OMG! I'm so surprised! *not*

Chris Brown Avoids Jail Time in Rihanna Assault
By Ken Lee,,20286732,00.html
Originally posted Monday June 22, 2009 05:00 PM EDT

With Rihanna set to break her silence in her assault case, Chris Brown reached a plea agreement that spared him jail time, it was announced Monday.

Brown, 20, will be sentenced to five years probation and 180 days of community labor to be served in Virginia. He will also complete a year of domestic violence classes, and pay fines. In exchange, he pleaded guilty to felony assault by means likely to cause great bodily injury.

"Mr. Brown, I think it's commendable that you took responsibility for your conduct," said Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg.

Brown also was ordered to stay at least 50 yards away from Rihanna – except at industry events, when it's 10 yards – despite a request from Rihanna's lawyer for a less-restrictive order [why am I not surprised]. For now, Brown was also ordered not to have any contact with her, which includes phone, email and text communications.

Brown Very Thankful
"He's very thankful to all the people who've been very supportive," said Brown's attorney, Mark Geragos. "This is a kid who's never been in trouble before, who wants to move past this and make sure that the message gets out that these kinds of things, of domestic violence, are not acceptable. And that he has accepted responsibility and continues to do so and embraces this as an opportunity for him to get his life back on track and his career back on track."

If he violates probation, Brown will face four years in prison. His formal sentencing is set for Aug. 5, when the court will drop a second charge of making criminal threats.

Noting that Brown pleaded to a felony, Schnegg said, "I want Mr. Brown to be treated the same as any other defendant who would come into this court. That means something like Caltrans [trash pickup] or graffiti removal."

Brown had been charged with two felony counts – assault and making criminal threats – in the alleged fight that left Rihanna bruised and bloodied.

The plea deal was reached shortly before Rihanna, 21, was to testify under subpoena in a preliminary hearing.

Brown, wearing gray suit, off-white tie and matching handkerchief in his front pocket, entered the courtroom shortly after 1:30 p.m. About 10 of his friends and family members, including his mother, were seated in the audience.

Rihanna In Courtroom
After the judge addressed him, Brown left the courtroom and Rihanna, wearing a black dress and pearls, was brought in for the judge to explain the plea deal terms to the singer. The two were never in the courtroom at the same time. She stood before Judge Schnegg, who told her that the court will consider reducing the stay-away order to the least-restrictive one after he's sentenced. Rihanna's only words in open court were: "Thank you, your honor," before she was led out through a side door.

According to a search warrant, Rihanna was assaulted during an argument that began when she read text messages from another woman on Brown's phone as they were driving in a Lamborghini in L.A. the morning before the pair were both scheduled to perform on the Grammy Awards.

An enraged Brown allegedly tried to force her out of the car, hit her head against the passenger window, punched her in the eye and drove away while steering with one hand and continuing to punch her with the other, says the detective's notes in the search warrant.

As blood filled Rihanna's mouth, Brown allegedly told her, "I'm going to beat the s--- out of you when we get home. You wait and see!" Rihanna then faked a call to her assistant, saying, "I am on my way home. Make sure the cops are there when I get there." The police notes indicate the statement prompted Brown to reply: "You just did the stupidest thing ever. Now I'm really going to kill you."

We *hear* Clair Huxtable

Echoes Of TV's First Lady
Michelle Obama's Last True Cultural Antecedent Is 'Cosby's' Clair Huxtable

By Robin Givhan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 19, 2009
Link to article

So far, the first lady has chosen to be a food bank volunteer with an outsize entourage and an education activist with the largest soapbox imaginable. But Michelle Obama also fills a role that is not of her choosing but that may, in fact, be the most influential: She serves as a symbol of middle-class progress, feminist achievement, affirmative-action success and individual style.

And she has done all this on the world stage . . . while being black.

Time and again, observers grasp for adjectives to describe Obama's combination of professional accomplishment and soccer-mom maternalism. It's no wonder so many eye her with awe and disbelief. Or why a minority still view her with suspicion. There have been few broad cultural precedents for what she represents.

Historically, television has been more progressive than reality, preparing a society for the moment when what only existed in the shadows surges into the spotlight. From "Soap" to "Will & Grace," TV helped people envision gay couples living picket-fence lives. "Maude" and daytime soap operas raised the topic of abortion before it became a political wedge issue. Television made the case for the first female commander in chief. And popular culture has more than once suggested that the idea of an African American president wasn't so far-fetched. But it rarely introduced viewers to anyone like Michelle Obama.

The last similarly accomplished and wholesome black woman to enter the homes of TV audiences -- both black and white, in small towns and big cities -- was Clair Huxtable, the matriarch of "The Cosby Show." It is a cultural comparison more apt than the one made to Jackie Kennedy, which is rooted in little more than the two first ladies being mothers of young children and their affection for sleeveless dresses.

Television, in particular, speaks to viewers intimately, in the privacy of their homes, building long-term relationships and weaving complicated narratives. People discuss the lives of TV characters -- from soap opera stars to reality-show contestants -- with the kind of emotional empathy normally saved for family members. Syndication allows characters to live forever and connect to multiple generations, whether it is the blended family of "The Brady Bunch" or the codependent New Yorkers on "Seinfeld."

Even as viewing habits have become more fragmented through cable and DVRs, TV still serves as a lingua franca. It can gently and affably prod disparate groups toward greater tolerance and acceptance. TV builds kinship.

But most of the prominent portrayals of black women on television are men in corpulent drag ( Madea), strutting tarts ("The Real Housewives of Atlanta") or emotionless law enforcement officers (Lt. Anita Van Buren of "Law & Order"). In its most enlightened moments, popular culture presents black women as strident taskmaster with the heart of gold -- see Dr. Miranda Bailey of "Grey's Anatomy."

In a recent essay for the Nation, Columbia law professor Patricia Williams shared her frustrations about popular culture's failure to present more images of the sort that Obama reflects. Black women -- and women of color, in general -- still are dogged by the tropes that have haunted them for generations, she wrote. But instead of images such as Mammy and Prissy from "Gone With the Wind," contemporary women must deal with "the adventures of Flavor Flav and Strom Thurmond" as well as "depictions from Don Imus and the minstrelsy of Tyler Perry."

"Where, for heaven's sake, is a picture of black femininity (in particular, that of darker-skinned, non-tragic femininity) that might signify beauty, chic, elegance, vulnerability, sophistication?"

Where are the images that celebrate the educated black woman? "The jurisprudence of the entire 20th century was about black people trying to get into school," Williams said in a telephone interview. "That's invisible." Niche media have tried to showcase the black professional class -- from the stories of uplift in Ebony magazine to "Harlem Heights," a reality show about 20-something buppies that debuted this spring on BET, a rarity on a black-oriented cable network often criticized by viewers for pandering to the worst stereotypes of African Americans. There have been shows that have spoken knowingly to a predominantly black audience, such as "Living Single" and "Girlfriends." "Soul Food" and "Lincoln Heights" address the small segmented audiences of cable.

Only Audra McDonald's character on ABC's "Private Practice" -- a divorced, stylish doctor with a young daughter, a vibrant social life and a healthy relationship with her ex-husband -- really reflects a generation of black women with advanced degrees, solid self-esteem and no anger issues.

But TV audiences have to go back to "The Cosby Show" to find a close facsimile to what Obama represents both professionally and personally, and that's going back more than 17 years. Clair Huxtable -- the stylish mother, wife and lawyer -- remains a lonely figure in popular culture.

As Seen on TV
"The Cosby Show," a sitcom about a black American family with five children, a lawyer-mom played by Phylicia Rashad and comedian Bill Cosby as the doctor-dad, ran from 1984 to 1992. Inspired by Cosby's monologues on child-rearing, the show was an anomaly when it premiered in the wake of TV series such as "Sanford and Son," "Good Times" and "The Jeffersons," which told the stories of down-and-out black Americans and upwardly mobile ones with equal parts slapstick and buffoonery.

"The Cosby Show" was doggedly upper-middle class in its sensibility. Every detail, from the choice of artwork in the Huxtable living room to the use of jazz in its opening credits to references to historically black colleges, spoke of the "Talented Tenth," a functional, culturally proud segment of the African American community that did not make the evening news.

In its first season, "The Cosby Show" finished third in the ratings. For the next four seasons, it was the top-rated series on television. Over the course of its run, it revived the situation-comedy format, resuscitated a flailing NBC, sparked conversations about race and made Cosby into America's dad.

Author Susan Fales-Hill, 46, began her career on the show as an apprentice and then a writer. Later, she became executive producer and head writer for the spinoff series "A Different World," about life on a fictional, historically black college campus through which viewers could see work-study students and trust-fund babies.

"There's something that happens when you validate the existence of someone by visually representing them," she says. "What people see, they believe."

And what they do not see on a regular basis, they assume to be rare or even nonexistent.

Fales-Hill could write from her own experience. She is the biracial daughter of actress Josephine Premice, a contemporary of Diahann Carroll and Lena Horne. She is a published author and comes from a background of private schools.

During her time on "Cosby," Fales-Hill remembers people telling her that families like the one on the show didn't exist, but her rejoinder was her personal story. "I had people tell me this is like a white family," Fales-Hill recalls. "But 'Cosby' brought the dirty secret of America -- the black bourgeoisie -- out of the closet."

When "Cosby" went off the air, the lesson Hollywood took was not that stories about functional black professionals can have broad appeal. It was that Bill Cosby has broad appeal, that stand-up comics could sustain entire sitcoms and that situation comedies can draw large audiences. "The Cosby Show" opened the door for "Grace Under Fire," "Home Improvement," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Cybill" and "Roseanne." And Cosby went on to star in another self-named comedy, which ran from 1996 to 2000. (And once again, Rashad played his wife, although the role was a modest one.)

By the end of the millennium, white, angst-ridden yuppies and white, wacky singles were dominating the airwaves. "Survivor" debuted in 2000 to launch the reality-show juggernaut. And women like Fales-Hill largely vanished from popular culture.

"There's a generation with very little exposure to the black professional class, and they stand in amazement," Fales-Hill says. "People say, 'You're so articulate.' And it's because I can string a sentence together!"

In a culture in which every white woman is presumed to be Everywoman until proven out of the mainstream, Obama has brought the normalcy of black women into the broader social consciousness. All it took were her two Ivy League degrees, a six-figure boardroom salary, a Norman Rockwell family, soccer-mom bona fides and an ability to dress herself without the aid of an entourage.

In many ways, the first lady has made people see -- really see -- black women for the first time. For example, when a black model appeared on the May cover of Vogue, news articles credited the "Obama effect," ignoring the concerted lobbying by fashion industry activists that began long before Barack Obama was even a presidential contender.

The role of style in defining the first lady might easily be dismissed as a distraction from more substantive issues. But Williams says the fan magazine breathlessness is significant because "it implies a kind of parity we really needed."

Enthusiasm over glossy-magazine beauty as defined by a darker-skinned black woman has to be seen against the backdrop of history, when black women's appearance was used as a tool of oppression. High culture rhapsodized in love sonnets about ivory complexions, flaxen hair and ruby lips. And today, black women still mostly surface as sidebars in beauty stories.

"Somewhere in the core of it is the question of whether black really is beautiful," Williams says. "That's why I think it's not about superficiality. It's a precarious moment. Only a minute ago, she was Angela Davis."

Fighting Stereotypes
In the NAACP's most recent report on diversity on television, the civil rights organization noted in December that "it is hard to draw any positive conclusions." And in particular, it pointed to "The Hills" and "Gossip Girls," which are aimed at a youth market. Viewers in their teens and 20s live in a more diverse society than their parents did. But little had changed since what the NAACP called the "whiteout" years of shows such as "Friends" and "Seinfeld" -- and more recently "Sex and the City" and "Lipstick Jungle" -- which were situated in the melting pot of New York City but seemed to exist in a parallel, nearly all-white universe.

Hollywood producer Mara Brock Akil was a regular "Sex and the City" viewer. "They were able to show women as layered and flawed -- and spending obscene amounts of money on accessories -- and still empowered and smart women," Akil says. "I related to it, but I longed to see myself physically validated, which they rarely did."

Akil, 39, grew up middle class in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles and in Kansas City, Mo. But unlike television viewers who find themselves disappointed by network offerings and can only blog about it, Akil had the ability to alter the landscape.

So she created "Girlfriends." It debuted in 2000 on UPN, a new network that was aggressively courting a black audience. Among black women, it was appointment television. The ongoing saga of Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross) and her trio of friends gave professional, stylish black women a voice on television.

"I almost felt like a documentarian," Akil says. "I wanted people to know what's on our mind."

The show talked about romance and work, and it poked fun at the assumptions about black culture vs. white. Joan, for example, was a huge fan of Celine Dion -- because Akil is -- as well as more soulful singers such as India.Arie.

"I also wanted to combat a stereotype on TV that black women are either the sister-girl or the asexual judge with no life. I can be fearless at work, but I can also be stupid over a guy. I can be all those things at once. I wanted to show how fashionable we are. The fashion and the femininity, I really wanted to talk about that," Akil says. "My agenda was to speak to the widest audience possible, but I knew the core would be the African American audience."

"Girlfriends" ran for eight seasons -- eventually moving to CW. In that time, it was a favorite at the BET Honors and the NAACP Image Awards, winning at least five times. It was nominated for only one prime-time Emmy -- in 2003, for cinematography. It lost to "Will & Grace."

The show didn't have the broad cultural impact of "The Cosby Show," which, during its eight-year run, won virtually every award possible except a Nobel prize. No other show about the professional black class has made the inroads that "Cosby" did. None of pop culture's most enduring archetypes of funny, smart, professional, pretty women -- from Mary Richards to Murphy Brown to Carrie Bradshaw -- have been black.

And Clair Huxtable, despite Rashad's successes on Broadway, is now most often seen by middle America as the latest Jenny Craig spokeswoman touting her weight loss.

Black Women Are Looking For Their "Barack" *eyeroll*

Women seeking: A man like Barack Obama
Have you found your Barack? President is new code for Prince Charming

Obama has touched a nerve among black women in particular, who consider him an IBM (Ideal Black Man) — educated, eloquent, tall, attractive, family oriented, ambitious and down to earth.

By Megan K. Scott
updated 4:37 p.m. ET, Wed., June 17, 2009

NEW YORK - Monica Weeks has met many men, but at age 51 she says she still hasn't found her "Barack."

Among Weeks and her friends, President Barack Obama's name has become shorthand for a black man with integrity, character and spirituality, one who loves and values his wife and makes his family a priority — in other words, the kind of man that many black women had despaired of finding.

Weeks said probably every single woman she knows is looking for her "Barack."

"He absolutely makes me think it's attainable," said Weeks, a divorced mom in Somerset, N.J. "For women who are older and seeking a man, I think we can look at him and say, 'All is not lost.'"

The story is the same elsewhere among black women, who say the new code word for Prince Charming has become so commonplace that they have been asked "Have you found your Barack?" or told others "I'm looking for my Barack."

Obama's sex appeal hasn't hurt — what other president would get high marks in a swimsuit competition? But he has touched a nerve among black women in particular, who consider him an IBM (Ideal Black Man) — educated, eloquent, tall, attractive, family oriented, ambitious and down to earth.

A good man is hard to find
For years, single black women have been commiserating about the perceived shortage of eligible black men. It's laughed about in movies ("Waiting to Exhale") and backed up with statistics: The May unemployment rate for black men was 16.8 percent for those ages 20 and older, compared to a national rate of 9.8 percent for all adult men. Black women outnumber black men almost 2-to-1 on college campuses. Most black babies are born to unwed mothers.

"There are a large number of African-American women who have largely given up on finding a mate," said Sheri Parks, associate professor of American studies at the University of Maryland. "Their men are not there."

Renee Breeden didn't have much hope she would find a life partner after dealing with what she called "extremely selfish" black men. At one point, the 35-year-old divorced mom had stopped dating black men altogether.

But watching the Obamas has renewed her faith that she can have a loving relationship with a black man.

"There's no denying the love between them, and it made me feel like 'Wow, there's still hope for me,'" said Breeden, an administrative assistant and online radio talk show host in New York. "There is still someone who is going look at me and see my value."

It's Obama's relationship with first lady Michelle Obama that makes him especially appealing.

For black women, it's significant that Obama has a black wife and values her education and professional aspirations. Black men are more likely to marry outside of their race than black women, according to the U.S. Census.

To be sure, there are plenty of famous, attractive black men to dream about, but people don't know as much about Denzel Washington's relationship with his wife, for example.

These days, there's little people don't know about the Obamas, said Marc Lamont Hill, associate professor of education at Columbia University. The first couple's relationship has been on public display with romantic date nights and charming interview banter.

"Having access to that much of a person endears you to that person," he said.

And while women were taken with Presidents Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy, neither would have made a particularly good husband, said Rich Hanley, director of graduate journalism at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.

Men: ‘We can’t all be Barack’
Experts caution against over-romanticizing the Obama marriage. Journalist Richard Wolffe writes in "Renegade" that Michelle Obama "hated the failed race for Congress in 2000, and their marriage was strained by the time their youngest daughter, Sasha, was born a year later."

If women of any race are expecting to find a Barack, they're bound to be disappointed, said Audrey B. Chapman, a black marriage therapist in Washington, D.C. She thinks many black women are too picky.

Some single black men are hoping Michelle Obama changes that. When the first lady met her husband, he was broke, funny looking and a bit nerdy, said Chris Otiko, 40, a divorced podiatrist in Riverside, Calif., who said when he was a broke medical student black women wouldn't go out with him.

He said he hasn't seen any changes in the dating scene yet but is hopeful that Michelle Obama "will enlighten our African-American women to give guys like me a chance."

But black men may also have a hard time meeting raised expectations, he added.
Many black women are realistic and know that an Obama-esque man is out of reach, simply because of the numbers, Parks said.

"I think they are enjoying watching the Obamas," she said. "But I don't know many African-American women who have therefore jumped to the conclusion that there are lots more like him out there."

Evita Broughton, 27, a single black woman in Marietta, Ga., who works in public relations, said she has heard a lot of men say, "We can't all be Barack. Don't put that burden on us."

Her response: "It's not about you being Barack. It's about you being the best man you can be."

I'm not going to touch this subject anymore. I realize that my views are not going to change, so its futile to continue to beat a dead horse.

I would like to point out how the men who cite First Lady Obama as an example of what they're looking for overlook two important facts. A) A significant number, if not the majority, of black men would not date a woman of Michelle's aesthetics or carrer status (just look to the numbers of single black professional women as proof) and B) when the Obamas met, Barack worked for Michelle's law firm; so while he was technically broke, they worked for one of the largest firms in the country. Not only was he gainfully employed but he also possessed a set of credentials that ensured his meteoric rise in any field he chose to enter. The 'nerdy, broke' men who point this out usually can't say the same for themselves.

For years, single black women have been commiserating about the perceived shortage of eligible black men.
I blinked at the screen when I read the word 'perceived'. I thought, are they trying to say that we have a perception problem? But then the next few sentences justified our 'perceptions'. The tone of this article really grinds my gears. The author seems to insinuate that yes, sistahs, for years you've found it difficult to find the man you want; but look! on the horizon! If a man like Barack Obama exists, you can find a similar man too!


I think its realistic for men to say, "we can't all be Barack". Because its true. Conversely, all women can't be Michelle. But I don't appreciate the notion that we should lower our standards -- unless they're unrealistic and point to this contemporary notion of looking for Husband Prince Charming. If men are having trouble in the dating arena, why aren't they counseled to lower their standards? I'm not buying that argument or this President-as-litmus-test argument either.

Anna Julia Cooper: From Slavery to the Sorbonne, and Back

Anna Julia Cooper is 32nd Honoree in Black Heritage Series

By Norma Porter - WI Assistant Editor/Education Writer
Thursday, 18 June 2009

Anna Julia Cooper, a woman born into slavery in North Carolina nine years prior to the Civil War, reached milestones as the first woman to publish a book on Black feminism, “A Voice from the South by a Black Woman from the South,” and one of the first Black women to earn a doctorate from world renowned University of Paris, Sorbonne.

Her accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. On Thu., June 11, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled the Anna Julia Cooper Commemorative Stamp at the Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School in Northwest.

Cooper, who also worked as a teacher and principal at the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth (later known as M Street School and today as Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School), was honored by the Postmaster of Washington, D.C., Yverne Pat Moore, Vice President and Consumer Advocate for the United States Postal Service Delores J. Killette, Professor of English at University of Maryland Carla L. Peterson, Dunbar High School Principal R. Gerald Austin, and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Cooper is the 32nd honoree to be inducted into the Black Heritage Stamp Series.

“Anna Julia Cooper once said, ‘The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class - it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.’ Her actions to support these memorable words during her life are the reason the Postal Service has chosen Ms. Cooper as the subject of the 32nd stamp in the Black Heritage series,” Killette said.

Cooper was freed from slavery after the Civil War and received a scholarship to attend the St. Augustine Normal School and Collegiate Institute, known today as St. Augustine’s College, in 1868. Cooper graduated and married George A.C. Cooper in 1877. Two years later, her husband died and Cooper moved to Ohio and attended Oberlin College, distinguishing her as one of the first African American women to graduate from the school. Cooper earned a degree in math and returned to St. Augustine to teach math, Greek and Latin.

In 1887, Cooper moved to the District where she was invited to teach science and math at the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth, the most prestigious high school for African American students in the country at that time. Cooper became principal of the school in 1902.

“Although Ms. Cooper was born in Raleigh, N.C., Washington, D.C. claims her as one of its own because she lived her life here and she worked as an educator, feminist, and an activist in our nation’s capital,” Moore said.

“I want to thank the postal service for holding this ceremony. For me, this is very special. This is not the quite the same Dunbar I graduated from, but it is on the same ground,” Norton said.

“This was the first public high school in America for African American children, but it became known nationally and internationally for its faculty. Dunbar would not have become Dunbar without the standards and the aspirations of teachers like Anna Julia Cooper. She set such high standards that in turn they encouraged Black children throughout the District of Columbia to believe that they could go to college and to believe that Dunbar High School would prepare them to go to the best colleges in the United States,” Norton said.

Madeline Smith, 75, is the great, great niece of Cooper. She and her children attended the ceremony.

“She was a special woman. She was a special aunt. We didn’t think of how truly special she was growing up but we see how great she was now,” Smith said. “This was my alma mater as well. I graduated from Dunbar in ‘52. That made it even more special.”

For those who are unfamiliar with DC history, Dunbar High School is significant because it was the first college preparatory school for black students. I know a few graduates from the 50s who are very proud of their alma mater, their teachers and their accomplished classmates.

GTFOOHWTBS (my comments at the end)

Where does a brother go to get his reputation back?

Christopher J. Metzler Posted June 15, 2009 7:33 PM
In the past several weeks, we have witnessed "two black men in a Cadillac" being accused of kidnapping a white woman. The truth was that the woman had voluntarily gone to Disney World and could not tell her husband. He would find it hard to believe that she would go to Disney. It was easier; she reasoned that he and indeed the world would believe that the Black men in a Cadillac would kidnap her. After all, according to her logic, we have a reputation for that.

We also learned that yet another plain clothes Black police officer was shot by one of his colleagues who mistook him for a criminal. We also mourned the shooting and killing of a security officer at the Holocaust Museum by a white supremacist. Leading me to ask the question: "Where can a brother go to get his reputation back?"

Ever since Birth of a Nation it has been popular to portray Black men as thugs and criminal. Despite the passage of time, these image have not faded from memory. Instead, they have been used to justify racial profiling of suspects leading to the crimes of Driving While Black, Walking while Black and Shopping While Black. These stereotypes apply to Black men no matter our position, education or social status. The impact of this societal marker is a sullied reputation in the minds of society as a whole. Thus, the fact that we have achieved great success and or education does not exempt us from having our reputation come into question.

Let's be clear that Whites are not exclusively responsible for the racial caricature of Black men as criminals.

Also bearing responsibility are some hip hop artists and scores of young Black men who would rather show us the crack of their behinds than the power of their brains. The result is a reputation for violence and base vulgarity that is coming close to being beyond repair.

First, there are simply too many White people in America who with reckless abandon act on their closely held racialized stereotypes of Black men resulting in our murder and further marginalization. What is even more disturbing is that the White people of whom I write simply refuse to admit their fidelity to the racial stereotypes. Instead, they choose to blame the routine occurrence of the murder of Black plain clothes officers by their white colleagues as "mistaken identity." If this is to be believed, why don't Black plain clothes officers mistake White plain clothes officers as criminals in as high a number?

Second, Susan Smith, Charles Stewart and other racially conscious criminals understand that their stories have more currency with law enforcement if the alleged perpetrator is a Black man. To be sure, both Tawana Brawley and Crystal Gail Mangum (Duke Lacrosse) blamed their assaults on White men and both lied. Both women relied on stereotypes. The question, however, is whether their reliance on stereotypes has sullied the reputation of white men in general. Do people see White men more so as criminals now as they did before the allegations? Are Black women likely to claim that they have been abducted by white men in order to cover up a crime? Do White women clutch their pursues when White men are in the elevator with them? Most likely not. This is because in America few people have internalized stereotypes of White men as prone to random violence as a result of their race. They have, however, uncritically done so with Black men.

Third, some hip hop artists, athletes and other Black celebrities are also complicit in perpetuating the stereotype of Black man as criminal and thug. One need only look at the penis-centric image of the gangsta life purveyed by the people of whom I write. They are among the most crotch-holding, gyrating, images anywhere. There is no excuse for the violent lyrics, misogyny and overreliance on feigned masculinity which they use to make their living. Let's also be clear that their imagery of Black male gangsta masculinity is in part responsible for the alarming rate of Black on Black crime. That is, the message is that Black male lives are worth nothing and can be taken without consequence.

Their profanity-based brand of Black male masculinity is nothing more than a modern day reincarnation of the images that we fought so hard against from slavery to Jim Crow. So while we are off the plantation legally, those of whom I write are still on the plantation mentally. The plantation has gone digital, virtual and viral. So while they crank out their latest hit, they also sell out the reputation of Black men knowingly and willingly and then decry racial profiling. Have they no shame?

Fourth, too many young Black boys and men have bought into the Black man as thug reputation in alarming numbers. Many of our young Black boys are choosing to fail in school because they confuse masculinity with thuggery. For them, it is not about how hard you study, but how hard you are. Half-dressed and half-educated, they enter a world that has already decided their fate based on a reputation that is part racist, part undeserved and fully difficult to overcome.

Finally, so many parents blame media, computer games, social media and hip hop for the failure of their Black boys. Are they admitting that these "modern evils" are the parents and they are passive observers in the rearing of their Black boys? How many of these same parents consistently set high standards of performance for these boys and stick to them? How many of these parents simply accept that racism has stacked the deck against Black boys and revert to that as the default position? Are these parents ready to conclude that successful Black boys are an oxymoron? The fact is that society will not accept excuses for Black male failure and parents who do are as much to blame as racism is.

The reputation of Black men as strong, responsible, intelligent, contributing members of a sometimes hostile American society is close to extinction.

So, where does a Brother go to get his reputation back?

Dr. Christopher J. Metzler is associate dean at Georgetown University and the author of The Construction and Rearticulation of Race in a Post-Racial America.

If this isn't a bunch of whiny, driveling nonsense....

I would love to see a serious analysis of racial stereotypes in America that doesn't begin with 'The White Man is trying to keep a Brotha down'. We all know that our current social situation stems from slavery and the images perpetrated from that institution. But when I drive by my local liquor store, I'm not thinking about Willie Lynch. I'm thinking about the 4-6 dudes standing in a huddle, 'loitering' in front of the store. I'm trying to ignore how they're eyeing my body, the sexual innuendos that they holler out as I walk by, and the embarrased lump that always rises in my throat when I encounter a group of disrespectful black men.

She reasoned that he and indeed the world would believe that the Black men in a Cadillac would kidnap her. After all, according to her logic, we have a reputation for that.
Now I agree that the woman in question had flawed logic. She fell back on the age-old, white-damsel/black-criminal distress call. But black men are far more likely to rape, kidnap or kill black women and children than white women. In 1998, Black women were murdered at a rate more than three times higher than white women. More than 18 times as many black females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers in single victim/single offender incidents ( [I could not find statistics for kidnapping rates among black women.]

We also mourned the shooting and killing of a security officer at the Holocaust Museum by a white supremacist.
In my mind, that shooting had nothing to do with a black man's reputation. The shooter was a deranged old man who hated black people, not because of any stereotype, but because he hated black people.

Despite the passage of time, these image have not faded from memory....These stereotypes apply to Black men no matter our position, education or social status. The impact of this societal marker is a sullied reputation in the minds of society as a whole. Thus, the fact that we have achieved great success and or education does not exempt us from having our reputation come into question.
Maybe they haven't faded because black men are committing crimes every day? I acknowledge that other races of men commit crimes as well. But let the statistics point to how these stereotypes are being reinforced every day:
Among men, blacks (28.5%) are about six times more likely than whites (4.4%) to be admitted to prison during their life. (U.S. Department of Justice) Based on current rates of incarceration, an estimated 7.9% of black males compared to 0.7% of white males will enter State of Federal prison by the time they are age 20 and 21.4% of black males versus 1.4% of white males will be incarcerated by age 30. (U.S. Department of Justice) Some have noted that more black men are in
prison in America than are in college. (The Black and White of Justice, Freedom
Magazine, Volume 128)
So its hard for the casual observer to reconcile the positive accomplishments that black men are achieiving when the factual deck is stacked so highly against them. There just aren't enough black men with position, education or social status to outweigh the ones who are in jail or on street corners perpetrating these stereotypes.

Also bearing responsibility are some hip hop artists and scores of young Black men who would rather show us the crack of their behinds than the power of their brains. The result is a reputation for violence and base vulgarity that is coming close to being beyond repair.
Can we blame the men who are actually responsible? I love how Metzler is reluctant to actually point out the black men who commit crimes and reinforce the negative thoughts that people hold about them anyway. Along with this reluctance is the silent fact that, more than likely, black men who use the power of their brains are called weak and nerdy by the same black men who sport ass crack as the latest fashion.

Let's also be clear that their imagery of Black male gangsta masculinity is in part responsible for the alarming rate of Black on Black crime. That is, the message is that Black male lives are worth nothing and can be taken without consequence.
I think its the other way around. The prevalence of black-on-black crime has spawned this gangsta imagery. The message that black male lives are worthless comes from the murder rate, not songs. While African Americans comprise 13.5% of the U.S. Population, 43% of all murder victims in 2007 were African American, 93.1% of whom were killed were African Americans. (

So while we are off the plantation legally, those of whom I write are still on the plantation mentally. The plantation has gone digital, virtual and viral. So while they crank out their latest hit, they also sell out the reputation of Black men knowingly and willingly and then decry racial profiling. Have they no shame?
I totally agree with this statement.

Many of our young Black boys are choosing to fail in school because they confuse masculinity with thuggery. For them, it is not about how hard you study, but how hard you are.
Again, no blame on the appropriate party. Our boys and young men lack positive role models. They don't look up to Colin Powel and Barack Obama as much as they use LeBron James, Lil Wayne and Terrell Owens as idols. The political arena is not as accessible in their minds as sports or entertainment. Its easier for them to aspire to what they know. If the majority of our children don't have men at home to reinforce the ideals of success outside of entertainment and sports, how much blame can we attribute to them for striving for what they see? And if they live in neighborhoods where maschismo is prized over intellect, where nonconformity can result in bodily harm or death, how can we realistically expect different?

Are these parents ready to conclude that successful Black boys are an oxymoron? The fact is that society will not accept excuses for Black male failure and parents who do are as much to blame as racism is.
Let's take this a bit further. Successful black boys are an oxymoron, if successful black men are. Barack Obama is one man and his ascension to the presidency cannot be taken as a cure-all for our social stereotypes and ills. I am not naive enough to disregard the role that race plays in the present treatment of black men in our society. However, unlike Metzler, I am unwilling to turn a blind eye into the ways in which black men play into these stereotypes. Society as a whole does not accept excuses, but how often does the black community? How many times are sistahs urged to 'give a brotha a chance', regardless of his criminal record, lack of gainful employment, or number of children/baby mothers? How often is the unemployment rate used as an excuse for lack of ambition, goals or drive?

Don't get it twisted, y'all. I don't want to come across as a ball-buster. I have wonderful brothers, relatives, friends and ex-loves that are the primary example I use to assert that black men can and should do better. But these men in my life are the exceptions to the rule. The unfairness inherent in negative racial stereotypes attributed to black men just does not exist.

"Where can a brother go to get his reputation back?"
How about you go to work, school, church and quality establishments. How about you start raising your children instead of leaving that task largely up to black women. How about you start holding other black men accountable for the black-on-black crime rate, devaluation of black women and lack of motivation in life. I'm tired of the excuses, tired of the blame being heaped on black women and tired of the fallback reason that 'white men are doing this to us'. If you want to go claim your reputation, you have to believe that 'claim' is a present-tense verb.

I want one, I want one!!

Can We Go Back To This?

I realize that Cherrelle released this song back in 1988 (my, how fast 20 years flies!) but we have much to learn from her. Aside from the plants (plants? really y'all?) this video shows how to be sexy in the right way. Cherrelle is wearing stylish clothing without being revealing (although this dress is a tad bit short and clingy...), without talking about her ASSets, without degrading herself - without playing into the sex-sells mentality that is so rampant in today's music industry.

I'm tired of the garbage all around me. Music doesn't have to be raunchy, meaningless or full of drivel.

Always think black...really?

Is it just me, or is this a creepy looking doll? I don't think I would've wanted one as a kid. Between the deep-set eyes, lack of eyebrows and melancholy expression, it looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie. I have no idea what company sells this, so if you know please inform me.

This is another entry about something that happened on Facebook (lol, sowwry). One of my FB friends took one of those random quizzes, and her result was a mudpuppy, a kind of fish I'm guessing from the pics associated with the quiz. So I commented that this is a creepy looking doll. Another friend agreed and said, "I bet they don't even have a black one".

Um, what?

I'm not really sure how that was relevant, but it got me thinking. How many times do you expect, request or search for something that is specifically targeted to black people? But the flip side of that question is, when is it ok to be excluded? Why do we always have to be represented with people, items and desriptions that cater to black people?

Its not like we don't have black dolls, black celebrities or black-owned businesses. I'm not saying that everything is honky-dory on the race tip in this country. But I'll never understand how, as the most self-segregated, racist group of people, we always demand to be included, want to be judged by the content of our characters and abilities and not by our skin shade. Then on the other side of our mouth, we yell "but it isn't black!" We intentionally avoid mixing platonically and romantically with people from other races and yet insist that others always consider and include us. Why should they, when we limit and exclude ourselves?

The real point, though, is why do you want a black version of something ugly and creepy anyway? (lol) Is the point that, black people exist in everything, no matter if its weird? (And I'm not calling black people who exist in marginalized sub-groups of American society weird people. I think its wonderful when we can embrace our true selves regardless of how someone else dictates what our image should be.)

What we need to worry about is how to represent and be included in aspects of life that matter, like higher education, fiscally responsible and wealthy circles, higher marriage success rates, better health. Those are the things we should be pointing at and saying "its not black!" instead of creepy mudpuppy dolls.

Dealing with burnout

Sorry my lovelies for being ghost lately on my own blog. I started a few different posts, but lack of time and motivation has kept me from finishing them. Could it be writer's block? Um, I hope not.

I was beating myself up a little bit just now, thinking about how I'm neglecting this blog and need to write a post. Somehow that reminded me of an online conversation I had with an e-friend a few months back. The conversation started off with a hypothetical question, which led to her sharing some things that were bothering her. Her question, in a nutshell, was "are black women allowed to complain?" She's a single mom, working full-time, going to school part-time, has a dating life, etc. But sometimes she just gets tired of juggling all of the balls she currently has in the air. She began to express this to a family member and she was basically told to suck it up and deal. As a black woman, he said, she didn't have any other options. A few days after this, her sister-in-law complained about being overwhelmed with all her responsibilities, and was met with a sympathetic ear by this same family member. Sister-in-law is white.

The funny thing is that family member was right. What recourse do we have, as black women, to seek support? We're carrying the bulk of the responsibility for the black community on our backs. When we get tired, who can we call on to help us lift the load? Who can we tag team to take over for a while? As I look to my left and to my right, I don't see anyone lined up to assist us. That's not to say that other races do... its moreso that the image of the strong black woman has made us seem invincible, super-human, constructed from steel. We have no room to be soft and pink in the minds of others. But we can't do it all. We can't be reasonably expected to be stellar career women, exemplary mothers, supportive wives, encouraging friends, sistahs and family all at the same time, forever and ever. There comes a time when each of us needs a break and needs to be recognized for all that we do. Just because our culture has evolved to this place where women are doing the majority of the work, does not mean that this evolution is a positive or healthy one.

So I'm attempting to give myself a break, and hope you recognize in your own life when you need some time and space for yourself. Between work, maintaining family and friend relationships, endeavoring to have an active love life, working out and eating right, and building my own business pursuits, I'm tired y'all! The internet and social media sites have taken a backburner. Ok, sort of... I still check Facebook religiously from my iPhone. Twitter is becoming too much to deal with. But we'll see how things go. I just didn't want you guys to disappear on me, as I've (unfortunately) disappeared on y'all.