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Archive for July, 2008

Black Models| Italia Vogue 2008

The European standard of beauty has become so much an axiom that black beauty is nearly “lost in translation” for good. I see people searching for black models and black beauty constantly on search engines and the likes and coming up short with a few they can count on one hand. That could change.

Of course, black women are beautiful on or off a magazine, on or off a catwalk, whatever and wherever. I think the problem is relying too much on main stream to get ourselves out there when we can BE main-stream.

Why is it that almost every time I see a beautiful spread in a magazine featuring a model, it’s in white mainstream media?—-Do blacks not have the same ability? Of course they do, that was a rhetorical question. It’s well known that most of the people who bought the Italian EnVogue magazine were black, and it sold well. Blacks support blacks’ period—especially in incipient business ventures. If things are done right and professionally with class etc….support will double, and maybe even come in unlikely places, because it will not be about the fact that they are black owned but that their work wreaks quality.

Here are some of the pictures from the “all-black” Italia Vogue: From Left to right (Alek Wek, Arlenis Sosa, Iman,  Karen Alexander, Naomi Campbell, Noemie Lenoir,  (2)Toccara Jones, (3) Tyra Banks,  Ubah)

Between the continent of Africa and the other majority black countries who are having similar issues of black model’s not getting work—we could ubiquitously take the world by storm because there are some undeniably beautiful black women out there; that’s veracity. Where are the black photographers and the black modeling agencies? Hiding? I am not talking about those photographers that do borderline porn; I’m talking professionals.

I know Ebony and the likes have modeling agencies and there are plenty of blacks who have their own clothing line, some not so well known but classier than those that are well known, and that is an issue–they are not put out there. If Ebony along with other more recognized black modeling agencies monopolized around the world—made this not just an African American thing but a Caribbean thing, and African thing—a black thing, I really think the potential of this is prodigious.

That gives more diversity, more exotic looks, more style, and flare. That makes the problem of not being well known obsolete and a broader audience to which one can appeal. When white, main stream starts noticing a decline in their sales, which means their avarice is not satisfied— I assure you they will take notice but by then, they will not be an issue, merely a side note.

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Aftermath|of CNN’s Black| in America

Some are saying OK…we get the problems….where are the solutions?

What can WE do?

Well, I say to you…..put the same or more momentum in this as you did for Obama and that is your solution. This is by no means an overnight success but change is possible; it takes dedication and hard work from people who are passionate about their people and the future of black America. It’s the first step of many steps.

Resources:

The following link is a list of local and national organizations and programs designed to address many of the issues raised in “CNN Presents: Black in America” and “CNN & Essence: Reclaiming the Dream.” Some of the people or guests featured in the programs are involved in some of these organizations

CNN does not endorse any organization, and information is provided only as a resource and inspiration to help people explore the many local and national organizations involved in these areas.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/07/18/bia.resources/index.html

I imagine a lot of people probably do not know about these programs. The links are extremely helpful.

 

BET:

  1. Write letters to the network and president demanding change in videos and programs shown on BET that promote negative stereotypes and images of black people that our children often  use as a reflection of themselves, and demand more educational programs.
  2. Boycott the program (children and adults alike) so that BET will loose money and their ratings will drop. I assure you; this will ring loud and clear.
  3. Here are three petitions that are currently going around; bring awareness and send these things  to those you know and those you don’t know to the dangers of such programs:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/change-bet.html

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/betterBET/

http://www.petitionnow.com/BETVIDEOS/petition.html

 

In Addition:

  • Promote education at home:

http://www.ehow.com/how_2147355_promote-early-reading-home.html?ref=fuel&utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=ssp&utm_campaign=yssp_art

 

  • Start some educational and inspirational after school programs in black schools and churches:

http://www.ehow.com/how_2335689_start-after-school-care-program.html?ref=fuel&utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=ssp&utm_campaign=yssp_art

 

  • Start free parenting class in your community –even if it is only one or two days out of the week.

http://www.fathersworld.com/fulltimedad/issue2/bf.html

http://www.blackparents.org/

 http://www.babycenter.com/0_fathering-classes-could-you-use-one_8249.bc

 

  • Start free abstinence classes, not just Safe sex, in your local black churches and black schools, especially HBCUs:

http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/247/27/

 

  • Send copies of the CNN’s Black in America special to your church and school.  (This is something I am very intent on doing)

Black|in America|Part I: A Positive Review

From what I saw on the program, they did go over some  positive aspects of Black America. I wouldn’t say the entire show was aimed towards this, but all the same there were very positive aspects. Can we ignore the bad in search of something good? Were we expecting an entire show dedicated to the positive aspects of black America when half of black America is, indeed struggling?

Since most have already pointed out the negatives of the program, I’ll point out the positives that I saw:

The black family with both parents and 5 children, all of which they successfully sent to college, except one because she/he was not of age yet and the parents have their own family business.

They covered a child who successfully made it out the “hood” and went to Julliard for dance and we all know Eric Dyson’s success story.

I remember them talking about the rapid increase of black business (up 45%, I believe) in the last decade which often the media ignores.

I remember them covering a large family who annually held family reunions, strongly stuck together and helped each other, and knew their family history tenfold.

They talked about the large number of black sisters who hold a degree. They talked about the many intelligent, financially well off sisters who are doing  very well for themselves.

They covered the 2 year experimental program in NY for less fortunate children which actually pays children to go to school and is designed to help motivate young black children in learning and give them a more promising future that would probably otherwise be bleak. So far , it has proven to be a successful motivation tool for learning.

I’d give the program a chance to play itself out before I denounce it. I’ll be tuning in tonight @ 8pm central time for the Black Men segment.

Besides this, I was watching it with some family members (cousins, aunts)—some of whom fall into the category of single parent mothers and they were very pleased to have an open dialogue about these issues and it opened their minds to many other things mentioned on the program. I think overall, it was more helpful than harmful.

Following|in Her Footsteps|and in His Shadow

Approximately 70% (66% to be more precise) of single black women are raising children. A disheartening 50% of these single black mothers live in poverty, and if one lives in poverty it is very likely that they will stay in poverty. This is increasingly becoming more of the rule than it is the exception. Soledad O’Brien’s Black in America  Part 1  on CNN only confirmed what I have always known and that is that the children of single parent households generally  follow in their parents’ footsteps, or shadows  when it comes to the absent father.

Black children who grow up in single parent households are more likely to:

  • Go to jail (mostly males): It’s no secret that many young, black men are incarcerated.
  • Get pregnant at an early age/Become “Baby Mommas”: With no father figure around, a lot of them go looking for a father figure and the love of a father that they never really had. Despite some women’s best efforts for their daughter not to make the same mistake she made, this seems to be the trend, especially for young girls whose mother had them at an early age.
  • Become “Baby Daddies”:  Considering this is, more or less, what his father did to his mother, this is the example his father set for his son by default.
  • Drop out of school: Nearly 50% of black students drop out of school and never graduate.
  • Join a gang (mostly males): 80% of black males who join gangs are those who have no father figure in the household. A lot of them look up to “OGs” or Original Gangsters as father figures. The OG is merely his name’s sake, and only cares about increasing his money through drugs and elimination of his competition through murder—-enter the young black troubled mind looking for a fatherly figure.
  • Get caught up in drugs: A lot of the black men in jail are there because of drug-related crimes. Murder, rape, and theft are also reasons.

The other side of this is some children know the mistakes their parents made and want to avoid them at all cost so that they can have a better life and future for themselves and family, however, statistics show that these are a small minority.

I am reminded of my two small cousins, one is 1 ½ and the other is 2 ½ —both are girls. Of course, I only want the best for both of them but I fear for them that they may very well following their mother’s footsteps or linger in their father’s shadow. God knows I pray that they are a part of that small minority and that the minority one day becomes the majority.

Now…why were/are some people mad at Barack and Cosby again?

Paying|Children|to Attend|School

1 student every 26 seconds drops out of school in America. Nationally, only 53.4% black Americans get a high school diploma. What happen to the other half? Numerous factors, of course, weigh in on this statistic.

As Soledad O’Brien’s part 1 report in the CNN special of Black in America reveals, some people are taking steps to change this. In New York, there is a program in process that actually pays children to go to school.

The program last 2 years and is obviously experimental; the children who participate in the program start young (10yrs old), and they get paid for scoring perfectly on test given.

As crazy as this may sound to some, this isn’t anything new. In the mid 1990s, Mexico implemented a similar plan except it paid poor parents to keep their children in school and to take them for regular health check-ups.

The Million”, another experimental program implemented, is a cell phone that disables text messaging, certain internet features, and other distracting features of cell phones while children are in the class. These particular phones allow children to learn and take test via their cell phone incorporating traditional teaching as well. When outside of the classroom, the cell phones function normally.

Most of the children in these programs are children from poor backgrounds and/or broken homes, which makes them all the more likely not to graduate from high school among other things.

Some people may look at this as a “bribe” of some sort, and basically, it is. It serves  more as motivation for the children than anything else.

People above the poverty line may take motivation from those around them, family, friends, etc. On the other hand, 33% of all black children live below the poverty line and these children typically do not have this kind of motivation in their lives. Most of their families/friends are poor like I mentioned earlier, so they don’t have the degree(s)/careers and such for a child to “look up to” so to speak. Often the things that they do have to “look up to” is very bleak.

For people like you or me who may look at things from a long-term point of view, we may think motivation lies in getting the diploma, degrees, and then great careers, supposedly, that are to follow. We are motivated in knowing we will eventually get to that point with the right steps taken.

However, these children mostly look at the “now” because most of their circumstances are based on the now and not the “later”.

For example, if there is no food in the refrigerator and their mother/father doesn’t have the money to buy food today for them to eat because they don’t get paid until 3 days after today, and the parent is barely living and providing pay check to pay check—- the child is still hungry and waiting for those three days will not cure his/her hunger.

So far, the program has been successful but it is simply too soon to tell if the true success of graduating these children from high school, furthering that into college, and giving an overall promising future will actually be achieved.

The “N”-Word|In 2008

To the bewildered:
To begin, let me first say that I disagree with the word myself. However,  you probably don’t  realize that the word’s meaning, for black people who do use it, is completely different from the meaning someone white may think. Most whites look at it as a disrespectful term because of the historical aspect of it, and for that reason I and other blacks think so too. The historical aspect is to degrade and belittle black people.To black people who use the word, it means, almost as if to say, “You’re one of us” but without the negative connotations that are tied to it historically. 

When Whoopie Goldberg, from The View, made the comment about “owning” the word, this is how black people feel who use the word. They feel because they have been degraded with the word down through the years, they would take it for themselves, in turn, and use it to their own advantage, as oppose to their disadvantage. I believe this came from the hurt, shame, and pain of it all.

With that being said, what reason would a white person have to say it and what would their meaning be for those who think a double standard exist? Most certainly, it would not be for the same reason I just stated above—and that is what makes it offensive coming from them. To make this simpler…think of it as reverse psychology because it is very similar. I just wanted to say that for clarification as to the differences in how some blacks view the word and how whites view it.

To my fellow black readers, and still the confused- As for my personal take on this:

My rejection of this word has absolutely nothing to do with me wanting not to sound “black” and has everything to do with respect for my ancestors, people, and myself. Unfortunately, there are so many African Americans (old and young) who use this word for each other, and either way one looks at it, it’s still negative even when said by us—truth be told, a lot of us don’t see it this way. I am not sure if this is out of habit or upbringing but it’s disgraceful all together.

When my great grandmother and granddaddy were addressed as, subjected to, whipped and killed in the names of “coon” “colored” “nigger” day in and day out— there’s absolutely nothing to take from that word, and just because one takes off the “er” and gives it an “a” at then end, makes no difference. It’s like calling a stone a rock—it’s more or less the same thing…..coming from an insider.

Check out: http://www.abolishthenword.com/

I am compelled to say, however, that most people were shocked at hearing Whoopi’s comments concerning black and whites living in different worlds. I’m sorry to break this to anyone living in “Dream Land“, but she is right.

 We have yet to reach equality for all; discrimination is still at large.

The double standard that Elizabeth talked about on The View is more in the “democracy” of America than anywhere else. There are double standards in education, there are double standards in housing opportunities for blacks, double standards exist in the media, there are double standards even with buying cars in America—- compare that to the black and white world. Want proof?

http://www.cdc.gov/omhd/Highlights/2007/HFeb07.htm

http://faculty.winthrop.edu/stonebrakerr/book/automobiles.htm

If a Tree Falls|in a Forest|& No One is Around to Hear it| Does it make a Sound?

     Self preservation is said to be the individual human’s strongest instinct. Self preservation, no doubt supersedes, humanity or the preservation of mankind. Perhaps this circuitously is the reason for ethnicities and nationalities. More importantly, and more recently, perhaps this is the establishment of race. In as much as it is individual human instinct, creating a collective group only betters individual chances of survival via the strength of a collective group instead of individual strength.

White America’s “white” privilege system, with all its obvious biases and fallacies, when dealing with people who are non-white, is present as a means of self preservation of the “white race”. Why would I change a system that is beneficial to me in every aspect? Why face the challenge of having an “equal playing ground”, so to speak—where no one is suppressed at any level that you are not suppressed and no one, on either side, can yell excuse, inequality or discrimination? This would surely threaten the place white America has “preserved” for itself and its future generations.  

This would basically mean that one is, on no level, any better than the next, at the same level being that these levels are not biased in anyway. It is a fight to keep the truth a lie, and consequently a lie the truth, from those who are truly, on every aspect an equal (which is everyone non white), at bay from knowing that equality or tasting the savory reality that one may or may not know exist but never experienced. Hence the phrase, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

The subjective answer is “No, because no one heard or saw it.” The more obvious answer is Yes. Do things exist and happen that we do not see, hear, or experience? Everday. Does that make it non existent because one has yet to experience it and/or maybe never will? Only in one’s “little world” who would probably argue control of the universe and those things seen , heard, and experienced within it are the only things that exist,  and yet even that universe exists only in one’s mind. Back in  reality, the tree fell with or without anyone’s permission or awareness through hearing, seeing or otherwise and it, of course, made a sound like any other tree would if someone was standing by watching. By my never seeing or hearing of anyone dying of AIDs, it does not invalidate the existence thereof.

Perhaps, all in all, they are the weaker group, yet because of obvious advantages merely based on being “white”, their dominance prevails but it prevails only in the light of the obvious advantages. Furthermore, the lack of adversity faced, given more time and weight to a better establishment. Ex—slavery, discrimination, genocides is really not a part of their history because they were often on the giving end, instead of the receiving end.

Instead, the opposite of adversity by acquisition via at the expense of others has been the foundation on which they stand: exploitation of others, universalism, “whiteprivilege system, and the European catholic standard of beauty.

Ultimately, it makes a clear way to victory. In almost every circumstance of exploration and invasion, the history of the people they (whites) “conquered” was destroyed or claimed as their own and left future generations of the “conquered” people subjected to whatever imaginative fairytale they thought to tell them. In the process,  claiming themselves (whites)  as the victors in every major historic finding and scientific light.  What other proof do they (the people conquered) have that anything else existed? Again, we encounter the tree that fell while no one was around.

It’s not at all rash to think that “their” story, the “conquered” people, became literally “his” story, white people, and “his” story is a fabrication of what “their” story actually surrounds.

This, in turn, has made many, who have white skin, or close enough to it, embrace universal whiteness—perhaps another attempt at self preservation as well. One may argue that there are as many blacks, and people of color who enter the US/Europe as there are people who are passed off as white regardless of origin, and strictly based on skin color. Of course, this is a fact. However, I would ask one how many of these people of color or these black people (African, Latino, Indian, Arabs) would actually take the same route as say, the Irish, to be “white” for preservation, but for the before mentioned to be “black” in the same light? Almost no one and this is because of the advantages I have already mentioned. Most would rather assimilate by the standards of “white” for preservation as well, in spite of their own cultural beliefs and ethnicities. So, indeed, race appears to have the superseding power over ethnicity and nationality.

Perhaps, even, this is the same “logic” as to why somewhite” Americans refuse to vote for Barack Obama. Although he is mixed, many adhere to the one drop rule, espeically considering the fact that he is married and has children by a black woman.