Black History Month 2015: Zora Neale Hurston

5 02 2015

zora-neale-hurston

“It would be against all nature for all the Negroes to be either
at the bottom, top, or in between. We will go where the internal drive carries us like everybody else. It is up to the individual.”

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora is one of my favorite writers. Her language is beautiful, uplifting, elegant, and scarcely seen in modern literature. Literacy across the board is becoming a thing of the distant past, much to the detriment of of our people.

I explore this a bit more over at Communities Digital News, Black History Month 2015: Let’s promote a return to literacy:

“Sadly, the richness of literacy exhibited by her and her contemporaries—like Langston Hughes, who would have been 113 this week—is sorely lacking in today’s literature. Do our young people even know the names of these and other great writers, or the titles of their works? If the crisis in our culture is any indication, we are failing our children by starving them of the substantive words and sweeping vision of great writers while spoon-feeding them the steady pabulum of gangster rap and reality television.”

Read more here.

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In My Orbit…

10 07 2012

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As the Beatle’s song says, “I read the news today–Oh, boy!” The usual assortment of the good, the bad, the ugly, and even the downright entertaining!

The Kids Are Not Alright

According to an analysis by the nonprofit, nonpartisan group YoungInvincibles, Youth Joblessness will drone on, and prospects of a future upswing look bleak. The bad news, from Yahoo! News:

“The unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds now stands at 16.5 percent, more than double the rate for the population at large (8.2 percent). For Latino youth, the rate is 20.5 percent, and for African-American youth, 30.2 percent. Fewer than half of all young Americans hold any kind of job at all, says the report.

These numbers, while daunting, fail to take include young people who have given up looking for work and dropped out of the labor force altogether.”

Youth Joblessness: No End in Sight.

All I can say is, welcome to real world, youngins. When you vote for tropes like Hope and Change, you pretty much get neither. My wish is that you choose better this go-round, but I won’t hold my breath.

Colored People

Apparently Governor Mitt Romney plans to speak to the NAACP on Wednesday. I ask myself, Why? But, that’s a blog post for another day.

President Barack Obama cannot break away from his busy fundraising and campaigning schedule to speak to the organization who got out the vote for him in 2008. So who is he sending?… Vice President Joe Biden. That’s a comedy sketch ready to be written.

A bunch of white progressive liberals decided to make the joke on Romney by dubbing him “too white for Blacks to like.” Riddle me this? What do a bunch of entitled media-elite white men know about what is “too white” for Black people? Did they quiz their Black friends? Hire a Black media consultant? Put Dave Chappelle or Chris Rock on retainer? And if they did this, why not give the brotha (or sista) some credit?

And they call conservatives and the Tea Party racist? SMH.

Still shaking my head over the Morgan Freeman NPR interview. According to Morgan, Obama is not our first Black President. I’ve been saying that since he was elected in 2008, so big whoop. However, the fact that the President can’t get ahead with his agenda is not his fault–it’s Republican obstructionism. Can we get some cheese with that whine?

The first two years of his Presidential term he had a full Democratic House and Senate, pushed through the Porkulus package that was supposed to keep unemployment below 8 percent #FAIL!, and got Obamacare Obamatax passed. So can we also color Morgan confused?

I have loved Morgan Freeman on screen since The Electric Company, but like most celebs, when it comes to politics, he is off his nut.

Obla de Obla da Life Goes On…

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our old friends, the Occupy Movement. There was a National Gathering mounted for 4th of July weekend, appropriately dubbed “The Occupy National Gathering” or #NatGat for the Twitterverse.

Occupy just refuses to go gently into that good night, and apparently the event went over like a lead balloon. The skinny from Breitbart’s Big Government site:

“The turnout was awful. The Guardian said about 500 people showed up for the National Gathering. There’s no real excuse for that since the event has been promoted for months. Philadelphia was actually a great choice for a location and not just for symbolic reasons; it’s an easy train ride from a number of cities that had significant Occupy presences, including New York City, Washington D.C. and Boston. Even bringing a small percentage of the Occupiers in those cities should have culled a far higher number.

If the attendance was pathetic, the fundraising was downright humiliating.  The Occupy National Gathering put up a fundraising page with the modest goal of $15,000. […]

“Total raised for Occupy National Gathering according to their website : $600. Not a typo. Six. Hundred. Dollars.  There are church bake sales in small towns that bring in more ducats than that. “

In Occupy’s defense, there was record heat in the East Coast that weekend. On second thought, when there are good barbecues and fireworks going on, why waste your time on an essentially defunct movement? Missing you already, Occupy, missing you already.

Now we move from the entertaining, to the ridiculous.

Sitting Doing Nothing

The Wall Street Journal is being its usual helpful self by reporting that Sitting for more than 3 hours a day can cut your Life Expectancy. If this were true, I should really be dead by now!

Yet another medical study (published in BMJ Open, an online medical journal) that someone spent millions of dollars to mount. The amount of people who are unemployed and underemployed, and you couldn’t spend the money on something more… productive? And how many hours did these researchers spend sitting to research and write this drivel?

In protest, I decided to find Couch Potato; Weird Al Yankovic’s parody of Eminem’s Lose Yourself. BMJ Open can bite my sometimes sedentary, shapely Yoga ass.

Short People Got No Reason to Live

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the diminutive crusader (at 5 ft 6 inches) against salt, trans-fat, and now Big Gulp sodas is mounting a contest to stir development of 275- to 300- square-foot micro apartments. [Pause here for uproarious laughter]

“The ministudios will be just big enough for a bathroom, kitchen and sleeping and dining areas — but Bloomberg said tenants shouldn’t plan on doing much entertaining.”

Mayor Bloomberg launches contest to stir development of  tiny 300 square-foot apartment for singles.

So, what’s the point? Or are we trying to create a new generation of clown car?

The article also points out that, “Bloomberg’s 12,500-square-foot upper East Side townhouse is about 40 times as big as the micro units.” Bet he won’t be moving into one of those units, despite being the perfect size for them.

One more reason that I am thankful to live in Los Angeles. Smilin’ Tony may be the 11 percent Mayor of Los Angeles, but I’ll take a do-nothing over a meddler any day.

 





Black Heritage Month: Week 2–Black Genocide

16 02 2012

I recently read an article in Religion Dispatches by Sikivu Hutchinson titled “God’s Body, God’s Plan: The Komen Furor and Abortion as Black/Latino ‘Genocide'”. An interesting, and well-written read, though I thorougly disagree with everything she posits.

Ms. Hutchinson holds to the argument that a woman’s “right” to do with her body what she wishes should be wholesale protected by the government. It’s part of “reproductive justice” and that blanket term: “family planning”. She holds the belief that the ills suffered by women and children of color are because these services are not readily available and protected, and that the pro-life lobby and its work to eradicate abortion is part of the work to maintain a racist power structure. Huh?

Specifically in her cross-hairs is a group called The International Coalition of Color for Life, founded by Eve Sanchez Silver. Ms. Hutchinson first minimizes Ms. Sanchez Silver, a Latina, with the throwaway description of her background: “a former medical research analyst for and charter member of the Komen Foundation, has been a leading advocate against Planned Parenthood within Komen.”

In fact, Ms. Sanchez Silver is more than that–she has a very impressive background in science and research. You can read her bio and find out for yourself. She also resigned from Komen after they chose to develop a relationship with Planned Parenthood;  so the “within Komen” statement is misleading, if not false.

In typical liberal fashion, Ms. Hutchinson cherry picks and uses the most stark images and statements from the website to build a straw man argument against the notion that abortion is being used as a form of Black Genocide. She sees abortion as a necessary service to help protect women of color, and prevent the high rate of out-of-wedlock births, foster children and incarcerated youth of color. Since Roe v. Wade’s institution in 1973, the United States has legally protected a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. Yet, none of those rates she mentions have been reduced–in fact, some of them have increased. You would think close to 40 years of abortion rights would have proven her argument, but apparently not.

Ms. Hutchinson also argues that to use Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger‘s work and writings as a basis  “to vilify abortion, anti-abortion foes of color are actually savaging women’s right to agency.” Ms. Hutchinson even parades out the black leaders who were Sanger’s contemporaries, who backed her work: Dr. Martin Luther King, Mary McCleod Bethune, Ida B. Wells, and so on. This feels equivalent to certain Blacks paraded out by news organizations and political parties to prove their cause is just; however, it gives no basis of proof toward the validity of the cause just because certain people of color support it. But, I digress.

As a pro-life Black woman, I have watched this debate on both side for years. As a writer, I’ve seen the massaging of terms and wording on both sides to try to reshape the argument in their favor. Those opposed to abortion have re-crafted the language from “anti-abortion” to “pro-life”, from “crisis pregnancy centers” to “women’s centers” in order to re-frame their point-of-view. On the converse, terms like “family planning”, “reproductive rights”, and “birth control” are being used in the same way, to camouflage the fact that the act of abortion is central to their focus.

And now the latest term of “women’s health care” is being used to support the so-called pro-choice advocacy for wholesale government-funding of abortions and abortifacients.  A position strongly supported by our first Black President, who claims to “respect” religious liberties, even when he continues to trample upon them. Catholic Bishops aren’t buying it, and from their Wall Street Journal editorial, neither are David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Edward Whelan:

President Obama claims to respect Religious Liberties–offers token compromise

WSJ: Birth Control Mandate–Unconstitutional and Illegal.

I took enough women’s studies classes where Ms. Sanger’s goals and writings were presented in a glowing light, to have made up my own mind about her: she was a racist with genocidal intentions wrapped in a pretty package of benevolence.

Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist, and believed (as much as Adolph Hitler) in an elite race, and the elimination of any inferior races that would poison the well. Hitler had the Jews, homosexuals, and the infirm on his hit list; Sanger had the “feeble-minded”, poor immigrants, and minorities on hers. Her argument for “birth control” was to work toward the limitation of those inferior elements, so that superior races could thrive. Books like The Pivot of Civilization, and Women and the New Race trumpet these beliefs with brazen authority. Taken on their face, they present logical arguments that are totally antithesis to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness for anyone except those she deemed “fit”.

With 17-million (and counting) black babies aborted through the work of Planned Parenthood, the organization Ms. Sanger founded seems well on its way to accomplishing her vision. While the Rev. Al Sharpton, Michael Eric Dyson, and other supposed black leaders are obsessed with calling anyone who opposes President Obama and his policies a racist, and slapping labels of “Uncle Tom” and “House Nigga” on Black conservatives like Shelby Steele and Congressman Allen West, you hear crickets from these same leaders about Planned Parenthood’s targeting of minority communities under the guise of “family planning” and “women’s health”.

Just as W.E.B. Dubois and Dr. Martin Luther King, were seduced by Margaret Sanger’s benevolent claims to understand and assist in the “Negro problem”, we have our modern-day equivalents advocating and shilling for “women’s reproductive rights” for a number of reasons. Some have drunk the Kool-Aid, others want the media recognition, but many others either want the financial gain (read: campaign contributions) or the votes. So, not much has changed.

Like Sikivu Hutchinson, Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution argues that the term “Black Genocide” is nonsense. Also like Ms. Hutchinson, Ms. Tucker uses ONE pro-life advocate (Johnny Hunter of Life Education and Resource Network-LEARN) as her whipping boy, pointing out how radical he is because he considers abortion a means to wipe out the black race. So extreme!

She builds her own straw man argument with these ridiculous statements:

“Oddly, the most vociferous critics of Planned Parenthood are also the least likely to support plans and proposals that might actually lower the abortion rate — among black women as well as among white and brown women.”

Abstinence education, and women’s centers that cater to ladies with unplanned pregnancies and offer alternatives that don’t involve termination are funded and supported by these critics she talks about. But I guess Ms. Tucker doesn’t consider those viable plans and proposals to getting the abortion rate down.

And then, Ms. Tucker trumpets her biggest fallacy: ” If birth control pills and devices were cheaper and more widely available, more women would use them. Unplanned pregnancies would drop. The abortion rate would decline.”

My young-adult niece would go to parties in Hollywood where they passed out free contraceptive samples and free condoms. When I had no insurance, this Black woman found discounts on my birth control pills. Heck, they pass out free condoms  in schools–so WHAT is Ms. Tucker talking about?

The Guttmacher Institute presented a revelatory report on Abortions in the United States. Just a snippet of their findings:

“Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use.” (emphases mine.)

So more than half of abortions sought were by women who used contraception either incorrectly or inconsistently. Ms. Tucker’s treatise has hit bottom, yet she continues to dig.

I am thankful that there is still a percentage of my people who refuse to fall for the twin ruses of “women’s health” and “women’s reproductive rights”. Organizations like The International Coalition of Color for LifeLEARNLife DynamicsThe National Black Pro-Life UnionNational Black Pro-Life Coalition, and hundreds of others, are taking a stand to battle the continued encroachment of deception and lies.

Saysumthn‘s WordPress blog did an awesome video presentation in 2010 highlighting religious and civic leaders, and every day people, who are choosing to stand up for the lives of Black babies. Though a few years old, it is even more relevant in 2012: Black Genocide: African-American Leaders Speak Out.

Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, and Director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life made a statement opposing the abortion mandate housed in Obamacare. Dr. Alveda King said:

“What really is racist is singling out minorities, who now receive about two-thirds of the abortions in this country, for discriminatory treatment[…]”

 “Those of us who care about the civil rights of all Americans, born and unborn, oppose Obamacare because we oppose the expansion of the most racist industry in America – the abortion industry.”
Black people, where will you stand?




In My Orbit…

8 03 2011

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So despite an interim agreement that will carry us through March, the country could still face a Government shutdown if Congress and the White House cannot come to a budget compromise.

I am no economist, but I fail to see why it is so difficult. For starters, pulling funding from National Public Radio (NPR) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) would save us billions. These are both progressive darlings, and I have always wondered why they needed the funding to begin with. They could earn more from their supporters in Manhattan and Beverly Hills than anything the government gives them. I say let’s give them that chance. If I made lots of money, I’d support the causes I believe in and ensure they are kept alive. So why can’t they siphon money from those who believe in what they do? One of the reasons I stopped watching public broadcasting was their incessant pledge drives–where does all that money go?

NPR head Vivian Shiller was on Capitol Hill Monday, defending her firing of Juan Williams and why NPR should continue to receive government funding. A quote from her testimony:

“‘We take [federal defunding] very, very seriously,’ she said. ‘It would have a profound impact we believe on our ability – of public broadcasting’s ability – to deliver news and information.'”

I have listened to NPR from time to time, but don’t consider myself a fan. It has some interesting bits, but most of it is pretend high-brow intellectualism with a fully political agenda. Don’t get me wrong: I’m fine with political agendas, just don’t pretend or claim that you are above it. NPR is fully a pretender.

So isn’t it convenient that fresh off Ms. Shiller’s turn before the Congressional committee, James O’Keefe rolls out another sting video, this time involving former NPR executive Ron Schiller (different spelling and no relation to the current head) and Betsy Liley, NPR’s director of institutional giving.

The video pretty much shows that NPR does indeed have an agenda, and despises the unwashed masses of conservatives who do not side with it. While much of the rightosphere saw the smoking gun in the fact that Schiller all but admitted that they don’t need the government funding, and his calling the Tea Party racist (that’s original), what I found most egregious was his waxing eloquent about the lack of education, and a campaign of “anti-intellectualism” that supposedly infests the nation. One quote from the video has him saying that what he is:

“most disappointed by in this country, which is that the educated, so-called elite in this country is too small a percentage of the population, so that you have this very large un-educated part of the population that carries these ideas.”

I have two degrees: a Bachelors and a Masters, both from prestigious institutions. People who never ask me about my politics assume by virtue of those degrees, my conversational prowess, and that I am a black woman who wears dreadlocks that I must be a part of this “educated, so-called elite”.  So like Schiller in the video, they feel at liberty to say the most ugly, demeaning, and dare I say, anti-Semitic things about those who do not hold their views. I have had comments said to me that would make even my weighty dreds stand on end!

In my pursuit of education, I have managed to avoid the delusion that people who do not pursue higher education are stupid and uneducated. I also don’t assume that just because certain people choose to live in other parts of the country and listen to Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, that they are automatically racist and xenophobic.

But what I most strongly reject is the belief that intelligence and education will solve all the worlds ills, and it has always befuddled me why a good majority of the professors and students I encountered in my own journey see these as a cure-all.

It definitely solves some, otherwise I would not have bothered to get two degrees. But if education and intellect were truly the solution, do you think I would be unemployed for over two years and scraping to earn a living? My degrees and intellect should solve that problem for me, shouldn’t it? People should want someone as erudite and accomplished as myself on their payroll, don’t you think? And not just me, but the many members of the Tuesdays with Transitioners group that I lead, who are equally- if not more- intelligent and accomplished, yet are having difficulty landing full-time work.

And how about what’s going on with the Middle East? Our highly educated and very intellectual President is dithering and ineffective by many liberal and conservative accounts, issuing half-hearted warnings with not a clue on how to resolve the issue.  Shouldn’t his degrees from Columbia, Harvard Law, and that Nobel Peace Prize be a guarantee that he knows exactly what to do and how best to bring about a resolve to the situations in Egypt, Libya and Palestine?

And finally, if Mr. Schiller is so damn smart, then how did he get caught on camera with his pants down?

Video below for those who are interested.

 





Illustrating Absurdity: Boycott Edition

13 05 2010
Illustrating Absurdity

Chicken crossing by Peter Griffin

L.A. has got a feevah–not to correct its massive budget deficit, or to reign in the utterly corrupt Department of Water and Power.  No, L.A. has decided to boycott the State of Arizona for its anti-illegal stance.  L.A. City Council votes to ban travel and future contracts with Arizona….

This action was approved by the City Council 13-1, with Councilman Greig Smith casting the only dissenting vote.  Of course, they haven’t all-out canceled the City of L.A.’s $58 million worth of contracts with Arizona companies, but are asking port and city authorities to “review” contracts that have ties to Arizona.  A pull quote:

“LAX receives $22 million in revenue from two Arizona-based airlines — US Airways and Mesa Air. The port relies on three Arizona firms for new, low-emission big rigs, part of the city’s “clean truck’’ program that is expected to reduce truck-related pollution at the port by 80% by 2012.”

So, the Port of Los Angeles and LAX all but depend on Arizona to be able to do its business and to garner certain revenue.   Since we’re the ones that are broke and busted, you would think the City Council would consider this before taking such an action.  But that would be asking for reason and accountability–two traits sorely lacking in the City’s current leadership.  Smilin’ Tony was unavailable for comment.

In other news, the L.A. City Council approved an initiative to crackdown on abandoned shopping cartsHugh Hewitt said it best: “They’re the clown posse.”  Love him.

Leesa Bellesi, pastor’s wife, has called for a boycott of the Miss USA Pageant over an overtly sexual photo shoot of the contestants called, “Waking Up in Vegas”, posted on the pageant’s official website.  Pastor’s wife calling for Miss USA boycott.

The pageant president went on the Today show to defend the campaign, “telling Matt Lauer that most of the contestants want to be Victoria’s Secret models anyway, so this is just giving them practice.”  With Barbie-Doll sluts like Kendra Wilkinson Baskett and Kim Kardashian being thrown in the face of young women as “role models,” why would anyone be surprised at this?

Bellesi runs an organization called Kingdom Assignment, and from my brief perusal of her bio and work, seems to be a woman of substance.  Here’s where she lost me.  A pull quote from the Orange County Register article with emphasis added by me:

“After seeing Shugart on the Today Show, Bellesi, who has made a tradition of watching the pageant, sent out an e-mail to hundreds calling on people to boycott the show, which airs live from Vegas Sunday night on NBC.

“‘Christians and young women in general in these pageants are being asked to compromise themselves regarding modesty of any kind,’ she wrote.”

Hello?  That entire circuit is built around the exploitation of beauty and sex as a ticket.  Anyone remember JonBenet Ramsey?  I stopped watching these contests oh, about age 12 or 13, because I realized I certainly wasn’t going to get anywhere on my looks.  So these girls, as bright, vivacious and earnest as they were, would not be good role models.  No disrespect to these women, if that is the path you choose, then so be it–but not all of us have (or want) that option.

Mrs. Bellesi made a tradition of watching this show, and now is suddenly concerned about modesty and exploitation?

Kind of sinks her cause in my eyes.

Glee creator Ryan Murphy is calling for a boycott of Newsweek magazine for what Murphy says, is a “needlessly cruel and mind-blowingly bigoted piece” by Ramin Setoodeh. Setoodeh, who also happens to be gay, posits that gay actors cannot play straight roles.  Tell that to Tom Cruise, Ramin.

Newsflash: Nobody read the article, because nobody reads Newsweek.  Then again, a boycott might push the already failing newsweekly over a cliff.  Hmmm….

Methinks Mr. Murphy should take a chill pill, enjoy his successful show, and focus his energy on writing those great musical numbers.  Had Murphy not mentioned the article, I would have never heard of Ramin Setoodeh.  But Ryan Murphy and Glee are already household words.  Glee creator Ryan Murphy urges magazine snub.





Illustrating Absurdity…

24 02 2010

The Guvenator and former President Bubba are joining forces today to combat the great plague of our time: Obesity.

Illustrating Absurdity

Chicken crossing by Peter Griffin

From the Los Angeles Times article:

“The governor, a former bodybuilder who has long advocated healthy living and exercise, will join with health professionals, educators and others to discuss ways California can combat obesity and promote physical fitness.”

So an inept tax-and-spend Governor who has run California into the ground is joining forces with an ex-President whose libido and lies almost cost him the Presidency to talk about “action that can be done to promote a healthier California for all.”  This is a matter high on the list of priorities for most Californians–right up there with unemployment and job creation.  This is why food pantries from Los Angeles to Long Beach are daily running out of stock, and homeless dinner programs are ballooning with non-homeless men, women, and children who just need a free meal.

Will the last common-sense elected official to leave please turn the lights out?

LA Obesity summit will feature Schwarzennegger and Clinton.





In My Orbit…

15 02 2010

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lindsay Lohan and Jesus Christ.  Sound like an improbable combination?  On my Examiner page, I talk about how the twain have met and what it means for Hollywood: Jesus and Hollywood: not so mutually exclusive.

Connecting Voices has published “Desperate Time Call for Different Measures” an article I wrote about Tuesdays with Transitioners and CareerCampLA–give it read…

And if you are a part of the Los Angeles community, The Valley Rescue Mission is having a rummage sale this Saturday, March 20 at the First Presbyterian Church of Granada Hills at 10400 Zelzah Avenue in  Northridge.   This is the first of three fundraisers to generate money and awareness of the Mission’s work in feeding, clothing and housing the San Fernando Valley‘s homeless population.

Donations and Volunteers are gladly accepted!  You can drop off donations at Granada Hills Presbyterian on Friday, February 19, after 5:00 p.m.  Volunteers are needed to set up Friday evening and to help out on Saturday.

If you’d like to participate, contact Gye Di Capua, Volunteer Coordinator at gyepower@sbcglobal.net.








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