Howard (1), Hollywood (0)


Howard Stern was right. Gabourey Sidibe is a big girl. And with the exception of The Biggest Loser, Celebrity Fit Club, Frat Boy Comedies, and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, there aren’t many heavyweight folk in Hollywood or in much of TV land. Thus it isn’t a surprise Gabourey can’t find anyone in the audience that looks like her. In addition to being obese, she is also black. And while Hollywood has undergone some changes, black actresses still have to quote/give thanks to old Ms. Hattie McDowell because each time a black woman wins, it is still that much of an achievement. Meanwhile, Meryl Streep (phenomenal by the way) can kick back laughing, arms relaxed, knowing yet another meaty role will find its way to her. She will sing, she will dance, she will be horrific, she will be sexy, she will be everything. So Stern’s comments about Gabby aren’t as far off as they seem and may say more about Hollywood and the rest of the world than it does about Gabby.

Minority Jobless Gap

CNBC | March 18, 2010

A new report by the Joint Economic Committee shows the struggle for jobs is particularly acute for African Americans. William Rodgers, a Rutgers professor and former Labor Dept. chief economist, and Harley Shaiken, a professor at UC Berkeley, share their insight.

"They're Not Us" Baseball's Diversity Issue

Baseball is an international game, a truly international game. But the simple fact is that there is a lack of Black players in Major League Baseball. Angels outfielder Torii Hunter spoke to that fact and now the Major League Baseball community is in an uproar. Everyone from bloggers to Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has weighed in on Hunter’s candid comments.

“People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they’re African American. They’re not us. They’re impostors… Even people I know come up and say, ‘Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a Black player?’ I say, ‘Come on, he’s Dominican. He’s not Black.’ “

March 8, 2010 – March 14, 2010

Teenagers in need of direction can turn to apprenticeships
Mary Beth Marklein, USA Today, March 14, 2010

BET’s Debra Lee seeks to improve black women’s images with leadership talks
Krissah Thompson, Washington Post Staff Writer, March 13, 2010

Unity needed to help youth
Emily Stewart, Poughkeepsie Journal, March 12, 2010

Student group celebrates women of color
The Diamondback, Melissa Quijada, March 12, 2010

Obama and black caucus talk summer jobs for youths
David Goldstein, The Kansas Star, March 11, 2010

Leaders address black-on-black violence
Olivia Neeley, Shelby star, March 10, 2010

Georgia bill would outlaw abortions for race or sex; Raises issue of whether providers target blacks
Cheryl Wetzstein, Washington Times, March 10, 2010

Mentor sees himself in Duval youth
Bridget Murphy, The Florida Times-Union, March 8, 2010

Study says minorities more often glued to tube
Perla Trevizo, Chattanooga Times, March 8, 2010

Back to Africa?

20 years. It was 20 year ago that I came into this world. It was 20 years ago that one of the most remarkable activist was released from prison. I found out this past week that I will be in Cape Town, South Africa for three months during my 3rd year of college. Mandela, now 91, still lives in South Africa and represents one of greatest symbols of justice, ever.

So besides Nelson Mandela, why Cape Town, South Africa?

I am not the type that wants to go back to Africa to discover some lost roots that I am somehow missing. I am not pulling a “Garvey”—not this time anyway, and even if I was I’m sure it would be in West Africa, not South. The motive for this peripatetic juncture is found in furthering my education. Cape Town will be my moment to spend some time studying abroad. Outside of my general desire to leave the United States for the first time—while living in a South African summer off of the ocean, and happily being absent for a Chicago winter off the lake—

Puff, Puff.

I am surprised more and more each day at the growth of a small clique that bonds over their ruthless habit they’ve taken up before and after school, during lunch and at all other times they can manage to sneak away for a cigarette. In full view of my high school’s main entrance, a large group of students stand, smoking and filling the air with a sour smell. They’re all there right up until the first period bell sounds and many of them longer.

It’s hard to imagine why young, otherwise healthy individuals would take up such a self-destructive and physically taxing habit. Well, truth is they are exactly what any company trying to market a product want, especially tobacco companies. Young people are often in desperate search for activities and behaviors that define themselves. Companiesthat take advantage of this by putting out a notion that their product is stylish and cool and fun are going to tempt and interest teens. And not only do tobacco companies have the appeal that makes young people want to buy their firstpack, but they are also selling a product that can create a physical addiction after smoking just one cigarette. So tobacco companies simply need to tempt teens and soon the dangerous effects of the product begin to keep you buying on its own.

Embrace Your Inner Nerd

This past weekend I spent hours having fun. Not only was I having good time, but also over 300 students were in the same building having fun with me. Interestingly, there was no DJ, no food, nor were there any beverages. Saturday night you didn’t hear anybody blaming it on “the goose that had them feeling loose”; you heard them blaming it on Marx and Hegel. I know you’re probably thinking that we are a weird bunch of people. That is a fair assumption. However, we weren’t discussing Communism and the dialectic at a frat party. Our party was in the infamous A-level of the Regenstein Library.

During finals week at the University of Chicago you will find more students drinking red bull to stay awake than drinking beer. You will also find more kids with blood shot eyes because of a long night of studying, not partying. You are probably wondering why I actually think spending my Saturday night in the library is fun. One simple reason: I’m a nerd. There I said it.

No, no, no. I already see you judging me. I’m not the socially awkward, pocket protector-wearing guy who never sees the light of day because he’s drowning in a sea of physics problems. For the most part, I’m just a typical college student that works hard during the week and usually goes out on the weekends.  I enjoy dancing and attending social events. However, I also love learning. I’m fully aware that a lot of learning takes place outside of the ivory tower. Yet, I’m also fully aware that many of the things that I have learned in the ivory tower have expanded my horizons.

DWB: Dissertating While Blogging…

…has been increasingly difficult for me to do these last couple of weeks.  Seriously.  I looked up and it was March.  My dissertation has been haunting me so much I feel like I’m in some 21st century, black version of an Edgar Allan Poe novel.

I’m finishing up a blog on the US census that I hope to post this afternoon, but in the meantime, here are a few things.

1. I tweeted that I hoped Precious lost every Oscar it was nominated for.  It didn’t work out that way, but I will say it’s not really all that odd that Precious won several awards the same night that Sandra Bullock nabbed an Oscar.  Precious, The Blind Side, and Avatar is one helluva trifecta.

2. Speaking of the Oscars, is it okay for me to admit now that I found Gabby Sidibe during interviews nearly as obnoxious as I found those folks who insisted, insisted that they called her beautiful?  Saying it a whole bunch doesn’t convince me that you really mean it.  I’m just saying.

3. At the very least, Ben Roethlisberger is an idiot.

I hope to provide you with something meatier this afternoon, folks.  Thanks for your patience.


All Boxed In

Nannie gave me my first lessons–and anxieties–about race.  My great-grandmother was pretty damn light.  So much so that I remember being nervous during grandparents day at Weisser Park Elementary School.  Kids’ grandparents would show up sometime in the afternoon and sit in on our classes.  We’d introduce them to our fellow classmates and perform poetry or songs on our recorders–terrible renditions that only a grandparent would love.  I recall being simultaneously excited and lightweight shook at the thought of Nannie and Papa showing up to my class, and I knew it had everything to do with a very light-skinned black woman claiming to be kin to my little brown self.  I just knew that one of my white classmates would question how we were related.

Perhaps this anxiety stems from the one of two times in my life I can recall Nannie being visibly upset with me.  One ordinary afternoon, I was sitting on her lap and decided that there was no more perfect time to ask why her skin was white.  (Yes, that’s the term I used.)  Nannie got upset, and I knew then that what I said had hit a nerve so deep that I’d never get an answer from her.  I shut up about it, and never mentioned Nannie’s complexion to her again.  It was much later when I discovered what it meant to be “mixed” or “biracial” and the integral role blackness played in those designations, or one’s inability to be described as such.  I’m almost sure the issue was clarified in a school lunchroom when a classmate, technically mixed, offered the quick and dirty version of the one-drop rule.