Sunday, September 30, 2007

AvBro GuestPost: Multi-Level Marketing is a Grand Hu$tle

[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 our newest feature: The AverageBro GuestPost.]

Last week, I got a cc:d email from an old acquaintance asking me if I wanted to buy Redskins tickets. This was odd for two reasons. 1) Redskins tickets are expensive and very hard to come by. 2) The dude who sent me the email is not exactly the richest guy I know. Needless to say, I was skeptical, but at the same time, couldn't pass up the possibility of getting some Skins tickets for a crackhead price.

A bit later I get a reply from him, confirming my suspicions. Not only did he not technically have the tickets, he was asking me to go to his "travel agency bidness" website, where there was a link to purchase the tickets through a 3rd party (giving him a commission in the process). Of course, he capped the whole reply by asking me if I was interested in a "business opportunity".

Being the wise black man I am, my Negro Intuition™ told me something was fishy here. Inevitably, if I responded and told him I was interested in this "business opportunity", I'd be invited to a "presentation" at some suburban 3rd rate hotel conference room. There would be lots of talk about "financial freedom", "retiring early", and "giving back to the community". There would be precious little information about the nature of the business, how compensation was paid, or what product was being sold. I'd be asked to pay $499 to find out more information. I'd be told to tell every friend know with $499 about the opportunity as well. I would eventually kiss that $499 goodbye. I know this, because I've been there before.

Amway
Mary Kay Cosmetics (makers of those gaudy pink Caddies pictured above)
LCI Communications
Primerica
Excel Communications
Pre-Paid Legal Services
...and my personal favorite...
Tahitian Noni Juice

That's right, your boy, AvBro, has fallen for the Multi-Level Marketing Grand Hu$tle.

It was long ago, and it's not a chapter of my life I'm happy about revisiting, but let's just say I'm $500 lighter in the wallet, and much wiser as a result. Sometimes these things are innocent: you lose a few hundred dollars, you curse your friend in the process, but your life isn't ruined. Sometimes, however, these things can have dire circumstances: people can be swindled out home equity, have their credit ruined beyond repair, and sometimes lose their homes entirely. It's not a game.

My cousin RichCam wrote a nice drop about this on his blog (Full Of Hot Air) the other day, with some good tips on how to avoid getting hu$tled. Click over there now and let him put you on the game.

Whatever you do, if somebody asks you about a "bidness opportunity", just say no. And run the other way. Quickly.

Why do they keep coming to ME??? [Full of Hot Air Blog]

Because Child Support Doesn't Pay Itself....


...and because he can't keep it in his pants, Evander Holyfield still has to work. Considering the fact that he's embarrassed himself on Dancing With The Stars, and is still climbing in the ring twice a year, I guess his latest idea is less risky than, say, getting your brain further turned to creamed corn.

Evander Holyfield, of Atlanta, is preparing to unveil the "Evander Holyfield Real Deal Grill," a direct competitor to Foreman's famous "Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine," which has reportedly earned $100 million in sales since 1995.

"I've got a George Foreman grill. It's a good grill," Holyfield, 44, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "But don't you think the latest grill is supposed to be the best grill?"

Manufacturer CirTran Corp., based in Utah, approached Holyfield about promoting the $99 grill after he appeared on the TV show "Dancing With the Stars" in 2005. Holyfield dons an apron in a 30-minute commercial that began airing last week describing his product's culinary and health benefits.
The sad stereotype of an athlete who just doesn't know when to call it quits (Michael Jordan, Rickey Henderson) doesn't necessarily apply here. With nine children (and counting) to "make it rain" on monthly, as well as a litany of bad business decisions, and shady ex-wives, Holyfield has to keep fighting, literally for his freedom. Sad, sad, sad.

I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it till somebody with the financial support helps me establish this as a legit business: Get Yourself Fixed!!!

Please, please, please, please buy this man's grill!!! Maybe you'll inadvertently save his life in the process.

Jack Johnson is crying inside.

Holyfield Takes On Foreman Grill [AP]

Friday, September 28, 2007

AverageBro Blogs Live! from the GOP Debate at Morgan State

We Watch, So You Don't Have To.

Ok, so it isn't live, and I was watching on PBS with probably the other 214 people nationwide who bothered to tune in. But much like my recaps of the New Hampshire, and YouTube Democratic Debates, I felt an obligation of sorts to endure last night's GOP debate at Morgan State University and give you a final tally. I'm just open minded like that.

I am a registered Democrat, and since I differ with the GOP on a few key fundamental issues (namely: affirmative action and a woman's right to choose), I would gouge my eyes out with a Bojangles' spork before I voted for a Republican candidate for President. Sorry, I'm just close minded like that.

On the other hand, state and local (think: mayor, county exec, governor) elections are another issue altogether. If a guy can lower my property tax, fund schools, and fix potholes, I could care less what party he represents. Just my two cents.

Anyways, on to the debate....

---

Kornel David
Rusty LaRue
Cory Carr
Mark Bryant
Corey Benjamin
Mario Bennett


You probably have no idea who these six guys are, but they're members of the 1998-99 Chicago Bulls, a dreadful team that won just 13 games. The only reason why this team is even notable is because they were the scrubs that followed the exodus 97' Bulls Championship team of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Coach Phil Jackson.

Depleted of it's star power, the team of guys remaining were a collection of awful, unwatchable losers. This team was so bad, it couldn't beat itself on NBA Live. Last night, as I tried to stay interested in the GOP Debate at Morgan State University, I couldn't help but think I was watching this dreadful Bulls team.

In case you're unaware, all the Republican frontrunners (Guiliani, McCain, Romney, Thompson) pulled out of this debate weeks ago in unison, citing "other commitments". Never mind the fact that the debate was scheduled 6 months ago, which is plenty of time to clear your calendar. Never mind the fact that the same four candidates also pulled out of a similar debate on Hispanic tv station Univision a few weeks ago.

On second thought: mind!

If the GOP is serious about courting the black and brown vote, you'd think they'd send their All-Star team instead of a bunch of D-League rejects. Apparently not.

Note to black and brown America: Please remember this slight when the GOP comes pandering for your votes next Fall!!!

Even though the luminaries decided they had better things to do, there was still a debate to conduct, and hosts Tom Joyner and Tavis Smiley were emphatic about these absences and called them out. In a symbolic show of the slight, the podiums of the absent were left empty (see photo above). The GOP's Token Negro du jour, ex-Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele introduced the six debaters, and the show was on.

Before I dive into the candidate by candidate recaps, I want to note that although this debate was held at an HBCU and was supposedly geared toward black issues, a majority of the crowd appeared to be white. This could be deceptive: as we all know, white folks are notorious for getting places on time (or buying tickets early), so they always end up sitting in the front rows anyway. Perhaps the candidates had their local supporters bum rush the show. Either way you dice it, the audience response to many of the questions posed didn't seem to be the typical response of a mostly black audience. Does this make a difference? Not really. Was it somewhat distracting? Yes.

Anyways, Tavis played moderator, and Fox News' Juan Williams, a token Hispanic journalist, and a token black female journalist took turns lobbing questions at the candidates. Most early questions were of direct concern to the black/brown community. But towards the end, they started going with basic questions about health care and the Iraq war and my Tivo trigger finger got itchy, so I can't say I followed those responses very well. Just like with my previous debate recaps, I rated each candidate's performance on a scale of 0 to 5 Hanging Chads [||].

My Candidate by Candidate Recap:

Mike Huckabee (Former Arkansas Governor) - I'll be honest, if I didn't have any idea who these guys were or who was leading this group of losers in the polls, I'd swear this guy was the best candidate on the GOP side by far. Playing from the Bill Clinton Book of Pandering, Huckabee was by far the most relaxed, professional, and thorough of the candidates. This guy had the right answer for everything: racism, Rwandan genocide, DC statehood, you name it. He also plays a musical instrument. Heck, his tie was even color-coordinated to match the set background! I'm never going to vote for a GOP President, but I can surely understand why this guy pulled 48% of the black vote the last time he ran for Governor. If you're GOP savvy and can explain to me why this guy doesn't have more traction, I'd love to know. - 5 Chads (Out of 5)

Ron Paul (Texas Congressman) - I obviously haven't followed any of these second-tier GOP candidates (why would I?), but I've heard more than enough about Ron Paul to pay attention when he spoke. I came away wondering what all the fuss was about. Yeah, he's a sparky old guy with lots of enthusiasm and spunk, but he clearly wasn't prepared to answer any of the race-specific questions tossed out in this debate. He has a penchant for repeating key phrases (ie: welfare state) for no apparent reason, and espouses pie in the sky ideas like the elimination of income taxes for "waiters and bartenders" (WTH?). With his tiny stature and outrageous policies, I can only conclude that Paul and Dennis Kucinich are products of the same babydaddy. They just don't know it yet. AverageSis called him a "crackpot". I had to concur. That's why I love this woman so much I had to marry and impregnate her. Anyways. - 1 Chad.

Sam Brownback (Kansas Senator) - I'll be honest, this guy was completely non-descript. He didn't say a single thing the entire night that was notable. If it wasn't for his bad dye job, I probably wouldn't have even remembered him at all. BTW, you just know this dude caught beatdowns on the daily in middle school with a last name like Brownback. - 0 Chads.

Duncan Hunter (California Congressman) - See Brownback. I can't say there was anything particularly memorable about Hunter other than his Angry White Guy responses to all questions of race. This guy if clearly the GOP equivalent of Mike Gravel. And he clearly has the same snowball's chance of winning. - 0 Chads

Tom Tancredo (Colorado Congressman) - This is the one guy who pissed me off more than anyone else the entire night. Like Hunter, he seems to have the Angry White Guy's disease, and makes no bones about it. Pandering clearly wasn't on his agenda. Rwandans? Eff' em'! Black men in prison unfairly? Eff' em'. DC Statehood? Move to Virginia, Negro!!! Maybe the slow realization that he doesn't have a chance, is wasting his time, and doesn't even have a job to go back to is finally sinking in. You know, kinda like a guy who trains years for the Olympics, and finishes dead last. I'd probably be pissed too. Still, this guy is about 5 foot 6, and doesn't even look presidential. Much like Democrat Chris Dodd, who looks more like a butcher, this guy doesn't look presidential at all. He looks like a middle school gym teacher. Maybe that's a career option for him now, cause his ass is through. - Negative 27 Chads

Alan Keyes (recently unemployed GOP lackey/onetime ambassador to some country you've never heard of) - You know I had to save the best for last. Like I told ya'll last week, Keyes' inclusion in this race is nothing more than a Grand Hu$tle by the GOP to avoid looking completely racist at this HBCU debate. I still have no doubt that two weeks from now, Keyes will quietly back out of the race, citing a need to "spend more time with his family". Reality is, a hired gun like him can come in and shoot off at the mouth with few repercussions, and that's exactly what he did. Looking just like Anton Jackson from Undercover Brother, Keyes, in his best Steve Urkel alto, actually gained some points with me. He said lots of things about black people needing to take personal responsibility, get married before they have babies, and staying the hell off the street corner that the white candidates couldn't say themselves. He got lukewarm applause at best, but for actually showing some balls for a change, at least he slightly improved his image. Not that it matters, Anton Jackson will be out of this race by the time I finish this post. - 4 Chads

Winner: Huckabee, by a landslide. But when you think about it, winning a debate full of losers is sorta like being the best Jewish player in the NFL. It sounds good on paper, but in the end, it doesn't mean jack.
Runner Up: Anton Jackson Alan Keyes
Don't Be Mad, UPS Is Hirin': All six of these losers. And Black America.

Republican long shots get moment in spotlight [B'More Sun]

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Better Programming? Don't BET On It: The Sequel


The Station Everyone Hates But Allegedly Never Watches is at it again.

Despite the ongoing Enough is Enough! boycotts, the less than stellar reception of Hot Ghetto Mess, and with TV One breathing down their necks in the ratings, BET is moving forward with an (overly?) ambitious array of shows for the upcoming season.

You'll remember several months back, I got gassed off the prospect of their Summer lineup. We all know that whole thing turned out to be a classic case of an idea that was better on paper than in reality. So, despite how interesting some of this stuff sounds, I'm not holding my breath to say the least.

Black Entertainment Television is 27 years old -- old enough, its top executives say, to start acting all grown up.

The Washington-based cable network that established itself with music videos featuring booty-shaking women and gangsta-rapping thugs is starting to do what grown-up TV networks do: produce its own original series. This season, BET will introduce 16 new series, a commitment that the network's top programmer, Reginald Hudlin, dramatically describes as "the largest aggregation of original programming about black life in television history."

Music videos now constitute just less than 20 percent of BET's schedule, says Hudlin, 45.

In coming weeks, the network will launch "Sunday Best," an "American Idol"-style gospel-singing competition; and "Exalted!," a series profiling ministers from across the country. On deck later this season: "Bufu," BET's first animated sketch series, co-created by comic actor Orlando Jones.

Will Smith's production company is developing an animated sci-fi series called "Cipha," which BET describes as a show "set in a future world where hip-hop is outlawed." And Vin Diesel is behind yet another animated series, about the life and times of Hannibal, the ancient African warrior king.
Ok, on second thought, maybe this stuff doesn't sound so interesting after all. Unless, of course, you're an 11th grader with a SideKick and a MySpace page. That is, after all, the audience BET is catering to.

Personally, I'd rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty screwdriver than watch "Sunday Best, an 'American Idol'-style gospel-singing competition". The mere description makes me feen' for Classic Comic View.

I don't pretend to be an expert on anything related to BET. I Tivo the excellent Meet the Faith, but can't say I watch anything else there. This could have something to do with my disdain for music videos, 80's sitcom reruns, or corny infomercials. It could also have something to do with me being way past the age range of their target demographic (14-24).

Assuming Rev. Delman Coates doesn't shut the whole station down first, who knows how this whole thing will work out for BET.

But considering the lack of age-appropriate programming, I can't exactly say I'll be watching to find out.

At 27, BET Tries Some Original New Moves [WaPost]

AverageBro NewsBriefs: Hollyweird Edition


Nope, this isn't necessarily one of those days when The Day Job actually asks me to work for a living. But since there isn't anything incredibly blogworthy, and since most visitors to this site are still ripping me a new one for the Jail vs Yale post the other day, I figured I'd take it light today, and drop this trio of "Hollyweird" miscellany.

Are the GEICO Cavemen Actually Brothas?

A few months back, I was told about the "hidden racism" in the pilot to ABC's upcoming sitcom based on the GEICO Cavemen. I "acquired" a copy of this pilot, but since the audio didn't work, I never actually watched it. Still, it seems like the less than warm and fuzzy reception of that episode made the folks at ABC go back to the lab quicker than you can say "The Secret Diary of Desmond Phiffer".

Cavemen" had to undergo a pre-debut evolution. A new first episode with a new setting, San Diego instead of Atlanta, will air when the sitcom begins 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday. ABC announced in July that the pilot didn't properly introduce the idea of Cro-Magnon buddies living in modern society and would be redone.

The spots wittily depict shaggy-looking cavemen chafing at misconceptions about their sophistication and intelligence. The series follows another trio of Cro-Magnons battling bias as they try to fit into a world that believes (wrongly, as the show has it) they're extinct.

In July, when the producers and cast attended the Television Critics Association meeting, they were asked if the prejudice the cavemen faced in the pilot, for instance, that they were athletically superior, was intended to echo the stereotyping that blacks face.

Not at all, the producers said, reiterating that position again this week. While the show is about how people treat minorities it has nothing to do with any specific real-life group, they said.
That pilot is probably still somewhere out there in Cyberspace if you're willing to look for it. My man The Human Resource from StartSnitching.com said it was pretty foul, and I tend to agree with him more times that not.

I won't bother watching this show to confirm this, but if you do let me know.

'Cavemen' sitcom evolves for ABC debut [AP]


Paris Goes to Rwanda

As if the folks of war torn Rwanda didn't already have enough to worry about, Paris Hilton will be bringing her PR staff and herpes to their country this Fall.
Paris Hilton has vowed to keep her post-prison promise of devoting time to worthy causes and will demonstrate her commitment with a trip to Rwanda later this year.

The celebrity socialite told the E! Online website on Wednesday that she is aiming to visit the war-torn central African nation in November after completing work on her latest film.

"I'll be going in November, after I get back from filming my movie," Hilton said. "There's so much need in that area, and I feel like if I go, it will bring more attention to what people can do to help."
Here's what you can do to "help", Ms. Hilton: Stay your bony ass in Hollywood!

The last thing Rwandans need to "bring more attention" to their plight is a bunch of Entertainment Tonight vignettes of Paris shopping, eating al fresco, and posing for flix with a bunch of starving kids. And while you're at it, don't get the wise idea of "adopting" one of them. Kids are may look "hot" on the red carpet, but they are not accessories.

Leave the faux humanitarian stuff to Madonna and Angelina. Stick to making homemade pron bad reality shows that nobody watches.

Paris Hilton planning humanitarian trip to Rwanda [E!]


Vick in Trouble (Yes...Again!)

Can't Get Right is in yet more hot water. You'd think a dude staring at a lenghty prison sentence and the end of his professional career would find Jesus. Heck, he even admitted as much himself. Apparently, Bedside Baptist ain't the only thing Mike's discovered in the past few weeks.
Michael Vick, who has been suspended indefinitely by the National Football League after admitting he bankrolled a dogfighting operation, tested positive for marijuana Sept. 13 and will have his behavior further monitored by the federal court system as he awaits a December sentencing date.

Vick, who had been the Atlanta Falcons’ starting quarterback, will be restricted to his residence from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and his movements will be monitored by an electronic bracelet. He must also submit to drug testing at any time.
But wait... it gets worse for inmate #6297 #7.
Vick’s troubles do not end there. He was indicted yesterday on Virginia state charges of beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs and engaging in or promoting dogfighting. Each felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.

And the Royal Bank of Canada recently sued Vick for more than $2.3 million, alleging that his guilty plea and suspension have caused him to default on a loan.
Damn, talk about catching a bad break.

On second thought, if I had all these walls closing in on me at once, I might need to take a toke or 30 myself.

Keep your head up, Mike. Literally. Keep your head, and for that matter, your upper torso up. [||] It's gonna be hell in that cell.

Vick Fails Drug Test and Faces Travel Limits [NYTimes]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

RocaWear Arena? Jigga Please.


Watching yesterday's congressional hearings, and last night's SoundByte Olympics: Hip Hop Edition on BET, one common argument bought up in defense of rap music is that it has created a whole new generation of CEO's, executives, and entrepreneurs. As if Negroes couldn't have (and haven't already) accomplished the same things by just working hard and going to college like the rest of us. Never mind that in 90% of the cases listed, there's a white co-signer who made the whole thing possible, and profits far more than the ghetto inhabitants he exploits to the detriment of their own communities puts on. Lyon Cohen begot Russell Simmons. Jerry Heller enabled Easy-E. And of then course, there's Jay-Z.

While I'm sure to be branded as a hater for this (as if I care), it really irks me when Jay-Z is repeatedly referred to as "owner" of the NBA's New Jersey Nets. Let's be real here: yes, Jay-Z is technically a part-owner of the team. He cut a check for $5.4M that didn't bounce, which gave him some shares in the club. But for real, Jay-Z's contribution to the team's ownership just looks like another one of those boutique equity deals to me. Other than sitting courtside with Beyonce and plugging his albums to season ticket holders, it doesn't look like the Jigga Man contributes much to the everyday operations of the organization other than star quality and good paparazzi photos. Ownership? Yes. Power? Not so much.

On the other hand, anyone with a shred of common sense knows the real reason Jay-Z was extended the right to purchase part of the team is because they are slated to move to Brooklyn, NY (his hometown) in a few years. This move involves a very controversial displacement of longtime residents and a land grab via eminent domain for construction of the team's new arena, which isn't very popular politically to say the least.

So when I read stories like the one below, while I want to celebrate it as a "testament to the economic opportunities that hip hop can provide" (their words, not mine), I can't help but ignore my Negro Intuition.

Most naming rights deals are struck at the beginning of an arena or stadium's life in today's marketplace. But three apparel companies are now vying to display their names on the 26-year-old building now known as Continental Airlines Arena. Only one, Izod, is a household name. The others, Rocawear and Southpole, are up-and coming brands that market to an urban demographic.

But all three have a relationship with Brett Yormark, the president and CEO of the New Jersey Nets. The basketball team will be the only marquee tenant in the arena for now because the New Jersey Devils are moving to a new home in Newark.

Izod is already a sponsor of the basketball team.

One of Rocawear's founders is hip-hop entrepreneur Jay-Z, who is a part-owner of the Nets, and the company is also a sponsor. Southpole, based in Fort Lee, has been in talks with the team to be a sponsor, Yormark said. Neither returned calls to The Associated Press for comment.
To me, this re-naming, assuming it actually happens (which is doubtful), it little more than good P.R. for a clothing label that Jay-Z no longer owns, and further P.R. for the area of Brooklyn in which this behemoth of an area will sit. Especially when you consider the pricetag of a mere $600,000, versus the $20M a year that the naming rights for the new area will fetch.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, superfluous PR reasons aside, renaming the Meadowlands as the Rocafella Arena could be worse. How worse? Just consider the fact that the new area, Barclays Bank, is named after a company that (allegedly) profited from the slave trade. What's next? The Bull Connor Coliseum? The David Duke Center?

The Nets will quietly sell the Meadowlands naming rights to some obscure regional financial institution hext week, and RocaWear, Izod, and SouthPole (who actually wears this stuff?) will get a nice shot of PR in the process. It's called a Grand Hu$tle for a reason, folks.

Bertram Lee and Peter Bynoe are crying inside.

Meadowlands arena could have new name by next week [AP]

www.AverageBro.com is Official!!!


Okay, so it's not exactly major news, but hey it's a Wednesday. After weeks of urging from AverageSibling, I finally dug into my dwindling monthly allowance and broke GoDaddy off $9 for the domain name www.AverageBro.com, which surprisingly wasn't already taken. I guess this simple development really means only a few things.

1) Since I dropped nine hard-earn bucks on this domain name, I'm now obligated to keep this blog up and running for at least another year.

2) If you're used to coming here via AverageBro.blogspot.com, you don't need to do anything, it will automatically redirect you and your RSS feeds will go on uninterrupted.

3) If you want to tell a friend about the site, it's much easier to remember now.

Hey, I said it wasn't exactly major news, didn't I?

Bill O'Reilly Loves Collard Greens, Is Scared of Black People


It's a light news day for a blogger like myself. Sure, there were those Congressional Hearings on Rap Music yesterday on the Hill, but after watching the proceedings on CSpan, there wasn't much blog-worthy, and besides, What About Our Daughters already did a great job of recapping this. Boy, is that David Banner a screwed up and delusional young man or what? Pray for Mr. Crump.

So, while I wouldn't usually bother posting something so trivial, I had to share this recent nugget on our favorite black culture nemesis, Bill O'Reilly.

During the September 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, discussing his recent trip to have dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia's, a famous restaurant in Harlem, Bill O'Reilly reported that he "had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful," adding: "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship."

Later, during a discussion with National Public Radio senior correspondent and Fox News contributor Juan Williams about the effect of rap on culture, O'Reilly asserted: "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."
Desperate for another race-related story for their 24 hour news cycles, some media outlets are attempting to compare O'Reilly's latest case of brainfreeze to the Don Imus 'Nappy Headed Hoes' incident of earlier this year. And on the surface, without hearing the entire conversation in context, it's easy to see where they're coming from.

However, after listening to the audio of the exchange between O'Reilly and Juan Williams (who didn't bother correcting O'Reilly), I can only really get so upset about this. To me, maybe, just maybe O'Reilly's cultural expedition into black America just might have enlightened him that we do have some semblance of culture beyond Cam'ron and Ludacris. On the other hand, I've been to Sylvia's, and to put it nicely, the food there tastes like shit (sorry, I tried to be nice). If Sharpton wanted to give O'Reilly a better dose of soul food, he could have taken him to any baptist church and just thrown down after service in the basement.

Maybe this sort of Cultural Anthropology is something that can similarly enlighten other whites. If O'Reilly is amazed that black people can actually sit in a family restaurant and eat bad artery clogging food without saying "M.F. I want more iced tea", then perhaps the legions of Americans (his show is still the top rated cable news show, so somebody's watching) who subscribe to similar trains of thought can also be saved.

You Too, Can Help Improve Race Relations in America: Invite Bob from Accounting to lunch with you today.

Just don't take him to Sylvia's, cause, you know, diarrhea isn't really part of black culture either.

O'Reilly surprised "there was no difference" between Harlem restaurant and other New York restaurants [MediaMatters]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

SuperHead Is About To Get SuperSued


I've made no bones about my contempt and outright disgust for this Karrine "SuperHead" Steffans chick. For those of you unaware, this ex music video "star" more or less slept with every famous black man you can name (and a few Jews for networking purposes), then wrote a book about it called I Blew All These Rich & Famous Guys, And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt The Confessions of a Video Vixen. As if being a professional ho wasn't bad enough, the fact that the woman has been able to turn this whole charade into a profitable career is perhaps worse. The book shot to #1 on the NY Times Bestseller list. Steffans made the cable news and talk radio circuit, somehow spinning her lascivious ways into a story of women's empowerment and sexual independence. Fannie Lou Hamer cried inside.

The fallout of her more or less "outing" lots of the men she slept with has been huge. Shaq just filed for divorce, and I'm pretty sure his wife will use the entire chapter of Confessions dedicated to him as Exhibit A for his philandering. Bobby Brown got caught up too. So did Method Man. I'm not saying these guys aren't partly responsible for wrecking their own marriages/babymama arrangements, but damn, where's the honor amongst adulterers? By em... "kissing" (among other things), and telling, Steffans violated damn near every G-Code of post-coital snitching.

That's not to say that every man who got outted by Steffans is just gonna take the whole thing lying down (pun intended).

Karrine "Superhead" Steffans is set for a huge pay day when her new book I Blew All These Rich & Famous Guys, Wrote A Book, And Now I Have A Benz The Vixen Diaries hits book stores later on this week. But she may not have that money for long. That's because MediaTakeOut.com has learned that former 106 & Park host Darius "Big Tigger" Morgan has hired a lawyer and is set to sue Superhead for defamation.

The lawsuit stems from allegations that Superhead made regarding Tigger's sexuality. The former video vixen has publicly claimed that she caught Big Tigger nude and in bed with model Tyson Beckford. And according to Superhead, Tigger's anus was bleeding.

A close friend of Tigger tells MediaTakeOut.com that the former BET host is furious with Superhead for making those allegations. The insider explained, "[Superhead] went around making this ridiculous claim when her last book came out and now she's doing it again ... It' just a ploy to sell more books." The insider continued, "Last time [Tigger] let her get away with saying that, but not now - she's going o have to pay for lying on him like that."

And Tigger stands to receive a huge damage award. Tigger's pal told MediaTakeOut.com, "Everywhere [Tigger] goes, people are always talking about what Superhead said. She's really damaged his reputation ... And what makes it so bad is that what she said is 100% not true."
I won't even kid you, I'm not too big on this whole celebrity gossip tip, but I did hear the interview on Hot97 where Steffans "outed" Tigger, and I haven't really looked at dude the same way since. While her allegations weren't in that so-called book, they were all over the internet for anyone savvy enough to pull up that Wendy Williams interview a few years ago. And no, I'm not providing a link to that garbage.

I could really care less whether or not Tigger is gay. [||] It's not like he pays my mortgage or anything. Heck, I don't even watch 106 and Park, or whatever show he's doing nowadays. But on the flipside, hardly reputable chicks like Steffans (who has done low budget porn, and went through a phase of hard drug use) shouldn't just be able to talk greasy about a man's bedroom activities and get away with it. Reality is, the dude is in the entertainment industry, and such allegations can really ruin your career in a line of work where perception is reality.

Then again, Steffans is in the entertainment industry too, and I can't help but wonder about the timing of this lawsuit. Is it possible that Tigger's attorneys want to spur more sales of the book, and thus increase his likelihood of a good settlement? Is this all just a guise to get free pub for the book? If so, what little sympathy I have for Tigger is gone too.

Still, as I noted before, I can't believe that there isn't more outrage about this woman. She has essentially legitimized the whole concept of Video-"Dancer" (I won't call her what she really deserves to be called) as a career path. As much as male artists, female rappers, record companies, and radio stations are (rightly) accused of promoting the stereotype of hypersexualized black women as little more than sex objects, I can't believe this women has somehow managed to dodge the silver bullet of criticism. She is a walking, talking, and (repeatedly) kneeling embodiment of every bad label ever pinned on black women. Yet she keeps on making books and TV appearances, and I'm sure there's a WifeTime/BET Blackbuster straight-to-DVD movie being screenwritten as I type this.

Karrine Steffans is the prototypical, stereotypical Jezebel. More black people, especially women, should be highly pissed off that she's able to profit from this image. Where's the boycott of this ****** [offensive term in my head deleted]??? Folks should be picketing in front of her booksignings and urging her publishers to stop putting out this sorta trash.

Karrine Steffans is doing more to hurt the black female image than Debra Lee ever could. There, I said it.

Assuming his lawsuit is for the right reasons, I applaud Big Tigger [||] for manning up and trying to rehab what remains of his reputation. And if you're actually considering spending your hard earned money on I Blew All These Rich & Famous Guys, Wrote A Book, And Now I Have A Benz The Vixen Diaries and further contributing to this foolishness, just go ahead and kill yourself. Life isn't getting any easier.

Diahann Carroll, Lena Horne, Cicely Tyson, Phyllicia Rashad, and scores of other black women who have conducted themselves in public with class, grace, and yes, dignity, are crying inside.

[Note: I realize and despise the fact that I am indirectly helping publicize this woman's book with this post, thus the numerous strikethrus strikethrus above. And for anyone wondering, no, I did NOT buy I Blew All These Rich & Famous Guys, And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt The Confessions of a Video Vixen. I borrowed a copy from a woman sitting next to me on a long cross-country flight. Since it was written on a sixth grade level, it was a pretty quick read. Alice Walker must be crying inside too.]

106 AND PARK'S BIG TIGGER HIRES LAWYER - PREPARES TO SUE SUPERHEAD OVER CLAIMS THAT HE HAD GAY AFFAIR WITH TYSON BECKFORD [MediaTakeOut]

BONUS: Listen to SuperHead get Embarassed on Detroit Radio Interview [WJLB 98FM]

Monday, September 24, 2007

Are There Really More Black Men In Jail Than Yale!?!?


In last week's post on Non-Urban Dictates and other B.S. I attempted to correct some commonly regurgitated misinformation. This weekend, watching more Jena 6 recaps, and other random crap on cable news, I heard the following saying about 400 times.

"There are more black men in jail than college."

It was spouted by Jesse Jackson, DL Hughley, and countless white commentators when discussing the societal ills of black America, post-Jena Six.

For the umpteenth time, can we please correct this misconception.

There are NOT more black men in jail than college!!!!!
There are NOT more black men in jail than college!!!!!
There are NOT more black men in jail than college!!!!!
There are NOT more black men in jail than college!!!!!
There are NOT more black men in jail than college!!!!!

Period. Just check the stats.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics' publication "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2000" does indeed estimate 791,600 African Americans in prison or jail at that time. However, the figures for African-American college enrollment, derived from the National Center for Education Statistics, look very different from the figures issued by the Census Bureau, which are used in the official government "data book," the Statistical Abstract. Those figures show a total of 804,000 African-American males over the age of 17 enrolled in college in October 2000.
If you don't believe the statistics (and I wouldn't blame you, this being the gubb'ment and all), go dig them up for yourself. The 2005 statistics, quoted in this article confirm that the trend continues today, but I can't find any reliable data to back this up.

Even if there were more black men behind bars than in college, you have to really think about the numbers. Just how old is your typical college student? I know some folks continue education later in life, and many are in graduate schools well into their 30's, but typically people attend college between the ages of 18-24. Prison? Not so much? You can catch a charge at damn near any point in your life. So, comparing a relatively small sample (18-24) versus a large one (16-Infinity) is misleading anyway. Stats 101 would tell you this.

How did this silly rumor get spread in the first place? Maybe it's just another Grand Hu$tle by The Man to make us think less of ourselves. Maybe this was true at some point in the past. Or, just maybe, it's yet another example of how we as a people don't bother fact checking or confirming the source of things we hear before we regurgitate them on to the next person. Heck, some people probably think Tupac is still alive. Is there no hope for us!!?

Let's start celebrating the good things about our people, specifically black men, who pretty much get a knee to the groin by society (and themselves) every day.

And the next time you hear somebody rattle off that B.S., be sure to correct them.

Behind Books, Not Bars [TCS Daily]

Isaiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury Have NO Love for Black Women


With OJ and Jena in the news, the whole MSG vs Anucha Browne Sanders sexual harassment case/soap opera has mercifully flown under the radar. But that didn't stop this gem from surfacing the other day.

African-Americans Tuesday criticized New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas for saying it was less offensive for black men than for white men to call black women "bitches."

"A white man calling a black woman 'bitch,' that is wrong with me. I'm not accepting that. That's a problem for me," Thomas said in a videotaped deposition shown during a trial brought against the team by a former marketing executive who claims she was harassed by Thomas and wrongfully terminated.

Asked if he was bothered by a black man calling a black female "bitch", Thomas said: "Not as much. I’m sorry to say, I do make a distinction."

That comment prompted the new resurgence of an old debate over who, if anyone, could use derogatory epithets, and when, if ever, it was acceptable to use them.

"The National Action Network and I are unequivocally against a person of any race, color or creed calling a person a 'nigga' 'bitch' or 'ho,' and further, that no person regardless of his or her race, has the right to make misogynistic or sexist remarks against another person," the Rev. Al Sharpton told ABC NEWS.com in an e-mail.

The taped deposition was played by lawyers for Anucha Brown Sanders, a former vice president of marketing for the Knicks, who accuses Thomas of calling her "bitch," "f***ing bitch" and "ho." Sanders claimed she was fired when she complained about Thomas' comments and sexual advances. She is seeking $10 million and wants her job back.
I don't exactly know if this comment "prompted the new resurgence of an old debate". I mean, I was at the barbershop this weekend, and all anybody was talking about was the Redskins (who totally suck, BTW). I love how "the media" can just manufacture an epidemic by asking the two or three "black experts" they have on speed dial for their opinions.

Still, how the heck does Isaiah explain this? He's effectively saying that it's okay for a brotha to call a black woman a bitch, but if a white guy does it, he's catching a beatdown. You could substitute the word "nigga" here, and probably apply similar logic to how many black folks (not all) feel about the word.

BTW, I'm don't really use the words bitch and ho, but I do occasionally float around the "N-Word". Contrary to what many of you might think, I actually don't curse much at all in my non-blog life, but I consider the word "nigga" to be more or less an expletive. One thing I don't consider it is a term of endearment. Period. Folks who claim they are "taking the stigma from the word" by claiming it as a such are delusional. I am sure 90% of the time, these very folks use the word to describe a foul, ignorant person of their behavior. But I digress.

Either way, Freaky Zeke is in some real trouble. Chances are, this whole harassment case will end up getting settled out of court, as it should have been in the first place. But Isaiah's reputation, which was already not exactly crystal clean (poor coaching, ruined the CBA, iffy decisions as an exec, freezing out MJ, the bad mouthing of Larry Bird) is definitely shot beyond repair now. Assuming he gets the chance to coach this season (expert opinion is that he'll be fired is the Knicks lose this case), the Knicks sorry roster will guarantee this year is his swan song anyway.

In related Knicks news, point guard Stephon Marbury's summer from hell just keeps getting worse. After some truly odd public behavior, his testimony during the trial just further erodes his recently rehabbed reputation.
The former intern who had a sordid tryst in a truck with Knicks guard Stephon Marbury could testify as early as tomorrow in the explosive sex-harassment suit against the star's coach, Isiah Thomas.

Kathleen Decker, 24, is expected to be called by defense lawyers in a $10 million federal civil complaint pressed by former Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders against team president and coach Thomas and Madison Square Garden.

Marbury has already reluctantly admitted that he had sex with Decker in his pickup truck after the team went on a group strip-club outing in April 2005
Decker isn't exactly all that great looking either. Or black.

Happy Trails to the Angelic Marbury. We hardly knew ye'. And now that Big Ben Wallace and Venus Williams are selling cheap shoes of their own, we don't need you either.

Man, would training camp hurry up and open? Please!!!

Remarks by Isiah Thomas Reignite Debate over Racist, Sexist Language [ABC News]

Intern to Testify In Isaiah Trial [NYPost]

Friday, September 21, 2007

Jena Six: The Day After


I don't normally comment on comments to my own blog (it's kinda silly when you think about it), but after scanning over today's comments on AverageBro Blogs Live! From Jena, LA, I think some people have it twisted here.

Contrary to what some might think, I have presented a boatload of solutions here on this blog, time after time. I wouldn't expect those of you visiting for the first time to know this, but damn, give me some benefit of the doubt.

I am actively a part of the very solutions that I advocate. These include, but certainly are not limited to coaching, tutoring, mentoring, church outreach, working with the homeless, spreading information via this blog, and last but not least, marriage, fidelity, and raising my own kids. It would be ludicrous, not to mention wildly hypocritical of me to spout off rhetoric without backing it up in my personal life. Trust me, my credentials are legit.

My post about the Jena Six, and specifically, some of my comments about the excessive partying down in Alexandria, and the overall Freaknik atmosphere struck a few nerves (thanks to this post somehow ending up on Michael Baisden's freaky-deaky singles website MingleCity). Then again, if I was so baseless in my criticism of the seemingly misguided intentions yesterday, why have the black radio airwaves, from Russ Par, to Warren Valentine, to Rev' Al himself, inundated with discussion about the lackadaisical approach of many march attendees, Baisden's perhaps misguided influence (the man did sponsor a pre-party and book signing for this march), and the long term effects of this march? Call me a hater, but if some of the very men at the forefront of this movement are echoing the same sentiments, then just maybe I was onto something.

Many people have mentioned that now Congressman Jefferson, Maxine Waters, and others are taking this issue to Capitol Hill as a result of the march, as if that somehow validates the mission. Bullshit! These folks are elected officials. It's their JOB!!!! If Jefferson wasn't so busy stealing money from Africans and stashing it in his freezer, he might have done something for his constituents sooner. Let's not forget, Mychal Bell has been in jail since December 2006.

On the flip side, I may have undervalued the long term effect that this event might have had on its' younger attendees. I consider community service an obligation today, precisely because my parents lead by example and took me to many such events as a child. Could the Jena Six really lead young people to lives of activism? Maybe, maybe not. But considering how kids are today and the role that technology pays in informing people of issues today, doing something more structured to guide these students once they returned home just might have been a good idea.

Then again, this is just one black man's opinion. And we know what they say about opinions.

Still, if you really want to help, be proactive, that's all I'm saying.

Think about it: we're so busy trying to rescue our kids from jail, or defending them when shot by police, that we don't bother working with them at an early enough age to present them with other ways of live that might prevent them from landing in those very predicaments in the first place. That's why tutoring/mentoring is so important. If a black child still can't read by the time he's in 10th grade, then eventually, given today's economy, he's gonna end up in jail anyway. It's not a happy message, but it's damn sure true. Why else do you think prison systems plan their future capacities by looking at current day 4th grade reading scores? There's not really any getting around this.

Be proactive.

If you're in the DC area, come out and support me, and dozens of other brothers who are taking a proactive approach on changing our communities, rather than waiting for the next atrocity, and the next march. It's an endless cycle.

Help me break it by becoming a tutor/mentor in the University of Maryland's MIMAUE Mentoring Program. Help is still needed.

For all those who support my PoV, thanks for being open minded. For those who didn't, please, tell me, exactly what are YOU doing about the problem, outside of flaming?

Now comment on that.

Ludacris vs MLK : N-Word Please - The Sequel


A few weeks ago, we bought you the truly bizarre story of Eddie Griffin vs Black Enterprise honcho Earl Graves. Griffin, invited to a stodgy corporate event, couldn't get 5 minutes into his act without dropping the N-Bomb repeatedly. Graves, feeling betrayed, pulled the plug on his act in the name of decency. My biggest take-away was that while Griffin was truly a moron, Graves was more to blame because he should have known what he was getting himself into.

Apparently the folks who organized the recent Build The Dream Concert to benefit the upcoming MLK Memorial in DC apparently don't read AverageBro. Maybe they should.

The NY Daily News reports...

Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life fighting the N-word, but that didn't stop Ludacris from dropping the racist epithet while slinging his "Money Maker" during the benefit "Dream" concert for the MLK memorial in D.C.
While I commend Ludacris' ascension from punchline rapper to respectable actor, I have to wonder why in the hell he thought singing "Shake Your Money Maker" at a benefit concert for MLK was a good idea. I mean, we know Dr. King was a freak and all, but damn. Maybe "Move Bitch" would have been more appropriate, since, you know, Dr. King had to push a lot of people out of the way in his fight for Civil Rights.

A better idea: the folks who organized this concert should have invited Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Phonte from Little Brother, or some other semi-intelligent rapper who could have represented hip hop in a civil manner worthy of this occasion, rather than going for a name.

Please donate something, anything (as little as $5) to the MLK Memorial so we don't have to disgrace his legacy with more concerts. It's quick, it's easy, and you get a cool baller wristband and a lapel pin for your trouble.

Just do something before the fundraisers get more desperate and lower the bar for their next concert. I seriously doubt the dream King died for involved "Crankin' Dat Soulja Boy" to raise money from his monument.

MLK is really crying inside.

Did Ludacris Disrespect Dr. Martin Luther King? [SOHH]

Thursday, September 20, 2007

AverageBro Blogs Live! From Jena, LA


Well, okay, not quite live. And not quite Jena either. I've actually been following today's proceedings, not on CNN or any other corporate owned juggernaut, but at a more bootleg level, listening to Radio One's live coverage of the event on wolam.com most of the morning here from my Day Job. You gotta love technology.

I've been pretty critical of this whole Jena Six phenomenon, not because I don't agree with the cause (I totally do), but because I think it reveals the inherent issue with modern day activism in black America. It seems like we can only organize on a large scale when there's racism involved.

Translation: Unless there's a white person doing harm to blacks, we just don't really care.

My biggest problem with this whole "movement" is that it's reactive, rather than proactive. If you're always laying in the cut, and only responding when something wrong is done to you, your situation will never improve as a whole. It's like the parent who goes storming down to the school when their child gets a failing report card, but doesn't bother checking homework every night, which might have prevented the bad result in the first place.

Everyone jumped on the first bus to Jena, and left behind the all too familiar, all too real problem plaguing our communities. And surprise, it ain't DA Reed Walters, disgusting a human being as he is. Nope, it's Tyrone. I'm still waiting for that march though. Sign me up now.

So, while I definitely support the push for justice for Mychal Bell, and the other 5 young men, I just wonder what the long term result of mobilizing 30,000 people for one day will be. Color me skeptical.

Naturally, since I couldn't make it to Louisiana today (ha!), I decided to monitor the minute by minute report via Syndication One. For those of you unaware, S.O. is Radio One's syndicated black talk radio network. It probably airs in a city near you, but you probably wouldn't know since the stations aren't well promoted and are usually stuck in AM purgatory. Anyways, I listen frequently, since I'm not a big Hot/Jammin/Power/Kiss/Jamz/Big FM "where Hip-Hop and R&B lives" station listener. No offense, but by age 30-something, if you're still taking in hours of "Ay Bay Bay", "Suicidal", "Sexy Lady" and "Crank Dat Soulja Boy" on the daily, just go ahead and kill yourself right now. Life isn't going to get any easier.

I'm currently listening to Keepin' It Real with Rev. Al Sharpton, but The Warren Valentine Show, which comes on from like 10am-1pm EST was more enlightening in terms of on-the-ground happenings in Jena.

Among the many nuggets I gleaned from listening [forgive the choppiness, I keep updating this as the show goes on]:

* Jena looks like Freaknik. It's unorganized, there are people, music, and stages all over the place, with little uniformity or apparent purpose.

* Lots of stars are there in the name of "support". They also happen to be promoting their new music/movie releases. Frankie Beverly and Maze, UGK (see above pic of Bun B), and others are out and about.

* There are lots of "party fliers" for Jena 6 after parties in nearby Alexandria, being passed around. MySpace rappers, with their demo tapes and those cheap CD's they pressed on their mother's computers are all over the place. Bootleg t-shirts, rib tips, and probably nice dime bag can all be procured with ease. It's like we never left home.

* Reverend Al led a colossal sang-a-long to Bill Wither's "Keep On Usin' Me (Till You Use Me Up)". It's a great song, but I think I missed it's significance in the grand scheme of things. The net result made me wonder if I was listening to a rally for justice, or the Tom Joyner Sky Show. I know music has always played a role in the civil right's movement (James Brown's "I'm Black and I'm Proud" is an athem), but this shit just seemed so out of place.

* Michael Baisden then lead the crowd on a sing-a-long of Robin Thicke's "Lost Without You". Yes. Really. I damn near threw my laptop out my 10th floor office window.

* Later in the day, on The Michael Baisden Show, with the rally long over, and congregants back in Alexandria, Baisden opened the 6pm segment of his show by announcing "It's a Par-taay!!!". In between angry phone calls to AverageMom, AverageSisterInLaw (missed you), and my AverageSiblings, I faintly heard "The Double Dutch Bus" and that new Alicia Keys playing in the background. I was pretty pissed about this. I mean, 6 black men have been inordinately (but not wrongly, there was after all an assault here) charged with a crime. What the fuck is there to party about? I called AverageMom for the skinny. She said Civil Rights Marches of her time were an all day affair, a serious deal, because despite the cause of solidarity, danger was always just around the corner. I seriously doubt folks left for the March on Washington and packed "club gear" with them.

* I heard Baisden also threw a pre-party the night before with $10 admission, as well as a book signing.

* There was lots of bellyaching about why athletes and actors didn't donate more money for buses to get people there. Classic "pass the blame" excuse.

* The "main stage", where Sharpton, and Michael Baisden are hosting their radio shows, has turned into nothing more than The Soundbyte Olympics 2007. Every bootleg preacher, politician (including disgraced Congressman William Jefferson), and straight to DVD Hollywood star (like "Next Friday"'s Kym Whitley) had taken their 15 seconds on stage to spout lots of irrelevant rhetoric. I get the distinct impression that many of these people don't really have a good grasp of the particulars of this case.

[I'm sure many of you will read this and say "well, you weren't there, how do you know what happened?" And yes, that's partly true. But if you can dispute any of what I wrote here, or tell me anything, and I mean, anything that this march accomplished, do tell. Kill me in the comments section. Educate me.]

As I kept listening, I couldn't help but feel that my prediction of more Drive-By Activism today in Jena was going to prove true. Because as far as I can tell, there was no organized push for mobilization on a local level. None. Maybe some of this will just rub off by osmosis, but I doubt it. After all, what exactly, other than Spike Lee's horrendous "Get On The Bus" is the lasting legacy of the Million Man March? Yes, it was a powerful statement for one day, but our communities, a decade later, aren't any better off as a whole.

Real change requires a call to action, which I didn't hear yesterday between all the yellin' and sangin'. Perhaps the organizers of this thing could have signed people up for coaching, tutoring, or mentoring programs, financial awareness seminars, classes on parenting, hell something, anything that would make a lasting difference. And since there were SO many young people there (a point overly emphasized throughout the day), did anyone consider signing these kids up for service organizations in the communities around their schools? Did anyone consider signing these kids up for a class on financial literacy so they don't ruin their credit (and thus employment opportunities) before they even graduate? Did anyone do anything to empower these people once they go home? Maybe so, but unless I completely missed it, all anybody was focused on was the After Party.

Tomorrow, all 30,000 of these people will be gone. White-owned businesses throughout the county will be laughin' straight to the bank, despite calls from event organizers to not support these very businesses, thus giving these very oppressors an economic boom. The streets will be littered with Popeyes' boxes, party flyers, and probably more than a few blunt roaches. Reverend Al will be on to his next media-whoring cause. Baisden and his tired show will go back to talking about down-low brothers, shady preachers, and triflin' baby mamas.

And everyone who trekked to Jena will return back to communities still filled with crime, still filled with underachieving students in underfunded schools, still living in homes financed by predatory lenders, still listening to radio tainted with the vocoder stylings of T-Pain and Akon. Until, of course, the next rally/march/par-taaay.

This ain't a movement, it's just an event. And there is a big difference.

In short, September 20th, 2007 won't change shit.

---

Epilogue: If you really want to help these kids longterm, keep praying for the Jena Six after today, and while you're are it, pour out a lil' liquor for their Legal Defense Fund. I'm sick of David Bowie getting all the credit, like this is Dangerous Minds, or Finding Forrester or some other White Guy Saves The Darkies idd-ish.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kanye Won. We All Lost.


[Ggggg-Gorilla Uniiitt!!]


Well, the final tally is in, and despite my prediction, not only did Kanye beat Kenny Chesney, but so did 50 Cent.
The official numbers are in and Kanye West's album Graduation has emerged as the United States' #1 album on the Billboard Top 200 Charts. West's album Graduation moved over 957,000 copies its first week in stores, besting 50 Cent's album Curtis, which sold 691,000 copies.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, West also earned the largest opening-week sales total in over two years, since 50 Cent's album The Massacre opened with 1.1 million copies in March 2005. Billboard reports that Graduation also snagged the largest week for a digital album download with 133,000 copies, breaking the record of 102,000 set by the Maroon 5's album "It Won't Be Soon Before Long."
Well whoop de-damn do! Kanye outsells 50 by nearly 300,000 copies. We all thought we were witnessing (in the words of one sage 106th and Park host) "a moment in hip-hop history". If only folks could get so excited about stuff that actually makes a difference, like you know, voting.

50 Cent, self-proclaimed marketing genius, says the whole thing was rigged, and Roc-A-Fella records bought copies of "Graduation" to pad Kanye's numbers. He also says that despite prior promises of retiring if he lost, he's staying the game. The NY Times claims this amazing sales week has "saved the music industry".

I'm sure the masses will tout this as a victory of substance over style, real hip-hop over gangsta rap, pseudo intellectualism over crass prison culture. Bull. Shit.

The real winner here is General Electric. If you're somehow unaware, they own Universal Records. Universal Records owns Island Records and Interscope, which own Def Jam/Rocafella and Aftermath/Shady respectively.

Talk about a Grand Hu$tle.

So (as always), score one for Capitali$m. The Man wins either way you dice it.

Jeffrey R. Immelt is smiling inside, and Laughin' Straight to the Bank wit' this. Ha. Ha. Ha. Haaaaaa.

Kanye West Bests 50 Cent in Album Sales [AP]

Non-Urban Dictates, Tavis, Tom, and Other Tales of Urban Lore


[Tom Joyner, Tavis Smiley, and some random other dude I couldn't PhotoShop out]

Not a week, heck, not a day goes by that I don't get something fishy in my Inbox. And no, I'm not talking about "Enough is Enough!" hate mail, I'm talking about emails like this one, which AverageSisterInLaw (who helps me come up with about 75% of my post ideas) forwarded me just last week:

Tom Joyner wants this information to reach his listeners.....

You have probably heard of NUD as a result of the Tom Joyner morning show related to CompUSA. NUD is the acronym for a very subtle and little-known marketing term specifically directed toward people of color.

NUD stands for Non Urban Dictate. These three words essentially mean that a company is not interested in the Black consumer. A NUD label means that a company does not want their marketing and advertising materials placed in media that claim an urban audience(black folks)as their main target. There are legitimate reasons for companies not using urban radio. It may be that Blacks don’t index high in certain categories or that a company’s strategy is to market to the Black consumer down the road after they have established a strong position in their primary target.

But NUD usually means that a company is not interested in the Black consumer. Companies evade discrimination liability by embracing it as theory rather than policy.

As a service to Black consumers, the Urban Institute will list all companies that have a NUD policy. Armed with this information, we feel that Black consumers will be able to make informed buying decisions.

Companies with NUD policies:

a.. Starbucks
b.. Jos. A Bank
c.. CompUSA
d.. Weight Watchers
e.. Keebler
f.. Life Savers
g. Continental Airlines
h.. Northwest Airlines
i.. America West Airlines
j.. HBO - Apollo Series
k.. Paternal Importers
l.. Calico Corners
m.. OM Scott
n.. Pepperidge Farms
o.. Ethan Allen
p.. Busy Body Fitness
q.. Mondavi Wines
r.. Builders Square
s.. Don Pablo
t.. Lexus
u.. Aruba Tourism
v.. Ciba Vision
w.. Kindercare
x.. Grady Restaurant
y.. Eddie Bauer

Please forward this information on to any other consumer that you consider a friend and advise them to do likewise. Remember, we can’t act wisely unless we are informed wisely.
I've seen this email, or some variation of it floating around since, well, since I first got an email address, which means it's been awhile. Since I'm just skeptical by nature (I'm an engineer, so shoot me), I tend to not take (any?) everything at face value. But I can't lie and say that I haven't looked at Starbucks or the Ethan Allen store with a bit of an evil eye ever since. Not that I actually go in, or shop there of course, because well, Ethan Allen is pretty darn expensive furniture.

Even if these Non Urban Dictates are true, let's face it, on some level, all they are are marketing schemes. Period. Companies spend billions on data profiling to figure out the demographic of their ideal customers. Just like I wouldn't dream of shopping at Ethan Allen for the aforementioned reasons, they shouldn't waste precious marketing dollars targeting people like me. That's not racist, that's just plain smart business.

But then again, what black person do you know that doesn't like Lexuses? Heck, AverageMom drives one. So does AverageGrandma. And I see Lexus ads in every black magazine I open. There are Starbucks all over the black community. And name one Negro who hasn't had those Pepperidge Farms Goldfish crackers. So, something clearly doesn't add up.

Clearly, going on record and writing such things as "don't market to the ghettos" are obviously over the line, but in this Post-Texaco and Denny's day and age, I'd like to think people are at least a bit smarter than that.

Turns out I'm right. Sorta.

This morning on my commute, I heard black talk show host Joe "The Black Eagle" Madison (a guy whom I respect, but who is notorious for spreading half-baked info) spout off the same NUD email on the air, and I knew I had to get to the bottom of this. I whipped out the BBCurve, pulled up Google, and faster than you can say "hoax", this whole thing was proven untrue.
Urban Institute Not Involved with So-Called Non-Urban Dictate List

April 5, 2002, The Urban Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational organization, has been incorrectly cited in circulating e-mail and fax lists of companies with "non urban dictates," or N.U.D.s (NUDs). The email and fax incorrectly cite the Urban Institute as the organization that compiles or maintains the "NUD list."

The Urban Institute is not in any way associated with the purported research or with any supposed list of companies with NUDs, and never was. It has nonetheless been inundated with inquiries.

The Urban Institute was wrongfully credited with maintaining the "NUD list" four years ago, thanks to what is assumed to be a misspelling of Urban Insite-an organization that once claimed responsibility for the NUD list. Later iterations of the circulating email include the Urban Institute's address, phone number and Internet address. The fax version includes falsified Urban Institute letterhead.

As a response to numerous phone inquiries, the Urban Institute has dedicated a special phone line to explain the issue at (202) 261-5779.
Well how do ya' like that? The Urban Institute does indeed exist, but this email ain't real. Don't believe me? Call the number yourself. Go head, I'll be here when you get back.

This made me think about the other scores of chain emails that have made their way around the net that have similarly been revealed as BS. You know, like the one about the black market for kidneys. Or the Nigerians who want to send you millions of dollars if you just give them your bank account number. Or the one about Microsoft giving you money for forwarding emails (c'mon, you had to know that was BS). Denzel's massive donation to the Veteran's hospital? How about the ole' Oprah vs The Racist Tommy Hilfiger face off (which I even heard from the pulpit in church)? All forwarded billions of times. All hoaxes. All full of crap.

Chances are, 90% of such emails you get are fake. Completely. Some might ask exactly why this is a bad thing? What does it hurt? What's the problem if it IS fake? Who cares? Well, just ask Tavis Smiley and Tom Joyner, who believed a fax allegedly on CompUSA lettehead stating that the company CEO didn't and wouldn't advertise on black radio (namely, Joyner's show) because blacks didn't buy computers, back in the mid 90's. Smiley and Joyner used their considerable media clout to push for a boycott against CompUSA without bothering to fact check and substantiate such a dubious claim. Emails were forwarded. Letters were written. Calls to corporate were placed. People were mad. It was Drive-By Activism at it's finest. Heck, even I gave CompUSA the evil eye as I drove by the store.

Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, Smiley and Joyner dropped the boycott and were completely close-lipped about the whole thing. Later, it way revealed that CompUSA threatened both with a lawsuit for slander, and the fax was nothing more than drivel. While they later claimed victory on-air, Smiley lost his BET Tonight gig, and has been an infidel on public radio and TV ever since. Yes, I know, he hosts The Annual Soundbyte Olympics on C-Span4, but his influence has definitely withered. And we end up with Take The Cake in his former 11pm time slot. Yes, folks, these emails can cause trouble.

How do you spot a fake email?

1. If it sounds too good to be true, use your Negro Intuition and surmise that it probably is.
2. Research. Just Google the main keywords (ie: "non urban dictate") in the email and see what you get back.
3. Look for telltale signs like "forward this to everyone" and "this is not a hoax".
4. Watch out for overly EMPHATIC LANGUAGE WITH LOTS OF CAPS AND EXCLAMATION SIGNS!!!!! Real info isn't communicated that loudly.
5. Check sites like Snopes.com and Hoax-Slayer.com which specialize in keeping lists of such urban legends.
6. Forward THIS message to everyone in your address book. The link is that little envelope below.

Whatever you do, think before you forward.

Information is power, but misinformation is just plain ignorance.

Ok, now you can go grab that mocha-chi latte with triple soy without guilt.

How To Spot an Email Hoax [About.com]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Alan Keyes and the GOP's Half-Assed Quest For Black Votes

Every four years or so, we hear murmurs about the GOP getting serious about "stealing the black vote from the Democratic Party", as if black folks are some homogeneous herd of sheep who just blindly support a given political party.

Ooops, my bad, we actually are.

Anyways, we get treated to pandering speeches, quasi-propaganda (gay marriage becomes a wedge issue spouted in pulpits across Ohio, paving the way for Bush's re-election in 04'), and milquetoast "black politicians" like Lynn Swann, Michael Steele, and the GOP's favorite pinch-hitting token re-tread, Alan Keyes.

Keyes, whom you might remember for his short-lived jokes of a candidacy in 96' and 2000, and his even shorter-lived joke of a challenge to Barack Obama in 04', doesn't have anything better to do, so the GOP is enlisting his services for another few months in the name of "diversifying the ticket".

Alan Keyes, a Republican whose two previous runs for president ended in failure, is making a third try for the White House.

The Maryland conservative announced on his Web site that he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Friday to make his candidacy official. He joins a crowded Republican field of nine candidates and is scheduled to participate Monday night at a debate involving lesser-known candidates in Florida.

Keyes, a former State Department official under President Reagan, made unsuccessful presidential runs in 1996 and 2000. He also has been a Senate candidate from Maryland, and, in 2004, he suffered a 43-percentage point loss to Democrat Barack Obama in the Senate race in Illinois. Republicans drafted Keyes after primary winner Jack Ryan dropped out amid a scandal.
Every time I watch this guy speak, I can't help but think about the brilliant but slept-on movie Undercover Brother, which was easily Eddie Griffin's finest 15 minutes. There's a part in the movie where Undercover Brother goes, well, undercover as a corporate minion named Antoine Jackson (no photo available) to infiltrate "The Man".

Look at Keyes and tell me he ain't the real life Antoine Jackson. The resemblance is uncanny. Of course, he isn't exactly infiltrating anything. He is in "The Man's" back pocket.

Case in point: I couldn't help but notice the odd timing of Keyes' candidacy and the subsequent exodus of all big-name GOP candidates from the upcoming PBS Republican debate at Morgan State University.
U.S. Republican presidential hopefuls are citing scheduling conflicts for declining an invitation to a debate at an African-American college. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney have sent their regrets to the organizers of a Sept. 27 debate at Morgan State University in Maryland.

The New York Daily News said Saturday the decision by so many of the top GOP contenders has irked debate organizers, who see it as a snub of the black vote. A spokeswoman for the Giuliani campaign told the News the accelerated campaign schedule this year has made it difficult for candidates to attend every debate to which they are invited.
Fred Thompson is rumored to be sending his regrets too, which means this nationally televised debate on "black issues" will probably have a bunch of 3rd tier candidates (Ron Paul, Huckabee, etc.) on a loosely populated with a noticeably slighted Tavis Smiley moderating. That could of course get very ugly, thus the call for Keyes just in time to save the day. It's not like he had anything better to do of course.

Remember this Grand Hu$tle when the GOP makes their token half-assed attempt to convince you that Rudy deserves your vote next November.

Here's some bonus footage of the man himself in action. Go Antoine, go! On the flipside, at least there's one GOP candidate we KNOW Barry can beat. Rudy? Not so much.



JC Watts is crying inside.

Keyes Makes 3rd Bid for Presidency [ABC]
GOP leaders beg off black-sponsored debate [UPI]

D. Wade, Keep It In Your Pants


Another day, another philandering NBA player getting hit with divorce papers. What's new?!?

If you see some women wandering the streets of Miami this weekend with that money-hungry look in their eyes, it's probably because Shaq isn't the only bachelor in town - Dwyane Wade is also getting divorced, so sayeth Miami Sports Blog. Nobody who parties in Miami is surprised by this. The couple has been together for quite some time ... so he'll probably be out $10 million.
I know some of you wonder why I even bother running such stories as this, or Shaq's divorce, or Travis Henry's 19 babies by 21 baby mamas. I guess it just totally and completely perplexes me why men like this with so much to lose financially keep on getting married knowing they don't really want to be in the first place. Or maybe they're getting married and just realizing shortly thereafter that they don't want to be. In either event, in most cases, any person who partakes in the nighttime scene in any major city can probably tell you a million stories of married ballers, athletes, politicians, and assorted celebrities who seem to live a double life.

Wade has always been presented to us as some sort of guy next door who made good, who married his baby mom who was down with him from Day One, and who doted over his young son. All of these things are probably true, but I've got folks in South Florida who can tell me opposite stories about him at this club or that with this model or that one. It's not really a new thing: Evander Holyfield, Shaq, MJ, Magic Johnson, etc. have all been marketed in the same manner and subsequently outed.

I guess what really gets me is the thin line these guys toe. Are they getting married because it's good for business (a married family guy image is easier to market)? If so, don't you more or less undo your financial gains when your wife inevitably gets tired of the cheating and cleans you out for half your wealth? It seems pretty counterproductive to me.

I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it until someone with the financial means contacts me about making this a legitimate business: Anyone with big money and big libido should get fixed and stay single. It keeps things nice and simple. No messy divorces, no custody battles, no allegations about bi-affairs with guys who "play doctors on TV". Life could be so easy.

[Note to all newbies: Don't misread the message. AvBro endorses marital fidelity and raising one's own kids. He endorses it so much he actually, well, does it himself.]

Maybe that's why I admire Wilt Chamberlain so much. [||] Now there's a guy who was true to himself. He was all about scoring (on and off court), not matrimony or unwanted kids. He set all sorts of records that will probably never be shattered. 100 points dropped. 25,000 women served. He never married. He had one child, long after he'd retired, whom he supported financially until his untimely demise. He wrote entertaining books. He did bad movies. He seldom dunked and even lead the league in assists one year. He should be your favorite baller's role model.

Instead, since these dudes nowadays can't be true to who they are, we end up with more and more stories like this, when we should just be talking about sports.

Note to D-Wade, and all other NBA ballers: Keep it in your pants.

Arthur Ashe is crying inside.

Is Dwyane Wade's Marriage Over? [AOL Sports]

Monday, September 17, 2007

Police Academy 7: Killadelphia, Pistolvania

I'm sure all you 70's Babies (that is, folks born in the 70's) remember those old Police Academy movies. At last count, there were probably like 14 of them, maybe more now with the straight-to-DVD craze. If you're unaware, these were cornball comedies featuring a cast of F-List celebs (Bubba Smith, a black dude who made funny voices with his mouth, 500 pound wrestler Tab Thacker, a busty bleach blonde, a black chick with a Michelle' voice), who suddenly found themselves as police recruits. Hilarity, and lots of bad sequels followed.

My favorite one was like Police Academy 8 (or something): Citizens on Patrol. In this one, a cash strapped police force had to recruit ordinary citizens to help catch the bad guys. There was the little old lady who cussed and couldn't shoot right, the bad assed skateboarding kids, and a host of other ne'r-do-wells. The whole thing of course ended badly, because hey, cops sorta kinda have to be trained, and it also helps if they have guns (Exhibit B: The Iraqi Police Force) to do the job.

Checking out this latest development from the City of Brotherly Thugs, I can't help but wonder if it's gonna end just as badly, minus Bobcat Goldthwait and a badly needed laugh track.

Philadelphia's embattled police chief, acknowledging that police alone cannot quell a run of deadly violence, has called on 10,000 black men to patrol the streets to reduce crime. Sylvester Johnson, who is black, says black men have a duty to protect more vulnerable residents. He wants each volunteer to pledge to work three hours a day for at least 90 days.

"It's time for African-American men to stand up," Johnson told the Philadelphia Daily News, which first reported the story Wednesday. "We have an obligation to protect our women, our children and our elderly. We're going to put men on the street. We're going to train them in conflict resolution."

Philadelphia, the nation's sixth-largest city, has nearly 1.5 million residents, 44 percent of them black. It has notched 294 homicides this year. More than 80 percent of the slayings involve handguns, and most involve young black males.

The men who join Johnson's program will not carry weapons or make arrests but will instead emphasize conflict resolution, similar to the Guardian Angels' ground rules.

The city's embattled police chief, acknowledging that police alone cannot quell a run of deadly violence, has called on 10,000 black men to patrol the streets to reduce crime.

Sylvester Johnson, who is black, says black men have a duty to protect more vulnerable residents. He wants each volunteer to pledge to work three hours a day for at least 90 days.

"It's time for African-American men to stand up," Johnson told the Philadelphia Daily News, which first reported the story Wednesday. "We have an obligation to protect our women, our children and our elderly. We're going to put men on the street. We're going to train them in conflict resolution."

Philadelphia, the nation's sixth-largest city, has nearly 1.5 million residents, 44 percent of them black. It has notched 294 homicides this year. More than 80 percent of the slayings involve handguns, and most involve young black males.

The men who join Johnson's program will not carry weapons or make arrests but will instead emphasize conflict resolution, similar to the Guardian Angels' ground rules.
On one hand, I applaud the police chief for stating the obvious: black folks need to quit allowing stuff to go down in their communities and stand up for something other than an Eagles game. The police don't always get it right, but they damn sure can't solve every problem or de-escalate every beef on their own. They need help, and black men need to be at the forefront of that help.

On the other hand, however, this program just seems doomed to fail. Asking men to volunteer for 3 hours a day is just too much. Even the most righteous brother has to put in 8 hours on the Day Job, eat, raise his kids, make sweet love to his woman, peep AverageBro.com, and sneak in a game or two of Madden. This doesn't add up to a spare three hours for most brothers I know.

Then of course, there's the whole "no gun and no arrest" bit. I mean, even a rent-a-cop has a flashlight. All these brothers will be equipped with is a cell phone with 911 on speed dial, and a prayer (which you need anyway). I don't see this really helping stop the violence. In fact, it might lead to more violence first.

I can already envision it...

[Scene: somewhere on Broad Street. A young man is busy sticking up another young man for his Andre Iguodala jersey and sneakers. Our Citizen on Patrol intervenes in hopes of resolving the conflict.]
Stick Up Kid: "Gimme that jersey and that fitted, ni**a. Hurry up, run dat'."

Citizen on Patrol, approaching from behind: "Excuse me, sir, could you please not rob this young man? That's a swingman jersey, it's worth $75. He has worked hard for that. Let's discuss some other alternatives."

S/UK, turning, incredulously: "Ni**a, who is you, 5-0?"

COP: "Nope, I'm just one of 10,000 concerned black men."

S/UK, laughing: "You packin'?"

COP: "No, I'm not packing. But I'd like to perhaps explore some other methods of resolving this conflict other than stealing this young man's possessions at gunpoint."

S/UK: "But you're not packin'?"

COP: "No, I'm not packing. But could we discuss some alternatives.."

S/UK, looking down at COP's shoes: "Aww, sh*t, is them the new Garnetts?"

COP: "Why, yes. Yes, they are. But let's discuss some alternative means of conflict reso.."

S/UK, turning gun toward COP: "Resolve this, mane. Run ya' wallet, and them new Garnetts. Early!"

COP: "Ok, sir."
[and... scene]


Forgive my making light of the situation here, but seriously, asking people to police without giving them tools and authority is downright lunacy. I don't doubt that many men interested in helping are going to consider this, as well as the time committment, and say "hey, when does the Eagles/Redskins game come on?"

For passing the baton on Drive-By Activism and asking people to really step up and help, I give Chief Sylvester Johnson some credit for thinking outside the box. But in this case, perhaps he thought a bit too far outside the box. Maybe asking men to assist with coaching/refereeing PAL basketball games, or tutoring neighborhood kids would be a more palatable request. As is, I just can't see many people answering this call for help, but it doesn't mean the call should go ignored.

Commandant Lassard is smiling inside.

Philly Seeks 10,000 Men to Guard Streets [AP]
10,000MenPhilly.com (Just In Case You ARE Interested)