Weekly Wrap-Up

I’m condensing multiple posts into a one and giving some other blog hosts a shout-out. Please read them!
Did anybody use GeoCities? Nope me either. Another one bites the dust
Speaking of biting the dust, wearing a cheap cotton painter’s mask won’t protect you from the swine flu. Is this latest outbreak an accident or biological warfare being tested on populations is open for debate. Discuss amongst yourselves. FunkyBrownChick has an interesting take on things.
  • The Supreme Court will review Ricci v. DeStefano where white male fire fighters (who have like a 99% hire and promotion rate) charge they’re being discriminated against as municipalities look into altering testing to bring in more POC. Now I’m not advocating the dumbing down of qualifications, but US firefighters have a hero complex and die at a rate of 8-1 compared to other countries because they rush into situations without evaluation. Despite San Francisco having a female Fire Chief it’s still a rare occurrence and they had to be sued to allow women and non-whites in. So I’m just sayin’……

In the “It’s A Post-Racial World – Not!” files: 

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

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

How you plan on spending President Obama’s 100th day in office depends on whether you were happy or sad he got elected in the first place.
  • I learned just how filthy our planet is. Have you heard of the trash vortex the size of Texas? Hmm maybe that’s where we can send Gov. Perry! It has motivated some to take action. No wonder Klaatu came to get rid of us.
Unemployment rates have increased as projected. The state of California’s is more than 11% now. Blacks with degrees have a disproportionately high jobless rate? Do you have a plan?
  • So many people seemed shocked, shocked I tell ya that the ignorance, apathy misogyny and prejudice they pass onto their kids actually takes effect. Why are people so reluctant to turn in the criminals in their families?
Airlines come up with yet another scheme to bilk us out of our money while sucking on the teat of corporate welfare. Well since we know people are getting bigger why do they keep making the seats on the plane smaller with less leg room? I bet you if all of us “fatties” stopped flying in protest they’d really start howling.
South Park does a send-up of Susan Boyle. 
I found out American Violet isn’t a story of one Black woman’s triumph, but the same ol’ okey doke by whites making a victimization movie. Clink the link and it will take you to the Black Woman Blow the Trumpet blog. You can read the analysis of how this film is showing (some of) us at our worst. See Tyler Perry isn’t the only one you know. Glad I didn’t waste my time or money on this drivel. FAIL!!!
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Bea Arthur Tribute: Maude’s Dilemma Pioneered Reproductive Rights Before Roe V. Wade

Actress Bea Arthur passed away yesterday and many have mentioned her career as one of the premier comediennes of her generation. Many fondly recall the series Golden Girls from the 80’s which was a definite precursor to Sex and the City. I still watch reruns from time to time and that show was very funny and ahead of its time. It also covered many issues around social justice before it became trendy i.e. “safe” to do. 
Her earlier series from the 70’s Maude isn’t one that I recall in detail except that Esther Rolle was featured before her character was spun-off to the series Good Times. Yes, there was a time when Blacks used to count the other Black people on television because there were so few of us. Now the fact that so many women were playing maids is another story…
I do recall the episode that caused a lot of brouhaha back in the day. Bea played the title character where Maude has an unexpected pregnancy and debates whether or not to have an abortion. This character is middle-class and married but at the age of 47 doesn’t want to raise a child. It actually aired before Roe v. Wade completed its course through the legal system and the creators took a chance on it passing. So it was ahead of its time and controversial. 
You’d be hard-pressed to find a show today where the lead character decides whether or not she will have an abortion. The writers/producers almost always cop out and the woman has a miscarriage or almost loses the baby, has a change of heart and completes the pregnancy to term. It’s not as if I’m advocating abortion, but it is a choice that’s made by many women. Men who often are so resistant to the idea of having children don’t take the steps they need to make sure they won’t impregnate a woman by mistake. I’m certain it’s a no-win situation for the woman but since the idea of motherhood is worshipped by so many, yet the quality of life for (poorer, non-white) children is so disdained it’s not a surprise.
Now that the Dominican Republic has amended its constitution to outlaw ALL abortions it will be those least equipped to handle child-rearing, the poor as well as survivors of sexual abuse and rape who will pay the price. As always there’s the element of personal responsibility for our choices and the consequences we may face when we make mistakes. Yet it goes without saying we’re talking about women being left to shoulder the burden of them in these situations – usually alone.
This was a 2-part story arc which you can continue viewing here. There’s been critical analysis of the impact of this storyline at The Beachwood Reporter. I’ll let you view to find out what happens.
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The Racial Politics With Black Women’s Hair

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Told You Obama Had to Watch Out for Those Democrats

Um hmm. So we’re closing in on Obama’s 100th day in office (really I thought it’d been like 4evr) and he’s trying to get work done and such. Now I don’t agree with all of his policies and he’s more conservative than I prefer but I realize it’s all strategic. Well some of it’s CYA but we at least have a President we can have a conversation with. Ranting and acting a fool in public isn’t going to yield the results some think they want.
Now I was very excited to hear about the reforms #44 wants to do regarding guaranteed student loans. It’s a starting point as far as I’m concerned. The banks got a bailout, I think students and parents should be able write off a big chunk of the loans they have to take out. Particularly when schools count them as part of the financial aid award. Everyone doesn’t want to have to attend community college or find alternate resources when the price of an education has ballooned far past the income growth rate. 
That’s not the point though. After applying for all manner of scholarships/grants have been exhausted those loan interest rates and processing fees really add up. The banks get the money from the government for free but charge us more than 6%. That’s the interest rate for a mortgage by the way (if your credit’s good). So let me repeat that. The banks lend money that’s already covered by the government from our taxes and then turn around and charge us a high interest rate, thereby making a really nice profit. Somewhere in the billions in fact.
Which when you go back to that bailout the banks got after grossly mismanaging money it’s really beyond insulting! So aside from Larry Summer doing his drunken sailor routine we have some Democrats opposing the effort at reform. Senator Ben Nelson is getting a lot of attention but he’s not going to be the only one. We already know some of the Republicans will oppose anything and everything just to prove their irrelevance, but I’ve been warning that if Obama isn’t careful trying to appease all the factions it will render him ineffective.  

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Old School Friday

This week is yet another twist: This Song Should Have Never Been Made. Yikes. I can think of plenty of songs in the past 10, 7, 5, 2 years and artists I wish had NEVER gotten record deals. As well as the banning of Auto-Tune. It was cute when Cher did it for Believe but blame it on al-co-h-h-h-h-hol Jamie Foxx…not so much! 
I’m thinking of other songs that I think are degrading and objectify women that I won’t be playing here that belong on this list, but I need to find something silly. So…it’s gonna be….

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

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You’re So Lame Award of Shame – Asher Roth & Larry Summers

I was deciding between Jackie Chan and some others but then this just came in: Larry Summers fell asleep during a VERY IMPORTANT meeting between the President and members of the Banking Industrial Complex as they have to justify gross overcharges in credit card fees. I guess he hadn’t had his Wheaties. This is a huge consumer issue and one where laws enacted to protect us from fraud need to be enforced. Especially after the CBC sold out the Black community in thwarting the ability to include certain debts in bankruptcy filings. Yes we bear some responsibility but we know the amount of credit being issued was usually more than what would be advisable. 
The one strike rule where if you missed one payment your interest rate could nearly double was ridiculous – esp when the banks ask for and get gov’t bailouts, favorable rates and other concessions. Summers was already a controversial choice for the Obama administration with his conflicts over gender insensitive statements and his very public fight with Cornell West so you’d think the man would at least TRY to show up for work ready to work, but I suppose that’s just too much to ask for!  
So I was all set to publish this when I spent a little early evening Twitter time and lo and behold I’ve got another entry for ya’ll. Some dubious character named Asher Roth who’s a rap artist and claims he’s about the “culture” of hip-hop yet doesn’t want seem to want to properly acknowledge that culture came from BLACK PEOPLE made some off the cuff joke about “nappy headed hos” because he was at Rutgers. Yeah the Imus assault all over again. At least he got a flood of responses from others calling him out on it. He quickly deleted it from his stream and said he was “sorry” – except it had been resent. 
Blogger Byron Crawford did a screen capture so we have the proof. I sent him a message saying he needs to read the posts at Racialicious blog about Hipster racism and get a clue. Oh and the excusers and deniers came out to defend his insult to Black women, because it “doesn’t have anything to do with me personally” and “you’re being overly sensitive”. Including a few very CLUELESS Black women. When will we learn that every “little” slight leads to further depravity? I’m sure he’s a nice person and it’s all a misunderstanding because he said he meant no harm. Yeah because racialized sexism is just so darn funny, haha. As funny as a gas chamber, hey Roth? Two steps forward, five steps back people!

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

I heard this on the classic R&B station and was transported back to the 80’s. Rockwell’s song was too cool for school.  
When I hear that song I usually think of this one by Falco as well. It’s a little pre-Friday old school video fest.

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Sometimes Parents (And Others) Just Don’t Understand

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

Sharron, 17, applied anyway. “Then I went to work trying to persuade my parents to reconsider,” she recalled. “I just knew they’d come around and see things my way.”

So Ms. Pearson has established a level of academic excellence but more than that she is actively seeking out opportunities for herself. What I find unsettling is the attitude of those closest to her who would have her make fear-based decisions and who have limited vision. I’m certain her parents love her but they do a great disservice to her by hindering her growth.
This is a situation where the haters/obstructionists/naysayers would come out to discourage someone trying to achieve something and sigh with relief when they stumble. For what does it say about them when someone they know and love comes from the same home/life circumstances but is able to achieve more? Nothing is being handed to her and yet I can almost guarantee someone in her circle is bound to be jealous and resentful.
So why is it that some children have to fight their own family to not just avoid being a lower-economic statistic but thriving in life? Children should not be cookie cutter images of their parents. We’ve all heard stories of kids that have been thrown out of their homes for being gay or facing disapproval for dating interracially. How can academic achievement be a point of contention? 
I can recall wanting to move to NYC after I graduated high school to attend college. It had been something I’d clearly stated as my intention for years and I got nothing but grief about it. I heard all of the scare tactics about how dangerous it was. I’d led a somewhat sheltered life up until then and not traveled anywhere. I was quite stifled in fact and had to go with $50 against my mother’s wishes. It was my life to live though and I just couldn’t understand why having dreams and setting out to accomplish them was so threatening.
Just because other people have gotten stuck in a rut or settled into a comfort zone doesn’t mean it’s okay to hold other people back and discourage them. Those of us who want to take risks must prepare ourselves for the obstacles that life presents – especially when it comes from people we may know and love. I know I’ve personally struggled with wanting approval from others for what are my life choices and how it has hindered me from achieving all that I can. That time is over. It’s like a never-ending cycle, like being a rat on a spinning wheel. We must never apologize for wanting to have a fulfilling existence. Life is too short to take time and opportunities for granted.
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The Blackening of the Fashion Industry

So I hear American Vogue has had three Black women on their cover this year. One was Michelle Obama, one was Beyonce and the other was an actual model, Liya Kebede. Well….big whoop. Liya shared the cover with a bunch of white models (Jourdan Dunn is in the foldout), one’s the biggest singer in the business and the other is our FLOTUS. So I’m not exactly breaking out the Dom now that Anna Wintour decided to jump on the bandwagon after Vogue Italia had their infamous all-Black issue which made her look bad. The added irony showed that while the editorial spreads may have featured Black models the ad space sold to financially support the issue was 99.9% devoid of one.Black.model. 
I still remember Wintour’s rather apologetic Letter From the Editor way back in 1997 which seemed like the last time they featured a Black model on the cover with Kiara Kabukuru. It was the July issue, the leanest of all months to boot. Ms. Wintour was asking people to “forgive” her for daring to put a Black model of the cover – AS IF SHE DOESN’T HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE THAT DECISION. I remember I felt compelled to write her a response with some variation of kiss my *ss because I didn’t need her to validate me. 
I used to subscribe faithfully but I had to rethink my support of magazines that weren’t catering to me specifically. On the other hand Essence was way too old fogey for me and I really wanted something young and hip. By the way if I haven’t made it clear I do actually like fashion. I was so happy when MODE and HONEY magazines were being published and equally crushed when they folded. 
By the way these fashion magazines had a continual snowflake fest of all white models for years after the decline of the Supermodel phase. I think it started with the grunge look and it stuck. Of course if you’ve heard about certain American designers whining about how Shelly O won’t wear their clothes then you may also have heard their blatant discrimination with their use of to Jim Crow-era “No Blacks Need Apply” stance. So just like so many newspapers that are in financial ruins I have zero sympathy. They’ve been guilty of hiring discrimination for years and karma is a *itch isn’t it?! Is it also too much to ask that they show some models of various sizes and not all skull and crossbones?
Now all the Black people that fell for the okey doke of chasing after hip-hop era bling had better take a second look at their designer purchases from companies that don’t want to be associated with them, let alone employ them and stop throwing away good money after bad practices. It’s just hilarious to me that Michelle doesn’t have to make any statements or say one word. We know what’s up. they know what’s up. Bethann Hardison has been fighting the industry for years for inclusion. I appreciate her efforts but inclusion is not equality. I also can’t help but notice how the Black Upper Crust has not done one thing to address this and they are the ones with the money and clout to pus against it, right? 
Having a Black First Lady has leveled the playing field. I’ve noticed the trickle down of hiring more Black models in catalogs like Spiegel but there’s quite a ways to go. In the meantime I’m cracking up. Some of these designers just don’t know what to do. It’s really quite simple but they’d rather play dumb. I hope they grab some cheese with their whine, get a clue and remedy the situation.
Here’s Oscar de la Renta eating crow and backpedaling from his criticism of Michelle Obama. In case he hasn’t figured it out she’d be criticized for wearing one of his 300K outfits in this economy. Nor is she required to please the fashionista crowd. So she was going to get flack no matter what she did. 

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The Green Generation

Earth Day April 22
Today is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. Like many holidays it gets easy to take events for granted. But if the weather in CA is any indication of a change in climate then we should be concerned. 93 degree temperatures in San Francisco proper (not just across the Bay) isn’t normal weather. Likewise neither is snow in Atlanta at the beginning of April or 35 degrees on the East Coast. I know it probably gets boring to hear about droughts in some areas while there’s too much of some other condition elsewhere but this has significant ramifications. It affects how we get food, what kind of crop is yielded and its frequency. A farmer’s livelihood depends on it. 
As the Obama administration rolls out the greatly-touted “Green Jobs” some of us will watch that ship pass us by if we aren’t prepared to hop on board. From Van Jones being offered a position to Majora Carter’s work in the low-income neighborhoods in the Bronx we do have people of color looking ahead to see how these things will impact all of us. Having clean water is a life and death situation for people in (re)developing countries but it also impacts those people in areas where there may be toxic waste in close proximity. It’s usually an economically depressed area populated by people of color, like San Francisco’s Hunters/Baypoint area.
We need to get off the coal teat once and for all. We need a national high speed rail system as well as an affordable and reliable public transportation scheme. I know a couple that refit the engine on their vehicle to accept cooking oil and they save thousands per year as their car only requires a minimal amount of gas now and they recycle it. We can do little things to save the environment and lower our bills by switching to long-life bulbs and unplugging appliances that aren’t in use. Recycling and composting are other methods.
With the economy being so precarious now is a great time to take up knitting, gardening and other old-fashioned activities that the Western world may find “quaint” but that millions of people around the world utilize to this day. It also fosters a sense of community where people may be reintroduced to developing relationships with their neighbors. If people feel responsible for each other they’ll be more likely to look out for one another, clean up their neighborhoods and take an interest in maintaining a functioning environment. 
Investing in locally grown food will sustain communities better than relying on off-season food being shipped in halfway around the world. With childhood obesity at an all-time high clearly parents have allowed cheap foodstuffs and advertising to take over their lives. As we know providing nutritious meals to children aids in their development and learning skills. The charity.water campaign is doing great things as well. So check out the official Earth Day website for information and a list of local events and national initiatives you can participate in. Knowledge is power!

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