Tag Archives: black folks

Being black and feeling less black around your own people

Last week while on Twitter I saw a link to a Salon.com article written by Danielle Small about being black yet being uncomfortable around black people.

It happened. I failed the “black” test. My hair stylist and I were chatting while she was taking a break from retightening my locs. I made a funny quip, and she extended her palm so that we could partake in the standard Black American handshake. In what was most likely the longest three seconds in the universe, I stared at her hand in befuddlement, trying to figure out what she was doing. By the time I realized that this was the handshake, it was too late. I tried to recover with some weird amalgamation of a fist bump and a high five, but the damage had been done. I had revealed myself to be the Carlton to her Fresh Prince.

I replayed the scene over and over in my head during my walk to the train. How could I have been so oblivious to an obvious cultural norm? This set off a mini existential crisis where I came to one of my greatest philosophical epiphanies: I’m uncomfortable around black people. This is a peculiar realization being that I am also a black person.

I had no idea there was a certain handshake among black women.

Where does this discomfort come from? And why do I think of Blackness as a test I am doomed to fail?

Like most psychological problems, it all began in my childhood, specifically the eight years I spent living in all white towns in rural Wisconsin. If there was one phrase I heard more than “nigger,” it was “You’re not black.” Talk about irony.

Sometimes it was phrased as a “compliment,” meaning you’re one of the good black people. But other times it was meant so white people, whose sole interaction with black culture came through the distorted lens of racist media, could assert their own twisted version of blackness over me.

Years and years ago when I was working part time while in high school a white co-worker was bitching about the white manager she had crush on who loved black music. Apparently she couldn’t stand black music. She called it n-word music to another white co-worker. I turned around and looked at her and she said she didn’t consider me the n-word since I was one of the “good black people”I just rolled my eyes and kept moving.  When my best friend from high school got a part time job at the same place months later I warned her about the white co-worker and her n-word usage.

In the foreword for the book “Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness,” Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writes: “There are 40 million black people in this country, and there are 40 million ways to be black … I do not mean to suggest that we are all of us in our own separate boxes, that one black life bears no relation to another. Of course not. We are not a monolith, but we are a community.”

There is no set way to be black. And it’s certainly not written in stone. Just because we’re black doesn’t mean we all have the same upbringing and personality types. You have black folks who grew up in the hood, those who grew up in rural areas and those who grew up in the suburbs. Some of us grew up in all black neighborhoods, some in mixed neighborhoods and some in all white neighborhoods. Some of us grew up in two parent homes, some in single parent homes. Some of us were raised by grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins. Believe it or not some blacks can’t stand rap music. And some of us love rock music. You have black folks that love classical. Nothing wrong with that. There is no set rule that says black folks are only suppose to like music by black folks. There are some black folks who can’t sing even though they swear they’re the next Aretha or Luther, lol.  You have black folks who dance like Carlton Banks and some who dance like they’re having a Soul Train flashback.  Some of us are loud and boisterous and some of us are quiet and reserved.  Blacks are cool, nerdy and everything in between.  Some of us attended HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) and some of us attended PWI’s (Predominantly White Institutions).  Attending a PWI doesn’t make you less black.  There are 40 million black folks in this country and we all have our own unique personalities, likes, quirks, beliefs, etc.  Despite these differences in black community we still have to be on guard when it comes to racism and the fact that in the United States we are not living in a post racial society.

Check out Salon.com to read Danielle Small’s entire column.

Laughing While Black

Back in June I blogged about what black folks can’t do since we can’t do squat without someone calling the police.


Well the latest thing we can’t do is laughing while black.  Really?  Now we can’t laugh without someone feeling threatened or upset?

A group of black women who belong to the Sisters On The Reading Edge book club were kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train this past Saturday. The group consists of eleven women including an 83 year old grandmother.



Apparently a white woman complained that the book club women were too loud. Cause you know black woman just aren’t allowed to laugh and have a good time like white women. When we laugh and have a good time it’s a threat.  When white women laugh and have a good time it’s okay and downright normal.

In a statement Sunday, Napa Valley Wine Train spokeswoman Kira Devitt said the company “received complaints from several parties in the same car and after three attempts from staff, requesting that the group keep the noise to an acceptable level, they were removed from the train and offered transportation back to the station in Napa.”

The incident began when Johnson and her book club, the Sisters on the Reading Edge, embarked around 11 a.m. for their annual trip through wine country — an adventure they had been planning since November.

Johnson, a self-described social media fanatic, posted pictures on Facebook, documenting the entire episode as it unfolded.

The women — all wearing matching T-shirts — were all seated in the same car in adjacent tables and seats, laughing and having a good time. They and the other passengers on the sold-out train were ordering tastings and glasses of wine as they rode the 18-mile stretch from Napa to St. Helena through California’s most famous and picturesque vineyards and wineries.

And while the group — which included an 83-year-old grandmother — may at times have been “rambunctious,” they were not “obnoxious or intoxicated,” Johnson said.

Several passengers, she said, even came up to them to take pictures, and asked about the romance novel they were reading for their club.

The group were eventually escorted off the train when they reached another station.

What came next, she said, was the worst part of the afternoon. When the train pulled into the St. Helena station, the group had to do the “walk of shame” as they were escorted past passengers on the six other cars, Johnson said. At the station, the group was met by officers from the Napa Valley Railroad and St. Helena police departments.

“People were looking at us,” Johnson said. “To get escorted into the hands of waiting police officers. That’s the humiliating part.”

But Chief Jeff Hullquist of the Napa Valley Railroad Police Department said there “was no police action taken” at the station.

After the incident someone from the Napa Valley Wine Train Company posted on Facebook that the book club group were verbally and physically abusive towards the other train passengers. Check out the Facebook link here to see the post that Ms. Johnson screen grabbed.

Meanwhile the Napa Valley Wine Train is getting blasted on Yelp.  Not surprised by this.

So black folks lets go over the rules again. No swimming, running, driving, playing, biking, walking, partying, shopping and add laughing to the list.  Anything else we need to add to the list?  Will it be talking while black?  No breathing or sighing while black?  Or no standing while black.  Oh let’s not forget no fishing while black.  Damn, we can’t do shit 😦

New rules for black folks


Here are some additional rules if you are black and live anywhere in the United States:

No Breathing, Sneezing, Coughing, Talking, Sleeping, Chewing Gum or Barrel Rolling while black.

When Just Being Black Makes You Suspicious Looking

We’ve all heard of the term driving while black (dwb). Or walking while black (wwb). How about running while black (rwb)?  Well damn just being black period will cause your white neighbors to call the police. I read this article in the Washington Post about the police getting phone calls from neighborhood profilers. You know white folks who see a suspicious looking black person in their neighborhood. When the police get there, the suspicious person turns out to be a neighbor, a worker or just a black person minding their own business. Black folks can’t get a break even if they live in the neighborhood.

“People, please stop making my job so difficult.”

That’s the opening of a discussion in “ProtectAndServe,” reddit’s community of law enforcement officers. The poster, who goes by the handle “sf7” and has been verified as a law enforcement officer by the forum’s moderators, goes on:

So I’m working last week and get dispatched to a call of ‘Suspicious Activity.’ Ya’ll wanna know what the suspicious activity was? Someone walking around in the dark with a flashlight and crow bar? Nope. Someone walking into a bank with a full face mask on? Nope.

It was two black males who were jump starting a car at 930 in the morning. That was it. Nothing else. Someone called it in.

People. People. People. If you’re going to be a racist, stereotypical jerk…keep it to yourself.

Don’t be a middle age black man fishing in your own community. You might scare your white neighbor to the point where they have to call the police.

Other forum users sympathize. One tells a story about someone asking the cops to investigate a middle-aged black man fishing in his own community.

Let’s talk about gentrified neighborhoods. We’ve seen plenty of predominantly black neighborhoods in large cities become gentrified all over the country. So what happens when a white person who has never lived in an urban community sees what he feels is a suspicious looking black person walking through an alley? And the so called suspicious black person has walked through this alley numerous times without any problems. Said white person calls the police.

This issue can be particularly acute in gentrifying communities. According to local D.C. news site HillNow.com, in the H Street region of Washington D.C. last year, police held a community forum to discuss concerns about racial profiling. “You have a lot of people here who haven’t lived in an urban neighborhood who are calling police for a lot of new things,” police chief Cathy Lanier said.

One of the community residents agreed. “A couple of guys walk through an alley like they’ve done their whole lives, and the newly arrived neighbors think something untoward is happening,” he said.

Why would a white person move into a predominantly black neighborhood and yet be suspicious of his black neighbors?

I remember the recent case of the grandfather from India, Sureshbhai Patel, visiting his son in Alabama. He was staying with his son’s family to help with his grandson who was born prematurely.  Mr. Patel was walking around the neighborhood when a neighbor called the police about a suspicious looking person peering into garages.

At about 9 a.m. on Friday in Madison, Ala., just days into his visit, Patel was strolling through his family’s neighborhood when he was approached by police. A neighbor had called authorities and told them a man who looked “suspicious” was peering into garages, according to the Huntsville Times. That man, police determined, was Patel.

Within minutes, the 57-year-old grandfather was face down on the ground with a severe neck injury that left him partially paralyzed.

You can see the video of the interaction at the Washington Post.

Mr. Patel may not be able to walk again.  Since that February 2015 encounter the Alabama policeman has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

A federal grand jury indicted the Alabama police officer who slammed a 57-year-old man from India to the ground, leaving him partially paralyzed, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Footage of the Feb. 6 encounter, captured on two dashboard cameras, sparked widespread outrage and condemnation from Indian government officials. It also led to a slew of donations for 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel, who had just arrived in the United States to help care for his prematurely born grandson.

So it’s not just black people who get profiled.  But it’s black people who are considered the most suspicious.

You know I laughed when news analysts were saying that we are living in a post racial society after President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008.  The majority of voters elected a black president twice.  But this country still has a long way to go when it comes to race relations and looking at others with suspicion based on skin color.

For Colored Girls

A picture of the cast of Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf has been released.

I first saw the picture in the current issue of Essence Magazine. The film is one of those once in a blue moon releases that features black actresses in starring roles. The cast includes Kerry Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Whoopi Goldberg, Thandie Newton, Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Phylicia Rashad, Kimberly Elise and Tessa Thompson.

The movie is based on the play by Ntozake Shange.  The play has appeared on and off Broadway.  For Colored Girls was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play and won an Obie Award in 1977.

Tyler Perry wrote, produced and directed the movie. And that’s where the controversy begins. When it was first announced that this movie would be in Tyler Perry’s hands some folks weren’t happy. Some black folks have a problem with Tyler’s films so they’re expecting the worse with For Colored Girls. Lionsgate, which is releasing the film has changed the release date from January 2011 to November 2010.  Looks like Lionsgate is thinking about awards season.

African American broadband use increases

The number of African Americans using broadband at home has increased by 22 percent from last year.  Overall the use of broadband increased by only a few percentage points from last year but it’s black folks who are seeing the largest increase. That’s good news.

African American Adoption of Broadband Surges

By: Mark Hachman

Although the percentage of Americans using broadband at home increased just slightly from last year, the number of African-Americans reporting access to broadband at home surged by 22 percent, a report said Wednesday.

According to a report compiled by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 66 percent of Americans said they had broadband access at home in 2010, versus 63 percent in 2009. Ethnically, 67 percent of whites reported home broadband; English-speaking Hispanics reported 66 percent; and blacks reported 56 percent.

A year ago, however, 46 percent of African-Americans polled by the organization reported broadband at home, a gain of 10 percentage points, or 22 percent in absolute numbers.

Pew polled 2,252 adults by phone between the end of April and May, including 744 reached via a cell phone. Users were asked to state whether they connected to the Internet via a dial-up landline, or with some form of broadband, including a cable modem, DSL, or wireless, according to Aaron Smith, research specialist with Pew.

When asked why African-Americans reported such a large jump, Smith said that Pew’s research didn’t examine the reason. “But we’ve been picking up on it for a couple of years now; not necessarily with broadband, but with higher levels of engagement with the Internet in general,” he said.

You can read the entire article here at PC Magazine.com.

The Washington Post and the metro melee coverage

I read an interesting column in the Sunday Washington Post this morning by the Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander.

Brawl on the Metro: Where was the coverage?

By Andrew Alexander
Sunday, August 15, 2010; A11

Post managers, from the top down, regularly remind the newsroom that coverage must have a “for and about Washington” focus. So when a large brawl broke out in the Metro system on a recent Friday night, it seemed a perfect chance to show local readers that The Post is their indispensable source for news.

His column discussed the complaints received from readers about the lack of coverage the Post had relating to the teen brawl that took place on the metro last Friday, August 6. He’s right, the coverage was very sparse.

On deadline, The Post gathered enough information for a news brief in Saturday’s paper, and a short story was quickly posted online.

I didn’t see anything about the melee in my Saturday paper. What I saw online Saturday was mostly in blog format, not a news article.

Throughout Saturday, it was among the most-viewed stories on the Web site, signaling intense reader interest. But as the day wore on, some readers grew frustrated that there was nothing more.

They did publish a story in last Sunday’s metro section but it wasn’t a lengthy article.

When a story for Sunday’s paper finally did appear, it offered little new. Promoted on the front page and tucked at the bottom of Sunday’s Metro section, it didn’t answer key questions: What caused the fighting? Were the people who were injured participants or bystanders? Was Metro beefing up security?

Why such thin coverage? Much of the explanation is that The Post responded with too little, too late.

So with a local news staff of about 70 reporters, why not call in reinforcements? Robert E. Pierre, the weekend editor for local news, said he saw no need. “It wasn’t about additional people,” he told me, noting that social media searches and an online appeal for witnesses had yielded little. And, he added, “the police didn’t have very much,” and what little information they disclosed was sketchy. The size of the crowd was in question, he said, and police couldn’t say how many were actually brawling.

The Post finally published a front page story on Monday, August 9 which included a family who witnessed the melee and a young man injured when riders fled the train. I was glad to see this on the front page because it is a major news story considering that thousands of folks take the metro everyday. But you know what? According to Mr. Alexander, Robert Pierre, the weekend editor for local news felt that last Monday’s front page story was given too much prominence.

When The Post finally produced a more substantive story for Monday’s paper, Pierre believes it was given too much prominence, even though it included eyewitness descriptions of multiple fights and bedlam as people tried to escape the pandemonium. The Post “overplayed it,” said Pierre. “It was a fight on the Metro. Kids get into fights.”

Say what? Dozens of teens are involved in a huge fight on the subway on a Friday night while dozens of metro riders look on and the weekend editor considered the front page story overkill? And you know why he felt that way. Cause kids get into fights. Would Mr. Pierre have said the same thing if those kids had gotten into fights with random adult metro passengers? Robert Pierre was also concerned about the racial aspect of the story. Give me a damn break.

Is Robert Pierre afraid of the reaction from black readers? Black folks take the metro too and many of us are sick and tired of the behavior of kids like those involved in the melee. We don’t all condone bad behavior. Is he afraid of some “so called black leaders” protesting in front of the Post if he puts more emphasis on this story?  Who cares? Let them sit on the train with the troublemakers, without the transit police in sight, and see what it feels like to witness mayhem and deal with harassment like the woman featured in a front page article on Friday.

‘Where was the security?’

Nationals fans clad in red pour off the Green Line at Gallery Place, creating a massive bottleneck. The crowd headed outbound to Branch Avenue is much smaller, and when the train arrives, six women in baggy shorts and polos with oversize collars board the same car. One starts doing pull-ups on the train’s metal bar. Another marches down the aisle, shouting “Check me out!” Other passengers — Nationals fans, people heading home from work, couples returning from the movies — smile and laugh.

Then the scene gets tense. One of the young women, who won’t give her name, starts mocking a 58-year-old woman named Carol who is studying a physiology textbook in the middle of the car.

“You look like my teacher, Mrs. Wright,” the taunting woman says. “You can’t fail me anymore!” The crowd laughs, more hesitantly this time. Then the barrage of insults starts. The woman puts her nose in Carol’s hair. “You smell like cat piss,” the woman says.

Carol looks down at her book, trying to ignore the assault.

“It’s because of you that I’m gay,” the woman continues. “It’s because of you that my children are mentally retarded.” The woman gives her friends high-fives after each insult, and they laugh together. A family in Nationals uniforms moves to the other side of the car.

Five Guardian Angels arrive. They stand at one end of the car, arms crossed, silent. The woman in the baggy shorts looks at the youngest Angel, who appears to be in his teens. “What are you, 12?” she screams. “What are you gonna do, skateboard?” The Angels, in trademark red berets, do not respond.

“Ha!” the woman exclaims. “These Angels ain’t guarding [expletive].”

After a few minutes, the Angels leave the car. The woman continues to viciously mock Carol.

Carol, her tormentor and the rest of her group get off at Suitland. One of the women tells Carol, “I’m sorry, it’s just that we’ve been drinking.” She puts her arm around Carol.

Carol walks toward a cab. “You know, I wasn’t scared by what happened in there,” she says. “I was embarrassed that everyone, especially the Caucasians, had to see one black woman insulting another black woman like that. Still, what if things had escalated? The Angels were there, but they didn’t do anything. Where was the security?”

As a black woman I want to know more about the August 6 melee.  I don’t like this tip toeing around because the kids are black. Hell I knew they were black. I’ve seen how some of these black kids act on the metro and it’s not a pretty sight. Do I care if the “so called black leaders” raise a ruckus? No I don’t. That will just prove to me even more so that they’ll continue with the excuses and coddle the hoodlums in the black community and as usual don’t give a damn about the victims unless it’s a white on black crime.

I would also like to say something about the Washington Post and its local news coverage. I have noticed that when it comes to the print edition for local news the Post is seriously lacking. You can read the Metro section in less than 2 minutes because it’s that thin. If you want to read any local news you have to go online and click on Local. And even then some of the local news online is in blog format and not a news article. Why bother with a print edition of the Metro section when you print mostly one paragraph articles about what’s going on locally in the Post? The Post use to be better than this. The print version of the Post seems to spend most of it time on national politics and of course Sarah Palin. I’ve seen news stories from around the world receiving better coverage than local news in the print edition. I guess that’s why they have a separate local section online. And the Washington Post wonders why they’re seeing a decline in subscribers. I’m seriously thinking about cutting back my service to Sunday only.

Maybe it’s because I’m old school that I still read the paper. It’s a habit I’ve had since I was a youngster. I also enjoy reading the news on the internet. I check out news sites from all over the country and the world. But when it comes to my local paper I would still like to enjoy reading the print edition of the Washington Post.

Are black folks raising knuckleheads?

Or are we dealing with lazy parenting?  That’s the question some black folks in Tennessee are asking especially after a violent disburbance in a movie theater parking lot in East Memphis last weekend. A promotional flyer from a local radio station encouraged youngsters to see two R rated movies that opened recently. Many of the young folks were under age for R rated movies and they were dropped off by their parents. When the young folks were turned away they had no where to go except to hang out in the parking lot and you know what that led to.

Police to increase patrols around Paradiso theater in East Memphis

By Hank Dudding
Memphis Commercial Appeal

Shantique Brady saw the potential for trouble in the way parents offload teens outside the Malco Paradiso on weekend nights.

“It’s like we’re at a parade of minivans, with kids coming out of every door,” said Brady, who manages the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor nearby.

The gathering of youths reached critical mass Saturday night when brawls broke out among hundreds of people gathered in the theater’s parking lot at 584 S. Mendenhall.

Memphis police detained 10 people ranging in age from 12 to 18 for disorderly conduct, issuing misdemeanor citations to some and taking others to Juvenile Court.

“I wish there was a camera so everyone could see how chaotic it was,” said Brady, 29, who closed her store early that night. “It was really crazy.”

Nearly two dozen Memphis police cars responded to the scene. Officers blocked cars from entering the parking lot while vehicles inside were allowed to leave.

The department plans to increase patrols around the theater this weekend, said spokeswoman Karen Rudolph, who encouraged citizens to call police if they see problems.

“We’re hoping it was a one-time thing, and we’re not going to have to deal with it again,” she said.

Malco executive vice president Jimmy Tashie blamed the chaos on underage kids who were dropped off for the R-rated scream flicks “The Final Destination” and “Halloween 2.”

When the teens were turned away, they had no place to go but the parking lot, he said.

“We’re going to let parents know that they can’t drop their kids off … and expect them to go into an R-rated movie,” he said. The Paradiso’s Web site now includes an advisory warning parents that minors will not be admitted to R-rated films.

Memphis Commercial Appeal columnist Jerome Wright states that many of the parents are to blame.

Jerome Wright: Parents share blame for Paradiso fights

By Jerome Wright,
Memphis Commercial Appeal

Given that this is Memphis, where bringing up race can be like stepping on a land mine, the local media, police and Malco officials have avoided saying that most of the teens involved in the Aug. 29 brawls outside the Paradiso movie theater were African-American.

But that fact hasn’t been lost on talk radio shows and in the community.

The chaos that Saturday night outside Malco’s flagship theater once again has left many African-Americans asking why our teens have to act like knuckleheads when they gather in large numbers without direct supervision. Anecdotal news reports of fights and shootings, some fatal, at these kinds of gatherings feed that perception.

Many people believe that roving groups of loud, cussing and N-word-using African-American teens helped kill the Mall of Memphis, Peabody Place shopping mall and the movie theater in Peabody Place.

Some African-Americans reading this are seething about now. How can an African-American write such things? And some whites are probably saying “Tell it like it is, brother!”

You all need a reality check.

Teens, black and white, like to hang out in large groups, whether it’s at a movie theater or shopping center parking lot after hours. They do things they normally wouldn’t do within sight or earshot of their parents or teachers, such as illegally swigging alcohol, smoking and cussing. African-American kids, however, generally are louder and more demonstrative, and that feeds into all the usual racial stereotypes.

I don’t go to the movies on Friday or Saturday nights anymore because there is too much hubbub inside and outside the theater. I cringe when I hear African-American teens loudly calling each other the N-word, especially in front of whites. Inside the theater, some kids are constantly moving around and talking. Teens and adults alike hold long-running cell phone conversations during the movie. Catching a flick on a weekend afternoon is a lot calmer.

You hate to read that young black folks are the cause of shopping centers or movie theaters shutting down. But what normal, law abiding person wants to shop or go to the movies where rowdy, unsupervised young kids are running wild? That’s why you hear some black folks say that they don’t shop at such and such shopping center or mall. Or they avoid going to certain movie theaters or only go the movies during a certain day or time. No one wants to deal with those headaches.

Check out the following articles for more info about the East Memphis incident:

Police to increase patrols around Paradiso theater in East Memphis

Where were the teens’ parents?

Malco Paradiso theater tightens security; vows better crowd control

Seven Groups the Media Doesn’t Touch

The Root has an interesting article about how the mainstream media tends to stick to the same tired themes when it comes to covering black folks
in the news:

Overcoming adversity, committing violent crime, engaging in secret elitism, complaining of real or imagined victimization by The Man, allowing the family unit to disintegrate, and so on—these are the types of Black people stories we’ve come to know and love.

So The Root decided to list the black folks who don’t fall into those categories:


Before anyone pipes up with a reference to The Cosby Show, try to remember that it ended more than 15 years ago. And the Obamas don’t count either—there’s nothing “middle class” about being the President of the United States. So what we’re ultimately left with is a case study in the coverage of extremes. CNN’s Black in America 2 offered a prime example of this in its choices of subjects: They showed the obligatory uplifting story of poor inner-city children being inspired to achieve their dreams, and later shifted gears to offer a peek into the world of the Black elite—mansions and debutante balls for all. Black families that fall squarely in between these two ends of the spectrum remain invisible.


Did you hear? Bible-thumping, Obama-loving, and gay-hating blacks put the nail in the coffin of gay marriage in California. Yes sirree, according to coverage of Proposition 8 in several mainstream media outlets, all these black folks are very socially conservative and don’t hold with that same-sex relationship nonsense. Oh, unless they’re closeted gangsters on the down low or something, creeping behind the backs of their wives. Other than that, nope—no healthy, happy, non-dysfunctional gay or lesbian relationships among African-Americans. Move it along folks, nothing to see here.


Because only little white girls disappear, apparently. If you’re male, or a person of color—or to be honest, even just a brunette—and you have the misfortune of being kidnapped or otherwise going missing, good luck ever being seen or heard from again.


To hear the mainstream media tell it, black people are all just a-wavin’ our fans and catchin’ the Holy Ghost in the pews, like extras in a Tyler Perry movie. That’s why any politician who wants the black vote must give adequate attention to The Black Church by showing up at a Christian service or two. There are, of course, Black adherents to other faiths, not to mention (horrors!) Black atheists and agnostics. In fact, a CBS survey found that at least one-third of American Muslims are Black! But as usual, the compulsion to paint Black people as a monolith, combined with a dash of historical nostalgia—(The Civil Rights movement was centered in churches! Their strong faith in Jesus carried them through slavery!)—keeps coverage of Black people and religion safely insulated from such nuance.


If the constant hysterical repetition of the scary statistics is to be believed, you’re about as likely to run into a happily married, educated Black woman with children as you are to be handed a pot of tax-free gold by a leprechaun riding on the back of a unicorn. The most recent incarnation of the “Black women with degrees are condemned to spinsterhood” article appeared on MSNBC earlier this month. It helpfully explained that “many” Black women with advanced degrees remain unmarried—no specific number, just the ominous “many.” The piece then went on to tell that 38 percent of highly educated Black women born between 1961 to 1970 are childless. The other way to say that statistic, of course, is that 62 percent of those highly educated Black women do have children. But I’m guessing a headline like “A Solid Majority Of Highly Educated Black Women Will Marry and Have Children” just wouldn’t get as many clicks, or be as fun to recycle and reprint several times a year.


Did you know that nearly 40 percent of people on the African continent live in urban areas? That means cities, like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. No? Of course you didn’t. How could you, when most American news coverage of African countries looks like a bunch of extended “Save the Children” commercials?


No surprise here—the existence of black police officers is simply inconvenient, from a narrative standpoint. How else but by ignoring the existence of minority law enforcement officials could media outlets continue to crank out new spins on the old classic “Black Folks Have Historically Fraught Relationship With The (Racist) Cops” story? Don’t believe me? Take a look at this photo, from the recent racial dust-up surrounding the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


Your eyes are not deceiving you. That is, in fact, a black man wearing a police uniform in the bottom right corner of the photo. But the mainstream media pulled a Beyonce and directed everyone’s attention to the left, to the left, so that they could continue with their regularly scheduled programming.

Maybe someday the mainstream media will catch on and start covering these groups in a meaningful way. But until then, keep an eye out for these characters lurking in the background of the usual stories, hoping to be heard. Because seemingly imaginary people are people too.

Magazines geared towards black folks are struggling

Just like mainstream magazines, magazines geared towards black folks are struggling.  I read an interesting article about this yesterday. I noticed that Ebony Magazine issued a July/August issue this year.  I can’t remember Ebony doing that before.  In my eyes it’s not a good sign when a magazine that’s been around for decades goes from a monthly publication to bi-monthly.  But the September issue was September only.

African American media struggling to survive

“Ebony” and “Jet” are struggling and a longtime African-American paper in Boston is in financial trouble.

Just like mainstream media, African American publications and media outlets are struggling. Fans of “Ebony” and “Jet” — two of the oldest black magazines — are urging friends not to cancel their subscriptions. But despite more than two million subscribers, owner Johnson Publications has had to mortgage its historic Chicago office building.

Minority broadcasters have asked the Treasury Secretary for what amounts to a temporary bailout, and in Massachusetts, the long-time African American newspaper “The Bay State Banner” closed until it received a bridge loan from the city of Boston. During that time, it missed one of the biggest race-based stories of the year: The arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.



I’ve been a long time subscriber to Ebony and Jet magazines. I’ve been reading Ebony and Jet since the 70’s when my family had a subscription. I’ll probably keep my Ebony subscription for a while but I’m not sure about Jet. That magazine keeps getting slimmer and slimmer by the week.

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