Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Truth About Hip-Hop and Black Males

I had the recent pleasure of viewing an excellent documentary called Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes by documentarian (and Omega man) Byron Hurt. Hurt, an avid hip-hop fan, took a real, hard look at the rap industry and how it affects and reflects Black masculinity. This is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen (and I'm a buff) - it was thorough, insightful, and honest. The 2006 documentary was originally aired on PBS on the indie film show, Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard.

Surprisingly enough, the entire documentary is on Google Video! However, be a good sport and support this brother by purchasing a copy (for about $20) at

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What Taco Bell and Black America Have In Common

As I was wrestling with my children and my piling mountain of writing work yesterday, I caught a glimpse of a new Taco Bell commercial that resonated with me. The theme of this advertisement was actually a play on words, where viewers were encouraged to 'change their view of change'. Taco Bell is simply communicating that you should gather your spare change to buy their inexpensive tacos, but it meant something different to me. It was the first day of Black History Month, and some stranger on the television told me to change my view of change.

And THAT made me think of you.

There are lots of Americans who are voting and taking political action all on the premise of "change". People are talking about how ready they are for a "change" in government. Obama got elected on this principle. Black America in particular wants to see "change" in this country.

But what the heck does THAT mean?

Has anyone ever stopped to consider that change is not automatically positive? Is it possible that changes, even when well intended, can cause unexpected problems? Then there are issues concerning the agents of change; who can realistically change what? Whose responsibility is it, really, to change what I want changed in my life and my community? Just because a pied piper comes to town talking about change, does it mean that they will or even can make the changes that they cause me to dream about?

Is it possible that the idea of "change" is a manipulation?

Understand that I am overgeneralizing to make a particular point. We are now experiencing Black History Month 2009, which will prove to be one of the most dynamic celebrations of Black American history ever in this country. People have been comparing Obama to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (ugh), and Black Americans really do have a reason to celebrate. However, when does "change" cease to be the buzz word for Black Americans looking to be satisfied and become the charge for Black Americans/ looking to actually progress themselves and not just celebrate the success of others? What sense does it make to spend an entire month celebrating a President who has not yet served any particular Black interests, and in fact is NOT a Black American (he is African-American at best) and the success of other high achievers.

What about YOUR Black history? Are you making any? Are YOU personally changing anything? Do you even have a balanced view of change in the Black community?

I submit to you that the answer is probably "no".

Case in point, Michael Steele was elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee in the same month that Obama was inaugurated. Not a peep out of Black America. No "Atta boy" for Michael Steele, although he is the first Black man to be elected to that office. Being the first Black chairman of the RNC is a HUGE deal! It's actually, according to the logic retained by most Black Americans, a harder feat to accomplish than even what Obama did! Think about it: the most liberal U.S. senator in history gets elected by a bunch of liberals, including Black Americans who unilaterally vote Democrat anyway. Okay. However, Michael Steele was elected chairman of a national political organization representing a party that YOU would probably consider to be racist! There are very few Black Republicans in this country, and yet a Black man was elected to be chairman over the entire RNC.

That's tough!

But there was no parade, Jessee Jackson didn't come and cry, nothing. Since Michael Steele isn't promising you free health care and a check, his achievements toward "change" don't matter to you. Many of you reading this don't even know who Michael Steele is. Yet, if given the opportunity, I'm sure you would take the opportunity to talk about how the Republican Party doesn't appeal to, accommodate, or serve Black Americans.

You can see that's a lie. The change has come; where are you? Where was your Black pride concerning THAT change?

As I digress, I submit to you that Black Americans have a very self-serving and warped idea of change, and it is based in victimhood. If change doesn't involve us getting served, we don't want it. Instead of cleaning up our own communities, we vote for crooked politicians who promise to do it for us. Instead of teaching our own children, we burden an already broken and insufficient school system with the entire responsibility of educating our children, and then get mad when they can't read dot on a spot. We point the finger at groups who don't kiss our collective Black behind, but when they do make progress and move toward the 'colorblindness' that we pretend to want, we are the ones who are actually blind to it. We think that everyone else is supposed to change. We want everyone else to be agents of change. We let snake oil salesmen and pied pipers get us upset about the establishment when they are just establishment-wannabes themselves. It's everyone else's responsibility to change.

When are WE going to change?

When are we going to get a 21st Century perspective on our own history? When are we going to go beyond just celebrating the successes and admit the failures? When do we critically analyze our history so that we can see what isn't working and form new social theories and action plans based in fact and not emotion?

When will we truly be the ones that we have been waiting for?

When are we going to change OUR view of change?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The REAL Significance of Obama's Presidency

Yesterday was one for the history books - Barack Obama was inaugurated as President of the United States. Depending on what history book you read, he is (supposedly) the first President of the United States of African descent. There are those who say differently, but at as far as most people are concerned, Barack Obama is the first African-American president. My parents (in their 70s) were very pleased, as were many other Black Americans and African-Americans (there's a difference, technically). Although you know how I feel about Obama, I recognize that having an African-American president is a great step in the right direction for a country whose past has been rooted in racial inequality and injustice.


But once you come down off of the Civil Rights Movement high, you might actually start to think about what Obama's presidency REALLY means. His office and his job have NOTHING to do with race. His being elected DOES NOT improve race relations in this country or abroad.

In fact, his presidency has already proven that Americans are still STUCK ON STUPID when it comes to cultural and racial sensitivity and tolerance, whether they be Black, White, Brown, or otherwise.

Case in point:

As the inauguration approached, more White and Latino Americans began asking my husband and I if we were excited, if we were "going to party" with "our president", and other paternalistic, foot-in-mouth questions. Am I planning to 'party' with 'my president' on Tuesday? I'm supposed to be excited about this just because I'm Black, with no regard to my values or even my political affiliation? No matter what I stand for, Obama's being Black is supposed to be enough to make me want to party? That's how you see it? Of COURSE that's how they see it, because that's all we project! Then we allow the drive-by media to make it all about race while pretending it's not all about race! Aaaaagh!

[NOTE: Did you notice that the only people who weren't harping on Obama's racial heritage were the Republicans who many accuse of being racist? They didn't even care! But I digress...]

White Americans rarely have any idea of what to say in situations that involve the development of another race. One major reason is their paternalistic view of minorities, but another factor is how we tend to wear our race on our sleeve, making everything about being Black. EVERYTHING. How do you win when you're not Black, and you want to encourage someone who is Black concerning the historical relevance of having an African-American president? When Black people vote so unilaterally, how do they know when they're talking to Black people who are conservative Republicans? Many of you may have gotten these stupid comments and questions, too, but you didn't realize what they were because all you could see was your dark skin in the White House. I get it. Now, however, it's time to sober up and look at how things really are. We've got to stop crying or doing the funky chicken or whatever and start critically analyzing what's going on if we care anything at all about the impact that Obama's presidency will have on Black America as a whole.

Since Black Americans made this election all about having our first African-American president, please believe that's what his tenure is going to be about. The media played on White guilt while Obama campaigned, being sure to put every proud Black face and African relative the man had on national television. We showed our preoccupation with race, and they showed it to the world (If you don't think this was intentionally done and that it didn't affect any White voters, you are fooling yourself). So, understand that Obama's skin is always going to be in the forefront during his tenure as president, whether you like it or not, and whether people are willing to admit it or not.

So, what does that mean?

* If he makes any huge mistakes (and he will), non-Black Americans will deflect those failures upon Black leadership in general.

* If Black Americans as a whole do not improve their condition during his tenure, Obama will appear to be an exceptional African-American compared to the rest of us ignorant thugs.

* If Hollywood gets too progress-happy, we may see a huge increase in Black characters who are professionals and government officials in television and movies - that's just superficial and annoying to ANYONE who watches it long enough.

* All of the cries of disenfranchisement will be thwarted and considered baseless because if America can elect an African-American president, the playing field must be leveled, right? This isn't good if you are a proponent for Affirmative Action or other special rights for minorities.

* Black History Month will probably bring out the nationalistic tendencies in most of us, causing us to overdo it and put our Blackness in everyone else's face, turning off White Americans who thought that electing an African-American president was about togetherness and the progress of the country as a whole when it was really about us 'having our day in the sun'. This will serve to separate us even more.

* If Obama screws up royally, White Americans won't be voting for another African-American president for a long time, considering that so much emphasis was placed on his being African-American.

Don't get me wrong, people; I understand the historical significance of an African-American president, and it is something that should be celebrated. However, I believe that we were exploited by the Democratic Party and the left-wing media in order to further their own causes, NOT ours! At the end of the day, we play the race card and we make race an issue WAY TOO MUCH, even when we have the right to do so. It's like the football team who discourages end zone dancing - when you have a victory, act like you expected to. When you make your way to success, have some class; act like you've been there before. We can still celebrate progress while having a certain amount of necessary reservation. We want people to treat us as if they are colorblind when we're not. So, when it works in our favor, we're happy. However, when the racially charged beast we helped create comes back to bite us in the butt, who will we blame then?

It's time to sober up and tighten our game up. February should be spent critically analyzing our history and coming up with a plan to live up to the bar that we have helped Obama raise. Time to step up your game or face certain shame.

Come on, people...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Interesting New Year

Hey gang,

Happy New Year...about ten days late :-P

I'm sorry I haven't posted in such a long time - there has just been a LOT going on, with the release of my ebook and other personal obligations, I have not been able to follow my predetermined posting shedule.

Ah, schedule schmedule, right?

So, you may be enjoying some drive-by wisdom in between more thorough posts to keep this train moving.

I'll see you soon,

I.C. Jackson

Friday, December 19, 2008

Waiting For Black America To Grow Up...Seriously

Many of you remember Robin Harris' comedy routine about "Bebe's Kids" that turned into an animated feature some years ago. It was pretty funny. However, as an adult with my own little stinkers (they're the best), I see Bebe and her children in a different light. I also see Black America in a different light - and it reminds me of Bebe's Kids.


Black America, whether people want to admit it or not, is developmentally behind other races/groups in this country. The fact of the matter is that we are not actually "African-Americans", but a new breed entirely. Immigrants from Africa are African-Americans. I would even say that Black people who have a real African heritage could be considered African-Americans. However, most of us who use the label aren't really African-Americans at all.

We're Black Americans.

If you actually look up the word "heritage", you will see that it's not something you take or adopt, like many of us adopt African culture. Heritage HAS TO BE passed down. The problem is that for most of us, our heritage was effectively stolen and erased during slavery. Our people retained some traditions and beliefs, but not enough to call it an actual heritage. They had to start over from scratch, creating an identity and a legacy here in America that began in American slavery. That culture and legacy is unique, and not from Africa. It's Black culture, and Black heritage.

That's who we (for the most part) really are.

In that vein, we are a fledgling people. We have come a very long way, overcoming and achieving impossible feats in the face of fierce adversities. However, we have a long way to go, not having yet developed sufficiently in a number of areas.

That's why Black America needs to grow up.

I see Black America like a prepubescent teen, who thinks she knows more than she does, viewing the world with underdeveloped eyes, spending money as soon as she gets it, going through changes that are sometimes confusing -

and a bit hot in the pants.

Like a 13 year old girl who is a little too fast, Black America is like a talented, witty, but often naive brat.

Or, you can liken Black America to a young boy, thinking he's a man because he has a little hair here and there, needing a father figure but not having one, learning how to stand up on his own through trial and error but not willing to admit it, learning hard lessons the hard way, tempted to use his brawn to get ahead instead of his brains -

and a bit hot in the pants.

So, if you can see this how I see it, it looks like Bebe's Kids are in junior high or something. If Black America could see and admit that, we could develop and grow. However, remaining in denial about who and where we are as a people is only stagnating our growth. Instead of just celebrating and snotting and crying all month long, in February, let's take a critical analysis of our history, too. We have accomplished a lot, but we have also made some mistakes. Acting like our poop doesn't stink does not clear the air and make it smell like roses. It's still crap.

And Black America, at times, is full of it.

So when, and how do we grow up?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is Black America Raising Generations of Bi@#%$ and Hoes?

The short, obvious answer is "yes". Anytime Nelly can swipe a credit card through a woman's behind without so much as a flinch from 'Black leaders', and 48% of Black teenage girls have an STD, the answer is painfully obvious. (I had to alter the single's cover just to post it here on this blog) However, while most of us would agree that Black America is raising a generation of sexually promiscuous and irresponsible young women, the question was really about generations.

We have been spreading this sickness in the Black Community for a long, long time.

This post comes as I remember a local television show that came on after school when I was growing up called, "The New Dance Show". The show actually started out in the late 80's as "The Scene", then changed it's name to "The Dance Show", and eventually became "The New Dance Show". A local version of "Soul Train", The New Dance Show was the brainchild of R.J. Watkins, the owner of Detroit's only Black-owned television station. Kids is middle school like myself and older would come home to learn some of the latest dance moves and gain a sneak peek into what the young adults we were always emulating were doing.

Sounds decent, right?

Far from it. Anyone from Detroit reading this is already either laughing or shaking their head, because they know what's coming next. The New Dance Show was one of the most trifling, foul displays of lasciviousness that I have ever seen in my life. It somewhat pales in comparison to what young people are exposed to today on BET, but it's amazing to see what some of today's Black educators, professionals, and community leaders were exposed to when they were kids.

Now understand that I am quite far removed from the entertainment mainstream these days. So, someone who is still in the mix might not watch that clip with the same horror that I do as an adult, about 15 years after the fact. So, if you still don't get my point, the next video is a clip of actual commercials that ran during this show, during after-school hours, on broadcast television (not cable) WHEN CHILDREN WERE WATCHING:


Do you see where I'm coming from now? I saw this every weekday after school when I was eleven years old, and I wasn't the only one. By the time we were in high school, The New Dance Show was producing high school editions; but to the dismay of many, my high school did not appear on the show. Students at the college prep high school that I attended were actually angry that our principal had enough sense not to allow us to act like sex-crazed animals and tarnish the good names of our school and our respective families on television for the world to see.

We thought this stuff was normal...which brings me to my point.

Black entertainment has been hypersexual and demeaning to women for over 20 years now. It's not enough for us to shake our heads in disbelief when we learn that homosexual relationships are now popular in middle and junior high school, or when we see Shaquanda on The Maury Show testing potential father number 2,005 at only 15 years old.

(Okay, that last one was an exaggeration, but you get my point.)

Those of us who are religious often hear talk about generational curses being passed down. Is this not one of them, and possibly the most crippling of them all?

Young people are often accused of "trying to be grown", but what they are really trying to do is emulate young adults. No adolescent wants to jump to 35 or 40; they want to be 18, 21, or 25. Those are the ones who teach the children what adulthood is all about through their actions. While one might argue that The New Dance Show was perfectly acceptable adult entertainment, the problem is that the show aired while it was still light outside; that kind of programming should come on late, late, LATE at night. Now, raunchy music videos are a part of urban Black lifestyles; we expect our young people to watch much worse than what I was exposed to.


When you listen to sexually explicit lyrics while driving with your pre-schooler in the car, aren't you teaching them that it's okay? When you allow BET and MTV in your home WHATSOEVER, aren't you telling your children it's okay to watch such filth when it airs?

In my parent's defense, they didn't know we were watching The New Dance Show. They surely had no idea what Watts Club Mozambique was. I want to unlearn the passiveness toward hypersexuality among young Black Americans by allowing myself to be disgusted by it and keeping such cultural influences out of my home.

People like to get mad at Bill Cosby for calling Black people out on their mess, but he only scratched the surface of the degeneration of the Black community. Furthermore, besides being offended at anything that doesn't celebrate and justify Black culture, do we not think that this hypersexual culture that we continue to perpetuate through our financial support of entertainment media is DIRECTLY related to the educational and economic problems we face? The young Black masses are more concerned with getting high, drunk, and laid than they are with getting a real LIFE and establishing themselves for the future. Don't we contribute to this cultural cesspool every time we listen to the songs on FM radio or patronize establishments that play those songs and videos?

Are we ready for another 20 to 30 years of this? How degenerate does our community have to become before we do something?

When does the madness stop?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Question For the Obamanation: What Will Obama Actually Do For Black America?

Hubby and I were sitting here watching Secret Millionaire (great show, BTW), and we began to talk about current events and the Blagojevich scandal. That's when the involvement of Jesse Jackson, Jr. came up...OH brother (pardon the pun). This moved the conversation to the issue of Obama and his relations with Black America...

And how he doesn't really have any.

Now before you call be a big fat liar, understand that I'm not talking about photo ops and shaking hands and garnering free labor from enthusiastic volunteers. What I'm really asking is what Obama's presidency will do for Black America directly? Besides hope and change, change and hope, what is he really going to do for YOU, as a Black American? I'm not asking what he will possibly do for people within your particular socioeconomic bracket, or what he will do for public schools or something like that. I'm asking, what has Obama done specifically for Black Americans in the past, and what will he specifically do for Black people in the future?

I submit to you that the real answer is nothing. There weren't any Black people on his campaign payroll, yet millions volunteered their time and effort free. I suspect that his tenure as President will look a lot like that; Black people fighting for someone who isn't really doing much for them, though he used the race card to get their support.

If you've got facts to back you up, please, prove me wrong. If you're full of hot air, you might want to save it.

Any takers?