A Shoe Moment: In Honor of the United States

7 11 2012

We may not all be able to wear shoes like these, but we can come close…
Photo: IMGfave.com

So, since our lovely country decided to re-elect Barack Obama as the President of the United States, I figured I would do a shoe post showing my appreciation for my nation. I know that sounds funny, but it’s better than posting a clip of me singing America the Beautiful. Trust me.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite red, white, and blue singles and combinations to try:

Photo: DV By Dolce Vita Nisha Platform Ankle Boot at Urban Outfitters

Photo: Charles Philip Shanghai Sheila in Wool Navy/Red at RevolveClothing.com

Photo: Christian Louboutin Pigalle 120mm Spikes Patent Pumps Red

Photo: BCBGENERATION SABELLAS PLATFORM PUMP

Photo: Louboutin Pump Pigalle Cutout Red White

So would you wear any of these or any other combination to celebrate President Obama’s victory? And are you as excited as I am that we made this happen AGAIN??

PS: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!





HBCU Conversations

21 05 2012

Photo credit: problogger.net

The other day, I was talking to a friend and he mentioned to me that he’d found himself accidentally engaged in a typical HBCU conversation. I laughed at first and then thought about it – wait, what’s sad is that I pretty much knew the range of conversations he could be talking about. And while I’m sure other colleges or groups of people may have other topics that typically come up in conversation, I do find it especially interesting that graduates of HBCU’s tend to engage in the same 5 to 10 conversations when they find themselves in a group of like-minded individuals.

Before I go any further, for those who are not aware of what I mean when I say HBCU – they are a group of colleges and universities “that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the Black community” or better yet – Historically Black Colleges and Universities. You can click here if you want more background.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are the top 5 conversations I hear when I oops up on an all HBCU crowd.

The Obamas

This really could have been 5 topics on its own, because it can range from everyone wanting to find their own personal Barack and Michelle Obamas to how fly Michelle Obama is to what has or hasn’t Pres. Obama done for the black community in his first term, and everything in between. Needless to say though, if you’re amongst a group of people who graduated from a Black college and nothing about the Obamas come up – you should ask to see their transcript or some other proof that they did more than go to an HBCU Homecoming.

Rivalries between ALL of the schools

Now, I went to a majority white university for graduate school and they definitely had school rivalries – but they were mostly based on the basketball team. When you’re a sometime favorite in the Big East Conference, that can tend to happen. What they didn’t do is try to rival every school in the nation. HBCU graduates though? Oh we do! And it doesn’t even matter what the subject is – it could be the band, the football team, the academics, the number of post graduate degrees offered, the number of notable alumni – whatever it is, we will compete. And we will find that one subject we lead on to make the point every time…. unless you’re a Howard graduate – then the conversation is really easy since we lead in almost every category. (See what I did there? And I’m not even talking to all HBCU grads on this post. SMH)

The plight of the Black Woman/Black Man

Sometimes this can be a comparison conversation and you’ll hear things like, “Women don’t understand the things the Black Man has to go through just to be able to go to and graduate from a college. We should consider ourselves the cream of the crop when we accomplish that feat,” or “Men are spoiled into thinking that they can have anything they want just because they went to college. We all went to college too. Should we be punished for the fact that more Black women go to college these days than men?” Sometimes it’s not so much a comparison conversation, but a discussion about what it meant for the different groups while they were in school. Either way, it’s coming up – so if you don’t want to hear it, you should bow out right after the Obamas conversation (which will probably be first, unless two major rival schools are present).

The relevancy of HBCUs

No matter how high many of us hold our institutions of higher education, we also know that many people don’t understand the purpose of them anymore. Articles upon articles are written about whether or not HBCUs are relevant, so of course when a group of people that call these colleges Alma Mater get together, they’ll find a way to start discussing just how they relevant they are. This can sometimes accidentally flow into a rivalry conversation as people may try to one up each other on why they’re school makes the entire group that much more relevant. For example: Xavier University graduates might say something like, “Of course HBCUs are relevant, Xavier produces more Black doctors in the country than any other university.” But then someone from Howard might say, “You’re right, and Howard was just named the best place to attend for Black students who wanted to get business degrees last year.” And the next thing you know, it’s a competition that quickly.

Ignant Ish

At some point, as the conversation goes on – someone is bound to stop all the “intellectual discussions” and start talking about random traditions of their school or different pranks that were played or even what music was really popular back then. Those things don’t sound ignant by their generic categories, but when you think about how they can include things like “Booty Wall,” “freeze tag on the Yard at midnight,” and “Fatty Girl parties,” – you see how this can quickly go down hill.

All my HBCU readers, have I missed any important topics? And for those who didn’t attend an HBCU for undergrad, what are some of the topics that usually come up in conversation with people who went to your school?





(Same-Sex) Marriage and the President of the United States

16 05 2012

Photo credit: Pete Souza/White House, via Reuters

“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married… I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient. I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs… The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule — you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids, and that’s what motivates me as president.”

I’m glad he finally took a stand on this issue.

Regardless of how you feel about what he said, one thing was clear – on Wednesday, May 9, 2012, President Obama became the first sitting president to say that he believes that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. It was long-winded and had a lot of explanations with it, but he said it. And he didn’t back down about it.

His team later sent out an even more succinct response to all the people who are on the President’s email distribution list.

“Today, I was asked a direct question and gave a direct answer: I believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry… What I’ve come to realize is that for loving, same-sex couples, the denial of marriage equality means that, in their eyes and the eyes of their children, they are still considered less than full citizens… So I decided it was time to affirm my personal belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.”

Legally, does it mean anything? Nope. Did Vice-President Biden most likely speed up the statement? Yeah. But the fact remains that he said it. And I completely agree.

Look, I understand that this is a controversial issue and something that both sides feel very strongly about. But since the topic has come up in discussions amongst my friends and family over the past few years, I’ve always asserted the same belief – that finding love with someone to the point that you both want to spend the rest of your lives together is in itself a miracle. Not everyone is blessed to have that happen to them. Not everyone can say they found their soul mate. So who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to tell you that you can’t honor your miracle?

I know not everyone shares that belief. I have friends and family members who I love and trust that definitely don’t share that belief, but it seems that there is an increasing rate of people who do share my beliefs, whether they are in the Black community, the youth community, or the general population.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center discusses this change in American opinion:

Since 2004, there has been a broad-based decline in opposition – including strong opposition –to gay marriage. In 2004, Americans younger than 30 were divided (48% opposed, 45% favored). Today, young people favor gay marriage by more than two-to-one (65% to 30%). Opposition has declined by the same percentage – 18 points – among those 65 and older… [and] Since 2008, the proportion of African Americans favoring gay marriage has increased from 26% to 39%, while opposition has fallen from 63% to 49%.

All that to say, as much as we want to make this a controversial and political issue, maybe it’s becoming more of a personal one. And maybe because it’s becoming more of a personal one, that’s why his statement wasn’t as bold as you might think. Don’t get me wrong – he took a risk, but if those reports by Pew are right, more people in this country believe the same thing than don’t. And that runs contrary to the typical political discussions held about certain demographics of the country.

You know those discussions because they came flaring up again. As soon as reports came out about the President’s interview with Robin Roberts, talking heads began to discuss what this would mean for him in an election year. Would the Black community stand by him, they asked. Would he lose support in those all important swing states, they wondered. How would independents feel about the President taking such a liberal and “far-left leaning” stand? They went on and on and yet, supporting his belief or not – I don’t know anyone who was planning to vote for Pres. Obama who has changed their mind. You know what has happened?

In a day’s time, he raised $90 million. My Facebook account was littered with intelligent and intellectual debates. And hopefully, parents and children across the country have engaged in discussions about equality and rights for all. Those things are personal. And really, so is this issue. It’s personal when you talk about someone’s love for another person. And it’s personal when you try to say they can’t express that love like anyone else in this country.





On Obama, the oil spill, and oysters

27 05 2010

nola.com

The other day, my grandma and I had a very real, very serious conversation about the oil spill in the Gulf. It started with her completely distressed, completely honest complaint that she’s not sure what she’ll be cooking in her kitchen soon enough.

I know this sounds crazy and some may think it’s a bit incensitive, but you have to understand how seafood is just as much a part of Louisiana culture, New Orleans culture, as Mardi Gras, voodoo, and the Saints. Hell – you can’t make gumbo without at least some shrimp! So when my 74 year old grandmother says she doesn’t know what she’s going to cook, she’s not exaggerating or being facetious – she’s being honest. In fact, I’m not sure if I can honestly say that my grandmother has more than 5 dishes in her repetoire that don’t involve some kind of seafood – everything from shrimp, crabs, crawfish, scallops, oysters, mussels, and any other seafood you could possibly think of – she cooks it, consistently.

You see, we’re used to an abundance of that kind of thing down there. We like to do things in excess and we like our seafood big and from the gulf of Mexico. The idea of importing seafood is, well it’s, damnit – it’s blasphemous! Import! Seafood! What?!?! The very idea… Ugh.

But the thing is, it’s something that people at home are starting to have to come to grips with as a sad reality now. And this goes far beyond my grandmother’s kitchen. It extends to those famed restaurants in New Orleans and beyond who are just starting to sort of get back on their feet after Katrina, Wilma, Rita, and Ike. You think that the mom and pop place on the corner that sells footlong poboys for $5 can afford to import their seafood? Doubtful.

And what’s Louisiana without its crawfish boils? I mean, can you imagine importing crawfish from places that call it (ugh) crayfish and deliver these small imitators of the real thing. Its like ordering lobster at a restaurant and getting the lobster tail. Sure it’s still lobster, but really – c’mon, it’s not the same thing.

So okay, you’re not concerned about my grandma or the restaurants or the crawfish boil lovers like me, well what about the fishermen who had a hard enough time resuming their living after the last few hurricane seasons hit them. Now they have to deal with this shit, too?! And this is far more than LA getting hit by this – it’s the entire Gulf region. Let’s not even get into the environmental effects this is having on the region and how it only serves to make them that much more susceptible to devastating hurricanes – right before hurricane season, of course.

Am I painting enough of a picture for you? What about the animals that are literally dying everyday because of this royal fuck-up by BP? The scope of this disaster is still yet to be absorbed, even as we learn more of the damaging effects it will have everyday… And still a month later, it seems we are no closer to solving the problem.

Now listen, I’m no novice with this political thing. I understand how laws and bureaucratic policies work… If you don’t believe me, ask Georgetown to verify my MA degree in it. But the fact remains that the way this is all being handled doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth. Yes, BP is responsible. And yes, they are the best available option in fixing the leak and the effects of it… But you know what? Obama’s got to do something. Because right now, this supporter is starting to look at him a bit sideways.

Don’t get me wrong, I know he’s no saint. And I also realize he’s got a lot of things on his plate right now. He was never ordained as far as I’m concerned. He’s a politician. But he’s also my president. And just like I wanted Bush to do more after 9/11 and Katrina, and I wanted Clinton to do more in Rwanda, President Obama’s got to do something here.

I understand he’s going down there on Friday. Let’s hope it’s not too late.





Political Debate

29 08 2009

It’s been awhile since I did a political post on this blog – it was starting to become “Choices and Sole” with no voices, or “Voices and Sole” with no choices – however you choose to split it, something’s been missing.

But I have the perfect debate for you. No it’s not about Katrina. Although you know I could wax poetic about that for hours – but seeing as I get a bit too emotional about that, we’ll save that for another time – but if you weren’t aware, yes August 29th is Michael Jackson’s birthday, but it also marks 4 years since Katrina hit. {okay, I’m going to stop here, cuz I’ll start going and that’s not the point of this post, I promise…}

senatorkennedy0424

The point of this post is about Mr. Edward Kennedy. As I’m sure you know by now, he passed away at the age of 77 from brain cancer this week. And while it is extremely sad to see him go, I would like to pose a question for my readers: Which Kennedy brother would you say has left the biggest impact on America?

Now – I brought this up at work the other day and people said that it was difficult to compare the three since Ted lived far longer than the RFK and JFK. They also said that they each contributed in different ways – JFK = culturally; RFK = in the manner of civil rights; Teddy = legislatively.

But to me, thats the point… most people wouldn’t argue those statements. Heck, there are still Black people who have a picture of JFK in their living room right next to the MLK Jr picture, the Jesus picture, and now the Barack Obama picture. And truly, RFK was always the one aiming for civil rights awareness… not really JFK, until the year that he died actually. And of course Teddy has lived far longer and has been a Senator for the past 47 years, so legislatively, he probably would be the most influential.

I dont want separations though. I want someone to answer the general, CNN-style question… so go ahead good people – if you had to pick one, which Kennedy would you say has had the biggest impact on America, period.

Looking forward to your answers!





The definition of Empathy

15 07 2009

“I have followed this man’s career for some time,” said President George H.W. Bush of Clarence Thomas in July 1991. “He is a delightful and warm, intelligent person who has great empathy and a wonderful sense of humor.”

Interesting. Seems to me that empathy wasn’t that big of an issue in 1991, but in 2009… you’d swear it was a synonym for racism.

“I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook, it is also about how are laws effect the daily realities of peoples lives…. I view that quality of empathy [ie: racism], of understanding and identifying with peoples’ hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.” – President Obama

photofeature-sotomayor1 alg_sonia_sotomayor

That’s what the Republicans seem to want us to believe right now. They want us to look at Judge Sonia Sotomayor and see her as the epitome of a prejudiced blubbering idiot. Well, let me tell you something. I think that there’s a lot of things you can say about Ms. Sotomayor. You can say she’s an intelligent woman with high judicial qualifications, she’s a moderate in judicial rulings, she’s a wise Latina woman, and she’s getting unnecessarily slammed for saying what most people, I think, actually already believe. But a racist, nah…

The irony in it all is that the people who are attempting to call her and convince the nation that she’s a racist are all old white men. Forgive me, because this may come out slightly militant, but who the F do they think they are telling a Latina woman she’s racist?! Seriously… let’s get real here.

The entire appointing/hearing process that occurs for the nomination and acceptance of a Supreme Court Justice is political malarkey and the sooner everyone admits that, the better off we’ll be. I would rather the Republicans get up there and say, “Look, nothing against you, but we’re really worried that if you are confirmed, guns will be banned across the nation, abortions will grow exponentially, and homosexuals everywhere will be able to defile the sanctity of marriage.”

I would soooo respect that sooo much more. They’d be completely dead ass wrong, [because anyone who studies politics and specifically the Supreme Court and this particular group of folks, knows that Ms. Sotomayor’s confirmation will not really change the landscape of the Court all that much right now…. (now, if we could juuuuust get Scalia to retire, but that’s for another posting lol)], but hell, at least they’d be being honest, instead of hitting us with this straight nonsense!

Say what you want about Ms. Sotomayor. Her nomination by the President was an amazingly strategic nomination. You can’t tell me that President Obama is not aware of the fact that the Latino vote in America is up for grabs, the Republicans desperately want to grab it, and hey… it might not be in their best interest to try and cut down this extremely qualified Thurgood Marshall-like candidate.

I dont think there’s anything wrong with that… but, if you continue to deny that the nominations of Court Justices are  influenced by politics, that denies the strategy in this nomination and more importantly, it denies the significance and debases the reasons everyone is all up in my arms about her confirmation.

But maybe I’m wrong… maybe it’s not influenced by politics at all… and maybe, the Republicans have simply forgotten that they used the word empathy before and the Democrats have gone completely wacky and forgotten they were supposed to nominate a conservative person who will “follow the law strictly as it’s written in the constitution.”

What do you think?





We live in Dangerous Times…

9 06 2009

I’m not sure if you’ve seen the news about the two American journalists who were captured arrested in North Korea and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor the other day for “grave crimes” against North Korea. If you haven’t, please read here and here.

What were these crimes, you ask? According the North Korean government, they included crossing into North Korean territory. Can you imagine someone crossing into the United States territory and President Obama ordering them to 12 years of hard labor as punishment? Ridiculous, right?

But the thing is… it’s really, unfortunately, not surprising when it comes to journalistsNorth Korea’s politics. The American powers- that -be seem to think that they are using these women as political chess pieces, so they can effectively negotiate themselves out of the shit storm they’ve created with their testing of nuclear weapons.

It’s probably going to be effective, too… because the last thing Obama and Clinton need are to not bring these women home safe and sound. President Carter made that mistake during his term, and even though he eventually was able to get the captives back, he was perceived as soft because it took too long. Some credit this with being one of the reasons Americans then gravitated to a hard nosed guy like Reagan. No one could ever say he was soft… on anything.

Speculation now seems to be that since the sentencing has occurred now, the North Koreans will be willing to negotiate with the likes of either Al Gore or Bill Richardson. Let’s hope so, because right now, it’s looking like there are some tough decisions coming up for this administration. And it doesn’t seem like they are going to get any easier any time soon. What do you all think? Do you see this getting better or worse?