Wednesday, July 14, 2010


     Happy Humpday Loves! Take a pause in your day to celebrate the awesometry that is YOU!!! The talented writer that is SistaToldja created "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*
    VH1's new Sunday night lineup features Chad "Ochocinco"Johnson's "The Ultimate Catch"followed by the "T.O. Show." Neither showcase the glory of Black woman as these "Brothas" search for a "mate"amongst a sea of suspicious mulattos with breast implants and the IQ of raisins (a whole box). I couldn't stomach 10 full minutes as both men seem to suffer from a deep self-hatred, suppressed by fleeting fame, athleticism, and attention. Then there was Boondocks. *Fingers to temple* This week, Grandpa dates the "Perfect Black Woman" yet I found little humor in depicting a successful Black woman as mythological as the unicorn (IMO). Anywho, I was ready to be INSPIRED!!!!

 Bitch Is The New Black by Helena Andrews, grants readers a first-hand account of modern city living and of course, dating, through the eyes of a young witty Black woman. A collection of essays pieced perfectly as a memoir, and she's not yet 30. The soon-to-be classic (yea I said it) hooked me instantly because parts were set in DC, and I too am young, smart, and single trying to find my way in the world. The love affair with the book began however, when soaking up her witty writing and introspective accounts of weightier subjects like kidnapping, homosexuality, depression and even abortion, all with brilliant honesty. A voyeuristic journey of 20-sexxxxy growing-pains, and I couldn't put it down! Any and everyone must cop this book ASAPington!!

Last night I attended the "Bitch Is The New Black" book signing/party at the Bella Vie boutique in Atlanta! The fete was sponsored by the Garner Circle, and featured chic clothing, cocktails, and great conversation. Helena Andrews was stunning in person, and a pleasure to meet (LUVed her Nicole Miller dress). It was inspiring to be in a room full of talented and successful women of varied shades of brown, to mingle and celebrate #BITNB. Oh, and there was shopping... :)
Savy entrepreneur Stacy Diltz of Savida Sangria, treated guests to "Bitch Bubbly" and Sangria... both were ah-mazing! My girls and I OFTEN partake  in the spirits and will add her bottles (available near you) when celebrating...anything!
 Shout Out to alllll the wonderful women we met last night, and thanks again to The Garner Circle PR for hosting such a great event!! Remember your WORTH ladies!! Happy Black Girl Day Indeed!!!

*TOP photo: MinkaKay, Self, Author Helena Andrews, and @lmturk at #BITNB signing at La Bella Vie*                                                                  


Saturday, July 10, 2010

"The Decision": Distracting From Social Justice

Thursday, July 8,2010 two major decisions were made and covered in the media. "The Decision" as titled by ESPN, was the much-hyped media coverage of NBA megastar LeBron James deciding his career fate as a free agent. James' epic decision to move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat drew the largest viewing audience in ESPN history ( 7.3% of homes in US watched)  Filled-to-the-brim with Vitamin Water advertisements, the hour-long special was an unprecedented display of power, influence, and control in marketing/advertising dollars and the NBA.

      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

Ultimate Merger Or Ultimate Stereotype??

    Surely you've heard of TVOne's semi-popular new reality TV/dating show titled "Donald Trump Presents: The Ultimate Merger" featuring reality television star Omarosa Manigault Stallworth. Set in Las Vegas, over a dozen men live together and compete in a series exaggerated challenges to win the heart of Omarosa. In spite of having the basic ingredients for debauchery (my fav) on reality TV, popular star, judgemental panel, guaranteed hook-ups, arguments, and clips for E!'s the Soup, there are eerily wrong points about the show that prevent me from watching consistently or becoming a fan.

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.