Archive for July, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Am I A Bad Black Person? Part II

EE  search for rapist Am I A Bad Black Person? Part II

Am I the only black person who has no interest in watching CNN’s Black in America? If I get one more forwarded email telling to watch that show, I’m gonna scream. I’m sorry, but I am just so tired of watching a bunch of black people sit on a stage and talk about their damn issues. What makes us do these types of programs and who exactly are they for? It seems to me that white people wouldn’t be all that interested and black people know this shit already. We just love to sit in front of cameras and debate our condition. Some Blacks are doing well, some are doing bad. OK, got it. Plus, if Michael Baisden is involved in any way, how good could it be? There are all these “black program” conventions that just need to be retired, like spoken word. If I hear one more random black spoken word voice-over…
“Hmmm…we need some more elements…lets see, what do black people like? Hip hop? No this should be serious. I know! Spoken Word! They love that shit!”
I stopped watching Tavis and his State of the Black Union special on C-Span about five years ago. Now don’t get me wrong, my first couple of times watching I got a big kick out of it. Me and my mom or friends would talk back to the TV and get a big kick out of all the militant rhetoric and inspirational flourishes. It was great fun. However….
Fast forward five years and you see those same Negroes sitting on that same stage talking about the same shit. All of a sudden the pontificating seems cliché, the topics out of touch, the mission unformed and ultimately fruitless, and worst of all Michael Eric Dyson and his too fast alliteration is just plain annoying. I don’t know, the whole thing just feels old and tired.
So then I give the Emotional-Negro-Issue-Discussion format one more chance and watch Hip Hop V. America II on BET—ok this is my type of thing, pop culture, sexism, responsibility perhaps this discussion will yield some revolutionary thought, some innovative ideas and insightful perspectives. Nope. Just a bunch of yelling and screaming, split verbs and people talking over each other. The dumbest ones are the loudest so the people who actually have sense (Lola Ogannaike) cant get a word in edgewise. I know, I know, it works for the McLaughlin Group but throw in David Banner and Deelishis and things just go horribly wrong.
I guess I’m just too busy BEING black (and writing blogs) in America to watch it. I figure I’m black every single day so why do I need to watch it on TV? Blackness on TV has gotten so boring and cliche. Tell me something new for a change. I’d rather watch Susie Orman or Michelle Singletary, at least with them I’m gonna learn how to make some damn money.
So, I’m sorry Soledad, although you are one of my favorite anchors on TV, I probably won’t tune in to Black in America tonight. You know why Soledad is one of my favorites, because she’s excellent at what she does. There’s an old saying that the solution to racism is excellence. I wish we would sit around and talk about that. At home.
Gotta go, Murder She Wrote is coming on and I haven’t seen this one….
Am I a bad black person?
Peace people.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Thirty Worries

thirty+worries+pic The Thirty Worries

Have you ever caught yourself watching “Intervention” on A & E while drinking? And you know you’re only one bottle away from that cheap motel room surrounded by friends and family? But that’s another post for another day.
What I will talk about however is the fact that all the thirty-somethings I know, including me, seem to be drowning in stress. Its an odd phenomena however because for the most part these people have no “real” problems. They are generally healthy attractive, educated, make good money, own homes and cars. Some are single, some are married. Some have children, others are child-free. Some are artists, some are stuffed shirts. Some are straight, some are gay. All are relatively well-adjusted, smart, motivated men and women who have the bulk of their upwardly mobile lives in front if them. But all that doesn’t stop us from being scared to death. I call this condition the Thirty Worries.
I will be the first to admit that my thirties have been the highlight of my life. In my teens I was awkward, insecure and socially maladjusted. In my twenties, I got a little more attractive and had an absolute blast but I was silly, drank too much, wasted a lot of time and made lots of bad choices. So here come the thirties, I got some good sense and I was suddenly comfortable in my own skin. After the death of my father I became fearless. My close encounter with mortality made me look at life differently. I live every day to the fullest. I refuse to be miserable or settle or let others define who I should be. I am strong, confident and people seem to like me OK. My hair is tempermental but natural, I’m good to people, I wear t-shirts with profanity on them, and I love old people. I’ve applied all the life lessons I’ve learned in my teens and twenties and for all intents and purposes I’m doing okay. But that doesn’t stop me from being constantly stressed out about where my life is going.
It’s a stress I haven’t quite experienced before. There’s something about your thirties that adds a certain gravitas to every decision. Everything becomes some kind of crossroad. Every date is a potential spouse, every job is a major career move, each period brings you closer to running out of eggs. There is an enormous amount of self-imposed pressure to figure it all out. Whatever “it” is. Forget the fact that you are currently doing just fine, you feel like you have to have the plan all together. You must know what you’ll be doing for the next 20 years. Otherwise, theres like a big black hole of life staring at you. And its terrifying. All of the possibilities and infinite choices that were exciting in our twenties turn into angst and doubt about what direction we’re going in. We tell ourselves that if we don’t have it all figured out by now, we’re in trouble, irresponsible and doomed to a life of wandering aimlessly.
Friends who have jobs now wonder is this really what they want to do, friends who don’t have jobs feel like abject losers, those of us who have our own businesses wonder if we should pursue a career path with a little more security ( and money) and those who want to start businesses struggle with the decision whether to leave the safety of their current positions for an uncertain future.
Its like all of a sudden we become too sensible. We feel as if its too late to make any major mistakes. The stakes are suddenly so high for everything. Do you want children? We are afraid if we don’t have kids we’ll regret it and afraid if we do have kids…we’ll regret it. Yet at some point ( and soon) a decision must be made.
In the meantime we try to drown out the cacophony in our heads with cocktails and prescription drugs and sex and Ritalin, gossip blogs and Golden Girls re-runs (ok, maybe that’s just me). And its odd because at any point if someone asked you what you were worried about, its doubtful you would be able to articulate exactly what was bothering you. On paper you look awesome. You have checked off all the items on the checklist that are supposed to guarantee a successful life. But somehow, strangely, you feel anything but successful. In fact, its like the war in Iraq, you no longer have any idea what success really means. Is it domestic bliss, moguldom, being independent and free? You no longer know, but you feel like you need to figure it out. And fast.
There was an article in the Washington Post a while ago about whether having too many choices actually contributed to stress and unhappiness in people’s lives. I’m starting to see that maybe there’s something to that. Because most of us can choose to do whatever we want, our failures or our shortcomings are all our own. There’s no blaming society, glass ceilings, discrimination, lack of opportunity—it’s just you and your decisions. When things go bad, it’s you and your decisions. When things go great, it’s you and your decisions.
And when you have no idea what the next ten years will look like ( and I mean NO idea)…. It all comes down to you and your decisions. The thirty worries.
I need a drink.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The NBA: It’s a Business, Not a Social Program

ee pic28703 The NBA: Its a Business, Not a Social Program

Well, the 2008 NBA draft has come and gone. But along with my concerns that Mayo may be overrated or Rose isn’t tough enough, there is something else about the NBA that has been sticking in my craw. (what, y’all thought i only talked about everyday life?)

It seems that no one in the world truly cares about the plight of teenage, inner-city black males. UNLESS… you are a high school basketball phenom with dreams of entering the NBA. Suddenly, the masses care about your well-being, your ability to adjust to the adult world, your education, how you will handle the pressures of success, fame and big money. In 2005 NBA age limits were enacted supposedly to allow these men to mature as men, as players and reinforce the value of a college education. Currently, you have to be 19 which now usually results in players attending at least one year of college. I think this is the biggest crock of shit I have ever seen.

So let me get this straight, if you are a black male you can graduate from high school at 17 or 18 and do NOTHING with your life and there is no outcry, but to graduate high school and sign a multi-million dollar basketball contract (because of a skill you’ve likely spent most of your life developing) is out of the question? Now maybe, just maybe I could go along with this flawed and paternalistic approach to these young people IF it were applied equally across society.

No one requires Miley Cyrus to be 18 and go to college before she makes millions, no one requires Beyonce to attend a year of college before making millions, no one said Brad Pitt should go to his local university for a year so he could learn how to socialize and mature more before making the big bucks because an education is so important. Nowadays young people are developing blogs and software and making millions with computers without the aid of a year of college. Folks like John D. Rockefeller, Quentin Tarantino, John Travolta and Tom Petty never even finished high school. I thought this society was based on the concept of a free market? Why is it Ok for everyone else to graduate from high school and receive what the market will pay them, except for these young men?

The answer: the future of college basketball programs. For the NCAA to act like this decision was made in consideration of what was in these players’ best interest is laughable. As with most things in America, just follow the money. NCAA programs are scared shitless at the prospect of their revenue falling drastically as players bypass the whole college process. They need stars to keep their arenas packed. For anyone to pretend this is about anything other than college athletics (READ: money) is insulting.

In light of the fact that these young men’s careers are often short-lived, with the average pro-career being five years, why risk another year playing for free and potentially being hurt, when you could play now and make enough to be set for life? Why risk your financial security just to make a university millions of dollars? These men will have the rest of their life to go to college, just like anyone else in this country.

Are these men any more prone to piss up their money, engage in bad behavior, get into legal trouble or live irresponsibly, than musicians, actors, or software designers ? Of course not. But when it comes to these ballers, nooooooo, they’re just not ready for the big time. Chris Brown and Rihanna can tour for the big bucks and Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgins can be entrusted with seven figure deals, but not these guys, they need to mature.

It is not our place to impose our judgments about whether this is a good decision for these men personally, that is a decision only he can make. And why is society imposing their judgments on THESE particular men when everyone else gets a pass and are lauded for their success. We’re either in a capitalistic society or we’re not. If the market is willing to allow these young men to make a living, who are we to stop them?

“I understand the commercial considerations if a kid can become an instant multimillionaire, but I’m not sure in the long run it’s good for society or college sports if kids leave early to chase a buck,” says Robert C. Khayat, chancellor of the University of Mississippi, a former college-football player and former president of the Southeastern Conference. “This may sound terribly naïve, but one of our values in this country is valuing commitments and being loyal — and not just shifting your allegiances on the strength of money.” Why would a young man put the interest of college sports above his own? Are you kidding me? How interested would that same college program be in that man if he got hurt and couldn’t make them anymore money?
Its such a sham. Like most things, it all comes down to the dollars. This is about colleges and universities being afraid they won’t make the money they used to if top players bypass them and go straight to the pros. It’s also why football players have to spend three years in college. Lets call a spade a spade. No pun intended.

In a 2007 SportsBusiness Journal article, Mr. Len Elmore, former University of Md basketball star and member of the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics argued that one year of college is better than none because it helps players improve their basketball skills and become more mature. Am I in the twilight zone? If an NBA franchise (who has some experience in these matters) has made an assessment of my skills and wants to pay me to play for them, who in the hell are you to decide that I need more time to mature and improve my skills?

It’s a bizarre type of thinking isn’t applied to any other profession. (phone rings) “Oh, hello Bill Gates, what’s that? You want me to come work for Micorsoft because you are so impressed with my programming ability?…hmmm… I don’t think so, I’m only 18 and if you think I’m good now, just wait another year, I’ll make my school a lot of money and I’ll be even better, so call me back then! Hello? Mr. Gates ? Hello? …..”

The decision to draft a player is a market decision whereby teams evaluate the player and assume the risk associated with their success or failure. As with any player they recruit, they can win big or lose big. This is big business, not the YMCA. Scouting and recruiting players is a business decision. Similarly, what a man wants to do with his career is a business decision and he should be allowed to make it. If he wants to go to college, great, if he doesn’t then he must live with the consequences. If he wants to play pro ball and go to college later, that’s his business.
A player coming out of high school could end up a LeBron James or they could end up a Jonathan Bender. But on the other hand, there are plenty of college players who played all four years and ended up disappointments in the NBA. Can you say Bobby Hurley?
Now don’t get me wrong, of course I think everyone should go to college. I think a college education benefits everyone. But that’s not my decision. I don’t think stripping is a good career decision but who am I to stop a woman from selling ass?

Are these kids as good as they would be after playing four years in college, of course not. But he could also go to college and be injured. It’s a choice that should be left up to students and their families, not college athletic bigshots who are only looking out for their own interests. They don’t care what becomes of these kids, as long as they fill the stands and make their
university millions. When these same guys who believe college is sooooo important go after Dakota Fanning, Raven Simone, and the Jonas Brothers, then maybe I’ll be convinced.