Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Final Exams: A Uplifting Way to Procrastinate

Hey folks,

these are three blogs I just found that are completely worth taking the time to "productively procrastinate" and sneak a glance at...

Sassy Women is a really cool blog for women of color in their early twenties-thirties... check it out... its fun, serious and inspiring

The Change Blog... this blog is great if you are having a hard time getting/staying motivated and/or inspired. It is full of great tips... including... how to motivate yourself to wake up early everyday, being more productive and staying organized, living a healthier lifestyle, decreasing stress, and living more consciously... take a look, I promise you will love it.

Motivation Mama.... having a hard time getting started in the morning? Check out this blog!

good luck all, and don't stress to much...


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What I learned about being a good scholar in 2008

I originally wrote this just to post in my own house... but I figured that since it was useful to me, maybe it would be useful to you as well...

• Brilliance isn’t something that just happens, it is cultivated.
- Presentations and workshops stimulate your intellect, creative thought doesn’t just happen in an isolated vacuum. Make time and go!
- You must read and you must write notes about what you read. Read for papers, read for exams, read for classes and when you don’t have any of that to do, read what you know others in your field have read and are reading. You are more than capable of engaging those around you when you come to the table with the proper tools.

• There is a lot of value in being theoretically AND empirically strong. Don’t allow one to become stronger than the other. The scholars you admire most are able to study whatever they want, because they have the skills to do so.

• Your presence matters. Show up, speak up and engage your department.

• Living fearfully is not living.

• Your sanity, happiness and health are just as necessary for brilliant scholarship as your academic work. Never neglect yourself.

• Continue to build relationships. The people you meet now will be your colleagues for the rest of your life.

• A plan for the day/week/month/year/career are critical to achieving your goals. Everyday should be structured, everyday should be composed of a series of tasks so at the end of the day, you can feel that you’ve made some progress.

• Failure is an imposter. Things not going to plan just means there is an opportunity about to happen that you failed to anticipate.

• When you go to campus you are going to work, always dress the part!

• You are blessed to be where you are.

• Everyone doubts themselves sometimes, even those you admire the most.

• Sometimes you have to be able to respect the work, even if you don’t respect the person.

• Stay creative! Creative thought is what matters at the end of the day! ☺


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why Are We Being So Ridiculous About the Obamas?

I haven't had much time to blog lately, mostly due to the large workload that never fails to sneak up on you at the end of the quarter...

So... I'm going to do another quick post...

Can I just make one thing clear?

Michelle and Barack Obama are not anybodies Messiah... they are not indicative of the Second Coming... they are not God's gift to the world... and they do not represent the defeat of racism against African Americans, sexism and misogyny against black woman and every other kind of oppression present in the world...

... they just don't...

I'm frustrated because I feel like black people are being totally unrealistic on this one...

Every girl friend I have has had a facebook status talking about how shes looking for "her Barack" at least once... and a significant number of my male friends have had status msg's about how they are lusting after Michelle...

Whats worse... are the articles like the one recently printed in Newsweek that goes so far as to argue that it is Michelle Obama's responsibility to represent all black women everywhere and to fight every negative stereotype thats ever existed about them.

I hate to disapoint everyone... but it's really not...

Now don't get me confused, like most of my friends I am a bigger fan of Michelle, than I am of Barack. And I continue to get excited about the presence of all those black women in the White House... living and not serving... I love the thought of soul food cooking in the White House kitchens and hot combs and pink hair oil in the bathroom...

But at the end of the day, our communities compulsive need to find a new "messiah" to represent us, in the way we fantasize Malcolm and Martin once did, is ultimately what cripples our journey toward social justice in this country. We point to the Obama family as the answer to harmful stereotypes about our families, our women and our men.

We argue, like the Newsweek article did, that if there are just enough "good examples," then suddenly racial and gender injustice will just suddenly stop being present in our lives.

When the reality is... at the end of the day... it just really isn't that simple...

And I would think the larger presence of articles about Michelle Obama's ass... than articles about what she brings to the White House as First Lady... would be indicative of that...

a la higher learning....

WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"I Will Be Your President To..."

I don't know how most people felt about last night's speech, but I was truly moved. I was probably more moved or at least just as moved, as I was during his speech after winning Iowa in January 2008.

I'm going to keep this short, but I want to point out one part of this speech that I found particularly poignant.

President Obama told those Americans who did not support him that, "he would be their president to." On the most basic level he was letting those Americans know that he would listen to their concerns and that he will do his to best to address them in a way that makes them feel like they have a place in his... our... new America.

But it seemed to me, that on a deeper level, he was also saying something more aggressive and commanding. By saying "I will be your president to," he was telling those nay sayers who used everything from his race, to his age, to his "community organizing" in a attempt to discredit him, that he was now their president. That picturing him as a monkey, or putting his picture on food stamps, or claiming the White House for "whites only" would no longer be acceptable. Because he is their "president to." And as such, as Americans, as citizens, they MUST, leave their racism at the door and get behind him.

President Obama made it very clear in his instruction to us to "summon a new spirit of patriotism." The racial demons that McCain and Palin tried to resurrect from the American burial grounds of slavery and Jim Crow are not welcome here, and those who attempt to haunt our future with them, will be defeated.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Barack Obama Infomericial

(Comic from The New York Times)

What did you think about the 30 minute spot the Obama campaign ran today on NBC, CBS and Univison?

The cost was approximately five million dollars and it featured no commercials...

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts...

I thought it was really well done... although having already voted, it just reaffirmed what I already knew and felt about his candidacy...

What struck me the most was how profoundly different his campaign is from McCain's... the entire 30 minutes focused on Obama, his plan and his vision... from what I saw, McCain was not even mentioned once...

This is compared to McCain's campaign over the last month... where every rally, speech and interview is about cultivating fear of Obama and an Obama presidency... when was the last time you heard McCain talk about substantive policy?

The question many pundits are asking is if this infomercial is overkill... what do you think?

I would argue... that for a black man running for president of the United States... there is no such thing as overkill...


Friday, October 17, 2008

The Black Womans Toolkit for Graduate School

What every black woman needs to stay sane in graduate school:

1. a great therapist: if your one of those black women that believes that black women don't need to address the mental stress of their daily lives... get over it... i firmly believe that no one can get through graduate school without directly addressing the anxiety, stress, fears and insecurity that graduate school inflicts on you with no mercy...

2. great mentors: academic, spiritual and personal...

3. good relationships: family, friends and lovers... all need to be able to remind you of who you are and why you are where you are... positive energy is key...

4. enough ego to believe that your brilliant enough to be there and that your ideas are important enough to warrant years, even decades of energy and time...

5. enough humility to respect those that came before you and the brilliance of your peers and those that come after you...

6. awareness of the mental and spiritual costs of being apart of academia...


Monday, October 13, 2008

Applying to Graduate School pt. 1

Things to think about before applying to graduate school:

It seems simple... but the first thing you should ask yourself is whether or not going to graduate school will even help you achieve your professional goals. A lot of folks assume that this is the case, but quite often, graduate school ends up having more financial consequences than professional benefits. So do some research into how people successful in your field of interest got there. It might just be that internships or entry-level positions end up getting the job done better than another two-six years in the classroom.

Ask people already in the program you are interested in about their experiences. Asking people in your specific program of interest is important, to often people think just talking to any random graduate school will help them out. But oftentimes, a masters student won't be able to tell you how to get into a doctoral program. A political science student probably won't be able to tell you how to apply to a psychology program and a medical student probably can't help you get into law school.

When you do talk to people (especially potential writers of letters of recommendation) be clear about where you are in the process of thinking about graduate school. If you aren't sure if you are ready to apply to graduate school, make that clear. If you talk to a bunch of people, and they dedicate a lot of time to trying to help you get your application together and then you don't follow through, when you actually are ready to apply they may not be so willing to help you out.

If you are applying to doctoral programs, ask yourself if you have existing relationships with faculty who can write letters of recommendation for you. If you are a couple of years out of school and have just lost contact with former mentors and professors, that's ok, there is probably some leeway to be had. But if you are a senior in undergrad, or just recently out of college and you don't have any faculty who would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation... that might just be a bad sign (lol... remember this is just my personal opinion).

When applying to doctoral programs, don't get so caught up in the department that you ignore the climate of the campus itself. Make sure there are resources and people present that will help you live in a way thats healthy and vibrant (to the extent that, that is possible in graduate school).

more to come...


p.s. check out my post on finishing the chicago marathon

Monday, October 6, 2008

Random Thoughts for October

1. Whats going on with the revival of Colored Girls on Broadway? The show was supposed to debut in August, but after losing a backer in July, I haven't heard anything else about it... I hope Whoopi and company are able to make this thing happen!

2. I'm so excited about this opera written by Toni Morrison, its the story of Margaret Garner, a runaway slave. I'm going to try to get the $10 tickets for students to the dress rehearsal.

3. Whats the difference between socialization and assimilation? Does the difference matter?

4. I really like the new Jazmine Sullivan album... but I had to take it out of my cd player because I'm just not feeling the fear/hatred of men theme throughout the album... My vibe is much more aligned with the new Maiysha album... I really recommend that you check her out...

5. Why do people like that Kanye "Love Lockdown" garbage?

6. 6 days until the Chicago Marathon!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Gender and the VP Debate

As a good friend of mine said... Sarah Palin had a serious case of the "white womans" in the debate tonight...

From the outset she referred to Senator Biden and Senator Obama as "Joe and Barack," while both of them have always courteously referred to her as "Governor Palin."

She also never found it necessary to actually answer any of Gwen Ifill's questions directly. For all of the questions on the economy she continued to instead talk about Alaska energy. Her answer to the question on gay marriage was disingenuous and blatantly false. She attempted to imply that she agreed with Biden on civil unions, but when directly asked about it by Ifill she was unable to answer.

She constantly tried to play into stereotypical ideas of womanhood by smiling coyly and winking at the camera. She would giggle and say things like "well I'm not one of you guys but..."

She both played into her white privilege and stereotypical ideas of what it means to be a woman simultaneously!

But most notably, I think the sexism of the McCain campaign becomes more and more apparent. As I have said in other posts, McCain's pick of Palin illustrates his sexist feelings that any woman will do regardless of qualification.

Her consistent under performance in her interviews and in tonight's debate continues to show the rampant sexism in their campaign. It was clear that they gave her no policy preparation what so ever. She was completely unprepared to answer the majority of the questions asked (apparent in her unwillingness to answer them), and when she did answer it was completely filled with rhetoric and devoid of any substance.

For the McCain campaign, having Palin get up on stage, smile, wink, be cute and say catchy one-liners is good enough. Its amazing to me that she actually said that she would like the powers of the vice president to be expanded, because the McCain campaign has made it very clear that she will have no real part in the administration should they win. Her function for McCain is an expanded version of the first-lady, she smiles, waves and occasionally says something funny.

One other note on gender and tonight's debate. I found it very powerful when Biden became emotional speaking about his family. Particularly when he said "I have a serious problem with the argument that just because I am a man, I can't understand what it means to be a single parent." I thought that pointed out the way in which Palin has attempted to monopolize whatever capital there is to be gained from having family centered values. It also brought to the fore an important and [absent] discussion about the changing demographics of American families.

Anyway, I will leave the rest of the debate nit-picking to the people who actually make some money doing it! *smile*


p.s. can we also just note that if Barack Obama gave a "shoutout" all [racial] hell would break loose?!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Can We Believe the Polls?

Over the last month I've heard more than a couple of Political Scientists, as well as pundits and other political commentators mention that they don't trust this years presidential polls.

Some blame the increasing use of cell phones, others simply can't believe that almost half of the electorate are in support of John McCain.

A professor in my department brought up an interesting point last week. To date he has not heard a single American Politics specialist who believes McCain is going to win.

So the question has to be asked. Does the academy and the media have such a strong bias towards Obama that it is incapable of accurately assessing whether or not he will win the election?

Can we believe the polls? I'd love to know what you all think... What reasons do we have to believe that they aren't accurate?

(and of course we're talking about reputable, time-proven polls, i.e. from survey centers like Gallup... not surveys with heavy respondent bias like those CNN text messaging polls).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Financial Crisis

LOL.... whats so hilarious about this is that it completely mirrors a conversation I had with my mentor the other day...

From Phdcomics.com


Monday, September 29, 2008

OPEN LETTER TO NOW from Green Party Nat'l Women's Caucus: support Cynthia McKinney

Although I am a committed Obama supporter... I thought this was interesting...

How many of you knew there were two women of color running for president?

What's interesting to me is that they chose to run in this years election... it seems that any capital they could have gained from the historic nature of their campaign is overshadowed by Obama... I wonder what the political strategy is behind this?

Either way, their press statement speaks to the ongoing estrangement between women of color and mainstream feminist organizations like NOW, that continues to be highlighted in interesting ways by this years presidential election. To date I still haven't seen NOW respond to any of the sexist/racist attacks against Michelle Obama.



Distributed by the Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org

National Women's Caucus of the Green Party of the United States

For Immediate Release
Monday, September 29, 2008

Morgen D'Arc, Spokesperson, 207-761-7797, morgenizer@yahoo.com
Linda Manning Myatt, Spokesperson, 248-548-6175, lmmyatt@wowway.com

Green Party National Women's Caucus challenges NOW to support the historic McKinney/Clemente presidential campaign

WASHINGTON, DC -- The National Women's Caucus (http://greens.org/gp-uswomen) of the Green Party of the United States has sent an open letter to the National Organization for Women (http://www.now.org) urging support for the Green Party's presidential ticket. The text of the letter is appended below.

The letter cites Green nominee Cynthia McKinney's six terms in Congress and her unmatched dedication to the principles of equality and human rights championed by NOW. The National Women's Caucus emphasizes the historical role that alternative parties have played in the struggle for women's suffrage and rights, and notes that NOW has failed even to recognize the significance of America's first national campaign by two women of African descent: Ms. McKinney is African American and running mate Rosa Clemente is Black Puerto Rican.


National Women's Caucus of the Green Party of the United States

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dear National Organization for Women leadership and members:

The National Women's Caucus of the Green Party of the United States is dismayed that your recent endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States did not acknowledge the first all-female ticket in recent U.S. history. Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente are running for President and Vice President, respectively, on the Green Party ballot line.

Cynthia McKinney served six terms in the U.S. Congress and two terms in the Georgia General Assembly. She is a global human rights and peace activist with a substantial voting record supporting women. Rosa Clemente is a community organizer and journalist who was one of the founders and primary organizers of the first national Hip Hop political convention. Their “Power to the People” campaign goal is to ensure that public policy reflects the Green Party values of ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence.

Cynthia McKinney has been a steadfast supporter of full reproductive rights for women throughout her legislative career, including opposition to “abstinence only” sex education, funding for contraception and UN family planning. Rosa Clemente has been an outspoken advocate on issues affecting people of color, particularly women, and has directed her campaign toward the 48% of young people who don’t vote, to encourage participation in the electoral process.

Additional positions of the McKinney/Clemente campaign that will benefit women include:

- Equal Rights

- End to forced sterilization and coerced or uninformed consent procedures,

- Immediate end to the War in Iraq and reinvestment of the money into our communities

- Single-payer, universal “Medicare for All”

- Election integrity where every vote is counted

- Right to same-sex marriage

- Free higher education

- End to the drug war

- Right of return of survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

- Withdrawal from corporate trade agreements such as NAFTA that are devastating economies worldwide

- Promotion of renewable energy (no coal or nuclear) to create hundreds of thousands of new manufacturing, construction and service jobs

Neither Obama nor his Republican opponent John McCain support these positions.

The National Organization for Women PAC repeatedly praised Congresswoman McKinney during her six terms in U.S. Congress; and her record, on every relevant issue, surpasses those of the male endorsees. But now, these two women of color -- powerful and power-challenging, real choices, and nominated by a political party that proudly boasts Feminism & Gender Equity among our Ten Key Values -- don't even receive acknowledgment.

The National Organization for Women, at all levels, has long struggled over diverging feminist paths -- choosing either to press for change within the existing power structure, and its institutions, or to step outside of the expected and challenge the institutions themselves. In the view of the National Women's Caucus of the Green Party of the United States, NOW has best served women when NOW has recognized, in the words of Audre Lord, that "when you look back on the road you've come, and see pain, and look forward to the road you're on, and see pain, then, step off the road, and make a new path."

We recall when NOW distributed buttons proclaiming that "Women were not born Democrats, Republicans, or YESTERDAY." We recall when the heroines of our heritage were Belva Lockwood, Alice Paul and Sonia Johnson, each willing to form her own political party, or run for president independently, or both. They were willing because that path provided fewer barriers to telling the plain truth, the truth that needed to be heard, than did service to the establishment parties. We even recall when NOW announced the formation of its own, alternative, political party, the "Party for the 21st Century," with Dolores Huerta at its head. We rejoiced when NOW sought to make a new path, because the old political road was simply too filled with the pain of condescension and compromise, deferment and settling for what was offered.

Even when NOW, through its political action committee, decided in the last two decades to bestow its endorsement on candidates from the over-represented political parties, it was to reward them for actually moving closer to the day when a woman might be president, with a Geraldine Ferraro and a Hillary Clinton sitting in the candidate car, and not just trudging behind it, pushing. But this past week, that endorsement reward was offered without even that, out of the same "fear of the alternative" that has driven women to set our own hopes, dreams and destinations aside, time and again, to let the men drive the car.

Belva, Alice and Sonia did not become president of the United States, but, with the support of the feminists of their time, speaking truth, each re-formed the vision that America had about women. While men can be feminists too, their institutions can only be deemed feminist if they produce equality. The dearth of elected women, at every level, is its own condemnation of the party structures that are the paved road of American democracy. It disappoints us greatly, that earlier this month, NOW has not made a new path. By failing to commend, or even comment on, the presidential candidacy of Cynthia McKinney and her Green Party running mate, Rosa Clemente, NOW is driving on the wrong side of history.

We invite the National Organization for Women, and feminists everywhere, to support the Green Party and the McKinney/Clemente campaign. Come walk the walk with us, and make a new path.


National Women's Caucus, Green Party of the United States
Nan Garrett, Co-Chair
Ginny Marie Case, Co-Chair

National Women’s Caucus Member Claudia Ellquist, National NOW Board member, 1990-94, participated in the drafting of this letter

National Women’s Caucus
Green Party of the United States
1711 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Living Single Reunion

Anybody that knows me knows that Living Single is absolutely my favorite show of all time.

So I was beyond excited when TV One announced that they would be having a Living Single Reunion Show (TV One will now be showing Living Single episodes as a part of their weekly lineup).

I should have known better than to get excited about anything orignally produced by TV One... but I foolishly did...

and sure enough... it was HORRIBLE. Queen Latifah didn't bother to show up, so it featured the rest of the cast reminiscing about what great actors they were and how important they felt the show was.


The weird thing is... the actress who played my favorite character (max), Erika Alexander, looked totally lifeless. She barely said anything and did not look like she wanted to be there.

Makes one wonder what the real politics behind the show were.

Either way, I think I'll just stick to the Living Single re-runs...


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Things I've Discovered During My Absence

1. The critical nature of exuding positive energy while in this space (or anywhere actually)... Happiness starts with you... all my negativity is out the door!

Complaining is for suckers ;-)

2. The blog Hip Hop is Read

3. Which lead to my discovery of Ivan's (the creator of Hip Hop is Read) funky drummer compilations (featuring ?uestlove)

4. Which led me to my discovery of the Jazzyfatnastees (might be old to you, but deliciously new to me!)

5. Twitter :-)

6. Solange's new album... yes Solange! check it out... you'll love the funky 70's feel :-)

7. Neyo's new album Year of the Gentleman (FYI don't waste your time with the new Eric Benet album)

8. ING High Interest Savings Accounts... in this economy [and in general] everybody should have enough money to cover at least three months of rent/bills/utilities/food... put your money away in a high interest savings account! (and make a budget!)

9. Clear skin!!!!! my first year of graduate school acne is finally gone! (see all that positive thinking is paying off already *smile*)

10. Chicago artists The Cool Kids, I love their album The Bake Sale (for blasting in your car speakers only)... their mixtape leaves a lot to be desired...

11 . Janelle Monae... actually... I definitely was listening to this before my leave of absence I just forgot to mention it... I just wish it wasn't such a short album!

12. Raphael Saadiq's new album The Way I See It

13. Shop It To Me.com

14. funniest thing ever: Pundit Kitchen

15. Finishing a 20 mile run feels GREAT... but finishing your first qualifying exam? PRICELESS


p.s. I swear I've had more people than I can count ask me about applying to graduate school, so I'm going to start writing up the advice I got from others that I found helpful when I applied to my program. Make sure you stay on the lookout for that!

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm Back

Look for a real post this weekend... in the meantime.

... enjoy!


from Phdcomics.com

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin...

In the words of my ever so insightful mother...

McCain's pick of Sarah Palin for his running mate brings up some serious questions about his judgment. Picking someone with only one year of experience (as governor of a state with less people than Charlotte, North Carolina), when you are 72yrs old, at risk for heart disease, and after being diagnosed with skin cancer... is just insane to me...

It also speaks to his sexism... to McCain, all women are the same... any woman will do, regardless of her [lack of] qualifications..

Polysigh makes an excellent point about how the acceptance of this nomination brings up some serious questions about Sarah Palin's judgment as well... Especially after she has admitted that she knows nothing about the position...

For more comments about the Republican VP selection check out The Kitchen Table and On The Dig.

In the meantime...

I hope you have enjoyed this weeks coverage of the Democratic National Convention.... South Side Scholar will be going on temporary hiatus until after September 20...

During my absence please continue to check out past blogs and leave comments... and come back after the 20th to see what new stuff South Side Scholar is up to!


Friday, August 29, 2008

Final Day of the Democratic Convention

I was deeply moved by the speech of Rep. John Lewis who did the introduction to the tribute to Martin Luther King jr. Rep Lewis is the last living main speaker from the March on Washington.

(Although Dr. Irene Height... one of my sorors/former president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc... was also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March and Washington and is still alive and was present at the convention today)

Jennifer Hudson's rendition of the national anthem
was absolutely beautiful

LOL... side note: I love Spike Lee, when interviewed by MSNBC about what he thought about Barack Obama, he said "I think history will be defined as B.B. and A.B... Before Barack and After Barack..."

I know ya'll are going to want to burn me at the stake for this... lol... but I really didn't get into Stevie's first song... don't get me wrong... I LOVE me some Stevie Wonder, but I just think his song choice was lacking... However, in typical Stevie fashion he proceeded to bring the house down :-)

Unfortunately I don't think the live version of will.i.am's "yes we can video" worked out very well...

Al Gore's speech was so poignant and so powerful... the comparisons he made between the critical nature of this election and his 2000 election really struck a cord with me...

One thing that I can't help but be amazed by, is the way in which all the major Democratic heavyweights... both Clintons, the Kennedys, Al Gore and John Kerry... are all coming out to support Barack Obama... a black man... in such a big way... I know most of you are like... "well they don't have any choice... he is the party nominee." But think about it... this time last year, the chances of this occuring seemed next to impossible... but the people spoke and the party was forced to let go of their "chosen daughter" and listen to the voices of the primary voters... I don't know about you... but I continue to be awed by the power in that....

John McCain's rinky dink commercial congratulating Obama on his nomination had absolutely no purchase for me... After teasing the media relentlessly about his VP pick in the middle of the Democratic Convention and the loads of petty and childish commercials (which had absolutely nothing to do with politics) that hes been shoving down my throat for the last three days... McCain has made it clear that Obama isn't the one who has no idea what he is doing... I'm predicting it now... once the debates start... any gains McCain has made are going out the window....

It's amazing... Obama managed to draw 90,000 people to Mile High Stadium... McCain is having a hard time convincing 10,000 people to show up to his acceptance speech... yet somehow pundits are describing this as a problem for Obama?

Lets be honest... McCain is the media darling... he absolutely gets away with anything and everything... How is it after weeks of negative commercials, he all of a sudden is "gracious and classy".... ??!!

Onto pleasanter things...

I did think it was appropriate for Sen Dick Durbin to introduce Obama... those democrats love them some symbolism huh?

But onto the most important part of the night....

I LOVED Obama's speech... he did absolutely everything he needed to do. Like Micheal Eric Dyson told Wolf Blitzer on CNN prior to the speech... the trademark of agreat orator is to draw the audience in emotionally, and then to lay out the meat and potatoes of his political policy... and that is exactly what Obama did...

He described himself in a way that everyone... regardless of race or class could identify with... from talking about growing up with a single mother to his and Michelle's struggle with student loans... it would be ridiculous for McCain (with his seven houses) to think about calling Obama an elitest...

and yes... his discussion of individual responsibility and the necessity of "fatherhood" did make me a bit squirmish... but I did appreciate his ability to link issues and to make an arguement about how folks from both sides of the aisle can begin to see eye to eye on issues like domestic benefits and abortion...

And he finally REALLY critized John McCain!!!

My favorite lines?

"this election isn't about me... this election is about you..."

"at the defining moments of history... change didn't come from Washington, it came to Washington"

"I don't know about you... but I'm not willing to take a 10% chance on change"

and lastly...

"America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise - that American promise - and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess..."

That scripture is actually from Hebrews 10:23. The full quotation is as follows (international standard version):
Let us continue to hold firmly to the hope that we confess without wavering, for the one who made the promise is faithful.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 3 of the Democratic Convention

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed day 3 of the convention...

Bill Clinton finally got his mind back and reminded all of us why we loved him in the first place... my favorite line?

people have always been more impressed with the power of our example, than the example of our power

Although I'm not sure he will ever be able to completely repair the damage done to his image this primary season... this speech was certainly a good start...

I was so much more impressed with his speech than I was with HRC's... he did EXACTLY what he needed to do... I LOVED the fact that he compared his candidacy to Obama's and went so far as to say... as a former president... he could guarantee that Obama was qualified....

I head that the Joe Biden and John Kerry speeches were really good... I'm going to check them out on you tube momentarily...

(after watching the Kerry speech... I absolutely love how he was talking about speaking truth to power... and that Obama would finally be the one to speak that truth....)

And how could I forget!

Like a lot of folks I was definetly nervous about this roll call vote business... so I was pleasantly surprised when it ended so gracefully...

I couldn't help but get emotional watching some of the older black women on television start to cry after Obama had officially been nominated.... many of them never thought they would live to see the first black man nominated for president by a major U.S. party... it was beautiful!

I was more impressed with HRC when she requested that Obama be nominated by acclimation, than I was with her entire speech last night...

I'm so excited for tonight!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Random Thoughts for August

1. I really wasn't feeling HRC's speech at the Democratic Convention, she spent way to much time congratulating herself and her husband. There is no way this would have even been an option had she won and Obama lost. At some point, this egomanical focus on the "Clinton Legacy" is going to have to stop and we're going to have to start thinking about how to get Obama ELECTED.

Not to mention the fact that I hate how she is trying to get as much purchase as possible out of being a woman (a la "my sisters of the traveling pant suits") after ignoring this part of her identity up until May 2008.

Melissa Harris-Lacewell sums up my feelings exactly in her latest blog post on HRC's speech.

2. Although I was annoyed with the beginning of Michelle Obama's convention speech, I understood that she did what she had to do. She had to convince people that she loves her country and that she isn't "scary"... mission accomplished.

But... I loved the end... something about being a black woman, watching a black woman with such poise and grace speaking about what it meant for her to stand at the intersection of race and gender... made my heart speak. Of course her daughters are beautiful and Michelle's style is impeccable... I couldn't help but wonder what it meant for young black women to watch her on tv, and to see her image everywhere.... she gives a lot to aspire to!

3. I am REALLY excited to see Jennifer Hudson sing the national anthem on Thursday night at the convention (Obama personally requested her).

4. I'm so excited that Rachel Maddow is getting her own show on MSNBC.

5. 47 Days till the Chicago Marathon

6. Iyanala Vanzant's 20th anniversary edition of Tapping the Power Within is changing my life.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Obama is My Slave T-Shirt

I had dedicated my day towards watching the law and order marathon, healing my knees and ankles and of course getting some work done... when i came across this article in my friend's google chat status message.

The article is about t-shirt "designer" Apollo Braun in New York City, who has now earned his place in internet infamy be producing "Obama is My Slave" t-shirts.

In an even more twisted plot turn, a New York free daily called the Metro published the following article about a 25yr old Manhattan student who allegedly was beat up by four black teenage girls for wearing the t-shirt.

Turns out, a week later the editor of the Metro was fired because the entire lawsuit was a hoax, concocted by Apollo Braun to get more attention for his t-shirts.

I'll leave it to you all to actually read the articles and to witness Braun's numerous racist statements.

What makes this story complicated is the way in which Braun is not only a Jewish immigrant, but ironically he got his start at a hip hop store in Soho....

In the context of the recent controversial New Yorker cover and The Assassination of Barack Obama art exhibition, one has to wonder about the insipid ways racism is now used in this country.

We've come full circle, from a rampant blatant racism that was found culturally acceptable, to an institutional racism that found "overt" racism something only for the "uneducated." Now we find ourselves back to a place where blatant racism is once again something to be entertained by.

To call somebody a "racist" in responses to these pieces of "art" or "satire" is to be accused of overreacting. Yet one has to wonder about the ways in which this artistic, educated and institutional racism, combines to disempower black communities from mobilizing.

If you complain about the New Yorker cover you are to sensitive (and if poor black people boycott would it really affect their subscriptions?). If you protest outside of the Assassination art exhibit you are not appreciating the artist's first amendment rights. And if you critique folks like Braun (or write blogs about them), then you are just giving them the stage they need to sell their product.

BlackSymthe alluded to this when he talked about the way Obama dealt with hecklers at one of his rallys. And I talked about this briefly when I talked about Mandela's Eight Lessons for Leadership.

Obama's ability to simultaneously tap in black community support without necessarily indicating that he has intentions of (or is able to) fulfilling their expectations. A cultural environment that labels todays racial climate as one where racial disparities no longer exist. And a political environment where racism is now called "satire" or "art"... seem to continue to point to the necessity of a new mode of black political organizing.

The question will continue to be... what does this new black politics need to look like?


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Economists Argue that Mixed Kids are Worse Behaved

You all might remember Roland Fryer from CNN's Black in America Special and his now infamous "Salty Negro Theory"

This past July the Harvard Scholar along with University of Chicago's Steven Levitt (author of Freakonomics) and Yale's Lisa Kahn released an article entitled "The Plight of Mixed Race Adolescents"

Their findings? (Courtesy of npr.org)

1) Mixed-race kids grow up in households that are similar along many dimensions to those in which black children grow up: similar incomes, the father is much less likely to be around than in white households, etc.

2) In terms of academic performance, mixed-race kids fall in between blacks and whites.

3) Mixed-race kids do have one advantage over white and black kids: the mixed-race kids are much more attractive on average.

4) There are some bad adolescent behaviors that whites do more than blacks (like drinking and smoking), and there are other bad adolescent behaviors that blacks do more than whites (watching TV, fighting, getting sexually transmitted diseases). Mixed-race kids manage to be as bad as whites on the white behaviors and as bad as blacks on the black behaviors. Mixed-race kids act out in almost every way measured in the data set.

Their explanation for these behaviors?

Mixed race adolescents – not having a natural peer group – need to engage in more risky
behaviors to be accepted

I suddenly find myself speechless

The only reasonable question I can think to ask is.... why are three ivy league economists suddenly posing as social behaviorists/sociologists/psychologists?

I have to repeat the question asked by Uptown Notes a couple of weeks ago... why does Roland Fryer continue to push these unsubstantiated theories in a way that is both irresponsible and potentially harmful?

As scholars of any color.... I would hope that we would have the wisdom, humility and integrity to not just create controversy in order to keep ourselves in the public eye...

.... i guess not...


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Funny Stuff

From www.phdcomics.com

Friday, August 8, 2008

Question of the Day: Kilpatrick vs. Obama

On Tuesday Terry Neal on The Root wrote an interesting article about Barack Obama. In it the following argument was made:

When Camp McCain says he's arrogant, they're playing to those who think he's another black man who doesn't know his place.

On Thursday The "D" Spot wrote a blog about the recent imprisonment of Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The blog made the following argument:

The real reason our mayor is sitting in jail tonight has nothing to do with that phone call he ‘forgot’ to make. Our mayor is behind bars because of his arrogance. His blazing intelligence, which everyone who knows the man can attest to, has been short-circuited by his arrogance and staunch belief that the rules of the world don’t apply to his planet. Because on Planet Kwame, the rest of us are merely bit players and props, placed here and there on a ‘K’ shaped stage only to cast a better reflection upon His Highness.

Now I know ya'll are like.... these two have absolutely nothing in common! and you might just very well be right.... Nevertheless....

I think the fact that both are black men that are in historic positions (Obama could be the first black president and Kilpatrick is the youngest mayor to ever be in office in the City of Detroit), and that both are currently being accused by the national media as being arrogant... is interesting and something to be thought about.

So my question to you all is this: can we think about accusations of Obama and Kilpatrick being arrogant as operating in the same way? If not, how are they different?


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

what am i supposed to do with all of this hair?!

a couple of months ago i saw a blog entry that completely summarized the evolution of my relationship to my hair:

there was a point in my life where i made the simplistic assertions that if you straightened your hair as a black woman than you hate yourself and by extension your blackness.... while i sincerely believe there is immense meaning in the way we as black people approach our hair, i find greater meaning in the hierarchies of blackness erected by self-righteous folks who in whatever covert/overt way make the assertion that folks who sport dreads or fros are in some way more enlightened

I have had long straight hair, fire-engine red hair, fire-engine red locs (can u tell i like the color red? ooo-oop! *smile*), sisterlocs, traditional locs, big afro's, little afro's, twists, plats, braids, and a fade.

yet and still... most folks continue to make completely generalized assumptions about the type of person i am, my politics, the music i listen to and even the food i eat (apparently i am a militant, erykah badu listening, radical liberal who doesn't eat meat.... whether those things are true or not, is so not the point! *smile*)

... of course all of the bangles, the birkenstocks and big hoop earrings i rock probably don't help...

but the point is.... india was right! i am not my freakin hair!

so that leads me to the point of this post.... now that i have [temporarily] taken out my locs... i am completely at a loss about what to do with my hair and am seriously considering taking a hot comb to all this hair!!!

because regardless of what anybody thinks... i did not get a fade or locs out of some radical rejection of black cultural values of beauty... i did it because i 1. thought it would be attractive, 2. was tired of spending money on getting my hair done and 3. i am probably the laziest person you will ever meet when it comes to expending energy on things like hair/makeup/clothing.

this isn't to say i don't have an opinion about what black people do and do not consider beautiful... it just means that my hair isn't the way i choose to articulate those opinions...

so the question of the day is...

what do i do now?!


Monday, August 4, 2008

New York Times Comic

if you can't see the full comic go here


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mandela's 8 Lessons of Leadership

In honor of his 90th birthday, Time Magazine published an article on Nelson Mandela's 8 Lesson's of Leadership

I encourage you to read the article... But I thought I would share the lessons that I found most poignant

No.1: Courage is Not the Absence of Fear, it's Inspiring Others to Move Beyond It

Mandela talks about how necessary it was to "pretend and, through the act of appearing fearless, inspire others" during his tenure at Robben Island.

Although he was constantly afraid in the prison, he knew that his fear would only function to instill fear in the people who were risking their lives everyday to fight against apartheid outside of the prison.

He knew, that by appearing to be fearless in facing the horrors of Robben Island, he could inspire others to face the horrors of Apartheid.

It's an interesting idea.... and brings up the question of what exactly are the functions of "leaders" and what constitutes "leadership"?

Is it primarily a symbolic label as Mandela seems to suggest? Is leadership merely the ability to inspire/motivate/convince others to accomplish the work that must be done?

And if this is the case, one has to wonder about the ways in which this idea of leadership simultaneously disempowers people.

If "leaders" are never really the ones responsible for the work being accomplished (as one could argue was the case during the Civil Rights Movement, particularly in the ground work of getting major tactics like the March on Washington and the Birmingham Bus boycotts coordinated), and it really is the work of the "community" that creates and sustains movements. Then what does all the credit for the work of these movements being attributed to these symbolic leaders do for the communities feelings of self-assurance?

In a time where the black community is constantly lamenting the lack of "black leadership" and looking for the next protest movement (a la the 60's and 70's). An important question would seem to be whether or not our communities addiction to symbolic leadership has prevented us from recognizing and acting on the (already demonstrated) power in grassroots activism.

No. 8: Quitting is Leading To

This seems to be another poignant lesson for black leadership in the United States.

Mandela was determined to set a precedent for all who followed him — not only in South Africa but across the rest of the continent. He would be the anti-Mugabe, the man who gave birth to his country and refused to hold it hostage. "His job was to set the course," says Ramaphosa, "not to steer the ship." He knows that leaders lead as much by what they choose not to do as what they do.

This seems to speak for itself. The author of the article points out that in many ways, Mandela's greatest legacy as President of South Africa is the way he chose to leave it. When he was elected in 1994, Mandela probably could have pressed to be President for life. But by stepping down, and allowing others to take part in the leadership and development of South Africa, he reached beyond himself and did what was best for his country.

In a time where today's black leaders are the same people who were "black leaders" thirty years ago. It seems that their inability to find the humility to step down and not only allow young black men and women to take on positions of leadership, but to train them to take on those positions of leadership, has paralyzed the evolution of black activism in the United States.

We are stuck in a cycle of trying to recreate the 1960's-70's in a political environment that requires a new form of black politics. Until as a community we are willing to free ourselves from the belief that the civil rights and black power movements were a high point that we are obssessed with trying to reach again, we will continue to cycle through ineffective political strategy after ineffective political strategy.

Mandela's lessons on leadership have a lot to offer us in the United States. I encourage you to take a look at the article and let me know what you think!


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obama at Unity?

How many of you caught Obama's question and answer session at the Unity Convention on Sunday? What did you think?

I don't know about you but i was THROUGHLY entertained...

his critics can say what they want about him... but one thing they can't accuse him of is not having a sense of humor...

I actually thought it was really appropriate that Marc Lamont Hill put the following mos def quote in his blog on the root today

"If white boys doing it well, it’s success / when I start doing it well it’s suspect.”

I enjoyed the quote because it was exactly what Obama's response was to questions about his recent trip overseas. When asked whether or not his trip was arrogant" he replied (my paraphrasing)...

it was essentially the exact same trip that McCain took earlier this year, I don't think we should be penalized just because we did it well

We can argue all day about whether or not Obama is arrogant, or transformative or adequately radical. But on Sunday I just found myself truly in awe of how entertaining and intelligent the man is.

Don't get me wrong... I'm actually a huge Obama fan, and I don't mean to degrade or demean him by calling him entertaining... but the reality is... as a politician... the man has skills!

When asked about whether or not he would support an apology to Native Americans and/or African Americans while in office, he managed to completely change the topic to the necessity of health care and adequate schooling for all children while barely skipping a beat.

When asked about affirmative action, he managed to turn the conversation into one that talked about poor white children and high school dropouts.

During the entire conversation i consistently found myself either laughing or losing track of what the original question was.

The man is a skilled orator and politician.

Regardless of how much McCain whines about not getting enough media coverage... its really not going to matter if he doesn't stop being so boring. The reality is, Obama gets as much media coverage as he does for two reasons, 1. his candidacy is historic and 2. the man is fascinating to watch on television!

how can McCain and his infamous green background compete with that?


Monday, July 21, 2008

random thoughts pt. 2

1. dumi's fears ended up being unwarranted... the new nas album was not a letdown after the nigger mixtape. nas's political commentary was intelligent, artistic and raw... of course it helped that three out of the 15 tracks were from the mixtape... but the new stuff is still worth the purchase. while its not the type of album you would cruise to down lakeshore... nas contradicts himself by proving that hip hop is not dead.

2. studying for qualifying exams is no fun what so ever...

3. the good thing about my mother never allowing me to listen to hip hop before 1999 is i am constantly hearing really fly stuff for the first time...

4. why won't bret favre just retire?

5. the dark knight is the greatest batman movie ever.... it is also very creepy and scary and made me flinch more than a couple of times... heath ledger was amazing...

6. can someone please spare me from the constant panic about unmarried black women?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Jean Grae

Check out this interview Jean Grae did with the Village Voice. Its a really powerful piece that touches on the lack of control artists have over their art in general. And the further marginalization that comes along with being a black, female, hip hop artist.

On her new album Jeanius she wrote a powerful song called "My Story" about her abortion and miscarriage. Her label is now attempting to record a video for this song, which she is vehemently against. When asked about it in the interview, she said this:

The interesting duality comes from being female and immediately being written off saying anything—it's: "Oh, she's complaining again. See? And that's why bitches shouldn't rap." It's an interesting place to stand. It's sort of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't." I do wanna very much take a position on this song and this record and this video, because it would be insane of me not to.

i definetly encourage you to check out the article and her hot new album.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

random thoughts

copying uptown notes style :-)

1. why is micheal vick filing for bankruptcy but r. kelly is still roaming free making more money than ever?
2. why has doc rivers' 15yr old (bka freshman in high school) son already committed to university of florida?
3. when will common drop another album as tight as resurrection?
4. speaking of hip hop... why do hip hop elitists act like ignorant/cornball hip hop is something new?
5. speaking of ignorant... why don't we all just acknowledge that ice tea's "soulja boy diss" was nothing more than a sad attempt at resurrecting his music career?
6. why don't discussions of black sex tourism ever include black women as participants rather than victims?


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Where Are the Feminists?

when HRC was still running to be the democratic presidential nominee... gloria steinem wrote an editoral for the new york times about why she was supporting HRC for president. In it she made her now infamous arguement that "gender is the most restricting force" in America today.

That’s why the Iowa primary was following our historical pattern of making change. Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter).

the essay was problematic for more than a couple of reasons. in the above paragraph she completely ignores the support the white women's suffragist movement received from black activists like W.E.B. DuBois and Frederick Douglass. just like it ignores the way in which those same white suffragists turned on black Americans and argued that blacks were not competent enough to vote. In turn, her willingness to create a hierarchy of oppression... raising the suffering of women (of course who she means by "women" is never quite clear) over the suffering of blacks (she genders blackness male).... further perpertuates the racism that has been present in the mainstream feminist movement since its outset and further alienates black women from a cause that in a lot of way speaks to a part of their many oppressions.

many black feminist activists responded to steinem. notably alice walker in her beautiful article on the root.com, where she simultaneously explained her endorsement of obama as well as responded to white feminist HRC supporters.

It is hard to relate what it feels like to see Mrs. Clinton (I wish she felt self-assured enough to use her own name) referred to as "a woman" while Barack Obama is always referred to as "a black man." One would think she is just any woman, colorless, race-less, past-less, but she is not. She carries all the history of white womanhood in America in her person; it would be a miracle if we, and the world, did not react to this fact. How dishonest it is, to attempt to make her innocent of her racial inheritance.

in typical alice walker fashion... her arguments were both artful, thoughtful and multifaceted (can you tell i'm a fan? *smile*). and it brought a series of important discussions to the table, both about HRC's weaknesses, as well as obama's

so in the light of all this argueing over sexism and racism that was present every where from the barbershop, to the mainstream media, to the ivory tower.... where are the feminists now?

numerous articles have been published over the last month about the hire of a new chief of staff for michelle obama to "soften" her image. the obama campaign wants to curtail the media's tendency to depict her as an "angry black woman" and instead put emphasis on her dedication to her family.

the campaign is attempting to market michelle obama as a harmless homemaker who doesnt threaten white men and who white women can relate to. and yet amazingly.... those same white feminists who railed against the supposed sexism against HRC during her presidential campaign have remained completely silent against the blatant and unwavering racism and sexism thrown at michelle obama on an hourly basis.

Mary C. Curtis wrote an insightful essay about the loud silence of feminists toward michelle obama. interestingly enough... a representative from steinem's feminist organization responded back in a letter to the editor. in it she argues the following...

The Women's Media Center, a feminist media advocacy organization founded by Ms. Steinem in 2005, has been a consistent voice for fair media treatment of women, including Michelle Obama... We fight sexism in the media wherever we find it... Ms. Curtis may indeed have a complaint -- not necessarily against feminists but against mainstream media outlets that often do not let these voices demanding fair coverage be heard.

this response is inadequate... she argues that her organization has been defending michelle obama from the beginning and that they are simply a victim of the "mainstream media outlets that often do not let these voices demanding fair coverage be heard."

but how is it that they managed to be heard in their VERY vocal defense of HRC (i.e. steinem's editoral in the new york times), but when it comes to michelle they are the victim of sexist media?

seems a little to convenient for me.

especially... when it is multiple mainsteam media sources that are actually doing the questioning (that feminists should be doing) around whether or not michelle obama's makeover is even appropriate. as well as detailing the work that black women are doing in the defense of michelle obama. so the question again remains.... where are the [white] feminsts?

this seems to be an important moment in the history of the white feminist movement. just like in the 1970's and 1980's when black feminists pushed back against second wave feminism and demanded to have a voice in the womens freedom movement. once again white feminists are going to be forced to look at their racism straight in the face.

the question is.... this time around... will they attempt to change the woman they see in the mirror...


Singer Replaces the National Anthem with Black Anthem

In Denver today jazz singer Rene Marie scheduled to sing the star spangled banner at the State of the City instead sang the words to the black national anthem (Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing). In the face of outrage from city government and conservative commentators, when asked why she did it, she replied "i want to express how i feel about living in the united states."

Get it girl... LOL....

Republican Senator McCain is demanding that Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama ask General Wesley Clark to step down (ugh I hate that the only links I can find today are from fox news!).

What perplexes me is how McCain can possibly think he has the right to ask anyone from the Obama campaign to step down.

"Charles Black Jr., one of McCain's most senior political advisers, said in an interview with Fortune Magazine, that a fresh terrorist attack 'certainly would be a big advantage to him.' He also said that the December assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazie Bhutto, while 'unfortunate," helped McCain win the Republican primary by focusing attention on national security'" - Washington Post

Last week McCain surrogate "termed the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee 'John Kerry with a tan.'"

Both are still working for the McCain campaign.

And yet General Clark's comment that McCain's military service cannot and should not be the sole measure of whether or not he is fit to be President of the United States is worth him being fired from the Obama campaign? Come on now...

What's interesting about both of these incidents is the way in which conservative commentators have been so quick to use these as examples of black America's "lack of patriotism." Both Obama and his wife have been asked to prove their patriotism (read: white Americaness), after Senator Obama has been and continues to be painted as "foreign" or "unamerican" by the media.

In the face of the American public patting itself on its back for its "racial progress" in the light of Obama's nomination. The way in which black Americans still must prove their Americaness before being fully accepted by both the media and the general public, continues to call whatever progress has been made into question.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Going to Keep Trying Until I get This Right

I actually really like blogging.

Unfortunately.... I haven't yet managed to find a blogging style I like enough to hold onto for any significant amount of time.

As a result, I have more than my fair share of unfinished blogs floating in the cybersphere.

But thats whats great about the unlimited nature of the cyber universe! I can keep trying until I get it right :-)

Lately my facebook account has been ridiculously clogged with all of the news articles that I am constantly "sharing" with all of my "facebook friends" (along with my colorful commentary of course *smile*).

I realized that the way to solve the clogging problem was also the way to get myself back into blogging... create a blog where I post all of the articles/videos/blogs, etc that catch my eye and write my commentary in one central location!

sounds obvious right?

well you'd be surprised how difficult it is to come up with the simplest ideas when one is immersed in academic literature day in and day out... lol

so here we go... check me out :-)