Friday, June 29, 2007
Niggas of the Week are:
Isaiah Washington for pulling the race card after being publicly homophobic.
Clarence Thomas, who is Nigger of the Century for voting with the majority in the recent U.S. Supreme Court case, Parents vs. Seattle School District.
To: Friends, Associates, Acquaintances
From: Moxie Lady
Re: New hires
Greetings from management! I am thrilled to announce that the hiring process for the Associate Friend position has begun. We have some exciting candidates that I think will prove to be assets to the group.
Since it's inception in 1982, Moxie, Inc. has operated smoothly with the resources it has been given. However, as the organization grows older, it is essential to allocate the right energies to the right efforts. It is integral to the success of Moxie, Inc. that our circle expand and grow into new territories and effectively implement our skills and talents.
You have all been dedicated, tireless individuals working to ensure the success of the organization. Annual friendship reviews and evaluations are fast approaching, but I want to assure you that your positions within Moxie, Inc. are secure.
However, there will be some changes, but as we all know change is good! While we are not looking to expand on the Friend level at this time, we are looking to bring more people in at the bottom so as to strengthen the entire infrastructure. This will allow our Friends at the top to develop their friend skills and network among other organizations.
It is with a heavy heart that I announce the relocation of one of the oldest employees of Moxie, Inc. Nevertheless, we are excited to move forward and fill some leadership positions. As some of you know, the BFF position has been open for quite some time. This intensive, yet rewarding position is still being crafted and when ready, select candidates will be approached for interviews.
Thank you for your investment. Onward and upward!
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
"And so I ought to enjoy them. I'm well aware that I'm a lucky man leading a lucky life, at a lucky time in history blessed with the presence of penicillin, painless dentistry and Team America on DVD. I do feel gratitude and I ought to show it. But somehow I lack the knack for that. If young Johann is correct, even my jokes drip acid rain. It can't go on like this, or the carbon emissions from my personality will cause the wheels of baby carriages to rust in the street. So let me promise that from this moment I will try to generate the capacity for saying positive things about those few facets, wait a second, about those many facets of the world that should be celebrated out loud, on the spot and at the time, if only on behalf of the young."
Associate Friend Position
Reports to: Moxie Lady
Date Posted: 6/25/07
Socially-stunted 20-something seeking energetic, talented individuals to serve as Associate Friends. Responsibilities include:
- eating meals out or preparing meals in
- researching and scouting new bars/restaurants
- attending and reviewing movies
- weekend brunch appointments
- attending art shows, rock shows, and live theatre shows
- wingman services
- walks in the park
- occasional jaunts to strip clubs
The successful candidate will have:
- 5-10 years of Friend, Associate, Acquaintance experience
- A Lust for Life a la Iggy Pop
- appropriate fashion sense
- comprehensive knowledge of current events
- the ability to operate in diverse crowds
- an appreciation of chain restaurants
- flexible schedule
- a healthy appreciation of (not addiction to) cocaine
- consistent appetite for dessert
- entrepreneurial spirit
- paid meals and drinks (on occasion)
- funny forwards in your inbox
- occasional drunk text messaging
- wingman services
Moxie Lady is an Equal Opportunity friend. Women of color strongly encouraged to apply.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
HUMILIATED IN THE SHACKLES
When I heard pigeons cooing in the trees, Hot tears covered my face.
When the lark chirped, my thoughts composed
A message for my son.
Mohammad, I am afflicted.
In my despair, I have no one but Allah for comfort.
The oppressors are playing with me,
As they move freely around the world.
They ask me to spy on my countrymen,
Claiming it would be a good deed.
They offer me money and land,
And freedom to go where I please.
Their temptations seize
My attention like lightning in the sky.
But their gift is an empty snake,
Carrying hypocrisy in its mouth like venom,
They have monuments to liberty
And freedom of opinion, which is well and good.
But I explained to them that
Architecture is not justice.
America, you ride on the backs of orphans,
And terrorize them daily.
The world recognizes an arrogant liar.
To Allah I direct my grievance and my tears.
I am homesick and oppressed.
Mohammad, do not forget me.
Support the cause of your father, a God-fearing man.
I was humiliated in the shackles.
How can I now compose verses? How can I now write?
After the shackles and the nights and the suffering and the tears,
How can I write poetry?
My soul is like a roiling sea, stirred by anguish,
Violent with passion.
I am a captive, but the crimes are my captors'.
I am overwhelmed with apprehension.
Lord, unite me with my son Mohammad.
Lord, grant success to the righteous.
-- Sami al Haj
Copyright © University of Iowa Press. Used with permission.
IS IT TRUE?
Is it true that the grass grows again after rain?
Is it true that the flowers will rise up again in the Spring?
Is it true that birds will migrate home again?
Is it true that the salmon swim back up their streams?
It is true. This is true. These are all miracles.
But is it true that one day we'll leave Guantanamo Bay?
Is it true that one day we'll go back to our homes?
I sail in my dreams. I am dreaming of home.
To be with my children, each one part of me;
To be with my wife and the ones that I love;
To be with my parents, my world's tenderest hearts.
I dream to be home, to be free from this cage.
But do you hear me, oh Judge, do you hear me at all?
We are innocent, here, we've committed no crime.
Set me free, set us free, if anywhere still
Justice and compassion remain in this world!
-- Osama Abu Kabir
Copyright © University of Iowa Press. Used with permission.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
A new television ad for Trojan condoms, where pigs in a bar turn into hunky men after they buy condoms, won't be shown on CBS and Fox, reports the NYT. Network reps aren't talking but at least part of the reason why the ads were rejected seems to be that networks prefer condom ads to emphasize the prevention of diseases rather than pregnancy. "We always find it funny that you can use sex to sell jewelry and cars, but you can't use sex to sell condoms," said an executive from the company that makes LifeStyles condoms.
The reason this visit is worthy of mention is because 1) she let me say the words "gay" and "condom" on her front porch where the neighbors could have overheard me. This signals some sort of left leaning bias that she's developing, and 2) we talked about race and boys...and dating boys of a different race.
Mama and Papa Moxie rarely had frank discussions with me about race. I mean, how many parents actually do? My concepts of race and notions about it's politics developed over time without me consciously knowing it and when I went away to college and actually studied in books and developed connections with real live actual white people, I was confronted with all sorts of complexities, contradictions, and more questions.
So last week...with Mama Moxie. We talked about me and boys (she'd rather not talk about me and girls) and I told there was this boy who I liked, but that he was white. She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Eh, I always thought that would probably end up marrying a white man, so who knows about this guy." Politics (which she finds boring) and over-burdened conversations about race aside, Mama Moxie wants nothing more than for me to marry and breed. Marry and breed: that is all she wants. At this point in her life (and mine I suppose), she wants to see grandchildren and concrete proof that her daughter isn't a full on homo and that the whole "bi" thing is really just a manifestation of hanging around too many white and gay people....and white gay people.
So she says this to me. And I replied with, "Yeah, but it's about the politics, Mom." And that's when it hit me: this isn't really about the politics. This is about my mother. It always comes back to Mom, doesn't it? This was about me proving her wrong: she thought I wouldn't go to college and I did. She thought that when I did go to college, I would go to an HBCU, I didn't. She likes my hair relaxed, I keep it natural. She hates my tattoos and I save a spot on my arm to get one with her name on it.
Simply part of teenage rebellion that has continued well into my twenties. And my politics are my politics not because I wanted to be combative with her--in fact--my conservative parents have shaped my thoughts on things more than they probably would have liked to. I used to be anti-abortion like my mother. I used to be against gay adoption. I thought I was doing good to agree with my mother on that stuff. Now we talk about access to birth control and how much she loved my gay uncle. Funny how people change.
But since my father died, she and I have been getting to know each other and it's not such a bad process. And I suppose because of this, it dawned on me that I was still doing things just to prove her wrong. In this case about white boy crush, the honest truth is that I really have no problem with him being white. I have a problem with my mother (and her side of the family) thinking, "Well, you know Moxie; she's always loved white people. Look at her friends, so no surprise to us that she's with a white guy." Doesn't that sound fucking annoying? I've had to hear that for the past 20 some years. I talk funny to them. My hair is weird. I did that whole college thing and I work at a nonprofit. That is what white people do.
This translates into a quest to prove how authentically Black I am. That means not dating a white person. I can be friends with them, but I can't date them. But seriously, how could I not? In Ohio--unlike more evolved places--it's hard to find a diverse group of Black people. They exist, but you have to look hard. This means that most places I go to socialize, work, eat, etc. are dominated by whites. And in talking with the Black people that I have encountered in these places, we all find ourselves loving our Blackness--almost to a point of overcompensation--and coming to grips with the fact that most of our paramours are white...it's like we have no choice. You want to spend time with a person who likes the same things you do and for us (and me) many of these people (at least in Ohio) happen to be....well, white. Ouch. We're sell outs. And for myself, tackling that guilt of betraying the race is too much. I'd rather be alone than be a sellout. Hey, I'm not racist; I have white friends. How hypocritical of me.
To add to this, all of my white friends know how I feel about this and my irritation with heterosexual interracial relationships where Black men date white women. They have been amazingly and infinitely patient with me as I struggle with articulating just how I feel about this. And here's where Mama Moxie comes in again. She feels the same way I do. Any other race mixing is fine ("race mixing"...ha), but there is just something about Black men and white women. And this is because we're Black women. Even most Black men don't get this. They react to this sentiment as if we--Black women--are irrational bitter people. Mama Moxie and I agree that there is something about seeing a Black man with a white woman; to us it signifies some sort of rejection that he has made towards all Black women, thus eradicating the progress made in the Movement and pissing on the grave of Emmet Till himself. Or, he simply could have met the love of his life and she happens to be named Cindy and she burns easily in the sun. One can never know the difference between true love and the rejection of an entire race of women.
Mama Moxie grew up being told she wasn't beautiful. This is because her mestizo mother favored her lighter shaded children over her. And then when my mother married Papa Moxie his family rejected him because he married a Black woman. So she's ugly all over again. I guess when you have the experiences that she has had over the years, you get a little angry when you see "one of your own" perceivably dismiss you for a woman who has historically been prettier than you in art, television, magazines, movies, cosmetic industry, etc. Differing from her experiences, for me it was not so much rejection by Black men (though I have had many sexist and colorist experiences with them), but being fetishized by white men and patronized by white women that fueled by ire for actually dating/screwing/marrying them. The personal is political....I have dated/screwed them. Much to my chagrin. Chagrin...guilt, whatever. I couldn't stand the idea of being seen by other Blacks as self-hating. Those Blacks that do date whites because of their disdain of their own race bother me and I'd rather die than be confused for one of them. The ultimate "fuck you" would be me having a bona fide relationship with another Black person; and not just any person: a Black man. That way, I am dissing the patriarchal culture, affirming my beauty, and pleasing and disproving my mother all at the same time.
And I learned that she fetishizes the simple idea of being someone's wife whereas I have grown to fetishize the basic idea of being with a Black man. The reality is, I have no idea what white guy crush will turn into, but it is amazing that even an ink drop of possibility of maybe-seeing him-and-maybe-talking-to-him-for-just-a-minute turned into a mother/daughter exchange that transcended every article, forum, white paper, or documentary ever created to touch on the raw emotion that only life experiences can bring.
I finally "came out" to myself about my own thoughts and beliefs. Identifying and accepting your own flaws is amazing and rare. To top it off, she made dinner.
On her porch on a summer evening, Mama Moxie and I talked...not in that academic/analytical/critical thinking way, but in that, "Hey, I see where you're coming from" kind of way....when two people who don't see eye-to-eye on anything connect on something big. She misses Papa Moxie. Father's Day was hard for her....and me. And it is crazy to think that had he not passed away, there wouldn't be conversations like these.
Friday, June 15, 2007
This series is especially poignant to me now because my mother almost died when she learned I would keep my hair natural and nappy.....and after learning that an African American sister has left my sorority because of racism.
I guess the least I can do is not straighten my hair. I was seriously moved to tears reading these stories.
Some excerpts from the series:
"For years, it was just so much easier to not 'be' black, to call yourself something else," says Michael Campbell, who grew up 18 miles downriver in Bluefields. "But the key to our future is to strengthen our identity, to say we are black, and we are proud."
Nicaragua's black population is the largest in Central America, but there is only one black member in its National Assembly, Raquel Dixon Brautigam, who was elected last year.
Before now, there were no anti-discrimination or affirmative-action laws. Still, a bill that would outlaw institutional racism has languished in the assembly for more than two years, with not enough backers to push it through.
Newball had thought for a while about what it meant to be black here. She considered all the terms morena, coolie, afro, chocolate, la negra. Then she decided that natural hair -- an enduring barometer of ethnicity was the purest expression of blackness.
But a professional Dominican woman just should not have bad hair, she said. "If you're working in a bank, you don't want some barrio-looking hair. Straight hair looks elegant," the bank teller said. "It's not that as a person of color I want to look white. I want to look pretty." And to many in the Dominican Republic, to look pretty is to look less black.
"I cannot take the bus because people pull my hair and stick combs in it," said wavy haired performance artist Xiomara Fortuna. "They ask me if I just got out of prison. People just don't want that image to be seen."
Despite their numbers, black Brazilians have long been poorer, less educated, less healthy and less powerful than white Brazilians.
Brazil claims more than 90 million people of African descent out of a population of 190 million. It has more blacks than any country except Nigeria. In Rio's slums, blacks make up the majority of residents.
Now, this doesn't warrant my same Don Imus outrage, but it cracks me up that people are so incensed over the "injustices" done to these white, privileged lacrosse players. I will be the first to acknowledge that women lie about being raped. Maybe the Duke players really are innocent of the crime they were indicted for, but they are by no means innocent victims: fuck 'em.
If this were a group of Black athletes that were falsely accused of raping a woman, God knows if anyone would questions their innocence let alone attempt to vindicate their reputations. But of course, this is America and this situation is just another example of how Blacks have usurped what is just and good in white people. This story clashes almost beautifully with the recent story of a young, Black man being released from serving a kajillion year prison sentence for having consensual sex with a 15 yr old girl when he was 17. Where were his champions several years ago when he was being shipped off to prison?
What about the countless (and growing) number of minority men being charged, then later acquitted of crimes they never committed? These lacrosse players will go about their lives untarnished. They always had a chance; even when they were knee deep in this shitty situation, they had options, lawyers, and money....and their skin color. None of them would have spent long in jail, and while anyone wrongfully accused and imprisoned is an indication of our screwed up judicial system, they still would have come out on top. That is the way privilege works.
So it saddens me to see Mike Nifong pushed into this corner. I obviously can't say with any validity that he is an innocent man, but I cannot forget the courage and persistence he demonstrated when it came to fighting the white guard of privilege to bring justice to a Black woman.
By NEELA BANERJEE
Published: June 14, 2007
WASHINGTON, June 13 — Even by the standards of the luminaries who sweep through Washington, the little girl in front of Lafayette Elementary School almost six miles north of the White House was special.
Politicians, power brokers and the occasional celebrities who come through town hope to be respected and maybe, in a childlike place in their grown-up hearts, genuinely liked. Sajani Shakya, 10, is worshipped.
In Nepal, Sajani is a living goddess, one of about a dozen such goddesses in her homeland who are considered earthly manifestations of the Hindu goddess Kali.
Sajani arrived in Washington on Monday to help promote a British documentary about the living goddesses of the Katmandu Valley and to see a bit of the United States. She is the first of the Nepalese living goddesses to come to the United States because the girls live mostly in seclusion.
What does a young goddess do in Washington? Unlike some visitors, Sajani had no plans to ask anyone for anything. Instead, she will go on a private tour of the White House with an interpreter. She hoped also to go to the zoo, perhaps ride a roller coaster, possibly visit a Hindu temple and, in places like the Lafayette school, learn how others live and to show them, however shyly, something of her little-known world.
“There’s nothing I don’t like about being a goddess,” Sajani said through an interpreter. Then, thinking about her typical day, when she has to rise early for her family and others to pray to her, she added, “It was difficult when I was younger to get up at 4 to bathe for the morning prayers.”
The children in Blake Yedwab’s third-grade class thought it would be cool to be a god or goddess, though some might argue that American children have already been elevated to that status.
Sajani never gets into trouble. In fact, her family worships her, and if she is in a bad mood, it “becomes a major drama because it’s considered bad luck,” said Ishbel Whitaker, director of the documentary, “Living Goddess,” which revolves mostly around Sajani.
The goddesses of Katmandu are chosen when they are about 2 years old from a Buddhist caste, though they represent a Hindu deity, an example, Ms. Whitaker said, of the harmony between the two religions in Nepal.
The king of Nepal has traditionally sought the blessings of the three main goddesses, who live in Katmandu, Patan and, in Sajani’s case, the city of Baktapur. Hindu and Buddhist priests pick the living goddesses after consulting a horoscope and then finding a girl who meets “the 32 perfections,” Ms. Whitaker said, from skin “of golden color” to a body “like a banyan tree.”
Devotees believe that the goddess Kali inhabits the girls, though they do not exhibit unusual behavior, and then the goddess leaves them when they reach puberty. After that, the girls retire with a small pension. They are free to work and marry.
“The idea of virginal, premenstrual purity, it does seem like a contradiction with worshipping a feminine divine,” said Rachel McDermott, associate professor in the department of Asian and Middle Eastern cultures at Barnard College, “but in all this, there is the devotion to purity.”
People go to the goddesses to touch their feet as they are carried through the streets. They give them money as offerings, which in Sajani’s case goes to support her family. They visit Sajani in the goddess house, where she sits on a small ornate throne, to ask for a better job, better health, a measure of happiness. The girls are not expected to impart wisdom, said Marc Hawker, the film’s cinematographer and producer, just blessings.
“It’s not about dogma or rules,” Mr. Hawker said. “People relate to her as a divine being but also as a child: they pray to her, but afterwards they sit and joke with her. There is something very comforting about worshipping a child, something about the cycle of life, about renewal.”
The goddesses are busiest in late fall, during the festival of Dasain. The royal goddess in Katmandu and the other in Patan live in varying degrees of seclusion. Sajani has the most normal life, blessing those who show up, but also playing with friends and going to school, where she is treated with respect, though not assured of straight A’s, Ms. Whitaker said.
In Ms. Yedwab’s class, the children wanted to know whether a goddess lived like them. “What does she like to do for fun?” one girl asked.
She plays hide-and-seek, computer games, watches Hindi films and, as the film shows, fiddles with a toy cellphone sometimes when she is on her throne.
“Are there boy gods?” a boy asked.
There are, but they are not worshipped like the girls. “And one day a year, all the girls are worshipped as goddesses,” Ms. Whitaker told the children. A collective “harrumph” rose from the American boys.
The film was made from 2005 to 2006, and it captures a Nepal that was roiled by protests against the monarchy and demands for establishing a democracy. The same people who took part in protests against the king also worship Sajani, Mr. Hawker said. But as Nepal modernizes and changes, Ms. Whitaker noted, parents are less keen for their daughters to become goddesses.
“The potency of the cult diminishes,” she said.
Sajani knows she has only a few years left before she must retire. She says she would like to be a teacher someday, but she cries with her mother over the loss of her life as a goddess.
“When I’m not a goddess anymore,” she said, “no one will treat me as well as they treat me now.”
2. Black men can be incredibly patient.
3. Nothing you say can be more important than anything sports related on a flat screen TV.
4. Not having a favorite color is dominant among human males.
5. George Bush's battle with alcohol and drugs is the reason he is stupid.
6. South African currency features elephants.
7. Detroit casinos are wasteful.
8. Frank Jackson is a disappointment.
9. Eva Longoria is not all she's cracked up to be.
10. American football has more racial barriers than basketball.
To further prove my secret, highly acute sports acumen, I called the Spurs' sweep (Granted, I thought they were still in Dallas, but nevertheless, I called that shit). Saw it coming a mile away. That's one big HA. HA. to every tardo who thought Lebron would save Cleveland, or that the Finals was the solution to our city's racial/class divide and poor economic state. The only thing this series has produced are a lot of white women wearing unflaterring Cavs jerseys. Horrible.
Other commentary about the Finals:
Tony Parker = annoying
Tim Duncan is like a little bunny that I want to squuuuueeeeeeeze to death. So innocent, so sweet. He IS the anti-LeBron.
The Cavs coach guy gets uglier by the minute.
Tony Parker is really annoying. Not LeBron James annoying, but still...so is Eva Longoria.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Siege of Paris: The creepy populism surrounding high-profile defendants.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, June 11, 2007, at 12:36 PM ET
There is a huge trapdoor waiting to open under anyone who is critical of so-called "popular culture" or (to redefine this subject) anyone who is uneasy about the systematic, massified cretinization of the major media. If you denounce the excess coverage, you are yourself adding to the excess. If you show even a slight knowledge of the topic, you betray an interest in something that you wish to denounce as unimportant or irrelevant. Some writers try to have this both ways, by making their columns both "relevant" and "contemporary" while still manifesting their self-evident superiority. Thus—I paraphrase only slightly—"Even as we all obsess about Paris Hilton, the people of Darfur continue to die." A pundit like (say) Bob Herbert would be utterly lost if he could not pull off such an apparently pleasing and brilliant "irony."
And now here I go, clearing my throat as above before deciding to do something I would have never believed I would do, and choosing to write about Paris Hilton. Choosing to write about her, furthermore, not just as if she were some metaphor or signifier, but as a subject in herself. At some point toward the middle of last Friday, it seemed to me, one was being made a spectator to a small but important injustice. Those gloating and jeering headlines, showing a tearful child being hauled back to jail, had the effect of making me feel sick. So, you finally got the kid to weep on camera? Are you happy now?
I don't mind admitting that I, too, have watched Hilton undergoing the sexual act. I phrase it as crudely as that because it was one of the least erotic such sequences I have ever seen. She seemed to know what was expected of her and to manifest some hard-won expertise, but I could almost have believed that she was drugged. At no point did her facial expression match even the simulacrum of lovemaking. (Kingsley Amis, a genius in these matters and certainly no Puritan, once captured the combined experience of the sordid and the illicit by saying that, even as he wanted a certain spectacle to go on, he also wanted it to stop.)
So now, a young woman knows that, everywhere she goes, this is what people are visualizing, and giggling about. She hasn't a rag of privacy to her name. But this turns out to be only a prelude. Purportedly unaware that her license was still suspended, a result of being found with a whiff of alcohol on her breath, she also discovers that the majesty of the law will not give her a break. Evidently as bewildered and aimless as she ever was, she is arbitrarily condemned to prison, released on an equally slight pretext and—here comes the beautiful bit—subjected to a cat-and-mouse routine that sends her back again. At this point, she cries aloud for her mother and exclaims that it "isn't right." And then the real pelting begins. In Toronto, where I happened to be on the relevant day, the Sun* filled its whole front page with a photograph of her tear-swollen face, under the stern headline "CRYBABY." I didn't at all want to see this, but what choice did I have? It was typical of a universal, inescapable coverage. Not content with seeing her undressed and variously penetrated, it seems to be assumed that we need to watch her being punished and humiliated as well. The supposedly "broad-minded" culture turns out to be as prurient and salacious as the elders in The Scarlet Letter. Hilton is legally an adult but the treatment she is receiving stinks—indeed it reeks—of whatever horrible, buried, vicarious impulse underlies kiddie porn and child abuse.
I cannot imagine what it might be like, while awaiting a prison sentence for a tiny infraction, to see dumb-ass TV-addicted crowds howling with easy, complicit laughter as Sarah Silverman (a culpably unfunny person) describes your cell bars being painted to look like penises and jokes heavily about your teeth being at risk because you might gnaw on them. And this on prime time, and unrebuked. Lynching parties used to be fiestas, as we have no right to forget, and the ugly coincidence of sexual nastiness—obscenity is the right name for it—and vengefulness is what seems to lend the savor to the Saturnalia. There must be more than one "gossip" writer who has already rehearsed for the day that Paris Hilton takes a despairing overdose. And what a glorious day of wall-to-wall coverage that will be!
Stuck in my own trap of writing about a nonsubject, I think I can defend my own self-respect, and also the integrity of a lost girl, by saying two things. First, the trivial doings of Paris Hilton are of no importance to me, or anyone else, and I should not be forced to contemplate them. Second, she should be left alone to lead such a life as has been left to her. If this seems paradoxical, then very well.
Perhaps to compensate for its ridiculous decision to put her on Page One on Friday, the New York Times report shifted from the sobbing, helpless child to the more portentous question of another "high-profile defendant." It cited an even more acid piece of creepy populism, in the form of an order from Judge "Reggie" Walton, who poured his witless sarcasm on those who had filed a brief in support of Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Would such "luminaries," sneered Walton, be equally available for other litigants? It's not his job to arbitrate such a question, and he seems not to understand the law, but if his words mean anything, and from a federal judge at that, they appear to mean that to be a public figure is to risk double jeopardy in the courts. No doubt Judge Walton will relish the coming days in which he can order Libby to report to prison. One hopes that his moral superiority, and his keen attention to public opinion, remain as untroubled and secure as those of Sarah Silverman. It seems that this is now the standard.
How splendidly we progress.
First Our Wombs, Now Our Money - the RATS Strike Again
Below the Belt: A Biweekly Column by NOW President Kim Gandy
June 12, 2007
As long as the Supreme Court intends to periodically mangle our rights, I'd like to suggest that public service announcements be issued to let us all in on the secret.
For instance, in light of the recent 5-4 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire, all women, and really anyone who might be discriminated against on the basis of their race, color, religion, national origin or disability, should get the following message:
(VOICE OVER VIDEO OF WOMAN RUSHING) "Hurry. Right now. Before it's too late. Take these three little steps:1) Find out the salaries of every co-worker who performs duties similar to yours, then2) Determine whether you are being paid less than your coworkers, and whether the disparity is unrelated to differences in experience or performance (and therefore may have to do with your sex, race, national origin, religion, or disability) and3) If you think you are, then RUN, don't walk to the nearest office of the perpetually backlogged Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and file a charge of discrimination pronto.
Yeah, yeah. We won't hear an announcement like that anytime soon. You're likely to hear more (and more often) about the whereabouts of Paris Hilton than about what the Supreme Court has done to our rights. Well, not the whole Supreme Court, really just the new-majority RATS (i.e. Roberts-Alito-Thomas-Scalia), led to 5-4 victory by the King RAT, Anthony Kennedy.
Question is, though, even if everybody was tuned in to the Ledbetter decision and its consequences, do you think it's realistic to assume that already-underpaid people have the time, resources, and gumption to complete the steps listed above in such a short time frame. Wouldn't most of us want to check and doublecheck before filing a legal complaint against our employer? And that's not likely to happen in a mere 180 days.
But then, the RATS know that, or they just don't give a fig one way or the other. They've already proved beyond a doubt their affinity for inhumane, unworkable rulings, having decided Gonzalez v. Carhart just two months ago. Both decisions are wholesale assaults on women, justice, and reason.
These are the facts of Lilly Ledbetter's case: After working for Goodyear for almost twenty years, Ledbetter filed a charge of sex discrimination with the EEOC. She was involuntarily transferred from her job as production supervisor to a position on the production floor, at which time she took early retirement. As production supervisor, Ledbetter, the only woman with that title at Goodyear in Alabama, was the lowest-paid employee in her position by a long shot. She was paid $3,727 a month, while the lowest paid male production supervisor was paid $4,286, and the highest $5,236. When her case went to trial, a federal district court jury concluded she had suffered illegal pay discrimination on the basis of sex, awarding her $3 million. The judge cut that amount down to $300,000 because of Title VII's damage cap (that's another whole kettle of smelly fish).Goodyear appealed the decision, countering that Ledbetter's claim was made too late. Sure, Goodyear may have discriminated against her, but they'd been paying her less for a LONG time -- much more than the 180 day allowance for filing claims of discrimination with the EEOC. Never mind that every paycheck she received was discriminatory because it paid her less than similarly situated men. Only the early birds catch justice.
Therefore, each paycheck Ledbetter received after her employers decided to discriminate against her by paying her less was not, according to the Court, another independent act of discrimination, as had long been the Court's interpretation, but merely an "effect" of prior discrimination with "no present legal consequences."
Yes, hard as it is to believe, those lovers-of-precedent John Roberts and Sam Alito tossed aside another longstanding Title VII precedent, this time in Bazemore v. Friday (a unanimous decision) that held "each week's paycheck that delivers less to a black to a similarly situated white is a wrong actionable under Title VII." The RATS motto: Precedent is highly overrated.So, one moral of this Court's ridiculous story is that we'd all better start fine-tuning our mind-reading skills. That way, we'll know the moment when our bosses decide to pay us less than the guy in the next cubicle, and off to the EEOC we'll merrily go.
On the other hand, as lawyers Joanna Grossman and Deborah Brake explain in their commentary on the Ledbetter decision, we still risk being caught between a Rat, er, a rock and a hard place: "If the plaintiff waits too long, she loses her ability to challenge continuing discrimination in pay, even as the gap increases through neutral percentage-based raises. Yet if she complains to her employer at the first sign of a pay gap, she risks lacking an adequate foundation for a 'reasonable belief' that the gap is attributable to gender discrimination -- leaving her vulnerable and unprotected from retaliation in response to her complaint."
Once again, this Folie-a-Cinq (loosely translated: madness shared by five) Court has interpreted the law of the land with no mind to either justice under the law or reality on the ground. And the fact that only four members of the Supreme Court see any value in maintaining robust protections from job discrimination is one more frightening cue that things must change in 2008. Until I see you at the polls, I urge you to join me in supporting the legislation being introduced this very day to remedy at least some of the damage done in the Ledbetter decision. In her eloquent dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg concluded that "the ball is in Congress' court..... to correct this Court's parsimonious reading of Title VII."
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
So most of us were actually excited to see so many lady golfers (OK, like 4) in the tournament this year. And in the name of all that is holy and Condi, one of the lady golfers was Black. Yes. Black. Between me, her, and the two black boys on the country club staff, there were four of us representin' at the Kirtland Country Club yesterday....what. what.
The best exchange between Moxie and Black Lady Golfer:
Moxie: It's time for your foursome to take their picture. We have to get them done before you tee off.
BLG: Oh, I know. I just keep looking for them--Bob, Steve, Chuck! *waving* We need to get our picture. It is so hard to see who is who. I can't tell if that is them or not. *whispers* It is easier for them to find me than it is for me to find them.
Moxie: Okay. Me, too.
Then we walked away from each other and forgot the whole exchange happened. But I love these little snippets of interaction because so much can be solidified in mere seconds: an entire history of Black womanhood understood in less than five sentences. God knows what she does at her company, but her foursome loved her. I can't tell if it was patronizing, or ass kissing, or genuine respect. After the game, we crossed paths again and she said she saw a sale in the pro shop that she couldn't miss. She had to get something because she lost all of her husband's golf balls. Immediately, I conjured up this picture of the Huxtables....but I squashed it.
For those two moments we were on the same plane and the solidarity--perceived or real--was nice. Like a big warm mug of apple cider or a refreshing tall glass of sweet tea.....a fresh baked biscuit....or pancakes....like a bowl of soup...a hug.....ya know?
I really want some sweet tea.
So, yeah I am bummed out by the fact that people keep hating on the first solo female news anchor, but I was amused by this excerpt:
Meanwhile, Moonves said the network's decision last week to reinstate a canceled show called "Jericho" following an outpouring of viewer e-mails and other protests spoke to the growing influence of the Internet on broadcasters.
"It was a campaign that couldn't be ignored," Moonves said of the mobilization of "Jericho" fans, saying it was "astonishing and well-organized."
As part of the campaign, disgruntled viewers delivered thousands of pounds of peanuts to CBS's corporate offices, a reference to a scene in the season finale where a character replies, "Nuts!" to a demand that the town in Kansas, which had been isolated by a nuclear attack, surrender.
It's amusing because if Americans spent more energy writing their representatives like they write network executives (and I have done both), we'd be a better picture of democracy. I wonder if those same people are the ones who don't vote, aren't registered and couldn't distinguish our Secretary of State from one of the Pointer Sisters. In other words, get pissed about something real people.
My fellow Americans never cease to amaze me.
By Rajni Bhatia
Just as the N-word has been reclaimed by some in the black community, so some young British Asians are starting to adopt a word which has long been levelled against them as a racial slur.
The ejection of 19-year-old student Emily Parr from the Big Brother house for using a racist insult has reawakened debate about who can and who can't say the N-word.
Parr, who is white, was thrown out of the house while little was made of the fact that housemate Charley Uchea, who is black, also used the word nigger.
While many black people are still horrified by any mention of it, others believe that in adopting it themselves they can divest it of its power to offend.
While reclaiming the N-word has prompted debate in wider society British Asians are engaged in a similar quandary about the word Paki.
It's a word I heard all too often in my formative years and one which still stirs up bad memories of bovver boots, skinheads and "Paki-bashing".
The origins of the P-word, as its known in polite society, are far more recent than its black equivalent, which dates back to the 16th Century.
Its first recorded use was in 1964, when hostility in Britain to immigration from its former colonies in the Asian sub-continent, was beginning to find a voice.
Despite being an abbreviation for "Pakistani", its proponents tended to be less discriminating about its application - directing it against anyone with brown skin, be they Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi. Sometimes even non-Asians who happened to have a dark complexion found themselves on the receiving end.
Forty years on, use of the word is still highly sensitive and has the potential to cause great offence. Earlier this year, it was alluded to in unbroadcast material from the Celebrity Big Brother house, when Indian housemate Shilpa Shetty became the target of racist abuse.
Only at the weekend, the Ministry of Defence removed a promotional video from its website because it included a British soldier using the word to describe Afghan insurgents.
In 2002, a minor diplomatic storm blew up when US president, George Bush, used the word, although unaware of its offensive connotations.
The episode forced an intervention from a White House spokesman who said Mr Bush had "great respect for Pakistan, the Pakistani people and the Pakistani culture".
Yet to some younger Asians, it appears to have none of the baggage their parents would associate with it.
Young Pakistanis are increasingly using the word to associate and differentiate.
Zak, a 17-year old from Leyton, east London, says he and his friends think nothing of calling each other, "My Paki brother".
"Paki is just a short-form of Pakistani," continues Talha, 16.
For years, the word stood solely for vehement racial abuse "But only Pakistanis should be allowed to say it," adds Adeel, 17.
Ask them about the historical significance of the word and they look blank. But they have strong views on how the word is used and by whom.
Ahsan, 15, says the P-word could be classed as racist if used by anyone else, including other Asians. Last year filmmaker Navdeep Kandola was forced to change the name of his work from Paki Slag after Screen Yorkshire threatened to pull funding and criticism from West Yorkshire Police.
But, in a further complicated twist, that is exactly how some non-Pakistani Asians are using it - as a term of abuse.
Sixteen-year-old Dinaz, who is of Bangladeshi origin, says at his school in Ilford Bangladeshis and Indians don't use the P-word, although their Pakistani peers do.
"It's accepted for Pakistanis to use it," he says, and they use it in a similar fashion to how rappers use the N-word.
John Ayto, author of the Oxford Dictionary of Slang, says it's just another example of how trying to control usage of a word can backfire.
The modern usage of something like the P-word can be seen as a "bonding device", he suggests, without taboos. So, will the P-word eventually find its way into mainstream conversation?
"Never," says Steve Chandrasonic, of the band Asian Dub Foundation. "I certainly wouldn't want it used in music, the way in which the N-word, has been widely adopted in hip hop and rap," he says.
The P-word which "encompasses anyone in brown skin... should be consigned to the dustbin of history," he adds.
From: Mademoiselle Kitty
Subject: What a deal!
Moxie look! They're buy one-get one FREE!
To: Mademoiselle Kitty
From: Moxie Lady
Re: What a deal!
omg. you already have two cats. they would be pissed if they found out you replaced them.
From: Mademoiselle Kitty
To: Moxie Lady
Re: What a deal!
I know. I have to be careful. It's like when I go shopping and I actually consider buying an ugly shirt just because its on clearance. Not that kitties are ugly.
- Fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
- Improve child and maternal health.
- Increase access to basic education, particularly for girls.
- Provide access to clean water and sanitation.
- Reduce by half the number of people worldwide who suffer from hunger.
Call me Negative Nancy, but these are some of the most unrealistic goals I have seen since my last attempt at a diet back in 1995 and as vague as my status reports at staff meeting. Further, I am painfully leery of any cause that is so heavily backed by celebrities. And I will be the first to tell you that celebrities are people, too, but they are celebrities....they make AIDS in Africa look hot and in. The Gates have invested money along with others for a whooping $30 million campaign starter pot. How many rice bags and vaccines does that equal?
Of course all the candidates will sign on and pledge to make a difference like everyone else....because they are idiots. I mean if it all it took was for politicians to cure AIDS and feed the hungry, why are we all still dying on empty stomachs?
Kudos for a valiant, but empty effort.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Here is the best exchange from the staff prep meeting:
K: So, FYI, in the main clubhouse where we will be, there is a men's locker room only. There is a restroom, but there are no women's locker rooms in the clubhouse--
K: Oh no...they are in a club house farther away.
W: It's a very old course. They had to make a new locker room for women.
Moxie: So...can I go to the club house?
K: Yeah, there are ladies restrooms there.
Moxie: No, I mean....since it is such an old club steeped in tradition, can I (gestures to my skin) be there, or will they think I am the cleaning lady?
J: They are very nice. people.
M: OK, so about the raffle prizes.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
It has been a whirlwind two days(?) with the DN folks. I am truly amazed at how much energy has manifested itself from some lazy ass post I wrote several weeks ago. I guess (and this is where I get misty-eyed) that Moxie's words have gone too far. Maybe not.
I think I am humbled by how seriously DN takes themselves and they should. It just doesn't mean that I have to as well. Can you imagine if Kate Moss and every Republican politician responded to every snarky post I wrote, or to every newspaper article, TV show, book, etc. that criticized them? As far as I am concerned, some big shot at some company found my blog....witness the power of the internet: everyone can find anyone and everybody has something to say.
I created this blog as a way to shoot the shit with my peoples and use it as a showcase for all what? 3, 4, 5 of us to find the humor in life, politics and identity. I have blogged about everything from Jon Secada to airplane travel to the Don Imus incident. Nothing is out of bounds for me (or for them)...hence the name Moxie.
But shame on me for not exemplifying Unity, Love, and Respect when it came to handling the responses to my post. The sister who brought my attention to DN sent an email out over the listserve and I even wrote a blog posting about that. Then I deleted it, because it was more mean than funny.
I could have easily left the comments alone. After all, you posted on my blog, I never posted my thoughts on yours. I could have blocked anonymous posters from leaving comments. I could have deleted the posts that criticized me, but anyone can see that they are still up and you can still post. Believe it or not, I welcome dialogue because it would be criminal not to.
Black Beau put it simply, but definitively, when he said: Being in "the motherland" helped me understand how different our people REALLY are. So one Black woman doesn't like DN. Who cares? Keep doing what you do and I will keep doing what I do. Hopefully we will all do enough to change something in this world and live our lives to the fullest so that we can enjoy our transition from this life into the next one.
ROTFL. And now, for some more laughs. Let the sarcasm ensue. (I know I KNOW this is becoming completely irrational and immature, but I can't help it.)
1) We haven't formed an official company response on our view of capitalism (AWESOME, OFFICIAL COMPANY RESPONSE. DOES THAT COME WITH A FREE T-SHIRT? IF SO, I KNOW WHICH ONE I WANT. IT'S THE ONE WHERE YOU CELEBRATE BLACK WOMEN IN THE MOVEMENT...OH WAIT, THERE ISN'T ONE.), but in my personal opinion capitalism is what allows you to have your blog and enough free time to waste/sit around hypothesizing (NO, THAT IS NOT CAPITALISM, THAT IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH - SEE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, AMENDMENT NO. 1) about things while people like us are actually on the ground trying to help people. Capitalism isn't perfect, but show me a regime (A PERFECT REGIME...WHY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION) that is perfect, or even one that's better. Capitalism is the way our people can get ahead in this game (REALLY? MONEY EQUALS TRUE SOCIAL JUSTICE? AND ALL THIS TIME WORKING IN A NONPROFIT..SILLY ME). Show me a socialist agenda that actually works and I'll listen. Your idealism is cute (NO, NOT CUTE; MOXIE.), however you shoud consider getting down here and fighting in the real world with the rest of us (AND BY DOWN HERE YOU MEAN? I AM NORTH OF KY, SO I SEE WHERE YOU ARE COMING FROM GEOGRAPHICALLY).
2) How are we sexist, homophobic, and uninclusive of all Black culture and how can we fix it? Where is the evidence? Let's get some CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. (LET'S GET SOME CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK...IF SOMEONE ACTUALLY GAVE YOU CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM, WOULD YOU TAKE IT? DOUBT IT. INSTEAD, TELL ME HOW YOU are not SEXIST AND HOMOPHOBIC. AND WOMEN WEARING YOUR SHIRTS DOESN'T COUNT.)
3) Charitable Organizations: Save Darfur, Tavis Smiley's Y2L program, various Voter Registration Programs. We also speak to children at various events and schools. (*UN APPLAUSO!*)
4) Philanthropic Policy: I agree wholeheartedly that our company has a responsibility to give back....when we make a profit. However, we are still operating on negative net income. We're only just over a year old, and we haven't paid ourselves any salary whatsoever. How do you suggest we give more than we're giving when we have nothing more to give? (Tre, this is a great question. Honestly, I appreciate your efforts. I really do. I think that my style of rhetoric rubs people the wrong way and that is perfectly understandable. For people to actually go out and be entrepreneurs is a brave thing: some fail, some succeed. Besides, just because there is no net, doesn't mean you don't have anything to give. See your own comment in line item #3.)
5) What are we doing to support our people? Well, besides starting dangerousNEGRO, we are all recent graduates from college (WHOOPEE-DEE-DO, I HAVE ONE OF THOSE DEGREE THINGIES, TOO.), and several of us are pursuing graduate degrees (GOOD...LEMME GUESS, MBAs? YOU KNOW, TRE, I WANT TO PURSUE A MFA MAYBE OR SOMETHING THAT INTEGRATES WOMEN'S STUDIES WITH THEATRE. I HAVE A GREAT IDEA FOR MY THESIS. WHAT SCHOOLS ARE YOU LOOKING AT?). So first, just existing as successful, educated Black men is doing something (AND THIS IS THE KICKER: DO YOU WANT A COOKIE, OR A HIGH FIVE BECAUSE YOU MANAGED TO DO WHAT SOCIETY EXPECTED OF YOU? GREAT, I AM A BLACK WOMAN WHO IS EXISTING, NEVER BEEN TO JAIL (THOUGH I WAS ALMOST ARRESTED IN DC DURING A PROTEST AND MY DAD SAW ME ON CNN) I MANAGED TO NOT BECOME A STATISTIC AND GET PREGNANT, I AM EMPLOYED...I UNDERSTAND THAT OUR PEOPLE HAVE OVERCOME A LOT, BUT AT THIS STAGE IN THE GAME, I AM TIRED OF HANDING EVERY BLACK MAN I MEET A COOKIE FOR HIM BEING AN UPRIGHT, EDUCATED CITIZEN). Every time I tell a white person I attend Harvard, I make a positive impact on the image of Black people in America. (You absolutely do. But in the case of most white people, just not stealing their purse or robbing their home is making a positive image on Black people. Every time I put a sentence together using correct enunciation and phonetics, I put white people awe. Tre, I can't hate on you there.) Second, I don't write blogs tearing down positive movements, so that's another way I "give back." Third, all of us volunteer on a regular basis whether it is on behalf of dN, or as individuals.
6) Our clothes are made in Louisville, KY in a place that nobody in their right mind would compare to a sweatshop, so I have no idea where you got this silly notion. (AGAIN, NOT "SILLY", "MOXIE". BELIEVE OR NOT, SWEATSHOPS DO EXIST WITHIN THE UNITED STATES, BUT WE'LL ALLOW THAT DN DOESN'T USE THEM. BUT CAN YOU TELL ME: ARE THEY AT LEAST MADE BY UNION WORKERS?) ***
7) We're starting a MOVEMENT on a national level. At least we're trying. What are you doing? (YOU'RE RIGHT, MR. CHAIRMAN...I AM REALLY A 36-YR OLD WHITE GUY WHO LIVES AT HOME WITH HIS PARENTS, AGNES AND BURT. I AM EMPLOYED PART TIME AT A LOCAL PIZZA HUT AS A PIZZA MAKER. I WOULD BE A DELIVERY DRIVER, BUT THE STATE TOOK MY LICENSE AWAY BECAUSE I GOT CAUGHT UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MAD DOGG AND OXYCOTINS...FOR THE 10TH TIME. I CREATE FAKE BLOGS AND MYSPACE PAGES IN AN EFFORT TO MEET BLACK PEOPLE AND MAKE THEM MY FRIENDS. I AM SORRY. I CAN'T KEEP THIS CHARADE UP ANY LONGER. MY COURT-APPOINTED THERAPIST SAYS THAT I SHOULDN'T USE SARCASM AND HUMOR TO HIDE MY PAIN ANYMORE. "WHAT AM I DOING?" YOU'RE RIGHT...I AM DOING NOTHING.)Again, feel free to contact me personally if you actually want to get some facts before you write another ignorant response with no facts and no constructive suggestions (INSTEAD OF HAVING WOMEN WEAR YOUR SHIRTS, PUT THEM ON YOUR SHIRTS).
***Blogger note: If one were to refer to my original post on this subject, you will see that I link to a company called Bella. This company makes the actual shirts in question; maybe they are printed in KY. Bella's corporate HQ is in LA, which definitely has sweatshops. And while the company has a nice blurb about social responsibility, it's labor practices have yet to assessed by the proper organizations. I'm just saying.
Seriously, Tre: I want to see more Black women celebrated on your shirts. I want to see men wearing these shirts. I want Black to reflect Afro-Latino culture...we came from Africa, too. Oh yes, and Meeks Mind...that is what I thought was a subsidiary. That stuff is questionable and sexist and homophobic. I will also say that DN is not sexist and homophobic per se...rather it seems noninclusive of these groups that clearly exist within the Black community. Last thing: what's with the product descriptions? I find it humorous at best that your company pretty much discourages fat women from buying baby tees. That's a little chauvinistic, no?
Thanks, PP and DN for making a girl feel special.
P.S. This whole thing has been so enlightening, I'm giving DangerousNEGRO it's own LABEL.
However, I have yet to be corrected on how they are NOT:
- supporting a capitalist regime
- uninclusive of all Black culture
Or, what they are really doing to support the Black community. Such as:
- amount of charitable giving to organizations whose mission it is to uplift, support, educate, etc. Afterall, if you make money off of people, shouldn't you at least give some back?
- other philanthropic efforts: are they in schools, are they on the streets? I mean what are they doing...key word "doing" not "selling" to support our people?
And I suppose I could come up with some sort of response, but really my rationale stands. Moxie is one out of a kajillion Black people in the world that doesn't like DangerousNEGRO. So what? I don't want to support these brothers as they have said I should be doing. The minute "brothers" start "supporting" "sisters" then we can talk about me spending my hard earned money on a t-shirt made in a sweatshop....because the key to Black empowerment is bought and sold apparently.
But this is exciting. Fostering dialogue...it's what I do.
Deuteronomy 8:3 Cafe Books & Music
All right folk, there is definitely a social commentary in this, but I'll save the full version for another time. I don't want anyone thinking I'm hating on the NBA, and especially not our beloved Cavaliers.
Tonight's final segment of the Cleveland ACLU's Incarceration Nation has been postponed in light of the Cavalier's historic participation in an NBA championship game. No doubt, we have to give our young brothers their props, they took us to the finals. But.....
Rise Up! That's the victory cry for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they take on the final opponent, the San Antonio Spurs. Everything else is put on hold as 22 young, black gladiators take to the court. Everything, including a critical discussion of the hundreds of thousands of young brothers of the same age, discriminately locked up for 15 to 20, thanks to another court.
Rise Up! Wise Up! Better yet, in the famous film signature of Spike Lee (even though I bet he'll be front and center at the game... I ain't mad at him) Wake Up!
This week's recommended reading, Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William Rhoden. Get your copy today at D8:3.
~ Mittie Imani
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Reggaeton, the sexy and inescapable Latin hip-hop style that many said would transform Latin music, has hit a plateau. The question is whether it's the leveling off before it falls off the music map, or a necessary breather before it vaults to new heights.
In 2005, Daddy Yankee's Gasolina was burning up the airwaves, normally cautious radio stations were falling over themselves to play reggaeton, record labels were leaping to sign every act who could sling the right Puerto Rican slang and the booty-shaking genre seemed poised for domination. Or at least that's what the artists, producers and DJs of a style that had labored for years in an underground Puerto Rican scene proclaimed. And many sales-starved music executives and ratings-hungry radio programmers were only too happy to agree.
Now, just two years later, the reggaeton flame issputtering. Radio stations that had adopted an all-reggaeton/hip-hop format have switched to a broader range of music after seeing ratings drop. A stream of copycat releases from new artists has helped solidify the style's reputation for having a repetitive sound. And a second wave of acts hasn't aroused the same excitement as the genre's original stars: Yankee, Don Omar and Tego Calderon. At last month's Billboard Latin Music Conference, the annual Miami gathering of Latin music industry leaders, there were rumblings that reggaeton was over.
"It's easy to fall on a fad and say that's going to be the direction of music," says George Toulas, president and marketing manager in Miami for Clear Channel, the giant radio chain that made news when it launched five "Hurban," or Hispanic Urban, stations in 2004 as part of changing 29 stations to Spanish-language formats. One of those, South Florida's Mega 94.9 FM, with the slogan "Latino and Proud" and a reggaetonand hip-hop playlist, switched to a Latin top 40 mix that's about one-tenth reggaeton six weeks ago.Sudden success led to a bandwagon effect, which slowed the progress of a still-fledgling genre.
"Too many people got into it and were doing the same kind of beat," says Andres Dalmastro, vice president of music and entertainment for ElHood.com, a Latino music and networking site that focused largely on urban music when it launched last year, but has since broadened to include mostly rock and pop. "But that doesn't mean (reggaeton) died. It hit a plateau. The record labels that have invested in reggaeton are focusing on the artists that they have, they're not acquiring more."
But even with the music business stepping back to evaluate reggaeton, most don't think the genre is going to disappear.
"Everybody is trying to say that reggaeton is like boy bands, which came, made an impact and left," says Pio Ferro,vice president of programming for Coconut Grove, Fla.-based radio chain Spanish Broadcasting Systems. "I'm saying it's not the case. There's more new music coming out than I can possibly put on the station."
That's SBS' Los Angeles station, KXOL Latino 96.3 FM, where reggaeton splits the playlist with hip-hop and R&B in Spanish and English. On SBS' Miami station, El Zol, and the company's influential New York station La Mega, it's mixed with traditional tropical genres like salsa, merengue and bachata.
"I don't think that reggaeton is going to be the be-all and end-all," Ferro says. "Reggaeton is a style of music like salsa and merengue, which have gone through their ups and downs."
Many in the Latin music industry say that a certain amount of shaking out is not only natural, but also healthy - especially if it forces the music to expand creatively. As mainstream labels and radio rushed to adopt an undergroundstyle they knew little about, they focused on a tiny group of hit artists and producers, or acts that sounded like them. And reggaeton artists jostling for a place in the limelight often presented themselves as sounding just like the charmed circle of hitmakers.
"Folks fell into this hype machine," says Jose Tillan, senior vice president of music programming and talent strategy for MTV Latin America and MTV Tr3s, the network's U.S. Hispanic channel. "I was getting pitches every week that had me rolling my eyes: 'This is going to be the next Yankee.' Yankee didn't become Yankee by sounding like somebody else. The biggest challenge is to find their own voice and sound."
The more savvy creators understand they've got to push past a creatively restrictive - and increasingly ineffective - formula. "We have to evolve and change," says Boy Wonder, a New York producer whose best-selling 2005 reggaeton compilation CD and documentary, ChosenFew, helped fire up interest in the music.
That's beginning to happen. Part of the reason Calle 13, whose debut CD won three Latin Grammys last fall, has aroused so much excitement is because they incorporate so many other rhythms and styles. Ivy Queen sings ballads and bachata on her latest album. A big part of the buzz around Yankee's upcoming CD stems from his collaborations with artists like Fergie and will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas.
Real success usually takes time, which is in short supply in the music industry these days. But the issues facing reggaeton right now are very similar to those faced by hip-hop in its early days. Hip-hop spent the 70s as an underground movement. When it hit the mainstream in the early 1980s, powered largely by novelty and a handful of hit acts and songs, people in the music industry derided it as repetitive musical junk that would never last. They crowed when rap took a downturn in the mid80s.
It wasn't until the late '80s and early '90s, with the emergence of Public Enemy, West Coast rap, and its adaptation by MTV, that hip-hop really solidified its position in mainstream pop music and culture. Now it's a global force that encompasses a range of sub-styles, and influences almost every other genre of popular music.
JD Gonzalez, vice-president of programming for Univision Radio, the largest U.S. Spanish language radio chain, compares the Gasolina-fueled frenzy to the "Latin explosion" ignited by Ricky Martin's 1999 hit Livin' La Vida Loca. Both were huge hits from singularly charismatic artists that brought in new, mainstream listeners and predictions of a sea change in pop music.
As the excitement cooled, the newcomers (pop fans for Martin, hip-hop lovers for Yankee) drifted away, but the primary audience remained. Martin may not be a presence in U.S. Anglo households anymore, but he's stilla big star in the Latin world. And the "Latin explosion" did raise the profile of Hispanic music and culture in the U.S. mainstream.
"There's a core . . . of 18- to 34-year-old Hispanics who live in both worlds," Gonzalez says. "They like English music and Spanish music. When reggaeton hit, that core stayed intact - (but) it attracted a non-core audience, so you had people who probably never listened to Spanish music listening."
Those new listeners may have left, but the ones who stayed have found a music that fits their lives.
"Five years ago this lifestyle was not represented on the radio dial," says Gonzalez. "Now they can look at these stations and say that's me."
Reggaeton's most important contribution may be that it opened the doors to other kinds of music for that bicultural audience. It's already started. One of the hottest new sounds right now is a mix of Dominican merengue and bachatawith hip-hop and R&B, played by artists like Aventura, Xtreme and Toby Love.
"The exciting news about reggaeton was about this urban Latino movement, and I think people's perception got blurred on that," Tillan says. "Now you have urban bachata and Calle 13 and hip-hop artists like Malverde. Reggaeton put this whole movement on the map and now other urban Latino genres are getting play."
Article by Jordan Levin
Miami Herald - May 29, 2007
My friend's a lawyer so now I can ask her questions like, "So...if I were to rob a bank and I was caught, right, like what would happen if..." and such. She could then get all exasperated and be like, "I'm not that kind of lawyer."
OMG. That is going to be fun as hell.
On this day in history, James Meredith, first Black American at the University of Mississippi, was shot while walking in his March Against Fear. Blah, blah, blah....his wounds were superficial and the white man that shot him was convicted and sent to jail...blah, blah, blah. While Meredith's mark in history is substantial because of his crossing of educational barriers (and he is not shy about distancing himself from the Civil Rights Movement), the follow-up to his story is even more....remarkable, humorous--whichever.
I mean whatever...more power to him, but I still think it is funny. Is he self-loathing, or what?
"Soon after the march Mr Meredith dropped out of the civil rights movement to work as a stockbroker, and then in real estate. In 1967 he became an investor and entered Columbia University Law School in 1968. That year he also became president of Meredith Enterprises and began to lecture on racial problems. In 1972 he stood unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for the US House of Representatives."
Wow! Can you believe it?? This is like hate mail and you know who gets hate mail? Famous people. I am practically famous. Done and done. Let self-satisfied smugness ensue.
A few points of clarification:
1) The "new company" you refer to is in no way, shape, or form connected to
dangerousNEGRO, so let's squash that rumor. dangerousNEGRO has no
2) Black does not refer to only African Americans. Nowhere on the company
website does it say or infer that we subscribe to that notion. Two of our founders are African, so it would make no sense for us to exclude them or any other Black people.
3) dangerousNEGRO is not only for so called "conscious" individuals, but
all Black people. People who are already conscious are our main target, true,
but we also want to reach other individuals to make consciousness more mainstream. Consciousness is about being aware, not about subscribing to some stereotypical construct of what a so-called conscious negro should be. Every Black person who is socially aware does not have to be like Talib Kweli. The definition of a dangerousNEGRO is more diverse than that.
4) Try contacting us for any questions you may have about our company or our mission before hating on your brothers. If nothing else, try to get the facts straight first.
Feel free to email me personally
Ahem. That was just plain old dirty talk in my world. For the rest of you here are the lyrics he so accurately described:
Hmmm, I'll take that song as flattery :-) You realize of course that the song about black boys is all about 'consuming' and 'commidifying' black men right? They're 'delicious' and satisfy - whereas the song about white boys discusses how pretty they are and the emotional impact they have on the women they pursue. Even in the midst of progressively laced pablum white supremecist rhetoric rears it's ugly head.
I still love the song...in the movie Nell Carter cracks me up singing about white boys, but how many men do you know can spit political about a musical? Excuse me while I go fan myself.
This was left in response to one of my numerous angry Monday posts from this week. CYBT worked some connections and now her recommended beau is reading my blog. I figure if he finds my unfounded musings, rants and typos quirky and cute...not scary and a cry for help, he may be worth meeting.
Interesting...I'm the NICE, YOUNG BLACKMAN, who just got back from SA and will have a doctorate in about 6 weeks that Tiff was talking about. Can't say that I have any videos of me gaybashing. Plus, all photos of me having sex with 3 women were destroyed along with the Rob Lowe Sex tapes and that blurry video of U.S. Ambassador Gillespie talking with Saddam before Gulf War #1...Have I met the threshold yet....?
I'd like to think I have standards still, but at this point if a man meets the following criteria, I'm pretty excited:
- currently not in jail (Preference: never been unless a political prisoner, POW, etc)
- without offspring (I mean if I managed to not have children, so can you)
- is literate
- has a job (Preference: legal)
- is colored...any color (Preference: clear descendant from the African Diaspora)
- has not had, nor has current desire to sleep with other men...in a sexual way. (I completely understand sleepovers, but please don't be gay....I have enough gay men in my life as it is)
I mean, so yeah, he meets the threshold. PhD indicates literacy, Black, male...check. Done and Done. Attests to being straight...also a plus. Mentioned Rob Lowe...always bonus points for a Rob Lowe reference.
But seriously, reading his comment made me think of this song.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Mark Wahlberg - actor and purveyor of this hit:
Tony Richardson - moviemaker
Brian McKnight - crooner
Kenny G - jazz musician
Ken Follet - author
Bill Moyers - PBS guy
John Maynard Keynes - economist
I acknowledge that his birth was history-making, but here are some other events of note:
Ronald Regan died
Robert F. Kennedy was shot
Conway Twitty dies
Elvis creates a sensation
Allies prepare for D-Day
Best birthday wishes to you, 3T!
And it begs the question that if PR is suffering this much with US federal dollars, what would it do without it?
Speaker Pelosi was quoted as saying that the charges were "are extremely serious" and if "proven true, they constitute an egregious and unacceptable abuse of public trust and power." She should have said, "He better check himself before he wreck himself", because that is basically what he has done.
This is yet another moment in Black history that will hopefully be forgotten.
Monday, June 4, 2007
June Events Postponed
In recognition of the Cavaliers' first ever appearance in the NBA finals, we have postponed the ACLU events scheduled over the next two weeks. “Crack Time v. Cocaine Time,” currently scheduled for this Thursday, June 7, as well as “Police Matters” which is scheduled for next Tuesday, June 12 will be rescheduled for this fall. Information on the new dates will be out soon. We thank you for your flexibility.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? ARE. YOU. SERIOUSLY. FUCKING. KIDDING. ME? SOMEONE: PLEASE TELL ME THAT THEY'RE JOKING.
Caller: Hello? Is anyone there? I just got beat up by the police at a routine traffic stop because I was with my partner and he is Muslim! Help!
ACLU: Thank you for calling the ACLU of Ohio. We are unavailable to protect your civil liberties right now. Please call us after the conclusion of the 2007 NBA season. Go Cavs!
And when I look at that famous picture of the lone man standing in front of the rolling army tanks, I have to ask myself: Could I do the same thing? If so, what would I be prepared to die for? There have been many a Trivial Pursuit games that I felt were do-or-die, but in this case, I am thinking more big picture.