Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

“There are still Laws to Change and Hearts to Open”

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Answering many critics’ call, with the stroke of a pen, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act became law. Essentially, President Obama’s signature expanded the hate crimes law to include that of sexual orientation or gender identity. Said President Obama of today’s events, “After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we’ve passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are.” Click here for complete details covered by the USA Today.

Eleven years ago, James Byrd, an African American from Texas was dragged to death, while later that same year Matthew Shepard, a gay teen from Wyoming was beaten to death. The President referenced the significant strides we have made in this country, yet “Despite the progress we’ve made, there are still laws to change and hearts to open. This fight continues now and I’m here with the simple message: I’m here with you in that fight.” Click here to read entire article from CNN.

Since taking office, President Obama has been criticized for not addressing the military’s don’t ask-don’t tell policy, yet today, those criticisms have been somewhat quelled. However, many opponents, namely US Representative Mike Pence of Indiana deem the expanded protections as a way for the President to use “his position as commander in chief to advance a radical social agenda, when he should have used it to advance legislation that would unequivocally support our troops.” The Shepard-Byrd Act was attached to a defense authorization bill, which the President “said the bill finally cuts wasteful weapons projects that some lawmakers have spent years trying to kill.” For further details, click here to go to FOXnews.


Tomorrow is It!

In Michael Jackson on October 27, 2009 at 10:22 am

The much anticipated film, “This is It,” the last images of Michael being Michael premiers Wednesday, October 28. In a CNN interview, Kenny Ortega, Michael Bearden, and Travis Payne stated that this film is an “honor project” and one that is dedicated to Michael’s devoted followers.

The Telegraph’s Anita Singh captures Elizabeth Taylor’s emotional reaction to the film. Of it, Taylor stated that “It is the single most brilliant piece of filmmaking I have ever seen. It cemented forever Michael’s genius in every aspect of creativity… To say the man is a genius is an understatement… I wept from pure joy at his God given gift. There will never, ever be the likes of him again.”

Answering the Call

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 at 1:54 am

When tragedy knocked on Myrlie Evers’ door, she looked it square in the eyes. She demonstrated a quiet strength, she showed us the meanings of character and integrity. Above all, she never succumbed to challenges, difficulties, or fear: she seemingly always answered the call.

On Tuesday, October 27, Evers-Williams will receive the National Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Like Coretta Scott-King, Evers-Williams assumed a prominent role in the Civil Rights Movement after her husband’s, Medgar Evers, untimely death. She went on to lead the NAACP, and according to Julian Bond, “a gracious lady with nerves of steel. She literally saved the NAACP when it was at one of its lowest ebbs.” Evers-Williams chaired the organization that was deeply in debt, and as she says “financially and morally corrupt.”

For more information on the National Civil Rights Museum and the Freedom Award, click here.

“…Just Please Don’t Reduce Us to Crime, Immigration, and Racial Politics…”

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2009 at 6:00 am

Those are CNN’s Soledad O’Brien’s words when describing the concerns of many Latinos about the much anticipated two-day series, Latino in America. The largest minority is fighting stereotypes, fighting to be recognized as more than undocumented persons, domestic servants, or gang members.

In a commentary, Reuben Navarrette, Jr. says “For those of us in the Latino community who worry that those of us in the media are missing the best and most nuanced stories about America’s largest minority because we’re too busy harping on stereotypes and accentuating the negative — ‘I’ll take an order of high school dropouts, with a side of gangbangers and mix in some gardeners and housekeepers’ — there was a concern that CNN would blow the assignment.”

Latino in America broke stereotypes, revealed struggles, disappointments, expectations, highs, and lows–all were on display. And for now, as Navarrette proclaims, “Meanwhile, with all the issues out there, some Americans still get stuck on the basics of whether they should call us ‘Latino’ or ‘Hispanic’ — or Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican.

Who cares? You can call us whatever you want. You just can’t ignore us.”

What do Renaissance Men Wear???

In The Black Man on October 20, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Morehouse College. History. Tradition. Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Maynard Jackson, and countless others have roamed the halls and grounds of this private, all-male, historically black institution. Recently, Morehouse has instituted a dress code policy in efforts to “get back to the legacy,” according to Dr. William Bynum the school’s Vice President of the Office of Student Services. He continued, “We expect our young men to be Renaissance men.” This policy was not only driven by the powers-that-be at Morehouse, but also by student leaders. Cameron Thomas-Shah, student government’s co-chief of staff, believes “the image of a strong black man needs to be upheld. And if anyone sees this policy as something that is restrictive then maybe Morehouse is not the place for you.”

Morehouse is not the only historically black college or university (HBCU) to institute a dress code. Hampton University has instituted one, which also encourages its graduate business students with locs or braids to cut their hair. Bennett College in North Carolina has adopted a comparable policy as Morehouse’s.

Included in the new dress code policy:

–no caps, do-rags and/or hoods in classrooms, the cafeteria, or other indoor venues

–no sun glasses worn in class or at formal programs

–no jeans at major programs, as well as no sagging pants on campus

–no clothing with derogatory or lewd messages either in words or pictures

–no wearing of clothing usually worn by women (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the Morehouse campus or at college-sponsored events.

Those found in violation will not be allowed to attend class until they abide by the new policy. However, repeat offenders could be subject to suspension.

The one restriction that has many students upset is the no wearing of women clothing. Co-president of Safe Space, a gay-straight student alliance, Daniel Edwards believes the policy unfairly targets gays. “Some believe that this restriction is what the entire policy is correlated around. It is all an issue of perception and what manner of image you want to prescribe to.”
Click here to read a CNN article regarding this restriction of the policy.

Dr. Bynum believes this policy “is necessary, this is needed according to the students. We know the challenges that young African-American men face. We know that how a student dresses has nothing to do with what is in their head, but first impressions mean everything.”

(Interviews courtesy of Mashaun D. Simon of the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Politics is Sport/Sport is Politics

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2009 at 6:00 pm

A dear friend of mine likes to tell me that I’m argumentative, that I debate everything, particularly when it comes to politics. My retort is that politics is in everything we do–there is no place in our lives that we are not touched by a political decision. Yet, that same friend likes to tell me that I’m biased, which is true, because “Kesha, you love that stuff.” Dr. Marty Wiseman, Executive Director of the Stennis Institute says that politics is a bloody sport, one in which he does not like to be involved in, but would love to have front row tickets to any great debate or fight. Politics as sport and sport as politics.

If we just turn to any cable news outlet, we could see the game at work–the great debate regarding President Obama’s healthcare plan, the stimulus plan, etc.–we all relish in the game, but do not want to be involved; it’s just too messy.

So when I watched a news clip of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressing his great displeasure with Rush Limbaugh’s view, I could confirm to my dear friend that politics is everywhere, even in entertainment–the place where we try to bury our daily frustrations, the place where we try to remove ourselves from politics. Commissioner Goodell was responding to a question about Rush Limbaugh’s potential of buying an NFL team, the St. Louis Rams. Many current NFL players came out to vehemently oppose the controversial figure’s ownership of a team, and though we have protected rights, namely life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, I don’t think that we should be in the business of saying who can and cannot purchase a franchise. I may not agree with Limbaugh and though I believe that Limbaugh cannot be excluded from purchasing a team because of his views; yet, the players (chief critics have been Mathias Kiwanuka of the New York Giants and Bart Scott of the New York Jets) have the power, and have so used it, to oppose the acquisition. Even on owner has come to reject the prospect of Limbaugh having majority ownership in a team, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay concluded that “I, myself, couldn’t even consider voting for him. When there are comments that have been made that are inappropriate, incendiary and insensitive … our words do damage, and it’s something that we don’t need.” As a result, Limbaugh was dropped by the bidders as one of the potential buyers. Limbaugh stated that this “is not about the NFL, it’s not about the St. Louis Rams, it’s not about me. This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative.”

Though I don’t think this is about left versus right, because I would venture to say that many owners are conservative and/or Republican. One NFL owner, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, was on record of supporting then candidate Barack Obama. No matter where you stand, what window, what worldview, what industry; we cannot escape sports–the entertainment or the political version.

Tapioca It Is!

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Last night the city of Memphis elected its second African American mayor in the city’s history. Former Shelby County mayor and the first African American to hold that position, A.C. Wharton, Jr., won in a landslide. After Willie Herenton, the city’s first African American mayor, decided to step aside for good, AC Wharton will complete the remainder of Herenton’s term, which expires in 2011. (Technically, Memphis has had three African American mayors–two of which were elected, Herenton and now Wharton. After Herenton resigned earlier this year, city councilman Myron Lowery assumed responsibilities).

Although Wharton received roughly 60 percent of the vote, only 25 percent of registered Memphians turned out in an election that often resembled a high school contest for homecoming court. Many names, many characters, and many citizens left uninspired. Memphis is struggling for its future, for its identity. The city is divided along racial, economic, and educational lines. Now, of Wharton’s challenges, perhaps the biggest one is trying to engage more than 25 percent of Memphians—how he goes about turning his campaign slogan, “One Memphis,” into political reality is instrumental to any improvement.

Wendi C. Thomas of The Commercial Appeal likened Wharton to tapioca. “You know, tapioca isn’t that bad. That’s a good thing, because with the results of Thursday’s election, tapioca is what we got in the new Memphis mayor. The bland and safe Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton sailed to a predictable victory in a race that included 24 other opponents…Perhaps he’ll be tapioca — easy on our spirits, but with a cherry on top—a welcome surprise of assertive, yet palatable, governing.”

After addressing the malaise that has gripped the city so tightly, reaching the other 75 percent, then Wharton must focus on the city’s and county’s consolidation effort. If there is anything we have learned about Memphis politics–that is to expect, well, let’s wait and see…

Hidden in Plain View

In Uncategorized on October 8, 2009 at 5:30 pm

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. I’m not sure how this makes me sound, but I did not know that until just recently. I’ve been involved in debates questioning why do we need a Black History Month, and now I can extend that question to, why do we need a National Hispanic Heritage Month? Highlighting the gifts and talents of all people should be an everyday lesson. But it is through Black History Month and National Hispanic Heritage Month that we pay closer attention to the contributions of those, who at one time or another, have been hidden in plain view.

On October 21 and 22, CNN will air “Latino in America.” A series comparable to the “Black in America” series that aired the previous two summers. This could not be timelier, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor recent nomination and confirmation to the US Supreme Court; it’s time to recognize those we have hidden for far too long.

United in Cure

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2009 at 1:09 am

Watching NFL games yesterday, one couldn’t help but notice players wearing pink cleats, gloves, and/or wristbands. You see the sidelines and coaches donned their respective team’s cap, but with a pink bill. October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month–the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month program (NBCAM) is celebrating 25 years of “fill[ing] the information void in public communication about breast cancer.” What initially began as a weeklong event of handing out brochures and other materials now has morphed into 1) a month-long recognition of our continued fight against breast cancer, and 2) a year-round campaign to combat the disease.

This disease does not discriminate; it has no respect of persons. Yet, African American women seem to disproportionately suffer from Triple-Negative breast cancer. Triple-Negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer, is rather new to the breast cancer diagnoses and literature. What is Triple-Negative breast cancer? As found on the Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Foundation website, breast cancer is no longer one type of cancer, but “subtypes of breast cancer…generally diagnosed based upon the presence, or lack of, three ‘receptors’ known to fuel most breast cancers: estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).” According to one study found that “Black women in the U.S. have an overall lower risk of developing breast cancer overall than their white peers, but their cancers are diagnosed at a higher stage, with a greater risk of recurrence and worse prognosis.” In this same study, African American women were three times as likely to be diagnosed with Triple-Negative breast cancer.

In the 25 years since the NBCAM, there are countless organizations, studies, researchers, doctors, and I can continue, devoted to eradicating this disease. The more we know, the likelihood of defeating the disease increases. Perhaps the best defense is a good offense–in this case, our offense is strategically centered on prevention.

Click here for additional reading on African Americans and breast cancer.

Finding Delonte

In Uncategorized on October 1, 2009 at 8:30 am

Sometimes asking for help may be one of the most difficult things a person can do. Sometimes asking for help will help save a person’s life; asking for help allows an individual to start anew. Sometimes asking for help, depending on where you sit on the matter, to many, shows signs of weakness. And it is the latter logic that poses significant obstacles for African Americans in seeking help for a mental disorder.

My mother has been a mental health therapist for about 15 years now, and a couple of times a year, we find ourselves discussing why so few African Americans seek help when treating a mental disorder. Out of those conversations, I come to appreciate the work that people in her field do, but I also question why mental disorders are somewhat taboo to many African Americans. My mother always ends by saying—“for so long, African Americans have gone undiagnosed and many don’t understand the particular disease. In African Americans, to perception that you are ‘losing it’ shows weakness and we are to go to seek help from the pastor rather than a therapist. I’m not saying seeking advice from a pastor is NOT the way to go, but sometimes you need both a pastor and a licensed therapist.” According to Mental Health America, many African Americans suffering from bipolar disorder are untreated or undiagnosed. Some reasons for this includes a mistrust of mental health professionals, reliance on family and religious community during stressful times, and a tendency to talk about physical problems rather than mental ones.

The issue of bipolar disorder and depression has received more airtime this week because of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Delonte West’s ongoing battles with bipolar disorder. The guard was recently arrested on weapons charges, and on Monday, when training camp opened for the NBA season, West appeared at media day and has been absent ever since. It appears that West may be off his medication or the combination of medication he is on may no longer work for him anymore. At the media day, West stated that he was “back taking my meds and everything.” According to the one expert I know–my mother—“the challenges to treating mood disorders, particularly bipolar disorder, is finding a course of treatment that will allow the individual to have a productive life–so you have to find the right combination of medications. But also, we struggle with getting the individual to comply with taking the medications. If a person suffering from bipolar disorder feels as though they no longer need the medications because they are ‘just fine’ without them, they are much more likely to be noncompliant.”

During the 2008 training camp and preseason saw West take some time off to “get my thoughts back together.” Said West, “In a sense, you feel like a weaker man because you have to raise your hand and ask for help. But I found out over the last week that it made me a stronger person. I came back focused, and with the help of some medicine and talking with people on a regular basis, I’m back in good spirits…”

Back to this year, Delonte has not shown for training camp as of yet, and Cavaliers LeBron James said “basketball has nothing to do with what’s going on, so he needs to take as much time as he needs, and when he comes back, we’re going to welcome him the way we’ve always done. When he gets back, it’s going to be as if he was always here.” Delonte seems to have a good support system around him, including his employer; we hope that he continues to find his way back to some normalcy, productivity to where we can continue enjoying him on the court, and he can enjoy life off the court.