Tag Archives: culture

Courtland Milloy wants you to tone it down

Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy isn’t happy about what he’s seeing in the comments section of his column. He thinks some folks act like drunken bums in a barroom brawl. But you know what?  It’s not just Courtland’s columns or the Washington Post that have this problem. You see this in quite a number of newspaper sites that allow comments.  The comments areas says to report abusive posts but does that help any? I wonder if the Post or any other paper really monitor their comments section.

Online Readers Should Tone Down the Invective

By Courtland Milloy
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Who are you people?

You get invited to make comments about my work on The Washington Post Web site, and you turn my online message post into a dart board. You swagger into cyberspace under assumed names and start hurling invectives like drunks in a barroom brawl.

Sorry, but I must ask some of you to go elsewhere.

I wrote a column recently about alleged racial discrimination in the D.C. fire department, then went to see what I hoped would be your enlightened responses. What I found was uva2manassas and ged0368 at each others’ throats. And now I’ve had enough. I’m used to getting impassioned feedback, but this was out of hand.

UVA2: “Instead of stupidly reponding ‘racism’ to every critism, prove blacks aren’t lazy morons by bettering yourself.”

GED: “you are a racist white reneck. White ppl did the slaving on every race.”

Look at that, using broken English like shards of a whiskey bottle to attack each other.

Such uncouth behavior not only discourages thoughtful guests from expressing their views, but it also diminishes my online reader profile. As my colleague David Ignatius noted in his op-ed column Sunday about the future of the newspaper business, newspaper Web sites need to become more profitable if we are to survive. And the more we know about our online readers, the more precisely we can sell their demographics to advertisers.

Sure, I get some intelligent comment, but lately I’m wondering what to make of the growth of an increasingly noxious demographic.

I’ll read the comments in a few articles but most times I don’t bother cause some folks are just plain crazy.

That’s why I’m happy that blogs like WordPress let you have the opportunity to approve comments.  I tried the other method of letting folks comment without approval and let’s just say never again.  Some folks just don’t know how to respond to a blog post in a civilized manner.

A commentary on black moms

I read an interesting commentary from Fannie Flono, Associate Editor for the Charlotte Observer titled Black moms, my mom and Michelle Obama. She talks about the image of black moms and specifically Michelle Obama. Considering that mainstream media and some black media have pretty much shown images of black women as lazy welfare queens, video vixens and teenage single moms, Michelle Obama is a much needed refreshing change.  Yes I know some folks are sick of seeing and hearing about Michelle Obama but after decades of negativity about black women or treating normal, non stereotypical black women like we’re invisible, I enjoy reading about Michelle Obama.  I’m sure the media circus surrounding the FLOTUS will slow down eventually.

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Black moms, my mom and Michelle Obama

By FANNIE FLONO
McClatchy Newspapers

What I’m liking most about Michelle Obama being first lady is this: She puts on public display an image of black women and black mothers that many African-Americans can identify with, but that others have viewed as an anomaly. I’m not talking about her being a Harvard-educated lawyer or dressing in designer clothes or personally knowing Oprah. That sets her apart from most of us.

But her loving relationship with her husband and her devotion to her children are familiar to many of us who have grown up in black households. It’s the stereotype of the wild-haired, bedraggled-looking “welfare queens” or booty-shaking, single teen moms that gives us pause.

Sure, those people exist. But they’re not who most black women are. The last census showed 62 percent of black women worked for a living (as opposed to 60 percent of white women). The census also showed that 79 percent of blacks and 89 percent of whites earned at least a high school diploma. Nearly 30 percent of each group had some college education. For blacks, the majority of both were women.

It is true that 65 percent of black births were to unwed mothers. But that’s not the same as saying 65 percent of black single women had children. The census shows 39 percent of black women are childless, and 43 percent of black families are married couples.

So the idea of a Michelle Obama-like black mom is not a fairy tale, not the exception. It is the heart-warming reality a lot of us know.

Check out the entire article here.

Where do people feel the most positive about life?

Well it’s not the United States which didn’t rank in the top ten.  If you’re looking for the ideal place where people have the most positive outlook on life then take a look at Europe.  According to a new report released by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), people are the most happiest in European countries. Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands have the happiest people in the world followed by Sweden, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, Norway and Belgium.

According to Forbes.com:

The report looked at subjective well-being, defined as life satisfaction. Did people feel like their lives were dominated by positive experiences and feelings, or negative ones?

To answer that question, the OECD used data from a Gallup World Poll conducted in 140 countries around the world last year. The poll asked respondents whether they had experienced six different forms of positive or negative feelings within the last day.

Some sample questions: Did you enjoy something you did yesterday? Were you proud of something you did yesterday? Did you learn something yesterday? Were you treated with respect yesterday? In each country, a representative sample of no more than 1,000 people, age 15 or older, were surveyed. The poll was scored numerically on a scale of 1-100. The average score was 62.4.

Even though the current economic crisis is worldwide, the top scoring countries still boast some of the highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the world.

Another factor in the study was work life balance. While countries such as Denmark with a high score of 90.1 boast a high GDP per capita of $68,000, the average workweek in that part of the world is no more than 37 hours. But in countries such as China which received a low score of just 14.8, the workweek is 47 hours and the GDP per capita is just $3,600.

Eighty-two year old great grandfather is Powerball jackpot winner

Yes folks, the lawyer representing an 82 year old great grandfather from Southeast D.C. has claimed the $144 million Powerball jackpot. The drawing was held on April 8. The widower with 10 children and 47 grandchildren and great grandchildren notified his family last night that he was the Powerball jackpot winner. Last week I mentioned that a lawyer had contacted D.C. lottery officials claiming to represent the winner.

Elderly Southeast Man Is Powerball Jackpot Winner
Corporation Is Created to Shield Claimant’s Identity

By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer

A lawyer for an 82-year-old Southeast Washington man claimed the $144 million Powerball jackpot today on behalf of a corporation set up to shield the winner’s identity.

The man, a widower with 10 children and 47 grandchildren and great grandchildren, told his family last night that he was the holder of the lucky ticket for the April 8 drawing. The ticket was purchased at the Giant supermarket on Alabama Avenue in Southeast Washington.

David Wilmot, the lawyer, said the man will take the lump sum payment of $79.6 million. Wilmot, who said he has known the man for several years, accepted the winnings on behalf of the Rockson LLC at a news conference today at the lottery claim center.

The winner has formed three different trusts, Wilmot said. One is an education trust for his grandchildren and great grandchildren, another to provide healthcare for his family and another will give money to charitable causes.

Wilmot said often when families suddenly come into large sums of money that “it’s intense and acrimonious. In this case . . . All I have seen at this point is love.”

I can see why he took his time claiming his lottery prize.  He probably wanted to think things over as to how to handle his winnings.  I’m glad to see he created a trust for his grandchildren and great grandchildren and he’s providing healthcare for his family.  And great move waiting until last night to tell the family.

Congrats to the 82 year old great grandfather!!

From the White House to the big screen

On November 7, 2008 the Washington Post had an excellent article about former White House butler Eugene Allen. Mr. Allen started working at the White House in 1952 and retired in 1986. He served under eight presidents. 

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A Butler Well Served by This Election
For 34 Years, Eugene Allen Carried White House Trays With Pride. Now There’s Even More Reason to Carry Himself That Way.

By Wil Haygood
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 7, 2008

For more than three decades Eugene Allen worked in the White House, a black man unknown to the headlines. During some of those years, harsh segregation laws lay upon the land.

He trekked home every night, his wife, Helene, keeping him out of her kitchen.

At the White House, he worked closer to the dirty dishes than to the large desk in the Oval Office. Helene didn’t care; she just beamed with pride.

President Truman called him Gene.

President Ford liked to talk golf with him.

He saw eight presidential administrations come and go, often working six days a week. “I never missed a day of work,” Allen says.

His is a story from the back pages of history. A figure in the tiniest of print. The man in the kitchen.

He was there while America’s racial history was being remade: Brown v. Board of Education, the Little Rock school crisis, the 1963 March on Washington, the cities burning, the civil rights bills, the assassinations.

When he started at the White House in 1952, he couldn’t even use the public restrooms when he ventured back to his native Virginia. “We had never had anything,” Allen, 89, recalls of black America at the time. “I was always hoping things would get better.”

In its long history, the White House — just note the name — has had a complex and vexing relationship with black Americans.

According to Empire Online, Eugene Allen’s life will be hitting the big screen. The movie titled The Butler, will be written by actor/screenwriter Danny Strong who wrote the script for the HBO drama Recount.

A couple of months ago, we reported that Sony and producer Laura Ziskin had agreed to make a movie about the life story of Eugene Allen, an African-American butler who had served at the White House for over thirty years, and under eight presidents.

Well, now the movie has got a title, the simple and elegant The Butler (a damn sight better than A Butler Well Served By This Election, the title of the Washington Post article which inspired the film) – and a writer as well.

Danny Strong, who wrote the acclaimed political drama Recount for HBO, has been hired to write the movie, based on Wil Haygood’s Washington Post article. The story not only delves into Allen’s career at the White House and his personal interactions with Presidents, but also the optimism he and his wife, Helene, shared in the run-up to Barack Obama’s election – an election that, sadly, Helene never got to see, as she died the day before.

No director or cast has yet been attached to the movie, which sounds – even at this early stage – like it has Oscar potential.

The article about Eugene Allen is a must read. You can check it out here and you can also read about his attending President Barack Obama’s Inauguration here.

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Are baby faced black men less threatening?

According to a study by Professor Robert Livingston of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management they are.  According to the study black male CEO’s who have innocent looking faces are considered less threatening and less hostile.

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Black CEOs better off if they have a baby face

KELLOGG SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT Study shows youthful features help African Americans in business

BY MIKE THOMAS Staff Reporter

“Baby face, you’ve got the cutest little baby face,” goes the classic lover’s ode.

As it turns out, having an innocent-looking, oh-so-pinchable countenance may be attractive in non-amorous ways as well.

But only if the baby face is black, according to a study spearheaded by Professor Robert Livingston of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. His findings — titled “The Teddy Bear Effect: Does babyfaceness benefit black CEOs?” — will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.

Livingston, an assistant professor of management and organizations, and co-author Nicholas Pearce defined “babyfaceness” by the following physical traits: rounder face, larger forehead, smaller nose, larger ears and fuller, pouty lips. They’re all part of what Livingston refers to as “disarming mechanisms.”

“It’s any feature, trait or quality of a person that makes them appear to be less threatening and less hostile, and we believe that’s really critical for black males,” said Livingston, who has studied such areas as social inequality and institutional discrimination for nearly a decade. “Because the default, based on stereotypes in the society, is that many people perceive black males to be hostile and threatening. And so if you have some sort of feature that signals, ‘Hey, you don’t have to be afraid of me,’ or ‘I’m just like you,’ then that makes people feel more comfortable with these individuals in positions of power.”

The study asked non-black men and women to evaluate head-shot photos of 10 black men and 30 white women and men. The 10 blacks all were current or former CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

Participants rated each photo based on perceived babyfaceness, attractiveness, age and appearance. They were also asked about perceived personality traits, how warm the person seemed and whether he or she would be a competent leader.

Across the board, the black CEOs were thought to be warmer and more baby-faced. In addition, the more baby-faced black CEOs were thought to draw higher salaries. The perceptions turned out to be true: The more baby-faced the CEO, the more prestigious the company he led.

Conversely, past studies have shown that babyfaceness hinders rather than helps white males who aspire to positions of power.

So are black men who don’t have a face that a grandma can pinch suppose to surgically change their looks?  Especially if they want to become successful CEOs.

Time Magazine: The 100 most influential people for 2009

Time Magazine has come out with it’s annual list of the 100 most influential people of 2009.

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Included in the list are Africa’s Dambisa Moya, Roland Fryer, who became the youngest tenured African-American professor in Harvard University’s history, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, German Chancellor Angela MerkelPresident Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Captain Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger, the ladies from The View and FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair. This is just a small sample of the folks listed.  Check out the entire list at Time.com.

Liberal Hollywood’s dirty little secret

I was checking out Racialicious and saw this post about a Fade In Magazine article, Minority Report:  Liberal Hollywood’s Dirty Little Secret. We all know about so called liberal Hollywood.  After reading this article, it all comes to light as to why television and film is pretty much dominated by white males and why quality scripted television shows with a predominantly black cast have pretty much disappeared from network television.  People of color are still on television, but we’re pretty much relegated to supporting characters with a few lines thrown in or we’re just there looking like we’re a part of the furniture.  And let’s not forget the whitewashing that goes on in film.

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I have blogged/bitched about the continuing whitewashing that goes on in Hollywood and this article just proves that it ain’t going away anytime soon.

Check out some of the comments from folks who work in Hollywood:

Screenwriter “Hollywood’s not liberal. That is such an oxymoron; such a joke. There are so many things… I don’t even know where to begin, because it’s so pinned up, because you have to control it. One of the things that Hollywood, along with society, has successfully done is blame the victim. You’re the victim of racism, but they blame you if you say anything. You will never be able to get behind a computer again in your life.

“Hollywood is anything but liberal. I call them liberal bigots. Hollywood is filled with liberal bigots, and they use the thing of being liberal as a reason for being bigoted, for if they’d listen to themselves talk, and listen to their friends talk, they would find that they tell way too many black jokes, ethnic jokes.”

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Screenwriter “I wrote a very celebrated movie. I busted my ass, worked hard. I would meet with the director from nine o’clock in the morning – to talk, not to write – until about twelve or one o’clock in the morning. Now, it took that long, because he was on the phone, all of the time, chitchatting with his friends. It should have been a shorter meeting. Then I would write until two or three o’clock in the morning. I finish the script and do all of this work, and then him and another white guy lie and say they wrote it! And white Hollywood believed them over me. I couldn’t fight it, because if I tried to fight it, if I were to scream racism, I’m done. He did something on the set that pushed me to the point as a man where I could have kicked his ass. Then what would have happened is the owners would have been on me: ‘Violent black writer loses his temper and beats up white director.’ Even though all of Hollywood knows that this guy is a jerk.

“Then I had to go through the whole shame of going to meetings where people were asking me, ‘So did you really write this? Can we see samples of other stuff you did?’ Even though this guy has never written anything that they can point to and go, ‘Oh, well, he’s written this.’ Since then, he hasn’t written anything, but because he was white… He said in the arbitration letter, ‘I didn’t want anybody to know my efforts were being done because I didn’t want to undermine Mr. [name withheld].’ Can you believe that? I literally cried when I read the arbitration letter. So he played the affirmative action card, [claiming] that I was an affirmative action writer. There are whites in this town who still to this day believe that this white man [wrote the script].”

I wonder who this mystery screenwriter is? I would be pissed off if some idiot took credit for my script.

Screenwriter “I went to a meeting at Warner Bros., with a producer and a director and an exec. I’m sitting there, and I’m a black writer going to write about this black guy. I won’t say what he did, because that’d give away who it was. So before the meeting started, the three white guys started telling towelhead jokes: ‘This towelhead this, this towelhead that.’ And I’m sitting there listening to them tell these towelhead jokes. The Warner Bros. exec started it, and then the producer and this director chimed in on it. I couldn’t believe this was taking place. I didn’t say a word; you know I’m not going to say an N-word joke or tell a towelhead joke because I’m next. So I’m listening to this. Then, afterwards, they then start talking about this black project, which I had no interest in pitching, because I thought, ‘You’re some of the most insincere sons of bitches I ever met in my life’ – motherfuckers is the better word. I had another life before I became a writer, and I’d never heard any shit like this before. I probably gave them one of the most insincere pitches I ever gave in my life because I didn’t want to be a part of [anything with] these three assholes. I couldn’t believe they were doing it. It was totally unnecessary.”

Producer “I remember when I produced my very first movie. I was sitting in a room with a very famous director and his development staff. I was the only female in the room, and I kept making suggestions to cut different scenes, [like] one too many funerals. And I was completely ignored. Cut to this very famous director. He would say the same exact thing that I had said, not even a minute after I said it. And everyone at the meeting would be like, ‘Oh, yes. Good idea. That’s what we should do!’ It was like I never said it. I was invisible. I don’t know if that was sexism, but it sure felt like it. My opinion didn’t matter. Why was I talking?

“So there are those instances, and then there are other scenarios where I’ve had many projects, in particular dramas, that either told black history or featured black actors. It’s virtually impossible to get them made unless they’re comedies. So sexism and racism exist, and Hollywood is hypocritical. I don’t know if it will ever change, sadly. How many female directors do you see out there? How many female producers? There’re a few, but not very many. You see what they do to actresses after a certain age, and what they do to any project that stars an actress. Those films are very hard to get made. The only instance where things have changed with respect to black films is if and when they find a way to make money off of them. Then all they want is that particular kind of film.

“A lot of times I don’t think that the upper echelon of Hollywood are leaders but followers, because they always follow what makes money, and that’s due to the corporatization of the business. What makes money is typically these franchises and testosterone-filled movies based on games. Only when they see something profit do they think, ‘Oh, we should make more movies like that.’ So the reality is that people came out for Obama. If they came out for films, good films instead of just shit films, or the films that have the most marketing, then maybe these other films would have a chance. But they don’t. They don’t come out for movies that feature women, they don’t come out and support or champion films that are directed or produced by women. So until such a time that there’s a revolution, like there just was, then I don’t really see it changing.”

Executive “The television industry is much more homogenous than the film industry. And someone needs to talk about it. Look at who’s coming up in the rank and file. There’s no one, when it comes to executives and when it comes to writers. Why’s Shonda Rhimes such a big story? Because she’s one of two thousand writers in the Guild that are working, that are showrunner level. I love the way agents pitch black writers in their cover letters… They’re always ‘urban writers,’ even if they grew up in suburbia. It’s so insulting.”

Director “Nobody has sort of blatantly been racist to me in the room. I’m a big African-American male who’s known to have a volatile sort of disposition, so people don’t really tend to do that shit to me in the room because I’ll punch a motherfucker out. People have said shit to me that I consider racist – not really racist, but you know the way they value the picture… ‘Black films have no foreign value, they’re only good for this amount.’

“You try to get done what you can, but what you sort of have to remember is that even people like Will Smith or Denzel Washington fought tremendously hard to get to where they’re at. You’ve got to remember, there’s only one of them, and there’s millions of us, so they do what they can. Like The Secret Life of Bees. They were instrumentally involved in that picture getting made. But name another movie this year where you have four black women in it. There ain’t even any other pictures made with four black men in it. Well, Miracle at St. Anna. OK? That’s not the way it works. They make whatever becomes hot. The problem is getting someone to take a chance. Back when they did Boyz n the Hood, they kept wanting to make that type of picture. Now that Tyler Perry is doing these other types of pictures that are garnering money, they only make that type of picture. It’s the same as the old sort of argument. Is Hollywood racist? Absolutely. Can I point to any one specific thing? No. It’s societal. It’s so ingrained in the fabric of it that you can’t really put your finger on it. Do they limit the budgets of African-American pictures? Absolutely. You almost start at a disadvantage.”

I was reading this article on the subway last week and all I could do was shake my head in disgust.  I feel sorry for women and folks of color who have to put up with this nonsense.  And you thought things were bad in the corporate world for regular folks.  I remember reading an interview by a black actress a few years ago who stated that Hollywood seems to be the only place where folks who do the hiring when it comes to casting tv shows and movies can actually get away with saying we’re not hiring any blacks, latinos or asians.

Anyway this is just a snippet of the quotes in that article. Check out this link to read the entire article and you might have to buy the magazine to read it in it’s entirety since at the bottom of the article it states that to read more of the article subscribe here. You can buy Fade In Magazine at Barnes & Noble and Borders Bookstore.   Look for actor Daniel Craig on the cover of this issue.

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The privileged are pissed

This week’s issue of New York Magazine has a cover story on the anger going on amongst the privileged few on Wall Street. They’re feeling picked on by the majority in America. With the economy in the tank right now Main Street is outraged by the greed on Wall Street. The Wall Street folks are expressing how they feel about being the target of the anger coming from Main Street USA.

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But as Andrew Cuomo stoked public outrage by threatening to release the names of the bonus recipients, it became clear that the game was changing. When AIG employees had arrived at their desks that morning, they found a memo from Liddy asking them to return 50 percent of the money. The number infuriated many of the traders. Why 50 percent? It seemed to be picked out of a hat. The money had been promised, was the feeling. A sacred principle was at stake, along with, not incidentally, their millions.

Everyone on Wall Street is prepared to lose money. Bankers have expressions for disastrous losses: clusterfuck, Chernobyl, blowing up … But no one was prepared to lose money this way. This felt like getting mugged.

Jake DeSantis, a 40-year-old commodities trader at AIG, was an unlikely face of Wall Street greed. Stocky and clean cut, with an abiding moral streak, he’d worked summers for a bricklayer in the shadow of shuttered steel mills outside Pittsburgh; he was valedictorian of his high-school class and attended college at MIT. Compared with the way many of his Wall Street brethren lived, with their Gulfstreams, Hamptons mansions, and fleets of luxury cars, his life wasn’t one to invite scorn. He had canvassed for Obama in Scranton on Election Day and drove a Prius. His division at AIG was profitable. And since joining the company in 1998, he had never traded a single credit-default swap.

Now his boss was selling him out. DeSantis left work that day feeling that his world was falling apart. The next day, the House passed—by a wide margin—a bill that would levy a 90 percent tax on bonuses at firms that were bailed out. The Connecticut Working Families Party planned to bus protesters to the homes of AIG executives in Fairfield County. There were death threats. “It’s been terrifying,” says his wife’s mother, Lynnette Baughman. “It’s like a witch hunt.”

It was in this environment that DeSantis sent his remarkable resignation letter to the New York Times. In the letter, which ran as an op-ed on March 25, he compared himself to a plumber (“None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house”) and announced that he would quit AIG and donate his bonus to charity. The letter, passionate and wounded and oddly out of touch with ordinary Americans, put a human face on Wall Street’s anger. When DeSantis arrived at the office the morning his letter appeared in the paper, the AIG traders gave him a standing ovation. In some quarters of the press, he was vilified. (As Frank Rich put it in the Times, “He didn’t seem to understand that his … $742,006.40 (net) would have amounted to $0 had American taxpayers not ponied up more than $170 billion to keep AIG from dying.”) But the fracas was useful: DeSantis had succeeded in opening up an honest conversation—as typically emotional and awkward and neurotically charged as is any conversation on the subject—about money, the first this town has had in years.

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The rage continues:

“No offense to Middle America, but if someone went to Columbia or Wharton, [even if] their company is a fumbling, mismanaged bank, why should they all of a sudden be paid the same as the guy down the block who delivers restaurant supplies for Sysco out of a huge, shiny truck?” e-mails an irate Citigroup executive to a colleague.

“I’m not giving to charity this year!” one hedge-fund analyst shouts into the phone, when I ask about Obama’s planned tax increases. “When people ask me for money, I tell them, ‘If you want me to give you money, send a letter to my senator asking for my taxes to be lowered.’ I feel so much less generous right now. If I have to adopt twenty poor families, I want a thank-you note and an update on their lives. At least Sally Struthers gives you an update.”

“All the rich people I know took George Bush for granted,” says an analyst at a midtown hedge fund. “I’m a Democrat, but I agree with Rush Limbaugh on a lot of this stuff,” rails the wife of a former AIG executive.

The article goes on to talk about the different types of rage coming from Wall Street and who they’re angry with:

Their anger takes many forms: There is rage at Obama for pushing to raise taxes (“The government wants me to be a slave!” says one hedge-fund analyst); rage at the masses who don’t understand that Wall Street’s high salaries fund New York’s budget (“We’re fucked,” says a former Lehman equities analyst, referring to the city); rage at the people who don’t “get” that Wall Street enables much of the rest of the economy to function (“JPMorgan and all these guys should go on strike—see what happens to the country without Wall Street,” says another hedge-funder).

And check this out:

To Wall Street people who have grown up in the bubble, the meaning of the crisis is only slowly sinking in. They can’t yet grasp the idea of a life lived on less. “Without exception, Wall Street guys have gotten accustomed to not being stuck in the city in August. So it becomes a right to have a summer home within an hour or two commute from Manhattan,” says the Goldman vet. “There’s a cost structure of going with your family on summer vacation that’s not optional. There’s a cost structure of spending $40,000 to send your kids to private school that is not optional. There’s a sense of entitlement, that you need that amount of money just to live, that’s not optional.”

“You can’t live in New York and have kids and send them to school on $75,000,” he continues. “And you have the Obama administration suggesting that. That was a very populist thing that Obama said. He’s being disingenuous. He knows that you can’t live in New York on $75,000.”

That was an argument I heard over and over: that the high cost of living like a wealthy person in New York necessitates high salaries. It was loopy logic, but expressed sincerely. “You could make the argument that $250,000 is a fair amount to make,” says the laid-off JPMorgan vice-president. “Well, what about the $125,000 that staffers on Capitol Hill make? They’re making high salaries for where they live, maybe we should cut their salary, too.”

You can read the entire article in all it’s glory here.

Hat tip to Post Bourgie.

Raising Katie

During my lunch break today I read a very interesting article at Newsweek.com.  I was clicking a link to an article and glanced at the title of another article. That other article was Raising Katie:  What adopting a white girl taught a black family about race in the Obama era. I clicked the link to the article since it peaked my interest. You always here about white families adopting black, latino and asian children but you never hear about black, latino and asian families adopting white children.  Of course there’s an imbalance between whites adopting children of color and people of color adopting white children.  When folks see young white children with a person of color most assume the child is with their nanny or babysitter. They never think that the adult of color could be the parent of the white child.

As a black father and adopted white daughter, Mark Riding and Katie O’Dea-Smith are a sight at best surprising, and at worst so perplexing that people feel compelled to respond. Like the time at a Pocono Mountains flea market when Riding scolded Katie, attracting so many sharp glares that he and his wife, Terri, 37, and also African-American, thought “we might be lynched.” And the time when well-intentioned shoppers followed Mark and Katie out of the mall to make sure she wasn’t being kidnapped. Or when would-be heroes come up to Katie in the cereal aisle and ask, “Are you OK?”—even though Terri is standing right there.

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The article talks about the Riding family who live near Baltimore, MD. Mark Riding and his wife Terri have two biological children.  In 2003 Terri’s mother took in a then 3 year old Katie O’Dea on a temporary basis.

That question hit home for the Ridings in 2003, when Terri’s mother, Phyllis Smith, agreed to take in Katie, then 3, on a temporary basis. A retired social worker, Phyllis had long been giving needy children a home—and Katie was one of the hardest cases. The child of a local prostitute, her toddler tantrums were so disturbing that foster families simply refused to keep her. Twelve homes later, Katie was still being passed around. Phyllis was in many ways an unlikely savior. The former president of the Baltimore chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers, she joined her colleagues in condemning the adoption of black children by white families as “cultural genocide”—a position she still holds in theory, if not in practice. She couldn’t say no to the “charming, energetic” girl who ended up on her front doorstep.

Last November, after a grueling adoption process—”[adoption officials] pushed the envelope on every issue,” says Mark—little Irish-Catholic Katie O’Dea, as pale as a communion wafer, became Katie O’Dea-Smith: a formally adopted member of the African-American Riding-Smith family. (Phyllis is her legal guardian, but Mark and Terri were also vetted as legal surrogates for Phyllis.)

To be sure, it’s an unconventional arrangement. Katie spends weekdays with Phyllis, her legal guardian. But Mark and Terri, who live around the corner, are her de facto parents, too. They help out during the week, and welcome Katie over on weekends and holidays. As for titles: Katie calls Phyllis “Mommy” and Terri “Sister,” since technically it’s true. Mark has always been “Daddy” or “Mark.”

I wonder if Phyllis Smith ever thought that she would become the legal guardian of a white girl. I do have a problem with her attitude towards transracial adoption when it comes to black children as cultural genocide. You would think that having Katie around would soften her stance a little bit.

Part of the reason for the adoptive imbalance comes down to numbers, and the fact that people tend to want children of their own race. African-Americans represent almost one third of the 510,000 children in foster care, so black parents have a relatively high chance of ending up with a same-race child. (Not so for would-be adoptive white parents who prefer the rarest thing of all in the foster-care system: a healthy white baby.) But the dearth of black families with nonblack children also has painful historical roots. Economic hardship and centuries of poisonous belief in the so-called civilizing effects of white culture upon other races have familiarized Americans with the concept of white stewardship of other ethnicities, rather than the reverse.

The result is not only discomfort among whites at the thought of nonwhites raising their offspring; African-Americans can also be wary when one of their own is a parent to a child outside their race. Just ask Dallas Cowboys All-Pro linebacker DeMarcus Ware and his wife, Taniqua, who faced a barrage of criticism after adopting a nonblack baby last February. When The New York Times sports page ran a photo of the shirtless new father with what appeared to be a white baby in his arms (and didn’t mention race in the accompanying story), it sent a slow shock wave through the African-American community, pitting supporters who celebrated the couple’s joy after three painful miscarriages against critics who branded the Wares “self-race-hating individuals” for ignoring the disproportionate number of blacks in foster care. The baby, now their daughter, Marley, is in fact Hispanic. “Do you mean to tell me that the Wares couldn’t have found a little black baby to adopt?” snarled one blogger on the Daily Voice, an online African-American newspaper.

You can read the entire article here.

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