Shady Santa and the Hate Crime That Wasn’t

“Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains” is a scripture I believe in. Sadly, it doesn’t apply to journalists working to move copy from edit to print. I have been there — that dark space when you publish a story that could have used just one more source. Even with little means and the news cycle’s brutal turnover rate, we still have to do better.

The Muslim college student who claimed that she was harassed has been charged with filing a false police report. Soon after the story went viral Yasmin Seweid disappeared. She popped back up after going missing to admit that she made it all up.

Surveillance cameras failed to catch her hijab being tugged on by three men shouting “Donald Trump!,” and none of the supposed witnesses who “sat around and did nothing” came forward. (Sigh)

The Santa we collectively boohooed over might have embellished his heartbreaking tale involving a terminally ill child. Now, Kris Kringle will have to make room for himself on the naughty list. (Double Sigh)

The craziest part of all this is that there is actual fake news floating through people’s newsfeeds that should be immediately reported as spam. One report (I hope and pray to God is legitimate) shows that there are writers being hired in foreign countries to produce incendiary headlines to get our blood pressures up and stomachs in knots. It worked throughout the whole election.

It’s deeply disturbing and slightly depressing when an occupation that is just as serious as being a doctor or a lawyer (even more so in some instances) becomes the laughing stock of the culture.

Here’s my advice: 1. Make it clear in the headline when something is an unconfirmed report. 2. Make it clear in the body of the story that something is an unconfirmed report, BUT that your staff is working swiftly to do so, or that you have reached out and will update the story accordingly. 3. If the story is coming from an outlet you never heard of before, tread lightly. Very lightly.

I have faith in us. We can do this.

Did you try doing before begging?

Begging-AbuseNote: I found out this quote isn’t actually in the Bible; it’s derived from one of Aesop’s fables. I learned this because I used Google all by myself. 

This digital notepad has seen more than its fair share of ebbs and flows. There are just certain things I can’t write. I think the problem for me, well, most of the time, is my so-called disposition as a “professional woman,” whatever that means. There are just some things “I” can’t say on the Internet. Meanwhile, on any given day, I can log on to my Facebook account and see beaucoup men riffing on everything from what women should and shouldn’t wear to how women should and shouldn’t carry themselves. These ephemeral notes of judgmental commentary are usually co-signed with likes or passively disagreed with the inconspicuous “LOL.”

I’m not sure yet, but I think I’m ready to ditch the P.C.-laden talk and get down to the nitty-gritty. I want to discuss things that annoy me. Now, obviously, I know that I can expect some feedback; I’m no stranger to being skewered on the Internet. I know how this works. If I were to start somewhere, it would be on the topic of “begging.” I’m not talking about standing on the corner, cup-in-hand begging. I tested the safety of this topic via Facebook, hoping the message would reach the offending parties. #yesthatwasshade:

“Stop begging… for attention, opportunity, likes, love, to get put on, money, deals, information, tips, advice, networks, views, clicks, comments, compliments, critiques, and/or motivation. The answer to everything you’ll ever need is in a book, a Google search or within yourself. More on that later,” was what I wrote.

So far, I’m up to 20 likes and one love; I’ll take that as a sign it’s safe to proceed.

Before I’m called a snob or something far worse, I want to make something clear: There is a difference between begging and asking for help.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help, in fact, I encourage it. But we have to get back to the basics when it comes to defining the action of asking for help. Help usually indicates the inquiring party has done the majority of the work required to reach the end goal of a project.

You do not ask for help writing a paper if you haven’t penned the first sentence. You do not ask for help painting a room if you intend to sit on the couch with a bowl of popcorn. You do not ask for help throwing a big brunch when you haven’t purchased the ingredients or Googled a few recipes.

Help is seeking out an assistant to whatever it is you want to do. Nothing more than that, really.

(Now here’s the part where I get a little judgmental if I may.) Help abuse has spun out of control! There are GoFundMe fundraisers running without shame for Beyonce tickets, new cars, and vacations. If this is something you’ve done, then call it what it is: a hustle.

The most annoying part about people who constantly beg is that they don’t realize they’re cheating themselves out of an opportunity to learn or experience something new. Some people need the cliff notes for every challenge. To the beggars of the world, I implore you to get to know yourself a little better.

Deep down underneath the layers of self-doubt and laziness is a curious experimenter just begging to get out.

You can do it. No, really, you can.

Regina King says I have 15 more years of shameless short-skirt-wearing and I believe her

http://naturalhair-fashionobsession.tumblr.com/post/140248099156/badbilliejean-goddess

According to my calculations (my calculations being this flaw-free photo of Regina King that I found on Tumblr), there’s really no rush. I’d like to personally thank you, Regina King, for smacking me out of my depressive panic that’s telling me I won’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do. It is false. Regina King is 45 and I am 30. Take that, anxiety.

There’s no rush.

Regina-King-Short-Dress

I still have time to experience all the joys and pains of pregnancy and the privilege of becoming a mom. I still have time to achieve that set of abs that has haunted my dreams for months. I still have time to take that weeklong vacation to France. But, most importantly, I still have time to rock really teeny-tiny clothes. The heydays of many fashion trends have come and gone without my participation due to fear. My thighs are “too jiggly” and being over the age of 25 automatically forces me into the conservative club. I have love handles and I can forget about putting my size D’s into a backless anything.

At least, that’s what I thought until I saw this Regina King picture. This photo definitely tells me otherwise.

http://mrslovelytown.tumblr.com/post/140198589762

There’s also that deep v and nearly booty-baring dress Kerry Washington wore to the Oscars. She’s a mom, a 39-year-old one at that, and she killlllllllled it.

Age be damned.

In a world that’s constantly judging and reinforcing the fallacy that I’m not good enough, this show of confidence is so necessary.

Stay tuned for me in my romper et al.

The Hollywood Reporter squandered an opportunity to talk to actresses of color, but what else is new

The-Hollywood-Reporter-Round-Table

[Note: This was written a long while ago, but I somehow forgot to hit publish. 🙂 ]

The Hollywood Reporter squandered a critical opportunity to champion for inclusion when assembling stars for its annual “Round Table” feature story.

Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Carey Mulligan, Jane Fonda, Brie Larson, Helen Mirren and Charlotte Rampling, all white women, were selected to partake in discussion and to pose for the accompanying fashion spread.

The talking points ranged from being an outspoken voice in Hollywood to the slim probability of landing leading roles after a certain age.

Now to the magazine’s credit, invitations to this sisterhood circle are extended to those whose films have garnered the most critical praise from insiders.

Still, the visual of eight white actresses in a secret meeting where they essentially lamented about everything didn’t sit well with the majority of its readers.

In fact, almost all of Twitter jumped in on the fight for diversity the second the teaser was blasted out.

Perhaps the publication had a minor lapse in accounting the breadth of its audience; maybe the writers simply didn’t expect for its Hollywood bubble to be infiltrated, or maybe it all boils down to pure laziness.

Editor Stephen Galloway penned an apologetic explanation for why they didn’t invite any Black, Asian, or Latina actresses to the tea party, which can be summarized in one line: “Zero actresses of color were in the Oscar conversation,” he wrote.

While that may be true, the conversation should be driven by critics who have the opportunity to preview and then review a plethora of films and not just ones with huge names attached.

Viola Davis, who no doubt should have been included, addressed this issue when she won her Best Actress Emmy. It appears that her speech has gone in one ear and out of the other.

It is up to journalists and the media to delve deeply into the broad spectrum of creative works that exist. Entertainment outlets like People, Us Weekly and THR ignore black celebrities until they are involved in some unbelievable scandal or they die and it really shouldn’t be that way.

Instead offering up a lousy, defensive explanation, THR should have left us all with a promise to do better next time.

On Inflammatory “Chiraq” Reviews When You Haven’t Watched the Movie

spike-lee-chiraq-review

I avoided reviewing Spike Lee’s “Chiraq” until now. Full disclosure here — Lee is one of my favorite directors. Ever since he made Brooklyn come alive in “Do the Right Thing,” I’ve been hooked.

Though far and few between, whenever Lee drops off a new joint there is a least one character, subplot or line I completely relate to. I usually walk away feeling satisfied and thirsty for another story.

The realization that we are in a different time has never been more apparent than the Lee of 2015. He’s older, grayer, and aligns himself with likes of Al Sharpton — all things that would deem him characteristically un-cool. He’s no Ryan Coogler; Lee has officially entered grandfather territory. Like R&B acts of the ‘90s, he struggles to maintain his relevance with the new generation. Where 80s babies think of pizza parlors and boomboxes whenever Lee’s name is brought up, millennials see a geriatric meme in New York Knicks colors.

With all those things considered, it should probably come as no surprise that Lee’s “Chiraq” was metaphorically sprayed on sight by today’s social media driven generation — a group anyone would confidently assume to be his ideal market.

The name itself — “Chiraq” — an erasure of Chicago and its infusion with Iraq to epitomize the killings in the Windy City, made natives shudder. Lee took heat for a stigmatization of their home turf, some have concluded.

Chicago’s own King Louie (a rapper who has criticized the film) gave the moniker legs way before production began.

The imminent doom of “Chiraq” came courtesy of influential rappers and Twitter users — who given the community’s current fight against police brutality — saw bringing inner city gun violence to the forefront as a nuisance.

The number of police shootings around the country where the assailant is unarmed and not a threat are astounding.

“Chiraq” stirs the pot of targeted activism. Lee holds up a rearview mirror for the community to look at or ignore; but right now, many have presumed, is the wrong time. Slamming shortcomings and failures when comment sections are trolled with questions like, “Where are the Black Lives Matter people now?” is a counterproductive effort. Police brutality nor black on black violence is any easy fix.

To his credit, “Chiraq” audaciously attempts to solve gun violence through satire. Satire has long been a difficult genre. For one, there is the risk a creator takes in having the message gravely misconstrued (see: taken literally) by the public.

Chiraq-Review

Lee’s message — spoiler alert — involved the banding together of women to withhold sex as the key to ending gang violence, a modern twist on Lysistrata, a Greek comedy performed in 411 BCE.

Maybe satire wasn’t the best route because there’s nothing remotely funny about mothers having to bury their sons. Still, true fans of the craft might appreciate Lee’s ambition.

Lee’s wrong turn was by ignoring the demographic that is targeted from all sides of gun violence. Young people. They’re on front lines, protesting and attending funerals.

I enjoyed “Chiraq” in spite of the side spectacle of premature reviews. The film was set in Chicago, but it was a reflection of the problems disadvantaged communities face around the country.

Go see “Chiraq” for yourself or don’t.