Saturday, December 21, 2002
Okay, I'm not so innocent that I expected the new Republican leader in the Senate to be better than Lott. But I am amazed that his biographical spin includes this tidbit: Until he was 37 years old, Bill Frist had never voted in an election. This makes me crazy. Why? What? How could he not vote? I guess, if you come from money, you know where the power really is and you don't need no stinking ballot to get it. Grrr.
Well it's over, Lott has resigned and all kinds of black people are reportedly cheering. And I'm wondering if it was all worth it. Bush is still president, we're still heading to war and Trent just becomes the undercover racist conservative's new hero. I don't believe he's the devil, but I do understand that he believes what he said and is just sorry to have slipped.
The thing that keeps nagging at me is that if we could get this riled up over the war, corporate scandal or elections, we could really do something. I suppose one could argue that it's easy to get all righteous when there's one person to focus on. I'm thinking that's a big cop out, though.
Last night - yes on 12/20, all last-minute -- I went out to buy some music for a gift. I was looking for gospel on cassettes - which are pretty scarce. Anyway, I went into our nearest Christian music store and it wasn't that busy. Which was a sharp reminder of where our collective heads are at (those of us who *celebrate* Christmas). I naively thought a Christian store would be kind of busy on Christmas. But apparently everyone was at Tar-jé. Then again, I'm not exactly a textbook Christian. More of a backslider, so what would I know?
A new and fabulous (so I've heard) biography of Zora Neale Hurston is out this month. It's penned by Valerie Boyd, an editor at the AJC. There's also a new book that contains volumes of her letters - so more insight, more love for ZNH. I haven't gotten either book yet, but perhaps I'll get into them before the festival.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Yep - I've been so far from the blogosphere it's funny. Or sad. I am struggling with time. Juggling motherhood, writing, a full-time job and reading is no joke. I really like blogging and reading blogs - I feel challenged by both pursuits - but it is one of the first things to fall off my to do list. Lately I've been questioning whether or not I am really a blogger, or just a lurker. Since I haven't figured it out yet, I figured I might as well post some things.
Secret of longevity: avoidance of men
Mary Parr, the oldest living person in the U.S., died yesterday. She was 113 years old. Her secret to long life: never getting married. Well, there goes my shot at living to 113.
Tavis on Fresh Air
Fresh Air had an interview with Tavis Smiley on yesterday's show. Tavis, formerly of BET, broadcasts on Tom Joyner, CNN, and now NPR (how many jobs does that brother have?). Well he and host Terry Gross started off with a strange conversation about how black people don't listen to NPR (National Public Radio). I was shocked and appalled. Apparently I am either a) not black or b) having aural delusions, since I swear I've been listening to NPR for years. Anyway, Tavis made some comment about how his friends are more likely to know about the NBA than NPR. Now let's be real here. If anybody else, say Andy Rooney or some other obnoxious white commentator had made the same remark, we'd be calling him or her out of his or her name. It makes me sad to hear an African American make such sweeping generalizations about us -- a very diverse population. Okay - so I've vented. The interview is really interesting, once you get past that moment. I wonder, since we don't listen to NPR, who is listening to Tavis' show? Alright, enough.
Friday, September 06, 2002
I believe my horoscope for today says it all: Taurus for Friday, Sept. 06: You have that rare ability to say the right thing at the right time. Complete strangers are easily impressed, as well they should be. Let your self-assurance carry you forward in a blaze of light. (finally, someone got it right!)
Miss N.C. (yes, I am actually referring to the winner of the pageant) is on her way to the big Miss America shindig. Only there are two of the tiara-ed ladies. One is Native American, one is white and there's a nude photo involved. As with the Vanessa Williams mess, I think it's very interesting that a franchise built on exploiting women's bodies can restrict women based on what they do with their own bodies. We're so confused.
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
Yep - we hit the road, or rather the skies, for the Labor Day weekend. Family, baby and the last rainy days of August. On the flight into South Carolina, on a small jet with less than 20 passengers, the flight attendant (the only one) said that if any of us dipped snuff or used chewing tobacco that we should, please, use the lavatory. I have never heard mention of those tobacco products on any other flights. *sigh* Only on a flight to S.C. Oh well, at least when she said that I was sure we were headed home!
Here's an interesting discussion of the Joe Boxer ad - you know, the one with the black man dancing in his undies and smiling something fierce - from Kmart. I really thought the ad was bizarre, but it did it's job and got my attention. Now I think: Joe Boxer - guy dancing - KMart. Some folks think it's a bit buffoonish. I'm still contemplating that - I wonder will we ever get to be playful without all those years of history tainting every black grin, quick step and laugh. I think Spike Lee was doing some KMart commercials. Surely this isn't one of them? See one of Spike's ads.
Tuesday, August 27, 2002
Expect to see lots of stories tomorrow about a new study called Cellblocks or Classrooms. The study shows how states have spent astronomically on jails in recent years, but have not kept pace with education money. No surprise. We'd rather lock 'em up than educate 'em.
|Cellblocks or Classrooms? shows that as corrections expenditures have grown, state spending on higher education has not kept pace with increased spending on prisons. Between 1985 and 2000, spending on corrections doubled or tripled in most states, while only one state doubled its higher education spending in real dollars.|
Selling Tech To Black Folks
In a column for BusinessWeek online, via yahoo, Roger O. Crockett comments on the Blacks and Technology conferences convened by Tavis Smiley. Interesting numbers: 90% of those logging on from home are white. (Only 5% of African American small businesses have an e-commerce plan, compared to 35% of white businesses). I find their ideas for marketing to us a bit unsettling. I don't really think selling web pages to me as "homie" pages would strike the right chord. Maybe I'm just not black enough.
Starvation in Zimbabwe
The land redistribution efforts in Zimbabwe will probably end up starving thousands. Among all the things black Americans could be talking about, is this one of them? It feels like something we ought to be paying attention to. Then again, it is Africa and you know we gots issues with thinking about any nation on that continent. Anyway, it was wrong for so few to own so much of the land and it seems right to try to correct that. But to do it in a way that simply replaces one elite class with another and leaves people in peril is unconscionable. Here's a profile of President Robert Mugabe. And a short profile of Zimbabwe, the former Rhodesia.
Gay Backlash in Florida
From NPR: Black Churches and Gay Rights, "some of Miami's African-American churches and civil rights activists are campaigning against a local law protecting homosexuals from discrimination." Listen here. According to one woman, part of the motivation may be some black folks need to find somebody who we can be 'better than.' People For the American Way is involved in a lawsuit about Take Back Miami's efforts to repeal the law.
A few hours north, in Orlando, the city doesn't even have the law on the books yet and churches are trying to fight it.
At last count, 6,590 pieces of correspondence had arrived at City Hall, most of them copies of the same form letter. Letters from opponents outnumber those from supporters more than 2-to-1.
If you live in Orlando, send the city commissioners a letter and change those numbers. Orlando City Hall, 400 S. Orange Ave., P.O. Box 4990, Orlando, FL , 32801. Fax: 407-246-2842. Email the mayor: firstname.lastname@example.org
It feels like Florida is slipping backwards. Perhaps a boycott, like the ongoing NAACP tourism boycott of S.C., would work here. Question is, can Florida tourism take another financial hit?
Monday, August 26, 2002
Naturally, there are scores of events around here scheduled to commemorate September 11. Most of them are prayer/vigil/service/mass things at churches. That's what we do when we grieve or remember heroes. But somehow, the tone of it doesn't sit well with me. The big focus seems to be lifting up any firefighters and police officers, in spite of the fact that most in my area, and probably in yours too, had nothing to do with the rescue efforts at the WTC, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. And it seems we're still stuck in this knee-jerk, superficial, patriotic fervor that accepts anything and anyone draped in red, white and blue. That's why some folks are salty that the Boss is singing American Skin (41 Shots) on his tour.
All that to ask - does anyone have any alternative ideas about a way to mark the date? I'm not looking for protests, but a way to memorialize the dead, but not fall into jingoism. I'll post any ideas I hear about (so send 'em on!).
Friday, August 23, 2002
Orlando Weekly has a piece this week about a documentary on Ocoee, Florida that is getting some attention. Some of you may remember the play I co-authored on the subject of that election day massacre 80+ years ago. Read more about what happened in our author's note. Go here for more on the documentary, Ocoee: Legacy of the Election Day Massacre, by UF graduates.
There is an exhibit at Emory University of photos and postcards of lynchings (yes, people actually sent postcards and photos of murders). The exhibit, Without Sanctuary, is based on a collection and book of the same name. Here are the photos online, here's the book. The Emory exhibit ends this December.
The Ocoee documentary and talk about reparations got me thinking on this. I hope to see the exhibit next month during a reunion trip to ATL.
Thursday, August 22, 2002
That Wes and Ving pic I mentioned earlier - well it opens tomorrow! The film: Undisputed, the story: Wes and Ving fight it out as prison boxers. You might also want to start checking out africana.com's new Black Box feature with a list of "black" movies coming out. I think their definition of black movie is any film with a black person in the cast or as a decision-maker. (For instance, Gold Member is listed - and is that really a "black" movie?)
Sorority Flames: Fire at black sorority house at U of Alabama
Journalists - check this
Here's a new site for journalists of color. Get news and commentary about us in the media from harambeejournal. Send items to email@example.com
Oh yeah, thanks, massa
For those of you who missed it, Dinesh D'Souza was on NPR on Tuesday talking about reparations. He, of course, is against them. I wouldn't expect anything less from the guy who wrote The End of Racism. His point this time out is that we ought to be thankful that our ancestors were enslaved. Otherwise we wouldn't have all this western culture and opportunity and we'd still be stuck in the African bush. Um, that argument's hundreds of years old. And it's still an arrogant, patriarchial point of view, even if it's spouted by descendants of former subjects.
|He argues that while slavery and colonialism injure those who grow up under them, the systems can prove to be beneficial to the descendants.|
You can listen to him here.
Tuesday, August 20, 2002
Okay, so maybe this is cheating. But time is short these days.
Payback: negroplease has a good discussion with links on the reparations issues. Don't be too simple about it - get some information, then decide. That's what I'm about to do.
Sunday, August 18, 2002
Legal in black and white
Florida A & M University's law school begins classes in Orlando next week. (The first FAMU law school was closed when FSU's law school opened in the 1960s). Here's how the class looks:
Of the law school's 93 students, 41 percent of them are black, 56 percent are white, 7 percent are Hispanic, 1 percent are Asian, and 5 percent did not disclose their ethnicity on their applications.
Okay. So now FAMU has a mostly white law school. Where is this going?
Perils of a baby daddy
Jesse Jackson has decided to weigh in against Jeb's choice to head the Florida Department of Children and Families, an agency that actually loses children. Gov. Bush' choice has come under fire for some ultra-conservative beliefs (see below). The Rev. Jackson has drawn attention to himself once again, but of course his newest title, Baby-daddy, is being used against him. A Bush spokeswoman says:
“For Jesse Jackson to expound upon issues of morality and family, this is absurd. It’s comparable to Bill Clinton volunteering to teach a class on abstinence.”
Jesse should have known that kind of stuff was going to be thrown in his face. What I want to know is, how come it's okay for Bush folks to throw dirt, but not for the Democrats to talk about his druggie daughter and drinking nieces? Oh, now I remember, they have "substance abuse" problems and we're all sympathetic to his family issues.
I still kinda wish Jesse wasn't a baby-daddy. Kind of takes the moral out of his moral outrage.
Saturday, August 17, 2002
Well our esteemed first brother (aka governor of Florida) is in the hot seat. Again. For those who haven't been following this, here's the nuggets. It was recently revealed that the state Dept. of Children and Families has lost children placed in foster care. Most notably, a 4-year-old girl named Rilya Wilson. The head of the agency just resigned and within a week (less than, actually), JEB appointed Jerry Regier of Oklahoma to the post. Well, turns out Mr. Regier was once a part of a group that said corporal punishment that results in welts and bruises is okay. Huh? Now Regier and Bush are both under fire.
Here's what else the group, The Coalition on Revival Inc, has to say:
"We affirm that the husband has final say in any family dispute, insofar as he does not violate Biblical principles; that a husband's headship is irrevocable; and that if the husband is incapacitated, the wife may exercise his authority as his deputy, not as his replacement."
"We affirm that an able-bodied man must make every reasonable effort to support his family continuously ... that the wife may augment the family's income through effective management of resources or, with the husband's consent, by home business; and that in cases of family financial crisis, the wife may, with her husband's approval, accept temporary outside employment, but that the family should view this as bondage, strive to liberate itself and petition God for liberation."
Good to know that I'm only my husband's deputy and that my work is "bondage."
Run, HRC, Run
Speaking of wives and their place. Folks are saying Hillary Clinton thinks her place is back in the White House. She's supposedly working up for a run in 2008, giving her time to do some image-spinning and fundraising. It's no wonder that with groups like the aforementioned extremists that it's taken this long for some viable women candidates to get going. Of course, she'll be held to different standards and being the wife of Bill will probably be a stone around her neck. But it's a good start.
Friday, August 16, 2002
I had a bit of eye-shock the other day when I decided to show someone negroplease. Jason has a new design for the site. It looks cool, but it certainly gave me pause. As would any image, anywhere, of a pickaninny eating watermelon. But Bamboozled is one of my favorite movies, too. Still hard to see those images. If you haven't seen Bamboozled (Spike Lee) and Ethnic Notions (by the late Marlon Riggs), you need to go watch them. Rent, buy, whatever. You might try a library, especially at universities, for Ethnic Notions. Bl**kbuster probably doesn't have it!
Tuesday, August 13, 2002
Monday, August 05, 2002
Bare Your Soul: Thinking Girls' Guide to Enlightenment is available for pre-order (ahem) at amazon.com. You might want to reserve a copy. And I'm not just saying that because I'm one of the contributors. Well, maybe I am just saying that because I'm in the anthology. Whatever. It will be out in November - just in time to get your enlightenment on for the New Year or Kwanzaa or just because.
But enough about me. We can always pick that discussion up later.
George is back. That's a relief ;). Get your fix of another culture watcher.
More than a 1,000 moms breastfed simultaneously in public this weekend. It's a record. Now if we could just make more places as breast-friendly as the Bay Area, maybe more mothers would breastfeed longer. C'mon, aren't America's children worth it?
Sunday, August 04, 2002
Vin Diesel is taking over the world. Or so it seems. Until Friday he didn't even rank a passing thought/glance with me. But now, I'm all over that! I read at uppity negro that Vi - Di was on the covers of Jet and EW. Now, does Jet ever have a cover with someone who is not, at least partially, black? Hmmmm. It's been reported (EW, Savoy) that Diesel is black and Italian-American, with some other possible add - ins. Cool. Makes him very attractive for H-wood. And makes me think about that whole miscegenation question again (see below). Another multicultural action hero (see The Rock). Does this mean anything? Will they ever be in a movie with Halle? Does this mean race is less of an issue, or does it still loom large, since you have to look like a certain race or none at all to succeed on screen? And, finally, where is that other action hero, Wesley Snipes?
Thursday, August 01, 2002
As a book lover, I am intrigued by the folks at bookcrossing. Concept: viral book sharing/tracking. Basically, you read a book, leave it in some random place and whoever picks it up posts to the site and passes it on again. Fantabulous! I can't wait to leave a book somewhere. Hope to find a couple myself. What a way to get ideas out there and touch the lives of complete strangers! Almost as much fun as blogging!
Speaking of books - it would be great if someone would leave Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point lying around for me. No? Okay, it's off to amazon, I go.
Tuesday, July 30, 2002
If you don't already get Aaron MaGruder's Boondocks strip in your email box, go to ucomics today and get that. He's doing a cycle about our favorite porcelain doll, Michael Jackson, and his recent umgowa, black powa makeover. It's so sad it's hilarious.
About 10 years ago one of my high school teachers told me she thought miscegenation was the answer to our race problems. I had been out of high school for several years by that time and was fervidly studying African American literature and culture. I thought she was dazed by her idealism and that it was very convenient for her to think that would solve our problems. Turns out, she's not the only person thinking this way. Andrew Sullivan had a post recently about miscegenation as a balm. His idea is that the new reports of rising rates of black women/white men marriages mean that a) black women are "making it" and b) that they're helping create a future where race won't be restrictive, because people will be mixed together.
I think his view is also a bit convenient, like the aforementioned high school teacher. However, unlike the me of a decade ago, I'm not stuck on the idea of inter-racial love as more negative than positive. (Though I must admit, particularly when it comes to black men, I've still got some healing to do.) Now, I'm concerned that the turnaround on miscegenation may just mean we'll have another label for people. So we'll have blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians and "colored." And this doesn't seem like a good thing. So I'm still pondering the miscegenation as salvation argument and I think we've to to look out for the creation of another label, which doesn't solve anything. One other question this discussion raises with me is what happens to the people who aren't recently mixed ('cause many of us are mixed somewhere in our lineage)? If miscegenation is the answer, are we obsolete?
Friday, July 26, 2002
I know this is mean - but our marriage has, thus far, lasted longer than J-Lo's marriages combined. Whew. Now we can relax. Question is, why didn't she just marry Sean/Puffy/P.Diddy? Too many names to remember?
Find me, stalk me
Latest cyber-scare: people can look you up on Google. Okay, so that's a big duh! But the NYT article does point out how this is a privacy issue and screw up your life. Yet it's like anything else, if you do something different, alternative, or subversive you are both challenging the system and taking a personal risk. This just makes it easier for folks who would use it against you to find out.
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Austin Powers in Goldmember (yes, they do mean that member) starts this weekend. Beyonce Knowles of Destiny's Child is in it as Foxxy Cleopatra, a spoof of female blaxploitation icons. She's on the cover of a couple of magazines and with that blonde hair (or is a weave) and the way she's shot, she's looking kind of "exotic." As in, 'we think she's beautiful because she's just a little bit black, but not enough to scare us off.' I'm amazed that that is still the way Hollywood sees black women - and the only way to some extent. Think Halle, Vanessa, Beyonce, and some of the television folks, like Nicole Ari Parker and Sallie Richardson. To be a black woman at the megaplex or in primtime, it seems you've got to be on the light side. Anybody seen Angela Bassett lately?
And is the returning fascination with blaxploitation's stereotypical images tied to this color struck casting? Beyonce isn't alone. Halle is set to star in an updated Foxy Brown. Does this mean less boob footage? Considering Halle's latest work, I don't think so!
I am glad to hear that Halle will be starring in Nappily Ever After, based on the Trisha R. Thomas novel.
Sunday, July 21, 2002
Noelle Bush is a troubled young woman. She's serving time in a drug rehab program in Orlando after faking a prescription for Xanax. She's also the granddaughter of a president, niece of a president (that sounds like a joke, doesn't it) and daughter of a governor. An article yesterday in the Orlando Sentinel talks about the pressures such a lineage hold for her. And the mostly sympathetic piece talks about her brother's very different and successful life as a young politician and law student.
What I want to know is, why this particular addict is getting the kid glove treatment? Is being born into one of the most powerful families in the country such a burden? I mean, if you can be a slacker with that kind of pedigree, you must really be working at it. Anyway, I'm sure she'll get straighted out in time for the 2002 election (her father's) and 2004. Perhaps they'll even marry her off and get her hidden for good.
In other addiction news
Normally, I wouldn't even read a story from The Enquirer, much less reference it. But alas, never say never. I heard on the radio (Tom Joyner's tease this weekend) that Eric Benet was in rehab for sex addiction. Had to go get that. The Enquirer "broke" the story. Apparently this is the attempt to save the marriage with Halle. Now I don't want to make light of a brotha's problems or medical terms, but is there really such a thing as sex addiction? Or is he just a playa who doesn't know how to quit? Because if this sex addiction thing is taken too seriously, I can see all kinds of playas getting over on that. "Well, baby, you know I got that problem - that addiction."
Thursday, July 18, 2002
Yesterday, I spotted the marketing material for e. lynn harris' next book, A Love of My Own, at one of the chain stores. It's due out on July 30. That man is a writing machine. Anyway, the cover was a different style than the recent installments in his novels, so I thought maybe he'd written something completely new. Not so. At his site, the synopsis says Ray Tyler is back. And while I am glad to hear that, I'm sort of getting tired of the same old twist on the bi-closeted brother story. You know - brothas on the down low in college, the professions, music and sports. Have to say this, though - Harris always provides a page turner. So I'm going to read it as soon as I can get my hand on it. I'll post a review here someday.
Interesting that he hasn't ever dealt with brothas on the down low in church. Now that would be a head turner for sure.
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Anyway, today allaboutgeorge referenced an article that hypes the potential benefit to G.W. Bush of a Colin Powell vice presidential run. Hmmm. They seem to think black voters will go for the okey-doke and cast ballots for the Republicans so we can get one of us near the top. If only Colin could just run for president. He'd be a good choice for our first try - he's one of the least threatening black men I can think of. His hair blows in the wind and he's the son of immigrants - people love that. But no offense to the man, I think he's pretty cool and we could use a pro-choice, pro-affirmative action voice in the Bush camp.