Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Bars Beat Books

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.
Thanks to harambeejournal for passing this on.

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: ghood@ci.orlando.fl.us

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

Lynching documentary

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.

Terrible history

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

Opening weekend

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 harambee_editor@yahoo.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

Speed posting

Okay, so maybe this is cheating. But time is short these days.

Where's Wesley? In a new movie with Ving Rhames. I'll be there opening weekend. Thanks to George for pointing me there.

Want more of DCF Chief Regier's views. Go here (pdf). Thanks to Gwen for passing that on.

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

Sunday reading

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

Welts, bruises and Jeb

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

cyberethnic notions

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

It's been a long time ...

K. Maybe not that long. But still. Anyway, there's a lot to think about out there. For starters:

Going backward -- schools re-segregating based on race
Harvard says so...

Monday, August 05, 2002

Shameless self-promo

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.

Milk fest

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

Is He Or Ain't He?

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

Read It And Leave It

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.