Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Open Letter to Shaunie O'Neal

I never thought I'd find something more distasteful on TV than Nee Nee on Real Housewives of Atlanta and then Basketball Wives came along. I've seen you quoted as saying that you realize there is a need for more positive examples of black women on TV, so I hope you know and understand that your reality based franchise is certainly not one of them. The Basketball Wives series is a doleful display for the most part; women of color who cannot even sit around a table in a public setting and have lunch without calling each other hood rats and hoes, tearing one another down at every opportunity given, and portraying that bitter, ignorant and obnoxious stereotype we have seen time and time again in movies and on your average television sitcom. We are bred to laugh at these women and the image they deliver, we are made to accept the loud, black woman as nothing more than that, a prototype who knows her role and plays it. The scenery may be beautiful and ever changing as we travel from Miami to Los Angeles, but the ghetto project chick remains the same, she just has a little more money than the rest of us and a couple of professional athlete's phone numbers saved in her blackberry. Even if these episodes are based solely off of real relationships and actual events that take place without the prompting or influence of producers and cameramen, the fact is you have made inferences to the real problem of the lack of favorable representation of ethnic women on TV only to turn around and contribute to its delinquency. Why not make a show about the women who are literally married to a basketball player? A woman such as your formal self, for instance. Why not follow their lives and children, and give the viewers an inside look at the daily comings and goings of a woman who lives a lavish, yet unpredictable life being married to a superstar whose career always keeps his family on their toes? Is that not controversial enough for the executives who you sell your vision to? The natural drama that must be involved in these marriages are sure to keep a certain audience coming back for more. Then again, there's nothing like a raunchy, profanity-strewn cat fight, or an alcoholic beverage being thrown in a young woman's face by her soon-to-be ex. The bottom line is that you held the power to take these shows and steer them in any direction, knowing you had an audience that would follow you almost anywhere, and instead of giving us something to be proud of and look forward to, you took us to the Jersey Shore. The time for a change is long over due, and if you as a black woman can't help to alter the perception, who in 'Corporate TV Land' do you think will?

Monday, September 12, 2011


We will never forget. How could we? 10 years ago today, I was laying my clothes out on a rickety ironing board, eyes glued to my 13 inch screen television set. It was the Today Show and Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were unsure yet professional. Something had caused one of the World Trade Center towers to explode in a ball of fire and white smoke. Was it a plane? A small plane couldn’t have caused such damage, could it? Was it a bomb? They took eye witness reports from New York City commuters who were just beginning their day. They weren’t sure either. It could have been plane. Some say it was a large plane, maybe a commercial airline. But what would that mean?  Was it an accident? When you ask people about that day, most will say they remember the skies being so incredibly clear. The sunshine that day was remarkable. There was something about the sky on that Tuesday morning that makes us remember. I remember. And then, at 9:03 am, there was another explosion in the second tower, and this time it was clear that it was indeed a plane flying directly into it. On purpose. We were under attack. We were at war. Now that we know all that we know, all these years later -- 10 years later to be exact, it’s almost frightening to recall how confused and in the dark we were then. Hundreds of New Yorkers stood in silence with their mouths agape and their necks angled towards the sky. What was happening? No one knew. No one knew planes had been hijacked yet. No one knew there was more death and devastation to come. No one knew then, but knowing what we know now, we will never, ever forget. How could we? Then the Pentagon was hit by a plane and yet another plane fell from the sky and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. What was happening? And what would happen next? September 11, 2001 is marked as the day that changed America. And when those two towers crumbled to the ground, it became the nightmare that changed the world. I remember. I was thinking, “There are people in there!” They must have been trying to evacuate, they must have packed the stairwells, clinging to each other in the darkness and chaos. And then, as if the smoke and the fear wasn’t enough to suffocate them, the walls caved in on them and trapped them while we on the outside breathed the fresh air and prayed for their souls. And just as the black smoke of the towers’ fires hovered above the city, we soon pieced together the reality of a heavy fog of hatred and misguided religion that also hung over us. Over time, despite the conspiracy theories and the pointed fingers of blame, we did band together. The sight of a man or woman in uniform made us grateful, proud and humbled. The thought of those first responders rushing to the scene while everyone else was doing whatever they could to get away from it. Those who made it out, only to go back in and save more lives, you can say they truly died for us. We may hear the word hero and maybe even use it to describe a good person every now and then, but hero was defined on that very morning. In the sky and on the ground, there were heroes all around us. And now we’ll never fly the same, we’ll never see the same sky line, we’ll never be the same ever again. And we’ll never, ever forget.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Barry, Where You At?

I remember making a point that President Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and never once said his name. He mentioned a preacher from Atlanta and we all knew who he was talking about, but the fact that he failed to say his name stood out to me like... a black president. Several of our foremost black political leaders are calling Mr. Obama out on his tendency to appear to shy away from blacks and black issues. Could it be that Obama's campaign feels that they have the black vote in the bag and need to spend more time courting those whose votes will guarantee him the oval office? Certainly, he will receive almost every black vote, won't he? Is it fair that some folk want Mr. Obama to seemingly parade around in a dashiki and drive his motorcade through the 'hood? Does he need to do that to protect the black vote, to prove how black he is? Is it fair to say he needs to secure his "base", as a CNN contributor so remarked. His base meaning, just people of colour. Is not his base the Democratic party? I'm not completely disregarding the sentiment that our president may be distancing himself from or not giving as much attention to the neighborhoods who four years ago were so proud to line up and cast that ballot. I'm not denying either that many of those same black supporters waited with an extended hand for some kind of "hook up" from a black man who just became "The Man". It's as if some were looking for a payday, waiting for Obama to do them a solid, because remember, this was OUR president. Yes, we had Clinton, but this was a black president fo' real! But to openly criticize the president in the midst of an upcoming campaign for re-election can only do more harm than good. Is this what Roland Martin and Rep. Maxine Waters are looking to do? By asking these questions now, and demanding President Obama visit black communities to prove one thing or another is only taking away from the good he has done and is looking to do if he gets to keep his job. Addressing welfare, poverty and healthcare is a duty that is taken on by any president, white or black. And those topics, bullet points on every president's list, are not merely black and minority issues. I support Obama as well as the freedoms we have to speak out against him and I wish to follow the candidates as they prepare for this race without becoming railroaded and blinded by RACE.