Forgive me, I’ve been so ghetto

First, I know it has been a long time…I’ll spare y’all the excuses because we all have the same — work, family, busyness. Yes, I’ve been busy with work — now writing each month for Fast Company, Essence, and Men’s Fitness magazines. Yes, as the mother of a toddler finding  free non-mommy moments is like discovering the lost city of Atlantis. And, yes, always b-u-s-y –doing a lot of traveling for the book including speeches, radio, and tv appearances. Plus there are always more books to write.

Still, trying to pass myself off as a blogger when my last post is Imus is inexcusable. 

And look at all that I missed! The NAACP staged a funeral to bury the N-Word (oh what fun I could have had with that waste of time), Paris learned to say the word “Bible” in prison, the media is determined to make us care that a chick named Lindsay is now “unemployable” (she joins the thousands of Black men in this country who have long been labeled “unemployable” too) and is there anyone who doesn’t agree that finger lickin’ Britney is 100% ghetto? Hot ghetto mess BET said it was trying to do better with its show formally known as Hot Ghetto Mess but in good news no one was fooled. And then the summer was rounded out with Michael Vick, who I will hold back on because no need to join the pack. Instead check this out. Not to mention it is election season and I’ve heard both Hillary and Obama speak at small events. Unortunately neither said anything worthy of dishing about.  

So I’m sorry I’ve been silent. And that is the news I wanted to spread today.


Filed under musings, society, that's so ghetto, Uncategorized

Yo, Imus

I am a Nappy Headed Ho. I do not play basketball. I do not go to
Rutgers. I am no longer a college student. I do not live in
New Jersey even. But I am a Black woman. And judging from the words that you are so sorry that have slipped from your lips on air last week, that is what you see when you see me.

He is not the only one.

Don Imus is the latest to be caught spewing racism and sexism in the name of a joke. That is not news. His producer started spewing first when he called the women, hardcore hos. Imus corrected him by adding “that’s some nappy headed hos there.”

He says he wasn’t thinking. And that is the news. We are living in a time when for too many people Ho has become a synonym for Black women. Imus is not the first — Hip Hop took care of that. Imus is just an illustration of what happens when a mindset that thinks it is OK to use Ho, Bitch, and Nigga, as terms of endearment in everyday conversation, or against the backdrop of a catchy bounce your head beat, goes mainstream. At this point, as a society, it has seeped into to many of our minds and consciousness and now permeates our thinking. Imus is just one of many.

That is why journalists, authors, politicians will continue to stop by Imus’ studio. John McCain, a frequent Imus guest, has already said he is “a great believer in redemption,” in hopes of giving himself a Not-Racist-Despite-Association pass for future visits. Evan Thomas, a big gun Newsweek writer, sat down with Imus on Monday. “He should not have said what he said, obviously,” Thomas told the New York Times. “I am going on the show, though. I think if I didn’t, it would be posturing. I have been going on the show for quite some time and he occasionally goes over the line.”  I’m sure if Imus had used the N-word Newsweek would have at least waited a week before sending in one of their biggest names as a guest. But unfortunately Ho in describing Black women isn’t seen as that bad an offense and that is because we hear it too often

In my heart I think Imus is a racist. It is strong language – the truth usually is. Like many of us I was raised in a turn the other cheek home where you give others the benefit of the doubt. The journalist in me likes arguments based on facts and evidence and racism is a crime of passion – you feel it in your heart – so can be hard to document. But, honestly, I am tired of Black folks making excuses for those who disrespect us. So I do not hesitate to call Imus a racist. And because of that I am glad there is outrage. I am glad that newspaper columns are being written. I am glad that boycotts are being called for. I am even glad that Al Sharpton is making a fuss because no one does it better. Imus should be made to feel repercussions.

But I am wondering where was the outrage when Ho first started slipping from rappers lips on BET, the radio, on their latest album track? Where was the outrage when it slipped from their lips yesterday? Where was the outrage when Ho slips from the lips from the knuckleheads on the corners? Where was the outrage when Ho slips from the lips from our young folks around the way? Every time we hear this word slip too easily from lips, Black women – everywhere — are being disrespected. And repercussions should always be felt. Some of us fool ourselves into thinking they are not talking about us. They are. That is the thing with hateful language – once it is hurled it hits all. So thanks to Imus, for a morning last week we were all Nappy Headed Hos.

Truth is, I am waiting for the day when someone who is hurling racist and sexist insults – because this will happen again on another day – will have to actually think about how to express such hatred because the words wouldn’t be those that we already use everyday.


Filed under musings, politics, rant, society, that's so ghetto

The Worst Record


I was almost tempted just to post the picture. Ghetto. How could I say it better than this. But the journalist in me feels  the need to report the whole story…. This picture was included in a press release (guinnessrecordliljon.pdf) announcing that Lil’ Jon has set a Guiness World Record for the “Biggest Bling”. Ghetto. I’m serious. My press credentials (why this release came by my desk) could not make this insanity up. It seems the monstrosity around Lil’ Jon’s neck, pulling him and all of us down, has set a record for the world’s “largest diamond pendent”. Ghetto.

“Guinness World Records is pleased to recognize Lil Jon as a new member of our recordbreaking family,” said Alistair Richards, Guinness World Records Managing Director. “We congratulate him on his remarkable achievement in setting the record for the Largest Pendant.”

Valued at $500,000 the pendant weighs in at 5.11 pounds standing 7.5 inches tall, 6 inches wide with a total of 73 carats of diamonds set in 18-karat yellow and white gold uncreatively crafted by jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills.

“I spent a load of money on that chain. I had no idea I would break a record and be recognized for it,” said Lil’ Jon. “It’s an honor to be included on that list. Let’s just see how many rappers try to outdo my pendant and break my record.”

Ghetto! Did you hear me? Ghetto!

Welcome to GhettoNation. You are looking at it. This is an illustration of a mindset that embraces the worst. I wonder if the self proclaimed King of Crunk’s parents – an engineer and a member of the Army reserves – had bling breaking in their dreams for their Lil’ Jon. I am crossing my fingers in hopes that they didn’t.

As a Black woman I am simply ashamed. There is no other word to describe the pain in my heart. Now we are breaking records for how low we are willing to sink. Debasing ourselves for trophies and gladly smiling in our shackles. Like sassing out your mama, this — this pride in our ignorance, this spending a house mortgage on chains, this ghetto mindset — is behavior that is simply not acceptable!

According to the press release Lil Jon’s new single is “Act a Fool”. I haven’t heard the track yet but I have seen it. And now you have too.

It is time that we open our eyes, raise our expectations, and start to make it all go away.


Filed under musings, rant, society, that's so ghetto

Too sad for words

I never thought that I would be so disgusted by something that I can’t even bring myself to react. In these ghetto times it often feels like outrage is a daily emotion for me. But ever since I caught a glimpse on the local news of a 2 year old smoking a blunt I find myself paralyzed. It seems two teenagers were caught on tape persuading a 2 year old and his 5 year old brother to smoke marijuana. The teenagers were toking up themselves as they encouraged the boys to get high. One of the teenagers was the 17-year-old uncle of the brothers. The disturbing continues: The 2-year-old knew how to inhale so it obviously was not the first time this abomination has happened. And everyone laughs and smiles.

Texas police discovered the videotape while executing a search warrant to look for stolen property. Felony charges have been filed against the teens. The boys momma was a sleep in the next room and has not been charged. I only caught a glimpse because the minute the blunt was held up to the toddler’s lips I looked away. I could not watch.

For days now I’ve been trying to get the image out of my mind. I can’t. I don’t think I ever will. And that is probably healthy. It is something that should not be forgotten. So I’ve forced myself to write about it here. I can only muster a few lines though without wanting to scream: What the F*ck!?! Obviously we have forgotten what it means to be enslaved. Because these days we put the chains on ourselves, and smile.


Filed under musings, rant, society, that's so ghetto

Keep off The Pole

The first time someone warned me about The Pole I was pregnant. During those 9 months everyone wants to give you parenting advice. By now it was more than a year ago and I had just finished sitting on a panel that was generally about the state of black America, which the crowd of mostly young black head-shaking professionals was convinced wasn’t too good. Mingling afterwards a father from the audience introduced himself. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t recall much about him nor the pleasantries that we exchanged, except, of course his sincere warning, offered from the heart of one parent to that of a parent-to-be. “Just keep her off the pole,” he advised, not even knowing if my unborn child in question was going to be a she. That was how he was raising his own daughter, he assured me, who I do recall was in the tumultuous middle school years. Everyone within earshot nodded. Being one of those head-shaking black professionals myself, I nodded too, because unfortunately I understood what his warning was all about.

For many parents fed up with the barrage of Hip Hop videos dripping with overally sexual images that are often lifted from the world of strip clubs, porn, and adult erotica, The Pole is shorthand for ghetto — a mindset that embraces our worst behavior. These days — in a society where a form of stripping is hailed by celebrities including, Kate Hudson, Natalie Portman and Teri Hatcher (who showed off her moves on Oprah), as empowering exercise — ghetto no longer refers to where you live, but to how you live. According to a story in the New York Times (No Longer Taboo, Pole Dancing Catches on in Book Club Country) it seems that pole dancing is embraced not only by rappers and the Hollywood elite and, of course, erotic dancers but has now spread to the mommy set of tony suburbs and affluent enclaves. It is proof of how mainstream ghetto has become. How else would you explain Times reporter Tina Kelley’s sightings of mini-poles at over-the-top suburban bat mitzvah parties. When did topless dancers become acceptable to imitate for 13-year-olds? Or for their moms?

In its annual roundup of the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business, Business 2.0 Magazine (which itself has been called by some as one of Time Inc.’s dunce hat worthy slips) the pole phenomenon made an appearance wedged somewhere between News Corp’s “If I Did It” OJ scandal and those pesky kid tattoos. It seems Tesco, a leading British retailer that sells the popular Peekaboo Pole Dancing Kit — which for $100 bucks you too can have your very own portable 8.5-foot chrome pole, a “sexy dance garter”, and play money for stuffing into your garter – originally pushed the Pole Kit on the Toys & Games section of its website. Yes, the Brits, who reportedly favor pole dancing in stretch limos, can be ghetto too — a mindset has no boarders. The company moved the Pole to its Fitness section after some parents, thankfully, complained.

Pole dancing supporters hail it as sexually empowering and great exercise. Carmen Electra’s line of exercise videos (with names like Aerobic Striptease, Fit to Strip, and The Lap Dance) have all hit No. 1 on Amazon’s fitness DVD section. Granted, as a member of the couch potato club I am probably missing something about the value of a good exercise routine. But an old fashioned police foot chase can be good exercise too and I don’t hear anyone advocating that we start imitating the behavior we see on Fox’s COPS.      

Personally, I don’t know any pole dancers –the strip club not the book club kind – but in my mind it can’t get much worse than writhing on a pole in a state of undress for men for money. The unfortunate violence that occurred during NBA’s recent All Star Weekend in
Las Vegas at a local strip club allegedly involving Tennessee Titans NFL cornerback Pacman Jones, is a reminder of just how bad things for pole dancers can get. During a melee at the club three people were shot and a female dancer was allegedly beaten – her head slammed into the very pole adorned stage that she was dancing on – after she reportedly made the mistake of picking up one of the hundreds of bills being thrown in the air by Jones in what was intended to be a “visual effect” that he likes to call “Make it Rain”, according to a Vegas search warrant. Vegas police later recovered $81,000 in singles that reportedly belongs to the football player who we can only assumed intended to make it pour.

Fifteen months ago I did in fact give birth to a little girl. Even before she could walk she already loved to dance, rocking back and forth in her crib whenever a beat was in ear shot. Her dancing has always attracted oohs and aahs from strangers and friends who seem to enjoy the site of baby with rhythm. Her tastes are eclectic ranging from the Itsy Bitsy Spider to 50 Cent. (Yes, I am ghetto too.) Watching her toddler silhouette bounce to the beat I can’t help but be reminded of that warning that I got when I was pregnant. I will do my best to keep her off The Pole, literally and figuratively. And when I get together with other mothers, I hope that she and her friends will do the same for us.


Filed under musings, rant, society, that's so ghetto

Burn Your Brown Bags!

I am a newbie blogger, welcome to my very first post! As a journalist by day I report and write for a living so have been reluctant to get into blogging too. But I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut anymore about the Black attack. Specifically it was this week’s news that Harold Ford thinks voting for Barack Obama is akin to suicide. According to the Associated Press: “It’s a slim possibility for him to get the nomination, but then everybody else is doomed,” Ford said. “Every Democrat running on that ticket next year would lose — because he’s black and he’s top of the ticket. We’d lose the House and the Senate and the governors and everything. I am a gambling man. I love Obama. But I’m not going to kill myself.” That’s what drove me to this blogging point.

When it comes to Black folks, as a Black woman I am all for independent thought (need more), challenging our own (need more), diversity of views (we definitely need more), and speaking up (our silence  — that’s what’s killing us). I am also a realist — which means that my cynicism runs deep through my veins.

Still, there is something down right sad when even Black politicians have so little faith that Black folks can or will succeed that they are willing to tell the world that it is better to vote for the other guy, or in this case gal, because any Black man — even articulate ones — can never win.

It was bad enough that Obama’s candidacy has brought brown paper bag parties out of the closet with everyone from Cornell West to Debra Dickerson debating his Blackness. But the level of the lack of respect for ourselves that we must have that we have so little faith, is truly, well, ghetto.

Welcome to ghettonation.


Filed under musings, politics, rant, society, that's so ghetto