Sunday, November 28, 2010

Urban Chameleon "Create Your Own Media" Live Event

This past summer, Urban Chameleon Media had its first live event in Atlanta by adapting and featuring some of the HOTUC stories contributed by our community! Guest readers included:

JELANI COBB, History Professor and Author of “The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama & The Paradox of Progress”

Performing: "Don't Let the Kenneth Cole Fool Ya" (original title: Does the term "Oreo" always haunt the Urban Chameleon" & "Black Vegans"

DENATALIE PHILLIPS, Publicist and Performing Artist

Performing: "My Cousin's Opinion on Health Care" & "The Misperceptions About Africa: It's a Continent Not a Country"

FAHAMU PECOU, Ground breaking Visual Artist featured at the High Museum

Performing: "You Betta (Find) Work!" & "Ashy Elbows"

ARTURO LINDSAY, Educator, Artist and Editor of “Santeria Aesthetics in Contemporary Latin American Art” published by the Smithsonian Institution Press

Performing: "The First and Last Black Man at the Country Club" & "What Do You Mean Jorge Doesn't Speak Spanish" (originally titled: When Another Spanish Person Tries to Play You"

Thanks to our evolving Urban Chameleon community we are able to continue to spread the multifaceted experiences that challenge stereotypes and provide an in yo’ face perspective on real issues that affect us.

Watch the Urban Chameleon experience here!

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Crack boo Where Are You?

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

I work for one of the largest PR firms in the metro Atlanta area. I don’t make a whole lot of money, but a couple of years ago I decided to invest my hard earned dollars into my first piece of property. The neighborhood isn't the sheikest, but I’ve created an oasis in my ‘hood.

Owning a home was a dream come true, but keeping up the property was a nightmare; someone has to shovel snow in the winter and pick up leaves in the fall. You can imagine my delight when God answered by prayers. God blessed me with a crack head who knocked on my door one night offering to pick up the leaves from my front yard for $5.00. At first, I was skeptical, but I took one look at all those leaves and said ok. Now some people may think I was taking advantage of this woman but she set the price and, as far as I was concerned, it was a win/win for everyone.

About five minutes later crack boo knocked on my door. She had piled up every single leaf and asked if I had a trash bag. She then offered to clear the gutter for another $5.00; couldn’t say no to that deal either. She was back at my door in five minutes and the gutter was clear. Crack boo was averaging $1.00 a minute.

I have no idea how crack boo got on top of my roof with no ladder or cleaned up those leaves with no rake. All I know is crack boo was fast and never bothered me for any tools, not that I had any to offer.

This relationship went on for several months. Once a week crack boo continued to expand her list of services. She even offered to wash my car. Guess how much? $5.00! But I decided against that service because I never saw any water and I can’t be rolling around town with spit shine. Other than that, I couldn’t complain. I wouldn’t have been able to afford my mortgage payment if I had to pay market price for these services.

Eventually, I stopped hearing from crack boo. I didn’t know if she got locked up, strung out or moved on to different neighborhood. Maybe she got clean. All I know is life has not been the same with out crack boo.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why Chinese People in China Are So Fascinated With Black People

by today’s urban Chameleon contributor

I was recently introduced to a young woman who had just finished touring with a singing group in China and said that everywhere she went people stared at her. When she first landed in the foreign country she was very uncomfortable. One man ran into a pole while staring. She soon learned of their belief that Black people have tails; which is why our butts are so big! Isn't it amazing how ignorance and imagination can be so closely connected?

She described a frightening scene in front of The Great Wall of China where a busload of people got off and charged her. Her first instinct was to mentally prepare to kick some ass. But the crowd surrounded her instead to admire her skin, hair, and even asked if she would hold their babies. The story sounded like an awkward combination of paparazzi and a petting zoo. After accepting the circumstances, the hustler in her decided to start charging 10 yuan per admirer.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Off-Duty Cop Shoots a Gunman While Getting Her Hair Done in Brooklyn!

Urban Chameleon Spotlight

The New York Times recently covered the story of an off-duty police officer who was getting her done when a gunman entered looking to rob the salon. After the gunman ordered the four ladies present into the bathroom, officer Ferris Jones took control of the situation. She came out of the bathroom with her gun drawn and identified herself as a police officer, the gunman still opened fire. Officer Ferris Jones fired back, which resulted in a gunshot wound to the gunman’s hand. After breaking through the front door, the gunman exited. Police later found him at a local hotel after following a trail of blood from his wound.

The article rightfully commends Officer Ferris Jones for her act of duty, but we here at HOTUC would like to acknowledge the officer for her Urban Chameleon duty.

This woman went from beauty shop to Robo cop in an instant. Although the article doesn’t quite explain why officer Ferris Jones didn’t go after the gunman, I think it’s safe to assume she needed to finish with her hair appointment; she was off duty. Bravo, Officer Ferris Jones! And might I add…the hair looks fabulous! You’re our Urban Chameleon pick of the day.

read full article on

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Will Smith breaks down the key to success like nobody else

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

An incredibly empowering video on Will Smith's truth about success

Will Smith states, "We didn't grow up with the sense that where we were is where we were going to be. We grew up with the sense that where we were almost didn't matter."

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Monday, November 8, 2010

For Colored Girls: A Messy, Miserable Melodrama

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor Thembi Ford

Did Tyler Perry, the man I consider “the King of Coonery,” completely destroy the play that so many black girls carried dog-eared copies of in our high school and college backpacks?

Not really, and there isn’t a drop of coonery in For Colored Girls. What Tyler Perry did do in writing and directing his own version of Ntozake Shange’s 1975 classic For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf is best described as a gentle butchering: he leaves the skeleton intact but replaces the heart of the original with a heavy dose of “no good black man” melodrama and some film-making gymnastics.

Shange’s original choreopoem features an intentionally stripped down aesthetic and a cast of seven women each represented by a different color. Through poetry and dance, the classic play voices the challenges and joys of black womanhood by addressing issues such as race, rape, abortion, falling in love, and learning to accept yourself, brown skin and all. Perry’s interpretation replaces the anonymous women with a cast of characters whose experiences are occasionally expressed through Shange’s poetry but are primarily presented via a heavy-handed storyline that makes For Colored Girls more of a two-hour long soap opera than a work of art. Most of the events come straight from Shange’s work, but Perry updates the story with a male supporting cast, some moralizing about HIV and religion, and of course, a brother on “the down-low.” Yes, fans of the original, you officially have permission to roll your eyes.

The film begins with one of my favorite poems, “sing a black girl’s song/bring her out/to know yourself/to know you/but sing her rhythms/carin/struggle/hard times/sing her song of life…” Before long I realized which notes this film erases from our song: the blissful ones. There is no Toussaint. There is no hopscotch. The joys of a first sexual experience as told by Shange’s poem “graduation nite,” are reduced to a first act aside. Perry’s version of a black girl song is more funeral march than praise dance. Instead of a well-rounded and inclusive interpretation of Shange’s work, Perry deftly manages to suck out most of the joy and hope that made the original so vibrant and true. His is a hat trick that almost impresses as much as it insults.

As expected, Shange’s eloquent poems about love, loss, and self-reliance are the best part of For Colored Girls, but their integration into the storyline is jarring and even silly at times. Imagine your standard musical but insert poetry instead of songs and there you have Perry’s solution for turning the choreopoem into a dramatic film. Theater adapted to film is always a tall order, but it’s hard to take a monologue seriously when an actress abruptly adjusts her countenance and, with a quivering lip, delivers a monologue in out-of-place language over a dramatic instrumental that ramps up for the poem’s duration and then abruptly disappears to make way for everyday scripted dialogue. A handful of these are well done, but it’s too easy to groan when a character suddenly catches the “Shange Holy Ghost.” This patchwork approach does a disservice to Shange’s words, which are still magical and remarkably descriptive today, even at over thirty years old. Perhaps, with some adjustment, Perry has created a new art form, but probably not.

Fortunately, the cast makes For Colored Girls watchable even when the film-making is bumpy. Kimberly Elise, Phylicia Rashad, and Anika Noni Rose all put forth excellent performances and every single woman in the cast acts her behind off – even problematically so in the case of Janet Jackson, who caricaturizes the cold career-woman in a way that made me wonder what ever did happen to Penny after she got over her mother’s abuse and moved out of the projects. In spite of the gratuitous tear-jerking story line (promotional tissue packets were even handed out at the screening I attended), For Colored Girls is easily the best Tyler Perry film I’ve watched, with strong attention to visuals and some powerful scenes. But how did a play about black female identity and empowerment turn into a movie about how hard it is to rise above all of the nonsense that men put us through?

For Colored Girls leaves black women battered and communing with God and each other exclusively after we’ve travelled the rough road that some scoundrel brother has laid out for us. Meanwhile, the original passages illustrating the beautiful bits of black-girl-ness are omitted, humorized, or broken apart and scattered into barely recognizable pieces throughout the film. Of those included, the final poem “laying on of hands,” is too little, too late, and too cinematically similar to the final scenes of Waiting To Exhale to work well in For Colored Girls.

Not only does Perry’s tendency to deal in miserable stereotypes take charge in the adaptation, the women of For Colored Girls are an even worse lot, each of them victims of their own poor decision-making in the pursuit of male love. His reputation for black male bashing through stereotypes will likely take the blame for the cavalcade of one-dimensional no-good Negroes in the film – abuser, rapist, cheater, liar, murderer – but most of these characters also existed in the original without ever appearing on-stage. The difference between the two is that Shange’s women were propped up by joy, while Perry’s are driven by their need to escape sorrow.

Perry largely glosses over the persistent issues of race, sisterhood, and how plain old happy we are to be Colored Girls in the first place. That happiness, not the evil that men do, is what made For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf a groundbreaking collection of poetry and the voice of black female identity for generations of women. In that sense, the film accomplishes the very opposite of what admirers of the original work find so powerful. Thanks to Perry’s interpretation, we are again being told – this time in a twisted version of our own words – what defines us.

by Thembi Ford

To read more from Thembi visit What Would Thembi Do?

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

George Bush Comes for Kanye West

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

I can't help but to get some small joy out of knowing that Kanye West is still on George Bush’s mind. In an interview with the former president, Matt Lauer asks Bush if he remembered the comment Kanye made about him, he answered, "Yes, I do. He called me a racist.” He later goes on to say, "My record was strong I felt when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And--it was a disgusting moment.”

What Kanye West actually said was that Bush didn’t care about Black people. A friend and I argued whether it was appropriate for Kanye to make the comment. My friend argued that it was very wrong, especially after witnessing how Kanye has obviously made making un-staged outbursts a habit. However, if we isolate Kanye’s actions, the Bush comment was warranted even if just for the reason of causing people to analyze the comment. It was a raw sentiment that was very real in Black communities during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Maybe a more accurate comment would have been that Bush doesn’t care about poor people (who happen to be Black). The real question is: does the actual handling of Hurricane Katrina have the same emotional effect on George Bush as Kanye West’s comment?

Read Yahoo's article George Bush Doesn’t Care About Kanye West

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

What the "F" Has Obama Done So Far?

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

If Barack Obama is not personally coming into people's home to give them back massages it's as if the man has not done anything at all. Some argue that Obama's team need to do a better job at promoting the changes he has made but then people would complain about that... and god forbid media cover progress. So I'm going to to help out.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gay Chameleons vs. Urban Chameleons

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor by DJXS

** Picture this, me: Arms folded in my tastefully decorated Harlem condo and giving my laptop screen --- having just digested several posts on the Home of The Urban Chamele

on's website --- some serious, not to be played with side eye action.

Oh, and also picture those same folded arms defiantly below a luscious pair of pursed lips unleashing a few sassy "mmmmm, whateva"s upon further reflection on the aforementioned posts. **

"What's the T, boo?” you ask in a quest for the truth, I’m sure. Well I got a fairy tale for ya that ain’t got a damn thing to with glass slippers, any bears or unemployed white

girls sleeping in castles all day --- hold up, wait a minute!

So, I've been silently flag waving for this whole Urban Chameleon movement for a hot second or two. I mean, it's cute for y'all: engaging tales of effortlessly fluctuating between cultures seemingly at odds with each other. A couple of your stories have even moved me to tears, excuse me, tear. Don’t get it twisted, though; I’m not trying for come for anyone’s personal experiences. The modest display of emotion is simply cuz I loves me a theatrical moment and nothing says "dramatic Oscar clip" better than a singularly shed droplet from mine eye, but I digress.

I can hold my tongue no longer with you Urban Chameleon kids and your culture hopping chatter. Y'all really put the "me" in "chameleon" with all this "I'M juggling several different worlds" and "I-I-I’m always trying to find balance" business --- chile, boo! Oh what? You doin' something special cuz you navigate from “whattup, ma?” to foie gras to Oye Como Va? Mmmm... I vote "nuh uh". No, for the

real deal Holyfield, grab you a notepad Urban Chameleons --- or an iPad (since it is all about "me" with you urban children) --- and don't be late for the bus... cuz you 'bout to be schooled!

Long before you lil' Urban Chameleons and your "chai latte" this and "curry goat" that, there were what? The G-to-the-A-Y-S, oh yes --- THE GAYS! Peep the credentials, honey: throughout history, we gays have been chameleon-ing and fiercely setting the standard on how to do so long before you, the new crew, got all MJ about the situation cuz y'all "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." Mmm hmmm, so while the Bible, Koran or other noted holy scripture of choice was throwing us back in the day shade with all that tired abomination hateration,

my founding forefathers and foremothers of the rainbow coalition were showin' out at night --- can you say “corset queen catwalk”? --- and blending in during the day with the breeders down atthe horse ‘n’ buggy wash... trust! Yes, celebrated urbies, your struggles are noteworthy but they don’t pre-date the skills of the gay chameleon. So don't get all Nicki Minaj up in this piece and act like y'all birf-ded this ish! Shout out to Lil’ Kim… ugh, what what?

C'mon, take a good look at history: the caterers for The Last Supper?, the designers of the soldiers' Civil War outfits... er, "uniforms"?, the entirety of Greek mythology?, the first recorded telephone transmission(you know, Alex G. Bell's "Mr. Watson, come here I need you" cries of passion)? The common denominator of them all?...HOWYOUDOIN?! Oh... and joo don't know? Probably not since most of these significant moments in history have flown under the gaydar, cuz those crafty kids were what? chameleon-ing, honey --- catch it, learn it, discern it!

Urban You Know Who's, I beseech thee: no more of this "me, je suis, yo soy" way too "I"-centric chameleon talk. Y'all need to pump your breaks and slow down with all that tryin’ to not give credit where credit is due mess --- shooot, where I come from, we consider credit stealing “pulling stunts.” Realize and recognize that this societal adaptability thang got roots like Alex Hailey, boo; it ain't a new phenomenon. I mean, y'all holdin' it down now, but it HAS been held before --- hello, good morning! So to my (g)urban chameleons past and present I say, kudos to us for our deft balancing act and let’s continue to push for a world of mutual cultural enlightenment... or rather, "ooooh, we betta do it! 10's, 10's, 10's across the board! Weeerrrrrrk!"

* Written entirely, of course, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, sorta. :)

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Black Marriage Negotiations' webseries hitting a sensitive spot?

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

My wife and I have had endless conversations about women’s standards not just being too high but unrealistic when it comes to men. I have seen many of her friends overlook a great opportunity in front of them because it wasn’t “packaged right.” Somewhere along the way women got an idea in their mind of the perfect man and the perfect relationship but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t exist. Allow yourself to create a connection based on a connection than work out the packaging.