Friday, December 11, 2009

"This is as real as it gets"... The RACE edition!

Forget cuing the Jay-Z song right this second and seriously put all your notions about race aside... Ok? You ready... Let's go on this journey real quick.

It is not my youthful idealism and naivety that forces me believe what I do. It's not because I grew up in the "inner-city", rural Texas, and an affluent suburb either. Sorry if I sound pompous, but I see it the way it should be... I believe in that good old fashion concept of equality in all factions of life.

As we sit here in 2009 with our nation's first Black President, those who are afraid of "racial progress" are doing all they can to stir up irrational, yet deeply rooted fears in the hearts of people, who I feel are good people but are being bamboozled into believing these old stereotypes are true. It's unfortunate that the election brought all of these issues back to the surface, but maybe this is what we need. Maybe we should stop sweeping these issues under the rug and acknowledge that there are still some serious tensions in this country.

Random side-bar: I put "racial progress" in quotes, because for the millionth time, I don't advocate the concept of race. Sorry. Race is a sociological phenomena and biologically there is nothing inherent in ANYONE that makes them better than the next person. So that would mean that we are equal. Ding, ding, ding. So back to the quoted phrase, I put it in quotes b/c I firmly believe that and sociologists, anthropologists, etc., are there to back me up. We are all different. I will acknowledge that and respect it wholeheartedly, but we are all equal. There are different histories and cultures for people all over this planet, but the one thing that we all have in common is our humanity. So I feel progress isn't needed on something we should just accept as is b/c it is the truth. I know that may seem a bit radical, and I am one indeed, because I feel like I can not budge on that. I feel the same way about gender, but at least we all know that there are biological differences between men and women. With that being said, I firmly want it to be know that it is also nothing that makes a man inherently better than a woman or vice versa.

Random side-bar 2: All the presidential bashing is just out of control. At no point in American history has their ever been something this ridiculous. Yes, presidents have been criticized by their opponents and allies throughout time, but this is on a different level. I can not recall learning in history class about those opposed to George Washington, Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy, insert any name here, evoking racial fears or questioning their citizenship b/c race was never an issue with them. Despite their differences in opinion, these men were perceived as legitimate, because they were the norm of that the President had been and should be in their eyes: An older, White, well-educated man. The closest thing we have had to this was the anti-Catholic sentiment that occurred with JFK's campaign.

Random side-bar 3: One day I hope to live to see a female president of the United States... And I'll honestly admit that I am overly-analytical person, so I wonder sometimes what would have happened if Hilary would have been the nominee and won the election rather than Obama? Do you think she would have received the equivalent to Obama in sexist acts? Would posters of her portrayed as a 'Femi-Nazi," etc., be the norm rather than our President's face photo-shopped on the body of a witch doctor? Would "bitch" be her version of being called an "illegitimate citizen" b/c of one's ethnicity? Would they be calling her a "Communist" and "Fascist" at the same time too? (Lol... That still gets me.) Honestly, yes I do, and gender issues would have bubbled up to the surface rather than race. Just something to think about.

Sorry about that... I can get a little long-winded at times, but I felt it needed to be pointed out and since I can't do footnotes on a blog, you get to read my side-bars. Haha. Back to the task at hand...

I was on Global Grind this morning, Russell Simmons' blog site dedicated to the hip-hop community, and read some comments that spurred this whole blog. So Mr. Simmons posted a blog about how Rush Limbaugh is stoking those good, ole racial fears and how no one is going for it. It was a pretty good post to say the least, but a comment on the page said something to the extent that multiculturalism is impossible, blah, blah, blah and another one that said that racism should be abolished, but Blacks should worry about "Black on Black crime rather than White-on-Black racism" led me to compose this entry. To address the first comment as a serious position is a joke in my opinion, but I shall anyways. I feel like I have to through a calender at people sometimes and tell them to wake up. It is 2009, and before anyone attacks me for my nostalgic love of history, esp the 1960's, I love the fact we are all acknowledged as equal under the law and the racially motivated legal restrictions that barred integration are gone (although there is still progress to be made in that arena, and equality for the LGBT community still needs to be addressed fully). But as much as we know that, we don't accept it. And that's the problem. That's why comments like those continue to be made. Look, there are some norms in our specific communities that I don't like, but that's beyond the point. I hate to sound cliche, but there truly is no Black American or White American culture. On many levels, we have the same culture. Oh no, did I say that? I SURE DID! Africans, who were sold into slavery, were stripped of their native cultures after that horrendous voyage from Africa to the Americas and basically left to fend for themselves in an unknown land, all while being treated as chattel. The Black experience is the American experience just as much as the White experience, so naturally the cultures overlap and share a lot of the same customs. The true difference lies in the treatment of Blacks throughout this country's history, but culturally, the similarities are astounding. Yes, I acknowledge there are differences between everyone, but we need to stop latching on to them.So back to multiculturalism, the founding of this nation was multicultural from the get go, and I am not sorry if I point that out all the time b/c it seems like it didn't sink into people's minds. Let's not forget that there were Native Americans here when this land was colonized by Europeans, Africans were sold into one of the most vile crimes against humanity and brought to this land for labor, my home state (Texas) used to belong to Mexico (Cali, Arizona, and New Mexico, as well) so there were Mexicans here, and although it was acquired later, the great state of Hawaii, the state that produced our current President, is an island located in the Pacific Ocean, so the native population there is of Asian descent. I can not forget about the Russian and indigenous cultures of people in Alaska, as well. I am not that naive to get all "Pie in the Sky" on you, but we seriously have to do better. Can utopias exist? God, I hope so, but for right now, what we can do is acknowledge equality and respect our fellow man/woman regardless of their ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, educational level, religious beliefs, age, or their level of ableness.

So on to the next one... "Blacks should focus more on Black-on-Black crime rather than White-on-Black racism." Really? I mean seriously. Do we need to another lecture in why Black-on-Black crime exists? Clearly. It does not exist because Blacks are inherently criminal or anything of that nature. That's foolish. Systemic and economic racism has kept many Blacks in a place subjugation for decades, but it is a vicious cycle that CAN be broken and don't let anyone tell you differently. Blacks have preyed upon each other and countless lives have been lost, because poverty has run rampant in the community due to discrimination in the workforce, which has led to a lack of equal pay to workers of color (if you're a women, even more so), and the educational system in the country is so backwards that it neglects to fund the schools in the neighborhoods that need it the most (the same could be said for the schools in rural communities). So yeah, if we want know why the first part of that statement exists, the answer was in the ending. :)

But not to get too pessimistic on you all, the last comment I read was the most important, so I wanted to close with it. One poster states that "non-racist Whites should align themselves with racist-Whites and let them know that it is not okay to harbor such negative feelings towards people based on their racial background." [paraphrased] While I don't know if I would say align, I would say EDUCATE. People hate what they don't know. I get it. It's not right and seriously we live in such an age of uber technology that one should not allow themselves to be ignorant to others' cultures, but it is something that we all have to just acknowledge. Regardless, non-racist Whites can play a large role in shaping the racial landscape, and they have throughout history i.e. the Kennedy's. :) My favorite family. Haha. And there are so many more. But yes, we owe it to future generations to stop this nonsense. To get all MLK on you all, but I don't want my children growing up in a country where they are only seen as Black or any other superficial category. I say race is superficial b/c you can't and shouldn't want to change the color of your skin. We should take pleasure in knowing that there is such diversity in this country and for the most part, I say we do a good job. Yes, I know there is much room for improvement, but let's not harp on the negative this second and enjoy the progress we have made in our great country. Shout out to all of us!!! :) At a certain point, we have let history be history. It can be interpreted still and needs to be learned, but we can not be upset with each other because of it. This country has many negative aspects in its past, but let's not forget that we have achieved many great successes together.

I would just like to throw out there, that I graduate from college in less than ten days and I needed to be studying for my Spanish final, but I am blogging instead. PRIORITIES, PRIORITIES. Haha!

Peace and Love (or should I say Paz and Amor?!?! Haha!),


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Jay-Z should give Miley Cyrus a high five if he ever sees her...

So, I have a ton of things that I SHOULD be doing, considering I graduate from college in less than 3 weeks and start Grad School in less than 2 months, but such is life. Haha! I had this thought when I was at the gym earlier and decided to blog about it... Enjoy!

We all know the saying, "there's nothing better than free publicity", right? Well, this is definitely the case for the catchy summer anthem by pop princess Miley Cyrus, "Party in the USA," which gave a shout out to Jay-Z and Britney Spears. And while Brittney isn't doing to bad for herself (post K-Fed was rocky at first, but I am proud of her for her stellar comeback), we all know what's going on with Jay-Z these days. Numero uno: He is married to the amazing Beyonce, herself. The fact that he gets to talk to Solange makes me totally jealous. Haha. He has his eleventh number one album, and his first number one single on Billboard w/o being a featured artist (see "Crazy in Love," "Heartbreaker," and that one song that made Rihanna a superstar... "Umbrella"... I think that's right. :D) He and Alicia Keys performed their hit at the World Series, for crying out loud. And most impressive in my opinion, Jay-Z was on Oprah. Let me say that again... Jay-Z, Shawn C. Carter, was on Oprah Winfrey's show, the woman who notoriously refuses to allow rappers to grace her set or gives them a hard time if they do. Do I need to mention how Ludacris was not going to be allowed on the show at first with the rest of the "Crash" ensemble, and then when he did appear, he was lectured for his lyrics when plugging the movie and discussing racial discrimination? Yeah so clearly, bro is doing good for himself. And yes, I just know these things off the top of my head... The man is my idol. Hehe!

While a brief review of Jay-Z's career accomplishments may be interesting, the reason I wanted to discuss the song is because I feel it plays well into the the topic of the racial politics of music. Huge jump, eh? It all goes together... Let me take you on a journey...

If you all could rewind your clocks back to late June/early July of this year, the King of Pop passed away from unfortunate circumstances and everyone from President Obama to P. Diddy (or just Diddy... I don't know. He changes his name toooo often) had a comment on his death and his legacy as a musician/humanitarian. And despite the horrid accusations against him for the last decade, Michael Jackson was a seemingly good man and one of the best performers to ever grace this Earth. A lot of the conversation after his death, rightfully so, had to deal with his impact on American culture and I remember watching an award show this summer where several prominent Black musicians said that without Michael, there would have been no President Obama. While I am not going to even touch that with ten-foot pole, even President Obama himself stated that Black entertainers and athletes paved the way for easing racial tensions, because White America now has a sense of familiarity with the formerly unknown. While I don't disagree with this sentiment at all, Michael Jackson dominated in the 1980s and was the first Black musician on Mtv, but is that still true now? Can't be? We are so closely connected nowadays with blogs, Twitter, Facebook, video phones, etc, that still can't be the case?

Well, I beg to differ.

While the circumstance are slightly different, I think there is something to be said about Cyrus' hit song and the comeback of "The Best Rapper Alive." I know some hip-hop heads would probably tear me a new one for insinuating that this 17 year-old Disney star has anything to do with his return to dominance in the rap industry, but think about it for a second. And I would never want to take anything away from Mr. Cater's accomplishments and putting out an amazing album, esp. a beyond catchy and inspiring single with Ms. Keys. And, I love hip-hop. I truly do. I get the genre/culture and I respect it. As a a feminist, I don't feel the need to villify these artists anymore, because I understand where they are coming from.

With that being said, let me point out a few things. Jay-Z had been working on BP3, The Blueprint 3 for the non-believers, for a good amount of time and after the lackluster success of his last two albums, many critics and younger rappers *cough* haters *cough* claimed that the rapper was aging, losing touch with the trends in music, and "falling off." Some foolishly said that he was only known for his marriage to Knowles. Also in an unprecedented move, Carter became the President of Def Jam around mid-decade, but was leaving that position also to create Roc Nation. Money and romance were obviously a-ok, but in all honesty, he needed something to secure the crown and rightfully boast that he was the truly best.

Cue Miley Cyrus. Whatever she touches becomes gold. Just call her Midas. And while she has recently stated quite openly that she had never heard a song by the artist she helped return to mainstream relevance before and that "Party of the USA" was written by someone else, she did him a favor by crooning about a Jay-Z song being on in a taxi while she was getting ready to party. She planted a seed. The title of the song mentions the country and out of all of the artists in the US that could have been been used to epitomize American music, a rapper and a pop superstar were choosen. And yes, Cyrus did not pen the song, but she gave a bit of validation to the rapper by giving him an ever-present pop culture reference. She brought him back to the mainstream. The pop princess gave props to the rapper. On even more basic terms, the young White girl gave the ok to the older Black man's music, his livelihood. Is that a stretch? Not to me. Cyrus exposed him to a new audience, both racially and generation-wise. If we are truly to believe that she had never heard a song, she still did him an subconscious favor.

I don't think that anyone can deny the role that music has played in bringing together people of all races/ethnicities, but who would have ever thought that this song could have sparked something and led a triumphant return of a rap superstar. And while I am well aware of the D.O.A. craze from this summer, the Cyrus record was already out and in heavy rotation when this occurred. I was sitting at my computer that Friday night when Hot 97 debuted the song and Twitter went nuts. Oh wow, I really admitted that... Yikes! But those who were excited by that particular song, were true fans and possibly not even aware of Cyrus and her hit. Needless to say, there is something interesting about the fact that this teenager legitimized the rapper in the eyes of some and to me, made a statement in doing so.

And while I think that the sheer mention of Jay-Z in the song was a great positive for using music to bridge the gap, here is an example of it taking an opposite turn: the Kanye West and Taylor Swift debacle at the VMAs. I remember clear as day when that occurred and while I do recognize that "Kanye is Kanye" and he pulls stunts like that because he is an opinionated person, the bottom line remains that he still had no right to take her moment away from her. That incident will live in infamy, because he was the well-known arrogant man i.e. the aggressor ganging up on the sweet, blue-eyed country chanteuse. That's enough to make everyone dislike him, but amazingly race was brought into it as soon as it happened. Posts on Twitter and Facebook evoked shame for the Black community because of his actions and how this was setting back race relations. Really now? I think everyone was disgusted by his behavior, but just to note, West has rightfully apologized multiple times to Swift since the outburst. Once again, I was sitting at my computer reading all of these comments about Kanye and annoyance with his behavior, but the unexpected happened with Beyonce, herself, outclassed everyone and invited Swift back onto the stage to give a proper congratulatory speech. Immediately the internet conversations changed. People joked that "Beyonce saved the Black community," and while the statement is meant to be hyperbolic (I HOPE), there is some validity to it. Society judges many off the actions of few, and Kanye, as an artist and highly public figure, maybe the only exposure some kid in Wisconsin has to Blacks. So I understand why people were aggravated and felt that way. I'm glad it didn't turn into something unnecessary, but I will admit that after like a day, I was about to snap if I heard another lame Kanye West joke. Haha. I will openly admit that I do not believe that she deserved that award of Lady Gaga or Beyonce, and some felt that this was a foul move by Mtv in doing so. Such is life tho.

I don't know... I read too much into things. I am just VERY analytical. I dissect music. Maybe it's a stretch, but it makes sense to me! Oh well... Yyyyyeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhh, it's a party in the USA.

Peace and Love,


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ummm not too much negativity when it comes to rap, CNN...

Ok so this is no surprise to anyone I know, I LOVE RAP and the HIP-HOP CULTURE! I get upset with the actions of certain individuals and do not condone the hyper-sexuality and need to constantly talk about illicit behavior, but I am an advocate for the genre as a credible and necessary art form. But this blog is a direct response to a clip I saw on a rap blog website, which featured Nasir Jones aka Nas, talking about the beating death of the Chicago teen two weeks ago on CNN.


So I am going to assume you watched it and proceed...

First of all, I found it very odd that CNN choose Nas of all people to harp on about negative lyrics. When I think of Nas, I think of songs such as "I Can," "If I Ruled the World," and "One Mic," not something so violent. So it puzzles me to why CNN thought that he was the rapper to point the finger at. I am also slightly annoyed that they went through his musical catalog to find one of the worst songs he has written to feature during the clip. But with that, I also know that "Shoot 'Em Up" is not the urban "Kumbaya," but I think a lot of people forget the fact that rap, as a musical genre, tells the story of so many teens and young adults in urban settings in America. And that's the unfortunate thing. You can listen to a song like "Shoot 'Em Up," and get upset with Nas b/c you feel that he is perpetuating the stereotype of violence in the urban community or you can listen and acknowledge that this is the plight of too many young men of color. I think I'll do the latter. On another note, I just read the open letter that Nas wrote to youth that Don Lemmon referenced in the clip, and Nas is absolutely telling the truth.

Link to the open letter:

But here is the problem: What is Nas truly supposed to do? I don't want to appear to hypocritical b/c in another blog I posted about celebrities not wanting to do anything to influence social changce, but he DID something. He put his opinion and positive message out there. I appreciate it. But back to my original question, what is Nas truly supposed to do to stop the violence in cities all across this country? Yes, he could organize marches, write more open letters, appear on CNN daily, make music only about how we need to come together rather than destroy each other, and become an outspoken advocate for peace, but that will not correct the systemic changes that need to occur. Now I am a believer in using music for change, and I would like hip-hop to take a more positive turn, but these artists are not responsible for the well-being of all of Black America. So yes, it's a bit unfair to put that much pressure on them, but when artists do not acknowledge their ability to enact change, well I am not pleased with that either. The true problem is that we lack leaders that truly connect to these kids, because they don't want to be lectured, they need someone to reach them. That's why when Nas, Jay-Z, T.I., Ludacris, etc speak prolificly about something such as this, it's listened too. And it may just be me, but I feel like these artists have an obligation to the communities that they came from and I appreciate their charitable works and community outreach. More should follow suit...

So what do WE do? Do we make a huge fuss over of Nas' songs or do WE as Americans realize that there are like two different worlds in this country? The impoverished conditions that breed the violence that took the life of Derrion Albert are so widespread and accepted as the norm, so people just ignore it. We can live comfortably in our safe neighborhoods with the police ACTUALLY looking out for us and think that the experiences of people on the Southside of Chicago are over-exaggerated or their problem, OR we can demand more as a society. Once again, I choose to do the latter. We can demand the education that children in inner-cities receive be equivalent to their suburban counterparts. Education is key in this process, but we also the values that are prevalent in urban settings need to be changed. A hard work ethic needs to be instilled in people from a young age, and the importance of family needs to be stressed more. These kids need positive role models, who can be their parents/other family members, musical/athletic idols or not, but I said it once, no child should ever aspire to grow up and become a drug dealer b/c they saw that it is the only viable career path. I am not trying to get my Bill Cosby or Social Conservative talking points lecture on, but I do not want these kids to have to live a life where they think they can not be productive members of society or that they do not matter. They matter much more than they think they do, and it hurts to see the stories of the violence in urban America. Every child in America should have the opportunity to create a positive future, regardless of where they live or what color their skin is. When are we going to realize this? It's so frustrating, but I can not give up on America... We have to get it together!!!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Health care, again?!?! Really...

All this talk about health care is driving me bonkers. And as much as I like rhetoric at times, it still can not dispute facts. So the scholar in me decided to do a little research to find out some information about some of the other countries in the industrialized world that offer health care to all of its citizens and then the United States. You may be surprised. *Disclaimer: The “Obama Health Care Plan” is not socialized/nationalized health care, yet keeps our current (horrible) system in place, but offers a public option for those not able to afford the care. HUGE difference.* So here is a little something that I found out:

According to the UNDP’s Human Development Reports for 2007/2008,

Population: 32.27 million
Number of Physicians per 100,00: 214
Public Expenditure on Health Care (% of GDP): 6.8
Private Expenditure on Health Care (% of GDP): 3.0
Health Expenditure per capita, US Dollars, 2004: 3,173

United Kingdom-
Population: 60.25 million
Number of Physicians per 100,000: 230
Public Expenditure on Health Care (% of GDP): 7.0
Private Expenditure on Health Care (% of GDP): 1.1
Health Expenditure per capita, US Dollars, 2004: 2,560

Population: 60.99 million
Physicians per 100,000: 337
Public Expenditure on Health Care (% of GDP): 8.2
Private Expenditure on Health Care (% of GDP): 2.3
Health Expenditure per capita, US Dollars, 2004: 3,040

United States-
Population: 299.85 million
Physicians per 100,00: 256
Public Expenditure on Health Care (% of GDP): 6.9
Private Expenditure on Health Care (% of GDP): 8.5
Health Expenditure per capita, US Dollars, 2004: 6,096

Statistics don’t lie. Our current system with the doctors already in practice could function under the proposed health care reform. But what is amazing is that the US already spends much more than the other nations in regards to health per capita, and we don't have systems like the other countries. That ALONE should be a huge reason to overhaul this health care system. So please do not buy into this nonsense about losing your doctor, etc. Citizens of all of these countries have private doctors. And other concern is about wait times. According to all of the sources I read, the wait times are not tremendous under the European/Canadian models of health care. My question is: Have you ever been to ER in the United States? You want to talk about wait time. It is out of control. But that is truly beyond the point. Don’t buy into all of the hysteria that is being manufactured about health care reform. I think that is good for Americans to hold civil debates and conversations about their concerns about the changes the health care system, but shouting each other down, lies being spread about “death panels,” euthanasia, and abortion funding, as well comparisons to Nazi Germany is completely ludicrous. I think it is shameless that people have taken this debate so far to stating that people’s grandmothers are going to put to death or the government will pull the plug on people. We should all be smarter than that and know that this all spin. I stated it before, but I will just reiterate that socialism, communism, and Nazism are not the same thing. Maybe I should make a pretty definition sheet of the three terms and travel across the US and hand it to the protesters. But again I would like to say that I do not believe that Obama is a socialist, nor is he bringing the ideology to the country. Chill out folks… The United States is not turning into Castro’s Cuba or the Eastern Bloc. And on the same note, the United States government is not going to start practicing Eugenics either. These are simply scare tactics, and the sad thing is that they are working. The Right and its corporate allies are working overtime to fool everyday citizens and use them as their army, so the system will remain the same. No one ever talks about the fact that the health care that the Democrats are proposing to all Americans, via the public option, is the same quality health care that is offered to veterans. But just as a side note, the VA is one of the highest approved bureaucratic agencies and VA health care is some of the finest quality care available, if that matters any.

But on a personal note: I would like to shout out to FRANCE for its high number of doctors, even under its wicked universal health care, and in 2000, the French were ranked number one by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the quality of health for its citizens and access to good health care. The US came in 37th. Womp womp. And what is even more amazing is the fact that the French, Brits, and Canadians all rave about their health care system, yet somehow is it reported to us in the mainstream media or assumed in public discourse that these citizens are receiving rationed care, its citizen loathe their health coverage, and people do not receive testing for advanced illnesses/diseases. Falsities, folks, falsities.

So where do we go from here? The debate is being polluted by these uninformed protesters and their false allegations, and that is honestly what the GOP wants. Numerous prominent figures on the Right have admitted that they want to “kill health care reform” to hurt both Obama and the Democratic party. But what they keep on forgetting about is that, yes they may be hurting these women and men’s political futures if they do not deliver on what they promised during the election, but they also are doing damage to the millions of Americans who do not have insurance or can not afford the over-priced insurance offered by these corporations. Politics need to be put aside and the representatives that we elected to office either need to come together and work out a plan that is not overly compromised and we lose the public option, or the Democrats can do what the GOP did when they were in power and strong arm this legislation through b/c they have the majority. Either way, the reform needs to happen.

“Roosevelt is dead. His policies may live on, but we are in the process of doing something about that as well.” -Rush Limbaugh

Strong word, eh? Since the policies of the New Deal went into effect, the Right has done its best to stop the creation of more social welfare programs and undo what has been established. Does anyone recall from a history class or personal recollections the battle to establish Medicare and Medicaid? And like President Obama, FDR was called a socialist, but ironically, the Left was not pleased with the programs that he worked to create, because they felt it was not enough. As a member of the Left and an avid listener of left-leaning commentary, the same can be applied in 2009, but I can at least state that we are wanting uncomprised health reform to go through and willing to work with the President, not against him. The pharmaceutical companies need to be regulated much more and contribute financially to the reform process; while, Obama needs to stop bowing down to them and get to solving the real problems that Americans face. (The same thing can be said about the coal industry and the climate bill.) But as history states, FDR was successful in getting his legislation passed, and despite failures by Truman and Clinton to create universal health coverage, President Obama has the chance to change the future of the country and all of its citizens. Will we allow this to happen or will history once again repeat itself?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

So can we take away Medicare too? And soo much more...

It's no surprise to anyone that knows me, I am a leftist and I support universal health care. However, what the government is offering is not universal/socialized/nationalized health care, and I wish people knew that before that start spouting off talking points. I am well-versed in what socialism and communism are, and what President Obama and Congress is advocating is NOT either one of those. So please spare me with those talking points. As I am sitting here and typing this, MSNBC political analyst explained the plan best... "It is health security." So what does that mean? It is the same as social security. You don't have to take the public option. You can still go to your own doctor. You can continue to overpay for health care and stay with your insurance company. What the government is trying to do is offer care for those who do not have health care, and compete with the insurance companies. Isn't that capitalism when there is competition? I have heard different numbers, so I will quote the latest one... According to some protesters, 80% of the country has health care. (I have heard much higher numbers, as well.) That's a vast majority, but there is still 20% of people without it. I don't know why there is such a backlash against this. Maybe people are assuming that the 20% are a group of lazy bottom-feeders who are not able to afford health insurance. Well, it's not the case. Health care is very expensive. People go bankrupt from it all of the time. A lot of individuals that don't have care are normal families who can not afford to cover their entire family, so I of course support a public option that will help them and anyone else who needs help. From what the White House was saying, by the time this health care plan will go into action, 94% of the population will be in private care and only 6% will use the public option.

I understand it's too late to take the politics out of it, because conservative pundits and talk show hosts have gotten so much of "Middle America" revved up and these *magical* town hall protests have been orchestrated by right-wing think tanks and organizations with ties to the health care industry in order to further their agenda, but this is total nonsense. I feel like I am being bombarded with video of elderly Americans yelling about how President Obama is running their America and they are afraid. Afraid of what? People getting health care? Energy regulation? No, no! That's not what these people are getting so worked up about. It was no mistake why I italicized their earlier. Their America was an America where President Obama would never have become President or Sonia Sotomayor would never have been confirmed by the Senate to become the first Latina Supreme Court Justice. Their America was the America the students, civil rights workers of all ethnicities, feminists, and LGBT community advocates of the 1960s and 1970s fought to get rid of. They fought for equality. And while there have been a few Democratic presidents since then, the election of Barak Obama last year was a huge moment in the country, because the work that so many had spent their lives striving for was finally fulfilled. (I am no point am EVER stating that we are post-racial, but the 2008 election was monumental.) Race/ethnicity has been so infused into everything recently, from the nonsense with the Birther movement, the Skip Gates racial profiling controversy, Glen Beck's assertion that the President is a racist, to Sotomayor's confirmation process, and it's truly unfortunate. Will we ever learn?

But what else could they be afraid of? Oh, they think this is socialism. What is this 1950 again or something? All of this RED SCARE talk is reminding me of all of the history classes I have taken. All the Right is doing is bringing out these irrational fears in people. It's nostalgic. Listen up people... No one is trying to ruin your way of life nor bring in some leftist agenda. But this is getting out of control. People are associating the Obama administration with Nazi Germany and loving Eugenics. I can't believe how ugly this is getting over health care and how absolutely WRONG people are. This is the last time I am ever saying this-It won't be, but a girl can dream, but communism/socialism (leftist economic theories) are not the same thing as Nazism. Nazi Germany was fascism, folks. Hitler aligned himself with Mussolini. He was a fascist. I can't say it enough, READ A BOOK or TAKE A COLLEGE COURSE! Preferably one in history or economics before you start spreading this crap. I don't care if Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck are calling President Obama or Nancy Pelosi, etc socialists or Nazis. That does not mean that anyone should spread such falsities. Think about their AGENDA before you buy into their nonsense.

So back to health care, all of these older Americans are yelling at town hall meetings, chuckling at violence against elected officials and getting overly emotional about President Obama wanting to make them die early, and it's just out of control. People are concerned about the government rationing their access to doctors or that the care they received before will completely change. I don't know how many times they have to say it, but it won't. When I was listening to one protester, she annoyed me so much because I had to realize that some people are so selfish and could care less about the well-being of others. She asks why does her way of living have to change in order to help that aforementioned 20%? Really? People think like that. Maybe it's the lefty in me, but you should care about the quality of living for more than just yourself and your family/friends. But enough with my lefty talk, because clearly that will only led to more fear and ammunition for the right.

If we take the politics and emotion out of it, why can't we have a decent conversation about the concerns that Republicans have about the Obama Health Plan? In all honesty, there is a Democratic congress and President so they can get this plan through without consulting the PARTY OF NO, but I think it's admirable that they are at least attempting to work with the GOP. However, on Nov. 4th the country elected Barack Obama as the president and health care was an essential part of his platform, so I don't understand why there is such backlash now. He won the election, fair and legally, and the majority of the country wanted the issues that he stood up for to be fixed. I am sorry if you don't like the outcome of the election, but that's life. Has been for a while now. He is our President and he is sticking to this campaign promise.

But what is funny is that a lot of these protesters are claiming that so-called nationalized health care will led to the demise of the health industry, but a lot of these people benefit from Medicare. News flash folks, Medicare is government ran health care. Since you are so opposed to it, can we take your Medicare away from you too? I can't understand the opposition's perspective on this, because it makes no sense and they won't lay out their issues. The Right is making everything personal and attacking people, not policies, for baseless reasons. If you want to have a real conversation, have facts not attacks. If you all continue with this nonsense, sane Americans will continue to rally against you all and your real concerns, not the talking points of right-wing talk show hosts, will truly be ignored. People are doing a huge disservice to themselves by adhering to this mob mentality on this issue, and unfortunately then all of us will suffer because a bill won't pass due to a lack of public support. It's truly amazing to me that the people who will benefit from this reform are the ones so strongly opposed to it. Please check up on your facts people. So stop calling this Congress and presidential administration socialist and trying to bring out Cold War tactics. If you want to have a real conversation, act like an adult not a bunch of whiny, spoiled, selfish individuals. I'm so through with this. Hey Congress: Pass this and the climate bill after the August recess, or face backlash from the people who actually voted for you. Good grief...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pardon me... But it's time to get a little high-minded... Celebrity edition...

Wow. I haven't blogged in a good while! Life is hectic, and I haven't had time to sit and blog in forever it seems like. Nonetheless, I was struck by the need to blog today b/c I am quite annoyed with this subject manner I will discuss further in this post... Please don't take offense; it's just real talk... I don't mean to bash on celebs, celeb bloggers or anyone. These are just my thoughts...

Since last weekend, I have become thoroughly annoyed with celebrities and their high-minded comments. I KNOW I have no room to judge others, esp. not for making high-minded comments, and I follow celebrities as much as the other pop culture loving individual in this country, but I think they have a true disconnect from the rest of society.

So what started the issue... Last Sunday on the BET awards, rapper and philanthropist Wyclef Jean won the award for being the "Humanitarian of the Year," and I was all about his speech until he ended it with some rather poignant words: "I moved from a hut to a mansion. If I did it, you can do it too. You have no excuse." [paraphrased]

So when I heard this, I was highly aggravated to say the least. One might ask why? Well, I appreciate the sentiment of telling the masses, esp. the viewers of the BET Awards-young and middle-aged Black America- that hard work will led to success, but there was something about the word choice that just didn't sit well with me. Wyclef grew up in Haiti and the country is one of the most impoverished nations in the Western hemisphere, so for him to be in the position he is in, it is truly an amazing story. He was blessed with enormous musical talents and became a superstar with The Fugees and as a solo act, but his success came in a way that many of us will never experience. He is a musician. He works in a pretty harsh, ever-changing industry, but when one is given such talent, establishes longevity like he has, and creates a faithful following, the rewards are large sums of money and the prestige of being a celebrity.

Ok. That is fine and dandy, but this is the problem... Most of us will never has this as a life experience. And I can't say that I wouldn't want that life. To not have to worry about money and to have toured the world spreading your music seems like a dream. A dream that a lot of people have. But we do not all aspire to live that life.

But the fact is that when a person has achieved the financial successes of a Wyclef or any other highly paid individual, there is a bit of insincerity about them lecturing the us-the rabble, the proletariat- about pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps to get to their SES bracket. Yes, I want people to work hard to achieve successes in life, value the importance of work, and have a strong work ethic. Of course I do, I am a leftist. But clearly my concept of "making it" is different from most, or maybe just celebrities. I am a college student now and even if I receive a Ph.d in African-American or Cultural studies, which is my dream in life, I still will not make the monetary amount to live in a mansion. Is that the definition of "making it" in American society? As much as I don't like it, I understand the American Dream, but the key work in that little phrase is that is a DREAM! I don't want to lecture people in the systemic inequalities in this country that keep people back, but please know that they exist. If someone grew up in an impoverished or dysfunctional environment or belongs to a marginalized community that people don't expect much from anyway, yet is able to hold down an honest job for their entire life, able to provide for themselves [and his/her family, if they choose to have one], and is a good person who contributes to society, I think that more than qualifies them as "making it." Even if one did not grow up in the aforementioned situations or does not belong to a minority community, still doing what I expressed still equates "making it." Well it does to me anyways. It does not make a difference if you do not have the bling, the yacht, the 15 bedroom home, or are able to follow every fashion trend. "Making it" does not mean having a mansion, or even a college degree-although I would encourage everyone to continue with their education and attend college if possible. Nonetheless, having made it should not equate material goods and costly possessions.

But the problem is not even celebrities or the countless individuals who spend their lives focusing on them, it's society's fault. Western culture places celebrities and socialites on a pedestal and media portrays it as if we SHOULD want their life. So individuals like Wyclef need to understand that the life they led is extraordinary. Please do not talk down to people simply because they are not able to live in a mansion or do not aspire to live in one. There is no excuse for that.

I don't want it to seem that I am knocking wealthy people, but be conscious and knowledgeable when you are spouting off your talking points to people. Unfortunately, everyone who makes it will not have the luxuries that you all have acquired due to working in the entertainment industry. News flash: Most careers, even ones where people have multiple degrees, never come close to the compensation that musicians, athletes, and actors receive. I deal with academia, and in our backwards society, we don't focus on education enough and compensate educators fairly for all the hard work they do. So yes, I take great offense to these words. If I could have anything in the world, I would want teach in higher education and work for a non-profit organization that deals with civil rights, women's rights, environmentalism, or some cause that I believe greatly in, and then I knew I MADE it. Mansion, not needed!

So I let it go, and I even signed up for Wyclef's Warrior movement. I wanted to see what Wyclef's mission was all about...

I was a-ok until not to long ago. Today had been a pretty laid back day for me, and when I got back from the grocery store, I got online to check my twitter for random updates, etc. I saw one tweet by Tyrese Gibson, multi-talented musician and actor, and it spoke on how he uplifted himself from the guns, poverty, etc of the Watts neighborhood he grew up in. I checked his page and he had been posting tweets about the need for people to do what they are supposed to do to better society. I have no problem with that of course, but what bothered me was the following statement: "I hate when people put the responsibility to make this world better on Celebs.. F**k no.. Your more POWERFUL than you could EVER imagine.." [direct quote from his twitter page]

Well Tyrese, while I can't fully understand your life, I empathize with you. It would have to be hard to always be on your Ps and Qs, because you are in the limelight. And you may not want to place the issues of the world on your shoulders all the time. I understand and respect that. But there is something that you all have to understand, you are a public figure and people look up to you. Yes the average citizen has a lot more power and influence then they want to admit or accept, but they are not public figures with a large following. Celebrities have the responsibility to be role models. I do not care if people disagree with that, but I wholeheartedly believe that they and every other public figure has to be be conscious of their actions and the message they are sending out. When celebrities enter the entertainment industry, there are assumptions and expectations that come with it. You can not get mad when people expect more from you all. I am not indicating that celebs are bad people and worthless, because there are countless musicians, actors/actresses, etc who contribute to the betterment of our global society. But this is what you can do: use your place in society to make the world a better place. We all know that the select few celebrities in this world will not fix everything, but you all could LEAD by example. Once again, you all are role models.

But in all honesty, that is not where the solution lies. We, as good world citizens and stewards of this planet, all have a responsibility to each other and our planet, and should be doing a lot better than we are all doing.
So I understand the sentiment of his rant. There are almost 7 billion of us on this planet. If we all did something to better the world, just imagine the outcome. So yes, in a way Tyrese is right and we are way more powerful then we know it, but he always has to embrace the fact that every time he steps out into the world he can use his position of influence to promote change, spark dialogue, and continue in the tradition of countless celebrities and public figures "to heal the world [and] make it a better place." Thanks MJ for those words!!! RIP! Much <3



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You can't reverse racism or sexism...

Reverse racism? What the hell is that? Reverse sexism is just a bad joke, and I won't even try to explain it. It's such an offensive statement.

I am aware of what people like to refer to as reverse racism, but let me tell you all something, it does not exist. Why? Because it is not possible, neither is reverse sexism. I would say class warfare/rising of the proletariat isn't possible either, but I am adhere to Marx's philosophy so I hope it is possible.

People use a simple definition for racism: hatred for another or all ETHNIC GROUPS that different from your own. Ok, I see how you can reverse that, but that is not what is meant when politicians-typically White males- holler about reverse racism. Racism in the sense they are using it is the rule and access to the institutions of society, which have been formed by White men. They are still held by White men, so when a person of color is able to achieve a position of power and alter the legal, educational, family, religious, etc structures in the country, it is called reverse racism. In regards to policies that are imposed by the government or the rule of institutions in society, this whole notion of reverse racism is a myth. White males, still are the majority of the elected officials, and even if there was an influx of people of color or women to elected positions, they would have to change these institutions entirely and have them favor only people of color/women before it would be reverse anything. And maybe it's just me, but in my idealistic leftist mind that's not possible. If it became more equal in this country, that does not imply that White men are losing out. It does state that being a White man is a mandatory qualification for so many positions. It's that simple to me, so don't buy into the reverse racism talk. It's all spin. They know that it's not possible, because the system we have is not all bad (and that's a lefty saying it), but no one can deny the history that is attached to it and the future will not change this unless we do something to promote diversity and equal access to education, political offices, and change the familial structure to something more equal. So many groups have been marginalized, and maybe now we can increase their access to the positions that so many have dreamed about for centuries. We need to get it together in this country... We are world leaders, whether we like it or not, and we need to show the rest of the world the value of treating all of its citizens fairly and equally. It's one thing to also give lip service to equality and the words of our Founding Father, "all men [sic] are created equal," but is a completely radical notion to actually live by them. And while this country is flawed, and always has been, we can correct past mistakes by making a better way for future Americans. Yeah, it may seem corny and overly idealistic, but what else can we do? We can not allow this system to keep out children's children in the same cycle of hate and privilege for a few. I know I don't want that for my family nor yours.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An outsider looking in...

I don't know why I feel this way, but I always have. I suppose it is the double-consciousness that DuBois spoke of, although I argue that I have quadruple-consciousness (I will explain below), that makes me have this mindset. I am fine with it, but it is extremely hard for other people to understand. Although I am an American born citizen, I never felt a sense of belonging in this country. And while I can appreciate the progress that has been made, the simple fact is that we are equal and we need equal protection under the law.

This sort of serves as my reaction to DuBois' notions (a Black feminist critique one may say) at times, and just my stance on race, gender, class, and life as a heterosexual.

The first mode of consciousness I have is my gender. DuBois, although he didn't speak of sex (in biological sense) in his work that shaped me so much, Souls of Black Folks, the message was clear. He was advocating for the rise of Black man, and I am fine with that, but you can't forget your sisters. Our community is known for this solidarity between its brothers and sisters, so we must now build each other up. So if the first Black man to receive a Ph.D didn't acknowledge that women mattered to, that's an issue. I always had the mindset that I am equal to any and every man. That has gotten me in trouble in life, and people have falsely labeled me a lesbian, but no I am not. I am sorry to burst your bubble. I am a feminist, first and foremost. I believe in gender equality. And just to clarify, at no time would I put down lesbianism or any other sexual orientation. I am a fierce ally of the cause of ending heterosexism, promoting diversity, and accepting/respecting lifestyles of other than our own.

My second mode of consciousness, and this gets me in even more trouble, stems from my views on class. I am a leftist. I don't like to say socialist or communist, b/c the labels are not the same for one and the negativity attached to them bogs people down. I adhere to the principles of the left. I am a Marxist. The Communist Manifesto made so much sense to me when I read it. People may think "well you are a Black American woman, of course you like the ideology b/c it evens the playing field." Yes, that is true, but I also am the child of two parents who worked hard for us to live comfortably. I know the value of a dollar and I love the thrill of spending it, but I also respect the work that goes behind getting that dollar. I respect the workers, because I am one and I hail from workers. Some people are born with privilege (money/attractive qualities/artistic talent that leads to $), and they never have to labor a day out of their lives. But most people work hard, all day/everyday, and never can live comfortably (not lavish, comfortably). That is a problem. I saw my parents struggle to make it, but we always made it. I vowed to myself that I could never go through so much to make a decent life for myself and my children, so I adopted the belief that education was the best way to guarantee a good life. With my education, I didn't want to become specialized in a field that would provide me with no joy and that didn't give back, like majoring in business, etc. So I dedicated my time to studying the social constructions of society and how these institutions have impacted humanity in the past. I am a history major and I firmly believe that we as a people, the human race, need to realize that what we are doing is wrong. We haven't learned lessons from the past. We can't simply give lip service to the tenets of liberalism, and live a lifestyle that contradicts it. That's why my leftist leaning drives me to be a community college professor, so I can educate the upcoming generation on the failures and legacy of individuals and groups in the past and inspire them to make the future brighter. So people may wonder why at a community college, and it's again tied to the idea of serving everyday people, and not seeking tenure at a prestigious University to give myself a false sense of validity. Community colleges lay the foundation for many who want to achieve higher education, yet may not have the means to do so. It makes perfect sense to me that a good liberal would work here, because one would hope that their students would go on to receive BAs, BSs, MAs, MBAs, Ph.Ds, law degrees, etc. That is why I can appreciate my professors from Richland so much more. They are amazing. :) My love for liberalism also impacts my dietary choices (I used to be a vegetarian for years, but now I am a pescetarian :/ but I know that the consumption of animal products does harm to your body and to the Earth), my love for the Earth, the planet that we are supposed to take care of (so I am environmentalist), and the need to love myself the way I am, but knowing that I can always make improvements (so I advocate feminism, so women do not have to go through extreme measures for body acceptance).

The third form of consciousness is race, and yes it is far down on the list for a reason. I said in an earlier blog that I don't look at race as much as gender and class b/c I think it is trivial, and I stand by it. In regards to race, it is a sociological phenomenon. I enjoy studying groups, but there is nothing innate in a member of the dominant group that makes them better than us. I am an ethnic collectivist, so I say US a lot. I support all people of color, so I never latched on to Black identity as others did. I felt all people of color were in the same boat, and when would we realize that we can not tear each other down buy dividing ourselves. I also don't subscribe to the mindset that claims that one ethnic group has had it worse than the other, so while I appreciate and have to understand my history as a Black American, that does not define me nor will I let it limit me. I am not bitter towards White people, well because I grew up with them and they were my friends, still are. I don't think it's fair to anyone when you limit the people you interact with based on false, preconceived notions about race. I can't stand it. So I don't and won't allow that negativity to limit the people I interact with. I think being a Texan people still find that hard to believe, but we need to get with the times. It's like there are two Americas still, and that's sad. It's not Black America and White America or a Union and a Confederacy anymore. We need to realize that & accept life and the world we live in now for what it is, a place where Whites learn from Blacks and Latinos, Jews learn from Asians, Native Americans learn from those of Middle Eastern descent, etc. Oh it will be a lovely day when people stop using race as a privilege.

And last but not least is my take on sexual orientation and my goal to always be conscious of the actions towards homosexuals/trans-gendered individuals, etc. As stated before, I am a heterosexual, but a devout feminist, so I think that has a huge impact on my views of heterosexuality and the treatment of the LGBT community. I view sexuality as something that you are born with, and if a man was born to love men, or a woman was born to love women, who are we (speaking as a heterosexual) to judge them? Why are people in power so afraid of extending the civil rights that the LGBT deserves and has (b/c there is no where in the Constitution that says one's rights are stripped away just because they love someone you don't approve of). So we need to do away with this heterosexist nonsense, and realize that male-female relationships are not the norm and we have no right nor basis to discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation.

So this is where I stand... I am 23 year-old college student, who sees the world as it should be, but no one else seems to understand. It is very upsetting and disheartening at times, but I hope more people can look at the world through my eyes. We are all connected to each other through the common bond called humanity, and it is sad to me that we constantly find ways to become more and more detached and solitary. When will this madness end, and we all love one another?!?!?! It's so sad. I wonder what God thinks about us... Sigh.



Thursday, February 5, 2009

Michael Phelps is my hero...

While everyone else in the world is panicking over the economic state and hoping that Congress can come to a resolution for the 900 billion dollar stimulus package, the media darlings have been captivated on reporting on the now suspension and loss of endorsements for American golden boy, Michael Phelps. I mean I'm at work and go to to see if the Senate voted for the stimulus package yet, and at the top of the page reads a BREAKING NEWS banner in yellow. I got excited and thought "Oh thank God. They are going to help us finally." Wrong, wrong. It was in regards to Michael Phelps. When he was winning all of those gold medals this summer, did they have BREAKING NEWS banners on CNN? I hope not, because while I am an uber fan, I think that's not CNN's arena and it's not that serious anyways. For him it is and yes, I suppose, for Americans as well b/c we all were amazed, but maybe that is the problem. We all got so wrapped up in him and his achievements, so when it comes out that he is a normal 23 year old, the world turns their back on him. WELL NOT ME... Phelps gets all the respect from me in the world, but I do wish that he would not apologize for it. As a person who smoked refeer in high school, I hate all of the stereotypes that are associated with the substance. When I have asked people why they don't smoke, it's always the "I'm not a hippie/loser" comments that get sent my way. News flash... A lot of people that you like, musicians, actors, writers, etc., have either smoked pot or still do it, so are they losers? I think not.

I know it is illegal. That should be the basis of all of the arguments, but there have been plenty of organizations that fight to decriminalize weed, and most cities allow you to have up to an ounce or two on you, without it being a felony. Do you understand how much weed that is? Obviously the critics don't. I think the government is stuck in the past, and should have reformed this in the late 1960s. Well they did-kind of. In 1970, the government reacted to the hyper-liberalism of the late 1960s, by banning the substance that the college students used recreationally, and Congress considered pot in the same category as heroin, cocaine, etc., and put out that all time favorite myth: marijuana is a gateway drug. A gateway to gaining weight b/c folks have the munchies. Lol. I know it's serious and I know it's illegal, but I side with the smokers on this one. Weed has been given a bad name.

So where do we go from here:

Other than support groups that fight for the legalization of marijuana, and not just for medical reasons, citizens that actually want reform need to speak out. To me, alcohol is much worse than reefer, and as someone who suffers from a horrible relationship with my liquid friend, I would much rather see pot legal than alcohol, or cigarettes while I'm at it. The truth is that alcohol and cigarettes are big businesses and they have lobbyists who fight hard to keep them around. Marijuana doesn't have the same. And I think I understand why politicians were so adamant about criminalizing reefer. The whole "gateway drug" excuse is not in regards to actual substance. They were worried that if they legalized pot, the heroin/cocaine users would come out of the wood works to fight for the legalization of those drugs. Makes sense to me, although I do buy into some conspiracy theories. LOL.

My idea:

Smart, functional pot smokers or those like me who advocate it, should start at the local levels and present ideas that the city could vote on. In some ways, this is already happening and has been successful, but it needs to be done in a more organized and publicized manner. I think that weed should be under the same system as alcohol, and counties and/or cities need to vote if they want to be "high" or "dry." LOL.

We are wasting tax payer money by putting people in jails and prison for possessing/selling weed. So many young men and women wouldn't be in the system and have their lives ruined for providing the public with something that there is a high demand for. The government is missing an chance to make huge amounts of money. If they banned non-regulated reefer outlets, similar to what happens to people who make and sell moonshine/homemade alcohol, it would alleviate cartel influence(mainly the need for Americans police to gaurd the border so heavily to stop border violence which is all connected to weed) and home growers. If the American government would grow, package, and tax marijuana, they would make so much money. And trust me when I say, I don't want non-governmental entities doing so, I mean the actual government would have to be in charge of this. It would stop what Seth Rogen talks about in Pineapple Express: the awkward relationship with the buyer and his/her dealer b/c it is very akward. You don't understand it, unless you have been in that position. It could be another branch of some department, and it would be heavily regulated and tested. It would do a lot of people a huge service and the urban, suburban, and rural youth, because it is everywhere and people of all ages/classes/ethnic groups smoke, would stop achieving to be a drug dealer b/c it is an easy way out. Seriously. We owe that to ourselves and the next generation. No one should aspire to be a drug dealer, because they see that as the only way of escaping poverty or making "easy" money.

So I say go refeer smokers, and stop placing antiquated labels on people... Maybe Phelps is what we need to see... The image of an American hero, a productive member of society, and still smokes reefer. He needs to embrace this position, and while he will lose endorsements and may not be able to swim again professionally, it would be awesome and I'd like him even more.

To answer 311's age old question: "Who's got the herb?" Obviously, Michael Phelps does. Hahahaha.



Friday, January 30, 2009

Poor Jessica Simpson...

And I mean that with all seriousness. I am not being sarcastic or facetious at all...

What some people may not know about me is that I am a just as enthralled by pop culture, as I am by politics/social reform. I think it adds for an interesting mix when I can bring the two together. In all honesty, I wish I could be a cultural critic, and I can. I just need to have a lot more background knowledge, because I want to be able to back up what I'm saying. That's how I think. It's the history major/women's studies minor (soon to be grad student I hope...) nerd in me...

Ok, back story. Apparently every one's favorite former Mtv reality star, tuna fish mistaker, and Cowboys jinxer (sorry I live in Dallas and still can't get over the influence she has over Romo) Jessica Simpson has picked up some weight, and performed at a Chili festival last weekend. Ok. So? Well fans (if you would call someone a fan who openly criticizes you that) and the media have been in a ruckus over her weight gain. Ok? I'm trying to find out why this is bad and going to make her star fade even faster. She gained weight, but she is still healthy and very pretty. I have seen the pictures, and I am seriously trying to find out what is wrong. I mean I didn't like the outfit, but that's neither here nor there. Her sister, Ashlee, and her husband, Fall Out Boy drummer, Pete Wentz, as well as my favorite Armenian-American Kim Karadashian (haha), have made comments on the media's negative depiction of not only Jessica, but all women. Yes it is not sending a positive example to young girls, teenagers, young women, heck any woman, for the media to consistently blast women in the public for their weight or beauty. We should have seen this coming with the Tyra Banks and Jennifer Love Hewitt nonsense. But I guess what is more disturbing is the fact that the media does it to a point where these female celebrities become addicted to God knows what in order to attain some unnatural standard of beauty. Remember Lindsey Lohan and Nicole Richie's epic battles with weight to the point they had to go to rehab.

As I sit and type this, I try to think of a way to wrap this up, but my mind is just wondering. Ok so it's something that Kim Kardashian said about Jessica Simpson that opened the can of worms. In the article I read today, it stated that Kardashian claims that she is twice the size of Simpson, and she is like she now wonders what do people think about her. Ok now this is where the woman's studies and history major nerd part in me comes out. Think about some of the famous ethnic minority female celebrities? Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce (whose weight goes up and down... but she is famous b/c she sang out being Bootylicious), Tyra Banks (who was also criticized for gaining weight... but that's another blog), Kim Kardashian, and Selma Hayek to name a few. They are all sex symbols, and why? The curves. Ok now think of a curvy modern White female celebrity that is considered a sex symbol? No seriously, I am thinking. Scarlett Johansson? Not really. That makes no sense that I literately can't think of one. And Pamela Anderson and her over-sized silicone chest doesn't count as curvy. No, wait. Jennifer Love Hewitt was named television's sexiest star last year, so there's my one.

On the other hand, think of legendary White sex symbols... My personal favorites b/c they are stunning and loved their work, Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, and both are and were considered curvy women. Monroe was a size 12 for crying out loud, and considered the sexiest woman who ever lived. So how have we moved from there to now? Jessica Simpson isn't even a size 12, and she is getting dragged through the mud and called fat left and right. While Kim Kardashian is claiming to be double the size of Simpson, is never referred to as fat in the media and people always applaud her for her body. So wait, what? There's a racial beauty double standard? Clearly there is.

I don't mean to be controversial or anything of that nature, it's honestly the truth. Look at the people that are considered sexy now. And put then put them in a "White" and "Minority" category, and while there are some that don't fit (Halle Berry, for one, is not that curvy), the fact still remains that women of color are allowed to have extra weight on them in certain places and folks, across the racial and class spectrum, love it. Then just think about people in your life as well, and see if it rings true. Why is that? Is it considered exotic? Is having a fuller figure and embracing it, but not being quote on quote fat, sexy b/c society believes one is promiscuous? B/c having hips and a behind is not fat, for a little fyi. I do wonder! Good questions, and I can't answer them.

I think about the FB note that my friend Mickey wrote last week, and it makes me even more upset b/c some thin women of color have come to not accept their bodies b/c they are ridiculed and mocked for being skinny. It's like they aren't living up to the minority beauty standard. It's all a bunch of nonsense. Word to the wise, accept your bodies ladies. Don't let society, your family, etc bring you down b/c what you look like. I follow the old saying "real women have curves" and Jay-Z logic "My physical is a shell", and always have even before he articulated it, so I never had any major body issues. I mean we all have insecurities, and things we want to improve, but that's life. I know what matters is what I believe in and how I treat others. Yes it is corny, but what matters is what's on the inside. I wish people would come to accept that and themselves, especially all my sistren. And yes that's a word. Hahaha.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why I am a Lefty...

I should have probably done this as my first full blog, but such is life...

I had a great conversation with an important figure in my life today, and I had to explain to her why I subscribe to liberalism, progressive politics, leftist thought... It's all the same to me, and I use the words interchangeably. I shall summarize the key parts...

First and foremost, I am a woman. The modern conservative movement, while it's followers doesn't articulate that they are necessarily sexist, I don't believe that most who do claim to be conservatives fully support gender equality or know that it is not going to destroy the moral fabric of this country. And while I am not saying that all Conservatives are staunch Christians, but some are. Well here is my question to you: In the Bible, when God creates Eve from Adam's rib, doesn't it state that God was creating a partner? I know we are well aware of what a partner means and what responsibilities it entails, so one would have to support gender equality. It makes no sense to me. I am not even a Christian (well I am, but I prefer to use my denomination name instead-Rationalist Unitarian- and I don't buy the supernatural aspects of religion), and that seems like it would be one of the first things to recognize b/c it's one of the first acts in the Bible. Then, the same way I feel about race, I feel about gender? (It's below...) Holy smokes. We are equal. What? Yeah, we are. Men and women have different physical abilities, but that doesn't make one better than the other. Seems like I beat the same dead horse all the time...

Two is the issue of class. This is the whopper. I think it is more important than gender, and especially race, because the saying "we are products of our environment" is a definite truism. But with that comes the power that the elite/business class has over the rabble/working/lower classes. It's very frustrating, and although I don't agree with communism, I see the appeal of it. It makes much more sense than the bourgeoisie ruling over the proletariat. Haha. Go Marx and labor unions. Class is so overlooked, but shapes so many of our interactions, thoughts, beliefs, etc. It's amazing to me that people don't constantly revolt. Again I don't feel like beating a dead horse...

Three... RACE. News flash folk... Study sociology. Race is sociological, not biological. We are all equal. OMG. Did someone really just admit that? YEAH I DID. Get over it. I side with the left b/c granted we aren't perfect in race relations and in a sense, there will always be ethnic/tribal/nationalistic tension, but they get that and acknowledge that there is a system of racial hierarchy in the world and it should be abolished. I kept it short b/c people over-hype race. I talk about it all the time, because people don't understand that it is trivial. We are all different colors. Embrace it. I wonder what is going to happen when people are all the same color, which is slowly but surely happening, and/or when people of color realize that we are the majority? Interesting... I hope colorism won't become the predominant ideology...

Four, I guess this is pretty much a spin off of two, but I hate capitalism. I don't like what money has done to so many seemingly nice individuals. People that came from working class backgrounds turn their back on their roots and community b/c they got a little money. I have issues with that. Why? It's capitalism. I firmly believe that capitalism breeds greed. I have seen it happen too many times. I understand it is the economic system of this country, and you know, I'll live with it, but it needs to be regulated. CLEARLY. That's why we are in this mess now. Greed gets out of control... So pass a darn stimulus package, Congress.

So that's me in a nutshell... Go lefties...



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stimulus Drama...

Politics is nothing but drama. It's worse than Gossip Girl, Grey's Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives put together.

News flash… Congress Dems and Republicans continue to battle with each other over the stimulus package. Oh I guess that isn’t a news flash. The Republicans nor Democrats will always battle each other, because they are power freaks. This is going to hurt American families and workers. Put your egos aside, and yes the bill may not contain everything that you want in it Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner, and guess what kids, you will just have to get over it. I thought the whole point of Congress was to support and fulfill the wishes of their constituents. Maybe they need a news flash… We are all hurting. Our economic foundation is crumbling. And don’t you all want to be re-elected? If you all continue to bicker with each other and stand by as the economy continues to tank, please don’t think that we will forget your lack of action. Learn to compromise, because in reality, neither side is right on this one. Sure. It can contain a decent size of “cash in hand” tax cuts to attempt to please the Republicans, b/c that will “help” every worker out, but also the bill needs to be a 2009 version of New Deal acts. That’s why I like Obama, because he clearly saw how FDR helped Americans make it through the Great Depression. We saw that the other stimulus/bail out plans haven’t worked. They didn’t work. They gave us a check, and we paid bills with it. They threw billions at the banks and financial markets, and they didn’t loan us money. The New Deal worked b/c it put so many people to work. And yes I know, trust me, that World War II is the full reason for our economic recovery in the 1940s, and the US suffered some economic difficulties after the end of the war, but you can’t deny the impact of the New Deal. Yes I agree with family planning, but don’t put it along with this bill. Come on, Dems. I support you all, and this is what happens. It’s so ridiculous. Pass a clean bill. I don’t even want to blog more about it. It’s just so frustrating. I type this as I sit and listen to CNN segment on the cumulative grade on American infrastructure is a D. From wastewater storage, levees, inland waterways, dams, schools, and mass transit, we are failing. Put people to work to fix these issues and provide us with energy alternatives, so we don’t have to depend on shaky regions in the world for oil and more importantly, stop damaging the Earth. It seems like not many people get what is going in. I’m too annoyed at this point. Shout out to Obama again for understanding the need to bring us all together to make it through this. Quick lesson for Pelosi and Boehner to learn: Try to legislate from the middle. Geniuses. And I don’t mean that in a nice way…



Friday, January 23, 2009

Weekly wrap-up...

Well it's not likely that everyone in the world doesn't know about the biggest news story of the week... BUSH IS OUT OF OFFICE!!! Well, granted that is true, but of course, I am just kidding. I am beyond thrilled that he is no longer our President, but he is moving to Dallas and moving right up the street from my stomping ground. Oh yay. Hopefully we can run into each other at Whole Foods or something and have an interesting conversation. That may actually be awesome.

But as we all know, the major story of the week/year/decade, heck I don't know ever in American History (ok... too far?), was the realization of the American Dream on January 20th 2009, with the inauguration of Barack Obama as our 44th President. I mean can people even fully understand the magnitude of this? The United States of America has an African American president. Hello. I don't want to beat a dead horse, and you all know I can b/c I am a good lefty and a history major, but that is incredible. I am so proud of all or us, whether you voted for him or not. My patriotism isn't sky high normally, but at that moment I couldn't help but bask in the glory of our American values finally becoming a reality for all of us. It's not exclusive anymore, well that's debatable b/c he is still a man, pretty much well-off now, Ivy league educated, and of mixed race, but that's not what's important. And please do not think I would ever undercut President Obama's historic candidacy, victory, and presidency, but it's great now to think that the Presidents Club is open to well-qualified people and the basis of race is no longer a road block. Next gender... Oh the day!!!

And yes I did admit above that I am not normally the most patriotic person, because I think so much of time we as Americans are pompous and don't embody the values that we have in our founding documents or preach to others. But to see all the people there in D.C. to witness history and wish him well in office, and to even hear/see the former nay-sayers show respect for this peaceful transition of power from two vastly different individuals choked me up for a second. It made the cynical liberal in me go away. This is why I will never leave America, well never give up my American citizenship. We have a government that does respect differing ideas, and civil war or anarchy aren't going to break out in cities across the country when your candidate doesn't win. So props to Americans for showing maturity and respect. Of course the partisan bickering is starting back up again, because President Obama has made some huge choices already, but it's almost to be expected.

One thing I wanted to just touch on was something I heard about the other day... The President and First Lady's affection for one another. I am no advocate for PDA, trust me, but I think it's very positive for their daughters to see them lovingly embracing each other, and heck it's good for other people to see it as well. Despite my pretty staunch views on feminism, I do believe in the sanctity of marriage (for both hetero- and homosexuals) and it shows their children that yes life has changed greatly, but your parents are the same and still love each other. I think it's great. But someone said that people were feeling uncomfortable about it. Well it's the photographers that are catching these images, and the media that display them all day. Tell them to stop showing it all the time. Tell them to stop focusing on Michelle's style of dress or Aretha Franklin's hat. I think it's interesting that our politicians have reached this hyper-celebrity status, but at the same time, we need to show him the respect that any other president has been shown. I get it. The Obamas are like the political version of Brad and Angie-good looking, smart, charitable, well-liked, but a certain point it goes entirely too far. Demand that the media remain objective and focus on the issues. How about you do that!! Don't put down the president for loving his wife. HELLO! That's what you are supposed to do. He's not weak for it. He is a real man, because he loves his wife and isn't afraid to show it. It's not political posturing or other nonsense that I heard. They are married and love one another. End of story. We should all wish to find a spouse that we can share those moments with one day. Shall we say hating? Lol...

Back to politics, I also was so happy to see Hillary Clinton, our new Sect. of State, take her place in the State Department yesterday morning. I supported Sect. Clinton at the beginning of the campaign, before Bill's moments of ignorance and her supporters just got out of line, so I was glad to see her embrace her position in the Obama administration. What was more amazing was the audience outside of the State Dept. where she held her press conference. She had a good size crowd of supporters come out to see her do well, also. So good luck to her, as well. Sect. Clinton understand the need for diplomacy, so she is a perfect fit, and will do well at her new job.

I just would like to say that we need to realize that President Obama doesn't have a magic wand, and it is going to take time to rebuild America's economic foundation, but we have to have patience and not give into the cynicism on either end of the spectrum. Save your money, but still remember you can buy the goods you need. Go out to eat, but cook at home most days. Just be responsible with your money, and we will all manage to make it out of this. And more importantly... URGE YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES TO PASS THE STIMULUS PACKAGE QUICKLY!!!! I'm out...



Monday, January 12, 2009

An Ode to my Sisters...

This is going to be long, but quite interesting.... I hope you all read this and appreciate it!

So I was watching "The View" this morning, like I do every available morning, and they had on conservative queen Ann Coulter to talk about her new book. Well I knew it wouldn't start off right b/c the ladies had a fine, tactful segment about a quote that Coulter made that basically said that famous bi-racial celebrities/figures have abandoned their White mothers and identify with their Black fathers, who literally abandoned them. Ok... WHAT? She claims that Halle Berry's Oscar acceptance speech and Barack Obama's autobiography are insensitive disses to their mothers... No. Berry praised forgotten Black Hollywood legends in her congratulatory moment, and Obama writes about the dreams of his father in his first book. I just first want to address this... I am not bi-racial, so I can't fully speak on that aspect of it, but I think I can put it in other words to show a bit of similarities. I am the daughter of two working-class, Black parents, who worked very hard for us to live in middle-class neighborhoods during my life. After the first semester of 6th grade, my family moved to Plano, an affluent and at that time, a predominately White suburb of Dallas. The years of formation in my life were surrounded by White people, but I knew that I was a Black American and indulged in my own ethnic culture as well. I never had an issue with it, but to members of my own ethnic group, I was seen as "acting White." Whatever! I was a product of my environment, and I think Obama, Berry, and Alicia Keys, who was also mentioned on the show, are as well. But I think that they have an even more difficult task then the very assimilated minorities in this country. I always knew I was Black and that was that. I was and am proud of it, and wouldn't change it for anything. However, bi-racial Americans unfortunately don't have the opportunity to claim pride in both ethnic heritages, because society only views them as Black Americans or Mexican Americans or Asian Americans, etc., depending on their ethnicity. This isn't new. So I don't understand why Ann Coulter needed to go so far into saying that they are dissing their White mothers who took care of them, because society pretty much made them identify with their Blackness. I thought that was the most ludicrous mess ever. I thought the ladies handled themselves very well, and I applaud them for being so classy and tactful. Coulter should learn a lesson.

Another person was mentioned on the show, and I wanted to do this a long time ago, but never came around to it... Talk about Sarah Palin. Once again, I am a hardcore Progressive, but I am also objective. In my opinion, overall the media doesn't have a leftist slant, but I think the coverage of Sarah Palin was sexist at times, and it was the so-called left-leaning channels and Democratic commentators who did make the sexist comments a good portion of the time. Yes, I will admit that! My respect and admiration for President-elect Obama nor my own political persuasion can't stop me from seeing that. I am a feminist, and I think my position as a woman trumps my racial status, and possibly even class, so yes I recognize that. But what also needs to be said is that Sarah Palin jumped into the national political scene, and she wasn't ready for it. Sorry! She wasn't and she needs to blame herself for that. But in her defense, there is something that is very like-able about her. I call it her "folksy" character, but that wasn't going to make her a qualified VP, or President for crying out loud if John McCain were to become ill. *And on that note as well, I was very tired of people saying how old McCain was. I am guilty of it myself a few times, but people were almost basking in the idea of him passing away in office if he were elected. It was quite disgusting.* But back to the task at hand, so much of her criticism came from the fact that so many saw her as a hypocrite. She became the poster child for not economic conservatism, which it seems like she knew little about, but rather social conservatism; family values, overzealous religious actions and beliefs, which in many times leads to intolerance for the LGBT community, science, and non-Christians, and a lack of gun control. But what she couldn't nor shouldn't hide is the fact that her teenage daughter was unwed and pregnant. Why does it matter? Well, she represents the portion of the population that blames the liberal politicians and activists for destroying the sanctity of family and marriage, but if one embodies these so called liberal issues themselves and truly believes what one says, well Mrs. Palin is a hypocrite. And yes I know that not all conservatives/Republicans believe that, but I am addressing to the hardcore/extreme right-wing followers. That's why people attacked her so viciously. Was it called for? Not really, but she was going to be the second in line to inherit this diverse, great nation, and she seemed very narrow-minded and uninformed at times. In regards to her daughter, personal attacks on Bristol and her baby should have been left out of it. That wasn't called for at all.

The main focus of this was supposed to be about the nonsense Coulter was shouting about when it came to single motherhood. But first, I would like to again applaud the ladies on "The View" for challenging a very rude and desperate to sell her book Ann Coulter. More specifically, I think Elizabeth deserves a bit of credit, because she is seen as the one who never speaks out against her fellow Conservatives, but she asked the million dollar question: Why not say something about the fathers who abandon their families? Yes, why not ask that question instead of attacking women who do their best to raise their children alone? In a perfect world, a child would have two parents, biological or adopted, gay or straight, but that's not reality. We have to face the fact that just won't happen all the time. So instead of being insensitive and intentionally controversial like Coulter or throw Bible verses (I mean that with no disrespect, I've seen it happen too many times) or teacc abstinence-only education in public schools, let's promote responsible sex/reproductive education in high schools and communication with their parents, so teens are wiser about their sexual activity and the repercussions of it. I don't even feel like beating this dead horse anymore. It's just very upsetting that people think like that.

But I titled this blog "An ode to my sisters," because I was inspired to write this for them. I have three amazing sisters, and my two oldest sisters are single mothers. They didn't follow the same path as I did, but they are intelligent, beautiful women in their own right, and when I hear total nonsense like this being spouted out about single mothers, I take offense to it. I try not to preach, but I think that a lot of us need to think about what we say before we say it. I'm done.