** Caution! The following article may offend some with the language usage of the word “Nigger.” It is our primary purpose to educate and inform, not entertain. The usage and historical content of the word will be used throughout this article. Reader discretion is advised.**
Nas has the number one album on the charts. Two weeks in a row. The album is untitled. But we all know the title, though. At the Grammy’s a few short months ago, Kelis, Nas’ rumored soon to be ex wife, wore the title on the back of her jacket. But because of the explosive divide over naming an album with such a historically demeaning background, Nas consented to the removal of the title from the cover of his album. Yet, the picture of Nas’ back scarred with calloused whip bruises, in the shape of a capital ‘N,’ creates an astounding visual representation of the word in question.
This past week end, Rev. Al Sharpton, defended his close friend and civil rights patriot, Rev. Jesse Jackson. Yes, Jackson was wrong for calling Sen. Barack Obama the ‘word,’ Sharpton agreed, but Jackson is still a good man despite the seemingly hypocritical slip he made. Remember, Rev. Jackson and the NAACP ‘buried’ the ‘word’ symbolically last year in Detroit.
And…my late great-grandfather, Robert Samuel Standifer, when provoked and angered, was quick to use that word to describe a person and his actions. Whenever Big Daddy, that is what we all lovingly called him, began his tirade of the ‘word,’ you knew it was time to get outta his way!
Nowadays, the ‘word’ is used in a variety of ways and has numerous connotations. It is used in a racial, derogatory sense. It is used to describe a behavior. It is used to describe an individual in a friendly, homie type of way. It is also used as a warm greeting. But what really is the deal behind the ‘N’ word?
In latin, the word used to describe ‘black’ is ‘niger.’ In English, ‘niger’ is translated into ‘negro.’ In French, ‘niger’ is then translated into two words for both sexes, ‘negre’ for a male and ‘negress’ for a female. But it is the mispronuniciation of the later from French to English by uneducated Southern slave owners that gives us the version of the word we love and hate so well: ‘nigger.’ This word is deeply ingrained within the consciousness of all Americans, but not as deeply than in the collective psyche of African Americans. ‘Nigger,’ during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, was systematically etched into American culture by advertisers, songwriters and publishers, business owners, entertainers and the like. The word usage of ‘nigger’ along with its’ negative connotation, spurred new words in every day American life.
Those words, like, nigger-tip, which means leaving a small tip, nigger-steak, which means a plate of liver, nigger-shooter which means a slingshot, nigger-stick, a police baton and nigger-rich, which means to be deeply in dept but flamboyant, were not the intelligent creation of an university educated African American. No, these words were created by Caucasian Americans. The usage of the word nigger also found itself in the homes of Americans. Products had names such as nigger milk, for ink. Songs of the day were titled, “Hesitate Mr. Nigger, Hesitate,” or “You’se Just A Nigger.” Even acclaimed novelist Agatha Christie wrote a book titled “Ten Little Niggers.” So, the word ‘nigger’ was deeply entrenched in both the worlds of African Americans and Caucasian Americans. Whether professional or layman, the word ‘nigger’ was tossed around like ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye.’
But the word ‘nigger’ in the African American community had a different reality. The usage of the word among community members was tolerated and accepted. Even though the meaning behind nigger held negative connotations coming from Caucasians, it did not take on the same venom. ‘Nigger’ was embraced and rearranged by African Americans to take on dual personalities: one could be called a ‘nigger’ lovingly, jokingly and warmly. On the flip side, a person could be called a ‘nigger’ in the worst or original Southern slave owner definition. The same holds true today.
In the twenty-first century, nigger has been reworked to sound and read ‘nigga,’ niggaz,’ or ‘niggah.’ These reincarnations of the basic original meaning and historic spelling is a cultural desensitizing of a negative word; redefined and embraced by the masses. However, the culture at large is divided over the usage, definition and comfort level of any form of the word ‘nigger.’ To say that it is wrong for Caucasians to use the word that they created by default is debatable. To decide that the actual embracing and redefinition of the word ‘nigger’ by African Americans for the exclusive use of African Americans is , too, highly debatable. The exorcism of the word ‘nigger’ from the conscious vocabulary of Americans in general, will be a collectively overwhelming task because of its’ roots and cultural re-identification. If the word ‘nigger’ was as repulsive as ‘pickininny,’ ‘mammy,’ ‘jigaboo,’ ‘samba,’ ‘coon,’ and ‘buck,’ then it wouldn’t be so difficult to extract. There has yet to be a reinvention and embracing of the word ‘coon’ or ‘mammy’ that we know about.
But should we actively use it? With the word ‘nigger’ being so and utterly linked in the consciousness of African Americans, it is more than a notion to cut it out of our vocabulary. But for those of us that feel the lash of the plantation owner’s whip when the word is spoken, it is not that hard to remove it from our dialogue. A word as foul and degrading as ‘nigger’ has the history of being, some in the African American community find no problem in eliminating ‘nigger’ from their psyche. This is a wonderful thing. What of others and should these be villianized for their embracing of the word?
History awaits the final call on that. Still, I know that my great, to the tenth power, grandfather, George (Nelson) Ricks, a runaway slave, wouldn’t approve of me using it in my daily speech nor would I want to hear my children use the word ‘nigger’ to hate on or to love another human being. That is not to say that I haven’t found myself using the questioned terminology. I am no-ones hypocrite. But in the moments when my sanity returns, I am remorseful and taste the full extent of the bitterness that comes with the word ‘nigger.’
Will Italian “Vogue” Black Issue Make A Difference In The Fashion Industry? Some Would Argue ‘Maybe’
When I received my advance copy of Italian Vogue’s“Black” issue, I was surpised and pained at the same time. The photography and the models were absolutely beautifully done. The magazine is an artistic acheivement. What pained me were the years upon years of the most insidious, racist notions by those deep within the fashion world who ascertain the idea that African American models are not commercial or marketable. Italian Vogue is in its’ second reprint at the time of this article and sales are up by 700%. So much for that myth.
The primary photographer of Italian Vogue’s historical “Black” July issue, which as been dubbed in Britain as “The Most Wanted Issue Ever!,” Steven Meisel, speaking on the various ‘reasons’ why African American models are snubbed on the runway and in fashion magazines routinely is because of “laziness, paranoia and pedantry which may have something to do with the failure to hire Black models for shows and magazine features in any meaningful manner.” Vogue did pave the way for African American models in 1974 by putting an up and coming Beverly Johnson on its’ cover. Johnson was the first African American model to do so. Naomi Campbell also hold the distinction of being the first and only African American model to cover both French and British Vogue.
However, when it comes to the runways, top fashion designers and houses still blatantly boycott African American models. Blindingly so. The recent tally of the last Paris Fashion week yielded shocking numbers:
Out of 34 models, Balanciago used zero African American models.
Out of 36 models, Chanel used zero African American models.
Out of 42 models, Celene used zero African American models.
Out of 49 models, Louis Vuitton used 2 African American models.
Out of 28 models, Chloe used zero African American models.
Interesting data isn’t it? Yet, African Americans are known to spend billions upon billions each year on designer clothes making this particular group of consumers number one on the marketing and advertising charts. Still, does this factor impress the powerful mover and shakers in the fashion industry?
The answer is a resounding NO! Fashion photographer and film maker Nick Knight commented in his film, “The Cut” that “whenever I ask to use a Black model I am given the excuses such as ‘black models are not aspirational in some markets’ or ‘they do not reflect the brands values.’ Normally, however, no reason is given…it is my belief that our society must be inclusive.”
So, with the huge sold-out mania taking place over Italian Vogue’s“Black” issue, is it wise to assume that a change in the casting and advertising sectors of the fashion world is imminent? Some would suggest that this is more than likely. But the runways of Fashion Week this Fall will be the litmus test of verification. And with a vast majority of editorial leadership in the fashion magazine sphere being Caucasian, it appears to be highly doubtful if changes in the perception and usage of African American models arrive speedily.
Is An Apology Enough? House Of Representatives Pass Resolution To Apologize For The “Peculiar Institution” Known As Slavery
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that apologized to African Americans for the slavery holocaust and the post Civil War laws established to keep African Americans in a figurative and literal slave state, known in the South as Jim Crow. The passing of this resolution makes the House of Representatives the first branch of the Federal Government that has apologized for the horrific atrocity that we know today as slavery.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis, Tennassee. Incidentally, Mr. Cohen is a Caucasian American. The resolution, which states:
“African Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow, long after both systems were formally abolished through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, indeed the loss of human dignity and liberty, the frustration of careers and professional lives, and the long-term loss of income and opportunity.”
The resolution appears on the surface to address almost every point that most psychologists, historians and anthropologists have argued the validity of for decades. But in what direction, if any, will this resolution take to make amends for a gross human error that has been recognized? From the looks of the resolution, the apology will have to suffice. No reparations or reparation studies were mentioned or suggested.
Nineteen years ago, and every year there after, Rep. John Conyers, MI, re-introduces a bill that he drafted for the study of reparations to descendants of African American slaves. Known as H.R 40, “Commission To Study Reparations for African Americans,” since January, 1989, Rep. Conyers has fought an uphill battle to just get a study on the subject of reparations. Just a study. The bill is still just a bill. Conyers named his bill ’40′ after the Special Field Order #15, issued by General Sherman, January 16, 1865, giving freed slaves forty acres of land and a mule to work it. This act was to help newly freed slaves support themselves and their families.
History tells us that this Special Field Order was rescinded. Which is why African Americans feel so strongly about the subject of reparations. Many perceive reparations to be about handouts and free money when actually it really is about receiving what is due. For example, in 1988, Congress passed a bill and issued an apology to Japanese Americans for succumbing to racial fears and prejudice during WWII by rounding up all Japanese Americans and herding them into so-called “detention centers.” An American name for “concentration camps.”
Part of this apology and resolution included reparations in the amount of twenty thousand dollars. Now, in no way is it being suggested that the United States pay out large sums of money to African Americans. Some would disagree. But the best way to compensate or establish reparations would be to create state of the art public schools to teach young African American children, to give them an adequate head start. Most urban cities are strapped for cash to run public schools and therefore African American children are receiving substandard educations, which equals bleak futures.
Another suggested form of sustaining reparations would be to extend the option of receiving a free university or college education for all African Americans who would like to advance their education. This would be an excellent avenue to give a gift that keeps on giving. With a community that is failing and increasingly irresponsible, cutting checks is not going to do it, which is why the issue of reparations is a sore spot.
But the only thing that my ancestor, George Ricks, a runaway slave from Tennessee, wanted for his children was for them to have an education, live free and have their own means of support. As his great, to the tenth power, granddaughter, that is all I want, too. All freed slaves wanted this for their children and those that came after them.
So, an apology is a step in the right direction. But the most important step should be extending a reparations program that, instead of being just another welfare check and crutch, would become an infused foundation to a self-sustained independence that births human dignity and pride.
Last week on “The View,” moderator Whoopie Goldberg engaged co-host Sherrie Shepherd about her recently published interview in “Precious Times,” a magazine specially designed “for Today’s Black Christian Woman.” Sherrie’s controversial, or perhaps, not so controversial interview, sparked a renewed conversation that African American women have discussed among sistafriends for years: that of repeated trips to the abortion clinic.
Saying that before her debatable enlightenment and “conversion to Christianity,” Sherrie admitted that she had “had more abortions than I would care to count.” Why did this comment by “The View” co-host make headlines across the media world? Perhaps it is because of the sheer honesty of Sherrie Shepherd to make public a private and controversial skeleton that she obviously has many regrets over. But the question is, how is it that a woman can find herself a repeat at the abortion clinic, right? Another really serious question that comes to mind is why is abortion, a very expensive procedure, used as the primary source of birth control when your neighborhood CVS offers a large box of condoms for under twenty dollars?
The controversial Supreme Court decision, Roe V Wade, celebrated thirty-five years of legalized sanctioned abortions this year. In thirty-five years, has sexual responsibility and accountability expanded to play a major role in African American women’s health? One would be hard-pressed to reply in the affirmative. According to CDC reports and analysis, African American women “have much higher rates of abortion.” It was reported that African American women made up seventeen percent of all live births in 2000. But, African American women also made up more than twice that amount in abortions.
According to data researched and collected by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that believes in “advancing sexual and reproductive health worldwide through research, policy, analysis and public education,” half of all women in the United States having an abortion in 2002, had already had one prior abortion. Does this mean that repeat abortion clinic visitors were lax in their reproductive health?
Not according to the findings of the Guttmacher Institute:
“Repeat unintended pregnancies that end either in abortions or unplanned births occur among women from all economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds, suggesting that the reproductive health care system in general is failing to provide women with the services and counseling they need.”
The Guttmacher Institute concluded that:
“The majority of women having abortions were using contraceptives when they became pregnant… in fact, women obtaining second and higher-order abortions were slightly more likely to have been using a highly-effective hormonal birth control method when they became pregnant.”
So, what does all this mean? It means that there is a problem. If a woman finds herself at the abortion clinic, making a decision that she will have to bear on her conscious for the rest of her life, what initially brought her to this point? Could it be broken down to poor judgment and haphazard choices? With the African American family as dysfunctional as we all know it to be, could the factor of unwanted pregnancies be tied to the need to be loved and wanted, even it is for a moment in time? Has the African American community turned a general blind eye to the startling statistic that more than seventy percent of the babies being born to African American women, are being born outside of marriage? How did this shocking statistic make itself home in our community?
Sherrie Shepherd was dissected for her promiscuity and numerous abortions last week unfairly. She is not an exception. Unfortunately, her situation has become the rule in the African American community. This journalist knows first hand the strong power of low self-esteem, self-hatred and the overwhelming need to feel and be a recipient of ‘so-called love’ through promiscuity. But that lifestyle only brought this writer pain, poverty-stricken single parenthood, anguish and an almost fatal botched abortion that led to a decade of sterility.
If African American women took noting of nothing else from Sherrie Shepherd exposing herself, they should take away this sobering reality:
African Americans in this country are the new faces of AIDS. African American women between the ages of fifteen and thirty-four are now the number one contractors of the virus that causes AIDS, HIV.
Note: Sherrie Shepherd claims that her conversion to Christianity and her then lack of knowledge of God is what propelled her into a world of promiscuity. This writer disputes that fact. Sherrie Shepherd was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, from birth onward, and she, as she readily admits from time to time on “The View,” had a working spiritual database that repudiates premarital sex. However, it should be noted that it was not the lack of knowing God that led to this lifestyle, but the aftermath of Sherrie Shepherd’s poor judgment or lack thereof.
Public Enemy Told Us: “911 Is A Joke In Your Town!” Especially In Detroit, The Joke Is On Its’ Younger Citizens
I hate to report ignorant and backwards news to my readers. It makes me frustrated. At times it makes me wonder about the thinking capacities of my fellow human. But as a journalist, I know that it is more than important to report the news. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly. My job is to report the news. Your job as readers is to simply make an assessment of it and try to deal from there.
Yesterday, a sistafriend of mine called me with some disturbing information. I was shocked, am still in a semi-state of shock, but felt that it was important to pass this story along to you.
My sistafriend’s eleven year old daughter was chased home in the late afternoon hours of Wednesday. She was on her bike. The people who were chasing her were in a truck. The people chasing her? Grown men. They hollered. They screamed obscenitiesat her. They attempted to drive the truck upon the sidewalk to run her down. They even got close enough to attempt to pull her off her bike. The terror that was in this young girl’s eyes and heart makes my knees go weak. The same terror I felt when I was raped. I would never even think of wishing that type of fear on a child. On anyone for that matter. As she struggled to remain on her bike and head home for safety, her younger sister yelled adamantly for the would be attackers to stop their reign of unwanted and unwarranted terror. She’s seven.
What was this madness about? These grown men believed that this eleven year old girl stole the bike she was riding from one of their relatives. So, instead of going to the little girl’s parents, who incidentally lived right up the street, they instead chose to hunt an eleven year old child down like she was some animal or worse. Like she was a little negro girl in the deep south circa 1930, and they are the KKK!
When I was told this horrible story, I cried like a baby. It hurt me to the core to know that an eleven year old child could be subjected to that kind of terror. All over something that could have been straightened out in minutes. The kicker of the whole event is this: when my sistafriend called 911 for help, the Detroit Police Department never showed up. When she called again this morning, and waited, they still failed to arrive. My sistafriend then called the local precinct and was told that what happened to her child was not an emergency and did not require a squad car to come to her home.
Can you believe that crap? A little girl is hunted down on the very neighborhood streets that she calls home like a fugitive, a crack-addicted thief, an animal, and the police does not view this as an emergency? What type of city is Detroit? My sistafriend spoke with a sergeant and asked him what should she do. He told her to file a complaint at her local police department. She then asked the sergeant what she should do in the event that she had no car, no gas money to put in a car. Where is the police when you need them most? Are you stuck in a situation as perilous as the one her children faced, with no solution? What could possibly get a squad car to her neighborhood?
Would the Detroit Police come to the neighborhood if her husband, beyond angry, reached in his closet and pulled out a glockand sprayed the house, that held the men that terrorized his young children, with bullets? Would the Police come then? Would the police then proceed to arrest the father for taking justice in his own hands? Would the police arrive right in the middle of a neighborhood bloodbath that has gotten out of hand solely because the victimization of an eleven year old child, at the hands of grown men, is not enough of an emergency to warrant police presence?
I am very heart-broken. Not because that once again, the Detroit Police Department has failed to listen and protect another one of its’ most vulnerable and valuable citizens. But because this young girl of eleven will have learned a sad lesson. The lesson is that she is not important and her plight does not merit attention. This, of course, is not true. The lesson that her young impressionable mind more than likely has absorbed is that being African American and female in Detroit is a risk. A huge one. In Detroit, a gang of men can chase down a girl on her bicycle and get away with it. Big Deal!
Well, Flavor Flav said it, and his words have never been more prophetic: “911 is a joke in your town.” It sure is in Detroit.
By the way, the bike in question is an exact replica of the one that was stolen because BOTH families bought their respective bikes from the same store. In fact, the girls used to ride their bikes up and down Gilchrist and Ferguson…TOGETHER. The young sista in question did not steal her friend’s bike.
Al Reynolds, the ex of former “View” co-host, Star Jones, decided to take the bull by the horns Wednesday by posting three interviews on YouTube. In his smooth, “metrosexual” fashion, Reynolds disclosed that his wedding to Star “was the most joyous day of my life.” He warmly and lovingly admits that “I fell in love with her (Star Jones) mind…I fell in love with our friendship.” He reminisced that their love affair was like a “high school romance.”
On the topic of his much debated sexuality, Reynolds adamantly denies the rumors. “I am not a homosexual,” Reynolds confessed, “this is kind of upsetting. It (the rumors of his romantic preference for men) has affected my business life and my personal life.” Commenting on his suave, suspect appearance, Reynolds says that that “will never stop.”
All in all, Al Reynolds made a pretty promising attempt to salvage his public image. Always poised and well-spoken, Reynolds seemed heart-felt and good-natured. When he spoke about his feelings for Star Jones, it was beyond sincere. He even admitted “to still wearing my (wedding) ring.”
However, the denials of being gay, well that portion of the interview didn’t quite convince Reynolds naysayers. Blogs and message boards are still stacked with comments of his homosexuality even moments after Reynolds’ denial. When asked if he and Star Jones are in contact with one another, Al Reynolds affectionately said that “we’re cordial. Things are still a little tender.”
FOX News refuses to let go of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s jugular!
Now, a FOX News insider confirms that Rev. Jesse Jackson did indeed use the “N” word in the midst of his tirade against Sen. Barack Obama last week. Saying that Obama “was telling “N” how to behave,” and how Obama “was talking down to Black People,” Jackson made these remarks during a break in taping, thinking that his mike was off. It wasn’t.
Jackson has since apologized for his “crude” remarks and faced the rebuke of his son, Jesse Jackson II. He has also faced the wrath of the very community he claims to love and support. So, when will this story die already?
When FOX News says so. One can only hope that Jackson, Sharpton, Farrakhan and any other self-serving public representative who would think that they are the mouth piece for the masses, think twice before accepting a turn in the hot seat at FOX News. So, be prepared. Even though FOX says they will not release the full audio of Jackson’s Obama rant, you can be assured that they will continue to feed the public bits and pieces of it until there is nothing left to disseminate!
Publicists for Natalie Cole, in a statement released late Wednesday, announced that the Grammy-Award winning songstress and author, is battling Hepatitis C.
It is strongly suspected that the legendary diva contracted the disease during her drug usage hey days, publicists for Natalie Cole acknowledged.
Contributed by Lavande’ & Chocolat Amer Staff Writer
Global Music Group Inc. bought a bankrupt Death Row Records, at auction, for $24 million dollars, June 24, 2008 sources have revealed. The notorious record label and its’ embattled founder, Suge Knight, struggled for years to maintain a legitimate presence in the Hip Hop world, only to see his once revered empire crumble from ruthless business tactics, strong-arm management, a luke-warm roster of talent and a leader constantly fighting personal legal issues. As late as 2006, Suge Knight filed for protection under bankruptcy laws, claiming Death Row’s debts exceeded the $100 million mark.
Death Row Records, once the enviable home of such Hip Hop artist as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Da Dogg Pound and Tupac, lost its’ talent, but didn’t lose the prize: the music catalog. Any songwriter worth his/her salt knows that the true gold, the real money, comes from that catalog. Owning those rights to your creative works.
Well, Dr. Dre once said that he was happy to break away from Suge and his ‘organization’ with the shirt on his back. To be honest, Dre was more than fortunate to walk away period, Tupac wasn’t that blessed.
But the last time I checked, Dr. Dre’s debut ground-breaking musical collection, “The Chronic,” has sold over 4 million copies since 1993. Snoop Dogg’s “Doggy Style” has sold 7 million units as of 2003 and is rated 4X platinum. And Tupac’s “All Eyez On Me,” the first Hip Hop double album in history, currently has sold more than 9 million copies! Death Row has sold over 50 million units world wide and has racked in a staggering $750 million dollars in revenue.
Need I also say that the late Tupac Shakur still has tons of unreleased material in the Death Row vaults?
Let’s just be frank. Global Music Group Inc. is sitting on a Gold Mine. And as an added bonus, they got a prolific music catalog worth multi-millions on a blue-light special deal! So, trust me, investors who are now suing Global Music Group for $25 million are not even poised to make a dent in that mega-million wallet.
Sorry, Dr. Dre. Would you like that Tangeray on ice?
In a recent statement and interview given by Dexter King, whose siblings, Rev. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III filed a lawsuit against him in Fulton County Federal Court last week, announced he was “shocked” and “blindsided” by the legal action.
“It totally blindsided me. I think maybe it was a reckless attempt to express their grievances. They are false claims and I will address them accordingly. We are a private family, it is a private business matter. You know, a family dispute, if you will. It’s probably blown out of proportion, but until I’ve had a chance to thoroughly review the complaint, it’s just kind of difficult for me to address it.”
Dexter King is accused of mishandling funds from King Inc., hiding important business documentation from his siblings and taking money out of the Coretta Scott King Estate and depositing these monies into his own personal account.
When questioned whether or not he had spoken to Rev. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III since the suit was filed, Dexter King replied, “I left them a message to call me, so we could talk, and they have not returned the call. I just…I don’t understand it.”
It looks as if a bad case of telephone tag is behind this lawsuit. Maybe if Dexter had returned his siblings telephone calls from jump, none of this embarassing press and subsequent legal action would be taking place.
That is, if he hasn’t anything to hide. Stay tuned.
It would seem the saying “If it ain’t one thing, it’s another” fittingly applies to the merry-go-round circus called the media. Monday, “The New Yorker” magazine presented the cover of its’ July 21st issue to a wave of criticism. The cover is a cartoonish representation of Barack and Michelle Obama. Barack Obama is wearing traditional Muslim attire while his wife, Michelle, is wearing military fatigues, carries an AK 47 slung over her shoulder with ammo, and sports a hip afro. The Obamas are in the White House with a portrait of Osama bin Laden hanging above the fireplace and the American flag burning brightly in the corner. Oh, the Obamas are also engaging in the gesture they made infamous called fist-bumping.
“The New Yorker” editor in chief, David Remnick, stands by the cover, issuing a statement to Huffington Post that ”I ran the cover because I thought it had something to say.”
Remnick further explained that “we’ve run many, many satirical, political covers. Ask the Bush administration how many…the fact is it’s NOT a satire about Obama, it’s a satire about the distortions and misconceptions and prejudices ABOUT Obama.”
So, Mr. Remnick chose to help Barack Obama’s campaign by green-lighting a controversial cover that does nothing more than advance the ignorant perception that every African American with an African or Arabic name is naturally a follower of Islam, therefore a Muslim extremist that wants to wage a ‘holy war’ against America? If this was Mr. Remnick’s implemented proposal, it definitely gives cause to take a second look at his editorship.
With Obama constantly on the defense about his religious affiliation, his choice of place of worship, his supposed elitist stance and a name that was given him AT BIRTH, it is increasingly suspect on Mr. Remnick’s part to have even considered, at this stage in the election season, to have thought that a satirical cover of this sort would educate the public at large instead of fanning the flames of ignorance. You can not throw a satirical magazine cover to the wolves and expect them to behave and react with a semblance of intelligence.
If the cover has to be explained and re-explained, Mr. Remnick, then it doesn’t work. Perhaps the true intent of this suspect cover is to increase sales revenues. Using the insanity of the minority to sale magazines is the true villain here. Call it what it is. Throwing someone under the bus for profit. In that vain, Mr. Remnick did an excellent job.
Excerpts of David Remnick’s interview were taken from: www.huffingtonpost.com. Thank You Huffington Post!
Dr. King’s Children Take Their Sibling Fight To Court! Lawsuit Filed In Georgia Against Dexter King!
Thursday in Fulton County Superior Court, a lawsuit was filed by Rev. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III against their brother, Dexter King. All are the surviving children of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his wife, the late Coretta Scott King.
The suit claims that Dexter King allegedly cyphered money from his father’s estate and used it “for his own benefit.” Dexter King controls the estate and “makes all decisions concerning it.” Rev. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III also allege in the lawsuit that Dexter King “converted substantial funds from the estate’s financial account for their (Dexter King’s corporation) own use.”
At this time, Dexter King has been unavailable for comment.
Rev. Jesse Jackson’s recent media blooper, on FOX News, has shown the African American community just how jealous he really is of Senator Barack Obama. And how two-faced he is also.
Basically invisible during the primaries, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, by their silence, exuded their distinct distaste and displeasure of Obama. This is not to say that every African American has to swear their allegiance to Barack Obama. However the perception that these two give off is that they just don’t plain like the guy. Hence Rev. Jesse Jackson’s hideous remarks of cutting Senator Obama’s privates off. Any way the friends and associates of Rev. Jackson try to spin this, it still looks and sounds bad. Once again, why was Rev. Jackson even on FOX News Network to begin with? He should have known better.
To top all of this off, it is even more apparent that Rev. Jackson needs to wage a battle with his insane jealousy. Yes. Who would have thought that Obama would have gotten this far? When Rev. Jackson made his run for the Democratic nomination back in ’83, and came in third place, it was a miracle then that an African American man could run a semi-successful campaign of such proportions. It should be applauded. And it can be greatly debated that he came in third place because of his ‘Hymie Town’ remarks. What Jackson has to realize that in 1983, it wasn’t his time. Yet, he did blaze a trail. Rev. Jackson cleared the way for Obama.
So, instead of letting the green-eyed monster get the best of him like it did the other day, perhaps Rev. Jackson would be best suited at lending just a tad of support to Barack Obama. By doing so, he could still feed his media-hogging obsession and put a new face on his non-existent career as a “civil rights leader.”
Contributed by Lavande’ & Chocolat’ Amer Staff Writer
My vacation in Detroit ended way too soon. There were friends that I didn’t get to see after several attempts (Nicky). Family and siblings that for some reason couldn’t seem to find or make the time. But that is okay. I am not bothered by that. The ones that I did get to enjoy, well it was well worth it! My family and I visited mainly friends and acquaintances that had a profound presence in our lives. Just looking upon their faces, with tears running rampantly, the love and happiness just to see that they are hanging in despite unemployment, poverty, children problems, ill health, inadequate health care, crime, lack of transportation, foreclosure, bankruptcy, death, old age and severe depression. The courage and the fortitude that carried them, uplifted and inspired us. We thank them for it.
I didn’t get a chance to visit with my paternal side of the family. I have been estranged from my father’s side of the family for a few years now. My father, Sheldon Ricks Sr., was a no show in my life. A non presence. He claims it was because my mother told him that my stepfather had adopted me. My mother says that that conversation never happened. Whatever the situation, I have struggled for years with the mental anguish that comes from being abandoned. Or to be fair, growing up without knowing who I am.
When I finally had the gumption to locate my father, at the age of 25, I was beyond excited to meet that whole other world, the side of me that screamed to be let out. My father, warm but distant, was cool. My stepmother, at first, was nice. But later on I got the impression that she didn’t particularly care for me. Upon meeting my father, I was introduced to aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandfather, Virge Ricks.
A great group of people, devout in the C.O.G.I.C tradition, they all embraced me lovingly. But internal family rivalry and jealousy made me uncomfortable. Not that every family doesn’t experience its share of issues, it just seemed like my new family took it to the extreme a bit. I mean, when aunts and nieces file full-fledged lawsuits against each other, well…let’s just say that I began to understand the side of me, that when pressed, goes for the jugular. Not particularly a good thing. My husband will attest to that fact.
Getting back to the point, when my father died in 2000 of pancreatic cancer, I attempted to maintain the somewhat strained ties I shared with the Ricks. But I got the feeling that everyone thought I was being pushy; attempting to insinuate myself into a family that I biologically belonged. So, I decided to take three steps back. Maybe thirty. When they are ready to establish a relationship with me, they have my numbers. My sister, Yulonda and I, however, are close. My father’s other two children, well there is no relationship. I don’t like it, but what else can I do about it?
I did ride past my father’s street, Annchester. I thought about him and how he told me that he loved me and begged for my forgiveness. He told me that I was his child, a Ricks, despite what anyone may say or think. That is why I carry his name. It is a final tribute to a man that I hardly knew, but to whom my existence I owe. I miss my father more now than when he was alive. I suppose it is because when he was alive and absent from my life, I knew he could become a physical presence. There was hope. Now that he is deceased, there is an emptiness. A pain that I can not describe. A yearning that has become overwhelming in intensity.
I enjoyed my vacation in Detroit. I had a really great time. I have to say a warm “Thank You” to Darren, our host and relative, who shared with us the comforts of his home in Southfield for an entire week. He was loving, understanding and kind when it came to our children and the guests that knocked on his door. I’d like to thank my husband’s grandmother for that RUM CAKE!!!
Of course, I can’t leave out Detroit! Detroit welcomed me with open arms. The radio stations pumping Anita, Sade, Patti, The Dramatics, Parliament, Teena Marie and Luther non-stop! How I missed that! Shout outs goes to The Detroit News and Free Press for following the text-message scandal and the increasingly suspect activities of Monica Conyers. WOW! Great story! And as we drove by the historic Henry Ford automotive plant, the spot where the very first Model T was manufactured and rolled of the assembly plant; I realized what a rich experience I had being raised in Detroit. Detroit taught me a lot of things. Detroit taught me how to be proud and work hard. Detroit taught me how to fight and stand up for what I believe. Detroit taught me how to struggle and survive.
If you can make it in the “D”, Baby, you can make it ANYWHERE!
On our fourth day, back in the city of Detroit, it was time to do some sight-seeing! Yeah. Sight seeing. I know that it sounds ridiculous to say that we were excited to tour a city that we knew like the back of our hand. A city whose streets we had walked and clocked probably a billion miles. However, being away from the familiar created a longing that had to be fulfilled. This longing didn’t stop with my husband and I. Our eleven year old caught the Detroit sight-seeing bug, too!
When we first entered into the city limit after that seriously long road trip from Florida, my son’s first request was that we go downtown. Being that I 75 was undergoing some serious rehab, we had to detour unto I 96, which took us directly in the opposite direction. But we promised that the Fosters would not leave the city of Detroit until we headed downtown.
Now, we have been living in Florida for almost three years. A lot of the major superficial transformation of the downtown area happened while we were still residing in the “D.” Ford Field was hosting the Lions in its’ new home. The Tigers were playing in Comerica Park. My husband worked on the plans for Campus Martius and watched those developments on paper come to life. So, what truly interested us was the landmarks. For instance, The Spirit of Detroit. Yet, when we pulled up to the City County Building, to our horror, The Spirit of Detroit was covered for repairs and rehab. How symbolic!
Hart Plaza, another landmark, was bustling with activity. But not like in the days of the Ethnic Festivals! I know some of you can remember those days! I met a lot of cutie pie Debarge, Michael Jackson and Prince look-a-likes at the Festivals! Mom, your suspicions were correct! But that wasn’t the only reason why me and my friends frequented the Festivals every summer. Just being downtown, walking along the river front, enjoying the smells of barbeque everything, the exotic fragrances of the many different cultures represented, being amongst the thousands of people who were all at Hart Plaza for the same purpose: to enjoy the Detroit night air and sounds and the beautiful Windsor skyline.
We drove through the world-famous Greek Town. Though greatly altered due to casino parking structures, Greek Town is still a cool spot for some GREAT FOOD! I just hate the fact that the casino is smack dead in the center of it. Instead of people taking that two mile walk from Hart Plaza into Brick then Greek Town and really getting that whole Detroit vibe, the casino has sucked this part of downtown Detroit dry of its’ lifeblood. I know that with time there are changes and movement for the better. But I never once thought that the casino in the middle of Greek Town was a good thing. I bet Greek Town business owners probably feel the same way right about now.
After driving around downtown and seeing the various sights, we headed towards our former home. On the way up Jefferson, what sane Detroiter can resist stopping at Belle Isle? On this particular day, the Detroit Department of Parks and Recreation were out and about with their landscaping duties, getting the park ready for Fourth of July picnickers. Belle Isle is still one of the most beautiful spots in Detroit.
Our former home rests on the dividing line of Detroit and Grosse Pointe. So, drivng into Grosse Pointe made me feel like I was truly home again. So much of my time, my family’s time was spent in one of the three Grosse Pointes. Whether it was shopping for groceries at my favorite store, Kroger Premier, on Kercheval, or my husband’s favorite Kroger on Mack and Moross, eating breakfast at either The Original Pancake House or The Country Kitchen, auditioning for parts at the Grosse Pointe Theatre (yes, I am a trained actress! That’s a little known fact!), taking the kids for a stroll and ice cream, or meeting my favorite sistafriends at my ‘other’ home, Borders (where I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Detroit’s own Anita Baker and the legendary Vandellas!).
Riding through the Pointes on Jefferson Ave and viewing the great Detroit River as it turns into Lake St. Clair is an awesome sight! Being that close to the water and smelling the breeze from it is breathtaking! I took a lot of pictures of yachts and just ordinary boats out sailing on this partly sunny day. I am aware that Grosse Pointe is not Detroit, but it is tighly linked to the city. In fact, there are parts of Grosse Pointe that once was considered a part of Detroit. The Grosse Pointe War Memorial used to be The Detroit Institute of Arts home. And before that, it was the official Detroit Mayoral residence back in the 1920′s and 30′s. Way before Mr. Manoogian bequeathed his mansion to the City of Detroit.
Our sight-seeing adventure was a great one. We met up with old neighborhood friends and acquaintances that hadn’t forgotten us. We reminisced about the good and not so good times that all of us shared together in Detroit. We even got a glimpse of the new River Walk. A word about that: with the city in such bad shape, why was millions spent on this instead of being pumped into neighorhoods such as the Livernois/Eight Mile and Dexter/Elmhurst areas? A lot of old-timers still live in homes they bought fifty and sixty years ago. These seniors have been forgotten. They will more than likely never take a step on the River Walk. But they are still bound by law to pay their taxes…and on time…every year. What exactly is their taxes really doing for them? Garbage gets picked up haphazardly. Crime is over-abundant. Schools are closing at an alarming rate. Entire neighborhoods are either being burned out or bull-dozered. Neighborhood first-rate grocery stores are non-existant. Public transportation is shady at best. If it bleeds, it leads news broadcasts. A city goverment at war. And according to Sam Riddle, Detroit is the most corrupt city in the nation.
Something to think about.
On Tuesday, my day started out rough. Being disabled, I receive SSI supplemental support. Through SSI, I am able to have my asthma/respiratory needs met. Well, I make my visit to the local credit union only to find that there are no funds in my account. I call my credit union customer service rep and discover that SSI hadn’t made a deposit. I then placed a call the SSA and wouldn’t you know it…my SSI has been suspended. The reason? My husband received a substantial raise back in May and therefore I don’t qualify for SSI any longer.
I didn’t receive a notice or warning. Just plain suspended. Now there are several medications that I take that I have to purchase with my SSI payments totalling somewhere in the ballpark of $100.00. This does not include the equipment that I have for my lung needs and other medical necessities. My husband’s insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida may cover some of the expenses, but you and I both know that some is not all. What is going to happen to me? I’ll survive. Perhaps my hopes of getting a syndicated column will come to fruition. Maybe that book deal will come through for me. Who knows?
However, something struck me as my family and I enjoyed our Tuesday. I have lived in Detroit all my life up until recently and I have gone through and seen much worse. Somehow, I survived. When I was born with a gigantic hole in my heart, doctors thought that I wouldn’t last a year. When I did, they’d say two. Then five. And when I finally reached my fifth birthday, the doctors were in awe. This little black girl has survived the odds. Maybe she does have a shot at a normal life. A life period. So, if I can make it through a sickly childhood to grow up in the inner city of Detroit, I can get through just about anything.
The funny part is, I have lived on and walked the streets of Linwood, Dexter, Woodward, Tuxedo, Fenkell, Mack and Puritan. I survived an era where the Young Boys Incorporated (a notorious drug gang) ruled the streets. I survived the brutal turf wars of the RPP’s and the 7 Mile Sconies. I came out of this time scared, shaken, yet still standing. Whatever comes of my health insurance crisis, I’m sure I will survive it.
Note to Senator McCain: Health care in this country needs a total makeover. No. Overhaul. If Senator Obama’s proposition for national total health care is going to cause a spike in taxes, so be it. When the benefits so outweigh the cons, why is there even a need for argument?
Monday morning, day two of my visit to Detroit was very interesting. My day began by attending the funeral of my husband’s cousin. Mike, one of the greatest auto mechanics to walk the streets of the ‘D’, suffered a major stroke a week and a half ago and passed away. He was forty-six. Mike’s death came on the heels of another cousin’s recent transition not even three weeks prior. When news came to us in Florida that my husband had lost not one, but two close cousins in a matter of weeks, it really gave the both of us reason to pause.
An interesting feature of the funeral was a slide presentation celebrating Mike’s life. The slide chronicled Mike as a young man; handsome, full of promise, flexing his muscles for the camera some thirty years ago, and concluded with a picture of him smiling happily as the best man at his favorite buddy’s wedding. Mike’s forty-six years of living was displayed on the projection screen. All within a good ten minutes. Sitting there taking this in made me wonder if it is really possible to canonize a person’s life into a perfect capsule consisting of so short a period of time.
Forty-six is not old by any ones standards. Especially if you are over the age of thirty-five. Which got me to thinking about my parents and grandparents. Seeing them Monday was heart-warming and heart-breaking. It was heart-warming in the fact that I love, care and miss them. The heart-breaking aspect of it was the realization that my parents and grandparents are aging. Rapidly. My grandfather, eighty-three, once the Casanova debonair gentleman, has evolved into a man not even the shadow of his former self. Struggling with Alzheimer’s, my grandpa barely remembered me, the granddaughter he raised as his own child. Though I was prepared for this by my grandmother, it was still hard to bear.
It is beyond difficult to watch your parents age before your eyes. As a child, you have very little conception of what it means to age. You are exposed to what the end process appears to be, but to actually see the aging process, frame by frame, is a sobering experience. Not living in Detroit and visiting twice a year, the aging of my parents and grandparents seems to be exaggerated. When it isn’t. It is just the cycle of life. We are born, we live and we die. In between that triangle, I suppose it is entirely up to us how we live out our years.
At forty, I can recall vividly my grandmother and mother at that age. I know that the journey I am on is a road that they have traveled. I look to them as examples on how to continue to develop into a mature woman of grace and style.
Am I happy to be home again? Definitely! There is absolutely nothing like being back on the soil that nurtured, nourished, damaged and refined me. Yes, Detroit did all of these things for me. I love the city of my birth for all the right and wrong reasons. It has to do with the air. I think that every place has its’ own spirit. Its’ own soul. Detroit is no different. Even though in every manner that counts, Detroit is impoverished and depleted, you can’t completely count the ‘D’ out. If you still live in the city, this great city of Detroit, you can’t afford to count it out just yet.
Driving into Michigan, from my new home in Florida, you notice the change. Or maybe it hasn’t changed. Maybe I never quite noticed it enough to appreciate. I 75 was a straight up mess! Bumpy and full of patched holes. Coming home from the South where the highways of Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee are smooth as butter, it was a total shock and shift in scenery. Litter lined the highway like it had taken up residence there. Factories sending toxic fumes into the atmosphere stood erect and solemn. The sky was gray and a light film of rain fell ominously from full, dark clouds. The greeting was symbolic: Welcome Home! Look What You Left Behind! Wanna Come Back?
Surprisingly, for a minute, I considered actually moving back here. Nostalgia and acute home-sickness can account for this behavior. I do miss my family and friends. I miss Detroit. But I am saddened. When Kwame Kilpatrick first made his bid to run for mayor, he promised change. Kwame promised the people of Detroit that he would improve their quality of life, clean up the neighborhoods, fight crime and bring the school system up to the level of excellence. Driving into Detroit, I found whole neighborhoods obliterated, never to return.
For instance, the Plymouth and Joy area. The Herman Garden projects needed to be torn down. They were a nuisance because the City of Detroit made haphazard attempts to revitalize Herman Gardens. The contractors were career money hungry thieves who supplied substandard crews that instead of rebuilding and refurbishing Herman Gardens, finished tearing it down, brick by brick.
A few years ago, Mayor Kilpatrick green lighted plans that would place commerce and new homes on the location where Herman Gardens once stood. Driving by there Sunday, I wondered why that giant vacant graveyard of dreams past still slumbered. Where is the promised development? Why does the entire Plymouth, Joy and Greenfield neighborhood look as if it had been bombed by Al Queda? Why is the true ‘heart’ of the city of Detroit barely cognitive and beating? Where is Mayor Kilpatrick? Does anyone hear the cries of those within the Plymouth, Joy and Greenfield triangle? How about the cries of its’ most vulnerable citizens?
Passing by mid-afternoon Sunday, I heard every last cry.
Part 2: A Time To Cry, A Time To Live, A Time To Die.