January 21, 2013
August 21, 2012
The two women admitted were former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore.
And though I love Condi Rice and think as an avid golfer, she's a great candidate, the cynic in me can't help thinking the old boys at Augusta wanted to break the woman barrier and the black woman barrier all in one shot.
This falls into the "it's about time" category, but I guess better late than never.
July 12, 2012
On Wednesday, presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke to the 103rd NAACP convention in Houston, Texas. He made his case before a skeptical African American audience that if they helped elect him into office, he would do more to improve the lives of black people in this country than Barack Obama has in the last four years -- or will in the next.
Romney talked about how he would create jobs by implementing a five point plan that would include increasing free trade, encouraging entrepreneurship, taking advantage of energy resources, and getting rid of "high taxation" and "destructive labor policies." He said he would be good for all Americans and especially black people who have a higher unemployment rate than the general population.
And while the majority of the headlines touted how Romney was booed, making it seem like a bad talent show night at the Apollo, I listened to the entire, nearly 24 minute speech, and Romney was only vigorously booed once, when he promised to repeal "Obamacare."
May 25, 2011
The Oprah Winfrey Show is over and I've used up the last of the Kleenex.
Before watching the show, I had all kinds of things I planned to say about why I’ll miss Oprah’s daily hour of love, laughter, pathos, confession, inspiration and enlightenment.
But what I wanted to write changed after watching the show.
You see, today's Oprah show finale talked to me like so many other Oprah shows have talked to me in the past, and at a time when I needed it most.
Right now my life is in upheaval: I’m going to graduate school to figure out what the next phase of my work life will be, and that’s frightening as hell; I’m dealing with my difficult mother who’s alone since my stepfather passed away last year; I’m still looking for that lifetime partner that I often despair of finding; And hardest of all, my usual safety net of friends has, for a variety of reasons, not been available for the support I desperately need.
But today, Oprah did for me what she always does: she inspired me, she gave me hope, she reminded me that I have the power to change my life, and she reminded me I’m worthwhile.
Because as she said during the show, she too was “a lonely little girl who felt not a lot of love.”
April 19, 2010
I'd never heard of Hannah Senesh before recently watching the documentary, Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh. After learning her story, I can't help but be reminded how ordinary individuals can do extraordinary things when prompted by extreme circumstances.
Released in 2008, Blessed is the Match tells the story of Hungarian Jew Hannah Senesh, who volunteered in 1944, with a small band of Palestinian Jews, to parachute into Nazi-occupied Europe on a mission to make contact with resistance fighters and attempt to rescue Jews.
The film, which is narrated by actress Joan Allen, was released on DVD on April 13th and airs on PBS's series "Independent Lens" this week (check your local listings for dates).
Born to a wealthy Hungarian family, Senesh lived a privileged life as the daughter of a well-known playwright until he died of a heart attack at 33. As a teenager, Senesh experienced anti-Semitism firsthand, and dreamed of moving to Palestine and helping to build an independent Jewish state.
She'd accomplished that goal when WWII broke out, and at the age of 22, decided she needed to be part of the fight.
April 03, 2010
Photo courtesy HBO
Actors like Tom Hanks need to be really careful when it comes to commenting on weighty subjects like war and peace. That's because Hanks is not only very talented but also well liked, and why throw away all that goodwill on a few loose comments?
First some background. HBO's "The Pacific" is a WWII mini-series produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg that acts as a companion piece to their critically acclaimed HBO series "Band of Brothers." Just as "Band of Brothers" dealt with the war in Europe, "The Pacific," as you can probably tell from the title, deals with the horrors of the war in the Pacific.
It stars James Badge Dale, Jon Seda, Joe Mazzello and Ashton Holmes as four real young men who shipped out to tiny islands in the Pacific in the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The first three episodes have been gritty and compelling, and during all those flying bullets, I kept being reminded of two things:
1) That, as I said when I wrote about "Saving Private Ryan" in a Memorial Day post two years ago, it's impossible for me to imagine how you go back to a "normal" life after experiencing the unspeakable destruction on the battlefield
2) That so much of war in those days was a uniquely male experience that women couldn't fully understand.
I like what I've seen of "The Pacific" so far, and if you want to gain a small understanding of what it's like to be in battle, I highly recommend it.
Now, back to Tom Hanks. He got himself into trouble a couple of weeks ago when in a Time Magazine cover story he seemingly implied that WWII, and today's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had more to do with racism than they had to do with:
February 05, 2010
It's gotten nine Oscar nominations and is destined to take home at least a couple, but how good is "Avatar?" Here's my review.
Some have called director James Cameron's "Avatar" a visually stunning film that's not to be taken more seriously than an afternoon's entertainment at your local multiplex. Others have called it another in a long line of films illustrating Hollywood's racial insensitivity.
Which is it? I'll get back to that.
First let me tell you what "Avatar" is all about. Set on the futuristic planet of Pandora, "Avatar" is about a native people, the Na'vi whose planet is being exploited for a valuable natural mineral, unobtanium, by a colony of money grubbing humans. The humans, who include a non-money grubbing staff of scientists are trying to negotiate mining rights to the unobtanium, but if that doesn't work, they're not above taking it by force.
Sigourney Weaver is Dr. Grace Augustine, the head of a science team who've developed a way for humans to become one of the Na'vi using computers and a home grown Na'vi body. Or something like that.
The scientists do it to learn. The military do it to "win the hearts and minds" of the Na'vi and get their unobtanium without a fight.
Sam Worthington plays Jake Sully, a paraplegic Marine who becomes part of the experiment when his brother who was scheduled for the program is killed. As Jake becomes accustomed to the nine foot, blue bodies of the Na'vi, he becomes enamored with the Na'vi people, their spiritual connections, culture and traditions.
January 27, 2010
Last night I was interviewed by the fabulous Renee of the blog for Blog Talk Radio. Our discussion was about the Disney film, "The Princess and the Frog" and some of the controversy surrounding the star Tiana, Disney's first black princess.
The interview runs about 50 minutes but feel free to skip around.
If you have difficulty with the volume on the podcast, you can download it from iTunes and adjust the volume accordingly.
December 17, 2009
Well, the movie's quite good.
Time Magazine in fact calls it the Best Film of 2009.
While I'm not quite ready to say that, I will say all the Disney magic and beautiful, hand drawn animation are enchanting in this story set in New Orleans during the Jazz Age. Tiana (Anika Noni Rose, pictured left), the aforementioned princess, is a lovely character full of hopes and dreams. As a child, she shares her Dad's (Terrence Howard) love of cooking and as an adult, she dreams of opening the restaurant he never could.
Her prince, Naveen (Bruno Campos) loves jazz music and wants to live the high life even though he's been cut off without a cent by his parents. That lust for money is what gets him in trouble with Dr. Facilier (Keith David), an evil voodoo priest who tempts people with their heart's desire but demands a terrible price.
Also in the cast is Tiana's friend Charlotte (Jennifer Cody). Charlotte's kind of a parody of other Disney princesses. She's blond, her daddy's rich and she's quite spoiled, but--and here's where those racial images are important--because she's white, I was thrilled to see that she never became Tiana's savior or her enemy.
Anika Noni Rose of "Dreamgirls" and "The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency"shows her marvelous versatility as Tiana. Bruno Campos, aka The Carver from "Nip/Tuck"--from one extreme to the other!--does Prince Naveen proud. The rest of the cast including Jenifer Lewis, John Goodman, Michael-Leon Wooley, Oprah Winfrey and Jim Cummings give solid and entertaining support.
August 18, 2009
Pass me a cigarette and pour me a drink 'cause "Mad Men" has returned! Don Draper (Jon Hamm), his wife, his colleagues and his one night stands are back to once again remind us that the "good old days" were never all that good...just old. Those guys and gals at 60's ad agency Sterling Cooper are sleek, upscale and trapped in an ordered and unforgiving world, partly of their own making. They do however look really fabulous there and "Mad Men's" small but loyal audience is just as likely to tune in to see what Betty Draper wears out to dinner as they are to find out whose baby she's carrying.That small audience is also growing. The critical acclaim and the buzz from last year's Emmy win for Best Drama, not to mention all those retro print ads, and "Mad Men" yourself promotions are working their magic. Last night's premiere set a ratings record for the series.
Season three takes place several months after last season's finale and the episode gave us a taste of life for the employees of Sterling Cooper under their new English masters. The personnel blood letting since the takeover was worse than anything you'd see on "True Blood," with a third of the Sterling Cooper employees getting the royal boot. Last night they finished up by dumping the Head of Accounts, Burt Peterson who as Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) so eloquently put it, "Did not go gently into that good night."
August 10, 2009
The nurse drama, "HawthoRNe," starring Jada Pinkett Smith has been renewed by for a second season by TNT. They've ordered 10 episodes and those will air in 2010. Some additional tidbits from the TNT press release:
"HAWTHORNE has been a great addition to TNT’s lineup of original series, and Jada Pinkett Smith’s performance has been a tremendous draw with viewers,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). “There are powerful episodes remaining, and we’re looking forward to what is certain to be an extraordinary second season.”
For its first season,
is averaging 3.8 million viewers and ranks as ad-supported cable’s #1 entertainment program on Tuesdays among adults 25-54 and women 25-54. HAWTHORNE
That'll keep the nurse quotient on TV quite high since we'll still have HBO's "Nurse Jackie" and this fall will bring the arrival of NBC's own nurse drama, "Mercy." Add to that the still thriving "Grey's Anatomy," the limping "Private Practice," and the new CBS hospital show, "Three Rivers" and you'll need a vaccine just to turn on your TV set this fall.
I'm pleased TNT's given "HawthoRNe" the green light for another season. Not only am I thrilled that a drama with a black female lead will continue on, I think the show could actually hit its dramatic stride if given some more time.
August 04, 2009
Last season when I found myself watching Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," I was astounded, appalled and I must say shamefully---entertained. That's right, I kept watching, fascinated, as the image of rich, black women as gold diggers was paraded across my television screen, week after week, and I added it to my list of TV shows that gave black women a bad name.
I've since changed my mind.
What got me to thinking about all this was last week's premiere of the second season of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."
I've never seen "The Real Housewives of Orange County" but I have seen "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," and "The Real Housewives of New York," and I gotta tell ya', "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" ain't so bad in comparison.
All that screaming, screeching, backstabbing, betrayal, cliquey, high school-like behavior is just as bad, if not worse, on those shows as it is on RHOA.
July 21, 2009
I spent the majority of my childhood in fear of my life. For me bedtime was not the cozy, warm and safe experience it was for other kids. For me, it meant years of waking up in the middle of the night to screaming voices, thuds from objects being thrown, and the fear that my father would kill my mother before the night was through.
There were also the fights in the car, with me in the backseat and my father throwing punches at my mother while we were driving.
Mercifully that all came to an end by the time I was ten when my parents split. I'm often amazed I survived it all physically intact, but psychologically, that was a whole other story. My father's damage didn't need to be visible to be permanent.
Which brings me to singer Chris Brown. He of the beating up his girlfriend Rihanna in the middle of the street in Los Angeles on the night of the Grammy awards. Yesterday, he posted a two minute video apology on his website.
Here's his apology.
This is at least his second apology regarding the attack. As Reuters reported back in February, Brown apologized right after the incident in a written statement that said:
Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired. I am seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones and I am committed, with God's help, to emerging a better person
Brown eventually pleaded guilty to assault and is due to be sentenced on August 5th. In a plea deal he's expected to get "five years of formal probation and six months - roughly 1,400 hours - of community labor."
When I heard about his sentence I remember tweeting that I thought a better sentence would be if he were beat to a pulp on the street in the middle of Los Angeles. I was only half joking.
Now take a look at this photo and let me know what you think. I'm usually against this kind of stuff making it into the press, and I almost never use it, but I'll make an exception for this one because it allows me to give equal time to the victim.
What do you think of Brown's apology now? Still feel the same?
Notice how clean and smooth and pretty Brown's young, unmarked face is in his video? Notice the difference between that and Rihanna's in the photo?
That's why I'm not moved in the least by Brown's consultations with his pastor, his mother, and Jesus Christ.
July 07, 2009
"Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him...so much." Those were the tearful words of Michael Jackson's 11 year old daughter, Paris at her father's memorial service today.
When I first saw Paris Jackson about to take the microphone at the very end of the two hour service, my head said, "No, no, don't put that little girl up there!"
But ultimately I was wrong. Ultimately it was the right thing to do to let her speak. She was surrounded by her family and this little girl, whose face we've seen for the first time only since Michael's death, wanted to tell the world what her father meant to her. In those two tearful sentences, she turned Michael "the freak" into Michael "the human being."
He wasn't just a celebrity, he was someone's brother, son, uncle and most importantly to Paris Jackson and her siblings, someone's father.
It was a daughter's grief for a father who was gone too soon, as Usher had sung earlier in the ceremony.
His gold plated coffin was carried into the Los Angeles Staples Center to the voices of a gospel choir singing "We are going to see the King." His brothers who performed with him for all those years on stage as part of the Jackson 5 were pallbearers.
They wore matching yellow ties, red roses in their lapels and then later in the ceremony, single, matching sequined gloves.
For all the anticipation of a spectacle and a circus-like atmosphere since his death nearly two weeks ago, this memorial service was really quite dignified, well orchestrated and the right balance of public spectacle and private grief. It's what his family wanted and his fans needed.
This update yesterday from BET about the BET Music Awards last week via BlackTwitterati on Twitter: today Drake and BET apologized for the number with Lil' Wayne that included young girls dancing onstage to explicit lyrics as a so-called tribute to Michael Jackson.
Here's part of the statemen from the BET website:
"BET Networks deeply regrets the performance by Young Money at the BET Awards '09 (featuring Lil Wayne, Drake, Gudda Gudda and Mack Maine). Elements of the performance were unplanned and should not have happened," the network said in a statement. "We value and appreciate the feedback from our viewers and have edited Young Money's performance for all BET Awards '09 encore presentations."
My response: Yeah, whatever. Too little, too late. Who let that crap get on stage in the first place?
If BET had announced someone was fired over it, I'd be more interested.
June 30, 2009
BET gave out their annual music awards Sunday night. I'm going to be straight up right now and say I didn't watch it. That's right, I'm the BlogHer TV Contributing Editor and I didn't watch that TV show. In fact the only way my cable box ever lands on the dreaded BET channel is if my finger slips on the remote. Then I make sure to get the heck out of there before my eyeballs fry and my blood boils.
If you're not sure why, read up on why "BET Dishonors This Black Woman" and just insert my name. Or read my open letter to Al Sharpton awhile back about the image of black women and the music industry.
So this morning when I started hearing all the rumblings about last night's over three hour awards show and the Michael Jackson tribute, I began reading recaps, commentary and checking out videos on YouTube before they got pulled by Viacom (which owns BET).
The unanimous high point of the show was the appearance of Janet Jackson at the end of the show tearfully speaking about her brother. Other than that, the show sounds like it left a lot to be desired. I'll let some bloggers who did see the show, tell you what they thought.
June 29, 2009
Have you heard of Gina McCauley? If you haven't, listen up--this is a woman who's on the cutting edge of the internet and social media and you need to get to know her right now. If you do know who she is, read the following interview anyway, because I defy you not to be inspired by her story, her passion and her good old fashioned smarts. Just the kind of black woman the MSM almost never talks about.
Gina's the outspoken publisher of the blogs What About Our Daughters and Michelle Obama Watch, and she's also the organizer of the blogging conference for people of color, Blogging While Brown. After attending last weekend's successful 2nd annual conference, I had some questions for Gina and she was kind enough to make time to answer them for me.
What did you hope to achieve with this year's conference and do you feel you accomplished what you set out to do?
My goal was to bring people together so that they could meet other people, learn something new and have a good time. My hope before the conference that people would develop relationships with others they could partner with and collaborate. I think we definitely accomplished that. I was afraid that we couldn't replicated the amazing "vibe" from last year, and we didn't. The "vibe" this year was even better than the vibe int he room from last year. People genuinely liked each other, were excited for each other, encouraged each other and enjoyed each other's company to the point that they would leave :)
On the way out the door, three women who live in Chicago who didn't know each other before they came to the conference and attended the bootcamp and conference said they were going to collaborate together and start a group blog. That's so important because blogging can be a very solitary experience. Blogging While Brown makes blogging a family experience. You know you're part of this loud lovely group that loves to get together and chat.
How was this year's conference different than last year's?
First, we added the beginning blogger bootcamp and I think its fair to say that was an overwhelming success. We got raves about that, and we'll be expanding our "nuts & bolts" training next year. We had a really small class that met before the conference began. They got each other. I think it was less intimidating when the entire conference convened because they already had their bootcamp friends. My goal was to take civilians and turn them into lean mean blogging and podcasting machines and we did that.
We clearly had more people this year. We eliminated Sunday morning events, which I think is wise :) We had all conference events in the same location. I actually did very little organizing this year because I delegated logistics to our conference coordinator, Shalon and programming to Shawn P Williams from the Dallas South Blog and literally the conference was able to take without me. I arrived to both the kick reception and the Saturday workshops after they had started and they in full swing without me. So that means from a delegation standpoint, it was successful because I had a good team who made sure the conference could take place without me... AND we had power outlets EVERY WHERE this year! That was something we learned from last year when we blew the convention center power grid during the conference.
June 25, 2009
Singer Michael Jackson died at the age of 50 this afternoon at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was rushed there this afternoon in full cardiac arrest. On a day when actress Farrah Fawcett also died,it was nearly unbelievable when news reports and tweets on Twitter first proclaimed late this afternoon that the superstar might be dead.
Jermaine Jackson at around 9PM EST tearfully read the following statement outside the UCLA Medical Center:
My brother, the legendary King of Pop Michael Jackson passed away on Thursday, June 25th, 2009 at 2:26 PM. It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However the cause of his death is unknown until results of the autopsy are known. His personal physician who was with him at the time attempted to resuscitate my brother. And, uh, as did the paramedics who transported him to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Upon arriving at the hospital at approximately 1:14 PM a team of doctors including emergency physicians and cardiologists attempted to resuscitate him for a period of more than one hour. And they were unsuccessful.
Our family requests that the media please respect our privacy during this tough time. And, uh may Allah be with you Michael always. Love you.
Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana on August 29, 1958 to Joe and Katherine Jackson. By the time he was six years old, he was singing with his five brothers and on the brink of discovery by Motown Record executives. There's an old black and white audition video of a very young Michael imitating James Brown, fancy dance moves and all. (I'm working on getting a link for that, bear with me.)
Courtesy of Verite Parlant of the blog Whose Shoes Are These Anyway, you can see that video at the end of this post.
One very productive, not to mention entertaining panel was on branding by Hajj E. Flemings, author of "The Brand YU." During his presentation, Hajj circulated through the audience Oprah-style and fired questions about slides of a variety of products.
June 23, 2009
Angel started the blog as a hobby and built it into one of Time Magazine's 50 Best Websites of 2008. The blog covers black celebrities and gossip that for such a long time were ignored by other gossip sites. Now she says she gets 700,000 unique visitors a day and makes $250,000 a year with her blog.
Angel was part of a panel about making money online and she had some great tips for bloggers:
- Never work with just one ad company. She works with six.
- Figure out who reads your site and get feedback about your site using polls.
- Remember that keeping readership can be harder than getting it.
Here's more advice from Angel. On what happens when big success comes: