Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Santorum and Romney Create Comedy Team

Why are they so crazy?! I just don't get it. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney need to create a comedy team: Mitt would be the straight one and Rick would be that wild and crazy guy that just says whatever comes out his mouth.  Kind of like Mortimer and Randolph from the classic movie, Trading Places. They are saying some wacky stuff that is scaring the crap out of people. More to the point, they're chasing off the very people that might possibly vote for them later.

Santorum, when questioned if Obama was a “secular, liberal, Christian,” seemed to imply that there is no such thing as liberal Christian.
When you turn the “salvation story” into a “liberation theology story,” as Santorum claimed Obama’s Chicago church, United Church of Christ, had done, you “abandon Christendom.”

As a member of a United Church of Christ congregation in Washington, DC, I take umbrage at that statement. But that's not the point.  The point is: A whole lot of people take umbrage at that statement because now you're saying that if you don't view Christianity the way I view it, you're not Christian.  Yep, that'll win my vote.

Then he calls the president a snob because he, inaccurately, says that Obama wants everyone to go to that God-awful place: college.

It was an extension of that cultural attack when he criticized Obama on Saturday as a “snob” for wanting “everybody to go to college.” He went on to say that Obama wants students to attend liberal universities so that they can be inculcated in the same values that drive the president. 
“Not all folks are gifted in the same way,” Santorum told a crowd of more than a thousand activists at the Americans for Prosperity forum in Troy, Mich. 

Well, I guess he was 'gifted in that way' and so are his kids because at one point, when he was talking about how he has the same problems as everyone else, one of those problems was that he has two kids in…you guessed it -- college. As a matter of fact, I don't know of anyone in congress or any governmental body that doesn't have at least a four year degree in their background. Gingrich is Dum dum Dum: a college Professor; Ron Paul is a physician, Romney has an MBA and I believe Santorum is a…lawyer.  Mmmm..I guess college is good enough for him, but everyone else doesn't have the same 'gifts'.

Meanwhile, Romney just can't turn his rich mouth off.  His wife owns and drives a couple of cadillacs and he's not really into nascar, much but he knows quite a few owners of the teams.  All I can do is shake my head.  Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post writes about the bias of the media concerning these stories and she has a point. 

His economic speech Friday was a perfect example. For weeks the media (parroting Rick Santorum’s complaints) have chided Romney for being too negative and failing to articulate a positive message. So he delivers a major economic address in Detroit. He includes lots of details. And virtually every outlet from the New York Times to the right-wing blogs ignores the content of speech and becomes obsessed with the seating arrangement. 
The crowd of 1,200 was on the floor of a large stadium, leaving thousands of empty seats. So what? I mean, maybe you give it a line or two. But to dwell on it endlessly seems to be an intentional effort to ignore what the candidate is saying and simply throw stones at the candidate whom they like the least.

I actually feel sorry for the man. However, the reporters were looking at the optics of the situation because Romney's whole strategy has been based on his inevitability and mass appeal.  An empty looking stadium  shatters that myth. Period.  

But each flub frankly is a good story and just makes it more and more plausible to the electorate that Romney has no idea what it's like to live like the rest of us, no matter how hard he tries.  Each flub makes us trust him less not because he's not in touch with people but because he's not learning; he keeps making the same basic mistake!  He's not a good political candidate.  It's so easy to change the rhetoric and optics and make it acceptable. It's so easy to talk about the values that all people who work hard and treat people well have. It's so easy for him to be rich and say the important policy things that he needs to say. But he keeps trying to "connect" in ways that just make him look insincere and fake.  He needs to wear his suit.  That's what businessmen wear.  They don't wear jeans.  He can tell us his dog stories, just leave out the part that it was strapped onto the top of his car, hurtling down the road at 65 miles per hour.  All his substantive viewpoints are overshadowed by those dang trees that are the right height.

Buy Black Redux

Now after I completed reading the Mother Jones article about Maggie Anderson, again, I went to the comments section expecting to read some mundane comments about how great it was for Anderson to support business in her community.  "You go girl!" was what I expected to read.

But, to my surprise, there was comment after comment about how racist she was.  I'm confused.  When a woman decided to cook only recipes from Julia Child and blog about it, they made a blockbuster movie about the experience.  A man decided to live the literal way the bible states, for one year, grew a beard and wore burlap sack all day, no one blinked an eye.  Here a woman decided to support businesses of people who looked like her or had her cultural background because she felt, as a middle class woman during tough economic times, she should support business in her cultural community...for one year. Now SHE'S the racist? 

She's not asking for a new government program.  She wasn't saying that it's all 'whitey's fault.'  She did an experiment to prove a point: Black people are more consumers than producers, there are few black businesses in primarily black communities, and Black people don't necessarily support their own businesses; all of which have a negative impact on employment, graduation rates, and a sense of hopelessness in inner city communities.  She decided to use her hard earned money to support people of her community. Isn't that supposed to be a good thing? You all have to help me on this because I just don't get it. Read for yourself:

If a white person write this article about white businesses, everyone would be shouting "KKK"., progressives should stop being racist, white progressives should forgive their past racism and follow conservatives lead and see individuals as individuals. That's what conserving America is about. We are Americans and not members of protected classes. This person should take a close hard look at her racism.
Why can't we just be people?
Response: Because then minorities would have no one to blame for their problems. They keep racism alive and well, but are comfortable with it, when they justify it for themselves.
Anderson is doing just the right thing. As a white man i don't see her attitude racist at all. If there is more money going to black business there will be more career opportunities for entrepreneurs and millions of new jobs for African Americans too.
She should stop being racist and just buy American. I would never think of buying from white owned businesses exclusively....that would be biased and racist. She is actually lucky if she finds much in walmart that is even made in the USA.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Black History Month Action Item: Blacks Must Invest More In Their Own Communities

I love when people see a need in their communities and just go for it.  It's how entrepreneurs are born.  Best known for his recent work on the "The Wire", Wendell Pierce was my acting coach when I was a kid at Howard University Children's Theatre, so I have been watching his acting career with great pride. Recently he has decided to give back to his community in New Orleans by creating and funding a chain of grocery stores called Sterling Farms, named after his father.  He was inspired by Michelle Obama spotlighting food deserts in inner city communities and felt that instead of charity, he would fill a void in the community he grew up in.

Says Pierce:
"One of the richest countries in the history of the world having communities where people have to go over half an hour to get to fresh produce and food is unacceptable. And I feel as though the two can coexist, that you can actually be a successful business by filling that need. Classic Economy 101: fill the need, there is a demand, supply and demand."
Here's an excerpt from a recent profile on him in Mother Jones:
MJ: Speaking of encouraging fresh and local food consumption, I just saw a giant bus ad: "Chicken McNuggets, 20 for $4.99." That's 25 cents a pop. How do you compete with that? 
WP: You have to compete with it. Everybody says, "How are you going to compete with fast food, with all these low-cost choices?" There's nothing else competing with them! They have a monopoly in the community! So that's the challenge. You have to make it affordable…. We'll have the community actively participating in the store, and having access to those foods, and have chefs come in to show them how to prepare good, healthy meals, and at the same time have access to affordable, healthy choices. I'll compete with the nuggets.
Mother Jones, as part of their Black History Month coverage, also spotlighted journalist Maggie Anderson's attempt to "buy black" in her community.  What she found is something that I have found to be true myself: It's very difficult to find black owned and operated businesses in black communities.

Oh, the worst thing was what we learned about economies in black neighborhoods. We assumed, just like other little ethnic enclaves like Little Italy or Greek Town or Chinatown, that for predominantly black neighborhoods all the black businesses there would be owned by the local people. But easily over 90 percent of the businesses on the West Side{of chicago}—and it's the same way all over the country—are owned by people who are not black and do not live in that community. So it's not a "buy local" thing, because these folks set up shop in the black community, sell their wares, make their money, hardly ever employ the local people there—and they put the steel bar over the door, pack up at 6:30, get in their car, drive to their suburb, and take that money with them. And that was the whole reason that these communities suffer the way they do: The everyday exit of the wealth in those neighborhoods directly leads to social crises there. 
So I'm literally walking around and talking to people, "Is there a black-owned restaurant, or a black-owned dry cleaner?" and folks are looking at me like I'm insane. And if I didn't know this, I'm sure that folks outside the black community don't have this as part of their reality or part of their picture for black America. When we talk about black people, the black situation, problems in the black community, you know, we start with, "Black kids are least likely to graduate from school; black unemployment is four times higher than the national average," all these numbers. But why can't we include that over 90 percent of businesses in the black community are not owned by black people or local residents? If we were to add that to the conversation, maybe folks would say, "Oh, well no wonder things are so bad there," and start thinking about things in a different way instead of allowing those awful numbers to be a reflection of our propensities. Why is it that my people are just supposed to be the perpetual consumer class, and everyone else is supposed to benefit from our money?

She makes a very good point.  The reason many people feel hopeless in inner city America is because there is no job waiting for them.  If they can't rap, sing or dance, make beats, or do something athletic with a ball, many of them don't see a way out of their situations.  Businesses in their communities, by and large, not only tend not to hire people who look like them, but these businesses tend to hire FAMILY.  A lot of small businesses are family run, especially in the early stages.

More importantly, we do have a monied class in our community, and like Wendall Pierce, it needs to decide to create products and services that are needed in our community and not just buy a house with marble countertops and star in basketball housewives while driving an expensive set of cars.  

The entrepreneur that I look up to the most is Magic Johnson. I wish there were more Johnson's in the world, and not because my mom's maiden name is Johnson. He took his wealth from his career as an extraordinary basketball player and has created a business empire that resonates today in a great many communities.  He proved that black inner city residents want products and services too.  His creation of movie theater complexes in Watts, CA and Harlem, USA completely changed these areas. Creating an artistic anchor in the community paved the way for other big box stores to move in.  Countless other urban centers, like Newark and Washington, DC have used this same basic model to spark business in their communities by investing in arts centers to attract tourism and nighttime entertainment.  Harlem started to flourish because after people went to the movies, they wanted something to eat, or wanted to listen to some music at a club, or buy some clothes before hand, or go to a spa.  All of these types of businesses are flourishing in Harlem now. They employ people in the community and people from outside Harlem visit and spend money there regularly. 

So it's a two pronged approach: we need to create businesses at every level, and those with money in the black community need to diversify their business ideas, not just limiting their vision to a fashion or liquor line.  Then we as black people need to patronize those businesses because as my mother always used to say: We've got to support the business in our community because if we don't support us, who will?

It is high time for black people on all points of the wealth ladder to consciously decide that we will invest more within our communities. With more money going into those local businesses, they will hire more workers, hopefully lifting everyone up.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Romney on Syria echoes Obama's Libya strategy

I love Fareed Zakaria because he tells it like it is.    Mitt Romney's response in the Arizona republican debate concerning what he would do in Syria was actually a good one. It makes sense to study the situation to have a good idea who the players on the ground are, unlike what Bush/Cheney did before entering both the Iraq and Afgan wars.  Such a process will hopefully continue to shine a bright light on the brutal massacre that's going on.  Now that Syria is basically turning into a modern day Bosnia/Rwanda genocidal situation, and the US has neither the funds nor political will to either enter or sustain another war, especially with a possible nuclear Iran in the offing, Romney wants to work with the players in the area.  

Mitt Romney: With Assad in trouble, we need to communicate to the Alawites, his friends, his ethnic group, to say, look, you have a future if you'll abandon that guy Assad.  We need to work with Saudi Arabia and with Turkey to say, 'You guys provide the kind of weaponry that's needed to help the rebels inside Syria.' This is a critical time for us. If we can turn Syria and Lebanon away from Iran, we finally have the capacity to get Iran to pull back.

What annoys me is, Romney's essentially advocating for Syria what Obama did in Libya. And since republicans have nothing good to say about anything Obama has done, this really sticks in my craw.


"You're used to hearing such, frankly, nonsense on the campaign trail, because people just make wild accusations. [Mitt Romney's answer] was a sensible, thoughtful, sophisticated answer.
In an odd sense, of course, what Mitt Romney is suggesting is a version of Barack Obama's strategy in Libya. In Libya, we let the Europeans take the lead and we said we will support what you do, but you guys have to be out in front. What he's suggesting is Turkey and Saudi Arabia should take the lead and we would support it. 
I'm sure he's not going to call it leading from behind, but that's sort of what he's suggesting."

Hmmm….Zakaria makes it sound as if Romney's approach would allow other nations to take the lead but have the US supply those nations with diplomatic cover and possible outside military aid.  Thereby our "imperialistic" hands would not be the ones that toppled the regime, more arab/islamic friendly governments would be at the head of the pack.  A sound strategy. Obama may use it and again, Romney's policy breakthroughs would be used to deal with domestic political expediences. Maybe instead of leading from behind, the strategy could be called "Leading like a Mormon" or since rich businessmen know how to delegate: "Leading through delegation of fiduciary and military resources…" Or maybe you'd just call it rational and thoughtful execution of of foreign policy.  Just somebody save those people, I really don't care where the ideas come from.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mae Jamison, a real life Captain Kirk

Ok, this may be a bit of old news to some of you but I'm still excited nonetheless, because with this story the sci-fi geek and "black woman rise" diva in me can come out at the same time! Fans of Star Trek and space exploration unite!  A black woman, the former space shuttle astronaut Mae Jamison, will be heading the project charged with figuring out how a 100 year, multi generational exploration of star systems outside our solar system would work. Big, smiling sigh….I know people are hungry down here, and we've got problems here on this planet, but I'm just geeked out about it. It's as if the Arthur Clarke Rama series is coming to life (which featured a black woman as savior of all humanity, while at the same time depicting blacks and hispanics as utter idiots. 2001 this book was not).  Shoot, I didn't wanna be Uhura when I watched Star Trek, even though the episode when she wore the fly midriff baring outfit and the thigh high boots was CRAZY!  I wanted to be Kirk or Spock doing all the cool sh%t, saving the universe from destruction from the Klingons, even though later the Klingons became cool as hell later in the next generation.

But again I digress.  SEE! I can't help it! This is sooooo cool.  I don't wanna go on the trip, because it's gonna be unpleasant and dirty and I don't wanna crash on Mars and have to set up a camp of plants so I can breathe like Don Cheadle did in the movie Red Planet.  I also don't want to become fat because my bones have lost their density like they did in Wall-e.  But I wanna get the updates and pictures when it happens.  I want to see what's out there.  Maybe bug people like in Orson Scott Card's Ender series. OMG!  I'm soooo geeked out it's ridiculous.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Conflicted by Apple's labor practices

I am so upset because I'm not about to give up my iPhone nor the MacBook Pro that I am typing this blog on. But…what are we as a low-priced wal-mart based culture to do when the King of computer hipness, Apple, turns into a Kathy Lee Gifford "I didn't know how my t-shirts were being produced by essentially slave labor type" of company? How does that work? It's one thing when your clothing or toys are made with this kind of cheap labor because you can simply buy a different brand of clothing or buy it used from a consignment/thrift store so you don't have the taint of supporting "The Man". But…buy or use something different than my precious, I-worked-hard-for-this-and-waited-until-my-contract-had-run-out-but-just-said-"what-de-hell" -I'll-just-pay-the cut-off-fee-because-my-old-phone-sucks, iPhone? Ooooo, that's hard.  I've been a Mac person all my adult life.  Sigh…But we can't turn our faces away just because we like a product.  We can hold the maker of our product accountable. Suggestions?

Joshua Topolsky of the Washington Post writes:

So it would seem that a conversation has started that is rather significant, both to the electronics industry as a whole and to the wider globalized world. We’re starting to discover that the shiny toys we buy and use don’t just magically appear. Producing them requires hard work from many thousands of people, work that isn’t always fair or humane.

Yet there's another question, one which may be more important than “what is Apple doing?” That question is what are we doing — as individuals, as governments — to enforce fair treatment around the world? Are Americans willing to pay more for an iPhone if it means fair treatment of workers? Would you be willing to wait longer to get the latest gadget if you knew it was going to be humanely produced? If you didn’t have to worry that the labor could drive someone to suicide?

And it’s not just about Apple. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company may be the innovation leader and biggest earner in technology, but it is not the only player in this game. Far from it. The places where iPhones come from also produce products for Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Sony, Lenovo and more.

This isn’t an Apple problem, it’s an industry wide problem.

More to the point, it’s a human rights problem, one that needs to be dealt with head-on. We can’t sit passively by, complaining that Foxconn isn’t fair to its workers while also demanding the lowest-cost electronics and fastest iteration of new products. As consumers, we have a responsibility to demand that the companies who make our technology do better than this. That they do better than the status quo.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Santorum Tax Return Reax

Responses from an article about Santorum releasing his taxes…the comments are always, always, always better than the actual story.  Just classic:
If the man is not bright enough to save his own money why should we let him play with ours? 
When told of this, Romney replied, ” Well, I guess Rick needs a better tax attorney, or a Swiss bank account and put the rest in the Cayman Islands ! No reason in the world, he should be paying more than 15%.” 
Santorum pays more because his taxes are based on the salary he earns. Romney is not paid a salary, he pays taxes on the dividends he earns from investments. Capital gains from investments are taxed at a lower tax rate. Its not Romneys fault that the IRS sets the percentages for different incomes. Its not illegal so let it go. 
”So both Romney and Santorum paid what the law allocated them to pay. In other words, both men obeyed the law. Was it a slow news day or something??????” 
Agree with others on this site … if Santorum … who makes more than I do … cannot manage his own finances and understand the tax code enough to minimize his taxes … no way can this career politician manage our country’s budget and get us out of this financial mess his fellow career politicians got us into or were too clueless to avoid. We need some savvy business men to get us out of this financial mess and to avoid any future ones … I don’t trust career politicians with no private sector experience to help us … I see only Romney and Paul as the only two non career politicians savvy enough to know how to get us out of this mess.

Matrix Chicken

My brother and I were talking about this the other night. Certain ethicists think that lobotomizing animals used for food would answer criticisms of food animal treatment during their growth cycle.  If the animal has no frontal lobe, then they have no emotional/spiritual needs.  The body then can be treated in the best way for us to grow food for our increasing population. Problem solved right?

Just asking: when you watched The Matrix, did you feel it was cool for the machines to, through a complex computer program, lobotomize humans in order to supply their ever growing need for energy?  Do the chickens need a Morpheus to guide Cluck-master-Neo to break the chains of…head shaking…
it's not even worth it.  Sooo not cool. I'm not eating any matrix chicken.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Money working for money?

Santorum has got Mitt on this one. Watch the video…he makes Mitt look so out of touch.  The Santorums made a d**n good living: $3 million in about 4 years.  He's not poor, or middle class, or even upper middle class…he's rich.  But he pays taxes at a rate that seems to make some sense: about 28%.  This is not even close to the approximately 15% of taxes that Romney pays on $21 million.  Frankly, both of these presidential candidates's tax rates seems to buttress President Obama's point of taxing millionaires and the super wealthy at a higher rate.  

Rick Santorum WORKS for his money and most of it, by his reckoning, is earned and not dividend income from stocks. So he pays the higher 30% tax rate.  He's certainly well off, but regular people understand his kind of wealth. After he left the senate, he had similar issues that most people have had, he lost equity in his house, he has had to take care of a disabled child, kids in college; he's had to hustle (in relative terms) for his money. He says he didn't really invest his income into various stocks, EFTS, mutual funds and bond combinations to earn money for his retirement -- sure you didn't -- but I'll take him at his word.  However, if he did, his dividend income should not be taxed at the same rate, but at 15% because, as the republicans say, that money has already been taxed; it's criminal to tax it twice. "Keep the capitol gains at 15%!" the republicans say, "Matter of fact, lower it!" As a person with a small stock portfolio, I'm all for relatively low capitol gains taxes, cause I ain't got a lot of capitol gains.  Tax them heavily and like a weight on a liquid dieter, them gains would float away.

Here's where the Santorum/Romney dueling tax rates make Obama's point: Romney's money came not from his labor, but from his money's labor.    He originally made a lot of money and then invested it accordingly, and now lives off the proceeds.  "Great!" you say, "I'd like to have my money do all the work for me too. Why should he pay his taxes twice?" However, he's not paying taxes twice -- he's paying it ONCE, and once only -- at a rate HALF what everyone else is paying; on $21 MILLION -- money he makes each and every year whether he lifts a "just the right sized" finger or not!  This is how CEO's of large companies make out like fat rats.  They accept their pay from dividends, not earned income, so it is taxed only once and at a lower rate.  Minnie, the grocery store check out girl can't make that choice.  Dr. Simmons, the gastroenterologist at John's Hopkins making $250K can't make that choice either. 

The Obama administration has conceded the earlier $250,000 limit and raised it to $1million for the point at which the so called "Buffet Rule" would take effect. Remember, annual INCOME, not overall wealth,  decides the rate at which one should pay.  So say you made $999,999.99 in dividend income.  You would not be taxed at the higher rate, but those who make more, should pay more.  The idea is that, when you are making in yearly stock income under $1million, you're probably working hard for your money, even though at that level, don't get it twisted -- y'all is rich.  But those whose MONEY is singing the the famous Donna Summer song, "She works hard for the money!" to the tune of many millions, should be taxed at the same rate as those who actually wear a waitress outfit in white orthopedic shoes dancing in a real diner to make money the old fashioned way.  It's only fair.

Monday, February 20, 2012

What do we do about Syria??

I'm watching Anderson Cooper this evening and they're talking about Syria.  It's horrible.  The government is killing it's people with impunity.  The world seems paralyzed as to what to do.  I find myself getting frustrated by the US's current inertia on the matter, but even more so at the rest of the world.  The USA has surely done some dastardly stuff in the past, but most of the time its outward goals are positive, especially in the past 20-30 years.  There's talk of a proxy war going on with Russia and Iran pulling the strings, but…when it comes down to it, THOUSANDS are being slaughtered and thousands more have no food, shelter, or medical attention in the middle of winter, and yet the country's all glued to minutiae such as which sweater vest Rick Santorum is going to wear next while he talks about how if he was president, he would home school his kids in the White House.  

Even though there is clearly not means to ameliorate the situation, good people of conscious should wake up and demand that SOMETHING is done to help these people. 

Another deadly day of bloodshed... as the world stands idly by and watches Syria's government murdering its own people.
Opposition groups say more than 50 people were killed today. Hundreds more were reportedly killed in the city of Homs over the weekend.
And the killing has become butchery. One Syrian told the New York Times of seeing the beheaded bodies of women and children lying on the roads.
And the civilized world looks on and does nothing.
A syrian activist called "Danny" says this:
 "The women died. Children died. We have more than 30 children dead from four days ago. We have loads of children injured. My friends are in a hospital. I hope they'll be OK. Lots of them have been hit by fighters yesterday. (Some were hit) today just because of trying to cross the street. 
Snipers hit women, children, men, kids, doesn't matter. The Syrian army - I'm not going to call it the Syrian army, they have no humanity in them, they kill anything in front of them. They are hitting civilian houses.”

This is worse than bad.  This has been going on for a several months. The world needs to step up.  The United States has been a leader, whether asked for or not, in the past. I have to say, I'm kind of tired that we, the US, seem to be doing all the heavy lifting in the world. It's time for the rest of the world, who seem to think that the US is so heavy handed and autocratic in dealing with world issues, to demonstrate their leadership capabilities. Obama began pushing in this direction with his republican loathed, "leading from behind" strategy on Libya.  And frankly, that turned out pretty well.  But it's time for us to be the follower, the backup, the muscle that stands in the corner while England, Japan, Australia, dangit, ANYONE steps up and addresses this insane business.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Show Some Respect, MSM!

Can we just leave Whitney ALONE??!  I am so tired of every news story, every so called "friend" who Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper have on their show to figure out "just how wasted was she?!" Can't we just let the woman rest in peace and let her family deal with the inevitable hurt, pain and anger that she was taken away so suddenly? I am tired of hearing, "I had nothing but respect for her, BUT…" and then go on to say that she was doing drugs, or she should have had better handlers, or she was drunk that morning or any other crap that comes to their mind.  And it's all out of "love" mind you….

I turn to these news shows to watch THE NEWS; about politics, war, diplomacy, education, legal issues…the news of the day.  The occasional celebrity info is fine, but do we really have to go on and on and on?  She is important to the national discourse because she's Whitney Houston, not just any old celebrity. But… can we have the ATTRACTIVE pictures of the woman up? It actually hurts my feelings to see the picture of her looking jacked up.  It's not dignified.  It's not o-k! It's Whitney.  Show some frickin respect!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Plight of the Poor and Working Poor

After I watch this video all I want to say is…SEE?! SEE?! Everybody wants to judge poor people's eating habits, savings practices, work ethic…that is…UNTIL YOU BECOME POOR!  Then rice-a-MSG-roni is fine, cause you're just trying to make it. "We have teenage jobs!" selling shoes and working at a bakery, "and we're trying to raise three kids. We're scared.  It's hard…sniff sniff. We've looked for jobs for TWO YEARS?! We don't know what we're going to do!"

I don't mean to be insensitive because it is hard.  It is depressing.  It IS frustrating.  It's not fair.  You DO work hard. You try to save money. You get as educated as best as you can.  BUT… poor, and the working poor, have been saying this - - FOR YEARS!!!  They have been having it hard for DECADES. No one has been listening and as a matter of fact, so far as some are concerned, all the problems they've been having are due to their lack of virtue, perseverance, and planning. 

But let's get this straight: the working poor can and does include some teachers, daycare workers and university professors. Yet for years there has been this cynical mantra in the public discourse that says, when you're part of the poor and working poor, you're just sucking at the addictive teat of government. Poor people can't make mistakes like everyone else.  Poor need to eat healthier meals and should work harder to feed their family fruits and vegetables rather than cheap sodas and boxed mac and cheese mixes.  Why don't poor people spend more time with their kids, making sure they do their homework and seeing to their needs rather than just letting them watch TV all the time. Children should be getting sleep, and not taken to work with their hard working parent at midnight, while they clean up someone's office building at 2am, because they have no one to watch them. (True story).  It's ALL their fault.  "Get it together, Poor People!" says the conventional wisdom of many.

Now that true middle and upper middle class people are joining the working poor due to the harsh economic realities of The Great Recession, they are beginning to understand.  When YOU become a part of the story, you find out that not having enough money in a very rich society is HELLA HARD! The poor are just like us, just slobs like all of us.  We are the poor, and the poor are us. They are no more or less virtuous, hard working or well meaning than anyone else.  They just don't have enough money! Now that some of you don't have enough cash, maybe you'll be a tad bit more understanding…

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hip Hop's what we do

Here is the essence, I mean the true essence of how musicians, especially Jazz musicians, think when we are learning or teaching how jazz or any other music works.  This producer/musician did what I did, what my friends did, what our ancestors did. The end is the best part.  It sounds like listening to a master saxophonist, like my husband Robert Landham,  talk about how he learned the music. "I went to record stores, looked in the crates, and got the original record. I listened to what Miles Davis did over and over again, and then tried to re-create it."  That's it. That's all it is. 

Music is the greatest. thing. EVER. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

RIP, Whitney...

I just found out Whitney Houston passed away.

Whitney Houston is dead.  I don't know why…it doesn't even matter why, now one of the greatest voices OF THE 20th CENTURY is gone.  I am very, very, very sad. As a singer, one who is both a voice teacher and a professional, this hurts me in a place that I cannot describe. Whitney was a singer's singer; an awesome talent who knew how to use her voice well. She was the singer for all of us.  

She was presented as a pop star, not a Black singer; and after a while, many black people were really pissed off with her because of it.  It was the age old dumbness, i.e. the "not-black-enough-syndrome". Because her music did not reflect the heavy R&B/funk/soul roots of her own heritage, she was booed at the 1989 soultrain awards.  From my vantage point, she spent the rest of her career working to regain her "black card" from her public. Stupid.  Not business wise, but... I'm so frickin' tired of black people having to prove that they're black to other black people.  It makes no sense.  You may not like what the person does, the views they have, the way they speak, or the music they sing; but that does not make anyone any less of african descent than the day they were born.

Whitney Houston was a role model for every girl who wanted to sing.  "The Greatest Love of All" was sung by me and my choir when I was a child and in high school because of how she sang it, not the original singer, George Benson.  "One Moment in Time" was and still is one of the great graduation songs.  Singing the national anthem at the super bowl during the first Gulf War was one of the most moving versions ever sung and did something that in my humble opinion was larger than just her singing it.  

Whitney, singing not in an evening gown, but in a white jogging suit and a headband with red and blue trim, was fronting a classical orchestra singing like a modern version of Marion Anderson on the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  Nobody protested her representing American ideals as the Daughters of the American Revolution did Marion in 1939.  Everyone WANTED Whitney to represent America in a time of war during the most American of sports -- Football.  African-Americans, through her, could now, officially feel as American as anybody else.  We were not other, we were a part. When she sang the high notes and flashed a smile that she got through this extremely difficult song to sing, and raised her hands high, we all raised our hands with her --- all meaning, ALL, EVERYONE --- no matter the race, creed, sex, color, ethnicity -- all of us.  We were all Americans at that point. We all cheered, we all cried, we all smiled. Together.

After all the drugs and the tragic vocal loss, this is how I'll remember Whitney. The great musical unifier. One of the greatest American voices of the century.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Uniquely American Success Story

I bring up this woman, Felecia Hatcher of Feverish Ice Cream, because I think she's a great example of how our system is so advantageous to entreprenuers.  She and her husband used to work at Nintendo and were laid off in 2008, the height of the US economic meltdown.  So they began a business selling ice pops with flavors that appeal to adults, using ice cream carts purchased off craigslist.

Apple Martini. Apple Pie. Almond Butter. These three things did not have a lot in common until 28-year-old Felecia Hatcher came along and made them into ice cream and popsicle flavors.
Hatcher, who lives in Florida, has made a name for herself with Feverish, an aptly named line of gourmet ice cream trucks that cater to the state’s warm-weather residents year-round. 

I'd eat them, sounds delish...But that's not the important point.  The point is she started the business because she was unemployed.  Ok, a lot of people do that. What's so special about that, you say? The greatness of America is that she had access to unemployment compensation, most likely for at least six to twelve months. The removal of unemployment benefits would be devastating to the US economy at this moment, not only because of lack of money churning in the consumer economy.  Removal, or reduction of benefits, would not give enterprising individuals like this one the time to get their new business off the ground.

In this time of deciding whether or not we should be extending these benefits, let's look to this as an example.  

Simon Johnson of the New York Times:
Extended unemployment benefits provide on average about $300 a week — one-third of the average weekly wage and only about 70 percent of the poverty level for a family of four. If you strip even this money from people who remain out of work through no fault of their own, you will push more individuals and families onto the streets and into shelters. The cost of providing those fallback services is very high — and much higher than providing unemployment benefits. 
How does it help any economic recovery when the people who lose jobs cannot even afford to buy basic goods and services — enough to keep their family afloat? 
Do you think that Hatcher and her husband could have started their successful venture having to worry about the above issues?  If they couldn't find work, would it have been better for them to have gone onto welfare? Which is more cost effective in the long run: paying for unemployment insurance or having another house in foreclosure, another set of people who cannot purchase any goods and services, another person in despair who already feels feels bad because they can't find a job. America's strength is the understanding that risk needs a safety net too. Popsicle anyone?

ok I KNOW it's inflammatory but...'s so daggum funny

This is what Roland Martin and every other person who screws up has to do to placate the offended organization. Insert Komen to insulted women and Mitt Romney to Poor People - or at least people who care about poor people…well maybe he doesn't have to do this much….

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Komen Redux

"Women felt betrayed and they had the tools and presence to do something about it." - Joanne Bamberger
Joanne Bamberger, better known as PunditMom, has written an excellent article that really encapsulates the whole debacle that is the meltdown of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  The organization is probably finished, by her reckoning, for some very important reasons:

…I'm sure Komen never thought in a million years that women would react as viscerally as they have. And that's why the Komen Foundation is probably finished, because they misjudged their constituency...  
But the real story in this whole fiasco is one that most have missed -- the role that women in online and social media had, and continue to have, in bringing attention to a story that Komen must have believed would go relatively unnoticed because the amount of money involved was such a small portion of Planned Parenthood's annual budget.
Though I have been blogging for a relatively short-time, it's quickly become apparent to me that the internet is one big Oprah network; it's ruled in large part by women. There is a site for everything a woman could want or need. There are 15,001 mommy bloggers, mommy political bloggers (me for one), women's health bloggers, fashion and gossip bloggers; you name it, if you're a woman, there is something for you. And these women know how to advocate for causes they believe in.

The fight against breast cancer is supremely personal to most women in a way many other causes are not. A true sisterhood was born around this one medical issue and the bonds of that sisterhood have only grown and become stronger over time. Women across the country have come together in support of each other to raise awareness for the need to fund the research for a breast cancer cure. We've walked together in pink t-shirts and we've taken money out of otherwise tight family budgets to donate to "the cure."
This sisterhood exists not only in real life, but in the virtual world, as well. And as anyone who is the least bit social media savvy knows, women rule online spaces. In the last few years, those women have created powerful brands and successful businesses out of knowing how to leverage those tools for maximum effect. How any organization could have failed to foresee that tech-savvy women, who are the same ones who've been their primary supporters, wouldn't use those same tools to fight back on behalf of loved ones who need the screening and preventive care services Planned Parenthood offers, is about the biggest corporate communications failure I've witnessed for a long time.
As I mentioned earlier, I received so many articles, petitions, and angry posts on Facebook about this issue that I couldn't escape - - unless I turned Facebook off completely. What Bamberger makes emphatic is that women don't like it when their lives are used as political fodder. The Komen foundation's decision came off as if it was using the discontinuation of grants to Planned Parenthood JUST to satisfy a political agenda. This is what really ticked women off; it didn't matter how much money the grant was for.

Kelli Goff at gave us 7 lessons learned from this fiasco. Here's what I think is perhaps the most important lesson of those she lists:
6. Women's health is not a women's issue.Women's health issues are often talked about in the media and in the world of politics as if they only matter to women. But for every female activist, legislator and voter whose life has been touched by a gender specific health scare, be it breast cancer or a high-risk pregnancy, there is a man whose life they have touched. Many of those men came out in full force this week, among them Mayor Michael Bloomberg whose $250,000 matching pledge to Planned Parenthood inspired the Livestrong Foundation, founded by cycling legend and cancer-survivor Lance Anrmstrong, to pledge $100,000 to the organization. 
And that's brings us to the real point:  This was not a woman's issue, this was a human issue. A breast cancer survivor is not just a woman but a daughter, a sister, a mother, a cousin, a co-worker, a grandmother, or even just a friend. These are human relationships not defined solely by gender or age.  Everyone is touched by this issue.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We're laughing with you, Mitt, not at you...

Funny. So funny!

After the losses to Santurom, despite outspending him 41-1, I think Romney might want to read this book. Just substitue in "republicans" for "guys" in the subtitle.

Dear Political Campaigns: I don't mind if you use my songs!

There are artists who don't want to let republican candidates use their songs.  Not me, I think I'd let 'em use one of mine.

Perhaps the republican party might want to use my song "Like Rain" to express it's, um, sort-of-devotion to Mitt Romney:

"Love is like an Ocean/Never ending always going
Your love was so appealing/It was like the calm before the storm
But is wasn't Like Rain: It was shelter that had no front door
But it wasn't Like Rain: It was armor so heavy it made you sore
But it wasn't Like Rain: We were two, never one making war
And it wasn't Like Rain…yeah heah…"

Or maybe the tea party might like my song "Save Me" as an ode to Romney:

"Oh save me from, loving you /I just promised myself that I would not fall in love so soon"

Libertarians might consider using my cover of Janet Jackson's "When I Think Of You" for a Ron Paul ad:

"When I think of you... nothing else seems to matter
When I think of you... all I think about it our love"

How about the track I did with Landslide "Its Not Over" as the theme song for Gingrich's first and/or second wife:

"When we were together at first is was good/Made me feel just like a woman should Then you decided that I was hooked/No more hugs and lovin' just a woman just to clean and cook Became a playa, didn't even try to hide/I said something you said don't cramp my style Took it all I was in denial/Not you want me back and you want me to be your wife..."This love's over no discussion This love's over You must be crazy if you think you're gonna be my man."

Dear President Obama: Please feel free to consider using my song "Everything is Beautiful" as your new campaign theme song. 

"It's time to live our lives just like the sun is always out even when there's rain
Lets open up our eyes and see the beauty in our lives even when there's pain..."

or Obama could re-use the song his 2008 campaign inspired me to write, "Change the World"

"I want to change the World, don't you want to change the world?"

But what they all might wanna use is a song from my NEW album, "Mommy, What's A Depression?"
called "I'ma Hustla"

Times is rough
Gotta put gas in my car goto work
Yeah it's tough
Belt is tight
Gotta put my kid through school pay the bills no help in sight, oh no
But I got my eyes on the prize
Gotta Make it work cause I got one life
I'ma hustla

Stay tuned for MUCH more news about my new album, we're in the final stages of getting it ready for you now!  ;-)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Komen/Planned Parenthood Follies

This is a fascinating article about the whole Komen/Planned Parenthood scandal. When this first started hitting the news, it hit Facebook first.  I got posting after posting after posting after posting telling me that I should sign a petition and tweet my disapproval, and how evil the decision not to fund planned parenthood was.

Mary Elizabeth Williams:

It started with a tweet. And in the end, that’s what won the war. On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood sent out a no-punches-pulling alert that “Susan G. Komen caves under anti-choice pressure, ends funding for breast cancer screenings at PP health centers.” By Friday, Komen for the Cure had said it was sorry, and reversed its decision. 
Within minutes of that Tuesday bombshell, the tale had become not just a news story but a social media explosion, with a flurry of responses pouring out across Facebook, Twitter and Komen’s own message boards – overwhelmingly disapproving of Komen for the Cure’s severing of its ties to Planned Parenthood. And in the process, it became an object lesson in how to handle a crisis, how to make it worse, and then how to fix it. 
To me, this issue became a text book case of how to politicize that which should not be political: the supporting of a a cure for breast cancer. On various comment boards you heard people from both sides say that they will no longer support Komen for the Cure because: insert partisan rhetoric here.  THIS is what the television, radio, and internet battle between the right and the left hath wrought. Charities that were previously places where we could all come together have become new places for partisan bickering thereby enabling the news media to run another story for the insatiable 24 hour news cycle.  In the words of the great thinker Rodney King: Can't we all just get along?!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Newt's bomb throwing may win the battle, but loses the war...

Ever since Newt Gingrich first made his "Food Stamp President" statement, I've been wanting to blog about it. A lot.  But the news cycle has been FAST.  I just have not been able to keep up with everything.  I mean --  D'angelo is BACK and performing!  That's important.  He's been gone for a long time. It's a HUGE story; at least to me. So, I have kept on my laptop screen all the articles I have seen that have dealt with this issue; for weeks.  It's quite an impressive list... you should see it.  I might even blog about one of them in a bit.

But what I have come to concerning Gingrich's statements, is that this is just politics.  Politicians will always use whatever advantage they think they have to reach the constituency they want to reach. I think Peter Beinhart makes a very important point about why Newt Gingrich's bomb throwing rhetoric just doesn't work in the long run.  Thus far it has been effective in helping keep his campaign alive far longer than most could have ever imagined. But his use of such divisive language will have consequences far beyond this presidential race.

Gingrich’s problem isn’t racism; it’s ignorance. Only someone profoundly ignorant of African-American politics would suggest that black Americans have spent the past few decades seeking food stamps, not jobs. We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, after all, in part because of the speech King gave at an event called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. If you look at the budgets proposed by the Congressional Black Caucus over the years, you’ll see that they often include huge, FDR-style government jobs programs. Gingrich may not think that’s the best way to go about providing jobs, but to suggest that African-Americans and their leaders don’t consider jobs important just reveals how shut off from Africa-American politics he actually is.
The type of rhetoric Gingrich has been using just makes the vast majority of people of color mad. People are tired of having to prove that they want to work hard just like everybody else.  Perhaps the more significant fall out, though, is that people outside Gingrich's base feel like there is no place for them within the republican party.  That someone who is considered the conservative frontrunner for the republican presidential nomination can call the first african-american president a "food stamp president", a transparently loaded, blatant mischaracterization, suggests there is little to no room within the republican party for minorities whose political views lean conservative.  Those non-whites who actually vote republican or are leaders in the republican party are often looked at less as idiots than turncoats by fellow minorities.  "If they can say something like this, how can you possibly trust these people?" is what the many of the minority electorate would seem to think., a black news source, begins a recent article by noting that has disproved the original food stamp statement and then goes on to compare, negatively, Bush's economic inheritance with Obama's economic inheritance. has looked into Newt Gingrich’s claim that Barack Obama had put more people on Food Stamps than any President in American history and has found that it was false. More people were put on the EBT debit card program that replaced Food Stamps under George W. Bush than Obama. 
Gingrich also failed to take into account that during Bush’s last year the amount of people receiving EBT tripled and the fact that while Bush inherited a $236 billion surplus from Bill Clinton, Obama inherited a $5 trillion deficit and a recession from Bush.

The has run headlines such as this:

Given this context, black conservatives like Shelby Steele just seem blind, even though Steele, in particular, raises some valid points.

The problem with all these liberal good works is that they associate blackness with permanent inferiority. They don’t really believe in the fundamental human equality of the people they claim to help. They want to be valued for their good intentions, never for their effectiveness in uplift. I grew to hate these programs and policies because they not only believed in my inferiority more than my capacity for excellence but also encouraged me to use black weakness — the inferiority imposed by four centuries of brutal oppression — as leverage and entitlement in the larger society.
There is a place for the conservative platform in our political discourse.  I myself don't lean that way, quite obviously, but I acknowledge it's an actual set of philosophies that has validity. The two predominant political ideologies in american thought, progressivism and conservatism, need to duke it out in the public square from time to time because such debate allows the electorate to best consider how policy shapes American daily life.  I personally know, for example, plenty of people who think that welfare is a horrible institution which leads to inter-generational addiction to government handouts.  Many of these people have dashikis on with LONG dread-locks.

Newt, Romney, and the rest of the republican party leaders need to have a long talk with God, because Jesus didn't talk to the money changers, he hung out with the pimps, hos, and lepers…not that I'm saying that poor and disenfranchised people necessarily are pimps and…oh well…you know what I mean..;-)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Further Exploration of The Myth Of The Magic Negro

Toure was apparently not happy about the film, "The Help".  In his review of the film, he wrote that he's tired of the "magic negro" affect.  Toure's certainly not the first person to use such terminology, but he's very apt in his discussion of it as depicted in "The Help".  Check out his description of this quintessential character of American cinema: 

They are blacks who arrive in the lives of whites with more knowledge and soul and go on to teach whites about life, thus making white lives better….Magical negroes exist so that the knowledge and spirit that comes from blackness can enlighten or redeem whites who are lost or broken.

This phenomenon is is something I have been mildly annoyed with (and bemused by) for years.  Here, for example, is why I hated The Green Mile: the strongest, most spiritual Black man, who was literally MAGIC, and hence had the ability to free himself at ANY TIME, was IN JAIL; he was not "intellectually gifted" and thus did not help himself. Instead HE MADE HIS JAILERS BETTER PEOPLE.  Just ain't right, especially when we look at the plot setup for the film from this perspective. And we as moviegoers have to suspend a WHOLE LOT of belief/reality in order to choose NOT to see things from this angle, in my opinion. Somehow our collective acculturation allows for this leap of logic, given how successful The Green Mile was commercially.  Yet there is something far more important about this magical affect black people have on the larger "majority" (ie white) population. The majority American collective consciousness has voted into the presidency one of these "magic negroes" and now many are mad that he hasn't made good, hasn't sufficiently played the role as intended.

Barack Hussein Obama was first called the Magic Negro in a song made popular by Rush Limbaugh during the 2008 election cycle. Besides being hella funny, Limbaugh used the song to suggest Obama wasn't "black enough" and therefore whites would vote for him; to imply that since he didn't have the "street civil-rights cred" of an Al Sharpton, blacks would not get the justice they were looking for (which is probably true).  I don't often agree with Rush Limbaugh, but in this case he was onto something. Cognitive dissonance notwithstanding, still I believe he only scratched the surface of the subject. In the Magic Negro Mythology, there is always a crisis in which some white person, usually from the mythic "when we were colored" time, you know, back when  black people did just fine despite brutal racism [see Whoopi Goldberg in "Corrina Corrina", Will Smith in "The Legend of Bagger Vance"], is in trouble and in need of a good, stern talkin' to.  Well, America in 2008 was in a crisis alright.  The good ole "thank God I'm a country" boy ruined the economy, and we were falling fast. Obama stepped in and looked cool and in control. "Magic Negro help us!" said the larger american community.  Does everyone remember the coverage of his inauguration?  Before he'd signed anything into law, folks were already comparing his first term in office to the greatness of Lincoln.  He received the Noble Peace Prize within six months of becoming president.

These days many of those same previously effusive people don't like Obama nearly as much because, as Mitt Romney inaccurately put it,"He didn't make the economy what it is, he just made it worse".  He didn't fulfill his mythological requirements of making everything better IMMEDIATELY, so for many people, he failed.  Dang it, apparently he's just human after all.  

Republicans are saying the policies Obama put in place didn't really help the economy.  That they would have been able to turn everything around much quicker.  He's the worst president ever! Nice guy, just not a good manager; most polarizing President of all TIME.  But…the jobs numbers  have gone up for the fifth month in row and unemployment is down to 8.3%.  We've had twenty-three straight months of positive job creation. While not good enough, things are moving in the right direction, concede most all the pundits.  So let me get this straight: we were in TWO hot wars, oil EXPLODED out of the gulf and ran all over erry-thang, Japan went, literally, radio active, (Godzilla is actually forming in the goo surrounding the reactors now) and the countries of the European Union one by one have been taking turns flirting with bankruptcy.  This has all happened in the space of…three years! All Bill Clinton had to deal with was Newt acting like a spoiled brat and some woman with bodily fluids on a dress. Currently, we are only engaged in ONE war, Europe is not imploding this instant, we are no longer in a self-imposed debt crisis… whew…we are starting to emerge from the abyss.  But that's not good enough, because Obama's Magical Negroness did not fulfill it's actual purpose:

They are there only to help whites. This relates to screenwriter James McBride’s recent assertion that in cinematic terms … [Blacks are] there to service white characters — not always literally serving them but functioning as a vehicle for them to show or prove their morality and heroism or both. We appear as mere props in white lives. McBride says, “Only when the boss decides your story intersects with his or her life is your story valid. Because you’re a kind cultural maid. You serve up the music, the life, the pain, the spirituality. You clean house.”

House Majority Speaker John Boehner does not look heroic.  Heck, he can barely get his caucus together. Frankly, in my humble opinion, there isn't a non person of color in government today who looks larger-than-life or heroic against the imposing presence of Obama.  So where's Neo to Obama's Morpheus? For, based on the Magic Negro Mythology rules, Obama cannot be the actual hero of the story.  That narrative wouldn't sell tickets and there would be no overseas box office.  And he's got a black wife and kids.  These just limit his appeal.  Maybe he should dump Michelle and bring Eva Mendes in as first lady….He's proven he can sing like black folks -- check.  He plays basketball - check. Now if he only he could see dead people….ahhh…feel much better now….

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My take on Viola Davis

Since the release of "Red Tails" a few weeks ago, there's been quite a bit of focus on Viola Davis. Here is a woman who is talented and attractive, yet not being offered roles that merit her acting stature.  There's been a group of people, perhaps most notably Charlize Theron, who've said, "You gotta stop talking like that, you're hot as Sh*t", meaning it doesn't matter that Viola Davis is a dark skinned black woman.  That she should be able to get roles just as easy as Theron.   Allison Samuels of The Daily Beast puts it well: 

How sweet of Theron to say, and how thoroughly misguided and offensive as well…
In Hollywood, where even legendary filmmaker George Lucas had to fight and ultimately use his own money to get an all-black film (Red Tails) made, black actresses still struggle to find quality work. When they do, they are rarely cast as ideals of beauty or objects of desire. On the odd occasion that they are, only a certain look will do. Berry, who is biracial, has long been viewed as Hollywood’s most beautiful black actress, and some would argue that much of her success is based on that belief. Apparently Theron didn’t get the memo that mainstream culture strictly dictates what beauty is—and by those narrow standards, Viola Davis doesn’t fit the bill. Has Davis graced the covers of any of the beauty and fashion magazines that Theron lands with ease, whether she has a project or not? She hasn’t. … Her “hotness” was apparently not enough to warrant a solo [magazine] appearance despite the fact that she may soon snag her second Oscar nomination for The Help. The reasons for this are as varied as they are disturbing, and Theron’s overly simplistic advice only underscores the lack of understanding many have around a reality they either don’t comprehend or don’t fully appreciate. 
Some people really think that if you just pull yourself up by the bootstraps, everything will be alright. (most often this is a republican argument, by the way) Why is it that Black and Brown people have less wealth?  Because they don't work hard enough, right? Um, noooo...As an example, let's use housing in the Washington, D.C. metro area where I currently live: imagine you live in the same size house but in two different neighborhoods: one in a majority white area and the other in a majority black area.  Houses of exactly similar size and features can have different market values simply because one area is considered more desirable, and/or has better educational institutions, and/or more services available to them.  Care to figure out which one might be which? See Prince George's and Montgomery counties in suburban Maryland, just outside D.C.  Prince Georges County has one of the highest rates of Black millionaires in the country, BUT the houses are priced at a lower level than those in Montgomery County.  It's just not as "desirable" to live in that community.

It is the same with Viola Davis.  It doesn't matter how "hot" she is, i.e. how desirable her physical attributes might make her to members of the opposite sex.  Unfortunately, she doesn't have the "look" and therefore, no matter what she does, how hard she works, or what her skills are, she will not get the same caliber of roles that a Charlize Theron or a Meryl Streep will receive.  Now you could say: "What about Whoopie Goldberg?  She got lots of roles after the Color Purple.  She worked all the time!" Herein lies what I'll call the "Oprah or Cosby Corollary", meaning that everything is just fine and dandy because ONE person of color has succeeded.  Whoopie was a comedian and our society is far more comfortable with Black people being funny than with them being serious. More importantly, and hopefully without sounding crass, Whoopie Goldberg was not going for beauty roles that would be offered to other White actresses.  And good for Whoopie that she's done as well as she's done!  But she's only one!

Now apparently Ms. Davis is starting to get offered more roles; I suspect the controversy combined with the Oscar nod has made her more attractive to studios. Yet listen to the roles offered:  She's going to play a military psychologist overseeing children (code for supporting cast) in the sic-fi adaptation of the book "Ender's Game"(which is an astonishingly good novel about children in a military school that wipe out an entire species of bug people and…well..that kind of gives it away…but to continue) and a librarian (code for supporting cast member) "seer".  Hmmm…when did we see another clairvoyant "magical negro" seer woman?  Hmmm…could that be…Whoopie Goldberg in "Ghost"? So I guess she's really made it.  'Cause when you get the Magical Negro roles…that means, "We done made it! We's movin' to the east side…to a deluxe apartment…in the sky-hy-hy…mo-hoo-vin' oooon up!…" fade to black….

For more information about the "Magical Negro Effect" see my next blog…