REMINDER: Black in Latin America airs Tuesdays April 19, TONIGHT APRIL 26 and May 3, 10, 2011 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings), and examines how Africa and Europe came together to create the rich cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean. Tonight’s episode is focused on CUBA.
I can’t say that I’ve been following all the goings and comings, arrests and releases, party ups and party downs of actress Lindsay Lohan. However, I have been intrigued by how this chick is always able to seemingly beat our legal system and what I call “fail up.”
I think part of luck is because she has an incredible attorney working on her behalf. I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with Shawn Chapman Holley, attorney to the stars. In that one encounter, I found her to be an incredibly down-to-earth, strong, intelligent woman who has an amazing career thus far. What I’m most impressed by is that she trained under Johnny Cochran, the original litigator to the stars. Working under Mr. Cochran, she learned how to be a fighter for the underdog. Unfortunately, I don’t see Lindsay in that way.
She was briefly jailed on Friday after the judge downgraded the charges from her allegedly stealing a $2,500 gold necklace from a store in January. Originally, she was supposed to do four months in jail and 480 hours community service in a morgue and women’s prison for violating her probation. Instead, she did all of five hours after Chapman Holley and her legal team of Lohan supporters posted $75,000 bail pending an appeal hearing.
Lindsay is like the woman you hate at work. You know the type who always comes in late, never gets her work done on time, doesn’t contribute to the team, takes two hour lunches, comes to work hung over and yet gets promoted over you anyway because she has the gift of gab and can reel off irrelevant information at the drop of a dime.
Lately I’ve read about a number of cases about Black women who have been arrested or convicted for crimes that don’t seem to warrant the punishment. The one that stays with me is the Chicago mother of two who as sent to jail for nine days because she used her father’s address to send her children to a better public school district. The judge in her case said, “I want to make an example out of you.” And that she did.
Too bad no one wants to make an example out of Lindsay. It is my belief that if Lindsay were an African-American woman, she would be sitting in a jail cell right now, finishing out her four month sentence. But the Paris Hiltons, Nicole Ritchies, and Lindsay Lohans of the world continue to “fail up” and our justice system allows them to do it. At only 24 years old, this girl has been in and out of rehab, jail and courtrooms multiple times since 2007. One would think that her career would be over. But just today, it was announced that she’ll be a guest this evening on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The only thing she has to promote is a possible appearance in a new movie about famed mob head John Gotti. But who cares about that? I hope Jay asks what’s her secret? How is it that after being convicted of drunk driving, drug use and not theft, she is still living a cushy life at home? Enquiring minds want to know.
The best thing for Lindsay is to get a reality check and realize just how lucky she has it. Being Lindsay Lohan, you can easily fail up but being Laquesha Lomax, you’d be sharing your cell with a woman named Bertha. It’s time to grow up, get help, and get your life on track Lindsay. If not, well at the very least, you’re keeping Shawn luxuriating in a life to which I know she has become accustomed.
Why Domestic Violence Registration Is a No Brainer
A few weeks ago, a 23-year old woman said her last words to her boyfriend. You see Sarah Coita was yet another woman killed by the hands of a man who professed to love her. Her boyfriend Raul Barrera confessed to stabbing her so many times that her skull was caved in and her internal organs were exposed, prompting New York state officials to petition the Senate to sanction a Domestic Violence Registration Act. Just like sex offenders have to registry with a database, New York State may pass a bill that will make anyone (man or woman) who has a felony DV conviction register their address, workplace, as well as any property they own.
There’s no surprise that I’m all for this, if not to protect the women who are victims of domestic violence but more so to protect the women who could become potential victims. Barrera is said to have had a long history of violence against past girlfriends. Just think if a single woman could put the guy she just met on the train or at work’s name into this database for at least a little extra insurance. Granted you have to be convicted of DV to be in the registry and there are too many women out there who never press charges against their attackers to get to that point, but this is at least a step in the right direction to using the law to protect women instead of continuing to use it to protect men who incite violence against women.
Once again I say, we will not put a dent into ending domestic violence and other forms of violence against women until men start standing up to other men for this fight. NY state senator Eric Adams is fighting to get this bill passed into a law, but it needs major funding. Here’s hoping that the MEN and women of NY State will see fit to put some money to this cause to protect their sisters, mothers, and daughters from future attacks.
Sick in bed and suffering from severe back pain, I was still extremely excited to watch television last night. No, I’m not talking about Glee or Dancing with the Stars. I couldn’t wait to watch Black in Latin America, the third of a trilogy of programs hosted by Professor Henry Louis Gates. The premiere episode focused on the island of Hispaniola, a place I have always found intriguing. The dichotomy between the fruitful promise land of the Dominican Republic (DR) sided against the once powerful now deflated parcel that is known as Haiti.
The program started with something I have always questioned. Why do Dominicans hate their blackness? I remember my mom working with a woman who was clearly a dark skinned, black woman. But when my mother (who is actually just a pinch darker than me) said to her one day that she is black, she sternly replied, “I am not black, I am Dominican.” Until watching Professor Gates explain the history of brainwashing the people of the D.R. have received as a result of their Spanish colonial fathers. It is a presence and unfortunate prejudice that remains until this day.
To understand the prejudice, one must first understand the history. More than 11 million Africans were brought to Latin America and the Caribbean during the 18th century, 25 times more than those brought to the United States. Dominican Republic is the only island in the Caribbean that doesn’t have indigenous people. So in other words, there were no “Indians” already settled there when Columbus’ older brother discovered Hispaniola. The inhabitants were Spaniards and African slaves brought over to work sugar plantations. For whatever reason, sugar plantations didn’t take off like it did on other Caribbean islands. So the Spaniards tried cattle ranching. In between this time, Haiti was going through their own state of insurrection. When Haiti proclaimed independence in 1804 and thus the first free black republic in the world, it actually also overtook part of Santo Domingo. Haiti’s government imposed taxes on the Catholic Church—a move that did not sit well with the Dominicans. That was just the beginning of hundreds of years of resentment where Dominicans feel superior to their Black Haitian neighbors and aren’t afraid to say so. For years to come Dominicans would pride themselves as a import of Spain, forgetting their own very deeply entranced African roots.
It all sort of makes sense now. Many Dominicans have simply been brainwashed to believe they’re not black. Being black is to be a poor, dirty, uneducated slave. The message came from the very top of their government with a prime minister who had Haitian ancestry but proudly wore women’s makeup to make himself more Anglo. It’s almost like a child who has been led to believe that the sky is green. We all know it’s not, but if you’ve been told that for centuries, your mindset isn’t going to change overnight, nor will it change when someone says you’re black and you indignantly refuse to acknowledge it.
Having visited DR some years ago, I remember seeing the same colorism that exists in many Caribbean countries. The darker set people tend to have the more laborious, menial jobs while the lighter skinned people are those who have positions of importance. In 2011, it’s really time to let that stupidity go. Black is black and there really isn’t a whole lot in between. Sorry I’m not one who believes in multi-ethnicity or bi-racial anything when African blood is involved. If you’re mother is Black, you’re Black. If you’re dad is Black, you’re Black. Not half, not bi—just Black. I’m a really pragmatic person so in my mind, it comes to down to the science of it. Genetically speaking, Black genes are just prominent than anything else. Sorry if that disqualifies the other half, but it is how I feel.
My hope is one day to live in a world where black is truly beautiful. I wish that more people would embrace the endearing, rich, emphatic history of Africa instead of being ashamed of it. I do have hope that the pockets of Dominicans who flaunt their African ancestry today and perhaps the younger set who don’t see anything wrong with it will teach their children not to be ashamed of their dark skin and to be proud of their true heritage. After all, how you can you learn to love others, if you cannot learn to love yourself.
Leave it to the men of Anchorage, Alaska to come up with the most unique way ever to stand up for women’s rights by literally walking in our shoes. A few dozen men participated in the fourth annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event at the University of Alaska Anchorage where they walked for miles in women’s high heels, according to the AP.
The head of Alaska State Troopers, Col. Keith Mallard pumped along the miile-long route in red suede peep-toe shoes all to raise money for a local nonprofit group that supports sexual assault victims. I commend these guys for having the gaul to walk in public in women’s shoes, but even more for standing together to fight violence against women. It’s not often we hear about men who take a stand in this way but their attention grabbing stunt is going to do more than make a great photo op. Hopefully they will spread the message to the sons, younger brothers, and other men in their lives that there’s nothing wrong with standing with women against other men who perpetuate violence against women. I hope making this kind of public statement will lead to other men in other states coming together in this way. Not necessarily wearing stilettos to get their point across, but these men in particular say that they walk for their sisters, mothers and daughters. They walk because they care about women and their not afraid to admit it.
Is There a Need for Another Black Television Network
Just when you thought that BET, Centric and TV-One were the only networks to feature television shows with African-American characters, here comes a new option to the mix. And yet to me the bigger surprise is in who’s responsible for the newly formulated Bounce TV. Martin Luther King III and Civil Rights icon Andrew Young are the men in charge of a 24-hour television network geared at African Americans ages 25-54 to launch this fall.
Some may be wondering why is there a need for another Black network. Well with the dearth of Black actors/actresses in mainstream shows on primetime, daytime or any other time, we seem to be back to a “for us by us” method of getting Blacks back on TV. While I’m excited about having a fourth choice in programming and seeing shows that respectfully reflect the Black experience, I’m not jumping up and down in celebration quite yet.
First, I’m relegated to using Optimum TV aka Cablevision aka the worst cable provider in New York City. I only get BET and when my friends are talking about the latest show they have seen on Centric or TV-One, I’m left feeling like I’m missing out. I feel like I’m back in high school when all my friends had cable and I didn’t because I lived in the Bronx, the last borough to be wired for it. All we had were the basic channels. So, I’m hoping Bounce TV finds its way to my neighborhood.
Secondly, why is this coming from MLK III and Andrew Young? I suppose you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth but is this going to be a 24-hour cycle of “Eyes on the Prize” and freedom marches from the Civil Rights days? Can two men over 50-years old figure out what 25-year olds want to watch? It’ll be great to see our classics like “Car Wash” and “The Wiz” but I can only take so much of that before we start seeing those movies repeating over and over again.
Also involved in the project are Rainforest Films co-founders Rob Hardy and Will Packer and ex-Sony Pictures Television Executive Jeffrey Wolf. It leaves me wondering where are the equally powerful women making programming decisions? Where are the women spearheading the promised original programming? It’s quite possible they’re around and it’s just as possible that they aren’t any.
I have high hopes for Bounce TV and wish it great success, but the bottom line is this—Bounce better bring it. I’ll probably still only have BET on my crappy cable provider and relegated to watching “Baby Boy” and “New Jack City” yet again.
Great entry. I too wonder what would have happened if they won instead of George Bush. How different would this country be today? I hope her passing is giving the same if not more attention and respect than the passing of Elizabeth Taylor because Geraldine Ferraro helped to inspire the future woman leaders of tomorrow.
Seriously? Has the level of “It’s all about me” gone to an all time low? I’ve seen the train wrecks on Bridezilla and the “It’s my wedding” tantrums and the “You have to do what I say because I’m the bride” arguments. But is it really necessary to leave the groom out since he is the other half of the impending marriage. I think it’s bad enough men get a bad wrap during the planning of the wedding, but don’t make it apparent that he’s less important on what is his special day too.
Any of my friends will tell you that I am a staunch believer in the equality of women. Sometimes that comes off as being for the inequality of men. But that’s not really the case. I’m just tired of reading stories every day about women who are abused, raped, or mistreated because of their gender.
Example #1: According to the NY Times, there have been a series of horrible sexual assaults and gang rapes near New Delhi. The victims are young, educated women whose major crime is deciding to work outside the home. Their assailants are young men from the surrounding villages who see the women as depraved and thus deserving of harassment or assault. In New Delhi, 80 percent of women reported verbal harassment, and almost a third had been physically harassed. Almost half the women reported being stalked.
Example #2: A Libyan woman has been trying to get her story told by the foreign media. She claims she was raped by pro-Gaddafi government forces. There is video that shows government officials trying to detain her, causing more believability in the notion that Gaddafi’s forces are silencing the people they have abused.
Example# 3: A few weeks ago the horrible story followed the aftermath of 18 young men and teenage boys arrested in Cleveland, Texas, for gang-raping an 11-year-old girl last November. The police learned about the assault last November, when one of the girl’s elementary-school classmates told her teacher that she had seen a cellphone video of the attack. In fact several of the attackers documented the event on their phones.
So no I’m not about man bashing but good Lord you men give us a lot of fodder if that was my choice. What you think is man bashing is me putting a public eye on your faults and misdeeds. You want the light to stop shining, then do something about the behavior. The only way the violence that men pervade upon women will stop is if OTHER men start talking to one another about it. Tell your brothers, cousins, uncles, nephews and best friends that violence against women should not be tolerated under any circumstances. Stand up for women’s rights. Convince your “brothers” that their behavior won’t be tolerated. If he tells you he slapped up his wife or girlfriend to keep her in line, call the cops on him! Don’t tolerate bad behavior because of some stupid man code. That woman could be your sister, your mother, your niece or even worse, one day your daughter.
So for those of you who think I man bash, stop thinking about me and start thinking about the dude next to you who should and could be doing better with your help.
I’ve heard of Bridezillas but this one takes the cake…literally.
Chidi Ogbuta, 35, decided to renew her wedding vows after 10 years of marriage. To commemorate the event she ordered a 5-foot replica of herself wearing her strapless, bejeweled wedding dress. So yes, guests are able to take a bite out of the bride.
While the renewal ceremony took place in Dallas, I’m guessing by the name “Chidi Ogbuta” she’s African. The African and Indian ceremonies I’ve heard about (since I’ve never been invited to any) tend to be very elaborate in nature. But I have to admit I’m totally creeped out by this. First, the likeness is really uncanny. Second, I don’t like food that stares back at me. Third, who does this?
Apparently Chidi does. A mother of four, she says growing up she always wanted a doll made in her likeness. Originally the plan was for two cakes, one of her and one of her husband, Innocent. But they ran out of time since it took a whole five weeks just to make her cake. Which bugs me even more. So you’re ok with serving stale cake at your wedding? And even more you’re ok with using 200 eggs for this thing that weighs a good 400lbs? With so many hungry people going to bed every night, there’s just something really wrong with this type of decadence in my book.
What do you guys think? Should a bride have anything she wants for her special day or is this just way over the top?
It’s about that time of the year when colleges and universities begin to confirm their graduation speaker lineup. Just last week, the White House announced that First Lady Michelle Obama would be speaking at Spelman College’s commencement service (amongst other schools.)
Rutgers University announced that they are inviting author and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison to deliver this year’s address on May 15. The price tag for someone of Morrison’s caliber and status: $30,000.
In a former life I used to work as a literary agent. Part of my job was to book authors to speak at various college campuses around the country. Back then (pre-9/11) money was flowing like the Nile River at colleges to pay for such things. I remember trying to book a guy who wrote a book about UFOs and aliens. I remember him because he truly believed in extraterrestrial beings and I thought, how am I going to sell this cook out to get any speaking engagements. You’d be surprised how many sci-fi clubs out there willing to pay top dollar.
Along with the E.T. author there were actually several credible clients who were seemingly experts in their fields but otherwise unknown. They charged anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 for speaking engagements. I always wondered, is paying someone like Toni Morrison $30,000 to speak for less than an hour justifiable? I mean she’s not playing any instruments, singing any songs, or telling any jokes. Not that that’s all we can do, but for that type of money, I’m expecting some kind of show or production. She’s being paid 30 grand to inspire kids as they head into the work force during one of the most depressing economic situations of our time.
Maybe I’m a little jaded. Maybe I’m a little jealous since I’ve accepted an invitation to speak at the commencement ceremony at a public school in the Bronx this June..for FREE. Baby steps I suppose, but nonetheless, I’d much rather see that $30,000 fee go to some deserving student who wasn’t able to attend Rutgers because her financial aid wasn’t as robust as she had hoped. I would rather that $30,000 go to providing better or additional dorm space or to research facilities so students can experience the practical application of the work they do in the classroom. Rutgers said they didn’t use any state funds or money from tuition to pay for Morrison, but that only means that they have an extra $30K laying around if not more.
As much as I revere and applaud Toni Morrison, I just don’t know if she’s worth $30,000 for an hour.
This morning I learned that Geraldine Ferraro passed away from blood cancer at the age of 75. It reminded me of the one time I met her when I was about 15-years old.
I went to an all-girls, Catholic high school located on the Lower East-side of New York City. It wasn’t often that we had special guests come to visit us. But I distinctly remember when former Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro came to visit us. Mainly because news of her son being addicted to drugs and subsequently arrested had become public just a few weeks before. It had been all over the news. The Sisters at my school warned us ahead of time NOT to ask her anything about her son, who by that time was in rehab.
I remember being so mad at my teachers. How dare they censure us. But if you’ve ever dealt with Catholic schools, you know they’re all about keeping a heavy thumb on their students. We were told what to do, when to do it and how to do it—reminiscent of military school.
Back then, I’d already known I wanted to be a journalist. I’d always been interested in telling other people’s stories and interviewing interesting and famous people. Although I have come to find in my career that interesting and famous don’t always go hand-in-hand, but I digress.
Ms. Ferraro came to our assembly and spoke to the students. Her speech was all about being an empowered woman of the (upcoming new decade) 90’s. When she opened the floor for questions, no one raised their hand. Back then, I wasn’t brave enough to go against the wrath of Sister Mary Dolan, our principle. But then it happened. Geraldine Ferraro said I bet some of you might have questions about my son. She brought up his battle with cocaine and spoke candidly about how tough it had been for her and her family seeing her son struggle with drug addiction. She followed her personal account with an anti-drug message, but I remember being so impressed by her frankness and openness.
She was iconic as the first woman to get the backing of a major US political party when she ran with Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale. I never realized how important that was when it happened, since I was only 9-years old. But I do remember seeing the two of them, hands in victory as they won the nomination. Geraldine Ferraro was what I call “a first.” There are many women who were first to do something but not many who I have actually met or have been able to encounter first hand. Upon her death, she will be remembered as a pioneer for women across this country and elsewhere. She was a spitfire who didn’t allow her gender to stop her from making a difference in a huge way. But she was also a clearly devoted wife (married for 50 years) and mother who clearly loved her children and wanted other children to do well. One can only imagine if she had become Vice President in 1984 instead of George Bush, where our country would be today.
I’m all too aware of her comments about our President today, saying the only reason why his campaign was successful is because he’s Black. But I rather people be transparent with their feelings about race than offer platitudes and fake niceties. In the end she was always genuine and unapologetic. She was true to herself, her family and her country. Before there was Hillary or Michelle, there was Geraldine.