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|Fri, July 01, 2005 at 11:50 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Racism is so deeply woven into the fabric of world culture that even African American phenomenon Oprah Winfrey is denied entry into a Paris fashion house; Mexico released a five-stamp series depicting Sambo-like cartoon characters; and all threaten to mar the existential experience here in beautiful Southern California where the BET Awards showed us what Black Star Power is really all about. It's hard to imagine anyone, much less Ms. Winfrey, reported to have earned $225 million last year, being turned away anywhere, much less a retailer.
In case you haven't heard, Ms. Winfrey attempted to make a quick purchase after hours in Paris at a high-end luxury retail and fashion institution in mid-June. However, when she and three friends stopped by Hermes to purchase a watch a few minutes after the boutique closed she was refused entry by a doorman. Even though shoppers could still be seen inside neither sales clerk nor manager would come to her aid. Winfrey's good friend Gayle King told Entertainment Tonight, "Oprah describes it as one of the most humiliating moments of her life." A show on race relations is in order.
Let me be clear, the "Oprah incident" simply reinforces real situations African Americans live with every day without any choice in the matter. One cannot determine his or her race, ethnicity, sex, or color. However, one can determine his or her level of contribution during one's lifetime.
Certainly, thus far, Oprah's are unparalleled. Unfortunately it also reinforces that no matter your accomplishments you still are considered ... inferior. Can it be possible that Oprah, whose show airs in 111 countries, was not recognized? Doubtful. If it can happen to one of the most wealthy person, albeit black and female, on the planet, someone who has given so much and shared so much of her time and talent, then what might be the reality faced by every African American not as wealthy or talented as Ms. Winfrey? Actually, I think we already know the answer to that one.
Now on to global racism and Mexico where a five-stamp series has been released for general use; the stamp depicts a child character from a comic book first published in the 1940s. The boy is drawn with exaggerated features - thick lips and wide-open eyes. In the comic book series, still in print today, the boy's appearance and mannerisms are the brunt of jokes made by the white character. Carlos Caballero, assistant marketing director for the Mexican Postal Service, said the stamps are not offensive, nor were they intended to be.
However, it is reported Caballero also said this traditional character and his mischievous nature reflects a part of Mexico's culture. His mother is drawn to look like the original version of Aunt Jemima. Memin Pinguin is the name of the character, which was picked to celebrate the publishing company's 50th anniversary. The Mexican Postal Service has produced 750,000 of these stamps that can be used for international postage as well. It's 2005 and we are still fighting for equality not yet realized even by a billionaire.
Stella seems to have quickly lost her groove.
Terry McMillian, who married a man 23 years her junior has filled for divorce after six years. Jonathan Plummer, her husband has admitted he is gay. The 53-year-old author said in court documents that the marriage was based on a "fraud" because Plummer lied about his sexual orientation and only married her to gain U.S. citizenship.
I have been told that she feels humiliated due to the union having been celebrated in her book, "How Stella Got Her Groove Back." As it turns out, Jonathan and the author didn't exactly celebra
|Wed, June 29, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Light at the end of the tunnel, is right to say the least. Those are some of the first words from Janet Jackson when she accepted a humanitarian award from the Human Rights Campaign at the Beverly Hills Hilton earlier this week. The singer received a standing ovation as she took the stage. Miss Jackson made it clear that recent family matters were no laughing matter -- neither for her or other family members - and to excuse her for not finding the introduction humorous. During his introduction, Alan Cumming joked about Jackson and the controversy she and her family had recently faced.
This man is uncouth at best with a weak attempt at humor at the expense of a woman's brother whose life just a moment ago was hanging in the balance. "My family and I have just gone through the least humorous chapter of our lives," she said during her acceptance speech. "I'm going to leave the jokes to the late-night comics, if that's okay." However, she noted of learning there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is a really beautiful light. Janet shared how grateful she was that prayers were answered, faith was rewarded, and tolerance was celebrated as a virtue, and she was grateful to God for his unconditional love.
I wonder would she have attended this event if Michael had been convicted? It was not in the best of taste to try and make light of his trial even though Michael had won the case. I was glad to see the Jackson family come together in support of one of their own. Prior to the trial I recall reports of the family being so busy in their own personal careers that at times a year would pass before any of them had spoken to each other. I recall being taught in church that every knee would bow and every tongue would confess and it seems that Janet had a spiritual experience at Oprah Winfrey's Legend's Weekend.
According to reports Janet was so moved that she shed tears when she met Shirley Caesar at the luncheon, one of the activities during the weekend at Oprah's home in Santa Barbara. "She walked over and she stood by me and she was crying when she said to me, "I grew up Jehovah's Witness, and we were not allowed to listen to your gospel music nor other gospel singers." She said, it is your songs that have been carrying us through this storm with my brother.
Caesar shared about Janet during a luncheon in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to kick off her new record label Shu-Bel-Records. Since that meeting I am told Pastor Caesar prayed and asked others to pray for Michael and his family. Looks like the prayers worked. He got off and now it is up to him to change his life so that he won't continue to find himself in a situation that, heretofor, appears to have been a predominant part of his persona.
Now, I hope the new claims about Bill Clinton aren't true. Ed Klein has written a book entitled Truth About Hillary. In it are claims that Clinton is flagrantly cheating on the Senator and has a mistress that lives in the same community. If true then it may be possible that Hillary and Bill have what some would call an open relationship. It certainly wouldn't be the first.
I can think of a few. Of course salacious stories can serve other purposes as well. It happens that Klein's publisher increased the number of books on the first run to 350,000. It only takes selling about 20,000 to be considered a best seller. Hype can and does serve many purposes. Klein's book alleges that (you know I had to read it) since being in the White House and writing his memoir My Life, Clinton has been more flagrant than ever before. Well, wha
|Tue, June 28, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
I Am Bad! Michael Jackson got off on a clean sweep and walked out that courtroom a free man. To face some of the most serious criminal charges and get off must be a major accomplishment not to mention feel great. I spoke little on the trial due to my desire to allow the case to unfold before commenting. Although, I still question his behavior and do not believe you can have testimony from five people (even though we know they must have received settlements of some sort) and still not have some implications of guilt.
It's absolutely amazing that the jury found him not guilty on all ten counts knowing that the intent was to find him guilty. Not one African American on the jury, no cameras in the courtroom, and allowing past offenses to be entered as evidence was, I thought, enough to send him to prison forever. Then when the judge did not sequester the jury and each day allowed them to go home, it seemed there could have been no way he'd walk in a clean sweep.
I have to admit I am torn by this verdict. I wish that I could feel completely victorious about Michael's acquittal, but I do not. If Michael Jackson had to go to prison it would have been horrible and I am not sure it would have been a fate he nor his family would have been able to withstand. However, I do think that something improper happened with these children and that there was something to the five prior cases and countless others that we will never hear about do to the courage it takes to come forward in such matters.
It is more than obvious to almost anyone that Michael has a problem and his fame and fortune managed to get him out of this mess. Far too much time and attention was placed on the motivation of the parent and her testimony than on whether the allegation was in fact true. Only in America is Martha Stewart an ex-con while Michael Jackson is acquitted.
Well-known Oakland, CA. - attorney John Burris, who has defended a great number of celebrities, shared his thoughts with me during a recent chat about the trial. "What a great victory for Michael Jackson! This victory over the Santa Barbara District Attorney's Office demonstrates that jurors distrust liars, thieves, and con artists, regardless of their ethnic background.
The trial, however, should be a lesson to all African American male superstars that they have an obligation to themselves, as well as to their fans to not place themselves in harms way by allowing any and everybody into their inner circles where they can be taken advantage of through the false accusations of rape, molestation, drugs or any other crime."
In this case, District Attorney Tom Sneddon's personal vendetta-one that he has nurtured since accusations were first lodged against the pop star in 1993-obscured his professional judgment; otherwise, he would never have brought this case to trial, with such weak evidence. His poor attempt at character assassination backfired when his witnesses where shown to be less than credible due to the alleged victim's mother's history of extortion attempts. The moral of the story is that when you go after the "King of Pop," you better have more then a barrage of tall tales, artistic photographs, and a pop can of that so-called juice. I guess he said it all. Michael is a free man, he is really, really bad.
I consider myself a well read person, but I never knew June was black music month and I bet after the VIBE Musicfest I will never forget it. After talking to Kenard Gibbs I learned a great deal. VIBE stayed true to the spirit of Black Music Month - the VIBE Musicfest celebrated the impact of black music and entertainment on the
|Wed, June 15, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Strike up a conversation about music with someone over the age of 60 and chances are you'll hear all kinds of theories about how and why genres of music `died.' Have a similar conversation with a hip-hop purist or a jaded listener, and they may tell you that the genre we love is dead as well.
Well I don't think hip-hop - or any other genre of music for that matter - realistically `died;' as in, all relevance and quality has seeped from the music. But the truth is, just as they don't make R&B nearly as good as they did in the 1960's and 1970's, the same standard of diminished quality applies for rap music. I'm more than convinced that hip-hop has seen its peak; at this point, the music and culture isn't so much dead as it is just hobbling around, suffering a decade-long shock from a swift kick in the nutsack.
That's right...a decade. If you are anything close to a true fan, then you remember when hip-hop had balls of reinforced steel. I'm talking 1992 to 1995; the four years hip-hop saw its "renaissance" period; the time when we were so inundated with hot records that my meager allowance didn't stand a chance of keeping up.
Many albums widely considered to be classics came out at this time...the culture graduated from the still somewhat divided socially conscious rap and hardcore street rap of the early 1990's into a cohesive mixture of the two. It was then that lyrics seemed to matter the most. Think Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt; when he was still hungry and still in Biggie's shadow. Think Nas' Illmatic; the realization of young genius over 10 tracks of rock-solid production. Think of all the albums that actually meant something back then; before you needed a shiny suit, platinum teeth or multiple bullet wounds to get your point across.
I was in middle school and high school during the "renaissance." I could literally run to Buy-Rite record store on West Seven Mile in Detroit and cop a new album at least every two weeks. Now I'm not saying my early stash of CD's are 100% classics, but I trusted when I purchased Onyx's All We Got Iz Uswith the little money I had at the time, there wasn't this underlying fear that I was wasting my money (indeed, that particular album aged like fine wine). I'm in a nostalgic mood, so follow me down memory lane, wont you...?
Remember the original Queensbridge sound? The one that cats like Main Source, Nas, and Mobb Deep sculpted? Remember when you realized you could stick in The Infamous and play that sucker basically from beginning to end without skipping a track? Remember Capone-N-Noreaga's The War Report, back when Nore was still hungry and Tragedy Khadafi was on the boards?
Remember when Common still had the `Sense' and he dropped Resurrection, which contained within its grooves "I Used To Love Her", the single greatest metaphoric ode to hip-hop ever? And remember how he subsequently taught then-heavyweight Ice Cube the meaning of beef by ripping him a new as*hole with "The B*tch In Yoo"? Watermeloonnn!!!!
Remember when Outkast came on the scene? Yeah...before "Ms. Jackson" and before Andre Benjamin turned into a raging fruitcake. Remember how we would just bust out singing "I came into this world high as a bird, on secondhand cocaine powder...?" Remember how you actually felt like you had to get up, get out and get something, but you didn't know what to get? Those boys were the deal back then...and it's not to say they aren't these days, but when they were in their early 20's, and the Dungeon Family was unstoppable, `Kast could do no wrong.
Remember the first round of Wu-Tang Clan albums? Remember how the RZA's innovative, stripped-down, clanking-razorblades-together-in-a-cold-musty-basement sound used to get you hype? Remember how cats used to spend valuable time comparing Liqui
|Sat, June 11, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Tom Joyner's Fantastic Voyage raised over $1 million to benefit Historically Black Colleges and Universities through his foundation. The celebrity cruise is an annual event attracting people from all over the country to join the week long event. This year 3000 people got had a good time the to old school music aboard the cruise ship. The Fantastic Voyage has grown into one of the most exhilarating events in the African American community. Tom Joyner said, "And as for all of the extracurricular activities are concerned, well, let's just say that what happened on the cruise, stays on the cruise!"
Tom Joyner along with other such notable celebrities such as Tyler Perry, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Brian McKnight, Mike Epps, Eddie and Gerald Levert, D. L. Hughley, Chaka Khan, Judge Mablean Ephraim, U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., and U.S. Representative Carolyn Kilpatrick. Setting sail on May 29 the attendees were treated to daily yoga workouts, comedy acts, African American focused social issue forums, intimate discussion and even a surprise violin performance by Farrakhan as the ship sailed through ports in St. Lucia, St. Maarten, and Barbados. Hats off to Tom and his great effort give back to our community and support Historical Black Colleges.
Well, Jamal Lewis will have to miss Ravens minicamp. The Baltimore Ravens running back will not be allowed to serve the rest of his time in Baltimore. His petition to attend was denied by the Atlanta halfway house where he is serving a two-month sentence, which is the last part of his sentence related to a federal drug conviction. The news was delivered to him late Sunday or early Monday, the rules say he can only leave for work in Georgia; it is unfortunate that he will not be able to attend since he has already served four months in a federal prison camp in Florida. The camp will began on June 13 without Jamal.
His attorney, Jerome Froelich said he was not waiting a favor for his client, but was hoping he would make an exception. He has paid his debt to society so allow him to move on with his life, what is two more months in a halfway house. Yes, he pleaded guilty back in October to using cell phone to try to set up a drug deal in 2000 and about two weeks later he was picked fifth overall in the NFL draft by the Ravens. I know it was wrong for him to attempt to sell any type of illegal substance, however to peruse such a conviction five years later and after he has severed time in prison what more do you want from the man. Enough is enough let Jamal move on with his life.
Another African American male has fallen victim to the criminal justice system. On Monday it was ruled by a judge in Los Angeles that Young Buck, born David Darnell Brown, will have to stand trial for an alleged stabbing during the Vibe Awards in 2004. You got it, Superior Court Judge James Dabney told the court that it was enough evidence presented to warrant a jury trial. The incident was captured on several television cameras as VIBE was preparing to present Dr. Dre with a lifetime achievement award. The prosecution charged him with the stabbing of Los Angeles parolee Jimmy James Johnson after Johnson punched Dr. Dre.
Jimmy James Johnson allegedly requested an autograph from Dre as he was attempting to go on stage to receive his award. When Dre declined to give him an autograph Johnson punched him. The attack triggered a huge brawl in the midst of the show. Young Buck, who is a member in 50 Cent's G-Unit, has pleaded not guilty to assault charges.
Only time will tell us what will happen as a result of this act of defending the founder of Aftermath Records. This is not going to be all that easy to maintain his story with all the cameras filmi
|Sat, June 04, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Lisa Lopes affectionately known as "Left Eye" legacy lives on through her foundation. A Birthday Reception was held in her honor to raise money and the awareness of the foundation that bares her name. Prior to her death, she had begun to work and support a number of children initiatives. I was told by her brother, Ronald Lopes, Executive Director of the Lisa Lopes Foundation currently they are raising money to erect an orphanage in Honduras where Lisa had been spending a great deal of her personal time and the location of the fatal plane crash that claimed her life.
Jamie Foster Brown, Publisher of Sister 2 Sister Magazine, is a great supporter of the foundation and a personal friend of Wanda Lopes, Lisa's mother. Jamie, who served as host of the event, shared with me the joy she feels being apart of the foundations great efforts. The mother of another noted star shared her support, Evelyn Braxton said, "I wanted to be here for Wanda because I cannot even image how difficult it has been for her to loose one of her children." As we continued to dialogue, she shared with me that she is the mother of six and did not know what she would do if one of them preceded her in death. We had funny talk about the challenge for Toni to be a sexy R & B singer and the daughter of a pastor.
I was rather disappointed neither of the living members of TLC attended the evening's festivities. However, I was told they do support the foundation, but had previous commitments. The out pour of love was strong among a unique mix of individuals in the music industry. Actor Poncho Hodges stopped in and we were able to talk about the transition in his career. The former basketball player recently starred in Law and Order, where he played the role of a basketball player in the popular television show. "It is all performing man, on the court or off. When I was playing ball I was on stage and now I am doing the same, just without a basketball in my hand," he said smiling.
He later told me that all his friends have really been supportive of his acting career and that he has big things coming up in the future. Next month you can expect to see him in a couple of celebrity fashion shows during the Essence Music Festival. He would not tell me any names, but a star the new actor has worked with was not all that he expected. "I am not sure what it is with some actors, but some of the main characters one especially was not very cool. They had a problem with the number of celebrities becoming actors," Poncho shared.
It is not only actors that have a problem with people that make career transitions with their careers. According to Griff the attitude is the same for radio personalities. I congratulated Griff on his own morning show and asked him what really happen between him and the station he previously was on in the mornings as the sports director. Getting more details then what I expected by his response. The radio personality was more excited about getting custody of his children then having his own morning show when he informed me it was not the station, but Frank Ski that fired him. "Man it was my first time being fired, but I was not going to run up out of Atlanta.
I love this town and I stayed. Now I got my own show and I am going to run Frank out of town," Griff said in his own matter of fact fashion. He added that he does not hold any grudges, but you have to be careful how you treat other people. "I love Wanda and we laugh and talk about it all the time. The show went from being his to now his and Wanda's," Griff said while laughing. Griff was careful not to give me an
|Fri, June 03, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Rhythm and Blues music as we know it has been around for over half a century. Rap has been around for about half that time, undergoing several facelifts since its inception. R&B's topics of love, heartbreak and the like have never really gotten old, because frankly it is something that applies to us all.
But hip-hop? There are so many overused, played-out clichés that the word `exhaustion' doesn't quite do it justice. The other day I was watching a video from rapper Lil' Wyte (if you don't know of him, use your imagination), and I literally got depressed, right there on the spot. Couldn't believe my ears and eyes. It was like I was watching everything I love about the culture just tumble over and DIE onscreen.
There's a million-and-one things I never wanna hear or see in hip-hop again. Ever. But when I think of the erosion of the music and culture, the following immediately comes to mind:
Touting `baller' status is getting entirely too played out, point blank period. There seems to be an entire faction of hip-hop dedicated to lame braggadocio that seems to infallibly make it on the radio and video channels, despite being more tired than Al Reynolds after his honeymoon with Star Jones. It really doesn't matter the size of your rims, the shine on your jewelry, how many damn monitors you have in your headrests or any other absurd expenditure on depreciable items; it further reinforces that young people (specifically young minorities) don't know how to manage money. During the No Limit and Cash Money Millionaires era, it was such a prominent part of rap that even I went to the dark side for a while. But now, the moment I hear mention of collar-popping, 22-inch rims and the like, the track gets switched or the knob gets turned. It's overkill!
Mafia sh*t! N*ggas wanna be in the damn Italian mob! I'm gonna dedicate an entire column to this someday, so I will leave it at that for now.
Hip-hop listeners are entirely too tolerant of domestic violence. So-called feminists listen to these artists talk about smacking hoes and beating bitches and they buy the material in droves, all the while denouncing domestic violence when the music goes off! Now I'm fully aware that it is virtually impossible to escape the stigmata that shape the male - female gender bias in America, but it says a lot to support such extreme material knowing full well that it sets women back. The screwed up thing is if you hear them on record talking about hitting a female, chances are they are. I love hip-hop, and the sad thing is if I were to follow my own advice, I would probably be throwing away a large majority of my CD's.
The `Izzle' language appears to finally be breathing its last....thank the f*cking stars! Why did it take folks so long to get the point that Snoop's trademark language played out quicker than throwback jerseys and "I'm Rick James, Bitch"? Look, it was cute for like five minutes, but after wound up in a million hooks and bars. MAYBE Snoop HIMSELF can get away with it every now and again, but so help me, the sh*t needs to be permanently deaded and placed in hip-hop obscurity. Right along with Canibus.
Call me sexist. Call me non-progressive. Call me whatever. But so help me GOD...few things plague hip-hop more than, oh, 90% of female rappers. Think about them...Queen Pen, Lil' Kim, Trina, Shawna, Remy Martin...they ALL suck! Peddling feminine wiles and promoting the power of the p*ssy is something that may - I repeat, MAY - have worked sometime in the early 1990's, but come on, now. Take a page from Bahamadia's and pre-whackjob Lauryn Hill's playbook: rhyme about something substantive instead of pushing black women further down into the minority void.
I DON'T GIVE A SH!T ABOUT HENNESSY, CRISTAL OR BELVIDERE VODKA! WE ALL KNOW HENNY BURNS GOING DOWN! WHAT THE F*CK IS NEW?!?!
|Sat, May 28, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
There is only one word to describe Oprah Winfrey and that is phenomenal. Truly she is amazing! When I was told about her Legends Gala this past weekend I was blown away by the concept, generosity, and compassion an event of this magnitude would mean for all of the women involved. Three days of activities beyond articulation is what some sources that were in attendance shared with me.
More than the black tie evening, it was a retreat for African American Women. Oprah was the catalyst that bonded these women in away that will never be broken. No matter the age or station in life all of them had contributed greatly to humankind in talent, trailblazing, or leadership. The ability to look at someone else without fear or intimidation and recognize them for their contributions is what Oprah Winfrey did and celebrated each woman.
Exemplifying the beauty of giving, she looked beyond herself and saw fit to plant seeds of generosity, which is something rarely done. Society tells us to focus on ourselves and we never take the time to stop and encourage someone else. Oprah had no idea how many of those women could have felt like giving up, or that their life had no real significance, or their contribution did not really mean much, or due to their age they may not have the ability to do what they once did. She was standing there at the right time to say I appreciate you. I cannot celebrate my success or my achievement without celebrating you. What poise, What conviction, What confidence, to look beyond the dusk and see the dawn.
I salute you Oprah, who has taught all of us that we can overcome obstacles in our lives and achieve great success. The greatest talk show host, to actress and producer, owner of a media empire to philanthropist; it was about a year ago that Morehouse College for the first time in history honored a woman at the college's annual "A Candle In the Dark" Gala and in a red gown her aura filled the entire room. When it was her time to receive, she gave again.
On that night she gave Morehouse $5 million dollars when she stated. "To educate a black man you empower families, women, communities, and a people." I am proud to say I am a Oprah Winfrey scholar. Oprah Winfrey is real and lives her life in front of the world as she has overcome obstacles we overcome, as she learns she teaches, and as she heals we are empowered to also heal.
Ervin "Magic" Johnson are you listening and are you watching.
Sheila Johnson is doing her thing. The only other black female billionaire besides Oprah is Sheila and she is not doing badly at all. Not often do you have dual announcements of history making deals where all roads lead back to a black woman, but Sheila Johnson made history as she became the owner of the Washington Mystics and partner in the Wizards and Capitals.
You got it, Bob Johnson's ex-wife and co-founder of BET is a partner in Lincoln Holdings LLC, which purchased the Mystics. Lincoln Holdings LLC also owns the Washington Capitals, and is minority partner in the Washington Wizards. However, she will spend most of her time with the Mystics as president, managing partner, and governor. Black Enterprise might have to revisit their recent article on the 50 Most Powerful Blacks in Sports with this type of major wheeling and dealing going on. We know that she is about business and there is no business like your own business and that is the bottom line! She spent 17 years at BET with her former husband until 1997 when Viacom purchased the network.
There is a great deal of talk that Chicag