A Few Reasons To Believe The World May End On May 21, 2011 – And How You Can See The Silver Lining At The End Of The Apocalypse

Just A Few Thoughts…

(1) We have now entered The Final Countdown…toward Oprah Winfrey’s last show! Specifically, her show ends on Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Now let me be perfectly clear: The dude who came up with this prediction (I’m omitting his name to protect the ignorant, but you can Google it on your own, if you want) was perfectly clear that The Rapture would START on the 21st. As you should be well aware (from watching both the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings series of films), epic battles between Good and Evil can last for DAYS. In this case, I am predicting about four days. The World Will End When Oprah Winfrey Shuts Off Her Mic On Wednesday, May 25, 2001 At Approximately 5:01pm EST. Be Prepared. Because if Oprah has to go…she is taking ALL of us with her!!

 

(2) Very few friends of mine will be able to eat in the next few years once their Student Loans come due. The Rapture taking place this weekend would serve two purposes in this regard: to save us from having to face starvation and homelessness as a result of our decision to become Educated People, and to completely screw Sallie Mae and all of the other lenders…and especially the CFOs who head them. And the U.S. Government as well. EDUCATION…SHOULD BE FREE!!

(3) I can’t take another season of The Bachelorette, American Idol, Real Housewives of Wherever, or one of the many Reality TV shows dedicated to promoting and reifying every messed up stereotype that has ever been created about any type of human being in existence. Hell would be better than having to endure another season of one of these shows. [Not that I’m planning on going there…just pointing out a perk for those of you who will!]

(4) No one will have to endure the 2012 Presidential Campaign & Election. ‘Nuff Said.

(5) I’d like the World to end before all of the Law & Orders are off the air. Because when that happens, my world will be ending, OK?!?

(6) Who shot JFK?!? Did we *really* go to the Moon?!? Did OJ do it?!? Was AIDS created by the US Government?!? Is Sarah Palin from this PLANET?!? Can you tell me, in 10 words or less, EXACTLY how to get to Sesame Street? Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?!? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?!? <— Methinks that all of these questions – and many more – will be answered at some point during The Rapture.

^^ How The Hell Do You Get There?!?^^

(7) No one needs to be traumatized by the realization that Justin Bieber never ages. I’m not sure we’re quite “there” yet with Android Acceptance.

(8) The wealthiest 2% will be forced to fit a camel through the eye of a needle as their price for getting into heaven. The rest of us will get to watch as these assholes attempt to renegotiate their contracts with Satan instead. Fun will be had by ALL.

(9) I’d like to taste Manna from Heaven. I’m hoping that some of that falls before it’s all said and done, because I have been wondering what that stuff tastes like for YEARS!!

(10) Finally: I cannot WAIT until God finally reveals herself to be a Black Woman!! That’s going to be the Game Ender right there!! #f*cksatoshikanazawa

Happy End Of Days, Y’all!! Be Good To Yourselves And Others…Today, And Until The End Of Time!!

And Lastly…

#grin&bareit

 

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Spurious Psychology: Faux Objectivity, Eugenics, & The Nouveau Attack On Black Women

[Note: Due either to heavy visitation to the site, or (I hope) due to public outcry regarding the utterly racist nature of the article I address in this Blog post, the original article has been inaccessible. I have a friend who uploaded the article in Google Docs, and I have included a link to that site in this post.]

I’m going to make this Blog post quick & to the point, because I’m tired and overwhelmed today. But I need to speak out about the recent article published in Psychology Today entitled “Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, But Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?” by Satoshi Kanazawa. You can read the article here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FNIN515ZPH9EtB8oxBxLIOMOlMP39gvvb8m1rjNEgFY/edit?hl=en&authkey=CObUrMUP&pli=1#

I feel compelled to write about this, because Psychology Today  is a mainstream magazine trusted by millions of lay people to give them insight into modern (and valid) psychological research and interventions. Because the author of this piece uses graphs and numbers, many people will trust this research on its face…without asking the important questions that need to be asked.

From the outset, the author explains that “Add Health [a research organization] measures the physical attractiveness of its respondents both objectively and subjectively.”…but then never explains how one can OBJECTIVELY measure physical attractiveness in ANY culture, much less one that is ruled by the ideology of White Supremacy (as most Western cultures – and even most colonized cultures – are). Standards of attractiveness are inherently subjective; objectivity is not possible, since standards of physical attractiveness vary from culture-to-culture, and are tremendously impacted by social structures – race, class, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, etc. With the notion of an “objective” way to measure physical attractiveness as his foundation, the author begins and ends his research in the fictive realm.

Consider this paragraph, interspersed between graphs that are placed to make the reader feel like, “This is SCIENCE!!”: “It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.” Here, the author presents Black women (and men, though once we read on we discover that Black men are considered to be more physically attractive than men of other races. I’ll explain why this should be no surprise in a minute) as exhibiting delusional thinking – despite the fact that we are CLEARLY less physically attractive than women of other races, we still BELIEVE that we are, in fact, MORE attractive. Given that the author insists that he is taking an “objective” approach to measuring physical attractiveness, I’m sure he did read this as delusional. (Also because he has issues with racism…more on that in a jiff!) Unfortunately, as I outlined earlier, there is no such thing as an “objective measurement of physical attractiveness.” Moreover, it is evident that the Black women in his study have noticed  an ongoing trend in our culture that he has overlooked – the fact that non-Black women are having collagen injected into their lips to make them fuller, implants surgically attached to their asses, special products to create the illusion of a “big booty,” and an addiction to tanning salons. Read: Why would Black women consider themselves to be less physically attractive than women of other races, when women of other races are striving every day to look more like Black women?!? Hmm…

Thinking that he has slipped us a doozy, the author explains that Black women are generally more overweight than their non-Black counterparts…but that’s not why we are less attractive! Psych! He also states: “Nor can the race difference in intelligence (and the positive association between intelligence and physical attractiveness) account for the race difference in attractiveness among women.” Translation: “Even the fact that Black women are less intelligent than women of other races does not account for them being considered (objectively, of course) less physically attractive than their non-Black counterparts.” Outright Eugenicist Racism…COMIN’ ATCHA!! No…it’s not that we are fatter and dumber (even though in the author’s mind we clearly are) – the REAL reason why we are considered less physically attractive?!? I can’t tell you yet…because I need to blow my man up about his EUGENICIST interpretation regarding what is considered a “mutation.”

The author explains: “…because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races.  And the mutation loads significantly decrease physical attractiveness (because physical attractiveness is a measure of genetic and developmental health.).” <— OK, People. Am I the only one who remembers 10th grade Biology?!? Dark skin, dark hair, curly hair, dark eyes…these are DOMINANT GENETIC TRAITS. Light skin, light hair, straight hair, blue/green eyes…these are RECESSIVE GENETIC TRAITS. Aren’t recessive traits considered to be the most “mutant”?!? Bio people…am I wrong about this?!? I used to have a high school teacher (shout out to Mr. Lentz) who constantly reiterated the phrase: “White people were the last ones to get to this planet, and we will be the first ones to go.” He was a white man, by the way. In fact, men all over Europe have long been traveling to Africa to find wives to marry. Could be about standards of attractiveness; could be about saving their genetic lineage. Oh, and the reason why Black men are considered more physically attractive? This author refuses to discuss social structures (too subjective?) or stereotypes/racist beliefs associated with different races/cultures, but had he done so he would have been able to point to the belief that Black men are more sexually virile than men of other races as an answer to his question. Ironically, this stereotype was created by white men in an effort to scare white women into staying away from Black men…yeah, that backfired. The assumption that women are not sexual agents always does.

While sexual virility is considered a HUGE part of the “standards of physical attractiveness” for men,  passivity and the appearance of docility work the same way for women. Since Black women are viewed in this culture as being more assertive/aggressive – thereby embodying the OPPOSITE of the passive/docile standard – we are automatically viewed as less physically attractive (in a white supremacist capitalist culture). But I digress. Because just when we feel COMPLETELY overwhelmed by the Eugenicist Racism of this piece, the author reveals the REAL reason why Black women are, in fact and objectively, the least physically attractive specimens on the planet:

“The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone.  Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently.  Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive.  In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive.”

So there it is: We Are Too Masculine. [Or, as the author admits, that’s “the only thing he can think of,” mostly because he is so limited by his own racism.] Sadly, I know many Black men who subscribe to this way of thinking; I think about this all the time when folks question the gender identity of athletes like Serena Williams. Again, since the author is socially illiterate – or is at least willfully ignoring sociohistorical concerns – he continues to spew more eugenicist-inspired racism about Africans. But he also refuses to acknowledge the deep-seated misogyny and homophobia that are endemic to any discussion of Female Masculinity, or the long history and deep-seated racism that must be addressed in any discussion of Black Femininity. Feminists have been writing about this for decades, but why read them when you have “objective science” on your side?!? Furthermore, I stated earlier that Black women are viewed as more assertive, aggressive, take no nonsense, speak your mind, etc…all MASCULINE traits. In fact, the author has illuminated for us that Black women are considered less physically attractive because so many of us REFUSE to even ATTEMPT to step into the stereotypical “Gender Box,” especially when we know that the box was never created with us in mind. There is something freeing about knowing that there are some cultural standards into which you will never be expected to participate or “fit.” The truth is that Black women are so scary because they remind folks that WOMEN – Writ Large – can be just as powerful as men. On every level. White women have long been stereotyped in this country as weak and in need of protection; Asian women have long been stereotyped as docile and meek; Latina women have long been stereotyped as existing to provide beauty and sexuality; Native women have long been stereotyped as being peaceful and spiritual. Articles like this are written so that non-Black women (and all men) view Black women as some other species altogether…because if non-Black women think of us as being inherently different from them, they may not see themselves as being capable of exhibiting the strength and assertiveness that so many Black women exhibit, only to have it recast as “hypermasculine” and “unattractive.”

Once ALL women realize that we can be on par with men – physically, intellectually, and otherwise – this world will be a VERY different place. And many folks are making it their Life’s Work to ensure that this never happens. Articles like this provide the proof – the RAGE – that I need to keep me constantly engaged with the long history of oppression that Black women have faced, in this country and globally. The best part of this article for me was the part about Black women still considering themselves to be more attractive than others, in spite of the “objective evidence” that we are not. This is a TRIUMPH to me. It says that in the face of the worst oppression and hate…Black women can still love ourselves. And on that note – and because I think we all need a little Uplift after engaging with this article – I’d like to end with the obligatory Maya Angelou Poem:

And Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.


© Maya Angelou, 1978.


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FORTY THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP ME CELEBRATE MY 40th BIRTHDAY

FORTY THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP ME CELEBRATE MY 40th BIRTHDAY

 Just in case you haven’t heard, it’s MY 40th BIRTHDAY TODAY!! I would like to shout out my Mom, who pushed all 10lbs 6oz of me out of her body 40 years ago today…and then she survived my CHILDHOOD! Wanda Grinner Is A WARRIOR!! To my Dad, who remains my Biggest Cheerleader even from Beyond The Grave…Thanks for Believing In Me, Otis Grinner! To my Five Siblings: Michelle, Mark, Elaina, Susan, & Ramona …I blame all of my Eclecticism, Copious Knowledge About Random Trivia, Love Of Popular Culture, and All-Around Comical Edge on YOU! Thank You! To All Of My FRIENDS…I would not be here without your Love, Faith, & Support. You Complete Me. Seriously. And To My ENEMIES…I’M STILL HERE, BITCHES!! Thank You For The Lessons.

Now…On With The Birthday Show!

  1. Smile – It’s FREE, It’s ALL NATURAL/ORGANIC, It’s EASIER to do than Frowning, and it carries the POSSIBILITY of improving someone’s day. Including your own. So SMILE.
  2. Learn About Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) & Other Developmental/Intellectual Disabilities –  Approximately 13% of children have a developmental disability, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism. On average, 1 in 110 children in the United States have an Autism Spectrum Disorder; ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, yet are on average 4 to 5 times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. Check out and “Like” the groups Autism Support Network https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Autism-Support-Network/150100405892 and Autism Speaks https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/autismspeaks on Facebook. And for a REAL Treat, check out my Godson Terrence Patridge, a stellar Trombonist who also has Autism. [Terrence is the center of the room, handling that Trombone!]
  3. Put On Your Favorite “Dance My Ass Off” Song…And DANCE YOUR ASS OFF!! – Choose whatever song moves you! I recommend THIS Li’l Ditty: [Note: By the time Lady Gaga gets to the first “Oh…Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh…Oh…Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, OH!” <— I’m Dancing On A Table-Top! Preferably sandwiched between two sweaty men. Preferably gay. Go ahead and judge me…I’m 40 and like Jimmy Crack Corn…I just don’t care!!]
  4. Stop Judging Poor People – Yesterday someone uttered the sentences: “We need to end the Welfare System…in its ENTIRETY,” and “At least 20% of the population is abusing the Welfare System” to me. Then he found himself backtracking when I informed him that very recently, I had been a “Welfare” Recipient. With a Master’s Degree. Then he had to start backtracking and talking about “Exceptions” and “Generational Abuse”. The Truth: He had no idea what the fuck he was talking about. And most “Fiscal Conservatives” do not. If you are reading this, chances are you are one of the “Other 98%” in this country who is working so that the Top 2% don’t have to pay any taxes on their exorbitant wealth. But keep on believing that your hard work is REALLY paying for all of those hapless folks on Welfare. Ignorance is Bliss. And the wealthiest folks in this country are COUNTING on it. [Well, at least their ACCOUNTANTS are. Rich people don’t count their own money.]
  5. Learn About Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Behcet’s Syndrome, and Other Autoimmune Disorders – There are people among you who are walking around with Invisible Diseases; at any moment, our immune systems are under attack and the consequences can range from constant discomfort to death. I am one of these People. Don’t Sleep On Us.
  6. Listen To A Song By Adele – Any Adele song will do. I Love Her. And if you don’t…well, what the fuck is wrong with you?!? Try This Brilliance On For Size:
  7. Read White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack by Peggy Mcintosh – Key Reading in the Struggle To End Oppression: http://www.nymbp.org/reference/WhitePrivilege.pdf
  8. Check Out The RePeace Movement – I was turned onto this by Radical Activist Gabrielle Price. The mission of REPEACE: Repeace wants to create a massive demand for accountability with three simple clicks and with a new advocate for peace. Beginning in the USA all progressive people are asked to join and take three simple pledges: 1. I want to reward businesses who focus on local, sustainable, quality products and services, not on buying influence. 2. I want to reward politicians who are accountable to me, not to corporations. 3. I want to reward countries that promote and defend freedom of expression. Check them out at http://www.repeace.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/RePeace/148089545227940?sk=info
  9. Write A Rage-Filled Letter To Someone By Whom You Have Been Wronged – You don’t need to send the letter; in fact, it’s probably better if you don’t. And it doesn’t have to be a long letter either. Just get The Basics off your chest, then Keep Moving. Here is a Sample from my own Arsenal:

Dear So-and-So:

Thank you for the emotional abuse, betrayal, and abandonment.

Fuck You,

Leslie

I have already written five of these today…and I. Feel. FABULOUS! Try it!

  1. Get Tested For HIV – This is a No-Brainer. If you have not been tested, do so immediately. Educate yourself and others about the ways that we can stop the AIDS Pandemic. And never, EVER trust your sexual and emotional health to someone who refuses to get tested.
  2. Read Something By bell hooks – She has like 10,000 books out in the world as we speak. Any one of them will do.
  3. Listen To A John Coltrane Song – Any John Coltrane Song is a GREAT John Coltrane Song. But this one reminds me of 40th Birthdays:
  4. Take A Yoga/Tai Chi Class – Get (back) in touch with your body.
  5. Eat A Mango – God, I Love Mangoes!! DELICIOUS!!
  6. Learn About LGBT Communities/Work To End Gender-Identity Bias & Homophobia – If you know me, you know that this is a huge part of my Consciousness. I’m Down With The Gays. And also the Lesbians/Bisexuals/Transfolk. If you are still spewing anti-Queer slurs and sentiments, then I don’t want you on my Birthday Train.
  7. End The War On Women’s Rights In This Country – If the U.S. Government started regulating on the Penis & Testes, there would be a Civil War in this fucking country. And there SHOULD be one behind the current assault on Women’s Rights. Bam.
  8. Commune With Nature – In whatever way works for you.
  9. Recognize That The Los Angeles Lakers Is The Best Basketball Club In The History Of The United States Of America – Or just remain in denial of this fact. But that just makes you sad.
  10. Throw Your Trash Into A Trash Can – Take some PRIDE in your environment/community!
  11. Stop Smoking Cigarettes – My dad died of Lung Cancer. It wasn’t pretty. And it makes you stink. So Stop Smoking Cigarettes. It won’t be easy. But you must do it.
  12. Watch A&E’s Intervention – Recognize how many folks become drug-addicted due to rape, childhood sexual and physical abuse, and other significant Life Traumas. Then stop judging folks in whose shoes you have never walked.
  13. Read Anything By Langston Hughes – Anything at all.
  14. Watch The Documentary Dogtown & Z-Boys – It’s a great history of my Beloved Southern California, surfing, skateboarding, and youth culture. And it reminds me of Home.
  15. Sit Down And Critically Watch A Disney Movie – Now ask yourself: “Do I really want to sit my child in front of this and walk away?!?” [Still scarred by Bambi  and The Lion King]
  16. Save PBS.
  17. See If You Can Still Do The Running Man, The Troop, The Wop, The Roger Rabbit, The Robocop, and The Cabbage Patch – I can still do ALL of these dances. And I am FORTY! If you can’t…get on your GAME, Fools!!
  18. Love And Accept Your Children For Who They Are – They aren’t born to be miniature models of YOU. Raise them to be Good People. Then allow them to be Good People in their own UNIQUE ways.
  19. Take A Walk – I’m a BIG Walker. It clears the mind and is healthy for the body. Weather permitting, I walk every single day. Keep Moving.
  20. Burn Some Incense Or A Candle – I am an Incense and Candle Whore. And I have No Shame about that whatsoever. Aromas Can Heal.
  21. Drink A Cup Of Peppermint or Spearmint Tea – Very good for throat, congestion, and stomach issues. And they make your breath smell delicious.
  22. Watch An Episode Of Law & Order – Any version of this show is acceptable. There is no excuse whatsoever for anyone with a TV to have a problem with this, as the show is on at least  5 channels at any given time during the day.
  23. Listen To A Song From The ‘80s – There are just too many Great Songs that came out of this Golden Generation (aka: My Youth). You can start with this: and move on from there.
  24. Play A Game Of Spades Or Dominoes – I don’t care how stereotypical that sounds…I like these games, and I’m pretty good at them.
  25. Read A Poem By Paul Laurence Dunbar, Maya Angelou, Countee Cullen, Or Nikki Giovanni – Or by any Poet, really. Watch a Spoken Word video on YouTube. Fall in love with Metaphor & Simile.
  26. Write Me A Haiku/It’s Not Very Hard To Do/You’re A Poet, Too.
  27. Treat Animals With Respect
  28. If You Live Near A Beach, And It Is Not Freezing…GO TO THE BEACH!! – The Beach is My Favorite Place In The Entire World. I Love The Ocean. Go There For Me!!
  29. Learn About Mental Illness – We don’t understand Mental Illness in this country. And we need to. This is Paramount.
  30. Take A Long, Hot Shower Or Bath – It will soothe your muscles and melt away stress.
  31. LAUGH!!!!! – Laughter Heals The Soul. I am Blessed to have copious Friends who make me LAUGH until my sides are sore and I almost pee my pants. THIS is how I survived to the Ripe Old Age of 40. So Laugh With Me, People!! For Forty More!!!

As Always…Grin & Bare It!

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THIS IS MY FACEBOOK PAGE. THERE ARE MANY LIKE IT, BUT THIS ONE IS MINE!!

OK, so I recognize that I usually go for MONTHS without writing a new Blog Post, because I like to organize myself when I present information and it takes me time to find time to do that. So today I will be riffing off the top of my head, with no pre-organization or planning, no proofreading or editing. I have a few things to say so I’m going to just say them.

(1)   I am about the project of ending Oppression. ALL FORMS OF OPPRESSION. Which is why I am REALLY struggling with the large number of folks I have encountered who are only about the project of ending one or two forms of oppression – but then want to argue that OTHER forms of oppression don’t actually exist or are irrelevant. These are the same people who will RAGE when anyone writes/says anything that is offensive to THEM or those LIKE them…but will then easily slip into making derogatory and bigoted commentary about other oppressed/marginalized groups. This is HYPOCRISY in its highest form, and I have grown weary of it to the point of wanting to delete all Hypocritical Offenders from my Facebook account.

I have found this phenomenon especially present in any conversations about Gender Identity and/or Sexual Orientation. Today this issue was raised around Kobe Bryant’s bigoted, unprofessional, and totally juvenile hurling of the homophobic slur “Faggot” at an NBA referee. In this instance, the same folks of color – and if I’m being honest, most of the offenders were uncritical Black men – who RAGE against RACIST slurs hurled at everyone from the POTUS to professional athletes, decided to come to Bryant’s defense by calling this out as “Not A Big Deal,” “The NBA’s Continuing Conspiracy Against Kobe Bryant,” “We Are Being Forced To Be Politically Correct,” and one Fool actually had the nerve to assert that EVERYONE has used and/or currently uses terms like “Faggot” and “Gay” in “the heat of battle.” Another Favorite: “Kobe didn’t ACTUALLY mean that the Ref was GAY!”

This level of ignorance and hypocrisy is completely unacceptable and untenable to me. Either you are against ALL forms of oppression/bigotry/derogatory slurs…or you can’t be against ANY of them. You can’t have it both ways. One of the greatest weapons that Oppression – which is a living, breathing phenomenon – can wield is that of DIVIDE & CONQUER. One would THINK that when a person holds membership in one or more oppressed/marginalized groups, they would ACTIVELY WORK not to oppress other marginalized groups. But unfortunately, as theorist Paolo Freire pointed out long ago, many Oppressed Peoples only feel validated when they have found another person or group to oppress. It is an Evil Cycle that is as old as time; and when I see Fools engaging in it, they are going to hear about it from me.

And Religious Folks: I don’t care WHAT your religion says about Homosexuality. Religions have, historically, had much to say about EVERY marginalized culture in the World…whether their religious TEXTS support these assertions or not. There are religions still in existence that believe people of color, people with disabilities, women, and foreigners are inherently inferior. You can make distinctions all you want between being “born” one way versus “choosing” to be another, but all you will be doing is engaging in a futile attempt to excuse your own Bigotry. So STFU.

(2)   As far as I am concerned, my Facebook Page is like my Home. No one disrespects me or spreads ignorance in my Home without reaping the consequences. When I believe in something, it is because I have spent copious amounts of time researching, reflecting, theorizing, and analyzing around it. And I’m a pretty difficult person to argue down when I know a little something something about a little something something. I once had one of my OWN siblings accuse me of stacking my page with folks who agree with me. Not so. In fact, many people do not agree with me, and any of them are free to take me on when I post something that they do not agree with. And many have. But anyone who does should come to the table PREPARED TO ENGAGE. Because if I put something out there, it is the rare occasion when I am unprepared to engage over it. In the case of my sister, she doesn’t agree with some of my progressive views but doesn’t have any evidence to support her conservative ones. So she felt shut out of the discussions on my page. But that was on HER. Disagree with me, but know what the fuck you are talking about when you do. Because it is going to be hard to catch me in a discussion where I don’t know what I’m talking about. Because when I don’t, I ask questions or observe the commentary of and learn from others.

So this is just a warning to everyone that if you pop off with some ignorance on my page, I am going to metaphorically roll you up. (Old West Coast Term. I Still Use Them, Because I Am Still A West Coast Woman). Don’t get all sensitive about it. Think before you type. Because I am thinking…ALL THE TIME. About EVERYTHING.

(3)   If you have me on your Friends List, take a moment and GET TO KNOW ME. I’m pretty clear and straightforward about who I am and what I believe. But clearly, some folks either never knew who I was or have forgotten. I’m really not the type to stand by quietly while folks promote ignorance, and I have no respect whatsoever for the follow-up that “we are all entitled to our OPINIONS”. Yes, we are. But when you spread ignorance, you are sharing more than your OPINION…you are sharing an UNCRITICAL PERSPECTIVE. I present opinions about songs, colors, scents, TV shows, and other items/events that we all respond to in our own ways. But when I am talking about oppression, privilege, power, and ideology, I present CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES. Example: In my OPINION, Purple is the Greatest Color On The Spectrum. But I have no evidence to PROVE that assertion. I am PERSONALLY moved by the color Purple. But in my Critical Perspective, calling someone a “Faggot” is an act of oppression. And I am able to provide clear and difficult to counter evidence of this. Learn the difference between Opinion and Critical Perspective. And especially learn it before you step to ME.

(4)   If I were a man, the Bitter Pills that I hand out would be much easier for both men and women to swallow. But I won’t be ashamed of the fact that I am a strong, intelligent, critically-thinking WOMAN. And I just wasn’t raised to dumb myself down for men, stroke their egos when they are not reciprocating, or present myself in a “ladylike” manner so as not to damage anyone’s fragile ego. I wasn’t raised by weak women, and even the girls I rolled with starting in Kindergarten were and are Tough As Nails. The Truth: I absolutely do NOT “Know My Place” as a woman in this culture. And I don’t accept the place that has been created for me by Patriarchy. And as I approach 40-years-old in a matter of DAYS…I have to say that I really don’t give two shits about what folks think about my Big Mouth and my Bigger Mind. I’m not docile. I’m not quiet. And I am Ride-or-Die for what I believe in. I won’t apologize for it. I have many flaws…but these aren’t them. And for the religious folks who want to remind me about “Adam’s Rib,” I want to remind YOU that whatever God you believe in GAVE ME THIS MIND TO USE IN THE SERVICE OF ENDING OPPRESSION. And that is how I will continue using it. You can attempt to shut me down, but I can assure you that it will absolutely take A Nation Of  Millions To Hold Me Back. We all have our gifts, our powers. Are you using yours for GOOD…or are you using them to perpetuate EVIL? Choose Up, People, CHOOSE UP!! Because if you don’t, I won’t keep your hypocrisy a secret from you. Or from anyone else.

Thanks And Good Night!!!

#grin&bareit

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Characters Whom I’ve Been Forced To Block On Facebook (And What YOU Can Do To Be Next!)

Characters Whom I’ve Been Forced To Block On Facebook (And What YOU Can Do To Be Next!)

The Non-Practicing Bisexual Born Again Christian

Yeah, so I know what you’re thinking: “How did anyone who fits this description even make it on to Grinner’s FB Friends List?!?” Well that’s because back when I knew this fool, he was a Radical Latino Activist. In fact, I barely recognized him when he added me because when I knew him he had a Spanish first name (we’ll go with “Jose,” to protect the completely insane) and when he added me, he had become “Joe.” As it turns out, his real name was “Joe”…but perhaps he felt “Jose” was more militant. Anyway, shortly after he Friended me I realized that he was Born Again. Which was fine by me. Until he started attempting to use my page as a Pulpit. The issue of LGBT youth suicide – a year prior to it becoming the phenomenon that it is today – was one he especially liked to tackle. In one particular post, I noted that we need to change the anti-LGBT ideologies that exist in homes, churches, schools, etc. He responded by taking issue with the fact that I mentioned churches. He then sent a note to my Facebook Inbox, the gist of which went something like this:

The church does not hate the SINNER…it hates the SIN  of  homosexuality! This is a sensitive issue for me because I am a Non-Practicing Bisexual Christian (note that he did not say “former” or “recovering”). I am bisexual, but I no longer engage in sex with anyone outside of my wife. My wife does not know; she can never know, as she comes from a very traditional family and will leave me if she ever finds out. The fact that I have lied to her about my sexuality since the moment we met is not a problem at all, from a Christian perspective…because I no longer have sex with men. I duped her into marrying me by pretending that I had always been heterosexual and had never engaged in sexual relations with a man…and I will continue lying to her for the remainder of our marriage. No one at my church knows, but if they did they would accept me. (Really?!? Then why not tell them?!?) I am now studying at a Seminary, and although I have dabbled in everything from Voodoo to Atheism, I fully expect that you will treat me as an Authority on the Bible and Christianity…even if I did just convert like 2 years ago and you were raised as a Christian. That said, the next time you want to post something about religion on your page, can you run it by me first?!? A lot of people follow your posts and listen to your perspectives; I want to make sure that what you are putting out there is Biblically sound before you post it…

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! I could go on…but why?!? [Facebook BLOCKED!]

The Leviticus Quoting Homophobic Coward

Now this one has been Born Again since we first met, but like many folks he has become more conservative and ignorant with age. In the first place, he constantly asserts that he “loves all people,” but then will devolve into rants about how LGBT lifestyles are “ruining the fabric of our culture” (a fabric that has been tattered and torn since this country’s inception…but whatever), and how soon people like him will need to “go into hiding” – ostensibly the same day the rest of us just give in to all of that horrible LGBT Pressure and become Queer. When asked to support his beliefs with evidence, he cites Bible scripture but cannot provide context for these citations; of special note is that he has referred to Judaism as a “Gutter Religion” and Islam as a “Terrorist Religion”…but not publicly. I once hazed him into admitting what he thought in an FB Inbox message. Despite the fact that he considers Judaism to be a “Gutter Religion” (though Christ was a member), he cites the Jewish Torah (Christian Old Testament) almost exclusively when it comes to rebuking LGBT communities…his favorite Book of the Bible for this is Leviticus. So he floods my FB Inbox with quotes from Leviticus, when all the while: his profile picture presents an image of him with the sides of his hair cut closely to the scalp and a cleanly shaven face (Leviticus 19:27 “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.”); also in his profile picture, he appears to be wearing a cotton-blend shirt (Leviticus 19:19 “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material”); I know that he enjoys both pork and seafood (Leviticus 11:7-8 “And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.” & 11:10-11 “But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to regard as unclean.  And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat; you must regard their carcasses as unclean.”); he voted against Gay Marriage (Leviticus 19:15 “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”); and he spreads misinformation and lies about LGBT People (Leviticus 19:16 “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life.”) Picking & Choosing which parts of Leviticus you will follow and which parts you will not = Shady As Hell.

So there you have it; another HYPOCRITE. The truth is that he can’t step to me about anything Biblical, because like so many folks who misuse the Bible as a weapon…he hasn’t even really read it. He simply chooses those citations that best suit his needs, and attacks folks with them at will. And as far as folks like him having to “go into hiding”…that is what COWARDS do! I won’t be hiding anywhere; when you are passionate and clear about your beliefs, you face the fire for them. He obviously cannot do so. And after all that…he was shocked that I deleted him as a Facebook Friend. And so he tried to flood my FB Inbox, on the Obsessive tip. His Fate?!? You Already Know. [Facebook BLOCKED!]

The Obsessive Stalker Know-It-All-Who-Knows-Nothing

Now this one is not my fault; he was suggested to me by a mutual Facebook Friend. When Friends “suggest” other Friends to me, I tend to assume that the person who has been suggested is progressive, insightful, and active. Well, this fool was active at least. On my page. Every single day. In fact, shortly after adding me I believe that this man awoke each morning, logged into Facebook, and then went DIRECTLY to Leslie Grinner’s Page. While there, he would make commentary – occasionally insightful, never brilliant, always full of himself and inflexible – on everything from songs to status posts. I knew that this man was married – and had been for decades – and his obsessive attention to my page began to bother me. If I posted a song, he would make sure to let me – and everyone else – know that he knew more than one song by this artist, or that he knew who made the original version of the song…because clearly I (who posted the damn song) would know nothing of its history. His Bible was the New York Times; it is the only media source from which he shared posts, and he would often quote NY Times Op-Ed writers when making his (completely shallow and not well analyzed) arguments. And he ALWAYS had something to argue about. Then he started getting rude with some of my other Friends. Fronting as a Progressive, he started showing his True Colors by making ridiculous comments like, “I would do ANYTHING to be filthy rich…no matter WHAT it was”; when called on this, he defended it for 4 posts before finally saying, “I was just kidding…” Yeah, whatever fool. The Breaking Point for me came when, during a discussion thread about children in schools, he insisted that some kids need to be “caged” (i.e., left in a room or ejected from school altogether) if they come to school with any behavioral issues. This set him off on an anti-Children With Disabilities rant. He would never want any child with Autism to be in a class with his child. In a discussion of the Glen Ridge, NJ gang-rape case of the late 1980’s, he stated that since the victim was a young woman with developmental disabilities…her gang-rape was proof that mainstreaming kids with disabilities into schools has backfired. (Newsflash, Jackass: SHE LIVED IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD; SHE DID NOT NEED TO GO TO SCHOOL WITH THEM TO BE GANG-RAPED BY THEM.) But why blame rapists when you can blame those who are proponents of mainstreaming Students with Disabilities?!? WTF?!? Then – after presenting every argument supporting the warped Western ideology of Individualism that has ever been presented – he referred to himself as being “communally” minded, because he is pro-“majority.”And lastly, he would not hear any arguments from me that were pro-Children With Disabilities/Behavioral Issues…because I am not a parent. Apparently, his Ableist Bigotry is validated by the fact that (unfortunately for his children) he is a parent. He posited that if I had children, I would not want them to be in classrooms with children who have disabilities. Even though my 17-year-old Godson – who has Autism – is an accomplished professional musician who will be graduating from a Mainstream High School next year. But I guess if I had kids, I would want them to stay as far away from this Stellar Young Person as possible?!? Yeah…a Real Gem, this Know-It-All-Who-Knows-Nothing Bastard.

Then he tried to ream me out under one of my own f’kn statuses. He is a Dummy, an Asshole…and I really need to get with the Friend who suggested him and tell her that she needs to vet people more thoroughly before she sends them my way. Since he had become so accustomed to stalking my page on the Daily, I know he misses me. But I don’t miss his crazy ass. F**k You, Loser. [Facebook BLOCKED].

 The Totally Unstable Broad From College Whom Everyone Warned Me About But I Befriended Anyway

This one is Totally My Fault. I have known this woman was slightly insane since we were in college together; she also has a terrible drinking problem that she is able to pass off because she has an advanced degree from a prominent university. She has been friends – then fallen out completely – with everyone we know, at least once. So anyway, she and I had never had any beef, ergo I saw no problem with adding her as a Facebook Friend. And things went well for many months; until one day I logged on and found that she had de-Friended me. This was strange, since we had just engaged in a very nice conversation via Facebook Inbox only two days prior to her deleting me. I racked my brain thinking of a “good reason” for her to have done this, and when I came up with “Not A Damn Thing,” I knew that she was pulling one of her Crazy Lady Routines on me. But I didn’t take the bait. I did not write her and ask, “Is everything OK?!?” I didn’t want to hear whatever craziness she had concocted in her warped mind that led her to a midnight Facebook deleting session. I figured she had given me a clean “out” here…so I took ending our relationship a step further by BLOCKING her. I don’t know why she deleted me, I don’t care why she deleted me, and I will not engage with her insanity over some imaginary dispute that she has created between us. She’s dead to me. And I’m good with that. [Facebook BLOCKED!]

That’s all for now, Folks! This was cathartic; I really need to get on this Blog Posting thing more seriously! Be Good To Yourselves…And Don’t Make Me Facebook BLOCK You! =)

 Grinner                          

 

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“Just When I Thought I Was OUT…They Pulled Me Back IN!”: Musings on Media Literacy, BET, The Phenomenon of Drake, The Faux Feminism of Nicki Minaj, and The Spectacle of Chris Brown’s Breakdown®.

But First, A Brief Introduction to Media Literacy…

The U.S. is one of the only industrialized nations in the World that does not require Media Literacy to be taught/taken during K-12 schooling. This means that folks in other countries are taught how to “read” media codes, signs, symbols, ideologies, discursive constructions, and cultural stories. When you are Media ILLiterate, you can be easily manipulated by media. Most importantly,  many of us are capable of having our emotions easily duped by orchestrated “Media Moments.” And BET has orchestrated many such moments – usually around something frivolous and/or ignorant – over the years. The Truth: I think we prefer Bullsh*t Spectacle to Real Information. Because Real Information makes us feel hopeless and disempowered. And it makes us feel this way because in our individualized, self-centered culture, folks are either (a) Barely making it themselves, or (b) So concerned for their own well-being, that they greedily and pridefully hoard their money/time/energy/resources. The story of Media is the story of Capitalism – remixed, dubbed, chopped, and screwed. And this is also the story of BET.

 BET: We WILL Make You Hate Yourself. And Then We’ll Throw In A Gospel Number!

Black Entertainment Television – in name alone – says to the World: THIS CHANNEL IS BY/FOR/ABOUT/REPRESENTATIVE OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY. The first problem is that there are various Black CommuniTIES, many of which are never given any play by BET whatsoever. (And of course, this would be almost impossible for any network to do. But for the past decade or so, BET hasn’t even tried.) The second problem is that they serve up REPETITIVE negative images of Black folks, and this NORMALIZES these representations for the audience…such that even BLACK people will modify/transform the way they relate to the world, based on who they are SUPPOSED to be as “Black People.” In any marginalized/”minority” community (racially, ethnically, sexually, etc.) standards of what it means to be an “authentic” part of the oppressed group in question, can become extremely strict and rigid. For Black men in this culture especially, standards of Black masculinity – due in large part to the proliferation of hip hop oriented mainstream media – can be compared to a straitjacket. If characters like Li’l Wayne (incarcerated or not) and Rick Ross are currently setting the Standard for Black Masculinity…who else can meet that standard, and what must they do/how must they behave in order to meet it?!? Similarly, Black Femininity has been obliterated to represent nothing more than large asses, small waists, big breasts, and closed mouths (unless, of course, a sexual act is taking place.) BET conveys these images daily. And the fact that they run Christian/Gospel-related shows during late night and Sunday programming cannot combat the negative images that the network bombards the audience with every few seconds during Prime Time. Furthermore, giving out a few BET Awards to Black people who are community leaders can not erase the bitter taste of ignorance that much of their annual Awards show leaves in the mouths of so many viewers. Anyway, speaking of Black Masculinity…*ahem* Let’s Talk About DRAKE!!

 DRAKE: “No, Thank You.”

Let me be perfectly clear: I am not a fan of Drake’s work. Last week I forced myself to sit and listen to his entire “Thank Me Later” CD, and this is what I came away with:

(1) He uses lyrics that are almost exactly the same on at least two songs.

(2) He is a Pop Artist. Let’s stop pretending that 7 collabos on an album makes one a Hip Hop Emcee.

(3) His voice is DeGrassi High; his delivery sounds like he is asleep; every bar sounds exactly the same.

(4) What is all this “Ni**a” and “Bi**h” dropping…from a kid who was raised with a white French Canadian mother in a wealthy suburb of Toronto, Canada, and who was a Teen TV Star?!?

(5) Why all the angst in his music about being overwhelmed by Fame…when he had already experienced a fair amount of it as the aforementioned Teen TV Star?!? [Drake is Jimmy Brooks.]

(6) If you need to feature an artist (or your record company MAKES you feature an artist) who is bigger/badder than you, on almost every track on your latest CD…you *may* not be a “real” artist yourself.

7) How does it work these days? Does someone of note make a statement that an artist/album is Hot…and then everyone just follows that opinion blindly?

(8) Hip Hop has been Dead in the Mainstream since about 1995. |Tragedy.|

Now, that said…it doesn’t really matter what I think of Drake’s music; I don’t begrudge anyone their right to absolutely adore his work. Each individual has her/his own specific taste in music; a piece of work might deeply move one person, and intensely repulse another. I can admit that I enjoy many songs that are downright crappy, by pretty much anyone’s standards.  So really, my issue is not with Drake’s music…or with Drake, the PERSON. Because I don’t even know that Fool. My problem is with Drake, the PRODUCT. The fake NYC Blaccent…the Corniness masquerading as Swag…the Myth that he is a brilliant Freestyler, and the dissolution of said Myth with the Funkmaster Flex Cell Phone Debacle…the copious collaborations/dearth of his own SOLO work…the fact that it seems as if he is being Pimped by multiple sources…I really could go on and on. He is a male Miley Cyrus to me; he was even on a Teen Television Show. In Canada. |Blank Stare.| When I think “Drake,” I just think… “Fake.” It is no coincidence, then, that many of his songs deal with issues of alienation from others (and self). So I guess I am answering my own critique (Point #5 above) – his lyrics seem to be telling the audience, “I don’t really fit into this lifestyle; I am alienated from my own Persona.” Too psychologizing?!? I think so, too. And yet…I think I believe it. So audience…whilst you are Hero-Worshipping this Baby Product, take a moment to extend a little compassion. I’ve been working on it with him. Lawd knows I can relate to the plight of being a “Mixed Kid” in this World. On the other hand, I accept my Natural Corniness, and will not be swayed into believing that there is one way to be Black, as Drake seems to have done. (He knows he prefers to speak in proper French! Hehehe…) When I wake up each day, the way that I prove my Blackness to the World is by walking out the door. But then…I’m not trying to “make it” in Hip Hop. All of the wealth in the world is not worth the Sacrifice of the Soul. And speaking of Soul-Sacrificing…enter Nicki Minaj!

Nicki Minaj & Women’s Empowerment: Where Are the Oxymoron Police?!?

Consider The Case of Nicki Minaj. Shake your head. Cry a little. Rock back and forth whilst meditating or praying. Now…return to Considering The Case of Nicki Minaj. A textbook example of a Media “Product,” Minaj – born Onika Tanya Maraj on December 8, 1984 – is reported to have been discovered on MySpace by Dirty Money CEO “Fendi,” and was then contacted by Li’l Wayne for a collaboration. Said to be of Afro-Trinidadian and Indo-Trinidadian descent (a mix commonly referred to as “Dugla”…which doesn’t sound nice to me. But terms for mixed folks rarely do), Minaj released her first mixtape in April of 2007 called Playtime is Over, which featured her posing on the cover as a Barbie doll. It is not coincidental that Minaj chose this particular image to embody; indeed Barbie is one of the most successful consumer products of all time. There are about a million critiques out in the World of Ideas about Barbie, so I won’t bore you with any heavy theory here. But the fact that Minaj would recreate herself in the image of one of the most stereotypical representations of the (white) female body, one that has helped to spread numerous ideologies about the role of women in our culture…tells the entire story. Minaj is a Product; she is also an amalgamation of various other artists – most notably Li’l Kim – but also Madonna and Marilyn Manson (a brilliant character/grotesque figure), among others I am sure. She is also (allegedly) openly bisexual; one wonders if this is not highlighted to increase the allure of the Nicki product. But this is Old News. The only reason I am even discussing her here, is to address her quasi-Feminist outburst upon receiving the coveted (har har) BET Award. Specifically, I was appalled by what she said after she pointed out that (although Patti LaBelle, Deniece Williams, Chaka Khan, and PRINCE were in the house) she was most excited to meet Scientological Product – and, according to every interview I have ever seen her do, Rabid Nymphomaniac – Jada Pinkett Smith. |Blank Stare.| She then uttered words that made me want to holler, AND throw up both my hands:

 “I’M FIGHTING FOR WOMEN!!”

 [Pause: Choke on Pepsi] – Um…WHAT?!? Oh Nicki…Onika…”Barbie”… My Child: Look around. Do you SEE what is going ON?!? Who ARE You?!? WHAT Do You Represent?!? WHAT messages are you transmitting to girls and women through your lyrics, style, and overall persona?!? Let me provide those Not in the Know with a brief sampling of some of Nicki Minaj’s lyrical stylings:

  •  “Baddest, the baddest, my p*ssy’s the fattest I’m bad. Bad. Bad, bad.” ~ From The Baddest Bitch, Minaj’s poignant ode to Black Female Sexuality.
  •  “I like to see a itty bitty piggy in a market/Give that bitch a quarter and car tell her park it/I don’t fuck wit pigs like As Salaam Alaikum/I put ‘em in a fill/I let Oscar Mayer bake ‘em.”~ From the Iconic “Ode to All Other Women” entitled Itty Bitty Piggy
  •  “Excuse me lil mama/But you say I’m on duty/I’m lookin’ for a cutie/With a big old ghetto booty/I really like your kitty cat/And if you let me touch her/I know you’re not a bluffer/I’ll take you to go see usher/I keep a couple hoes…” ~ From Little Freak, because there is nothing more Feminist and Liberating than a woman sexually exploiting and pimping out another woman!

I really don’t think I need to expose You People – or Myself – to this Misogynist Train Wreck any further. It is clear that Nicki is fighting: to keep women in damaging, stereotypical roles, and to aid in the exploitation of other women. I am in mourning for Onika Tanya Maraj. We have already seen the toll that this business can take on women like Minaj’s predecessor, Li’l Kim. Once beautiful and always talented, Li’l Kim devolved before our very eyes into a mess of poor choices and plastic surgery. And she was supported, prodded, promoted, and encouraged in her own self-destruction by many of the most lauded MEN in hip hop. But of course, they have no accountability here. Re-read Minaj’s lyrics above; now think about her exclamation, “I’M FIGHTING FOR WOMEN!” The level of contradiction and hypocrisy that we are willing to accept from our Entertainers…is Mind-Boggling to me. Yes, these contradictions have always existed…but seldom so blatantly. The audience at the BET Awards should have laughed out loud. And then cried. That’s what I did.

Nicki Minaj is in a desperate fight for her own womanhood. Maybe she’ll turn it all around and become a Preacher like Vanity (from Vanity 6! Though I must say…”Nasty Girl” has NOTHING on this Minaj material!) I don’t know. But I do know that if she is out there fighting for women…then I am terrified of whomever may be fighting against women.

Chris Brown’s Breakdown®: Self-Promotion & Media Spectacle

Spectacle, as I am using it here, refers to a mediated event that works to manipulate the emotions of the audience, and to distract them from “The Real.” Folks are so caught up in the emotion of the Spectacle, that they forget/are distracted from asking incisive questions and making informed assessments. Spectacles take the form of “Media Moments” – moments which have been carefully orchestrated in terms of content, production, and/or distribution. We live for these “Spectacular” moments; they make us feel connected – to whomever is involved in the Spectacle, and to one another. Spectacles promote group think and group bonding. Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have allowed us to bond almost instantaneously, from wherever we may be in the World, with everyone else who is able to experience the Spectacle simultaneously. When we experience a Spectacle, all emotions are engaged and all reason is suspended; we are, quite seriously, “caught up” in the moment. So much so, that if we are approached with a reasoned assessment of the Spectacle…we are often prone to rejecting it outright. We saw what we saw. We heard what we heard. And we felt what we felt. The Truth, at this point, becomes completely irrelevant.

Spectacle Example: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jr. as caught/distributed by media via the Zapruder film of that event. Check out Oliver Stone’s JFK; I don’t care if he made some of that sh*t up, you won’t be watching it for the facts of the event/case. You will be watching it for the extremely thorough and adept explanation of Media Spectacle that Stone lays out so brilliantly. This film is not just about JFK; it is about how the government and media (two of the strongest Ideological State Apparatuses in existence) work together to emotionally/psychologically/politically manipulate the masses.

There is no doubt that the assassination of JFK was one of the most profound Spectacles of our time. The President’s assassination, the almost immediate arrest of Oswald, the subsequent murder of Oswald by Ruby…all televised. All experienced en masse by the American people. All emotions engaged. All reason suspended. By day’s end, we knew who had shot the President and we knew that the man who shot him had been killed for this act. And this was widely accepted as the conclusion of this event. And then the country could mourn and bond.

We have experienced numerous Spectacles since then: the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger; the beating and trial of Rodney King; the OJ Simpson Bronco Chase; the OJ Simpson Trial; the destruction of the World Trade Center. All televised. All experienced en masse by the people. These are the BIG Spectacles. And then there are the Small ones. Enter R&B singer and accomplished dancer Chris Brown.

Most of us are aware of the domestic violence incident involving Chris Brown and R&B singer Rihanna. [If not, Google It.] In the aftermath of this Media Event (and “real life” event for CB & Rihanna), Chris Brown was largely vilified by media, and was recently even denied entrance into the UK for his actions here. I will now give my oft-stated caveat to this issue: There is an egregious double-standard at play in our culture, when some domestic batterers are lauded as “American Legends/Heroes/Icons” (Frank Sinatra; Miles Davis) and even current and constant batterers (Charlie Sheen; Christian Slater) continue to get work and make copious amounts of money for it. So I am against the idea that Chris Brown should be singled out on various accounts, when Hollywood/Media/The Masses have not CONSISTENTLY held batterers accountable and instituted “punishments” against them. Let’s be CONSISTENT.

Now…that said…Chris Did What He Did. AND he admitted it. So I am not sure why there are still people who are trying to claim that (a) Chris didn’t do it, (b) The photos of Rihanna’s battered face were photo shopped, and/or (c) Rihanna drove Chris to do it. (As I’ve heard many say: “She should have kept her hands to herself.” This is very true. And what is also true is that men have, for eons, been able to restrain a woman who is hitting them, and diffuse the situation by walking/driving away. I have one friend who called the police on a partner who was attempting to batter him. But he did not strike or attack her. Furthermore, Chris Brown was out and about days later, not a scratch or a bruise on him.) So this event took place; Chris Brown issued a public statement, saying that he was working with a Pastor (brilliant PR strategy – but do we know whether the Pastor had any expertise in DV counseling?) for rehabilitation. And then Chris just kinda…fell off. I’ll explain what I think he could have done better in a second…but first, a few words about his performance at the BET Music Awards:

  • “Chris Brown is The Truth!! I am in Tears!!”
  • “We Feel You, Chris! We Love You!”
  • “ :Tears:”
  •  “THIS is the BEST PERFORMANCE EVERRRRRRRRR!”
  • “Aw, Chris! I am STILL mad that they didn’t let him perform at MJ’s   Tribute LAST year!”
  •  “It is time for us to FORGIVE Chris…let’s stop dredging up Demons from his past…”

These are just a few of the Statuses that appeared on my Facebook Newsfeed about 5 seconds after Chris Brown stopped singing and started sobbing on stage at the BET Music Awards to the soundtrack of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.”

For starters, the reason why Chris Brown did not perform at MJ’s Tribute LAST year, was that he had just publicly battered a woman. Anyone?!? In fact, CHRIS BROWN is the one who pulled out Demons from his OWN past, when he decided to turn what STARTED OUT as a spectacular Tribute to Michael Jackson, into a self-centered Spectacle. This was neither the time nor the place for him to emotionally manipulate his former fan base into accepting him back into the fold. Chris could have ended this Tribute after he had finished dancing; he had, by that point, proven that he still possessed talent enough to be accepted as a Performer. Or, he could have made it through the rest of the performance, professionally and without incident. Instead, he chose to engage in a brilliantly staged (and we have now read an admission from rapper Lloyd that he instructed Chris Brown to cry) Emotional Breakdown. In the middle of what was SUPPOSED to be a tribute to Michael Jackson, who had been dead for only one short year. As soon as “Man in the Mirror” began…I knew what we were in for. I immediately turned to Facebook to vent my frustrations at this small-time Media Spectacle. I was met with everything from denial to rage. I believe that at least two people lied to me, stating that they had “insider knowledge” of the event (“I know CB’s manager’s baby’s mama’s SISTER…and SHE said it wasn’t staged!!”), in an effort to defend a person whom they have never met and could not possibly know. I found the entire experience extremely disturbing. And it reminded me of a statement that bell hooks makes in a documentary called Cultural Criticism & Transformation, Part I. She says [paraphrased & remixed with my own words, as I only have it on VHS but I don’t own a VCR. Most college campuses generally do.] that “people want to reserve for the realm of media, a sense of “magic,”…we don’t want to believe that there are people/entities who make conscious decisions about  how they will (re)tell a story or present information, in order to elicit a particular emotional response (sadness, fear, joy, rage, compassion) from the audience.” Indeed, this emotional moment that Chris Brown engaged in with his audience was magical for many. Chris Brown, in that moment, became their brother/son/lover/baby cousin; they knew Chris…he was like family. 

And then, after receiving his BET award, he slipped in: “I’m sorry to have let y’all down.” And the audience reacted like they had just finished slapping a 5-year-old boy, who then said, “I’m sowwy, Mommy!” For the record: I am over the Chris Brown/Rihanna debacle, as abuse against women is happening every second of every day, and we simply do not have time as a culture to perseverate upon or demonize one person who was involved in an incident. But the truth is, there were real material consequences associated with this incident; everyone seems to forget that girls all across this nation collectively blamed Rihanna, exonerated CB, and then claimed that Rihanna “must have done something to deserve a beat down.” Girls as young as 11/12 years old have reported that they fully expect to be beaten by their boyfriends, once they start dating. When people see folks like CB – whose image up to that point had been squeaky clean – involved in an act of domestic violence, it works to further normalize and naturalize violence as an acceptable response to problems in an intimate relationship. This is especially problematic in Black communities. We don’t need CB’s Tearful Theater or Childlike Apology; we need to see him visiting schools and telling young people that he made a mistake, he regrets it, and he wants to help THEM (and himself) create and maintain positive and proactive strategies to curb violence in relationships. THAT is what he can do. And Rihanna can do that as well. He needs to save the Drama…for Broadway.

In fact, what the hell has Chris Brown been DOING for the past year?!? His People failed him; he could have really taken on this Gender Violence issue, and worked to create positive change in his own life and in our culture. Someone (and he is in good stead with many Heavy Hitters in the Game) should have given him some guidance as to how he might successfully address his own issues with battering, whilst spreading the message that battering is abnormal, unnatural, and unacceptable. He had an entire year to do that. And instead he cried. And he did not even ATTEMPT to do justice to MJ’s song, career, or life. Shame on Chris Brown. Shame on his People. And Shame on BET…just because.

Working Towards A Media Literate Future…

We do not have to be duped by Media Moments & Spectacles, People. I enjoy all forms of media, and I am constantly aware (and still probably, often unaware) of the multiple ways that I am being emotionally manipulated. I cry when I’m supposed to cry; I laugh when I’m supposed to laugh. I can enjoy a media experience tremendously, and afterward I can deconstruct much of the ideological bullsh*t that has been fed to me. It’s Fun. Moreover, when folks are Media Literate, they are less likely to internalize the ideologies and messages that are transmitted/received via media. And the Material Consequence of this…is Mind Decolonization & Liberation. Let’s Get It.

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Mandingo Redux: Notes on the Quest of Black Men to Save ZTA

Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past few weeks (or, unless you have a life where these issues just don’t concern you…which I can dig as well), then you have heard the buzz about the Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority claiming (now a shared) first place and $100,000 in the 2010 Sprite Step-Off competition. Those who are familiar with the routine presented by the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority will have recognized their theme in homage to the film “The Matrix”; those familiar with and aware of the recent “Post-Race America” mythology that is currently at work in U.S. culture should be questioning whether or not some folks actually ENTERED The Matrix after watching this performance and evaluating its aftermath.

 “This situation can be compared to the time Blacks broke into the sport of basketball…whites felt that they were ‘appropriating’ the sport…”

“This is similar to the riots that took place after [First African American World Heavyweight Boxing Champion] Jack Johnson beat James J. Jeffries in 1910, defeating ‘The Great White Hope’…”

“I stand with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in condemning the hate and discrimination that Black folks are perpetuating towards the Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority…”

True Story…these are three of the statements I have read – all written by Black men – regarding the reaction to the 2010 Sprite Step-Off results. You have read these statements correctly, folks – these men are comparing this situation to historical instances of deep-seated, INSTITUTIONALIZED, SYSTEMIC, racism. Here’s what’s up: These men are out of their f***ing MINDS!! I can provide anyone who is interested with a list of citations/references to read for yourself on this issue, but here is the long story shortened: those on the MARGINS cannot “appropriate” from those in the CENTER. The term “appropriation” – as it relates to relations between groups that have been historically/systematically oppressed and those who have not – has the aspect of systemic and institutionalized POWER imbedded within its very meaning. It is a very, very dangerous pursuit when one attempts to place the discriminatory RE-actions of any oppressed group on par with the DIRECT oppressive action of a dominant group. Dangerous…and ignorant as all hell.

Regarding the Sprite-Step off debacle, concerns and issues are plentiful, and many have been presented for consideration: At both the 2009 NPHC National Conference and the 2009 Delta Sigma Theta Eastern Regional Conference, representatives from the Sprite Corporation stated during their pitch presentations that this event would feature ONLY member groups of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (a.k.a. historical Black Greek-letter organizations). They used the image and status of NPHC groups to promote the event, and held it during Black History Month. $100,000 was at stake. In my perusal of commentary about and around this issue, folks have raised valid and cogent points around corporate exploitation, cultural appropriation, U.S. history, Greek Life history, Black history, the origins of stepping, the sanctity of traditions, and the subjective nature of stepping competitions – among many others. And yet, all of these points have been tossed aside, misinterpreted, misconstrued, or misused in the public discourse around this issue. Instead, the negative re-action of the Black community to ZTAs win has been narrowly conceived, oversimplified, and poorly analyzed.

To cut right to the chase: Folks who have been publicly commenting on this event – and most of these “folks” are Black men – have turned this into a “balls out” critique of the Black community. Specifically, several have compared the (uncritically analyzed) re-action of the Black community in this instance to the direct action of racial discrimination which has been historically and systematically placed upon Blacks in this country. Apparently the election of a Black POTUS has made people lose all sense of history. And their damned minds. Or perhaps folks are just too lazy to pick up a book. I don’t know. But what I DO know is that the assertions made as of late – many bordering on the contention that Blacks are promoting a kind of “reverse racism” in this event – fly square in the face of 50+ years of sociological, feminist, post-colonial, and critical race theories.

But who needs grounded theory and research, anyway?!? In our current Anti-Intellectual America, well-researched and well-founded critical perspectives have been replaced by completely ahistorical and opinion-based meanderings. I blame Bill Cosby for this. (Yeah…The COS! That Ed.D. that you rock at the end of your name…it was HONORARY, Bill!) Cosby – who has not known what it was like to be an “average Black man in America” for the past 50 years – has, as of late, consistently defecated on the Black community without even attempting to address the multiple and varied social structures at work in U.S. culture. It is my contention that Cosby was so popular in the 1960’s/’70s that even Klan members listened to and laughed along with his comedy albums in secret. There is no doubt that the man had a gift, and certainly an ability to cross racial lines. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make him an expert on race relations in the U.S. – especially since he was tokenized as an “exception to the general Black rule” decades ago. And he needs to do some real research, or put a Pudding Pop in it. (Mmm…banana Pudding Pops…have not had one of those in YEARS!]

So this is where we have arrived: the Sprite Step-Off debacle has now been transformed into a conversation about how messed up Black people are. What a surprise!

“See…that’s what gets me. You have to be able to understand your African American history, your African American Fraternal history, and understand that your organizations came out of a rejection – rejection of African American students on college campuses, the rejection of African American Fraternal organizations in the midst of white organizations – and when you understand that, you cannot turn around at the exact same time and reject others just on the basis of their own race.” ~ Lawrence Ross, NPR Interview – February 26, 2010

This statement, made in the aftermath of the Sprite-Step Off, is an excellent illustration of the angle that some folks have been working lately. What is most fascinating to me though [and do check out the interview for yourself at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124124967] is that seconds later, when the interviewer addressed the issue of money – namely, that there was $100,000 at stake – and asked if Ross felt that this had influenced “what happened here,” Ross never answered the question. Instead, he took that opportunity to (1) provide a short history of how Step Shows/Greek Shows were once produced, and then (2) critique Black Greek-letter organizations for being overly obsessed with Stepping. While he was on NPR continuing to shape/promote his career…by talking about Stepping. In-ter-es-ting. When given the opportunity to address another (extremely important) aspect of the response to ZTAs win – one that would have brought depth and complexity to his analysis – he chose to evade the question. He also ended the interview by stating that a Step Show result is not “the end of the world” – “the world will keep spinning.” And indeed he has continued to spin this story to every mainstream media outlet available, very problematically comparing it to the historical and systematic exclusion and rejection of Blacks by whites in this country. And he’s not the only Black man to do this…these brothers are running through traffic, jumping over turnstiles like O.J. Simpson in a Hertz Rental Car Commercial, swooping in to save Zeta Tau Alpha!!

[Yeah…I went there. And I’m going to keep it goin’…]

Like the awestricken Mandingo character in the “Black Acting School” scene from the iconic film Hollywood Shuffle, Black male “experts” have run to the rescue of the Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority in the aftermath of their “earth-shattering” (Gasp!) win in the 2010 Sprite Step-Off competition! I mean really…it is like watching some bizarre In Living Color-esque skit, folks! Here is what the women of ZTA had to say about the reaction to their win last month:

“We haven’t been focused on any controversy,” McDowell said. “Our girls just came to step and win a scholarship. Whatever happened, there were two winners. I think everyone walked away happy.”

Where, pray tell, are the accusations of reverse racism?!? Where are the deep-seated feelings of rejection and discrimination, which – according to many Black men whom I have read blogging and Facebooking about this issue – these women have been subjected to at the hands of members of Black Greek-letter organizations (or Black folks generally)?!? Do these men believe that if Zeta Tau Alpha had a problem with their treatment…they would not feel empowered to come forward and speak out on their own behalf? *Sniff*…*Sniff*…that smells like SEXISM to me. Because it ain’t chivalry, folks (that’s been dead for some time.) ***Paging Betty Friedan: SOMEbody is trying to place white women back in the elusive and restrictive Guilded Cage!***

[Sidenote: This reminds me of the time I saw Paul Mooney perform Stand Up at the University of Southern California sometime in the ‘90s. He was heckling a young white woman who was sitting in the front row. She was handling it, laughing her ass off. She had come to see Paul Mooney, and she knew what she was in for. His heckling continued, when all of a sudden…out of nowhere…a voice rose above his rant: “Leave her alone!” Paul Mooney shaded his eyes to look out into the audience: “Was that a BLACK person who just said that?!?” The crowd was tense, waiting for Mooney’s Read. “Let me tell you something: This white woman does not NEED Black people to protect her from me! She has the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, LAPD, FBI, SWAT Team, CIA, ATF, DEA…she does not need YOUR Black ass to save her today.” The woman in the front row: ROTFL. In fact, she could fend for HERSELF! But a Black person in the audience was made so uncomfortable by what Mooney was doing, that this person felt compelled to speak up on her behalf. This happens all the time in Women’s & Gender Studies courses…some women will come IN to the class believing that male-bashing WILL take place, and they are ready to protect all men. Or at least the ones who are in our classroom. It is really disheartening for me to see so many women diving to cover the genitals of male students when I first walk into a class…mostly because I haven’t even gotten the chance by that point to show them my Castration Machine.]

In fact, the leadership of Zeta Tau Alpha is more than capable of weighing in on this issue. And if they found it to be of any import, they would. The fact that some Black men have chosen to use this group of women in order to call out the Black Greek community as perpetuating discrimination that is allegedly on par with historic/systemic racism is completely egregious. Go to Zeta Tau Alpha’s national website – find a statement, an edict, an interview…ANYTHING that would suggest that they are concerned, hurt, or offended by what took place at the Sprite Step-Off. We need to get rid of our own stereotypes about meek and docile white women. National Panhellenic Conference sororities are extremely large, powerful, wealthy, and well-run organizations. I was able to see the inner workings of this system quite intimately when I was a House Mom for an NPC sorority at Syracuse University. These are strong, organized women who do not back down when slighted. At a school where I recently worked, a member of an NPHC fraternity sent an email out wherein he made disparaging statements about an NPC sorority and about historically white Greek-letter organizations generally; the sorority in question did what they needed to do in terms of mobilization and retaliation. This young man did not receive a coveted position for which he THOUGHT he would be a “sure thing.” Because he effed around with a sorority.

So what is REALLY going on here, folks?!? Why have some Black men chosen to use this event as an opportunity to place the entire Black community on BLAST?!? Or maybe folks are willing to do anything these days to further their own professional/economic aspirations…and they are more than ready to defecate on the Black community in order to make this happen. Because really…I have not seen/read one positive thing about the Black community and/or Black Greek-letter organizations coming from any of these uppity Black men as of late. And I know for a fact that we are doing things that are worthy of positive media. But since NPR and CNN are not invested in perpetuating positive images of Black people…these men are only succeeding in selling out our community. And I am calling it out as Uncle Tom Foolery.

In closing my very first Blog entry, I must take a moment to shout-out the incomparable Paula Giddings – African American Historian, Innovator of Black Feminist Thought, and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. – who originated the public conversation about Black Greek-letter organizations when she published her book In Search of Sisterhood: Delta Sigma Theta and the Challenge of the Black Sorority Movement in 1988. I’m not sure why women seem to have fallen out of the public discourse on Black Greek Life, or Greek Life generally speaking; but it is clear that we are in desperate need of a more inclusive and thorough analysis of this community. At the moment,   perspectives engaging gender, class, sexual orientation – and in some cases, any critical analysis of race – are scarce or missing on this topic. This assertion is supported by the fact that in a conversation about two women’s organizations competing for a top prize in Greek Life, MEN have Kanye’d the mic and held court…and framed this discussion in their own masculinist, “fraternal” terms.

While Facebooking about this subject, no matter how cogent my arguments, Black men have worked to “put me in my place” – when I cited the “Compton Cookout” debacle during one thread about racism and Greek Life, one man admonished me as promoting an “emotional” response/perspective. After I engaged another man – a Scholar – about the problematic perspectives presented by a commentator on this issue…he accused me of “having a crush” on the man.

|Blank Stare.|

Well, allow me to formally introduce myself: My name is Leslie Grinner. I am a Black feminist thinker/researcher/writer, a Popular Culture Fiend, an advocate of Ending Oppression, and a Woman with a very, very big mouth. I am doctoral candidate at Syracuse University in the Cultural Foundations of Education department, and I will  be completing my doctoral dissertation this year. I became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated in the Spring of 1990; I have over 15 years of Greek Life Advisement experience, and the councils/member groups I have advised include the NPHC (historically African American organizations), NPC (historically European American & Jewish American sororities), NIC (historically European American & Jewish American fraternities), NALFO (historically Latino/a organizations), AGC (historically Asian organizations), and MGC (multicultural organizations, including South Asian Interest organizations.) I am a proponent of Greek Life amongst all cultures/interests/experiences. And I have now entered into the Public Discourse on Black Greek Life.

God Help Us All.

 ~ Grinner

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