The last thing Daniel Merriweather wants is to be compared to Amy Winehouse. And that’s perfectly understandable; what artist needs media coverage of their work that consistently fashions links to a well-known, better peer? But when you’re white, not American, possess an emotion-drenched, Otis Redding-inspired vocal style, and Mark Ronson (the man responsible for producing half of Winehouse’s Back to Black) laces every single one of your tracks with that familiar Stax Records-meets-Phil Spector-meets-Hip Hop sound, you’re sort of asking for it.

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia (not London?!), Daniel Merriweather’s rise from down-under obscurity to potential Soul superstardom might have seemed unlikely, were it not for the unprecedented success of his not-so-distant, musical older cousin, Miss. Winehouse, and the almost immediate procession of like-minded/Caucasian artists that followed (i.e. Adele, Duffy, etc). Blue-eyed Soul is in ladies and gentlemen, and as long as these artists are putting out quality shit, I’m down with it. Besides, Merriweather’s been an active musician since the early 2000’s; there’s no sense of any sort of calculated opportunism going on with Merriweather’s debut album, the charming Love & War; just a handful of knockout compositions, some mediocre ones, a couple forgettables, and a big, wide-open space where Merriweather’s singular musical personality should have been, but isn’t.

Overall…not bad for a first try.

Women’s Her-story Month: A tribute to Old Black Women Healers

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

–Maya Angelou

So, how do you make a little black girl believe that all she has gone through does not determine her ability to take flight? How do you “teach” her that her wings are beautiful and that the risk of flying is a marvelous growth enriching endeavor? How do you make her see that her cadged song and flight will one day inspire others to freedom? How do you “teach” a black girl to fly?

You see, it’s not an easy endeavor because so many things seek to clip their wings, silence their voice, and keep them cadged. It takes a special kind of spiritual intervention to release little black birds. It is not a task for the faint of heart or for those who benevolently (i.e. good white women) “swoop” in to save de Negro children from the pathology of their colored communities. Hmmmm . . . it is a task well suited for wise black women like Baby Suggs in Beloved who said, “Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it . . . No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands . . . You got to love it,” and Minnie Ransom in The Salt Eaters who said, “Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well? Just so’s you’re sure, sweetheart, and ready to be healed, cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well,” and my 8th grade colored school teacher, Mrs. LaVern Colvin, who said, “Now listen here, Fallon, if you do not know by now how much I love you . . . you will never know, dearie.”

Roots #NoAlexHaley

A few years ago, I took on the unbelievably complex and daunting task of constructing the maternal branches of my family tree. My first step was to sit down with my grandmother and listen as she recounted the names of her grandparents and their parents. Granny relayed some wonderful, albeit slightly inaccurate information.

My Great-Great Grandparents

Beyond my great-great grandparents, I had no names. Most importantly at a certain point in history, Black people in this country didn’t technically have distinguishable last names, or really any last names. I was frustrated and the last thing I wanted to do was turn to government records but that’s just what I did.

So Much for that "Post-Racial" Society

Last week a student was arrested in the reg. So clearly if a person is arrested in this beautiful post-racial, progressive, and inclusive society, then it must be some just cause. Right? Witnesses say that this 5’6 black senior at University of Chicago was “wrestled to the ground and put in a headlock.” This must mean that he was threatening someone’s life or at least doing something minutely illegal. Right?


The student walked into the library and was told he was too loud and if he didn’t quiet down, then the police would be called.  The Chicago Maroon reported that the student was arrested in the basement of the library—where usually everyone is loud. He was charged and spent a night in jail because he refused to show officers his identification or leave the library for unruly behavior, witnesses deny that police asked the student for ID or that the student was causing a disturbance. They also said the arresting officer was inappropriately aggressive.

Lee Daniels on His Oscar Nominations

The Grio | March 3, 2010

Daniels: [African-Americans] have to get out of the ‘Huxtable’ mode of trying to be perfect,” Daniels said of the famous Cosby Show family. “There’s so many elements of African-American culture and families that we choose not to examine.

Underclassmen Are Eager for Freedom

From 8:00 AM to 3:04 PM, 5 days a week, I am a high school student, meaning that there are teachers, administrators and other faculty members all around who can tell me what to do. On top of being a student, I am also only a sophomore. And that means that not only are there authoritative adults in the building but there are also hundreds of upperclassmen, no more than a couple years my senior. Most of whom think they know oh so much more because of their varsity status or newly issued driver’s license. Truth is we’re not much different and “underclassmen” is just another title giving someone else license to feel superior and restrict our adolescent freedom.

I may be a student in the high school hierarchy most of the time but, for a couple hours on Monday afternoons I am a tutor at a local elementary school. I am personally responsible for showing up on time, without warning bells like in my high school hallways.

Aint Gonna Hurt Nobody To Get On Down

When I was young I had horrible dance moves. If Urkel and Carlton Banks could be synthesized into one super nerd they’d still be cooler than me. Whenever my mom would turn on the song “electric slide” in the living room I would always bump into her because my turn wasn’t that smooth. But that all changed the day I saw Deion Sanders juke in a Dallas Cowboys game. By juke I don’t mean evade a defender I, mean get funky in the end zone. This moment is the first time I recall seeing any kind of touchdown celebration. As Deion did the infamous stride into the end zone with the prance to the left, prance to the right shuffle, my eyes became fixated on the television screen. The next 2 weeks straight I practiced the “Deion Dance” so I could show it off to my family for Thanksgiving. I nailed it, but unfortunately my cousin upstaged me. Nevertheless, I still learned a valuable lesson- celebration in sports is awesome and should most definitely be permitted.  So here are my 5 reasons why Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League, should reverse the ban on  touchdown celebrations.

A Girl Like Me

A documentary by Kiri Davis | 2006

Color is more than skin deep for young African-American women struggling to define themselves.  (Read more about the film here.)

February 22, 2010 – February 28, 2010

Helping to Do Good by Looking Good
David Gonzales, New York Times, February 28, 2010

San Diego students storm offices after noose found
Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press, February 27, 2010

District May End N.C. Economic Diversity Program
Robbie Brown, New York Times, February 27, 2010

Voices from UC San Diego’s Campus Community Heard at Teach-In and Rallies
Judy Piercey, States News Service, February 26, 2010

Step Competition Ignites Debate Over Race
Kate Brumback & Dionne Walker, The Ledger, February 26, 2010

To Court Blacks, Foes of Abortion Make Racial Case
Shaila Dewan, New York Times, February 26, 2010

Students peacefully leave UC chancellor’s office
Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press, February 26, 2010

Focus on youth key at Nation of Islam convention
Sophia Tareen, Quad-city Times/ The Associated Press State, February 26, 2010

Student arrested in a library at University of Chicago
Asher Klein, The Chicago Maroon, February 26, 2010

California Campus Sees Uneasy Race Relations
Randal C. Archibald, New York Times, February 26, 2010

Bright minds meet in the name of anti-violence
Staff Writer, Staten Island Advance, February 25, 2010

Phila. schools chief vows action against violence
Kristen A. Graham, Philly News, February 25, 2010

Repairs hold up baseball program
Richard Thompson, Times-Picayune, February 25, 2010

Dem youth support waning amid gov’t gridlock
Hope Yen, Associated Press Writer, February 24, 2010

Chicago actress defines perseverance -Cynda Williams urges girls to rise above obstacles
Maudlyne Ijejirika, Chicago Sun-Times, January 24, 2010

New figures show teen births hit a record low in California
Amina Khan, LA TIMES, February 23, 2010

Sons of legal giants to explore school desegregation
Chris Ramirez, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 22, 2010