Friday, February 29, 2008

Black TV Milestones: Jesse Jackson

Syria Releases Hostage to Jesse Jackson. In 1983, Jackson accomplished what Pres. Reagan could not—secure the release of Lt. Robert Goodman who had been shot down over Lebanon and was being held by the Syrian government. Reagan spoke disparagingly about Jackson and his trip to Syria, calling it “grandstanding.” Reagan also refused to accept Jackson’s telephone calls before Jackson left for Syria because Reagan had “initial misgivings” about attempts to free Goodman. On January 3, 1983 Reagan had to watch from the sidelines back in the U.S. as Jackson emerged from Syria with Goodman. Jackson met with Syrian Pres. Hafez al-Assad who said that he was moved by Jackson’s “human appeal.” The stakes were high as Goodman had endured beatings and interrogations by his captors. Reagan, Goodman, and Jackson would appear at the White House for a celebratory photo-op. Reagan conceded, “you can’t quarrel with success.” Jackson went on to repeat this feat of freeing hostages several times. In 1984, Jackson secured the release of 22 Americans being held in Cuba. Cuban Pres. Fidel Castro would only negotiate with Jackson for their release. In 1991, he secured the release of 500 “international guests” held in Iraq. In 1999, Jackson was again successful when he traveled to Belgrade to meet with Yugoslavia Pres. Slobodan Milosevic to secure the release of three U.S. POWs.

(Image: Pres. Reagan, Lt. Goodman, and Rev. Jackson. Photo by Darryl Heikes, U.S. News and World Reports)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nipsey Russell-Gong Moment #6: Sexism in a Shoe

What is a “Nipsey Russell-Gong Moment?” Three decades ago, the great entertainer Nipsey Russell was a guest judge on The Gong Show. On one episode, a White male ventriloquist appeared as a contestant. His dummy was white, but he (inexplicably) sloppily painted it brown, hence, it looked a bit like blackface. As the man told bad, though not racist jokes, Russell gonged him. Russell explained that he gonged the man because something just wasn’t right. Sometimes things just feel wrong. If you get that feeling, don’t doubt yourself. Just gong ‘em!

GONG to Antonio Verardi for designing this bit of sexism in a shoe. This is how men get ahead ladies. While they strut around in their comfy loafers, they put us in a shoe that, according to Michael Paynton, chair of the British Chiropody and Podiatry Association, will “do damage to the tendons in your legs.”

(Image source: Daily Mail)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Brotherdoc: NFL Combine "Slave" Auction

Over at Brotherdoc, there is a provocative blog entry about this year's NFL combine and its resemblance to a slave auction.  Check it out here:  Brotherdoc: NFL Combine "Slave" Auction

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

February 26- A Very Important Day

Jimmie Lee Jackson was 26 years old, a church deacon, a hospital employee, and a recently discharged soldier. He desperately wanted to vote, and tried to register five times. He vowed to keep trying.

On February 18, 1965 Jimmie, his mother Viola Jackson, and her father (Jimmie’s grandfather) Cager Lee, age 82, walked over to Zion United Methodist Church in Marion, Alabama for a meeting. A Civil Rights worker was being held in the Marion city jail and the Black community was deeply concerned for his safety. Jimmie, his family, and others in the community left the church for the jail to engage in a peaceful “singing” protest—their plan was to direct their prayers and hymns toward the jail.

The group was met at the jail by a barrier of city police, sheriff’s deputies, and Alabama state troopers. Minutes later, Alabama’s law enforcement decided that church folk singing for justice was a crime punishable by immediate death.

Jimmie and his family tried to get away from the police by ducking into a nearby cafĂ©. Troopers followed them. They beat Cager with their billy clubs—battering his 82-year old body. Viola tried to shield her father, only to suffer the same brutality…somehow they both survived. As for Jimmie, state trooper James Bonard Fowler shot him twice in the stomach. Jimmie died on February 26, 1965.

On March 7, in response to Jimmie’s death, 600 Civil Rights activists marched to confront Gov. George Wallace to demand justice and equality in the name of Jimmie Lee Jackson and others. The marchers made it as far as Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. The encounter with troopers became the infamous “Bloody Sunday” captured by television cameras, and was broadcast around the world.

One month after Jimmie’s death, on Thursday, March 25th, 25,000 activists marched to the Alabama state capitol. As a result, that August, Pres. Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Fowler denied Jimmie Lee Jackson the opportunity to see his octogenarian grandfather finally register to vote.

In 2005, Fowler admitted that he killed yet another Black man. He confessed, “This was a great big feller about 6 foot five. Big feller. He was black as it would be…His name was Johnny Johnson or something; I could never keep him straight from Jimmy Lee Jackson.” The man Fowler killed, on May 8, 1966, was Nathan Johnson, Jr. of Ensley, Alabama. Johnson was shot at point blank range three times in the chest.

In May 2007, Fowler was finally indicted for killing Jimmie. Fowler boasted: "I don’t think legally I could get convicted for murder now no matter how much politics they got ’cause after 40 years there ain’t no telling how many people is dead." Hopefully, Fowler will go to trial this spring.

Today is Sisterdoc’s birthday. On this, the 43rd anniversary of Jimmie Lee Jackson’s death, I memorialize him. His sacrifice propelled a chain of Civil Rights activist events that permits me, and millions of other Black folks, to truly live today. Please, always exercise your right to vote.

(Image: Jimmie Lee Jackson)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Flint Urban League Asks ‘Are You Black Enough?’

The Flint Journal reported that a biracial employee, Jamie Kendall, was asked if she was “Black enough” to lead the organization. Apparently, the Flint Urban League didn’t like Kendall’s answer because, though seemingly qualified based on her previous hard work for the UL, she did not get the job. Kendall is suing-- as she should be.

Sisterdoc only has the newspaper report to go on, but it seems Kendall’s Blackness was challenged based on her light skin color. This is “colorism.” You’ve heard the sayings, ‘light is right, if black get back.’ You remember ‘paper bag tests.’ You may have been one of the Sisters in 2007 offered free admission to a Detroit club—but only if you possessed light skin. You’ll notice that advertising tends to propagate such colorist divisions.

In an earlier post, Sisterdoc worked to remind readers that an investment in Blackness is not tied to skin color. With skin color off the table, a particularly challenging question is exposed: how might we explore the level of someone’s identification with, and investment in, Blackness? Scholars call such identifications and investments “identity politics.” Identity politics means claiming membership in a group as a political point of departure. This means that being Black enough is NOT about fixed, biological, set characteristics like skin color. Identity politics IS about investing in what matters to a group socially, politically, and materially.

Clearly their skin shades don’t tell the tale, but Ward Connerly, Dorothy Height, Al Sharpton, Tiger Woods, Clarence Thomas, and Lani Guinier each represent a vast range of relationships to Blackness. And clearly we shouldn’t presume that if you are dark enough, you are Black enough.

This isn’t identity politics. This is just plain wrong.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What is Your Blackness Quotient?

Randall Kennedy, a Harvard law professor, knows how to come up with a book title that sells. On the heels of the provocatively dubbed, “Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word,” Kennedy brings us “Sell Out: The Politics of Racial Betrayal.” Kennedy asks readers to consider a single, complex question: can the actions of a Black person be traitorous (if not ruinous) to other Black people?

This question is intensely personal for Kennedy. In 2006, Kennedy testified on behalf of Nicholas Minucci, a White man accused of a racially motivated baseball bat attack against Glenn Moore, a Black man in Howard Beach (NY). Minucci beat Moore in the head with the bat, while repeatedly calling Moore “nigger.” Minucci then robbed Moore. Kennedy testified that “nigger” does not always have to carry racial connotations. He also said that “nigger has many meanings” and “can be put to many different uses.” Kennedy explained that the n-word is often a friendly salutation, and can be heard comically throughout popular culture. (Sisterdoc is no legal expert, but I think getting beat in the head with a bat while being called a nigger could never be construed as a “friendly salutation” or comical.) When Kennedy was asked by an incredulous prosecuting attorney if the term is derogatory, he hedged by saying, “it can be.” Kennedy saw himself as protecting Minucci’s liberties. Quite a few Black folks saw Kennedy as sell out.

It isn’t the first time Kennedy was hit with the charge of selling out. When critiques about racism and the law are offered up, Kennedy is quick to offer that Blacks (men in particular) are often engaged in criminal activity. A former colleague, Derrick Bell, finds Kennedy infuriating, and has asked him to “come home.”

“Come home” implies that Blackness has a center—a home. It also implies that one can lose their way. Losing one’s way may mean turning your back to Blackness (its unique history, experiences, and cultural tropes). To be clear, there are some that lose their way. There are still others who not only lose their way, but also kick back at those who remain closely tied to Blackness. The difference is important. Those that kick back are called sell outs. Sell outs cast Blackness as deficient, adding fuel to the already raging “Othering” and stereotyping fire. Sell outs are not simply silent on Blackness issues, rather they advocate against them. Sell out identity is tied to the notion that there is a purposeful rejection of a particular kind of Blackness.

The question becomes, ‘what, exactly, is that particular kind of Blackness that is being rejected?’ Perhaps this moment is not an ‘either you are Black, or you are not’ proposition. Maybe it is scalable. That is, perhaps there is a Blackness quotient, or BQ.

I would like to think I have a high BQ. I identify as Black, as well as with Blackness. I champion Black advancement and empowerment. I have Black credentials—I hold memberships in ‘up with Blackness’ kinds of organizations. I write books celebrating Black identities. And, of course, I have Black friends. When I clap to music, I do so on the 2 and the 4, rather than the 1 and the 3 beat. Apparently, I’m blowin’ up with Blackness. But it is likely that Kennedy can say the same. We know he has books about Blackness, and in the past he has written positively about it. And, I presume he has Black memberships and Black friends. I’ve never seen him at a concert or party, but let’s give Kennedy the benefit of the doubt on the beat thing too. So, how might we conclude his BQ is on the light side?

Ok, so I don’t know how to evidence the BQ scale…perhaps it is like the community standard for obscenity, “I know it when I see it.” I think there is something productive about a community standard coming from within a community with a “compelling interest” in how they are being talked about or treated. I also think it is ok that a precise definition is elusive. The imprecision acts much like a morality litmus test. We can say, 'I don’t know what right is exactly, but I will be hyper-vigilant to stay on the right side of right so as not to slip toward wrong.' In this regard, one can be ever-monitoring that their BQ is some kind of ‘right.’

I do know that buying into Blackness has little to do with race classifications. In other words, you need not check the ‘African American’ box to be invested in Blackness. Japanese-American Yuri Yochiyama was friends with Malcolm X. She was with him when he was assassinated. She wrote in her memoirs of, "cradling [Malcolm’s] head in my hands, I was shocked." Spike Lee left that key bit of reality out of his movie. The biracial Bob Marley, a key figure in the Rastafari Movement, rarely saw his Blackness questioned. Two White civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner died at the hands of the KKK for their investments in Blackness.

Your turn to weigh in. What is a sell out? How is this term useful, or divisive? Does it presume a Blackness center or BQ?

(Image: Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The New Black- Same As It Ever Was

Over at Brotherdoc, there is an interesting blog entry about a Washington Post article entitled, “Their Deepest, Darkest Discovery.” According to this newspaper article, scientists have created a material that is blacker than anything that is in existence.

What is funny about this Washington Post report is the language used. Much of the article sounds like double entendre for America’s racist relationship to blackness:

“99.955% black” (The one-drop rule gone wrong.)
“A Roach Motel” (Ick!)
“Voraciously sucking up all surrounding” (They are moving in.)
“It can give those who gaze on it a dizzying sensation” (Protect your women!)
“Invisible” (This speaks for itself.)

If you think Brotherdoc and I are reading too much into the Post article, consider how Robert Moore (1992) in his essay “Racist Stereotyping in the English Language” explains how we might interpret “black” words:

“Some may blackly accuse me of trying to blacken the English language, to give it a black eye by writing such black words. They may denigrate me by accusing me of being blackhearted, of having a black outlook on life, of being a blackguard—which would certainly be a black mark against me. Some may black-brow me and hope that a black cat crosses in front of me because of this black deed. I may become a black sheep, who will be black-balled by being placed on a blacklist in an attempt to blackmail me to retract my words.”

According to Moore, if you give us a pass on our interpretation, well, you aren’t being niggardly, rather… that’s very white of you.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

John Wallace Rebuilding Homewood Block by Block

Kudos to John M. Wallace, pastor of the Bible Center Church of God in Christ (Homewood section of Pittsburgh). This Rev. is also a noted PhD. Rev. Dr. Wallace’s day job is Associate Professor of Social Work (Univ. of Pittsburgh). Wallace’s research and ministry focuses on the role of faith-based organizations in the revitalization of urban communities.

Wallace is not just all talk. Wallace invites members of his congregation and willing college students to join him in cleaning up the Homewood area of Pittsburgh. You’ll find Wallace leaving his Bennett Street church on Saturday mornings, broom and trash bag in hand, to embark on some heavy duty beautifying. It gets even better—Wallace also delivers small gifts to the residents of Homewood (a bottle of water or a small snack). All that he asks for in return is their prayer requests. Wow!

And it doesn’t stop there. Wallace’s congregation is buying up vacants around his church and renovating them. The renovation efforts are done in conjunction with his youth program. Youth pitch in on the renovation, learning some useful skills along the way, and in the end they get their very own youth center. By the way, they aren’t building a run-of-the-mill youth center. This one is all about empowerment and development. For example, art classes will be offered. A barbershop and hair-braiding salon is on tap. A recording studio is going in there too.

Homewood could use more Wallaces. The neighborhood is tough—too many shootings and other violence, too much drugs, too little economic growth, and too little attention paid to this community’s strengths and heroes.

Sisterdoc knows of what she writes. Upland Street, Formosa Way, and Braddock Avenue was once home. Sure, there was (and is) blight; but Sisterdoc also remembers that her house, built of brick, has stained glass windows, and that it has architecture you can’t find in homes anymore. The streets are wide and level. And somehow the hilly South Side with its claustrophobic alleyways is seen as “prime” property these days?!

I believe in what the Rev. Dr. Wallace is doing. Why not stop by the Bible Center Church of God in Christ at 7236 Bennett and tell him that you do too.

(Image: 7340 Frankstown Ave., Homewood)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What Does a Brotha' Have to Do to Get Some Love?

Sisterdoc was watching Fox 2 News (Detroit) on Thursday when 13 year-old Jeremia was featured in an adoption story. There are more than 4000 children in Michigan’s foster care system, and Jeremia is one of them. He said he has never had a real family, and that he dreams of someone calling him “my son.” Viewers learned something else very important about Jeremia: “When somebody says I can’t do anything. I prove them wrong in a positive way. When my (foster) dad said I couldn’t achieve a 3.0, I got a 4.0…and I was glad about it!”

Sniffle…. Folks, you should have seen this adorable boy! [Check out and search "Heart gallery"].

The very next day, Fox 2 News aired a story about Nathaniel Abraham. Nathaniel was eleven when he shot and killed a man, Ronnie Greene, Jr. Nathaniel spent 10 years in jail and was released last year (2007). Nathaniel left jail representin’ a style and swagger that left folks wondering how soon he would find himself behind bars again (yep, that's him in the picture). This week Detroit multi-millionaire/real estate tycoon Herb Strather signed Nathaniel to a record contract so that Nathaniel can release “real and raw” rap music, though we are assured there will be “no n-word” and “no misogyny.” Herb even hooked Nathaniel up with music producer Mike Powell. They are now planning a CD release party.

Sisterdoc is glad that Strather is working to keep Nathaniel on the straight and narrow. According to the National Governor’s Association, in 2004 the Detroit area had a recidivism rate of 44%. This means that approximately 3,900 out of 10, 000 released inmates will find themselves back in jail within two years.

However, kids in foster care need some support too. According to a February 2008 report, foster children aren’t receiving the very basic of needs and services. They aren’t getting medical care. They don’t even get to see a dentist. They don’t have stable placements, and they frequently experience severe abuse.

I wonder what Jeremia’s future would hold if he was afforded the same kind of attention, mentoring, and resources as Nathaniel. Does Jeremia have to murder someone and do time before someone reaches out to him? What if we took the amount of the CD release party alone and put it toward Jeremia’s education or health care fund? Perhaps we would worry less that some in foster care might end up behind bars too.

(Image: Nathaniel Abraham walking out of prison)

Friday, February 15, 2008

SUCCESS! Racist T-Shirt Protest SUCCESS!

On Tuesday, February 9 the readers of Sisterdoc joined in on a protest regarding the marketing of Obama products featuring racist Jump Jim Crow images. We won! The products have been removed from the site. Kudos to CafePress for responding to our concerns. We are happy to support businesses that support us. sent the following message to Sisterdoc on Tuesday, February 12:

Thank you for contacting! As you may know, provides an automated service to a rich and vibrant community of international users. Unfortunately, because our service is automated, sometimes content that is not consistent with our Offensive Material & Prohibited Content policy is posted on We appreciate that you have brought this content to our attention and it has been removed from our site. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Prayers for Northern Illinois University

Send up your prayers to the Northern Illinois University family. Today, a gunman opened fire upon 17 students and one professor. Sisterdoc’s friend, co-author, and Soror narrowly escaped the violence.

Some will recall that NIU was locked down in December 2007 due to an anonymous threat, accompanied by a racial slur, promising a mass shooting.

(Craig Watson/The Beacon-News, via Associated Press. A student is led away from the scene of the shooting.)

Nipsey Russell-Gong Moment #5: Gary Coleman's Abuse

What is a “Nipsey Russell-Gong Moment?” Three decades ago, the great entertainer Nipsey Russell was a guest judge on The Gong Show. On one episode, a White male ventriloquist appeared as a contestant. His dummy was white, but he (inexplicably) sloppily painted it brown, hence, it looked a bit like blackface. As the man told bad, though not racist jokes, Russell gonged him. Russell explained that he gonged the man because something just wasn’t right. Sometimes things just feel wrong. If you get that feeling, don’t doubt yourself. Just gong ‘em!

It seems that former Diff’rent Strokes star Gary Coleman secretly married a movie-set extra, Shannon Price, last August. Unlike the popular media, it doesn’t strike me as odd that Coleman was a virgin (“I wasn’t saving myself, she just happened to be the one”). Neither the age difference, nor the height difference, strike me as particularly odd either. He is 40 years old and 4’8”; she is 22 years old and 5’7’. What does strike me as odd, and also bother me enormously, is that this young lady is enduring domestic abuse. According to, Shannon revealed: “we may go a week and not speak to each other…he lets his anger conquer him sometimes…he throws things around, and sometimes he throws it in my direction. I don’t like the violence.”

GONG to Gary Coleman for being a wife batterer. GONG to the popular media (e.g., People; Inside Edition) for making this domestic violence sound like funny ‘odd celebrity news,’ rather than the crime it is.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The World's Gone Mad-Part 3-Pres. Bush

Tiger Woods shrugs off a sports reporter’s lynching comment, but GEORGE BUSH says today, “lynching is not a word to be mentioned in jest” and that lynching jokes are “deeply offensive.”

I want to say kudos to President Bush for co-signing on what we have all known for a very, very long time-- the noose represents one of the worst kinds of racist violence. As Bush put it, “the noose is not a symbol of prairie justice, but of gross injustice.”

Of course, I agree with the President. But why, then, would Bush promise to veto the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act which “gives the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the department with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability?” Why did then-Governor Bush watch a hate crime bill die in a Texas Senate committee? Why didn’t Bush support the James Byrd Hate Crimes Act? In fact, Pres. Bush (I know you’re reading this), do you remember meeting with the Byrd family and gay rights lobbyists:
"I went to Governor George W. Bush and begged him to help pass a Hate Crimes Bill in Texas," Mullins (a Byrd Act lobbyist) said. "He just told me no. Just like that. It was cold in that room.”

Without the President’s full support for hate crime legislation, such talk of “gross injustice” is just

(Image: AP Photo/Ron Edwards)

The World's Gone Mad-Part 2-The NAACP

The NAACP taps raging bigot and sexist D.L. Hughley to host its Image Awards.

Sisterdoc is a Lifetime member of the NAACP. However, she is thinking about turning in her card. For their 39th Image Awards show, airing on Fox on Thursday (Feb. 14), the NAACP has tapped D. L. Hughley as host. Last year, Hughley went on Jay Leno to co-sign on Don Imus’ racist rant against the Rutger’s basketball team. Hughley said of the Rutger’s women, “those WERE some nappy headed women” and “those were some of the ugliest women I’ve ever seen.” Who DOES something like that?!

Hughley is only one part of this problem. The national arm of the NAACP, which oversees the Image Awards, has been “overcooking my grits” for years. Remember when they repeatedly awarded Martin Lawrence an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Award for “Martin”? Or, nominated Jaleel White (“Steve Urkel”) for the same? Remember when Isaiah “gay slur” Washington won Best Actor for “Dr. Burke”? Or, remember when they nominated R. Kelly for Outstanding Album for Chocolate Factory, right after his pedophile bootleg video was leaked.

In 1997, the Image Awards had gotten so bad that one local chapter, the Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch, protested its own organization—the national NAACP! The chapter parted ways with the national NAACP governance by protesting yet another “Martin” nomination. The local chapter also lashed out at offensive shows such as Homeboys in Outer Space, Goode Behavior, Malcolm and Eddie, Sparks, and the Wayans Brothers.

Where, O, Where is the Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch today? We really need them. But then, can anyone really disabuse Hughley of his kind of capitalizing logic to justify his own hatred:
When Mel Gibson made an anti-Semitic remark, he had a number-one movie, and his Q rating went up. Michael Richards made his statement, and sales of Seinfeld went up 70 percent three weeks in a row. Isaiah Washington made an anti-gay slur. Grey's Anatomy has never been stronger. Don Imus, his numbers went through the roof. (A.V. Club interview)

As for you, the NAACP: anytime you want to start a new search for a President, we are ready. And, hopefully Bruce Gordon’s resignation was a wake-up call, and that you will get your Board in order. Remember when Gordon raised $2.6 million for the Katrina Relief Fund but was chastised for not getting Board approval first? Remember when Gordon united leaders from across the country to present a unified position on the post-Katrina government response, and the Board said he should not be trying to “set policy?” Remember when the Board said Gordon shouldn’t try to initiate a Medicare Part D enrollment effort (with Bill Cosby and Danny Glover) because it was thought to be “service” and not “advocacy?”

We all want the NAACP to rise to its rightful place in leadership once again.

The World's Gone Mad- Part 1-Nas and Kelis

Nas and Kelis arrived at the Grammy Awards in matching “N*gger” wear.

Why did Nas and Kelis walk the Grammy red carpet modeling these offensive outfits? Nas has an album coming out entitled N*gger, and the couple exploited the live’ness of the Grammy’s to promote his music. Stopping to speak to a CNN reporter, Nas worked to explain his choice of CD title: "It's all the experiences we got through every day -- all ethnicities, black white, indifferent. We've all been discriminated at some point whether it's in the Dominican Republic, whether it's China, whether it's Iraq where soldiers get their heads blown off for reasons we don't know why[…] no longer are black people n*ggers, today it's also me and you." Huh? Kelis tried to make this mud a little clearer by adding that John Lennon recorded “Woman is the Nigger of the World.” Well, Lennon’s protest song was to be inspiring. Can you imagine Lennon in a t-shirt hawking "Woman..." as the latest Def Jam joint? Here is an excerpt of Lennon’s particularly feminist tune, which makes an urgent call for action:

Woman is the nigger of the world
Yes she is...think about it
Woman is the nigger of the world
Think about something about it
We make her paint her face and dance
If she won't be a slave, we say that she don't love us
If she's real, we say she's trying to be a man
While putting her down, we pretend that she's above us…

Nas is, quite simply, a media-savvy marketer. When asked to reflect on the provocative notion that “hip hop is dead,” (the title of his last CD) Nas passed on this opportunity to be even a bit political by saying, “that was last year, and that’s been done. That train has left the station.” Yep. That was last year’s album. We are all now supposed to move on to the new one.

So, Nas got his 15 seconds of expiring fame, and CNN allowed him to join the Katt “Wearing a Noose as Jewelry” Williams club of setting Black folks back at least a millennium.

Nas was loud and wrong about something else. He said he was worried about Blacks’ voting rights expiring every 23 years, and wanted a new president to come in to change laws so this cannot continue to happen. Nas (I just know you are reading this): on March 30, 1870 the 15th Amendment assured you the right to vote, and that does not expire. The Voting Rights Act of 1967 is a permanent federal law. It does have a few sections that must be renewed, such as the availability of bilingual voting materials or the use of federal poll watchers, but the right for Blacks to vote does NOT expire.

I wonder if the same people who tripped over getting a peek at Janet Jackson’s breast are flooding the FCC with calls about CNN showing Nas’ shirt and letting him say n*gger on live TV. Oh, wait, a woman’s body is offensive, but N*gger, well that’s just entertainment.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Rebirth of Jump Jim Crow

To the readers of Sisterdoc, regardless of whom you will be voting for,
I am asking everyone to send a complaint to: for selling “Tap Dancers for Obama” products, which very clearly draw upon blackface minstrelsy imagery. The customer service link is at the bottom of their webpage, highlighted in green. Cafepress offers a “disclaimer” indicating that they only market items created by others. This should in no way give them a “pass” for selling racist products.

(Image from

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Nipsey Russell-Gong Moment #4: Black Man's...What!?

What is a “Nipsey Russell-Gong Moment?” Three decades ago, the great entertainer Nipsey Russell was a guest judge on The Gong Show. On one episode, a White male ventriloquist appeared as a contestant. His dummy was white, but he (inexplicably) sloppily painted it brown, hence, it looked a bit like blackface. As the man told bad, though not racist jokes, Russell gonged him. Russell explained that he gonged the man because something just wasn’t right. Sometimes things just feel wrong. If you get that feeling, don’t doubt yourself. Just gong ‘em!

The hosts of a BBC talk show, “Gardeners’ Question Time,” were asked by an audience member to offer advice on how to nurture the Rhodochiton Volubilis plant, commonly known as the BMW or “Black man’s willy.” Guest panelists chortled their way through some double entendre fueled racist banter as they talked about the BMW. Author Bob Flowerdew (this can’t be his real name!) said “only ever seen one close up...” Horticulturalist Anne Swithinbank chimed in, “I’ve never seen one in my life. They don’t really like the cold, as you can imagine. They shrivel up and look very unhappy.”

Among the non-racist, the rhodochiton volubilis is called “purple bells” plant. So, where did the “BMW” moniker come from? My only guess is based on the plant’s description per According to the site, the plant produces rose’ish colored flowers, and “the petals form the tubular purple-black, protruding centre.”

Some listeners to the broadcast did not find the “Carry On-style humour,” as the Brits call it, funny, and took their complaints to the BBC. The BBC apologized.

GONG to the Gardners’ Question Time, the audience member, Flowerdew, and Swithinbank.

(Image from

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mike Carey- Making Black History

It has been an incredible week of “firsts”—hooray, Obama! Another “first” we shouldn’t overlook is the contribution that Mike Carey made to Super Bowl XLII this past weekend. On February 3, 2008 Carey became the first African American to lead an officiating crew in a Super Bowl game. Carey landed the coveted referee assignment based on a stringent merit system that saw him earn the highest ranking among all NFL referees.

Carey has been an NFL official for 18 years, but a referee much longer than that. In 1972, he officiated Pop Warner games in San Diego. In 1985 he became a WAC conference official. He joined the NFL in 1990 as a side judge, and has been moving up ever since.

When Carey was asked by the Michigan Chronicle (a member of the Black press) about his historic first, he spoke of the importance of change, “I think of the social revolution going on and the social position of the world and you can see change happening right before your eyes.” Carey also didn’t forget to pay homage to his African American elders: “I’m proud of being the first, although there were others, like Al Jury and Johnny Grier, that paved the way for me. I appreciate them and I’m humbled.”

We appreciate you too, Mike Carey.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Phat Tuesday! Vote (for Obama)!!!

Since today is Fat Tuesday and Paczki day, you might want to indulge in a little celebration and nosh when you return from voting on this ever important SUPER TUESDAY.

Or, if you want to be a little more fired up as you go to the polls, check out Ken Rudin's article on In it, he breaks down the trickery and slickery engaged in by "Billary" as they attempted to cast Barack Obama's race, specifically his Blackness (not his Whiteness), as problematic. Rudin writes:

...politicians friendly to the Clinton campaign suddenly felt the need to remind us about some of the less savory aspects of Obama's past [...] To many observers, what these Clintonites were doing was obvious: deliberately raising these issues while feigning distress that the evil Republicans would bring it up should Obama become the nominee.

Also in December, Bob Kerrey, the former Nebraska senator, had this to say during a speech in which he endorsed Clinton: "I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim. There's a billion people on the planet that are Muslims, and I think that experience is a big deal."

Kerrey denied any ulterior motives. Then came an anonymous campaign in which e-mails were sent out claiming Obama "is a Muslim," attended a "Wahabi" school in Indonesia, took his Senate oath on the Koran, and refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. None of this is true.

Sisterdoc says, 'forget about a dream deferred, I want mine now!"

Friday, February 01, 2008

Soul Food Killed Big Mama

An undergraduate student, Ms. Bryant, at the University of Michigan is embarking on some interesting research. She wants to know if some of the more positive media representations of Black family and tradition are, in fact, the most deadly. Ms. Bryant is interested in how movies such as Soul Food or This Christmas depict the ritual of Sunday dinner with family. These soul food dinners are comprised of hefty portions fried chicken, fried catfish, ham, collard greens seasoned with pork, mac and cheese, sweet cornbread, yams, and peach cobbler (Yum! I’m getting hungry).

The problem: the very meal that brings Black families together is also what may be tearing them apart. Ms. Bryant, a pre-med major, hopes to reveal how popular media glorifies "unhealthy nutritional regiments" that work to increase Blacks´ health risks such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and stroke.

We should be reminded that in the film Soul Food, it is 40 years of that very bad diet that causes the diabetes that ultimately kills "Big Mama." As a result of her (premature) death, Big Mama’s remaining family is left in shambles. In depicting Big Mama’s family reuniting around a special weekly meal of soul food, one can only imagine what future health tragedy is in the works for her kinfolk.

The potential for tragedy is real. According to the Center for Disease Control, 66% of African American men are overweight and 37% suffer from hypertension. 79% of African American women are overweight and 41% suffer from hypertension. In 2004 (the latest data compiled), 74, 225 African Americans died from heart disease and 18,118 died from a stroke.

The lesson here is that there are other, healthier ways to foster family unity and keep within tradition: healthier meals, a family walk around the park or through the neighborhood, a bit of dancing... Simply, lets begin to be mindful of how our traditions may reinforce bad health habits, and how we can make a change.