The Outlook

This isn't for the sensitive

Over Here!

While I was at home with my mom this weekend, I went out with some friends and we spent a portion of our evening outside of a popular bar people watching. At one point so much foolishness was going on that we didn’t know where to look first. One of my friends exclaimed, “y’all focused on the small details over there when it’s a catastrophe right here!”

Couldn’t be a better quote to sum up my feelings lately about our media coverage of events. American media is notorious for burying important things (catastrophe) under frivolous stuff (small details). Great example: back when Anna Nicole Smith died and our media went on and on and on and on for days about her death and the subsequent paternity tests and court dates, our government made some important changes to our immigration laws.

Wednesday of last week brought several — more than 10 — tornadoes through the Southeast region. These storms leveled neighborhoods and cities. Killed hundreds of people and left even more with nothing. Our media, however, decided to cover the Royal Wedding more than these devastating storms. After the wedding was over (and well after even British news quit covering it) we moved to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner

Now, I don’t mean to suggest by what I’m about to say that these recent storms were equal to the devastation of the tsunami in Japan, but it amazes me the way our media will cover foreign issues far more completely than the things that happen in our own country.

::sigh:: Maybe one day somebody’ll pay attention to what’s going on to the people in our country in a manner that matters. Maybe. I won’t hold my breath though.

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May 2, 2011 Posted by | News, Ramblings, What in sam hell is going on?! | Leave a comment

Black Hair: Who owns the industry?

Recently, black hair has become a hot topic in mainstream America thanks to Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair (and Oprah’s whole show devoted to the film).

This morning, I stumbled up on a video by documentary filmmaker Aron Ranen called Black Hair: The Korean Takeover In the 10 minute clip below, Aron introduces us to the methodical manner in which Koreans are literally taking over the black hair care industry.

In summary, despite the fact that African-Americans make up at least 90% of customers in the black hair care product industry, they only account for a small percentage of suppliers. Koreans on the west coast quickly began to realize that they held 80% of the market and so they could expand their businesses from shop owner to suppliers. They are slowly and methodically pushing out black-owned supply companies by claiming that there is no longer a demand for their products all the while duplicating the very same products in their own manufacturing companies and telling customers that the black-owned company products are not valuable and are cheap knockoffs of more high quality products (read: their products). One black-owned company, Kazuri, is highlighted.

It’s become a real problem and it’s highly concerning to me that yet again, our community is being taken advantaged of. I wonder how this happened. At what point did we close our eyes and allow Korean owned beauty supply stores to takeover? This is a problem on the west coast, for now but that will quickly change.

Just a few weeks ago I was getting my hair done when my stylist’s supply representative came in for orders. They began having a conversation about what large black hair care supply stores were still black-owned. I was surprised to hear that major companies with names I recognize from my youth, like SoftSheen Carson, are no longer black-owned and it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that they are now Korean owned.

As I watched the 10 minute clip from Aron’s 50-minute documentary I shook my head. I feel like this is yet one more example of the things that are going horribly wrong in our community. If there’s one industry where we should be the majority stakeholder, it’s in the business of manufacturing and supplying and selling our own hair care products, and yet we’ve sat by with our jokes and comments on the korean-owned stores and now they own the industry and have no shame in pushing out the little guys — us!

I encourage everyone to at least watch this 10-minute clip, if not purchase the whole DVD.

November 2, 2009 Posted by | What in sam hell is going on?! | | 4 Comments

Black Students Stepping Up For Black Students

I recently read a blog post at Field Negro about a girl named Chanequa Campbell.  I encourage you all to check out his blog, he is always on point. In his post he links to the site he found the information from and from there I found this news article written from the side of the Black Harvard student community. I encourage you to read that article as well, as it’s the basis for my commentary. I’ve also seen other commentary about this story out in the blogosphere through the lens of what happened to Professor Gates a few days ago.

Many individuals are concerned that while Dr. Gates has been able to draw a lot of attention to his situation, Chanequa Campbell and others like her are ignored by the media because they are poor and their story resonates, the media thinks, with very few.

Allow me to sum up her situation: A Harvard student was killed in a drug deal gone wrong. The accused killer was, at the time, dating a girl with whom Chanequa was friends. The Harvard administration, by some accounts, put both Campbell and her friend out of the dorm and prevented them both from graduating. Other accounts say that only Campbell was kicked out and blocked from graduation because her friend came from “the right side” of the tracks and had the clout and support to prevent Harvard from doing that to her, while Chanequa, a black student from a poor neighborhood, was at the administration’s mercy.

If the only thing Chanequa did wrong in this situation was to have the wrong types of friends, then shame on Harvard. However, I have a feeling that’s not the case.

Harvard’s black community has begun to recieve a lot of flack from the general blog community for not standing up for Chanequa. Many feel that the black students should have organized in a fashion similar to what some of Chanequa’s non-Harvard friends have done and petitioned the administration to allow her to graduate. Chanequa herself has criticized them and said that they have shunned and ostracized her because of where she’s from.

I went to a PWI very similar to Harvard (in fact, we say Harvard is the northern version of us…) I know what the black communities at schools like these can be like. Sometimes too quick to call racism when there is none and sometimes not as protective of each other as we should be. I’ve heard stories of what Harvard’s Black community is like and I think in some ways I’m a bit envious. They have major clout with their administration, but I know that’s from a LOT of hard work, a lot of give and take. They have story after story of standing up for their own when an injustice occurred and so I take pause when I see a situation where they don’t.

The article linked above mentions that some of the black students stayed away from Chanequa early on because she involved herself in the drug trade on campus. While no one in this article or elsewhere suggests that Chanequa was the cause of the Harvard student’s death, there seems to be implicit comment that Harvard’s reaction was not off base.

“People are pretty sure she did something, they just don’t know what,” said a Black classmate in Campbell’s graduating class, who requested anonymity. “We can’t rally behind somebody we don’t necessarily believe in.”

Clout is like money. You can spend it or you can hoard it. For the black community to rally behind Chanequa, they would spend some of the clout they’ve earned with Harvard. That would be fine if they all felt she’d been wronged but for them to be uneasy about spending the clout on her speaks volumes.

Some have suggested this is actually a class issue. Chanequa being the first to say that because she came from a poor neighborhood in New York, her fellow black students don’t want anything to do with her. What struck me, however, was the listing of how involved in the black community she was. Black students are shunned at PWIs. It happens all the time. If you are shunned, when someone writes about you, they won’t be able to say you were very involved… black people take the blacklisting very far.

I think the reality is that Chanequa involved herself in some subpar activity that her fellow students knew about. When the murder occurred, I’m sure the rumors began and I’m sure the rumors were based in some facts. When Harvard laid down their punishment the black community looked at what they knew and decided that it was best left alone. I don’t blame them. In schools like these the black community’s relationship with the administration is paramount. That relationship can make things easier or harder for the students that follow.

I don’t want to sound cold-hearted; I actually feel bad for Chanequa. I’m sorry that she worked hard at a school like Harvard and won’t be able to reap the rewards. I’m sorry that the black community didn’t feel comfortable stepping up for her. Ultimately, there’s nothing about this that is good.

July 24, 2009 Posted by | News, Ramblings, What in sam hell is going on?! | 2 Comments

Congress and Scandal

A USA Today article discusses how Ted Stevens (R-AK) is not the only Congressman who’s campaign may be affected by scandal.

I say: surprise, surprise. We all know that for the big show Congress always puts on with tougher laws and cracking down, behind closed doors they’re breaking some of the same laws they helped create. It’s almost the nature of the beast. Powerful people attract manipulative people. You can look to any portion of anyone’s life and see that. Think back to something as simple as who was popular in high school. If they themselves weren’t manipulative, they were surrounded by manipulative people who wanted access to the power and privilege.

I don’t mean to suggest we should pardon lawmakers who think they are above the law. In fact, I think they should have separate, harsher, punishment. There is no reason to break the law “cause you can.” I think Ted Stevens shouldn’t be allowed to run for, let alone return to his Senate seat. In fact, I think that it’s absolutely absurd that he very well may be re-elected. It’s also causing me to wonder what the hell goes on in Alaska.

The real question is what can we the people do about it. The reality is that our democratic system isn’t all that democratic. Some of it is with purpose, some of it is, again, the nature of the beast. But we have all got to get educated on the facts. We have all got to understand where we stand on issues and then make it a point to know where our elected lawmakers stand. We do not vote people into office so that we can call them up and tell them what to do. It’s the other way around. They tell us what they want to do and based on that we send them to represent us. Too often people misconstrue “public servant” for something other than how it really manifests itself in our nation. Get to know who is representing you. In this day and age, you could find out what they did on the day they turned 5 — so the least you can do is make it your business to discover they’re opinions and stances and vote accordingly.

Many will, and do, argue that your vote doesn’t matter. If you believe that, then it doesn’t. But if you get involved the best you can, you write to your representatives, you stay abreast of the issues and you stay on top of how it all effects you, you can make a difference. But step number one is that we can no longer accept the way things have been running. We have either got to start electing officials who will keep it honest or demand our current ones keep it straight. The trial of Ted Stevens (who has become the most recent poster child of corruption on Capitol Hill) only goes to show that the latter plan probably won’t work.

October 29, 2008 Posted by | News, Ok. That was stupid, What in sam hell is going on?! | Leave a comment

Racism between Minorities

Just read a blog that discussed this article. For those of you (like me) who hate having to pause from reading one thing to go read another, let me summarize:

A wealthy Indian businessman named Chiman Rai contracted for $10,000 to have his black daughter-in-law killed. Sparkle Rai was ambushed by men pretending to be dropping off a package (wow, so people really do that) and stabbed to death with her 6-month old daughter in the next room. Police questioned the husband, Ricky, and he said that his family was “a little racist.” Turns out, he had told his wife and her family that his family was dead rather than just deal with the fact that they HATED black people. Oh, and I think my favorite (dripping with sarcasm, for those unaware) part is that now, the Rai’s daughter is being raised by Sparkle’s family because Ricky has gotten re-married to an Indian woman and would rather not deal with his bi-racial child…

I do believe that the more I consider this story and what all had to happen for this to come to fruition, the more I get pissed off — so I hope I can remain articulate through the rest of this…

A) Let’s first deal with Ricky’s decision to LIE about his family. I’ve been in an interracial relationship (IR) and they’re not easy; heck, no relationship is, but in the case of an IR, it is ESPECIALLY difficult when one person keeps something like that a secret. I can deal with dating a guy who’s family doesn’t like me for my race as long as he’s up front about it. I mean, this brings in a whole host of other situations that I’m not dealing with right now, BUT at least he’s honest and at least I can be prepared for whatever might happen should I run into them/have to deal with them. Ricky withheld this important information (and this might have saved Sparkle’s life had she known HOW racist his family was) and as a result, an innocent young mother was brutally murdered. My other concern is that Ricky still seems to be in denial about HOW racist his family is. I mean, your father paid $10,000 to have your wife (whom I assume you love and cherish) and child’s mother killed… and for what? Because it brought shame to the family?

B) If Ricky thought enough to deny his family’s existence (which suggests to me sub-consciously he knew the truth) then how did his father know where his family lived? Why did he never take further precautions to keep his family safe?

(If you can’t tell, I think Ricky should be in jail right alongside his racist father)

C) (and this is the point that INFURIATES me) How DARE Ricky Rai think it’s ok to dump his daughter off on his former in-laws because he’d rather start over in a nice Indian relationship. That’s YOUR DAUGHTER and she has YOU TO THANK for the absence of her mother. You’ve just gotta be kidding me. I mean, I refuse to believe any of this… except it’s 2008 and this madness is still happening on the regular.

This racism between folks of color needs to quit. We get it enough from the outside (and if you’re blessed to be Black then you get it from the inside too) but why are we doing it to one another. Is it not hard enough to just be a minority in America that we have to HATE each other enough to want to kill? This is crazy and all I can think is that this poor 6-month old little girl will grow up with no parent. One was killed through the thoughtless and naive choice of the other. Thanks, but no thanks.

June 30, 2008 Posted by | News, What in sam hell is going on?! | 1 Comment

T.I. and his Legal Woes

By now, most are aware of TI’s arrest on gun charges.

I like T.I. I won’t lie about that. I think he’s good at what he does, from what I can gather he’s not fake like a lot of rappers are (pretending to be from the hood, pretending to have had it rough growing up) and he seemed like a smart businessman. He was really doing his thing, moving in to acting (ATL, and American Gangster comes out Nov 2) and unlike a lot of rappers turned actors, he was doing good.

Then he goes and buys some machine guns. There are a few issues around this I want to address.

Firstly, he’s a father. He’s a father like 7 times over. I heard an interview with him where he comes down on parents who allow BET to raise their children. Fathers don’t go out and endanger their children purposefully. Buying machine guns? With silencers? Man. That’s dangerous.

Secondly, he’s a role model. I’m so sick and tired of rappers refusing the title of role model. Look — you got 13 year olds who know your lyrics better than you do. Better than they know their ABCs. You are a role model. There are consequences and repercussions to everything; being a role model is one of them in this case. Do better.

Thirdly, I don’t like stupid people and on this one, TI was stupid. What in the world did he need assault rifles for? What war is he starting and who’s army is he leading? Let’s get it together.

Finally… his bodyguard snitched him out. I’m not big on the “Stop Snitching” campaign, but you know what? If your boss asks you to do something illegal for him and you don’t want to, quit. I mean now that TI’s been arrested, he’s out of a job ANYWAY. I hope this man is ready for what’s gonna happen, now. Snitches get stitches, and as wrong as that phrasing is, it’s all too true these days.

October 17, 2007 Posted by | Ok. That was stupid, What in sam hell is going on?! | Leave a comment

What is going on?

I saw this video and others like it discussed on ABC News’ “i-Caught”

These are detainees in the Philippines  doing the Thriller dance. Why, you might ask? Because their warden thinks it’s good exercise. And it is, but I think he makes ’em do it for his own enjoyment. It’s causing a bit of an uproar, but hey — it is entertaining and anytime some people other than black folks are making a coonery of themselves, I’m happy.

August 14, 2007 Posted by | Entertainment, What in sam hell is going on?! | Leave a comment

More Resignations than Brains

Karl Rove is resigning from the going-down-in-flames Bush Adminsitration. Mr. Rove is a Bush senior aide and one of the most influential aides in the white house. How precious is it that he’s resigning? Not very, only that he joins an ever-expanding list of people who are doing so.

People are speculating that he was forced to quit, and he denies it (of course, the mantra of this administration is “deny, deny, deny”). But one has to wonder, what in all sam hell is going on in the White House these days that makes resigning the new trend? I’ve never seen an administration have SO many key people to resign.

And I also question his timing. The Bush Administration will be long-gone in just a few more months. If he wasn’t forced to quit, why quit at the end? That’s like being 1 mile from the finish line in a 26 mile marathon and quitting because you’re tired! Why? In the CNN article he says he and his family really struggled over this decision. Hmm is all I have to say to that. He also adds he wants to write a book and teach. How cute.

Whenever someone in the know gets enough balls information to reveal all the shenanigans of the Bush White House, I won’t be surprised at all the craziness we find out.

I probably just went on some terrorist list and won’t be able to fly for the next 10 years.

August 13, 2007 Posted by | News, Ramblings, What in sam hell is going on?! | Leave a comment