Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bye Bye Trinity!!!

Well, he had to do it. They left the man with no choice.

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign confirmed Saturday that he has resigned from the church where controversial sermons by his former pastor and other ministers created repeated political headaches for the Democratic frontrunner. Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has confirmed his resignation from Trinity United Church of Christ.

The resignation comes days after the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a visiting Catholic priest, mocked Obama's Democratic rival during a sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois.

In the video, Pfleger wipes his eyes with a handkerchief and suggests that Sen. Hillary Clinton wept because she thought that as a white person and the wife of a former president, she was entitled to the presidency.
Again, this isn't any different than what you'd hear at the typical black church, barbershop, or hell, even my house on any given day. Just listen.

Again, tell me what's so bad about what's being said here? Of course that woman had a sense of entitlement. Of couse this Magic Negro jumping in the fray at the 11th hour upset the perfectly laid plans. Is this anything particularly new or Earth shattering? I think not.

The problem here, is the same as with Rebb'n Wright: Tone. The way you say something is often just as important as what's being said. Since a huge majority of the country is either unfamiliar, or uncomfortable with the way folks in the Black church (and I'm including Pfleger here as well, cause well, hey, you can see how he C.H.I.N.), and Black America in general express themselves.

It is what it is.

The other problem is that Trinity didn't exactly help Obama out, leaving him little choice but to do what he did. I am well aware that the occasion for Pfleger's "controversial" remarks wasn't a regular service, but rather a special conference about race relations hosted by TUCC. Still, Rebb'n Otis Moss and Co. have got to know better. Unofficial Black America Rule #4080 is "don't give em' rope to hang you with." Knowing full and damn well that the world is focused on their every word, the church should have been more careful. They should have kept Obama's name out they mouth, at least until November. But they just couldn't help themselves.

They left him no option.

And that's pretty damn sad, because while I occasionally don't agree with my Pastor either, the same pundits accusing Obama of being a closet terrorist probably don't realize church (or at least my Black church) is about far more than Sunday mornings, because they probably don't even belong to one. It's about relationships. It's about family tradition. It's about the social fabric that binds entire communities together. It's about so much more than a few excerpts from a sermon.

And since I'm on the topic, if TUCC is so damn toxic, how come they couldn't come up with anything worse? This church, if it's anything like mine, likely has 3 services each Sunday, and a number of mid-week activities. If that's all you can pull from those thousands of hours of preaching over decades of time, then just maybe you're barking up the wrong tree. Maybe that means such examples are the exception at TUCC, not the rule. Which would make Obama's insistence on sticking around for all the reasons I listed above quite understandable.

I'm sure this won't appease the horde of conservative talkin' monkeys who want to hang Barry from a figurative Magnolia tree. They'll say this move was pure politics (and let's be honest, at this point, it is). They'll try and connect Obama to Pfleger, and by proxy Farrakhan, and by proxy, Beelzebub himself. They'll call on him to not only denounce TUCC, Rebb'n Wright, Rebb'n Moss, and Pfleger, but also all of Black America that even remotely agrees with such as assertion. They'll fake this whole thing as protecting Hillary Clinton from sexist remarks, conveniently overlooking the fact that nothing anyone's said is sexist.

But I doubt they'll say anything more about John McCain's mess.


Question: Is this the end of the media's obsession with Obama's religious affiliations, or merely the beginning of yet another chapter?

Obama resigns from controversial church [CNN]

Friday, May 30, 2008 Rates The Cable News Talkin' Heads: CNN Edition

[Yep, yet another New Feature. Since 75% of my TeeVee time is spent watching channels like CNN, MSNBC, and yes, even Fox News, I figured I'd do a bit of investigative journalism of my own. Our new who-knows-how-often series, AverageBro Rates The Cable Talkin' Heads, ranks each station's various on-air personalities in three simple categories: Good, Bad, and Ugly. Enjoy Responsibly.]

I generally watch CNN more than MSNBC and Fox News. There are lots of reasons for this, but they're all pretty superficial and don't have much, if anything to do with the commentators and opinions voiced. Basically, it boils down to two things: location (the channel is an easy to remember 202 on DirectTV) and presentation (it's the only one of the three shown in HD), which are equally important.

That said, even though Fox News absolutely owns it in the ratings, there are some other reasons why CNN edges the other two channels in my overall taste test. It's visual presentation (HD aside) is cleaner and far easier on the eye than the cluttered tickers of Fox News. It's on-air hosts are less opinionated that such unabashed-Obama backers like Keith Olbermann. And best of all, it's the one network with more than simple token minority representation. When black folks are brought on to talk, they are generally able to get their points off without being cut off, and sometimes, they aren't even completely ignored (I'm lookin' at you Juan Williams. And you're lookin' hella suspect, bruh.) when they say something of value.

On to the ratings...

The Good

Roland Martin - I'll be honest, I didn't care much for the motormouthed Roland Martin back when he was plying his trade on America's Black Forum. So when he was made a regular contributor to this year's election coverage, I wasn't impressed. But Martin quickly won me over by being the "barbershop voice of reason", especially when discussing primary returns. He's obviously an Obama supporter, but he calls em' like he sees em' (remember his response to the Rebb'n Wright/Press Club fiasco?) and I tend to agree with him more often than not.

Wolf Blitzer - Unlike his fellow show hosts, Blitzer seldom veers over the fine line between journalism and opinion, usually staying centered and objective. In a world where white dudes are generally clayfaced, you gotta give dude some cool points for that Miami Vice style stubbly beard. Plus, he's a major Wizards fan, so he's alright in my book. Hell, if Bill O'Reilly cheered on the Blue, Black, and Bronze, he just might be alright in my book. Might.

Jamal Simmons - This unabashed Obama Stan supporter is usually pitted against Clintonista Gloria Borger, and always seems to hold his own while always maintaining his composure. Hmmmm, sound familiar? Perhaps my suggestion that he end up as Obama's Press Secretary isn't as farfetched as it seems. Take that Scott McClellan.

Anderson Cooper - Yeah, we know dude's prolly in the closet/DL/whatever but you can't possibly question his professionalism. He seldom get rattled and he doesn't let guests get away with BS answers. You can't ask for much more.

Jack Cafferty - I never dug his crochety ole' man routine on American Morning, but as Wolf Blitzer's "keep-it-real" weedcarrier, he's about as close to unbiased truth without an ulterior motive as you'll see on this network.

Kiran Chetry - I never really dug Soledad O'Brien's code-switching routine on American Morning either, so when she got bagged and replaced with this Fox News vet, I was happy. She's away on maternity leave now, and the show hasn't been the same since.

Honorable Mention: Larry King, Fredicka Whitfield, Jeffrey Toobin, Suzanne Malveaux, Veronica De La Cruz, Leslie Sanchez, Donna Brazile

The Bad

Campbell Brown - How in the holy Hades did this chick get a serious journalism gig? If she isn't busy giggling like a 5th grader at a Hannah Montana concert, she's brushing her hair outta her eyes, adjusting her too-short skirts, and generally going overboard with the Clinton-stannery. I'm not sayin' the woman slept her way to the top, but I bet you a case of Cyber CapriSuns she knows her way around a casting couch. Sheez.

Amy Holmes - I erroneously included Amy in my epic 13 Debits To The Black Race post last month, damn near prompting a coup amongst the AverageCommenters in the process. This was a bad call, mostly because ya'll disagreed with me, but also because she didn't do anything to warrant inclusion on the list. Reality is, I just included her there because I don't agree with any of her views, and she seems like the sorta chick who'd be generally annoying in person. Seriously, if she worked in your office, would you cc: her on the email lunch invite when you were rollin' 12 deep to go catch the NCCA tourney over wings at Hooters? I think not.

Soledad O'Brien - Soledad was the subject of one of my first posts here at My feeling about her now is much as it was then. She seems like the ultimate opportunist, who picks and chooses which ethnicity to identify with (Latina on Tuesday, Black on Friday, racially ambigous the rest of the time) when it's nice and convenient. Sorry homegirl, I'm still not feelin' it.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta - The only thing worse than a guy who plays a Doctor on TV is a guy who plays a Know-It-All Jackass on TV.

Erica Hill - If you've never tuned in to AC360 and caught Hill's routine, you'll prolly miss this one entirely. Rumor has it that she was brought over from Headline News to serve as Anderson Cooper's wigbrusher because they wanted to squelch the perception that he's a switch-hitter. Watching Hill playfully flirt with Cooper each night, is comedic gold. She makes googly eyes, dances in her seat, throws off some odd facial tics, and smiles ear-to-ear, even when talking about such a morbid topic as a tsunami or horrific plane crash. He pretends to flirt back with her, but his body language is the same as my son's when presented with a bowl of peas. You connect the dots.

Diss-Honorable Mention: John Roberts, Ali Velshi, Miles O'Brien, Betty Nguyen, David Gergen, Kyra Phillips, Rick Sanchez

The Ugly

Dana Bash - I think Dana Bash is an excellent journalist. She covers the McCain campaign while on the road, yet somehow managers to remain objective and pretty transparent when discussing things from an Insider PoV? So why is she on this list? Uh, have you seen her photo? That is one odd lookin' chick. The perpetual deer-in-headlights eyes. The narrow, yet long face. The cheek to cheek smile. The rapid-fire blinking. Dana Bash has a face made for radio. And yeah, I know that wasn't nice, but c'mon, how could I resist?

John King - The Czar of The Telestrator himself is here because he's the ultimate one-trick-pony. He mans the Magic Multi-Touch Collaboration Wall, which is a fancy version of Google Maps that shows precinct by precinct election results. This is generally a pretty cool gimmick, but dude looked like a complete tool the night of the Indiana Primary when he kept playing around and touching the screen for seemingly hours as we awaited Lake County's results. And did I mention he just got married to Dana Bash a few weeks ago?

Lou Dobbs - Did you know "Mr. Xenophobic" himself is the real life son of a Texas propane salesman? No, seriously. So while it's only apropos that he looks just like a grownup Bobby Hill from King Of The Hill, the similarities end there. Dude is so spiteful towards Mexicans, I'm wondering if he had some traumatic childhood experience in Ciudad Juárez. Just watch his show, grab a scorecard, and count the number of times the phrases "illegal alien", "borders" and "homeland security" are uttered before the first commercial break. Oddly enough, he's married to a Latina, so go figure. And what's up with that Barbara Wa-Wa style soft-focus lense? Is it just me, or is that sorta weird for a 60 year old dude?

TJ Holmes - I know I am about to piss off a nice chunk of my female readers, but ya' boy TJ really showed his ass a couple of months ago when he was doing his HBCU tour, back when CNN was going in heavy on that Race In America grizzly. Dude went to my alma mater, chose the dumbest, more ignorant, and poorly informed students to put on air, edited their comments, and framed them in a way that made it sound like my school was full of America-hatin' racists. Then again, TJ went to the University of Arkansas, so clearly he isn't qualified to discuss HBCUs objectively. I know some of you ladies like him cause he's light-skinnded and used to date Chili from TLC, but keep it in perspective.

Paul Begala - Watching this dude get absolutely ethered by Donna Brazille a few weeks back was must-see TV. It's one thing to talk recklessly while trying to defend your candidate of choice. It's quite another to play right into those Chris Kattan SNL impersonations.

Candy Crowley - Another consummate pro, Candy doesn't really deserve being on this list. But since I'm being superficial anyway, why not? Seriously has anyone else noticed that rain, sleet, or snow, Candy Crowley is always reporting from outdoors? During the Iowa primary, when it had to be in the low-teens, if not worse, they had the nerve to make her stand outside in hypothermia inducing temps. Meanwhile, the equally good Suzanne Malveaux gets to hold court in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Somebody explain that one for me? Stand up for yourself and demand a desk gig, Candy! I'm sure Malveaux gets the plum gigs because she looks nicer, but you deserve better.

Gloria Borger - I had to save the best for last of course. Borger's "I'm Independent, I just happen to like Clinton" routine wore thin after Super Tuesday. You often get the impression she's just disagreeing with Martin and Simmons simply for the sake of disagreement. Would someone can her already?

Diss-Honorable Mention: Jamie McIntyre, Tonie Harris, Don Lemon, Alex Castellanos

Question: Assuming you made it to the end of this post, am I pretty much spot-on with these ratings or losin' my mind? Do I need to buy a premium cable package or what?

If you're clueless about who all these folks are, peep All Things CNN for photos and other general stalkerdom fandom.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

We Owned The 80's - Episode One : Gregory Abbott

[In case you didn't peep game yet, this is officially New Feature Week. One of the things I've wanted to blog about here for ages is my favorite decade evar, the decade when a young AB came of age. Yes party people, I'm talkin' bout The 80's. We Owned The 80's is another who-knows-how-often series that will highlight notable music, movies, and other cultural stuff I wanna shoot the breeze about. Enjoy responsibly.]

Few musical phenomenons are more puzzling than the One Hit Wonder. Rack upon rack in my local used CD store is littered with the carcasses of artists whose popularity peaked too soon, and who found that lightning in the bottle difficult to (re)capture.

The 80's had several such artists who blew up, then blew away. Just to name a few...

Junior - Mama Used To Say
Shannon - Let The Music Play
Nena - 99 Luft Balloons
Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Relax (Don't Do It)
Gwen Guthrie - Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent
Rockwell - Somebody's Watchin' Me
Oran 'Juice' Jones - The Rain
Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy
Jocelyn Brown- Somebody's Else Guy
Frankie Smith - Double Dutch Bus
But perhaps no 80's artist represents the Boom-Then-Bust career arc better (worse?) than Gregory Abbott, sainga of one of the greatest single hits of all time, the immortal "Shake You Down".

The song was somewhat of a throwback. Whereas most mid-80's R&B music was synth-heavy and gimmicky, "Shake You Down" was like the bass and snare-centric babymakin' ballads of the late 70's. Half-Venezuelan, half-Antiguan, Abbott also had the fortune of coming out at a time when light-skinted, good-haired dudes were generally fashionable, as well as at the height of the Miami Vice craze. His passing resemblance to Phillip Michael Thomas probably didn't hurt his appeal with the ladies. I can still hear my aunts swooning the moment that harmonica started wailing during the song's intro.

Assuming you were alive in 1986 and living on the planet Earth, there is no possible way you could have not ever heard this song. And likewise, there is no way in Hades that you weren't sick as hell of it. The song stuck around the Billboard R&B charts for a stunning 27!!! weeks, and even made it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, a feat seldom achieved by an R&B artist not named Michael Jackson or Prince in the 80's.

The backstory on the song, courtesy of The World's Most Accurate Encyclopedia:
Abbott wrote the song along with over 30 others before striking a record deal with CBS. He recorded a demo tape and chose the best three. "Shake You Down" was released as the first single from Gregory Abbott. It went to number one on the black singles chart in October, 1986, and on January 17, 1987, it also peaked at number one on the Hot Singles Chart.

It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 the week before topping that chart. It was not intended as the original single to promote the album, "I Got The Feeling" was scheduled to be the first single but was postponed as the follow-up (eventually peaking at #56).
And now, the goods...

[Editor's Note: As much as I'd love to have embedded the classic video in it's entirety, those litigious bastards at Sony/BMG had other plans, so here's the audio instead. If you know of an embeddable version, please hit me via email.]

On the strength of the platinum single, Abbott's debut album of the same name was a success, going platinum and topping the Billboard Hot 100. Sadly, there would be no followup to "Shake You Down". His followup single, the atrocious "I Got The Feelin (It's Over)" went triple wood, and Abbott faded to relative obscurity, only bearing mention by third-rate comedians (Arsenio Hall's "Gregory Abbott World Tour 89" joke is still kinda funny) and first-rate bloggers (that would be yours truly). He continues to release music, primarily singles, and "also moved somewhat into placement of music for films and television as well as working on film projects of his own", according to the Wiki.

AB's PR-Bullsh*t-To-Common-Sense Translation: He didn't save his "Shake You Down" chips, and prolly lives in a van down by the river.

I sure hope Souja Boy is somewhere takin' notes.

[Question: You got another We Owned The 80's post you wanna see here? Hit me you-know-where. The Request Line is open.]

Gregory Abbott [WikiPedia]

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kobe Bryant Is A Jackass

Why, you might ask am I calling Kobe Bryant a jackass when he's in the midst of a ridonculous playoff run?

  • It's not because of that whole Colorado thing. I'm beyond that.

  • It's not because of that whole snitchin' on The Diesel thing. I'm beyond that too.

  • It's not because of his generally smarmy, better-than-thou on-court persona. By winning the MVP this year, he proved there's nobody better.

  • It's not the most recent allegation that he's creepin' on his wife with a Laker Girl also named Vanessa, whom his wife got fired from the squad. I mean, seriously, is anyone surprised that NBA players cheat? Sheez.

  • Nope, it's because his latest dose of viral video madness features the crew from MTV's Jackass, and a pool full of reptiles.

    Like that jumping over an Aston Martin commercial last month, this one should be watched closely or you'll miss the trick. If the Jackass guys repulse you as much as they do me, just fast forward to the good part around the 1:00m mark.

    Question: Did Kobe really jump over the pool of snakes or is this another optical illusion? If the Laker Girl rumors are indeed true, just how much is he gonna need to spend on precious gems to get his wife to stick with him this time?

    This Dirty Kobe Bryant Business [DeadSpin]

    Kobe Jumps Over A Car! Computer Trick, Cool Trick, or Irresponsible?!?? []

    When Bad Movies Happen To Good Casts - Episode One : Anaconda

    [Editor's Note: If it seems like I'm straight jackin' my girl Thembi's steez, it's cause I am. And on that note, I present the first in a who-knows-how-often series called When Bad Movies Happen To Good Casts. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Enjoy.]

    So, I'm flippin' channels the other night, and guess what movie's on TNT for the 193,239th time?

    That's right, Anaconda.

    For those without basic cable, this 1998 movie is about a documentary crew that travels down the Amazon searching for a long-lost Indian tribe, only to wind up in deep snake crap when they take in a stranded hunter who eventually hijacks the boat and leads them on a wild goose chase for a record-breaking 40-foot green anaconda.

    Here's the trailer.

    This movie, with the exception of the scene where Ice Cube got squeezed out by the snake was pretty lousy. The CGI effects were mad cheesy, the plot was predictable, it wasn't even intentionally campy. It pretty much just sucked.

    But one thing I caught on my 182th involuntary viewing of this movie was just how loaded the cast was. You had pre-J-Lo Jennifer Lopez doing her usual combo of poorly recited lines and gratuitous butt shots. Ice Cube played a tough talking, yet bumbling ex-con photographer, but all I could see was Doughboy Goes To The Rainforest. You also had the serially underrated John Voight as the greedy villain, Luke Wilson in his now-typical slacker role, Eric Stoltz as J-Lo's token white boyfriend, and even Skinemax All-Star Kari Wuhrer as token bimbette.

    I'm not sayin' all these folks are great actors, but when Owen Wilson is you're 5th stringer, it's fair the say the movie shouldn't suck as royally as it did.

    For such an amazingly sucky movie, this film incredibly spawned a non-straight-to-DVD sequel, the equally lecherous Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid. By the time the second installment rolled around in 2004, Lopez was at the height of her superstardom, Ice Cube had graduated to kiddie flicks, and Wilson was finally bigger than his brother. It goes without saying that all the aforementioned had better things to do than appear in this flop, which had arguably better CGI effects, but could do no better than chitlin' circuit leads like Salli Richardson and Morris Chesnut.

    Just when you thought it was safe to head back to Blockbuster, there's some news. The Anacondas saga continues with not one, but two more straight-to-DVD installments in 2008 and 09', starring none other than David Hasselhoff.

    I'm already loading up my Netflix queue.

    Question: Did you think Anaconda blew chunks as much as I did, or was it borderline campy genius? Do you have any future nominees for When Bad Movies Happen To Good Casts?

    Anaconda [Wiki]

    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Did You Get Your Reparations Check Yet?

    Of course I'm talkin' about those stimulus checks, not actual reparations. When I last checked, the whole "40 Acres and a Lexus" movement died just after Dubbya arrived in office, but don't tell the fine gents who frequent my barbershop. As I told you guys before, a few years back, one dude came dancing in, rapt in jubilation as he spoke fondly of George Bush for cutting those $400 "repperashuns" checks. If he got a $600 check as expected this year, I'm sure he's somewhere with a handful of singles making some lucky lady a bit richer, and himself a bit poorer right about now.

    Me? Uh, not so much.

    I figured my good fortune would exclude the AverageFamily from getting anything back[1] this year, a suspicion that was seconded by my tax preparer. And that's really a bummer, cause while I still can't afford that 21.1 Megapixel camera I told ya'll about last week, I could sure use a few extra dollars to blow on the new Grand Theft Auto[2] game, and a few pair of Starburys.

    Don't laugh, like ya'll haven't copped any yet.

    Anyways, when the initial checks went out last month and we didn't get anything, I figured this was a done deal. Not so fast.

    There's a glitch in the government's plans to put $150 billion into the economy by sending taxpayers a rebate: The rebates aren't arriving.

    Potentially, millions of taxpayers who were expecting to have their money this week will be waiting for their checks until June or July.

    In addition, an IRS spokesman confirmed last week that some economic-stimulus payments have gone to the wrong bank accounts.

    The stimulus snafu may affect the millions of taxpayers who take out refund-anticipation loans or who let tax-preparation firms to deduct fees from their refunds.

    Many who made either choice are now learning that they won't get their rebates by direct deposit -- the fastest way to get the money. Instead, they will have to wait for a paper check by mail. That could delay the arrival until as late as July 11.

    The rebate payments were supposed to begin arriving May 2. Direct deposits were supposed to be completed by May 16. The IRS said this schedule would apply to any returns that were processed by April 15, the federal income-tax filing deadline.
    I got a letter in the mail the other day from the IRS (never a good thing) saying not only was I getting a check, but I'd be getting the full $1,500 for my family of three. It'll be here sometime soon.

    Just one more reason for George W. Bush is the Best President Evar!!!

    Reparations Rock!

    Question: Ignoring the obvious sarcasm in this post, have you received your stimulus check yet? Do you plan on blowing it or saving it? Do you think this whole "economic stimulus plan" is a found financial tactic or just some ole' BS to raise Dubbya's paltry approval rating on the way out the door?

    Rules may delay, deflate payments [SouthFLSun-Sentinel]

    [1] The funny thing is, you're not actually getting anything "back". You're actually receiving an advance on the money you would otherwise get next year.

    [2] Anybody played this yet for PS3? How is it?

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    The Cool(est) Thing About Being A White Guy...

    ...well, besides the fact that white guys own everything, one other unfadeable advantage of being white is the ability to get away scot free with sh*t black folks get hemmed-up over.

  • A white dude who talks greasy is "bold" and "fearless". A negro does the same thing and somebody's callin' security.

  • Wynona Rider boosts $5,000 worth of stuff from Saks, calls the whole thing a "gross misunderstanding" and walks. I'd like to see Gabrielle Union try to pull that stunt.

  • Roger Clemens juices up by day, and chases teenage skirts by night. Nobody noticed because they were all up Barry Bonds a$$.

  • Elvis Pressley has a well documented unsatiable hunger for pre-teens, but he's immortalized as The King. Robert Sylvester Kelly pis... uh, ok, bad example.

  • Anyways, this whole "whites dudes get off" thing has seldom been on greater display than during this year's "historic Presidential campaign".[1] Barry Obama can get racial subliminals lobbed at him all day, but would be ethered on the spot if he merely thought about uttering something sexist in return. His somewhat controversial neighbors provided the ammo to paint him as a slumlord and ex-terrorist.[2] His wife gets reduced to mangled soundbytes and essentially painted as some sorta new-school Imelda Marcos. And most notably, he becomes guilty by association when his birdbrained preacher has the nerve to toss up the Omega sign at a press conference. But being a black man, he actually has to address this sorta nonsense, as opposed to merely giving his critics the middle finger, or telling them to "go eff' off" Dick Chaney-style. It's the tightrope-over-bed-of-nails routine every black person in Corporate America has to walk each day being played out on an international stage.

    It's annoying, but it ain't surprising. It is what it is.

    Cotton Hill McCain on the other hand, beats them charges like Rocky. For all the conservative jibberjabber about the free-pass Obama's received, it's amazing to me that GrandpaMac hasn't caught any flack for the numerous blemishes he's collected over the years. Scandals like The Keating Five would cast serious doubts on his "flawless integrity". His well-documented anger problem and history of holding grudges against his foes at the expense of sound legislation are troubling. His philandering and opportunistic second marriage (originally an affair) would make Slick Willie proud. The half-dozen or so campaign advisors he's had jump ship due to dubious conflicts of interest in the past month alone would lead anyone to question his decisions about whom he surrounds himself with. And I would mention his wife's drug problem, but that would just be low.

    Then again, after that ignant ass Michelle-bashing GOP commercial in Tennessee last week, maybe not.

    Most interesting however, is how McCain has gotten an open path to the basket despite two very dubious "endorsements" by controversial pastors of his own. Cotton Hill's "spiritual guide" Rod Parsley called on America to see the "false religion" of Islam "destroyed." McCain didn't have to deliver a brilliant but inconsequential speech about the state of religion in America, and he didn't even have to throw Parsley under any bus, because the media didn't even bother calling him on any of this BS. I guess you could chalk this up to the MSM being preoccupied with that other race, but that excuse smells like ass to me. Because the talking heads also haven't bothered giving today's minor bombshell much attention either.
    In the face of mounting controversy over headline-grabbing statements from the Rev. John Hagee, CNN has learned that presumptive Republican nominee John McCain decided Thursday to reject his endorsement.

    McCain told CNN's Brian Todd that he rejected the endorsement after Todd brought to his attention Hagee's comments that Adolf Hitler had been fulfilling God's will by hastening the desire of Jews to return to Israel in accordance with biblical prophecy.

    "God says in Jeremiah 16: 'Behold, I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave to their fathers. ... Behold, I will send for many fishers, and after will I send for many hunters. And they the hunters shall hunt them.' That would be the Jews. ... Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone who comes with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter," Hagee said, according to a transcript of his sermon.

    In a statement to CNN on Thursday, McCain said "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Rev. Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well."

    Shortly after McCain's announcement Thursday afternoon, Hagee withdrew his endorsement, citing critics who had been "grossly misrepresenting" his positions.

    "I am tired of these baseless attacks and fear that they have become a distraction in what should be a national debate about important issues. I have therefore decided to withdraw my endorsement of Sen. McCain for president effective today, and to remove myself from any active role in the 2008 campaign," he said in a statement.

    "I hope that the Sen. McCain will accept this withdrawal so that he may focus on the issues that are most important to America and the world."
    Seriously, checkout this nutjob in action. He makes Rebb'n Wright look like Little Bill by comparison.

    What a freakin' country! But wait, it only gets better!

    Since the usual White Guy Rules apply, McCain can take pressure off himself and get an overdone issue back in the news merely by exercising the crafty tool of psychological projection.
    McCain also said that his relationship with Hagee did not compare with Sen. Barack Obama's lengthy association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose own inflammatory comments remain, for some Republicans, a persistent campaign issue even though Obama has denounced his former minister.

    "I have said I do not believe Sen. Obama shares Rev. Wright's extreme views. But let me also be clear, Rev. Hagee was not and is not my pastor or spiritual adviser, and I did not attend his church for 20 years. I have denounced statements he made immediately upon learning of them, as I do again today," McCain said.
    "That's right, get off my nutsack. I ain't tryinna hear that bullsh*t!!! What about your Pastor, huh, what about him?!?"

    This story won't rule the airwaves for 8 straight weeks. Heck, it prolly won't even be in the news come tomorrow when you folks read this.

    For those of you who want to look at this as some partisan, Dems vs Reps issue, please don't even go there. This has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with race and how it's played out in the media.

    And that's a shame, because for all the glowing articles about Senator McCain's character and dedication to his country, this strikes me as incredibly poor judgement. I don't believe for one moment that McCain harbors any of Parsley or Hagee's sentiments, anymore than I believe Obama buys into Rebb'n Wright's misguided Barbershop K-Nowledge. But one guy had to defend his loose association for months, while the other can whisk away the loopy pastors whose endorsements he actively sought for political gain in the time it takes you to leave a comment on this post.

    Don't believe me? The story was barely registering on Friday morning. By the time the Sunday morning talking heads rolled around, Hagee/McCain was merely a footnote. Memorial Day weather is your lead story. I've yet to hear Hagee's comments looped repeatedly without context. Hell, CNN even ran a 15 minute precanned segment about Hagee, which barely mentioned his comments at all.

    Again, what is there to apologize for when you didn't do anything wrong?

    And that just ain't right.

    But then again, being White in America means never having to say you're sorry. And being Black in America means having to apologize for some shit you ain't even say in the first place.

    White America gets the best end of double-standards by far.

    They get pure consciences and character coated with Teflon.

    We get to tell sh*tty "white folks ain't go no butt" jokes on Comic View.

    Seems like a fair trade to me.

    Question: Do you think the Hagee/Parsley associations are any more indicative of John McCain's character than the Rebb'n Wright fiasco reflects on Obama's personal worldview?

    McCain rejects Hagee's endorsement [CNN]

    McCain Rejects Parsley Endorsement [ABC News]

    McCain campaign advisor quits over lobbying ties [Reuters]

    Michelle Obama takes heat from Tennessee GOP [CNN]

    The Keating Five [Wikipedia]

    McCain: A Question of Temperament [WashPost]

    [1] Who else is tired of that phrase? Dang.

    [2] I told ya'll I wasn't mentioning "that woman" anymore.

    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    The iNTERNETS CELEBRITIES Present: CheckMate!!!

    Peep my man Dallas' latest short film.

    Peep more shorts from the iNTERNETS CELEBRITIES.

    Friday, May 23, 2008

    Why Do TV One And BET Suck So Badly!?!?

    "We Need Our Own Republic, Just Like The Dominicans."[A]

    I know most of ya'll visit for my savoir faire, endless wit, and of course Negro Nonsense. And that's why I feel sorta bad about gettin' all deep and whatnot on ya'll this week. We've hit a number of serious and somewhat depressing topics crucial to the State of Black America; from our Civil Rights organizations, to Historically Black Colleges, the gender/racial achievement gap in education, and the decline of the black sitcom. All that really-real talk in just four days. I'd like to see T(r)avis Smiley and his Annual Soundbyte Olympics top that one.

    Judging by the hits and comments though, I'd say you guys didn't mind me getting all philosophical, but to me it's definitely more fun just talkin' about Latarian. So, after this upcoming three day weekend from the Day Job, I'll be back on my usual ignant grizzly. Life's just easier that way.

    Anyways, I hate to end the week on an equally somber note, but yesterday's discussion about the atrocity that is Black TV made me think about a related issue. Since TeeVee generally Sux, the AverageHousehold usually tunes in to CNN, MSNBC, and yep, even Fox News to try and keep up with the day's scuttlebutt. Watching this whole "historic Presidential campaign" through the gilded lenses of talkin' monkeys like Sean Hannity, Campbell Brown, and Keith Olbermann always pisses me off. I know we obviously shouldn't really expect anything of "black TVnetworks" like BET and TV One, but just how irrelevant and lazy are the Negroes that run these stations for being completely asleep at the wheel the past 6 months? We got a brotha gunnin' for The Number One Spot, and all they're talkin' about is The 08' BET Awards.[1] BET had that one vanity interview with Obama in which the dumbass host, "Cousin" Jeff Johnson, had the unmitigated gaul to ask Barry such pressing questions as "do you listen to rap music?" and "why was it important to you to marry a black woman?" I swear Max Robinson was cryin' inside when he heard that. I sure was.

    Since I don't otherwise watch BET, I'm assuming that's been the extent of their campaign coverage. Their definition of "news" is an even more pathetic joke, with the aforementioned "Cousin" Jeff, a sassy Teen-Summit alum, some ditzy chick with a fake British accent, and a "fresh-out" lookin' "official street cat" named Samson, who all provide 30-second news blurbs between commercial breaks. Jacque Reed never looked so good. If you were watching this network from another planet, you'd probably assume all black folks contributed to this county was vocoders and Toccara. And as true as that might be on some level, it's still awful damn sad.

    Sheez, where the heck is Ed Gordon when you actually sorta, kinda need him?

    TV One, however gets off lightly when it should have far more fingers pointed at it. While BET rightfully gets trashed for offering very little content of even remotely redeeming value, TV One is obsessed with being a lifestyle purveyor. Beyond the flashy production values of such shows as Turn Up The Heat With G. Garvin and Living It Up With Patti LaBelle[2], the station is nothing but useless fluff. It's a series of self-congratulatory shows that just scream "See, look, we told ya'll we could get good jobs and homes in Mitchellville/Stone Mountain/Country Club Hills! Look at us! Whooo-hooo!!!" If the goal of this network was to portray black folks as grown, sexy, and bourgeois, I'd say they;ve succeeded. On the count of providing anything other than disposable entertainment though, TV One fails miserably.

    Most of my TV One beef has to do with the way they completely disregard the resources they have. Syndication1, is the network's talk-radio sister, boasting solid on-air talent like Joe Madison, Warren Ballentine, Bernie McCain, and despite how you feel about him, Rebb'n Al. There's even quality sports programming like The2LiveStews and Marc Gray. I don't know if you get it in your neck of the woods, but the DC based station stays locked on my radio 24/7. It's legitimately good stuff, so clearly the talent is there.

    That being the case, just how damn hard would it be to take these same folks, plus a few "field reporters" and throw them in front of the camera each night for a half hour? I mean, really, build a cheap set. Wheel in a few of these guys and some rotating pundits. Ask them for their spin on the day's news developments. You don't even need to provide any actual "news", just opinions. It would be like a black version of The McLaughlin Group. It would be cheap. It would be easy. Did I say it would be cheap, already? And most of all, it would be relevant since these opinions and voices don't even exist on the other mainstream news networks.[3]

    I mean, seriously Cathy Hughes, how hard would that be?

    I'm not holding my breath, because even though the show would be dirt cheap, parent company RadioOne has bigger fiscal issues to worry about. With their stock price dipping into penny stock territory and with Cathy and her son in trouble for giving themselves exorbitant pay raises in spite of, they could probably be excused for having bigger fish to fry. Or not.

    If there's any silver lining, it's that JC Watts (yes, that JC Watts) recently announced the planned launch of a new 24 hour TV network, The Black Television News Channel, aimed at black cable news watchers. This station will supposedly provide a diverse array of black commentators, as well as true "news" programming focusing on issues pertinent to African Americans, as well as The Motherland. That all sounds a little ambitious to me, and I sure hope these Willie E. Gary-sized ambitions don't end up as another replay of The Black Family Channel when all's said and done. We'll have to wait and see, but at least it's promising on paper. Just one small issue though.

    The station doesn't debut until 2009.

    How timely.

    Question: Is it unrealistic to expect some level of news programming from the "black networks" or at they justified in their "all-entertainment all-the-time" missions? Do you even think this sort of media outlet is necessary? Where do you usually turn (other than blogs) for political and social commentary to more or less reflects your viewpoints? Do you even watch TV One or BET?

    Former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts and Comcast to launch black news network [TargetMarketNews]

    [A] I'm givin' a whole case of Cyber CapriSuns to the first person who can tell me the origin of this obscure hip hop quotable. And don't bother Googlin' it either, it ain't out there. This one's for the true heads.

    [1] Before you ask, yeah. I'll be watching, but only because that sorta stuff is blogger-gold.

    [2] Singletary Says is the one notable exception. Now there's a timely and relevant show.

    [3] God bless poor Roland Martin, who is about the only voice of even remote reason on CNN. Jamal Simmons seems pretty sensible too. I bet he's angling for that Obama Press Secretary gig.

    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    The Quiet Death of Black Television.

    Yeah, we all know TeeVee Sux, but even I didn't realize things were this bad until I ran across this recent LA Times article.

    "Everybody Hates Chris" is a show with a predominantly African American cast in an era when black-themed series appear to be at a crossroads. This season's departure of the CW's long-running "Girlfriends" leaves only two network shows in prime time -- both struggling on the CW --that revolve around black casts: "Everybody Hates Chris" and the "Girlfriends" spinoff "The Game."

    Meanwhile, on the cable side, the numbers are only slightly better. There's ABC Family's “Lincoln Heights," a one-hour drama about a black family, and TBS' "Tyler Perry's House of Payne," a highly rated sitcom. And last month, MyNetwork TV launched “Under One Roof," a comedy starring rapper Flavor Flav that was met with a chorus of negative reviews.

    The issue of fewer African American stars and shows has provoked pointed concern from minority groups. In particular, Vic Bulluck, president of the Hollywood chapter of the NAACP, decries the further shrinking of television's historically limited racial diversity.

    "We're very concerned about and disappointed at the lack of representation," said Bulluck. "It's something that we've been discussing with all the networks for a while, ever since the 'Bernie Mac' show left Fox. With 'Girlfriends' now leaving, the situation becomes a lot more urgent. The situation as it stands now is unacceptable."

    However, lower numbers of primarily black shows may also signal something completely different -- a growing dissolution of the medium's color line. Instead of being ignored, blacks may have merely become more deeply integrated and accepted into mainstream culture, thus eliminating the need for segregated series.
    Before you ask, yeah, I realize this is all pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things[1]. But I guess this all just reinforces my oft noted assertion that "black TV" is a thing of the past. I told ya'll "Under One Roof" wouldn't make it to Memorial Day, but believe it or not, the show's still on. I wouldn't know personally, I only watched about 3 minutes of a single episode before I could no longer tolerate it. I hear "Lincoln Heights" is decent, but it looks like a tween' show. "Everybody Hates Chris" is great, but you wonder if it's going to lose steam, "Bernie Mac Show"-style as the kids get too old for their roles. "The Game" is just awful. Did anyone even watch "Girlfriends" after the canned Toni Childs? And don't even get me started on "Tyler Perry's House of Payne".

    Basically, the cubbard is pretty darned bare.

    I can't say who's to blame for this, if anyone. The article goes on to argue that having blacks "integrated" into traditional TV shows like "Grey's Anatomy", "ER", those "CSI" shows, and my personal favorite, "Private Practice" is progress, as opposed to segregating them on unwatchable networks like CW/WB/UPN/WhateverIt'sCalled. I guess I can somewhat understand that logic, but I don't really agree with it.

    While it's great to have black actors on mainstream shows like "Grey's", these folks are usually still just inconsequential "background" characters there to provide a loving support and a warm shoulder for the white characters around whom the shows usually revolve. Given the choice, I'd prolly take "What's Happenin'?" over that arrangement anyday.[2]

    Question: Do you think the lack of "black" shows is a sign of progress or cause for concern?

    Black-themed series come to a crossroads [LA Times]

    [1] I mean, it's not like Black America couldn't stand a few more hours at the library and less time in front of Tell-A-Lie-Vision. I'm just sayin'.

    [2] Speaking of which, how about this blast from the past...

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Who Cares If Tyrone Can't Read. Jacob Can!

    Since I've been entrusted by God to rear a young black man (AverageToddler is 21 months going on 21 years right about now), much of my time is spent pondering ways to ensure he doesn't end up on the bad end of some random statistic. One such statistic would be the awful academic performance of black boys, who seem to universally trail every other demographic category in nearly all standardized tests. The achievement gap between blacks and whites is most often cited as a troubling issue in public education. Perhaps less analyzed is the perceived longstanding gap between males and females in general.

    A recently released study seems to rebut this theory, but if you're reading with your third eye, I'm sure you wouldn't miss the underlying inference.

    A new study to be released today on gender equity in education concludes that a "boys crisis" in U.S. schools is a myth and that both sexes have stayed the same or improved on standardized tests in the past decade.

    The report by the nonprofit American Association of University Women, which promotes education and equity for women, reviewed nearly 40 years of data on achievement from fourth grade to college and for the first time analyzed gender differences within economic and ethnic categories.

    The most important conclusion of "Where the Girls Are: The Facts About Gender Equity in Education" is that academic success is more closely associated with family income than with gender, its authors said.
    Can't really knock that assertion. Most studies seem to indicate that the socioeconomic status of the child's parents is indeed a large factor in whether a kid does well in school. There are notable exceptions to this rule (ie: Paris Hilton, who never finished high school), but overall it's on point.

    But here's where the whole study goes off the track and veers head first into the tackiest variety of racial politricks.
    Math results from the NAEP show that white male students have an advantage over white female students, though there is less difference between Hispanic girls and boys.

    From 1978 to 2004, among students age 13 and 17, white males scored higher on average than white females on 10 of 18 tests. For Hispanic students, 13- and 17-year-old males outscored females on three of the 18 tests. There was no gap among African American girls and boys

    "A lot of people think it is the boys that need the help," co-author Christianne Corbett said. "The point of the report is to highlight the fact that that is not exclusively true. There is no crisis with boys. If there is a crisis, it is with African American and Hispanic students and low-income students, girls and boys."
    Whoa! There is no crisis with boys, as long as they're white of course. Otherwise, who gives a sh*t?

    I'm not sure if this study's co-author meant the above statement to be interpreted the way I'm taking it, but damn, what else could you possible read outta this?

    I'm pretty darned sure there's indeed a crisis among young black boys (and girls for that matter) in public education. Here in Maryland, the state created a blue ribbon panel to study just exactly why black boys lag behind other groups in virtually all standardized tests. The three year study indicated that a lack of black male teachers in high poverty areas, culturally ignorant white female instructors, and the systematic tracking of black boys into special education programs were chief among several culprits. This investigative report was issued by the State of Maryland, but most of what's in there is pretty universal.

    So, what did the state do with the findings of this expensive three year study? Why, they released them the week of Christmas, of course, when schools were out and the media was clearly focused elsewhere. The valuable information fell on deaf ears. Few, if any of the suggested solutions outlined there have been discussed since.

    It's almost as if the state issued the report merely to say "we issued a report".

    If there's any small upside of this study, it's that it lead funding for the tutor/mentor program that I spent the past academic year as a part of. The program wasn't without it's flaws, nor was I, but I think that at the end, between his parents, the program, and me, AverageMentee grew considerably. His grades improved, he passed all his standardized tests, and his reading comprehension grew by leaps and bounds. The obvious issue is, each and every kid can't have this sort of attention and these level of resources dedicated to them over a prolonged period of time. So, while he might have succeeded, his classmates who weren't a part of the program likely didn't. The cumulative effect on the school's No Child Left Behind status is probably going to be negligible at best.

    I don't pretend to have the answers to all this stuff, I'm still just trying to figure out how to stop my son from putting his hand in the toilet. But in the meantime, I know that having more hands on deck sure wouldn't hurt. Our program is getting funding for next year, but without more volunteer mentors, you can't really help more kids. Recruiting black males willing and able to take an hour off work once a week to go tutor during school hours isn't as simple as it sounds.

    I'll throw in the obligatory Take The AverageBro Challenge plug in here, but honestly, all this stuff is pretty discouraging, and borderline depressing if you dwell on it too long. So, I'll just run the question by you guys.

    Question: Other than increased parental participation, what is the miracle cure for the crisis in urban education?

    No Crisis For Boys In Schools, Study Says [WashPost]

    Task Force on the Education of Maryland’s African-American Males Study [UMd Dept of Education]

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Are HBCUs Obsolete!?!?

    I'm a proud HBCU graduate. My southern Negro College engineering school prepared me well for the real world, but perhaps more so, was my first real experience of being in an environment almost entirely run by black folks. This of course had it's pluses and minuses. The facilities were downright meager compared to your typical "white college". As a freshman, my floor of 100+ young men shared three pay phones. The climate controls were an either/or proposition of blasting heat or Arctic level cold. The bathrooms featured prison-style open showers and toilets that worked when they preferred, which is to say, not very often. The dorms were built using the same floorplan as our state penitentiary. The cafeteria food was one step above the stuff I occasionally dole out when I do community outreach at our local homeless shelter. And yeah, there was saltpeter in there, or so the urban legend went.

    The odd thing about this is that for someone like myself who never had to "rough it" growing up, these somewhat less than ideal accommodations were bizarre motivating factors to bust my butt in class. I can't speak for other HBCUs, but this lack of pampering, especially when contrasted with the Ritz-Carlton level accoutrements at our rival crosstown public "white college" oddly encouraged spirit and pride in my school. And in some equally odd fashion, it fostered an "us against the world" mentality that caused people to stick together and pull each other up. Besides, the level of instruction and education were world-class. Being surrounded by other brilliant black folks from all around the world broadened my horizons. And since the school is world-renowned for graduating more black engineers than any other any four year college, employers were practically knocking themselves over to cherrypick the best of the best. I graduated with honors, and walked away with my choice of 9 equally enticing offers. Best of all, since I was an in-state resident, my tuition was barely even $800/semester. Can you can "zero student loans"? I can.

    Seriously, what's not to like?

    The big selling point on HBCUs in the early 90's was that our schools generally had superior retention and graduation rates, and were universally hailed as being more supportive environments for black students. There were the cultural intangibles as well (read: girls and Two to Sixes), but that's neither here nor there. When I walked across that stage on graduation day, you couldn't tell me there was any better educational option for a black student than a quality (key word: quality. they ain't all built alike) HBCU.

    Over time, I've changed my tune a bit. Much of this has to do with post-grad exposure to other black folks who went to "white colleges", and the realization that their overall experiences weren't all that different from mine. And an equal amount comes from the realization that after your first real "job" post-graduation, nobody really cares or even asks where you went to college anymore. So, while in the past I might have been pretty dogged in my insistence that my son follow my lead and become a 3rd generation alumnus of my Negro College HBCU, I now realize they're hardly one-size-fits all propositions. Some black folks who might have grown up in more progressive areas may not need the cultural experience. And kids nowadays aren't willing to "rough it". Even though most HBCUs have dramatically improved their facilities, they're still decades behind your typical "white college".

    So, my final pro-HBCU argument would be the graduation and retention rates, which used to speak to some level of support that the typical student wouldn't get at a majority institution. But after reading this little tidbit in the Sunday Post, I'm wondering if even that point has merit anymore.

    More black students graduate from the University of Virginia within six years than from any other public university in the country, and here's why: institutional commitment, an admissions process that selects strong students, generous financial aid and a network of peer advisers.

    Nationally, there's a gap of nearly 20 points between the percentage of black and white students who graduate; just 44 percent of black students finish within six years, according to four-year averages calculated by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, which has found U-Va. to be the leader "by far" among public schools for the past 14 years.

    The University of Maryland has in recent years improved its six-year graduation rate, to 71 percent for black students who started in 2000. That's part of a systemwide initiative to improve all of Maryland's public universities' six-year graduation rate for black students, which is as low as 20 percent at Coppin State.

    The most recent figure from U-Va., for black students who began college in 2001, is just shy of 90 percent. That rate is lower than those at the top schools in the country (Harvard University has steadily been in the mid-90s) but better than most of the schools U-Va. considers peers, such as the University of California at Berkeley, the University of North Carolina, Cornell University and Vanderbilt University.

    The reasons some black students drop out include cost, poor academic preparation from weak high schools, the racial climate and a lack of support because there hasn't been a family tradition of college, according to Bruce Slater, the journal's managing editor.
    Truth be told, most of these schools have higher graduation rates because they generally are far more selective about which black students they admit. The mission of the typical HBCU isn't the same as a UVa. HBCUs generally have lower standards of admission, in the name of giving nearly everyone a fair shake at a college education. But even that doesn't explain the paltry graduation rates of some schools like Coppin State, Bowie State, and Virginia Union.

    Seriously, I don't want anyone to think I'm dumpin' on my alma mater. I'm not. I give money. I use my management position to help get more alumni in the door at my company. It's an even better school academically now than when I was there. The facilities are vastly improved. It is still dollar-for-dollar one of the best bargains in higher education. Sure, all the sports teams absolutely suck, but hey, you can't have it all. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't choose any other school. But after all these years, I guess I have to ask the dreaded question.

    Question: Are Historically Black Colleges and Universities still relevant? Are you alarmed by the graduation rates of some HBCUs? Did you go to an HBCU? If so why? If not, why?

    At U-Va., a Dean Making a Difference [WashPost]

    Historically black colleges and universities Info [Wikipedia]

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    Did The NAACP Finally Get Something Right?!?

    Not that anyone's really noticed, but the NAACP's been asleep at the wheel since they ran off their most recent President, Bruce Gordon over a year ago. This weekend, the organization quietly introduced their new President, the oddly named Carlos Solis[1] Ben Jealous.

    A 35-year-old human rights activist on Saturday was chosen to become the NAACP's new president and chief executive. Benjamin Todd Jealous, a graduate of Columbia University and a Rhodes scholar, will become the youngest leader in the 99-year history of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

    "I'm excited to take the helm of the NAACP," he said. "I believe in the urgent need for strong civil rights institutions and strong black institutions in general."

    "I am tremendously excited. It's a real chance to get my generation of people — those from 25 to 45 years old — really engaged in the work of this association, and to get this association really engaged in the issues of this century," Jealous said. "This is an historic time and the association is needed, now as much as ever.

    "As somebody raising a 2½-year-old black child in this country, and having enjoyed as many blessings and privileges as my wife and I have, it's still deeply troubling that we have to worry about how she might be treated in school or by the police. As parents, we want the best treatment for our child, without discrimination against any aspect of her life. That's what drives me."

    The NAACP's 64-member board, however, was not united in its selection of Jealous. The vote, taken after an arduous eight-hour closed-door meeting that ended close to 3 a.m., came as some members complained that they were being shut out of the selection process.

    He pointed to his youth as an asset in recruiting new members and said he thought he could work to create consensus among the board's various factions.
    On the surface, I like this move for many reasons. Jealous is more or less my age, which means although he's obviously well accomplished, he isn't too far removed from the very youth the NAACP is going to need if it has any chance of staying alive, let alone regaining relevance. He comes with a background not only in activism, but also in media. He's already mentioning taking more proactive measures to increase the organization's effectiveness, as well as embracing technology, something the NAACP clearly hasn't a clue about. If you want proof, just spend a few minutes on their website trying to unearth anything of value. Simply finding ways to work with new-school "activists" like bloggers will go a long way towards pulling the organization into the 21st century.

    On the flipside, I wonder if he isn't going to somehow flame out and fall out of favor with the organization's top heavy board of directors. Anytime you have to go through 64 people to get something done, you're bound to get frustrated. Speaking of which, other than to appease the egos of a lot of 70 year olds, why in the hell does the NAACP need 64 board members? What are they, the US Senate? The mere process of getting these folks to approve Jealous for the position was reportedly time consuming and quite contentious. I wonder how these graybeards are gonna react when he tells them they're gonna need Hotmail accounts.

    Sadly, the bigger issue is the organization's direction. While his predecessors (Kwesi Mfume and Benjamin Chavis) faltered due to personal demons, Gordon blew it when he tried to use his experience as a corporate executive to push the organization towards social service rather than it's traditional platform of social justice. This was a good idea on paper. Had the NAACP moved forward with proactive initiatives like financial awareness and community investment seminars, perhaps the ravages of the recent economic downturn and the proliferation of predatory lending and subsequent foreclosures in the black community might have been lessened. We'll never know, since Gordon got canned for not bringing in enough corporate donations and generally pissing off the Board of Directors. So, here's to hoping Jealous' stint works out better.

    I'm obviously in wait and see mode, but here's just some of what I'd like to see the NAACP focus on:

    Think Proactively - Police shootings may get you in the papers, but they're around #158 on the list of Black Folks' Real Issues. Switch up your approach or you'll be about as useful as a truckload of Gregory Abbott's Greatest Hits LP's. Which is to say you'll be about as relevant as you are at the present. Which is "not so much". Comprendez?

    Education Matters Most - Social justice doesn't mean sh*t if you're in jail because you can't read. Use your resources and exposure to do something about the institutional issues that contribute to the academic achievement gap. Encourage parents to do the rest.

    Reach Out To Bloggers - Find ways of using the Black Blogosphere to push your new proactive initiatives. We can disseminate info far faster than any other medium. Consider strengthening ties with the Black Church as well, albeit for different reasons.

    Become More Visible - I seldom see the NAACP in the media for anything other than justice issues. You do indeed do lots of proactive stuff, or so your website says. But how come I never see any of that stuff? I know the Urban League is more grassroots focused, but guess what? They're pretty visible. You're not. Fix this.

    Make Membership Free - Freedom ain't free, but that's no excuse to charge folks $30 just to be down. $15 for starving college students? Hell, I see you're even hitting up prisoners for $12. Do you have any idea what having $12 in your commissary can buy you in the clink? Me neither, but it's beyond the point. I know you have financial issues, but c'mon, your pay-to-play approach is obviously not cuttin' it. Shake down your corporate donors more, trim your organizational fat, and focus on adding real people to your roles.

    Kill The "Image Awards" - Any awards show that gives best-in-class kudos to Robert Sylvester Kelly, DL Hughley, and the child who played Baby Girl on The Bernie Mac Show has zero cred from the jump. Get rid of this useless circle jerk and save some money in the process.

    Holler at me if you need more suggestions, Ben. You know where to find me.

    I wish Mr. Jealous the best. I'll be his biggest cheerleader if this whole thing pans out.

    And if it doesn't, I'll just keep on talkin' sh*t about the NAACP like I always do.[2]

    Question: What practical steps can Ben Jealous and the NAACP take to become more relevant to the issues facing today's black community?

    NAACP selects new leader: Benjamin Todd Jealous, 35 [LATimes]

    [1] Yeah, I used to watch it. The show sucks now, but I did watch once or twice.

    [2] Notice to anyone visiting for the first time. I don't just talk a good game, I actually do deliver. So please spare me the sideways comments unless you've checked this site out first.

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    What Would You Buy With A Spare $10,000!?!?

    Man, I need to step my game up.

    I dabble a little bit in photography. Okay, who am I kidding? I'm obsessed with photography. My son has to be the most thoroughly documented child in the history of the world evar. I've taken classes, and read dozens of books to hone my craft. I'm not Ansel Adams, but it's fair to say I've got an eye.

    That said, as good as me and my little Panasonic Lumix are, sometimes when I'm perusing photo blogs, I run into another dude who's doin' sh*t so big, it makes me wanna just quit altogether and go back to those disposable jawns they sell at CVS.

    Such is the case when I run across a site like RaleighSkyline, a photo blog dedicated to the belated[1], yet city-fication of my hometown. I know ya'll will probably peep the site and say "what's the big deal, it's just another Southern town that closes at 5pm?"

    And you'd be correct, but darnit, just look at the clarity of these photos.

    21.1 megapixels!!!!!

    These photos are clearer than my eyesight. Jeez.

    Good photography can make a three stoplight "downtown" look like Times Square. And yep, I'm jealous.

    Gassed up, I started doing a Google search trying to figure out just how many of my Wizards Bobbleheads I'd need to hock to afford the batteries for a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III.

    Uh, that would be about $7,999 worth of bobbleheads. I don't think I've got that many in the collection.

    Needless to say, between this and that 150 inch plasma I'm feenin' for, I'm gonna need some ends. So, I need ya'll to start clicking through on those ads, coppin' a t-shirt, or droppin' somethin' in my PayPal commissary (link below on right).

    Either that, or I'm gonna have to go back to hustlin'. Take your pick.

    Since this post was completely pointless, and you and I both know I'll never drop $10k on a camera, I figured I'd flip the script and pose a question to you guys.

    Question: If you had a $10,000 windfall, what completely frivolous item would you blow it all on? Two stipulations: you have to spend the money on yourself, and you cannot save or otherwise invest it.

    Raleigh Skyline Photo Blog

    Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III Digital SLR Camera [Just In Case I've Got a Millionaire AverageCommenter Out There]

    [1] Seriously, they've been talking about "making downtown more liveable" since the late 70's.

    Friday, May 16, 2008 Guest Post: Thembi's New "Lady Laws" For Young Black Women

    [Editor's Note: isn't the only blog I read of course. Last week, when I posted my epic AB's New "Man-Laws" For Young Black Males I tossed out a request for someone to answer with some "Girl Laws". I'd love to come up with these myself, but given my male genitalia and general ignorance of most things feminine (just ask AverageSis. How does this woman tolerate me?) I figured it would be best to call in an expert. And my homegirl Thembi, from the excellent blog What Would Thembi Do?, is just that and then some. As with any Guest Post, be good and show some love you know where.]

    Living right at the imaginary line where Philadelphia goes from a college city to being straight up hood, I can say that I've seen my share of young ladies acting a fool, and if they were behaving themselves I couldn't tell which were little girls playing with toy babies and which were actually pushing their own teen pregnancy products in strollers down the block. What's crazy is that unlike AB, who is neatly settled in a nuclear family and has accepted that he is (gasp!) an adult, I have regressed into my teenage years by getting airbrushed nails, dancing at parties like nobody is watching, and shimmying into outfits straight from Bare Feet and other stores in which I have no business. I am proof that whatever ladyghettononsense you may engage in, you can be ok. But guess what – I had to act right FIRST before I earned that right, and I did so by following these rules, all of which were implicit in my upbringing. So I have a few words of advice . . .

    1. Stay Off Of The Pole. And For That Matter, Out Of Videos. I haven't decided whether or not I have a real problem with strippers or strip clubs in general - who am I to say that men shouldn't be allowed to gather in a public place and expose their inability to be fully intimate with their spouses by fondling and ogling some stray woman? What I do know is that YOU shouldn't be one of said strays. Letting your body be drool-worthy for a room full of men cheapens and degrades you, and in the long run is not at all worth the money (no matter how pressed you are for cash). You never know who will be in that club, and when the "I saw Keisha on the pole!" story is told, your future boss or uncle who was "just in there with his boys" won't be the shamed one, you will! If you like showing off your sexy side, which all of us should, save it for the right man, who will love enjoying all of the freaknasty you have inside of you without having to pay for it on a dollar-by-dollar basis. Someone will always do it, just don't let that someone be you. The same goes for being in videos. That is NOT a profession and will not lead to any sort of meaningful career, modeling or otherwise. A ho is a ho, root word whore, meaning sex for sale, and your stuff is priceless. Got it?

    2. Go Where No Blackgirl Has Gone Before. The obvious interpretation of the title of my blog is that I think that I'm some Jesus figure. Not so. Actually, the very weekend before I started blogging, loyal commenter Aaliyah was at an almost all-white party filled with beefy frat boys and was asked to do a kegstand. At her side were two other friends of mine, one of which said to her "What would Thembi do?" The obvious answer – go where no black girl has gone before and do the freaking keg stand! It really IS ok to be you, whether it's as trivial as going snowboarding or as major as pursing a PhD in Greek Mythology. Do the most random or ridiculous things you feel like doing even if you're not technically supposed to do them, and do them at all times. The same goes for rock concerts, tattoo conventions, playing the accordion, or whatever! Being a blackgirl comes with a unique set of baggage - on the one hand, we're accustomed to being a minority in almost any situation a million times over. On the other hand, we feel like there are certain places and activities that aren't "ok" for us. Forget all of that, risk ostracization, and trailblaze for us all. We can't keep saying "But blackgirls don't _______" or else we'll never do anything at all. Be YOU, regardless of whatever skin tone, sorority, thickness, neighborhood, or whatever you may be a part of. None of it is as fresh as plain old blackgirl you.

    3. DON'T Get Pregnant, DO Have A Baby. When people say "Life Is Short," they really mean that life is short – when you're unencumbered. Life is really, really long when you're tied down to some dude who seemed great when you were sixteen years old but hasn't even made it through his baby boy years when it's time to send junior off to middle school. In fact, it can even seem too long when you start to calculate the potential unpaid child support, the number of times you tried to "make it work for the baby", and the time you'll spend child rearin' instead of actually growing up, getting degrees, and making a name for yourself. Not to say you can't have a baby early and have it all turn out rosy in the end, but howsabout having children with someone who can actually agree to be with you in a family unit for the long haul whether or not you just happen to get pregnant? Sidenote: It should go without saying, but why even risk diseases by not protecting yourself? A baby is not the only gift that keeps on giving, you know.

    4. Know Your Own Hair.
    Black women have more hair options than almost anyone else, and we exercise them to the fullest. But even those of use who switch from weave to ponytail and from blonde to red would never dare to wear our natural hair in public. I can spend the whole day running errands and not see one blackgirl without a perm, and the same goes for watching television or opening a magazine. What is up with that? Granted, I went natural the easy way with the Philly soul thing being at my heart and a head of naps that never really took a perm quite right, but what pains me is when another blackgirl says to me "I love your hair! How long did it take to grow? I could never get my hair to be that texture. How did you do it?" The reality of it is, most of us don't even know what is growing out of our own heads, and its very sad. Not one other group of people on this planet can say the same. It's fine if you settle on a perm or some braids or even a Jheri curl after exploring your options, just get to the point where you can say that you know what your natural hair even looks and feels like before you aspire to be Beyonce by default.

    5. Get Out Of Town.
    I've met young women who have never left their cities, seen the ocean, or even set foot in another zip code. It's not always cheap, and it's not always fun, but the sooner you start traveling the better. In fact, this Lady Law applies to almost everyone of every race and gender. Make a list of dream locations and get started as soon as possible. The more time you spend in the same surroundings the less you understand about the world, and for that matter, what the world thinks of you – you'll learn that you're not trapped after all. Besides, you can't conquer the world if you don't know what's out there, and it should be your goal to conquer it! Let the trailer trash of West Virginia confuse Mexicans with Spaniards and believe that Africa is a country and not a continent. Learn your world because it is yours to learn, even if you have to do so only an inch at a time.

    6. Don't Get Called Out of Your Name. I'm not on this whole "we were queens" tip, but I know that none of us should be called or let ourselves be called any of the following: bitch, ho, trick, and on and on and on. Don't sing along with songs about "makin' it rain" unless it's for the sake of irony. Don't even participate in anything misogynistic unless you know it's only a joke to you, and even then don't ever pay for it. Recognize that just like when he talks about selling crack you're not selling crack, that when some rapper talks about his hoes he doesn't mean you, download that song from Limewire, and keep it moving. And lastly, never, EVER call yourself anyone's "baby's momma." My first encounter with an ex's grown BM involved her introducing herself to someone as such, and as much evidence as I may have already had that she was feeble-minded, giving herself that label sealed the deal. Don't be that broad.

    7. Act White. I won't bother justifying this term because you all know just what I mean. Talk white by speaking the King's English, using full sentences, and the most intricate vocabulary you can muster. Act white by doing well in school, participating in any activity that suits you, and playing musical instruments. Don't worry, you will never, ever actually BE white. If it were possible, don't you think that all of those people who were lynched and beaten back in the day would have white-acted their way out of it?

    8. Get What You Deserve Without Worrying About What He Deserves. This is a weird one. All too often women say "I'm not giving it up to him, he doesn't deserve it!" But what do YOU want? While it's not smart to just go giving it up to any old body, getting caught up in the idea that your sexual desires should be based on what men deserve is the exact opposite of feminism. If we only had sex when men deserved it we would be a bunch of bitter, mean, deprived wenches. Learning and maintaining the balance between withstanding pressure from dudes and getting yours is part of becoming a real woman.

    9. Don't Eat That Mess. Our country is facing an obesity epidemic, yadda yadda blah blah. But it's all so very real, ladies, and I'm as guilty as the next chick. The thing is, you can get fat and out of shape eating regular food and that's damning enough. It's the Chinese Store chicken wings and fries (saltpepperketchup or no), grape soda, chips, quarter water, or other mess. If you can believe for one second that AIDS or crack was planted in the black community to kill us, what do you think Crown Fried Chicken is here for? And your body may be able to metabolize it before you hit 25, but after that it's just a quick ride to Lane Bryant once you get addicted, so don't do it.

    10. Be A Lady. I have never been the most ladylike of blackgirls and most women like me can trace that to our upbringings, but it's really very simple. It's very natural for us to speak loudly, but it's more powerful when used in small doses, just like hot sauce. Making that lip smack before you start speaking is not cute either, especially if it's followed by a "weeeeeeeeaaaaal," twist of your neck, and then whatever it is that you have to say. By doing that, not only have you butchered the word "well," but whatever you have to say is eclipsed by that attempt to get attention and gear up like you need prep time just to speak your mind. Swearing every other word may be cute to around-the-way boys but if you ever want to get off of the block (see Lady Law #5), it won't do you any good. Although every once in a while another female may make your blood boil, fighting is not cute – just think, aren't you way too pretty to get into a fight and get some gash across your face? I don't think I need to caution young blackgirls on good grooming because we're good at that, but do you really need to let all of that unravel just because some girl is talking about you? What does that even really mean? Like Katt Williams says, if you've got fourteen haters, you need to find a way to get sixteen!

    Latarian Strikes Back... Literally.

    Last week, we bought you the whimsical story of young Latarian Milton, a 7-year old South Florida kid who had landed himself in deep trouble for stealing his Grandma's SUV and crashing it at a Costco store. Since this story broke nationally, it's become an internet sensation of sorts, with all sorts of half-assed Youtube mash-ups and remixes. Lost in the shuffle was the fact that this kid was clearly crying out for attention in the video.

    All the news accounts were focused on the laughable notion that a kid who couldn't see over the steering wheel stole a car and drove for miles through rush hour traffic. Everyone gawked and laughed. Nobody gave a shit about the kid.

    Maybe they will after this.[1]

    A 7-year-old boy who took his grandmother's car on a joyride last month has been taken for a mental health evaluation after he allegedly beat her up inside a South Florida Wal-Mart, WPBF News 25 reported.

    Latarian Milton's grandmother, Vikkita Stratford, told WPBF that the 7-year-old took his mischievous activities to a new level Monday when she said he beat her up inside a Lake Park Wal-Mart.

    According to Stratford, the problem began when Milton asked his grandmother for some chicken wings. When she refused, Milton walked over over to the counter and ordered them anyway.

    Stratford said that when she confronted him about it, Milton just snapped.

    "He just started hitting me -- just started hitting me in front of the whole Wal-Mart. Every one in there was upset," Stratford said.

    Stratford told WPBF that Milton hit her stomach, legs and "wherever he could reach me."

    Riviera Beach police picked up Milton from his home and took him to an area hospital for a mental health evaluation Monday afternoon, WPBF reported. The 7-year-old can be held for up to 72 hours while he is evaluated by mental health officials.

    Stratford said that she believes Milton's problems are due to a bad atmosphere with his parents.

    "I know what causes the behavior, cause all he's ever seen was his parents do physical and abusive and verbal things, and I don't want him to continue in this direction so I'm doing the best I can to get him the help," she told WPBF.

    Stratford said that she is worried about what will happen once the 7-year-old is released from his evaluation. She also told WPBF that she is making sure that Milton won't have access to her rental car while her SUV is being repaired.

    "When I first got the rental he said, 'Oh, you know, let me take this for a spin," Stratford said. "So now I just sleep with the keys. I lock them up."
    And here's the fresh video, courtesy of YouTube.

    Okay, I know I am undermining my own point when I say this, but how funny is it that this kid beat his grandma up over some chicken wings? WTH!?!?

    Real talk though, I know the whole Take The AverageBro Challenge thing is getting old, but seriously, Ray Charles can see the problem in this whole situation. The parents don't give the kid the best environment or influences. Grandma becomes mother by default, but damnit, she's battling Cancer, already raised her kids, and wants to live too. If you don't believe me, just watch the original Latarian video, and tell me what you see around the 1:04 mark.

    Man, Grandma was sittin' on chrome! Them had to be 28's, 26's at least.

    Anyways, I'm not sayin' having a mentor would solve all the kid's problems. He's clearly been dealt a bad hand from the get-go. But who knows? The right football coach, tutor, or church youth ministry might be able to tap into some of the kid's creativity, while helping him deal with some of the rage that undoubtedly manifests itself in a kidney punch to his own Nana over some cold-assed Walmart hotwings. I'm just sayin'.

    What's evident to me is the kid isn't mentally ill. He just needs a attention.

    He ain't got A.D.D. He needs a D.A.D.

    The sad thing is, there's millions of other Latarian Miltons out there who just haven't stolen a car.


    Question: Do you think Latarian has mental issues or is this whole thing a misplaced plea for attention he's not getting from his own parents?

    Woman Says Joyriding Grandson, 7, Beat Her Up (bonus with extra video) [WPBF]

    [1] Thanks to TiffInHouston for sending this along.