Monday, July 28

lavena johnson

I'm not back - I just think this is important:

From Color of
LaVena Johnson was 19 years old, serving in Iraq as a private in the
Army, when she was raped, murdered, and her body was burned--by someone
from her own military base. Despite overwhelming physical evidence,
the Army called it a suicide and closed the case.[1]
For three years, LaVena's parents have been fighting for answers. At
almost every turn, they've been met with closed doors or lies. But
together we can help achieve justice for LaVena and other families who
have suffered similar tragedies.[2]
Will you join me in standing with the Johnsons and calling on Henry
Waxman, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to investigate the
Army's cover-up of Lavena's death? And ask your friends and family to
do the same?
1. "The cover-up of a soldier's death?", March 6, 2007
2. "Is There an Army Cover Up of Rape and Murder of Women Soldiers?", April 28, 2008

Wednesday, July 23

talk amongst yourselves

Well, it looks like #390 might be it for a while.
It's not that I don't have anything to say - there are a million things.
It's not that I don't want to talk to you about them - I do.
It's that right now too many things hurt and talking about them isn't making them better. Ignoring them and talking about other things isn't working either. So I won't be posting for a while. I'll still be lurking out here on teh internets and commenting sometimes. I just need a little vacation.
So, remember, minions:
Get up, Get out DO SOMETHING

oh and

Vodka Saves;)

now, talk amongst yourselves...I'll give you a topic... everything

Monday, July 21

how time slips away

Now that the page is blank and empty in front of me I don’t know where to start. I don’t remember meeting you, you know. You became a fact of my life so thoroughly that I can’t remember not knowing you. Of course I had to have met you somewhere – do you remember how it was?
I remember you driving Mama G and me to Best Buy to get her television and move it into her new place. You talked her into using the rebate to get me a Playstation 2. Last week there was a lightning strike near her house and the TV is fried. Do you remember hauling that hulk up two flights of stairs?
When Papa G was sick and I called you…you let me cry on your shoulder and then you asked me if I wanted to go see Harry Potter. It was absurd and exactly what I needed. There was a little kid who made fun of how excited I was during the movie, remember? And after that you started reading the books. I still have the Gryffindor t-shirt you bought me in Ireland.
When were you not there for me?
I had the strongest memory of cooking Velveeta Shells and Cheese in your kitchen. You took me in after Papa G kicked me out, when I had nowhere else to go. I remember cooking in the tiny kitchen while you sat in that chair of yours, but I can’t remember what you were watching. It’s been driving me crazy for days.
I know you don’t remember much of your 21st birthday. We did that on purpose – but you kept talking so much shit about how you could hold your liquor that it had to be done. I have that picture of us walking down King Street and you’ve got a traffic cone on your head. I found that one and the one of you and me and Jenkins at our corner table at Fluids, before all the craziness started.
I remember you called me when you lost your virginity. After we hung up I cried because you trusted me enough to call me and tell me something like that. And then I laughed and was happy for you.
I wrecked it and you forgave me. I did it on purpose – to wreck it and you forgave me anyway. After everyone told you not to. They were right because I just did it again. It was never your fault, Aidan. You weren’t too trusting or too good. You were a friend, father and brother to me. You were always there when I needed you and you let me be there for you. But I was trying to wreck my life and you were a major part of my life.
I hit bottom and I’ve been slowly putting myself back together for a while now. I think that you’d be really proud of the life I’m living. It is simple but it is honest and I try to help people where I can.
I won’t ask you for forgiveness, I don’t deserve it. I’m not trying to become a part of your life again. Honestly the first time I saw you up there on that screen I didn’t recognize you. It was when they cut back to you with your face pressed against the bars, but even then it wasn’t your face, it was your voice. Suddenly it was just you and me in the room Aidan – except you were larger than life.
Do I have the right to be as proud of you as I am, even after all that has happened? I swear I almost burst with it as I was sitting there. I was with a friend, and he thought I had to be wrong when I told him I knew you. He stayed with me until the credits rolled all the way through and there was your name.
I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream and jump up and down and whirl around and yell to the world how proud I am of you. You made it kid! You are on your way. I called Lindsay and Marcus and Mama G and Papa G. Lindsay promised to call Sam. Mama G wants you to know that she’s proud of you too. Marcus flipped out. “One of our own,” he said, “He made it”.
What did Margot say? Your parents? Did you get to go to the premiere? Did you take them? Is it petty and small of me to hope that all those idiots from your high school saw it and are sooooo jealous right now?
I’m sorry that I thought it would be David. It’s seems ridiculous to be apologizing for that after everything that I’ve done, but you understand, don’t you? I’m sorry that I didn’t believe the way you did. But you’re in the movie with the biggest opening weekend EVER. You beat Spiderman. Do you remember when we went to see that together – and you just kicked its ass.
I’m going back, to see it again. I didn’t really see the rest of the movie – my mind split off from it once I saw you. I want to take a picture of your name up on that screen, I want to have that.
I hope that you are doing great. I hope that you know that I have never stopped being sorry – I was sorry as it was happening. You will have even more great things in your life and I’ll be watching, Aidan. I can’t wait to see your name up on that screen again. Next time I won’t be as surprised but I can swear to you now that every time I will be as proud.
It seems so wrong somehow to be saying this now that you’re in a movie. I should have had the guts to apologize to you a long time ago. But I don’t. We both know that. All I can say is that seeing you up there I felt the need to give you a big hug and to tell you …well, everything I’ve said.

I don’t know if you’ll read this. I don’t know if you’ll ever hear – but I needed to say that I have never been this happy for or proud of anyone. You just made your dream come true and I got to see it. I don’t deserve that gift, but thank you.
*minions, this wasn't really written for you guys, but in the hopes that my old friend would read it. If you've seen or are going to see the Dark Knight he's the guy with the cell phone sewn into his stomach. And he rocks it.

Thursday, July 17

Thursday's Theme: Black Snobbery

The Black Snob is quite possibly the funniest person on teh internets. She's got two blogs, The Black Snob and Secret Council of American Negroes. Both are smart, witty, snarky and fun. Both have made me shoot coffee out of my nose. For your reading pleasure today I've completely swiped a post she did yesterday. Ever since I read it I've been randomly cackling about some of the lines. I went to sleep last night and woke up this morning giggling...and you all KNOW what kind of mood I was in yesterday, minions. OK - I don't want to oversell... Here's your funny snobbery:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Satire: Drug of Choice

A few weeks ago I wrote this mini-satirical play after writing about the media's obsession with The Clintons, particularly Chris Matthews' obsession with them, and how-oh-how would they get high without their "Clinton Crack." It still seemed relevant since the media has started to transfer off the Clinton Crack to 24-7 Obama Obsession. Since I'm a tad busy today, and this bit didn't quite fit for the SCAN blog, I thought I'd share with you my ode to political press addiction starring Matthews, political pundit Andrea Mitchell and MSNBC's Countdown host Keith Olbermann:

"It'll Get You High."
Setting: MSNBC studios. Chris Matthews is sitting at the "Hardball" set reading through the script while Andrea Mitchell sits across from him also reading her notes. Both look a little out of sorts, especially Andrea who keeps scratching herself and is sweating profusely. They both look jittery and stressed as they prepare for tonight's show.

Chris Matthews: (Reading over his script for "Hardball") Tonight! Surrogates gone wild? Jesse Jackson is caught making an off air mumble that's become a mess for ... I (slamming down the script) ... I can't do this. It's just ... it's just not the same! I need my Clinton Crack! (scratching underarms) I'm jonesing over here! Look, Andrea! My face is all bloated and red!

Andrea Mitchell: (Involuntarily twitching) Your face is always bloated and red, you ignominious bastard! There would still be some Clinton Crack if you hadn't smoked it all!

Chris: (To himself) I can't go back.

Andrea: (Wiping nose, suddenly calm) I sometimes huff paint thinner.

Chris: Really? Does it work?

Andrea: It'll get you high. I mean, if you're desperate.

Chris: I don't know. You said that about Romney refeer and all it did was make me gain 20 pounds and buy a bunch of Marie Osmond records. I guess I could try that Brangelina stuff, but that seems more like a kid's party drug.

Andrea: I lost 10 pounds doing Brangelina, but I also stopped sleeping, had sex with Billy Bob Thorton and adopted six Ugandan orphans.

Keith Olbermann enters the set, walking by, looking peppy.

Chris: How do you do it Keith? Your eyes are always so glassy and you always look so happy, despite being nebbish and tense and kind of killjoy. What are you on? And don't say Ron Paul freebase because Jack Cafferty sold me a sack of that shit and it does not work!

Keith looks left-to-right then leans in to take a seat next to Chris and Andrea.

Keith Olbermann: (whispers) I have something TEN TIMES more potent than Clinton Crack.

Chris: I'm interested.

Keith: Obama Opium.

Chris: Opium? They still make that?

Keith: No. Not just regular opium. Obama Opium. It's the main ingredient in Black Tar Heroin.

Chris: I think they liked to be called African American now.

Keith: What?

Chris: It would be African American Tar Heroin. You know? I thought you were more racially sensitive than that? Whatever. Forget about it. Tell me about the drugs. Where did you get it?

Keith: Well, you can't tell anyone.

Chris: This is just between you me and Andrea.

Andrea: (twitching) Did you just say you had some Clinton Crack?

Keith: No.

Andrea: Because we'd have some if Chris hadn't smoked it all!

Chris: I get it, Andrea! I'm a fat bastard. All right, Keith. Tell us. Where did you get the stuff?

Keith: (mumbles) Muurrr-murrrr.

Chris: What? Speak up. Why are you mumbling?

Keith: Sean Hannity.

Chris: What?

Keith: I got it through Alan Combs from Sean Hannity. I was desperate. It so hard to act like I give a shit night after night. I just needed a little something to take the edge off. I used to snort that Bush Blow, but it doesn't work like it used to. Plus it made me really, really angry. Or maybe that was just the Rove 'Roids. I was trying to lose weight. I just needed something to even me out and Combs told me Sean was smoking the Big O every night. He hooked me up.

Chris: Does it work?

Keith: Oh (smiling) ... it'll get you high.

Chris: Can you boil it down like real Heroin because I just want to take a shot of Barack and put it in a hypodermic needle and shoot it right into my eye ball?

Keith: I think I have a spoon around here somewhere.

Chris: I'm excited about this. I mean, I've been using Clinton Crack since 1992. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. But I only partied with it. Nothing serious. Then one day, boom, it was gone. I forgot about it. Didn't touch anything. But then they came back. And there was just so much of it. I didn't really pace myself. So ... so I'm in deep shit. I mean. I gotta have it. I need it. I want it. But they cut me off. I asked James Carville two months ago if I could get 5 grams of Bubba for $50 and that son-of-a-bitch said "Drug store's closed." Can you believe that? Drug store's closed! I've had to get my Clinton Crack through Andrea ever since.

Andrea: Alan got me hooked.

Keith: Alan Combs?

Andrea: Alan Greenspan. They still talk sometimes.
Keith: (to Chris while cooking the drugs) Don't go crazy with this. Alan said Hannity's been hitting it so hard he almost OD'ed while watching some Rev. Wright footage Sunday. He's sobriety partners with Rush Limbaugh now.

Chris: I bet Rush does a lot of this stuff.

Keith: Nah. He's on Nicorette and OxyContin-laced Twinkies dipped in embalming fluid now.

Andrea: They call them "RushBaughs." I tried that once and I woke up fully dressed in a bathtub full of water after a party at Brian Williams' house. Brian doesn't do drugs but Willard Scott was passing them out. I just thought they were hor' devours. One minute I was dancing to Starland Vocal Band and making out with Ann Curry, then the next I was up to my neck in warm, soapy water. It was sooo awkward when Brian asked me to pass him the soap. He has very nice abs for such a boring man.

Keith: Wait ... he was?

Andrea: He said he didn't want to wake me, but regained consciousness when my head slipped underwater and I almost inhaled his loofah. And that's not a euphemism. I was actually gagging on a his sponge.

Keith finishes cooking the Obama Opium and draws it into a hypodermic needle.

Keith: You kissed Ann Curry? What was that like?

Andrea: She tasted like cocaine and strawberries.

Chris: (Annoyed) Enough with the chit chat! Let's do this. (Rolls up sleeve and ties belt around forearm) Get me high, mother fucker!

Thank you, Black Snob.
I will never watch the news the same way again.

Wednesday, July 16

just breathe

I realize that this is the wrong way to look at things but just before I open my eyes each morning there are millions of possibilities and the further along I get in my day the more narrow my world becomes. It starts when I get to work and have to talk to these people. Just going about my daily routine kills the hope that I have for this nation and the Human Race.
Uh huh – that’s a dramatic statement, but I’m really not exaggerating, some of these are NOT people who need to be procreating. I know this because I had to work with one of their children. When I talk to people about my volunteer work they always seem so surprised. I don’t know what’s going on from 6-8pm three nights a week, but I must be missing out on something great. Is everyone else having crazy sex with gorgeous movie stars while I’m at the children’s hospital?
I do it because it keeps me (slightly) sane. It makes going into my job bearable. It makes the job search bearable. It makes not winning the lottery and getting to tell certain people exactly what I think of them as I walk out the door bearable.
It is a completely selfish act.

A couple weeks a ago, Rosalie (6yrs old) told me this joke:

Why did Frankenstein eat the lamp?

Because he wanted a light snack!

I think about that when the theme from Jaws starts playing in my head and the scream builds up in my throat. I laugh, I shake it off, remember that blood pressure medicine is expensive and go on about my day.
ps-blogger won't upload any of my images today...breathe...calm...

Monday, July 14

don't hate

I am going to get into so much trouble for this.
Let me first say that I understand the gut reaction of those who thought this was a hateful and horrible cover.
I don’t. It really doesn’t bother me.
It is absolutely ridiculous. It is beyond even the racist emails I have gotten from my co-workers. Even they usually just focus on the Black, or Muslim, or no flag pin or , or , or, or. We’ve all gotten them; we all know what they say. There’s the white woman who says that she won’t vote for Barack because he’d put black people first. There’s the idiot with the "Black House" jokes and the people who would not believe he is a Christian if they baptized him themselves.
The idea that with this cover the New Yorker is joining them and not mocking them seems to me to be a little too much. When I first saw it I was looking for the darkened skin and larger lips, I was looking for features to be distorted (beyond the cartoonish to the lawn jockey a la Time Magazine and OJ Simpson). The first thing I saw though was the image of Michelle with the gun over her shoulder and I laughed and I thought, “Shit, That’s exactly what they’re afraid of!” People see a strong Black woman and automatically she’s some sort of Blaxpoitation Film heroine. Idiots.
As my eyes took in the rest of the details I got it. I wasn’t offended. I actually know someone who thinks that Barack's candidacy is a 'secret Muslim plot to give Osama Bin Laden control of the White House'. That's offensive. There isn't a damn thing that I can do to change his mind. Did he get that idea from the New Yorker? Nope. I really want to see his face when he sees the cover though. His deepest fears - in color.

I don’t see it as a reflection of myself as a Black woman or of the candidate that I support and his wife. I see it as a reflection of all the racist idiots out there who look at it and don't see a cartoon.
The fact that the cartoon is chock full of ridiculousness lets me not take it to heart. Then there’s the title, The Politics of Fear.
Is this what we should be boycotting? Is this what everyone is so upset about? Really? I have been going crazy nutso insane for the past months because there is so much blatant racism in this campaign that no one is calling anyone on. Every time some idiot quotes the 'terrorist fist jab' remark without calling it racist I have to remind myself that BP meds are expensive. There is a dent in my TV where I threw a coffee mug at Geroge Stephanopolous one Sunday when he was talking about people who were 'more racially sensitive’ and 'less racially sensitive'. C'mon George! Let's be honest: Racist vs Merely Prejudiced. Some honesty, please. What no one seems willing to say out loud is that there are people in this country (and not a small amount of them) who are racist. AND there is a machine in this country that has been running for years and is kept well oiled that keeps letting tiny pieces of the New Yorker cover slip into the American subconscious and trying to tell you that each one is true. They have to do it little piece by little piece because if they every put it all together, if they ever showed you the entire cover, people would see how ludicrous it is.
There are plenty of people out there who would like to stitch that cover together in the back of your mind while you sleep. They would weave it into your hopes and dreams and fear about yourself, your friends and your family. They would like to make you believe it. Someone needs to shine a super powered, glaring spotlight on them and watch them scatter like the vermin they are (Yes, Karl Rove, I am talking about you). This is more like a penlight, but still.
Instead we get pissed at the people making fun of them? We get pissed at the people who are calling them out and showing them for what they are? Fearmongers. Haters in the truest sense of the word.
I don’t think that offensive is always bad; I think there are a hell of a lot of people out there who need to be offended.
I don’t think that controversy is always bad; I have more fully defined my beliefs by defending them.
I don’t think that gut reactions are always bad; I trust them even while I question where they come from.
This time I'm not offended**, I like the fact that there is a national discussion about the internet rumours that inspired the cover because I think those things, like mold, flourish in the dark. My gut reaction was laughter because those are SO COMPLETELY NOT the Barack and Michelle Obama I have been working my ass off for for the last six months or so.
We don’t generally, as a nation or as people, really want to know what others think of us. Well, this cover represents what a lot of people think of the Obamas, and what a lot of people are spending a lot of time and money to make sure that they KEEP thinking about the Obamas. Yes, it is stupid and completely illogical, but it’s also true. That’s why it both is and isn’t funny. Ignoring it or tiptoeing around it, calling it 'racially insensitive', I don't think any of that helps.

Do we want to have it shoved into our faces? Nope.

Would we rather not have to talk about it? Sure. But I think we need to.

I’m not pissed at the New Yorker.

I’m pissed at the people they’re pissed at.
*i haven't talked to Mama or Papa G about this yet. they're probably as pissed at me as most of you are after reading this. i'll be talking to them tonight and i'll have an update for you tomorrow, minions.
** I'm STILL offended that the word Muslim is some kind of insult and that showing a man in Muslim dress is taken to be insulting. That's some general asshattery right there that I think we ALL need to check ourselves on.
who knew that Field Negro would agree with me? Read his comments section for a great discussion from all sides.

Happy Monday: Newark Now

The thing is – that it’s easy, minions. What is the one problem in America or in the world that you wish you could solve? Just pick one. Now Google the damn thing and I promise you that you will get more ideas from more people who are working to solve it than you know what to do with. Then all you have to do is pick up the phone, or your checkbook, or BOTH. What I’m saying is that any problem – every problem – can not only be alleviated, but that there are people out there right at this very second who are trying to make our nation and our world better and they need your help.
There has been a lot in the news lately about men abandoning their families, their children. There has been a lot of talk about personal responsibility. Of course, when people say that they only mean the men (boys) have responsibilities to their families. They don’t mean that every single person has a responsibility to every family…but I digress.
The National Comprehensive Center for Fathers, in Philadelphia, PA has, for years, been helping men turn their lives around and rebuild their families and communities. Now it’s spawned. Newark Now is a program based on the NCCF. It is a self-help program started by Newark’s Mayor, Cory Booker. It helps men who are jobless, homeless and/or recently incarcerated to get educations, jobs and get back into their family’s lives. It helps the families accept these men.
It helps.
It helps get men emotionally connected to their kids and realize that they are needed even if they haven’t yet found jobs. It helps get through to the men and the families that fatherhood is about more than a check – and it helps them find employment so they’ll get the check too. It helps to direct them onto a path away from recidivism and it helps them to break the cycle of abandonment. These men may not be angels, but neither are they trash. They are simply people being helped by other people.

Want to have a happy Monday minions? Go check out the Newark Now website and see the amazing difference each of us can make when we decide to do something.

Thursday, July 10

Hi Senator, why don’t you take your legislative agenda and shove it up your ass*

Barack Obama is not me. We don’t believe in all of the same things and in his place I would have voted differently many times on many issues. There aren’t too many Democrats in Congress or the Senate that I wouldn’t say that about. Where the balls have gone I do not know. Senators: Stop whining about how you don’t have 60 votes and start filibustering like big boys and girls. Whether it works or not you will have changed the debate and shone a light on the bullshit. Congress: I honestly have nothing to say to you except, goodbye. What have you DONE? Caved in, gave way, and bided your time for this election while people in this country go hungry, go to war, lose their homes and their savings – sometimes all in one family. And you give political answers. Personally I say a pox on both your houses.

Yeah, I’m pissed. My friends are in Iraq, cemeteries, mental hospitals and jail. I’m barely scraping by off of over 40 hours a week at a 9-5. My country has turned its back on its own founding documents and its people. The Legislative branch had cocktail hour while the 4th Amendment was raped. I am pissed off.

As a member of the Senate Mr. Obama gets his fair share of my wrath. As a candidate for President he doesn’t. I’ve long said that we get the government we deserve and I mean that. We do this to ourselves, over and over again. Then we whine and cry about it. The apathy that people feel about the political process raises my blood pressure to dangerous levels on a regular basis and I have to say that I am gratified to see Mr. Obama having a positive affect there. A coworker of mine who is 25, married to a Coastie and mother of an 18month old registered to for the first time through Mr. Obama’s website. She still isn’t sure whom she will be voting for, but she has found a wealth of information she can use to make her decision. Plenty of people who care about the process, whether they fully support Mr. Obama or not (I’m talking about you Slag) have been involved in Get Out The Vote activities across the country. That’s all great, I’ve done GOTV myself and will continue to do so.

But that’s not what really impresses me. What really impresses me is his online organization. Everything you could ever want to know about any of his positions is there (So I really don’t get some of these flip flopping charges actually…reading is fundamental, minions) and that’s what I expected. What I didn’t expect was the variety of resources for those of us who disagree with him on issues to be able to tell him how we feel and what we’re thinking. Are you pissed about his stance on FISA? Welcome to the club. Literally. Sign in to My Barack Obama and you can meet thousands, sometimes millions of people who care about the specific issues that you do and are making their voices heard to each other, the campaign and the candidate. You can also call the campaign, as I did, and talk to someone about your questions or concerns. These staffers are keeping logs of what people are calling in about. The information is moving upwards daily. Talk about the opposite of apathy. Who knew that if a campaign actually wanted to hear what the people were saying the people would talk? Yeah, should have been a no brainer but…

Please, let’s not confuse this dialogue with influence. I don’t think that any of us will change his mind on the issues. I think we may change the way he tries to explain himself to us, to better articulate his point of view and we may possibly make him stop and look at an issue from another side. Is that worth it? I believe it is. I believe that speaking up is always worth it, especially when you know you will be heard. Especially when it looks like for the first time we will continue to have this kind of dialogue if he is elected.

In the coming weeks I’ll be tackling many different issues that I am passionate about. Sometimes Mr. Obama will agree with me on them and sometimes he won’t. However, I seriously doubt that I will be shocked at anytime in this campaign by a policy decision or a vote he casts (or doesn’t). I’ve read his positions and like he asked me to I’m not assuming that they are political expediencies, but accepting that they are his positions.

So – I’ll keep trying to change his mind by phone, email and web. I’ll keep working GOTV. I’ll keep trying to spread actual information and avoiding ‘news’ outlets that focus on horse race. I will try to keep my anger and cynicism in check. I will keep volunteering in my community and fighting for it. I will keep working and keep hoping because I believe that as an American, “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep”.

"The country is waiting for someone to step up. It should be us".

Josh Lyman, West Wing

*don't take the title the wrong way - it is one of my most favorite west wing quotes of all time - breathe minions, breathe...

Wednesday, July 9

Thursday's Theme: Snark

Because I don't want to talk about Jesse Jackson, or jealousy, or condecension. Because the media would rather focus on that than the staring contest between Iran and Israel that's going on right now. Because people would even rather talk about that than the fact that American companies are getting rich selling equipment to China that they use to spy on their citizens. And no one even wants to think about what will happen when China has perfected that technology and sells it back to us - think we won't use it? I have four letters for you F I S A. Because I am so tired of process stories that I could literally scream I really need to focus on something else today.
I need some funny to mix into my pain.
Here minions, have some snark.

sidney poitier sounds black

I should probably calm down before I type this. I should take a breath and step back and realize the many blessings I have received in my life. I should calm the fuck down but I don’t really see that happening. Once again, it is all Big Man’s fault. I don’t really read the NYT lately and especially not the columnists because there is no such thing as cheap blood pressure medicine. This article is a prime example.
Apparently the way your voice sounds affects how much money you make. Sounding ‘Black’ and sounding ‘Southern’ are the two worst things to sound like, even if you live in the South. There was a fairly extensive study, which was the subject of the article. It isn’t the only one of its kind. There have also been studies done showing that your name can determine whether or not you get called for an interview. Basically there is a pretty hefty portion of the population that is screwed. I wasn’t surprised by this. Who could be?
This is where my pressure shot up:
If one believes Grogger’s effects are causal, then investing in the ability
to not “sound black” looks to have a huge return — roughly of the same magnitude
as getting one more year of schooling.
Of course, there is the issue of one’s identity. There may be personal costs associated with being black and not sounding black. But these costs would have to be pretty large. (When I have Asian Ph.D. students go on the job market in the United States, I tell them that I think there is rampant discrimination against non-English speakers and encourage them to adopt Americanized first names for the job market. Very few of my students choose to do so — either a testimony to the identity cost of pretending to be someone you aren’t, or possibly their lack of faith in my assessment of the amount of discrimination.)
I was talking with one of my colleagues about this study. He thinks it will be a very important and influential one.
My response, “Tru dat.”
In case you don’t realize what is offensive about that please let me ‘break it down’ for you:
While I am not surprised that there is racism out there surrounding people who ‘sound black’ I am surprised that a major newspaper in this country would basically say that it’s fine and that what needs to change is for Black people to try and ‘sound white’.
The absolute arrogance and xenophobia of telling your grad students that they should have to CHANGE THEIR NAMES in order to get a job is so offensive as to literally have my palms itching.
My response to your “Tru dat” is a big Fuck You.
I was literally speechless after I read this. The utter gall of the man took away my voice for a moment.
Reading the original study made it clear that it was not grammar or slang that made someone sound white or black, it was the pitch, timbre and cadence of the voice. So all things being equal, all grammar being equal there is still a black sound and a white sound. I have no problem with that. I think it’s true in many cases.
But that’s it. After that I say no. I say no to the idea that some man or woman should spend hours trying to change the sound of their voice unless they work in music or network news. I say no to my great-grandmother having to change her last name because some customs official didn’t feel like learning how to pronounce it decades ago and I say no to Shaniqua having to change her name now because people assume she’s a welfare mom with five babies. People should stop being pricks. This isn’t about political correctness; this is about stopping general asshattery.
To the commenters who applauded this article for it’s ‘honesty’ and ‘courage’ I would like to ask you all to lift up your white hoods and take a good look in the mirror.
To the commenters who lamented the necessity for changing your own names and warned that those students who didn’t would be in for a hard road I say that you should be thanking them. It is the hard road they will travel that will make it easier for all of our sons and daughters.

Oh and by the way – yes, James Earl Jones does sound black.

Tuesday, July 8

cross on fire

This story about an idiot in Arkansas who burned a cross on the lawn of a white woman and her three mixed race sons hasn’t gone away in the blogosphere. Mostly because his criminally stupid mother claims that there was no way this was a racist act, “because he has Black friends”. I can’t even get into the depth of the stupidity surrounding them because blood pressure medicine is expensive; it’s better to just breathe…
I keep reading comments on other blogs about ‘the history’ of cross burning and it occurred to me that there are things you may not know about it. Some people know that cross burning is a Scottish tradition. At gatherings of the Clans not just in times of war but for festivals, weddings, or any other large gathering St. Andrew's cross would be set atop some serious logs. The head of each clan or family would bring a torch up to the fire set, announce that his group had arrived and add their small fire to the big one. Cheers would chase the sparks to the sky, and undoubtedly whiskey would be passed around. The point was for each group to contribute to the fire that was Scotland. It was about unity and light. It is still done every year at the Grandfather Mountain Scottish Festival, happening this month in NC if you’re interested. The thing is that anyone who’s seen the blue and white flag of Scotland can tell you that St. Andrews Cross is in an X shape. Which is perfect for starting a massive bonfire, but not so perfect for blasphemy or striking fear in the hearts of your neighbors.
And here is where we get to blame it all on the media, don’t you just love it? You could say that the seed of the idea was first planted in Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake where he talked about the cross burning on a hilltop to call the clans together for war. It was fictionalized, but not totally warped until the Grandfather of Fox News- Birth of a Nation, where whites with flaming crosses drove off the ‘Negro oppressors’ and Yankees to the tune of The Flight of the Valkyries and audiences went wild. (Yes, I know movies were silent then-but they came with score suggestions for the band)
Fast forward to today – past decades of fear and lynching and mutilation, past gunshots and terror in nights lit up by burning symbols of love twisted into hate. To a time when St. Andrews is ancient history to most people and Birth of a Nation is virtually unknown (although its’ Grandson, Fox News, is doing well). Now there comes a boy who thinks it’s funny to burn a cross on the lawn of a single mother. He meant it as a joke.

The cross has meant family, safety, country, loyalty, love and faith.

It has brought fear, hate, terror, pain and death.

It has never been funny.

Monday, July 7

Happy Monday: Green the Ghetto

It’s Monday and I'm sorry for that. But like I tell my sweet minions (whenever I’m not too bitter to see the light at the end of the tunnel) there is always something that you can do to make things better. Most people just don’t know about all the amazing groups there are out there taking action to change the world. It is in their honor that I will be presenting Happy Mondays. Each Monday I’ll profile some one or some group who is doing something – taking action to solve some problem in their community and in doing that, our world.

It Ain’t Easy Being Green.
Sustainable South Bronx has the right idea and is making things work. The South Bronx has long been underrepresented in city government and overburdened with poverty, crime and toxins. There is too little green space and too much joblessness. At first glance, few would see these problems, or their solutions, as related. BUT what if you could take the jobless and turn them into activists for their community? What if you could get the people planting gardens, on rooftops and around the neighborhoods? What if you could begin a grassroots campaign to take back the community and to latch it’s economic future to the rising star of Green Industry?
That is exactly what they’ve done. Through myriad programs and political activism SSBX is changing the way the South Bronx looks and more importantly, the way it operates. They are giving control back to the people in the community and those people are working to clean up the city and the environment.
If you’ll be in NYC any time in the near future please go check them out. If you won’t you can check out their website (and their web store or donate online). Let them inspire you to change a light bulb, pay more attention to your local politics, support a jobs program or start your own organization and change the world.
Get out there and Green the Ghetto, minions!

Thursday, July 3

thursday's theme: freedom

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
when in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
John Hancock
New Hampshire:Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts:John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut:Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York:William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey:Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania:Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware:Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland:Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina:William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina:Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia:Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Wednesday, July 2

my girlfriend's back

No, not at work. Not even back in state. I am still all alone in the hell called 'my job'. BUT V is posting on her blog again.
All is not hunky dory in the wilds of Raleigh, NC, and while I have resisted telling her that this is all because she left me it has been hard. You, my sweet minions, all know how little willpower I have. Anyway - if you want to hear about idiot males and the shite that is the Food & Bev industry, go check her out.

And tell her to come visit me soon!

Hancock: A Review

Will Smith lied to us.
They’re selling Hancock as a ‘flawed super hero turned around by the love of a good PR man’ story. It is. And then there’s the whole other movie going on. I won’t give away any of the twists but those of you who were wondering, like I was, why Charlize Theron would take a role as a wife of a supporting character all I can say is that she knew what she was doing.
Since the big themes I really liked and that worried me a little are all connected to ‘the big twist’ I’ll have to back off and talk about...
Will Smith isn’t that great at playing an asshole. That’s fine because the whole point of the movie is that he isn’t one (that’s the point of most of his movies). He is however, funny and ladies – I was fine with the scruffy face…I’m just sayin. Jason Bateman’s character as written is a little bit of a puss and way too good for a PR guy, but he pulls it through on charm and freckles. Charlize kicks ass, and her scenes with Will in the third act are great. Not Oscar worthy…maybe Golden Globe though.
Of course the end of the movie is cheesy. It’s a movie about a super hero – the endings are always cheesy. This one maybe a tad more than most, but Peter Berg adds a last minute cameo by Mike Epps so we leave the theatre laughing and not rolling our eyes.
The movie tries to take on all the different ways we can save the world, a journey of self-discovery and a seriously dysfunctional relationship while still being a mr-fourth-of-july flick and for the most part it actually succeeds.
Buy a big tub of popcorn with extra butter, but don’t get a huge soda – you won’t want to miss any of the almost two hours once they get started. (Oh – I almost forgot the seriously cute kid. Loved him! Cute in a ‘could be your neighbor’ kind of way and not the Hollywood perfection we usually get. He’s got bucketfuls of charm and meatballs)
Final pronouncement? See it.
Oh and Will? You are now totally forgiven for Wild Wild West. It took me a while to get over that one, but you’ve earned it. The slate is clean.

Ps – Took the melatonin and got four hours of sleep last night, minions, so I’m feeling a little better.

Tuesday, July 1

could it be i'm suffering because i'll never give in

Trouble Sleeping (Corinne Bailey Rae)

It's late and I'm feeling so tired
Having trouble sleeping.
This constant compromise
Between thinking and breathing.

Some kind of therapy
Is all I need
Please believe me
Some instant remedy
That can cure me completely

Video Code provided by MusicRemedy.Com

If you are a good little minion and you scroll back through the Great Blog of G you’ll see that every once in a while I don’t sleep for a couple days. It usually happens after my sleep pattern has been disrupted for a while and I’m exhausted, because my body has a sick sense of humour.

So, tonight I’ll be going to see Hancock with Part Time tonight and I’m almost finished with a book I wanted to review for you guys. Let me warn you right now: anything that I post for the rest of the week (and possibly on Monday) should be taken with a huge grain of salt. This is the third morning I’m running on less than three hours and I’m already feeling a little nuttier than usual.

Seven nights at two hours or less per night is my record. Let’s hope it stands…