June 5, 2015

Postings – The Problem With Iggy Azalea

A onehit wonder is a person or act known mainly for only a single success. The term is most often used to describe music performers with only one Top 20 hit single or for having one signature song which overshadows their other work.


Post that sparked my response:

I’m looking at these comments and I’m thinking many of you should be embarrassed of yourselves. If you’re not, I’m embarrassed for you and for your parents. There was a time when people looked for the good in life. We gave constructive criticism, but first we gave credit where credit was due. We were taught if you didn’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I look at these mean comments and the profile faces are so young. Where did you young people learn to be so hate filled? Who told you being mean was acceptable? It is not acceptable to cowardly sit behind a computer and try and break others down with your meaningless words. This bullying might seem to make you appear strong or tough to your peers. It doesn’t! It shows your weakness, it highlights your sadness, it exposes the emptiness of your souls. Instead of spewing hatred about what others have accomplished, get off the computer, go in search of yourselves and search for the meaning of your existence. When you find it, you too will be able to accomplish anything with pride.

My response to the post:

First off… Iggy is incredibly entitled and is not free from making mean comments on the internet herself. Maybe they learned it from her?

Furthermore…

Iggy rapped about being a runaway slave master. Maybe that is okay in the genre of country or rock, but if she wants to be a respected rapper, maybe do not refer to yourself as a slave master given that you are white and a significant portion of rap fans are black.

Iggy believes that she should be regarded as the best female rapper in the game, but her skills are grossly lacking and she cannot even freestyle. She LIP SYNCS when she RAPS. Why?

Iggy does not feel like she should pay her dues which is why she tried to headline an ARENA tour. She is not a headliner, yet (likely never will be), which is why she could not find any opening acts and so many of the venues had poor ticket sales. SHE should be opening for more established artists given that most of her success has been from being on OTHER people’s songs.

Iggy is not remotely humble. She thinks the fact that she is rapping and white and a female is all she should need to be crowned queen of rap. What’s worse is that she continues to compare herself to Eminem, someone who, (controversial lyrics aside) is considerably more talented than her. He was not free from his own backlash when he came out, given the subject matter of most of his songs, but that controversy ended up helping him BECAUSE he is talented. Most importantly, he was himself.

Iggy has no identity. Before she decided to be a rapper who raps, not with her own Aussie accent, but the accent of black southern female rappers, she was trying to be Britney Spears 2.0 – a pop artist – blaccent nowhere to be heard. You cannot want to be regarded as a well respected rapper when you commit the number 1 crime of being INAUTHENTIC. Rappers have been dragged through the mood for ages when something about their stage persona contradicts their real life or vice versa.

I am saying all this to say that Iggy has brought a lot of this backlash on herself. Yea, there are a lot of young people who are experiencing schadenfreude over her failures, and they are not expressing themselves in the most mature way, but if Iggy wants people to react differently to her, it is has to start with her. BE REAL.

There will always be “haters” but there are plenty of legitimate reasons not to be an Iggy fan.

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March 9, 2015

Finally! Proof that racism has ended…

Kudos for shutting down the fraternity right away, but let’s not pretend that this is an isolated incident. These young men felt very comfortable chanting those hate-filled words. These are the so-called “future leaders of America,” and they are the types that end up in positions where they can directly impact the lives of minorities.

Racism did not die after the Civil Rights Movement. It is almost amusing that there are people out there who believe that tall tale. It would be amusing if this belief did not have such devastating consequences. But, it does. You cannot get rid of racism but simply pretending it does not exist. And, truthfully, there will always be people who have malice in their hearts and view people, who are not like them, as inferior, but at least acknowledging reality gives us  fighting chance.

February 19, 2015

Postings – TMZ – Russell Simmons vs Geraldo

Sometimes, I post on the internet and oftentimes those posts are censored for one reason or another, typically because a buzz word or two is caught and filters will put your post in a queue to be “moderated.”

Well, after I take five minutes to respond to someone, it is extremely annoying to have no one ever read that post. I know that posting it here is almost the same thing, but heck, at least I will feel a little better. So, from now on, if I spend more than a couple of minutes composing a reply, I am going to put it here so that I do not feel like it goes to waste!  I will also post other comments I make if I just feel like I want to go back and read what I have said in the past, to see if my opinions evolve much. A little personal project.

So, we are going to start with TMZ for this!

The story is about the wonderful Geraldo Rivera implying that Russell Simmons has hurt the black community for promoting hip-hop culture and that such imagery prevents black people from becoming employable. The comments from the comment section flows as:

(I am Krazilia Love)

I’m black but I agree with Geraldo. A lot of people from other races pre-judge us all and think we are that music. We’re not that music, we just like to get down to it-just as other races do. Hop-Hip and Rap are not a lifestyle for most black people, we just listen to it.

That has more to do with the fact that we do not have a balanced image in the media. Minorities, in general, are shown almost always in the most negative light. That is intentional.

Would you also agree that there’s a lot of negative light to show?

There is a lot of negative light amongst all of humanity to show. There are no shortages of Honey Boo Boos out there, no shortages of white people doing wrong. Hell, we have a whole network dedicated to almost nothing but white people doing other white people wrong (ID). There is no shortage of white men driving our country’s economy off the cliff (repeatedly throughout history, mind you), and that does more harm to you than any black person will. There is no shortage of white sexual predators, and this is just white men. There are bad white women out there too, see: Dr. Phil or any reality show. (hahaha)

Yet, white people get a much more balanced projection of their community. This balance allows people to feel comfortable with giving white people the benefit of the doubt, since it is reasonable to think that they could be a good person until they are proven wrong. People of color do not get that because most white people do not have interaction with black people. They get their information from the media, and since the media mostly shows black people in a negative light, that becomes who black people are. (And this also works against black people, especially poor black people who have only witnessed what it is like to live around other poverty-stricken black people. The media reinforces what they see so they assume that that is all black people have to offer, which fosters self-fulfilling prophecies that help to continue the cycle of poverty.)

So, back to my original comment… Black people do not have a balanced media image. That is not to say that there are no bad black people, it is to say that there is a lot more good that people never/rarely get to see or hear about so they think it does not exist. Just like that tree falling in the forest that does not make a sound…

After I told the individual that I was responding to that my message had been censored and that truncated my message down to “There is negative light amongst humanity in general,” he replied with:

Ok but in today’s day wouldn’t you say there’s less humanity going on in the black race?

Is there less humanity going on in the black race as compared to other races?

What tends to be missing from all of these conversations is context. If you are comparing gang areas to the rest of the country, then you are taking a very superficial look at what black people have to offer.

The fact is that in poverty stricken areas, crime is their jobs program and the vast majority of the men, in those areas, who become part of the system when they are children and do not have the capacity to make decisions that will not have an impact on their lives. What they know is that they are hungry and living in poverty and that guy selling drugs is telling them that if they do it too, they will get to eat and get some toys to play with. Once you are in the system, particular in OUR system in the US, it is very hard to get out because the focus is not actually on rehabilitating anyone. Besides, when they get back out onto the streets, where are the jobs that they are to work?

I ask this question all the time, but I have yet to get a tangible/feasible answer – If every gangbanger left their gang tomorrow, where would they work? Forget their record, and how hard it is to get a job as a black man, even if you are not a criminal, what about the fact that the jobs just do not exist?

It is easy to look at the end result of the drug war, of gangs, and say that the people selling drugs and killing to protect their territory, or their name, are just bad and lack humanity, but ask yourself what led to it. Then ask yourself what kind of foundation is there in ANY poor community to fix it. The schools are poor, too. The schools turn out graduates who cannot even pass college entry exams, so how exactly are they to attain jobs that pay anything approaching a living wage? How do they pay for it unless they are above average in intellect (or athletic ability, of course) and qualify for enough scholarships?

So, no black people are not lacking humanity any more than the (largely) white men who decided to send in thousands of troops to kill hundreds of thousands of people who did not attack us on 9 11. Think of the big picture before you accuse people of lacking humanity based simply on the color of their skin.

Needless to say, if you are looking to have an in depth conversation about race relations, TMZ is not the place to do it. It does not make it any less frustrating to read such gross simplifications of what is happening in poverty-stricken black communities in America. As stated above, it is easy to look at the result of something, the fallout, and work backwards to assume that it has something to do with the inherent make-up of the individuals who perpetrate the actions, but it takes a bit more to actually consider what led to the actions in the first place.

January 16, 2015

The Oscars: Not For Us

Yes, this is yet another blog post about The Oscars and Race.

There have been no shortage of articles on the subject of the lack of diversity amongst the 2015 Academy Award nominees, but few, if any, will just flat out call it like it is – The Academy Awards is a white institution, started by white men, which (in turn) favors and awards white men most; and they have absolutely no incentive to change it.

We have an interesting dynamic, when it comes to age-old institutions, in our country. You cannot be black, brown (or the made up races of purple, green or blue), without someone asking you why the BET Awards or the Latin Grammys exist. Clearly, the implication is that it is we minorities who have decided to isolate ourselves, to break off into our own little corners of the world where we only acknowledge the achievements of other black and/or brown people.

The reality is that if we did not honor ourselves, few others would.

A further truth is that we include words like ‘Black’ in the names of our institutions simply so that we can recognize it as it is. It is so we know that we will find resources or elements that speak to our culture. I mean, how else were we to know that we could go to the UNCF or the NAACP for assistance in furthering our education, if we had dropped the N or the C, respectively?

The thing about the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe, the (non-Latin) Grammys, etc is that white people have never had to label their institutions as ‘White.’ As the controlling majority, it has always been a given that European-Americans would be the dominating voice throughout those institutions. The fact that they did not have to call the Oscars “The White Academy Awards” does not change the fact that that is exactly what it was when the 1st Annual Academy Awards took place on May 16, 1929, exactly one day before Dr. Martin Luther King Junior was born in Atlanta, GA. Was there any expectation that the Oscars would be anything but a white institution, during that time in history? Did the founder see into the future to where The Academy Awards would be expected to consider the works of, not just people of color, but women, as well? Furthermore, could they possibly conceive that anyone, other than a white man, could put forward art that was even worthy of consideration?

When the Academy Awards announced the 2015 Oscar Nominees, despite the history of our country, despite the history of the institution, many were still relatively shocked by the lack of diversity represented by this year’s class. No, not just the lack of black people, but non-white people, in general. All in all, this year’s nominees make up the whitest lot of nominees since the late 90s.

What happened? Did nonwhite actors get worse?

Leading the pack of snubs was Selma’s Ava Duvernay, who was largely expected (by people who ignore history) to be the first black woman to be nominated for Best Director, and David Oyelowo, who portrayed the legendary leader of the Civil Rights Movement, in the film.

While Duvernay who, herself, stated that she had no expectations of gaining clout because of her work in Hollywood, given there was no precedent for the occurrence, the slight felt massive enough to spark several internet memes punctuated with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. The reaction, as expected, was a bit mixed with most tweeters making snark-filled jokes such as Jimmy Fallon’s, which read:

One guy went so far as to state that the Berlin Olympics had more diversity than this year’s list of Oscar nominees (he even has a picture to prove it):

Snark aside, there were also tweets from those who found the snub to be extra sharp on their tongues; especially with race relations being such as they are, here in 2015, over 51 years since King’s “I Have a Dream “speech. That it is 2015 and we are still looking for acknowledgement for our talents and gifts, as well as equality in all areas of our lives, makes it that much harder to swallow.

Of course, representing the other end of the spectrum were tweets from those who boiled it all down to an oversimplification that we see all too often when we attempt to discuss inherent racial discrimination and its impact on those it affects most. To these individuals, most of whom were not people of color, it is all a simple matter of talent; there simply were no actors of colors, nor movies featuring actors of color, that lived up to the talent, hard work, ingenuity and creativity possessed by their white counterparts. People of color simply did not EARN a right to nominations. That is hardly a new mindset, it is one that has remained prevalent throughout the history of The Academy Awards; throughout the history of the United States.

Ultimately, people of color just are not good enough. Right? (Isn’t there a word for that belief…?)

Also, ultimately, THE OSCARS ARE NOT FOR US!!! (And, hello white women, they are not exactly for you either. Not if you are behind the scenes, not if you are doing something that does not involve hair and makeup or music.) The Oscars, the Academy Awards were not created, nor conceived of, to award people of color. While there is an argument that can be made that, due to its status and clout in the industry, the Academy has a certain responsibility, we are dealing with human beings. Flawed, one-dimensional human beings who enjoy things as they are.

Listen, we all get that people of color and women are a minority in the field of entertainment. White men outnumber everyone in Hollywood, both on and behind the screen. It is their town.

Women in, in general, are greatly outnumbered by men, as represented by the speaking roles that they play. In 2013, in the top 100 movies, only 28.4% of the speaking roles went to women. That was actually a decline from 2010 and 2009, which had women at 30.3% and 32.8%, respectively. Behind the scenes women accounted for “just 16 percent of directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2013.”

In terms of race, it is as to be expected:

…black characters only represented 14.1 percent of speaking roles in the top 100 films, a growth of exactly 1.1 percent since 2007. (Non-white characters combined only made up 25.9 percent of speaking roles last year.) And the percentages are even grimmer among directors: of the 107 filmmakers attached to those top 100 films, only 6.5 percent were black men (seven films, from five directors). That’s up an entire half-percent since 2007. Oh, and there were no black women among their ranks last year, and only two total across the six years of the study.

With representation that low, there can never be an expectation that women, nor people of color, will be well represented when it comes time to hand out statues and pats on the back, for jobs well done by committees that are largely formed by white men.

The most popular counterarguments can be broken down as:

For Women: There are just not enough women looking to work behind the scenes, or to write. There are simply not enough women with the talent, creativity, or the skill to produce their works on screen or to allow them to direct movies; unless, of course, they are exceptionally talented, and then, yes let’s give her a chance; maybe.

For People of Color: Well, black people only make up 13% of the population, you cannot expect them to be better represented in Hollywood when they are such a small part of the population in the first place; and, of course – you know, talent.

The problem with these arguments is that it presumes that if one does not see it, it does not exist. (This concept is particularly difficult for people to wrap their minds around if they are one to stop to think about whether or not a tree, that falls in a forest, makes a sound whilst “witnessless.”) What people do not realize about Hollywood is that it is extremely difficult to get in. It is a word of mouth kind of place, and the person that open doors for you tend to be one who is low on melanin and has a penis. This is just a fact. It is their town.

The argument about the population of black people also tend to fall on deaf ears, because first of all – we are not black 13% of the time. We are black 100% of the time. We want to see people, like us, represented in media just like white people, who are white 100% of the time, want to see themselves represented in the media. (As do Latinos, Native Americans and Asians who make up this great melting pot we call the USA.)

Second of all -If we want to go by the rationale that the demographics, of the country we live in, should play a part in how much a particular race is represented in the media, should there not be a whole hell of a lot more Latinos on screen? (Personally, I can do with a lot more of the creatively wonderful, witty and humorous antics that we see when we tune into “Jane the Virgin.”) Also, too… Shouldn’t the sexes even out a bit (a lot) more, if it is just about “demographics?”

We have already determined that only 25.9%, of the on-screen roles go to non-white characters. With black people and Latinos combined, our population sits at 30% and that does not even take into account Asians or Native Americans. With them, we can tack another 5.5% to that total, putting us right at 35.5%. What say you, Hollywood? Can we get 35.5% people of color on the big screen inside any given year? And, real roles, not just opening a door a fancy high-rise building, or wiping down a counter in the background while two white people, in leading roles, chew up the scenery in the foreground. What say you?

Is this nitpicking? Absolutely and one can definitely make the argument that there should not be an arbitrary goal to reach in order to declare Hollywood perfectly diverse, but if you want us to accept that this has to do with demographics, then…………… Let’s make it about demographics.

We cannot exit our discussion of demographics without also mentioning this:

Oscar Voters: 94% White, 76% Men, and an Average of 63 Years Old

Older and more dude-heavy than just about any place in America and whiter than all but seven states.

Getting on screen is really just the first step, anyway. Quality roles for minorities are also hard to come by.

People tend to relate to those who are most like them. They also tend to enjoy seeing people who are like them succeed, most. This inherently stacks the deck against anyone who does not fit into the dominating demographic.

From the perspective of white men in Hollywood – The Decision Makers – that woman, that person of color, MUST live up to their standards of what they find worthy. They must possess something that they, as white men, feel they can relate to on some level. Oftentimes, that level keeps minority and women in a box and stifled creatively. For minorities, especially, these limitations rely heavily on racial stereotypes that tend to only present people of color as caricatures. You know, your Latino maid, or gardener; your “Fresh Off The Boat” Chinese sweatshop worker, or dry cleaner; your loud, promiscuous baby mama, or your irresponsible, thug-life drug-dealing baby daddy. There are many examples of the boxes minorities are thrown in, too many to name, but they all tend to leave the audience, not with a human being, with layers and nuances, who have dreams and desires to lead a productive fulfilled life, but just whatever is there on the surface. It becomes easy to look at any casually dressed young black man and put him into the category of Thug. It becomes easy to look at any young black woman and see her as promiscuous. This is imagery that tends to trickle down into areas of minorities lives in ways that have a meaningful impact of the qualify of life that they lead.

Context does not live on the surface. It takes more.

Why is the Latina a maid? What is her story? How did she get there? What did she leave behind? What are her goals? What are her desires? Can she only ever be a maid? Furthermore what does a white man know about any of that? Does he care to find out? Does he think that others care to find out? Enough to make a profit? What happens when a Latina presents with a script that tells a story that reflects the world she grew up in? That reflects her voice, her humor and what is real in her world; a story that wildly diverges from the reality that most of the people, she has to go through, can relate to?

While the world of entertainment is just that, entertainment, people often underestimate the insidiousness of the media and how it has a direct impact on how the world sees us as people. We are still a largely segregated society. If you are white, living in a white town where you have limited interaction with people of color, your only experience is through TV and movies. Those stereotypes become reality and it is difficult to shake people’s preconceived notions once they have been programmed into them.

Having such one-dimensional portrayals of minorities has real life consequences, not only in America, but around the world. Furthermore, such depth-free characters tend to lead to equally as depth-free movies; movies that can never be worthy of the prestige that an Oscar nomination brings about. It is for this  reason that, in the rare instance that there is a movie of the caliber of Selma, it is that much more frustrating and disappointing when it is barely shown recognition.

It is easy to just say, “Well, that person is simply obtuse if they do not get that they cannot judge all people by what they see on a television or movie screen.” Well, we live in a country full of insanely obtuse individuals who think just that and it has been harmful to people of color.

The history of The Academy Awards, The Oscars, is one that began as an institution to reward white men for the works created by white men. It is their night. We will never hear them say that, of course. Not aloud. Not in 2015. Back in the day, before that pesky little Civil Rights Movement (Thanks Dr. King!), this was all a given. But then, Selma happened.

White men in Hollywood do not have the incentive to see that the landscape there looks any differently than it does now. Who willingly gives up power?

Again, these are the people who shape how the world sees EVERYONE – (unless you live in North Korea or a remote part of the world without access to media, of course. Of course). Does anyone really believe that complaining – TO THEM – about the lack of diversity, matters? That it will actually get us anywhere? Sure, they may hire a black woman and post her in a prominent position, but unless that black woman also happens to be a dictator, how much impact can she really have?

Academy President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, responds to lack of diversity.

Guess what, ladies and gents? They are going to do it again next year, and the year after that, and again after that. You know why? Because, although we technically, have the power to do something about it, they know that we will not.

Because…

Hello, Divide and Conquer, you are looking mighty fine, today. Nice and strong, too. No fear of you burning out anytime soon!

And, how does Divide and Conquer flourish in the year 2015? Hello, the Media!

To change Business as Usual, it takes sacrifice. It takes time. It takes blood, sweat and tears; well hopefully not too much blood.

It takes people being willing to pool resources… Not just people, but people of means, people with money. People who have already seen success in the business. Black people, brown people, white women, in the business.

It takes women, who are cast alongside men, demanding that their value is as equally acknowledged as their male costars. (Hello, women of American Hustle!!!)

It takes us, as consumers, saying that we are tired of being underrepresented and misrepresented.  It takes us supporting minorities and women who produce and direct films that shows us in a balanced light.

It takes… a ten ton bag of fairy dust, one hundred and fifty thousand fairy godmothers, The Carebear Stare and a trip to Neverland, because, really…

It also takes a willingness to look at our own Award shows and considering them as worthy as winning a Grammy or a golden statuette from the Oscars. Yes, we know that the rest of the world will be hard pressed to view the achievement the same way, but so what? In reality, winning an Oscar has not greatly helped many black actors film careers, has it? In that sense, isn’t an Oscar about as valuable as an NAACP Image Award? Besides, if we ourselves start to view these awards as prestigious and worthy, it goes a lot further to shaping the rest of the world’s perception of it.

It is disheartening to know that people know that there is a problem, but those same people will turn around, tomorrow, buy a ticket to this, that, and the other movie, where women are greatly outnumbered by men, and minorities are greatly mis-and-underrepresented, all in a quest for entertainment and escapism. Black and brown people will continue to accept roles that marginalize them and cast shadows over all other black and brown people in the world. White women will continue to work for less money, although oftentimes they are as big as, or bigger, draws for viewing audiences. And, white men will continue to reap the benefits from the Business as Usual cycle that allows for them, and their vision of the world, to dominate our society.

One of the many things that we take away from the Civil Rights Movement is people’s willingness to sacrifice. Without people willing to sacrifice personally, at much greater stakes than any of us have to sacrifice today, we would not have a Selma to see at the movies. We would not have the heroes that we celebrate.

While things have gotten better, there is still quite a ways to go. Sadly, this post-racial narrative that we have had forced down our throats, so much so that even even many famous people of color have regurgitated the sentiment, has kept us at a standstill. It has impeded progress and, perhaps, has even taken us back a few steps. Thanks “Liberal Hollywood!”

Ultimately, it is our world. We deserve our voices to be heard and for our realities to be reflected back to us. It is not enough to just accept white men shaping the world that Black People, Latinos, Asian people, or Native Americans live in. Especially when it is imagery that has a practical and real negative impact on our lives.

If we want things to be different, we have to be willing to sacrifice and make things different. Part of making things different is acknowledging the truth about what and who Hollywood really is.

Yes, you are catching on – Hollywood is White Men.

In the end, we have to stop looking to the gatekeepers and asking if we may please pass, because the answer will typically be, “No,” and only occasionally will we hear, “Yes.” We will hear just enough ‘yeses’ to answer claims of racial bias with, “But, Whoopi, But Halle, But Denzel, But Jamie, But Lupita…” It will continue to lead to years where we will see movies like ‘Selma,’ and its director “snubbed,” because they can always say, “But… ’12 Years A Slave.'”

July 26, 2013

Big Brother 15: Racists & Bigots Reign Supreme, The Real Reason I’m Upset

I have been meaning to write a blog about Big Brother 15 for a couple of weeks now. This is a show that I had not watched in years, for one reason or another, and I had never watched the live feeds. This year, I happened to catch the season premiere and, since they were offering a 2 day free trial, I signed up for live feeds as well. To say that I was instantly addicted is an understatement!

Since I have always had an interest in observing human behavior, particular to our society here in the United States, having the opportunity to observe people in the bubble that is Big Brother opened up a whole new world to me. Yes, I know that I am late to the party, but at the time I thought, “Better late than never!”

In life, I like to consider myself an “extremely amateur” anthropologist,  but even with this interest, the ultimate purpose of watching Big Brother is to engage in a form of escapism. That is what all reality TV is for me. When I sit down to watch Big Brother, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, or Project Runway, I do so with the expectation that I will be amused and entertained for the following hour or so. I do not expect to end the night with a knot in my stomach and tears in my eyes. I don’t expect to end up reflecting on my own struggles in life based upon who I am on a relatively superficial level. And, yes, I do view race, as defined by our society, as quite superficial. My skin is brown, my nose is wide. My lips are plump, my hair is kinky. My voice is full, its tone is textured. None of these things define who I am on the inside.

When it hit the press that several of the cast members of Big Brother 15 had made bigoted and insensitive remarks, the story seemed to blow up overnight. It seemed that for a while, people were on “Racial Slur Watch”, waiting for the next bigoted remark to fly out of someone’s mouth. Most of the earlier offenses have been featured in this YouTube video. Fans of Big Brother flocked to social media to voice their outrage and many wanted the show to remove the most prominent offenders from the household altogether. Even Big Brother hostess, and co-host of The Talk, made a statement about how the racial slurs, made by Aaryn Gries and Gina Marie Zimmerman, made her feel as an Asian-American woman.

For a while, there was fear that Big Brother would cover up the bigotry altogether, but it seemed that they came to somewhat of a compromise. They would pick one house guest to feature as “The Racist” on the nationally televised shows. That person was Aaryn Gries.

While many were thrilled that they did not try to sweep the bigotry entirely under the rug, it doesn’t seem fair to exclude the comments of Gina Marie (who just this week called Candice Stewart an “oreo cookie” and mocked her attempts to come to grips with who she is as a biracial person), Spencer Clawson (who has made more homophobic, misogynistic and grossly perverted comments than I can count ), and Amanda Zuckerman (who engaged in discussion of a brutal and graphic rape fantasy involving fellow cast member Jessie Kowalski and has accused Howard of playing the race card because he dared to voice his displeasure with Aaryn’s comments). SIDE NOTE: In the aforementioned fantasy, Jessie would be gang raped and brutally murdered by a slit to her throat. Spencer’s contribution to the fantasy was that they would use Jessie’s blood and tears for lubrication. In short, these people are nasty human beings and it is very difficult to root for them, but it has become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to even tolerate watching them at all. 

In the game of Big Brother, each individual is expected to play the game to the best of their ability. Being a lying, conniving, manipulative snake is almost required if you expect to make it through each week, and definitely required if you want to win. These are things about the game that all fans have come to love and anticipate. These are things that the majority of viewers look forward to every summer… But, this summer, it’s different.

Flipped Mattress-Gate:

I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to witness Howard comfort Candice after her “blackness” was mocked and her mattress was flipped. I cried with Candice, who desperately wanted to stand up to her bullies, and demand respect from them that she was and is never going to get. After Howard calmed Candice down, and she left the room, I cried again as I witnessed him struggle to get a hold of his own emotions.  The powerlessness he felt in that moment was overwhelming for me, so I know that it was at least doubly so for him. And, once again, later that night, I cried as I watched Howard and Candice make a pallet on the cold floor of the Have Not room as if it was 1955 and Rosa Parks had yet to Refuse to Move.  Even now, I cry as I recount the events of that evening. But here is the thing that people do not understand. The anger, the sorrow, the frustration, the tears are not because some 22-year-old sheltered, naive and ignorant little girl from Texas flipped a black girl’s mattress. It’s not even because she has  shown complete disdain and a total lack of respect towards, not only Candice and black people, but minorities and gay people across the world. My anger, my sorrow, my tears, MY FRUSTRATION is for the society that created her in the first place.

As minorities in the United States of America, we are tasked with the unique burden of carrying the weight of the entirety of our races on our shoulders – but, only the negative aspects. We do not get to be judged, first, on our own individual merits. Black women like me, like Candice, are all judged by the “Shaniquas” of the world. The BLACK “welfare queen” with five kids and four “baby daddies.” We are regarded as promiscuous sloths (or a “bitch sloth” as Judd Daugherty called Candice recently) and leeches on a society that we don’t serve a significant purpose in.  When faced with one who does not meet these stereotypes, the lesson is not that perhaps their outlook on life is limited or too narrow. The lesson is, either, “She is just one of the ‘good ones,'” or “She is fake.” It can’t be that they are just wrong about Candice’s character. It is obvious that she is trying to “talk like a white girl” intentionally, and that she is only pretending to be nice, right?

This burden.

For the last decade, plus, I have felt that I have served my purpose by being an example of what it means to be a black woman who is just a woman. You are more likely to find me listening to rock than R & B music. I have a range of interests from reality shows like Big Brother to Scandal and Masterpiece Theater. I am not Shaniqua with a lot of babies, living in section 8 housing. I am not on welfare, I do not receive food assistance.  I am just me, a woman who wants security and happiness in my future. I am just me, a woman who happens to have dark brown skin. I am just me.

My desire to be known as just me, a single and childless 34-year-old woman from the suburbs of Atlanta, isn’t mine alone. I know it may be presumptuous to state this, because I am certainly not the mouthpiece for all minorities, but I am fairly certain that the majority of minorities would love to partake in the experience of being judged as an individual.

Big Brother Elimination Show 07/26/2013:

Tonight, after Aaryn survived being eliminated for the second week in a row and, in fact, went on to win Head of Household, it suddenly dawned on me why I continued watching Big Brother, even after the producers opted not to remove the offenders. A part of me, probably all of me really, had been rooting and hoping for this tiny, insignificant victory because the issues that truly matter feel so insurmountable. I had been holding on to this notion that, AT LEAST, in a world that is not so real, good people can still get ahead of those who are not so good. No, minorities never do well in games like Big Brother where they have to rely on a majority cast of white people to support them, but I have grown to accept that. This is just a reality TV show, after all. It’s not real life. But… this season, it has been all too real.

In the end, the sad fact is that our society has been trained to disregard the plight of minorities. Technically, we are now given the same rights as white people, so people think that the work is done. It’s not. Underlying bigotry and discrimination continues to play a major role in the lives of minorities, everyday. Phrases like “playing the race card,” “chip on your shoulder,” and even “white guilt,” (which is really just a PC way of calling a white person a “nigger lover”) are frequently thrown out for the sole purpose of diminishing the concern of those who dare mention legitimate claims of bigotry.

Our society has also been trained to accept its prejudices towards minorities. Although 8 to 9 out of 10 times a white person is victimized, it is at the hands of another white person, it’s okay to fear all minorities because this provides an illusion of safety which seems to be more important than actual safety. 

Profiling black people because some black people do bad things, it’s okay.

Profiling all Muslims because some Muslims have done bad things, it’s okay.

Profiling all Hispanics because some Hispanics have done bad things, it’s okay.

Profiling all white people because some white people have done bad things, it’s not okay.

(It’s important to note that I am not suggesting that we start to profile white people for crimes they have yet to commit, just that minorities shouldn’t be neither.)

There will never be a time where all white CEOs, bankers, and other white collar professionals are placed under additional scrutiny because the vast majority of white collar fraud is committed by white men. There will never be a time where white men will have to worry about stop and frisk. There will never be a time where all white males between the ages of 14 to 55 are placed under additional scrutiny because they are most likely to go on a mass shooting spree or be a serial killer. This is what “white privilege” means.

White privilege is not having to answer for anyone but yourself.

White privilege is enjoying the benefit of the doubt.

White privilege means not having to justify your emotions when you are genuinely offended by someone.

White privilege is being able to sit around with other white people and say that people are too sensitive to racial slurs, as Jessie said last night when the white house guests were joking around about different offensive things that had been said.

White privilege is thinking that being called a dumb blonde is analogous to the racism minorities face.

Tonight, I called and canceled my Big Brother live feed account. While I know that the bigots in the house are products of their environment, and our society, the emotional toll derived from watching this show now officially outweighs its entertainment value. 

P.S. – Big Brother Edits:

OK, I know that things such as a “rape fantasy” could never be broadcast on national TV, but let’s not forget that Amanda was just featured as the “victim” of mean comments made by Elissa about Amanda’s risque”birthday gift” to McCrae. In jest or not, it was disturbing and it’s not the only time Amanda has mentioned using a knife on one of the cast members. She did so again, recently, the night she called Candice fat and ugly. Elissa’s comments were not nearly as harsh as that “fantasy,” but she did say it so that Amanda could hear it.  If the belief is that it is okay to talk about people behind their backs, we cannot forget that these comments are out there for the world to see and everyone will eventually see what was said about them while they were in the house. The point is,  if you are not going to air the horrible and cruel things that Amanda has said about other cast members, don’t REWARD her with television edits that make her look like a decent human being worthy of empathy that she herself does not seem to possess for others. That’s all.

CATHARSIS. 

I feel better now.

May 24, 2013

Jodi Arias Trial – Verdicts

I haven’t blogged, or even written an article, about this case in weeks. I started a new job and didn’t want to spend my free time writing about a case that I was already spending so much time in following in the news during my spare time. I DO want to blog about my feelings about the outcome, though, if for no other reason than to have a record of how I felt when I read this two years from now. 😀

So here goes!

First of all, I am pleased as punch that the jury was able to reach the verdict of GUILTY on the count of premeditated, First Degree Murder! In my opinion, that was the most important decision that they reached. I know that this had to have been a great relief to the Alexander family and I do hope that, in the long run, this verdict will help in giving them something that at least resembles closure. It was the right, JUST decision!

Now, to the tough part – The jury hangs during the penalty phase.

Honestly, I knew that when the jury came back and stated that they were unable to reach an unanimous decision after only a few hours into deliberation, that they were not going to be able to render a verdict. I held out some hope that they would ultimately reach a verdict, if for no other reason than to bring an end to this saga for the family, but sadly that didn’t happen.

I know that many out there are incensed with the jury, but remember – this is the same jury that DID find her guilty of FDM. They all believe that what she did was especially cruel. They just did not all agree that she should be put to death. Call me some kind of idealist, but I like to think that this is what helps separate us from monsters like Arias. It SHOULD be difficult to decide to kill someone – whether it is a legal form of killing or not. With that said, if there is anyone who deserves to go to Death Row for their crime – IT IS JODI ARIAS! 

Obviously, some members of the jury did buy the idea that Arias had mitigating factors that negated the punishment of death. Was it also the eighteen days on the stand? Well, one ex-juror as well as the jury foreman said that it didn’t help her. They felt that it hurt her because the longer she was up there, the more caught up she got in her lies. Personally, I think that her being on the stand could have had a subconscious effect on them. Unless she had gotten on the  stand and behaved like a raging bitch from the time she got up there to the time she got off, it would be hard for them to completely loathe her.

I know, I know, the vast majority of the public thinks – “Just look at what she did to Travis! It doesn’t matter how she behaved on the stand!” I understand that point of view, truly, I do. But… Jodi Arias PUT ON AN ACT the ENTIRE time she was in front of the jury. She pulled a Casey Anthony. When the jury was in the room, it was all weepy eyes, meek looks, lowering her chair to look smaller than “Wilma,” stalking them with doe eyes, wearing her hair like she is 12 instead of 32, covering her face and crying anytime she caught glimpse of Travis’s slaughtered corpse, so on and so forth. She was always “on” in front of the jury.  I will also say that I  can imagine that it is quite different, from the jury box, when the defendant is sitting right in front of you (or standing before you trembling as they “plead for their life”). What we, at home, know is an act may have been seen as genuine emotion by the jury. So, I can imagine that it is harder to see her as a beast under those conditions, even knowing what she did to Travis.

The foreman said that he believes that Travis was verbally and mentally abusive to Arias. Well, that’s just disappointing… Upsetting, really. Still, we have to remember that if the jury truly adhered to the admonitions set forth by the judge, then there is no way for them to really grasp the context of those text messages and emails, or even the infamous phone sex recording. They weren’t privy to the information given by Travis’s friends and family in the way that the public was. They weren’t given possible scenarios of why Travis would comment about Arias sounding like a twelve-year-old girl having her first orgasm, or wanting to tie her to a tree in the forest.  Fact is, it made him sexually depraved. Especially to older people who may not be as open to the thought of wild forest sex. I mean, do you think they read Twilight or watch True Blood? If anything, that sex tape probably should have never been allowed in, but that’s another story altogether.

So, yes, when we as the public hear the things that Travis said to Arias, it comes across differently because we have more background and can better give it context. In the end, if we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that if we heard the things that Travis said to her without having the opportunity that we have had to get to who he was, through his friends and family, we would have a negative visceral reaction to it as well. Personally, I still have a very negative reaction to the things that he said during that phone sex call. But this just brings me back to my blog post about Travis not having to be a perfect victim. The fact that he wasn’t perfect doesn’t mean that that should have any effect on the punishment that his killer receives.

The last two paragraphs is probably highlights one of my biggest problems with this trial. The defense was able to somewhat control the character that Arias presented in a way that the state was not able to do for Travis. The state wasn’t able to really parade about the good qualities of Alexander, but the defense was able to slander his character. There was no expert to get on the stand to explain why Travis said the things he said in the phone sex tape or diminish its effects. There wasn’t enough to counteract the defense’s character assassination and that character assassination may be the very thing that keeps Arias from death row. For me, it was beyond frustrating that the jury didn’t really get to hear about the good things Travis did in life. The Victim Impact Statements did that to a degree, but by that time it was probably too late to sway someone who already held the belief that Alexander was verbally abusive. At the time of the VIS, I actually wondered if they should have had more people speak. I am not sure what the procedure is, if the family thought that just having two representatives would be suitable, or what. I do wish some of his friends could have gotten up there and really drill home the person that they knew. As they say, hindsight… etc…

Finally, we also have to consider that the jurors who voted for life may have been considering Arias’s family. Maybe seeing her point them out and say that she wanted to live for them made it harder for them to sentence her to death. Maybe they felt as if they would just be adding another layer of pain to an already painful situation. These are things that we won’t know until more of the jurors decide to speak out for themselves. The foreman did say that some felt that the death penalty should be reserved for the likes of serial killers and it was an unfair decision for 12 average citizens. Really??? WHAT? (OK, I just read about that comment from the foreman. I am going to move on before I turn into one of those juror-bashers on the Twitter or Websleuths.com lol – honestly, this is probably something they should have considered before they said that they would be capable of rendering a verdict of death. But, anyway….)

In the end, I know that this was not the outcome that the Alexander family was hoping for and that is what is most heart wrenching.  Listening to Steven Alexander speak of his accounts of TRUE PTSD, broke my heart. Out of all of the Alexanders, I probably worry about him the most. This murder has destroyed his life. Seeing the family react, the grief on their faces, the DISBELIEF and SHOCK, that is what was most difficult. How I feel about Arias and what she did, what I feel about the jury and their decisions, PALES in comparison to what this case means for Travis’s family.

Too many spectators have turned this into a personal vendetta. It is more about their own personal blood lust than any calls for true justice. They make ALL Trial Watchers come across as unhinged, bloodthirsty and irrational and it’s frustrating. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I follow the trial because I don’t want to be lumped in with them. There is a line that many are crossing and they are the people that make even ME think that it is probably best for trials not to be televised. I’m not saying keep the media out, but they definitely make it extremely difficult to make the case for cameras in the courtroom.

GET IT TOGETHER PEOPLE! You may THINK you are simply being strong advocates for the family, but you have completely lost perspective and your grasp on reality. It’s verging on unstable! Do you want to be the Jodi Arias in your loved ones’ lives? (OK, I hope that helped to snap you out of it. lmao)

Well, I guess that about covers it. I probably could write another 1600 words about this, but I will just leave it here. Word is that the family wants the penalty phase to be retried, and I guess for them they have already invested five years into this ordeal, another few months won’t break. They’ve been a strong and resilient clan and, no matter what the outcome, I wish for them to be able to get through this together. I want them to be able to have get togethers without feeling the hurt and the pain of Travis’s absence. I hope that they are able to put enough time and distance between the images that that monster left for them of Travis that they are able to begin to replace them with images of him in life. I am not a very religious person, but I am willing to say that I pray for this family to get through this and to one day be able to laugh and smile without guilt and learn to love life again. It is what Travis would want.

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April 20, 2013

Giving Jodi Arias the Benefit of the Doubt

stalkerjodi2

All geeks know that there is one question that we should always have an answer to, no matter who is asking, when they’re asking, or how they choose to ask it. That question?

If you had ONE power, what would it be?

My answer is lame in that it is boring and somewhat predictable, but I give it every time – the Power of INVISIBILITY. Oh, the things I would do with that power! (My fantasy is to sneak into the members of congress abodes wearing a sheer white sheet, with holes cut into them for eyes, and playing Ghost of Christmas Past/Present/Future until I scare them into working together for once.) Sure, the ability to control the elements and rain down hellfire upon all who oppose me (or cut me off in traffic) would be WAY cool in theory… but, then, who is stuck with the cleaning bill? Now, if I could be invisible while raining downeth the helleth-fire, I would be unstoppable; and, I wouldn’t care so much about the cleaning bill.

The reason I bring this up is because, as usual these days, I have had the Jodi Arias trial on my mind. I appreciate the Devil’s Advocate every now and then and I just wanted to ponder what it would take for me to actually buy into The Jodi Arias Defense. What would it take for me to say, “I believe her,” I wondered. After thinking about the facts of the case, it dawned on me what power Jodi Arias would likely choose if the Fairy Goddess of All Magical Powers appeared to her one night in her cold, dank jail cell (I like to think of it as a dungeon, really) and asked her the one question that every geek (and millions of others) would just die to hear, “If I could grant you just one power, what would it be?”

Jodi’s Answer: Mind Control.

While Mind Control can be defined in different ways, depending on the creative mind that backs it, it is basically what the title suggests: the power to force another being to do something by thought or command involuntarily. THIS is the super power Jodi Arias needs in order to convince me (and many others) that the way that she claims the events of June 04, 2008 unfolded actually happened.

If you are new to the case, Jodi Arias killed her on again/off again boyfriend, Travis Alexander, and is now standing trial for his murder. Arias claims that she killed Alexander in self defense after months of physical and psychological abuse. She says she has Battered Women’s Syndrome and PTSD. The prosecution contends that she premeditated his murder and killed him in a jealous rage. Arias faces the death penalty.

To give Arias the benefit of the doubt is to engage in such a rigorous form of “suspension of disbelief” that you, yourself, may lose control of your own mind and end up in the loony bin, complete with drool on your chin and a lovely, starch-white straight jacket to aid in giving yourself long, warm hugs. (Cozy!)

Here is what we must believe in order to give Jodi Arias the benefit of the doubt in this case:

  1. It really was just a coincidence that a gun of the same caliber, used in the murder, was “stolen” from her home mere days prior to killing Alexander. (Investigator says robbery looked staged.)
  2. It really did take 5 hours to get her nails did. (And, she didn’t get her hair dyed from Blonde to Brunette on the way to Arizona)
  3. That guy at the rent-a-car place is just colorblind and couldn’t tell the difference between blonde and brunette when he said that she was blonde when she picked up the car.
  4. The real reason she didn’t want that red rent-a-car is because she didn’t want to get a ticket. You know, because somehow, a red car controls how fast you drive.
  5. She simply forgot that the whole purpose of borrowing/buying gas cans was so she could get cheaper gas out of the state of California. That’s why she filled up the cans in California. Duh!
  6. Although she bought a gas can from Wal-Mart and paid for it with her credit card, she actually took that gas can back and received a cash refund for it.
  7. It’s just an oversight that Wal-Mart has no records of anyone returning a gas can that day.
  8.  A roving band of license plate flippers, on skateboards, flipped her license plate.
  9. Travis begged her to come see him after he called her an evil sociopath and told her that she was the worst thing that ever happened to him.
  10. She lost her charger and her phone went dead just before she entered AZ.
  11. Using her credit card everywhere else but AZ doesn’t look suspicious.
  12. Travis cut rope in the bathroom instead of measuring it to fit the bed in the bedroom.
  13. Travis’s bed was good for tying someone to it, even though it was a SLEIGH bed.
  14. Although she had destroyed his BMW, and he suspected her of slashing his tires twice, dropping Travis’s camera pissed him off enough to want to kill her. (I mean, OBVIOUSLY the camera still worked – oops.)
  15. She was so slick with her ninja-like moves that she ran into the closet, passed a bench, climbed flimsy shelves and grabbed a gun, in a MANIC dash to save her life, and not one thing was shoved, pulled, or kicked out of its place.
  16. Doing number 15 was actually easier than running down the stairs and out of the house.
  17. Doing number 15 made sense, even though she had no clue if the gun was loaded.
  18. She took Travis on 1 vs. 1, with no element of surprise, and only walked away with small cuts on her fingers.
  19. She shot Travis first, although the Medical Examiner said that he could not have been shot first due to the bullet in his brain being debilitating.
  20. She doesn’t remember anything about the stabbing, even 5 years later.
  21. It’s possible to remember how you “felt” during an act even if you have no clue what happened during the commission of said act.
  22. She, coincidentally, “came to” right before hitting a known checkpoint and saw her hands covered in blood and she was barefoot.
  23. She “must have” stopped in AZ to get gas and paid cash.
  24. No one wondered why a women covered in blood was walking around barefoot when she paid for the gas.
  25. It’s reasonable to “just know” you killed someone when the last thing you remember is that they were alive – but, still, you don’t remember killing them.
  26. She magically found her phone charger under her car seat after leaving AZ.
  27. All of those transactions in Utah that look like it was for gas, weren’t actually for gas.
  28. She only lied about not being there because she was scared.
  29. She only lied about the ninjas doing it because she was scared.
  30. Although the ideas of being put to death and/or spending the rest of your life in prison are scary ones, she’s not lying anymore.
  31. “Defending” herself from Travis gave her PTSD.
  32. It is normal for someone with PTSD to willingly be around things that remind them of the trauma; and behave normally – Talking to mutual friends, going to the house the “trauma” took place, asking repeatedly to see the crime scene photos, etc.
  33. Hiding behind and sleeping under your ex’s Christmas tree is normal.
  34. Repeatedly showing up uninvited to your ex’s house is normal.
  35. Peeping through your ex’s windows is normal.
  36. Hiding in your ex’s closet is normal.
  37. Climbing through your ex’s doggy door to gain access to their house is normal.
  38. Sleeping on your ex’s couch when they don’t even know you are there, and didn’t invite you over, is normal.
  39. 33-38 is just “normal stalking” and signs that someone is simply not ready for the relationship to end.
  40.  It’s not really stalking unless someone files for a restraining order.
  41. It’s normal, NOT jealousy, to drive hours to confront an ex-boyfriend’s new potential love interest.
  42. Travis was stuck in a 1970’s time warp and had to get his child porn in print form.
  43. Everything she said she didn’t like about sex with Travis is true.
  44. Having low self-esteem means pre-signing a manifesto in case you are famous for committing murder one day and thinking you’re Einstein-genius and that your art is good enough to hang next to Picasso’s and Van Gogh’s.
  45. A bunch of other stuff that I am surely forgetting.

UPDATED 04/24/2013

46. Your boyfriend wrapping his arms around you, holding you close in front of friends while he tells a story, is not a public display of affection.

47. That lady from Tesoro doesn’t know how to read  her own company’s gas receipts.

48. Deanna Reid really was “the crazy one.”

49. It’s possible to selectively delete incriminating photos (ONLY) in a trauma-induced fog.

50. Darryl Brewer was hallucinating and only thinks that Jodi told him she needed the gas cans because she was taking a trip to Arizona, TWO DAYS PRIOR to going to Mesa.

Yup. Jodi Arias had better hope that magic is real because that may be her only hope. But… of course, all the state would have to do is provide the jurors with mind control protection helmets and all of her granted powers would be for naught! (muwaha.)

The Jodi Arias trial is on hiatus until Tuesday April 23, 2013. The state will continue its rebuttal case at 9:30am MST.

April 18, 2013

Exclusive Photo of Jodi Arias Hides Behind Xmas Tree!

Jodi Arias Lurks Behind Xmas Tree

Jodi Arias Lurks Behind Xmas Tree

This is immature, but I don’t care. hahahah

April 18, 2013

We Call This Normal Stalking

stalkerjodi2

This is immature, but I don’t care. hahahah

April 17, 2013

Jodi Arias Trial: Battle of the Experts

Juan Martinez called Dr. Janeen DeMarte to the stand to rebut the testimony of both Dr. Richard Samuels and Alyce LaViolette. In a relatively quick direct examination, Juan Martinez went over Dr. DeMarte’s qualifications as a psychologist as well as herexperience with domestic violence. Dr. DeMarte studied at Michigan State University, where she graduated in 2009. She also fulfilled an APA approved doctoral residency at Arizona State Hospital and is a licensed clinical psychologist. She currently operates a private practice in Phoenix, AZ.

Dr. DeMarte testimony hit on several areas including why she does not believe that Arias suffers from PTSD, giving direct examples that flew in the face of a true diagnosis, such as Arias attending Alexander’s memorial service, hanging out with mutual friends, sending his grandmother irises, and other actions that would require Arias to think of Alexander and the “trauma” associated with the killing. She also spoke of Arias’s immaturity, referencing her mug shot where she “smiled as though it were a high school photo” versus a booking photo of someone being charged with murder. Calling this behavior strange, Dr. DeMarte stated that Arias’s parents described her as “happy as hell” after visiting her. This behavior made Dr. DeMarte wonder if there was an intellectual deficit present, leading to Arias’s IQ test. (Arias scored 119.) Ultimately, based upon test results and other behaviors present, Dr. DeMarte diagnosed Jodi Arias with Borderline Personality Disorder.

 Click here to continue reading.