"Happy Black Girl Day" several months ago, a Wednesday tribute to honor any and every Black girl (woman), because we're often neglected yet SO worthy!! The irony my first HBGD post falls after a trying Sunday for Black women on television. *le sigh*
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Also, Thursday evening, former transit cop Johanes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the brutal 2009 murder of Oscar Grant, an unarmed Black man. The incident sparked national attention as Grant was shot lying face-down and cuffed, on a subway platform, in front of millions, and was videotaped* by at least five people. The prosecution was unable to prove the higher charge of voluntary manslaughter, or that Mehserle's fear of Grant was "unreasonable." Instead, the lesser verdict was issued (carrying 2-4 years in prison) sentencing is set for August 6th. Mehserle's excuse was mistaking his .40 caliber handgun for a Taser. Adam Server's essay credits the historic and deep-felt fear of the Black man as cause for the ruling and explanation of prosecution's inability to push for the higher charge. I agree, but feel the fear is completely misplaced. (Surprised no one pulled a "Time To Kill" on that smug racist cop. I kid. Kinda.)
Young Black men are far too often the victims of (fatal) police brutality, yet the collective American public remains insensitive to the larger issue: Black life is not valued in our society. If an innocent Black man's videotaped murder (still) is not enough evidence for a full murder conviction nor elicit outrage from all races, then I'm at a loss to what must happen to affect our consciousness?!
Oscar Grant is representative of young Black sons, brothers, fathers, husbands and friends in our communities. The lack of value for his life that fateful night in the subway station at the hands of a BART cop, is the same lack that guided the decision of 12 jurors -8 women, 4 men, none Black- to sentence a murderous cop with a lesser charge.
The majority of conversation throughout Thursday centered around "The Decision." Not the Grant verdict, but King LeBron James' decision to jump teams. Seriously?? Everyone became a critic with an opinion, James was publicly ridiculed and several fans in Cleveland took to burning his former jersey in the streets. ERRR?!?! Even majority owner of the Cavaliers Dan Gilbert posted a public letter of dissatisfaction that reads like the bitter slave owner of Kunta Kinte. *Racism just spills out like word vomit sometimes.*
It disgusts me that white citizens from Cleveland, Ohio were more outraged at a Black free agent's decision to head to Miami as opposed to an innocent Black man's murder. Citizens of Oakland protested on Thursday evening too, but the media choose to focus on the few looters and rioters. Careful to associate violence and barbaric behavior with...Black folk.*SIGH* WHATTHEJOEJACKSONHELL?!?!?!
What is unfortunate is that young Blacks have greater odds becoming casualties, statistics or victims of racially charged violence, as witnessed in Oscar Grant's case, than becoming the next LeBron James. What is ironic is that in spite of having the world's attention on Thursday, the plight of police brutality (Oscar Grant) was never mentioned. I never thought it would, but imagine the impact if our public figures and athletes took grand stances against social injustice?! *Too much like right I know, but the thought made my heart pause with joy.*
In the following weeks, what will you do to fight social injustice? Aside from tweeting and provoking conversation, will you organize, register to vote, work to change laws that hold police accountable for murder? In the least, will you make a "Decision", or an effort to avoid the media's distractions and focus on the truth, OUR daily realities? I will surely keep trying.
**Oscar Grant's MURDER. Not suitable for weak stomachs or anyone with a soul.**
Thursday, July 8, 2010
The Shows Star: Omarosa - This beautiful Black woman popped on the pop culture scene six years ago as the "evil" contestant on Donald Trump's "Apprentice," where she bullied her way to infamy. Playing on the angry Black woman stereotype and voted TVGuide's worst villain ever, she reprised her role over the years on other reality shows while maintaining a relationship with her Svengali, Donald Trump. "Ultimate Merger" finds Omarosa, an accomplished woman in her own right (Howard University Alum) occupying the "Single/Picky Black Woman Looking For A Husband" role made ever-popular by TV programs, bloggers, and the Washington Post. Seemingly perfect timing would pit Omarosa's show with the plot dismissing Black men who can never measure up to a Black woman's needs. All on a "Black" television network. Genius marketing or conspiracy theory tirelessly at work.
"Donald Trump Presents"- Most reality shows (especially on a C-List network like TVOne) require substantial financial backing and sponsorship to secure airtime, so Omarosa has a friend and supporter in owner (oops) producer, Donald Trump. There is something unsettling yet familiar about their perceived relationship that strikes me a bit racist in the least. Perhaps the fact that Omarosa initially auditioned to gain Trump's approval, and on "Ultimate Merger" contestants must be approved by Trump as well. Omarosa appears to capitalize on Trump's blatant attraction to her physical and feminine wilds (Trump LOVES him some Omarosa), occupying her stereotypical role for a payoff. Almost like the chattel slavery relationships of slave master and female slave, or wealthy white man sponsoring the Black female (Bush & Condi even. I kid.). I liken the similarities to the slavery-era popularity of placage.
Also, freeborn light-skinned Black women sometimes became the willing concubines of wealthy White southerners. This system, called placage, involved a formal arrangement for the White suitor/customer to financially support the Black woman and her children in exchange for her long-term sexual services. The White men often met the Black women at "Quadroon Balls," a genteel sex market. -Dr. David Pilgrim, 2002
Now, in no way am I saying that Omarosa and Trump are having sexual relations, nor that she a slave, but I found some of the basic characteristics of their relationship similar to those defined as placage witnessed during the days of old. We've come but so far...
Religious Hypocrisy- A small slant on the dating show is the weekly guidance from Pastor Jamal Bryant from the Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, MD who sits on the panel as Omarosa's "Spiritual Advisor." To her credit, Omarosa is currently enrolled and pursuing her Doctorate in Divinity, and I've read online that she's an avid church-attendee. I understand where the producers were going. However, participating in a reality show that sets the demands for men to superficially court you with the false hope (who ever lasts or goes through with the romance?!) of marriage, seems to send a mixed message. Also, the close-ups of Omarosa's breasts, hot tub scenes, and questions about sexual satisfaction (Can the Brotha put a ring on it?!) seem to contradict Christian teachings, or at least what I thought I knew. I'm just saying...where's the God in that?
Reality shows are aimed to get ratings by any means necessary. The show was picked up for eight episodes, yet I'm doubtful it will get another season. I support a Black woman's hustle, her ability to sustain what most would call a short run, and to consistently brand in spite of naysayers. Omarosa possesses those characteristics and surely has a fan base that doesn't read deeply into the "Ultimate Merger" messaging as I do. Hence, I'm not employed at TvOne.