Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Brenda's Not Havin' A Baby

How bout' some good news for a change?

I tune my radio to WOL 1450AM, Radio One's flagship black talk station here in DC pretty much all the time. Since I started listening to the station back in the mid-90's, this one particular public service announcement that plays about 45 times a day always seems to get my attention. It rattles off some stats about the horrid state of teen pregnancy in the District and states that the non-profit running the ad, the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, aims to cut the rate of teen pregnancy in half by the year 2005. Since it's 07', and that damn commercial is still running every hour, I figured this little goal came and went.

Not so fast.

Teen pregnancy and birth rates have dropped sharply across the Washington region in the past decade, with the District cutting its numbers by more than half to historic lows.

Arlington and Prince George's counties also have recorded striking decreases in both rates, which are among the most important indicators of children's well-being. And in virtually every jurisdiction, the trajectories have been particularly marked among African American teens, closing much of a once-intractable gap with white rates.

The District has accomplished dramatic improvement. In 1996, its pregnancy rate for the same age group was 164.5 per 1,000. Appalled by the triple digits, a coalition of nonprofit groups and city agencies began reaching out to various communities, holding public discussions and trying to teach parents how to talk to their children about love, sex and relationships.

"The city was remarkably unified," recalled Brenda Rhodes Miller, executive director of the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Advocates vowed to reduce the rate to the mid-70s by 2005. Instead, as statistics released this month show, it plunged to 64.4. The reduction in the birthrate paralleled that.

Rhodes Miller's new goal is "to cut that 64 in half. A double-digit teen pregnancy rate for the nation's capital is just not acceptable," she said.

With a 42.1 teen birth rate, Washington, DC is only slightly higher than the national rate of 40.4 per 1,000 girls 15 to 19 years old for the first time in many years.
You may be wondering, "who cares?". Well, here's why it's important.
In a country with the worst rates in the industrialized world, officials have focused on teen pregnancies and births because of their distressing, lifelong ramifications.

Adolescent mothers frequently compromise not only their health but also their future, dropping out of school and struggling financially. Their babies are at greater risk for a host of problems, including low birth weight and abuse, neglect and poor academic performance.
I'm sure some of my more skeptical readers will look at this (much like they did my More Black Men in Yale Than Jail post) and say, "so what?", but I beg to differ. With all the bad news about things happening in our communities, why not celebrate the small victories? The tremendous progress this organization made on such a serious social issue should be applauded, even while acknowledging that there's still lots of work to be done. And while much of this progress can be attributed to increased access to birth control, I think the mentoring component of the program is just as important.

In short, this shows what can be accomplished when people:

1) Pick a well defined problem.
2) Devise a well defined solution.
3) Establish well defined, reasonable, and quantifiable metrics for success.
4) Find the right corporate sponsors to fund the whole thing.
5) Stick to the plan, despite skeptics (like me) who think it's a pipe dream.

Kudos to the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. I hope our "civil rights organizations" are taking note.

Teen Pregnancy, Birth Rates Plummet Across D.C. Region [WaPost]

D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy Website

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

AverageBro NewsBriefs

All the news that's fit to print, but not worthy of it's own post.

Last Hired, First Fired, Even For "Legit" Black CEO's

Despite what many might think, there are actual, real, black CEO's who run actual, real Fortune 500 companies, not just the MySpace rapper/$30 business card types. However, the herd was just thinned by one.
The still unfolding mortgage-related credit crisis has claimed its biggest corporate casualty so far: Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal. The announcement Tuesday that O'Neal is retiring immediately came days after the world's largest brokerage posted a $2.24 billion quarterly loss, its biggest since being founded 93 years ago.

Board members and staff had expressed unhappiness with O'Neal's management, reports CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston, especially his strategy of investing in securities backed by risky loans and sub-prime mortgages, which resulted in a loss of $8 billion.

O'Neal, 56, who rose to power five years ago, was known for shaking up top management and putting a greater emphasis on riskier bets, rather than the safety of just selling stocks. That strategy - which handed Merrill Lynch record results during the market's peak - came with a heavy cost during the tumultuous third quarter.

O'Neal is the descendant of a former slave, and grew up in poverty in Alabama before rising to become one of the highest-ranking African-Americans on Wall Street. He worked his way through a Harvard business degree by working at General Motors Corp., and in 1986 joined Merrill as a banker in its junk-bond department.
Of course, this is a black man after all, and no story of such a dismissal could end without the typical parting shot.
His elevation to CEO was seen by some as an experiment by the company's board, most of which have since retired. O'Neal mostly held positions on the client-contact side, which goes against the trading background most of its other CEOs had.
Experiment? Being given the keys to a Fortune 500 company, an experiment? I think not.

Don't feel too bad for the brother though. Unlike Fannie Mae's Franklin Raines, he isn't leaving under the suspicion of corruption, so he'll likely get another gig elsewhere. And if he doesn't, that Golden Parachute sure won't hurt.
It was not known how much O'Neal would receive as an exit package, though there have been some reports it would be nearly $200 million. He was paid roughly $48 million salary in 2006, and had $160 million in stock and retirement benefits.
$200M to walk? Dag, guess I know what career to steer AverageBaby toward now.

Ivy-League Negro Nonsense

Even the Ivory Towers aren't immune from hood' level Negro Nonsense.
Two people were arrested as police struggled to keep the peace while students knucked, bucked and fought Saturday (Oct. 27) during a Harvard Society of Black Scientists and Engineers (HSBSE) step-show after party in the Lowell House dining hall at Harvard University. The partygoers were taken into custody for disorderly conduct, according to the Harvard Crimson.

According to the newspaper, fights ensued after the party's DJ played the Crime Mob hit "Knuck If You Buck." More than 20 police patrol cars, including six state police cruisers and several Cambridge and HUPD cars, were deployed to the scene as additional brawls broke out in the Lowell courtyard.
I'm sure those kids parents, who have probably double mortgaged their homes to send their children to Cambridge are proud of this one. And dag, wasn't "Knuck if You Buck" made in like 2000 or something? They could at least wild out to "I'll Still Kill" or something more recent.

That's Hot... But I Ain't Goin' To Rwanda

A few weeks ago when Parasite Hilton announced an upcoming trip to address the plight of our African brethren, I told ya'll if this ever happened, it would be little more than a photo op.
Her trip to Rwanda has been postponed, but Paris Hilton is still determined to use her celebrity status for good causes. Hilton announced the mission in September, several months after serving a 23-day jail sentence.

"I want to travel the world," the 26-year-old socialite says in an interview posted on the Web site of the syndicated entertainment TV show "Extra." "I feel like there's a lot I can do, and a lot I can do to help."

The Playing for Good Foundation announced last week that Hilton's philanthropic trip to Rwanda has been postponed due to restructuring of the children's charity. On her itinerary: visits to schools and health-care clinics. Hilton told "Extra" she will now pack her bags for the African country sometime next year.

"We were supposed to be going in November, but then the charity is doing restructuring and figuring things out. It's going to be for next year," she said. "I know (Rwanda) went through a lot of traumatic experiences, and I feel like if I go there, I can help save some people's lives."
So we'll have to wait a few more months for Ms. Hilton to save the chill'rens. I'm sure they're waiting on pins and needles.

Note to Rwandans, don't hold your breath.

Hot Links:

Merrill CEO Out After Big Mortgage Loss [CBS]

Crime Mob Song Ignites Multiple Fights At Harvard [AllHipHop]

Paris Hilton to head to Rwanda next year [Yahoo]

FEMA's Back At It Again

As if folks didn't already have enough reasons to not trust the gubb'ment...

Pat Philbin, the now former director of external affairs for FEMA, told CBS News that he should have stopped the press conference on the California wildfires that the agency held last week without any media present.

The press conference was announced on short notice and featured questions for FEMA's deputy administrator, Vice Adm. Harvey Johnson. No genuine journalists attended, although they were given a conference call number they could use to listen in, but not ask questions. A half-dozen questions were asked at the event by FEMA staff members posing as reporters.

Philbin himself was heard off-camera asking Adm. Johnson, his boss, a question. He now says he feels terrible about what happened, adding that the FEMA press office was under considerable pressure to get information on the California fires out to the press and was working on little sleep.

"I can definitively tell you that there were no discussions or conversations about setting up a fake news conference," said Philbin.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has called for disciplinary action for the fake news event, but Philbin's departure from FEMA is not related to any disciplinary action within DHS.

Philbin was among the six questioners, according to The Washington Post. The questions included: "Are you happy with FEMA's response so far?"

"I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government," Chertoff said later.

FEMA later apologized for the phony news briefing and said it was reviewing its procedures for dealing with news organizations.
Yes folks, your tax dollars at work.

Seriously, what sort of morons stage a fake press conference? I mean, if you're talking about boxing, sure. But emergency preparedness? Not so much.

Between Jessica Lynch, the myth of Pat Tillman, and the phony Saddam statue being toppled, I thought this level of subterfuge was usually reserved for war-related mess. Apparently not.

Watching the coverage of the Cali wildfires last week, and contrasting it with the Katrina coverage a few years ago was pretty enlightening. The overall tone of last week's media coverage wasn't nearly as somber, and considering the outrageous emphasis on the homes of stars in Malibu being in danger (Newsflash: Suzanne Sommers can't get back into her gated mansion!!! The Britney Starbucks closed early!!!), some of the coverage was downright trivial in nature.

Of course, The Cali Fires and Katrina are hardly apples and apples. Katrina was a purely natural disaster, whereas a good portion of the Cali fires were in fact arsons. The death tolls (1,500 vs 5) weren't comparable, although the sheer masses of destroyed property certainly are. But I think the biggest contrast is the portrayal of the Cali fires as being a plight of the mostly rich, whereas we know how the refugees victims in the Gulf were presented. Evacuees at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego were treated to kosher foods, free massages, yoga sessions, and tai chi (whatever the hell that is). The poor refugees evacuees in the Superdome were lucky to get a bottle of water and a safe trip to the restroom. But I digress.

Perhaps most telling is the fact that while our President didn't bother touching ground in New Orleans for nearly a week after the hurricane hit (I guess he bought into those urban legends of mass looting and viligante shootings at police choppers too), he was right there in San Diego early last week photo-opping with The Governator. And of course The Governator (already angling for Senate in 2011) is pimping using this as his Guiliani Moment. This is the same man who just last week said marijuana is not a drug, so we know what he's smokin'. What a damn Hot GOP Mess!!!

Not that we should be surprised of course. This is, after all, just politricks as usual.

So, thanks to FEMA, President Bush, and erry'body in the gubb'ment for just proving once again that you can't be trusted. Period.

Hot Links:

FEMA Official Regrets Phony Press Briefing [CBS]

California wildfires give its governor a chance to shine [SJ Mercury News]

Schwarzenegger Says Marijuana Not a Drug [AP]

California evacuees unwind with yoga, Kosher food [Reuters]

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Genarlow Is Free At Last... Quick, Somebody Block MySpace!!!

Quietly lost in the furor of the big T.I. news Friday was the release of another, albeit lesser known Atlanta-area political prisoner. Yes, that was sarcasm. But how else do you explain the outpouring a support for the release of a mediocre rapper charged with (allegedly) amassing a stockpile of weapons powerful enough to defend a 3rd world country, let alone his family, which resides in a gated community?

Louis Farrakhan says "T.I. was set up". David Banner, who is quickly becoming the hip hop version of Al Sharpton, says he's going to "make it uncomfortable for snitches", in response the the alleged tattling by T.I.'s weedcarrier bodyguard which led to his temporary imprisonment. Wyclef, clearly looking for any pub possible, refers to T.I. as a "prophet" who "speaks to the people like Malcolm X". I don't know what planet these Negroes reside on, but how do you possibly defend a guy who (allegedly) tried to buy guns like these? Really, there is no defense.

What you know about dat'?

Anyways, you probably didn't hear, but young Genarlow Wilson also got off after nearly 2 years in jail when the Georgia Supreme Court finally gained an iota of common sense. Of course Jesse Jackson was right there by his side, because, hey, there were cameras present and Rebb'n Al is on vacation this week. Speaking of which, the Post had an excellent op-ed piece in today's paper that summed up my feelings on the Good Rebb'n far better than I ever could. It's a must read, link is below.

Now free at last, Genarlow says he wants to move on to college now and have some semblance of a normal life, which I pray he'll be able to. Before he does that though, I sure hope some of the adults in his life will pull him aside and tell him to keep his ass off MySpace and Facebook, and any other place where he could end up doing something stupid and landing himself in the The Trent Benefield/Rodney King/Jena 6 Book of No-Longer-Sympathetic Victims. A bit of advice for you Genarlow: Don't Make It Rain On Them Pros. Please.

I also hope the adults around him who are slipping in for self-aggrandizing photo ops will also help him get some counseling of some sort, because there's no way you can be fully functional after the total injustice he's endured. Seriously.

Something tells me Wilson will know better than to fall into a similar situation, however. I wish him the best.

We've Got Links:

Now free, Genarlow Wilson plans to attend college [AJC]

Who Asked Him? The Irrelevant Rev. Sharpton [WashingtonPost]

T.I.'s Gun Collection [extensive and horrifying photos]

Weapons T.I. (Allegedly) Tried to Purchase [AJC]

Stepha Henry Is Still Missing.... Yawn.

Not only is Stepha Henry still missing after months, but she isn't even generating fresh hits on Google News Searches anymore. WTF!?!?

Did I miss something (Deidre, where you at?) while I was preoccupied with all this Drive-By Activism, or was she actually found?

Peep the cartoon (click on photo) above. Funny, sad, and so true, all at once. Kinda like this site.

Woman Vanishes From Crowded Nightclub [America's Most Wanted]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

AverageBro Is A SellOut

It's no secret that we're in the midst of an economic downturn. The Dow is goin' down faster than Karrine Steffans. Funding the Iraq War on credit cards is gonna leave us indebted to China forevar. Diddy is paying damn near a quarter mill a month in child support. These are lean times, folks.

So, since AverageBaby is eating like a linebacker and the Day Job feigns deafness at the mere mention of the word "raise", I figured I'd better find a legit side hustle to make up for my continually shrinking monthly allowance.

I could lie to you folks and tell you that I'm now hustling affordable T-Shirts, coffee mugs, and other kewl stuff at The All-New Store™ to raise money for the Jena Six Defense Fund, but those kids already have enough loot. I could also tell you I'm going to use the proceeds of these lovely shirts (including special AverageSis™ designs just for the ladies) to benefit the various community outreach organizations I'm a part of. I could say the money from those nifty mousepads is going to save the starvin' chill'rens in Africa, but that too would be misleading.

Reality is, I just want your money. Period.

How else am I supposed to support my family and cop that new pair of Stephon Marbury sneakers I've had on layaway since the 05-06' NBA season? How else am I supposed to get my daily occasional Jamba Juice fix? What do ya'll want me to do, get a weekend job pushing carts at Target to pickup the slack? Flood this site with all kinds of banner and pop-under ads? I don't wanna have to take it there.

Freedom ain't free, and neither are legal music downloads. Help me stay on the right side of the law by copping an item or three so I don't have to take penitentiary chances to keep bringing you the world famous blend of wit and wisdom that made the Black Weblog Awards' "Blog To Watch".

Hurry, operators are standing by.

[Editor's Note: In case you were wondering if I've lost my black mind, the proceeding message was indeed sprinkled with satire. I am not broke, I can control my JambaJuice urges, and I already got the Starbury's off layaway just last week. But make no mistake: I do want your money. Hit up the store and cop somethin'.]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Those Jena Six Kids Are Starting To Get On My Last Damn Nerve

"They should have never gave you niggas money!" - Dave Chappelle as Rick James

You'd think that after the outpouring of national support of their charges for that 6-on-1 assault, the Jena 6 kids would learn a thing or two from this whole ordeal and proceed in life wiser for wear, not worse. Instead, these dummies are plagiarizing a page from The Trent Benefield/Rodney King Book of No-Longer-Sympathetic Victims.

I caught a lot of flack last week when I suggested that just maybe it wasn't the wisest of ideas for two of the Jena Six to be invited to the BET Hip Hop Awards. After all, while these guys were inordinately charged for their actions, they aren't exactly innocent victims. An assault did occur, despite whatever provocation might have lead to it. By parading them on stage as new millennium Civil Rights Heroes maybe we're not choosing the best cause, or at the very least not choosing the best faces of that cause.

Of course, I got chewed out for this by some commenters, and it's true, you can't choose the face of a particular issue. Intelligent, law abiding citizens aren't always the victims, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't call out injustices when they exist. I pretty much agree with this, but still something about this whole thing just smells really bad.

Exhibit B: YouTube has a video montage of several MySpace photos of Robert Bailey, one of other Jena kids, posing with several hundred dollar bills in his mouth. This money may or may not be some of the very donations that people have sent in for his legal defense fund.

Here, peep the video yourself.

I'm sure Trent Benefield is smiling inside.

The MySpace page has since been taken down, but these photos were up there as recently as two days after that pointless historic March. And as much as it pisses me off, the more I think about it, I can't really blame these Jena kids for their silly actions now that this thing has blown up.

Question: Where the hell are the parents? Don't these kids have uncles? Grandaddies? Don't they have somebody in their lives who has lived through the real civil rights movement, and knows to give these kids a big ass "thump on the back of the head"? These are after all, just teenagers, they don't know any better. But somebody who does know better should have told Robert Bailey to put that money in the bank, and those other two kids to stay their asses off BET. Of course, I'm making the generally unproven assumption that these very same adults aren't somewhere with money in their mouths as well.

The Jena Six should be remembered as a testament to the collective power of the blogosphere to bring attention to social, racial, and judicial inequalities. Instead, since these kids and the adults responsible for them keep proving they're morons, we just get yet another black eye added to the increasingly embarrassing legacy of modern day Civil Rights heroism.

Emmitt Till is crying inside.

Jena Six Alleged Myspace Photos [KATC3]

Take The AverageBro Challenge™!

[Editor's Note: Real Talk. Please read this post in its entirety if you're new here. This blog will make a lot more sense if you do, and far less if you don't.]

Some of you get on me in the comments section for seemingly being pessimistic about social issues effecting the black community all the time. I refer to situations like The Jena 6, Imus vs Rutgers, Enough Is Enough vs BET, etc. as Drive-By Activism because they're always issues where we're being asked to do something passive (forwarding an email) and/or reactive (jamming phone lines). I advocate being aggressive and proactive by trying to treat the problem itself, not its eventual symptoms.

Sometimes this comes off as being severely hateristic and I know that often undermines my points. What can I say, I just have my opinions on the best way of going about getting things done. Everybody has their cause. Some people want to get BET shut down, but personally I don't think having 106th and Park off the air is going to do a damn thing to improve the state of young Black America if half of Black America can't even read. That's just my opinion of course, and everyone else is entitled to theirs.

A wise man[1] once said, "if you're given 15 minutes, are you going to use it to keep your people asleep or to wake them up?" As this blog has continued to grow in popularity and exposure, I've found myself often confronted with the question of just what the mission of is. Why am I consistently dropping 2-3 solid posts a day, often at the expense of family time and sometimes to the detriment of my Day Job? Is it just to provide you guys with a few minutes of relief and an occasional laugh as your scarf down your lunch? I sure as hell hope not, because there's already more than enough other stuff on the web that already fills that void. No, I surely hope I'm being used by God to provide something more. Between all the jokes, I hope I'm doling out food for thought that somehow causes my readers to reconsider how they view certain things. If I'm falling short of this, holler at me in the comments, because maybe I've got some soul searching to do.

I've thought about this more and more in the past few weeks, and it finally occurred to me that I should state this website's mission as clearly as possible. Many people visit this blog daily, and I hope I can maybe, just maybe convince some of you to consider doing something, anything to help the next generation of kids coming behind us. This could be as simple as tutoring, mentoring, coaching your favorite sport, volunteering to help teach Sunday school, or just taking that wayward kid in your neighborhood under your wing.

Call me pessimistic, but I'm convinced that most adults, hell, most teenagers, are a lost cause that don't deserve your time or energy. If somebody's 25 and eff'ed the eff up, chances are they'll be 45 and eff'ed the eff up too. Sometimes it's just too late to be bothered. So, aim lower and work with the kids. But don't look for instant gratification, because you probably won't get it.

My parents raised me and my two brothers with the sense that serving others is not "giving back", it's an obligation, not charity. I watched them both sacrifice time, money, and energy to benefit the community we lived in. My mother ran a youth scholarship pageant for teenage girls and boys that infused kids from families in which nobody had ever graduated from high school with the understanding of the importance of self-determination and advanced education. I watched my Dad quietly take other (often fatherless) kids under his wing, and haul them along with his own children to play basketball (which he coached informally) or go fishing. They never did these things for acclaim or money, and never did them at the expense of their own family, but I saw a sense of purpose in both of them that said "I've made it, and I am obligated to help others just as someone helped me."

My two older brothers and I grew to understand the level of sacrifice involved in helping others. I started tutoring and coaching youth basketball as a freshman in college. Years later, I still find a way to do both, despite having a challenging career and a growing family. I don't do this to get in the newspaper. There is no immediate reward for spending your Saturday mornings with other people's children. I do it because it has to be done, and if not by me, then by whom?

I've also at various points in time participated in youth mentoring programs, church programs that "renovated" low income apartments, pre-marital awareness classes, parenting courses, adult literacy campaigns, and neighborhood watch. I'm sure this sounds like a huge committment time-wise, but really, we're only talking a few hours a week, and never at the expense of my own family. It's not really that hard, and it's usually pretty fun too. Coaching a winning basketball team of 5th graders is good stuff.[2] Sure, it's service, but that doesn't mean you don't get something out of it for yourself.

So take The AverageBro Challenge™. Do something. Anything. It's not hard, and you never know whose life you might make better with the slightest amount of effort. The true changes needed to elevate our community take time, sacrifice, and commitment, not just a Black President and a few forwarded emails. Don't just talk about the problem, be a part of the solution.

I hope you'll join me. The next generation is waiting on you.

Question: Can you join AB and Friends in taking The Challenge™ to improve our communities, one kid at a time? If you're already doing something similar, please share your story below in the comments to inspire others and let them know just how easy it is to sacrifice your time and make a difference.

[1] Wondering who the wise man of note is? The legendary Chuck D, of course.

[2] No need to lie, losing sucks. It's much more fun to win. Winning roolz.

No Wonder Our Schools Are So Bad.

How else do you explain such nonsense as the illegal kickbacks (allegedly) given to former Prince Georges County (MD) superintendent of schools Andre Hornsby?

Jurors in the federal corruption trial of Andre J. Hornsby watched a video yesterday of the former Prince George's County schools chief seeming alternately relaxed and wary as he accepted a cash payment -- a kickback, prosecutors allege -- from an associate in a Bowie hotel room in the final days of 2004.

The video of an encounter in room 222 at a Comfort Inn shows Cynthia Joffrion placing bills on a table in front of Hornsby on Dec. 20, 2004. "Okay," she said, "if I give you 1,000 now that means I only owe you 144,000?"

"Whatever," Hornsby replied, picking up the cash and stuffing it in his shirt pocket.

Hornsby, 54, is accused of steering to Joffrion a consulting contract to help the school system secure funds under a federal program known as E-Rate. Prosecutors allege that the agreement was to net Hornsby $145,000 in kickbacks.

Hornsby is also accused of arranging for the school system to purchase nearly $1 million in educational technology from a company where his then-girlfriend, Sienna Owens, worked as a sales representative. Prosecutors allege that Hornsby and Owens split a $20,000 commission she received because of the sale.
I can't directly embed the video, you'll have to click on the link below to view the whole thing. The clip is unintentional comedy along the lines of the infamous Marion Barry "the b**** set me up!!!" video.

And yes, in Hornsby's case, the chick did indeed set him up.
Joffrion has known Hornsby for years and worked with him when he was a superintendent in Yonkers, N.Y. In one telephone conversation, the two discussed ways in which Joffrion might disguise payments to Hornsby, according to a transcript that memorialized the exchange this way:

"Let's buy a piece of antiques or some [bleep] like that," Joffrion said.

"That's the best way," Hornsby replied.

"Um. Where do you buy your antiques from?" Joffrion asked.

"You buy 'em [bleeping] anywhere," Hornsby replied.

Joffrion asked: "Why are you whispering? You're making me paranoid."

"Cindy," Hornsby responded, "these mother [bleepers] were following me tonight."

If you're unaware, PG County is the richest majority black jurisdiction in America, a bedroom community of DC with a population of nearly 900,000. Black millionaires are plentiful there, but the school system is still in shambles. A new superintendent is bought in to fix the mess seemingly every other year, yet standardized test scores still consistently rank near the bottom statewide, just above the infamous Baltimore City school district. You know, that same Baltimore City school district chronicled on Season Four of HBO's brilliant crime drama The Wire. Yeah, PG schools are just a slight step up from that mess.

The richest majority black enclave and the schools still suck. Chew on that one.

I'm getting intimately familiar with the PG County school system now that I'm a mentor/tutor and our program involves weekly one hour sessions on the premises during school hours. I've made a few visits to AverageMentee's classroom thus far, and while I've been impressed with the facilities and the level of dedication his teachers are providing, numbers don't lie. Half the black kids in his 3rd grade class can't even read at grade level. Of course, I'm trying to do my part to help out, but I wonder just how much of an impact I can make if things are so perpetually screwed up at the top of the food chain.

I know that Black kids aren't intellectually inferior to Asians or Whites. I also know that parents who stress the importance of education generally have kids who perform well in school. So, it seems logical to assume that kids being raised by the greatest concentration of educated and wealthy black parents in the nation would be doing very well in school, but they aren't. Emphatically not.

How else do you explain the fact that in this majority black enclave, black boys are reading worse than any other demographic subgroup? Yes, even Hispanics, who have their obvious issue of ESL. And no, the lil' sistas aren't faring much better. This achievement gap, of course isn't unique to PG County, it's a national problem, but you probably didn't even know that since we're more worried about trivial shit like nooses and washed up talk radio hosts.

Where the hell is the march for that one? I'm waitin' Rebb'n Al, but I won't hold my breath. I know you have other, more pressing issues on your plate. Like that side of rib tips.

None of this really adds up, but part of me wonders if this county, intent on flexing it's relatively new (PG was majority white just a decade or so ago) political muscle just hired dudes like Hornsby without giving all candidates, regardless of race, a fair shake. As in many majority black cities/jurisdictions across the nation, PG sees having blacks in positions of power as being a necessity, and thus most high level political appointees (like schools superintendent and chief of police) generally tend to be black.

I'm not saying these black candidates aren't always qualified, but Hornsby came to town with a spotty track record from his two prior jobs in New York City. There, he had been accused of improperly taking a golf trip and a hand-held computer from companies that did business with his school system. But of course, since PG seems to be all about keeping up appearances, they hired the guy anyway. Lo and behold, he didn't even last two years on the gig before being unceremoniously ushered out for the very same sorta thing.

I don't pretend to know how difficult it is to hire a superintendent of schools, but chances are, where there's smoke, there's fire. PG County schools conveniently overlooked this and just ended up getting burned yet again.

After years and years of apparently hiring folks just cause they're black (yeah, I said it), the school system seemingly broke with their sullied tradition and (allegedly) hired the best man for the job this time. Surprise of all surprises, he just happens to be white.

I wish him the best, for the sake of AverageMentee, and the county as a whole.

Prosecutors Contend That Video Shows Hornsby Taking Kickback [WashingtonPost]

PG County Wiki [WikiPedia]

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

8 Babies, 7 Mamas: Jason Caffey Should Be Spayed and Neutered

I was watching Maury this morning before I went to work. As usual, it was one of those "Who's Yo' Baby's Daddy?" shows. This one cat who was up there had like, honest to God, 25 kids. Of course, he was on the show to take a paternity test on the potential #26, because that's the way playaz play. Naturally, I had to watch the end of this trainwreck and I nearly ended up arriving late to meet my client. Clearly, I have my priorities in order.

If you've seen this sorta show before, you already know what happens next. Maury opens the envelope, and either:

1) Maury says "You ARE NOT the baby's daddy!" and the dude jumps out of his seat, does some crip-walk type jig, and then clowns the woman for being a slut. Of course the scorned woman runs offstage bawlin' because who wants to get turned down by a sorry assed dude with 25 kids on nationwide TV?


2) Maury says "You ARE the baby's daddy!", and the woman jumps up and down yellin' "you better take care of your kids" while the dude suddenly looks completely repentant, never mind the fact that he was just calling her every kind of hooker/whore/slut in the book just moments earlier. As they go to commerical break, the camera cuts backstage where generic smooth jazz plays as the newly outed/busted/bout' to pay child support out the yin-ying blessed Dad cradles the smiling infant as if doing so after the fact is something noble.

That doesn't really have much to do with this particular story, but hey, what can I say, that Maury Povich Show is some entertainin' idd'ish. For real.

It's well known that NBA and NFL players have outrageous libidos and extreme allergic reactions to latex [||]. So, while this story isn't really all that surprising, I guess the most notable thing is the fact that this dude played on an NBA championship team with Michael Jordan, probably made about $40M during his playing career, and just a few years after retiring, is broke as hell.

The culprit? Those damn illegit kids, of course. Damn those kids, crampin' a baller's lifestyle. I don't usually like quoting stories this heavily, but hell, there's too much god stuff here to just cut anything out.

Jason Caffey has joined the ranks of former pro athletes who were flying high in April and shot down in May.

April in this case means the $35 million contract he signed with the Golden State Warriors during his career in the National Basketball Association, and May would be now, when the 34-year-old former forward has filed for bankruptcy seeking protection from his creditors.

According to the Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register, the former Milwaukee Bucks forward filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Court in Mobile claiming $1.9 million in debts and about $1.15 million in assets.

"The only reason I filed bankruptcy was to get these arrest warrants off me," Caffey told the Press-Register.

Caffey was jailed this year in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and is facing an arrest warrant in Georgia, both stemming from back child-support issues.

He has fathered eight children with seven women.

More than half of Caffey's reported monthly income of $7,000 goes to alimony and child support, according to the story.

"Who wouldn't have trouble with that after retiring five years ago?" Caffey said.

Caffey signed a $35 million contract with the Warriors after the 1997-'98 season, which he spent with the Chicago Bulls.

But Caffey said his career ended with three years left on the deal, worth $12 million, and that after taxes the deal was really worth $17 million. He said his former wife, who divorced him in 2006, got half his money.

A lawyer who is defending Caffey in a Georgia child-support case, Jim Altman, said Caffey's obligation of $4,250 a month was not in line with what he is making now.

"As an NBA basketball star, he was making millions of dollars," Altman told the Press-Register. "It kind of goes to show how the system fails people like Jason."
No, the system didn't fail Jason. Jason failed Jason. Yes, I know most dudes get a raw deal when it comes to divorce and paternity suits, but still, blaming "the system" when you screwed up not one, not two, but eight times is just blasphemous. Yeah, I know the attorney is being paid a lot to say that and probably doesn't even believe it himself, but if you want Exhibit A on why some folks hate lawyers so much, there you go. I know he didn't say that with a straight face. He should wear a ski-mask when he goes to cash that surely massive retainer check.

Still, I can't help but wonder just how much the women who lay down and let guys like this go at it raw dog are to blame. I mean, really, any woman with a web browser and Google could probably figure out with how many illegit kids this dude had before the got with him. They know he will make kids and not support them emotionally. They know that with 7-8 other mouths to feed and no income coming in, the NBA gravy train will eventually dry up. And yes, I know, filing bankruptcy doesn't mean you're broke, but how damn sorry do you have to be if you can't come up with just $3,500 a month to pay for all 8 of your kids? You could bang that out by pushing carts at Target every weekend. Do better, Jason. Please.

On the other hand, I don't really blame Caffey too much, just like I don't blame Travis Henry (9 kids, 9 moms, one recent season ending knee surgery), Evander Holyfield (at least 11 kids), Derrick Thomas, (7 kids), Shawn Kemp (at least 7 kids), or former Laker Sedale Threatt (at least 14 kids!!!) for all the human carnage and busted condoms they've left behind. Reality is, these dudes are sick and lack the judgement of even a middle schooler. If they can't be trusted to box out after a damn free throw, then why on Earth would you expect them to be responsible enough to provide for the complex needs of a kid? Seriously. Do these women even consider this sorta stuff before they lay down with these dudes or are they just thinking about a paternity check?

The only victims here are the kids of course, because they're being born to a set of degenerate parents who don't know better. And to think, you have to get a license to drive a Tercel, but any pair of morons can lay down for 5 minutes and ruin a kid's life from the jump. It's just sad.

Before I start going off on some Cosby-esque tangent about pound cake, I'll just leave any possible venture capitalists reading this blog with an amazing bid'ness opportunity. If these dudes could somehow be convinced that it's alot cheaper (albeit not really much safer) to just get yourself fixed from the jump, maybe they'd proactively shell out a few thousand to handle that. It sure as hell beats being flat assed broke just 3 years after you retire and ending up on Maury.

The AverageBro Family Planning Clinic for Rappers and Ballers would be guaranteed money in the bank. Holla at me if you know how to make this happen.

Bonus: Some Vintage Maury for those who don't have a clue what I'm talking about.

Past lifestyle haunts Caffey [Journal-Sentinel]

The Gubb'ment Doesn't Care About Your Nana's Right To Vote

[You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find a picture of a black grandma.]

There are crazy stories, there are unbelievable stories, and then there's nonsense like this that just completely defies logic.

While arguing that requiring voters to present a photo ID before entering the polls actually discriminates against whites more than blacks, John Tanner, the chief of the Justice Department’s civil rights division dropped the nugget below.
In a speech to a Latino group earlier this month in Los Angeles, Mr. Tanner said that a disproportionate share of elderly minority voters did not have identification, but added that it was not a widespread problem because of their life expectancy.

"Creating problems for elderly persons just is not good under any circumstance, Mr. Tanner told the National Latino Congreso, according to a video posted on YouTube. "Of course, that also ties into the racial aspect because our society is such that minorities don’t become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
Honestly, I don't really oppose requiring voters to show photo ID before voting, and I really don't understand why the NAACP has been so insistent on tagging this as somehow discriminatory. I mean, c'mon, you have to show a photo ID for darn near everything, why the big fuss over requiring one before voting?

Still, how damn scary is it that a government official responsible for ensuring voting rights for all citizens harbors such a draconian opinion as the one above? Sure, it's technically true, the life expectancy for minorities is less than for whites. But what in the holy heck does that have to do with ensuring that everyone's vote counts?

Maybe something got lost in translation here, but this looks like another Bill Bennett "open mouth, insert both feet" move. Between this, the explosion of nooses, and the "blacks are genetically dumber" statement from a Nobel Prize winning scientist, I'd say October has hardly been a banner month for Black America. C'mon Halloween. Hurry.

Of course, Barack Obama: Current Mouthpiece Of Black America™, is seizing the moment to prove that he's down with the peoples because he needs some of that black vote refute Tanner's comments and call for his ouster. That just might be Barry's best move since he accepted that invitation to Boston (which was maybe his only good move?), but it still won't bring back the Barry 4 Prez tag. Sorry my brother. Chip that lead down to single digits and maybe then we can talk.

Anyways, peep the video for yourself if you wanna hear everything in context.

Obama Calls for Ouster of Official After Remark [NYTimes]

AvBro GuestPost: From Akeelah and The Bee to Lil' Kim?!?

[AverageBro isn't the only blog I read, of course. Sometimes I'll come across a post elsewhere that says what I can't say, and far better. So, I now present to you the latest installment of our newest feature: The AverageBro GuestPost.]

Since I'm on assignment (read: Day Job) this week, AverageSis is pinch hitting for me again. Her blog is coming soon. If you're tired of your kids listening to odes to ejaculation and would rather hear something more positive in their iPod, you might just wanna pay attention.


Keke Palmer vs. Hip Hop : Round 1


I'll be the first to admit that I ride the "blame-the-artist" bandwagon for all that is wrong with hip hop. I'm so OVER hearing about booties, breastises, hustling and killing. And I'm not just singling out the male artists (although many lyrics and video scenes have literally brought me to tears). I criticize female artists just as much, if not more. But after reading an article I ran across last week about how Atlantic Records has essentially black-balled Keke Palmer's debut CD, well, I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I actually agree with the likes of Nelly and T.I.- that the industry is forcing artists to create this derogatory race-killing style of music.

Ya'll know Keke- she rocked the lead role in the modern classic, "Akeelah and the Bee". Well, the girl can SANG too, so, like so many other celebrities, she has decided to cross over into the music industry. I know we have some naysayers in the in the audience but TRUST, she is the truth- a triple threat- actor, singer, song-writer. But she's getting hemmed up against the ropes.
Keke Palmer is the poster child for what's wrong with the music industry. Imagine being 12 year's old and Atlantic Records trying to mold Keke in the mold of Lil Kim or Foxy Brown.

The problem is that the record label wants to market the 14 year old as a sexpot but she does not want that image. Keke admits "From the very beginning Atlantic's A&R representative tried to get me to record inappropriate music, and my parents and I resisted."

Keke is urban. So as long as [she and her parents] refused to record the raunchy tracks that [the A&R Rep] sent them, he refused to pay for the good clean music they brought him. At one point he even stopped Keke from recording by not paying for studio time, we will not promote her unless she records urban music.

Just for the record Keke is from the south side of Chicago . She grew up listening to Brandy, Aaliyah and TLC, so it was not like she was recording rock music! She was recording good music, with great beats, with good positive lyrics, her music is what all kids want to hear no matter where they live.

Keke's parents tried to promote the release in Chicago( her hometown), they called the press on their own, and managed to get on some morning shows, but that was only in Chicago. Her debut cd that she worked so hard on sold 1,325 copies, the label supposedly shipped 69,000 copies… She was disappointed that the label refused to promote Keke , and now they are blaming her for poor sales, the label will not spend a dime to promote it because she refused to sing raunchy lyrics, and dares to call herself Pop/R&B and not urban / Hip-Hop.
So, after reading this, I was ecstatic to learn that a clean, high-quality hip-hop CD actually existed! I had to check it out for myself. Twelve tracks later, I vowed to do whatever I could to promote this CD. And here we are.

I'm not gonna' lie. I was skeptical at first. After all, what can a 13-year-old tell ME about life?

A Track by Track Mini-Review:

"Keep it Movin" feat. Big Meech - Great start. But Bow Wow would have been her best choice. Probably a mistake for a newbie to try to break a no-name. Especially a no-name rapper. However, Keke's swagger overshadows his mediocre rhyme.

"Game Song" - Genius. Plain and simple. Ladies, if your man spends more time on X-Box than with you, you'll love this one.

"Music Box" - The first of two tracks that brought tears to my eyes. I was blown away by the political commentary she offers.

"First Crush" - This one will take you back to puppy love. Classic.

"Friend Me Up" - Cleverly gettin' at all those fair-weather friends.

"How Will I Know" - Straight up, this one had me strollin' down memory lane.

"Footwurkin" - Repping Chi-Town. Mike Baisden, Kanye, Common- where you at? Pub your girl! I'm curious to see what the dance looks like.

"Rainbow" - Simply beautiful.

"Bottoms Up" - Admittedly, I had a problem with this track. The title says it all. BUT, the beat is TIGHT!!!!!!!!!

"Skin Deep" - This one showed me how special she is. It's saying something when a 13-year old is able to focus on inner beauty.

"Wake Up Call" - Simple, light-hearted, feel-good track.

"Hood Anthem" - The second song that moved me to tears. The best, most uplifting description of the ghetto I've ever heard in my life. My favorite track.

This CD is a breath of fresh air. No skips.

So yes, Nelly and T.I., I agree with you but you clearly need to take a lesson from Miss Palmer. Stop selling us out. Man up and make some meaningful music. After all, aren't you SICK of pimpin' ho's and poppin' off glocks? Sorry, T.I. I guess that punch was below the belt. Hope you're surviving on the inside. Like AverageBro says, don't drop the soap!

Round One goes to Keke "the Truth" Palmer.

There is no belt to be earned from this bout. The purse is comprised of record sales, so go cop the CD like, now. And buy the kids their own copy.

Atlantic Records Tries to Turn 14yr Actress Into Lil Kim []

Listen to album snippets at

Monday, October 22, 2007

The First Annual Brush With Fame Sweepstakes

A few months ago, when I changed positions [||] at the Day Job, I thought that one benefit of being back on the road would be the occasional 'brush with fame'. In my many years as a travelling consultant, I've been in literally every contiguous US state, and slipped across the Northern border to O' Canada a few times too. So, 'brushes with fame' became a regular way of life.

Nowadays? Not so much. The best I've been able to give you guys in the 3+ months since I established this tag is my brief crossing of paths with Scooter Libby. This was only notable because dude was in the news 24/7 when I ran into him. Today, if he was serving breakfast downstairs in the hotel I'm staying at this week, I probably wouldn't even recognize him.

So, to avoid the complete and outright elimination of this tag, I figure I'd put the onus on you guys to keep it on life support. And thus, I present the First Annual Brush With Fame Sweepstakes!!!

Leave a comment and give me your best Brush With Fame story. The winner gets a to-be-determined prize, but trust me, it will be worth it.

Contest Rules:

1) Your story must be completely consequential. Namely, going to a Busta Rhymes concert and just happening to see Busta Rhymes doesn't qualify.

2) Be interesting. I don't just want to hear "hey, I saw Tupac at the Mall". On second thought, seeing Tupac at the Mall might be interesting. Anyways, the best story has to be a good one.

3) Keep it clean. Ladies, I don't want to hear about the time you had sex with Bobby Brown (see photo). Fellas, no strip club stories. is strictly for the chill'rens, so any non-PG comments will be deleted.

4) Sign your name. Any name will do, but please don't post as anonymous, because how else would I know who you are? If you don't want to leave your personal biz for all the web to see, just shoot me an email with the subject Brush With Fame instead.

5) Hurry. Contest ends Friday.

Tell a friend to tell a friend. The winner of course gets the aforementioned to-be-determined prize, but I'll be sure to post the runners up as well.

Alright, now get to name-droppin' commenting.

AverageBro NewsBits

Well, I'm back on the road again this week. The Day Job actually needs me to earn my pay (the nerve of some folks), thus I'm slummin' it in the Twin Cities yet again. So, as usual, here's a few things worth noting, but not worthy of their own post.

Oprah has a "Thyroid Problem". Yeah, right.

If you've watched Oprah over the years, you know she drops and gains weight just like Luther Vandross did (RIP). This has always been puzzling to me. After all, if you can afford to pay a professional dietitian to choose and cook every single piece of food that goes in your mouth, how the heck can you possibly gain weight? It's almost like fat professional athletes. If you play basketball 4 hours a day, everyday, how the hell can you get fat?

Turns out, Oprah has an excuse.

Oprah Winfrey is going public about the thyroid condition that slowed down her metabolism and caused her to gain 20 pounds.

Winfrey, 53, was feeling incredibly sluggish by the time her talk show wrapped up its season in May. She eventually discovered the problem: an out-of-balance thyroid.

"My body was turning on me," she says in the October issue of O, the Oprah magazine. "First hyperthyroidism, which sped up my metabolism and left me unable to sleep for days. (Most people lose weight. I didn't.)"

Winfrey, exhausted and stressed, took a month-long break in Hawaii to regain her health.
So Harpo has a thyroid problem. Yeah. Right.

She has a problem alright. A Thigh-roid problem, Wing-roid problem, and a Breast-roid problem. Heck, there's probably a Texas-Pete-roid problem too, but they ain't diagnosed that one yet.

All jokes aside, get well soon, Oprah.

Do You Know What Your Kids Are Reading?

I wouldn't know a Hobbit from a Smurf, but I found this Harry Potter related nugget pretty interesting nonetheless.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling served up a bombshell Friday evening during a reading at Carnegie Hall, telling a crowd of fans from throughout the United States thatDumbledore, the wise Hogwarts headmaster and mentor to Harry, is gay.

"I always saw Dumbledore as gay," Rowling said in answer to a fan's question about whether the wizard ever found love.

The crowd of about 2,000 hardcore Harry fans, who had won tickets through a nationwide drawing, exploded in screams and applause at the news.
This reminds me of the time a few years ago that I took my nephew to the library. He was staying with us over the summer, so I gave him the assignment of finding a book, any book, on black history and giving me a report when we was finished. So, we find a book on the Underground Railroad, and I figure everything's lovely.

Later, after dinner, lil' Dude is telling me about the book, and it's completely focused on some little Southern white girl who, out of the kindness of her heart, convinces her Dad to help free some of his neighbor's slaves in the middle of the night, and then helps lead these slaves to freedom in Canada. There was zero mention of Harriet Tubman. Zero mention of the actual Underground Railroad. Zero mention of the fact that slaves tried to escape all the time themselves. No, this was just another example of white guilt re-writing history in a self-congratulatory manner.

I'm not saying that whites didn't help blacks escape slavery (of course they
did), nor that they haven't helped us at other junctures in our fight for equal rights (lets not forget, Jews helped create the NAACP). Still, reducing historical oppression to the mere whims of a sympathetic child is pretty dangerous stuff. Of course, I had to explain all this to my nephew in an age-appropriate manner. Lesson learned, the next time I took him to the library, I made sure to double-check what he was picking out first.

I'm just sayin', between this example and the apparently hidden cues in these Harry Potter books, be aware of what your kids are reading. The iPod ain't the only hidden danger.

David Copperfield (Allegedly) Takes the Coochie

Okay, he hasn't been charged with anything yet, but tell me you ain't laugh just a little bit when you heard this story.
FOX News is reporting that a woman has accused magician David Copperfield of rape, shedding light on why the FBI may have raided his Las Vegas warehouse.

The woman, from Seattle, reportedly told police he raped her while she was in the Bahamas. Because the alleged incident happened overseas, and she reportedly did not alert authorities until she returned to the U.S., Seattle authorities turned the case over to the FBI.
Let me put this right out there; there is absolutely nothing funny about rape. Period.vBut still, I know the late night talk shows will have a ball with this one. The possibilities are limitless.

Dude, you are David Copperfield. You are a magician. You can make women levitate, vanish into thin air, saw them in half, and pull rabits out of strange random places. That alone should guarantee some level of interest from the opposite sex. You shouldn't have to (allegedly) take the coochie.

Let's see the smarmy Copperfield "disappear" from this one.

American's First Indian Governor

I don't know enough about this story to say how it's being received, but still, it's pretty amazing nonetheless.
Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal was elected governor of Louisiana on Saturday to become the first Indian-American to lead a U.S. state.

With most of the precincts counted, Jindal, 36, had 54 percent of the vote to win without a runoff in Louisiana's electoral system, where candidates of all parties run in a single primary.

The Oxford-educated Jindal will replace Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat who did not run again after she was widely criticized for bungled recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Blanco narrowly defeated Jindal in the 2003 election.
Republican affiliation aside (not that I still wouldn't vote for him of course), I think it's pretty amazing thatJindal won. He's Indian American, not Native American (ie : with the dot, not the feather). Lets not forget, Louisiana is still the Deep South, a place seldom associated with progressive thought. In Post-9-11 America, this is a pretty noteworthy development.

I happened to see this story on CNN this morning, and I was probably more stunned with how this guy talked (like Jeff Foxworthy) than anything else.

If you're from Louisiana and care to weigh in on this one, drop a comment.

Hot Links:

Oprah Talks About Her Thyroid Condition [ABCNews]
'Harry Potter' author: Dumbledore is gay [USAToday]
Woman Accuses Copperfield of Rape [ExtraTV]
Louisiana elects Jindal, first Indian-American governor [Reuters]

Friday, October 19, 2007

AverageBro NewsBriefs: "What a Dumba$$!" Edition

I've got a boatload of work to do before I return to the Twin Cities next week, so here's a few assorted newsbits to pass along. Note the common theme in all of these stories.

Ballin' Out Of Control

It hasn't been a good week for NBA players. New Jersey Nets PG Jason Kidd, who is in the midst of a nasty divorce, gives his psycho ex-wife even more ammunition by allegedly crotch groping a woman in a Manhattan bar. Not to be outdone, Sacramento Kings Center Justin Williams and his girlfriend are accused of having a menage a trois the "old fashioned way", by unknowingly drugging a house guest.

Of course, the biggest loser? winner unfortunately has to play for the team I financially support 12-15 times of season. After a wild summer of shootouts and really odd public behavior, Washington Wizards SG DeShawn Stevenson (that's him above flashing the AmEx Black card) is being accused of either:

1. Propositioning actress Lindsay Lohan via MySpace for $10k. (or)
2. Looking to buy cocaine via MySpace for $10k.

Read this cryptic message and tell me which one you think it is?

I Got A Couple Ppl On The Lindsay LoHan Deal!!! But Im Giving Somebody 10 Stacks If They Hook That Sh*t Up!!! 4 U Slow Ppl 10 Thousand Dollars 2 The First Muthaf*cker Get Me The Contact 4 Her!!!!!!! Before My Ppl Get The Number They Moving 2 Slow 4 Me So Holla At Yo Boy If U Need That 10,000 Grand!!!!!!!!! U Kno I Need That White Girl Lindsay Lohan!!!! First N*gga Or Female Get Me That Sh*t I Wire That Money Str8 2 Ur Account Hit Me On Email If U Got The Real Sh*t!!!!!!!!!!!! Yadddddaaaaa Boy
This dude needs Jesus, Hooked on Phonics, and some penicillin. I'd just settle for a reliable mid-range jumper, but hey.

Would October 31st, please hurry up and get here?

Rap is Outta Control (Again)

As if the BET Hip Hop Awards weren't enough of a black eye on the rap game, rappers themselves continued the pile-on with a bunch of typically ignorant actions.

Nas, whose album titles ("Hip Hop Is Dead", "God's Son", "Illmatic") seem to be more interesting than his actual albums nowadays, will shoot for the free-pub moon again this December. The proposed title of the album? You guessed it... "Nigga". Good luck getting that one stocked at Walmart, buddy.

Foxy Brown, who lied about being pregnant to avoid jail time, actually got sent to the clink for assaulting her neighbor with a cellphone in a dispute over music being player too loudly. Before finally going to court for arraignment this week, Brown had skipped the jail bus twice, because, get this, "her hair and makeup were not completed, another time because she was eating lunch". Good to know her priorities are in order.

Serial Impregnator, Diddy didn't have yet another illegit kid pinned on him this week, which is good considering his predicament. After a fistfight with a onetime business associate last weekend, Diddy is facing the real possibility of jail time. The reason for the fight? What else, a woman.

Speaking of jail time, rapper T.I. is still in jail, after being arrested for possession of three unregistered machine guns and two silencers, and for possession of firearms by a convicted felon. T.I. claims the military grade weapons were needed to protect his family. Of course doesn't make any sense, because T.I. lives in College Park, not Kosovo.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Speaking of military, while you were gently sleeping the night of August 29th, did you know a B-52 bomber inadvertently full of nuclear bombs was flying across the US?
The Air Force will recommend the firing and disciplining of several service members involved in the mistaken flight of nuclear warheads across the country in August, according to a military official familiar with the investigation.

The just-concluded investigation into the August 29 incident is expected to recommend the firing of at least five Air Force service personnel and disciplinary action against others for failure to follow safety and security procedures, according to the source.

Criminal charges also are being considered, the source said.

The B-52 bomber carried six nuclear warheads on air-launched cruise missiles headed to Barksdale Air Force Base for decommissioning, but the warheads should have been removed from the missiles before they were attached to the B-52, military officials said.
I have nothing to add to this other than, "Jesus Be a Fence."

Hot Links:
Source: Firings likely in transport of nuclear warheads across U.S. [CNN]
Woman Accuses Kidd of Groping Her [AOL]
Source: Woman Claims Kings' Williams Drugged, Raped Her [ABC10]
Record Label Denies Rap Star Nas' Claim of Forthcoming Album Called 'Nigga' [FoxNews]
Diddy Sought For Questioning In New York Nightclub Incident: Report [MTV]
Rapper T.I. remains in custody [AJC]

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The 3rd Annual Festival of Negro Nonsense Recap

[We watch, so you don't have to.]

Despite how righteous I might occasionally come off on this blog, reality is, I love a heaping helping of ignorance on the regular just as much as the next man. So when I realized the BET Hip Hop Awards were coming on last night, I didn't just watch because I knew a recap would be blogger gold. Sure, that was part of the motivation, but I also watched, because just like everyone else, I like to watch cringe-worthy train wrecks too.

I know my recap is going to cause a few of you to point hypocritical fingers at me, since I just praised The House That Debra Lee Renovated last week. Reality is, duality is the essence of life. There are very few absolutes. So, I can rightfully praise The Station That Everybody Hates, But Nobody (Allegedly) Watches for putting out good shows like Sunday Best, Exalted, and The Chop Up, while clowning them for such niggnorance like the BET Hip Hop Awards. Is this essentially talking out of both sides of my mouth? Sure, you could call it that. Do I care? Not so much.

That said, I don't think a more blatant televised display of Extreme Niggadom has evar been condensed in 120 minutes in the history of the world. I know Enough Is Enough and Pastor Delman Coates were literally salivating on their remote controls while watching this nonsense. If you ever wanted to document concrete examples of just how sh***y BET is, last night provided Exhibits A - Infinity. Yeah, I know Infinity isn't an alphabet. Whatever.

Since the foolishness was all over the place, I won't bother trying to piece together a real recap. But just in case you missed it, here's a sampling of the lowlights.
* Kanye West opens the show with a stirring medley of his radio-friendly hits. While I can't nitpick at anything other than his choice of fruity attire (c'mon dawg, fushia pants?), you know you're in for an awful show when your biggest star is the opener. It would probably be all downhill from there.

* The downhill descent begins. Katt Williams is escorted out by two plus sized women. I can think of no other real reason for them using two plus sized models than for the shock and awe, and ignorant laugh factor of them using two plus sized models.

* Williams performs a churchy monologue with 2-3 bleeped out shouts of the word "G.D.". Our Savior is crying inside.

* The whole show seemed overshadowed by an ongoing defense of hip hop as an artform. Several vignettes by hip hop luminaries focused on the topic of "Why I Love Hip Hop", but these all just come off as lame apologies by folks desperate to keep their lights on and rent paid.

* David "The ManChild also known as Lavell Crump" Banner (props to WAOD) uses his "Why I Love Hip Hop" segment to rattle off his usual ignorant banter about how many millionaires hip hop has created, and why it's "necessary" to hear voices like Lil' Boosie and Plies. Then we goes on some self-aggrandizing spiel about being "like a pimp" and "like a President". I gently throw up in my mouth. Then he unfurls a XXXL Michael Vick jersey and shouts "If the Falcons don't love you, we still do!". I violently throw up in my mouth.

* Speaking of pimps, Eric Michael Dyson and Cornell West both give their "Why I Love Hip Hop" segments, and use the opportunity to softly pander to hip hop artists, while kicking a lil' rhyme themselves. Just a few weeks ago, West and Dyson were both softly pandering to hip hop artists on BET's "Hip Hop Vs America" townhall discussion, now both guys are sitting front row at the Hip Hop Awards. Is that not a slight conflict of interest of some sort? Seriously, what does it say when our brightest intellectuals, Ivy League professors like these two dudes are rappers themselves? Maybe education ain't all it's cracked up to be.

* Nelly performs his new song "Let It Go, Lil Mama" or some such nonsense, while flanked by a 10 year old girl doing stripper dances, splits, and droppin' it like it's hot. If there was ever a child headed straight for the pole... And these are my son's future wives? Damn.

* The nameless d-bag who made the song "Ay Bay Bay" performs, flanked by a 4 year old hypeman cloaked in dark stunna shades, and a Bloods-style red bandanna. MLK is crying inside.

* Following yet another self-aggrandizing Hendrix-like guitar solo by Wyclef, out comes Busta Rhymes (in a military style gas mask) and one of TI's weedcarriers (in a stick-up style ski mask) performing a song with a hook that goes "get hurt, merked, put em' in the dirt". Noticeably absent if the song's originator himself, TI, who, well, let's just say got caught up and couldn't make it. This minor legal snafu didn't stop his co-horts from yelling "Free T.I.!" of course.

* Video Vixen Melyssa Ford comes out to present an award. Cue the "gratuitous ass shot" camera.

* Lil' Wayne performs his newest song. In between cleverly disguised drug analogies (cheese and ziti) he gets lazy and just blurts out the words "kill", "gun", and "murder". So much for censorship.

* Lil' Wayne wins an award, and since it's clearly one of his two weekends a month, proceeds to bring all 18 of his kids on stage with him to accept it. Of course, to toast the occasion, Wayne, who is also clearly very high, brings along a 20 ounce Styrofoam cup, filled with who knows what.

* Outkast's Big Boi, wins and award, and ends his thank yous with the immortal phrase "and we still in ya' jaw". I don't have any idea what that means, but I doubt it's a shoutout to his dentist.

* An assemblage of rappers named Titty Boy, Dollar Boy, and something else boy, join Lil' Wayne (yes, again) onstage to perform a song called "Little Dufflebag Boy". I have no idea what all this means, but I seriously doubt it's an ode to Samsonite.

* Outkast's Big Boi, wins another award, gives props to his son's 6 & Under youth football team for winning a game earlier in the day, and signals an impending celebration with the immortal phrase "it's gon' be some smoke in the city tonight". Pop Warner is crying inside.

* In the name of "see we told you we were fair and balanced", Common and Kanye West win a lions share of the awards. Neither seems to really give a sh*t.

* UGK's Bun B wins an award, thanks his wife and kids, and wisely tells the crowd to eschew violence at the after parties and instead to "go find somebody to lay with tonight".

* 1/3 of the Jena Six come onstage to give a shoutout to their Fellow Four, who for various reasons (incarceration, homework, and hopefully lack of parental sign-off) were unable to make it. I can't say much about this, because I was stuck on how these kids parents could let them, as modern day civil rights heroes (sike) come on stage with their pants saggin' to their asses. Spell "saggin" backwards, and that will give you some indication of what kinda nonsense this is. At least Katt Williams did say this was "in no way condoning a six on one attack". I bet Debra Lee wrote that one herself.

* Speaking of Debra Lee, she sat in a prominent seat on the front row the entire time and could be seen periodically gettin' crunk and wincing. Kinda, sorta, just like me as I watched from home.

* The climax (no pun intended) of the night comes when everyone's favorite one hit wonder of the moment, Soulja Boy, gets onstage and performs his hit, "Crank Dat Soulja Boy". This really saddens me, because as cool as the dance is for pre-teens, I can't help but shake the image of what "SuperManning that Ho" really means now that I know better. Did he really have to mess the song up with something to vile and crude? And while I'm on topic, a note to black America: If you're over 40 and doing the Soulja Boy on nationwide TV, just go ahead and kill yourself now. Life isn't getting any easier.

* Near the end of his performance, Soulja Boy goes over and hugs Debra Lee. I notice M.I.M.S., the one hit wonder responsible for "This Is Why I'm Hot" in the background, looking on wistfully. He has the same "that used to be me" look Al Bundy has while watching a high school football game. Then he leaves early because his shift at Church's Chicken is about to start and they've already warned him repeatedly about being late. Soulja Boy, since you're in your 14th minute right now, I have some good news. They are still hiring for the 6-12 shift.
The overall tone of the show was strangely conflicting. Half the segments, like the tribute to KRS One, and the excellent rooftop ciphers were awesome examples of the good that hip hop can inspire. The rest, like the 40 some bullet points above, just completely undermined everything good about the art form. It was like a real life example of Chris Rock's brilliant "Black People vs Niggas" routine.

I guess I walked away with this thinking one thing: the BET Hip Hop Awards showed that despite how far BET has come, it still has a very very very very very long way left to go.

Ensuring that there's no 4th Annual Festival of Negro Nonsense would be a good step in this direction.

BONUS: Here's video of Nelly and the aforementioned future Flavor of Love contestant around the 2 minute mark. Dorothy Height is crying inside.

Peep more Festival of Negro Nonsense video lowlights at

Soulja Boy's tune, T.I.'s troubles give awards show bite [B'More Sun]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Welfare Mother In the Mercedes Benz (aka: F**k Giant Food)

Sad, but true story.

So, I'm on my way into the office this morning, and AverageSis rings my cell. She is irate. She had just visited our neighborhood Giant Food grocery store, and experienced an incident of discrimination no customer should have to endure.

AverageBaby (our son) is pushing 14 months now and eats like a little piglet. Since he isn't too keen on solids, this means several trips per week to the grocery store to pile up on Gerber Organic Chicken and Wild Rice, which is the only thing he will reliably consume. Each time we go, there are no more than 10-12 jars on the shelf at a time. Since the store won't sell you this stuff by the caseload, this often means we have to go in to re-up every other day. My wife usually makes this trip, and unless something else is needed, only buys the baby food and seldom anything else. Pay attention, because here's where the trouble begins.

Today, she goes in, grabs the customary dozen or so jars, and heads to the checkout line. When she finally gets to the front of the line and empties the jars from her basket, the cashier, whom my wife had never seen before, asks her the dumbest question in the history of mankind.

"Are you using W.I.C. for this?"

Aw, hell naw!

If you're bourgeois and somehow unaware, W.I.C. stands for Women, Infants, and Children.

Here's more info from it's Wiki entry:

W.I.C. is a Federal assistance program of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for health care and nutrition of low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and infants and children under the age of five. The eligibility requirement is a family income below 185% of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines. If a person who participates in other benefit programs, or has family members participate in the Food Stamp Program, Medicaid, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, they automatically meet the eligibility requirements. This program is unrelated to the USDA's "Food Stamp" program.

WIC participants often receive a monthly check or voucher. In many poor areas, "WIC stores" exist that only sell food for vouchers issued by the state WIC program, and do not accept any other form of payment.
My wife (nicely) asks the woman why she would make the assumption that she needed to use W.I.C. to pay for baby food? The woman simply says it's store policy to ask first since they would otherwise have to void the order, but fails to provide any further explanation. My wife (nicely) asks her why she wasn't asked this very same question the other dozens of times she comes in, but the cashier (who is white, though it doesn't really matter) simply repeats the company line. A white man in line behind my wife witnesses the whole thing, but doesn't say anything. My wife finishes checking out, grabs the baby food and AverageBaby, and leaves the store.

When she gets in the car, she thinks about it for a moment, and decides she just can't let it slide. She goes back in the store, receipt-in-hand, and heads to the customer service desk. She is virtually ignored for 5 minutes while the customer rep attends to an issue for a white customer. When she is finished, the customer service rep directs her attention to a white woman standing in line behind my wife.

Aw, hell naw!

My wife (nicely) interjects and lets the rep know she was in line first, and the rep (not so nicely) asks my wife "what's the problem?". My wife (nicely) asks the rep what the store policy is on asking people whether or not they are using W.I.C. The rep simply says "it's the store policy", without any further elaboration. My wife (nicely) asks to speak with the manager. 15 minutes elapse. The manager shows up, and when prompted, doesn't elaborate any further either. My wife notes the names of each person she has interacted with while in the store, and asks the manager for his last name and the number for their corporate office. He declines to provide either, and walks away.

Aw, hell naw!

My wife (who is irate by now), simply leaves the store, goes home, Googles the number for Giant Food's Corporate office, and dials in the complaint. She asks why this store seems to have a selectively enforced policy on asking people whether or not they are using a W.I.C., and whether or not they have ever considered that this might be, just slightly offensive to some shoppers. Corporate files the complaint and promises to call the store and discuss this issue with the manager, then report back to my wife.

End of story (for now).

I know some of you are probably reading this and thinking "what's the big deal?". The big deal is, why in the hell would a cashier look at my wife an assume we're in need of public assistance? My wife is a statuesque former college homecoming queen and beauty pageant winner. She also (pre-AverageBaby) was a bank vice president. She is educated and intelligent. She is home by choice, not by circumstance, because her husband (who is also intelligent and educated) can afford the luxury. She took the baby food outside and placed it in her Mercedes Benz. She drove the Mercedes Benz back to a half-million dollar home.

But all the cashier saw when she looked at her was a welfare mother.

She didn't see a dedicated mom raising a child prodigy. She didn't see a husband who works his ass off to ensure their child has the best opportunities to succeed in life. No, she just saw a welfare mom.

And since the store, at all turns confirmed that this was indeed a company policy, I can only assume that Giant Food doesn't look at my wife and see anything more than a welfare mom.

So, yeah. It's kind of a big deal to me.

I always tell you guys to pick your battles wisely. So, here's my challenge: don't keep letting sh*t slide.

Sometimes when you're black (or heck, any minority), oppression and discrimination are so much a part of everyday life that in a dysfunctional way (think battered woman's syndrome) they feel normal. Think about all the times you are followed as you shop in a store. Think about all the times you're completely ignored when you actually want help. Think about all the times you go to a restaurant and the hostess attempts to seat you at the rear, despite all the empty tables at the front. Men, think about all the times you board an airplane and get asked whether or not you play pro ball. Think about all the times in a store the person in line in front of you was greeted with a smile, while you were greeted with indifference.

Think about the welfare mom with the Benz.

I'm not asking for any letter writing campaign or a boycott of Giant Food. I'm not calling the NAACP or Al Sharpton to fly in and protest the Evil Grocery Empire. I'm sure as hell not asking you to consider us sympathetic victims (a la: Trent Benefield), because I will mess something up, and I don't need that hanging over my head.

Nope, we're going to do it all by the book. The complaint with Giant Food is filed, and we should have a response in a couple of days. I fully expect someone to apologize to my wife for making such an ignorant assumption, and furthermore, change the policy to ensure more customers aren't discriminated against in the name of speedy checkouts. In short, Giant's outlandish and stereotypical corporate policy needs to either be 1) universally enforced 2) modified to eliminate possible discrimination or 3) eliminated completely. If they can't do either of those, then we just might have a bigger problem on our hands. Stay tuned.

What should you take away from this? Call things out and don't just let them slide. Whether's you're talking about a $6/hour clerk or a multinational corporation like Giant Ahold, peoples' minds don't change unless they are challenged. If just you allow things to happen to you without checking folks, you are (in a way) just as guilty as the person discriminating against you. And if you're white and observe such an injustice, you have a duty to point it out as well. Unlike the white guy in line behind my wife who wouldn't retell his account of this incident to customer service when my wife asked him to. Punk ass *****.

Either way it doesn't matter, because Giant Food won't be getting my money anymore.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trent Benefield, Mychal Bell, and The Problem With New Era Martyrdom

[Warning: Excessive rambling and disconnected thoughts follow. Do not look for a cohesive point. This is merely food for thought.]

As I've stated here several times, I'm always very deliberate about choosing my battles. Sometimes, things aren't always what they seem initially, and sometimes, you have to be very careful who you're getting behind when you choose sides on an issue.

Case in point: The Jena Six.

When the story broke in the blogsphere, most of the opinions stated were naively one-sided. It painted a picture of black kids intimidated by a racist post-Antebellum South (as if such stuff doesn't pop off up North on the regular). These innocent youngsters would find themselves on the wrong side of the law and unjustly charged for what amounted to little more than a fight amongst boys. There was little detail given about why the central character, Mychal Bell, was being held in jail. Still, the story eventually caught fire, every two bit civil rights "leader" fueled up the private jet he used corporate shakedowns to purchase, and before you know it, a media spectacle was born.

To me, this story smelled like a rat for some reason, and I just couldn't get with it. The confluence of the Old South, Michael Baisden, Rebb'n Al, Jesse, UGK (yes), and 50,000 black people of various levels of awareness of the issue rallied around a kid whose entire story was unknown just reeked. Not because I don't like black people mobilizing for a cause, I clearly am for this since that's pretty much what I try to push here everyday. But sometimes we as a people pick the wrong battles. The judicial system is a huge problem for us, but reality is, if Negroes didn't sell crack, there would be no prison industrial complex. Yes, a police shooting is bad, but what about the 8,000 or so other incidents of black on black murder that occur annually? Where's the march for that?

The very things (focus on family, good parenting, and a stronger emphasis on education) that can get us out of the massive hole we're in are never, and will never be addressed because black people as a whole seem to be totally allergic to self-examination and critical thought.

So when Bell was hauled back to prison last week, I knew there wouldn't be another March on Jena. This involved charges pending from another case before the fight occured, on two counts of simple battery and two counts of criminal destruction of property. The very "leaders" who organized the first one were off to bigger and better things. The "Free Jena 6" buttons I saw local college students wearing are stashed in a drawer somewhere. And poor Mychal Bell, who never asked for any of this attention in the first place, is about to do a hard 18 months.

So, my question is, did the march accomplish anything other than a feel-good Thursday off work and a spike in book sales for Michael Baisden?

This rambling dissertation brings me to one particularly irksome issue: the "victims" of these causes always somehow seem to find a way to undermine the cause itself.

Exhibit A: Trent Benefield (pictured above). You probably have no idea who this cat is, but he happened to be in the car with Sean Bell the night he met his demise at the hands of the NYPD. Bell died of course, and Benefield caught a few bullets in the process. This was certainly a tragedy, but you wouldn't know it from looking at Benefield now. Donations were provided from the community and several benefits to give Benefield a financial boost to get himself back on his feet. But what does this Negro do? He takes the money, balls out of control, and documents the whole thing on his MySpace page.

"They should have never gave you niggas money!" - Dave Chappelle as Rick James

I'm not saying Benefield should have turned into some sort of televangelist or patron saint, but damn! If you're gonna trick on strippers with the money people donated to you in the face of tragedy, don't post photos of it on your MySpace page.

Exhibit B: Two of the Jena Six kids, Bryant Purvis and Carwin Jones are presenters for the BET Awards, airing sometime this week on The Channel Everybody Hates But Nobody (Allegedly) Watches. I don't even know how to take that one, but reports that the two kids were seen ballin' out in after parties just smells like a page from the Trent Benefield Book of No-Longer-Sympathetic Victims to me. Let's not forget, despite provocation, these kids did indeed commit an assault. Spin it however you want, but should they be upheld as 07' Civil Rights Heroes? Sorry, it just stinks.

Exhibit C: Rodney King. No further explanation necessary.

I guess this diatribe didn't really have any point. It's not like the victims of wrongdoings should live the rest of their lives in misery, but something about seeing the Jena 1/3 dressed like Rich Boy, Trent Benefield Makin' It Rain from his wheelchair, and Rodney King burning through money with his Stay-Soft-Fro, beating his wife, and landing in jail (again!) just make me nauseous.

Were these people worthy of your prayers and sympathy? Sure. But maybe, just maybe we should be more careful who we're making the face of certain causes.

Or maybe, just maybe, we should pick better causes in the first place.

Make It Rain For Sean Bell [Courtesy of StartSnitching]

Trent Benefield's MySpace Page

Sean Bell Case [Wiki]

The Jena 1/3 Ballin' at BET Awards [YBF]

'Jena Six' Teen Mychal Bell Back in Jail [AP]