Monday, April 30, 2007

The Real Meaning of Mother's Day

As many of you know, retailers love to convert holidays from their true meanings to something that can make them money.

Mother's Day is no exception. My friend, J, from Long Island sent me this article about the origins of Mother's Day in America.

Peace for mothers by bringing their husbands, sons and daughters home from war...a novel concept.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bye-bye, Rosie...

As you all know (or may not know), Rosie O'Donnell is leaving the view. I never really thought that she was collegial enough to work with co-hosts. Her style is akin to a singer that rose to prominence as a solo act that joins a group later in their career.

It also didn't help that she probably knocked Elizabeth Hasselbeck on her ass more than the Steelers did her brother-in-law Matt Hasselbeck in Super Bowl XL. If nothing else, the participants on The View must learn to stand up for themselves and their opinions.

Now, to find a replacement for Star Jones's replacement. Hmmm, Soledad O'Brien is available. If I were Barbara Walters, I would call her not now but right now. Why? Soledad O'Brien is a great journalist (I still can't believe she's not working?!) Here are a few reasons that I think that she should be considered:

She's relatively young.

Ms. O'Brien is only 40. She has a hip, world-wise aunt appeal. She's old enough to have experienced life but young enough to effectively explain it to those that haven't.

She's classy

On Today, on CNN, I have never seen Ms. O'Brien be less than professional. Sure, sometimes she would be silly but that was appropriate for the light mood of the Today show. Rosie was a little too...ok, a lot too abrasive for The View. I could see Ms. O'Brien putting Elizabeth Hasselbeck in check but doing so in a Claire Huxtable "I am confident because I am using facts and not rhetoric to argue with you" sort of way. I used to love when Claire would dress down anyone that came at her in a way that didn't show her the proper respect. She didn't get loud, she was surgical with her dismantling of her foe. Now, that's class.

She's a working mom (she has 4 children)

The View is about women. Some work, some are moms. Ms. O'Brien is both. Four kids is no joke even if you are married (which Ms. O'Brien is). I bet this would earn her stripes with The View's core audience.

She is American diversity at its' finest

She's Afro-Cuban and Irish-Australian...which is how you get a name like Soledad O'Brien. Only in America. Is she Black, white or Latina? She is all of them and she embraces it. Anytime an intelligent woman represents well (especially my women of color), I want to see more.

She could take over for Barbara Walters if she hung it up

Barbara Walters has been in the media for a very, very long time. The day is coming where she hangs it up. Who better than a strong journalist like Ms. O'Brien to pass the baton to?

And, I didn't even mention that she's absolutely beautiful. I say she's beautiful not solely based on her looks because with no personality, looks don't matter. When she smiled during the news, I couldn't help but do the same.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Imus and "Gangsta Rap"

Like many people, I found Don Imus's comments to be abhorrent. One thing I did is to check myself because I am a man and, as men sometimes do, they gauge women's looks.

Though I don't try, sometimes men can be sexist (yes, male privilege is real). Why? Because, to me, it wasn't about the looks of the players (who cares about looks when it's time to play some ball? I know I don't.), it was about the game. The two best women's programs this year. Tennessee came out on top but both teams played their butts off and both Coach Summit and Coach Stringer are classy and great teachers/role models.

Since Imus's comments, both coaches have proven that they are the class acts they have been throughout their careers. The Rutgers women's squad has followed Coach Stringer in that path of class and they are to be totally commended. They have class, beauty (inner and outer)...and skills to kick me up and down the court.

But, what I am starting to grow tired of is people trying to tie rap music into what Don Imus said. Don Imus is no friend of hip-hop. It's insulting to be lumped in with him. The misogyny and violence that exists in some hip-hop is an effect of lots of issues, not a cause of misogyny or violence and certainly not the impetus behind Don Imus's comments. Some parties in America are good for regarding effects as causes of problems when they are attached to have-nots and marginalized groups.

But I didn't think that Cleveland would buy in. I read the CoolCleveland e-mail blast and above Mansfield Frazier's article (on a side note, I think it's funny that the column is called "Straight Outta Mansfield", a take on a seminal "gangsta rap" album, "Straight Outta Compton" by the group NWA - also, the late Eric "Eazy E" Wright, a leader within NWA took five guys from the Glenville area and put them on the hip-hop map. The name Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony should ring a bell), there was a quote from C. Delores Tucker that stated"

"It’s a crime that we are promoting these kinds of messages. The whole gangsta rap industry is drug driven, race-driven and greed-driven... it’s not healthy for our children."

Mr. Frazier stated :

"Didn’t we give anyone and everyone license to disrespect us by continuing to allow young, Black, empty-headed, no-talent performers posing as “artists” to continually disrespect Black womanhood? And I am as guilty as the next Black elder for not speaking out sooner. But enough is enough."

The answer to the question Mr. Frazier poses is absolutely not. It is not up to these "no-talent performers" to give license to anyone to disrespect women period. They are wrong for doing so but to insult a whole genre because some of its' practitioners lack of respect for various groups is ridiculous. Also, there have been many black entertainers that have degraded women either in practice or in lyrics before the creation of hip-hop (I suppose no one saw Ray or What's Love Got to Do With It?) so Mr. Frazier's argument suffers from a case of historical amnesia.

While I think that some of the more base and tawdry aspects of hip-hop are getting entirely too much light, attacking artists is like cutting off a leaf and expecting a tree to die. I believe that artists should write about what they know. Quentin Tarentino wouldn't remake Sarah, Plain and Tall. Violence and discrimination are, unfortunately, as American as apple pie. They must be fought but throwing rappers en masse under a steamroller (like Rev. Calvin Butts did with some of their CDs back in the 90's) and calling it the best solution is pointless.

Mr. Frazier is right about one thing: a problem is the major labels. As many of the independent music fans around here can attest, some really poor music is getting lots of press lately. It's no different in hip-hop. Groups that have a more positive and inclusive message get pushed by the wayside. Why? Because they don't sell. Why don't they sell? It's simple. If you have to market hip-hop that's not negative, that means that you have to say *gasp* that you can be true to what you believe and who you are without resorting to negativity. Placing black men in a positive light that aren't selling something is not a strong point for corporate America.

There is no singular black experience. I will say that again. There is no singular black experience.

Earlier, I said that "gangster rap" was an effect and not a cause of some of problems that plague America in general and disproportionately affect the black community. Crime and violence come from lack of educational opportunities. An educated kid has more options for expression and expansion of thought than kids without education. These kids without education aren't stupid (meaning, they have the capability to learn) but they aren't appointed with the proper venue. Once they become adults, they are left to their own devices and too many choose the lowest rung (the illegal life). Before the massive flight (not just white flight, black folks left in droves as well), higher-income black people and lower-income black people lived in the same neighborhoods. A storekeeper would live next to a mailman who would live next to a doctor who would live next to an attorney. You would have a very economically diverse neighborhood which allowed for strong connections. Then, many who saw moving out as moving up, left these community-rich neighborhoods for the 'burbs instead of using their new found, post civil-rights influence to improve their current neighborhood. This is why many predominately black areas of Cleveland are economically depressed.

Music in particular and America in general needs to be more respectful of marginalized groups. Calling one particular genre out and blaming it for problems in society that are caused by people IN NO WAY RELATED to the genre (Imus) is insulting.

Specifically, I am tired of the rap bashing. Hip-hop had been blamed for everything short of global warming (and I think Bush is working on that one). These artists are grown men and women. We should take each individual to task for what they say and see what they have to say...then, we should talk to their bosses. It's more about green than you think...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Screwing the Cavs...

I watched the tail end of the Cavs game while I was watching Wrestlemania 23 (which was a vastly entertaining pay-per-view, one of the best in a while) and I saw the worst call ever. With less than 30 seconds left and the score tied, Delonte West of the Celtics drove to the hole, stepped on Anderson Varejao's foot and a foul was called. On Varejao! West makes the two foul shots and on the other end Damon Jones misses a game-winning 3 and the game is over.

Boston 98, Cleveland 96.

It was probably the most horseshit call I have ever seen. It seems like the officials have it out for the Cavaliers.

Delonte West said: "Well, I didn't fall on my own, It was just one of my veteran moves. I drew the contact. I drew the contact and fell to the floor. The refs did a good job making the right call."

What a crock. A couple of years ago, he couldn't hold Jameer Nelson's jock at St. Joseph's. I still think Nelson's the better player.

Well, tonight's the night. Ohio State can exorcise all of its' demons this year with a win tonight. If the men's b-ball team fails, they can only go to the football team for consolation. Monday night. National Championship. Florida. But, unlike the neutral to friendly confines of the University of Phoenix Stadium (Cardinals, son!), they are in the Georgia Dome. Georgia. The state next to Florida.

We shall see in about 12 hours...