Home Page

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Slavery in the Big Apple......Who would've guessed?....NOT

I did something recently in typical cp (acronym for colored people for the uninitiated) fashion. I attended the Slavery in New York exhibit held at the New York Historical Society...on the last day. But this was a definite case of "better late than never." The exhibit, which lasted from October 05' through last Sunday, was not only educational but also an eye-opener as it relates to how entrenched the institution of Slavery was in New York. I was always aware that Slavery existed in the North but I also had the impression that it lasted briefly due to the northern region's culturally elitist attitudes. Two centuries does not a brief spell make. New York in particular was one of the major US ports in the transatlantic slave trade. The two photos above are of course from Sunday's exhibit. I believe that this is just the first of a two-part exhibition, so if you reside in the NY tri-state area, make a concerted effort to see the second part. For more information, check out the link below:

  • http://www.slaveryinnewyork.org/about_exhibit.htm

  • P.S. Celebrities were afoot at Slavery in New York....I met famed entertainment attorney, Londell McMillan at the exhibit. As a side note, Mr. McMillan was responsible for extricating (or emancipating) a "slave" of a funkier persuasion from a contract dispute with Warner Bros....Prince.

    A Must See: Spike Lee's Inside Man

    First off, I have been an avid Spike Lee supporter since his first film, She's Gotta Have It. Heck, I even own a copy of his NYU student film, Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads. Spike has a real winner on his hands (as the $29 million opening weekend receipts can attest to) with his latest studio effort, Inside Man. I'm not going to give a way the plot, but comparisons with another classic bank heist film, Dog Day Afternoon are not unwarranted. Lee has caught a lot of criticism throughout his 20 year career for being something of a racial curmudgeon.....well perhaps by those who represent the mainstream media. Lee's prior films have for the most part been specific to the African-American community which can be offputting to the majority culture. A perfect example would be his seminal college themed film, School Daze. As a graduate of a historically Black university (go Hampton Pirates!!) I got the intent of this film....many White reviewers at the time did not and missed the mark completely. So unfortunately, many of Lee's films may not have been fairly evaluated because of this cultural impasse. His new film, which has some of Lee's trademark styling, is essentially a straight ahead studio piece. With a pinch of intrigue, a dash of intelligence and a drop of humor, Inside Man makes for a terrific cinematic dish.

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    More thoughts on Black. White.

    I have been paying close attention to Black. White. as many of you all know and it becomes more disappointing and banal as each episode progresses. It is disappointing because it's supposition is that the races exist in a vacuum. Last week's show (episode #3) has the white female, Carmen (now "Black") making friends with a sister that is a curator of sorts of a African-American cultural museum. Eventually Carmen reveals her Whiteness to her newfound friend and then that selfsame friend is put in the position of being what I call the "safari guide." The safari guide syndrome is the position that some unenlightened White folk may ascribe to a person of color when they need to understand what "the Black people" are doing. Try reading some books or better yet have an open mind....try not to believe what you see on television. Heck it's not just the White family that needs to learn this but also the Black family who throughout the show refer to Blacks in a one dimensional tone. "Black people do this...Black folk do that"....NOOOO..not ALL Black folk do anything....it goes to show you that the Black people on this show need to be taught that the African-American community is diverse. Carmen muses that she would like one Black friend to act as a tether to the Black community. What is wrong with that statement? Everything! There are many Black communities of different social, political and economic strata...one friend is insulting and insufficient. And the world, if not the US is not wholly working on a Black/White dynamic. America in the new millennium is now Brown. White. Or Perhaps Yellow. White. Black. I will keep you all abreast of any new developments but I'm sure that Black. White. will continue to reach new lows.

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    I Love it When a Plan Comes Together.....

    Ok..perhaps I looked at my fair share of 80s television during my formative years, but I do "love it when a plan comes together." This became evident when a colleague and friend (shout out to Jason...a.k.a. Jay-Z..he'll get a kick out of that reference) informed me of yet another article in the op-ed section of this past Sunday's New York Times that provided similar musings to my own (pursuant to the prior blog entry) regarding the current state of African-American men. Take a gander at the article in question:

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/26/opinion/26patterson.html

  • The piece, written by Orlando Patterson provided one glaring remark that essentially encapsulates my personal observations...the pursuit of what some may consider cool in Black urban subculture undertakes an almost "drug-like" effect on African American youth. As I stated previously, the "street", along with all of it's detrimental precepts appears to be a unique oasis for Black youth culture to the exclusion of their white counterparts. White youth through hip hop music and culture, can live their dark fantasies vicariously through Black folk but ultimately it is very real and tangible to people of color.

    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    My Personal Rant.....NY Times Article

    For the last few days I have been bothered by the latest set of statistics stemming from a March 20th article from the New York Times on the state of Black men in America. I can't say that I am especially shocked or surprised....just disappointed. I'm not going to bore you with the facts, check the article for yourself:

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/20/national/20blackmen.html

  • I do not profess to be a genius but I think I know what the problem (or problems) is regarding why African-American males are in such dire straits. But before I provide this explanation....a few observations. Certain Black folk that are customarily positioned to discuss Black issues are usually ill equipped and might be more concerned with selling books and coordinating "feel good" seminars than providing resolutions. I noticed this just this Saturday while looking at Tavis Smiley being interviewed on Bill Maher's Real Time. Again as it related to the NY Times article, Maher asked Tavis directly, what did he think was the cause for the problems disproportionately affecting Black men. To paraphrase Smiley, he stated that if the majority culture (a.k.a. White) were in an identical situation, something would be done. That is not a good answer. And then, of course, he proceeded to promote his book, The Covenant with Black America and the accompanying national tour/seminar. I'm not going to knock the guy's hustle...but at the very least could the question be answered? Another observation came in the guise of Eva Longoria. Yes the Desperate Housevives actress. In a recent interview, she stated that she would have to devise a scheme to tell her grandmother that she is dating Black basketball player, Tony Parker. Parker, who is of African-American and European heritage may not fair well under the scrutiny of Longoria's grandparent. Now what does this have to do with the state of Black men you ask? Everything. Why should a Black millionaire athlete in 2006 still be subjected to this treatment....from Negro Lites(Latin folk...more on this at a later date...think Budweiser and Bud-Lite). This segues into my answer as to why Black men are having these issues. The answers as to why are below:

    1)Blackness...especially male Blackness is a perceived societal negative. Ask Tony Parker.

    2) CREAM(Cash Rules Everything Around Me)....the street culture which is heavily marketed to Black men is very appealing to brothers. It has been positioned to define Black masculinity. Is there a "street" equivalent for White males? No? Why not?

    3) No legitimate movement (don't expect Busta Rhymes to be your savior) to galvanize Black men to strategize resolutions. I thought Bill Cosby had it right but he has issues (legal) and other Black folk that sufficiently neutered him.

    Maybe next entry I will give you my thoughts on improving our lot....and it won't cost you anything. I promise.

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Be careful what you ask for......you may just get it!

    Free Fat Nick! Free Fat Nick! That has been the battle cry exclaimed by Star a.k.a. Troi Torain of the Star and Bucwild Show, a radio program broadcast on New York's Power 105. Fat Nick (Nicholas Minucci), the young man pictured above, is about to stand trial for an alleged racial attack that occurred last year in the infamous Howard Beach section of Queens, N.Y. This controversy arrives approximately two decades after a prior racial attack which occurred on Dec. 20, 1986. Racial tension in Howard Beach exploded onto the national landscape when a gang of white youths brutally attacked three African-American men resulting in the death of 23-year-old Micheal Griffith who was chased and struck by a car. In the matter of "Fat Nick," he is accused of clubbing a Black man with a baseball bat just a few blocks away from the first incident, fracturing the victim's skull in what authorities have also referred to as a hate crime. In addition, Minucci along with several accomplices allegedly used racial epithets during the attack. I would be remiss in not mentioning that the young men that Minucci and his cohorts attacked admittedly were in the neighborhood attempting to steal a car, later changing their minds.

    "This is what you get if you want to rob white boys, nigger!" one of the attackers spewed as Glenn Moore, 22, lay bleeding, the victim's friends told police officers, law enforcement sources said. What makes this case more interesting is Minucci's unusual legal strategy now known as the Hip Hop defense. Minucci states that he is totally immersed in hip hop culture and that tossing the "N-bomb" around is just part of his language....having been initially raised in a predominantly Black town (East New York)with Black friends and attending High School with African-Americans. Hell, when Nick allegedly encountered these cats he was even driving a "rimmed up" Escalade wearing a baseball cap, Rolex watch and playing 50 cent. Is Nick's defense valid? I think we have another quagmire folks...hence the title of this entry. Have some Blacks asked for this? Nigger..ahem, excuse me Nigga, has been commercialized and emblazoned in rap culture which conversely is popular culture. If the victim was legitimately in Howard Beach, he would have my full support against such savagery....but..he and his friends were there (allegedly) to steal a car. It's one thing to be profiled but it is another to be correctly profiled. I think it is time to admit some Black folk are complicit with nigga being an operative term used under the guise of Hip Hop language. I conclude this entry by simply stating.....Free Fat Nick! Free Fat Nick!

    Sunday, March 19, 2006

    Whoever said children should be seen and not heard....might be on to something

    This next story reminds me of a Ray Charles tune...actually remade as a post mortem duet with Ray and Norah Jones last year. "Here We Go Again"...I believe is the name of that little ditty and low and behold the premise of this latest bit of local news. Pictured above is a precocious 7-year-old girl by the name of Autum Ashante. Autum is a budding poetess who some believe to be a genius if not a child prodigy. The jury may be out on that assertion, however there is no doubt that she is extremely bright and well spoken beyond her years. Miss Ashante (with the aid of her single father, Batin Ashante, a Nation of Islam poet/activist) has developed minor celebrity status performing her poems at HBO's Def Poetry Jam, The Cotton Club in L.A., The Apollo Theater in Harlem, the African Street Festival, Caroline's on Broadway, the Russell Simmons Phat Farm Fashion Show, Steve Harvey's "Big Time as well as various colleges throughout the nation. The quagmire that the young poetess has found herself in relates to poetry readings that took place at public middle and high schools in Peekskill, N.Y., for Black History Month. She allegedly called for the White students to remove themselves allowing the Black and Latin students to hear what many would consider to be a Black militant poem. Here is the poem at the center of this maelstrom:

    White Nationalism Put U In Bondage

    White nationalism is what put you in bondage
    Pirate and vampires like Columbus, Morgan, and Darwin
    Drank the blood of the sheep, trampled all over them with
    Steel, tricks and deceit.
    Nothing has changed take a look in our streets
    The mis-education of she and Hegro -- leaves you on your knee2grow
    Black lands taken from your hands, by vampires with no remorse
    They took the gold, the wisdom and all of the storytellers
    They took the black women, with the black man weak
    Made to watch as they changed the paradigm
    Of our village
    They killed the blind, they killed the lazy, they went
    So far as to kill the unborn baby
    Yeah White nationalism is what put you in bondage
    Pirates and vampires like Columbus, Morgan, and Darwin
    They drank the blood of the sheep, trampled all over them with
    Steel laden feet, throw in the tricks alcohol and deceit.
    Nothing has changed take a look at our streets

    Believe it or not...I'm not sure if I have a problem with the poem itself....heck I would be first to state that there is a lot of validity to her poem (if she did indeed write it...I didn't start using the term "paradigm" until I was in college...). But do you separate people? Everyone should hear these thoughts. But unlike many Black folk, I am not quick to label someone a genius (although Miss Ashante allegedly speaks numerous languages) when I have yet to hear her write a concerto or interpret some mathematical equation. This genius intends to pursue acting but time will tell. And having this girl espouse beliefs using a Black/White paradigm (hey I know a big word) is simply outdated, in a time when people of color are causing damage to each other without the aid of a White bogeyman. But then again kids DO say the darndest things. I believe her cd is coming out soon....heaven help us.

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    What's in a name?....You'd be Surprised!!!

    I recently came across a book that I think may be of interest to you guys...yea....I'm late on this one as well but you know what they say about being late... The book, of course is Freakonomics, written by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and it is essentially a book that posits unusual economic suppositions(i.e. Roe v. Wade's effect on the crime rate or how little crack dealers make). This book was at the center of former Drug czar, William Bennett's remark last year in which he questioned whether the aborting of Black babies would cause a drop in the nation's crime rate(in all fairness, he did state that it would be a horrendous act...he failed to state however that which ever race would be aborted would indirectly decrease crime). The chapter entitled, Perfect Parenting, Part II;or: Would a Roshanda by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet? is perhaps the most interesting. The chapter asks whether African-Americans pay an economic price for choosing distinctly ethnic/Black sounding names. I'll be the first to admit that I cringe when I hear names such as "Daquan" or "Rykeisha" but this book successfully encapsulates the correlation between economics, salary and the connotation that certain names give off. Heck even names that serve as a lower class indicator amongst Whites was equally fascinating...poor Britney Spears. I am a believer that authentic African names should and can be encouraged....I believe it hasn't hurt a lad by the name of Barak Obama. Although one might be able to make the same argument for Kwame Kilpatrick (if he wasn't referred to as Detroit's Hip Hop Mayor, but I digress). I can't say enough about this book, which reached number 2 on The New York Times bestsellers list. It's definitely a worthy, if not necessary read, just be sure that you put the right name on your next resume.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    What had happened Brother?

    There is a trend that bothers me immensely....seemingly intelligent,highly educated, well versed (and well paid) African-Americans involved in petty criminal if not morally questionable situations. I would never make excuses for someone who commits a crime regardless of his/her social station in life, however I would ask that the crime and the risk be big enough for consideration. Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff are under indictment for allegedly pilfering millions. Case in point, Claude Allen, the gentlemen pictured above. Let's run Claude's credentials shall we:

    1) Allen was the Assistant to President Bush for Domestic Policy and a former nominee for a judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

    2) Mr. Allen has degrees from the The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his J.D. from the Duke University School of Law.

    3) His administrative salary was approximately $160,000 per year.

    Here is the kicker..Allen resigned from his position on February 9, 2006. He was detained by Target store security guards on January 2, 2006 and later arrested by local authorities on March 9, 2006 on charges of "theft over $500" and "felony theft scheme." Simply put, this fool (allegedly) stole from a number of stores and then attempted to return items for cash. The amount in question is approx. $5000! If you remember conservative talk show host, Armstrong Williams jeopardized his career for promoting Bush's No Child Left Behind Policy as if under his own volition. He failed to inform his audience that he was paid for promoting this policy by the Bush administration. His fee....$250,000....not bad....but again not Delay money. I'm not anti-conservative....but I am anti cheap...If you are going to risk your livelihood let it not be for a McDonald's Happy Meal and a T-Shirt....just a thought brothers.

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    Perception isn't always Reality but it is Representation!

    I'm in a bit of a quandry. How do I compartmentalize my feelings when I see another Black person making the news for something that oftentimes may be criminal? For the last week and half the local news(and now national) has been focusing on the tragic death of a female John Jay grad student by the name of Imette St. Guillen. St. Guillen (pictured above), 24, originally from Boston, MA was discovered dead on February 25th near the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, N.Y. After a night of heavy drinking she was brutally raped and murdered allegedly by bouncer, Daryl Littlejohn (also pictured) at the last establishment she visited. What bothers me the most is the media's same old tactic of juxtaposing the menacing Black photo with the angelic (usually White)victim. Again..this is a horrific crime and this is not to obfuscate Littlejohn's alleged involvement. It is, however, time for people of color to demand respect when it comes to how these images are usually presented in the form of representation. Somehow that menacing photo translates into the Black everyman making it difficult for average law abiding Black citizens to be perceived as individuals. Imagine what someone thinks when it comes time to request a loan, seek employment or advance in this society. This is what it means to belong to a stigmatized group. If a White madman kills someone does anyone honestly perceive him/her to represent his race? Then why should this premise exist for a person of color? How often have you heard a Black person state that he hopes that it wasn't a person of color if he/she hears that a crime has been committed and the identity of the alleged assailant is initially unknown. Whether a movement is created to demand individuality of perception remains to be seen. Let's hope that your loan officer hasn't glanced at the Daily News before he approves of your loan.

    And now for the truly innocuous.....

    Simply.....hoopz won! Yea for the Black Bachelor..I mean Flav! No valium?

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    Sistas are Comic Heroes too! or is that Heroine?

    Y The Last Man

    I'd like to highlight a comic(oops..graphic novel)that I think serves as a great example of where the future lies with this form of literature slowly being taken seriously by Hollywood as well as the literati. Y The Last Man, written by Brian K. Vaughan is a post apocalyptic piece that essentially asks the question what would you do if you were the last man on earth. The protagonist, Yorick is literally the last man on earth (hence the double entendre Y for "Yorick" and the Y chromosome) who somehow survives a biological mishap that wipes out the world's male population. He is protected by a African American female government agent, simply dubbed Agent 355. One would think that being the last man on earth would have its carnal benefits but the reader slowly realizes that many women in this scenario may prefer for there to be no men and eradicating any vestige of a patriarchal influence would require Yorick's death. Y has been optioned for a motion picture and I surely will be the first in line to see Tinseltown's translation. If you haven't read this book do yourself a favor and pick up the trade issues to finally see a fully realized fictional Black female character that redefines the superheroine genre. Now that's a strong Black woman.

    Some NPR broadcasts to check out

    I am forever net surfing and in my travels I came across some NPR broadcasts that I think might be of interest. One broadcast was an interview conducted by Ed Gordon (former BET commentator) with comedian Nick Adams pertaining to his new book, Making Friends with Black People. The premise for Adams book is simply hilarious...it is essentially a guide for Whites on how to conduct themselves in establishing friendships with people of color. A "How to not put your foot in your mouth" book for the uninitiated. The second NPR interview was a roundtable interview with notable Black author DeWitt Gilmore, whose pen name is Relentless; Malaika Adero, senior editor for Atria Books; and Nick Chiles, editor-in-chief of travel magazine, Odyssey Couleur. The discussion was extremely informative and somewhat confrontational regarding the state of Black literature, specifically as it relates to "urban" literature. But hear for yourselves and enjoy!

  • http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5256145&ft=1&f=11

  • http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5225091
  • Thursday, March 09, 2006

    What's Black, White & Red all over?.....Me with Anger!!!

    I know that several entries ago I stated that I would tone down on media commentaries but I'm afraid that an analysis is necessary. Blame it on Oprah and Ice Cube's latest effort, Black White. As I will remind the reader countless times through out this site's existence, the Afronerd mantra is to debunk stereotypes most often attributed to people of color. Unfortunately, based on what I witnessed on TV yesterday, this mantra is definitely not being followed by others. Wednesday's topic on Oprah was interracial dating as experienced by Black Women. The show also served as a vehicle to promote Sanaa Lathan's latest celluloid effort, Something New, which also deals with the White male/Black female commingling issue. Let me first state that perhaps I live in my own head....my own universe. I define Pro-Blackness differently than I suspect many of my contemporaries. In my world, if you are truly comfortable with your ethnicity, one does not have to preface everything with statements such as..."Speaking as a proud Black woman" or "As an African-American male." And I'm not one for promoting the concept that superficial phenotypical distinctions make human beings so different. So having said that, why was it necessary for Oprah to give the impression that many Black women must tell White men that they have to take a hands off approach to their hair. The first ten minutes of the show dealt with what appeared to be madness and insecurity about hair. This so-called insecurity gave the impression that in order for White males (truth be told all males)to approach a Black woman, they must read an instruction manual. Not every Black female is an enigma. I don't think that any person regardless of gender should go through a maze to connect with someone. Thanks to Oprah, with discussions centered on penis coloring, lip size and kissing ability multi-racial interaction reached a new low. Many African-Americans, due to willing (and unwilling)historical miscegenation possess a variety of physical characteristics within the race making the aforementioned distinctions moot. For the 400 plus years that interracial liasons have existed in the US, Blacks and Whites kissing each other appears to have been figured out, Oprah! I think the brothers have had little difficulty in this regard. Are we really in a new millennium folks?.....maybe I didn't get the memo. Now along the same theme..Black White, is a new six-part reality series produced by rapper/actor Ice Cube that posits what would happen when you put two families together of different races (hence the Black and White element) and have them switch identities through the magic of Hollywood make-up artistry. I must say that the make-up on both sets of families is truly amazing. Gone are the days of F-troop Indians or Amos and Andy style minstrel shoe polish. The White female teenager (now a "sister" for 6 shows) looked the most authentic and downright attractive. How effective doctored situations can convey Blackness to White folks and vice versa remains to be seen. How Blacks and Whites allegedly walk, talk, and react through each others eyes is difficult to watch. Both families appear to act like the other race based on perceptions with very little reality....which is odd..because isn't this a reality show? Perhaps life really isn't as simple as Black and White. More commentary to follow by yours truly as the show progresses.

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    You can buy anything on Ebay...even your history!

    To the reader....this log entry may be equivalent to a jazz piece. What the hell is he saying...and what's up with the ebay reference you ask? Jazz deals with melodic improvisation and wherever the musician ends up is well.....wherever he/she ends up. I'm not sure if my point will be clear with this entry but what the hey. I may have an Ebay addiction. The concept of an online auction in it's sheer brilliance and simplicity was a genius idea and I damn sure wish I thought of it. It brings new meaning to the adage "one man's trash is another man's treasure." I have placed winning bids on clothing, comic books, music, posters...you name it I have won it (or at least came close). One thing that should be brought to your attention, however is the ability to buy historical items on Ebay. I have to admit that I have been a beneficiary of retreiving such artifacts and I'm just not sure if it is the greatest thing to have that ability. Just as the photos above suggest...I have purchased vintage ebony magazines and "darkie" toothpaste (no slave shackles...yet) purely as conversation pieces to satiate my collecting hunger. Not only can one buy slave shackles on ebay but also items such as slave invoices and first edition books from the Harlem Renaissance period. Shouldn't authentic slave documents or shackles be in a museum? I'm pretty sure that there are many individuals that like myself appreciate the history behind these items but is everyone buying these items with that intention? I purchased "darkie" toothpaste and soap simply because people need to be aware that these items were sold as easily as any other household product for many years and that as insulting and dehumanizing as it may be....it's history. Unfortunately...these items can still be purchased in Asia....but I will address that at a later time. Interestingly enough, I actually purchased the same Ebony issue featuring Nat King Cole and his wife (March 1953) shown above.....As I am looking towards home ownership, in my mind's eye, I always thought it would be a funky decorating trick to have a framed vintage Ebony with my favorite notable on the cover (i.e. Jackie Robinson, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge...you name it) hanging on the wall of my future living room. Do yourself a favor and pick up one of these vintage mags. This Ebony in particular included an article about Dr. Edward Dalton, a prominant Black psychoanalyst who was the first "Negro" (the article was written in 53') to set up a full time New York practice (on Park Avenue no less) for a White clientele outside an African-American location. The cool thing even beyond the obvious is that the article proceeds to mention that a Dr. Frederick Wertham, a White colleague and friend of Dalton's, was instrumental in helping set up this brother's practice. As a comic collector, Wertham's name is infamous because of his landmark book, Seduction of the Innocent which heavily criticized comics during the 1950s. What does this have to do with the price of darkie toothpaste in China? It's history my man..it's history...just make sure you're buying it for the right reasons.

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    A True Renaissance Man.....a la The Apprentice

    In the future I will really try to make this blog as informative as possible. It gets real difficult to refrain from proselytizing when Black imagery is a constant victim. Case in point....where is Randal Pinkett? If you remember(and I promise to tone down on media discussions...just allow me this one last indulgence) Pinkett was the tall brother that actually won last season's Apprentice. This cat has received no real media attention since his win nor has he done any interviews of note with the African-American media. Mind you, Randal is perhaps the best educated and most qualified contestant to ever appear on this show since its inception. We are very adept at showering praise and accolades to sports and entertainment personalities but blatantly fall short when it comes to heroes in academia. Randal, truth be told is the "Michael Jordan" of the scholastic world and you can barely hear a pin drop. Let's run this gentleman's stats shall we:

    1) He currently holds five university degrees.

    2) The degrees include a B.S. in electrical engineering from Rutgers University as well as a Master's in computer science from the University of Oxford in England as one of approx. 60 Rhodes Scholars in U.S. history and the first from Rutgers.

    3) Thereafter, Randal received a Master's at MIT in electrical engineering followed by a Ph.D. in media arts and sciences also from MIT.

    I could go on but his accomplishments thus far are just too lengthy to enumerate. And mind you, Randal is just 34. But hey at least we have Three 6 Mafia's Oscar win. Actually this cat reminds me of one of my personal heroes, Paul Robeson who also was a multiple degreed Rhodes scholar and Rutgers graduate who was frequently referred to as a "renaissance" man. It is definitely a title I would espouse for our youth. But oh I forgot didn't a Shawn Carter(current president of Def Jam) receive his degree from the University of Marcy Projects? Folks it's time to replace highly learned superstars of color like Dr. Pinkett on that pedestal that we have for some reason reserved for former drug dealers turned rappers. Our futures are in peril. All is not lost though.....Dr. Pinkett I have your back bro!

    Blaxploitation without representation is Buffoonery...The Oscars

    Well if you're just climbing out from Osama's cave, I'm pretty sure you might have heard that America's Gay Superbowl a.k.a the Academy Awards were held last night. Now....as much of a movie buff I may consider myself to be, I have always had a tough time with the Oscars simply because oftentimes it turns out to be a droll ceremony. But this time it proved to be an affair that would have made Al Jolson proud. Three 6 Mafia received an Oscar for best original song folks! I also happened to come across an article from London's Daily Mirror which reported that Terrence Howard was persuaded by the Black Hollywood Elite (more specifically, Will Smith, Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington) NOT to perform "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" with Three 6 Mafia as it would be a poor representation for Black people. Here is the Daily Mirror article:


    This situation got me to think how racialized we are. Yours truly included. As much as I had an initial reaction to Mafia's performance at the Oscars, I also thought that why does a single person or action serve as a representation for a whole race of people. The predominant purpose of this blog is to provide an outlet for persons of color that may not fall into the "ghetto" or "street" category. As much as I have respect and deep admiration for Sir Sidney Poitier (knighted in 74') I think it is time for Blacks to demand the respect that comes with acknowledging our diversity. No sensible person thinks that the cast of Jackass represents all White people. So why does a gangsta rap act have to represent all Black folk. Black conservative radio host and author, Ken Hamblin propogated this argument in his book, Pick a Better Country in which he used the term "Black" trash as a counter to "White" trash. Many Whites have made this distinction when referencing themselves in a matter of fact tone. Last week I was listening to a radio show on Howard Stern's former station 92.3 Free-FM (formerly KROCK). The hosts, JV & Elvis were riffing on why Asians appear not to exhibit criminal behavior but white trash, Blacks and Mexicans "just can't get it right." Notice how the term "white trash" was emphasized but the minorities were spoken about in generalities. So maybe in retrospect, I can't hate on Three 6....they was really hood! It's just that we come from different hoods.

    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Forget about Jenny from the Block...check out Dave!

    I just checked out Dave Chappelle's Block Party and it was a surprisingly infectious and engaging concert film. I emphasize concert film because if you were expecting a Live on Sunset Strip interpolation you will be sorely disappointed. First off, I could not detect any signs of madness which I suspect many viewers were looking for since Mr. Chappelle's infamous hiatus from Tinseltown. This self-emposed exile led to the alleged rejection of Comedy Central's 50 million dollar offer to do a third season of Chappelle's Show. Block Party is exactly what the title entails....an impromptu gathering of this millennium's greatest MC's and neo-soul artists that are as honest and organic as Dave's brand of comedy. The movie is eerily similar to Wattstax, a early 70's concert film that showcased soul and funk acts with a young Richard Pryor riffing and pontificating as a backdrop. Hopefully the film will not serve as the death knell for Chappelle's promising comedic career. Cheers to Dave for a truly entertaining film....if you love great jamming by real MCs (no Young Jeezy, 50 cent or Chamillionaire here folks....) and off the dome humor, this is a Block Party you shouldn't miss.

    Look...Up in the Sky.....it's the Man of Steele

    I was just perusing the latest issue of Essence (yes...a brother does read a womens mag on occasion..what better way to get into a woman's mind) and happened to come across a brief interview with the current Lt. Governor of Maryland, Michael Steele. The reason why I'm even mentioning this is because it got me to think how imperative it is for Black folk to start to seriously consider defecting (partially) to the Republican party (Bush notwithstanding....I said Republican not neo-con...there's a difference). I saw Steele one late night while he was a panel guest on Bill Maher's Real Time and I have to admit that the guy appeared to be polished, erudite and engaging. And if you haven't guessed, he might be an anathema in certain Black political circles. Steele is a Black republican. The article recounted Steele's experience at getting oreos tossed at him at some political function as well as discussing his desire to be the second Black Senator since Reconstruction. Unfortunately, Steele's run in with the oreo incident is a tell tale sign that he might have lost his "Black authenticity card" (more on this "card" at a later date). Now for the record, I am a registered democrat, however on occasion I have switched party lines based on my individual perception of a political candidate or issue. In the future I plan to do more research on Steele and other brothers that may be cut from a different political cloth. I think that if African-Americans are to progress it makes sense to protect your interests on both sides instead of being "ass out" when your political party doesn't win. I do not think many people of color think this way strategically. Case in point...perhaps a year and half ago I was ordering take out at Unos. If anyone is familiar with the restaurant's set up, while the prospective customer is waiting to be seated, he/she has the choice of sitting on benches labeled "Democrat" and "Republican." A middle-aged Black woman with her husband walks in and she jokingly stated that she would never sit in the Republican seat. She of course looked at me jokingly for approval and solidarity. I replied that it would be foolhardy for all of us to vote one way because it is not wise to put all of our eggs in one basket. She gave me a quizzical look of realization...a light bulb moment. Let's hope that the remaining 99.9% of the Black and minority voting public get that same "light bulb moment."

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    And Now It's the Blackman! or is that Batman!


    When I first embarked on writing this blog one of the main things I wanted to convey was my interest in comics (ahem....graphic novels). I started collecting over 20 years ago when I was visiting a friend's house and he had a bag full of comics. After reading The Flash, I was hooked and to date probably have approximately 25,000 books. Comics or the more adult term "graphic novels" have definitely matured along with its readership. At one time you could purchase a book at your local candy store. Now one must go to a specialty shop. And if you were to visit one of these establishments you would probably see a thirty-year-old plus bespectacled male engrossed in heavy conversation about a favorite character or his dissatisfaction with the latest movie adaptation. One of my favorite characters is the Batman and not the campy Adam West 60s TV version either. Interestingly enough, Marvel has developed their own amalgam version of Batman known as Nighthawk who essentially is a Black batman with a twist. As many comic enthusiasts probably know(and perhaps those who aren't living under a rock) Batman's genesis centers around the tragic death of his parents by a shadowy thug. The Nighthawk's "birth" is essentially the same except that his parents were killed by white supremacists and then of course the fun begins. Do yourself a favor and pick up the trade paperback issues of Supreme Power which showcase this character and stay tuned for the Nighthawk trade series coming up in the next few months.

    Simply......Support Vintage Black Cinema

    Over the last few years I have likened myself to slowly becoming a budding cineaste. I have an interest in many films across a variety of genres. In my DVD collection one may find a Criterion Akira Kurosawa film, a smattering of Spike Lee films or something as goofy as The Man Called Flintstone. Since I started collecting films, one major frustration was finding quality DVDs or dvd transfers of classic Black movies. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that Warner Brothers recently released five landmark films that featured predominant Black casts. Mind you, these films are not for the faint of heart. The dialogue can be expected to be dated and some of the racial sensibilities for this time period may make you cringe but chalk it up as an educational experience. These films include The Green Pastures, Cabin in the Sky, Pinky, Hallelujah and my favorite of the bunch, Stormy Weather. Who wouldn't want to see Lena Horne during her prime? I love Halle but she is no Lena! And if Ms. Horne isn't enough, at least you can pause and analyze the incomparable Nicholas Brothers' famed stairway dance routine. Hell they have to be at least as good as Ciara or Omarion....oops I could barely hold my meal down with that statement.