It wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I realized I’d have to confess to watching Single Ladies–more than once. It’s true. Admittedly, I watched the first episode because I think Dionne Stacey Dash is fine. And although I find the acting in some ways utterly intolerable, somehow I’ve seen enough episodes since to still be able to follow the story line. Saying I watch because I want to support Lisa[waaaaaybeyondhershelflife]Raye for miraculously still finding work–even in a recession–is pretty unconvincing. Perhaps I should just blame baseball season. Apparently, I’m not alone. Viewership of Single Ladies has been consistent, and Vh1, which has been steadily rebranding itself as a grown and sexy, older sibling counterpart to BET’s blazing hip-hop and R&B, will more than likely renew the (two-thirds) black version of Sex and the City for another season.
We’re a little over halfway through 2011, and we’ve already been blessed with some incredible music. And while we still have albums from Drake, Jay-Z and Kanye, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and (possibly) OutKast to look forward to, allow me to give you a quick rundown of my top 5 albums of 2011 thus far.
Pick these records up if you haven’t already, and let us in on some of your personal faves below.
U.S. Airways Saggy Pants Charges Don’t Hold Up
Assocaited Press (via News One) | July 14, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO — Prosecutors said Wednesday they will not file charges against a University of New Mexico football player who was arrested after wearing saggy pants on a plane at San Francisco airport.
The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the June 15 arrest of Deshon Marman and determined criminal charges were not warranted.
“My belief is if we took this into a courtroom with 12 members of our community on our jury, they would tell me, `Come on guys, you have more important things to spend your time on,’” District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. “And I share that view.”
Marman was arrested on suspicion of trespassing, battery of a police officer and obstruction after police say he refused to leave the US Airways flight on the captain’s orders.
The incident sparked allegations of racial profiling after a photo surfaced of a man who flew aboard a US Airways flight wearing skimpy women’s panties and mid-thigh stockings days before Marman’s arrest. That man was white. Marman is African-American. (Read more)
Prisoners Near Death As 1,700 California Inmates Continue Hunger Strike To Protest Appalling Conditions
Marie Diamond, Think Progress | July 13, 2011
A hunger strike started by prisoners at Pelican Bay to protest appalling conditions has spread across California as inmates at 13 prisons joined in solidarity. The number of inmates refusing food hit a peak of 6,600, and is now estimated at 1,700. They are now in their 13th day of the hunger strike, and relatives are reporting that many are near death but still refusing medical attention.
Pelican Bay is a maximum security facility where inmates are held in windowless isolation cells for more than 22 hours a day, shower once every three days, and can have little or no contact with other prisoners for years and even decades at a time:
A core group of prisoners at Pelican Bay said they were willing to starve to death rather than continue to submit to prison conditions that they call a violation of basic civil and human rights.
“No one wants to die,” James Crawford, a prisoner serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, said in a statement provided by a coalition of prisoners’ rights groups. “Yet under this current system of what amounts to intense torture, what choice do we have?”
The hunger strike comes only weeks after the Supreme Court ordered California to dramatically lower its prisons population, because severe overcrowding was exposing inmates to high levels of violence and disease.
So now we in the hotel
Mirrors on the ceilin’
She say she wanna blow L’s
I hear her and I’m willin’
But everytime I smoke well a nigga mind gone
So that every word I spoke well I’m tryin’ to put her on
But she couldn’t hear me
I told her all about how we been livin’ a lie
And that they’d love to see us all go to prison or die
Like baby look at how they show us on the TV screen
But all she ever want me to do is unzip her jeans
Then all I really want is for her to get on top
Before you know it she workin’ jerkin’ it non stop
And all that next shit I was previously talkin’
Is now that wet shit that I’m currently lost in
And while that sweat drip I am reminded
All the times my brother told me that pussy is blindin’
I’m findin’ the more I grow the more y’all stay the same
Don’t even know the rules but yet y’all tryin’ to play the game
And ain’t it shameful how niggas blame hoes for givin’ birth
To a baby that took two to make
Coward nigga you a fake
How gon’ look in your sons face and turn your back
Then go start another family dog what type of shit is that?
She said it’s okay
Rubbed my head and told me to relax
Laid a nigga down proper like she was recordin’ tracks
Said I know you wanna change the world
But for the night please
Just reach over and hit the lights please
There are countless feminist critiques of Hip Hop that problematize the overly sexual positions of womyn in lyrics and videos. J. Cole’s account of his attempts to treat a womyn as an agent of consciousness offers a real experience of something that feminists would, more or less, like to see from Hip Hop music. Reminiscent of Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up,” Cole camouflages his sincere disproval of situations that continue to be themes in the Black community. Although his lover insists on dimming the lights, her actions cannot silence the animosity he has for fleeing men. I return to my use of “more or less” a few sentences above to address the elements of Cole’s verse that are still deserving of a feminist criticism. Yes he does use the “hoes” but it’s not an endorsement of it. Rather, and this is what makes the verse dope, he’s mimicking the voice of men that are incapable of having relationships that transcend the carnal make-up of the two people involved. Hence the line, “the more I grow the more y’all stay the same,” which is inspired by thoughts of Cole’s brother, who once told him that, “pussy is blinding”. These cats that disrespectfully see womyn as hoes fail to understand love; that love is an extrovert state, meaning that the affect between two people should spill out as energy intent on the liberation of their people. Otherwise Cole wouldn’t try to explain how America uses racism as a resource: “I told her all about how we been livin’ a lie/ And that they’d love to see us all go to prison or die”.
Stan Washington, Atlanta Voice (via New America Media ) | July 12, 2011
ATLANTA – If the United States is going to regain its global leadership position in higher education, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will need to play a major role, says a White House official on education.
Just how the nation’s predominately Black institutions will participate in that objective was the main topic at a recent Southern Education Fund conference of HBCU presidents, held in Atlanta.
HBCUs are a critical component in President Obama’s national education initiative to restore the U.S. to its former ranking as the world’s leader in higher education, said John S. Wilson, Jr., executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“We have not been number one since 1995,” Wilson said during a media briefing with six HBCU presidents. “We need somewhere around eight million more graduates. Almost two million of them need to be African American, with roughly 200,000 coming from HBCUs.
“That is a big challenge,” he said. “That means we have to go from around 36,000 a year of graduates from HBCUs to somewhere north of 50,000 a year by 2020.”
Presidents in attendance at the media briefing included: Carlton Brown of Clark- Atlanta University, Beverly Hogan, of Tougaloo College, Walter Kimbrough, of Philander Smith College, Charlie Nelms, of North Carolina Central University, Mary Evans Silas, of Kentucky State University, and David Wilson, of Morgan State University. (Read more)
A Documentary project in New Orleans, LA by Park Triangle Productions | Film website
About the film
Close Ties: Tying on a New Tradition provides an intimate look at a rites of passage ceremony that connects teenage boys with male role models. The “Tie Tying ceremony” held at New Orleans barbershop, “Mr. Chill’s First Class Cuts”, was created by Dr. Andre Perry and Wilbert “Chill” Wilson as a way to strengthen communities struggling with crime, poverty and alarming high school drop out rates. Cultural traditions have been the cornerstone of African American communities for centuries. Close Ties examines the impact of this new tradition and shows us how tying a necktie — an act associated with men who embody professionalism and prestige — can inspire high school boys to commit to a life of achievement and success.
So someone just decided to fuck with me today, right? I’m all for celebrating your cultural heritage. But are these two people actually getting married in South Africa, in a Colonial Africa themed wedding, with Union Jacks displayed on the walls?! Are these British people waving Union Jacks and posing with guns in the same place where their ancestors forced apartheid on South Africans?
This all led me to the conclusion that some White people just don’t give a fuck. And why should they? If I were born with privilege that protected me from being affected by such things, I probably wouldn’t give a fuck either.
Miscarriage of justice for some pregnant black women
Lori Adelman, The Grio | July 13, 2011
If you’re wondering why Republicans have been unable to work with Democrats to arrive at a political deal to prevent the American government from going into default, it might be because they’re too busy criminalizing 15-year-old girls for having miscarriages.
You read that correctly. A 15-year-old girl named Rennie Gibbs currently faces life in prison in Mississippi over a miscarriage, and she is not the first to face attempted criminalization of this kind (though she is the first to be charged in Mississippi). Prosecutors are allegedly targeting Gibbs because she has reportedly abused cocaine, but there is no evidence that her drug use contributed to the miscarriage.
Unfortunately, her case is by no means isolated, and in fact marks the continuation of a nationwide trend towards criminalization of pregnant women. Increasingly in the United States and around the world, laws are being created and prosecutions are being brought that would make pregnant women into criminals, many of these women of color like Rennie Gibbs, an African-American teen.
Often created by conservative lawmakers, these laws attempt to assign fetuses “personhood” status, devalue pregnant women by reducing their identities to fetus carriers, and punish women for engaging in various behaviors.
Despite their dramatic posturing and elaborate rationalizations, the people driving these prosecutions are not actually concerned with keeping mothers or babies safe. If they were, they wouldn’t ignore the consensus of doctors and leading medical organizations, who have publicly opposed laws like these for years on the grounds that they scare women away from seeking the medical treatment they need and sometimes force doctors to turn in their own patients. (Read more)