Category Archives: Random Observation
Listening to Hip Hop’s History of Reproductive Justice, the 2nd episode of the Get It Right podcast, brought back to mind a song that meant a great deal to me in the early 90s: None Of Your Business by Salt-N-Pepa.
Picture it: It’s 93/94, I’m in college and thinking a whole lot about my sexual orientation. What do you do when your realize that your attractions and desires run counter to all of the religious/political/social programming you’ve received? So, I was learning a foreign language (statistics), trying to get up the courage date girls and deal with internal conflict (who am I/who I’m expected to be).
Salt-N-Pepa’s None Of Your Business helped with one of those problems. If there ever was an anthem dismissing hypocrites who get off on regulating the sexuality/sensuality of others–this is it. This song was everything to me. Starting off from the intro: What’s the matter with your life / Why you gotta mess with mine / Don’t keep sweatin what I do / Cuz I’m gonna be just fine.
Now, of course the scenarios mentioned in the song are hetero — women being judged on their dealings with men. When I saw the video and my mind exploded: “oh my God, there are gay people in this. They are talking about me too!”
Check out the cluster of folks dancing/writhing and shouting “None Of Your Business!”
I felt so affirmed. This song wasn’t the only thing that helped me figure out that it was okay to be myself but it felt really good to have media/entertainment from black artists reflecting that too.
(See also: The Woman to Woman episode of Living Single.)
*Get It Right is a podcast that analyzes pop culture through the lenses of justice, and particularly reproductive justice.
Whenever I see someone in a social media comments section trying to explain an ism/phobia to someone who just doesn’t “get it” (especially if the confused person is a self-proclaimed ally), I want to encourage the explainer to drop it and move on.
Tired of trying to explain your humanity? Stop doing it.
Tired of trying to justify your upset? Stop doing it.
Tired of having to say the same thing to the same types of people every time an incident (racist/sexist/transphobic/etc) happens? Stop doing it.
The person who can’t “get it” — especially about racialized oppression? They know.
You’ve heard this song before, right? Have a look/listen, but pay attention to the lyrics AND the audience.
Your clueless friends and acquaintances know.
Just like their parents knew.
Just like their grandparents knew.
Even the commenters who show up openly hostile to pick a fight–they know.
Okay, so maybe some people don’t know that they know. Denial is a thing. Well, there have been enough blog posts, articles and books written — and being written–for confused folks to get what they need on their own. Even better, there are people who get paid to teach! Let the true seeker of knowledge invest in a Google search, a library card or a “recognizing an ism and doing something about it” training.
I know you’ve seen this too:
“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”
The person who (either gently or with rage/hostility) always needs you to justify/explain yourself/teach but never “get’s it” is also a distraction.
That “explaining” time can be turned into “self care” time. It could turn into “community conversation and healing” time. It can turn into a “let’s concentrate on our own powers and how we can strengthen each other” time.
The seeker of knowledge is not showing up in the comments section — under a post where someone has expressed grief/frustration/sadness – asking someone to help them understand, challenging someone to explain, or engaging in hypothetical “what if” scenarios – etc. If someone puts the onus of their “education” on someone else – then they don’t want to know.
It hurts to have to explain, exclaim, reclaim and defend your humanity over and over again.
And don’t forget – some people enjoy watching you suffer.
To make a long story short (too late!), stop entertaining strangers and leave your clueless ally friends in their confusion. They can find their own way out.
If you are trying to eat better, one giant obstacle is sorting through all of the “information” that’s about. Low fat? Low salt? High fat, low carb? High carb, low protein? Protein, no carbs? Red wine and dark chocolate are a winning combo? Meat protein over plant protein? Vegan? And it goes on and on and on…
How can this be? Thousands and thousands of scientific studies floating about–conflicting left, right and sideways. How can you separate the good studies from the bad one? How can you tell which ones are really significant?
If you have any faith in news media to help straighten it all out…nope.
What I learned this (last) week: there’s a good chance that the journalists working on the science section/segment of whatever news media you consume are regurgitating press releases and study summaries rather than actually investigating and reporting.
John Bohannon purposely did a flawed study, submitted the paper to a scientific journal and newspapers across the world just repeated his “findings” despite the red flags.
It was, in fact, a fairly typical study for the field of diet research. Which is to say: It was terrible science. The results are meaningless, and the health claims that the media blasted out to millions of people around the world are utterly unfounded.
You can read his whole confession: I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.
Once the major news media reports on a health study, smaller outlets, bloggers, etc pick it up–everyone remixing or rewriting the same thing–with few people casting a critical eye on the actual study itself.
Fortunately, there is an organization/website dedicated to actually reviewing science news stories and science news press releases. HealthNewsReviews reviews the big news stories of the week and scores them based on 10 reasonable criteria, including whether or not the article is exaggerating a study’s conclusions. Even when a story passes on a criteria level, HNR still points out if readers should be weary.
For example, here’s the HNR review of an NPR story on headaches and migraines.
HNR doesn’t cover every news story. What it means is that readers of science news, especially in regards to diet/nutrition/medicine/health, have to take even articles from reputable news outlets with a grain of salt. Or, if you prefer, a pinch of chocolate.
A few weeks ago, I heard a curious conversation on my morning commute. The ladies behind me on the bus were having a serious discussion about their Christian beliefs. I’m not sure which denomination they were, but it was clear that one woman was getting fed up with God. From her point of view she was devout, prayerful etc – but God wasn’t keeping up with his end of the bargain. The more she talked about it, the more agitated and upset she became. Let’s call her Maddy.
Maddy was in her mid to late 50’s, I think. She was on her way to work and I got the sense that her life hadn’t been easy. Her aches and ailments were numerous. She wasn’t a new Christian either. Hadn’t she loved the Lord for years and kept Christ first and center in her life? How could he disappoint her like this?
The problem? The evildoers around her were prospering.
Here Maddy was – praying and following Jesus – and God had the nerve to shower blessings on the evil people around her. Note, she wasn’t upset with her lack of blessings. She didn’t say, “Why isn’t God doing ___” for me. She was upset that evil people around her were not suffering.
The friend reminded Maddy that she didn’t really know what was happening in the lives of others. People who look like they have everything could be suffering behind closed doors. As Christians, they were to stay focused on their own prayerful worship. The Lord will deal with the wicked in his own time.
Maddy disagreed. She just couldn’t get over that God was blessing evil people. It was starting to shake her faith. She never mentioned that any of these people had done anything to her or any specific evil deeds–except had the indecency to prosper.
This went on for about 35 minutes–Maddy complaining about evil being blessed and her friend repeating that they needed to keep their focus on the faith.
I have to admit, I was amused at first. It stuck with me that Maddy didn’t want more blessings/favor for herself (money, health, etc)-except the privilege of watching the suffering of others. It was not enough to believe that she was going to be rewarded in Heaven or that evil people would be punished in Hell.
Everybody loves watching the bad guy get what’s coming to them. Whether it’s the villain in a movie who is finally found out or a reality show where not-to-nice characters can’t figure out why things always go wrong for them, we like seeing the drama unfold. That’s fiction.
I imagine Maddy giving glares of disapproval to bad people and waiting for God to co-sign by sending plagues.
Then, I began to wonder–could Maddy really believe she had a divine right to see hardship in the lives of the “evil” people around her? If a person feels they have the divine right to know another’s pain, is there a point where they feel divinely justified in causing pain? Would this mean that being in authority (job, etc) over an evil person was a reward from God–giving you the chance, the responsibility, to enact justice on his behalf?
Day 1 in San Fran saw us waking up at 4am. Since stores/shops/attractions don’t open before 10 am we had a lot of time on our hands. Catching up with email, reading the news and just hanging out lead to us drinking lots and lots of coffee.
We had three or four cups before leaving the hotel–that’s not counting the latte from Starbucks. We took a walk up to Chinatown–looking in shop windows on our way. One place did catch our attention: the New Nespresso cafe in Union Square.
In a town with a Starbucks or a Peet’s Coffee on every corner, who needs another cafe? Turns out, the Nespresso Cafe was awesome. It’s basically a showroom for the Nespresso machine where you can have light fare while sipping on their fine espresso..and perhaps be enticed to buy a machine yourself.
So, you know we had to try it. Cafe Americano for me and a double espresso for M.
Also, we finally got around to seeing the movie Lincoln. There were no zombies, werewolves or killer turkeys–so I was skeptical going in. Turned out to be a great movie worthy of all of the accolades and hosannas it’s been getting. I’ll do a separate review of that experience. Here’s the conversation M and I had afterwards–
M: Well, we’ve been emancipated.
Me: It was touch and go there for a minute. I wasn’t sure the 13th amendment was going to pass.*
M: Now, to find the restroom.
Me: Don’t get ahead of yourself. We’re only equal before the law. It will take another movie or two before we can use public restrooms.
Before Lincoln started, we saw a special promo for Bates Motel – a new dramatic series on A&E. It’s a re-imagining of the relationship between a teenage Norman Bates and his mother but it’s set in modern times. I suppose it’s like Smallville but the premise is the making of a serial killer. I’m not thrilled about the modern setting (do we want to see a teenage Norman at a rave?) but I hope it’s successful.
Afterward, we had dinner at Straits – a Singapore Restaurant and Lounge. The food was only okay. The service was meh. Even if a place has great food, service has a great impact on a meal. For example, they didn’t bring out both appetizers together–one came out with our main dishes. While M’s main meal was sizzling hot, mine was only luke warm. Also, the waitress who came to get our drink order–only asked M. For a moment, I thought I was wearing The Ring and had turned invisible. When I was finally able to order a drink… Let’s just say the tea was not worth $4.50.
We ended the evening at a nightcap in a bar that overlooked the city. None of the pictures I took do it justice.
It is irritating when Zimmerman supporters say “wait for all the facts to come out, people are rushing to judgment.” I understand why they say this–a murder charge is a serious thing, almost as serious as being accused of racism. Being known as a murderer could significantly impact your life, your freedom, etc.
What grates are 2 things:
1) When this case first hit public consciousness, it seemed that the Sanford police were the ones who rushed to judgement when they let Zimmerman walk out of jail based on his story alone. The cries for justice (protests) were for the shooting (possible homicide) to actually be fully investigated, ahem, for all of the facts to actually be established and Zimmerman dealt with accordingly.
2) His defenders are asking us (the general public) to extend a courtesy to Zimmerman that he himself did not extend to Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman didn’t feel the need to wait for “all of the facts.” A black male wearing a hoodie in the rain (race, gender, clothing)–that was enough to warrant a call to 911. He didn’t witness Trayvon actually do anything wrong–not hiding in the bushes, not casing a house, not breaking into anything, not destroying private property, not interacting with anyone in an aggressive manner.
Why assume Trayvon was trespassing rather than visiting someone? It’s almost as if his very presence inside the community was the problem, as if no black people lived there. (But we know black people do live there and I can’t believe they all walk around in their Sunday best to keep Zimmerman from following them.)
If you think it was okay for Zimmerman to make a snap judgment about Trayvon Martin with the very few facts he had (again: race, gender, and clothing), you really have no room to complain when others make a snap judgment about Zimmerman based on the facts that we have (he followed, chased, got into an altercation with and shot an unarmed teenager).
*A plastic bag and Saran Wrap are great for keeping a cast dry
*What would possess a man to have the faces of the 3 Stooges tattooed on his back? Then again, maybe it was a tattoo of the Pep Boys.
*Why is it that vampires foolishly leave wooden stakes is strategic spots around the castles/caves.
*If blogs/media are to be believed, black straight women want to but can’t get married and the black gay people who can get married don’t care about marriage. This is the perfect opportunity for an anti-marriage, black gay man to write a book to/for his black straight sisters: Marriage IS for White Gay People–I don’t need a husband and neither do you!
*Why is Maybelline using the theme from Magnum PI in one of it’s commercial? I like the music–still don’t want the make-up.
*A new Hellraiser movie without the original Pin Head is like a chocolate chip cookie without the chocolate chips.
*NaNoWriMo is coming. I should start an outline. Wouldn’t hurt if I finished editing the project from last year…
1) These folks are very, very easy on the eyes:
(Common was okay…but looked kind of scrawny next to the NBA players.)
2) The character Morgan (Leslie Wright’s best friend and the “other” woman.) She’s selfish, self absorbed, wants a human atm machine instead of a husband—but she does not come off as malicious. She’s not a Perry-esque meanie who’s goes out of her way to hurt our heroine–she has no idea that she’s the other woman. As soon as she realizes that Scott is in love with Leslie, she actually helps him find her.
The Sex Scene was just so awkward… I understand wanting to represent for the big girls and wanting them to get some lovin’ on screen. They just looked so uncomfortable in that bed. It should have just been a generic shot of the camera panning the room with clothes strewn on the floor and then in bed cuddling asleep–with Leslie wearing a t-shirt.
The Just Wrong
Scott McKnight isn’t really that much of a catch. Yeah, he’s an NBA player and a “nice” guy—but he’s not exactly husband material. After they finally had their night of passion (sigh), all it took was Morgan showing up on his doorstep for him to kick Leslie to the curb. Later on, when he magically realizes Leslie is the one for him, he is prepared to run off without a word to Morgan. If she hadn’t got up and stood in his way, he wouldn’t have said jack to her–just ran off to find Leslie. He would have left Morgan in the studio without any idea she’d just been dumped and without a ride home.
Of course, Leslie didn’t see his 2nd “ditch a chick” episode–but the way he treated her should have been enough for her to put the breaks on his big “i love you now and want to spend the rest of my life with you moment”. She should have left him standing right there with his heart-wrenched sincerity. At the very least, she should have made him earn his way back into her heart etc.
Leslie is just so happy that someone finally (finally!) loves her that she doesn’t realize he may not actually be worthy…
It’s funny to me that as his daughter grows up, Chris Rock (concerned father) will find himself having to deal with societal foolishness exemplified by Chris Rock (the comedian).
For example, I’ve only heard Rock (the comic) address black women/hair in stand-up routines in a very negative way. (ie. you got fake hair, you got fake eyelashes–and you want me to be real!) Now, we have Chris Rock doing a documentary (Good Hair) that delves deeper into black women/hair issues–because of a question from his daughter.
Rock has been a son, a friend, a boyfriend, and a husband …but it’s his role as “daddy” that inspired him see the issue in a new way. Maybe it’s because he sees her as part of himself–and not some “other” that he has to do contend with.
In any case, when she gets older–watch out Papa Rock! I think it was in Never Scared where Stand-Up Comic Rock suggested to women that, “You can’t just whip out a 40 year old titty that’s your man’s titty… 20 year old titty community titty. That’s for all to see.”
I can just envision some lecherous dudes asking Papa Rock, “Yo, Chris! Why you got your girl dressing like a nun? She needs to be showing off them community tit-tays.” I see fisticuffs in his future…
Actually, Rock (the business man) may see another opportunity in that and do a whole new documentary about street harassment/a woman’s body belonging to herself.
I think I’m finally starting to “feel” my age. It seems that, as far as movies go, everything that’s *new* today is just a retread or remake of something that was originally created in the 80’s . It’s like there is a recession of ideas and studio execs are saying, “hey, why spend money on new stuff when we still own rights to this property that was a popular in 84!”
Happens in every generation–a lot of the things that were new to me in the 80’s weren’t new to my parents. For example, that great hook from Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation turned out to be a sample from a Sly & The Family Stone’s Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin). It feels like I’ve crossed over into another layer of the “adult” zone.
Take, for example, The Box– a horror moving coming out in November-
The thing is, I remember when this same story was an episode of the Twilight Zone (80’s version). Back then it was called Button, Button.
Maybe in another 20 or so years, there will be a Rob Zombie type who wants to do a re-interpretation of Saw. Sigh.