One Woman Gets The Pedestal, Does Another Deserve The Trash?

1920041_605008909581805_2046567800_nThis cartoon has been making its way around the Internet. It was brought to my attention via Facebook. As I watched the discussion unfold, everybody separated into two very polar and distinct camps:

1. Why must we praise one woman at the expense of another just because some of us don’t agree with their persona, representation, etc.

2. Burn Nicki Minaj in effigy as she is nowhere near a role model or person to be held up by any body, not even her own mother who should be ashamed for bearing her onto the world to create music like “Lookin’ A** N*ggas” and “Starships”.

For those who can’t see it or don’t get it allow me to recap: Cutnedge Cartoons created a cartoon that shows a little girl who has fallen in love with with recent pedestal queen Lupita and looks upon her as a new role model while discarding to the trash her pictures/posters of Nicki Minaj, presumably her previous misguided role model. Or at least that’s the point I’m taking from it.

I don’t purport to be a woman nor do I pretend to understand what its like to be a Black woman. So I won’t be speaking for women here. And for the life of me, this isn’t even as much about Lupita vs Nicki Minaj as it is this: while I get what the cartoon was doing, is it really necessary to specifically point out somebody in attempts to eschew an image that perhaps has met its end?

For the record, despite the cartoon’s intentions and no matter how happy us renjas (reading ninjas) are about the win, Nicki Minaj is just as likely to remain a media darling. Somebody wants her to win no matter how much some folks claim to hate her. Which I don’t get at all. I absolutely do not get the Nicki Minaj hate. In fact, I didn’t even realize it existed until reading the comments on FB.

What it brought to mind was what happens all the time: something isn’t an issue until we make it one. Many people are worried about children they don’t have or can’t stand and don’t want these children looking up to Nicki Minaj all the while forgetting that if you raise your kids right then hopefully they’ll make decisions that allow them to own their own self-identity no matter who they like.

In fact, this is my goal for my daughter. I remember having a conversation with a friend (I may have shared this before but bear with me) about his hope that his daughter didn’t end up like Beyonce. My counter was that while it isn’t my goal, I wouldn’t be mad if my educated and self-confident made choices to become the next star and owned her image and sexuality. As long as she’s in control and doesn’t end up being exploited. That’s how I feel about Nicki Minaj. And oddly, about Lupita.

Let’s have an honesty box moment: Lupita is getting A LOT of love these days. Like a lot a lot. Yes, she’s beautiful. But she’s catching love from folks who haven’t even seen 12 Years A Slave. The idea of Lupita seems more lofty than the actual person at this point. She represents something. Maybe its the counter to the ratchet woman out there (Nicki-types). She’s the anti-basketball wife: a well-educated, well-spoken, beautiful woman of color, who has achieved at her craft, and she represents the “natural” woman. Because let’s be clear, Jennifer Hudson won this award some years back and I don’t remember people caring nearly this much. Point is, Lupita represents something to many people.

And she’s doing it on her own terms. So it makes sense why so many love Lupita. But does that mean that loving one means that the other has to get kicked to the curb? Why not toss the image of women being exploited or whatever is wrong in our community in the trash. Nicki Minaj represents a woman who is winning in a man’s field (rap) and winning in the American art of media. She may be selling sex, but so is Rihanna. Hell, Rihanna is only selling sex because its not like she’s a good singer, dancer, or actor. So how does Nicki Minaj end up as the target? She’s successful.

I don’t know, I know we view success differently depending on how its achieved. The best pr0n star on the planet is still a pr0n star and thus not worthy of praise. And I can understand that argument. But a Nicki Minaj like individual is achieving it as a rapper and as a pop star. Why is that okay to trash? She’s not part of any scandals. The most annoying she’s been was on American Idol with her diva behavior and she was on there with Mariah Carey, one of THE most diva-like divas of all time. She looks sexxy while spittin’ like a dude. And she’s won because of it. What am I missing?

My question is more along the lines of folks who think a) its okay to uplift one person while pissing all over another; and b) believe that the picture makes perfect sense because Lupita is this glamourous woman of virtue while Nicki represents the worst of Black womanhood or something. I love ‘em both and respect them.

Break it down for me. What do you see in that picture?


Non-Conventional Gifts That Make Me Happy During This Holiday Season

Black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow.

Black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow.

Or any season really…

With Christmas right around the corner, I’ve been a bit reflective lately. It’s important to sit back and take the time to realize the little things in life and the tiny blessings that have been bestowed upon from out yonder and up above. If you take a second to truly look at life in all of its glory, you will realize that there is evidence that whoever you pray to was busy leaving little easter eggs all over the place. You know the kind of places where compromise has come full circle.

Yes, that higher power, what a great person. So it is in this season that I thank 8 pound, 6 ounce baby Jesus who don’t even know a word yet (though I happen to prefer mine with a mullet) for the bevy of good tidings he brings for me and my kin. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

With that being said, here a bunch of little blessings to be thankful for during this holiday season.

- unattractive men with big bank accounts

- unattractive women with great bodies

- multi-colorway Jordan’s

- Honey Jack Daniels Whiskey

- short men with great personalities

- overt racism

- Duck Dynasty (even despite the recent comments which to me is just like the Chik-Fil-A kerfluffle a few years ago)

- White Hennessey

- Black Twitter

- White Wegman’s

- Hybrid SUVs

- Cuffin’ season for the cold months

- Summer dresses for the hot months

- Strobe lights for drunken nights at the club

- Sweet & Sour Gummie Bears

- Boxer briefs

- women in wife beaters

- Black Santa

- White Jesus

- White Santa

- Black Jesus

- Beyonce albums when you least expect them

- Beyonce albums when you do expect them

- HBCU pride

- PWI ambivalence about HBCU pride

- Allen wrench drill bits for IKEA furniture

- Kanye West rants

- Answers to questions that Kanye thinks there are no answers to

- All Black everything

- Racks on racks

- The intro to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “Foe Tha Love Of Money”

- The intro to Mint Condition’s “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)”

- non-Black women with big ole booties

- big ole booties

- brown paper packages tied up with string

- 2 Chainz

- The reaction of people when you yell 2 Chainz in a crowded room

- Finding dreams that were deferred

- Asinine opinions on music

- Pet rocks to throw at people with asinine opinions on music

- naked cartwheels on hardwood floors

- The Willie Warmer

And with that…I’ll stop. So what are some non-conventional gifts that you are thankful for this holiday season?


Who I’m Iz In 5 Karakters Or Less…

1330010904_35icj4It’s Friday. And on Friday at VSB we try to have a little bit of fun around here. Well, a few days ago I made a few references to the movie Class Act which starred Kid and Play. I’ve long been associated with Kid. I always get told that I look like him, which I’m totally on the fence about. But real talk, I can totally associate with Kid’s character in the House Party movies. I didn’t have an overbearing comedian father who died and went to heaven in part two of my life story, but we are both lightskint.

Well, this got me to thinking, what five characters in movies or television shows, or whatever, would encompass the greatness that is Panama Jackson. And there’s a lot of greatness here to encompass.

So here’s my shot at picking characters that I think would best make up moi, Panama Dontavious Jackson.

1. Harper Stewart (The Best Man)

Minus admitting to be a b*tch a**, Harp was an ole writing arse ninja who put too much of his business out there for world consumption and paid for it dearly.  He almost got thrown from a roof. That’s never happened to me as I’m not Vanilla Ice (even if it is a myth I find it hilarious), but the writing and putting it all out there is similar. I’ll take the Oprah shoutout but you know she ain’t caaaaaaallll me? Anyway, Harp’s on my list.

2. Andre “Dre” Ellis (Brown Sugar)

I promise I won’t make this a Taye Diggs-a-thon. But Dre was the hiphop dude who got caught up in trying to keep it real while trying to keep it profitable. Hello, VSB? Constant struggle. Granted, I feel like his hiphop knowledge was a bit fugazi and mine is extensive as a ninja rocking Extenze with a Swedish penis pump, but thats just splitting hairs.

3. Preston Meyers (Can’t Hardly Wait)

I was the quintessential guy everybody knew who was pining away for the girl who had no clue I existed back in high school. Though thats not completely true. I had a girlfriend. I just shouldn’t have. But I did have a crush on a girl back then. And she ain’t care. But I was a cool kid and everybody knew me. The stoners loved my theories. The skaters loved my wheels. The black folks were my friends and the white folks respected my intellect. I was cooler than you. Word to the guy who sings that song.

4. Steve Urkel (Family Matters)

Hopeless romantic with a good heart extraordinaire. And the killer glasses and suspenders set. Not in 2013. But in 1995? Awwww…that’s me.

5. Will Smith (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

I was never really a Theo. I was more Will. But Will who applied himself in class and school. But even now. I’m cool as a fan but goofy as all get out. Goofy in the…well I don’t know how to describe it fully, I just know that in my own estimation, I feel like i matchup well with Will Smith from the Fresh Prince. I could be lying to myself, but now I’m lying to you all too.

So those are 5 characters that I feel help make up the essence of Panama Jackson. Who makes up the essence of you? And why? Share with us like you are Brother Numpsey.

It’s Friday. Happy weekending.

Somebody’s birthday is Monday.


Is It Me or Has The Blackosphere Run Out Of Things To Talk About?

That's totally racism! She should leave him! Be strong sister. Beyonce teaches us this!

That’s totally racism! She should leave him! Be strong sister. Beyonce teaches us this!

This ain’t funny so don’t you dare laugh, but I think that Black thought has run out of ideas. And I’m not talking the rapper from the Roots crew. No, I’m talking the majority component of Black conversation starters and “influencers”. Yes, the Ebony’s and Essence’s and Clutch’s* and Madame Noires*, etc.

Basically, the places that Black folks congregate to discuss Black issues. VSB included though I’m going to give us a TOTALLY non-biased pass since we’re a two-man deep operation. But it seems like, actually, it IS like, there are four topics worthy of talking about in the pages of Blackness – relationships, race, pop culture, and self-empowerment.

I’ve perused all of the Black intelligentsia pages – and I realize thats probably a misnomer – and there’s very little to do with politics and health or anything that isn’t purely opinion based. This isn’t to say that I don’t think that Black folks don’t have opinions on politics or finances (Black Enterprise is one good source), but it does seem that we stay as far away as possible from those topics in some of the most popular sources for Black “material.”

Now, I’d be intentionally ignoring the elephant in the room if I didn’t point out that those sites are largely (actually totally) geared towards women and maybe the vast majority of women who might read those sites couldn’t give two f*cks with a soda on the side of a partridge in a pear tree about partisan politics, sequesters, or anything in the political realm that doesn’t include the words Michelle Obama.

It’s possible that I’m completely ignoring the impact that sites like The Root and Huff Post Black Voices have on the community at large. Either that or I only follow and pay attention to the wrong pubs, but it really does seem like no matter where I go I see the same ho the exact same ideas and posts written different ways are presented. When I visit some of my more enjoyable mainstream (read white) sites, they’re chock full of all types of topics. I mean you can read posts about the role mice play in the World Cup. Or how electricity totally f*cks up the game for ladybugs in Santo Domingo. I’m not even saying that all of the things I read are good, interesting, or worthy of reading. But there are a slew or random but fresh ideas on lots of fresh and random topics.

Maybe its just that in the Blackosphere, there aren’t a lot of larger sites dedicated to news and thought in the same way that a Daily Beast or Huff Post or Slate can be. Even on sites like The Root, it seems like all the posts bottleneck right back into the racial component. Which isn’t wrong per se. There’s nothing wrong with that. And it’s important to have the facilitators of such conversations making sure that those angles are always pursued. But we still can’t seem to get past the Big Four.

Of course, there’s always the side of the argument that shows that I’m not even close to being accurate. That there are sites out there tackling all of the important issues of the day and adding new and insightful ideas to Internet and catalog of Black thought. Which is possible, but really, I don’t think that’s the case. I’m starting to think that for the most part we like to talk about those things because its one area where our opinion is all that counts and it doesn’t require being overly informed on any topic. And if you’re attempting to appeal to the most people at one time, then broad simple topics is the bread and butter to keep folks coming back. Even here at VSB, that argument can be made.

Maybe, Black folks online really only have a few things to talk about. Or maybe those of us online creating the conversations don’t think the audiences care about anything else. Or maybe OJ didn’t do it but did it at the same damn time.

I don’t really know.

But I do have to wonder, have we run out of things to talk about in the Blackosphere?

Talk to me.


Independence Day: Give Us Free!

I recently moved and have been without cable for over a week and some change now. Oh, and my new neighborhood? Well, let’s just say that I’ve got enough material so far to establish a whole new Pulitzer Prize winning journalistic career about life sociological differences on the other side of the railroad tracks. I’m talking about writing snapshots of life that would make Gordon Parks jealous. wish I was joking. I am not. Be prepared. I’ve got a slew of posts coming down the pipeline and I’ve only been here for a week.

Anyway, back to my lack of cable. Now one would think that life sans cable would leave me, somebody whose entire life revolves around pop cultures and “what’s going on”, feeling a bit empty inside. But with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and the WiFi that I’m borrowing from somebody (this is a feat in and of itself around here…trust me), I don’t feel like I’ve missed a thing. Well that’s not completely true…I have missed Love & Hip-Hop: ATL and that has made me sad. But it’s also made me happy because, well, I’ve missed Love & Hip-Hop: ATL. This type of conundrum has to be what W.E.B. DuBois was really talking about with his whole double consciousness thing. Forget being Black making it in a white world, it’s all about that #ratchetlife. Or not. See? I’ve got a foot in and out of that world. Help me. I’m like Nicki Minaj on a David Guetta song.

I’ve lost my way.

Freedom. Wednesday (tomorrow) is July 4th and since it’s a day based upon the Freedom of this great land of ours, and more since I have lived a week without cable, I figured I’d delve into other things that I previously thought I couldn’t live without but it turns out that, well, I just may be able to do so.

Oh, it hasn’t been all roses. Not having ESPN and my NewsChannel8 in the morning has been troubling. #HiJummy

Moving on…

1. Nas

(Yeah, this list is TOTALLY not going where you thought it was. #imsoratchet)

Sure he’s one of the greatest rappers of all time, but if you never heard another Nas song again…would you notice? I don’t think so. In fact, I’ll bet that outside of backpack hip-hop heads and folks who like to argue about hip-hop, nobody talks about Nas until he releases an album, and then stops immediately after the album has hit stores. That’s me. Nas? I can live without his career at this point.

Along the same lines…

2. D’Angelo

I thought I missed D’Angelo until I realized that I’ve lived without his music for damn near 15 years. At this point, it’s okay, D. Stay away. We’re good. We’ve moved on. The only good think about D’Angelo performing at the BET Awards is that we’re either one step closer to hell actually freezing over or Detox coming out. My money is on the Grim Reaper pissing icicles over the River Styx while pilgrims get stuck in the waters that slaves waded in…down by the riverside (down by).

3. Black major distributed films

Sure we’d all like to have a movie that Black folks can go to the movies to see in unison like Think Like A Man and NOT have to cringe if you read or defend it if you don’t. But real talk, I can just sit on Netflix all day and watch movies that nobody in their right mind should see. I don’t need to see another Love Jones as long as people keep making movies like He’s Mine, Not Yours. By the way, Jason Weaver is criminally slept on. If he had won over Kevin Hart as Best Black Male actor, then I’d be okay with it.

4. Expensive arse shoes

Maybe I’m getting old (possible) or maybe I just don’t see the value in them anymore (likely). Now every time I open my closet and look at my $200 Foams I just shake my head. A lot. In fact, the shoes I get the most wear out of are my Chucks. As in my $45 shoes that function in all surroundings from white bars to Black hip-hop functions (though I acknowledge that hip-hop functions are a shoe lovers wet dream). This includes Jordan’s by the way, except the 4s. I can’t lie, if I can ever get my hands on a pair, I’ll pay $200 for them and not think twice about it.

5. All mainstream hiphop

Yeah. Easy target. But that’s that sh*t I don’t like. Which is partially a lie. I like Rick Ross when he’s making good music. He just hasn’t been doing that lately to me. Oh, and I know nobody will agree with me, but I’m possibly the onliest person alive who hasn’t been moved by anything coming from this G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer album. I don’t love “New God Flow” and never liked “Mercy”. Heresy? Possibly. But I miss the old Kanye.

Alright, that’s a few things that I can live without now. So…what about you? It’s the day before the 4th. Enjoy yourself.

And have a Happy 4th of July! We’re taking a break around here for the holiday so have a good time and don’t get hit by any fireworks…like I did last year. True story, I got hit in my arm and leg by a rocket and had to dive behind a car to save myself from the rocket exploding all up in my life space. It also dented my car.

Sharing is caring.


DC: Also don’t forget to RSVP for REMINISCE this Saturday, July 7, 2012. It’s free before 11pm with an RSVP and $10 after. We’re celebrating the 1-year anniversary of Urban Cusp, the birthday of our DJ, Supa Qool DJ Quartermaine, and the 90s! Real hip-hop dog. Open bar and no dress code? Where ELSE should you be??? Party like a rock star with VSB, baby.