Justice, Choices and Other Bleak Things in America

In one of my favorite movies, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, just after playboy, Darnell, played by Martin Lawrence, discovered that a crazy ex-lover had stolen the tires off his truck right in front of the police station, he shouted, “Where’s the justice?! Where’s the justice?!” That’s long been one of my top quotables always resulting in a laugh or two when I or friends come across unfortunate, but hilarious circumstances.

Today, I’m asking the same question, but it’s no laughing matter. It’s beyond serious and deserves speculation, discussion and action: Really, here and now in 2012, where’s the justice?!

By now, you’ve got to know that our country is in an uproar. In just one week, I’ve read stories about a few things that have knocked me off my feet. In no particular order, they must be addressed:

Trayvon Martin and the Hoodie Effect

I could give you a run down, but that’s what the Internet is for. Just know this, an unarmed 17 year-old black man was gunned down by a self-proclaimed vigilante because he looked “suspicious.” The killer, Zimmerman, has not yet been arrested for killing someone who was armed with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. Did he shoot in self-defense? Would Trayvon have really harmed him? Up until today, those were the major questions swirling around the media airwaves. I log on to Twitter to find that Geraldo “I Got Knocked the Eff Out” Rivera says that black and Latino parents should teach their children not to wear hoodies, which was worn by Trayvon at his time of death. The hoodie killed him just as much as Zimmerman.

Wait. So an article of clothing meant to cover your head  (it was raining)  is the issue moreso than his race? Oh okay. Silly me. I don’t know how it feels to be a black man, but I know that they’re often told don’t “look the part” to prevent being pulled over by police, i.e., don’t play loud music in your car, don’t purchase a certain type of car, don’t sag your pants, etc. I understand that. Black men are already targets regardless of upbringing, social, economic status, education, etc. Why give them another reason to harass you? Wearing a hoodie has become part of  The Don’ts Handbook for Black Men now?

If that’s the case, should Caucasian men be allowed to wear black as to appear as a Goth or wear long trenchcoats, as they may shoot up a middle school or shopping mall? Plenty of skaters and your  fashion plate cool kids wear hoodies, too. Are they suspicious, as well? No?

Let’s be honest here, the bottom line isn’t a hoodie or anything you can take off of your body. It’s what’s there that cannot be removed: color. I pray that the Martin family sees justice for their son.

Take Birth Control, Lose Your Job

Arizona is showing out. Again. Earlier in the week, I came across this story on Slate. An excerpt reads:

The Obama administration recently issued a mandate requiring all employers to cover prescription birth control under company health plans. Arizona legislators recently introduced abill that would allow some employers to opt out. That’s not terribly exciting. An employee can just pay for birth control out of her own pocket. But here’s the troubling part: If her employer is seriously opposed to birth control, and wants to discriminate against her for taking it—even though she’s paying for it herself—a provision in the Arizona bill would allow that.

The lines between work and what one does after work. As an employer, in an ideal world, you’d like your employees to have the same morals, ideals as you. You like chicken, instead of fish, so I should, too. I am strongly opposed to smoking, I should be, too. Wake up, people. Aside from an extreme, such as murdering and/or abusing children, as an employer, your only concern should be my productivity and contribution to the bottom line. Me popping BC pills that I pay for out of my own pocket at 5 p.m. daily is none of your business. It’s my choice. Point, blank, period.

For starters, not every woman takes birth control for contraception. They regulate menstrual cycles and regulate menstrual pain, along with other things men have no clue about. Secondly, if taking them to prevent pregnancy is the issue, would you rather I become pregnant, take medical leave, leaving you with one less, possibly highly productive employee for a month plus, six to eight weeks for maternity leave? Does that make any sense? No. That makes for discrimination.

You have a right to know what medications I take as it could negatively affect your business and/or staff, similar to knowing if I have any criminal offenses on my record? Will that question be added to employment applications now? It’s ridiculous. Do better Arizona.

You Want My What?

Employers are asking for Facebook passwords these days, huh? Nah. I’m good. You have my social security number, my address and Google, plus an extensive background check. What the hell else do you need?

Again, the work/home lines are blurred. First, it was cool when you knew employers would search social media sites to see if you would be a good fit or a misrepresentation of their company. Everyone simply changed their privacy settings to ‘Friends Only.’ But to ask for an account password is infuriating. This quote from a story via the Business Insider says it best:

“It’s akin to requiring someone’s house keys,” said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor who calls it “an egregious privacy violation.”

Is it really that big of a deal, or does that tell us that we’re sharing too much of lives on social media sites? If we’re not posting expletives, raunchy music videos and pictures of us getting wasted at bars, shouldn’t we feel free to hand our passwords over? NO. It is a big deal. Where’s the stopping point? Accounts have passwords for a reason, right?

Any employer that requests my Facebook password or any other password won’t have to worry about me being a candidate any longer. If I had one, I suppose they’d ask for my first-born next.

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Why This Black Girl Isn’t Offended by “Sh*t Black Girls Say”

Last week was a week for the books in 2011 for me. I wasn’t feeling like myself and secretly wished someone would give me a cape so I could jump of my second floor window of my office. If I could snap my fingers, I’d be anywhere but at work doing mail-outs, but my #1 wish was to be in my bed. Alas, none of that happened, and I had to grin and bear it through the day. I logged onto to Clutch and clicked on the video for “Sh*t Black Girls Say,” a spin-off of “Sh*t Girls Say,” (which I hadn’t seen yet, but it’s funny, too.). I. DIED.

I sat at my desk shaking trying to hold back the tears of laughter.  I immediately forwarded it to my girls, and we sent back our favorite questions and catch phrases that we thought Billy Sorrells (the actor) should add for the next episode because there HAS to be another episode. The shit was FUNNY.

Apparently, not everyone has our sense of humor though (you don’t know what you’re missing). After a few days and over a million viewer hits, I began to see posts suggesting the video was offensive. Come on, people. Really? To whom? Last time I checked, I’m a “black girl,” and while I don’t rock weave or wear shades with the connecting chain (I do know someone who has them though.), I’ve said quite a few of those phrases. “Delete, delete, delete”  and “It’s hot in here!” being my favorites. Am I suggesting that every black girl is the same, has the same conversations with her girlfriends and significant others? Nope. We’re all different as a result of our upbringings and experiences. Somewhere, there’s a black girl who doesn’t “get it” at all. Nothing wrong with that, but that doesn’t mean it’s offensive.

Do I need to get on these “Neo-blacks” again? Why is it okay for us to laugh at “Sh*t Everyone Else in the World Says,” but not ourselves? No, it’s not a 100 percent representation of us, but are any of the others? It’s fun and it’s lighthearted so why are we soooo uptight? An important lesson to learn is just because it’s not YOUR reality doesn’t mean it isn’t someone else’s. Where were you when John Singleton released Baby Boy, two hours filled with baby mamas, bootlegging, profanity and violence? Talk about someone who couldn’t relate. I watched the movie for the first time my jaw dropped pretty much the entire time. Now, it’s one of my favorites. It’s not offensive to me because someone lives that life, and who am I to judge? Where were you when In Living Color was the most viewed comedy sketch on network television? The cast made fun of everyone. People were offended then, but if you can watch “Men on Film,” you can definitely watch “Sh*t Black Girls Say.”

There’s truth in humor. That’s what makes it so funny. Is that what you’re afraid of?

Next, Benita Miller, founder of The Brooklyn Young Mothers’ Collective, was quoted in the Huffington Post’s story, “Sh*t Black Girls Say” Video Goes Viral, But Offends Some Black Women”  as saying  to the Daily News,”While those images are funny to those of us who are well-educated, some young people don’t know how to filter the message”

No offense, Ms. Miller, but of all messages for our young girls to filter, you think this one is target worthy? How about some of Nicki Minaj’s videos, these provocative series about sex and drugs on MTV or any of the countless reality television shows that are shown every half hour (hello Erica Mena and Kimbella). Parents and “the village” should talk to girls about whatever they deem acceptable or not. Point blank, period.

So, in closing, much success to Billy Sorrells and the writer, Lena Waithe (a black woman *gasp*) for making millions us of laugh.  For those who are clutching their pearls over this hilarious video, I’ll leave you with some sh*t this black girl says:  Girl, bye!

SYAD Awards: The Ladies, We Gotta Do Better Edition

There’s all kinds of ratchetness going on, and to think, we wouldn’t know about half of it, it weren’t for VH1’s Sunday night lineup. Between the f Basketball Wives finale and the debut of the new reality show, Love and Hip Hop, I should have worn a gown to my living room to hand out awards like Kiki Shepard. Let the presentation begin…

Evelyn (Basketball Wives)

I could go in on Evelyn for several things in this episode alone, but I won’t. I won’t talk about the Hoe Moment she had with Chad Ochocinco after periodic Skype calls and dinner with ice cream. I gather that everyone’s had a HM or atleast a semi-HM at some point or another. No judgement there (plus it seemed to work). It’s life, and it happens, but the fact that she’s taped and the episode will be on re-aired on television for all to see, including her teenage daughter makes me want to take her to the altar with my next Sunday. Actually, her having a daughter isn’t an issue since I’m sure she passes her awesome “get a baller” tactics down to her.

This, right here, is how she got this award hands down. So, after hanging out with Tami  for weeks on end, including a week-long trip abroad, she decides to share with Shaunie that she slept with Kenny Anderson, Tami’s ex-husband back in the late 90s.

*Shoulder tap* Ma’am, why has it taken you so long to tell Tami? Okay, okay, I know that Tami is damned near depressed and as paranoid as the day is long. She pops off on the regular, and that includes throwing hands. I can see how you would want to gauge her moods, hence your timing, but really, that’s not cool. For someone who prides herself on keeping it 100, you’ve lost credibility.

So, Tami spills her guts, expressing her admiration for you and the other girls (still a blank stare on that one), and suddenly, the guilt kicks in. You wait until she’s highly emotional and tipsy, forced to calm her nerves with a pack of Virginia Slims, to have confession time. Tami’s giving you the **slow blink** and going on about how she feels betrayed by you, when she was trying to build a friendship.

Your only comeback being that you didn’t know they were married wasn’t sufficient for Miss Tami. She’s not going saying, “Every b*tch walkin’ knew we were married.” I guess your idea that she would take your confession at face value would do, but to no avail…

Then you hit her with this: “Cuz you was a non-factor, b*tch!”

**Slow blink**

And that’s when you got your chin checked, as my West Coast friends would say. Anytime you are so self-absorbed that you miss the point of the beef at hand, you do need to be slapped. The issue wasn’t merely sleeping with Kenny, but it was the dishonesty. How dare you listen to her pour her heart out about her issues and hurt over her ex, and hold that? Wait, I know why. Because Tami is crazy as a box of rocks, and you didn’t want to risk getting your ass beat. Too bad that was inevitable anyway.

Do better, lady.

The Runner-Up

Chrissy (Love and Hip Hop)

Believe it or not, I’m not giving Chrissy, Jim Jones’ girlfriend of six years the award simply based on the fact that’s she even with him in the first place. I think Jim Jones is a handsome guy, but we all know he looks as dusty as a ceiling fan blade. I don’t know what it is. The braids? The five o’clock shadow? The clothes? Even in a suit, he still gives that grunge look. That’s not the point though.

Miss Chrissy will receive this award because not only is she giving the cast members advice on their men, or lack thereof, when she’s in the same boat, but she’s going H.A.M. on any woman who so much as breathes the same air as “Jimmy”. Really, lady? You’re acting a fool in public over him? Aw okay then. Because he’s a man, he loves that “crazy” in his woman, and I’m sure that keeps him coming back. Nevertheless, checking this new wannabe rapper chick for GP in the club was a no-no and so unattractive. Rather than ask about their relationship (which was still unnecessary), she went in on her appearance and attire. I wasn’t a fan of the sequin jumpsuit either, but when insecure, make personal attacks. Even though it was borderline ratchet, Somay’sa reaction to their run-in was classic. “You’re a kept bish. I’m kinda bish they keep.” Yeah, it would have been hard to top that one.

I actually like Chrissy. She doesn’t seem messy as of yet, but did I hear her say she “groomed” Jim Jones? Girl, bye. That’s a FAIL. And that upcoming proposal to him? Double bye. You don’t have children together. If you’re not happy, get out while you can.

Overall, this is what I’ve come up with. Ladies, we’ve got to do better. Women will have heartache and do stupid ish over men and for men for eternity. There will always be a pack of back-biting, shady women who hang together, yet refuse to split, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to make improvements. These things we’re seeing unfold on the small screen happen every day and even to some of us. Maybe that’s why we sit on our sofas and cringe with every scene because the truth hurts.  We should be setting examples for other women–for our girls. It all comes down to being willing to make sacrifices and changes for our own happiness.

We’ve just got to do better.

Note: VH1 and Shauni O’Neal deserve a separate post all to themselves, but they wouldn’t have an audience if we didn’t watch, right?

Photos taken from Vh1.com

SYAD Awards: Omarion

If you were born after 1984, I weep for you because it’s possible that you don’t understand the magnitude of what Omarion has done. It actually hurts me that I have to present this award to him. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a fan (a fan who hasn’t purchased any albums, but will try to learn all hot dance routines. *Cue “Touch.”* Then there’s that hair envy thing). Anyway, I found this while reading the Loop 21 and was instantly disappointed before even listening.

Omarion has “remade” Jodeci’s classic, “Come and Talk to Me.”

I know, I know. You’re shocked right now. You’re horrified, as am I. But, to his defense, I wouldn’t exactly call it a full-blown remake. It seems to be a snippet (thank God) from a mixtape. He’s changed some words (“Come and fuck wit’ me,” instead of “Come and talk to me.” Oh, you’re a regular ol’ genius, huh, O?) and along with that, completely butchered K-Ci’s flawless riffs. I mean, this a song that, for my generation, will forever be THAT song. The original version was beyond sexy, and the remix??? What???? That intro still sends me. What I wouldn’t have given to be one of those girls wearing that airbrushed denim jacket in the video.

Oh yes, somewhere the writer/producer DeVante’ Swing is spazzing out while trying to perfect his Pootie Tang ponytail.

Omarion, this is a no-no on so many levels, but moreso because this is a personal blow to my music life. A little background here: No one was a bigger Jodeci fan than I. At 12 years old, my two bestfriends and I would act like the entire Forever My Lady album. I had every appearance on BET, MTV and any other show on tape (yeah, I said tape).  No one could tell me, me and Mr. Dalvin wouldn’t be together, even after I saw T-Boz on the “Love U 4 Life” video. I went to their concert and instantly noticed a new edgier sound on their Diary of Mad Band album. The Show, Afterparty and Hotel album is still in heavy rotation, and I can’t forget this, which is still tucked away safely in my old closet at my parents’ house:

So yeah, you can’t tell me nothing about Jodeci–cracked out and all. You can imagine how I feel after hearing Mr. B2k take what was so pure and good, and turn it into a mixtape snippet.

Omarion, I appreciate the effort and the attempt to pay homage. I sure you were a fan, too, but I feel like you said, “F*ck yo’ couch!!” If you love us, you won’t release this as a full track. “Don’t do it, Miss Celie. Don’t trade places wit’ what I been through.”

Signed your something like a fan,

Alisha

SYAD Awards: The Woman to Woman Edition

I don’t usually write about issues are already saturating the media, unless I have a different spin on it,  but this? I couldn’t pass this one up. Welcome to the second installment of the Sit Yo A** Down Awards. Today, I have the honor of the presenting the award to none other than……

Ginny Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas.

Oh Ginny. Where do I begin? If you haven’t heard yet, apparently, Mrs. Thomas has channeled Shirley Brown, the unsung R&B singer of the classic, “Woman to Woman”. You’re familiar with the intro atleast, aren’t you?

“Hello, may I speak to Barbara? Barbara, this is Shirley. You might not know who I am, but the reason I am calling you is because I was going through my old man’s pockets this morning and I just happened to find your name and number…

Yeah, she pulled something similar to that. Evidently, since the sexual harassment suit Anita Hill, then Clarence Thomas’s aide, filed against him 1991, ol’ Ginny has been holding quite a grudge. She goes so far as to contact Hill by phone at Brandeis University, where she is now a professor. She left the following voicemail:

 “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”

 Really? What year is it again?

I, a proponent of closure, understand that there’s no expiration date on apologies –when they’re warranted. In her defense, Thomas said she was extending the “olive branch” to Hill. That message doesn’t sound like she’s making peace with the olive branch. It sounds accusatory. Ms. Hill thinks the same, according to her statement.

“I appreciate that no offense was intended, but she can’t ask for an apology without suggesting that I did something wrong, and that is offensive.”

Soooo, I guess she won’t actually be handing that branch off, huh? Clarence, get your wife and tell her, “SYAD!”

*Check out the first SYAD Award recipient here.

And the SYAD Award Goes To…..

This is the first installment of this series, the SYAD Award, which I know will have entries for days to come. The SYAD Award is the Sit Yo’ Ass Down Award, if you didn’t guess. Please note the criteria for nominations are the following:

1. Committing any act deemed unnecessary or outright outlandish

2. Speaking on issues and/or making assumptions or committing actions without being properly informed on said issue(s)

3. Basically doing too much.

Perusing Twitter as I usually do, I came across a tweet discussing an article posted on CNN.com yesterday about the Black National Anthem (you know we do have one), “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Supposedly, the story talked about it being “racist.”

Here we go AGAIN. I”m so sick of this racism thing. Please, see my tweet from yesterday morning for my thoughts. I couldn’t wait to find the story and read up on it. What I found was a shocker, but then again, nothing should surprise me anymore.

And the SYAD Award goes to…….

Courtesy of CNN.com

Dr. Timothy Askew, Clark-Atlanta University professor, according to Professor at historically black college questions ‘black national anthem’.

Get this: Askew, who says he loves the song, is a former music major and Yale graduate. In school, he studied James Weldon Johnson’s (the composer)  life and compositions and decided that the anthem wasn’t meant only for African-Americans. Quite possible, but I think otherwise.

He says, “To sing the ‘black national anthem’ suggests that black people are separatist and want to have their own nation,” Askew said. “This means that everything Martin Luther King Jr. believed about being one nation gets thrown out the window.”

In response to Askew, Hilllary O. Shelton, senior vice president for advocacy and policy for the NAACP, responded. “His presumption is that this song is sung instead of our national anthem — that we are less American and we are not as committed to America because we take pride in the Negro national anthem,” Shelton said. “It is evident in our actions as an organization and here in America that we are about inclusion, not exclusion. To claim that we as African-Americans want to form a confederation or separate ourselves from white people because of one song is baffling to me.”

Yeah, I agree with ole’ Hillary. How ironic that just last Sunday, a visiting choir sang a beautiful rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. The choir belted out crystal clear notes, and my mom and I noticed no one was standing up. (Yes, protocol requires you to stand during the anthem just as you would during “Star-Spangled Banner.”) I looked around to see some adults, but mostly teens and children fake-mouthing the words. Why didn’t they know the Black National Anthem? I was taught the words at a young age, and we would sing it regularly at church. Was it obsolete now, I wondered. As a I sang the words, I thought about how true and relevant they are historically, and even today, regardless of interracial families, integrated schools and an African-American family in the White House.

If you haven’t seen Wattstax, you’re missing out!

Mr. Askew, I respect your views, and in some way, you make a valid point regarding Dr. King’s dream for unity. I’m all for unity, but, I prefer to consider the anthem to be one of many symbols for us. I find it odd that you, a professor at a HBCU, think a song that has historical roots is meant to be divisive. Do you think HBCU’s are serving the same purpose? Keep in mind that these anthems,  institutions of higher learning and even Dr. King’s dream were born out of necessity. We had to have our own songs and our own schools. The theory of unity and equality had to be pushed because we had been divided and unequal for so long.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” is and always will be powerful. It speaks to us and our history in a way that no other anthem can. It’s not about separating ourselves from America. America did that on its own. It’s about celebrating ourselves, our elevation in this country and the God who has kept us through it all.

The only way it will become irrelevant is if we, ourselves, make it so.