact overweight himself, but he claimed he’d take it as an impetus to make changes in his own life. Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.
What was wrong with the Black woman wanting a man who could adequately provide for a family and why would anyone object so strenuously to her seeking out the best she can get? It was even suggested that she was reaching beyond her ‘place’ by wanting that. Then Tyra mentioned that though she’d made ‘some’ money she didn’t have a list when it came to seeking out a man for a relationship. She said her friends have teased her about picking men beneath her (though she didn’t word it that way). This is where I’d get upset with Tyra for reinforcing outdated models of behavior, because she’s still single herself and has mentioned some past relationships with other unsuitable men she’s dated. 
In fact this was a nice lesson to learn though it was so easy to miss. When we have no requirements we end up with less than what we deserve – or nothing at all.

Bookmark and Share

Double Standards for Black Female Athletes

Brace yourself I feel a rant coming on!
Marion Jones was one of nearly 700 who requested a pardon or commutation of their sentence from Shrub. She was denied. One of the more notable pardons was granted to John Forte (Fugees) who was charged with intent to distribute narcotics because he went to the airport to retrieve a suitcase that contained $1.4M worth of cocaine.  We all make mistakes, but come on.
Marion was sent to prison for lying to Federal prosecutors about her use of performance-enhancing drugs. She was retroactively stripped of all her Olympic medals as well as her relay teammates, removed from the entire history of the IOC and had to return her prize money. Martha Stewart was sent to prison on a similar charge over a $50K stock trade. There’s also the fact that taking questionable drugs cause long term damage to the body of an athlete. Now we can argue the merits of guilt and need for punishment for breaking the law but I feel uncomfortable with these results. Especially in comparison to the way crimes are viewed when committed by certain men. I know race, class, privilege and as usual – connections can make all the difference in how ‘justice’ is meted. Paging Scooter Libby….
Genarlow Wilson has been touted as a victim of harsh sentencing. Somehow if you and a group of your friends decide to have sex one after the other with a passed out girl (drunk/physically impaired = no consent = rape) in a hotel room and then move on to getting fellatio from a 15 year old and taping it for kicks, you the oppressed Black male is being railroaded by the ‘system.’ 
Moving on, one other thing that really irritates me is how the mental prowess and strategizing techniques of the elite athlete is completely ignored for physicality when the athlete is Black. Like with Serena and Venus Williams. If I hear one more correspondent talk about “their power” or how they “overpowered” their competition I will scream! Sheer strength is not enough to become the number-one ranked tennis player and remain for multiple years. 
Which is why I think the use of performance-enhancing drugs is far more prevalent than what the powers that be would have the general public believe. Is it with tacit approval but a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy, where if you get caught you’re on your own? After all, the US of A wants world dominance in every area including athletics. Who gets to decide what’s legal and what’s not? Alcohol used to be banned – and it never will be again no matter how many impaired people get behind the wheel of a vehicle and injure or kill others. So why was Marion Jones so publicly humiliated and jailed when she got caught? Was it the severity of the crime or was there more to it? She could’ve been potentially charged with other crimes – which she may have been acquitted of by a jury of her peers. Was it race or gender or both that motivated the prosecution?

What Are You Thankful For?

We have a holiday of sorts coming up this week. I always found Thanksgiving to be kinda weird. I was always glad to have a reason for our family to get together and do something special, but didn’t quite buy the historical reasons for this ‘great celebration’. I wondered how the nice unsuspecting indigenous people could be so generous and come together with the latest ‘visitors’ (for I don’t think the Europeans were the only ones to come to the Americas) only to be slaughtered later on. That Pocahontas mythology also doesn’t quite jibe. The saying goes that history is created by the victors. 
Anyhoo, so many of us may be feeling a little less carefree this year despite doing everything possible to change the outcome and have to find a way to keep striving. So I think reminding ourselves of every little thing that we do have that’s good, that’s kind, that’s loving and that’s here right now will do us good. 
Can you name 5 things that you are grateful for right now? Don’t think of 5 pat answers while smirking either. NO snark allowed. 
1. I had a great conversation with my mother on Saturday. 
2. I’ve received solid words of encouragement about my writing.
3. I am renewing my mind and taking actions that support growth.
4. I am living on less these days but I am independent and free to make choices.
5. I am looking forward to the following year and can’t wait to see how things unfold. 
**6. I loved last night’s prequel episode of 24. I am glad this season will focus on child soldiers being recruited by numerous militias in African countries, the US gov’t involvement and all the other accompanying conflicts. Even though it’s a tv show millions of people who might not have otherwise thought about these things are having their consciousness raised. Combined with the unprecedented involvement in all things political this past year, I think it would be an opportune time to shine a light on this and make some very needed change happen!
Enjoy your day!

Bookmark and Share

What Are Your Acts of Faith?

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

Bookmark and Share

Soap Operas Are Boring and Then They Die

Has the death knoll been rung for the entire genre of serialized drama? That’s highly unlikely but change is afoot. NBC announced the departure of two of its veteran actors from Days of Our Lives. Wow, I never thought Marlena and John would get the axe. I must confess I haven’t watched DOOL in years but my favorite plots were when Marlena got possessed by the Devil and the original Roman came back from the dead. You can download the possession episodes courtesy of Supernatural 66. They’re a hoot to watch!
The ‘stories’ as they’re affectionately called in the Black community, are losing viewers left and right. That year they were bumped off the air to show us the spectacle of OJ and the Trial of the Century showed that we could live without them, ha! Executives can’t seem to figure out how to retain current viewership or attract a wider audience. Sounds just like the auto industry, still trying to do it the old way instead of being more efficient and paying each executive some fat salary. Well, I can tell you why for free. The plots are contrived, they don’t follow continuity and your staff and casts are not diverse enough.
How many Black writers and producers are employed? How many Black actors are prominently featured with equal airtime with a major plot line? Only showing Latino actors who are as white-skinned as possible (doesn’t stop Telemundo) to feed some unspoken ‘quota’ so the networks can claim diversity is far too obvious and a failure. Second and third-tier plots and having a side kick or only pairing PoC with other PoC is majorly lame and doesn’t reflect society at large. The other trend is to pair the Latino actor with a white actor who almost always has blonde hair. It’s usually the only type of interracial parings you’ll see. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the casts and get back to me.
The Young and the Restless has been the only soap to have a core Black family consistently, but I still feel they drop the ball when it comes to giving all the characters as good a story line as the white actors on the show – some of whom haven’t been on as long but still get more screen time. Also, this is a pet peeve of mine but they can’t seem to cast and retain actors who aren’t somewhat obviously racially ambiguous, thereby denying the audience the full representation of the beauty of all Black people. That’s something ALL the soaps do – when they cast ‘Black’ at all.
I used to watch One Life to Live during the years Renee Goldsberry was on portraying Evangeline, the lawyer with a heart of gold and held out hope because her role was expanded and they cast an actress as her sister. I was hoping for a viable, three-dimensional leading lady with a major story. Just when things were leaning towards a Todd/Evangeline coupling, the actress and ABC broke off negotiations for a contract renewal and she left.
Now, I will point to one interesting casting choice on the Bold and the Beautiful when they chose an obviously Black male actor to play the long-lost son of Donna Logan. Also General Hospital has the Night Shift series with a zaftig Black actress and Billie Dee! Alas it only airs on Soap Net. I wasn’t expecting that. The thing that really gets in my craw is how the actresses are all so bland looking and could be interchanged on so many shows. Almost without exception they’re a size 2 now like the rest of Hollywood and it’s just….boring and unrealistic.
When Genie Francis expresses concern about her appearance being an impediment to her acting on General Hospital because she’s a bigger than a size 6 I think there’s a problem with the industry. The audience doesn’t care – they just want to see Luke and Laura around to have another adventure. I am tired of being distracted by frozen faces and emaciated bodies.
Finally, this push to cast younger actors and incorporate them isn’t really working. For one thing, they keep casting people who can’t act! If I’m a veteran viewer I don’t want to see some contrived teen angst plot with 20-something actors playing 15. This constant dumbing down and pandering to the audience is blatant and insulting. It was great writing and talent that drew an audience not gimmicks. Reality tv may be popular amongst a certain set but trying to turn soap operas into one with lower production values and limited investment will always backfire for those with higher standards.
***
Update: I know All My Children put out a media blitz to announce the return of Jessie and Angie, the first (and only) Black super couple. I was skeptical because I knew it was a ratings ploy from the get go. I wondered how long they’d stay on before someone was curiously written off for no reason. I also wanted to see if they got a long-term high profile story arc. ABC also added a few other younger Black actors and Mario Van Peebles (yum). Well….can I say color me disappointed – again? They had the chance to pull in a new viewer and blew it. I expect to be engaged, not just see a Brown face. Until they do something about that they deserve to keep losing what little audience they have left.
Also as one of my visitors so aptly put, Black people don’t own these shows or a network so we’re stuck in beggar mode. There was that unsuccessful bid of Bill Cosby’s to buy NBC back in 1992 but he couldn’t get the wealthiest Blacks to pool their resources together. Some may be mad at his methods, but at least Mr. Cosby was looking at the big picture. I wonder if Oprah will allocate a budget for a brand new soap on OWN when it launches next year?

Bookmark and Share

Palo Alto Police Chief Resigns

My, my, my what a turn of events. Chief Lynne Johnson is out! I’ve discussed this ongoing inflammatory situation with the Head Officer in Charge who in late October said every Black man in the vicinity was subject to search by the police because there was an increase in crime. 

“When our officers are out there and they see an African American you know, in a, in a congenial way, we want them to find out who they are. The one suspect was wearing a doo-rag. We, my officers see an African American who has a do-rag on his head, absolutely we will be, the officers will be stopping and trying to find out who that person is.”

She said this during a public meeting and was given every opportunity to ‘clarify’ what she ‘actually meant’.  She stood by what she said. That is, until the public outcry. By the way, the police have not put out an APB for head gear: they’ve been harassing innocent civilians since. She still claims she “mis-spoke”, but she offered an oops.  
This isn’t an offer of praise to the City of Palo Alto for decrying racism and racial profiling as the usual suspects of apologists and excusers are out in full force. Also she wasn’t officially fired. She is retiring however, and I hope they do a complete overhaul of their procedures. Apparently 34 years on the force didn’t teach her how to get rid of her prejudice. Crime stats don’t support the profiling incidents – but one can always find a way to put a spin on things. You can follow my previous posts here and here
***
As a side note I will offer another take on this. There are crimes being committed and those perpetrators should be held accountable, but the focus should not be on some vs. others. Assuming everyone and no one being guilty based solely on skin tone is just lousy police work.

Bookmark and Share