I cannot write another post on a second day in a row about yet another young Black male killed on film by police for no reason (in front of his girl and child; reaching for his registration and insurance; licensed to carry). Therefore, I’ll leave this poem by the precursors (stewards) of Hip Hop, The Last Poets:
I’m a journalist. I’m a ranter and raver. I regularly blog…right here. But today I had my first ever pitched and paid-for essay published for the Washington Post, in their PostEverything section.
I did my usual showing off. I posted it to my social media networks. I called my mother. But this is different.
I thought essayists were serious folks. You know, those people who think deep philosophical thoughts about the world and about life and our human place in it.
Well, wait. Methinks that’s what I just did with this article. It’s about my sister Sloane. I told my friends that this was seriously one of the more difficult pieces I’d ever written. I couldn’t write a graf without crying. I’d never told my sister’s story from beginning to end. Ever. So I’d never really talked about all the different emotions and logistics of growing up her sister and caring for her like we all did. My sister Sloane was a disabled child. But she was so much more than that. She made me so much more than a big sister. One sentence still stands out: “Losing my sister was much more difficult than taking care of her ever was.”
Again, it’s HERE if you’d like to read it. My mother is waiting until after the gym. She doesn’t like to cry.
I trust she won’t mind that I sent all those family pictures.
Journalist David Carr of the New York Times died last night.
I didn’t follow him closely, but I know he went from being a crackhead on the street to being a celebrated columnist who, among other talents, wrote about what’s wrong with journalism. In a recent column, he empathized with Brian Williams and laid out the rationale of the big, corporate news business model.
“We want our anchors to be both good at reading the news and also pretending to be in the middle of it,” he wrote on Monday in the wake of revelations that the NBC anchor (and New Jerseyan) Brian Williams had lied about being in a helicopter under fire in Iraq in 2003. “That’s why, when the forces of man or Mother Nature whip up chaos, both broadcast and cable news outlets are compelled to ship the whole heaving apparatus to far-flung parts of the globe, with an anchor as the flag bearer. We want our anchors to be everywhere, to be impossibly famous, globe-trotting, hilarious, down-to-earth, and above all, trustworthy. It’s a job description that no one can match,” he said.
So, what does this mean now that Williams is eighty-sixed for six months and all the other big news companies are simultaneously gawking and criticizing?
What I pray it means, and I write this as the biggest critic of corporate news, is the beginning of the end of this trend: news in the hands of large corporate conglomerates in bed with other big business owners out to shape and twist the real news into propagandistic crap only meant to manipulate minds and earn them more money. I’m tired of it.
I remember the first thing I learned in Journalism 101 class: spell everyone’s name right. The second lesson? There’s NO SUCH THING as an objective journalist. It gets drilled into your head in every class. Why? Because you need to know that your job will be to make facts and opinions feel as if they’re objective even though we know that every news outlet has an agenda, a business agenda, and the owners of your publication (TV station, radio outlet, internet site) will not let you forget it.
When I took my last staff job, at the Philadelphia Weekly newspaper, the first thing I was pulled aside and told was, “We don’t write about Comcast.”
Yup. The owner of the Philadelphia Weekly married the daughter of Old Man Roberts, the founder of Comcast. So we had explicit instructions not to go anywhere near that subject, even indirectly. This, of course, made me think of all my issues with that company (I haven’t had a Comcast account now in four years, not even for internet service) and all the headlines I could come up with that would embarrass the hell out of that company, which deserves all the shade everybody can throw at them. They suck. Everybody knows they suck. Just check out what Cliff Weathers of Alternet recently wrote right HERE!
So, I see this development as a good thing. Just like the Net Neutrality cause, our return to a grass-roots civil rights political movement in the past six months and issues like legalizing marijuana and disassembling the industrial prison complex, I see this as a step in the direction of THE PEOPLE, not Corporate America.
It’s a step in the right direction.
Watch a real journalist, Rachel Maddow (FULL STORY HERE), be unafraid to report the news as objectively as she can…
Everybody who knows me knows that I’m militant. I ain’t about pussyfooting around the issues that effect people unfairly. Racism, sexism, homophobia — you name it — I want it gone. I want it set on fire. I want it buried. Period.
And when something happens (and keeps happening) that affects a group of people disproportionately and the media want to cover it honestly, throwing a monkey wrench into the ability to do just that makes me pop off like a bottle rocket.
The one subject that promises every time to bring all these elements together and do just that?
Police brutality; something that as the daughter and granddaughter of police officers I DO NOT take lightly.
If you haven’t been following the few honest news stories covering the death of Mike Brown, the black teenager on his way to college who was gunned down in cold blood last week by a white cop while he had his hands in the air, and the subsequent aftermath (the peaceful assembly, the tear gas, the forbidding of media professionals from getting close to the scene):
I’m a loud mouth and a journalist, so I’m rarely at a loss for words. Y’know when it happens most often?
When. I’m. PISSED.
So, if you don’t understand how UNARMED black men in this country are being affected (i.e., gunned down) by racist cops with blood lust and a license to kill, I have no words for you right now. I simply offer you this death list:
Kendrec McDade, 19, Pasadena
Timothy Russell, Cleveland
Ervin Jefferson, 18, Atlanta
Amadou Diallo, 23, NYC
Patrick Dorismond, 26, NYC
Ousmane Zongo, 43, NYC
Timothy Stansbury, Jr., 19, Brooklyn
Sean Bell, 23, Queens
Orlando Barlow, 28, Las Vegas
Aaron Campbell, 25, Portland
Victor Steen, 17, Pensacola Fla
Steven Eugene Washington, 27, Los Angeles
Alonzo Ashley, 29, Denver
Wendell Allen, 20, New Orleans
Ronald Madison, 40 & James Brissette, 17, New Orleans
Travares McGill, 16, Sanford Fla (yes, where Trayvon Martin was killed…by a wannabe cop)
Ramarley Graham, 18, The Bronx
Oscar Grant, 22, Oakland
Kimani Gray, 16, Brooklyn
Eric Garner, 43, NYC
Michael Brown, 18, Ferguson Mo.
And a 22nd just this past Monday night, August 11th, in Los Angeles: Ezell Ford, 24.
These gentlemen had lives, people! They had schoolwork and jobs and families too. It’s time to get active, folks. No more sitting around saying, “That’s so sad.”
Q1: What would happen if WE ALL rented vans, filled them with friends, family, CAMERAS and supplies and drove to Ferguson, Mo and stood with the people?
I’m ready to go right now! And I want to bring all my journalist colleagues with me.
Q2: What would happen if every black homeowner/taxpayer (and there are many whites out there protesting too) in Ferguson refused to pay their municipal TAXES, which pay for police salaries?
All thoughts, opinions and fury are very welcome.
From “Anonymous,” with a PROMISE to uncover the TRUTH! Expect Us!
And I missed the first hour of it trying to connect to abc.com’s supposed live stream of the event.
They made a big deal of it too: offering a free stream via the cable and dish companies (I borrow my mother’s username and password) in eight major markets, including mine; also showing all the pre-show fashion and red carpet lead up, which lulled me into believing they had it together and I wouldn’t need to scramble to find one of my European pirate links — one that bounces from several different satellites originating someplace untraceable — to be able to see my favorite actors and actresses, screenwriters and directors collect their pretty statuettes. But alas, it was all a bunch of bullshit because as soon as the red carpet was rolled up, ABC went MIA. I could no longer connect using their servers, or whatever, no matter how many times I tried logging and re-logging in. It felt like a matter of not having enough bandwidth to accommodate all the people trying to log on and watch, telling me that this is yet another example (as with the Super Bowl, the Olympics and many other high-profile TV events) of these rich, corporate suits not knowing, understanding or caring about what the PEOPLE want. Many people want and even prefer to consume their programming online. Check out a recap of the disaster via Variety magazine HERE.
So, I did what I’ve done for the past three years since my last TV broke and I made a conscious effort to stream most of my programming online — knowing that’s it’s possible — and avoid the major cable companies, especially Comcast because…well, THEY SUCK!
I searched for and found that European link, and continued watching the show.
This touches on a number of real issues aside from merely pissing me off:
There isn’t supposed to be such a thing as a monopoly in the United States, which Comcast clearly is;
There’s a stark disconnect between the “channel” and the “receiver” in this communications scenario, a disaster for the individual consumer;
These major companies, because they’re run by old, stodgy corporate “suits” are very slow to recognize and accommodate consumer trends, and most importantly…
Comcast just doesn’t give a fuck.
It’ll be very interesting to watch how all this plays out in the coming months and years what with this merger between Comcast and Time Warner scaring the bejesus out of everybody in the know. But as for now, they (the major cable and satellite companies) just don’t get it. And even worse, they just don’t give a fuck.
The ‘Funny or Die’ video that illustrates my point:
A long while ago, I had a very pleasant interview with a Floridian student, Stephanie, owner of a jewelry line benefitting the anti-bullying cause. Through this jewelry line Stephanie raises awareness and seeks to put an end to ALL forms of bullying. 10 percent of all profit for each month are donated. I’ve wanted to begin writing about bullying, especially with children, for some time now, so she and I spoke about her experiences, and about the 2011 documentary called Bully, now streaming on Netflix, and just how brave those kids were to be filmed and to tell their stories. I’d never been that brave.
“I was diagnosed with what’s called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in ninth grade,” Stephanie said, “and its very difficult to lose weight. Another symptom is excessive hair growth in the facial area. I do electrolysis hair removal. So its very difficult. It’s a hormonal thing that doesn’t go away. So in school this one day, I guess it had been a little too long, and I hadn’t had it (hair removal) done in a while. So this group of kids thought it would be funny to start calling me, ‘Goatee.’ At every school function, pep rallies, everywhere, the kids would chant it at me. I didn’t go to my ‘Grad Bash’ at Disney, my Catholic bacchalaureate luncheon, I didn’t go to any grad parties because I was so petrified of these kids. I would try every excuse to not go to school. I felt so alone. It was so difficult. I’m still very self-conscious every time I look in the mirror,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie finished telling me her story and I planned on writing this blog, connecting it somehow with my own experiences with school bullying and my thoughts about the Bully documentary for this website. My experiences were very similar: standing out for some physical traits that I couldn’t help having. I wanted to launch a campaign of pitching articles on the subject too, really trying to work through whatever residual hard feelings and scars I still have. That was 13 months ago. Think this is something I’m afraid to talk about?
Last week, however, I pitched that first idea, to xoJane. I have yet to hear back, but I couldn’t NOT pitch it. I targeted the idea to their IHTM (It Happened To Me) section because my experience parallels what’s happening with Jonathan Martin, the football player formerly of the Miami Dolphins, who was being bullied by a teammate — a White teammate — who believed it was acceptable to question Martin’s racial authenticity (Martin is Black), an experience I had.
Who knows whether the ladies at xoJane will contact me and assign me that story? What’s important is that I’m finally ready to put it out there, to talk about my personal experiences with bullying, especially since there are younger people like Stephanie, the cast of Bully and my new Facebook friend Colin, who aren’t afraid. Colin’s mother created a fan page for him, Happy Birthday Colin, to show him that people in the world do care about him, even if he is being bullied by a few kids at school. Because of Colin’s disabilities, social skills don’t come easy, and other kids make fun of him. When Colin’s mom asked if he wanted a birthday party, he said no because he had no friends. He eats lunch alone in the school office everyday because no one will sit with him. His mom thought creating a page where people could send him words of encouragement would be better than any birthday party. As of today, the page has 2,056,849 fans. Colin’s 11th birthday is on March 9th.
“I don’t feel embarrassed to tell other people because I feel it’s better for people to be able to relate,” Stephanie said. “I’m not ashamed. Don’t make fun of someone because maybe they’re a little overweight. You never know their story, whether it’s a health issue. You never know what a person’s story is,” she said.
According to NJ.com, the prosecutor in the case against Robert Edward Forchion, “The NJ Weedman,” has reduced his sentence to “time served” and he can go back to being a normal weed smoking harmless guy who has tumors growing in his legs that he needs treatment for and he can go to his cancer treatment sessions in California now without being bothered with paying the state prison system in New Jersey a visit once per month.
He’ll be back here, however, in New Jersey, to tie up some loose ends next week. And I’ll have the exclusive here, on KCMJournalist.
Until then, familiarize yourselves with his REAL story, told only to me a couple of years ago, and my follow-up article, about whether his story was still compelling for magazine publishers.
I can’t wait to catch up with him! I love when things work out for the folks I write about…
I’ve been trying to begin writing about Feminism for a very long time now. I am a staunch feminist and recognize the importance of women’s issues of equality and feel compelled to contribute to the cause as a part of my work. It’s just that there are more than a few challenges.
Firstly, I don’t know all that many feminists that aren’t also writers and journalists and who want to be quoted. There are Feminista Jones and Imani, the “Angry Black Lady,” who both write for RH Reality Check and who tear it up daily via Twitter. There are the ol’ dinosaurs Gloria Steinem and Camilla Paglia whose books and articles will never get old and will always serve to provide perspective on the 60s and 70s heyday of “Women’s Lib” and connect it to today’s issues. There are many young artists, singers and actresses as well who are “coming out” now as feminists. Yet none of these ladies provide me with the fresh perspective necessary to pitch articles on feminism that don’t read like everyone else’s.
Next, there’s this nagging lack of coherence about what Feminism even is.
Beyonce’s fans think she’s a feminist because she’s “doing her thing” and feminism is about “making your own choices” (Um, no, “freedom” is making your own choices, “feminism” has an actual definition). Katy Perry, who can’t write a song that doesn’t sound exactly like her last song, isn’t a feminist, but “does believe in the strength of women,” which is completely contradictory and leans toward being afraid of the word. And Madonna, Susan Sarandon and Sarah Jessica Parker aren’t feminists, they’re humanists! Whatever. And I won’t even get into here the dichotomy between White and Black feminists over the years, the Barbara Ehrenreich’s and the Rita Mae Brown’s vs. the bell hook’s and the Alice Walker’s (or maybe the Hatfields and the McCoys?), which spawned yet another term, Womanist, to imply the inclusion of ALL women, especially women of color, who’d been left out of the discussion up until recently.
Lastly, there are so many issues, stories and anecdotes in the news with feminist angles I don’t know how to separate them. They all come flying at me like the stars in that old computer “star field” screen saver. Of course the latest is this idiot politician Mike Hickabee, or is it Huckabee, who just announced that women on birth control can’t control their libidos, as if birth control equals pussy control. Meanwhile Cialis and Viagra remain securely covered by health insurance.
Whew! My head is already spinning. So, where do I begin?
I think an answer to that question will come to me boldly and suddenly (and probably in the middle of the night), like an epiphany or a knock upside the head. I just can’t start over thinking it and writing something corny and forced because it’s a hot topic. So, until then I’ll keep following my girlies on Twitter, my good friend Denise Clay, The Mad (Political) Scientist, and some of the newer, fresh voices in the blogosphere, like Margaret and Helen, who’s post today about Hickabee/Huckabee is brilliant, priceless and definitely sharable. Those ladies know what the fresh hell they’re talking about!
This is for good reason. If I were a political journalist, and travelled throughout our great state researching, uncovering and discerning all that could improve New Jersey statewide, I’d be simply exhausted.
The subjects that interest me are at times political in tone or in circumstance, yet dedicating myself daily to the practice of unearthing political topics in our state’s capitol or in Washington to write about them depresses the hell out of me. The thick skin it requires I just do not have. Nor do I have the stomach for the corruption, the heart for the filth or the endurance for the constant deception politicians and their staffs are wont to unleash during their careers.
All that said, I cannot stand our Governor, Chris Christie. I’ve written about him briefly before, in a pro-Booker way rather than an anti-Christie way, for this blog. But I really can’t stand him.
He’s good at all that corruption and deception shit. Plus, any man who swings around to point in the face and scream at a woman for asking a simple question while his ignorant wife grins beside him needs to be punched square in the face. So, some friends of mine, more politically motivated than I, suggest what we can do about his new fiasco, “Bridgegate,” if we’d like to change things.
Amiri Baraka died yesterday. He was 79. He’d been a Poet Laureate. He was one of the more well-known and prolific members of the Black Arts Movement. He was proud of being from New Jersey. Most profoundly, Mr. Baraka (nee Leroi Jones) exemplified poet as God.
There’s no more maligned or misunderstood undertaking than being a poet.
Common notions have the poet sitting in contemplation, doing not much of anything, pondering his navel and musing about how terrible life is while the rest of us go out and work for a living.
Yet poetry is life. Poetry is the sum total of our wants, fears, needs and assumptions, recited back to us in a more powerful and palatable manner. Poetry is our collective alarm clock.
What bravery is this undertaking! How imperative and moving!
That’s why from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou to Anne Sexton to William Blake — I see poetry, whether literal or using every metaphor in the universe,
as the most bold of all the forms of writing, even of all the arts.
Rest in peace Mr. Baraka. I’ll miss your fire and ire. I trust you gave St. Peter hell!
Baraka’s highly controversial, “Somebody Blew Up America,” a post-9/11 poem/manifesto.