mardi, septembre 26, 2006

Anyone Interested?

Hey all! I'm excited to know that I have a lot of smart readers who frequent my blog so I want to encourage anyone who's interested to send me an abstract for an edited collection that I'm putting out. (The call for papers is below). Please let me know if you have any questions!

Call for Papers: "Black People Don't Read": An Exploration into Black American Literacy, Reading , and Writing

Proposals are sought for a new edited collection on reading, writing and Black culture

"Black people don' t read" is a pervasive stereotype illuminating the fiction that American Black culture maintains an anti-intellectual, disinterested philosophy towards knowledge, exploration, and curiosity. Seeking to explore possibilities outside of this stereotype, this collection of essays will start a long overdue conversation by assembling an array of articulate, critical, and thoughtful papers about reading, writing, and the Black community. Contributions may seek to address (but are by no means limited) to the following topics:

-- Literacy and Black Stardom (i.e. what is the impact of stars such as Fantasia and R.Kelly's illiteracy, hip-hop and/or hip-hop stars and literacy)

-- Historical Analyses of Black Intellectualism, Writing, Reading and/or Literature

-- "Urban Fiction" (i.e. Zane, Eric Jerome Dickey, etc) and Black Publishers who solely focus on urban fiction. What is its place in Black literature if there is one? Is its widespread appeal and success a boon to the perception of the Black community in literary circles?

-- Contemporary authors of the African diaspora who have widespread appeal and their impact on Blackness and reading, etc. (i.e. Zadie Smith, Edward P. Jones, etc.)

-- Oprah Winfrey's impact on literacy and reading

-- Cultural analyses exploring the stereotype of "why Black people don't read". The role reading plays in Black communities, contemporary Black attitudes towards reading/writing, etc.

-- Black Literary Circles and Book Clubs

-- Analyses of the role class plays in literacy, reading, and/or writing in the Black community

-- LeVar Burton and "Reading Rainbow"

-- Contemporary Black attitudes to reading, writing, and/or literature

-- Libraries and their role in the Black community

-- Literacy and reading in Black popular culture – cinema, music, periodicals, etc.

While the vast preponderance of this collection will focus on analytical essays, I am also looking for a few personal narratives about Black people and their own experiences with reading, writing and/or literature. If interested in submitting something to the collection, please send me the following information to my e-mail: or a resume or one-page biography, an abstract of your essay topic of no more than 500 words and your complete contact information. I will be receiving abstracts until October 31 st as this project is moving forward quickly. Please contact me if you have any additional questions. Thanks so much! J

expropriate -- transitive verb: 1. To deprive of possession. 2. To transfer (the property of another) to oneself

"Violence is a calm that disturbs you" -- Jean Genet

lundi, septembre 25, 2006

It's All in a Name

I've never really been in love with my name --- its quite unoriginal in my opinion --- Courtney. I've met tons of Courtneys and Courtneys who have my last name. Black, White Asian, etc. Courtney is a name that transgresses race, gender, and even generations. i've always longed for a name that was more unique and more feminine --- Courtney sounds too androgenous to me. As a teenager, I found this website that, when you put in your name, gave you stats on what people thought when they heard your name. For example, the name Courtney often rated average in attractiveness and slightly above average in intellect. Personality rated slightly above average as well. But names like Jasmine and Ashley rated much higher in terms of attractiveness.

In essence, names tell so much about a person, even without meeting or seeing that person. Earlier this year I read Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and in there, they had a chapter on names which I found somewhat problematic. They spoke about African Americans and the names some of them gave their children and how names can set a child up for a pattern of success. My problem with the chapter was that they citing names such as "roshanda'. Aisha, Taneshia, Latoya, and Roshanda are names rooted in African American culture much like Shaynah and Henye are popular Yiddish names. When a name has ethnic roots,
assumptions can definitely be drawn that may or may not benefit that person. Did anyone see 20/20 Friday? They did a segment on names and talked specifically about how a person's name can reflect his or her life and/or occupation (Did you know that many George's become geologists and Dennis's become dentists?). Also in that segment, Blacks with distinctly African American names were less likely to get call backs when two candidadtes had the exact same resume but one has a name like Molly and the other has a name like Aisha.

My problem with names, however, is when they get ridiculous. A couple of years ago, I took a part time job working in the Bronx with second graders. The names of the Black kids astounded me ... a pair of twins named Deja Vu and Rendez-Vous, a Cristal and a Moet, and another little girl named Henessey Alaze. My friend Jamie works as a librarian at a predominately Black school in North Carolina and her first graders have names like ChrisDarius (one word), Qwandrayfus, Julyjuan, Aquinearfrita, Asshole (pronounced Ah-sho-lee) and the list goes on. On the 20/20 segment, one of the "experts" remarked that in California, 30% of little Black grils have names no one else has. We could also talk about a lot of celebrites who name their babies crazy things:

Shannyn Sossamon named her son Audio Science
Rachel Griffiths named her son Banjo
Jason Lee named his son Pilot Inspektor
robert Rodriquez named his sons Rogue, Rebel, Rocket and Racer
Jermaine Jackson named his daughter Jermajesty
Jamie Oliver named his daughters Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo
Ving Rhames named his daughter Reign Beau
Bob Geldof and paula Yates named their daughter Fifi Trixibell

In essence, I say, names are incredibly important. I reject prejudices that renounce names that are deemed too ethnic or relegate names rooted in African American culture like Taneshia as being too ghetto but at the same time, why do parents give their kids names that are ridiculous or offensive. Can a child live up to their name? Will Rebel be a rebel? will Asshole be a real asshole? To take it further, Will Asshole, if he is so inclined, ever be elected President of the U.S? Will Quandrayfus or Julyjuan? would I really want to marry a banjo or audio Science? Names reflect so much about us to other people and conjure up associations and judgements whether we like it or not. The Freakonomics guys did have a point though and did ask a good question about naming. Can we live up to or escape are own names? Your thoughts...

galumph -- intransitive verb: To move in a clumsy manner or with a heavy tread.

"I recognize in thieves, traitors , and murderers, in the ruthless and the cunning, a deep beauty -- a sunken beauty" --- Jean Genet

mercredi, septembre 20, 2006

Hugo Chavez: The Portrait of a Leader

"Yesterday, the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of. Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world. I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday’s statement by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world...An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: ‘The Devil’s Recipe.’ ”
--- Hugo Chavez today at the UN

Chavez has never been afraid to bite his tongue. He, like many of the leaders of Latin America, is unabashedly leftist. As I was reading the New York Times today, I was more than pleased to see someone who calls the Bush Administration out. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts...

blackguard -- noun: 1. A rude or unscrupulous person; a scoundrel. 2. A person who uses foul or abusive language. adjective:1. Scurrilous; abusive; low; worthless; vicious; as, "blackguard language." transitive verb: 1. To revile or abuse in scurrilous language

"Man has to suffer. When he has no real afflictions, he invents some"
--- Jose Marti

mardi, septembre 19, 2006

Plan for Expansion of Black Studies Program at Princeton

According to the New York Times today, Princeton has announced that it is expanding its Black studies program which includes the creation of a new center which will explore race, particularly racial identity and problems that surrounding racial politics in America, a doubling of the number of faculty members in the Black studies department, and a major in African American studies for undergraduates (the only Ivy League University to date that has not added a major for undergrads in Black studies). valerie Smith is slated to be the center's director.

Until quite recently, Harvard had the distinction of assembling the "dream team" when it came to Black studies and academics: Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Cornel West, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and William Julius Wilson. But over the past few years both Cornel West and Kwame Appiah have since deflected to Princeton. Its important to state that this is going to be a center, not an academic department which will have a certain level of autonomy aware from the mandates that academic departments have.

In other news please look at Fabulosa Mujer's most recent post. I look forward to implementing into my life a lot of the mantras that she lists.

Hobson's choice -- noun:A choice without an alternative; the thing offered or nothing

"He who does not see things in their depth should not call himself a radical"
--- Jose Marti

lundi, septembre 18, 2006

Money Management 101

"A lot of people just don’t grow up...I mean, 65-year-old men. They just don’t grow up. They don’t understand that money does not grow on a tree and that you’ve got to respect every dollar. Like Rip Van Winkle — the guy who slept — they party, party, party, then they wake up. ‘Oh my God!’ And they do something desperate trying to recapture what they had. And it doesn’t work like that. You must stay awake.”
--- George Foreman

Credit Ratings, investment porfolios, credit cards, 401(k)s --- all of the aforementioned are especially important when solidifying a present and future life without the stresses that "broke-ness", horrid credit, and debt can bring. I for one have been consistently trying to be a better manager of my own money. I've read all the literature from David Bach to Jean Chatsky to Suze Orman. I've taken all the classes and talked to my parents who are quite financially astute. I've requested a copy of my credit report from all three of the primary credit bureaus, found mistakes and am currently in the process of correcting them (*Did you know that 79% of credit reports have at least one mistake -- CHECK YOURS OUT NOW*). Next month, I am happy to say that I will be officially out of my "small debt" -- credit cards and gym meberships. So now I only have the monstrous student loans to tackle. I want to get this money management thing down before I reach my thirties. I recognize that this is the time not only to make mistakes but figure out how to correct them and keep them from happening again because I know that one day I will be wealthy :) and want to adequately manage my funds so that I can not only be comfortable but establish generational wealth like my parents.

With that being said, yesterday the New York Times posted an article called "Why the Rich Go Broke". Do any of you remember when George Foreman went back to boxing in the mid 90s and at 45 defeated his 26 year old opponent? Well, that was largely because the millions that Foreman had made in the 70s and 80s was largely gone and he was dangerously close to filing bankruptcy and being homeless. He made a comeback with his win against Michael Moorer and his extremely lucrative but friendly entrepreneurial gimmick "The George Foreman Grill" (I know, I have one too). This begs me to ask the question, how do the rich, who have all the resources to stay wealthy, suddenly become not only broke, but stuck in the quagmire of monstrously oppressive debt (I'm talking millions of doallars in debt -- can you imagine). The stories of celebrities such as MC Hammer, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, and Toni Braxton come to mind (imagine having to give up your Grammies). But don't be fooled into thinking that financially irresponsible behavior is just a Black thing. Notables such as Thomas Jefferson, Jack Abramhoff, Mark Twain, Debbie Reynolds, Dorothy Hamill, and Ulysses S. Grant, not to mention the host of lottery winners that have met the same fate.

Is it simply lack of restraint for the material things in life? Or would it be a series of horrible business deals and/or investments? Or could it be a series of slippery, slimy, greedy family members, managers, personal assistants, and/or a number of other unscrupulous people that you let inside of your intimate circle? I think its a combination of all of the above. (I heard that Oprah informs everyone that if they are writing a check of over $20, they need her approval). Perhaps "Money Management" should be taught in the school system. Should it be a required class that individuals should have to take as part of their college core curriculum? The time to at least acquire financial knowledge is now as, as George Foreman stated above, its imperative to diavow the Rip van Winkle approach. You never know what's in store for you in this life so I say be prepared and make haste!

lapidary -- adjective:1. Of or pertaining to the art of cutting stones or engraving on them.2. Engraved in stone.3. Of or pertaining to the refined or terse style associated with inscriptions on monumental stone. noun 1. One who cuts, polishes, and engraves precious stones.2. A dealer in precious stones.

"The struggles waged by nations are weak only when they lack support in the hearts of their women" --- Jose Marti

vendredi, septembre 15, 2006

Is There Such a Thing as a Brooklyn Aesthetic?

If Brooklyn had a voice, what would it sound like? Is their such a thing as a Brooklyn aesthetic, albeit a literary one? Brooklyn Borough Preisdent Marty Markowitz asserts so with his first annual Brooklyn Book Festival Which will be highlighting a series of luminaries and unknowns who have a distinctly "Brookyn" voice tomorrow. I wouldn't know about Brooklyn, I'm a Manhattan dweller myself but read this article from the New York Times meanwhile and assert your own thoughts.

In the meantime, I am posting the information for it and schedule below. Hope to see many of you in New York there!


2,3,4,5 to Borough Hall; A, C, F to Jay Street/Borough Hall; R to Court Street

By Car:
From Manhattan: Take the Brooklyn Bridge leading into Adams Street. Stay straight on Adams Street for about 1/4 mile. Turn right on Joralemon Street. Brooklyn Borough Hall is on your right.

From Staten Island: Take the Verrazano Bridge. Take exit for 278W. Take Atlantic Avenue exit. Bear right on Atlantic Avenue. Take a left onto Boerum Place. Take a left onto Joralemon Street. Brooklyn Borough Hall is on your right.

Metered parking and parking garages are available in the Downtown Brooklyn area.

Authors, programs, and times subject to change.
Readings will differ from books listed.


11 a.m. – 12:00p.m.
Under One Brooklyn Roof: Carson McCullers, Gypsy Rose Lee, and W. H. Auden. Actors from Troupe Theater Company and author Sherill Tippins (February House) read from the work of authors who lived at the famed Middagh Street house in Brooklyn Heights.

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
The Streets Are Talking. Jonathan Lethem (Fortress of Solitude), Emily Barton (Brookland), and Paula Fox (Desperate Characters) discuss the relationship between their writing and Brooklyn and read from their work set on the borough’s streets. Q & A. Introduced by Jay Kaplan, Brooklyn Public Library.

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
The Soul of a Bestseller. Nationally best-selling authors Pete Hamill (The Gift), Colson Whitehead (The Intuitionist), and Jennifer Egan (The Keep) talk about a major literary figure who inspired their writing, then read passages from their work that reflect this inspiration. Q&A. Introduced by Johnny Temple, Akashic Books.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
City on the Edge. Readings by groundbreaking New York writers whose work reflects the quirky and unpredictable spirit of the city: Gary Shteyngart (Absurdistan), Jonathan Ames (I Pass Like Night), and Ben Greenman (Superworse). Q&A. Introduced by Charlotte Abbott (Publishers Weekly).

3:00–4:00 p.m.
Under Siege: The U.S. Constitution and American Democracy. Political dialogue and discussion. With Katha Pollitt (Virginity or Death) Patricia J. Williams (Open House) and US Representative Elizabeth Holtzman. Moderated by Laura Flanders, Air America. Organized by The Nation magazine. Q & A.

4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Of Chaos and Fiction. In an era of war and global political trauma, how do writers maintain their artistic equilibrium and stay focused on their craft? Does reality intrude? A panel discussion with Nicole Krauss (The History of Love), Jhumpa Lahiri (Namesake), Jaime Manrique (Our Lives are the Rivers), and Elizabeth Nunez (Bruised Hibiscus). Moderated by WNYC’s Leonard Lopate.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
History Matters. New York City’s most insightful and adventurous literary historians discuss their work. Q&A. Phillip Lopate (Getting Personal), Edmund White (The Flaneur), Rich Cohen (Sweet and Low), Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss (Brooklyn by Name).


10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Truth from Youth. New York City’s top teen poets from UrbanWord NYC, a free literary arts organization for youth, will inspire audiences of all ages in a program filled with poetry, spoken word, and hip-hop. Champions from the Annual UrbanWord NYC Teen Poetry slam will perform solo and group poems. Hosted by UrbanWord director Michael Cirelli.

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
21st Century Poets: Rising Stars. Readings by four of the most promising poets of 2006: Willie Perdomo, Asha Bandele, Roger Bonair-Agard, and Rigoberto Gonzalez. Program introduced by Rob Casper of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP).

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Straight Outta Brooklyn. Can fiction writers rock the mic? You bet. Dramatic readings by Rick Moody (Demonology), Colin Channer (Waiting in Vain), Carl Hancock Rux (Asphalt), and Wesley Stace (Misfortune). Introduced by Danny Simmons, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

1:00–2:00 p.m.
Power of the Word. Four acclaimed poets read their work and reveal the visceral power of the written word: Kimiko Hahn, Eileen Myles, Yusef Komunyakaa and Pulitzer-prize winning author, Phil Levine. Program introduced by Lynne Procope, founder of Louder Arts.

2:00–3:00 p.m.
New World Noir. Gritty suspense provided by mystery titan Lawrence Block, Brooklyn Noir editor Tim McLoughlin (Heart of the Old Country), and author Glenville Lovell (Too Beautiful to Die). Introduced by Rob Spillman, editor, Tin House.

3:00–4:00 p.m.
Only the Dead Know Brooklyn. Actors Ashlie Atkinson, Hazelle Goodman and Roger Guenveur Smith and members of the Troupe Theatre Company celebrate Brooklyn’s literary legacy with readings from poets, novelists and pulp fiction masters including Walt Whitman, June Jordan, W.H. Auden, Richard Wright, Truman Capote, Stanley Ellison and Mickey Spillane. Introduced by Suzanne Youngerman, BAM.

4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Books to Film. A panel discussion exploring the process by which a book is turned into a major motion picture. Miguel Arteta (director, Chuck and Buck, Six Feet Under), essayist and film writer Phillip Lopate (American Movie Critics: An Anthology from the Silents Until Now) and Kaylie Jones (A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries).

5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Secrets of the Street. Readings from the winners of the Brooklyn Secrets of the Street Lit Match, a writing contest for students ages 14 – 19. Hosted by Jeanine Ramirez, NY 1, with a special reading by Ken Siegelman, Brooklyn Poet Laureate.


11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Heart and Soul and…: Fiction writers Yona Zeldis McDonough (Dahlia’s Wake) and Erica Simone Turnipseed (Hunger) read from their fiction tackling issues of loss and hope. Introduced by Marcela Landres, Latinidad.

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Superborough: Brooklyn’s Indelible Stamp on Comic Book History. A panel of five creators, publishers and critics discuss the borough’s crucial role in the past, present, and future of comic books. Panelists include Simcha Weinstein (Up, Up and Oy Vey!), Matt Madden (A Fine Mess), Chris Claremont (The Uncanny X-Men), and Floyd Hughes (Marvel Comics Presents). Moderated by Calvin Reid, co-editor, Publishers Weekly Comics.

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Concrete Dreams: Tales from the World Beneath the World. Stylized urban fiction read by Kenji Jasper(Dark) and Sofia Quintero (Explicit Content), accompanied by dramatization and recorded music and poetry performance. Introduced by Andrea Clarke.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Notes from Underground. While the literary establishment laments the alleged dwindling of the reading public, Brooklyn’s literary magazines and independent publishers are flourishing. A panel discussion highlighting these home-grown visionaries. Featuring Sina Najafie (Cabinet magazine), Ted Hamm (Brooklyn Rail), and Betsy Sussler (Bomb magazine). Moderated by Eric Demby, Brooklyn Borough President’s Office.

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Historical Fiction for the New Millennium. Groundbreaking historical fiction by two revered Brooklyn-based authors: Myla Goldberg (Wickett’s Remedy), and Nelly Rosario (Song of the Water Saints). Q & A.


11:00 – 11:30 a.m.
The Flora of 718. Brooklyn Botanic Garden author, Steven Clemants, will discuss local wildflowers and gardening in the city. Introduced by Kate Travers, Sobol Awards.

11:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Gleason’s Gym Presents: Million-Dollar Ladies. Boxing demonstration and book signing of Gleason's Gym Total Body Boxing Workout for Women. Introduced by Kate Travers, Sobol Awards.

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Brooklyn Cooks, the World Eats. A discussion/presentation by notable Brooklyn chef-authors. Panelists include Lyn Stallworth (The Brooklyn Cookbook), Ed Levine (Pizza: A Slice of Heaven: the Ultimate Pizza Guide and Companion), host and author Daisy Martinez (Daisy Cooks) and chef Alan Harding. Moderated by Gersh Kuntzman (The Brooklyn Papers).

1:00–1:30 p.m.
Brooklyn Philharmonic. Maurice Edwards will read from his recent book on the history of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, “How Music Grew in Brooklyn.” Philharmonic musicians will perform.

1:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Dirty Secrets: A Literary Investigation of Rats & Garbage. Featuring readings/presentations by Robert Sullivan (Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants) and Elizabeth Royte (Garbageland). Introduced by author Sean Wilsey.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Brooklyn Brews, the World Drinks. Brooklyn Brewery founder Steve Hindy (Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery), discusses the rise of one of America’s most celebrated beer institutions. Joined by brewmaster Garrett Oliver (The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food).

3:00–3:30 p.m.
A State of Mind. Aaron Naparstek reads from his book Honku: Zen and the Art of Road Rage.Michael Robbins reads from Brooklyn: A State of Mind.


1:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Intrepid Girls
Readings by Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles) and Kirsten Miller (Kiki Strike). Introduced by Patricia Mulcahy, Brooklyn-based writer/editor and owner of Tillie’s in Fort Greene.

1:30 – 2:00 p.m.
It’s the Brooklyn Book Festival, Charlie Brown: Cartooning Today
Patrick McDonnell (creator of Mutts) and Mo Willems (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus) talk about the art of cartooning and the adventures of their characters. Introduced by Calvin Reid, co-editor, Publishers Weekly Comics.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
The World Beyond: Award Winning Sci-Fi and Fantasy for Teens. Readings by four of the most accomplished youth adult authors of 2006: Scott Westerfeld (The Last Days, Peeps), Justine Larbalestier (Magic Lessons), David Klass (Firestorm) and Maureen Johnson (Devilish). Q&A. Introduced by Patricia Mulcahy.

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Sass and the City: Hip Fiction for Teenage Girls. Acclaimed young adult authors Ann Brashares (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), Aimee Friedman (South Beach), and Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty) read from their work. Q&A. Introduced by author Daniel Ehrenhaft.


10:00 a.m. – Andrea Fixell and Ted Stafford, Baby Signing, How to Talk with Your baby in American Sign Language

11:00 a.m. David and Mutiya Vision, My Very Breast Friend

12:00 p.m. Mo Willems, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

1:00 p.m. Devon Harris, Cool Runnings; Phil Bildner, The Shot Heard ‘round the World

2:00 p.m. Kevin Lewis, Dinosaur, Dinosaur

3:00 p.m. Valorie Fisher, How High Can a Dinosaur Count? and other math mysteries

4:00 p.m. Barbara Ensor, Cinderella (As if You Didn’t Already Know the Story)

5:00 p.m. Betsy Lewin, Duck for President, Ted Lewin, Lost City

megrim -- noun:1. A migraine 2. A fancy; a whim 3. In the plural: lowness of spirits -- often with 'the'

"I have a writer's memory which makes everything worse than maybe it actually was"
--- Amy Tan

jeudi, septembre 14, 2006

Member of the Club

Indeed is she? Condoleezza Rice has ascended to what Forbes Magazine calls the "most powerful woman in the world" and has unprecendented entry into one of the most exclusive and most powerful enclaves in the world -- the United States government. So is she a member of the club?

The above cartoon was created by a white, liberal political cartoonist by the name of Jeff Danziger in 2004. Richard Prince's Journalisms describes the climate from which this was created,

"The cartoon was drawn after the New York Times received considerable attention for an Oct. 3 piece noting that administration officials claimed in 2002 that the United States had ''irrefutable evidence'' of thousands of tubes made of high-strength aluminum "that the Bush administration said were destined for clandestine Iraqi uranium centrifuges." Yet "almost a year before, Ms. Rice's staff had been told that the government's foremost nuclear experts seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons."

Danziger's cartoon, called, "Condoleezza Rice in the role of a lifetime," shows a barefoot national security adviser in a chair nursing an aluminum tube with a human face, saying, "I knows all about aluminum tubes. Correction. I don't know nuthin' about aluminum tubes."

"For liberals, Condi Rice's real crime is bucking Democratic orthodoxy and working for a conservative president," charged the Wall Street Journal Friday.

"This makes her fair game for race-based attacks even when the issue at hand has absolutely nothing to do with race. She is a black woman who, in Mr. Danziger's view, has wandered off the liberal plantation. And this is his way of putting Ms. Rice and other black conservatives in their place."

The cartoon places Condi in the context of Prissy in "Gone With the Wind" in a mammy role, nursing the aluminum tubes touted by the Bush administration as being fodder for Iraqi centrifuges. The cartoon was banned by liberal and conservative publications alike.

Fast forward to 2006 and I ask the question again. Is Condi Rice a true "member of the club" (in homage to Lawrence Otis Graham's book of the same name)? And if so what does that mean? How has she had to reconcile her race and her gender to gain access to this club?

My interest in Condi Rice for this post comes after seeing a video post on the website today entitled: "Condi Rice's single status sparks lover talk". I've always been very interested in the persona of Condi Rice -- her ascendance to the "Club", her parentage and childhood background, her academic and intellectual prowess, her Republicanism, her social circle, etc. I realize that a woman of a certain level of success often has her personal life scrutinized -- whether she can balance the roles of motherhood and career successfully or if she isn't married and/or have a family, why? To go further in-depth as it relates to Condi Rice would take up pages and oodles of my time, therefore, I just wanted to posit some questions about a woman who has always remained somewhat of an enigma to me. Any thoughts? Also, I found an interesting article written by Slate Magazine where Condi's freudian slip i.e. her reference to Bush as her "husband" made a way into one of her talk.

termagant -- noun: 1. A scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman; a shrew. adj: 1. Overbearing; shrewish; scolding

“If you can't change your fate, change your attitude” -- Amy Tan

mardi, septembre 12, 2006

Call For Papers: Reading While Black

So, as you all know I am in the process of solidifying publishers for the four editied collections that I am currently putting together. I am in talks with one publisher about one. The following is a post for a call for papers about the edited collection that I will be putting together as it relates to Black people and reading. I hope many of you are interested in participated or know someone who would like to. Thanks!

“Black People Don’t Read”: An Exploration into Black American Literacy, Reading, and Writing

Proposals are sought for a new edited collection on reading, writing and Black culture

“Black people don’t read” is a pervasive stereotype illuminating the fiction that American Black culture maintains an anti-intellectual, disinterested philosophy towards knowledge, exploration, and curiosity. Seeking to explore possibilities outside of this stereotype, this collection of essays will start a long overdue conversation by assembling an array of articulate, critical, and thoughtful papers about reading, writing, and the Black community. Contributions may seek to address (but are by no means limited) to the following topics:

-- Literacy and Black Stardom (i.e. what is the impact of stars such as Fantasia and R.Kelly’s illiteracy)
-- Historical Analyses of Black Intellectualism, Writing, Reading and/or Literature
-- “Urban Fiction” (i.e. Zane, Eric Jerome Dickey) and Black Publishers who solely focus on urban fiction. What is its place in Black literature if there is one? Is its widespread appeal and success a boon to the perception of the Black community in literary circles?
-- Contemporary authors of the African diaspora who have widespread appeal and their impact on Blackness and reading, etc. (i.e. Zadie Smith, Edward P. Jones, etc.)
-- Oprah Winfrey’s impact on literacy and reading
-- Cultural analyses exploring the stereotype of “why Black people don’t read”. The role reading plays in Black communities, contemporary Black attitudes towards reading/writing, etc.
-- Black Literary Circles and Book Clubs
-- Analyses of the role class plays in literacy, reading, and/or writing in the Black community
-- LeVar Burton and “Reading Rainbow”
-- Contemporary Black attitudes to reading, writing, and/or literature
-- Libraries and their role in the Black community

While the vast preponderance of this collection will focus on analytical essays, I am also looking for a few personal narratives about Black people and their own experiences with reading, writing and/or literature. If interested in submitting something to the collection, please send me the following information to my e-mail ( or : a resume or one-page biography, an abstract of your essay topic of no more than 500 words and your complete contact information. I will be receiving abstracts until October 31st as this project is moving forward quickly. Please contact me if you have any additional questions. Thanks so much!

puckish -- adjective: Whimsical; mischievous; impish

"It's both rebellion and conformity that attack you with success" --- Amy Tan

lundi, septembre 11, 2006


On September 11, 2001, I remember that I was a senior at Spelman College. I woke up early because I had a meeting with my senior honors thesis advisor Dr. Tarshia Stanley. I remember seeing the first plane going into the World Trade Center on TV and didn't know exactly what to make of it. I remember telling Dr. Stanley about it as soon as we met up and we both had no idea what to make of it. We went on with our meeting and after it finished we both walked out of her office and noticed a mini chaos occurring in the English Department. Tvs were set up and we saw first one, then two planes hitting the world trade center. Doesn't seem like 5 years ago. In rememberence.

If you have some time today, pelase check out my posting on Mixed Media Watch

apothegm -- noun: A short, witty, and instructive saying.

"It's a luxury being a writer, because all you ever think about is life"
--- Amy Tan

dimanche, septembre 10, 2006

Brief Breakdown of the Fall TV Season

As you all know by now (if you are faithful television watchers), that the new fall television season is underway. Over the next few weeks, the rest of the new and recurring shows will be showcasing their premieres. I am particularly intrigued by pop culture, particularly film and television, and how it mirrors and replicates the nuances of contemporary American culture. Let's face it -- mass media --- particularly television and film impact perceptions, attitudes, and even public policy. If the images of people of color and women continue to be marginalized, depict excess (too loud, too "hot", too over-sexed, etc.), two dimensional, etc. then there is a space being created where erroneous imagery and stereotypes are being force-fed at astronomical rates. Media is the fastest way to reach the most amount of people and I feel safe in saying that most people are not problem posing watchers of cinema. So its important to monitor how our image is being replicated across the world. So for this post, I am pretty much going to only focus on the shows that feature people of color or women in interesting and/or prominent roles. With that being said, there is an interesting line up for this fall:

1. Grey's Anatomy -- The largely anticipated third Season of ABC's Grey's Anatomy premieres on September 21st and holds the title of being perhaps the most racially diverse cast on television. Though not without its problems, I am a fan of the show and will post a more in-depth, cultural analysis of it as the season begins. P.S. Diahann Carroll is going to be making a guest appearance this season!!

2. Prison Break -- Fox's second season of the acclaimed drama has already begun and I must say that this is one of my favorite shows currently on the air. The cast is buttressed by actors of color (Wentworth Miller, Amaury Nolasco, Rockmund Dunbar) and I love action/suspenseful stories (not to mention that Wentworth is indeed a hottie).

3. Everybody Hates Chris -- Premiering Oct. 1st at 7 pm on the re-named network "The CW", Chris Rock's hilarious show returns. I must say that while I am not as vigilant in watching in it, I am definitely a fan of it when I do. And somebody definitely has to talk about how wonderful the under-rated actress/singer Tichina Arnold is in it.

4. All of Us -- Premiers Oct 1st on "The CW" at 7:30 right after Everybody Hates Chris. I must give it to Will and Jada -- these are Black folks investing in creating opportunities for Black actors and making films that center around Black people. I have to give it to them for being Black people who create opportunities for other Black people and don't wait around for Hollywood to do the type of programming that they want to see in media. And by the way, its not a bad show.

5. The Game -- When does this permiere? You guessed it! Oct. 1st at 8:30 right after the premiere of Girlfriends. This show actually started as a spin-off of an episode of Girlfriends. It stars Tia Mowry, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Hosea Chanchez, and Pooch Hall. Mowry's character is a meidcal student whose boyfirend is a San Diego Sabers rookie. Its basically a half-hour comedy about the wives, mothers, and girlfriends of professional football players. I don't see too much promise with this one but we'll see.

5. Girlfriends -- Rounding Out the Oct. 1st line-up on "The CW" is Girlfriends, a show that I like (and watch religiously) because it is a show that features the trvails of four middle class Black women living in Los Angeles. (Though it is definitely not without its problems. Jill Marie Jones aka Ms. Toni Childs will be absent this season but I wonder if Mara Brock Akil will finally let Joan find a man?

6. Survivor -- What can I say? Separating tribes by race. This idea has nothing but fit for trouble. Premieres Sept. 14th at 8 p.m. on CBS. The ratings will definitely be high but I hope that voices of protest will be as well.

7. Cold Case -- Definitely a sleeper hit in my opinion, I really like the show. I like Kathryn Morris's character Lily Rush not to mention a solid representation of people of color (Daniel Pino, Thom Barry, Tracie Thoms -- an HBCU [Howard graduate] nonetheless :). Premieres Sept. 24th on CBS at 9:00

8. Desperate Housewives -- Eva Longoria is on the cover of this week's Entertainment Weekly and I must say that that she and Antonio Ricardo Chavira take the award for being complicit in currently the worst portrayal of Hispanics on TV today. They play complete and utter stereotypes to the core. Let's see what other foolishness they're up to this season. Premieres Sept. 24th on ABC at 9:00

9. Without a Trace -- Love this show. Anthony LaPaglia is great as the leader of his unit and is all around a terrific actor (has anyone seen Lantana?) Roselyn Sanchez, Marianne Jean-Baptiste (terrific in Secrets & Lies, a must see film for you all NETFLIX it now!), and Enrique Murciano.

10.Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip -- I netflixed the premiere of this one couple of weeks ago. While I wasn't entirely impressed with it, I am intrigued enough to stick with it for a few more episodes. Aaron Sorkins's highly anticipated drama centers around Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry's characters as head writers hired by the newly appointed network exec Amanda Peet to work on the a stalemate sketch comedy show that they were fired from four years previously. I put this show on my "shows to watch list" because 1.)Its so highly anticipated, I just need to see what all the fuss is about 2)Amanda Peet's role as a major television exec -- should be interesting to see how her position as female power player in a world of men is cultivated 3) D.L. Hughley -- never been much a fan of his but he is the only recurrent face of color on the show. In the September 8th issue of Entertainment Weekly , Josh Wolk reports, "D.L. Hughley, a stand up and sitcom vet who plays another Studio 60 regular, has never faced acting demands like this, but he's ready. 'You ask any black person in the country, did he want this role? And I got it. So the cameras will break down before I do". Which brings me to the question, what is the responsibility of the Black actor (or does s/he have one)? While I understand his happiness to get the role, I'm a little concerned with his eagerness in the notoriously racially problematic landscape of Hollywood. We shall see.

11. Heroes -- I will definitely be watching heroes because it is one of only a handful of shows this season that features an Asian regular -- Masi Oka. Just as bad as being inundated with a pelthora of representation that verges on the two-dimensional stereotypes that are so easy to replicate (i.e. Black folks in TV) is the virtual absence of any representation on TV (i.e. Asians). When was the last time you saw a show on TV where Asians were the focal point (remember Margaret Cho?). Premieres Sept. 25th on NBC at 9 p.m.

12. CSI: Miami -- Premieres Sept. 18th at 10 p.m. on CBS See Adam Rodriquez and Khandi Alexander. Don't like it as much as the regular CSI but I do like David Caruso's quiet intensity...

13. Friday Night Lights -- Premieres Oct. 3rd on NBC at 8:00 Based on the 2004 feature film which was based on H.G. Bissinger's non-fiction book, the show portrays the football culture of a small Texas town , through the eyes of a high school team. The movie tocuhed on a lot of topics -- racism, education, parent-child (particularly father/son) relationships, etc. It will definitely be interesting to see how this show deals with these topics, particularly that of racism.

14. The Unit -- Premieres Sept. 19th on CBS at 9:00. This is its second season. I saw it last season, because its headed by Dennis Haybert aka the former President of the Unites States on my favorite show 24). Molly Blane co-stars as his wife. I don't know how long this one is going to last. I'm watching because of Haybert and Blane but its not one of my personal favs. I'm just not that interested.

15. Standoff -- Debuted Sept. 5th on FOX at 8 pm. Watch for Gina Torres

16. House -- Debuted Sept. 5th on FOX at 9pm. Omar Epps is in this one. Heard great things about it but never seen it. Its next in my Netflix queue.

17. Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Premieres Sept. 19th on NBC at 9 Courtney B. Vance is out and in comes Nona Gaye. Am I the only one that is questioning this decision? Also, look for Thera Randle in at least three episodes. In my opinion, the weakest by far of the Law & Order franchise.

18. Law & Order : SVU : Great show. Best of the Law & Order franchise in my opinion. Only problem: Ice-T. They can't find another Black man to play this role? Love B.D. Wong though! He is one of only five Asians who have prominent, recurring roles on Network TV (Sandra Oh, Naveen Andrews, Masi Oka, Parminder Nadra)

19. America's Next Top Model. Premieres Sept. 20th on the CW at 8:00 p.m. The show's addictive despite Tyra's annoying remarks and race issues.

20. 30 Rock -- Debuts October 11th on NBC at 8:30. I'm not a fan of Tracy Morgan or Tiny Fey but is getting a buzz and may check it out. We'll see...

21. Lost -- Premieres Oct. 4th on ABC at 9:00 p.m. Season 1 was excellent. Season 2 not so much. Will tune in for it though!

22. Justice -- Debuted August 30th on FOX at 9. Interesting show. Kind of like a Law & Order remake but you get to see what really happened at the end. Has Eamonn Walker aka Said from Oz.

23. DayBreak -- Debuts Nov. 15th at 9pm on NBC. Taye Diggs headlines this drama as a cop framed for a murder and must through a horrific 24 hours that repeats itself every morning. That's all I'm gonna say about it.

24. Criminal Minds -- Premieres Sept. 20th on CBS at 9 Shemar Moore co-stars. I had to briefly supress a giggle but he does try though ya'll...

25. Kidnapped -- Debuts Sept. 20th on NBC at 10 but you can Netflix the premiere episode now. I did. Its interesting. I don't know about Jeremy Sisto in the title role but I do like Mykelti Williamson and Delroy Lindo

26. CSI: NY -- Sept. 20th on CBS at 10 The CSI that I like the least but Hill Harper is on it!

27. The Nine -- Debuts Oct. 4th on ABC at 10. Chi McBride has a featured role.

28. Ugly Betty -- Sept. 28th Created by Selma Hayek and featuring America Ferrera, Ana Ortiz, and Vanessa Williams. The show intrigues me. I'm interested to see how it will play out. Based on a Columbian telenovela, the name bothers me for a little...But after I see the show, I will be able to talk more about it.

29. ER -- Premieres Sept. 21st on NBC at 10. I'm still hanging on to ER... Maybe this season will pick up. Look for Mekhi Pfeiffer and Parminder Nadra.

30. Law & Order -- Sept. 22nd on NBC at 10. Is Law & Order still viable? We'll see this season. Look for Jesse L. Martin.

31. Ghost Whisperer -- Debuts Sept. 22nd on CBS at 8. They killed Aisha Tyler last season but apparently she comes back as a ghost. Whatever...

32. The Wire -- Premieres tonight on HBO at 10. Trying to get into this show because it has tons of Black folks on it. I'll report on this a little later...

Shows To Watch:

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Ugly Betty
Prison Break

I'm concerned with the lack of Asians on TV. Only five with recurrent roles??? And as for Black people, well I'll save that for another post!

surcease -- noun: Cessation; stop; end.

“I did not lose myself all at once. I rubbed out my face over the years washing away my pain, the same way carvings on stone are worn down by water”
--- Amy Tan

vendredi, septembre 08, 2006

Learning to Listen

The following is a posting that illustates a free jazz course being offered in New York:

The Jazz Museum in Harlem
104 East 126th Street
New York, NY 10035


The Jazz Museum in Harlem proudly announces its new, free jazz course, JAZZ FOR CURIOUS LISTENERS. Classes will be held at the Museum’s offices (104 East 126th Street, accessible by the 2/3/4/5/6 trains, the M60, 101, Bx15 buses and Metro-North) TUESDAYS, 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., September 19th through December 12th, and will be led by the Museum’s Executive Director Loren Schoenberg and guest instructors.

Topics covered will include:

How to Listen to Jazz
Classic Jazz Albums
Harlem’s Jazz Legacy
Ellington and The Cotton Club
Louis Armstrong in New York
Living Jazz Musicians You Should Know About But Probably Don’t
Jazz Demystified
Classic and rare jazz films

Over the past four years, the JAZZ MUSEUM IN HARLEM has distinguished itself through its programming dedicated to celebrating Harlem’s legacy. Led by Co-Directors Loren Schoenberg and Christian McBride, the Museum’s concerts, educational programs in the public schools, the HARLEM SPEAKS interview series, and other initiatives, all presented free of charge, continue into the fall with a new addition: JAZZ FOR CURIOUS LISTENERS. Loren Schoenberg, currently on the faculty of The Juilliard Institute for Jazz Studies, has previously taught at The Manhattan School of Music, The New School, William Paterson College, SUNY/Purchase, and Long Island University. He has lectured at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of The City Of New York, Columbia University, Leeds University, Brigham Young University, just to name a few. His book, THE NPR CURIOUS LISTENER’S GUIDE TO JAZZ will be used as the textbook for the course. As a musician, Mr. Schoenberg has worked with, among others, Wynton Marsalis, Benny Goodman, John Lewis, Benny Carter, Jimmy Heath, Jo Jones, Buck Clayton, James Williams, Christian McBride, Marian McPartland, Bobby Short, Sylvia Syms, Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Schildkraut and Eddie Durham. He has conducted the jazz orchestras at Lincoln Center, the Smithsonian and Juilliard, as well as the American Jazz Orchestra, The WDR band in Cologne, Germany, and for the past his 26 years, the Loren Schoenberg Jazz Orchestra.

To register, please call the Museum’s offices at 212-348-8300 or go to the Museum’s newly redesigned website.

I signed up already! I love jazz but I'm ashamed to say that up until this point, I have been a lazy jazz listener. I appreciate the improvisation, tonal switches and melodic mellifluousness that jazz affords but, as I said before, I'm a lazy listener. Which is surprising because I tend to be a pretty good one when I'm with others but when I'm with myself, my thoughts intervene with the music. Perhaps this class, along with jalylah's 52s club, will help me sophisticate my listeneing techniques. Next week, the Rose Theatre Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center ensemble will perform a show entitled "Coltrane", a tribute to the late master. I'm going to try to go. I myself don't boast a significant knowledge of jazz but I certainly do wield a voracity for it. Although, it seems kind of hard for me to find someone my age who has the same reverence and appreciation for it as I do. Which leads me to the questions: Are you a good listener? Do you know how to listen to jazz?

small beer, noun: 1. Weak beer. 2. Insignificant matters; something of little importance. adj:1. Unimportant; trivial.

"It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I've gone and come back, I'll find it at home"
--- Rumi

jeudi, septembre 07, 2006

Romp-ing Around in the Dark

As of recently, I have been reading a slew of books where Blackness is a major [albeit background] character in the novel, driving the protagonist's actions, informing the dialogue and prominent themes of the novel but is placed in the background of the text as the white protagonist's shift through angst and conflict. In other words Blackness informs the text in pretty much everyway possible but is relegated to the background. I recently re-read Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark and became re-inspired. So, I just completed Sigrid Nunez's The Last of Her Kind and Tony D'Souza's Whiteman, both good books in their own right and I encourage you all to read them.

The Last of Her Kind is narrated by Georgette, i.e. George, a working class young woman, whose roommate Ann, directly influences the course of her life. Ann hails from an extremely wealthy, WASPy family, and detests the privilege and whiteness that she has been born with. When applying to Barnard, she specifically requests a roommate with a "background" [i.e. Black, working class] completely antithetical to her own. Ann despises anyone white, conservative, or not poor. She is indeed the last of her kind, spitting venom to her parents because of their whiteness and privilege, her life propelling her to a place of activism and anti-authority, eventually being convicted of murdering the cop who murdered her Black fiance. The book is narrated in the first person by Georgette.

Whiteman is the tale of Jack Diaz, told in the first person from his point of view. He's a relief worker working in the Ivory Coast and the novel basically recounts his experiences living among the Ivorians --- his frustrations at never seeming to "fit in" as a white man despite his perfection of the language and customs and his sexual encounters with the women there, all amidst the impending warfare between the Christians and the Muslims.

Both books are a good read but its interesting how important Black people are to both books --- in fact they are indispensible yet their stories are secondary. For example, The Last of Her Kind takes place in 1960s New York where the social and political climate was extremely tenuous at best for Blacks and Whiteman delves into a whiteman's experience as a relief worker in the politically mercurial Ivory Coast. Blackness is at once desired and feared. Its almost like both novels explore what its like for a certain kind of "noble" white person of a certain level of privilege to navigate through Blackness. Blackness is to be explored and studied but not the focal point of the novel. These are definitely books you should read if only to form your own opinion. I am going to read Norman Rush's Whites and Mating as well as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Kipling's Kim as the next books in a series of white people who write about white people living among people of color.

robustious -- adj:1. Boisterous; vigorous. 2. Coarse; rough; crude.

"Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form"
--- Rumi