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Yesterday, I made my way on down on to McNally-Robinsons for a book reading of Danyel Smith’s Bliss. Danyel once shouted me out on her blog, making this novice writer’s week. It was cool meeting her. Not many writers (or people in general) of her stature are willing to take the time to offer advice to those itching to follow in their footsteps. Some of my friend’s at school have horror stories. haha

I’ve started reading the book. So far, so good.

Other’s in attendance included Danyel’s husband, Elliot Wilson, of XXL and Ego Trip fame, and Toure, contributing editor at Rolling Stone. Three writers at the top of their game in the same room. One day, Michael. One day.

Though I mentioned her in a previous entry, I was finally able to sit down and take a listen to Teairra Mari’s album. Nothing particularly moving. She has a decent voice, the album offers solid production, and overall it’s okay for a first effort. Still, she’s a bit young to have such mature subject matter.

Sample lyric:

“If I take it off, would you take it slow, and promise to not let nobody know, about nothing, if I come off of this loving? It’s confidential.”

She also mentions something about a dude’s love being real as the .45 under his seat.

That and every other word in her songs seem to begin with the letter n.

Think Miss Thang on speed.

Over the last week and a half, I’ve been asked if I have heard Young Jeezy’s album. I haven’t, but I guess I’ll take a listen over the weekend. The first single is straight, thanks in part to Mannie Fresh’s helming the boards, so there may be hope.

I’ve been too busy enjoying my iPod to check out new music. I put the thing on shuffle and sat back and enjoyed the sounds of Prince’s “Billy Jack Bitch,” Sade’s “Love Is Stronger Than Pride,” Fiona Apple’s Beatles-cover, “Across The Universe,” Teedra Moses’ “Caution,” DJ Jubilee’s “Get It Ready Ready” (Where are my fellow New Orleans bounce music fans?) and everything else that’s pumping out of these tiny headphones. Technology is great…well most of the time. There are times where people go a little too far.

Such is the case with the announcement of the female android. Developers are promising that future models will appear even more life-like. Anyone else thinking of Will Smith’s wack-ass I, Robot, and similar themed films?

Alright, it’s 10 and I need to start getting ready for tomorrow. Work? Ha. I meant the Beyonce and ‘nem concert. I’m hoping Beyonce pulls on me on stage for the Janet Jackson treatment. Then again, with my luck, I’ll probably end up with Michelle, with the end result being we both catch on fire (there’s only so much friction two skinny people can handle).

As for the weekend, who knows. I definitely need to catch up on my reading list, though. As it’s been said again and again, “To be a great writer, one must be a great reader.”

And I’m out.

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Whenever I meet someone short-sighted, I always think, “There cannot be anyone worse than this.” Then usually a little later I meet someone who snatches the crown.

Rarely do I come across people who question me about attending an HBCU. Why? Well they are happy enough for me being in college, not the least bit concerned with the institution’s demographics. And that’s the difference between me and others. Yes, my friends, class differences are real and more and more are they apparent to me.

I have a friend who usually rants about snobby black college students who act as if the world should bow to them because they are surrounded by a sea of black intellectuals. I come across similar students every single day at Howard, so in that instance I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. But, when it comes to special programs geared towards students attending black institutions of higher learning, back off and stop cock-blocking.

Not everyone has the luxury of attending colleges that cost over $40,000. When I graduate from Howard, I’m likely to cap my debt off upwards of at least $50,000. I spent my entire senior year applying for various scholarships and was fortunate enough to win 17…and I’m still in massive debt. I know of people from my high school that left for NYU and other popular majority universities on partial scholarships but ultimately had to return home because they could not keep up with the tuition. I myself almost left Howard because I was worried about my mounting debt, but after a short trip home I realized that I’d much rather dive into debt at least trying to better myself than to be stuck in some nihilistic hole back home. How’s that for options?

I didn’t go to Howard for the “black experience.” My K-12 education could not have been any blacker. If anything, my experience thus far can be described as “Class Matters 101.” I have met people at Howard from my hometown (well the surrounding areas anyway) who have literally looked at me as a charity case once I reveal the name of my high school and the area I’m from. After revealing that tidbit of information to a fellow Houstonian, she responded, “Oh and you still made here? Good for you.” I think being judged solely by my background prepares me enough for the “real world.”

Besides, K-12 explained to me long ago that the world isn’t just black folk when they detail our history: We were slaves. Lincoln “freed” us. We are segregated. Martin Luther King had a dream, ended racism, and now we’re coasting.

Normally when people ask me why I went to Howard, I usually respond, “Hell I don’t know. It’s not home, so it’s all good.” However, looking back, I can understand how I ended up here a little better. One of the very few teachers who actually taught me something in high school was Mr. Caldwell, a Howard alum. He was one of the few black male teachers at my predominately black high school and one of… oh I don’t know 3 who actually bothered to teach me anything. Then there was Ms. Addison, a recruiter from Howard, who visited my high school that to this day still looks out for me. Even when I wasn’t particularly fond of Howard, Ms. Addison promised to help me find a school that would make me happy….this is when I was a freshman in college, mind you.

And while I never like to give anyone from the Institute credit, it was a Hampton recruiter that convinced me and many others that we could leave Houston for college. It was Howard, Hampton, Morehouse, and the military that came to Madison’s college fair. I’m guessing USC, Harvard, Columbia, and the like were over at Bellaire. For my standardized-test lushing friends, my high school’s SAT average was in the 600s. We were basically forced to attend Saturday tutorials to pass the state-administered test, then tossed to the side when we inquired about anything else.

For the few of us that did leave the state for college, everyone with the exception of maybe two are at HBCUs. The other two were athletes. I do have friends at state schools and their experiences are mixed. Not all majority schools are full of racists but for those that are, I can be called a nigger for free.

Sometimes I do wonder should I have attended a white school, but I made my decision and I’m fine with it. I do think my school has room for improvement, but I don’t feel disadvantaged; however, for students at other schools, I can see why they may feel that way. I, on the other hand, don’t think it’s fair to chastise them. Not everyone at Prairie View and Texas Southern can go to UT Austin or Texas A&M. Same applies to students at Southern and Grambling looking at LSU from afar.

There are a couple of other misconceptions that also need to be addressed. There is no measuring stick for “blackness.” If anything, attending an HBCU will show you that we are not the monolithic group we are portrayed to be. I’ve met people from HBCUs who are just as oblivious to the problems that exist in the black community as whites. My “experience” has been that, for the most part, I’m surrounded by other black students, both international and domestic, from different walks of life who each share the same goal of bettering themselves and contributing to Howard’s legacy. If by “blackness,” you mean being taught outside of the Eurocentric spectrum, exactly what’s wrong with going against the status quo? But, if you’re under the impression that people actually think you are “blacker” for going to an HBCU, I suggest you turn off ‘A Different World” and get a fucking clue. That is a reflection of your own ignorance and sheltered life, not mine.

I like to think we are in this together, despite our differences in choices for institutions of higher learning. I will never understand why people that have been fortunate all of their lives complain about the smallest of things….and I’m tired of trying to.

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Campaign Hillary: Se Habla Español

Hillary Clinton plans to back a measure that will allow illegal immigrants to attend college. What some people won’t do for a vote. I understand that this is a very smart move politically, but I’m still a bit at disbelief: What’s the point of being an American citizen again? I can barely go to college and in a few years one will be able to enroll without having a social security number?

Congressman suggests way to retaliate for nuclear terror

Islamic jihadists argue that Western imperialism and our culture in general is out to destroy Islam. How do our elected officials respond to that allegation? By suggesting we bomb the holiest city in Islam. Congressman Tancredo is a fucking idiot.

The Man Who Could Tilt The Court To The Right

Goodbye Roe v. Wade and Affirmative Action, good morning, Pastor. Someone suggested I give the guy a chance. After reading a little about him, I know enough about him to know I won’t like him. Besides, anyone that is liked by Dumbya cannot be good for the country.

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I just finished an avocado & soy turkey sandwich w/ yam fries and spring rolls. That’s a far cry from my usual diet of Popeyes, catfish, and general tso’s chicken (though nearly everyone I know assures me that I still need to eat more). Watch out there nah – Mike’s on the come up.

I was a pesca-vegetarian for eight months. As a college student knee-high in debt, I decided in January that perhaps I should save a little money, and take another stab at chicken and turkey. My mom agreed.

*Safeway, Washington D.C. Jan 2005*

Me: Mama, can you believe these turkey burgers come in a 12-pack for six dollars while these faux-chik’n patties from Boca are four for the same price?!
Mom: *Deep breath* Boy, get the meat!
Me: Mama! You know I gave it up….but it is cheaper.
Friend overhearing my mom on the phone: Fool, if you don’t get those damn burgers. You aren’t but five pounds anyway. Put it in the basket….I said put it in the basket!
Me: Sigh. Alright.

And that’s how I turned my back on vegetarianism. For you grass-eaters (I keed. If it helps, call me a McDonald’s make-believe fish sandwich eating clown in return) in New York, I would recommend Zen Palate in Union Square and Red Bamboo in the Village. There’s a spot in D.C. called Soul Veggie offering the best veggie burger I’ve ever tasted. My friends back in H-Town (Stay Down)….umm…..well….enjoy the barbeque? I think everything comes with a side of beef in Texas, I can’t help you.

Speaking of beef, what is the deal with Jaguar Wright? Who ran over her puppy? Why is she so angry? Granted, contemporary R&B seems to be bitten w/ the lack-of-talent bug hard, but did any of these people personally attack her? I don’t mind her naming names, but there seems to be a sense of bitterness with her. This is the same chick who only months ago performed on stage in NY alongside Bilal drunk and out of whack? She has a nice voice but truth be told, her shit isn’t that hot and Jay Z’s Unplugged came out years ago.

I should shut up. I don’t want to fight a woman, and she looks like she carries a blade underneath her tongue. You cool, Jaguar. You cool.

I’m heading out to LA for a scholarship conference, so I should get the last minute packing in order. I really hope I get to see both Teena Marie and Ludacris this Saturday. How many people can say they’ll get to sing “Square Biz” right after they push bitches out their way? I thought so.

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Today someone loses something that I personally handed to them. Naturally, it’s the lowly interns fault. Game peeps game. In an effort to explain the severity of the situation at the office, my supervisor at one of my internships says to me: “Just think of it as Jay Z signing your baseball card.”

Me:

I’m sure he was thinking, “Silly black boy, your feeble little mind has no idea of who Nirvana is and why that backstage pass would be of such value to him— let me help you understand.” My thoughts on his Jay Z analogy: “Foolish white man. You don’t have to hip-hoppify everything for me to understand.”

I’m not entirely sure why Jay Z would sign a baseball card anyway. Can he at least sign a pair of Reeboks? Reasonable Doubt? Some Roc-A-Wear? Maybe a Beyonce album?

Nevertheless, I found it to be a bit insulting. I’m sure some of my friends are reading this and mumbling, “The Angry Black Man Cometh.” But as I like to say, “C’mon nah.” *The southern twang coming on strong* Ya’ll know that ain’t right.

I talked to someone higher up and as I expected, it’s nothing new. He then went on to explain to me how things work i.e. how people are passed over and how they like to place you into a box (y’know, the hip hop guy).

I’ve encountered more comments like the Jay-Z/baseball comparison (and far worse) here than I have in the south. At least down there they’re upfront about their disdain for the coloreds.

The smell of teen spirit may escape this office…but the stench of bullshit reaks all over. Jigga what.

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One of my favorite people at Howard, Aliyah, is currently having the time of her life in South Africa. Since I’m many years and many dollars away from my own trip to Africa, I look forward to the emails she sends out detailing her experiences. The last update I read dealt with her interactions with the people of Johannesburg, noting the many similarities we share and how we all truly do share a kinship across the Diaspora. There was one part of the email that disturbed me, however.

What I find the most interesting is how much they know about America, and African Americans; however they do think that all African Americans are just like the hip hop artists and I even had a little black African boy asked me, “Would you like me to talk nigga for you?” and by that he meant using words like “what’s up” and “holla.”

Now when people ask why I choose not to use the word “nigga,” I can use this story. Thank you, Aliyah.

Actually, I can cite two stories thanks to a conversation I had with my friend and future Senator of New York, Ashley about an hour ago. To make a long story short, if you’re familiar with Facebook then you know about the infamous wall found on each student’s profile where one can leave comments. In what apparently was suppose to be a funny message, someone left “You’re my nigger” on someone’s page. Both are white. Hahahaha. Isn’t that funny? To quote reality television’s brightest new star, (next to the Kang, of course), Whitney Houston, “Hell to the nawl!”

Ashley -like the caring person that she is – thought it would be a good idea to inform the dope who dropped the N bomb that their message should be taken down, because it is offensive to people of color. His response? “Stop being so self-righteous.” I guess tolerance went out with throwback jersey’s.

As angry as Ashley should be at the moron in question, I can’t help but think perhaps some of that venom should go towards her own, as we’ve made the word acceptable. I’ve heard Hispanics, Asians, and Indians (I don’t mean Native Americans) all throw the word around almost as casually as they do the word hello. Often times it’s used in conversations with other blacks…though no one bothers to inform them that the word should be removed from their vocabulary.

Before anyone leaves a comment, I’m well aware that the word isn’t going anywhere. I’ve accepted it. But, that doesn’t mean I’ll ever embrace it. Same goes for the monolithic depiction of blacks in mainstream hip hop. Whenever I listen to someone complain about how they were mistreated and stereotyped while traveling overseas, I usually ask them what’s in/on their CD /mp3 player. 50? Kim? Lil Jon? Gee, I wonder why they think you’re a violent, oversexed brut ready to rob them at the drop of a dime.

I’m guessing I sound self-righteous myself in this entry. To make my position clear, I don’t have a problem with that brand of hip hop. Some of it I enjoy. What I take issue with is that there isn’t a balance.

Most of the world learns about us through mediums like music and TV/film. When there’s nothing to counter those negative depictions, you have young black boys in South Africa deciding that the only way they can relate to you is if they speak in “nigga talk.”

There’s so much more to black life and culture than the materialistic portion that seems to consume all the lyrical content on the radio.” — Pharrell Williams

And there’s much more to black life and culture than imitating mob folklore and revealing tales of the 1001 different ways you can fuck someone.

With that being said, if you still feel the need to use the word and fully embrace the argument that you can flip “nigga” and take control of its meaning, than by all means, refer to yourself as one. As for me, I’ll stick with Michael.

Moreover, be more mindful of the images we’re showing to the world. Maybe then you’ll understand why people view us the way that they do.


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Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court, has announced that she is retiring – giving everyone long fearful of what lunatics Dumbya will appoint to the Supreme Court a mild heart attack in the process. This comes as a surprise to many, because it has long been predicted that Chief Justice Rehnquist would be first to step down.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the elated goon-in-cheif told O’Connor, “I wish I were there to hug you.” Sounds like someone is just as surprised about O’Connor’s announcement as the rest of us. Georgie and the rest of the neo-conservative hooligans have been salivating for this moment for quite some time.

White House? Check. Legislative Branch? In the bag. Supreme Court? A-ha, it’s finally ours. Thanks a million, Sandy. Complete. And. Total. Power. At. Long. Last.

Sigh.

While it should be noted that O’Connor was appointed by Ronald “D.A.R.E. to flood the community with drugs” (Oops, did I say that out loud?) Reagan, she’s not exactly a favorite among conservatives. Just ask Reverend Flip Benham (Remember kids: Jesus is a registered Republican, Judas is the hippie liberal.).

“Although we applaud her decision to step down and care for her ailing husband, her ‘swing-vote’ status on the Supreme Court over the issues of abortion and homosexual rights wrought more havoc upon our nation than our foreign enemies ever have. Mrs. O’Connor betrayed the One who gave her breath – Almighty God. She betrayed the one who placed her in office – President Ronald Reagan. She betrayed the very document she was sworn to uphold – the Constitution. Finally, she betrayed our nation’s children.”

Yes, good Rev’ren. Slamming plane into twin towers, bad. Respecting a woman’s right to choose or allowing two consenting men to have sex, worse. Let me grab my tamborine and drop it like it’s hot to the theme song of “Amen.” Speak the truth and shame the devil.

Speaking of devil’s, let’s have a look at some of O’Connor’s possible successors, shall we? There’s Samuel Alito, or “Scalia lite” depending on who you’re talking to. Then we have Janice Brown, who follows in the tradition of exceptional blacks like Clarence “Uncle” Thomas of showing our children great examples of how not to act when you achieve a certain level of success. Not to be outdone, Alberto “Torture Ain’t So Bad” Gonzales is itching to become the latino community’s answer to good ole Clarence.

Edith Jones – a personal favorite of mine – once said, “The integrity of law, its religious roots, its transcendent quality are disappearing,” at a speech at Harvard University in 2003. She’s also a staunch advocate for the death penalty. Christians ain’t no punks. Here here to a theocracy.

There are many more names being floated around, but all share one common trait: They are all psychotic.

“If the president abuses his power and nominates someone who threatens to roll back the rights and freedoms of the American people,” Mr. Kennedy said, “then the American people will insist that we oppose that nominee, and we intend to do so.”

Let us all hope the other Democrats serving in the Senate share Ted Kennedy’s sentiments. Then again, these are Democrats we’re talking about – a party where balls are no longer required.

Goodbye progress, hello 1950s.

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