MTV’s “16 & Pregnant”: Yay or Nay??

•June 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A few days ago I was scrolling through my timeline, as I usually do throughout the day, just to see what randomness I would come across. One particular tweet caught my attention and it said something along the lines of “16 & Pregnant” being used to glorify teen pregnancy. I wanted to respond instantly but didn’t have time to engage in a full on debate via Twitter so I decided to share with you all.

The MTV reality show has been around for a few years now and even has a spin-off called “Teen Mom”. The purpose of the series is to show how difficult life becomes during and after pregnancy. I never thought the show to be something negative or even saw it as a glorifying of sorts. Instead, I thought the show to be a form of birth control. I like that Dr. Drew found it necessary to follow these young women around and tape their lives during their last few weeks of pregnancy.

We get to see how relationships are affected. The soon to be mothers are thrown into adulthood, having to make tough decisions regarding whether their new families will work out the way they planned or if they will have to raise their children alone. I find myself getting frustrated with some of these young women but more so the young men because of their lack of maturity and consideration. At 22 years old, I can’t imagine myself being a mother, especially since I am not completely self-sufficient so to see these girls five and six years younger than me in this state is disheartening. They all think it is so easy and things will go as planned but they soon learn that it takes LOTS of work and even more compromise.

These girls are just coming to know themselves so how can they have already mastered the art of compromise or responsibility?

The reason I labeled the show as ‘birth control’ is because we’re provided with a first hand account of how living that life really is. While 95% of the reality shows now are killing countless brain cells, I feel that this one, along with it’s spin-off, “Teen Mom”, work to educate its viewers. We don’t get the boring ‘let’s sit down and talk about why you shouldn’t have sex before marriage’ spiel. Instead, you can visually see why you should refrain. Or, if you’re going to do it anyway, why you should protect yourself on every front. No one wants added stress on top of going to school and this show does a great job pointing out what a young girl would have to go through if she was not careful.

How do you feel about the show?

If you haven’t seen episodes, check them out at http://m.mtv.com/shows

Black Women & Bulimia

•April 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

One of the most common stereotypes that I have heard is that all white women suffer from eating disorders like bulimia nervosa and anorexia but I recently came across an article on my number one blog for information in the African American culture, www.theroot.com, that dispelled that rumor: “Blacks With Bulimia: A Secret in Plain Sight”.  Cynthia Gordy, the Washington reporter for The Root, opened my eyes to this secret truth among women like me.

Initially, it shocked me to know that black women suffer, and seemingly have been suffering with this disorder and a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that I’ve never known anyone to be struggling with this (but that would be redundant wouldn’t it?).  I have often associated the black woman with strong images, women who care withstand anything and still come out victorious but then to read Gordy’s article and come to realize that such a debilitating disease is silently taking us away is almost disheartening.  Don’t take me to mean that the same doesn’t go for women of other races because the situation is very disturbing but as a young black women today, I see black women in another light which directly reflects upon me and my positive self image.

Stephanie Covington Armstrong, the subject of Gordy’s article, is a black woman who struggled with bulimia nervosa early in her life.  She used it as a coping mechanism as a result to her getting raped by her uncle when she was just 12 years old.  In 2009, Armstrong’s memoir was published, which told of her battle with the disorder.  In the book, Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat: A Story of Bulimia, she discusses how much of a secret this is in the black community.  Like me, others were under the impression that this was a ‘white girl’s disease’ and that it could not affect black women, especially since most of the black women people see in public are curvaceous anyway; there’s no way we can fall victim to such.  But we can.  In a 2000 study published in the Archives of Family Medicine, results showed that black women were more prone to abuse laxatives and diuretics, also known as non-traditional purging methods.

Another article I read on The Root was about Jennifer Hudson, the Oscar award winning singer/actress, who recently shed a few pounds.  In the article, Hudson talks about how she is receiving more attention from movie producers now that she has altered her image, appearing more presentable.  Unlike most actresses who are bogged down with the pressures of society, Hudson lost her weight the old fashioned way: exercise and the proper diet.

“I thought my old look was pretty normal. That was how all the girls looked growing up in Chicago…”

Armstrong believes the disorder stems from a trauma or a need to be in control, which was the case in her situation.  She states that after she suffered the attack from her uncle, she felt worthless.  According to www.bulimia.com, roughly 60 percent of people with bulimia have been the victim of sexual assault.

Since it is ‘uncommon’ for black women to be victims of such a disorder, we do not receive the proper education needed to cope which means that families and friends miss the warning signs.  This seems to be an issue that we need to keep our eyes on in the coming future.

16yr old being held for $2.5 million

•April 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Summer is coming and for most urban areas, that means that there will be a spike in the crime rate.  I’m from a south suburb in Chicago and it seems that every summer, I hear about someone getting shot or killed in the city.  Just last year there was a reported 113 homicides in Chicago alone and that is compared to the 101 homicides from the previous year.

Mayor Daley and the city of Chicago do try to help the situation by holding gun rallies, encouraging people to turn in their guns in exchange for money and, if I’m not mistaken, there is no limit on the amount of guns one can turn in.

Chicago is not the only city dealing with these issues though.  Earlier this week in a Philadelphia suburb, a 16 year old was arrested and is being held for $2.5 million.  The suspect, Kanei Daniel Avery , was seen holding a gun by a security guard at a birthday party April 8.  Two teens were shot and killed, 8 others wounded.  Avery was charged with aggravated assault along with other charges.

I agree that the violence today is at an all time high, especially among the teens and my heart does go out to the families of the victims.  My concern with this case especially, is whether the suspect’s bail is set to high.  Now, I’m no expert on the judicial system or how that process works but they have yet to figure out if Avery was the actual shooter.  Authorities say he was spottedholding the gun that the fatal bullets came from but that alone isn’t enough to incriminate him, is it?  Granted, it does raise some concern because why would you be holding a gun, let alone the murder weapon, anyway but still…?

The judge presiding over his case wants to send a message to the teens in the area of Chester, PA.  That suburb is said to be a violent area; so violent that the mayor issued a 9pm curfew last year.  Avery, who is 16 years old, will be tried as an adult in this case with first degree and third degree homicide.

I agree something needs to be done about the crime, especially with the coming summer season but when I read $2.5 million, I was shocked, for lack of a better term.  His family would have to pay 10% of that amount to get him out of jail.  Don’t get me wrong because if he is found guilty of the crime, I feel he deserves the proper punishment but what if he’s innocent?  What if this so called ‘message’ does not hit home like the judge planned?  What measures will they go to then?

Leave Mister Cee Alone!!

•April 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’m finding that the ‘down low’ brotha is slowly but surely making a comeback within our society.  Not to say that ‘he’ really left in the first place but I do recall, just a few years ago, when that seemed to be the topic of everyone’s discussion.

Homosexuality is nothing new to this world now and despite your stance on the issue, we know that it is not going to disappear any time soon.  I will agree though that my generation seems to accept it more than our parents or grandparents because they remember a time when that topic was considered taboo.  Now that its all in the open and people are forced to ‘deal with it’, it makes some uncomfortable, which spurns the hateful remarks.

The thing that seems to get women, especially the sistas, riled up is the man that is living two different lives.  The loving husband and father, playing his part during the day but after hours, enjoys spending a little more time with his male counterparts.  We know him as the down low brotha.  One of the reasons these men upset so many people is because they are believed to be the ones ushering in this HIV/AIDS epidemic into the black community, making it to be that the disease is solely a gay disease.  I cannot recall how many times I have heard those two associated with each other and it is unfortunate that gay/bisexual men are being used as the scapegoats for this.  Prior to the emergence of homosexual men, the disease was contracted through needles, be it  drugs or for medicinal purposes, or even through blood transfusions.

These men are blamed for destroying families due to their ‘extra-curricular’ activities, left to sit and watch their names and manhood be slandered throughout the media as reporters deliver facts via the news.

The most recent case (and the reason I chose to blog on this topic) is New York DJ, Mister Cee.  He was arrested last week for public lewdness because of allegations of him receiving oral sex from a male prostitute.  Reports say that he was released later that day but that did not clear him from the media and social networks who wasted NO TIME dragging his name through the mud.

I am a firm believer in that whatever a person chooses to indulge in is their business alone and it makes no difference to me what the man is accused of doing–in HIS CAR!  But this world we live in is so judgmental that it makes it hard for people to live freely.  In reality, the only crime the man committed was having sex in a public place but people aren’t concerned with that.  They are more interested in what he was caught doing and with whom.  Why should it matter?

No one knows nor has it been reported that Mister Cee had a wife or girlfriend which gives me even more reason to want to slap the critics for their concern with the on-goings of this GROWN MAN’S PERSONAL LIFE.  If it is true that he is secretly gay or bisexual, that is his business and to his god is to whom he shall answer.  As long as he isn’t in MY bed, it doesn’t bother nor concern me, as should be the case for everyone else.

If you feel a way about homosexuality, that is perfectly okay because you’re entitled to your opinion but that doesn’t give you free reign to judge an individual.  We all know that this world nor the people in it are perfect so why not concern yourself with how to make YOURSELF better instead of belittling others?

Please, feel free to discuss.

Objectification of Women in Hip-Hop

•March 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It’s no secret that women of all races are objectified in the eyes of society and it’s even more obvious that some women, not all, allow this degradation to go on.

In a male dominated field, such as rap/hip-hop, black women are lucky to have female lyricists such as Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte and other artists of their caliber.  Granted, a lot of these women do not receive the recognition of, let’s say a mainstream artist like Lil’ Wayne, but the respect for their craft is still there.  By no means do I feel these women had it easy getting their feet into the doors of record label executives, just to get a chance but I do believe that neither of them disrespected themselves to get recognition.

To be successful in this game, one has to know the cardinal rule: SEX SELLS!  You could have the most positive message in your song but without an added incentive that can be found in a visual (music video, album cover, etc), your record will not receive as much exposure as the next artist who is willing to do what you won’t.  Proof of this can be heard on the radios…what same songs are you hearing within an hour’s time?  What are the main videos being played on stations like BET and MTV?  In no way am I throwing shade on these networks because they are just doing their jobs and playing what people want to hear.  I just find it sad that we live in a society where a song titled “No Hands”, a song praising the talents of a stripper, will get the most radio play, poisoning the minds of our youth.

Jacque Reid, contributing editor to The Root, received the opportunity to talk with the members of the well known female rap group, Salt N’ Pepa.  They, too, discussed their disgust of how women are treated in the music industry.

Young people today are very impressionable and it hurts me to know that they are choosing the wrong images to emulate.  A 20-year old black British woman died in her attempt to be accepted in this American society.

The music industry as a whole is a huge vehicle that is used to reach people and send out messages and although there are artists out there who are trying to spread positivity throughout, it is still not enough to impact the rest of the world.  Mainstream has taken over and is impacting our youth negatively.  Women are no longer being appreciated for their nurturing characteristics, instead, they are viewed in a sexual manner, some allowing themselves to be exploited by not being ashamed to bear some, if not all, in these music videos.

Below is a video from one of my favorite fem-cees,  Lauryn Hill.  In this specific song, she preaches to women, telling them to beware of men looking to do harm to them but she does not fail to heed the same message to the men.  It’s a fun video with an even more powerful message.

Can We Keep the Dream Alive?

•March 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I remember the exact day when Barack Obama was voted into office.  I can even remember back to the walk I took at 6 a.m. from my dorm to the voting site at the campus church.  It would be my first time voting and boy was I glad to be voting in this election.

I was a junior at Grambling State University, a historically black college in Northeast Louisiana and the campus was buzzing as we all gathered in the student union, eyes glued to the television above our table.  We all beamed and talked excitedly, thinking of the possibility of having a black president, after all these years.

After it was announced the Barack Obama would be our new president, the campus erupted.  I looked around in awe as my peers cheered with excitement.  Tears of joy and the feeling of having ‘arrived’ filled the large room as I stood in the middle of the crowd, feeling the same emotions.  The crowd spilled outside on to Main Street and soon enough, the band joined us as we started an impromptu parade.

That day was a big day in the history of black folks and a memory I will never forget as long as I live on this earth.

After having served a little over two years of his term, there is already talk about President Obama’s successor.  I have never been one to pay much attention to politics, even after I voted only a few years ago so I find it ironic that I came across this article regarding Obama’s potential replacement and continued to read it long enough to find it somewhat interesting.

I still find it astonishing at times to know that we have a black president.  Just a few years ago, the thought was so far-fetched and to have it be a reality here today still surprises me.  But now that it is here, is this where it ends?  Is President Obama the first and last black man we elect to have in office?  By the way people and other politicians are talking, Pres. Obama can be the first and last black man in the Oval Office.  People are upset because they feel that Pres. Obama has not done all he said he would during his term.  They are upset with the health care reform bill and even more upset with the outcome of the stimulus package.

Now that we have reached the halfway mark of his term, it is now time to start considering other candidates to potentially take his place.  Herman Cain, an African American Republican is one who feels that he can not only beat our current president in the coming election but also do a better job than him.  In his interview with The Root, he explains that his successful business background has properly prepared him for the task of pulling America out of the hole it is in.  Cain also discusses how Pres. Obama’s health care reform was a failure and how it can be perfected.  As a stage IV cancer survivor, Cain has a few things to say about how the bill did not benefit him as it had been expected to do.

Seeing that is still too early to be discussing official candidates, I still find it interesting that the same people who voted Pres. Obama into office (the same people who berated the former president, George Bush and so wanted a change) are the same people trying to get him out of office.  I find it even more interesting that there is another black man willing to take on the challenge of running this country and promising to do a better job at it.

How do you feel?

Jennifer Hudson to play Winnie Mandela…

•March 11, 2011 • 1 Comment

I recently learned that the month of March has been dubbed Women’s History Month.  With that being said, I find it ironic that I came across a story that informed me that Winnie Mandela’s life would be depicted in a movie.  This biopic is currently in the works and will portray the ex-wife of the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and how she continued the fight against apartheid once her now ex-husband was jailed.

She is widely respected for her stand against apartheid and her involvement with the African National Congress Women’s League in South Africa. And she is also recognized for her alleged acts of adultery and leading a South African mafia.

Winnie Mandela was an unstoppable woman that overcame all types of adversity growing up, beginning with the death of her mother when Mandela was only 8 years old. Then there was her fighting against the odds, receiving a B.A. in International Affairs from one of the most prestigious universities in South Africa. The fact that apartheid was heavily apparent coupled with her being a woman did not matter to her. Winnie refused to let the oppressors stop her.

Chicago native and Oscar award winning Jennifer Hudson recently confirmed her role of Winnie Mandela in the upcoming film, titled Winnie. There has been a bit of controversy surrounding this film, stemming from it’s subject.  Wilson Morales of BV on Movies reports that Mandela threatened to sue filmmakers for one, not getting her consent to do said film and two, because they cast an American to play the role of a South African woman. The producer, Darrell Roodt, also known for his 1992 work Sarafina!, has reportedly denied Mandela access to the script for review, therefore, receiving no consent from her.

Fellow South Africans share Mandela’s disgust in the filmmakers’ choice. Jonathan Clayton of the Times Online reports that the Creative Workers Union of South Africa said that using foreign actors to tell the country’s stories undermined efforts to develop a national film industry. Basically, South Africans are not receiving the opportunities within the avenues they are trying to create because they are being given to American actors.

This depiction of Winnie Mandela is the story a lot of us have not heard, especially since it was her ex-husband who was placed in the spotlight rather than she.  Hudson comments in the above video that there were no ill intentions in the creation of this film and that she would hope Ms. Mandela to be proud in the telling of her life story.

As for Hudson, ever since her newly acquired fame beginning on the stage of American Idol, her name has typically been associated with good things.  Some would argue that this is a good role for the Academy Award winning actress to grow in while others feel she is not fully capable of portraying such a woman just yet.

Personally, I feel that Hudson is an actress that shows promise.  Her personality proves to me that she does not want to be associated with poor work so that leads me to believe that she will give this role her all.  In an interview she tells how she spent 5 days in solitary confinement to help prepare her for the role, an experience she claims to never forget.

I’m anxious to see the film, which has yet to receive a release date, as well as see what the critics will have to say once Hudson delivers.

Take a look at the trailer below and tell me what you think:

 
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