It Gets Better…When You're Rich and/or Famous

Note: I was so concerned about the rapture on May 21, that I failed to post last Monday. Now I realize that when they said “rapture” all they really meant was that Oprah was ending her show and Chicago’s mayor is no longer named Daley. You can totally interpret such events as the end of the world. Anyway, I finished what should have been last week’s blog and posted it here.)

True story: Although the maternal side of my family knew, I didn’t tell my biological father that I was gay until (quite literally) the day of my sister’s wedding nearly year ago, just before he was about to walk her down the aisle.  What began as an incredibly awkward moment involving me in drag a dress and makeup and weird conversation before the wedding, resulted in an embrace and my father’s loving (for him) utterance of “We deuces,” to let me know that we were still cool by the time we were taking post-nuptial photos; he even took the time to tell my girlfriend she was welcome to visit anytime.  It was a tremendous relief.  Sure, I probably should have done it much sooner, but procrastination is a tough drug to kick.  Besides, I had never hidden anything from my dad or ever talked to him about relationships, so the idea of me sitting him down and telling him that he could add dating women to the list of things he and I had in common seemed really forced and inauthentic.  Although it has always felt as if coming out was a ritual reserved for privileged white folks and Logo series, once I figured out that my dad inquiring, “So you cut your hair again, hunh?” wasn’t a euphemism for “Are you gay?”  I knew I had to say something.

Study: African American Students More Into Twitter Than Whites

Study: African American Students More Into Twitter Than Whites

Gabriel Perna, International Business Times | May 17, 2011

A recent study says Twitter is more popular for African American college students than whites due to the former’s interest in celebrity and entertainment news.

The study, from Northwestern University, focused on first-year college students attending the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). It found those who used Twitter were more likely to be interested in celebrity and entertainment news than not. It also said a higher percentage of black students were using Twitter in 2010 compared to white students, 37 percent to 21 percent.

The study was published online by New Media And Society in May 2011. Respondents were asked about their awareness and use of Twitter as well as their gender, race, Internet skill level, interest in topics such as international news, politics, entertainment and celebrity news.

“Students with higher Internet skills were more likely to start using Twitter and so were African Americans, who we found report more interest in celebrity and entertainment news than their peers of other races,” Eszter Hargittai, associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern and lead author of the study, said in a statement.  (Read more)


'Woke Up Black' June 8th Screening

‘Woke Up Black’ June 8th Screening

Join the Black Youth Project and Woke Up Black email lists and you will be in the running to win one of 10 pairs of tickets to the June 8th screening of Woke Up Black at the Ice Theatre in Chicago!

About the film:

“Woke Up Black” followed five black youth for two years. During this time we witnessed interactions with family members, educational institutions, and the legal and judicial system. We saw the social networking that is critical to the successful development of these youth and we provided a rare opportunity to hear youth speak out on some of the important and potentially life- altering topics of the day. The film underscores the humanity that we all share with each other regardless of race or age. For some of the youth profiled, despite extraordinary circumstances, they remain hopeful.

Visit the ‘Woke Up Black’ website

Lady Gaga's "Born This Way": The Review

Lady Gaga’s second full-length album Born This Way opens with “Marry The Night,” one of the most epic pop songs you will ever hear. Clearly aimed to kickstart the album with the kind of massive statement MJ nailed with Thiller‘s ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” “Marry The Night” opens with somber church organ and decidedly pensive vocals before erupting into a blast of synths, and never lets up. It sounds like classic Whitney Houston produced by Max Martin, and it is arguably the best song Lady Gaga has ever released. It’s that good.

Born This Way should crumble under the weight of such a masterful opening salvo (not to mention unbelievable hype), but it doesn’t. Not by a long shot.

Happy birthday Malcolm X! Top 10 quotes from an icon

Happy birthday Malcolm X! Top 10 quotes from an icon

Kristen Clarke, The Grio | May 19, 2011

There are few figures in the black freedom struggle as dynamic and complex as Malcolm X who would have celebrated his 86th birthday if he were still alive today. Dr. Manning Marable‘s recently released book, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, has helped spark new debate and renewed popular interest in this iconoclastic and central figure of the civil rights era.

Before his life was taken by the bullets of assassins, some of whom may have never been brought to justice for their crimes, Malcolm X was on a breathtaking journey building new organizations and planting the seeds of a global Pan-African movement to help address the crisis faced by blacks in urban America. Dr. Marable’s new work methodically peels back the layers and helps shed light on the real Malcolm X, who, though imperfect and flawed as the rest of us, was steadily undergoing personal transformation and evolving politically. But just as powerful as his actions were his words which struck chords, ignited debates and roused audiences all over the globe.

Here, theGrio presents Malcolm X’s top ten most provocative and powerful quotes:

If you’re not ready to die for it, take the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.

— Chicago Defender (November 28, 1962)

(Read more)

BYP Researcher Raises Money for Academic Conference on ‘Jersey Shore’ at the University of Chicago

BYP Researcher Raises Money for Academic Conference on ‘Jersey Shore’ at the University of Chicago

Huffington Post | May 19, 2011

For many, the “Jersey Shore” is a guilty pleasure, but for University of Chicago student and reality television enthusiast David Showalter, it is a social experiment worthy of critical analysis.

Earlier this month, Showalter used JoinStart to raise money for the one-day conference, saying it “should be of interest to scholars in the fields of media and cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, race, ethnicity, and gender studies, and the social sciences more generally.” The funding came through, and the conference will be held on October 28 at the University of Chicago.

Showalter, an Oklahoma native and third year undergraduate student at U of C, told HuffPost Chicago he has been an “avid and unabashed Jersey Shore fan since the beginning of Season 1,” and explained why he decided to organize the conference.

“I think it’s very important for academics not to restrict their work to so-called “high culture,” but to seriously engage with popular culture as well,” Showalter said via email. “The images and sounds of pop culture surround us and entertain us, and for those reasons alone they are deserving of study. With regards to ‘Jersey Shore’ specifically, I believe the show is both a fascinating and innovative example of reality television, as well as a useful lens through which to examine many of the issues that animate contemporary life: problems around gender roles, ethnic identity, celebrity, the influence of mass media, the notion of ‘reality’ itself, and so on.”  (Read more)




"Louder Than a Bomb" Premieres This Week

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Film Website | May 19, 2011

Louder Than a Bomb tells the story of four Chicago high school poetry teams as they prepare to compete in the world’s largest youth slam. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the film captures the turbulent lives of these unforgettable kids, exploring the ways writing shapes their world, and vice versa. Louder Than a Bomb is not about “high school poetry” as we often think of it. It’s about language as a joyful release, irrepressibly talented teenagers obsessed with making words dance. While the topics they tackle are often deeply personal, what they put into their poems—and what they get out of them—is universal: the defining work of finding one’s voice.

Be sure to check out Keantre’s blog on the Louder than a Bomb poetry slam here.