Monday, November 30, 2009

Jay Z, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith Present Fela on Broadway

Urban Chameleon news

The fact that a show about the life of the Nigerian, activist, musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti has been brought to Broadway with the help of Jay Z, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith- is pretty spectacular! In going to see the show Fela last Saturday I would encourage you to buy your tickets today and see for yourself how unbelievably powerful this musical is. It is not to be missed!

Jay-Z, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith Have Joined ‘Fela!’ as Producers


Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have signed on as producers of the new Broadway musical “Fela!” and will attend the show’s opening night at the Eugene O’Neill Theater next Monday, Nov. 23, a publicist for the production said.

“Fela!” represents the first time that Jay-Z and the Smiths have joined a producing team of a Broadway show. Their artistic involvement in the musical is bound to be minimal, given that the show is already in previews and had a critically acclaimed run Off Broadway last year.

But the presence of three high-wattage celebrities at opening night, and the likelihood that they will promote the show through television appearances and media interviews, is bound to raise the public profile of “Fela!” at a time when theatergoers have plenty of choices for Broadway musicals.

Revivals of “Ragtime,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” and “Bye Bye Birdie” opened this fall, as did the new musical “Memphis,” and the much-anticipated revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” opens next month. Several musical entries from last season, like “Billy Elliot,” “Hair” and “Next to Normal,” are still going strong.

Conceived by the Tony Award-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones, “Fela!” centers on the life and work of the Afrobeat superstar Fela Anikulapo Kuti. There are no widely known stars in the cast, which makes the involvement of Jay-Z and the Smiths even more of a boon for marketing purposes. It was not known on Monday how much money the three had invested in the musical; the three were not immediately available for interviews, said the publicist, Billy Zavelson.

He also confirmed that the opening date would be Nov. 23, as originally scheduled. At first, Jay-Z had a scheduling conflict for Nov. 23, so the 24th became an option if the Smiths could rearrange their own calendar. But the alignment of the three stars has been worked out, and all of them will be making a relatively rare red-carpet appearance on Broadway.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Al Roker's Good News Too Good to be True

Urban Chameleon moment

The reaction of this little girl, Deidra Shore, when Al Roker tells her that she is the Kid Reporter winner on the Today Show is PRICELESS!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

White House Party Crashers

Urban Chameleon news

Although it is frightening to think how easy it was for two people to get that close to President Obama considering the amount of threats he's received I doubt that this couple was out to stab him with a fork as reported as a possibility in the CNN video below. This story is about a couple who managed to successfully crash a White House party and to be honest I'm a little mad that I didn't think to do it first.


By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts Washington Post Staff Writers Thursday, November 26, 2009 A couple of aspiring reality-TV stars from Northern Virginia appear to have crashed the White House's state dinner Tuesday night, penetrating layers of security with no invitation to mingle with the likes of Vice President Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Tareq and Michaele Salahi -- polo-playing socialites known for a bitter family feud over a Fauquier County winery and their possible roles in the forthcoming "The Real Housewives of Washington" -- were seen arriving at the White House and later posted on Facebook photos of themselves with VIPs at the elite gathering. "Honored to be at the White House for the state dinner in honor of India with President Obama and our First Lady!" one of them wrote on their joint Facebook page at 9:08 p.m. But a White House official said the couple were not invited to the dinner, not included on the official guest list and never seated at a table in the South Lawn tent. A woman describing herself as a publicist for the Salahis denied that they were interlopers. Pressed for details, Mahogany Jones sent a statement saying simply: "The Salahis were honored to be a part of such a prestigious event. . . . They both had a wonderful time." While the White House offered no official explanation, it appears to be the first time in modern history that anyone has crashed a White House state dinner. The uninvited guests were in the same room as President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, although it is unknown whether they met the Obamas and the guest of honor. "Everyone who enters the White House grounds goes through magnetometers and several other levels of screenings," said Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the Secret Service. "That was the case with the state dinner last night. No one was under any risk or threat." Donovan said a preliminary internal investigation Wednesday identified "a Secret Service checkpoint which did not follow proper procedure to ensure these two individuals were on the invited guest list." He declined to give further details. An administration official said the White House will conduct its own review. The Salahis, both in their 40s, showed up about halfway through the guest arrivals. A Marine announced their names, and the couple -- he in a tux, she in a striking red and gold lehenga (traditional Indian formalwear) -- swept pass reporters and photographers, stopping several times to pose for pictures. They then walked into the White House lower hallway, where they mingled with guests on the red carpet before heading up to the cocktail reception in the East Room. Later, they posted pictures that seem to chart their course through the night: Michaele posing with Marines outside near the White House doors, and with Katie Couric and Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) inside the mansion. In the East Room, the Salahis both cozied up to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and his wife, Michelle. But the best was yet to come: Once inside the dinner tent, they got pictures that appeared to show them with ABC's Robin Roberts, Bollywood composer AR Rahman, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, Obama Chief of Staff Emanuel (identified as "Ron" in the couple's Facebook photo caption) and two with a grinning vice president. The photos end there -- no shots of the Salahis sitting at a table, their seatmates or the post-dinner entertainment. How could it happen? A former White House senior staffer -- who more than a decade ago encountered a crasher at one of the executive mansion's less-fancy parties -- offered this theory:
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Does it take Thanksgiving to be Thankful?

by today’s Urban Chameleon contributor

Growing up my parents didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, yes, they did not believe in acknowledging what turned out to be a false symbol of cooperation from English Colonist before stripping the Native Americans of their land. (I got deep on you) Plus we were vegetarians that ate fish. So instead, by influence of my Jamaican father, we would head over to one of the many West Indian spots on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn and get down on some escovitch red snapper, rice and peas, sweet plantains, breadfruit and sorrel. It was our tradition of not commemorating another tradition.

Besides it wasn’t until junior high school where I was first introduced to chicken anyway and then turkey and then it was on. For the remainder of my junior high and high school career I was a closet meat eater hiding this disgraceful secret from my parents. In the meantime, I was creating deep bonds with friends just by the amount of flavored birds we went through together. Then when I began to be invited to their homes for thanksgiving dinner I was so excited to indulge in the festivities just by having meat to accompany what would have once been lonely side dishes. Hell! I had forgotten all about the Native Americans and the land.

It wasn’t until I got older (and came out of the kitchen closet) that I realized in all the Thanksgivings I spent with family and friends whether traditionally or nontraditionally the only thing that mattered was being together (the true marketed version of the holiday) and although some may say that it shouldn’t have to take Thanksgiving to remember to be thankful as busy as our modern lives are we sometimes need that reminder. (I mean I don’t know about you but I have an iPhone alarm set reminding me to pay bills.)

However, I sometimes wonder if the voice of Native American’s were more prominent if this holiday would exist. For had it been the day before where a Black leader was gunned down that was marked a holiday, people would be buck out here. How effective is the oppressed race you belong to? A tablespoon of truth and sarcasm is good for the soul.

How about I just say happy celebrating being with family and friends let’s try to do it more often, besides plantains go good with turkey.

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President Obama Hosts India's Singh for First State Visit

Urban Chameleon news

President Barack Obama says the U.S. partnership with India will be one of the defining relationships of the 21st century. Mr. Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to reporters after a two-hour meeting.

President Barack Obama says the U.S. partnership with India will be one of the defining relationships of the 21st century. The statement came as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the first state visit of the Obama presidency. The leaders of the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest pledged to work together to strengthen the global economy, curb climate change, limit the spread of nuclear weapons and fight terrorism. After a two-hour meeting with Mr. Obama, Prime Minister Singh told reporters he has invited the president and his family to visit him in India next year. "I have invited President Obama to visit India. A very warm welcome awaits him, his gracious wife and his two daughters," said Mr. Singh. Mr. Obama praised his visitor as an honest and wise man, and accepted his offer. "I have happily accepted his gracious invitation to visit India next year," he said. After their meeting, Mr. Obama said he and the Indian leader had agreed to "work even closer" to share information between their law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the fight against terrorism. Mr. Singh promised to cooperate more closely with the U.S. to defeat terrorists. "The forces of terrorism in our region pose a grave threat to the entire civilized world, and have to be defeated," he said. When questioned about the long-standing rivalry between India and Pakistan, Mr. Obama said it is not Washington's role to try to resolve the conflict from the outside. But he said the U.S. can find ways to help. "On the other hand, we want to be encouraging of ways in which both India and Pakistan can feel secure and focus on the development of their own countries and their people," Mr. Obama said. The U.S. is India's largest trading partner, and the president paid tribute to India's large and growing economic role in Asia and throughout the world. The United States and India have disagreed on their commitments to reducing greenhouse gases, with the climate change summit taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark next month. But Mr. Obama said the two leaders had moved a step closer to bridging the gap. The day ended with the Obama administration's first state dinner. The president honored Mr. Singh with a toast in which he celebrated a "great and growing partnership" between the two countries. "To the future that beckons all of us," he said. "Let us answer its call and let our two great nations realize all the triumphs and achievements that await us." Prime Minister Singh told the president he was overwhelmed by the Obamas' hospitality, and he called Mr. Obama an inspiration. "Mr. President, your journey to the White House has captured the imagination of millions and millions of people in India," he said. More than 330 guests attended the dinner, which was held in an elaborate tent on the White House lawn, instead of the usual location for such events, the much smaller State Dining Room. source from

In other news First Lady Michelle Obama looked smoking hot in a gleaming silver-sequined, cream-colored gown (last) night to the first state dinner held by her husband’s administration. She was tending to her hostess duties in a strapless silhouette with the beads forming an abstract floral pattern that was custom-made by (Indian designer) Naeem Khan.
source from

Monday, November 23, 2009

Time for a Spliff Break

Urban Chameleon news

When life is just too rough

and the man has got his foot up ya' ass

it may be time for a SPLIFF BREAK.

Have you applied for you medical marijuana card today?

Behind a heavy locked door, Oregon’s newest cannabis café, run by Oregon NORML, prepared to begin its first day of service for medical marijuana patients. Perhaps unsurprisingly on the first day, things started slowly, with a press conference that started 30 minutes late.

NORML executive director Madeline Martinez called marijuana “the safest medicine known to mankind” and said she expected up to 300 people until 10pm tonight. Seven people will be checking the doors to make sure all patrons are Oregon NORML and Oregon Medical Marijuana Program cardholders. Café workers also hold cards.

“We’re never going to stop,” Martinez said. She says the Rumpspanker’s space has surrendered its liquor license to avoid problems with the OLCC. Rumpspankers will keep conjuring cookies and scones. But now mostly volcanoes, a vaporization method of marijuana intake, adorn the flat surfaces of the cafe.

Martinez also spoke of “harnessing the black market” and using it to help the economy. Oregon NORML founder Anna Diaz said in the six years the organization has been meeting, there has never been an incident with the police, and that they are “hoping to be respectful” to their neighbors.

Elizabeth, who had two spinal surgeries in the past three years, just received her medical marijuana card and hopes to convene with other marijuana users on how to deal with pain. “They’ll know my name here,” she said, as the scent of fresh weed wafted by.

The rest, to be honest, is a little hazy

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Sexual Power of Beyonce: Video Phone

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

With the success of Single Ladies, the question that has crossed many people’s minds is, “How will Beyonce top herself?” The answer for most pop artist is usually with more sex and as a friend of mine put it how far will Beyonce go before like Brittney Spears she is naked with a towel covering her nipple?

In watching Beyonce’s new video, Video Phone, which is by no means a great song or great video she still manages to pull out a performance that is arguable the most provocative yet. I’ve even found myself randomly humming this mediocre tune and have had images from the video of Beyonce undulating on my mind. Another friend of mine said that I was not alone, as she too has been bitten by the Beyonce bug and for the first time realized how effective this lady is. Part of the humor in even bringing this up as a topic of discussion is that I consider both my friend and I to be progressive intellectuals who have no time to be thinking about Beyonce (nose in the air) and even further see the matrix of the industry machine but then why has this lady entered our subconscious and if she could do this to us, two approaching 30ty sumptin’ year olds, what affect is she having on young girls?

The biggest problem with Beyonce is that given her massive success she doesn’t seem to offer anything deeper than girlie sing-a-longs that just encourages one to booty pop, which may be harmless to the 30ty sumptin’ woman but to these young girls, still carving out their sexual identities it may be crossing into dangerous territory even for Beyonce…for how far will she go to maintain sexual power.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Its Official, After 25yrs Oprah Ends Her Show and Tells Us Why

Urban Chameleon news

Oprah Explains Exit: It Feels Right In My Bones

Holding back tears, Oprah Winfrey told her studio audience Friday that she would end her show in 2011 after a quarter-century on the air, saying "prayer and careful thought" led her to her decision.

"I love this show. This show has been my life," she told viewers. "And I love it enough to know when it's time to say good-bye. Twenty-five years feels right in my bones and it feels right in my spirit. It's the perfect number—the exact right time. So I hope that you will take this 18-month ride with me right through to the final show."

Winfrey, the queen of daytime talk, will refocus her efforts on cable, where a new network, a joint venture with Discovery Networks, is now set to launch in January 2011, after several delays. "After production wraps on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Winfrey plans to appear and participate in new programming for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a 24-hour cable network that reflects her vision, values and interests," her company said in a statement Friday.

Winfrey, 55, is not expected to host a talk show for that network, but is developing several lifestyle programs and will appear on a somewhat regular basis. But Winfrey is giving up a major platform on syndicated television and analysts say it's highly unlikely she'll match her current audience of more than 7 million viewers, up slightly this season thanks to high-profile interviews with Sarah Palin, Whitney Houston and others.

Analysts say other talk shows hosted by Ellen DeGeneres or any of Winfrey's protégés — Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray— won't come close to filling the void or matching her hold on daytime viewers.

"I don't think any talk show will have the influence that she had," says Bill Carroll, an analyst at Katz TV Group, which advises local stations. "Her talk show happened in a different time, in a different media landscape."

Winfrey has uniquely been able to turn endorsements from her Oprah's Book Club into instant bestsellers, and provide a huge platform for authors to hawk their books.

"What a loss for publishing," says Carol Fitzgerald, president of, a popular website for book discussions. "Oprah brings attention to books and authors with passion and focus. Whether or not readers agreed with her choices for her book club, she always drove sales and got people into stores or online to buy." And while other hosts promote gadgets, when "she does her favorite things, they fly off the shelves," Carroll says. "I don't think anyone on broadcast or cable has that kind of appeal."

Added Discovery CEO David Zaslav: "There is no bigger brand in media than Oprah Winfrey. She has changed the broadcast landscape and how people consume television."

On Friday's show, Winfrey talked about being nervous when the program began in 1986, and thanked audiences who had invited her into their homes over the past two decades.

"I certainly never could have imagined the yellow brick road of blessings that would have led me to this moment," she said.

Winfrey said she and her staff were going to brainstorm ideas for the final season of her show and she hoped viewers would take "this 18-month ride with me. We are going to knock your socks off," she said. "The countdown to the end of The Oprah Winfrey Show starts now."

The countdown also starts for CBS, which has made hundreds of millions of dollars distributing her show to more than 200 local stations.

And for ABC, which depends on Winfrey for sturdy ratings that in many markets lead into crucial evening newscasts. In nine of the top 10 cities, ABC-owned or affiliated stations carry Winfrey's show, so its loss could hurt both local newscasts that follow it and ABC's World News, which Diane Sawyer is joining at year's end.

Carroll speculates that ABC may decide to expand its local newscasts to replace Winfrey's show, which airs live in Chicago each morning but is delayed in most other cities.

Winfrey has vowed to end her show twice before. But there's no reason to doubt her now: Last week, she moved co-executive producer Lisa Erspamer to Los Angeles as chief creative officer of OWN, a signal that Winfrey would play a more direct role.

Discovery has been scarce on details of Oprah's involvemement in OWN. But Lawrence Kirschbaum, former CEO of Warner Books, says Winfrey's move to cable "could actually be a boon for books. She won't have just one show but an entire network. Sure, her audience will be smaller, but it will be more intense and passionate about books," Kirschbaum says. "In a way, this could be a blessing for publishing."

After reporting stints in Baltimore and Nashville, Winfrey, hosted AM Chicago starting in 1984, which was rebranded two years later and began airing nationally. Its audience is nearly twice as large as the top competing talk shows. And Winfrey, while producing movies, starting a successful magazine with Hearst and building Harpo Productions, has spread her influence throughout daytime, spinning off shows starring frequent guests Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Ray and decorator Nate Berkus, who's developing a show planned for fall.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Oprah Winfrey: Ending Her Show?

Urban Chameleon news

For those of us up and coming hustlers on our daily grind towards fame and fortune it's headline news like this that stresses us out, "WHAT IF I DON'T MAKE IT TO OPRAH'S COUCH BEFORE SHE RETIRES!"

The most successful daytime talk show of all time has TV stations, syndication distributors and several conglomerations in a bind: Will Oprah Winfrey keep her show on the air past the 2011 contract date?

The decision will have major ramifications for multiple industries, no less for ABC-owned and Hearst-owned outlets where the talk show queen has dominated the ratings since the 1980s.

If Oprah does decide to keep going, she will face three major dilemmas: revenue, ratings and relocation.

Television stations revenues are down 40–50 percent across the board. Therefore, Oprah faces the very real prospect of stations offering significantly reduced licensing fees to air her show, says Variety.

Ratings: It’s no secret that "The Oprah Show’s" ratings have decreased in recent years, particularly since she publicly backed Barack Obama as a presidential candidate — no doubt upsetting her conservative fans. And while she is still considered the queen, stations are not willing to pay the same price for smaller viewership, especially in these harsh economic times.

Still, even though the ratings are down from the previous decade, Oprah has regained some of her swag. Her audience is now 7.2 million strong compared to 6.8 million last year in the important 18–49 demographic. And there is no other talk show franchise that even comes close to those numbers.

Relocation: There is also the very real possibility that Oprah could decide to move her operations to OWN, her network partnership with the Discovery channel. She could also move from ABC to Sony, pundits hypothesize, which would give her additional creative freedom.

If Oprah decides to quit altogether, a mad scramble may ensue to find an heir apparent. Ellen DeGeneres is seen as a likely successor. Oprah even put DeGeneres on the cover of her magazine, O, which illustrates Oprah’s fondness for her only real ratings rival. Longtime friend Gayle King is not an option, for she tried and failed to start a show of her own.

Pundits do not believe Oprah is yet willing to forgo her coveted and enormous international pulpit to push issues, agendas and personalities very dear to her heart. Industry insiders point to Howard Stern as an example of a major national personality who went from self-proclaimed “King of all Media” to near-complete irrelevance since his nasty divorce from broadcast television and hook up with satellite radio.
terry shropshire /source from

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Urban Chameleon Question of the Day

Given the deeply rooted issues and enslaved relationship that Black women have with their hair, will we ever have a Black female Olympic swimmer?

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

'Couples Retreat' Movie Poster Causes Controversy in the UK

Urban Chameleon news

Racism or marketing tactic?

Universal is facing a potential PR mess for its decision to digitally remove the names and images of the only black couple in 'Couples Retreat' on the film's UK movie poster.

According to England's The Daily Mail, a Universal spokesman said the updated ad was released "to simplify the poster to actors who are most recognizable in international markets."

But some are calling foul on the complete removal of actors Kali Hawk and Faizon Love from the film's poster. "I think this was an ill-conceived move," Mediawatch-UK director Vivienne Pattison told the Mail. "We celebrate diversity in Britain and we could have coped with seeing the same poster used in America."
In the U.S. version (above, left), all eight principal stars, including Hawk and Love, are seen standing knee-deep in water with their names displayed above. For the UK version (above, right), a different backdrop is shown with only the six (white) actors and actresses on display.

"Any discrepancy between the posters is cause for alarm because it makes racist assumptions about target markets," says Ann Simonton, founder of the non-profit organization Media Watch. "But this is a somewhat common response to how advertisers target audiences. So much of advertising depends on our ignorance and it's important for the consumer to remain ignorant. When they eliminate diversity, it maintains this false view of our world. It's sickening to think about what the industry's motives are, but it's important that they be called on it."

Daily Mail film critic Jason Solomons weighed in over the weekend, noting, "We don't cater much for the black cinema-going audience in this country, which is a great shame, so it seems strange that when there are black stars in a major feature film, this fact isn't promoted. And, in terms of business decisions, this seems a pretty counter-productive one."

For its part, Universal has acknowledged the omission, saying it regretted offending anyone and is abandoning plans to use the revised poster in other countries.

But you have to wonder: If they regretted offending anyone, why would they alter the poster in the first place?

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


by today's Urban Chameleon contributor
The film critic

In going to see Precious this past week I was so disappointed and uninspired I wasn’t even moved enough to write up a review. However after reading multiple different reviews both praising and bashing the film, I finally came across one that almost word for word articulates how I feel about this film.

Lost in Translation: A Response to ‘Precious’
by Summer M.

Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry said Precious was awesome and that everyone should go see it. Since I am the most obedient of Negroes, I saw it last Friday. If Flavor Flav is the world’s greatest hype man, this duo is officially the world’s greatest hype machine. I found Precious slightly underwhelming, uninspiring, and lacking much of what makes the novel, Push by Sapphire, so powerful. Sorry, Ms. Winfrey. I had no “A-ha!” moment.

My reaction to and assessment of the film, however, needs context. With relative ease, I could probably come up with a book list of black women’s fiction about incest–The Bluest Eye, Corregidora, etc. In other words, I have discussed, read, written, and thought about the issues the film presents visually perhaps more than the average moviegoer. So I’m willing to concede that my expectation, my threshold might have been a bit higher than the people (talking loud as hell) in front of me. Still, I think what I found troubling about the film worth mentioning. Lee Daniels & Co. had the envelope; they just didn’t push it. (Was that too heavy handed?)

A quick synopsis: It’s 1987. Precious Jones is 16 years old, illiterate, living in Harlem with her abusive mother, and pregnant with her second child by her father. The film begins with her being suspended from school, only to wind up in Each One Teach One, an alternative school where, with the help of her teacher, Ms. Rain, Precious works towards obtaining her GED, literacy, and the agency to tell her own story. Part of me thinks that Perry and Winfrey are so enthusiastic about this film because they believe the pathology articulated in the film is an inherent component of black women’s condition. But I can’t really prove that. I can only infer. Though Precious is somewhat faithful to the novel, it fails in several key ways.

First, the film lazy is at times, and doesn’t work hard enough at situating the viewer with an era that many of us forget or were too young to remember. It’s Harlem. It’s the 1980s. Crack has started to decimate black neighborhoods like Harlem. Len Bias has just died of a cocaine overdose, and the goverment has consequently changed the way drug offenders are prosecuted which, in turn, disproportionately affects blacks. The Cosby Show is the number one rated show on television, but instead the filmmakers opt to seemingly satiate their executive producer by having their main character pepper a pivotal scene with several “What would Oprah do?” lines. At other times, the film is weirdly anachronistic. Bobby Brown’s “Humpin Around,” which wasn’t released until 1992, serves as soundtrack to one of Precious’ imagined photo shoots. We see Oliver North, but that’s one of few blatant reminders of the Reagen era, and that’s unfortunate, because Precious’ mother, Mary Johnston (played by comedian Mo’Nique), would be considered a welfare queen as described by Reagan during his presidential campaign in the 1970s–an image that was reinvigorated in the 80s. I make this latter point especially because Mary and her daughter Precious–who I don’t find grotesque, as David Edelstein describes–are kinds of stereotypes. But I don’t think Sapphire, and later the filmmakers, employ these types out of laziness. Rather, I think these seemingly flat and distorted images place the work in the context of the time it was published, the 1990s, when black artists like Spike Lee and Kara Walker were using stereotypes to make a larger commentary about blackness at the end of the 20th century. But without proper contextualization, that observation can’t be made and the conversation can’t be had.

Second, though the film is faithful to the book by casting both Precious and her mother as they were described, it’s quite liberal in its portrayal of other characters, which results in several light skinned and/or mixed race characters working as Precious’ middle class saviors. For example, Ms. Rain is described in the book as having dark skin and dreadlocks. In the film however, she’s portrayed by Paula Patton, who not only gives Precious the gift of literacy, but opens her home to Precious when she finally runs away from her mother’s uptown apartment. This wouldn’t be such a problem and could be chalked up as a casting quirk if the other “good” characters weren’t also light skinned–and judgmental.

For instance, in an effort to show a positive black male figure, the film takes a minor character in the book, a presumably Puerto Rican EMT, and turns him into Nurse John (played by Lenny Kravitz) who cares for Precious while she’s in the hospital convalescing after having her baby. Of course, he later cashes in on the capital he earned by vigilantly sitting at her bedside by asking Precious to hook him up with Ms. Rain (or her partner, I couldn’t really discern). What’s more disturbing than that, however, is the moment when Precious asks Nurse John, sitting next to her bed eating a bowl of fruit, why he doesn’t like McDonald’s. He responds by saying that he goes to an organic grocery store and refuses to eat “crap” like McDonald’s. The moment is alarming, for it neither advances the film in any way nor adequately allows the viewer the opportunity to interrogate the classist assumptions in Nurse John’s line. The implicit claim in the statement, of course, is that Precious and her classmates choose to eat McDonald’s instead of organic fruit because, of course, there are so many organic grocery stores in Harlem circa 1987, thus making Precious’ unhealthy diet of fried chicken and pig’s feet a choice–and her fault. How very Obama era Reagan era of you. Perhaps I should reassess my first problem with the film.

To add further insult, when Precious asks Ms. Weiss, played by mixed race poster child Mariah Carey, about her racial identity, the social worker skirts the question and opts to buy her client a cherry Coke. Again, the conversation is odd, goes nowhere, and does nothing but subtly validate the skin privilege that Precious is so invested in. Although JoAnn’s door knocker earrings were a nice touch, I didn’t want the only indicator of this time pre-Wesley Snipes 80s era to be a plethora of attractive and nice light skinned folks onscreen. I saw so much yellow I began to feel like a coward; I swore Vanity made a cameo. Such filmic decisions do nothing but reify overused symbols: all the bad guys are shrouded in darkness, sweat, and presumably funk (see The Bluest Eye), while our fairer heroes are bourgie, clean, and always drenched in light. That said, way to go finding the light skinned chick from Head of the Class to play Ms. Rain’s partner. Who knew she was still around?

Third, though I appreciate the decision to make Mary Johnston less monstrous by giving her a monologue slightly different from the one we read in the book, I thought the brief appearance by the grandmother damaging, because her only screen time showed her shaking her head at her daughter. Such small gestures seemingly validated the viewer’s judgment of Mary. Further, it implied that Mary’s abusive and destructive behavior was not a result of her own history (of abuse), that she somehow became monstrous without precedent, without context. Indeed, Mary’s meeting with Miss Weiss and Precious is rendered in a slightly more forgiving light than we see in the novel, but by then the damage has been done. Perhaps viewers lack the capacity to have empathy for both a fat, poor, black girl and her mother. I shouldn’t hope for so much.

Still, the film is significant. I’m not sure it makes audiences uncomfortable enough–the physical abuse seems more terrible than the incest; I don’t know if we understand Precious’ visions of an alternate self as trauma-induced and not daydreams, but I think it’s incredibly important that we see someone like Gabby Sidibe onscreen. I appreciated Mo’Nique’s rather nuanced performance. (Admittedly, I cringed when she seemed to overact her way into a “red gumball” moment during the above mentioned scene.) Though I’m conflicted about having contributed monetarily to empires (Winfrey’s, Perry’s) that seem to have monopolistic and narcissistic impulses–was the Precious come to Jesus moment not a page out of the Tyler Perry playbook?–I understand that one of few ways films like Precious continue to get made is by supporting them while they’re in theaters. I worry that the (light-skinned) savior trope overwhelms the real message of the story: that of perseverance, endurance, and the incredible power in being able to articulate one’s own story, on one’s own terms. I do, however, respect the film for the conversations that will and should be had about all too common issues that are consistently ignored. Precious (hopefully) inspires folks to read the book (before seeing the movie). After seeing the film, I find it imperative that we push to know Precious ourselves.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

The White Girl Remixes of Black Rapper's Songs...Is this a new trend?

Urban Chameleon moment

In watching an episode of last week's Gossip Girl there was a song that sounded very familiar but wasn’t familiar

And I thought, “Hmmmm this is peculiar…”

I began to sing along

Still thinking, “Damn, what’s the name of this song?”

The next verse continued

And I finally saw the light

“Stacks on deck, Patron on ice, and we can pop bottles…”

Wait a minute this is a white girl’s rendition of T.I.’s song, What Ever You like

Now I didn’t think too much of it

I dug the groove and thought how it underscored the scene, perfected it

Until making dinner plans with a few girlfriends of mine

And one suggests Permanent brunch, it’s breakfast all the time

I went online, checked out the menu ‘cause bad food is my biggest fear

And wait what’s this music on this website here? Is this Nelly, It’s Getting’ Hot In Here?”

But it wasn’t Nelly and again the vibe wasn’t wrong

Is this another white girl’s remix of a Black rapper’s song?

I gotta say I’m really not mad

Ok white girl, your rendition aint half bad

Just don’t get on no Elvis Presly sh*t and discredit the work

Making someone have to find yo’ ass to remind you and the audience that a Black rapper did it first

Click here and enter site to hear remix of Nelly’s Hot In Here

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rihanna "Breaking the Silence" and Saves Lives

Urban Chameleon news

This past Friday, 20/20 premiered Rihanna's new video "Russian Roulet", which was a follow up nugget to Rihanna's interview with Diane Sawyer a week ago “breaking the silence” in regards to the abuse she experienced while in a relationship with singer Chris Brown. Since I missed the interview I looked for it on Youtube to watch especially since they mentioned that the women's domestic abuse hotline had received more than 70% more calls from teenage girls. I was wowed by the unbelievable direct impact this one interview had. Rihanna goes into detail about her physical, psychological and emotion journey including going back to Chris before finally deciding to end the relationship. Rihanna may have saved several lives that day and counting. Thanks god she spoke up.

In not having any direct or indirect experience dealing with domestic abuse I have in the past over looked the subject matter as an “idea” a horrific idea but meaning something with no lasting emotional connection, you hear about it, you’re affected in the moment and then move on. But in watching this interview, seeing again the image of Rihanna's battered face that was released by TMZ and to hear her taking us on her journey, this time the impression was imprinted. I looked up statistics for myself discovering that most abused women range in the ages of 16-24 years old. These are lives that have barely started.

A friend of mine who is a professor at Spelman College has been telling me about the many young women she’s witnessed in abusive relationships with young men from Morehouse too afraid to reach out for help. This is not to put any grand emphasis on a specific college…the point is it’s happening and everywhere.

I hope that by posting this interview it encourages all people to watch, whether male or female for in these instances it’s clear that not only women need rescuing but men do to and whether you are in abusive relationship or not breaking and helping to break silence is imperative…remember we are all here for each other.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mixed-Race TV Contestant Ignites Debate In China

Urban Chameleon news

President Obama's arrival in China on Sunday is being eagerly awaited by many people, especially one young woman in Shanghai. Lou Jing is of mixed race, with a Chinese mother and an African-American father. She became famous nationally after her participation in an American Idol-type program sparked a spate of vitriolic online racist abuse.

For Lou, the reality television show turned out to be a lesson in brutal reality. The talent contest is called Go! Oriental Angel, and the 20-year-old made it through preliminary rounds to become one of 30 contestants.

Lou is studying for a degree in television anchoring at Shanghai's prestigious Theater Academy, and her teachers thought it would be a good opportunity. But from the very first, the focus was on her skin color.

Spotlight Cast Ugly Shadows

Introducing Lou, the host said, "her chocolate-colored skin lights up her sunny character."

In a short yellow satin frock, Lou launched into a rap she had written to introduce herself to the audience. In retrospect, this moment probably marks the end of Lou's innocence — and the start of a process of questioning her own identity.

"When I was young, I didn't really know I was different from other people," she says. "It was only after entering the competition that I realized I was different from others."

The show drew attention to her background, which is very unusual for China. She was raised in a single-parent family by her Shanghainese mother, who is a teacher. Her African-American father, whom she has never met, returned to the United States without even knowing he had conceived a child in China.

On air, her mother, Sun Min, said she had only ever had one conversation with Lou about her father. She described how her then-7-year-old daughter had asked about him.

"I didn't answer and immediately started crying," Sun recalled. "From then on, Lou Jing never asked again."

Painful Fallout

In her two months on air, Lou was nicknamed the "Chocolate Angel" and the "Black Pearl" by the media. She wasn't bothered by these names, she says.

But online, the poison pens were venomous. Chinese posting messages on the Web criticized her skin color as "gross" and "ugly"; they called her shameless for appearing on television. The worst insults were reserved for her mother for having had a relationship with an African-American out of wedlock. Lou and her mother are now suing one Shanghai newspaper for libel.

There were online statements of support as well, but the verbal attacks stunned Lou.

"I looked at the posts and I cried. Then I didn't look at them anymore. I decided I would do my best to go abroad to study," she says.

The Obama Parallels

Before, on the street, people might say things like, 'How come she looks like that?' But that was just a small number of people. When I was younger, I thought life was beautiful. Why is it that now I've grown up, I don't think that anymore?

- Lou Jing, 20-year-old Shanghai woman whose mother is Chinese and father is African-American

Lou sees Obama as a motivational figure and hopes his visit to China will be televised live. The parallels haven't gone unnoticed: One well-known blogger and magazine publisher, Hong Huang, remarked that even as the U.S. was welcoming Obama to the White House, Chinese people were unable to accept a girl whose skin color was different.

China's economic progress has been astounding, but Lou Jing's cautionary tale exposes the fact that social attitudes still lag far behind.

For now, Lou is still on TV, guest-hosting a variety show showcasing different regional dialects. It's a job she had lined up before her appearance on Oriental Angel, she says. Since then, she hasn't had a single work offer — no advertising contracts or modeling jobs, either.

Her dream is of escape. She wants to study journalism at Columbia University. She believes the lack of knowledge about racism in China is such that many people didn't even realize their comments were discriminatory or hurtful. But for her, the world suddenly seems a different place.

"Before, on the street, people might say things like, 'How come she looks like that?' But that was just a small number of people. When I was younger, I thought life was beautiful. Why is it that now I've grown up, I don't think that anymore?" she says.

read full article on

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lady GaGa "Bad Romance" : The New Grace Jones?

Urban Chameleon news

The new video from Lady GaGa is a visual stunner. Whether you love (or not love) her she giving it to you. "Bad Romance" is supposedly either about sex trafficking and/or a commentary on GaGa's transformation from aspiring starlet into a "fame monster" (the name of the upcoming re-release.) On the road to fame she is forced fed vodka, showered in diamonds, naked and malnourished in a shower and sold to the highest bidder whom she torches at the end.

Although her inspiration is quoted to be from Michael Jackson and Madonna I also see a hint of the legendary Grace Jones who damn near still looks like these pics at 61yrs old.

This is not to take away from Gaga and Ms. Jones will always be one of a kind. Whether it's innovation or reinvented innovation this video must be shared. I kinda loved it.

Drivers Ticketed For Not Speaking English

Urban Chameleon news

When I first read this article I interpreted it as the Dallas Police Force apologizing for writing tickets to non English speaking drivers and thought well now wait a minute, you mean I could run a red light if I just pulled the, "Me no speak no English" card? But upon a more thorough read police officers have been giving out TWO citations, one for the traffic offense the other for specifically not speaking English! Now that's messed up.

It's no news that a lot of non English speaking people who move to America struggle to get through. Shoot most of our ancestors didn't speak English upon "arrival" but should there be a time frame on when you learn the language? A lot of emigrants just commute back and forth from home to work. Work often might not require them to speak English and at home their native language is spoken and Rossetta Stone is not cheap. I know I recently was looking in learning Mandarin but that's going to have to wait. However, if I were to move to China the effort would be made.

But how long is too long? Should there be a time frame to learn the language of your new home? One woman mentioned in this article has been living in America since 1980. That's almost 30yrs.


DALLAS, Texas (CNN) -- Police in Dallas, Texas, are apologizing after learning that they have written dozens of traffic tickets to drivers who can't speak English.

One of those motorists is Ernestina Mondragon, who was fined $204 for not speaking English during a traffic stop earlier this month. Mondragon also was ticketed for making an illegal U-turn and for not having her driver's license with her. But the citation for not speaking English was insulting, she said.

"I felt humiliated. My self-esteem hit the floor. I felt like I'd been discriminated against," Mondragon said in Spanish.

She has lived in the United States legally since 1980, but has struggled to learn the language.

A Dallas police department internal review revealed that 38 other tickets have been issued in the past three years to people who did not speak English.

All those tickets are being dismissed and the fines will be reimbursed, said Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle.

The chief has launched an investigation into the officers who wrote the tickets and the supervisors who approved the work.

"I apologize to the Spanish-speaking, Hispanic community. It's particularly disappointing for a city like Dallas, because we are very, very diverse," Kunkle said at a recent news conference.

The tickets run counter to the state's licensing practices. The Texas Department of Public Safety offers driver's licensing handbooks and tests in Spanish. Its Web site includes a link to an an all-Spanish version.

Confusion involving federal law might have led to the improperly issued tickets, Dallas' police chief said. Federal law requires drivers of commercial vehicles -- including trucks, limos and taxicabs -- to speak English. But review by Dallas police showed that none of the tickets were issued to commercial drivers.

Kunkle said his department's switch to an electronic ticket system led to a "non-English-speaking-driver" charge appearing on a drop-down menu. Officers must have thought it applied to people such as Mondragon, the chief said.

Critics, however, doubt that the tickets were a mistake and wonder whether officers were trying to send a message to non-English speakers.

"When it happens 39 times, then there's something a little bit more serious that's inherent in law enforcement in Dallas," said Hector Flores of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

source from

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama Appears on Sesame Street for 40th Anniversary

Urban Chameleon news

First Lady Michelle Obama teaches kids about being healthy by helping to plant a vegetable garden on Sesame Street as a apart of the 40th anniversary of the show.

The first episode of the new season on Tuesday (today) hits exactly on the anniversary of the show's premiere in 1969. You may know, as avid followers of the first lady, that this is Mrs. Obama's second "Sesame Street" appearance; she was quite excited in May about meeting Elmo at the show's studios in Astoria, Queens, to tape a public service announcement.

"I never thought I'd be on 'Sesame Street' with Elmo and Big Bird and I was thrilled. I'm still thrilled. I'm on a high. I think it's probably the best thing I've done at the White House," she said then.
source from Lynn Sweet on

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Writer Reveals Malcolm X's Bisexual Past

Urban Chameleon news

In coming across this post on Hip Hop Wired it has launched a question to be talked about here on HOTUC, is Gay the new Black? Some argue, absolutely not that being gay is a problem that can being cured by a therapist where as one can't help the color of their skin. Regardless of your theory of why someone is gay, the only question is why isn't everyone entitled to equal rights.

In regards to this article if Brotha Malcolm was gay would it change his historical value?

by JORDAN C. ALSTON posted on Hip Hop wired

It seems that a change of strategy was all too inevitable after gay and lesbian support groups were left reeling at the hands of Maine's citizenry. The new order of the day seems to call for a more personal approach to replace the forceful tone often associated with such groups.

Gay rights activists have taken an unprecedented step in revealing some of histories most polarizing figures little secrets, namely, that they were all apart of the lesbian, gay, or bisexual community.

A controversial article has many, especially those in the Black community, highly pissed off.

A writer for British newspaper, The UK Guardian, is asserting that revolutionary and Black activist, Malcolm X, engaged in a myriad of gay, sexual relationships and was bisexual.

Peter Tatchell gives “credence” to his claim by citing unreliable second-hand sources, claiming that members of Malcolm's family and several Black activists have worked tirelessly to cover his homosexual relationships while keeping the media unaware of the “full spectrum” of his sexuality.

Tatchell even pointed to instances, cited by other misguided writers, of accounts putting the Black Liberation and civil rights icon in a dress!

There is no doubt that everyone has secrets, but this man (and everyone else who has added to this nonsense) should feel the shame of one million liars for attempting to tarnish the name of a man that played a huge role in the securing of our rights as Black Americans.

Malcom X served as the fiery sword to Martin Luther King's dove; his work has never truly been appreciated in mainstream society, but he is appreciated and idolized by those who are benefiting from his contributions to a legendary movement.

One of our most proud Black leaders does not need to have his legacy besmirched, added to annals of unspoken, discredited Black leadership, all because one man is mad that he can't "marry" his old roommate from college.

The struggle by Black Americans for Civil Rights is not the same as the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) fight for the "right" to marry, and I am sorry for those that believe they are related in any way.

Bottom line, Malcolm X was an imposingly powerful and brilliant man in life, and he has surpassed legendary status in death. No man can take that away from him. Peter Tatchell is the worst kind of scum bucket, bottom-feeding, troglodyte resembling trash!

As*hole. . .

source from

click here to read Peter Tatchell's article Malcolm X was Bisexual. Get Over it.