5 Questions For Our Culture In These Changing Times

Recent addition: Jemele Hill. LZ Granderson will be posted tomorrow along with his very compelling interview. Get your responses in if you want to be included.

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Thank you all again who took the time out to participate. I’ll definitely do this again soon and hope more will get involved. I’m challenged to come up with relevant questions and very much look forward to doing so the next time around. Of the writers who responded, there are links to their work in the first couple of questions. Those who didn’t get a chance to respond, you still have time to get your answers posted.

Be Peace.

Someone said to me recently there is no loyalty in the field of journalism. They exclaimed, “Mike you can’t change people no matter what you do, so why are you trying?” On the surface that may appear to be true, but considering the responses I’ve received for these two pieces, I have to strongly disagree. People do want change and want to help by giving their thoughts…their words so the dream of their existence can become a distant child’s reality. I’m not a pessimist even in the most hopeless circumstances. I’ve personally been to hell and back, back to hell and back again, so when people cast my thoughts and concerns for my fellow man aside…

I gotta give them the gas face..

As long as there is spirited determination and a heart less corrupted, there will forever remain an opportunity for change which cannot be diminished as idealistic and foolish ambition.

I will not lose. Never been a loser, so get on the train and let’s get it!

Journalism hasn’t changed, only the people writing the words. The words move with the pack and usually the pack are nothing more than history shaping yes men and women. It’s nothing different than the society we all exist in.

The journalism collective’s interpretation of events, ideas and opinions should be based on the strength of their individual consciousness. The masses are too easy to follow and pander to and even influence. Use your own critical thought to change what’s going on, letter by letter developed into words that mean more than just making money.

Maybe that’s the problem…

Their times limited…

The same person said to me that I only do the things I do to further my career. I was puzzled by their comment, but remained unaffected. Yes, it’s obvious I want to keep my standing in the field firm futuristic, but it is also very true that I’ve always been a person of service. It’s the only way I know. It’s something that runs in my family. My sister is a nurse and is the greatest soul model I know or ever will meet. She gets on my brother-in-law’s nerves how much she does for people even though in most cases she gets nothing in return. There is no greater human alive. When people say they will give their last, but have their fingers crossed behind their back or their eyes crossed as they tell you so, my sister is the person who will stop traffic so an ant can cross the street–even if it puts her in imminent danger. If I’m ever in a health situation, forget the hospital…send me to my sister, because I know I’ll be alright.

I say all this just to make a point about where I come from and why I do this. I want to be a leader among leaders grabbing the hands of the disillusioned and less confident and dragging them to action if we have to.. The ones who scream “I can’t!” are gonna have to try a little harder, but maybe they need a push..

Here’s something I wrote last year around this time:

Valentine’s Society Soul

Do you ever get urge to help the stranger?

That’s Love

In today’s Society it is not a must
But we must forget lust and eye contact trust
Without lips cuss

Divorce rates and groupthink hate normalcy?
Soul touch soul adjacent
Eye shake your hand
Take your woman to see her favorite band
While you are still on two feet to stand

Love idealistic?
Ambitious reasoning?
Individualistic incompatibility?
Clear eyes blurry?
Yes, the prejudice is in you and also in me
Don’t stop there, for excuses are the reason we still fight over sea

Bring ’em home George!
Groundswell Americus you will read my lips see
First, we must take care of our future in this country

Children cry as fathers die and mothers tear dry sigh
Soul mates try to wonder why
Their lives will never be as significant as before Bin Laden 911 hides

Seven rays for seven oceans
It’s not just about us
Eh, it’s not just about you

America has long been cold
Arrogance is way too bold
Spirituality’s fortune sold
Children disrespectfully spit on the old
As lies are still being told
Copper teared Statue of Liberty needs a helping hand to hold
Before we all create an eternal hellish mold
And diminish Valentine’s Society Soul.

**************

1. There’s a negative email going around falsely discrediting Barack Obama that has made it’s way into the mainstream. Does the media have a responsibility to report facts in such an important time in our history to ensure the best candidate wins?

I must be clear this is not questioning who you are voting for.

I received this email from a friend and couldn’t believe why she would send me such trash. It really speaks to the ignorance of folks in this country who will do whatever to keep Barack out of office. I hope those who received the email will be intelligent enough to distinguish fact from fiction. Barack–whether you agree with him or not–has run one of the best campaigns of our time and just doesn’t deserve to be undeservedly degraded because people just aren’t ready for change. Shame on editors who ran or referenced the content of the email as credible. The retraction means nothing, because the damage has already been done.

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Now facing plagiarism allegations?

Writer and social commentator, Temple 3

The MEDIA is a PRIVATELY-HELD corporation, not a public trust in reality. The MEDIA’s job is to sell advertising and content to maintain profitability and accrue material benefits to owners and shareholders. Organizations like Fox and the Washington Post, at root, are corporations. A corporation, like a natural person, has no obligation except those which either violate enforced laws or those that may be compelled by some type of force. Rupert Murdoch and the family that own WAPO have an agenda. That agenda has been mapped in millions of places in print and online. If you don’t SUBSCRIBE to that agenda, don’t SUBSCRIBE to Fox or WAPO. Don’t consume their agenda since their content is mere propaganda designed to alter your perception. To suggest that these particular institutions have an obligation to “truth” (especially the kind that would portray Barack Obama – or any opponent of their agenda fairly) is to ignore the PRESENCE of PURPOSE behind their actions. Murdoch and others have a purpose and the resources to endorse, promote and push their purpose. Murdoch’s media is not a shared public good, it’s a private enterprise based on purchased rights to public “channels” of communication.

Jemele Hill, ESPN.com columnist

Depending on where the email came from, that could be the story. It also depends on how many people begin to take it seriously. There’s a difference between creating news, and reporting on what is actual news. If the e-mail picks up enough steam, it’s worthy of a story. But the media should not make it a story.

Vincent Thomas, columnist SLAM Magazine who made an appearance on OTL today and did a great job

Depending on how pervasive and far-reaching the email is; and depending on how seriously it’s taken (what sane individual believes junk/chain mail?), then, yes, the media should report on the pervasive hoax and tell why it’s a hoax/unfactual.

Anthony Gilbert, writer The Starting Five, fellow SLAM contributor and entrepreneur

The media has the job of presenting the news with honesty and integrity, however that doesn’t always happen. What does take place is that the public at large are often misled and mis-educated on the facts. With Senator Obama, I feel that the more he wins and gains momentum, the negativity will continue, and the truth unfortunately sometimes gets swept under the rug. It is necessary for the journalist of color to present the truth about their people, as to combat the vicious cycle of lies and half truths.

Diallo Tyson writer The Commission

No brainer. There shouldn’t be a need to question the media’s responsibility to report the facts. But we all reside within the 24 hour news cycle. B. Hussein Obama, the Muslim that might be the second coming of Hitler is a more profitable story. Writers can get 2-3 columns out of it. News shows can devote entire blocks of time to it, because they know people will tune in to hear gas bags prattle on and on about the “Cult of Obamania.” The media lives by the pimp’s credo, “The Game is to be sold, not told.” We’re sold a bill of goods everyday. Instead of presenting the facts in a manner that allows us to form our own opinions [telling]; we get opinions constructed from lies, half-truths, and fairytales that collectively fleece our dignity and intelligence [selling].

Alan Gray, Editor NewsBlaze

“The media” is not a single entity. Its like saying “Conservatives” or “Liberals” or “Black People” or “White People” or “Men” or “Women.”

We are all different shades on various issues. I am white, but not all whites think alike. I’m a man, but not all men think alike. I’m also “Media” and NewsBlaze isn’t like Fox or CNN or OpEd News

Some of what is called Media is absolutely partisan. Some is dedicated to pushing a particular stream of thought. Some will do anything to stir up controversy.

Some media consistently doesn’t check facts. There have been a few times where NewsBlaze messed up due to insufficient fact checking. Its going to happen from time to time. I saw that photo and story weeks ago and I had a bad feeling about it less than one second after seeing the photo and after less than two minutes of checking, saw that it was garbage and didn’t proceed with it. 99.9999% of all internet emails with such stories are fakes. Fox got it wrong and they shouldn’t have published it – and after they did, they should have retracted it, but they are one part of the media pushing their own stream of thought, so they didn’t, so you should expect that. That’s why NewsBlaze does what it does. People who watch and listen exclusively to one type of media, left or right don’t want to learn anything, they want that media to confirm what they already think and they talk themselves into believing that because it is “media” it is the truth. You can tell that NewsBlaze isn’t part of the “Mainstream Media” because we don’t report or speculate on Britney’s underwear. You can’t legislate responsibility. “The Media” is the reason we have sound bytes, the reason the candidates aren’t talking about anything really important, the reason candidates only tell you what they want you to know. It is because the mainstream media is only after sensation as a way to sell their wares. Much of “The Media” can no longer be trusted to report the truth impartially.

Even if “The Media” was impartial, mistakes would be made – nothing is perfect – but retractions would be more common.

I am always debunking the emails that friends send around. At first glance, some of them seem plausible, but almost none of them are true.

“Religion of Peace Demonstration Hoax” Photos

Adina Ferguson, writer DC Metro Sports and student University of Maryland

The media has the responsibility to report facts in any situation, but like in the world of sports, there’s going to be subjectivity, lies, controversy and haters. When I saw the image and read both “sides” to Obama’s stance, I realized yet again that there are and will forever be flaws and b.s. ran by the media. I don’t put my hand on my heart when I hear the anthem and I don’t sing it. In fact I still keep my headphones in my ear (though no music is playing). Why is the only time I hear Lift Every Voice and Sing in February? Anyway, it is important to stick with the facts especially in a historical time like this because there needs to be a change of thinking. People see that pic and they’re going to think he doesn’t represent America and if they were to read the original story printed, then yeah, the ignorance is still breathing in our society and media.

If you can’t give me straight facts on behalf of all candidates then you’re not for change, you’re for your rep.

That’s why I don’t watch FoxNews during this time. In 2004 when it was my first opportunity to vote, it was disgusting to watch the channel, so I def haven’t done it since. The media knows the roles it plays within society and in this situation it’s like the barrel of crabs working in formation, except all the crabs aren’t black. If you can’t give me facts on the candidates, step back from the mic, computer and camera, because you’re helping people maintain ignorance and that’s just unfortunate.

Delinda Lombardo writer Athlebrities and Look to the Stars

I think as a people, we understand that mainstream media isn’t what it used to be. It has a long history of discrediting itself and people are catching on. Compare reports from CNN, MSN, Fox News, NY Times etc, and each one is reporting different results from the same races. Essentially, yes, they have a responsibility to report the facts, but we’re talking about politics so its never going to happen. The only fair reporting, it appears, comes from independent writers, bloggers, etc, who have become a serious threat to the ‘mainstream media’.

Evidenced by the Obama email, the Internet can also be a powerful tool of deception. Luckily, some of the ‘mainstream’ media is addressing the issue of the email and discrediting it. Now the issue isn’t whether its valid-its morphed into an expose lauding the power of the Internet, while giving Obama an open platform to discuss his faith.

Good article here about the email.

SML, writer StopMikeLupica

It would be ideal if the media, in the U.S. or anywhere else, fulfilled its function as the “guard dog” of society, meaning keep the government and politicians in check for the public. Instead it seems all too often to be the other way around; the media comes off as the fourth branch of the government, keeping the public in check. The most disappointed I’ve been in the media was during the run-up to the Iraqi war; even the so-called “liberal” media, like the NY Times, failed to ask enough questions or put the pressure on our government to prove that we had a legitimate reason to go to war, and that we had a solid
plan in place. The media, as a whole, has repeatedly failed to do its job.

That’s a terrible sign for our society.

Bethlehem Shoals, fellow SLAM contributor and writer Free Darko

I’m not sure why the media would have any more or less of a responsibility than they ordinarily would. It’s like when conservatives claimed that during “times of war,” the media can be kept in the dark. The media has a job to do, and ideally, it’s always about telling the truth. It can’t really be beholden to historical context, or external circumstances, or else it’s acknowledging that journalism objectivity is a lie.

Now, if the question is “is it more important than ever to stop FOX news,” other media outlets are in an interesting position. By dignifying FOX-created hub-bub with a response, even if only to debunk it, they act like it’s news. On the other hand, not saying anything allows FOX to reach millions without any counterweight. But again, the issue of FOX lying, and other outlets’ obligation to do something about it, has to do with what real journalism stands for, not what era we live in. The lies just get deadlier, and the dilemma more pronounced, when the stakes are high.

Gerald Henderson

To be honest, the media is the problem. The media’s goal is to keep stuff stirring. The media is the lens through which a lot of people form their world view. The media keeps us at each other’s throat. The media told you that all blacks are voting Obama because he is black. The media told you how you should feel if you are a black woman as opposed to a black male The media is playing black folks against white folks for a reason. They play us against each other so we wont have the time or energy to realize what the real issues are.

Writer InkogNegro

It is not for the media to determine who is the best candidate. it is for the media to report the news thoroughly and objectively. If a one year old completely fabricated email is still circulating and having an effect on the campaign. That in and of iself is newsworthy. Of course, care must always be shown to ensure that those who REPORT The news are not in fact MAKING the news.

Jerold Wells Jr., writer, The Starting Five
The media does have a responsibility to report facts. News is their responsibility. Obama and Clinton both have detractors and there have been numerous unsettling things reported about both. I think the media’s best interest is what causes the biggest stir, what causes the most commotion, and ultimately makes the most money. Sensational stories sell, not necessarily the truthful ones or the fact based ones. People want to be entertained and a negative email discrediting Barack Obama would fall into that category for some people. On the other hand, those of us who want to be informed, not entertained, the burden falls on us to seek out facts and make informed decisions.

2. Anna Nicole Smith died one year ago Feb. 8. Why is Britney Spears being ravaged by society? Do we as people blindly attack celebrities as a means of masking our own insecurities? What about Britney’s kids? Do they matter? Britney sure as hell is catching wreck like your friendly neighborhood Black athlete these days isn’t she?

Like many of the answers you’ll see below, I’m not one who gives Britney a pass. I do find it disgusting folks in this society want to see her constantly under their shoe. Who the hell are you? This notion that “Uh…she’s a public figure, therefore we have a right to know” is nothing but a big crock of ish. She’s a mom…a young mom. I too think it was sick of her and her “friends” to flash the world so easily of something that should be sacred. The “people” who want gossip and pics of Britney are in need of serious help. What do they do for you? At what cost should you be entertained? America ate Britney Spears up and spit her out for the world to see. I hope she learns from her mistakes and eventually keeps her behind covered–and home because her kids need her. Would you rather see her dead like Anna Nicole?

I spoke with Bill Cosby in one of his many Philly appearances and asked whatever I could to get something to refute this new opinion of him that ain’t so cool. There was a panel full of conscious folk doing the damn thing in the tri-state area that had nary a reporter surrounding them and he was visibly hot. This is why I get so upset when people criticize a person who doesn’t want the shine doing something he loves to do. His first response was to ask me this question: “Does the world really love children? After we answer this question, then we can go about finding ways to heal.” It was a funny moment because there was a young photographer all up in Mr. Cosby’s faces snapping pictures like he was Britney Spears getting out of a car. He politely asked the photographer to stop and continued on: “We need to grab our kids up and help them understand how much we love them. Your two year old child is not a motherfucker. The swagger we have given our children is counterproductive to their existence because it gives them a false sense of confidence. If we don’t turn this around, our children are going to die in maddening numbers. Please understand your silence to your child is hurting them. They are learning everything on the streets where people don’t care if they live or die.”

“Do you care if they live or die?”

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Get yourself together Britney

Adina Ferguson

The funny thing about Britney is where she came from and where she is now. She started out as this cute innocent pop singer and now she’s just a hot mess, but what makes it funny (not literally) is that we’re seeing her every move and she’s getting lashed by society, but all they did was take her kids. And like every celebrity who has a breakdown like this the first thing they say is she’s bipolar.

Was she bipolar when she was cranking them hits? Was she bipolar when she was raking in dollars and dancing with snakes and wearing lingerie on stage?

In DC we’ve had women within the last year who’ve done worse to their kids and are sitting in jail, with NO plans of getting out. Britney is being ravaged by society because she’s embarrassing. I see her and none of them (celebrities) as any different from us everyday people.

We do get on them to mask our own insecurities, because who really wants to look in a mirror and address their ugliness? Who really wants to open their own closet door? When dealing with celebs and their problems it’s like keeping them on that pedestal, and saying you got money, you got fame, you got people looking at you, now do your job and act responsibly.

There are probably women out there now shunning and wanting to throw rocks at the girl’s mom, because she went from being such a great mother and writing this book on parenting, yet, both her daughters are kind of screwed now.

Those women should be looking at their own lives and parenting skills.

Britney is just like Kobe, black women shook their heads and thought why did it have to be with a white woman, another black man crossing over, when the issue wasn’t another MAN engaging in adultery. We’ve already had to deal with skin complexes early on in history and some still have those insecurities when dealing within the race, so the means for the attacks are because we don’t want to unmask insecurities, meanwhile Black men kept saying, he was stupid because he got caught, instead of saying when will we prove that every black athlete or man for that matter doesn’t cheat….. But because he was once “squeaky clean” Kobe he caught crazy flack and he had some of us black women reverting back to the idea that we aren’t good enough for even black men, though he is married to a non-black woman, I’m just saying…..other celebrities can be added, but I think depending on who it is and who is responding to this question, the means for the ravaging is going to be different.

Vincent Thomas

The seriously mean-spirited and nefarious stories come from gossip-vehicles. I haven’t seen spiteful coverage from outlets like CNN, FOX or 60 Minutes. What I do see is excess. I am, however, interested in how a lifestyle can bring about one’s demise. I wouldn’t it if folk stop bothering Spears and letting that woman exorcise her demons, but there is definitely a compelling story arch to her life.

Jemele Hill

A friend of mine just told me a really hilarious joke that Chris Rock said on his recent comedy tour. To paraphrase, Chris said the system rushes to save white kids, like Britney Spears’ children, but nobody has said a thing about Whitney Houston’s daughter or any of Bobby Brown’s kids. I realize that probably didn’t address the question, but it sure was funny. And, true. The truth is society always has moving targets like Britney, Paris Hilton, Michael Vick, Pacman Jones, etc. I always think it’s jealousy, race and gender combining in interesting ways. On some level, a lot of people don’t understand why Britney draws people in the way that she does, or why when Paris Hilton sneezes, it’s news. These people make a lot of money, and the average person sitting on their couch, who arrogantly believes the universe has blessed some really dumb people with a lot of loot, has no other outlet, but to supply a steady stream of hatred. They hate Britney and others like that because they don’t think they’re deserving of what they’ve achieved, monetarily or otherwise.

That being said, no, I don’t feel sorry for Britney. Membership has its privileges.
Alan Gray

I believe Britney deliberately caused most of what is happening to her, media follows it, takes part in it, finances it and people are reacting to that. She could have very easily kept her kids out of the glare of the lights. She is a multiple train wreck and she could have stopped it, but instead, she exacerbated it. Of course the kids matter, thats why she’s been locked away and kept away from the kids. I don’t see much comparison between Britney and black athletes.

The media doesn’t need to keep following her story. As long as there are media companies willing to follow the story and pay for photos, and Britney is willing to do stupid things, it will continue.

InkogNegro

For reasons that I don’t completely understand, there is an obsession with this girl’s decline and fall. I don’t entirely blame the media, because clearly PEOPLE (who? Beats me) crave the information to the point that it is an industry to itself . I don’t get it. I think she is bearing the brunt of a society that is increasingly envious of the wealth and fame of young celebrities who seem to benefit more from style than substance. People are literally lingering around the accident scene and hoping for more carnage.

Delinda Lombardo

Britney is catching wreck; the only difference is, if she were Black she’d probably be in jail right now. The public backlash towards this girl has become one of the saddest commentaries on our society. And it absolutely has to do with masking our own insecurities. Celebrities who ‘fall off the deep end’ enable the general public to view them as people, fallible human beings just like the rest of us. When someone with Britney’s status develops symptoms of bipolar disorder, we respond with glee, because it knocks her off the pedestal and into the jaws of the hungry public, almost as if to say- you can be rich and famous, but if you fuck up we’re coming after you. Once Britney gets herself sane, people will move on to bigger and better things, like her kids. They are just two pieces of media-fodder waiting to happen.

Gerald Henderson

Britney Spears is being ravaged by the media because it helps keep people’s minds off the true problems that face this country. They could show you the truth of situation in Iraq (and also the truth of how we got there)Š. That would make weeks and weeks of extremely informative television, but they’d never do that. They would wouldn’t dare focus on the true issues of today because they realize the people of this nation would wake up if they did that. So they drown us in Britney, and Paris, and Anna Nicole, and T.O and anything they come up with to keep the mind entertained, so you don’t ever think about them and all the problems they are causing through out the world. (think about who owns the media outlets and think about what is going on with monopolization of the media right now)

Tracey, BlackGivesBack

She’s not being ravaged by society. Britney has allowed us into her private life for years – she loves the paparazzi (hell, she even reportedly married one). She went from America’s pop princess to a mental ward – how often does that happen? So of course the media is all over it and unfortunately, controversy sells. I could care less how many times she shaves her head bald, how many times she gets married or how many times she drives like a fool, but I hope she gets the help that she needs for the sake of her two adorable children.

Temple3

I’ve gotta say, I could give two shits about the media coverage of Ms. Spears. It’s difficult to avoid. It’s ubiquitous. It’s on the FRONT page of the paper. It’s on every online banner. It’s on the radio. Still, with that said, she is a child in the Lion’s Den – and Daniel is nowhere to be found. The number of young women who seek fame and fortune, yet wind up as disillusioned drug addicts is startling. This has been the history of American entertainment for decades. Her story is neither new nor instructive. Didn’t Billie Holliday and Marilyn Monroe travel this very path? Isn’t Eva Mendes in rehab? Our society is male-dominated and it exacts a heavy toll on women who would sell beauty as a path to riches. While this is the most lucrative path, it is the most perilous.

In a land with no respect for age, the greatest trick is either brilliant reinvention (Madonna) or outlandish behavior (Paris Hilton). What else is there? Growing old gracefully? Not a chance. Some of the world’s greatest actresses cannot find work to tell the important stories of our mothers, aunts, sisters and friends because Hollywood would rather show the next pair of enhanced Double D’s. (No offense Ms. Johansson). The same is true in the music industry. Do you really think Norah Jones is all that? Really? Sure, she’s talented, but I could find 500 singers with more skill, range and presence on a leisurely drive from Chicago to New Orleans (if you let me stop in Memphis). Youth is not eternal and it is seldom wise and rarely lucky. Ms. Spears is finding out the hard way what she should never have had to learn.

Bethlehem Shoals

People love to bring down the rich and famous, and watch them suffer, especially if the celebrity is perceived as inferior or undeserving. Britney’s a working class white woman, which means it’s totally socially acceptable to shit on her-and she’s a blond on top of that. Also there are elements of sex and death in here, which makes it a totally lurid bonanza.

SML

Modi (of Cosellout) had a great post not too long ago about how Britney’s mental illness, even while being exploited by the media, is still treated with more sympathy than say, Mike Tyson’s mental illnesses. So to that last sentence… even Britney is still better off than a black athlete! That being said, yeah… the problem here is that mental illness, especially in sports, is not given much respect by society. We would all like to believe that if we had as much money and success as Britney as had, we would all be enjoy life without a worry in the world. But that would probably not be the case. Late teenage, early 20’s… those are some difficulty times. Most of us still don’t have a strong sense of self developed yet at that age, and all that success (and failure to keep that success going) can really magnify insecurities. Add in the constant media attention, which can become an inescapable vicious circle… I wouldn’t want to be Britney or her ilk. And finally, yes, they have become the whipping boy for a lot of our own insecurities.

Diallo Tyson

I don’t have any sympathy for Britney. Regardless of how her professional life turns out, she is a mother first and foremost. When she’s out in the middle of the night, showing the world her unmentionables, who’s taking care of the kids? Like Chris Rocks said, “If a child calls their grandmama “mom” and their mama “Pam,” he’s going to jail!”

As a culture, we do live for the day that we can tear down the celebrity we’ve worked so hard to build up. But Britney is a special case. It’s almost like she wants us to savage her. If that wasn’t the case, then why is she doing something stupid every day. Why can’t she do something smart everyday, like take care of her kids?

I’m not sure you can compare Britney to a black athlete. Coverage of black athletes is driven first by perspective[Sean Taylor]/personal bias[Barry Bonds]/naivete[Kelly Tilghman], then by financial impact. In Britney’s case, I think it’s entirely about the financial impact. I’m not sure that you can take the “pro” side in any debate about her. There aren’t a lot of ways to put a positive spin on anything she does. Once you’re no longer able to argue in her favor, any comparisons to the media’s treatment of black athletes become null and void.

Ron Glover, writer The Starting Five

I can honestly say that I feel for Britney Spears and even more for the children. The American media, not just the Paparazzi are at fault for glamorizing this woman’s personal struggles. It has been documented that her new boyfriend/manager has cut her off from her family in an attempt to control her finances. In recent days Spears’ father has been given control of her assets. What really makes this unbelievable is that her parents seem lost – I mean this is your child, isn’t something is supposed to go off inside of you when your child is being mistreated? I don’t get that feeling from her parents at all; it’s like they’re looking for guidance through this situation. When I see that I ask myself, when did they lose control of the situation as parents? More than likely when the money began to roll in.

This saga has brought me to the realization that nothing is sacred anymore; family, marriage – even the innocence of childhood have been compromised. Her life has become one sad reality show on the fast track to being canceled.

Anthony Gilbert

People live in glass houses and throw stones at folks, its crazy, but it is in a lot of people’s nature to watch and observe people when they are on top in their respective fields, however a lot of people like to watch those same people if and when they slip or fall. I feel that people try to find happiness in so many different things, but what they don’t realize, is that being happy is a personal choice. So with that said, I don’t have much to say about Spears or her situation. We are human beings and we all have our ups and downs.

Jerold Wells Jr.

Britney Spears is a monster of her own making. The drug use, the partying, the marriages, deciding to have kids when she wasn’t fit….. I don’t feel sorry for her. She’s being attacked by society because it’s so easy. This does however make me recall other celebs that “lost it” so to speak. Martin Lawrence, Mariah Carey, Dave Chapelle; all succumbed to the dark lure of Hollywood. Something goes on in the mix of money, celebrity, and constant attention that drives talented people over the edge. Although my examples are black and Britney is white, the media scrutiny and negative press is similar. Again some find it comical, other simply like the sensationalism. I feel sorry for the kids. Children can’t pick their parents and those two boys are behind the eight ball so to speak. All the money in the world can’t prepare them for the firestorm that will be their lives. Much has been made of Spears’ background, Her parents, her upbringing, her esteem issues, and her mental health. Suppose Britney Spears is the product of poor parenting and therefore a suspect upbringing then what of her boys?

3. Besides Martin Luther King Jr., could you name someone else of influence during Black History Month and why they’ve affected you personally?

Malcolm X and Buck O’Neil are the two people who have affected me the most. Malcolm had a rage that wells up in all of us. The difference is, he let it out. He spoke straight to the point and will an intelligence that left his critics both confused and enlightened. Yeah it was like that. I won’t speak too much on Malcolm because I have a piece I’m working on to be posted Feb 21, the day of his assassination. My goodness I wish I had the opportunity to meet him as much as I wanted to meet Buck.

Buck O’Neil had a presence about him that more noble than any man who has stood in Washington. He was a bridge between a time of glory and a time for history. I’m not sold the Black exodus to MLB was a good thing. Could you imagine coming home from church still freshly pressed and getting the opportunity to see Buck and Satchel joke with Oscar Charleston or Rube Foster during the game? Man…that’s where I wanted to be. Buck because of the ineptitude of his peers to properly defend themselves, let America off the hook. There’s no reason why he isn’t enshrined in the HOF next to the likes of Ruth, Mays and Maris. He was Pop Pop:

Pop Pop died. America sighed The Negro League cried.

Where have you gone Ole Man? Do come back and smile like only the little boy can. You were not a “boy” but a man. Over 36 players you MLB ushered in a seven year span.

Jimmie Armsted, Oscar Charleston, Welday Walker, Jim Zapp to all of you Buck can highlight with a mere tip of his cap.

Frank, Felipe and Dusty remember the pain It will keep you sane Until Buck gets voted into the Hall of Fame.

Gone are coaches three. Part of baseball’s soul is sure to flee. For the love of God! America don’t you see! Baseball’s tarnished history we must continue to attack. Have your children proudly wear the Kansas City Monarch hat As America should reminisce of the timeless echo That resounds with the historic crack of Buck O’Neil’s bat…

His breed is all but gone. We’ve seemed to have lost respect for the folks of old who have blazed a path of knowledge and wisdom to make our lives just a little easier. If you see someone whose been around the park for a while, go over and talk to him, you might learn something.

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History is ours as well

Ron Glover

In elementary school Black History Month was a huge deal, my classes would have 25 on three people – Martin Luther King Jr. Harriet Tubman and Booker T. Washington. One day my dad said to me “You need to read about Marcus Garvey and do a report on him. As I read about Garvey and the “Back to Africa Movement” and the Black Star Line publication, it opened up me up to a different kind of Black man that I didn’t know had existed in 20th century America. No disrespect to Dr. King his stance on non-violence, but Garvey said that not only shall we separate ourselves as a people, but we will look to leave this country that is not ours and return to out rightful home. When you think about his philosophy (Garveyism)that went on to inspire Rastafarianism and the Nation of Islam that speaks volumes about where he was in at that point in history.

Once I moved on from Garvey my dad would speak to me in depth about the Black Panther Party and how they were basically what America didn’t want to see in the Black man. It made me think about Nat Turner and how he just became a man that was just pushed to the point where the only thing that mattered was equality. It gave me a militant thought process; I haven’t pledge allegiance to the flag since 9th grade. I stand for the National Anthem because I respect the sacrifices made by all people for freedom, but at the same time that freedom was not meant for me and mine.

Delinda Lombardo

For me, I gotta give mad love to Lewis Hamilton. For those unfamiliar, Lewis Hamilton is the first Black Formula One driver and he’s making serious F1 history right now. Last week, during a training session in Spain, Hamilton was taunted by a group of ‘fans’ at the track. The ‘fans’ donned black wigs, painted their faces and wore t-shirts which read ‘Hamiltons family.’ Now, Spain is in danger of losing their two F1 races due to the racist activity of those fans. But Hamilton didn’t take a Tiger Woods approach to the situation, he actually responded. With class and dignity: “The truth is that I feel somewhat sad, I am in love with this country, and especially the city of Barcelona and this circuit, which is one of my three favorites,” said Hamilton, speaking to sportlifepress.com. “The people in Spain have always been very warm with me, and even though I imagined what might happen it has not been pleasant. But maybe these types of things make you learn to appreciate more the warmth of the public, who although you always try to be there for them, you never know how important they are to you until these types of things happen,”

Alan Gray

I’m British and Australian, so I have little knowledge in this area, but people of positive influence I know are Tiger Woods, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Tina Turner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Cosby, James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

All of these people I see as role models – not only for black people. Smart, strong, driven, caring.

Any of them as powerful as Martin Luther King Jr? No, but that’s not their goal.

One person I once thought could have been a leader, but blew it is Jesse Jackson.

Barack Obama – good talker – can he think critically, can he execute?

Anthony Gilbert

Malcolm X impacts me and has impacted me since I first started learning about him in middle school. He was a true leader of his family and his people. During the 1960’s while most “black leaders” were fighting for civil rights, Malcolm X understood that civil rights was the wrong fight for black people in America. The reason why is because black people in America were not considered human beings, so in order to have civil rights you would have to be a man or a woman. The real fight was for human rights, and through X and his dedication to the preservation of black people, I have learned about people of color in history, as well as I have learned aplenty about myself.

Adina Ferguson

For me personally, I would have to say Robert “Scoop” Jackson. When I first heard or read him he was still with SLAM. It was a story on Kobe Bryant and on the cover it read Kobe Bryant: Born Again”.

When I spoke his name people looked at me like he was my imaginary friend I made up, but now I say, Scoop, and they know who….I would definitely say Mr. Jackson because he showed me I had a voice or a pen to be reckoned with as a young black sports writer, and I could put my spin on things. I could drop a Hova line in a piece, I could take it back to things from my culture and still have it speak to my subject, my story, I can create my own voice as a writer and still be effective.

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but because of him and his honesty and skill with the pen, pad and the black voice, I saw that this wasn’t just a white boy thing.

There’s nothing worse than not seeing “yourself” in something you’re passionate about. He doesn’t write from a standpoint of Jesus looking down on sheep, but one of the sheep turned apostles speaking for his folks. I’m not saying he speaks for all black people, because Obama def can’t represent every black person, but like Bun B once said, Trill Recognize Trill.

If blacks are underrepresented in the media, than I would have to say, I’m glad someone like Scoop is out there in the field holding it down, especially at a place like ESPN. We always highlight the prominent figures in black history, but sometimes it’s the ones not spoken of in the textbooks that have just as an important impact in a person’s life. Not everyone agreed with Dr. King and his notions and if you read Scoop’s columns and the 50 million plus comments in response, you know the same applies. lol

Temple 3

Elijah Muhammad. First, let me say that I believe too often our discussions in Black History Month tend to focus on individuals and their achievements or the Civil Rights Movement. Of course this is important because so much effort is expended to keep us deaf, dumb and blind to our accomplishments. Nonetheless, power is vested in groups – not individuals. It is groups and collectives (often led by charismatic and visionary individuals) who have moved this world of ours. Dr. King, for all his greatness, never worked in isolation. Bayard Rustin was always there as a strategist. Ella Baker was always there as an organizer. Ralph Abernathy and his wife were always there as confidants. There were thousands of people who supported the work to which he dedicated himself.

As it stands, our people know less about our institutions and organizations than they do about our individuals. Our organizations have been able to achieve some tremendous results because their work is ALWAYS contingent on COORDINATED ACTION. No organization can be considered effective without an apparatus to implement its vision. The Nation of Islam provided that apparatus, through the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, to Minister El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X) and many others. The organization, with its strong mid-western roots in Detroit and Chicago eventually grew to cover the nation. While many of our people never converted to Islam from Christianity, this organization established a paradigm for addressing some of the more critical needs facing the Black community.

Perhaps it is also important that in many, many respects the Nation of Islam was not an entirely novel creation. It bears many similarities to the Universal Negro Improvement Association, created and led by the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey. I chose to highlight Elijah Muhammad because, for me, he’s a “central figure” in understanding the historical progression of Black leadership from Marcus Garvey through Malcolm X. From a teaching and learning perspective, it’s vital that people have an understanding of these three persons that moves beyond speeches to understanding how Garvey led an international organization with 1 million members; how Elijah Muhammad put forth a new ethical, cultural paradigm that captivated the URBAN NORTH; and how Malcolm X carried that message to create new mosques all over the country – from New York to Los Angeles. There is an INSTITUTIONAL greatness here that precious few of us understand or can relate to our current condition. Hence, we continue to look to leaders rather than institutions for answers.

Institutional greatness is demanding. It requires punctuality, accuracy, thought, commitment, compassion, respect and much more. It’s not quite the same as being moved by a great speech.

Jemele Hill

Other than my mother, I’d say Malcolm X, Zora Neale Hurston and Ida B. Wells. Malcolm’s strength, compassion and understanding were amazing. Zora wrote with incredible soul. Ida B did just as much for women’s rights as Susan B. Anthony.

InkogNegro

My Pastor growing up was a man who passionately believed in the Liberation Theology espoused by James Cone and Jeremiah Wright. It was that basis that enabled me to balance my personal spiritual beliefs with an understanding of how that fit in my actual life and view my relationship with Christ outside of the narrow context that was imposed on people of African descent in this country. I can honestly say thank you to him for opening my eyes to the notion that Christianity is NOT in fact the white man’s religion.

Jerold Wells Jr.

My freshman year in college I had a professor ask me if I knew who Paul Robeson was. I felt I was pretty knowledgeable when it came to black history but I had to admit I knew nothing about the man. I proceeded to research and uncovered a true renaissance man. Robeson was a gifted athlete, orator, actor, and scholar. Robeson lettered in four sports, each of his four years at Rutgers and graduated at the top of his class. He gained national and international fame as an activist, actor and world-class vocalist. Much like the other African American intellectual giants of his time his refusal to curtail his views in the wake of Cold War paranoia led to his professional and personal demise. I admire Robeson because he made it ok for me to want to dominate athletically as well as intellectually, to develop my mind and body equally. He showed me an example of a man that excelled in sports and life.

Tracey, Black Gives Back

Bill Cosby. He has affected me personally because he is one of the few that has publicly spoken out about the lack of parenting in the black community and how it contributes to youth violence and other societal ills. When you talk about parents not doing their job, it’s a touchy subject. But Bill didn’t hold back. Here’s a classic Cosby quote:

“I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn’t know that he had a pistol? And where is the father?”

He has been accused of airing our ‘dirty laundry’ which is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Our ‘dirty laundry’ is what’s causing black on black youth violence, is what’s causing the 50% school drop out rate among blacks and Latinos, and is causing black children to grow up in homes without a father.

Some question his ability to be a spokesperson for the black community due to his personal business (i.e., his alleged extra marital affairs), but at this rate, somebody has to do it.

Gerald Henderson

My only role model I ever had was Bob Marley. I admired and revered Bob Marley because he was a true revolutionary. Bob Marley could talk about the problems of men and do it in a fashion where he explained it perfectly and managed to do it without bitterness. He would explain the ways of the world so even a baby could understand. He stood up to political corruption and even in the face of threats on his life he spoke up for the disenfranchised. I admired him for it. I also respected Malcolm X greatly. I respected him so much because he had the courage to follow the truth when he realized he wasn’t already speaking it or living it. His redemption is the key. He fell so far and still he got himself together and became what many consider to be almost a prophet.

4. What type of music do you listen to when you are going through different emotions? From dance floor happiness to melancholy loneliness and everything in between, what music puts you in a place of comfort? What music heals your soul? What is the greatest song and cd/album of all time?

I’m lost in 90’s Hip Hop. It was a time where Hip Hop was finding comfort, but no too much. You could dance, chill with the fellas or just nod ya head to the beat. Certain tracks move me, make their way through my heart via my soul and finally out of my fingertips. I can’t get with music I hear on the radio currently. Where is the proving ground. What happened to cats kicking it like the Whispers or Mint Condition? Seriously, how can you speak of love without getting your heart broke? Seems to me these young stars–while they do have talent–just haven’t done enough to be sitting on stage fumbling Grammys after winning like ten. Don’t get me started on Soulja Boy.

The greatest album of all time is It takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.

This is my favorite track…

Love rollin’ with the sun roof open banging this..

or that….

and this….

or that….

When I’m mad I rock this….

definitely this…

and of course this…

When I want to love and be love this isn’t far from my mind because of jazzy soul Philly chillness..for I miss her touch

Mizzo Jr. owes his existence to this one and this as well.

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Makeda is still the jam..So is Tabou

Adina Ferguson

I’m young so I like to take it back to the 90s, cause what’s out now, ain’t exactly popping. To get good I listen to Jodeci. If they all get clean, and somehow come back out, I’m copping albums with an s. Amy Winehouse does magic for my soul. She may be on some other stuff personally, but musically she’s gifted (she’s like a white R. Kelly on another level, though he’s kind of falling off). Both of her albums are great because it’s real talk, whether she’s cussing dude out or wanting him to take her back or not going to rehab….

R&B, good R&B gets me through a rough day, keeps be grooving on a good day. Somehow Justin Timberlake with his 2nd album got back on mines and other black people’s good side after tht Super Bowl incident, End of Time is just sick!

Rap gets me cranking any day. Jay-Z is always in rotation in my ears, because in some form or fashion he’s speaking someone’s testimony…”it’s my life, it’s my pain and my struggle, the song that I sing to you it’s my everything. Treat my first like my last and my last like my first, and my thirst is the same as when I came“…

T.I. w/out his criminal charges is great for warding off the haters and doubters… I said I was young right? Chris Brown is definitely the ultimate pick me up, baby I’m sorry, I’m trying to dance all nite, I got swag, let’s get it popping, this is how u get a girl lol… Saw the kid in concert, I felt 15 again lol. I know I was born in the 80s, and my mom would say music definitely was better in her day with the Stylistics, Commodores, Cameo, Chaka Khan and all them.

I would say the music has changed, and kind of for the worst, because every song should NOT have a dance to go with it. If I just want to chill, I’m taking it back to What’s the 411/ My Life…Mary J and just good cranking R&B and rap. I can’t say the best song, but the best album for me I would be bias and say Diary of a Mad Band, Devante Swing, Please U and Amy Go 2 Rehab, ’cause that dude was the one of the best songwriters of the era!

SML

I listen to all types of music, as I’m sure everyone does. But you know what I really love – 70’s soul. I always come back to that. Just the way I grew up. Yeah, I love hip-hop, and some songs will always get me amped, but that 70’s soul music was truly powerful stuff. I get a nice promotion at work, and I’m bumping Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” for a week! One guy came into my office, asking if I was listening to Kanye’s “Touch the Sky”. I hate to sound like an old man, but come on young’em! Yeah, anything by Curtis is great. The Superfly soundtrack is amazing… Marvin Gaye, so many great songs (personal favorite: “Trouble Man”)… and one last name, maybe a bit of a different vibe… Nina. Birds flying high, you know how I feel.

Ron Glover

Music is the perfect elixir for any situation that life throws at you. Perfect example; the day after Valentines Day I was beat and had to come into work and I know I needed a pick me up. I popped in The Best of Rick James and it took me through the day, I listened to “You and I” at least seven times. I know if I have a romantic night planned, I go with Teddy P. or the Isley Brothers. One song that I’ve been feeling lately has been Love Ballad by LTD, Jeffrey Osbourne is just amazing on that song, and you can feel the emotion in his words. When it comes to getting in a zone for writing, working out or anything that I need to do. I pop in WU-Tang Clan or anything by GZA or Ghostface, I choose those two because they’re my two favorites. I’ve gone as far to link songs to certain events in my life. When I lost my dad the song “As” by Stevie Wonder comes to mind because he would always play it for my sister and I. When my son was born it was the same song. When I went through my divorce it was “I’m still standin'” by Elton John. When I bought my house last year the song I played that entire day was, “Mama, I Made It” by Jay-Z, it wasn’t the lyrics per se just the fact that he was saying to his mother that he made it. Through my entire ordeal with my son’s mother my mom was my rock. If I had to pick a song for myself today it would be, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley because like the song says, “Every little ‘ting gonna be alright.”

Man, the greatest song is hard but the Greatest Album is harder; Exodus By Bob Marley, Songs In The Key Of Life By Stevie Wonder and It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back By Public Enemy.

Ok, for Greatest song I’ll choose Redemption Song by Bob Marley.

Delinda Lombardo

As a White girl from the 80’s my heart will always be with U2. October, side two, late at night, needle picking up every scratch while Bono lulls me to sleep with ‘40‘…nothing tops that for me. U2 was singing about peace, love and understanding long before Joshua Tree came out. They taught me tolerance, respect, the beauty of peace, the joy of giving, the want for unity, the drive for greatness and the desire to change the world. U2’s early albums influenced me in so many ways that they have essentially become part of my soul and offer me a place of comfort, and hope….As for other moods? When I’ve had too much coffee; Public Enemy. Long road trip: Kanye West. Feeling down: Mary J. Blige always brings me back up, and for a little love I can’t resist Maxwell or Marvin.

Anthony Gilbert

I enjoy being calm and I listen to a lot of old school hip hop from the 70’s and 80’s as well as I listen to a ton of jazz. When I want to have comfort I listen to Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops, the Temptations, and John Coltrane. Nothing soothes the soul like Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell or Sade. The greatest song of all time for me is either What’s Going On, or A Rebel Without a Pause. My favorite CD of all-time has to be a tie between, Illmatic, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and What’s Going On?

Jemele Hill

This isn’t going to be very politically correct, but we’re family, right? I have a rotating group of female artists I listen to that I jokingly/affectionately call “my bitches.” All of them give me something, whether it’s power, reflectiveness, sadness, encouragement, or love. So, here’s My Bitches: Nina Simone, Teena Marie, Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole, Sade, Kelis, Jill Scott, and Lil’ Kim. I’m sure people raised their eyebrows at the last selection, but Kim, Sade, Teena and Mary J got me from high school to college and helped me transition from a girl to a woman. Teena and Mary taught me about the perils of love, and how, as Mary says now, “it ain’t all roses.” Kim taught me about confidence. Jill Scott gives me the most comfort. Nina Simone went through it all, and listening to her, hurts. In a good way, though. Keyshia is my newbie. Our upbringings are similar and I just feel her when I listen to her music. She’s very underrated.

Although, lately, I’ve been bouncing Ice Cube’s “War & Peace.” That’s the CD that encourages me to do big things, all the time.

Now, the toughest portion of your question — greatest song and album. You’ve got to be kidding me, right? I just can’t narrow it down. But what immediately comes to mind is Stevie’s “Songs In The Key of Life;” Mary’s “My Life,” and Biggie’s “Ready to Die.” If some “Deep Impact” stuff were about to go down, those are the three CDs I’d take in the cave with me. Assuming I’d be on the list.
Temple3

I listen to everything. I listen to the music of the entire African diaspora (traditional African music, Cuban, Brazilian, Haitian, South African, Jamaican, etc.). While Earth, Wind and Fire is my favorite group of all-time, I have always been moved by Loose Ends. LE was a UK-based band that built it’s sound off a combination of Caribbean and believe it or not Philadelphia (Philly Sound) music. It’s as distinctive a sound as there is – and for me, it’s timeless. Whether listening to Zagora (“Stay A Little While” or “Slow Down”) or another of their four albums, it always puts me in the right place.

Alan Gray

Showing my age here. (Eric) Clapton, Beatles, Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, Credence (Clearwater Revival), Slade, Keith Urban, Alison Krauss.

All kinds of rock, bluegrass, some classical, some country, bagpipes (I play)
I’m always happy.

Tracey, BlackGivesBack

Music that comforts me is classic rock/pop from the ’80s, and ’90s soul/hip hop. I’m so stuck in this era and I can’t get out. Everything from the Police, Men at Work, Duran Duran, the Eurythmics, Lisa Stansfield, Human League, Hall and Oates, Culture Club, Cameo, Sade, Loose Ends, Soul II Soul, Tribe Called Quest, MC Lyte, Brand Nubian, KRS-One, Public Enemy…..

My pick for greatest song of all time is Seal, Kiss from a Rose
And I just can’t pick one greatest cd/album of all time! My picks are:

Prince, Purple Rain (my first concert ever – the Purple Rain tour!)
Michael Jackson, Thriller (the old one)
Kanye West, Late Registration
Me’Shell Ndege ‘Ocello, Plantation Lullabies
Maxwell, Urban Hang Suite
Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life
Seal, Crazy

Gerald Henderson

I listen to a lot of rap music to go with my outrage, my fire. I listen to house music sooth my spirit and take me away for a moment. I listen to R&B to give me those familiar feelings from when I grew up (Michael Jackson, Curtis Mayfield, etc.). I listen to reggae (roots) to inspire my mind and my soul and place me where I need to be, to be fair and honest to others. Most of all, I read, I read and I read some more to feed my mind. I only read what’s real, no fiction because I learned that a lot of the truth about our world is not readily available to you. You have to go find it and once you do, it will blow you away.
InkogNegro

I actually don’t play music to change my mood. I select music that will address what I feel at the time. I am fully aware of music’s ability to manipulate emotions. I choose to feed that emotion and let it ebb and flow naturally.

Righteous Anger and rage calls for Public Enemy or other conscious and provocative Hip Hop.

Nostalgia for my youth calls for 80s early 90s Hip Hop.

Nothing heals the soul like gospel.

Love for my wife and family is stoked by the irresistible tones of Black Feminine Songstresses from Vivian Green to Etta James.

Some projects are so powerful that they overwhelm any ability to think about anything other than the music itself.

Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of life invariably leads to a focus on the fusion of lyrics and instrumentation to (for the millionth time) investigate the world being created by the artist. It will probably forever be the single greatest musical accomplishment I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.

Bethlehem Shoals

Old soul, sixties ands seventies. Favorite album is Sam Dees, The Show Must Go On or O.V. Wright, Nickel and a Nail.

Diallo Tyson

In college, I used to listen to Westside Connection’s CD [Bow Down] to get myself amped to take tests. Nowadays, if I need to amp myself up I’ll put in Rage Against The Machine [Bulls On Parade] or Limp Bizkit [Break Somethin’]. I may need to get the juices flowing if I’m working on a project, but not being creatively constructive. So I pop in some sort of aggressive rock to snap me out of my funk.

Whenever I’m in “Don’t give a damn” mode, I’ll put on some old school booty shake and start p-popping all over the house. That doesn’t happen often, but it’s a sight to behold when it does.

But mostly, I let the music put me into a mood as opposed to being reactionary. I might listen to a song from 12th grade [Ain’t Hard To Tell] and the next thing I know I’m trying to find a dozen more songs from that year. I have always associated life events with music, so listening to a particular song will instantly take me back to those moments. So obviously, I listen to a lot of old school. Mostly hip hop from the 90’s. Music in the 80’s provided the foundation, but I couldn’t appreciate it until the 90’s.

Now I’m going to ramble a little bit. Old school for my generation is vastly different from the previous generations. They had the Isley Brothers, we had NWA. They had “Music In The Key Of Life,” we had “Enta Da Stage.” Their good old days is watching Teddy Pendergrass perform on the Grammys, while mine is watching Snoop’s first performance on Saturday Night Live. I guess my point is that I often feel weird about criticizing current music, because my frame of reference is “Reasonable Doubts.” When I was coming up, older generations told me that wasn’t real music. Curtis Mayfield was real music. Nowadays, I’m saying Soulja Boy isn’t real music. Big Mike is real music. It just feels weird to be getting old.

Jerold Wells Jr.

Music is what connects every culture. It’s a uniquely human creation in that every group of people uses music to tell stories, to celebrate, to grieve, and to connect with each other. Black folks are no different. Personally, when I’m down I like to listen to gospel music. Donnie McClurkin in particular has recorded some of the most profound songs I’ve heard dealing with sadness, disappointment, depression, and loss. His lyrics are based in his Christian faith but I believe the emotions he talks about dealing with and overcoming are bigger than that. A personal favorite is “We fall down.” The music heals, soothes and inspires. One cd I plan to keep in my family for years and years is the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I think she’s the greatest female MC of all time even though her body of work isn’t very extensive. I’ll give it to my daughter for her 14th birthday. I think it’s that forceful. She speaks to girls and women in a way that I find amazing.

5. Why are we so critical of other cultures but then in turn are so apologetic of our own? Does the world have a point about our perceived arrogance as a nation?

I included this question just to get a sense of who would answer it. If you gauge the responses below, you won’t get a representative answer from Blacks. We don’t generally characterize ourselves as holding a position of entitlement, therefore it’s ridiculous to ascribe to an unrealistic notion of having world arrogance. I think it’s stupid for Americans to criticize fallacies of the world when we are no better–and sometimes worse. I’ll say it again, we are the Roman Empire, do we want to be reduced to monuments? We’re not the only country trying to help the plight human, so why do we see ourselves as the king of the island?

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With no grease?

Alan Gray

OK, I’m going to get my butt kicked with this, but you asked!

There is good and bad everywhere. We know our own culture and that makes us less intimidated by it. We don’t understand the other cultures, therefore they must be bad – and in some cases they are – especially by our standards.

I’ve been in the US 10 years. Before I came here, Australian perception was that Americans were obnoxious, arrogant and ignorant of the world outside their borders. People get that impression from news, movies “Ugly American” tourists. (BTW, there are Ugly Brits and Ugly Australians too)

The US has often “strong-armed” other countries to get its own way in commerce.

I’ve met a lot of really nice people here, lots of really smart people, very few obnoxious, heard a few arrogant on the TV and radio, seen quite a few ignorant, who have no idea where other countries are. (I don’t understand why schools are failing because I’ve seen a lot of really intelligent kids and a lot of really smart people).

What is really disconcerting is that there are so many people here who believe all the conspiracy theories and believe the government is out to get them.

I’ve never seen so much political polarization and I just don’t understand the fascination with celebrities.

Americans think the US is “the most technologically advanced country in the world”.

That is far from reality – now THAT is arrogance! This is a discussion in itself.

We are each partly a product of the culture around us.

An observation: America got the puritans and Australia got the convicts and Australia got the best part of that deal.

InkogNegro

Hypocrisy is the national obsession. We cop pleas for ourselves even as we assemble the lynch mob to attack all we find to be guilty of the very missteps we are in the midst of making. Blinded by the forestry in our own eyes, we choose to highlight whatever sawdust infect those around us.

The world isn’t much better. Europe is sitting over there sneering at our hypocrisy while still engaging in the pseudo-colonialism that it concocted to replace the official colonialism of a bygone era. Africans are so dismissive of American Blacks and their Westernized nature that they ignore their own foibles that thrust them from megalomaniacal force to megalomanical force like a historical game of pong. At some point the layers of hypocrisy bleed into each other. It is a part of the human condition.

Diallo Tyson

I don’t know that it really has anything to do with us as a nation. I think it goes to a very micro level. Think of your family. How many times have you heard a family member talk about Mrs. Johnson’s son, Leon, and how he can’t stay out of trouble and it’s a shame he’s such a bad apple. All the while, your cousin James will steal anything that isn’t locked down. But that’s just because your Uncle James is an alcoholic and never spent time with the boy.

People just have an innate desire to look good. We gloss over our family screw ups, because who wants to look as bad as The Johnsons. If we don’t make excuses and rationalize behavior, then we have to accept that we may be just as screwed up as the next group. I don’t know if it’s so much arrogance, as it is misplaced self preservation.

Extrapolate this out to the national level. I work with dyed-in-the-wool conservatives and they’re always talking about Islam this and Islam that. I’m thinking to myself, “Don’t these guys want the US to be governed by Biblical law?” They complain about how Muslims treat women, and I’m like “How have we historically treated women in this country?” But to admit that maybe we’re not all that different, is to admit that maybe we can be just as bad. I don’t think most people are willing to admit that they, or their family, or their religion, or their race, might suck in some regards. Is that arrogance? I don’t know. In some cases, probably. In other case, I think it’s a sense of perverted self preservation.

Adina Ferguson

America is such a liberating yet complex country. We’re smart but we’re ignorant. It’s like hey if you’re over in the Middle East aren’t doing it like how we doing it, you’re wrong, and we’re coming to show how it’s done.

Our culture is like a young child-you’re only going to apologize when you’re caught in the wrong. We have people showing blatant ignorant racial profiling after 9/11 and it becomes a problem when it’s seen worldwide, when it steps outside of home. We always want to correct others outside US walls, and we want to be numero uno in every category. There’s nothing wrong with nationalism, but c’mon, you need to work on and worry bout in-house before your neighbors…

Temple3

I don’t include myself in that “we.” I have absolutely NO arrogance about “American” or United States culture. That’s simply a colonial plantation mindset I cannot afford to hold. Four percent of the world’s Black people live in the United States of America. That means that 96% of the persons with whom I find common cause reside in other lands. While I am proud of our accomplishments here, I understand that there are bigger fish to fry than for me to succumb to the predilections of “white” folks.

On a final note, I believe that one reason Americans, as a whole, express this attitude is because of the nation’s military supremacy. The US does not have a “natural enemy” in the entire Western Hemisphere with the capacity to wage war. In fact, after Black folk in Haiti defeated the French two centuries ago, the French abandoned plans for empire here and sold “Louisiana” to Thomas Jefferson. The US has not had to worry about an “enemy” for 20 decades. Americans don’t really have a memory of losing a war. For many scholars, Vietnam was a failure of policy, not of execution. In other words, the US did not engage in Total War and seek to destroy its “enemy.” Instead, they willing fought a war of attrition and took an approach of half measures. Of course, on the ground, there is no denying that the US caught a beat down. So it is with Iraq. The losses there are so minimal that the only reason this is considered a “war” is because the government does not want it to be called what it is – a Hijack at Sea Level. The “war” is over in Iraq – the US has already accomplished its objective which have nothing to do with installing democracy or stabilizing the region. The goal was to displace leadership seeking to shift the currency of exchange for oil (done! Saddam is dead – isn’t he?); to secure long-term oil leases from Iraq (ongoing and near completion, with no obstacles in sight); preclude French or Russian firms from establishing toe holds in the region (done); and ensure that China and India will continue to hold large dollar reserves in order to make petro purchases (done).

It’s a wrap. It’s all over, but the dying. 4,000 casualties is hardly a war. In WWII, it might have been a bad day on the beach. Our perspective on what constitutes “loss” and death and dying has been warped – and is simply out of whack. This “war” against an undefined enemy will cost more than $500 billion when its all said an done. And a nice bit of that will go to Halliburton which packed its bags and moved to Dubai.

Now if that ain’t gangsta, I don’t know what is.

Jerold Wells Jr.

I think most of our criticism of other cultures is reactionary. At its base, if you mess with me then I’ll mess with you. It’s extremely common to hear all of the negative stereotypes associated with black folks. More common still for me as a young black man are the frequent indictments on my generation in particular. We are so many negative things. We are perceived to be lazy, complacent, violent, and dangerous to everyone around us. We destroy each other, our communities and ourselves. After years of hearing all of those allegations, those of us who were able started to defend ourselves, and more importantly, lob the shortcomings of other races back at them. Consider one of the most controversial works of the 1960’s, Eldridge Cleaver’s “Soul on Ice.” Some of his most harsh criticism is saved for whites and their contributions to his people’s oppression. The history of this country includes slavery, Jim Crow, and myriad civil rights violations against blacks. It’s fact. I don’t think it’s unfair for us as a people to discuss these issues and raise questions about the reasons why these things happened. When wrongs occur someone has to take responsibility. As for our arrogance why shouldn’t we be arrogant? As a people we’ve invented, revolutionized, and achieved in a multitude of different walks of life. Pride in your people and their accomplishment is natural. Irish folks are proud to be Irish, as are Chinese, Mexican, and Russian folks. Just so happens I’m Black……..and proud.

Delinda Lombardo

Yes the world has a point because we are arrogant as a nation. We often apply our own principles to that of other countries, so instead of tolerance we provoke judgment. And let’s be honest, we do have it pretty good here.

There are writers in China right now being denied access to the Internet out of concerns that they will report the ungodly working conditions of those preparing for the Olympics. This in itself gives me reason to sing the praises of this country. Am I being critical of the Chinese government? Yes. Am I being critical about people? No. And that’s the difference-countries should be defined by their people, not their government. In part, “we” are perceived as arrogant because this country has historically been run by power-hungry-corporate-monkeys who want to dominate the world. We’re not represented by someone who represents the “voice” of the people any more than the Chinese people are. But, I think if you really dig below the façade of this country, more and more people are becoming less apologetic and increasingly more active in changing the perception of the good-old-US and A. We’ve got a long way to go, but I feel this election has bumped-us up a notch in the ‘we-ain’t-so-bad’ category?

Bethlehem Shoals

I’m Jewish, so I can only understand forms of self-projection that begin with self-deprecation.

SML

Trying to explain to Americans why we come off as arrogant is like trying to explain to Bostonians why everyone thinks they are douchebags. Either you understand, or you are part of the problem. See, not everyone in America is arrogant… definitely not. But too often the people that are most vocal, or most visible to the rest of the world, are the most arrogant ones. Like bad tourists. Or government officials…

Gerald Henderson

We are not only arrogant as a nation, it is compounded by our utter ignorance as it pertains to even our own government’s foreign policy actions in our name. (that’s part of what I mean when I say that reading about the reality of our world will blow a lot of people away with what they will learn). The rest of the world knows everything about us while we know nothing about the rest of the world. It is because to us, the world is about us, so we don’t feel the need to learn about them because the world revolves around us. This attitude is going to be the downfall of US. The world waits and prays that we wake up and start steering our ship a little better, because right now it is obvious that the ship is steering us instead of the other way around.

Jemele Hill

Isn’t that just human nature? We do it with our own families, within black and American culture. I’ll tell someone else in a minute about how they need to show tougher love within their own family, but when my little sister asks me for money to get her hair done, I fork it right over. Black folks routinely tell white people how they need to treat us better and be less racist, but our own color complexes and the lack of respect we show one another are still prevalent. And yes, as a nation, we’ll talk that stuff about how other countries need to be more “civilized,” but we are the most violent country in the world and we got people eating out of trash cans like everywhere else.

It’s not so much arrogance as it is we project onto other people the things we wish we could be honest about within our own circle. It’s easier for me to tell one of my girls she needs to improve her self esteem, whether than address the potholes in my own. After all, isn’t always easier to point fingers rather than solve a problem?

5 Questions To Take Advantage of a Black Sense of Urgency

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