Shelly O Rocks!

The coverage of FLOTUS Michelle Obama in the UK and France has me tearing up a bit. I know it’s been disseminated on blogs and has received its ample share of news coverage. I also know it’s symbolism and we have our work cut out for us to really see hope and change manifesting itself. The fight for justice to attain peace never ends, but dang it let’s have a moment to celebrate!! It’s Michelle’s first trip abroad and it’s about time. I know many people who’ve never left the US and believe me you’re missing out when you don’t see how other people live. You don’t realize how insulated we are in the US – and it’s not in a good way either. I wonder if Michelle had to apply for a passport since she has her own personal sovereign nation in the air?
The Queen of England clearly likes her (and it’s usually hard to tell if she likes anyone). Loved the Stephen Frears movie on her by the way. Since Michelle’s representing the US it’s great that they have a cordial relationship. What is this ridiculous fake fashion quick-draw contest between the First Ladies of the US and France? Carla Bruni has years of experience on Michelle in that department but they look equally smashing don’t you think? And why didn’t the press consider Sarah Brown an ample glamour challenger? Why are women placed in these tired gender based limitations? Better yet – who’s next? I saw Naomi Campbell hightailing it back to jolly ol’ England for the chance to strike a pose next to our FLOTUS. See video of their meeting at the Guardian UK with no annoying commentators!
Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-SarkozyMichelle Obama in StrasbourgCarla Bruni-Sarkozy
This is supposed to be somber occasion for all the world leaders to discuss how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again and with the G20 protesters and such things can easily get lost in the shuffle. As if we need reminding, the world economy is in the toilet and unemployment in the US is the highest it’s been since Reagan took office. That’s scary!
Yet, I see how excited the young women were to be able to see Michelle in person and it warms my heart. In the worst of times we need touchstones to remind of us of the good that exists in the world. We need to keep a positive mindset which is something I definitely struggle with. She made some great points about education and having positive male role models that guided her. She let everyone know she may not have come from money and has to learn certain social graces but she’s still a woman of substance. We are in control of our destiny! She’s not perfect but she’s our First Lady – and it’s a great thing!

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Penn Jillette Doesn’t Want Obama To Have Any Power

Yet he claims to “like the guy”. Yeah….whatever. I’m all for legit critique of the President and have done so repeatedly. I am also opposed to group think as well, but comparing Bush’s popularity after 9/11 and Obama’s popularity after Bush destroyed the country is NOT THE SAME THING. One was based on fear, xenophobia and a whole lot of ignorance. Corporate media also got their hands dirty with their propaganda by not offering alternatives to one narrative. I’ve seen critiques of and outright bashing since the day Obama was sworn in. So the comparison is wholly inaccurate. 
All of this “concern” from white men has me laughing until I want to to cry. Well…not quite but I do find it somewhat frustrating how the corporate media uses these fluff pieces to evaluate (tear down) President Obama’s performance and to issue the back-handed compliments. From the ignorant “he’s doing to much” to discussing how toned the FLOTUS’ arms are this constant drip of whining only shows how inherently racist some white people really are and how they’ve done NOTHING to get rid of it.
I have one question: Where were you during the Bush administration?
Just SHUT UP AND GO BACK TO YOUR COMPLACENCY.

Until I hear some alternative workable ideas, some real policy evaluation and the acknowledgment of systematic racism that has crippled millions this is all blowing air out of your butt. And it stinks!

The other two white men on the panel from Carville looking like Skeletor to the typical Republican hack with hairspray hair were boring or typical with their Frick & Frack routine. CNN has positioned themselves as Fox Lite for the duration of this administration and deserves serious pushback. The brunt of my ire is reserved for a man who performs tricks for a living being propped up by CNN as someone with anything important to say. Do some magic and find a clue. Shades of DL Idiot if you ask me. I’m really glad Stephanie Miller was there to balance out all the BS from the male blowhards.


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Old School Friday

Ok this week’s theme gets the major eyeroll. If I Were A Boy is the selection. And no this isn’t a Beyaki song either. What do I select…..hahaha I’ve got it. What band was aggro, rawked, created some of the most popular anthems and yet had a flamboyance and actual gay members?
QUEEN. 
Need I say any more….one of my favorite bands EVER with a plethora of amazing songs.

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When Being Ignored Gets You Killed

With all the focus in the national media and internets being focused on the rogue actions of male cops and perps, yet again another story of a woman of color gets eclipsed. In what seems a clear case of domestic/dating violence run amuck Loyta Sloley was kidnapped by her former boyfriend. It can’t be overstated how important it is for a woman to not allow men who are less than any slack or ignore obvious warning signs for violent behavior. Those men that engage in violence against the women they’re supposed to care about are by far some of the most dangerous men walking. For when the woman tries to get out they turn on them, often killing them. Which is what happened to Ms. Sloley. 

It took police almost four hours to find Loyta Sloley, 34, who called co-workers hours before her Jan. 27 death and told them that she was being held against her will by her ex-boyfriend. By the time police arrived, she was dead on the floor of a downtown Orlando hotel, shot at least four times by ex-boyfriend James Clayton, according to a police report.

Unfortunately the story doesn’t end there. She managed to call 911 and the emergency operator not only ignored her, but implied she was lying about being in danger. This caused a delay in dispatching the police and resulted in her death just as surely as the bastard that pulled the trigger. So you know we may feel desensitized to hearing about cops and killers, but they are typically male. Women are in peril from the criminal elements as well as law enforcement. This operator was just as callous, stubborn and dare I say it – racist – as any cop that would fire a gun. 
If you are a lower income woman of color you apparently have to prove your victim status to the whims of those that are hired to help you in an emergency. Now I have to say Ms. Sloley exasperated her situation by not reporting the previous violence but she certainly didn’t deserve to die the way she did. I hope this case will be reviewed and procedures will be evaluated so this doesn’t happen again. It has to be demanded! Yet, it was totally unnecessary to begin with.
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The Real Black State of the Union Pt. 2

I’m continuing the essay I began with yesterday’s post. In picking up on the concern writer Stephen Talty expresses for how his bi-racial son will navigate his heritage he says the following:  

Raising Asher has made me more thoughtful about these things, and more driven too. But it has also made me harder in some ways. When I see young black dudes dressed like thugs and hanging out on local street corners–a rotten cliche, I know, but there really are black kids dressed in thug wear, hanging out on street corners half a mile from where I live–I have a different reaction now. Before, I felt a sting of sympathy for their place in life. I still hope their lives will change, but now what comes first is this thought: Man, my kid will not be standing out there, if I have to drag him off the corner myself. (My wife, I’m sure, will beat me to it.) I can’t afford to ignore those young men just because I might otherwise come off as racist. The stakes are too high.

Now I tried to not be too taken aback by this overreaching sentiment. Talty is white and married to what he describes as a “beautiful Haitian woman”. So I’ll cut him some slack…but only a little. His concerns are worthy of discussion, but his assumption that young Black men = thugged out has me raising my eyebrow. When I was reading Tami’s discussion of this she mentioned it as well and I initially didn’t agree. There are thugged out young men on corners and I wouldn’t want to be around them either. So my contention is that Talty didn’t convey an awareness of how poverty and class play just as much of a role in the creation of his “greatest fears” as anything else. His lack of acknowledgment of how class structure, familial expectations and personal motivation operate within individuals is jarring.  He still gets to fall back into his white privilege by being above it all and having a false sympathy. It’s as if he’s said to himself, “those poor Negros…too bad for the racism and urban blight…maybe they would’ve done something more with their lives than hanging on the corner block”. It’s a rather paternalistic response couched in liberal white guilt about what their ancestors may or may not have done to people of color that fails to address any remedies. It’s like people with superstitions who have some ritual to ward off the evil eye or something. I suppose he means well for the sake of his children but he still needs to get a clue!
He’s confusing pathology with race when the argument would carry more weight within class structure, but is still ultimately lacking. As Tami says:

Racism, marginalization and poverty have ugly consequences, one of which can be self-defeating behavior and beliefs. Those things need to be addressed as surely as their causes. But these negative consequences should be separated from who we are as black people…. 

That’s true but since his article opened the door though we can’t afford to dismiss how some of that behavior manifests itself and is interpreted by those who do tend to fall into the lower classes. I’m talking about those that attempt to set the bar really low amongst themselves and oppose anyone who disagrees. Speaking standard English and pursuing excellence in education isn’t the single purview of whiteness. Neither is drug-dealing and indiscriminate birth practices solely the behavior of blacks.
Then as a Black woman I’m often discouraged from thinking of my needs as a female because circumstances push me to having to address race first. I’m tired of that. So many of us are automatically taught to think through the prism of race first as if we’re without a gender at all or worse that we aren’t allowed to think about being a woman period. That leans too close to feminism which is viewed as something for discontented white women. I don’t even think many of us question this until we’re put in compromising positions one too many times where the discomfort becomes unbearable. By then we’re usually so angry that it’s hard to sort through where the it ends, where it came from and why we feel so bad. 
Religious practices are also used to subjugate women throughout the world where questioning things is akin to blasphemy. Especially in certain households, the worship of an always humble and self-sacrificing male figurehead is touted as being definition and goal of womanhood. It’s almost like a competition to see which female can out-God the Almighty and give up the most for the approval and comfort of others – often other women who’ve self-sacrificed to their detriment their entire adult lives. It’s why so many just say no.
Or worse, there are women who try to overcompensate living in a patriarchal world by being more aggressive than men. Female bosses who are more demanding or young girls who join gangs this behavior is equally as troubling to me because it runs across a spectrum of society. We may be trying to survive it, but we can’t quite defeat it by ourselves. Like racism.
There is such a thing as “thug wear”. I used to wonder if I’d internalized some latent racism where I felt the urge to stand apart from Black male youths who wore baggy clothes or roughhoused with each other in public. Now I realize my temperament is such that I feel uncomfortable with any male who displays a certain amount of aggression in public. I also don’t like the “fashion” some take to which we know mimics prison wear. From sneakers with no laces to sagging pants I definitely look askance at males who dress that way. I noticed the difference immediately when I lived in London where the majority of the males – and yes the Black males too – dress impeccably. I could count on one hand the sagging pants, extra large baggy shirt look. I also noticed really nice shoes that were shined and hardly any sneakers and I’m talking about walking around the street and on the Tube (public transportation). There are poorer areas in the UK – their version of the ghettos are referred to as Council Housing – but it’s a lot nicer and not nearly as blighted as it is in the US. 
How you dress can change your entire demeanor and it definitely plays into how you are perceived by people. So if you’re surrounded by people who share your background and interests then you’d notice the person who stood out by making different choices. Likewise when you step outside your comfort zone and area of familiarity with people who don’t know you, you’re making an impression. 
We know there’s this preponderance of thug culture that’s been promoted as Black culture as if every Black person lived their lives in a music video. Yes, we know that’s ridiculous but do other people? When a male rapper writes rhymes that call Black women every name but a Child of the Creator there are consequences. When people dance to these songs and others that would get slapped with an X-Rating if they appeared before the MPAA as a film and we say, “That isn’t about me” aren’t we condoning this message? 
When does the right of an individual trump the collective? This is an ongoing argument. No other group of people puts out music and promote it as a lifestyle brand while claiming it’s all in good humor. Ha-ha, I’m not laughing. Oh and before I forget some of these rap artists also claim “He started it!” when confronted about their role in this degradation. Like a 5 year old who joined in breaking whatever rules they know were set they’re looking for an excuse to do what they want for their own personal profit/fame/endorsements at the expense of everyone else. 
It’s not as if being a knuckle dragging idiot who can’t come up with something original or remotely challenging in its context is impossible. Perhaps it’s more difficult. Perhaps the white men running the “entertainment” industry need to be put on notice that the shucking, jiving and coonery won’t sell. Trust me they’ll move onto something else with a quickness. It’s us who keep supporting these images and the ones that promote them. Of course we’re not going to be perfect and we’re not going to agree what’s tasteful and what’s derogatory all of the time. Usually that litmus test can be resolved by employing the sensibilities of the fabled Big Momma, who at one time would have been at least 25 years your senior at any given time and perhaps socially conservative, but abounded in common sense. 
Oprah talked about how when she went to South Africa on one of her trips, a male greeted her “Whatssup my nigger.” Which kicked her security team into high gear. Apparently they pulled him aside and let him how inappropriate that was. The man thought it was how Black Americans greeted each other. Now that may seem rather far fetched, but once that jackal’s been let out it can’t be put back in the cage. 
Now we can say certain music, style of dress, etc. is a reflection of a deeper pathology not the pathology itself. There’s always been an element of it that has existed, like all the other ills of society because we are human beings, imperfect and with free will to do as we please. There are always consequences, boomerang effects and tangents we aren’t prepared for that will occur however. Just because weeds bloom amongst the flowers doesn’t mean they should be ignored. As they multiply they kill off all the good foliage until there’s nothing but other weeds. Do we want our culture being represented as weeds…becoming weeds? 
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Thinking About Marvin Gaye

First of all he was a tremendous talent and his musical legacy is even more amazing compared to the lack of musicality/pornography being touted as great music today. I have a particular fondness for his duets with Tammi Terrell. Since most were written by real-life powerhouse songsmiths Ashford & Simpson the songs they recorded would have resonance. I also liked the duets album he did with Diana Ross. His most definitive work in my opinion was the social justice album, “What’s Going On” that he wrote and produced himself. He faced record label resistance at moving beyond the popular fare for something decidedly political but it paid off. He was a true rebel!! I can’t name another artist from his generation that touched that artistry of that recording. John Lennon’s “Imagine” comes close. 
Of course many love the “Let’s Get It On” release as well. Like many great talents Marvin’s life was full of emotional upheaval and ongoing conflicts that hadn’t been completely resolved. His life came to a bitter end at the hands of his own father one day before his 45th birthday. Despite that we have the fruits of his labor for the life that he lived and pursued fully. Former Law & Order actor Jesse L. Martin is developing a film about Gaye, whose story needs to be brought to the major screen. Oh how sweet it is!

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You’re So Lame Award of Shame

 Robert Powell (abc video via Y! News)
You know most blogs have what they all refer to as their dunce cap awards to people in the news who deserve them. I’ve been wanting to do something along those lines myself but didn’t want to use dunce cap because it doesn’t translate internationally. I think enough of us have some pop culture references under our belt to under the word “LAME”. It’s kinda like “DUH” but worse! I would call it the idiot award but I think I’d want to use that in every post about someone. So hence the use of the word lame and shame. If more people had some and let it the humiliation be a tool for learning the world might be a kinder place for some.
I just read the latest rogue cop to get caught and face public scorn has quit the force. Oh boo hoo to the now former officer and all around racial arsonist Robert Powell who QUIT the force even though he was on PAID leave after stopping and threatening the Moats family. In.the.hospital.parking.lot as Jonetta Collingsworth died. 
I’m certain he’s embarrassed but is he sorry? Of course not. He just doesn’t want to face public scrutiny and an IAB investigation into his long and sordid history of harassment and any possible skeletons that will come falling out. I doubt he’ll even be unemployed for long. He can now be a goon for hire for a private company and beat the crap out of as many Black people as he wants.  
Like the other coward with a badge – Johanes Mehersle – I’m certain Powell will land on his feet. I’m surprised he quit considering the police were fully prepared to cover his ass like they do all cops regardless of their nefarious actions but….celebrity and money won out. If Moats had just been a regular Black man with no connections we’d have NEVER heard of this “incident”. So I hope people learn to start using the power of the pen and media to shake up the system a little bit. Now whether this changes anything in the rank and file is another story entirely but NOW IS THE TIME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT! 

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The Real Black State of the Union Pt. 1

So I was reading this great post “Ours Is Not A Culture Of Failure” by Tami at What Tami Said which was in itself a critique of the article “Race Still Matters For Poor Blacks” by Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune and “Raising the Obama Generation” by Stephen Talty. There are some great points being made but there are some areas where we our opinions diverge. 

From Page’s article: The National Urban League released its annual “State of Black America” report. Predictably, as with previous reports that the 99-year-old league has conducted since the 1970s, the state of black America is pretty miserable.

Blacks were twice as likely to be unemployed, three times more likely to live in poverty and more than six times as likely to be imprisoned compared with whites, the study said. Blacks also lost their homes due to foreclosure at a greater rate than other ethnic groups. This is partly because many blacks had been targeted for sub-prime loans during the economic boom, civil rights groups charge, even when their credit was good enough to get them into conventional loans. 

Mainstream black leaders tend to blame black poverty on external barriers like racism, discrimination and the disappearance of low-skill jobs. Conservative critics tend to blame black poverty on black behavior, attitudes and other “cultural” conditioning.

Blah, blah, blah! My response is: it sucks to be Black apparently. Do I really need a reminder of all the problems? These Civil Rights organizations are still not providing SOLUTIONS. Let’s talk about the various social classes that exist that they’d like to otherwise ignore. Having access to resources and being not only encouraged but expected to excel does impact your life. Let’s talk about white racism but we’re not in a position to ignore how our attitudes and choices compound it.

Tami writes:  Are low achievement, unemployment, substance abuse or criminality elements of black culture? Native culture? Italian or Irish culture? White culture?

No.

And they are not the culture of the poor either.
But these ills are often the result of living forgotten in poverty in a country that is all about symbols of wealth and “getting yours.” These ills are the result of no opportunity in the land of opportunity. These ills are the result of schools with old books or no books. These ills are the result of being warehoused in dangerous, rat-trap, public-housing high rises, and tenements, and reservations and isolated Appalachian villages and trailer parks. These ills are the result of inadequate healthcare and childcare.

I agree…but I don’t. Apathy, anger, depression, hostility, hopelessness, mediocrity and imbalance. I think about how all of these things color challenging situations for people of color. We can only change the things we can control. The first thing we have to control is ourselves. Then we can address the ills of society. If you’re running with a broken leg you won’t get very far. 
 
If the “culture” hasn’t failed it is severely damaged. Or perhaps the question that should be posed is: “What Is Black Culture?” There are differences amongst ethnic groups of Blacks as well as different behavior patterns amongst the social classes. Of course individuals make personal choices that may differ from the majority of their group of origin but certain generalities do prevail. We’re not all Middle Class and we don’t all possess Middle Class sensibilities. Whatever that’s supposed to mean today. 
I think we can safely establish a yard stick of a dominant generic “Black” by which non-Blacks may be attributing to us all because they don’t do shades of grey, er black. It’s like lumping all Asians together or not realizing that China for example has something like 50 diverse ethnic groups. I will continue this conversation in another post because despite my efforts at editing I have so much more to discuss. 
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