Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

They Always Go in Threes

It is quite extraordinary, but whenever famous people die, they always go in threes. When Ray Charles died, his death was about the same time as that of Ronald Reagan and Marlon Brando. James Brown's death occurred in the same week as that of Gerald Ford, and Saddam Hussein. I remember chiding James Brown for passing away on Christmas day. I wished he had "picked" a different day to die. Nonetheless, while I was yet mourning the passing of the King of Soul, I received the news while out bowling that Gerald Ford had passed. There have been others who have died in the same pattern. Isaac Hayes, Bernie Mac, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones all died within days of each other. The deaths of Hayes and Mac were quite ironic and caused a stir because they had both starred in a movie together along with Samuel Jackson. After the passing of these actors, it was feared that Jackson would follow next completing the deadly triad.

The old adage that death comes in threes holds true. Early in the week, it was announced that Ed McMahon had died. I awoke this morning to the news that Farrah Fawcett the original Charlie's Angel had died. Fawcett’s death however was overshadowed later in the day by the demise of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. Michael's death comes as a shock because it was unexpected. More than any of the deaths and the adage of deaths in threes, the passing of Michael Jackson at 50 is epic and truly touching. He had just announced the line up for his last performance scheduled to begin early in July. His passing is quite tragic because it seems as though his life was unfairly truncated and he did not get to see the final curtain call on his last act.

Is this triad mere coincidence or is there something more to the number three? The number three is significant in many cultures and religions, permeating folklore, the Bible and literature. In the Bible three represents the Holy Trinity, comprising the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Besides signifying the holy deity, Jesus suffered three temptations, there were three wise men present at this birth in the manger and Noah had three sons. In folklore, the significance of the number is played on again. There were three little pigs, Goldilocks and the three bears, and there were three musketeers. Also, In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book the Scarlet Letter, the number three is symbolic of redemption, representing the relationship between self, other and God. Further, in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the number three is often interpreted to be symbolic of the trinity and unifies the characters and events that occur. From folklore, to religion and ancient culture the number three often serves as a unifying force. Three does what one and two are unable to do, and makes up for the insufficiency of four.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Do The Right Thing: Race Relations Twenty Years Later

"Those that will tell don't know, and those that know don't tell."

This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the release of director Spike Lee's defining movie, "Do The Right Thing." Released on June 30, 1989, the movie boasted a cast of very talented thespians, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Samuel L. Jackson, Rosie Perez, Martin Lawrence, Danny Aiello, John Turturro, Bill Nunn, Spike Lee amongst others. The movie was received critically and scored two Oscar nominations in the categories for best actor and best screenplay. When the movie was released, there was concern over its contents being too incendiary and capable of inciting violence. However, the fears of violence were not realized and the movie was important then and still is relevant in initiating dialogue between different racial groups.

Set in the multiethnic Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in New York, the events in the movie take place on the hottest day of the summer. For a younger audience not familiar with the movie, the key events in the movie take place in a single day just like in the Friday trilogy. The movie examines racial tensions between Sal, the owner of an Italian pizzeria, his employee Mookie, Korean immigrants who own a fruit stand, Puerto Ricans, Caribbean immigrants, and other African-Americans in the neighborhood.

The plot of the movie revolves around Sal and his sons and their relationship with their predominantly black clientele. Tensions in the movie rise when an African-American customer Buggin Out demands that Sal add pictures of African-American heroes to his wall of fame that up till that point only had pictures of renowned Italian Americans. Sal refuses to comply and charges Buggin Out to leave his store and not return. In another scene, Sal gets into an altercation with another young man, Radio Raheem, who walks around with a radio that constantly plays the Public Enemy anthem, "Fight the Power." In order to receive service Sal orders the young man to turn off his radio. Feeling scorned both Radio Raheem and Buggin Out return to the pizzeria after hours with the intent of having a show down with Sal. A fight breaks out between Sal and Raheem, the police gets called in and asphyxiate Raheem in attempt to quell the fight.

The tensions in the movie are so important in understanding race relations and perceptions shared by certain ethnic groups about other cultures. In one scene, Mookie who works as a delivery boy for Sal gets into an argument with Sal's son, Pino. Pino is extremely racists, however he lists Magic Johnson, Eddie Murphy and Prince as his favorite athlete and entertainers. When he is made to realize that his roll call included only African-Americans, he makes the argument that these individuals are not African-American. Or even if they are, they were a different kind of African-American. They weren't like the thugs he had to deal with in his neighborhood. It's llike most Caucasians and other non-blacks today who revere Oprah but will not have a conversation with their African-American neighbors. For most Caucasians, because Oprah is rich and influential, she is seen as not black, less black, more than black, or not as black as perhaps the young kid who sags his pants on his knees. In order words, her social status, affects her race, making her "white" since of course someone as successful could certainly not be black because being black is often associated with malign forces.

The movie also helps to re-examine some of the unrealistic expectations certain cultural groups hold other groups to. When Buggin Out, challenges Sal over the wall of fame, did it not ever occur to him to open up his own establishment if he wanted to see African-American revolutionaries honored? There is hardly an African-American hairdresser who will put up a picture of Marilyn Munroe on the wall of her salon. Whatever happened to Madame C.J. Walker? Too often some African-Americans pull the race card and engage in unforgiving self pity. However, this behavior is often not addressed for fear of being labelled a bigot or racist. Examine most major inner cities in the United States and the rise in gang violence, teenage pregnancies, and high school drop-out rates are shocking. Far be it for me to not acknowledge the role slavery played in shaping the fabric of a lot of inner cities and black lives, but at some point, we also need to take responsibility and not fall to the age old, easy escape of using slavery as a crutch. Has slavery set us back? Surely it has, but we need to change the narrative when it is in our power to do so. In many ways, we are starting the race from a disadvantaged vantage point, but honestly, we also need to hold one another accountable.

Common themes explored in the movie that still remain relevant today are the power of a mob to incite a fight. In the scene where a Caucasian bicyclist steps on Buggin Out's shoes, he gives in to pressure from the crowd and challenges the man for the infraction. It's not quite clear if the action was intentional or an innocent accident. Police brutality especially towards African-Americans is also examined. Interestingly, Spike Lee weaves two disparate reactions of the police into the movie. In one scene where a man makes a complaint about his car geting soaked, the police do not press charges. It should be noted that the police could have decided to arrest everyone on the scene if not for getting the car wet, then for tampering with a fire hydrant. But in the final scene, the police kill Radio Raheem in an attempt to break up his fight with Sal. Police brutality still has not ended and New York's finest still haven't paid the full costs for the deaths of Ahmadu Diallo or Sean Bell.

In the end, the movie raises the age old question of the place of violence in race relations. When is violence necessary and do some people ever have it coming? Over the past weekend celebrity blogger Perez Hilton was assaulted by the manager of the group Black-Eyed Peas. Many argued that Hilton deserved the beating because he constantly antagonized celebrities on his ride to fame. In the same vein it can be argued that Radio Raheem had it coming. If he respected Sal and turned his radio off he would not have suffered Sal's wrath. But is violence ever the solution? As the anniversary of this ground breaking movie is celebrated it is imperative that Americans once again examine race-relations with meaningful dialogue.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Jon Minus Kate Plus Eight

The announcement that had a bunch of televsion fans of the series Jon and Kate plus Eight spellbound has been made. After five seasons, the couple decided that they were seeking a permanent separation following reports of Jon's infidelity. The couple who met in 1997 and have been married since 1999 have eight children, a set of fraternal twins and sextuplets.

In a broadcast on Sunday morning on CNN a report showed that in the past few years between 10-12 contestants or participants in television reality shows had either killed themselves or at least attempted suicide. The dialogue was over if involvement in a reality series increased the propensity for suicide or if reality shows intentionally preyed on and attracted individuals who were already on the brink and likely to take their own lives.

The series catapulted Jon and Kate Gosselin, ordinary surbuban parents with children born of extra ordinary circumstances into the spotlight. The spotlight unfortunatley brought with it pressures they were ill equipped to handle. Although admittedly the divorce rate is three times as high for parents with multiple birth, is it possible that the show added to that pressure? When will society draw the line and stop this madness called reality television?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Iran: On the Brink of Another Revolution?

The instability in Iran could worsen over the next couple of days and become something short of revolution if the mandate of the people is not upheld. The mandate of the people is hard to decipher because it seems as though there are as many protesters for the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as there are for the opposition Mir Hossain Moussavi. Currently, the situation in Iran is very tense and has been marked by several violent and non-violent protests resulting in a number of casualties. The marches in Iran were precipitated by what many viewed as a rigged election. Going into the election Moussavi was the favored candidate in a country hungry for reform and economic change. The reform movement was spear-headed by the youth of the country who make up 60% of the population in Iran.

Iran's voting system is different from that in the United States and other western countries where electronic ballot boxes are used. In Iran, paper ballots that have to be counted individually are used instead. In an election that brought out several millions to the polls, the result of the election was announced two hours after the polls closed and the incumbent Ahmadinejad was declared the new Prime Minister of Iran. Ahmadinejad did not only win most major battlegrounds in the election, but he also won the popular vote in Moussavi's hometown of ethnic Azeri Turks. Previously, the electoral commission had announced that the vote count would require several days, so it came as a shock when the results were announced the same day as the elections.

Ahmadinejad, is no stranger to politics nor the international stage. He was previously mayor of Tehran and was catapulted to world prominence as a result of his anti-Semitic views and nuclear weapons program. Ahmadinejad however is in a favored position, because unlike his opponent he has the support of the Supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Guardian Council as well. Khamenei who is the supreme authority in Iran came into power in 1989 following the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Khomeini came to power after the Iranian Revolution in the 1970s that deposed the United States backed Shah of Iran.

The Iranian Revolution of the 1970s also known as the Islamic Revolution was precipitated by several events. The primary event that drove the Revolution was the fear that that Shah of Iran in response to a western influence was turning Iran to a completely secular nation. In an attempt to preserve whatever relics of Islam were left, the Ayatollah organized a coup that seized power and installed an Islamic regime while the Shah was away from the country. The new Islamic regime rewrote the Constitution of Iran and remains the chief governing body of Iran along with the Guardian Council, a group of men appointed by the Supreme leader.

Khamenei and the Guardian Council are the authority responsible for the vote recount. This is were an impasse will be reached because it is quite unlikely that the Ayatollah will decide on a ruling in favor of Moussavi. Although Ahmadinejad has several supporters, Moussavi also has about a comparable number most of whom are young people who are beginning to view the Islamists who govern the nation as more of a liability than an asset. Most young people are burdened by the heavy handedness of Shari'a Law and the economic crisis in the country. Real estate and other commodities have become almost completely unaffordable and Ahmadinejad's priorities seem to lie elsewhere.

The next few days in Iran might be extremely volatile and the country could break out in a revolution that might decide the future of the Iranian people. The role of the international community and of the United States will become clearer in the coming days. What role if any will Russia play in the events and will true reform come to Iran finally?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer of the Westerns

For as long as I can remember, every summer has always had a theme. The summer after my freshman year in college was devoted to reading plays. I did almost all of Shakespeare's works, several works by August Wilson, Anton Chekov and several playwrights I don't remember anymore. That was the same summer I read Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun." The next summer I read short stories. I did several short stories by Flannery O'Connor. I needed the diversion these short stories created because that was the summer I took the dreaded Organic Chemistry.

That perhaps was the summer I learned to hate my life, momentarily. I dreaded the class and feared the lab even more. Just when I thought my life couldn't get any worse, my lab partner bailed out on me. I still remember her full name and middle initial and the look on her face when she told me she didn't want to work with me anymore. Imagine my angst. Nonetheless, in spite of the themes I chose, every summer ended with me hugging a copy of my favorite book, "Things Fall Apart." Did my life come undone in those labs or was it just my imagination? But suffice it to say I haven't passed a single summer yet without Chinua Achebe's classic.

I've long ditched reading in favor of movies. Not! I'm still an avid reader. But I love a good movie. So, this summer I've decided on a theme. I'll watch sixty western movies from now until the last day of the summer. I watched the first today, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." I saw that movie many years ago in grade school. Yes, I was watching rated R movies in grade school and I turned out right. However, I was a different breed and I don't endorse such movies for anyone under the age of twenty one.

Watching the movie now again as an older twenty-someone was a great experience. It was a combination of some things I really love. Clint Eastwood, the American West, the Civil War, fantastic directing and photography, and a great score. I didn't realize how sexy Clint Eastwood was as a young man. To an eight year old in the eighties, he was just an American cowboy. But now in the words of Perez Hilton, "completely gratuitious."

The movie falls into the genre of Western movies known as Spaghetti Westerns. Spaghetti Westerns are a sub-genre of Western movies that were chiefly directed by Italian directors usually with a Spanish partner and a Spanish technical crew. The movie was written primary by Italians and was released in Italy under the name, Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo. The release of the movie in the United States was preceeded by the Italian release by a few days. Although the movie is violent, the violence portrayed adequately the desperation that was a hallmark of those times, when survival was utmost. Conquering the American West fits the clichéd "desperate times call for desperate measures." The movie is arguably one of the finest movies I have seen, especially for that time period.

For reasons I cannot explain, I am quite nostalgic about America before the twentieth century. I sometimes get lost in this fantasy that I forget how opressive this period was for minorities. From the Native Americans, to people of African descent, early European and Asian immigrants, and Mexican in the South, the early years of this country was oppression personified. For poor white Americans, the terrain was tasking. I've read stories of American families who suffered poverty, disease, and hardship as they tried to conquer this untamed land. Yet, this oppressive landscape is the backdrop to some the best stories. Writers and playwrights alike have capitalized on this fact and have woven stories that qualify both as historical fiction and fictional history. While I enjoyed "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," I couldn't help but notice that African-Americans were conspicuously absent from the movie, especially the battles during the War.

The beauty of movies for me is in the analysis. I bring all my senses to a movie, and there's nothing as a good as a well-written and produced movie. Oh, the joy! So, I have fifty nine more westerns to watch before the last day of the summer. Next on my list, "The Outlaw Josey Wales." Then I'll be entertained by "3:10 to Yuma," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," and then "Brokeback Mountain." If you have a suggestion for a great western, please leave me a comment and tell me why it's a good movie.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Name is Harriet.

Hello, my name is Harriet and I am an addict. I have been struggling with my addiction for several months. I became an addict because everyone else was doing it. It was sort of a monkey see, monkey do kind of trap. I never wanted to be addicted, but my sisters encouraged me to try it and I gave in. See, it had class and was different from the ghetto like façade and blinding colors of the other close rival. I liked the layout and it won me over. I once worked on a web usability project and I learned that you didn't have to search endlessly to find what you were looking for. If it wasn't immediately obvious or if there were too many distractions, then it wasn't worth my time. My addiction obeyed all the rules so I indulged even more.

I like to consider myself a private person. I've never been one to invite others into the recesses of my soul to play a game of charades or hopscotch. However, my addiction demands that I let down my guard every so often, displaying pictures or updating my status. Most times I update my status with my blog address, begging people to visit the blog, which they sometimes do. I do want you to read my status which I consider cheap tweets, but honestly I don't care to know what is on your mind.

Yet, I am forced to know and become privy to the mundane indiscretions of random people I really do not particularly care for; don't mind that you're on my friend's list. I don't care about you! When they get depressed, they tell the world. The house is burning, they just got their nails done, they catch their significant other cheating, they have a baby by Usher, get engaged to Adam Levine, kissed Lil' Wayne's back when he pressed close to them in a crowd, and the world needs to know. I hate such and I could really care less, yet, I still find myself checking back so often to see who's been where and done what! It's becoming the first thing I do when I awake and the last thing I do before the lights go out.

I know if I do not seek help, psychosis of some sort lurks around the corner. So, I fit myself in my disguise and head off to the local chapter of *Anonymous. We go around and make the introductions. If you've been in one of these meetings, you know the drill. No last names please. First names only. Just incase you don't understand how we operate, rent a copy of "Rachel Getting Married." We all pretend to look sober the first time. We pretend we haven't seen the demon all day. But then as the girl next to me picks up her Blackberry and pretends to check a text message, I know she's secretly indulging in that old sin.

So the facilitator speaks up, and the first meeting kicks off. I'm told there are twelve steps to recovery. First, I need to admit that I am powerless to my addiction and my life has become unmanageable. The second step is to believe that a Power greater than I can restore me to sanity. Third step, make a decision to turn my life and will to the power of God. Step four, make a searching and fearless inventory of myself. Step five, admit to God, another human being and myself, the exact nature of my wrong. Step six, ready myself for God to remove all defects of my character. Step seven, humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings. Step eight, make a list of all people harmed and be willing to make amends with them. Step nine, make a direct amend to these people except where doing so would cause them harm. Step ten, continue a personal inventory, Step eleven, seek through prayer and meditation a conscious way to improve, and for the final step, pass this message on to other addicts.

Now I feel cleansed and have gone cold turkey for a few minutes. I gloat in my victory and feel immensely bad for the rest of you who are slaves to my old sin. I am free and soaring higher and higher...until my eyes land on the keyboard of my computer and I feverishly hit the "f" key all the while mumbling softly...God grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 12 Mandate

For many Nigerians, the date June 12 is a reminder of what the country could have been. After being governed by a corrupt and brutally harsh military dictatorship under the auspices of General Ibrahim Babangida, Nigerians were allowed to form political parties and have contested elections. Ibrahim Babaginda became President of the country after a bloodless coup in 1985 that overthrew the military regime of General Muhammadu Buhari. Under Babangida's leadership, there was mass repression of the press and public opinion. Babangida is famously known for launching the widely unpopular "Structural Adjustment Programs," as part of economic programs in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund. The program eliminated marketing boards, abolished price controls, led to the privatization of public services, and devalued the currency. The intent of the program was to revitalize the economy, but instead, they had the opposite effect. Babangida's presidency marked some of the most economically challenging times the country had perhaps seen since I believe the Nigerian civil war. Now this might be a stretch, but according to my recollection, times were had for low income and most middle income families. Many social services were cut during Babangida's regime, and abject poverty spread. The dire conditions in the country were popularized in song by local artists, many of whom were repressed or even killed by the government.

In the midst of the corruptions, Moshood Kashimawo Kolawole Abiola, a Nigerian entrepreneur who had some connections to the government ran for the Presidency. Abiola's Presidency was significant because it marked Nigeria's move away from military dictatorship to being democratically governed. Also, Abiola a southern Muslim was the favored candidate in a country that had previously been governed by mostly northern Muslims. In Nigeria, tribalism is a major factor and was all the more so in this election. For many Africans the tribe is exalted above nationality and many will lay down their lives for their tribes before their nation. Because of the high stakes involved, the election held on June 12, 1993 was closely monitored by the international community and was in the opinion of many the fairest and most organized election the country had ever held. As the results were tallied and it was evident that the election would be called in favor of Abiola, the mood in the country changed. Although the atmosphere was a bit tense there was a palpable sense of relief and a belief that with Abiola's inauguration as President, Nigeria would once again regain the economic prowess she once held in the 1960s.

However, the results of the election were annulled by the then sitting president Babangida. The reasons for the annulment still remain unclear but Abiola nonetheless disregarded the supposed annulment and declared himself President. His actions were considered treason and he was taken into custody by armed military henchmen. Abiola was thrown into jail with the condition for his release the renouncement of his claim to the presidency. Despite his imprisonment he refused to renounce his claim, further lengthening his incarceration. His plight and renown garnered international attention, but in spite of pressure from activists across the world the Nigerian government refused to honor the mandate nor release Abiola from prison. In the ensuing drama, Abiola's wife Kudirat Abiola was assassinated for her relentless vocal campaign protesting her husband's imprisonment. Abiola would spend five years in prison, before his suspicious death on July 7, 1998 the supposed day of his release from prison. The details surrounding his death are still clouded in several conspiracy theories but he is alleged to have collapsed while in a meeting with delegates from the United States Department of State.

Had Abiola's mandate been honored what would that have meant for Nigeria? Also, it is interesting to note that the international community and with that I mean the United States government was almost silent in the wake of the annulment of the mandate and Abiola's subsequent imprisonment. It is also quite a coincidence that he died while in a meeting with State Department delegates. Is there more to this story than we know and what if any was the involvement of the United States in thwarting democracy in Nigeria? At the time of these events, George H. Bush was president of the United States of America. Could a reprisal of the Gulf War and his fear over a fuel crisis in the United States have played a role in the events in Nigeria? The United States has intervened with force in other countries with the intent of coercion. Why were they reluctant to act in this case. I am not putting the onus for a stable and democratic Nigeria on the United States, however, the gross inaction seems inconsistent with the character of the United States. Nonetheless, the annulment of Abiola's mandate coincided with Babangida's resignation, a short transitional government and the subsequent presidency of one of the world's worst dictators General Sani Abacha. Thus, Abiola was denied the opportunity to govern and leave is mark, good or bad on the country and all Nigerians were robbed of the opportunity of watching the struggle for a truly democratic Nigeria emerge.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Swine Flu Pandemic

Today the World Health Organization declared the H1N1 flu a pandemic. The alert level for the flu was raised to the the highest level for any pandemic by WHO standards. The increased alert level is not so much because the flu has become more virulent, but rather because it has spread to more countries. As of June 10, the virus had spread to 72 countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 25,288 confirmed cases and 139 deaths. Thus far, the United States has 13,217 confirmed cases and 27 deaths. The alert level has prompted school closures in most parts of the world as governments scramble to bring the pandemic under control within their borders. The preventive measures initially suggested still remain. Frequent and thorough hand washing, sneezing into fabric as opposed to the open air, and other preventative measures still remain the best defense against the flu.

Another Cougar Gets the Axe

Rumor has it that singer and actor Usher Raymond has filed for divorce from his wife of two years, Tameka Foster. Usher's divorce is among the list of high profile cougar breakups this year, the other being the split between guitarist John Mayer and Jennifer Anniston. According to the Urban Dictionary, a cougar is an older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man. The cougar can be anyone from an overly surgically altered wind tunnel victim, to an absolutely sad and bloated old horn meister to a real hottie. These prowlers are aggressive and stop at nothing until they snag young men off the market. I've always wondered what the attraction is in dating someone who looks like your son or nephew. Anniston looked the role of chaperon, while Foster looked like Usher's aunt. Young men have cited all sorts of reasons for choosing older women that run the gamut from older women being better lovers to having motherly instincts that these men so badly crave. They want to have it all though it seems. Lover, cook, aunt, mother and cougar all in one. So, when the first old lady winks at them, they assume they've found love.

It's quite understandable that Usher's marriage to Tameka was the source of so much consternation. At the time of the wedding, Usher was only 28 while Foster was 37. This was not the first time Usher had wandered into cougar territory though. He had previously dated Chili a former member of the girl group TLC and he was rumored to have dated super model Naomi Campbell. It seems as though the anger might have been because Foster had three sons from a previous relationship. Further, she had a pending felony charge. Importantly many people viewed Foster as an opportunist who was looking to make Usher her next cash cow. The trick is so simple. Cougar falls in love with sexy boy toy, gets pregnant and secures her future through child support payments.

The marriage between the two started off on the wrong note. Usher allegedly tripped and fell as he made his way to the altar to await his heavily pregnant bride. In wedding pictures, his mother was noticeably absent, signifying that she hadn't given her blessings. In spite of these, Usher continued to tell fans that all was well and his family had embraced Tameka Foster. I remember him ranting on MTV's TRL sometime last May, telling fans he was the happiest he had ever been and Tameka was his personal choice. But neither his MTV tirade nor a cover spread in Essence was enough to quash the disturbing rumors about his marriage.

Tameka was older and she was insecure. Earlier this year, Usher had to pull out of the Grammy Awards to fly to be with his wife in Brazil. She had secretly left the country to seek cosmetic surgery in Brazil. The surgery went awry when she went into cardiac failure and had to be resuscitated. What lessons from Donda West didn't she learn? She had only had a baby about three months before she left the country for the surgery. Even though Usher went to Brazil after the incidence, the duo returned separately and it seemed that the marriage finally was a wrap. Sources close to the couple are now reporting that it was indeed so because the duo had not lived together for several months despite welcoming a son late last year.

It almost seems so convenient that Usher is calling it quits with his wife now. He is set to release an album titled "Monster" this fall and this just might be a publicity stunt. His last studio album, "Here I Stand" did very poorly and failed to become popular. "Confessions," which was his last best selling album, was released shortly after his public break up with Chili. If "Monster" is a confessional like his last break up album was, then fans might expect him to snitch on Foster making for a juicy album. Truth is, the album needs to be juicy and he needs to sell records. He has two young children to support for the next 18 years. Giving his earnings, Usher will probably be dealt the same blow as Russell Simmons and Sean Combs, who are doling out thousands to support their children monthly.

Usher needs his freedom. The poor kid has visible scratch marks and needs to become relevant again. His popularity and desirability plummeted sharply after his marriage to Tameka. It's quite unfortunate because marriage need not always ruin a sex symbol's career. David Beckham, Jay-Z (so not a sex symbol), Hugh Jackman, and Will Smith all managed to remain relevant despite tying the knot. Usher however just picked the wrong woman it seems. So now, he's a free agent again and already he's been rumored to be hanging from the tail of yet another cougar. Either way, it's one more cougar down and in the words of another blogger, bring out the Goose. And please, tell Demi Moore to dig those claws deeper.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Without Sanctuary

Today's shooting at the Holocaust Museum in the nation's capital is evidence that America's biggest war is within her territory. Unfortunately, the United States has neglected an imminent threat and has instead gone in pursuit of outlaws in other strange lands. On January 20, 2009, many Americans lauded what was deemed the dawn of a new era. Barack Obama despite his African heritage became the President of the United States. Barack's election to the Presidency might have given some a false sense that reconciliation between the races had occurred. But closer examination proves the contrary.

The United States is not over its history of racism nor of segregation. Whilst we laud the progression to a more stable union, we have to address the pockets of miscreants who are determined to continue to view this nation through a lens that upholds oppression and fosters dissent. The United States afterall is primarily a melting pot, bringing together diverse people groups from all corners of the earth. That the English were chief at staking their claim to the land is no reason to assume that this nation belongs to their descendants. The United States belongs to the Lithuanians who worked the meat packing districts in Chicago as much as it belongs to the Cubans in Miami. The Haitians in New York and the Armenians in California own a chunk of this nation that is comparable to that of the early Anglo-Saxons who settled this land.

The issue in America today is not so much individuals who hold the same ideologies as the shooter, James W. von Brunn, a self-proclaimed Neo-Nazi, but that the history of this nations is not accurate. When I read books about "fore-fathers" or the so-called "founding fathers," there is that unstated claim, that this nation truly was bare until the Europeans "discovered" it for themselves. There is little mention of the Native Americans in the proper context; as the owners of the land. When they do get mentioned, they are portrayed as apparitions, figments of the imagination of some. It's as though they never were. Their current residence in reservations strokes this fantasy all the more. Afterall, who has ever met a real Native American? I will be the first to announce that the only native American I know lives in a Disney movie. If it is not the source of major consternation that the people group who once inhabited this great country have almost been wiped out then I do not know what is!

So what indeeed ails America is not Liberalism, like von Brunn claims. Niether is the saturation of the diplomacy, businesses, and resources by Jews the problem as he states. The problem is that the individuals who wrote the Constitution of this country did not include for posterity the fact that the Americas were inhabited before they arrived. The crafted document that reads "We the people...," forgot to accurately mention "these" people. In a land once inhabited by several self-governing tribes, the Constitution proclaimed the inaalienable rights of some but failed to explain that the annihilation of millions was the high road to "We the People." So, von Brunn is not what plagues America. For every von Brunn killed or incarcerated, there are millions more who believe New York is the present day location of the Garden of Eden. These are the terrorists within our borders that the government needs to address. White supremacists, neo-nazis, religious radicals of all faiths who will stop at nothing until they shed the blood of innocents. What this country needs to address then is its Constitution and other historical documents that still play the tune that gives ownership of this land to blue eyed and blond haired Europeans.