Friday, August 29, 2008

Did Barack rock the house?

This is the first time that many Americans, Black or white have followed an election in depth as they have these past 19 months. Who would have thought that the time would come when a Black man would be nominated as the Democratic Presidential Candidate. August 28, 2008, is a day that I, like many other Americans will never forget. This date will be kept in my memory bank with other significant dates such as my birthday, my daughter's birthday, the day my grandmother died and the day I put my dog to sleep. You might have some dates that are important to you as well. August 28, 1963 is also a date that was monumental. It was the day that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.gave what is probably his most famous speech. When Dr. King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, it is possible that he knew this day would come. I have heard his speech many times and I think some of the lines we all remember are the lines in which he wants his children to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. I think last night, Dr. King and others who have transitioned on were looking down on this momentous event. Words can't express the way that I feel. Now when my students and other children of color express their desire to become the president, I can actually believe that this is attainable.

I also want to pay homage to Hillary Clinton. I think she was very successful in her bid to become president. I think the primary election has shown girls all around the world that the sky is the limit. Throughout the primary election, I realized that this was something I had never witnessed and I was glad to be a part of history. At first, I didn't really care who won because it would have been monumental either way, but now I can honestly say I am glad that Barack Obama won. I think this nomination has shown the progress Americans have made, but I think it is also a reminder to let Black people know that our fight is just beginning. I think this election will get nastier as time goes on, but I want Black Americans to realize that we've only just begun. We need to keep Mr. Obama and his family covered in our prayers on a daily basis. There are still some people who do not like him because of the color of his skin.

As it relates to the qualifications of becoming president, last time I checked there were only 3 requirements: (1) the candidate must be at least 35 years of age (2) a natural born United States citizen and (3) a permanent resident of the United States for the past 14 years. So when all of these people keep saying he is not qualified, is hogwash. How many presidents were truly qualified when they took office? How does one become qualified? George Bush was in his first term when September 11 occurred. Was he qualified to handle that? Three years ago to this day, when Hurricane Katrina happened, President Bush was not qualified to handle that. Now, will someone please tell me, how does one get qualified to handle these types of situations?

Allow me to share a little bit of history with you courtesy of my good friend Ronn Jonze, fellow alum of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo.:

1. When white people wanted to build a nation what did they do?

What did they do?
They went to Africa and enslaved Blacks to turn the
country into an agricultural powerhouse.

2. White folk wanted to make Washington D.C. A great city. What did they do?
They used a Black to design the city and Black labor to
build it.

3.White folk wanted to explore the western USA .
What did they do?
Lewis and Clark took a Black slave with them to negotiate
with the Indians.

4.White folk wanted to end the Civil War.
What did they do?
They freed the slaves who helped win the war.

5.White folk wanted to take San Juan Hill. What did they do?
Teddy rushed up the hill, got in trouble, and was rescued
by Blacks who took the hill.

6. White folk wanted to take the middle and western USA from the Indians.

What did they do?
They sent the Buffalo soldiers to protect the settlers
and to fight the Indians.

7. White folk wanted to raise cattle in the mid west.
What did they do?
They hired cowboys to do it (Yes, most cowboys were Black.)

8. White folk wanted to explore the North Pole.
What did they do?
Adm. Perry took a Black guide along to get him there. The guide reached the pole before Perry.

9 White folk wanted to make the USA armed forces better.
What did they do?
Truman integrated the military.

10. White folk wanted to improve college and pro sports and
make more money doing so.

What did they do?
They integrated sports and built larger stadiums and
arenas and tougher golf courses.

Now, White folk want a new president to straighten out
the Bush mess.



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is this truly a recession?

In the past few months, many people have been saying the country is in a recession. I wanted to know what truly defines a recession and if the United States is in one. According to a recession is a period of general economic decline; specifically, a decline in GDP for two or more consecutive quarters. I didn't know if this had occured, so I thought, let me check and see what others have said about this topic. I went to Wikipedia and this is what I discovered:

"A recession is a contraction phase of the business cycle. In the USA, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) defines it more broadly as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales."[1] Newspapers often quote the rule of thumb that a recession occurs when real gross domestic product (GDP) growth is negative for two or more consecutive quarters. However, not only is this a flawed measure that fails to register several official (NBER defined) US recessions, the quotation has been taken out of context from a 1974 New York Times article that listed a number of rules of thumb, the rest of which have been ignored [2]. A sustained recession may become a depression."

Now having read that, I still didn't know if we were in a recession. One of the main reasons for this is many experts often don't agree upon an universal definition of what a recession truly is. If you asked some economist about a recession and depression, some of them may be confused or give very different answers. Based upon the first definition I provided, it is very difficult to actually determine when this "recession" began or ends.

According to the second definition, the NBER uses various factors to determine if the country is in a recession. These factors include wholesale retail sales, employment, real income and industrial production. Sidebar: What is fake income? The NBER also considers when business activity has reached its peak and starts to fall until the time when business activity bottoms out. When business activity starts to peak again it's called an expansionary period. According to this concept/definition, the average recession lasts a year.

After reading that, I can now see how the "experts" can/will disagree on what a recession truly is. I'm leaning more towards the experts who believe a recession is close to a depression. I don't think we have truly entered a recession. I believe some indicators will be the inability to do some of the most basic things that might be taken for granted. For example, maybe you would shop at a huge super/discount store and buy household items in bulk, when you are unable to purchase a large quantity of necessities and you have to cut back, we are in a recession. I beg to differ that the United States is in a recession because so many people spent a lot of money to see the movie Dark Knight. How can the economy be in a recession when this movie was in the number one spot for weeks?

I guess it goes back to the amount of disposable income one has to spend and if one person has $100 in disposable income and another has $1000, the person with the $1000 might not think things are bad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is chivalry dead?

Is chivalry dead? I have heard this topic debated and I don't think there has ever been a definitive answer. I found this "Code of Chivalry" courtesy of Please tell me if you think chivalry is dead or if some of this stuff is non-existent.

The Art of Courtly Love
From The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus
Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.
He who is not jealous cannot love.
No one can be bound by a double love.
It is well known that love is always increasing or decreasing.
That which a lover takes against the will of his beloved has no relish.
Boys do not love until they reach the age of maturity.
When one lover dies, a widowhood of two years is required of the survivor.
No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.
No one can love unless he is propelled by the persuasion of love.
Love is always a stranger in the home of avarice.
It is not proper to love any woman whom one would be ashamed to seek to marry.
A true lover does not desire to embrace in love anyone except his beloved.
When made public love rarely endures.
The easy attainment of love makes it of little value: difficulty of attainment makes it prized.
Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved his heart palpitates.
A new love puts an old one to flight.
Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.
If love diminishes, it quickly fails and rarely revives.
A man in love is always apprehensive.
Real jealousy always increases the feeling of love.
Jealousy increases when one suspects his beloved.
He whom the thought of love vexes eats and sleeps very little.
Every act of a lover ends in the thought of his beloved.
A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.
Love can deny nothing to love.
A lover can never have enough of the solaces of his beloved.
A slight presumption causes a lover to suspect his beloved.
A man who is vexed by too much passion usually does not love.
A true lover is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved.
Nothing forbids one woman being loved by two men or one man by two women.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What happened to television?

Growing up, my grandmother used to call the television the "idiot box." It wasn't until I got older that I understood why she referred to it as that. If she called it the idiot box then, what should we call it now?

I want to take you back down memory lane. On our first stop, we are going to go visit Mike and Carol and their six children. For those of you who don't know who they are shame on you. The Brady Bunch was the family everyone watched. (At least my friends and I watched the reruns.) I don't ever recall anything really bad happening to them. Sure they had some minor mishaps, but nothing major.

The next stop on this ride is with that racist Archie. You got it, I am talking about All in the Family. It is unbelievable that this shows first telecast was January 12, 1971 and the last one was January 25, 1992. I know, I couldn't believe it either. When I have seen epsiodes of it as I got older, I was baffled as to how he remained on the air for so long. Nevertheless, many of us watched because there were not many shows that had Black actors/actresses in them (i.e. George and Weezy).

We are going to stay on the East Coast and visit the Drummond Family. Over all, I enjoyed Different Strokes and I don't have too many bad things to say about it. It is unfortunate that many of the shows stars had/have substance abuse issues. I loved it when Arnold was being bulled by "The Gooch." I thought that was hilarious. This is one of the few classic shows that I thought was pretty good.

The next stop on our trip is one of my all time favorite sitcoms. I am not sure if I like the family because the show was set in Chicago or what. This family of 5 live in the housing projects and was always struggling to make ends meet. (Maybe this is what made the show a little bit more enjoyable.) I am talking about "Good Times" with Florida, James, J.J, Thelma and Michael. I really like Michael because he was always trying to uplift his family and show them a different perspective on a situation. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Willona and Bookman. I thought Willona was very beautiful and she was always very stylish. I remember when Penny came on board. She was just so darn cute and lovable. It was so sad that her mom was physically abusing her. I think that is one of the first shows I remember seeing an issue such as that being portrayed. This family struggled and when they thought they finally was going to make it James had died. Many Black people cried because it felt like they lost someone close to them. Isn't it amazing how you could connect with a television show and never met any of the actors.

My final stop is with the Huxtable Family. This family was a middle/upper middle class family who realized the value of an education. I have often heard many younger Blacks who grew up without a father figure in their lives refer to the good doctor as their television dad. It was truly refreshing to see a family with educated parents stressing the importance of education and had the means to help their children get it. I also like the fact that the grandparents (Anna and Russell)played an important part in their children and grandchildren lives. I think The Cosby Show showed America that Black people can/will/are successful. When the spinoff show "A Different World" began, it really did a wonderful job of highlighting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's). This is and will probably be one of my favorite shows for a long time. I haven't gotten all of the seasons on dvd (hint, hint) but I'm working on it.

I know there are many other wonderful and not so wonderful shows I may have missed. I only selected a few to show how television evolved. I didn't have a rhyme or reason to how the shows were selected, I just picked them. If you have some favorite or not so favorite shows, please share them. My purpose in this post was to see if there are any current shows that may stack up to these shows. I really can't say there are, but I could be wrong. For those of you with children, what television shows do you watch with your child and really enjoy them? I've been trying to think of some, but I'm stumped. Everything I think of is not child friendly. Somebody help a sista out!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How smart are you?

I received this quiz and I thought I'd share it with you all. Please take it and let me know how you scored.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Educate or else pt. 2

Ok, I am not sure if many of you have heard this but the Rev. Senator James Meeks and Rev. Ira Acree along with other Chicago area ministers are calling for Chicago Public School (CPS) students to stay home from school on the first day of school (September 2). The reasoning behind this is the deplorable condition of many CPS schools. He is wondering why some school districts in Illinois get more money to spend per student than others. Some school districts receive $18,000 oer student whereas some get 1/2 of that. Well, of course there are many critics to this, but I ask if no one is trying to invoke a change, when will they? Are we supposed to sit here and wait for someone to do something?

Now, having said that, I was watching Oprah today and there was a show about the state of the public school system in America. (I know the show was a rerun, but the information is still relevant.) There were two young guys from the D.C. area who were disgusted with the condition of their school. They took pictures and somehow Anderson Cooper did a special and the school was featured on it. Now this school was about 15 minutes from the Capitol Building and looked wonderful on the outside. When you got to the inside of the school, it was horrible. Shortly after that show, the school district approved money to make repairs to the school.

Now back to this school boycott, why is it that people want children in schools that aren't working? Also, why send the child to school and they aren't going to do their best? I know people believe children learn at various rates (I don't argue with that), but how can a child learn if they don't bring materials to and from school? I don't get it. All of these school officials and some of the politicians are fighting for these children to go to school, but make it a place that is inviting for the children.

Allow me to paint a picture for you, you need to use the restroom (really bad) and you go to and their is no toilet tissue, what do you do? Or, there is toilet tissue but you don't have any soap or hot water to wash your hands. Can you imagine the fecal matter you are now carrying around? Or let's just assume the toilet tissue, soap and hot water works but the restroom is disgusting. There are feces on the toilet (that seems like it's been there for a while) and tissue/paper all over the floor. Do you still want to go to this school?

Ok, we are out of the restrooms and we are now entering the classroom. There might be new desks or some that are decent. If you don't have any decent desk, be glad you have enough for everyone to sit in. As soon as you enter the classroom, your teacher has to assist with clearing the hall. This may take up to 5 minutes. Once this is accomplished, it's going to take another 5 minutes to ge the class under control. Once the class is under control, you might have to figure out how to regulate the temperature in the class. It may be too hot/cold. If it is too hot, their is not an air conditioner to turn on to cool off the room. If it is too cold, you can't adjust the heat. Now how are you supposed to work under those conditions?

Let's just assume that the temperature is just fine in the classroom and the desks are brand new and shiny, however, there is a problem with rodents and roaches. I mean the roaches and mice come out like they are trying to learn something. Maybe the teachers should teach to the roaches and mice, they're always there.

I think America has misplaced values. We pay athletes millions of dollars and many of them are uneducated. If we are taught in school that education is the way to go and it will pay off in the end, how true is this for all? I mean, why would a child want to go to school to better him/herself and they can live off a pipe dream of becoming an athlete of musician. If we reall want children to buy into this education dream, we have to make it better for all. We can't keep separating schools based upon the haves and have-nots. I think children in urban and rural areas suffer the most when it comes to education.

I also think educators need to be paid a fair sarting wage. I think the minimum starting pay should be at least $75K. Now, I know some people may not agree, but allow me to pick up my brush again: Remember when I told you about the restrooms, rodents, etc.? Most often than not, the educator has to or chooses to provide these things for their students. God forbid if there is a female educator, because she will provide personal products for the young ladies. Sometimes these young girls don't have the means to get these items or they don't keep any in their lockers.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the cafeteria. Most of the time the food is not worth eating. It is not quality, wholesome food. The fruit/veggies leaves much to be desired. If you want a salad, it's iceberg lettuce, a cucumber and tomato. I know many teachers often bring snack for their students because the food in the cafeteria is not good or they have run out of food. So when you find and educator who says he/she is not compensated fairly, they aren't lying. I mean in what other profession do you know of that employees have to provide the majority/all of their materials/supplies to get their job done? I mean, most offices provide ink pens, staplers, computers, printers, ink, fax machines and things of that nature to perform the necessary task.

I guess America is too busy trying to fight battles that doesn't concern US and we can't even take care of our own. The sad reality to all of this is, the majority of the people who make the decisions regarding school funding either don't have children in school, their children are in private schools, or they don't have children. It is time for America to place a value on education and not entertainment.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Race does matter.

I was approached by a friend (Amy Fuji) to write this post (for Open Salon) and I am really not sure how to approach this subject. It stemmed from a reply I wrote on Neilpaul’s topic “Black versus White, or Why I’m lucky to be White.” Amy suggested I write about my experiences as a Black woman in a white world and she would write about being a white woman working in a predominately Black environment. I strongly urge you to read her counterpoint and leave messages for both of us.

I am an educated Black single mother who lives on the South Side of Chicago. If you check the stats, by all means, I should not have a college degree. I should have at least two additional children (by two different men), living in some type of housing development and receiving public aid. Oh, I should have dropped out of high school a long time ago. Well, the reality is this, when I had my daughter, I had completed high school and two years of college. I left the hospital on my 21st Birthday. Some people will say that I beat the odds, but some days I am not too sure.
I am in the process of looking for a home and I often wonder will I be able to achieve my American dream. What most white people don’t realize is, my dream is slightly different from their’s. I am not looking for a white picket fence with 2.5 children (how do you get .5 children, one will never know) and a dog or cat. That is not my dream. My dream is to be able to purchase a nice, affordable home in a decent neighborhood. I would like to get married one day, but the sad reality is many Black men are reluctant to take this step for a variety of reasons. Some of them are fear; fear of failure, fear of commitment, and fear of what their friends will say. Then there are some guys who are afraid of marrying a woman who has an education and earns more than he does. You do know there are more Black men in prison than enrolled in college, so the likelihood of me marrying an educated Black man is slim.

I am a strong proponent and supporter of higher education and just because I want my daughter to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) does not mean that I am racist. I know the world is not completely Black. I’m sorry, but I am reminded of that on a daily basis, whether it is directly or indirectly. I think a lot of white people mistake me wanting to be around people who look like me as being unrealistic but it's not. Well, let me tell you this, I know the world is not completely Black and this is not why I am an advocate for HBCU’s. I think the media does a good job of portraying Blacks in a negative light and I think it is important to young children to see otherwise. You do know it was illegal for Black people to get an education and this is how HBCU’s came about. Shame on me for wanting to support these institutions of higher learning, because someone thought enough of future generations to start a school. When many white people sit around the dinner table and discuss their children’s future, I wonder how many of them mention institutions such as Howard University, Hampton University, or Clark-Atlanta University. I also believe that if a lot of white people won't send their children to the public school with my child, why should I pay for her to go to school with them?
I don’t think many white people understand what it’s truly like to be a minority. Oftentimes, I feel like the man in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. This unnamed character walks around and is socially invisible to others. See, if you have never experienced something like this, you will never know how it feels. Even if you think you’ve experienced it, imagine if you had to live your entire life feeling invisible. It is not a good feeling and there’s nothing you can do about it. There are times when I am with my white counterparts and they are discussing people/things that I know nothing about or is not relevant to me.

Now as it relates to careers, I have seen countless qualified Black people passed over for promotions and given some lame excuse for it such as"we don't promote within" or "you are over qualified for this position/program." I get tired of people discounting affirmative action and other programs designed to give minorities a chance. Don't mistake my point, I am not suggesting that people be promoted based soley on race, but I do think that there should be some type of opportunity given to qualified minorities. If my personal experiences hadn’t shown me otherwise, maybe I would say eliminate it. When Michelle Obama made the statement about this being the first time in her adult life she was proud to be an American, many white people got mad. Well let me tell you why I understood Mrs. Obama’s plight. Many Black people have to work extra hard to prove ourselves to others. When I turn on the news and read about white police officers being acquitted for killing Black people, why should I be proud of that? When I know I am not welcomed in certain neighborhoods in 2008, why should I be proud of that? How about the many times I have been shopping in a predominately white mall and I am followed around like I am a criminal? Or, the sales clerk ignores me completely? Should I be proud of that? Dr. King had a dream that one day his children would be judged by the content of their character and not by skin color, but how often does that really occur? I get tired of people saying race doesn't matter, but it does. If it didn't matter, people wouldn't say "race doesn't matter."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What do Black people have?

Today I was talking to my sister and she asked me when did this hair salon become a braid shop. I told her that it has been there for a while. That one question sparked another discussion about the number of braid shops that have come into the community. Then we got to thinking about the number of other minorities who have come in to the community and gotten a lock down on every industry.

The Asians (Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese) have come in and taken over the nail industry. There used to be a time where Black nail technicians worked in the beauty shop alongside the barbers and hairstylists. Now, trying to find a Black nail technician is a rare thing. (Trust me I know.) I know why this is becoming increasingly difficult. Black nail technicians can not and will not compete with the Asian nail shops. First, that isn't their competition. The Asian nail shops are competing with each other. Think about this, if there are nail shops within a few blocks of each other, they will try to out do each other to get you in their chair. Also, we want to look good, but we are not willing to pay the price. Many of my friends who still service clients have a few clients who see the quality of the work they receive, but still feel like they should be paying less.

The next industry is the beauty supply stores. Many of them are owned and operated by Asians also. They have changed the way we do hair in the Black community. Now many of the hair care companies for Black people are owned by foreigners. It is really baffling to me how people with a different hair texture than mine can really tell me about my hair and provide products for it. I am not saying it is impossible, it's just crazy.

Now, I like a greasy spoon every once in a while. There is nothing like a Gyros with a little extra sauce or Italian beef dipped with hot peppers. Every time I enter one of these establishments, the person behind the counter is foreign. Some (if not most) are Arab or Pakistani. The Middle Easterners also have most of the gas stations on lock down. I can't find too many gas stations owned by anyone else.

Of course, the Africans and Jamaicans are holding down the braid shops. Everytime I turn around, there is a braid shop on every corner.

I am always amazed how the foreigners are allowed to open businesses and so many of them when many Black people get laughed out the bank door before entering. I am not knocking anyone's hustle, but let's get real here. If this is the land of opportunity, everyone should have a chance to prosper.

The caucasians have investments, sports teams, media, and just about every other outlet you can think of. They hold the majority of the nation's wealth. Any outlet you can think of and it is probably dominated by caucasians.

Now to answer my question "What do Black people have?" Well, I'll tell you what we have. We have the street corners, prisons, and dropout rate on lock down. When it comes to other races, we rank top in those areas. We also have a higher number of fatherless children and the highest infant mortality rate. We also have the crime on lockdown (see that's how we got the prison
s on lock down). Then you also have to consider that fact that Black women are contracting HIV/AIDS at a higher rate that any other ethnicity. We also have the economic spending on lockdown. Black people hold 2% of the nation's wealth but spend 98% back into the economy. So, think about this: for every $100 Black people receive, $98 goes back into the economy and $2 is kept. This is why you will have a Black people living in the housing projects or subsidized housing and there is a HUGE big screen television in the house. You can afford to have that, but won't work to become self-sufficient.

There are so many other areas that we have on lockdown, I don't have enough time to address them all. The last one I will mention is self-hatred. Some of this self-hatred as well as other issues is not the fault of Black people. It stems from that "Plantation Baggage" that is still plaguing us. You do know that lighter Black were allowed in the house and they were treated a little bit better than the darker Blacks. The lighter Blacks were a result of ol' massa raping the Black women. This treatment started the division between Blacks. Lighter Blacks have and sometimes continue to receive preferential treatment over darker skin Blacks. As I write this, I think about how the media believes "Halle Berry" is so beautiful. Well, is it because she has features that resemble white/European features. What about Angela Bassett, Sanaa Lathan, Gabrielle Union, Nia Long, or Regina King?

I hope one day Black people will wake up and realize that in order for us to become successful, we have to unite for the common good. We won't support one another for anything because we are afraid that someone else will advance before us and that can't happen. We also need to learn how to love self. I think a lot of the issues facing our community comes from slavery. I know some people will say, we need to stop focusing on slavery, but it is a part of history that can't be erased. When the slaves were on the auction block, the men were separated from their families. I think that was the beginning of the fatherless child. It continued on when Black women started receiving public aid, that further perpetuated this situation. If you remember the movie "Claudine", the mom was reluctant to get married because that had an affect on the amount of aid she would receive. As a result many Black men would live there but when the aid workers came around they would leave. Eventually they would take up with another woman and father more children and the cycle would continue.

Ok, I digressed. I really pray that Black people will realize what is going on with our race. The downside to this is the people who need to hear these things are never in the right arena to hear them. Even if they are, they really don't know how to work towards changing.