International Deepness: Egyptian Protesters Demand Reform

January 28th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Amber,

Life is crazy and I’ve had so many ideas for posts but little/no time to put them down to paper. But I had to take a second to throw a little somethin’ up about the latest events in Egypt, inspired by the protests in Tunisia. The images are intense. I spent the morning watching Al Jazeera show live footage (shout-out to Rob! thanks for the link) and their reporters scurry as police entered their building. Tens of thousands of people have flooded the streets, defying a curfew as the army has been dispatched. The country has gone dark with the internet completely shut down.

I’ll be following closely to see what happens next. My nerdy International Affairs brain is fascinated by the difficult place the United States now finds itself in. Here’s a grassroots movement demanding democracy – we should be on board, right? The snag: the authoritarian government of Egypt has been an ally and stable. Plus, who knows what a democratic government in Egypt will actually look like? We potentially lose our strong ties and face a more hostile government. The diplomatic/foreign policy implications are huge.

So I’m fascinated. And I cheer for the perseverance of those protesting and hope that at the end of this, a government for and by the people is implemented. It will be a long hard road I’m sure. I pray that the violence will end.

This is history.

Check it out:

Al Jazeera has had really good footage. The New York Times, as usual, has some good articles starting with this one. Definitely browse for more. Mother Jones has a very brief rundown. And here’s a collection of the Obama Administration’s words on the situation. And just saw this: Protests happening in Jordan.

#Gchattin’ Glee: Chris Colfer Wins Golden Globe!

January 18th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink


Liz,

STOP the freaking presses!!!

The 2011 Golden Globes aired last night (I know, I know…who cares, right?).  Well, let me tell you! It was a great night for Glee! The show racked up, taking home three awards including:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for TelevisionJane Lynch for Sue Sylvester

Best Television SeriesComedy or Musical

AND……

 Chris Colfer won Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel.

Oh my! I’m so happy for him. Even though I’ve been super critical of Glee this season, I can’t deny that for kids out there struggling to find, express, love and be themselves, the show is a reminder that they are not in it alone; and, to never stop doing what you love. Chris Colfer made Kurt’s pain, loneliness, and fear real this season (in spite of the occasional sucky writing). He also had quite a few bad ass solos.

It is rare to see an openly gay young person on television, especially one who we see struggle with owning his identity and doing so, in a variety of settings (school, home, in friendships, and relationships). This character is important to television and Colfer, as a young openly gay actor (and awesome individual), is important to Hollywood.

Congrats to Chris Colfer and the Glee family!

P.S. You KNOW Lea Michele is in a corner somewhere pouting because she didn’t take home one of her own..but that’s another post for another day!

MLK Day

January 17th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

“There is nothing wrong with power if power is used correctly…And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites – polar opposites – so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love.

Now power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political, and economic change.

What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten. A society is always eager to cover misdeeds with a cloak of forgetfulness, but no society can fully repress an ugly past when the ravages persist into the present. America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness — justice.”

Teaching in America: Race, Language and Mark Twain

January 7th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Ok Amber,

I’m gonna wade into this debate…or maybe stick my toe in…or maybe just dive head first into the controversy surrounding the newest edition of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” In this version, the 200+ uses of “nigger” will be replaced with the word “slave.” “Injun” will also be removed.

This has sparked an uproar. Some folks declaring war against this censorship. Others saying it’s the only way the book will be taught in schools. I say….leave the word in.

Why?

Because literature should be taught with historical context in mind. Not apologizing for the text (“that’s just what they said, it’s not Mark Twain’s fault”) but discussing why the word is used, the meaning of it, what the text is saying and what the author and audience of the time would think about the text. How do you discuss race within Huckleberry Finn without also discussing the use of a word that today is publicly abhorred? How can Huckleberry be properly taught if we apparently don’t even know how to deal with this ugly word – a word commonly used at the time it was written?

But here’s my but…the key is that the book needs to be taught well. Teachers obviously don’t know how to talk about race and language in the classroom and that is the real problem. It came as no surprise to me that one writer (a professor at GWU, my alma mater ahem) expressed his support of changing the words, with no love for the book, because of his experience reading it in high school: “I suffered through Huckleberry Finn in high school, with the white kids going out of their way to say “Nigger Jim” and the teacher’s tortured explanation that Twain’s “nigger” didn’t really mean nigger, or meant it ironically, or historically, or symbolically. Whatever.”

Clearly, the teacher didn’t know how to teach. It’s a symptom of our desire to make American icons saints, to separate them from the ugliness of their times. Mark Twain wrote “nigger” over 200 times. Probably because that’s exactly what the characters would have said. Probably because Mark Twain himself used the word.

It is a valid, VALID, concern – how will the word impact students of color?

And again, I think that it comes back to how it is taught. And perhaps when it is taught (maybe wait until junior or senior year). This country has a serious problem (okay let’s be honest…white people have a serious problem) with its ability to talk about race and racism. Everyone would rather not talk about it. We would rather just know what words we’re not supposed to say. Why can’t we train teachers to properly address these issues? How can we possibly teach American literature without addressing American history? Even if we were to read books that are without any mention of race or use of racial epithets, isn’t its absence worth a discussion as well? Because race was certainly not absent from the lives of the writers or audiences.

And Melissa Harris-Perry makes an interesting point that this word is already in use and that students already hear it in pop culture. Why not provide them the opportunity to have a thoughtful, structured discussion of its history and use? Not to mention that Melissa points out the dehumanizing effect “slave” has. Are high school teachers going to discuss that?

This is an ugly hurtful word. I think it is essential to consider the maturity of high school students and the experience of students of color in the classroom when thinking about how to teach these subjects. Literature helps us understand history and when taught well, students are able to grapple with subjects and historical contexts that continue to impact our society (and themselves) today. If a teacher isn’t able to teach the text as it is, how well are they really able to teach it at all? Do they even know how to address race and language in literature and history? Will “slave” really make the context of Huckleberry Finn more palatable? Or will students (and teachers) still not understand how to talk about race, but simply know what word they’re not supposed to say?
Full Disclosure: I’ve never read the book (it’s on my list), so in that way I’m handicapped in this debate. But I write from a perspective about how art/literature in general should be taught in high schools, with the assumption that this book is the literary masterpiece that scholars (and my dad) say it is.

Things Distracting Me At Work Today….

January 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Liz,

I’m in a funk. And I know that all of us get into a funk every now and then, but, I think it’s just way too early in the new year for me to be so darn melancholy. 2011 is cool and all, but in the midst of my angst surrounding my current job and my uncertainty regarding my ”ultimate” career path (and the ever daunting future) I find myself viewing it more as a year of tackling some pretty overwhelming questions and trying to figure out ways to stop myself from retreating into a corner. Gaaaah.

Well, being in a funk is never fun. So, instead of stressing myself with all of the things that I’m so unsure about, I’ve been spending my time thinking about things I can control and plan for like….VACATION. If I ever felt the need to get away, it’s now. Lol.
So, number one on the list of the things distracting me at work today is my top vacation spots that I’d like to hit before 2012. Let’s see if we can make it happen.

Universal Studios – Orlando, FL
I am determined to make it here this year to get on that damn Harry Potter ride. I promise you that I will make it to Orlando, even if it’s only for a weekend. Who’s with me?
Las Vegas, Nevada
Just ’cause I feel like I have to make it to Vegas in my early twenties, you know, before people can judge me for acting like a reckless Vegas first-timer. And who knows? Maybe I’ll win big and splurge on seeing Celine Dion.
Somewhere with a BEACH
The beach really is my happy place. Like, actually. So when I say “the beach,” it really can be anywhere warm, where I can sit in the sand with a cocktail, look at the ocean, and forget for just a few days that I live in “the city that never sleeps.” And it’s about time I made my way to the Carribbean. Any suggestions?
London
I want to shop and eat lunch in Harrods, see Big Ben, and really just sit in a coffee shop or something somewhere and listen to people talk. Lol. And hopefully travel around Europe a bit. Oh, and…ur totally coming with me. ;)
Ok, my list could go on and on and on, but if I make it to at least two of these spots this year, I think I’ll be a happy camper. Dream big, right? I totally feel better already….OK, back to work.

“Yeezy Taught Me”: Some Thoughts on My Complicated Relationship with Hip Hop

January 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Liz,

We both know that I not so secretly LOVE Kanye West. I’ve been promoting his new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, like I’m singing on one of the tracks. Lol. I’m sure my friends are sick of hearing me talk about it and most of them probably purchased it just to shut me up (it didn’t work). I love the album. I have so much respect for Kanye. BUT, in spite of all of that, I have a confession to make…

Sometimes, I don’t understand how I’m supposed to feel about his lyrics, you know, being a woman and all. In other words, even though I may try, I can’t ignore the blatant misogyny spread through his verses, and it’s very annoying because I truly appreciate his artistry.

Up until this point I’ve avoided commenting extensively or writing a review on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy precisely for this reason. The first time I listened to the album the whole way through, I couldn’t help but cringe at how sexism was just inherent, entrenched in the lyricism—it was just always there, mocking me. When I got to the end of the album, I was so impressed and surprised with the honest vulnerability and raw emotion exhibited in “Blame Game” just to be completely disappointed by Chris Rock’s offensive two and a half minute postlude, where he repeatedly asks a woman (post sexual encounter) in just about every offensive way possible where she’s learned her “techniques,” to which she responds (over and over and over again…it’s painful) “Yeezy taught me.” * BIG FREAKING SIGH * Seriously though, I was so disappointed.

After listening to the entire album for the first time, I was very conflicted. The arrangements and production were amazing, but I couldn’t ignore that so many of the lyrics were damaging to my person, as a woman, as a sexual being, as a fan. The blatant disrespect for women in so much of the album is at times overbearing. It’s just not affirming at all, but I was still compelled to keep it in rotation on my Ipod, because it just sounds so damn nice. And let’s be real, it’s not just Kanye, this is a symptom of Hip Hop pretty generally.

To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of Hip Hop. Part of the reason for that is because I didn’t grow up listening to it, but a bigger part of it is because I often feel as if I can’t relate to it. The genre is still overwhelmingly male dominated and with men always telling the story mine is usually pushed to the margins i.e. in male fantasies and imaginations, which too often translates to sexism, homophobia, and violence. And it’s even more annoying when the so-called “conscious” artists do it too. Smdh. I understand that it’s not all bad, but rather than sifting through it, I often just find myself ignoring it all together, and instead following only a few select artists. Kanye (lucky man) has made my list of “a few select artists,” and so I fast forward through the last three minutes of “Blame Game,” and roll my eyes at the way the words “bitch” and “pussy” are thrown around as colloquial parts of speech. I’ve learned how to ignore the sexism, but at the same I recognize that I’ve also learned how to internalize it. “Yeezy taught me.” And it’s a problem. SIGH.

Kanye’s new video for “Monster” inspired me to finally say something and put my complicated love/hate relationship with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on blast. The video was just too much to handle. The imagery is highly reminiscent of domestic violence and other forms of violence against women and there are several particularly jarring scenes—Kanye in the bed with two dead bodies, dead women hanging from the ceiling, the entire scene during Jay-Z’s verse, Kanye holding a severed head….Gaaah. It’s just too damn much. You have been warned (may be slightly NSFW).

 

 I know, right?! It’s ridic. So to echo (kinda) this post on postbourgie.com, what the hell is a conflicted feminist (sorta) and music lover to do (except let out another big freaking *SIGH*)?

Amber’s Top Ten WTF?! Moments of 2010

January 1st, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Whoa. It’s 2011. *Blank Stare* How the hell did that happen? Really though, W.T.F…?

1. Tiger Woods’ Fidelity FAIL

Oh Tiger, I still have no words for you. What is the mistress count at now…42 or something? Smdh. Tiger was on top of the world and he learned the hard way that no one is invincible and Karma is nothing to play with. This was easily one of the most scandalous news stories of the year and no one saw it coming. After admitting to having scores of affairs, he and his wife Elin Nordegren divorced and she reportedly took home a cool $100 million in the settlement. WOMP.

2. The World Cup makes it’s way to Africa

 The 2010 World Cup marked a historic moment for The International Federation of Association Football–for the first time ever, the World Cup was hosted by an African Country.  And,  I must say, South Africa did one hell of a job.  So in this case it’s more of a  ”WTF took you so long, FIFA?!” moment.   

3. Antoine Dodson


“Hide yo’ kids’! Hide yo’ wife!” After an intruder broke into Kelly Dodson’s window and attempted to rape her, her brother, Antoine Dodson sent a fierce message to the perpetrator and a warning to his neighbors in an interview with local news reporters. In days the interview hit the internet and went viral and is now the number one most watched video on youtube. Since his first television appearance, Antoine has produced a t-shirt line, has a single out (available for purchase on itunes), and has performed on BET several times. His rise to celebridom kind of makes you cringe, but I can’t even be mad at this dude. If they want to pay you for it, get your hustle on, Antoine, and make it work. **Snap Snap**

4. Oprah Begins her 25th and Final Season

It’s the end of an era. 

Oprah announced on November 20, 2009 that her 25th and final season will begin in the Fall of 2010. This past September she kicked off the season in style by telling 300 of her most dedicated viewers that they would be flying with her to Australia on a paid vacation and taping of her show, AND (wait for it…) John Travolta would be the pilot. No words. Only Oprah can make so many awesome things happen at once. The rest of the season has been pretty awesome as well. Some of my favorites include her interview at the Jackson Family Estate, and of course, two days of “Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things.”  I am deeply saddened to see the show end, but I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.

5. Shirley Sherrod is fired over nonsense
Nonsense is an understatement. This situation shows that even though we’ve come a long way in improving race relations in this country, we still have a long long way to go. 

6. Racist events at UC San Diego and other UC schools inspire protests

Another situation that proves the same damn thing–we have a long way to go. Kudos to UC students on several different campuses for organizing, speaking up, and speaking out. Racist incidents like these happen on college campuses all the time and the fact that their protests received national attention will hopefully push the administration and the administrations at colleges across the country to take notice and make some fundamental changes.

7. Longest Tennis Match Ever: Wimbledon 2010 – Isner vs. Mahut

Three Days. 11 hours and 5 minutes of playing time. 183 Games. EPIC.

8. Mo’nique Wins Oscar for Best Supporting Actress
Now who would’ve thought that Ms. Nikki Parker would take home an Oscar one day. Mo’nique definitely deserved it. When I think about her monologue at the end of “Precious” I still get teary-eyed. Get it, girl. *Snaps*

9. Conan O’Brien New Host of The Tonight Show…wait, just kidding

Probably one of the most embarrassing moments for NBC, Conan, and Jay Leno. Conan handled it with grace though and went out with style.  He now has a new show on TBS that I hear is “very funny” (haha…ha). ;)

10. The cast of Glee does a photo shoot for GQ
This photo shoot is a hot ass mess. WTF were they thinking? Really, Glee…really though?  *side-eye*
HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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