Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jill Scott's 2 cents on Interracial Couples from Essence

There have been many different views shared on HOTUC about interracial dating, which underlines our mission to highlight the multifaceted perspectives of people of color.

see previous blog posts:

In continuing to share perspectives on interracial dating we recently came across Jill Scott's commentary on

You know the moment when you realize that fine, accomplished brother is with a White woman? Let's call it "the wince." Three-time Grammy Award-winning artist, writer, actress, philanthropist, mother and all-around Renaissance woman, Jill Scott gets to the root of our feelings on the matter in the April issue of ESSENCE...

My new friend is handsome, African-American, intelligent and seemingly wealthy. He is an athlete, loves his momma, and is happily married to a White woman. I admit when I saw his wedding ring, I privately hoped. But something in me just knew he didn't marry a sister. Although my guess hit the mark, when my friend told me his wife was indeed Caucasian, I felt my spirit...wince. I didn't immediately understand it. My face read happy for you. My body showed no reaction to my inner pinch, but the sting was there, quiet like a mosquito under a summer dress.

Was I jealous? Did the reality of his relationship somehow diminish his soul's credibility? The answer is not simple. One could easily dispel the wince as racist or separatist, but that's not how I was brought up. I was reared in a Jehovah's Witness household. I was taught that every man should be judged by his deeds and not his color, and I firmly stand where my grandmother left me. African people worldwide are known to be welcoming and open-minded. We share our culture sometimes to our own peril and most of us love the very notion of love. My position is that for women of color, this very common "wince" has solely to do with the African story in America.

When our people were enslaved, "Massa" placed his Caucasian woman on a pedestal. She was spoiled, revered and angelic, while the Black slave woman was overworked, beaten, raped and farmed out like cattle to be mated. She was nothing and neither was our Black man. As slavery died for the greater good of America, and the movement for equality sputtered to life, the White woman was on the cover of every American magazine. She was the dazzling jewel on every movie screen, the glory of every commercial and television show. She was unequivocally the standard of
beauty for this country, firmly unattainable to anyone not of her race. We daughters of the dust were seen as ugly, nappy mammies, good for day work and unwanted children, while our men were thought to be thieving, sex-hungry animals with limited brain capacity.

We reflect on this awful past and recall that if a Black man even looked at a White woman, he would have been lynched, beaten, jailed or shot to death. In the midst of this, Black women and Black men struggled together, mourned together, starved together, braved the hoses and vicious police dogs and died untimely on southern back roads together. These harsh truths lead to what we really feel when we see a seemingly together brother with a Caucasian woman and their children. That feeling is betrayed. While we exert efforts to raise our sons and daughters to appreciate themselves and respect others, most of us end up doing this important work alone, with no fathers or like representatives, limited financial support (often court-enforced) and, on top of everything else, an empty bed. It's frustrating and it hurts!

Our minds do understand that people of all races find genuine love in many places. We dig that the world is full of amazing options. But underneath, there is a bite, no matter the ointment, that has yet to stop burning. Some may find these thoughts to be hurtful. That is not my intent. I'm just sayin'. /
source from

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Erykah Badu bares all in her new video: WINDOW SEAT

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Scarface the School Play(the kindergarten version?)

How do you know when school systems are in crisis?

When elementary students are performing an adaptation of the movie Scarface. What faculty approved this?

But wait... why is this both hilarious and disturbing... yes we sometimes struggle with chameleonism between our intellectual and ign't sides

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

10 Ways the New Healthcare Bill May Affect You

Source from Yahoo

10 Ways the New Healthcare Bill May Affect You

by Katie Adams

Friday, March 26, 2010

provided by INVESTOPEDIA

The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, more commonly referred to as the "healthcare bill", has taken over a year to craft and has been a lightning rod for political debate because it effectively reshapes major facets of the country's healthcare industry.

Here are 10 things you need to know about how the new law may affect you:

1. Your Kids are Covered

Starting this year, if you have an adult child who cannot get health insurance from his or her employer and is to some degree dependent on you financially, your child can stay on your insurance policy until he or she is 26 years old. Currently, many insurance companies do not allow adult children to remain on their parents' plan once they reach 19 or leave school.

2. You Can't be Dropped

Starting this fall, your health insurance company will no longer be allowed to "drop" you (cancel your policy) if you get sick. In 2009, "rescission" was revealed to be a relatively common cost-cutting practice by several insurance companies. The practice proved to be common enough to spur several lawsuits; for example, in 2008 and 2009, California's largest insurers were made to pay out more than $19 million in fines for dropping policyholders who fell ill.

3. You Can't be Denied Insurance

Starting this year your child (or children) cannot be denied coverage simply because they have a pre-existing health condition. Health insurance companies will also be barred from denying adults applying for coverage if they have a pre-existing condition, but not until 2014.

4. You Can Spend What You Need to

Prior to the new law, health insurance companies set a maximum limit on the monetary amount of benefits that a policyholder could receive. This meant that those who developed expensive or long-lasting medical conditions could run out of coverage. Starting this year, companies will be barred from instituting caps on coverage.

5. You Don't Have to Wait

If you currently have pre-existing conditions that have prevented you from being able to qualify for health insurance for at least six months you will have coverage options before 2014. Starting this fall, you will be able to purchase insurance through a state-run "high-risk pool", which will cap your personal out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare. You will not be required to pay more than $5,950 of your own money for medical expenses; families will not have to pay any more than $11,900.

6. You Must be Insured

Under the new law starting in 2014, you will have to purchase health insurance or risk being fined. If your employer does not offer health insurance as a benefit or if you do not earn enough money to purchase a plan, you may get assistance from the government. The fines for not purchasing insurance will be levied according to a sliding scale based on income. Starting in 2014, the lowest fine would be $95 or 1% of a person's income (whichever is greater) and then increase to a high of $695 or 2.5% of an individual's taxable income by 2016. There will be a maximum cap on fines.

7. You'll Have More Options

Starting in 2014 (when you will be required by law to have health insurance), states will operate new insurance marketplaces - called "exchanges" - that will provide you with more options for buying an individual policy if you can't get, or afford, insurance from your workplace and you earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid. In addition, millions of low- and middle-income families (earning up to $88,200 annually) will be able to qualify for financial assistance from the federal government to purchase insurance through their state exchange.

8. Flexible Spending Accounts Will Become Less Flexible

Three years from now, flexible spending accounts (FSAs) will have lower contribution limits - meaning you won't be able to have as much money deducted from your paycheck pre-tax and deposited into an FSA for medical expenses as is currently allowed. The new maximum amount allowed will be $2,500. In addition, fewer expenses will qualify for FSA spending. For example, you will no longer be able to use your FSA to help defray the cost of over-the-counter drugs.

9. If You Earn More, You'll Pay More

Starting in 2018, if your combined family income exceeds $250,000 you are going to be taking less money home each pay period. That's because you will have more money deducted from your paycheck to go toward increased Medicare payroll taxes. In addition to higher payroll taxes you will also have to pay 3.8% tax on any unearned income, which is currently tax-exempt.

10. Medicare May Cover More or Less of Your Expenses

Starting this year, if Medicare is your primary form of health insurance you will no longer have to pay for preventive care such as an annual physical, screenings for treatable conditions or routine laboratory work. In addition, you will get a $250 check from the federal government to help pay for prescription drugs currently not covered as a result of the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole".

However, if you are a high-income individual or couple (making more than $85,000 individually or $170,000 jointly), your prescription drug subsidy will be reduced. In addition, if you are one of the more than 10 million people currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan you may be facing higher premiums because your insurance company's subsidy from the federal government is going to be dramatically reduced.


Over the next few months you will most likely receive information in the mail from your health insurance company about how the newly signed law will affect your coverage. Read the correspondence carefully and don't hesitate to ask questions about your policy; there may be new, more affordable options for you down the road.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

One Order of Health Care Reform Coming Right Up!

Urban Chameleon news

Over the weekend at this party, some man just broke out and said, "Obama just needs to just punch somebody in they face already."

"Pray tell what do you mean?" Someone asked.

I immediately knew that this man was referring to his frustrations with the ridiculous amount of hoopla the President has been going through with the Republicans for Health Care reform. After watching Bush for 8 years thug his way through his presidency not given a damn about democracy why shouldn't one be ready for President Obama to b*tch slap somebody already and lay down the law. Well thank goodness it didn't have to go there...

Health Care Bill: House Passes $938 Billion Bill, Sweeping Legislation on Its Way to Become Law

The House of Representatives passed the sweeping health care bill 219-212, securing a significant victory for President Obama, who lobbied hard this week for the controversial legislation.

The vote was certain after the House Democratic leadership finalized a deal this afternoon with anti-abortion Democrats to vote for the Senate-passed health care bill in exchange for an executive order from Obama affirming no federal funding for abortion.

Obama watched the vote in the White House's Roosevelt Room with Vice President Joe Biden, chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel and some 40 staffers.

When the measure passed, Obama high-fived Emanuel and hugged legislative affairs director Phil Schiliro as everyone in the room burst into applause.

"This is what change looks like," the president said in a brief speech after the House vote.

"We proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things," he said. "We proved that this government -- a government of the people and by the people -- still works for the people.

The House today voted on two separate pieces of legislation. In addition to the Senate health care bill, lawmakers passed a second, the amendments to that bill made by House members and Obama, by a vote of 220-211.

The bill now goes to the president's desk to sign, after which it will become law. Obama is expected to sign the health care bill Tuesday, after which the Senate will debate and vote on the "fixes."

As the last speaker before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said that by passing the bill, Congress would be taking a historic step.

"We will be joining those who established Social Security, Medicare and now, tonight, health care for all Americans," Pelosi said.

"It is with great pride and great humility that we undertook this great act of patriotism that occurred on the floor of the house," she added.

Republican opponents of the bill continued to argue against it right up until the vote was counted.

"We have failed to listen to America," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio said.

"Can you say it was done openly, with transparency and accountability -- without backroom deals, struck behind closed doors, hidden from the people?" Boehner questioned. "Hell no, you can't."

"Some say we're making history. I say we're breaking history," Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana said.

What has been an arduous journey for the health care bill is anything but over. Once the president signs the bill, the Senate has to pass the "fixes" and the fight in that chamber has already begun.

"We shouldn't do a victory dance ... until the reconciliation bill is signed," Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., said on MSNBC.

House Democrats, distrustful of their Senate counterparts, wanted iron-clad assurances that the Senate would pass the bill with the "fixes" the House Democrats had proposed, before they themselves voted on it.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., delivered that assurance to House Democrats on Saturday, telling them that 51 senators had signed a letter promising to make "fixes" to the Senate bill that House members want. The names of those senators were not revealed to the press.

After the House vote, Reid released a statement promising to complete the work on "this historic effort."

"As the Senate prepares to complete our work on this historic effort, Senate Democrats reaffirm our commitment to reform because we know it's good for middle-class families, seniors and small businesses in Nevada and all across America," Reid said.

But Republicans are vowing to get the "fixes" thrown out by using a Senate procedural motion. Today, Senate Republicans said Democrats would not meet with them and the parliamentarian, a charge that Democratic staffers called "absurd."

The Senate is expected to take up the bill as soon as Tuesday, which will set in motion a week or longer of floor battles on parliamentary procedures.

If Republicans can get the parliamentarian to agree with them even once, whatever ultimately passes the Senate will have to go back to the House, much to the chagrin of Democratic lawmakers.

Democrats in the House quietly admit that it is very likely they will have to vote again on the reconciliation fixes at some point down the road.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts the bill will cost $938 billion and will reduce the federal deficit by $142 billion in the first 10 years, which the president has hailed as the "most significant effort to reduce the deficit since the Balanced Budget Act" of the 1990s.

Most Americans would be required to purchase health insurance. Small businesses and the uninsured would have the option of shopping for coverage in health insurance exchanges, a marketplace in which people would be able to shop for and compare insurance plans. Those would be implemented in 2014.

The bill also greatly expands Medicaid and subsidies to the poor. Insurance companies would not be able to place lifetime caps or deny coverage to patients based on pre-existing conditions.

Obama's executive order is likely to irk many of his supporters who favor abortion rights, but it gave Democrats the votes they needed to pass the health care bill.

"I'm pleased to announce that we have an agreement," Rep. Bart Stupak D-Mich., said shortly after the White House released a statement regarding the executive order. "We have assurances from the president and others that he will not rip this up tomorrow."

Anti-abortion Democrats had been hesitant to commit their support unless a deal was struck, but the executive order guarantees that the House Democratic leadership will have enough votes to pass the health care legislation.

"We're well past 216," Stupak told reporters, referring to the minimum number of votes House Democrats need to pass the bill.

The executive order will provide "additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement.

The president's order is to ensure that current law that restricts federal funding from going toward abortion, known as the Hyde amendment, is maintained. It will extend those restrictions to the newly created health insurance exchanges.

"It is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that federal funds are not used for abortion services," the executive order states. After months of negotiations, closed-door meetings and persuasion by the president, members of the House of Representatives today will vote on the controversial $938 billion health care bill.

The path for the health care bill to pass in the House was not easy. The debate today on the House floor was heated as Republicans assailed Democrats for moving ahead with the health care bill without any bipartisan support.

"My colleagues shame us," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. "Freedom dies a little bit today. Unfortunately some are celebrating."

Rowdy visitors in the House gallery disrupted the session several times. One protestor yelled "The people don't want this!" and was escorted out by security. Some Republican lawmakers were spotted on the Congressional balconies, cheering on the protestors.

On Capitol Hill and in the halls of Congress, protestors chanted "Kill the bill!" and confronted lawmakers. Some hurled racial and homophobic epithets, and one even spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who is openly gay, encountered homophobic comments as he walked through a crowd of protestors Saturday in the halls of Congress.

Even as they move ahead with the health care legislation, Democrats are fully aware of the political ramifications of voting "Yes" for the bill that has furthered the divide not just between Republicans and Democrats, but among the Democratic caucus itself.

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus acknowledged on "This Week" that some members of the House could lose their seats as a result of their support for the legislation.

"Every time you have a mid-term election, you risk the chance of losing members," said Larson, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House. "But it isn't about how many members are going to lose their seats. ... It's about this moment, it's about the truth, it's every reason why you were elected to come and serve in Congress.

ABC News' Jake Tapper, Dean Norland, Michael S. James, Rachel Martin and David Kerley contributed to this report. source from

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

HOTUC COMMENT SPOTLIGHT on “Should We Give Chris Brown a Second Chance?”

The HOTUC team appreciates your engagement. Your comments on the different stories that we post in fact sometimes spark the need for larger conversations and therefore need a spotlight!

On Sunday March 14th we posted "Should We Give Chris Brown Another Chance?" by Funnel Cake
click title to read article

Amiwright wrote: Everyone deserves a second chance and not everyone is college material. Chile please. Yes, he was wrong for what he did and he has owned up to it and is still paying for it. This is something he will pay for, for the rest of his life. Radio stations and stores need to let it go. Put the mans music back in rotation. They are playing music by people who have done worst.

Funnel Cake responded: I wouldn't go as far as to say Chris Brown "Owned" up to it. The evidence was all over Rihanna's face and someone was going to be held responsible. No one with an abusive childhood changes in a year. Chris is a young man who got a chance to do something with his life that millions of people never get the "chance" to do. Do we feel sorry for them? If he wants it again he's got to earn it and part of earning it means honoring the time it takes for wounds to heal. Chris Brown needs to be made an example of. He was a successful mega superstar with an extraordinary amount of influence over young people. So much so that when the story first broke about him and Rihanna, comments on countless blogs where posted blaming Rihanna for the incident. There is a deeper problem here that I guarantee you has not gone away in a year.

Close to 4.8 MILLION women are abused each year and this statistic is only based on the incidents that are reported! Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk. This is the crisis we should be focused on not making sure Chris has another hit record in the club that we can jam to. I am not saying that people can’t and don’t change because they can and do. But don’t beg your fans to do something you need to do for yourself. By the way, reading to children in Harlem does not address the problem of abuse. It’s an obvious plea for sympathy especially when he tweets about it, which is even more pathetic. The only people Chris should be speaking to is young men and trying to help prevent them from going down the same road.

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The Asian Usher

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor Q'sNewz

I know it's been weighing heavily on your mind and you can't sleep cuz you don't have the answer: "Gee golly, does Korea have its very own version of Usher? I wonder..." Well, your sleepless nights are over cuz I've come with answers, my friends. Read on...

So my recent review on sassy K-pop starlet HyunA got me to thinking about my limited familiarity with some of the genre's other big stars. I'm pretty well acquainted with BoA and I sorta know The Wonder Girls as they both attempted US crossovers last year but I hadn't recently heard that much about Rain.

"Who the h*ll is Rain?", you ask? Why Rain has been (was?) the reigning king of k-pop for awhile now, stealing teen Korean hearts --- not to mention dollars --- and takin' names! "Asian Usher" first landed on my radar during my days working at a notable network when he stopped by the studio for some special performances he did to help the launch of an off-shoot network targeting the Korean pop market. He was also the subject of a one-sided faux beef with Stephen Colbert that resulted in a hilarious Korean R&B "battle video" and a hilarious dance-off, both of which I've include below. However, I hadn't heard anything about Rain since but it only took a couple of keystrokes to catch up on the most recent chapters of the Rain legacy.

It turns out Tha R. released another hugely successful album last year in his homeland and select Asian markets before launching an equally successful world tour. "Rainism" is the title track from that project and its a glorious, big budget, dance extravaganza not unlike the mini-movie productions that Chris Brown and Mr. Raymond have churned out in the past. The song is a generic euro-pop affair that borders on cheesy but the high production value of the video and the respectable job the star and his boyz do with the choreography make up for the shortcomings of the track.

I'm not quite sure if there is a coherent story but it seems like our boy R Dot spends the video getting doused in his own "rainism", two-stepping in well-lit foyers, attempting to bring all-white Saturday Night Fever tuxes back, and crashing "Smokey Eye" vampire orgies so that he can flaunt his magical fingers and their ability to cure insomnia. None of it makes any sense to me but as I've said before, I'm a sucker for these type of international million dollar dance spectacles so I can forgive the Velveeta lyrics --- besides, I guess I'm on a "big budget video" kick right now with last week's debut of the Gaga/Beyonce pop monster "Telephone". And at the risk of sacrificing cool points, I gotta admit that I'm kinda geeked about the prospect of k-pop A-listers Rain and BoA collaborating on a single and video; Korean teens would lose their minds and I think it could possibly (gently) rock my world as well. I mean, yeah... how about that new T.I.? Grade: B

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

White Girl Steppers Now Split 1st Place Prize with Black Girl Steppers

Remember that story we posted last week about a white sorority winning 1st place in the annual Sprite Step Competition. Click here to read: White Sorority Wins Sprite Step Competition

Well Coca-Cola who sponsored the event could not handle all that controversy so they went back, looked over the scores and conveniently found a "discrepancy."

ATLANTA (AP) -- After days of controversy over a white group's win in a step competition, sponsor Coca-Cola said Thursday the second-place team will share top honors.

Coca-Cola said in a statement that a review of the scoring from Saturday's national contest revealed a "scoring discrepancy" that it declined to explain. This is the first year of the Sprite Step Off, but step contests are typically dominated by black sororities and fraternities.

Step is a historically black art form of rhythmic stepping and clapping. A YouTube video of the winning performance by a group of Zeta Tau Alphas from the University of Arkansas generated hundreds of comments, some of them inflammatory.

Coca-Cola said Thursday the Alpha Kappa Alpha team from Indiana University, whose members are black, would share first place and would also receive the same $100,000 in scholarships that the Zeta Tau Alphas won.

"Because the scoring discrepancy cannot be resolved and due to the extremely narrow margin between the first and second place winning sororities," the company decided to declare co-winners, the company statement says.

The national offices of both sororities said they were proud of their members and declined to comment on the Internet controversy.

The Sprite Step Off was created to award scholarships, Coca-Cola said. The tournament began in September with a series of regional qualifying rounds around the country. Six sororities competed in the national final in Atlanta Saturday. Six fraternities also competed among themselves. source from

Thumbs up or down for how this was handled?

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Should We Give Chris Brown Another Chance?

by today's Urban Chameleon Funnel Cake

According to this article on Yahoo, Chris Brown is pleading with fans to "Bring him back." He's a changed person yall (from a year ago) and he's even reading to children in Harlem so he tweeted. I think someone needs to read to Chris Brown. Maybe this an opportunity for Chris to go to college and get an education because clearly he couldn't handle being a successful music artist. In the words of Cincinnati football player Ochocinco made popular, Chile please. Chris, we have better things to worry about then enabling your abusive ass to have a hit record. Somebody get this young man an application. Chile please

Mar.8-14: Chris Brown Pleads With Fans To Help Revive His Career

Posted Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:34pm PST by Billy Johnson, Jr. in That's Really Week

Sad news is in abundance this week, starting with the former prince of pop Chris Brown. Brown, who has been vying for a way to revitalize his career following his 2009 assault on ex-girlfriend Rihanna, has resorted to desperate measures to stage his comeback.

The 20-year-old singer-dancer, who plead guilty to felony assault and is on probation for five years, recorded an audio message Wednesday on Say Now asking his fans to "bring [him] back." A humbled Brown said he needs his fans' help. "Some radio stations aren't playing my records," he said. "They're not being that supportive and I wouldn't expect them to. But it's on the fans...It's in your power to bring me back."

Brown said he is doing everything he can do. He refers to himself as a "better person" and said he is doing his music for the love, but added that his career is in jeopardy.

"It won't be possible for me to be an artist if I don't have support from people who give me an artist outlet," Brown said. "I can't be an underground mixtape artist."

Brown sounds stressed out. After releasing two previously successful albums, it has got to be tough experiencing such a decline in support for his current album, Graffiti.

His 2005 self-titled debut is double platinum. His 2007 follow-up, Exclusive, is platinum. Both albums yielded a slew of gold, platinum, and double platinum singles. Brown's post-altercation Graffiti still has not achieved gold status for album or single. Neither album nor singles, "I Can Transform Ya" or "Crawl," are on the pop charts. Though Graffiti is No. 34 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

I know it's been a year since the incident, he has accepted his sentence, and was previously praised by the judge for following through with his community service, but he needs to relax. It is going to take some time for him to repair his reputation. He needs to be patient. He just re-emerged on Twitter at @ChrisBrown and is keeping it positive so far. He Tweeted about reading to 3rd grade students at a school in Harlem. This feels like a better plan. Releasing a new album just eight months after the altercation was just too soon.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Is celebrating obese women giving the wrong message to young black women?

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor Aireka Muse

Now that the Oscars are over and we don’t have to be politically correct, can we start getting real and talk about Gabourey Sibide’s weight? Gabby, the lead actress in Precious, is not “full figured”, “voluptuous” or “curvy”. She is obese. Publicly using her body as a symbol of confident body image is not only dangerous for her but gives the wrong message to black women struggling with weight.

At 350 pounds, Gabourey is nearly 200 pounds overweight. Being only 20% overweight increases the chances of heart disease dramatically. Gabourey is 50% overweight. At only 25 years old, her life is drastically limited. She can’t ride a bike, take the stairs, or sit comfortably in a restaurant chair. Her lungs, heart, and joints are working overtime just to support her getting out of bed and walking out the door. If health risks such as heart attack, kidney failure, and diabetes are not scary enough, obesity reduces your life expectancy by 10 to 12 years. Gaborourey at the size that she is will be lucky if she lives to be 60 and that of course will not come without a couple joint replacements and multiple daily medication.

By using the words such as “curvy” and “full figured” to describe Gabourey, the same words to describe Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, and Jordan Sparks, is saying that being 200 pounds is nothing more than a preference. But it is not. Especially when according to the Center of Disease Control, 79.8% of African American women are either overweight or obese. My question is, by ignoring the health issues plaguing this beautiful woman’s life and pretending her weight issues are trivial? Is it possible that celebrating Gabourey for being “full figured” is just as dangerous as celebrating the waify arms and protruding hipbones of an anorexic?

What are we saying to the 79.8% of African American women struggling with their weight? The sentiments that this is ‘Just her size” is ludicrous. Regardless of what people might believe, no one is born obese. Obesity is not hereditary. Poor diet choices and other lifestyle behaviors are hereditary and we must stop enabling unhealthy lifestyles in our community.

In November, Gabourey discussed her confidence with Oprah. “One day I had to sit down with myself and decide that I loved myself no matter what my body looked like and what other people thought about my body." But Gabourey, why does loving yourself have to compromise taking care of your body the best way possible? Could loving yourself actually be the opposite of putting whatever you crave in your mouth? Could loving yourself mean making a conscious effort to support your body with best foods and nutrients?

Even Monique, Gaby’s co-star, for years screamed, “ I am fat and fabulous” and recently lost weight in the pursuit of being healthy. At 262 pounds, close to 100 pounds lighter that Gabby, doctors worried about Monique’s health and she made the decision to lose weight to be the best version of herself for her husband and children. Queen Latifah, another beautiful confident black woman, has publicly spoken about the health benefits of exercising and eating right. She is far from being considered skinny and her decisions about her weight have had nothing to do with what other think but everything to do with taking care of herself.

I am not at all suggesting that the praise and accolades that Gabourey has received from her acting role in Precious are not well deserved. She is shining example of what is possible in your life if you believe in yourself. Nor am I suggesting that Gabourey needs to be publicly shamed or condemned. She is a beautiful woman with enormous talent. All I am suggesting is that weight issues, regardless of what size they come in, anorexic or obese, is not a laughing matter, nor should it be ignored. Gabourey, as well as the public figures surrounding her and missing an opportunity to change millions of black women’s lives by seeing that we all struggle with weight and even in the most dire situations, health is always obtainable.

On Tuesday, after the Oscars, radio shock jock Howard Stern and his sidekick Robin Quivers, made harsh and cruel comments regarding Gabourey’s size. The rant included calling her the “most enormous fat black chick I’ve ever seen” and suggesting that Oprah and others who support the actress are lying “She’s telling an enormous woman the size of a planet that she is going to have a career”. He returned on Friday to suggest his comments were only to bring light to the seriousness of obesity in our country. Howard’s comments caused a public stir of emails and phone calls in defense of Gabourey. Both Whoopi Goldberg and Jessica Simpson made public statements calling Howard disrespectful and inaccurate.

Howard’s comment regarding Gabourey’s career has already been proven wrong since Gabby has already booked a recurring role on a TV show and two feature films but Howard was correct in stating that her weight should not be considered normal or okay. Somehow because we like Gabourey talking about the ungodly truth about her size has become just as taboo as telling a new parent their child is ugly. Somewhere in 2009, being politically correct has become more important then telling the truth. Quickly, we must get over this and save this poor girl’s life. Gabourey Sibide is obese. As a talent confident woman, she deserves the help she needs to not only lose the weight but to combat the behaviors that lead her there. She deserves a lengthy career and healthy life and her chances are greater if she looks in the mirror and says it’s time to make a change. That change has nothing to do with what others think about her and everything to do with a chance to really live life.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Does the Karate Kid Break a Stereotype?

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor Gale Theodore

How hyped are we about the new Karate Kid movie? VERY! Last night I went to the movies and saw the trailer, which features Will Smith's son and Jackie Chan- and they have me. I love that the reinterpretation of this story features a wimpy Black kid who is bullied by Asians has to learn how to defend himself.

The irony is that just the other day I was talking with a white guy I attended college with who was telling me about how when he first arrived at school he had the perception that all Black guys were tough but was then thrown off when some of them started hitting on him. It was a theater program.

All that to say is that I can't help but be excited by this new take on a Hollywood film.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

PUMZI, Kenya’s first Science Fiction Film

This is a great article from Wired Magazine about the first sci-fi movie out of Kenya. Make sure you check out the trailer on YouTube at the end!

Pumzi, Kenya’s first science fiction film, imagines a dystopian future 35 years after water wars have torn the world apart. East African survivors of the ecological devastation remain locked away in contained communities, but a young woman in possession of a germinating seed struggles against the governing council to bring the plant to Earth’s ruined surface.

The short film, which will compete in screen at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “started off as a small script about what kind of world we would have to be if we had to buy fresh air,” writer/director Wanuri Kahiu told in a Skype interview.

Like recent standouts District 9 and Sleep Dealer, the short film taps into Third World realities and spins them forward for dramatic effect. But to produce Pumzi, Kahiu looked to the past, as well as the future.

She researched classic 1950s films to create her movie’s futuristic sets, comparing the processes of matte painting and rear-screen projection with indigenous African artwork.

“We already have a tradition of tapestries and functional art and things like that, that loan a backdrop for films,” Kahiu said.

Made with grant money from Focus Features’ Africa First short film program, the Goethe Institut and the Changamoto arts fund, Pumzi will share the screen with two other films as part of Sundance’s New African Cinema program.

Mentors from Focus Features introduced Kahiu to South African producers, including Simon Hansen, who worked with Neill Blomkamp on Alive in Joburg, the predecessor to last year’s sci-fi smash District 9. Kahiu said she hopes Blomkamp’s blockbuster will attract attention to other African films.

Kenya, frequently used for location shooting, boasts experienced crews but little funding. “You just hustle,” Kahiu said. “There is no set funding option. You borrow against banks, you do anything that you can to make your film.”

Distribution is another difficulty. While Kahiu hopes to offer Pumzi online, the Kenyan infrastructure is too underdeveloped to effectively distribute the film in her country. Meanwhile, directors in the country have been watching the prolific film community in neighboring Nigeria for inspiration.

Nollywood has its own distribution network and Kenya is slowly copying and picking up that very grass-roots distribution route,” Kahiu said.

Focus Features granted Kahiu complete control of her film. After producing commissions for African networks and retaining no rights, she helped create Dada Productions. Her first feature-length movie, From a Whisper, a dramatization built around the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, garnered five African Academy Movie Awards.

Kahiu’s future plans include expanding Pumzi to feature length as well as nurturing her local film community.

“I would like to work and build an industry, so that everyone walks away well-paid, with great hours,” Kahiu said. “Just a humane society, of sorts.”

Pumzi will play five times at Sundance between Friday and Jan. 30. For those unable to make the Utah film festival, the trailer and stills below offer a glimpse at Kahiu’s sci-fi short.

Monday, March 8, 2010

HOTUC COMMENT SPOTLIGHT on “What to Say to the Haitian?”

The HOTUC team appreciates your engagement. Your comments on the different stories that we post in fact sometimes spark the need for larger conversations. In these instances, we have decided to create a new feature on HOTUC that puts YOUR comment in the spotlight and is replied to by the writer.

On March 1st HOTUC posted “What to Say to the Haitian?” (click title to read story)

Anonymous wrote: My brother is married to a first generation Hatian. She hates African Americans. She married my brother, because she thinks he isnt African American, b/c our mother is white, and our father is black. She hates his children that he fathered by a Puerto Rican, b/c she hates puerto ricans. She, and her family, completely look down on American Blacks, and personally, i find that ridiculous..she doesnt even consider herself black, and she is one of the darkest people i have ever seen> While I dont like what happened in Haiti, there is no way i would support them, their country and their racist ideology..and i would encourage african americans to take a good look at how Hatians really feel about us before we send another cent to that country.

Don’tLettheJCrewFoolYa responds: Thank you for your comment. However, I would encourage you not to project your experience with one Haitian on the other 12 million Haitians on the planet. Not to mention the fact that I suspect that your issues with your sister-in-law go far deeper than her attitudes towards African Americans.

Like every post-colonial society, Haiti has many reminisce of "divide and conquer" colonial power politics. In Haiti, it is simply not enough to share the same skin color or the same African lineage. Everyone's just Haitian. So, after 200 years of independence and power abuse, Haitians (whatever the hue of their skin) have done just as much to hurt other Haitians as whites did to non-white Haitians back in the day. As such, the idea that once in the US, Haitians SHOULD relates with Black Americans and therefore joins their community is foreign to them. And, it's also unfair. The community of African Americans as we know it in the US today is a direct product of unique policies in US history--namely the 1/5th rule. There is NO OTHER PLACE on the planet where one drop of African heritage constitutes being Black. In every other post-colonial society where there were either enslaved or colonized Africans, there is a name or category for every hue of Black. Is it right? No. But from distinctions such as mulatto (Latin America), Dulla (Trinidad), or Coloured (South Africa) we have various and distinct communities of color around the world. It's only in the America that a Halle Berry or Barack Obama are considered 100% Black.

So, for a Haitian, the idea that they belong to the community of Black Americans just doesn't connect as easily. But the distinction is not unqiue to the Haitian community. Nigerians come here and stick to their own, as do Trinis, Jamaicans, Ghanaians, etc. Dominicans don't think their Black either. The problem is greater than the issues between you and your sister-in-law or Haitians and Americans.

I spent several years working at US Embassies around Africa. I remember a Malian man pulling me aside in the US Embassy lobby. He pointed to the picture of President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell and asked, "How can they say Powell is Black? He is the same color as the other two!"

So, instead of trying to project your personal sense of culture identity on others, I would encourage you to take a moment, recognize and understand that people's identifies are rooted in their unique histories. The Black American experience cannot simply be projected onto every person of color around the world. When you do that, you only show the world how blindly you've adopted yourself to the same American SUPERIORITY complexes that kept so many people who look like you and me (and darker) oppressed for the greater part of the 17th, 18th & 19th centuries.

Besides, whatever anyone’s issues are with other cultures/races (or themselves) this should never get in the way of the human heart and help when someone is in need.

L'union fait la force

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