Friday, October 30, 2009

Let there be light: Madonna

Urban Chameleon news

I know this joke has been made before but I would love to see the day when a Black mogul like a Tyler Perry adopts a bunch of white children from Eastern Europe or even Kentucky could be interesting.

Madonna has promised electricity to a village in Malawi, the impoverished southern African country where she runs a charity organisation and from which she has adopted two children.

Speaking in Mphandula, some 50 kilometres from Malawi's capital, Lilongwe, the singer said on Thursday: "I know you work in darkness. I will bring you electricity."

Madonna's Raising Malawi charity already has donated $US500,000 ($556,359) for a childcare centre in the village that feeds and educates 3,000 orphaned children.

Madonna arrived in Malawi on Sunday accompanied by her four children. On Monday she broke ground for her $US15 million ($16.69 million) Raising Malawi Academy for Girls.

About 500,000 children in this nation of 12 million have lost a parent to AIDS.

source from brisbanetimes

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rapper Slim Thug Admits That He Feels Recession

Urban Chameleon news

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Slim Thug Feels the Recession
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Blackface on 'America's Next Top Model'

Urban Chameleon news

Hot damn, this is the third time in a few weeks that "blackface" has been in the news. First, the Australian guys portraying the Jackson 5, then the Parisian Vogue model, and now Tyra? But is it okay because Tyra is Black and in charge?

Yes it is. People, we are not going to make this deep. Although I didn't see the show I can tell you right off the back that this

Is not to be compared with the same motive as this.

y Laura Kenney posted on

Continuing the resurgence of a makeup practice long considered taboo, "America's Next Top Model" featured a number of models painted with dark makeup to resemble bi-racial women. On the episode, which aired tonight (Oct. 28), host Tyra Banks said the goal was to create an editorial celebration of the "Hapa" (that's Hawaiian for mixed-race) children of immigrants who relocated to Hawaii to work as sugar cane farmers in the mid-19th century. Barack Obama is the most famous Hapa. Banks tasked models with interpreting exotic racial combinations like "Russian-Moroccan," "Native American-East Indian," and "Botswanan-Polynesian," photographing them herself in the green reeds of a sugar plantation on the island of Maui. The models -- Jennifer An, Nicole Fox, Laura Kirkpatrick, Sundai Love, Brittany Markert and Erin Wagner -- were styled in clothing stereotypical to the ethnicities they were asked to portray. For example, Markert, who was "Native American-East Indian," was dressed in a feathered headdress and a sari. And Love, as a "Russian-Morrocan" was styled with Russian Ushanka hat and a large walking stick. Then, the models were sent to makeup, where each was painted with varying degrees of dark body makeup to match the perceived skin tone of the corresponding race they were conveying. This is the second time models have been shown in dark makeup in recent weeks. French Vogue photographed model Lara Stone in blackface for its October issue, which was particularly disturbing because the offending pictures were part of an issue celebrating models, but had nary a black model in the magazine.

read full article on

Matsiyahu, The Hasidic jewish Rapper

Urban Chameleon Spotlight

I was recently turned on to the Hasidic Jewish rapper, Matsiyahu who is killin' em. For anyone else just put on watch my man drop it like it's hot.

click here for: How the Urban Chameleon Came to be

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

RNC Under Fire For Racist Obama Picture

Urban Chameleon news

This level of stupidity doesn't even warrant a comment.

The Republican National Committee's Facebook page raised eyebrows after a racist picture appeared on the group's fan page. A “fan” of the committee posted a picture of President Obama eating a piece of fried chicken with a caption that reads:

“Miscegenation is a crime against American values. Repeal Loving v. Virginia.”

source from hip hop wired

Anyone Else Frightened by this 5yr Old Romanian?

Urban Chameleon news

A five year old with more ab packs then his age is a problem for me. We might as well get shorty a blunt, a brew and a tattoo. Check out the intense work out that this Romanian child is on. This is no Tae Bo, Hip Hop Abs or She by Sheree "coming soon" work out video , this is some next level sh*t.

By Chris Chase

Giuliano Stroe has six-pack abs before turning six years old. And he's also in the Guinness Book of World Records before he can probably even read it.

Though it's highly unusual (and possibly unhealthy) for a child to start weight training at such a young age, the pre-schooler entered the record books earlier this year after completing the fastest ever 10-meter walk with a weight ball between the legs, which is both both highly impressive and highly specific. Since then, a four-minute video of Stroe has hit the Internet and made him a viral sensation.

It looks like a training montage from a Rocky movie, minus the Survivor soundtrack. (And, interestingly, Guiliano Stroe is almost the same size as Sylvester Stallone.)


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nene’s Real Housewives of Atlanta Needs Real Therapy

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

As much as I despise the fact that I got sucked into the Real Housewives of Atlanta this season I even more so despise the fact that I’ve actually taken time to write about it. It’s like watching a train crash, you know it’s about to happen but you’re tune in anyway. What sparked this impromptu spat is a recent conversation I was having with a girlfriend of mine about the character Nene. She absolutely loves this woman and her “realness” in which I rolled my eyes… and hard…you know the kind of eye roll where you’re blind for a minute trying to readjust your eyelids? Yea that was me. She couldn’t possibly understand why I was hatin’ and went as far as to defended Nene by saying that even white men love her! Yes thank you Anderson Cooper for your endorsement but this is no surprise to me. I took a sociolinguistic class in college and part of my study was following the trend of popular movies where Black characters are used as the comic relief particularly among white audiences. There is no doubt that Nene is the comic relief in this show but the question is should we be laughing?

This woman has real problems disguised by an overcompensating confident façade and should be in therapy. It is very clear she is an attention seeker who god-forbid the spotlight is not on her there must be commotion. Who the freak cares if you got left off the song, Tardy for the Party, write your own damn song. It is clearly not that difficult to make a hit these days. Lol Smiley Face says Soulja Boy. Now I am aware that it's the unveiling and unraveling of this woman's isssssssues is what makes great television these days at least as far as ratings but I am just so damn tired of people praising Nene like she is some kind of role model to aspire to be for if so we are in deep trouble and all need therapy.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

The Oreo Barbie

Urban Chameleon Fun Fact

Didjuknow that Mattel once tried to release the Oreo Barbie?

Now question to you- is the first thing that popped into your head the cookie or the derogatory term directed at a Black person for "acting" white?

from wikipedia
In 1997 Mattel joined forces with Nabisco to launch a cross-promotion of Barbie with Oreo cookies. Oreo Fun Barbie was marketed as someone with whom little girls could play after class and share "America's favorite cookie." As had become the custom, Mattel manufactured both a white and a black version. Critics argued that in the African American community Oreo is a derogatory term meaning that the person is "black on the outside and white on the inside," like the chocolate sandwich cookie itself. The doll was unsuccessful and Mattel recalled the unsold stock, making it sought after by collectors.[19]

Are Black people too deep som
etimes? Seriously it's a question I'm putting out there...

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Tyler Perry Responds to His Work Being Coonery

Urban Chameleon news

In an interview last night on 60 Minutes Tyler Perry responds to Spike Lee's remarks about his work being coonery. I have to say after watching the entire interview I decided to try and back off a little on Tyler as it is clear that he is creating work that relates to HIS experiences (not mine) and should be able to. The problem is because all Black people are grouped together by skin color we even forget that we are individuals and that one person should not have to be responsible for representing the entire race. Now what would be great is if we could have an equally successful mogul as Tyler representing ANOTHER perspective of people of color. Then maybe the rest of us could breath and not be so worried that white people think the images being put out by one powerful Black man reps us all....can I get an amen?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama Double Dutches

Urban Chameleon Spotlight

Now if this is not an Urban Chameleon moment I just don't know what is. Laura Bush what you know about this!

source from Newsweek

New Hip Hop Musical with Run DMC

Urban Chameleon news

PAULA WAGNER is a producer you might recognize because she did the "Mission: Impossible" movies and other Tom Cruise hits such as "The Last Samurai" and "Vanilla Sky."

Now she is announcing a new original musical with hip-hop legend Run-DMC.

Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels are meeting with Paula this week in New York to observe other musical offerings on Broadway. Their inspirational story of their rise is a compelling and dramatic journey and Paula's new Chestnut Ridge Productions will oversee it.

She says Run-DMC was the first rap act to cross over and influence American music. The story of Simmons, McDaniels and their musical partner Jason "Jam-Master Jay" Mizell (who was murdered in 2002) will be told in a unique manner.

Paula says, "I feel their story lends itself perfectly to the stage. This project has been a passion of mine for some time and I couldn't be more thrilled to be working with them."

source from

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Zahara Jolie-Pitt and the Politics of Uncombed Hair

Urban Chameleon news


by Allison Samuels

A few years ago when actress Angelina Jolie announced she’d be adopting a 6-month-old girl from Africa, I had mixed emotions. I’ve always thought Jolie was one of the flyest chicks in the Hollywood game, but interracial adoptions can be a tricky thing no matter how fly you are.

I’d heard the horror stories around Hollywood about the adopted black children of white movie stars becoming incredibly confused about their backgrounds. For instance, during an interview with Oprah Winfrey a few years ago; Tom Cruise said his interracial son, Conner, was not a color, so the family didn’t discuss race.

Nice sentiment, but in the real world Conner is considered black. If not Cruise, then someone else will point that reality out to Connor with little hesitation. This is one major reason there has been such a hot national debate over interracial adoptions. The fear is that non-African-American parents won’t be able to raise black children with an understanding of who they are and what that means in mainstream society. Such an understanding is just as imperative as shelter and food if the child is to survive and thrive.

Up until recently, Angelina Jolie seemed to be doing a pretty decent job with Zahara Jolie Pitt—providing essential and expensive medical care, purchasing land in Zahara’s native Ethiopia with the plan to build a health center, providing a life of adventure and opportunity. Wonderful things indeed, but lately it seems Angelina has taken a page out of Tom Cruise’s book—and it all comes down to Zahara’s hair.

It’s no secret that black women and their hair have always had a very complicated relationship. In a society that values fine facial features and long silky, straight hair, African-Americans' sometimes kinky, fragile, and unruly hair can be the bane of a black woman’s existence if she allows it.

Hair is often the first thing others notice, be it the texture, length, fullness, or shine. In the African-American community it can also tell a story. It can indicate your background, lineage, and social standing. From slavery until today, skin color and hair texture played a large part in how the overall society viewed blacks and ultimately the way African-Americans saw themselves.

So a black woman has two options: either submit to damaging relaxers and hot combs, or keep hair natural—while still ensuring that it’s well conditioned, well combed, and in place. There are many legacies of black hair in America, but the most enduring is this: even those who eschew pursuing European-looking hair still take a tremendous amount of pride in looking well groomed and put together, and still need to devote time and energy to achieve this effect.

It’s no wonder that African-American women are the largest consumers of hair products, spending close to a billion dollars each year to control their hair. These same women passed down these perceived notions about hair to their daughters. They usually begin hot combing and braiding the child’s hair to take the kink out at an early age.

But even the mothers who spare the hot comb still have to put time and effort into keeping hair healthy: Any self-respecting black mother knows that she must comb, oil, and brush her daughter’s hair every night. This prevents the hair from matting up, drying out, and breaking off. It also prevents any older relatives from asking them why you’re neglecting your child and letting her run around looking like a wild woman. Having well-managed hair is not just about style, it’s about pride, dignity, and self-respect. Keeping your daughter’s hair neat is an unspoken rule of parental duties that everyone in the community recognizes and respects.
Hair that is nice, neat, and cared for also gives African-American girls the confidence that they can fit into the world at large without being seen as completely different. One truism of childhood is that nothing is more important than being like everyone else. Well, as like everyone else as you can be with Hollywood parents. But not all people will recognize Zahara as the child of movie royalty. To many, she’ll be just a black little girl—and a black girl with bad hair at that.

In recent pictures it's clear Angelina Jolie hasn’t taken the time to learn or understand the long and painful history of African-American women and hair. If she had I can’t imagine she would continue to allow Zahara to look like she has in the past few months. Photos of Zahara show the 4-year-old girl sporting hair that is wild and unstyled, uncombed and dry. Basically: a “hot mess.’’

African American blogs and forums such as Media Takeout, Black Hair Media and even mainstream outlets like TMZ have been on fire the past few weeks demanding to know why Angelina won’t just comb Zahara’s hair? Each blog receives hundreds of e-mails every time they run a picture of the little girl with her hair uncombed. "I just hope that they realize she has different hair needs and find someone black who can keep her hair looking good,” said a commenter on "Angie, if you can’t comb hair then get someone who can. This is ridiculous now. Your hair is always in place and so is Shiloh’s. Why does Zahara have to always look like she just woke up?" writes a commenter on

This is not to say that critics want Angelina to perm or hot comb Zahara's hair. Not that 4-year-old African-American girls don't get their hair hot combed. I certainly did every Saturday for Sunday morning church. Instead, the majority of those writing in to the blogs say they just want Angelina to brush and oil the little girl's hair so it will be healthy and in shape.

Elaine Jones of the blog Womanist Musings says she’s been amazed at the number of angry e-mails directed at Jolie on this issue. “I mean I don’t deny Zahara could look better, but readers seemed to be mad that Angelina seems to have such little regard for something blacks consider sacred,” says Jones. "They act as though they take it personally that Zahara’s hair looks so bad and think it’s embarrassing for all black people. I think they expected more from Angelina.’’

Lisa Brown, a 35-year-old secretary from Dayton, Ohio, says she felt compelled to comment online about Zahara’s hair because she’s followed Zahara since the day Angelina brought her home.

“It just hurts my heart because I know that little girl won’t be even able to look at her baby pictures without being perplexed at how she looks and why,’’ says Brown. “She doesn’t know any better now, but she will once she gets into school and sees other little girls that look like her with combed and neat hair. She’s going to feel like the odd man out.’’

Brown says she worries that the little girl will one day resent her adopted mother.

“It would be a shame but not surprising,’’ says Brown. “Why adopt her if you’re not going to do your best to raise her to be confident and fulfilled. Other cultures might think this is petty, but trust me it isn’t for a young black girl.’’

In sharp contrast, Madonna, who adopted a little African girl earlier this year from Malawi, makes sure her daughter’s hair is either braided with beads or bows. Recent photos show the little girl modeling neatly done cornrows with white beads at the bottom—a la Venus and Serena Williams.

If Jolie needed even more inspiration, all she has to do is look toward the White House. First daughters Malia and Sasha don’t have stick-straight hair, but they do have their hair done in varying styles from day to day. Malia favors simple twists on her natural hair that allow her to run, swim, and play without worrying her hair will revert (puff up or kink up). Youngest daughter Sasha either wears her hair in braids, a ponytail, or loose curls.

In fairness, Jolie did hire Beyonce’s hairdresser Kim Kimble a few years back to care for Zahara’s hair, (a bit of overkill if you ask me—particularly since Beyonce mostly wears wigs and weaves) and Pitt has even said in interviews that they use Carol’s Daughter, a black hair-care line. But it seems the constant travel the family’s been doing over the past year has put issues like grooming on the back burner. For the record, Jolie’ daughter Shiloh isn’t exactly looking like much time is being given to her hair either. But she isn’t a little black girl being judged by mainstream standards.

There are those who say there is nothing wrong with Zahara’s hair at all, that her hair is in its natural state and that’s just fine. I say natural hair---afro, dreads, etc. is fine, if it’s maintained regularly or when the child is old enough to make that decision for herself. Until then, the child’s parents are responsible for their general care and upkeep. Zahara is not even old enough to know that her hair looks dry and damaged as it stands straight up on her head. But there will come a day when this beautiful little African girl will understand what it means to be an African-American woman in this society and realize unlike her younger sister, hers is not a wash-and-go world.

source Newsweek

Michael Jackson Halloween Mask, Pick Your Skin Tone

Urban Chameleon news

Well you certainly now have the option if you want to look more like MJ from the 20th Century or the 21st . And please peep how the man modeling the mask is most likely an Asian man who is blending right in.

Ogawa Rubber, Japan's top rubber mask maker unveils new masks that resembles the late King of Pop Michael Jackson, at their studio in Saitama city, suburban Tokyo in July 2009. Rubber of Jackson are among the most popular purchases by Americans eager to shake off the economic doldrums and go trick-or-treating on October 31, costume sellers say.

source from yahoo news

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Least Favorite Myths About Interracial Dating

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

etc from Fierce and Nerdy

One of the reasons I’ve been avoiding talking about being in an interracial relationship is because to me it’s no big deal, which is maybe the most surprising thing about being in an interracial relationship. Though neither CH nor I are average, our courtship wasn’t outside of the ordinary.

We met at a bar, then talked for a few moments at few different events, he asked me on a date, we fell in love, I moved in with him, and then he asked me to marry him in the privacy of our home after about a year of dating. Millions of people throughout history and across the world have this exact same courtship story.

Only thing is I’m black and he’s white.

However, I’ve noticed that the media and many black bloggers who both support and don’t support interracial relationships want to give my relationship a script that it simply does not have, so I wanted to spend the first day or our series dispelling three of those myths.

1. I don’t hate black men. I think a lot of people assume that if a black woman marries a white man that she must have been terribly hurt by a black man. For the record all of the black men I have dated have been lovely. A couple of them have also been on the marriage track. But none of them have been CH. I like CH better than any man of any color that I have ever dated. Period.

2. I didn’t settle because I was desperate for a husband. Now this is the myth that irritates me the most. Black men aren’t considered desperate for marriage when they marry white women. Asian women aren’t considered desperate for marriage when they marry white men. But somehow the media spins this story that black women who want to get married settle for white men because they can’t find a black man. Please don’t get it twisted; CH is awesome, and I am deeply in love with him. If you ask me who the best man I have ever known is, I will answer, CH. Without blinking. I have a lot in common, we have similar goals, and he is completely supportive of me. My friends have straight-up told me that I’ve become a better and 10x happier woman since meeting CH, and I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with him, it’s scary. I think this myth is insulting to both black women and white men, who if the media and certain bloggers are to be believed, can’t simply fall in love for the usual romantic reasons.

3. I’m not less black because I’m in an IR relationship. I wish people would retire this notion all together. If you really think of black people in terms of “acting black” or “acting white,” then you probably haven’t met very many black people throughout the diaspora. Get a passport, hit a few countries, then come back and tell me I “act white.” Otherwise, I’m not even engaging in conversation with people who insist on thinking that if you marry outside your race, speak English as taught in school, and have white friends, then you “want to be white.” That’s just a frustrating and ignorant viewpoint.

Having spoken on those myths, I am aware that there are two big elephants in the room that I haven’t tackled: We’ll get into “Black Love” on Wednesday. And though I’ve spoken here about how straight forward being in an IR is, I’m not going to lie, it is different from same-race relationships in a lot of ways — we’ll get into that on Thursday.

Until then, please weigh in on these myths that I’ve listed above and feel free to add some of your own if you’re also in an IR.



visit Fierce and Nerdy

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Friday, October 16, 2009

THANK YOU! Big Love to Howard University

I would like to thank everyone who attended and supported the Tickles.Tv: New Media, Entrepreneurship and The Importance of Being an Urban Chameleon panel yesterday afternoon at Howard University including our unbelievable panelist,Filmmaker/Digital Media Artist and Professor Ayoka Chenzia, The Black Snob Danielle Belton, Author and Professor William Jelani Cobb, Associate Editor of the Root Natalie Hopkinson, NBPC Digital Media Director Nonso Christian Ugbode, our wonderful moderator Thabi Moyo and Nicole Valentine-Moody of Synergy Business Development for making it all happen.

Special thanks to the entire team at NBPC for sponsoring us, HU for having us and PR Amanda Miller Littlejohn for blasting us.

(from left to right) Kagendo Murungi
, Ayoka Chenzira, Qayoe Jones, Thabi Moyo, Danielle Belton, HaJ,Nonso Christian Ugbode, Amanda Miller Littlejohn, Nicole Valentine-Moody

What an amazing experience discussing how essential it is to be an Urban Chameleon today and how it can advance us in new media and entrepreneurship.

For those of you who will be in the DC area next week please join us at our Tickles.Tv Entertainment for the Urban Chameleon party where we will be screening a new skit at the lounge Jin Wednesday, October 21st from 7PM-2PM with DJ Cuzzin B. Oh and did I mention drink specials ? Yea... you can get your drink on.

Founder/ Creator
Tickles.Tv & HOTUC

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Interracial Couple Denied Marriage

Urban Chameleon news

When will people realize that love has no color.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Civil rights advocates in eastern Louisiana are calling for a justice of the peace of Tangipahoa Parish to resign after he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple.

"He's an elected public official and one of his duties is to marry people. He doesn't have the right to say he doesn't believe in it," Patricia Morris, president of the NAACP branch of Tangipahoa Parish, located near the Mississippi line, said Thursday.

"If he doesn't do what his position calls for him to do, he should resign from that position."

The demands for Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward, to step down came after he wouldn't issue a marriage license to Beth Humphrey, 30, and her boyfriend, Terence McKay, 32, both of Hammond.

"I was just really shocked, because he's an elected official," Humphrey said.

Bardwell didn't immediately return calls from CNN on Thursday.

However, Bardwell told Hammond's Daily Star newspaper that he was concerned for the children who might be born of the relationship and that, in his experience, most interracial marriages don't last.

"I'm not a racist," Bardwell told the newspaper. "I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children."

Bardwell, stressing that he couldn't personally endorse the marriage, said his wife referred the couple to another justice of the peace.

The bride says the case boils down to discrimination. Humphrey told CNN that she called Bardwell on October 6 to ask about getting a marriage license, and was asked by his wife whether it would be an interracial marriage. Humphrey said she was told that Bardwell does not sign off on interracial marriages.

She said the couple -- who received their marriage license October 9 from another justice of the peace in the same parish -- have reached out to an attorney to determine their next step.

"We would like him to resign," she said. "He doesn't believe he's being racist, but it is racist."


Morris told CNN that her NAACP chapter has forwarded the case to the state and national levels of the civil rights group.

According to the Census Bureau, Tangipahoa Parish is about 70 percent white and 30 percent black.

source from

Michael Jackson: Hating the Man in the Mirror (part 3)

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor
Daresha Kyi

click here to read: part 1, part 2

Instead of marrying Michael Jackson, I’d become a member of his coveted inner circle. I’d be the one to pull his coat and tell him the real deal, the one to say, “You’re slipping, dude. You need help.” In my new fantasy I would save him.

Lisa Marie had the same idea when she married him. Unfortunately she learned the hard way how difficult it is to help an addict who hasn’t hit rock bottom and come out of denial. “In trying to save him, I almost lost myself,” she blogged upon learning of his death. “I became very ill and emotionally/spiritually exhausted in my quest to save him from certain self-destructive behavior…” I don’t envy her.

His family also tried repeatedly to stage interventions to help him and I’m sure that his friends Deepak, Liza, Liz and plenty of others tried to stop him. But like most addicts, Michael could be wily and shrewd. When confronted with his addiction he would deny everything and then became completely inaccessible. He’d just slip away. An addict with almost unlimited resources is truly dangerous.

So instead we all watched helplessly as he slowly morphed into a monster right before our eyes. Sometimes just looking at him made me want to cry. How could that beautiful “little brown baby with the sparkling eyes” have come to such ruin? If I think about it too long it still makes me weep.

Of course, it was more than just internalized racism that brought about his spiral into dark oblivion. The abuse he suffered as a boy, the loss of his childhood as the family breadwinner, his constant struggle with shyness, isolation and loneliness, his emotional immaturity, financial woes, depression over the child abuse accusations and addictions all conspired to make certain that Michael swam in a river of constant pain. It really should come as no surprise that such a tortured soul finally self-medicated to the point of extinction. While others were shocked by his death, I was surprised he made it to age 50.

Still his death drew the attention of the world in very polarizing ways. Some people focused solely on the destructive things of which he had been accused while others spoke only of his immeasurable talent. But no matter what your take might be on the man’s personal life, there’s no denying that Michael had profound love and compassion for the suffering peoples of the world. It was reflected through songs like “We Are The World” and “Heal The World” as well as through the innumerable acts of kindness he showed toward the sick and underprivileged. He set the Guinness world record as the celebrity who donated the most money to charities because it was vitally important to him to serve his fellow man. I believe he would want to be just as useful in death as he was in life. He’d want to make a difference.

Michael Jackson never did anything small. He lived on such a grand scale and was so much larger than life that he was iconic and archetypal even before he died. He was “the boy in the bubble,” “a perennial Peter Pan,” “the misunderstood artist,” ”the crazy genius” and his life story is now elevated to the status of a morality tale with lots of crucial lessons for us all:

For parents who push their children into the spotlight before they have a solid foundation, addicts who’ve convinced themselves they can “handle it” alone and anyone who thinks money will solve all their problems – take heed. And for those who suffer from internalized racism- Michael made it unmistakably clear how dire the consequences can be if the illness is left unchecked. He presented all us with a “worst case scenario” if you will.

So what do we do with this knowledge? Well, ever since President Obama hinted at his candidacy we’ve been discussing race in ways we never have before as a nation. We’ve taken some baby steps toward confronting the many ways in which race continues to affect us all with a level of openness and honesty unprecedented in America. Now it’s time to take it to the next level. Instead of firing angry rhetoric back and forth or tiptoeing around the minefield like we have in the past, let’s expand the dialogue here in America and then watch it spread throughout the world like Coke, McDonald’s, Starbucks and American pop culture.

You see, Black Americans don’t have a monopoly on internalized racism. It’s a global phenomena easily found in any society where people of color have been colonized or enslaved by Caucasians. It’s a sort of residual effect of being completely dominated by another culture. It plays out in Asians who have a portion of their eyelids removed to make them wider, Jews who hack off part of their noses to look more goyish, Latinas who straighten their naturally curly hair or bleach it blonde, and all brown skinned people who use bleaching creams to lighten their skin. You can see it in little girls like my cousin, who used to wrap a yellow towel around her head and pretend it was her hair.

Now if you happen to be Caucasian, I’m not asking you to feel guilty about the past. Guilt is actually useless, unnecessary and counter-productive. There’s no need for an apology either. What’s done is done. What we need is simple acknowledgement of the lingering effects of this painful legacy by everyone. It would help tremendously if certain people stopped dismissing and invalidating it because they don’t understand it, don’t want to deal with it or just don’t think it’s relevant because “it happened in the past.” Would it be acceptable to say that to a victim of rape or incest? Not a chance.

We all know that psychological and emotional traumas linger on in the human psyche and can have drastic effects on us unless and until we find the power to acknowledge, heal and release them. Michael made it as plain as the nose on his face how painful it can be to suffer from internalized racism and I firmly believe that bringing this particular aspect of his life to the forefront of our national discussion on race and calling it by its proper name would help us ALL tremendously. Those who suffer from it would finally know that the problem is not just in their heads, that something really is wrong, and most importantly, that they are not alone. Just like anorexics, alcoholics, and cancer survivors these people would find the support and strength in numbers they need to heal. And those who perpetuate it would be made conscious of what they’re really doing so we could stop it here and now. Think of it as another part of our new national mental health care plan.

Now that science has proven beyond a doubt that race has no basis in fact we need to discard it as the outdated social construct it is. Because we are 99.9% genetically alike, our differences are mostly cosmetic. Our mitochondrial DNA says that we are all the descendants of a woman from somewhere in East Africa, which means that as cliché as it may sound, Michael was right. We are the world. It’s time to act like it.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Michael Jackson: Hating the Man in the Mirror (part 2)

by today's Urban Chameleon
Daresha Kyi

click here to read part 1

Michael Jackson broke my heart. And then as time passed and the depth of his self-hatred began to manifest in increasingly lighter skin, straighter hair, a more narrow nose and countless other physical alterations, it saddened, shamed and embarrassed me. Why would I feel such strong emotions when it seemingly had nothing to do with me? Because, as author Michael Dyson has noted, Michael very literally embodied the love/hate relationship with self-image faced by many African Americans, including me. He wore our dirty laundry all over his face - and it wasn’t a pretty sight. A lot of African Americans turned their backs on him because they just couldn’t stand the sight.

But I couldn’t look away. I was still fascinated and intrigued by the ever-changing man in the mirror. As the insidious, pathological mental illness known as internalized racism wreaked its ugly vengeance on his face and body, it became very clear that Michael Jackson was sick to his soul. How could I hold it against him or hold him to a higher standard than all the other brothers and sisters I knew who suffered from the same malady? And there were plenty. Some were my own family members and I still loved them. Why not him?

It’s not like internalized racism is a rare occurrence in the African American community. Those of us who grew up hearing about ”good and bad hair” and nursery rhymes that ended with “if you’re black get back!” have dealt with it all our lives. Although many of us have learned to “love the skin we’re in,” others still struggle with it mightily. (But since they don’t often have the resources Mike had it’s usually harder to detect.) At any rate, it’s not something we’re proud of. The truth is I hated the width of my nose and fullness of my bottom lip when I was young. I didn’t start to see my own beauty until I was in my 30s. So who was I to judge?

If you’ve never heard the term “internalized racism” before, come on out from under that rock and let me break it down for you. Author Gerald Cunningham defines it as “the conscious and subconscious incorporation and acceptance of all the negative stereotypes and images from media, folklore and accounts of history that define persons of color…as inferior.” In laymen’s terms it’s just plain old self-hatred with a twist. You feel less worthy because of your race.

Some of the ways in which the illness manifests in the African American community are:

  • We place higher value on members who appear more white and denigrate those who have "less white" features. We also do the reverse and target those with lighter skin as not being "black enough," not legitimate persons of color.

  • We feel hopeless, despairing, and angry which can make us vulnerable to the lure of alcohol and other drugs for "relief" from those feelings.

  • We turn our anger against each other in “black on black” crime.

  • We criticize and beat our children in misguided efforts to "discipline" them and keep them from openly displaying pride or pleasure in their selves. In a misguided attempt to make them less vulnerable to racism we leave them more beaten down and enraged.

That last example speaks specifically to Michael’s case because Joe Jackson is said to have drilled into his head from a very early age that his nose was too wide and he was “too black” to be his son. But this article is not about blaming any one individual – not even Joe. Yes, his methods were outrageous and deplorable but Joe Jackson has his own demons. He obviously suffered from this same self-hatred and simply passed it on to his children. It happens all the time.

I’m not trying to point the finger at white people either because this really isn’t about what whites did to Michael – at least not directly. Hell, white people loved him! At the height of his career, they made up a huge portion of his fan base (and still do). They gave him their hearts and cash just like everybody else. And even though some people claimed he “transcended” race, when Michael did Off the Wall, Billie Jean and Thriller his skin was still brown. When he moon walked into history he had an oh, so Black Jheri curl and (even after a couple of operations) his nose still looked black. So the fact is that at one point in time just about EVERYBODY on the frickin’ planet wanted to look like Michael Jackson - except Michael Jackson.

He told Oprah in a 1993 interview that he kept changing his face was because he was “a perfectionist”, vehemently denied hating the color of his skin and declared, “I am proud to be a Black American. I am proud of my race, and I am proud of who I am.…..When people make up stories that I don’t like who I am, it hurts me.”

Whether or not he was proud to be Black, he clearly loved African American culture, especially the Black singers and dancers on whose shoulders he stood and the brilliant African American producers and artists he worked with throughout his career. Even as he appropriated and integrated the best from other cultures, he never lost touch with his own. He never had a problem sounding Black! He had no problem being Black. He just didn’t want to look Black.

Do I believe Michael had an extreme form of Vitiligo and Lupus? Yes, sure. Were there other treatment options for his skin condition available to him than depigmentation (blocking the enzyme that produces melanin)? Only a doctor familiar with the severity of his case could say for certain. I do know that many people find other ways to live with the disease – such as makeup. But maybe his case was so extreme that after a while it was just too hard to cover so many white patches. Perhaps he hid it for many years before he made such a drastic decision.

I don’t know the answers. But as a forgiving fan, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt regarding the fact that his skin went from cocoa brown to vampire white. The nose, however, is a different story. There’s really no getting around the fact that hacking away at your snozz until it completely collapses and leaves you with a gaping black hole in your face is just not healthy. Self-mutilation (even by surgeon proxy) is a form of mental illness.

Since his death we’ve learned that Michael suffered from numerous powerful addictions. Not only was he hooked on numerous drugs and painkillers, but he burned through money like kindling, dieted to the point of anorexia and was clearly obsessed with plastic surgery. I didn’t know how bad his other addictions were but with each “cosmetic procedure” it became more frighteningly clear to me that Michael needed help badly. So I devised a new plan.

click here for part 3

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Join us live over the internet or if you're in the DC area tomorrow...

Urban Chameleon news

Today, October 15th from 12:30-2:00PM you can join us live over the internet or if you are in the DC area come on down to Howard University in the Digital Auditorium of the Blackburn Center where we will be co-hosting a panel with the National Black Programming Consortium that highlights the Importance of Being an Urban Chameleon.

click below to enter the session online as a guest at the start of panel, 12:30PM and be apart of the discussion!

Tickles.TV: New Media, Entrepreneurship & The Importance of Being an Urban Chameleon

Special Guest Panelist include:
Ayo (aka Ayoka Chenzira)/ Filmmaker & Digital Media Artist
Nonso Christian Ugbode/ Director of Digital Media at NBPC
Danielle Belton/ The Black Snob
HaJ/ Founder & Creator of Tickles.Tv and Home of the Urban Chameleon
Natalie Hopkinson/ Associate Editor of The Root
William Jelani Cobb/ Author of The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Spelman Professor
Moderated by Thabi Moyo

click here for more information about panelist

Read up on: How the Urban Chameleon Came to be

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Michael Jackson: Hating the Man in the Mirror (part 1)

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor
Daresha Kyi

Although it didn’t go quite as planned, Michael Jackson has succeeded in staging the ultimate come back. Between the new releases, re-releases, “making of” concert movie, tabloid gossip, and never ending tributes and memorials, folks just can’t get enough of him. His debts are finally cleared and his estate is flourishing because as much as we loved Michael in life, we absolutely ADORE him in death. Like those morbid, ancient Greeks - we love a good tragedy, especially one involving a “king.” Every Paula, Dick and Harry likes to weigh in on exactly how and why it all “went wrong.” Makes us feel closer to said king – and just a little bit better about our own little lives.

So now it’s my turn. I haven’t written an article in more than twenty years but soon after Michael passed, I felt an unyielding compulsion to address an aspect of his life that really hasn’t played a large role in all the discussions. A few individuals have referred to it obliquely but very few have properly named it. And there’s power in naming.

But before we get to that, I just want to say right up front that I loved Michael Jackson. I am writing from the perspective of an African American woman who fell in love with him when we were 6 (me) and 9 (him) years old. I’m not one of those Janie-come-latelies awestruck by his enormous talent at the pinnacle of his success in the 80s. No, chile. I loved Michael Jackson waaay back when. So I won’t even pretend to be objective.

I mean, what was there not to love? He was the most beautiful boy I’d ever heard or seen. With those soulful, liquid pools he called eyes; that cute little button nose; and his luscious, juicy lower lip he was sheer chocolate perfection. And to top it all off not only could he dance his butt off, but he sang like an angelic “old soul” who’d been through hell and high water but still had the purity and innocence of a child. It was one hell of a combination. Even before I saw the J5 perform “I Want You Back” on the Ed Sullivan show, I was smitten.

I was even going to marry him. That’s right. Don’t laugh. Out of all the hundreds of thousands of little black girls in America who dreamed of being Michael Jackson’s lucky bride, I was going to be “the one.” Oh, yes I was. Cuz I had a plan. First, I would become rich and famous through my own amazing talents. That would make us equals. Once I was a gorgeous international star glittering in my own spotlight he would come looking for me, intrigued by my beauty and brilliance. He’d recognize me as a kindred spirit, fall head over heels in love and together we would blaze a trail of glory across the heavens as we built a beautiful life and a powerful entertainment empire. We’d travel the world spreading joy and happiness as blissed out soul mates. That was my brilliant plan.

But Michael betrayed me. When we both finally came of dating age he only went out with white girls. As far as I could see he wasn’t interested in “sisters” at all - except as on screen co-stars, friends, or in that abstract, “I love all humanity” kind of way. It certainly didn’t seem like he was planning to marry one. At first I thought he was one of those brothers – African American men for whom white women equal success. But when he began to look more and more Caucasian himself, I realized the problem was much deeper. Like many people of color who grow up in a culture where they are consistently denigrated because their lips, noses, skin color and hair are not “white enough” Michael hated being black (or at least looking black.) And if he didn’t love his own blackness, how in the world could he love mine?

click here for part 2, part 3

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Monday, October 12, 2009

How Quickly People Forget- Obama and His Well Deserved Nobel Peace Prize

by today’s Urban Chameleon contributor

The controversy ensues over Obama’s win of the Nobel Peace Prize. It took me a long time myself to mull it over after almost being persuaded by the hype of him not deserving the win- yes the same media machine that convinced me that milk does the body good (when it actually gives me gas), vitamin water will make me live longer and KFC’s new Double Down is better than actually eating carbs. I had to take a moment, which meant jumping on Wikipedia to get some confirmed clarity on why this prestigious award is given out in the first place. Sometimes committees/ people lose sight over time, it’s like the game Telephone- the original message starts out “I ran into Sam at the store” and the message comes back, “I heard that Pam was a whore.”

In looking up the will of the prize it states

during the preceding year [...] shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.[1]

Oh how quickly do we forget how one man, Barack Obama had us on some “We are the world” tip. Hugging, loving, crying, laughing, cheering, white, Black, Asian, Latino (after of course getting over Hillary), up, down and around the world celebrating a new era. A ceiling came crashing down and thank god too- no more movies starring Black comedians making jokes about being the first Black president. Free at last thank god al- you know the rest. Just like you know that Barack Obama deserved the win. If not him, who? Who? It’s incredible that one commentator actually said that he’d rather them give it to some humanitarian organization as if Obama’s work and impact on people has been the equivalent of watching a marathon of Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Obama has demonstrated an impenetrable talent of touching massive groups of people. In fact there are only a handful of folks with this gift that come along every so often reminding us that we are not that different from each other and that the reason we exist... is for each other. I would say that warrants a Nobel Peace Prize. Wouldn’t you?

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