Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Beautiful Struggle

Tavis Smiley's PBS talk show is one of the better talk shows on television. Yesterday he interviewed Paul Coates and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Paul Coates is the father who is a Vietnam Vet, and started his own publishing company from his basement. He also worked at Howard University where he was able to send 5 of his 7 kids to school for free because he worked at the school. Ta-Nehisi is the son, and author of the book, "The Beautiful Struggle" he talked openly on the show about navigating through the streets of Baltimore during the initial stages of Crack and the fact that he made it through with the guidance of a forceful father who stressed education. This is not a book review, but I plan to purchase the book, and offer a review later. The link at the top is to Ta-Nehisi's blog on Amazon.

Aftermath of The BET Awards

The BET Awards were rebroadcast last night after originally airing this past Tuesday evening. The telecast displayed the positive and negative images that currently dominate the entertainment landscape in the black community. The positive images from he show:
  • Alicia Keys - She continues to perform as a future legend and is mature beyond her years.
  • Ne-Yo - The Babyface of his generation. Consummate hitmaker and performer.
  • Rihanna - Great performance and poise for one so young.
  • The Al Green Tribute: You can't go wrong with Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton and Maxwell performing your hits. Good to see Maxwell back performing.

The lowlights of the show all follow former NBA player turned NBA commentator Mark Jackson's favorite phrase, "You're Better Than That":

  • Usher
  • Keyshia Cole
  • Chris Brown
  • All the Hip Hop Performers

I'm still amazed when I see performers who have had major levels of success give subpar performances. Usher, Keyshia Cole and Chris Brown fall into this category. I'm equally dismayed when I see hip hop performers who have had similar levels of success in their genre, give performances that go to the core of the worst stereotypes relating to our black culture. It's really unnecessary.

Kanye West called himself the King on Tuesday evening. Kanye, if you're the King of Hip Hop please take your rightful place on the throne and guide your knights. Kanye West is too smart and talented to be satisfied with the images being displayed in hip hop. In the words of Mark Jackson, "You're Better Than That", and as role models for today's youth all of hip hop has a responsibility more than ever to display positive images that uplift our children and society.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Real Housewives of Atlanta

Bravo has confirmed that they will be bringing "Real Housewives of Atlanta" to the cable network later this year. Below is a synopsis of the housewives that will be profiled:

-DeShawn Snow: Snow and her husband Eric, captain of the Cleveland Cavaliers, recently moved to their dream home in Alpharetta, GA. Mother to three boys - nine-year-old EJ, six-year-old Darius and five-year-old Jarren, Snow is an active member of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. She exercises her faith by running The DeShawn Snow Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on improving self-esteem in teenage girls. She is a regular on the Atlanta social circuit and extremely active in local philanthropy, sitting on the board of three different charities, all while expertly juggling her busy social calendar with being an NBA wife and keeping up with her boys.

-Kim Zolciak: Zolciak lives in an exclusive gated townhouse community in Duluth, GA with her two children, 11-year-old Brielle and six-year-old Ariana. Zolciak is single, but happily dating with hopes to marry again in the near future. She also has her sights set on fame in the music business as a country singer, and is currently working with Grammy award-winning mega-producer Dallas Austin and will begin recording an album later this year. A staple on the Atlanta scene, Zolciak balances life as a single mom with a vivacious social life. (Under that name, I have found zero info about her.)

-Lisa Wu Hartwell: Hartwell, a resident of a luxurious country club community in Duluth, GA, is a busy career woman who wears many hats - she owns her own real estate firm, Hartwell & Associates, a jewelry line called Wu Girls, a baby clothing line, Hart 2 Hart Baby, and juggles a budding acting, modeling and writing career. She’s a devoted wife to her husband, NFL player Ed Hartwell, and their three children 13-year-old Jordan, ten-year-old Justin and one-year-old EJ. When she’s not running one of her many businesses or running after the kids, Hartwell is very active in Atlanta’s social scene.

-NeNe Leakes: Leakes is an active member of Atlanta society. She resides in the upscale Sugarloaf area of Atlanta with her husband Gregg, a successful real estate investor and business consultant, and their two sons, 18-year-old Brice and nine-year-old Brentt. Leakes donates her time to various foundations and is the founder of The Twisted Hearts Foundation, which brings awareness to domestic violence against women. Never one to sit still, the outspoken social butterfly also hopes to open a luxury boutique hotel in the very near future.

-Sheree Whitfield: Single socialite Whitfield, a resident of the exclusive Sandy Springs area of Atlanta, juggles her busy home life with a packed social calendar. She is a busy working mother to three children -Tierra, Kairo and Kaleigh. Whitfield prides herself on her fashion sense, and owned her own upscale clothing boutique - Bella Azul - for years before closing up shop to focus on her next business venture, a clothing line called “She by Sheree.” Whitfield is opening a new chapter in her life as a single mom while balancing her entrepreneurial spirit and active social life.

The previous renditions of "Housewives" have been interesting and entertaining. I'm sure the Atlanta wives will put on a good show.

Buying Guns Is Big Business

Yesterday the Supreme Court shot down the Washington, DC handgun ban by a 5-4 vote, giving residents the right to keep weapons in their homes, stating that it violated the Second Amendment. Washington, DC, which has the strictest gun laws in the country had prohibited the ownership of handguns in an effort to curb violence.
Jill Porter, of the Philadelphia Daily News writes about the business of gun ownership: from the cost of funerals due to death, to the average medical cost of $20,000 for a serious gunshot wound. Unfortunately everything is about business when a major decision is made, but in Philly alone, 80% of the homicide victims this year were killed with guns. This is simply the business of illegal activity and killing not only in Philly, but many of our major cities and communities. DC officials will attempt to replace the ban with stricter handgun regulations, which may lead to further litigation. Let's hope that the effort is successful.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Patty Jackson's 411 Report

This week's edition of Patty's Report highlights the BET Awards afterparty. If you saw the awards show, there's nothing more to say, but read Patty's column for what's happening in entertainment.

City of Chicago Making Strides to Improve Teacher Quality

The city of Chicago has been making strides in it's attempt to recruit higher caliber teachers for the city's most disadvantaged schools. The results are modest at best, but showed that a better academically prepared teacher had a positive impact on student high school test scores. You have to applaud the city for attempting to close the academic gap between the disadvantaged schools and schools from better performing districts. There's probably not a way to measure the talent that's being lost in our schools simply because of environment and circumstances, which children can't control.

Shaq Offers To Assist With Mortgage Meltdown

Shaquille O'Neal has been receiving plenty of publicity this week for his rap tirade against Kobe Bryant, but very little has been mentioned regarding his attempts to assist Orland, FL residents who are facing foreclosure. He's received thousands of e-mails from residents who are soliciting "the Diesel's" assistance, which may be more than he bargained. O'Neal at present doesn't have a concrete plan, but at least he's trying to assist the less fortunate in times of need.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chicago Bank Teller Allegedly Steals $300,000 From Elderly Woman

Bank teller, Melindathee Hill, befriended 86 year old Jessie McDonald and allegedly stole $300,000 from her bank accounts over a four year period beginning as early as 2003. Mrs. McDonald and her now deceased husband, who never had children, had saved $400,000 during their 61 year marriage and placed all of the money in Chase Bank. Cautionary tale about the elderly and money management.

Sacramento Charity Struggling to Meet Needs of the Impoverished

Sacramento, CA based charity, Francis House, is struggling in continuing to meet the needs of the "working poor". Shrinking budgets, higher prices, and fewer donations are preventing the charity from keeping up with the increasing number of residents that require it's services. Article illustrates how the "working poor" category is gradually increasing as rising gas and fuel prices continue to hamper individual finances.

Congressional Black Caucus Calls Proposed Foreclosure Bill Unacceptable

A proposed $300 million foreclosure-rescue bill could be passed by the Senate today, but President Bush is threatening a veto. The Congressional Black Caucus is calling the proposed bill unacceptable to Black Americans. The bigger question is how is the bill going to be financed. A bill that offers relief to distressed homeowners should be applauded, and not relegated to posturing along racial lines.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

10 Concerns About Obama

I've stated previously why Barack Obama should be our next president. However, in the last few weeks he has lost his edge with recent comments and views on certain topics. William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn highlight their 10 Concerns about Obama. Most of the concerns are not new coming from Republican pundits, but Senator Obama needs to be clearer on what he stands for regarding the country's future and stay out of flip flop mode.

Columbia Teachers College Firing Professor Who Allegedly Discovered Hangman's Noose

According to the New York Post, Columbia Teachers College intends to fire Professor Madonna Constantine on grounds of plagiarism. She is presently suspended pending a hearing and is alleged to have committed at least 24 instances of plagiarism.

Imus Says He Meant Nothing by The Pacman Comment

Don Imus stated today on his radio show that he meant no harm to anyone concerning the Adam "Pacman" Jones comments yesterday. Imus stated correctly that he has a black producer and 2 black co-hosts on his show and that he would be insane to make another racially sensitive comment in light of last years University of Rutgers comments that caused him to lose his job at the time. Is it possible that the media is being a little too sensitive this time regarding Imus?

Business of Music Publishing

Martin Brandier is the Chief Executive of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which is half owner of Michael Jackson's publishing catalogue (the 4th largest music publisher). Great article on Brandier's dealings with MJ, and why music publishing is the real money making arm of the music business. A must read for music enthusiasts.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Actor Hill Harper in Detroit Promoting New Book

Actor Hill Harper, who was a Harvard Law School classmate of Barack Obama, is also a successful author. He's visiting metro Detroit today and tomorrow to promote his new book, "Letters to a Young Sisiter: DeFINE Your Destiny". Harper's goal is to empower and motivate young girls to believe in themselves and not succumb to the pitfalls that often derail our youth. This is a noble gesture by Hill Harper, and we need more celebrities to take an interest in the development of our youth.

Indiana's 38th Black Expo Begins July 10th

Indiana's 38th Black Expo begins on July 10th with a renewed emphasis on education. Business roundtables, free health services and concerts will still be available, but the Expo is adding a forum focusing on cultural competence in education. Understanding the cultures and backgrounds of our children is critical for educators, so they can hopefully determine the best way to reach our children. Parents also need to understand the classroom dynamic, as a means to support the educational system. The inner city systems especially are in need of a drastic overhaul, symposium's focusing on cultural differences of our children should be mandated by Superintendents throughout the country.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Common Is a "Wanted" Man

Rapper, Common, has successfully made the transition from Rapper to Actor and now he's adding Philanthropist to the Rapper/Actor title. He's started a new foundation called, Common Ground Foundation, which will encourage youth to read. Common co-stars with Angelia Jolie in the movie "Wanted" which premieres this Friday. It's good to see a hip hop artist mature to the point of giving back to our youth who so need healthy role models. Congrats on your good deeds, Common.

Obama and Clinton Ready to Haggle Over Campaign Funds

Hillary Clinton has 22.5 million in debt, Barack Obama's campaign has $43 million in the bank. It appears that Hillary and her supporters will be looking for Obama to assist her with relieving some of her debt. Politics is just like any other business. Are we to assume that the amount of support that Obama receives from Hillary will be tied to how much his campaign is willing to assist her with relieving her debt? The answer is probably yes, but Obama may have other issues, since he only raised $22 million in the month of May, which was substantially lower than the $28.3 million that he had been averaging in the previous 3 months.