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Volume 45 • Issue 5
By Jasmine Golphin
JORDAN DAVIS & THE ISSUE OF RACE IN AMERICA Kickstarting Ain't Easy Will Hollywood Provide More Opportunities to Minority Women?
The Vindicat r Writers & Photographers
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16 Land of the Falling Ego 12
Will Hollywood Provide More Opportunities to Minority Women
Don't Mess Around withâ€Ś Foxy Brown
The Vindicator The Vindicator is Cleveland State University's monthly, studentrun multicultural magazine. Celebrating 40 years of seeking social justice on campus, in the community and on the Earth.
Why Rappers Talk About Money So Much
Staff for Spring 2013 MISSION STATEMENT: Our aim is to elevate the level of social justice on campus, in the community, and in the world. We are seeking creative voices under-served by mainstream media.
Editor-in-Chief: Unity Powell Managing/Associate Editor: Jillian Holt Columns Editor: Christina Sanders Copy Editor: Kim Cymbal Art Director: Unity Powell Layout Designer: Steve Thomas Business Manager: Ann Werner Faculty Adviser: Adrienne Gosselin Media Specialist: Dan Lenhart
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Contributors Unity Powell – Editor-In-Chief Unity Powell is a Film and Digital Media Major with a minor in Anthropology. She is a freelance writer for Culture Unplugged and several other web based companies. She is a stage manager and director at the Karamu House Theater and has worked with other theaters in the area including, True North, and CCC. Ms. Powell has worked on various film and photography project for non- profit organizations such as Famicos Foundation and Lexington Bell. She is currently in preproduction for a web series she created. Her hope is to join those high in the ranks in creating quality media and entertainment for and from the Cleveland area. Kimberly Cymbal - Copy Editor Kimberly Cymbal is a senior in the Creative Writing Program at Cleveland State University. When not busy saving the world, one dangling participle at a time, you can almost always find her skidding her bike tires over pea-gravel or looking for the elusive, “green-flash” on the night-sky horizon. Kim can be reached for questions, comments, or recipe advice at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jillian Holt - Managing Editor Jillian Holt is a Film and Digital Media major in her senior year at CSU. She is a mother and writer of various works but concentrates primarily in screenwriting. She has worked on projects for CSU Black Studies Dept. and freelances as a script editor. She enjoys documentaries and is in the pre-production phase of a web series. Follow her on twitter @shabanky. Christina Sanders – Columns Editor A senior Journalism and Promotional Communication major with a concentration in Journalism. Worked with the Vindicator for two years, previously served as the features editor. Has a special interest in psychological journalism and new media techniques. Works cross platform-using technology that best communicates the stories of subjects. Hopes to go on to law school and study sport and entertainment law.
S. A. Thomas Graphic Designer Steven Aresman Thomas is 36 years old. A Clevelander now residing in Euclid, his personal brand is made of three simple things; minimalism, clean & modern. Working as a graphic designer has been the primary goal of his since hearing of it in his freshman year in college. There’s so many different print and online projects that Mr. Thomas will leave his mark on. His bold ideas coupled with the principles of design and fundamentals of layout can be seen throughout his work on many of the regions publications. He is inspired to work on his skills and help to convey the message through graphic design. Steve is laid back and you will almost never see him in a suit but that doesnt stop his professionalism. His goal is to own media-based organization to help clients better communicate with their intended audience. He is currently employed as a graphic designer at a marketing company in Broadview Heights. He credits his mentor for helping him understand the interworking of what it takes to create a business and keep it profitable.
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Takaya S. Williamson - Statff Writer Takaya S. Williamson is currently finishing up her bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. Her next endeavor is to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing. During her down time she enjoys reading and writing paranormal romance, horror and other brands of fiction deemed “abnormal.” Her favorite authors include Stephen King, Michelle Rowen, and the late greats Octavia Butler and L.A. Banks. Jude Dsouza – Staff Writer
Jude Dsouza is a junior at Cleveland State and a Communications major. His future plans include work in radio, television, and the film industry. He has also written for The Cauldron and The Shadow League.
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Jasmine Golphin - Staff Writer Jasmine Golphin spent her last year at CSU as the editor in chief of The Vindicator while pursuing her degree in Film and Digital Media and a minor in Asian Studies. Today she tries to figure out how to use all those skills to pay off her student loans. She currently is traversing the gap between college and gainful full-time employment with a very rewarding part time teaching job, freelance writing and local film production. In her spare time she composes multiple Facebook posts and drinks the fanciest wine eight dollars can buy.
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Use It! Go to email@example.com
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The Editor's Notes The Vindicator would like to give credit to Kristen Mott, Editor-in-Chief of The Cauldron, for her articles, "New Bridge" and "College: Winding Road" found in our February 2013 issue. We extend our apologies to Kristen and our readers for that omission. Thank you.
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Jordan Davis & the Issue of Race in America By Jude Dsouza
On December 13, 2012, Jordan Davis, a 17 year old teenager, was gunned down outside of a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. Michael Dunn, the culprit behind the murder, was charged with first degree murder. Dunn claims self-defense because he felt “threatened” by Davis and his three friends in the car, although no guns were found. Where, O Where, have we heard this before? Last year in the same state, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Unlike Davis, Zimmerman got off scotch-free. But according to Davis’ attorney, Robin Lemonidis, the two cases are not parallel. “There are no comparisons to the Trayvon Martin situation. He is devastated and horrified by the death of the teen,” said Lemonidis. Sure. That is the same thing Zimmerman said. No matter how much sympathy Dunn and Zimmerman display to public (in respect to them, might be legitimate to a certain extent), it will not bring bang the sons of the Davis and Martin families. “I just heard a few words. I heard him say ‘I could not get a pulse.’ He could not revive my son. I don’t know what else was said. I just saw lips moving,” said Ron Davis, the father of Jordan. And that does not take away the basic fact: two white men killed two black teenagers. Even with the re-election of Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, that still has not solved the racial divide that many seem to believe would. Although these shootings have taken place over the past year, African-Ameri-
cans are constantly the target of violence. On November 25, 2006, Sean Bell was gunned down by fifty bullets outside of a nightclub in the Jamaica neighborhood in Queens, New York, the night before his wedding day by three police detectives. The three detectives were acquitted, even though their false preconceptions led to Bell’s death and injured his friend, Joesph Guzman. New York City eventually compensated Bell’s family and friends approximately $7 million for the police brutality. But does $7 million bring back a life? No. Amadou Diallo, a then 23-year-old Guinea immigrant who was not fluent in English, was killed by forty-one bullets by four NYPD officers in The Bronx on February 4, 1999. The police believed Diallo was armed, yet it was proven that he was not. Like Bell’s family, Diallo’s family was compensated for $3 million for the loss of Amadou. Still, $3 million will not bring him back to life. No matter if it’s Florida or New York City, minorities in the United States are always subject to scrutiny, whether it be police officers or citizens who think they are pretending to represent law enforcement. Specifically, racial profiling, whether we have a black president or not, is a lingering problem in America. President Obama even said if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. The only people who truly know what was going on December 13 are Dunn, Davis, and Davis’ friends. But to believe that race did not play a role in this matter would be naïve. Dunn claiming he felt “threatened” and claiming to see a gun in
"Racial profiling, whether we have a black president or not, is a … problem in America." Davis’ car almost surely gives that away. As prevalent as these issues of racial profiling occur within American society today, there are more steps being taken to help combat it. For example, Rhode Island State representatives Grace Diaz and Joseph Almeida are currently advocating for legislation to impose penalties on law enforcement who participate in racial profiling in their state. Furthermore, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that files allegations and complaints of racial profiling must be handed directly to the NAACP. “It’s important, because it lets us know that when these kinds of complaints are filed that they are taken seriously,” said Gerald Stansbury, president of the Maryland branch of the NAACP to The Baltimore Sun. With all the progress and advancement in place, how much education is adequate to stop these cases? How effective will it be? If you were to rate this system right now, the families of Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo and countless others would give it a failing grade. The most important question should be asked: When can we stop having innocent people dying?
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Courtesy of http://betpressroom.com
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RIP & B By Jude Dsouza
On September 22,2012, when Tyrese Gibson announced that he was joining up with Ginuwine and Tank to form the R&B super group TGT (Tyrese Ginuwine and Tank), it was very Miami Heat-esque. Three of the most successful rhythm and blues artists of the past decade were joining together to save the beloved music genre. But truth be told, R&B music is on life support in 2013. TGT’s formation is just a band-aid on a knife through the heart. The once proud music genre’s roots is credited in beginning in the 1940s, but derived from jazz music from the 1920s and 1930s, when African-Americans migrated into northern industrial cities like Chicago, Detroit, and New York City. Louis Jordan is credited as being one of the first pioneers of rhythm and blues music. Fast forward nearly thirty years to the 1970s, where R&B began to lift off. Marvin Gaye sang a smooth love song for the girl he missed while KC & the Sunshine Band made you shake your groove thing at your local dance club, the genre began to take a life of its own. Artists such as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, and Diana Ross & the Supremes captured America’s heart with their dance-filled and soul quenching music. Audiences, both Black and White, clapped their hands and stomped their feet to the music that created the soundtrack for their generation. The 1980s continued the evolution of rhythm and blues. Michael Jackson, Prince, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass, Billy Ocean, and Donna Summers, to name a few, helped break down barriers, while having their respective hit records soar to the top of the charts. Groups like New Edition, LeVert, The Gap Band, The Isley Brothers, The Pointer Sisters, and Frankie Beverly & Maze, among many other rhythm and blues groups, also helped establish a mainstream platform. But arguably the greatest (and, as of now, final) period of time where R&B was in the 1990s. Many R&B artists during this period of time were able to crossover and reach success by receiving the ultimate top spot: #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Many R&B stars were born during this time. R. Kelly, considered “The King of R&B” multiple platinum albums during this period of time. Mary J. Blige earned the title “Queen of
Soul” from her success during this period. Other artists that came up during the “Golden era” of R&B include Case, Tyrese, Eryka Badu, and Aaliyah, to name a few. What added to the special soul music era was the diverse amount of R&B groups that existed. Boyz II Men, En Vogue, SWV, Next, and Jodeci (which later shrink to become another widely successful group, Kci & JoJo) showed that artists can and will lower their egos in order for teamwork success. Although not the same as the “Golden Era” the new millennium offered continued success for 90s artists and development of new talent. New singers include Avant, Jaheim, Mario, Ne-Yo, Ashanti, and Alicia Keys. Moreover, many groups also reached platinum success, like 112, Jagged Edge, 702, and Destiny’s Child (which helped launch Beyonce’s career, one of the highest grossing artists currently in any music genre). With all eras being equal, this decade of the new millennium has been disappointing one for the once-beloved soul music. Outside of Miguel, the R&B world is mostly scarce. While the Grammy Awards like to believe that Chris Brown, Trey Songz and Ne-Yo are rhythm and blues, their music would be classified as pop and/or hip hop, but not R&B. There are many explanations for the death of rhythm and blues. One, record labels are drifting to more of pop and hip hop sound, leaving soul on park bench. That explains why Brown, Songz, and Ne-Yo are able to have crossover ability. Many Black artists are forced to collaborate with a rapper in order to get significant radio airplay. Another reason is the rise of the individual celebrity. It should be no shock as why all the aforementioned groups are all split up or not producing music anymore. Everyone wants individual success. But can you really blame them? It’s not really fun to split money four ways anyway. Maybe in 2003, TGT’s formation would have shook up the entire music industry. Three successful, talented soul singers setting aside personal achievement for something bigger. But in 2013, Tyrese, Ginuwine, and Tank are crossing the hardest bridge they have encountered in their careers: saving the memories of Luther Vandross, Diana Ross, and the Isley Brothers. Good Luck.
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Courtesy of http://collider.com
By Jasmine Golphin
"There is a legit fear when you see someone with privilege playing around with your pain, and that old 'I donâ€™t mean anything offensive by it' excuse is the most tired of all the bull shit excuses."
The Vindicator • Page 9 There is something about watching someone take your historical pain and, with their privilege in tow, make it into a fantasy. It’s just unsettling; no matter how free thinking or artistic you try to be about it. At least it is for me and I assumed at first that was my problem with the movie. But in Django Unchained I don’t think Tarantino has stepped any deeper into his (thoroughly annoying) fetish for all things/ people black. So there weren’t any surprises on that account. Initially when the story was first being discussed in Hollywoodland there were graphic rape scenes written for Kerry Washington’s character. Almost every sign of that has been removed, so that’s cool and the film isn’t a dose of zero calorie diet History Lite. It’s more than just shots of sad black people in fields being forced to work against their will. There is torture and the most savage of kinds of abuse, which is felt pretty accurate. These things worked. And yet… But yet I have so many issues. And maybe having issues isn’t a bad thing. At least I’m feeling something that makes me want to write, as opposed to Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. But there are still issues nonetheless. Like how Django may go down in history as the most passive lead character ever (yes, I am including Bella from Twilight in this assessment). I was really beginning to wonder why the movie is called Django until the last 15 minutes. Shit just happens to Django and he just sort of goes along with it. I know what you are about to say: “what else is he going to do? Go back to a world of people that will treat him less than human, free or not?” And that’s a fair point. Presented with the opportunity of a lifetime Django understandably accompanies the completely charismatic Dr. King Schultz. But that doesn’t make him very interesting lead character to watch. So that leaves Dr. Schultz, who then perhaps by this design, ends up stealing the show. Maybe it’s around here that I should own up to my personal bias against Jamie Foxx. I cannot stand the man and his ego is much bigger than his *ahem* talent (if we must call it that). Outside of Ray, I will put $5 on the fact you can’t name a movie he’s been in that Don Cheadle couldn’t have done a better job in. So seeing his big face on the big screen didn’t help my enjoyment much. But
there are other issues, like the complete waste of Kerry Washington in this film. She was the woman to be rescued, the hero’s sole motivation. Hooray for her. *puts one finger in the air and twirls it in the most bored fashion imaginable* So unless you are really interested in seeing how many different ways she can cry, Kerry won’t have much for you. Fortunately there are only two extraneous “Tarintino-esque” scenes (you know, the ones where he shows off how smart he is for no plot based reason). However the first of these, the eyehole scene, rubbed me so wrong. Yes, racists are stupid. I’m glad we all know that. But they aren’t stupid in the slapstick-ish, “Who’s on first?” way that scene suggested. Call me sensitive, but there’s something just uncomfortable about cartoonifying America’s homegrown terrorist cell. It was like watching Hitler and a bunch of SS guards run around to Benny Hill music. Yes, that works fine is Family Guy cut away scene but in this it just felt like a fan service (oh hey, isn’t that Jonah Hill? Wowsers that’s funny). They were too stupid to really be feared and I felt like it cheapen what could have been a bigger reversal. (Blow up the real, cross burning, castrating, lynching, raping KKK and I’ll cheer ever so loudly. Blow up Nickelodeon’s KKK and I note it the same way I note Ren hitting Stimpy again.) The only real terror in this film is Calvin Candie I’ll give everyone involved with this film and their momma credit here, he is a complete terror. I am now thoroughly convinced that either Leo is really that great of an actor or that in his personal life he says “nigga” like we say the word “the”. He had that wonderful combination of skill, restraint and enjoyment an audience wants to see in their thespians. And it at this moment, after a few hours of writing and late night ceiling staring, that it has finally came to me. Once again, the characters I care about, the ones that are the most interesting, dynamic or dimensional in anyway are the white males. And that’s the rub. I had actually dared to hope that in a slavery revenge flick I would be able to relate to the ones that look like me. Silly Jasmine. Sorry. give me a minute to let this sink in. —
It’s definitely a movie alright. It has a beginning, middle and end. Some rising action and conflict. It does its job there. The violence works because no matter who points the gun, I do really want to see a slave owner being shot (see: Dave Chappelle: http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=IxcwlW3rrkg). And the western vibe works for me. I enjoyed that greatly in fact. And it is the most straight forward Tarintino film…ever? It doesn’t stray from the point, is told linearly and doesn’t have a bunch of self-indulgent scenes of geekdom for geekdom sake (Death Proof, I’m looking at you). Django proves that Taratino can make a rather accessible film. But the controversy, most recently voiced by that always opportunistic Spike Lee, is slightly misdirected. There is a legit fear when you see someone with privilege playing around with your pain, and that old “I don’t mean anything offensive by it” excuse is the most tired of all the bull shit excuses. (I also didn’t mean to break your favorite priceless lamp but it’s broken and you are going to want me to do something about it). So to voice said fears isn’t “reverse racism” *insert eye roll here* but the fear is answered and unfortunately by a rather disappointing fact: this movie isn’t for us, those of us that wanted Django to be his own kickass man. It’s not the black superhero film the trailer implies. That last act serves the story, and serves it well, but Blade/Shaft/Dave Chappelle’s Time Hater’s and even Cocoa Sinclair* this story is not. This story is about a proficient master (meaning a teacher/student sort of master) passing on his skills to his disciple and their dark travels together on various plantations. Oh and about saving the human MacGuffin…ahem…I mean Kerry Washington. So that’s why I liked it and still feel completely unsatiated. *I initially just threw that in as a joke, meaning to replace it with better example. But outside of blaxpotiation (which I covered with Shaft) and a few weak references most wouldn’t be familiar with (Meteorman anyone?), I really can’t think of many black heroes. I’m hoping that’s because it’s 3am, but I fear it’s really because I inadvertently just made my own point.
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The President’s Speech:
When President Obama Came to CSU in 2012 By Takaya S. Williamson Before the Inauguration, before the reelection, back in October of 2012 it was still uncertain whether or not President Barack Obama would be reelected. People were roaring about Romney’s victory in a debate, tensions were high between political parties. Everywhere I turned I saw political ads, facebook, youtube, television. In my neighborhood and around the East Side of Cleveland were billboards warning of the criminality of voter fraud. The sky hadn’t been the sunniest; in fact we were expecting rain. My sister and I had agreed to catch an early bus down to CSU for the event. We had to be early, you see, because to be late would be to miss a very special opportunity. That day, would be the day that President Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States of America, would be speaking at my school. The entire ride we chatted about mundane things, what my nephews, whom I affectionately call Bratbaby and Gummibear had been up to and the like. But inside we were both excited. I’d seen The First Lady, Michelle Obama speak at the school before. At the time the president had still been Senator Obama running in the democratic primaries against Hilary Clinton. This however would be the first time that I would witness Pres. Obama himself. We arrived at the university somewhere around 9:30am I believe. Pres. Obama would be speaking in Krenzler Field on 18th and Chester but the doors weren’t due to open until 11am. Had I bothered to attend any soccer games I might have been familiar with the field. But alas my student experiences are limited in that manner. I’m not much of a sports fan. The moment we arrived on campus my
sister and I headed to the Howard A. Mims Black Cultural Center, located in the rear of the main classroom building. It was there that we glanced out the window to view Chester Ave and saw the line. It stretched down to 30th street. It seemed we weren’t the only people excited to see the president. Needless to say we rushed down with the quickness, and took our spot in the line. And that is when the adventure began. On our way to the back of the line, we were accosted by salesmen. Some sold Obama buttons, others Obama shirts. First Lady buttons, Obama family merchandise and the like were offered to us from prices ranging from $3.00--$$20.00. Moved, I bought myself a Michelle Obama button with the few dollars that I had. Along the way we encountered an older man whose daughter attended Cleveland State as well. Of an inquisitive nature he constantly asked me questions about the campus, the new dorms on Chester which at the time weren’t yet complete and other aspects of the school. As a senior I answered these questions the best I knew how, but my mind was not with Cleveland State or its campus. I was ready to see the president. Though the wait was long, there were a lot of friendly people. My sister and I held conversations with perfect strangers all just as eager as we were. Volunteers came down the line with free water for those of us who were thirsty. As the line slowly moved forward we noticed older people and senior citizens being led by volunteers up further for priority seating. There were a few people with their children in tow, small children even a few babies. I marveled at the turnout. Quite often there were squeals of recognition, women throwing their arms
around people they hadn’t seen in years. I overhear more than a few of these occurrences and for that matter experienced it myself when I ran into my grandmother’s brother (grand-uncle?) along the way. The most humorous part of the wait were the multiple salesmen I have to say. An older man in particular walked up and down the line advertising his Pres. Obama bookmarks for $1. “Use it in your Bible, use it in your Quran, in your Fifty Shades of Gray,” he called. While some of the older people in line clearly didn’t know what “Fifty Shades of Gray” was, those of us who had heard of the bondage, erotic tale burst into laughter. People might have been complaining about the economy but Pres. Obama’s visit to town had certainly put money in the local hustler’s pockets! I couldn’t fault them for their entrepreneurship. In the midst of the excitement a Mitt Romney campaign bus drove by twice we assumed to taunt us. In response we all booed, which brought out even more good spirits and bonding between we Obama supporters. The event not only brought out entrepreneurs but political activists, of course. A few fliers were passed out about the environment and the neglect by both Republican and Democrats to these issues. Likewise did the evangelists rear their heads, marching up and down the line praising Jesus and insisting that we all come to Christ and repent of our sins. One woman declared repeatedly, “Make Jesus your savior today! We need Jesus to win this election!” Inwardly I cringed, for the Muslim and Hindi supporters (I assumed by their scarves and dress) I’d already encountered inline. Hopefully her antics and those like her would not alienate
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non-Christian Obama supporters. This was a presidential election after all and despite radical right efforts church and state are still to be considered separate by the U.S. Constitution. Tension did mount, however when a CSU student skipped a place in line to get in front of a woman. A yelling match occurred, physical threats were made and finally the woman found security to escort the young man to the back of the line. My sister and I were in awe at the heat of the exchange. We were also grateful that it did not come to blows. At this point we’d been waiting for perhaps an hour or more as the line had stretched from E18th to E30th Street. My sister was nice enough to buy me a Michelle Obama shirt which I promptly put on. As we came closer to Krenzler Field, however the weather took a nasty turn. Rain began to pour down and merchants went up and down the line selling ponchos. By this time both my sister and I had spent all of our money, so we were forced to endure the rain. We reached the gates, emptied our pockets and under the waterfall from the sky entered Krenzler field where the president would soon speak. Once we made it to the field we saw that the bleachers were already packed. Music blasted through the speaker system, though now I can’t remember who was playing as I was so excited. The dome hadn’t been put up so the rain continued to pour down on us. Outhouses stood at several different locations to the left and the right and eager people flocked to them. Though I won’t go into detail but there was quite a bit of tension in the line when a few people took longer than others, especially with a guy dancing desperately behind me. Though two stalls awaited us one had apparently run out of hand sanitizer. Of course that was the stall I was stuck with. After the fact I was alerted that the other stall contained sanitizer. Relieved at the fact, I hurried in to clean my hands and accidentally slipped on the wet floor. Thank god I didn’t fall in, I caught myself, but I did emerge with a new battle scar. Diagonally down my right arm was a straight line of blood, it seemed I’d cut myself pretty badly. Of course it looked worse than it felt so I held a wet napkin over it to stop the bleed-
ing and my sister and I went on our way. But after the ordeal I did make a proclamation. “I bled for Obama so now he better win!” After the outhouse fiasco, my sister and I couldn’t find a seat so we stood in the center of the stadium, packed between the bodies of other guests. I recognized a few faces from campus and we held conversation for a bit but by then the rain was pouring, my nose was acting crazy and the cut on my arm still hurt. People were becoming impatient with the wait and a few sickly guests had to leave. During the wait it was exciting to spot the CIA sharpshooters on the tops of buildings nearby. Many a cell phone was held up to shoot pictures of the men in black, adding to the adventure. Still, the crowd was growing restless and when the DJ stopped playing music people began to gripe once more. There were a few false starts, thanks to the enthusiastic groups behind us. Once they got to cheering we all got to cheering, thinking that the president had finally arrived. An airplane actually flew over us and we expected that it was him. Of course we were wrong. I was almost ready to go home. But I refused to do so. Not until I saw my president live. When a CSU freshman came on stage to introduce him, we were all more than excited. I was so excited in fact that I didn’t remember her name. But what I do remember is when Pres. Obama saw that the weather was a little chilly for her dress, he let her wear his coat. At the declaration the entire audience breathed a collective “Aw!” I think every woman in the stadium fell in love with him that moment. Unfortunately, as the president spoke my sister and I could not see him. There were too many people in front of us, many of whom were taller than us. Frustrated, we wandered around the field for a better spot to view him. My sister found a spot by the bleachers and I followed suit. Then I saw him. For the first time in the twenty plus decades of my life I witnessed a U.S. President speak. And not just any president but the first black president. I was more than ecstatic. I wish I could say that we got pictures but from our location we couldn’t zoom in well enough to capture him. I was quite frustrated with
this fact, but I quickly decided to enjoy the moment while it was there rather than allow it to be ruined by faulty technology. As rain continued down on us all we watched Pres. Obama speak, using no umbrella to cover his own head might I add. Apparently he felt that if his supporters were going to get rained on then he would be rained on too. I loved him even more. I wish I could tell you everything he said but my excitement was so great at seeing him and trying to get a good view of him that I only remember him touching on a few points. He mentioned being everybody’s president, even those who did not vote for him and he definitely mentioned Romney’s views on cutting funding for PBS. But alas, my experience was complete. When he was finished speaking and my sister and I left the field the both of us were happy for the experience. We’d stood for hours, been rained on, been jam packed, bumped into and I’d even bled but all in all it had been worth it. We’d shared a historical moment, the first members of our family to see our nation’s president live. It would be something for her to share with her sons who, thanks to Pres. Obama’s example, could one day hope for something more in their lives as black men in America. Now that it’s 2013 and Pres. Obama has been reelected there are a lot of political issues drawing contention. Some may agree with his policies, some may not and in American society everyone has that right. But regardless of what people feel about his policies I think that we all can agree that the very fact that a man of color is able to hold the office of president not once but twice in a country built on a racial class system says a lot about change in America. Are we where we need to be? No of course not. We still have a VERY long way to go. But we’re much better than we were 200 years ago. And perhaps with more effort from the common people, the true worker bees of American society and the youth like us we can grow even further. Who knows, maybe I’ll have occasion to see another president of color in my lifetime. Perhaps even a woman. In the name of progress, I can only hope
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(left) Wanda Skyes - Courtesy of blog.dailynews.com. (Top-middle) Meagan Good - Courtesy of http://thegrio.files.wordpress.com. (bottom-middle) Loni Love - Courtesy of http://onwardstate.com. (right) Kerry Washington - Courtesy of http://cdn01.cdn.pinkisthenewblog.com.
Will Hollywood Provide More Opportunities to Minority Women? By Jude Dsouza
Over the past year, no actress had a better one than Kerry Washington. She starred in the controversial, yet critically acclaimed Django Unchained. Her performance earned her rave reviews and her ability to hold her own against Hollywood heavyweights Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, and Samuel L. Jackson. Her show on ABC, Scandal, debuted last April and has only aired twenty-one episodes, yet it is one of the highest rated and talked about shows on the network, frequently being one of the top trending topics on Twitter dwelling into early Friday morning. Greater than any praise for the content and quality of the show, she became the first African-American actress to star in a drama series on network television in forty years. Recently, she earned three NAACP Image Awards, including the coveted President’s Award, recognizing an individual who demon-
strates the promotion of social activism and service to others in need. Meagan Good is another actress entering into the prime of her acting career. Her most notable roles include Think Like A Man, Californication, 35 & Ticking, and Deception, her newest show on NBC. The recent success of Washington and Good is truly influential and empowering. Yet, there is many women of color still fighting many battles, from earning acting opportunities to fighting racial stereotypes. You won’t have to look any further than the 1999 documentary Actress, which showcases the struggles of Black actresses in show business. The issues range from combating racism in casting to financial struggles. In 2013, African-American women are not being done any favors by reality television. Television programs like The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Love and Hip Hop,
and Basketball Wives often typecast women in a more misogynistic and ignorant manner rather than showcasing the artistic side of African-American female actresses. Even within standup comedy, black women are receiving little mainstream attention. Wanda Sykes, Mo’Nique, and Loni Love are the only black women who have broken ground within the comedy circles. And Saturday Night Live has only had three black female cast members in there thirty-seven seasons. Despite these circumstances, many Black actresses are able to show their talents. In the critically acclaimed 2010 film For Colored Girls, Washington, Kimberly Elise, Janet Jackson, and Phylicia Rashad address the aforementioned issues as well as many other lingering problems that are placed on Black women, no matter what walk of life they are from.
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Laughing Through Our Pain By Jillian Holt
Courtesy of flickr cc.
In the film Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy comedian D. L. Hughley stated that comedy was the greatest art form of all time. Well I beg to differ. I believe that documentary film is the greatest art form ever invented. There is no other medium that allows us to explore the real world around and its history through pictures, video, and actual real life interviews with the people who lived it. Why We Laugh is a journey through black comedy in America that not only lays out the evolution of the black comedic voice but explains and justifies why African Americans having gone through the violent and traumatic past, can laugh at ourselves and each other. The ability to laugh at our pain is a character trait that African Americans have been forced to take upon fortunately to our benefit. This documentary through a series and interviews with famous black comedians from back in the day to the present that includes, Bill Cosby, Robert Townsend, Bill Bellamy, Dick Gregory, Steve Harvey, Chris Rock, and Kat Williams to name a few. It also shows us clips of some of the first black comedians including Stepin Fetchit and Moms Mabley to those who have passed away like Richard Pryor and Robin Harris. Throughout the interviews and stand-up and television clips the documentary speaks on not just black comedy but what we going through as a people in this country when a particular comedy, comedian, or show was popular. They spoke a lot about the earlier comedy like the minstrels, black face, and in
particular, Stepin Fetchit. Stepin Fetchit was character played by real life actor, Lincoln Perry, which personified a negative stereotype of black men as stupid and lazy. Perry appeared in dozens of movies in his career and was the first African American actor to become a millionaire. But at what cost? It is hard to say whether I agree or disagree with what he did much like some of the comedians and famous African Americans in the documentary. The fact that there was not a lot of work in Hollywood for Africans Americans is undisputed. Sadly, that fact still remains today. I do believe that sometimes you do what you have to do to feed yourself and your family, but I do believe that if it is to the detriment of your people then, as an artist, you may have to take other steps to counter balance the perceived negativity you may be releasing to society. With today’s technology it’s easy to take a role then write a blog about, in Perry’s day though, not so much. The film discussed Dave Chappelle and how he turned down a lot of money from Comedy Central, to make his then, top rated show on the network, The Chappelle Show, what he deemed as even more offensive and stereotypical of the African American community. I remember when that happened a lot of people including comedians spoke out saying that he crazy and they would have took the money. It’s only really now that when people mention it, I guess after really thinking it, they can understand and commend him. An aspect of this film I personally enjoyed was how it tackled black comedy
in regards to its social and political context. Black comedy has long history of addressing these issues with comedians like Dick Gregory and Redd Foxx to Chris Rock and D. L. Hughley and they so in way that not only makes us laugh but makes us think. Steve Harvey spoke about the fact that comedians are, in certain aspects, educators. They have command of a big stage and have the audience’s undivided attention so they have a responsibility to their audience to at least try to get across a message a comedic manner. When comedian Bill Cosby tried to do so in an “un-funny” way at a NAACP benefit dinner he was demonized by a lot of people in the African American community. Even though I agree with a lot of what he said, I believe that the fact he is a comedian had a role why people reacted to it the way they did. A lot people don’t realize how smart comedians are and how hard comedy is. They see people in a certain role and when you step out of that role people it can be confusing. Bill Cosby spoke his truth and it wasn’t funny and I believe that is what we need as African Americans to wake up and realize our unresolved issues that still need to be addressed. Laughter is the best medicine; so I’ve heard. If that statement is true African Americans have been drinking our ‘tussin for a little over a century. This documentary is more than a doc, it’s a piece of African American history that I hope will survive so people a century from now can go back and watch it and understand the roots of black comedy and the evolution of humorous spirits.
The Writer in Me By Takaya S. Williamson
I am the conduit, The portal from this realm The mother of clauses and gerunds Through me women are warriors, Battling evil, daughters of divine relation Men are companions, cloaked in love Bringers of compassion and understanding Together they fight, defeating the darkness Good guys ALWAYS win I am the mother, creator of worlds, where the hungry are always fed Where conflict abides and yet is resolved Where the silenced learn to SPEAK Where girls are not toys, their size doesnâ€™t matter their black skin isnâ€™t a crime Where women exist and likewise are the heroes And never abandoned by LOVE.
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Courtesy of sceneshots.wordpress.com
Courtesy of http://3rdeyedrops.files.wordpress.com
Growing up in the late 1980’s early 1990’s I was lucky enough to have grown up in a time period where there was an array of African American images on film and on television. Good, bad, and ugly, the era that I grew up in was full of any type of African American image you wanted see and my mother had collection of just about every movie that ever had an African American in it. Naturally, I was drawn to blaxploitation and films of that genre including, Shaft, Super Fly, The Mack and of course, Foxy Brown. At age 12, Foxy Brown became a character to me that represented all black women of 1970’s. I would look at pictures of my mother with her short skirt and big afro and think she must have been just like Foxy Brown before I was born. That image, of strong, intelligent, ass kickin’ African American female resonated with me, as well as a generation of African American little girls who saw on screen what they believed to be the true image of an African American woman. Foxy Brown’s (Pam Grier) life is turned upside down when her government agent boyfriend is killed by drug dealers from her neighborhood. She enlist the aid of her brother, Link Brown (Antonio Fargas) a low level drug dealer himself, to help her find out who is running the operation so she can take out her revenge. She discovered that the drug operation is run under the cover of a call girl ring and decides to infiltrate the ring and help save a fellow call girl who is caught up in the life. She ends being betrayed by her brother, who ends up getting killed by the dealers,
and discovered by the leaders of ring, a woman, Miss Katherine, and her boy toy, Steve. After enduring a beating and sexual assault, Foxy Brown once again comes out on top and enacts her revenge on Miss Katherine and Steve and justice is served. The images of African American in blaxploitation films were a vastly different from the originally stereotypes seen in films like Birth of a Nation, but somehow the same. They also managed to produce new stereotypical images of African Americans still present in film today. Foxy Brown was a complete 180 from the original ‘mammy’ image African American women had long been subjected to. A far from over weight and asexual, Foxy was extremely sexual and in shape, a refreshing image to see, but a image I believe that has hung over and haunted the psyche of African American women. All the sudden, black women were viewed as objects of sexual desire on screen which played out in real life. We also saw characteristics of coonish and black buck behavior from some of thugs and Link, but there were also images of strong black men including an old acquaintance of Foxy’s who was involved in a community organization targeted at helping the community and getting rid of the drug dealers and pimps. This parallel’s actual community organizations that were actually happening in that time era. I would definitely recommend the film Foxy Brown to any interested in films of the 1970’s. The term blaxploitation was given to these films due to content of these films but I believe that they have a vital place in the history of the African
"That image, of strong, intelligent, ass kickin’ African American female resonated with me, as well as a generation of African American little girls." American image on film. The impact these films had on not just the image but African Americans period had a lasting effect on the African American community, both positive and negative. Like most entertainment that never was never intended to harm or uplift, the films of this era will long have profound effect on African Americans, our image, and our community. Instead of being demonized these films should looked at and examined for the cultural relevance and impact they had and will continue to have.
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Land of the Falling Ego By Jasmine Golphin
Photography by Jasmine Golphin
Kind of a Big Deal I went to Japan for a month during the summer of 2003. Shaker Heights High School had a bi-annual exchange program with a sister school Takatori High. All a student had to do was host a Japanese student for three weeks and finish a weekly college level class about the history of the country. A couple of tests, a five page paper and a complete stranger sleeping in your room for almost a month. Not really a big deal. But in 2003 SHHS received ten scholarships for the program and suddenly this meant more students could go. And by “more students” I mean “my broke self ”. So in order to keep it competitive, not only was the class and all its work still required, students now had to do a ten page paper, an essay on why they deserved to go, attend extra Saturday classes and work with the Cleveland Museum of Art’s latest Asian exhibit. There was a time after the summer of 2003 that if you went on the audio tour and visited the Buddhist tabernacle, you would have heard my voice describing the artifact you were looking at. I didn’t know what I was talking about exactly but I sounded very professional
talking about it, so that’s cool. Finally sixteen students were chosen to go. We were kind of a big deal, even if only in our mind. We had worked really hard to go and in some cases (like mine) our families sacrificed a lot for us. We were all feeling pretty proud of ourselves and of our clear intellect. Or at least I was. Now is as good of a time as any to mention that nowhere in the previous paragraphs did I mention learning the language. That’s because we didn’t. By the time I left for the land of the rising sun I could tell you all about Tokugawa Ieyasu, why Japan entered World War II, and intricate differences between Buddhism and Shintoism, but I couldn’t ask someone where the bathroom was in Japanese. However for some reason that didn’t seem like a big deal to me. It wasn’t until I was actually on the plane leaving Cleveland that a small voice in my head said rudely, “You know Jasmine, they have to dub Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon for a reason”. I told her to look out at the clouds and shut up. I was taking in my very first plane ride and I wasn’t going to let her ruin it with her “logic”. Lack of Communication We took the bullet train from the airport to Nara, the suburban city our school and families lived in. It was when I met my host mother, warm and smiling wide, that the small voice came back and reminded me that “Konichiwa” was the extent of my Japanese greetings. So I smiled wide and said “Konichiwa”. Ayaka, my host and now the only person in this citizen I knew well, introduced me
to her family. I repeated their names out loud in order to commit them to memory. Japanese mom smiled politely at my clearly thick American accent. That small voice in my head started laughing at me and my arrogance. That happened a lot. I didn’t know the language and my lack of preparation was eating away at me. That small voice went from a voice of feign concern to a mocking bitch that hated me for my arrogant oversight. I know that seems extreme to say but you have to remember I had never been outside the country. I was used to being a minority, sure, but no matter what code switching I had to do, I could still ask for a cheeseburger and fries at McDonald’s without having to point at a picture like a three year old. Being the articulate person that older white people love to tell me I am, this was the apex of frustration. I simply could not communicate. To top it off, Japanese people smile or politely laugh to ease tension sometimes. The situation may not actually be funny but it’s more polite than to raise an eyebrow and roll your eyes. However my paranoid self, with the self-deprecating voice always cackling in the background, was convinced that they were all laughing at me. (Cue Carrie’s mother). So four days in I did the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done in front of strangers: I cried. I’m not the kind of girl that likes a good cry. Even as I type those words I have absolutely no idea what that means. So the more I cried, the more embarrassed I got. The more embarrassed, the more
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frustrated. The more frustrated, the more tears. A cycle was born. It had started all harmlessly enough. There was a mix up as to when my family was supposed to be picking me up from a class trip. I was hungry, tired and thus a little on edge. My only close friend Anne had already gone home and the only people I was left with were the rich girls that were trying to comfort me. I realize now that all the rich girl options they were giving me didn’t help my stress. “Can you take a taxi home?” “No, I don’t have enough to do that” “Well, do you have a cell phone? Maybe you can call them” “Um…you guys have cell phones?” It was 2003. By the time my Japanese family came, everyone was oh-sovery worried about me, which is a thoroughly uncomfortable feeling. My family, sans the translator Ayaka (she had a night class) tried to explain what happened, but I had retreated into my head by the third sentence of broken English. Didn’t they know I was lost here without them? A helpless feeling washed over me when I realized that I wasn’t just being dramatic. I was actually lost without them. I was in a country where I couldn’t read the signs, couldn’t make a phone call to someone I knew, couldn’t ask a stranger for directions. I had no control over the situation. You should know that since I was thirteen I knew I wanted to be a film director; I really like control. So by the time we got home, I had lost all my cool. At some point as my Japanese Mom was trying both to comfort and avoid the crying black girl, I said “I’m not even that sad; I’m just really frustrated that I can’t stop crying.” She just stared at me. I started to repeat the sentence and then stopped, remembering what started this in the first place. Then I started laughing. Loudly. It scared the hell out of my Japanese mom. I had a moment of clarity. I figured out how freeing it was not being able to
talk. If we all knew the same language, we never would have heard each other. I would have kept explaining (yelling) my point and she would have gotten defensive. We wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. But because I couldn’t be understood, I had to look into her eyes. I could tell she really wanted to help. She wanted my stay to be enjoyable. She wanted to be welcoming and was sadden she had already failed so early. All I remember next was trying to figure out how to say I was sorry. “Gomen nasai” I said over and over again, pointing at the already worndown single sheet of paper with “Helpful Japanese Phrases”. Japanese Mom nodded, indicating it was all good. And it was (even though I said sorry another six more times after that incident). Any misunderstandings after that were met with patient glances and slow miming. That stupid small voice finally shut up. The Rest of the Trip The rest of the trip was both memorable and understated. I was too much of a goody two shoes to do anything daring. At one point I preformed the Cha-Cha Slide in front of an auditorium of Japanese students, but that’s the kind of thing you just have to see (or at least watch me tell in person so you can fully understand every painfully hilarious moment). I also threw one of those small white poppers during a tour in the middle of a tunnel, which let me tell you, is not the smartest thing to do in a very recent post-9/11 world. The resulting echo sounded like a small explosion and got me very stern stare down from my trying-too-hardto-be-cool chaperon. But it also got me a million points in the made up game I was playing with the guys in the group, making me the coolest my nerdy- self had ever been to any guy, so I consider that a wash. And then there was time my breakfast that stared back at me. But that’s your typical “sheltered black girl vs. foreign food” story, so why rehash CONTINUED ON PAGE 16
That is the look of a plus sized girl trying to hold her breath in the biggest kimono the very tiny class demonstrators had on hand. I look like a bumblebee
My first day with host class. I have no idea exactly what was up with my hair, but my classmates (both American and Japanese) knew little about black hair so I got away with it.
Japanese girls recognize only the peace sign and the Charlie's Angel pose as acceptable poses. There's a seventies joke in there somewhere.
Ayaka, myself, Rea and there young cousin. Again with the peace sign.
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(left) A building in Tokyo. The bathrooms inside had a bidet and played "privacy music and sounds". My friend Anne and I just pressed all the buttons for five minutes. (middle) My host Mother. Note the American flag shirt, an effort I only really now fully understand. (right) The chalkboard in my host class. Each host class made a chalkboard for their exchange student but mine was clearly the most adorable.
that? I mean, I might have even actually rolled my eyes and said “Na uh!” at the very thought at eating a whole fish with eyes still intact. So instead I will leave you with this heartwarming coda. My Japanese family turned out to be rather cool people. The younger sister Rae and I bounded over anime and music. Ayaka, my host, was a wonderful tour guide and taught me some words along the way. Dad worked six days a week about twelve hours a day, so I only saw him three times. But on the last day together he gave me the “black nod” (which clearly needs to be renamed), so we had an understanding. And mom took me to the library. Somehow she just knew that would be my home away from home. Yes, before you ask, they had an English section and so I spent my downtime reading The Green Mile (rather than just looking at a TV I didn’t understand). On the last day the entire family took me back to the station. Akaya and Dad made a joke at Mom’s expense and I asked Ayaka what just happened. She translated, “Well Mom had been going to that library a month before you arrived to learn about America. But she obviously didn’t pick up much on the language” and she laughed again in that loving way only family can do. Mom laughed that same embarrassed laugh she did when she first heard my thick American accent. It was a nice final family moment. Then it clicked. She wasn’t just being polite when she smiled as I mispronounced Japanese words. She was trying the best way she knew how to make this whole thing less painful for me, as she wanted her teasing family to do for her. And she wasn’t just doing out
of some sort of cultural based politeness; she actually was empathizing. A woman I couldn’t say more the twenty words to actually cared about me. I hugged her extra hard when I said “Sayonara”. Things I have no idea how to put in this story but can’t go unsaid Birthing hips: Japan is 98% Japanese, 0.4 Korean and 0.5 Chinese and then all the foreigners make up the last bit. I’m a black girl and I don’t look like any celebrity they might have known. I’m also not small or short. I was a sight, to say the least. One day Ayaka and I went what I remember as Japanese Target (FIVE FLOORS OF SAVINGS!!). We had just left a photo booth when a woman in her fifties approached us and started speaking quickly in Japanese. I used my by then perfected “I don’t understand but I’m not bored or annoyed” stare and waited for Ayaka to translate. Ayaka progressively started losing her composure and finally was using every facial muscle to keep from laughing. Still, unfazed, this woman continued on. She pointed to a few baby pictures and then to me. Ayaka finally lost it. “What? What is she saying?” I asked confused. Between broken English, fits of laughter and tears streaming down her face she explained, “Her oldest daughter just had her first child and the birth was really hard on her. She thinks her daughter would have had an easier time if she had your hips. She says you should thank God for those hips; child birth is going to be so easy for you.” If the woman said anything more, I’ll never know because Akaya’s laughter took hold of her completely. I told the woman “Arigato” and
walked away. Rice Patties: Japan is a country about the size of California and with about 40% of the US population. Land is scarce to say the least. Buildings grow up, not out. So instead of lawns being patches of grass, they were rice patties. Muddy water with sprouts of tall, very green grass sticking out of them. Young and old would be seen in the field gathering rice. I don’t know much about the process outside of that. I didn’t know how to ask without sounding ignorant, a problem I was much more worried about at that age than I am now. But I found it fascinating just to watch. Also, there are no squirrels outside of zoos in Japan. Ayaka spent her time in America trying to take a picture of one. Yes, it was as hilarious to watch as it sounds. Grandmas: Every single one I met there was cool. Every single one. My host grandmother, who we had to travel thirty minutes to meet, welcomed me warmly and prepared a wonderful meal for my arrival. She knew no English but we clicked pretty quickly. She’s the reason why I can say I’ve had raw egg before (not a bad dipping sauce for beef strips I’ve found). A week later I saw three elderly women on bikes in a park. Each one had dyed hair that matched their outfit: blue, a reddish purple and pink. Two had dogs that were also dyed to match (blue and pink I think). All smiles and waves. They have no idea that they have created my next bucket list goal. And the lady at the Japanese Target who complimented my hips? She was a grandma. Shibuya: I don’t regret much in life but I regret that I didn’t go to Shibuya when I had the chance. I could have been talking about Harajuku girls long before Gwen Stefani.
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Red Was in Love By Tia M.
I fell in love. That’s the part they don’t like to mention. Mom, Grandma, all the rest say I was too young to know better but I knew. The way he looked down at me with that toothy grin and way-past-five-o-clock shadow and all. I knew what I should do, what had been drilled into the minds of good little girls everywhere, so I walked away. But my sixteen year old lips knew what they were doing when they mentioned where I was going that night. I didn’t mean to scare anyone of course. But Grandma has never been a rational person. When the rest of them tell my story they also “forget” to mention that Grandma liked to overreact to just about everything. He was just asking to wait outside; he wanted to take me out once I was done at her place. But no, Granny runs off to get help from her “friend” Mr. Lumberjack. (Guess it’s ok for her to fall for a tall, dark, handsome man that’s 20 years younger than her, but not for me to fall for a man that’s only six years older than me. Yeah, okay, that’s fair...) Anyway I made up that whole part about him tricking me with disguises. By the time I got home I was in so much trouble I didn’t see the point of telling them about what happened when he and I were alone. Oh but it was...enjoyable to say the least. The feel of the whiskers on his chin against my bare stomach. His large rough hands on the small of my back. The light scrape of his teeth against my newly awaken places. I was taken away from all the bitterness, responsibilities and mom’s alcoholinduced depression that resided at home. I was somewhere new and special where this guy, this adult, made me the very center of his universe, if even for a moment. I was seduced alright and it was amazing. You can probably fill in most of the rest. Grandma’s lover comes busting in with his axe and breaks up our sweat soaked postcoital conversation. My lupine-like lover throws promises of seeing me again and apologies over his shoulder as he runs out the door. Grandma scorns me about how reckless I’m being, then mom finds out and scorns me again. And when dad gets home both of them have already started to change the story. Years have passed and now everyone tells my story. They make me younger, make him scarier, call me dumber (I’m sorry “naive” I mean). They make me regretful for my actions whenever they tell the story. But I had fallen in love. It didn’t last and now that I’m a bit wiser, I wouldn’t choose him again. But I knew exactly what happened in those dark woods that day and I regret absolutely nothing about it.
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Why Rappers Talk About Money So Much By Christina Sanders
Courtesy of realtalkny.uproxx.com
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All rappers will at one point in their career or another mention money in at least one of their songs. Some will attempt to be conscious of the so-called evils of society and mock the typical radio rapper who raps about money and women with use of clever verse chronicling a hypothetical event that sheds light on the evils of mainstream rap. Others will brag to their audience on every song of their album like clockwork about all the loose women that they have collected like garbage in a bag at a neighborhood park, due to their recent record label advance that is digging them into debt as quickly and frequently as the rhythm repeats itself on the track they’re yelling over. Women’s groups will march out of hibernation and protest these men, with the same hands they raise the roof with in the club and the cycle will undoubtedly continue. Now, people will continue to complain about it and rappers will continue to yell about their conditional riches over samples of songs that were made already. While all this is going on, no one will ever ponder why rappers actually talk the way that they do on songs. It all goes back to slavery. When our European brethren brought us over chained together on massive ships to work and generate money we will never see, the way the black man once viewed himself changed. Chained shoulder to shoulder with men of different villages and tribes packed into a massive ship like a herd of something terrible. They were left to urinate and defecate on themselves, all while being beaten for breathing the wrong way by another man, that unchained you could most likely over power. Fast forward past getting sold to the highest bidder like furniture at an auction of a foreclosed house, you also get the wonderful privilege of having a wife and watching her walk around pregnant with baby that was put inside of her by not you but a master who raped her behind curtain number 2! Yay you – not so much. The daily grind of a slave is not a glamorous profession. One gets the luxury
of picking valuable things in a field that will be sold for a profit they’ll never see. However, what you do get, (close your eyes and don’t peak) is a good and painful thrashing on your back like a child from another grown man. And wait, you’re not done winning prizes. You also get to be called out your name, “nigger” and “boy” to be exact and any other degrading thing someone who technically is your equal thinks to say to you, when once again you’re an adult man. Winning! Naturally one’s self esteem will be low once they endure all of that kind of emotional trauma. One comes home to look into the eyes of a son filled with potential but will inevitably suffer the fate of himself, and so will his son and his. Fast forward to the civil rights movement when the black man has finally become angry enough to devise a plan of change. Then the crack epidemic rapes the black community of their men. Left to raise a family on her own, the black woman has grown bitter as well. She becomes hostile and degrading to the one that she’s supposed to help – her man. Distressed, he seeks solace in the arms of a white woman and society is not too fond of that. They await his pitfall even if it’s the slightest and once again rape him of his freedom and finances. In the work place they don’t promote him. On the way home he gets stopped by a cop for no reason. When he walks down the street he can sense the fear in people’s eyes of him robbing them or committing some senseless crime because of they’ve seen on TV. Does he ever get break? He wanders into the magazine department of a grocery store as the owner watches his every move. All he sees are magazines on how women can help themselves. There is no one there to help him. The reason why rappers talk about money so much is because it makes them feel like a man. A man is not a man to himself if he does not have the ability to provide for his family. With his money from rapping he feels as if he no longer has
to deal with putdowns of society because he has arrived. He is trying to prove to himself that he is indeed a man. In spite of social advancement, the African-American community still possesses a negative view of themselves from battered eyes. The images of past generations are etched in the heads of African-American young adults and it leaks into their eyes, blinding them. The low-self esteem becomes a ghost that haunts them. Because of white children are taught growing up, that the world is their oyster, they don’t feel the need to prove their manhood through use of violence or boasting about money. Any man from the Bush political family does not have to yell to be heard or respected. They are the Bushes. Their power and influence speaks for itself. Black men, even in a suit is not instantly respected. It is not until his face is recognizable from the television that he is given priority service or deemed worthy enough to move into an affluent development without everyone else putting up for sale signs. His boasting is his hit back to society. Back to talking about how ignorant rappers are for boasting about their money. There is no reason ever to verbalize to the masses the fact that your birthday wish is receive a big booty – well we all know the song. Nor is it all right to desire to be buried in a Louis Vuitton store upon one’s departure of this life but besides the fact that it’s repetitive and annoying consider why he says what he’s saying. Consider his background. Look into his eyes during his youtube video. Do you see pain? Then look into the eyes of your son if you have one. There is no way to protect the ones we love from all the evils of this world, but it helps to have someone in their corner. Give him a hug and tell him that he’s a king. Tell him that he’s so smart and can do anything. When he fails a test, tell him he’s smart. When someone hurts his feelings, tell him that he can do anything. Change his mind about how he views himself.
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The Invisible Segment: Black and Gay on Film By Takaya S. Williamson
Being black in American society we have often had to fight for representation in the media-sphere. Whether on newscasts, Hollywood movies or television programs blacks have felt the burden of underrepresentation in times past. Though it may be hard to imagine now, there was once a time where a George and Louise Jefferson, Heathcliff and Claire Huxtable or Carl and Harriet Winslow would never have been welcomed into the homes of families via the small screen. Likewise for Latinos, besides George Lopez and the interracial Russo family on Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” how often do we see a Latino family portrayed on television? Not as mere sidekicks or supporting actors but as the actual leads? It’s been a hard enough battle over the years to achieve the representation that minorities have in the television and film industry. Many have labored, so that black people could see a face that reflected the varieties of own on the big screen. Despite these accomplishments, however, there is still a significant portion of our people underrepresented in television. As I have often written before, blacks don’t come in cookie-cutter fashion. We are a diverse people: some of us are dark, some of us are light, some of us are wealthy and some of us are poor. And some of us are gay… The LGBT community achieved success when the first ever gay show was aired from 2000-2005 called “Queer as Folk.” The show followed the lives of a group
of gay white men living in Pittsburgh. Likewise “The L Word” followed a group of white (and one biracial) lesbian women chronicling their lives and relationships. Though blacks appeared on both shows, (including black Hollywood royalty Pam Grier) the main cast was predominantly white as were the themes. An exception to this was during the first season of “The L Word” when a biracial character was faced with animosity from a black woman who challenged her to announce her blackness. Another incident, occurred when the same character’s white girlfriend was reluctant to be impregnated by a black donor. Still though a few black characters were introduced, many black gays found that they could not quite relate. There was a void on television, and the double minority of being black and gay was non-existent. Then came Patrick Ian Polk with an idea that would make television history. The show was called “Noah’s Arc.” Anyone familiar with writing or screenwriting will understand the pun of “arc” as meaning the storyline or the journey faced by the character. Likewise one might recognize the acronym of “Arc” to represent Noah’s friends “Alex”, “Ricky” and “Chance.” Anyone familiar with the Biblical stories of Noah’s Ark in the book of Genesis will not miss the more obvious pun of the name itself. Either way, the show is centered around four gay black men in Los Angeles who work through life and relationships
while guiding the lead character—Noah through the flood of life and all of its difficulties. The characters vary, some more masculine, some more feminine but all showing that gay men are every bit as diverse as heterosexuals. The show premiered on logo in 2005 and produced two seasons and a movie titled “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom” in 2008. It was extremely successful, creating a fan following that surpassed sexual orientation, race and wealth divisions. It was the first of its kind, the first show COMPLETELY about the black gay male experience. Aside from the usual relationship issues such as step-parenting, monogamy, money issues and trust, the show also covers some serious topics such as HIV awareness, discrimination in the gay community against effeminate gay men, gay bashing and the lack of coverage in the media pertaining to black gay men. With the exception of one character who struggles with his sexuality early on, the cast are all representations of well-adjusted, out gay black men living normal lives. Starring actors such as Daryll Stephens (Boy Culture), Jensen Atwood (Their Eyes were Watching God) with a recurring role by Wilson Cruz (My So Called Life, He’s Just Not that Into You) the show provided both black and Latino faces otherwise ignored by the more mainstream media. In addition “Noah’s Arc” revealed the gay ball scene during its final episode, giving viewers a taste of the
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New York experience that director Patrick Ian Polk had come to observe. Aside from logo, however, the show hasn’t appeared on any other major networks. The dvds can be found on www.logotv.com. Noah’s Arc was not Patrick Ian Polk’s first gander into the film industry, however. In 2000 he wrote and directed a movie called “Punks” staring Seth Gilliam (Teen Wolf, Oz) and Rockmond Dunbar (Soul Food, Prison Break) among others. The film focused on friendship and the ups and downs of the lives of gay black friends, much like his latter show. It was produced by Babyface and Tracy Edmonds, and nominated for multiple awards including the Black Reel Awards, LA Fest, Cleveland International film festival, Independent Spirit Awards and the GLAAD Media Award. Following his “Noah’s Arc” success Polk continued with filmmaking and in 2012 he created another film The Skinny, about four out black Brown University graduates and their lesbian friend who reunite in New York City. Not only did this movie show that out gay blacks can be happy and successful but it also showed that blacks can go to college—graduate and live in a world other than the ghetto. Other directors in the LGBT community have taken the same cue from Mr. Polk: If the mainstream media won’t produce your image, then produce the image yourself. Writer Michelle A. Daniel and director Christina Brown have done just that in creating the 2011 web series “Between Women.” Taking place in Atlanta, the show is centered on a group of black lesbian friends each from different walks of life. Like “Noah’s Arc” before it, “Between Women” shows the various stages of relationships, tackling issues specific to the gay community such as parenting claims between two lesbians after a breakup, and gay bashing. In addition many of the relationship problems are identical to those faced by heterosexuals such as monogamy
and trust issues, unplanned pregnancy, and the difficult situation of when to end a relationship. What the show does is introduce a sect of the lesbian population never acknowledged in the mainstream, the black lesbian and also the butch/stud. Tending to be more masculine rather than feminine, butch/studs don’t depict womanhood the way that heterosexual society instructs women to dress and behave. They don’t dress for male attention, or behave for male acceptance. Consequently the media tends not to portray butches/studs as sexually enticing. In a society where lesbians are only recognized for the sexual gratification that their images can produce for men, a butch/studs are thus ignored. These facts alone make it especially ground-breaking to finally have representation for butch/studs on the show. It is interesting to note that the show does not limit itself to exclusively lesbian women. Though some characters are completely lesbian there are others who are actually bisexual. One such character dates a man and worries about what her friends will say and particularly her ex-girlfriend’s reaction. Likewise is the issue of transgender brought up when one character makes a call depicting her interest in gender reassignment. There is also a regular gay male supporting the cast. The inclusion of gay men, bi-sexuals and a female-to-male transgender character solidifies the show’s attempt at representation for the entire LGBT community. After completing its first season, the show was approached by a major network which the creators have yet to name and is looking forward to a second season starting on March 12, 2013. The first season can be found on youtube or www.betweenwomentv.com. Within the same time frame another show representing black lesbians was released via the web titled “Studville.” Like “Between Women” it focuses on a group of friends and their relationships but unlike the predecessor, the focus is on four studs and
"We are a diverse people: some of us are dark, some of us are light, some of us are wealthy and some of us are poor… some of us are gay. " their relationships to femme girlfriends. It is particularly from a stud’s point of view. Again, viewers are exposed to a segment that the mainstream media completely ignores. Relationships are examined, marriage, children, maintaining a household on one income, fidelity and other issues that not only gays but straight people can identify with as well. A newly-wed couple struggles financially after one wife goes back to school, another couple has just moved in together and have differing views on how to raise their children, and a newer couple faces the prospect of becoming serious. The women also face male animosity at the barbershop when while getting a haircut. Behind the scenes, the show’s creators also represent a diverse partnership. Black American Sheri Johnson teams up with� Tamicka Johnson and Caucasian writer Rob Fox, to produce a show that is just as entertaining as it is touching. At this point the show is also into its second season and building fandom on both youtube, facebook and www.studvilletv.com. There are many other shows via the web that reflect the communities deemed not glitzy enough or unworthy for Hollywood. Not all are black, not all are gay but because the internet exists these shows have the chance to exist beyond the control or manipulation of Hollywood’s single-minded standards. Perhaps someday there will be another show on television to reflect the lives people of color in the LGBT community. Until then we can all be assured that the web will produce no shortage. Hopefully that will spark enough interest by the mainstream for inclusion for all.
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Kickstarting Ain't Easy By Jasmine Golphin
Courtesy of http://http://insomniac-studios.com.
So by now all us struggling artists know the allure of crowdsourcing. “Someone will give me money so I create and not have to work at Taco Bell, you say? Where do I sign up?” So we make a plan, make a little video and get the ball rolling. And most of the time we come to learn the very first rule of crowdsourcing: Hitting up your friends is a precarious act at best. I speak from experience of course. Three years ago I started work on my feature film Maternal Pride and created an Indiegogo page for it. Actually I made two, because, you know, it worked so well the first time. In my head I knew my cash strapped friends would only be able to do so much, but I just assumed that by them spreading the word eventually Chris Nolan/ Shonda Rhimes/Robert De Niro (he likes black women right?)/Oprah would find out and help me on my journey.
Clearly I’m joking a bit, especially since I went with Indiegogo (which will give you whatever you raise) and not Kickstarter (which will only give you the money if you make your goal). But still I had to find out the hard way that asking for $20,000 through the internet was going to require me to be in a different place in life. A place that didn’t look like my last year in college and a place that didn’t remind people of the story of Moby Dick (And I am going to finish this film damn it! I don’t care how long we’ve been at sea!). I assumed that place would be one with a stronger following. Fans, to be more direct. I was sure that the biggest thing that stood between me and my great white whale was the relatively small number of people that wanted to see me succeed. In my mind more people equals more money. Easy. But then Aaron McGruder had to go and show me
that’s not completely true either. For those unfamiliar with his name, Mcgruder is the creator of The Boondocks, a comic strip turned cartoon show that stars two black boys and their grandfather in affluent the suburbs of Chicago. It’s satirical it’s harsh, it’s hilarious. I cried tears of joy when the main character Huey Freeman (named after Black Panther founder Huey P. Newton) told R.Kelly fans that the man needed help and that his plight was not some conspiracy of the white man to hold black men down, this time. Watching someone else say what’s been on my mind for years was just a thing of beauty. I became a fan instantly. Fast forward eight years later and I am one of 6.2 million fans on The Boondock’s Facebook page. After eight months of radio silence, they put up a status that says: “BIG BOONDOCKS ANNOUNCE-
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MENT TOMORROW! We know it’s been quiet around here for awhile. That’s all about to change. Stay tuned for a huge BOONDOCKS announcement tomorrow.The Management”. The next day they put up a link to a Youtube video with “Teaser.mov” as a title, which as someone that has uploaded a great number of Youtbue videos just made me laugh a little (edit on Final cut Pro, do we now?). The video depicts shots of a stage, lights flashing and obese, poorly dressed man waving a confederate flag. About half way through fans of the show realize this man is Uncle Ruckus, a character I couldn’t begin to properly describe for the uninitiated here. (Sparknotes version: Uncle Ruckus is a black character on the show that hates black people. He is the sort-of-lovable antagonist, the very height of satire, and the kind of character Dave Chappelle would have had to leave his show over).The trailer was for an Uncle Ruckus live action movie. None of the main characters, just this guy that could even embarrass Archie Bunker. I remember whispering to myself “America isn’t ready for this. We are still getting over Django.”. The attached link sent people to the Kickstarter page. Thirty days to raise $200,000. There is a giant poster to the left of pledge levels that reads “The Uncle Ruckus Movie!” and under that, in smaller print, “If you want it”. I probably wouldn’t be writing this if there wasn’t some sad dramatic irony in that last line. But on the first day of this campaign, with over six million fans, I figured I would surely have a chance to analyze this film once it was done and decide after it was all over if it was a worthy experiment. There are now four days left in the campaign.They are about $97,000 short of their goal. The comments on the Facebook page provide the biggest hint as to why: “I don’t think I’d sit through a feature length uncle ruckus thing. Interesting character but he’s definitely not meant to be taken in large doses.” ”Season 4…..work on that first” and, perhaps the most direct, “Wtf is this shit?”. So herein lies the first thing I learned: You have to address the mood of your
audience. Not each and every complaint, nor do I suggest you be swayed by the disgruntled. But addressing the mood shows that you are listening and that you give some sort of a damn. There was an attempt at this early on in the campaign. A day after the announcement was made, the trailer was re-posted with this added: “Hey all, this may not be the announcement you were expecting, but thanks so much for your support! We really appreciate it!”, which was nice but not much. Most people were concerned this film was going to be in lieu of a forth season, which they (we) have been waiting three years for. There was an announcement made in May 2012, two actually, but that was the last update anyone got from the page. A quick reminder that season four is in fact happening would have helped silence some detractors. The second thing I learned is to Give followers enough time to get their money together. Cyanide and Happiness, also started in 2005, is a webcomic series that occasionally makes sketch animated shorts. Their humor is black (as in dark, not as in race) and their fan base is much smaller than The Boondocks (826,000 on their Facebook page). They started announcing their Kickstarter project for a sketch animated series on January 15th, a full month before the project was launched. There were reminders on all their social media outlets everyday until the project was announced. It’s been over a week since their $250,000 campaign officially started. They’ve raised over $310,000. Fans need time. They need to get hyped. They need buzz. If you are going to surprise them, for whatever reason, give people more than 30 days to contribute the campaign. I mean that’s only two paychecks for most folks. I know I’ve already spent my next three paychecks. Lastly Do or Do Not, There is No Try. As much as I hate to admit it to my Star Wars fanatics, Yoda was right (my ennui of Star Wars is an essay for another day). You are the creator. You are the master of your craft. Fans, generally speaking, don’t know what goes on behind the curtain. They don’t
know how you make the music sound good, how you shoot that film, how you paint that portrait how you write that essay (this one was made with the NERD Pandora station, under-employment and unicorn dust). But fans, including those ignorant to your craft, can smell a lack of confidence You can’t go to them and say “Give me your money. You know, if you want.” You have to explain to them how whatever you are doing is going to change their life. That their money is the least they could give to make this sun rise. But on The Boondock’s Kickstarter page we find this: SONY (who produces THE BOONDOCKS animated series) is not involved with this project in any way. In fact, there are no investors, corporate or otherwise, involved with the movie as of this moment. This whole thing is kind of an odd idea, so we’re starting with Kickstarter on this one and we’ll just see what happens…Uncle Ruckus has a lot of supporters out there. If they want this to happen, they can make it happen. I mean, does that sound sissified or what? “Eh you know, if you want to you could make this happen, but if you don’t, no worries. It’s not like we care or anything.” That sounds like what a geek on a sitcom says when he’s trying to act like the popular kids. I’m not trying to suggest that McGruder and et al’s feelings on the situation are stronger than these words suggest. I’m just saying if you give people the option not to care, they won’t. All of this said, I kind of feel bad for McGruder. Or at least I have a sense a mourning for this experiment. I’m curious to see what he was thinking. I want to know what he pitched to Gary Anthony Williams (who voices both the animated character and plays the live action one) to get him to sign on. I want to see what else the costume and make-up department got spot-on (live action Uncle Ruckus looks just like the animated character. I mean JUST LIKE). And who knows what might happen in a week. But I have to say I’m kind of grateful to see a crowdsourcing project fail struggle on such a big scale. It reminds me that all us artists make mistakes, no matter how many people want to see us succeed.
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Six Degrees of Separation: A Play of a Different Color By Monica Baker
Michael Oatman - Courtesy of clevelandartsprize.org
Karamu Artistic Director Terrence Spivey waits patiently by the door as the winter darkness swallows daylight; behind him, director and playwright Michael Oatman is checking the time closely. In short order, a lean, bright faced young man approaches the front doors of Karamu wearing a tan overcoat, that he is swimming in, with suspenders underneath. The kid has artist written all over him. “Hello, Terrence,” the young man says, flashing a playful grin. This is a reunion of sorts, Spivey and actor Dan Rand, are reconnecting and exploring a bond that was formed when Spivey directed him in The Cleveland State version of Master Harold and the Boys. Dan Rand is a Junior at Cleveland State University and is currently studying in the CSU Drama department under Micheal Mauldin. “Man, you’ve grown,” Terrence exclaims. Dan returns the comment with a smile. For Dan Rand, this is a
big moment. Not only to show physical growth, but to express his acting growth as well. Dan Rand has come to the historic Karamu to audition for a role in the hit John Guare play, Six Degrees of Separation. What Dan Rand does not know is that he has the part before he even utters a word. “He had me at hello. As soon as I saw that smile, I just knew that he was my Paul,” said Six Degrees Director, Michael Oatman. Earning the role for Rand is no small matter. Rand is white and the character he will be playing was written for a black man, in fact, in the movie version of Six Degrees of Separation, the character of Paul was played by Will Smith. In 1993, New York based playwright, John Guare wrote the groundbreaking play. Set in the world of upper-crust. New York high society, Six follows the story of Paul, a low rent hustler who infiltrates the lives of New York’s elite. Based on the real story of David Hampton, the play is a high stakes
→ The play opens March 15th and runs to April 7th at Karamu House Theater, located at the corner of East 89th Street and Quincy Avenue. For more Information (216) 795-7070 Show times are 8pm Thursday – Saturday and 3pm on Sundays. exploration of race, class and culture in America. “I felt that there was something to be explored by switching the racial make-up of the play,” Oatman said, with a sly grin. Oatman admits that the shift in racial perspective is a risk and also is adamant about not rewriting the script to accommodate the casting shift. “I am not going to change a syllable of Guare’s amazing writing,” said Oatman. In the play, Flan and Ouisa Kittredge, who are wealthy art dealers, are visited by a handsomely articulate Paul, a young man who claims to have been robbed. Paul goes on to assert that he is friends
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of their children and is in fact the son of famous actor Sydney Poiter. Guare explores the fact that too much space has grown between parent and child in modern society. Guare makes the point that it is not far-fetched for a hustler to take advantage of the communication blackout that exists in many modern day families. Local actor Kenny Parker strides onto the stage like an oak tree as he delivers his lines driven by a deep base that bottoms his voice. According to Parker, who plays Flan, behind the stuffy exterior of his character is a man who desires all the perks in life.
“My character loves art, good food, drink and traveling. He loves expensive things,” said Parker, who is completely unfazed by playing a traditionally white character. “I love it . . . it’s almost like history repeating itself, accept the shoe is on the other foot . . . and I won’t have to paint my face to make mockery out of the character . . . I’ll just portray him the way he is . . . hungry for money,” said Parker. Relative new comer to the stage Ashley Aquilla, who was last seen at Karamu in 12 Angry Men is equally interested in the class dynamics of the play. Aquilla portrays
Kitty, one half of a shallow couple who were swindled by this young street hustler. Paul extorts money and lodging from each couple as he makes his way through the social set. For Aquilla the thing that stands out the most for her is the script. “This truly is a well written play. I always look forward to working with this kind of well written material,” said Aquilla, who looked forward to the challenge of playing a character that was originally written as a white woman. “I think it is an awesome challenge and I am eager to take it on.”
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To Give, Or Not to? By Christina Sanders What should I do about my ex asking me for money? You need to make up in your mind the type of post relationship, relationship that you would like to have with your ex. Do you want to be friends (I don’t advise this option, do you want to hate their guts and never speak to them again, do you want to be their doormat, etc? What do you want? Disregard them and their needs/wants/desires/problems/issues. After you make up your mind what you want to the relationship to be communicate your decision to them. If you choose to be friends, make it clear that if you need a dollar or 12,000 that they need to be there for you as well. If you choose to hate their guts, tell them to buzz off. If you choose to be their doormat, hang yourself upside by your feet and let money constantly fall from your pockets into their lap. Don’t turn upright until your pockets are empty and you have to go back to work. Also don’t say one word about it. Don’t complain to God, your kin, your friends, Twitter about what’s all not fair because you made the levelheaded decision to be their doormat. My life is so hard. Is it something wrong with me? Is it my fate to be poor? Your fate is only to be poor, if you make your fate that way. Humans have the ability to remove themselves from undesirable situations when they are motivated to do so. Since you are human and live in a free country you also possess this power. Life really isn’t hard at all and most negative things in life can actually be avoided. There are few things out of our control such as passed
time, time of death and how you die. Lots of times people complicate their lives because they don’t take time to manage their lives. Identify the things you need to do in order to get where you’re trying to get and do those things. Take a day and live it normally and record everything you do and how long it takes you every second of the day for the whole day. You will be surprised how much time you waste doing unproductive things. After you identify those things, simply stop doing those things. The best way to stop doing something is to stop doing something. What do I need to change? A lot if you have to ask that question. No one should ever define you except you. If you do things that are counterproductive to the goals that you are trying to accomplish then stop doing those things. If you don’t like your hair change it. Only you can identify what’s not correct with you. Should I call my ex on her birthday? If you’re trying to get over her NO. If you are planning to wallow and dwell on the past, call her. If you must say something, write on her Facebook wall if she has one or tweet her if she has that. If she doesn’t text her the words Happy Birthday with no exclamation points, smiley faces, “How ya been?” nothing. Keep it general and to the point. If your goal is to get her back, this will most likely work because people love to be anywhere they’re not wanted or needed. She will most likely try to hold a conversation to reverse the power or end up putty in your hands.
What Should I Do About People Acting Phony Towards Me? Get over yourself and move on. Life is full of unauthentic people that’s why when you find authentic people it’s best you hold on to them. Most people that you meet in this world will not care about you. Many will have no desire to do harm to you but they won’t care about you. They are busy living their lives, being concerned about themselves, the ones, they care about and probably at least one person that doesn’t care about them. It’s how the world works. Everyone is busy caring about someone that doesn’t care about them. It happens. It’s best to get busy being concerned with you though and be thankful for enemies because people who aren’t going anywhere usually have a lot time to make friends.
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Young Girl By Anthony Robinson Jr.
Red, white, and blue all you care about are the new Jimmy Choos. Young girl dressed so seductively, where you headed to? You watch sex and the city weekly like itâ€™s a religion. Yet, you don't have a religion. Young girl, can you tell me why you failed that exam? Or why you wear a mini skirt to school? Or have you been scammed? Young girl, it seems to me you care more about teasing boys and trying to score; rather than pleasing your parents and trying to learn more. Young girl, I don't blame you for how you behave but be careful in these streets or you may end up in a grave. Young girl, living so reckless. It's apparent that you could really care less. I don't blame you young girl for society did this to you. Young girl, I pray that you find your ambition and drive. So that one day you may truly fly. Don't live your life in a disguise. Be you and all your dreams will come true.
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Friday Night Lights Out:
Steubenville’s “Big Red” Raises Flags Over High-School Athletes’ Ignored Criminal Behavior By K.Cymbal
I had my coffee with about 30 spoonfuls of small-town justice yesterday listening to the verdict of two, Steubenville, Ohio, teens convicted a raping a 16-yearold female student. Last August, the victim attended the same, alcohol-laced, end-ofsummer party as the perpetrators did and, as observed rather quickly by the tens of
thousands of text messages recovered from 17 confiscated cell-phones, it became as clear as an 8-megapixel photo that this young woman was intoxicated beyond comprehension and certainly unable to make any bit of rational choice or wellthought out decision. Eyewitness testimony of teens present
during the sexual misconduct but awarded immunity against prosecution corroborate the texted words, tweets, video uploads, and pictures forwarded that catalogue the sheer absence of human decency that Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, displayed toward a young woman who thought they were her friends, who
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thought they could be trusted. Instead, the Steubenville football stars shackled their hands around her wrists and ankles--smiling, for a token, photoop, while her body hung as limp and lifeless as a small, dead, deer. Although vomiting and unable to make a coherent sentence, the athletes and other teammates joked as someone urinated on her for a 3 dollar fee. She was transported to three separate parties in various states of undress--the defendants exposing her breasts for others to see, digitally penetrating her in the most debase of ways, and posing next to her nude body. She ended up in a basement, naked, with May’s, Richmond, and another male friend sprawled around her--confused, embarrassed and upset that she could not remember the details that transpired the night before. The victim soon realized the tsunami of social media regarding the antics played out the night before and soon pieced together an inescapable reality of shame, pain, and embarrassment; she was raped, repeatedly, and everyone in her teenage world, real- time as well as cyberspace, knew about it. Though the defendants were stalwart in maintaining the conduct was consensual, that same abundance of media posts and pictorials they and their teammates used as bragging rights to parade over the internet--illuminated, beyond a doubt, their very, very, wrong and criminal behavior. Judge Thomas Lipps found both young men guilty of rape; to be held immediately, up to age 21, in a juvenile facility, as well as subsequently registering as sex offenders for life. With the grueling trial over and fates decided, the family of the victim wants immediate closure to move forward and beyond this seven month
nightmare so their daughter can heal and rebuild a future. Unfortunately, only Hollywood for certain can produce happy endings. Just after the guilty verdict was handed down, Attorney General Mike DeWine spoke vehemently about widening the circle of guilt; holding accountable the coaches, school officials, parents, additional students who knew a crime was committed or being committed, and did nothing to stop or report it. Dewine told NBC news “when the victim is continually revictimized in the social media, and that’s what has happened here, this is not just a Steubenville problem, this is a nationwide problem. This is a societal problem”. Media organizations , while lauding the verdict, are looking for a dialogue of change in school sports programs that place athletic prowess and achievement above right behavior and consequence. Many place blame at cultural desensitization---a constant assault on young people with over-sexualized advertising, titillating and realistic video gaming that idolizes societal ills(drugs, car theft, prostitution, murder), rampant internet pornography, and living out loud on the pages of Facebook and Twitter. Not only are these images far from serving as age-appropriate, material-they are continuously being spoon-fed through electronic mediums with very little in the way of parental control. Teenagers find fame and cult-status uploading videos and pictures to Youtube and Instagram. Life is made more in 140 characters or less on the pages of Twitter than in the classroom happenings of the local high-schools. Perhaps living 24/7 within the world wide web causes the biggest disconnect of all; watching life unfold on a monitor appears more makebelieve and less accountable than the immediate, tangible responses happening
in the here and now. The guilty verdict in Steubenville is one stone rippling towards right in the middle of an ocean of what’s gone vastly wrong in American Society. The mother of the victim said it in the most basic of truths with her closing statement to the young men convicted of raping her daughter: “Human compassion is not taught by a teacher, a coach or a parent. It is a God-given gift instilled in all of us. You displayed not only a lack of this compassion but a lack of any moral code.” Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond failed miserably to show this young women even the same amount of protection displayed toward the leather football they defend on any, given, Friday night. They drug her around like a piece of property and took advantage of her stupored state to humiliate her in ways it will take years,if ever, to recover from. The Grand Jury as well is investigating a possible cover up, to examine who knew and failed to disclose or report by mandate-and that process could be as difficult and arduous in testimony as the initial trial. Just under a full 24 hours after the verdict, two, teenage girls associated with the convicted high schoolers badgered the rape victim on social media; one girl threatening to “Beat her a--”, and another teen, identified as a female cousin, stated “If I see you, it’s gonna be a homicide”. The Steubenville Police department has heavily monitored social media since the trial’s end and will immediately prosecute any real or implied threat or backlash. Both girls are currently in the custody of juvenile detention awaiting charges of criminal menacing. Steubenville remains under the heat of a national spotlight as Americans continue to observehow this small town tackles criminal behaviors in celebratedstudent athletes and the adults who sat silent on the sidelines of justice
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Judging a Book by its Cover:
A Short History of Race & Gender Depiction on WWE Magazines By Takaya S. Williamson
In the analysis of the sociology of gender in American society I have chosen to study the world of sports entertainment—specifically professional wrestling. As a child of the 1980’s it’s impossible to have missed the phenomenon of the then World Wrestling Federation’s (WWF) charm over not only children but young males especially. The company spawned Hollywood star Hulk Hogan who acted in films such as “Mr. Nanny”, “Rocky” and others. Within the 1990’s and early 2000’s other actions stars would arise such as Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock making their marks on film as well. These crossover sensations offered exposure for professional wrestling to an audience that otherwise would not have known or even garnered an interest in the sport. But what exactly were audiences exposed to? What lessons about masculinity, femininity and the behaviors of man and woman are insinuated by the popular broadcasts? The WWF, which is now the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) produces two popular shows weekly, Monday Night
Raw, Friday Night Smackdown and a child-friendly recap on Saturday mornings. Annually there are various pay-per-view events such as Summer Slam, Wrestlemania and a few more. In addition the company produces action films, runs a website, publishes WWE Magazine and until 2006 Smackdown Magazine. It is through this media that one can expect to find that women are portrayed in a sexualized manner while the men in a hyper-masculine archetype. The sample that was acquired for analysis were the covers of Smackdown Magazine from the years of 1996-2006 (131 issues total) as well as the covers of Raw Magazine from 1998-2005(124 issues total). The purpose of this analysis is to see the specific masculine/feminine gender ideals being promoted with each wrestler to grace the cover. The theme for females is to be sexy. Despite their participation in a physically violent sport, women are posing in seductive manners bringing more attention to their attractiveness rather than their abilities as fighters. This demonstrates the lack of aggression that even women in an aggressive field are allowed to foster. Instead
their place is to remain sexualized for the male audience. Male athletes on the covers are portrayed vastly different, typically involving aggressive, confrontational and intimidating demeanor on the cover. It’s important to note that though both male and female wrestlers tend to be scantily clothed, male near nudity is presented not in a sexual manner but in a demonstration of their strength, dominance and power associated with large muscles. When initially beginning this research my aim was to prove that the covers of these particular wrestling magazines provide a message of gender distinction of males as powerful and dominant and females as sexual objects. Most of my findings tend to support this hypothesis, however based solely on the covers of the magazines I found that male aggression though a key component in the sport of wrestling is not as prominent on the covers of the Raw and Smackdown magazines. Instead male centeredness tends to be the main focus—white male centeredness in particular. Continued on Page 32
This chart demonstrates the amount of times a women has graced the cover of Smackdown Magazine in a ten year period in comparison to men. The chart concludes until 2006 when the magazine was finally cancelled. The data shows that 10:131 of the covers featured solely women. An additional 6 times the cover was shared by both women with men, totaling 16:131 women wrestlers on the cover over a ten year period.
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There were a couple with men carrying women as props though these women were models and not a part of the actual industry. It was for this reason that these two covers were not counted in the research.
Smackdown Magazine was regarded as the tamer version in comparison with Raw Magazine due to the television show being aired on network television while Raw was aired on cable. For this reason the attire of women tended to be more moderate for Smackdown than Raw. This chart represents the amount of times a woman has been on the cover of Raw Magazine of the seven year period analyzed in comparison to men. 20:124 of the covers featured women only with an additional 3 where women were accompanied by men making it 23:124 covers featuring women total.
Of the times when a woman did appear on the cover of Raw Magazine, she tended to wear non-wrestling and sexual attire such as bikinis and lingerie. With the exception of two covers the women were never engaged in conflict or aggressive fighting behavior as the men were.
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The representation of minorities on the covers is nearly non-existent with the few exceptions.
In comparison white males were portrayed with a mixture of aggression as well as (to my surprise) other more normative gestures.
From these results it is noticeable that the white male is the default or archetype. It is the white male wrestler who is portrayed with the most diversity. While most covers depict dominance and aggression some demonstrate a personalized side to the wrestler. This line of portrayal coincides with what Alan Johnson describes in The Gender Knot as “male-centeredness.” Because the focus is on the (white) male he is
represented in multiple ways, his actual story is told while women are viewed not with authenticity but through the convoluted lens of the white male. In the case of the WWE, sex objects with their body parts often referred to with frat boy humor as inhuman objects (an announcer popularized the slogan “puppies” to refer to breasts thus the cover of August 1999). An important point to make about these findings is that although males
tend to occupy far more covers than females, minorities occupy even less. This coincides with “Privilege as Paradox” by Allan G. Johnson concerning how merely belonging to one privileged group may not cancel out the underprivileged status of belonging to another. Black, Asian and Latino men although they are male, are seen even less than white women on the covers of both Raw and Smackdown. Continued on Page 34
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This chart demonstrates the number of covers with a minority person appearing on Smackdown Magazine from 1996-2006. A total of 18:131 covers included a minority. This is only two issues more than of women.
As is painfully obvious a large chunk of covers belong to whites while a very small amount belong to minorities. There were no Asians ever to grace the cover within the ten year period while only 8 Blacks and 3 Latinos were on the cover. A mere 7 covers included minorities along with whites. It is important to note that of the 8 Blacks 4 of the covers were occupied by a wrestler who identifies as not just Black but biracial, that is half black, half Samoan. Another note to consider is that of the three Latino covers, two are the same man. This chart shows the number of times a minority person has appeared on the cover of Raw Magazine between the years of 1998-2005. A total of 13:124 covers included a minority. This is ten issues less than those of women.
Of the 124 covers only 8 bore the face of a black person. Two covers one or more whites accompanied the black person. Only six of the covers bore a solo black person and of the 6 covers 4 were of the same person. Furthermore that particular wrestler identifies as bi-racial (half Black half Samoan) instead of just as Black so it is arguable whether or not he can be included in this data at all. None of the Blacks were women. Only 2 covers existed between 1998-2005 which showed an identified or perceived Latino. That is to say, if any other people on any of the other covers were Latino it was expressed and thus not perceived by the audience. Of 124 covers only one cover included an Asian who happened to be a woman. There were no Asian men on any cover of Raw Magazine. What this research indicates is that the primary focus of both Smackdown and Raw magazines is that of the white male audience. The same audience who, according to
Kimmel’s “Gendered Media” tends to gravitate more toward media that they can identify with, that is media sporting a white male. (pg 6) Kimmel notes, “White men seem to turn off shows that have African Americans in leading roles-or even ensemble casts that have minority actors alongside females, even if the majority of the cast remains white and male. Fortunately for these men there’s sports: sports TV, sports radio, sports magazines and newspapers, and the sports section of the daily newspaper.” (242) As gender is demonstrated on the covers of both Smackdown and Raw Magazines it is clear that a woman’s role is to be sexy while the man’s role is typically to be dominant though there is much room for variation. Fun-loving, joking, and coolness are other personas allowed via the magazine discourse for males. This obvious male centeredness coincides with patriarchal thought as described in The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy.
According to Allan G. Johnson, the four main components of patriarchy are 1) male dominance, 2) male identification, 3) male centeredness and 4) obsession with control (The Gender Knot, pg5-15) throughout this paper I will attempt to show how both Raw Magazine and Smackdown magazine express these ideals. Male dominance is explained when males occupy the positions of authority and leadership in a system. As both Raw and Smackdown magazines reflect the events of the programs they are inclined to express the domination of men on these programs. With men running the company both in front of the camera and behind the scenes it is no surprise to find such an element in the magazines. In front of the camera the shows tend to operate on a mock bureaucratic level providing a general manager of each separately. Raw has one general manager and Smackdown has one general manager. These general managers tend to shift as time progresses but most of the time the
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managers tend to be men. Of the nine different general managers on Raw from 2002-2011 only two were women one of whom was the daughter of the boss of the entire show (Stephanie McMahon). She was white. The other, (Vickie Guerrero) only occupied the spot shortly. She was Latina. There was only one general manager who was Black (Jonathan Coachman). As for Smackdown, of six different general managers (one of whom occupied the position more than once) the exact same two women (Stephanie McMahon and Vickie Guerrero) held the office. On this show, however, the women’s individual tenures lasted a lot longer than on Raw. Just like the other show, only one general manager was Black (Theodore Long). In the same manner, in front of the camera other authority figures such as chairman, executive and so forth tend to be men. With the exception of two women (Linda & Stephanie McMahon) occupying positions of authority. It is important to note that both on and off the camera it is common knowledge to the audience that these two are the wife and daughter of the owner of the company Vince McMahon. Likewise, Vickie Guerrero is the wife of the late superstar Eddie Guerrero (both on and off camera). The identities of all three women therefore are directly tied to men who are known in the business. This fact alone can take away from the idea of the women actually earning their positions with skills and ability rather than it being awarded them from the male in charge. Again, the default of the positions of power are men. Male identification is described by Johnson as the uplifting of ideals associated with man and maleness as the preference of a society. These ideals include control, strength, competiveness, toughness, forcefulness, and invulnerability among others. On both Raw and Smackdown these are expressed in both male and female wrestlers. As the sport of wrestling is itself competitive, tough and revolving around strength this is to be expected. However there is a vast difference between the male and female wrestlers in their portrayal. Even their labels are different. Despite all being wrestlers and athletes in their own right men are called wrestlers or superstars and athletes while the women are
called divas. While the term “superstar” can be gender neutral the term “diva” is associated with beauty, attitude and over all femininity. Already the label has identified men as the “normal” wrestlers while the women are not just athletes but “divas” praised for their sexual attractiveness rather than athleticism. As do the shows so do the magazines, identifying what male readers are likely to be interested in reading, and showing the “divas” in positions and poses that the heterosexual male readers will be likely to enjoy. It is notable that although coolness under pressure and emotional control are both ideals to which men are led to aspire, in the wrestling world it is the opposite. Male wrestlers are actually valued for being angry and losing control by beating other male wrestlers mercilessly. Perhaps this is a way that males watching can channel their own aggressions and can thus live vicariously through the wrestlers on the screen and in the pages of the magazine. Male centeredness is demonstrated on the shows as the majority of matches are between men. The magazines project likewise, as the majority of covers are occupied by men. The male, again who tends to be white, is represented diversely. Some are violent warriors, some are just the Average Joe fighting for his job, and some are the cool surfer guys who are demonstrating their toughness. As the previous pictures demonstrated, the idea of the magazine is centered on what (heterosexual) men want to see, what (heterosexual) men want to read and what (heterosexual) men are thinking. Obsession with control is not as dominant in the magazines or on the shows. Although male wrestlers may fight to control their careers emotions are expressed frequently and not frowned upon. These emotions, however are limited to anger, passion (for the win or the business) and in some cases even tear shedding. When Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero won their respective titles for the first time after long careers it was not frowned upon that both men embraced and shed tears. There were no angry articles in the magazines about this display of emotion nor was there criticism. In fact, the display earned the two
a spot on the cover of Smackdown Magazine. Obsession with control is the only principle of patriarchy which does not appear to be represented overall. In his article, “Friendship, Intimacy and Sexuality” Michael Messner describes the locker room dynamic between males and their struggles of obtaining intimate connections while thwarting homo eroticism. As professional wrestlers undoubtedly display intimate bonds (as in the example mentioned above as well as tag teams) and are barely clothed generally one can easily see the potential threat to heterosexist patriarchal thought. This however is quelled in the objectification of women. As Messner notes, “what is to prevent the development of sexual relations among young men who are playing, showering dressing and living in such close quarters? The answer is that the erotic bond between men is neutralized through overt homophobia and through the displacement of the erotic toward women as objects of sexual talk and practice.” (96) This point is proven as the primary function of women in the wrestling world is to provide sexual stimulation for the male viewer. Again, the covers of RAW and Smackdown Magazines portray this very ideal as they are an extension of the shows. After careful analysis I came to the conclusion that Raw and Smackdown magazines function as apparatuses which teach white male centeredness and white male normalcy. All other groups (women, minorities etc) are secondary with women as accessories at best. These magazines specifically target the male audience promoting separatism between the sexes but on a positive note provides an emotional outlet for male consumers otherwise hindered by patriarchal ideals of emotional control. Despite the appearance of women and minorities in the wrestling business it is dominated by white males and male interests. While women enter the wrestling world and attempt to prove their physical ability, they are still relegated to mere sexual antics for male sexual gratification. Ultimately the WWE is another form of modern day “lad lit.”
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