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Topics - Kristopher

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Sports Talk / ESPN announcer: Angel Rodriguez has 'Puerto Rican temper'
« on: December 24, 2012, 04:32:57 pm »
Angel Rodriguez has endured racially insensitive remarks before. The Kansas State point guard and Puerto Rico native put up with chants of "Where's your green card?" from the Southern Miss band last season.

An ESPN announcer is the latest party to address Rodriguez in an irresponsible manner.

During the second half of Saturday's game between Kansas State and Florida, Rodriguez picked up his third foul on a contested play. ESPN announcer Mitch Holthus and analyst Fran Fraschilla then discussed the merit of the foul.

But Holthus concluded the sequence by saying, "That's sometimes where the Puerto Rican temper kicks in there. They need him on the floor instead of picking up a third foul."

It's unclear what prompted such a comment. But in cases like this, intent is irrelevant. Whether Holthus knew it or not, he was tapping into an offensive stereotype.

And it's another bad look for ESPN, which just dealt with the fallout of Rob Parker's comments on RGIII. The two remarks don't mirror each other, but how can Holthus be so out of touch after watching Parker be lambasted?

General Discussion / Is It A Crime To Be Skinny?
« on: December 07, 2012, 08:48:52 am »
Is It A Crime To Be Skinny?
By Rose Garcia on August 14, 2012

Have you heard that a Canadian gym wrongly bans skinny people because they ‘bring down morale’ of their clients? Although this question can make you raise your eyebrows, the fact is, it is really happening. The Body Exchange, which is the latest body building gym, is the one who does the banning of skinny people, as they think it can bring down the spirit of their overweight clients. At the first glance, you will agree with the owner of the gym, but as you start to ponder the possible reasons, you will also start questioning the logic of the skinny people banning.

Most people will feel that the gym above is racist and is practicing discrimination to skinny people. Why would this gym ban the skinny people inside their premises? There is nothing wrong on being thin and having a waistline that most women would like to have. In fact, these skinny people are admired and are used as role model of the people who also want to be skinny or thin. So, at the view of the ordinary people, the banning that Body Exchange made is simply outrageous and is out of the line.

However, the owner of the gym and CEO, Louise Green has a prepared explanation behind the decision. When asked if the decision is being rude in skinny people, she simply reiterated that the gym is just protecting the interest and welfare of their clients. Every time the gym’s member see a person whose size is 3x less than his weight, it will be noticed that the morale of the fat member diminish and make him think that it is impossible for him to achieve that weight. This situation is one of the reasons why banning to the skinny people has to be made.

After getting the sides of the gym, it is now up to you to make your final assessment for this matter.

Michonne or Maggie? Race, Gender, and Rape on The Walking Dead TV Series

The Walking Dead TV series exists in a universe apart and separate from the comic book. Season Three's storyline with The Governor has reinforced this fact. However, both of these stories are a version of "The Walking Dead." As such, they provide an example of what Culture Studies types call "intertextuality." Here, the comic book and TV series reference each other, while also signaling to other examples of storytelling in the zombie genre.

[For example, the TV series character named "Milton" is a clear allusion to Dr. Logan's character in George Romero's classic film Day of the Dead and his "pet" zombie Bub.]

As I wrote about here, The Walking Dead TV series has little to no interest in developing its African-American characters. The graphic novel has several black male characters who are integral to the story, and are not sideshow stand-ins that are included because of a sense of multicultural political correct noblesse oblige. By contrast, the AMC series has (the now dead) "T-Dog"--a character that was a glorified black man servant chauffeur to the white characters, a black gollum mute with few lines, who lived only to serve and protect the other survivors.

Michonne, a fan favorite, and a richly developed, full, interesting, and challenging character in the graphic novel, was first introduced as a black caretaker and best friend/magical negro to Andrea on the TV series.

There, this iconic character is a black pit bull warrior, unfeeling, laconic, and damaged. Michonne, has a few more lines of dialogue than T-Dog; but she is dangerously close to being a two-dimensional figure whose only plot purpose is only to serve as a weapon to be unhinged at the command of Rick, the leader of the intrepid group of zombie apocalypse survivors. In future episodes, I would suggest that it will be even more clear that Michonne is only a slightly more under control version of the X-Men's Wolverine for Rick; Wolverine was Weapon X; Michonne is a Samurai sword wielding loyal negress.

Glenn is the Asian fix it man, former pizza delivery man, and loyal friend of the white men in the party. Glenn is a post apocalyptic version of the model minority myth. Glenn is not a full "Hop Sing"; however, he is very close to that archetype.

To point. For two seasons, he remains "feminized"--"sneaky, evasive, and stealthy"--until being forced into "manhood" by Merle's interrogation in the most recent episode "When the Dead Come Knocking." Glenn's loyalty to Rick, and the system of white male patriarchal authority he embodies in the show, was symbolically "rewarded" by the former's sexual union with Maggie, a white woman.

In The Walking Dead universe, upward racial mobility would seem to have its "perks."

The Walking Dead TV series is ultimately a story about how white male authority is enduring in a world populated by the undead. As a premise, this is a fine, interesting, and potentially fascinating framework for genre storytelling (I wonder how many viewers understand that this is the not so subtle subtext of the series?).

As further proof of the continuing dominance of white masculinity in a world where the dead now walk the Earth, this season's villain has also surrendered to the white racial frame, where The Governor, who was originally Hispanic in the graphic novel, has been rewritten as a white character.

I can accept that The Walking Dead TV series occupies its own universe and narrative space. I can also accept that people of color are peripheral in this universe, and as such, the roles played by them will be different than the vision offered by the graphic novel. But, I am less forgiving of how a character such as Michonne has been robbed of her power and complexity. My claim is a challenging and provocative one: if you love a character and respect them, then you, the author/creator, must at times let bad things happen to your beloved creation.

Suffering and loss are often part of an iconic character's arc and (eventual) greatness. To allow these moments is to respect both the character and the reader.

Michonne, who was brutally raped by The Governor in The Walking Dead comic book series, has to suffer in order to have her revenge and triumph over him. Michonne is made by pain; it tempers and refines her like an alloy or fine blade of steel.

If you remove her personal challenges, tragedies, and triumphs, you remove Michonne's power in The Walking Dead. This is disrespectful to the character. Considering that Michonne is one of the most  compelling characters in any recent comic book, and who also happens to be a person of color (a group marginalized in graphic novels), the insult is very much magnified.

The centuries of sexual exploitation, rape, and violence suffered by black women in the United States as human chattel, also as free people, and later as full citizens, are socially and politically combustible elements in our public discourse. This history and present are not be treated lightly. The racialized and gendered body--to be both female and black--occupies a very potent, and in many ways precarious location in the body politic.

I am unsure if the writers of The Walking Dead TV series are either cowards, or if they are just afraid of controversy.  Perhaps, they are both? The White Gaze can do wrong even as it explains itself by an appeal to "kindness."

Michonne has to suffer at the hands of The Governor so that she can evolve and grow into an even more essential character who is (at least) as important and capable a leader as Rick. Michonne's role is doubly important because Tyrese, who in The Walking Dead comic book is every bit the leader and masculine authority figure as Rick (if not more so), is not present in the story.

[This will finally be corrected. Tyrese, has been cast. He will be portrayed by Chad Coleman, who played Cutty on The Wire, in the next episode.]

There is a deep fear of black justice and righteous revenge in America's collective subconscious. Is Michonne's character hamstrung and neutered by this anxiety? Or alternatively, are the writers, directors, and producers of The Walking Dead TV series (where at least one of them is African-American) afraid that characters such as Michonne and Tyrese will discourage white viewership? Are white audiences really that fickle? Are strong and dignified black characters that off putting?

In all, The Walking Dead TV series is operating under a logic that I am unable to fully comprehend.

A white female character such as Maggie can be threatened with rape, and quite likely allowed her revenge. Michonne, a black female character, in a society which systematically devalues people of color, and black women in particular, is not raped by The Governor.

Is this progress? Political correctness run amok? Lazy writing?  Is the suffering of a white female character noteworthy, and the rape and abuse of a black female character anticlimactic and uninteresting? Are matters really that (ironically) retrograde?

Vox Populi / Buchanan: ‘White America’ Died Last Night
« on: November 09, 2012, 04:28:24 am »
Conservative political pundit Pat Buchanan stoked controversy today by claiming that Barack Obama's reelection has 'killed White America'.
The paleoconservative nativist is no stranger to racial controversy, having previously been accused of writing books with racist and anti-semitic undertones.
But the former Nixon advisor was more explicit on the G. Gordon Liddy Show this morning. When asked for his reaction to Obama's victory, Buchanan replied brazenly:
"White America died last night. Obama's reelection killed it. Our 200 plus year history as a Western nation is over. We're a Socialist Latin American country now. Venezuela without the oil."

Stunned by his clear racisim, Liddy tried to walk his guest back from the ledge:
"With what you just said right there...You seem to imply that white people are better than other people. That's not really what you're saying is it?"
"Of course that's what I'm saying," Buchanan replied "Isn't it obvious? Anything worth doing on this Earth was done first by white people."
"Who landed on the moon? White people. Who climbed Mount Everest? White people.  Who invented the transistor? White people. Who invented paper? White people. Who discovered algebra? White people."
"And don't give me all this nonsense about Martin Luther King and civil rights and all that. Who do you think freed the slaves? Abraham Lincoln. A white guy!"

Carte Blanche
"But we're not led by Lincoln anymore, we're led by an affirmative-action mulatto who can't physically understand how great America once was."
"I cried last night G. I cried for hours. It's over for all of us. The great White nation will never survive another 4 years of Obama's leadership"
Liddy tried to reason with Buchanan, reminding him that he shares similar positions with the President on Afghanistan, Iraq, and relations with Russia:
"Of course I agree with half of what he does,"  Buchanan answered, "He's half white! That's not the half I'm worried about."
Buchanan served as a speechwriter in the Nixon White House. He was fired as an MSNBC analyst this year following the publication of a book many considered to be racist.

An update on BET's "two-hour backdoor comedy pilot/original movie" starring Daniel Dwayne Simmons, aka Diggy Simmons (son of Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons), executive produced by Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil.

A quick recap... Set in New York, four young people are struggling to relaunch their rising-star blog. They're thrilled when finally given a real shot by the owner of a trendy magazine, only to learn they've been scammed.

The potential scripted series would reportedly have an Entourage vibe to it, with Allen Maldonado (as Diggy's character's best friend Manny), Teyana Taylor (as Diggy's character's ex-GF), Chris Brew (as Dot, a tech geek, and childhood friend), Bria Murphy (as Manny’s girlfriend), and Stephanie Charles (as Sheri, Dot’s ex-girlfriend), all co-starring.

Skip ahead to recent Facebook posts on the Akil Productions page, stating that the project is aptly titled The Start Up.

Salim Akil will direct the film/pilot episode, which will begin shooting in October in New York and Atlanta.

Joining the Akils as executive producers are Kenya Baris, Chris Lighty, Laurie Dobbins, and James Dubose.

In The News / Schools ban 'father-daughter' dance
« on: September 19, 2012, 05:14:03 am »
In Cranston, a signature school event, “the father-daughter dance” has been banned in all public schools.

The new superintendent of Cranston schools, Dr. Judith Lundsten, issued a letter in August banning all “gender specific events” at the school because of a complaint from the ACLU last May.

“This is 2012 and they [public schools] should not be in the business of fostering blatant gender stereotypes,” Steven Brown of the RI ACLU told the WPRO Morning News with Tara Granahan and Andrew Gobeil.

Sean Gately, a Republican candidate for State Senate in District 26 in Cranston says that once again the ACLU is taking on Cranston and once again the school committee, of which his opponent, Democrat Frank Lombardi was a member, was “asleep at the switch.”

According to Gately, the school committee did not hold any hearings for comment from the public but instead just decided “behind closed doors” that gender specific events, including the father-daughter dance and the mother-son baseball game, are a violation of the law.

Lombardi said Gately is just trying to “politicize everything that happens.” He said “it wasn’t an issue with the school committee, it was something that came from the superintendent’s office and she was following the law.” Lombardi said no one met behind closed doors and denies that the school committee had any involvement.

“In 2012 not every girl necessarily wants to grow up and be Cinderella, some might actually like to go out on the baseball field and a public school of all places should not be suggesting otherwise,” said the ACLU's Brown.

“I think when schools tell girls you love dances and boys you love baseball game, I think that is going too far. That is the whole point of having laws and policies to say public schools should not be the business of really encouraging such blatant stereotypes about what girls like and what boys like,” said Brown.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung said he is extremely disappointed with this decision.

"I think it is a too limited, too narrow read of how the Title IX and the state law are meant to be read. It's unbelievable, unimaginable that we are at the center of a controversy all because of the ACLU once again," said Fung.

Gately said a person that wanted to volunteer at the dance told him about the situation.

“One of my wife’s friends whose student is at the school went up to sign up to chaperone the father-daughter dance, and when she went to sign up she realized there was no father-daughter dance listed,” Gately told WPRO’s Matt Allen. He said after some investigation someone showed him the memo from Dr. Lundsten that banned all “gender-specific” events.

The letter, sent to “partner organizations” states Title IX as the reason, saying that the “gender-specific” events isolate students and the school does not offer “reasonably comparable activities” as provided by Title IX for both genders.

At the end of the letter Dr. Lundsten wrote, “I acknowledge that many of these events have long traditions and for many parents, these types of gender-based events are not an issue, however, this is a public school system and under no circumstances should we be isolating any student from full participation in school activities and events based on gender. Please be all inclusive when planning your events.”

"Times are changing and we just have to be sensitive to all the issues that are appropriate for children's feelings," said Governor Lincoln Chafee.  Questioned Tuesday by reporters, Chafee said that he has been to a father-dance with his daughter and that it meant a lot to both of them, but noted the dance is more for socializing with other dads.

According to Gately, the ACLU confirmed that the school submitted an official response to its complaint in May. Gately said a parent of a student at a Cranston school contacted the ACLU to make a complaint about the gender specific events.

Lombardi said that the legal issue is the word “comparable.” Lombardi said it comes down to what is a comparable event.

Lombardi said that this issue is completely different from the Cranston prayer banner issue. Lombardi, an outspoken advocate for the prayer banner that was ordered removed by a federal judge on the grounds that it ostracized students who were not Christian, said in this case he supports the schools superintendent. “That is the safest way is to make everything inclusive,” said Lombardi. “That is the best way to do it. Include everyone.”

Lombardi said this issue is different from the banner because the banner was a piece of the school history and tradition, these events are not.

Fung said he feels like the ACLU is taking advantage of the city's tight finances, "it's really disappointing because I feel like we are getting hit at the worst financial times right now. I think the ACLU might be picking on that but this is really a shame that it's coming to this point."

Latest Flicks / Jim Sturgess is a Tool
« on: September 12, 2012, 10:06:45 am »

Image: Verified twitter post from actor Jim Sturgess, who is white and appears in yellowface in the upcoming film Cloud Atlas.
Sturgess writes: “Yellowface? Blackface? Pinkface? Pinkberry? Blackberry? Crackberry? Blueberry? Strawberry? Bananas? Frozen Yogurt? All the toppings?.Lovely!

After Phil Yu posted this, I spent a couple hours stewing in a pit of rage. I’m still angry. And I’m still sorting out my reaction.

After some thought, I came to the following conclusion: Jim Sturgess is a tool.

Shocking revelation, right?

But I mean it in a slightly different sense than you might initially think.

Jim could be a perfectly nice guy. He could be kind to his friends, he probably loves his family. He probably makes other jokes that people think are funny and don’t hurt anyone at all.

But he’s a tool in a direct sense, because through some combination of talent, hard work, and luck, he has become the go-to Hollywood guy to play Asian men. Before someone thinks to call John Cho, Dante Basco, Kunal Nayyar, or Archie Kao, Jim gets the first speed dial. Whether it’s replacing a real-life Asian American with a white guy or showing that Asian folks are really just reincarnated white dudes with awful prosthetic slant-eyes, Sturgess is your man.

He is the perfect tool for Hollywood to tell stories about fascinating, exotic Asian cultures without the inconvenience of having to actually cast an Asian man in any but the most demeaning of roles. He’s the perfect tool to cement the notion that American culture is perfectly complete sans anything resembling a real, flesh-and-blood Asian male.

The film industry will cast Asian women, if they stick to their place as romantic interests or exotic geishas or all-look-same submissive clones.

But if a role comes up for an Asian man that’s not a gutless eunuch or an abusive patriarch, then Jim cracks out the makeup kit. And we go back to the Hollywood of 1937.

For Jim, it’s a joke about froyo.

For me, it’s a reminder that no matter what I accomplish in my life, no matter if I become a world-class blackjack player or cure cancer, Jim will be there to tape his eyes back and tell my story. He’ll be there to show America what an “Asian” is. Or more accurately, he’ll be there to show America what a chink is. In a time when it’s unthinkable to teach our kids the word “chink” it’s still necessary to show them, to raise them on media that delineates the role of Asians in society, to film stories about Asianness that exclude or silence Asian bodies, faces, and voices.

So we can have an anatomy lesson on, a shared definition of, chink and gook without ever using the words. Because that would be offensive.

Image: Jim Sturgess in yellowface portraying a Korean character in Cloud Atlas(2012)

There are any number of excuses for the use of yellowface or whitewashing: “The reincarnation is crucial to the story” (even if it’s been vastly multiplied in transition from novel to film). “We are in an era where we can depict yellowface without hurting anyone” (even if yellowface has persisted for decades, unabated, while talented Asian American stars are reduced to playing delivery boys and faceless yakuza thugs). “We are past race” (convenient for maintaining a laughably lopsided status quo in film representation). “It’s okay because the director’s last name is Shyamalan” (as though M. Night’s Asian American identity gives him free license to marginalize and exclude).
It never surprises me how many reasons can be manufactured to support anachronistic, discriminatory practices. The Last Airbender was only the most recent example. The characters and story were Asian or First Nations in every integral sense, from the background, to the intention of the creators, to their names and food and written language and culture.

But the pile of evidence was not enough, because the question asked by many was “Why can’t they cast a white actor?”–as though the tides of history were stacked so against white actors that they needed defending, they needed the extra opportunity of playing outside their race. As though Asian actors were taking all the good roles, taking all the roles worth doing. As though roles practically screaming for an Asian actor come along everyday, and not just for Long Duk Dong or Charlie Chan or Mr. Chow.

“No,” they said, “these lead roles are clearly fine with white actors. Maybe you’ll get the next one.”

Maybe with Akira? Or We Heroes All? Or Oldboy? Or Firefly? Or any of the hundred-plus films that Warner Bros. managed to produce over the last decade without a single Asian American lead?

“No. But here’s Red Dawn. That’s cool, right?”

Cloud Atlas goes to wide release on October 26th. I’m not sure where exactly I’ll be. But I know it’ll be in front of a theater, or a studio. I won’t have a ticket, but I will have a sign. And I just hope I’m not alone out there.

While the world remains transfixed by the Apple v. Samsung ruling in California, Samsung just quietly won a significant victory over Apple in Japan.

A Tokyo court struck down an injunction request by Apple yesterday to bar 8 Samsung devices from Japan, according to Bloomberg. Even more, the court ordered Apple to pay the entirity of Samsung's legal fees. Samsung shares rose 1.6 percent after the ruling, while Apple shares fell as much as 2.1 percent on German trading floors.
Even though the ruling isn't nearly as big of a deal as the one handed down in California last week, it's still a good sign.  Japan is known as strong at intellectual property, leading analyst Kim Hyon Sik to say "the mood is turning positive for Samsung."
In fact, it looks as if Samsung is doing better in many courts outside the U.S. On August 24th, a Korean court called it a stalemate between Apple and Samsung, penalizing both companies (almost) equally. Apple was ordered to stop selling the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2 in South Korea, while Samsung must stop selling 12 products including the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab.

Meanwhile, in Australia, a preliminary ban on the Galaxy 10.1 was overturned by the highest court in December.
It's easy to look at Apple's victory over Samsung and think that Sammy is going downhill, but the truth is much more complex. Not only does the Korean smartphone giant have a lead over Apple worldwide, they have a good chance of appealing their most recent guilty verdict. Don't consider the California ruling the last word, by any means.

Republican Convention Bombs As Viewership Drops by 17 Million

By: Jason EasleyAugust 30th, 2012

The GOP’s Mitt makeover isn’t going over well with American television viewers. Compared to night two of the 2008 Republican convention, viewership is down by 17 million.

Paul Ryan is no Sarah Palin. The viewership for Paul Ryan’s speech was down across every network compared to what Sarah Palin averaged in 2008. NBC was down 3.5 million viewers. ABC was down three million viewers. CBS and MSNBC were down 2 million viewers each. CNN lost a whopping 5 million viewers compared to Palin’s 2008 speech. Even Fox News was down 1.5 million viewers. In total, only 20 million people tuned in for Paul Ryan compared to the 37 million who watched Sarah Palin.

Ryan’s ratings nosedive isn’t the Republican convention’s only problem. Only Fox News and ABC saw their viewership rise or stay the same from night one to night two. Fox News saw their viewership rise from 6.89 million on night one to 7.70 million on night two, while ABC has drawn to 2.86 million viewers on each night.

What really jumps out in the ratings data is how limited the appeal of this convention is. Fox News has led the ratings for all networks on both nights. If the Romney campaign was hoping to reach Independents with their convention, it isn’t working. Over one third of the total audience is coming from the Republican cheering section known as Fox News.

Ryan’s ratings collapse highlights his limited popularity. As you could tell by the reception in the convention hall, Paul Ryan is beloved by the right. His appeal though seems limited just to the right. Ryan and the Romney campaign did themselves no favors by having him give a speech that was loaded with falsehoods, while also being completely devoid of any hope, optimism, or vision for the future.

Republicans love nasty negative politics, but America doesn’t. Voters love optimism and vision, but Mitt Romney has not highlighted any of this during his convention. Instead the Republican Party has presented an angry gloom and doom fest where speaker after speaker tell us all how lousy everything is, and that it is all Barack Obama’s fault.

Since voters don’t like Mitt Romney, it seems the Republican Party has decided that it must terrify America into supporting him. That type of strategy makes for a depressing convention, and even worse, it’s bad television.

Paul Ryan’s speech was delivered like an oral book report by someone who was making up the book as he went along. It is no surprise that viewers aren’t tuning in to the Republican convention. This is convention that lacks warmth, charisma, and star power.

The Republicans were hoping to reinvent Mitt Romney, but they got was confirmation that America is just not into both of them.

Other Comics / Image Comics Giving Away 20 Free Digital Comics
« on: August 24, 2012, 09:32:20 pm »
Effective today, Image Comics announced that digital copies of the first issues of twenty series debuts that hit the stands this year from the publisher will be made available for free, permanently, through ComiXology.

Best-selling titles Fatale, Saga, The Manhattan Projects, America’s Got Powers, Thief of Thieves and Mind the Gap headline the project, which also sees the #1 issues of Alpha Girl, Creator-Owned Heroes, Dancer, Danger Club, Epic Kill, Grim Leaper, Hell Yeah, Hoax Hunters, No Place Like Home, Peter Panzerfraust, Secret and Planetoid offered for free. Glory #23 and Prophet #21, each the first issues in their respective titles’ relaunched continuities, are also included.

Many of the series have sold out at the direct-market level and gone back for two or more printings, while a number of them, including Saga, Fatale, Creator-Owned Heroes, Prophet and Planetoid drew rave reviews from
The twenty titles are being made available in celebration of Image Comics’ twentieth anniversary, during which the issues in question debuted.

Team USA Versus the Machine: How Madison Avenue Turned World Class Olympians Into Lolo Jones’ Co-Stars

When Team USA Olympic hurdlers Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells came in silver and bronze Tuesday behind a heavily favored Sally Pearson of Australia, they were all smiles, giddy even. Harper, a 2008 gold medalist in the same event, didn’t even seem to mind that she’d fallen just 0.02 seconds from repeating her win. Because while it might have been a bummer to lose to the accomplished Pearson, the Aussie wasn’t the one Harper and Wells were trying to beat.

It was their fellow Team USA hurdler, media darling, Lolo Jones.

Jones, who was on her way to Olympic gold in Beijing until she smashed into the last hurdle, has been all the press –  particularly NBC, the TV host for the US broadcast of the London games – has wanted to talk about in women’s track. This despite the fact that she qualified behind Harper and Wells to join Team USA.

Just the round-up of headlines on the women’s 100 meters reflects this:

Lolo Jones Barely Reaches Olympic 100 Hurdles Final (Huffington Post)

Jones misses glory in 100 hurdles (Sports Illustrated)

Lolo Jones Finishes Fourth In the 100-Meter Hurdles. Will It Silence Her Critics? (

Lolo Jones Can’t Win For Losing (FOX Sports)

Update: Lolo Jones finishes fourth in 100m finals (Des Moines Register)

Lolo Jones endures more pain after failing to medal in 100 hurdles (USA Today)

Lolo Jones fails to capture 100-meter hurdles medal (Associated Press)

For all the press Jones received, both before the London Olympics and after her fourth place finish, you’d think she was the one to beat in that race, but she wasn’t. She was the plucky underdog. Jones, for a myriad of reasons, wasn’t posting better times than her Beijing heartbreak. She was lucky just to make the squad, then to qualify for the final heat. It was always more about Harper versus Pearson – the two heavy-weights – with Pearson being the favorite to win.

This favoritism bred some obvious resentment as, in post-win interviews, Wells and Harper didn’t hide their true feelings about the media being “All Lolo All the Time.” Those who had the best shot at medaling in women’s hurdles had a legitimate gripe with the press and, even in some respect, their limelight-loving teammate. But in the end, the real culprit here is the media, big ratings, marketability, and the laziest form of colorism.

Lolo Jones is a talented hurdler. You have to be to qualify for an Olympic team twice, which Jones did in 2008 and 2012. But we’re dealing with some of the best athletes in the world who, in some respects, have dedicated their entire lives and the lives of their loved ones to the sport. Being good enough to get on the team isn’t necessarily what it takes to be good enough to win, and there were three hurdlers who simply ran a better race than her that night. But you can’t ignore the fact that so much of why the media made Lolo Jones its darling comes from its own tortured logic about women, sports, and race.

Jones is conventionally pretty, biracial, and very light complexioned in a sport that – in the US at least – is dominated by African American women. And because, long ago, Madison Avenue decided black women of a brown-skinned or darker hue have a face only a bottle of syrup could love, they aren’t considered “marketable.” Oh sure, Dawn Harper has gorgeous skin and a magnetic smile. Of course Wells has that girl-next-door cuteness and pluck. But they’re both on the darker end of flesh tone spectrum. Hence, in the eyes of your advertising exec, unless their names are “Oprah” and “Winfrey,” they aren’t marketable.

The hard truth is that those who have the money –  meaning your captains of media – are mostly white men. Most of the people who cover sports in the United States are white men. And when they choose who to cover and who not to cover, who to “make happen” and who to ignore, it’s purely about what is of interest to them.

What is of interest in them is a pretty girl (preferably white or as close as you can get to it) who can also do “sports.”

If you happen to be both a pretty girl AND excellent at sports you’re as good as printed money. But a pretty woman who’s just slightly above average will also do in a pinch. Years of Madison Avenue campaigns have told people that no one’s penis is supposed to be interested in Dawn Harper, hence Dawn Harper can’t sell product, therefore Dawn Harper is not “relatable” to the (white) mainstream, hence no magazine covers for Dawn Harper, no endorsements for Dawn Harper, no near nude photo spreads, no endless discussions about her sex life (or lack thereof), no mentions of how much Dawn Harper loves Jesus and so on. If Dawn Harper’s face is on it, it’s Tyler Perry. If Lolo Jones’ face is on it, it’s Will Smith. That’s how Madison Avenue – and even some consumers – think. Black faces are for black people unless that black face is a face that has “crossed over” in their popularity and has render their race a “non-factor.”

Now, is all of this kind of sort of screwed up and horrible? Why yes. But is it new? Not at all.

In the lead up to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona Spain, Reebok rolled out a huge campaign starring aspiring Olympic decathletes Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson. Relatively unknown to most in the United States, the campaign made the duo stars and their U.S. qualifying rounds an event to watch. But the Dan & Dave rivalry that was promoted and largely cooked up by the advertising industry hit a pretty big snag when O’Brien failed to make the US Olympic team.

Johnson did make the team and won a bronze in Barcelona, but Johnson would have to wait until the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta to get his gold medal.

Tall, good looking, and, in Dan’s case (much like Lolo), “ethnically ambiguous” – Dan & Dave were marketable. Could they go all the way? Um … eventually, they could. But in the way they were hyped up to be in 1992? Obviously not.

It’s easy to get mad at Jones because she, like Dan & Dave, are the face of this ridiculousness. They’re the ones Madison Avenue plucked out of obscurity to sell us flavored water and tear-jerky NBC stories. But Jones isn’t the problem – intellectually lazy latent sexism and racism in advertising is. And as long as we have a marketing machine dominated by diversity adverse white men who vote which female athletes are “marketable” by their penises, we will have this problem.

It’s not that Harper and Wells AREN’T marketable. It’s that they aren’t even considered unless they do something so unbelievable the marketers and the media have no choice but to stand up and take notice. Because when one black woman crosses over and is successful it is considered an anomaly, a fluke.  Oprah becoming Oprah didn’t lead to media companies scouring college campuses and newsrooms to find the next black female news star, because the media machine doesn’t work that way. They have a narrative, it’s already written and Lolo Jones fits that narrative. Anyone who’s ever watched half an hour of AMC’s “Mad Men” would recognize that the advertising industry – like all historically white male-dominated industries – is pretty slow to recognize that everyone doesn’t think like them. Not even other white men. Proof that black women have and can be marketable means nothing because your success – like that gold medalist Gabby Douglas – is treated like a happy accident or a comet that only comes by every seven years.  So what if Viola Davis wins an Oscar? So what if Queen Latifah models for Cover Girl? So what Serena and Venus Williams have dominated Tennis for nearly a decade? So what if Beyonce and Rihanna top the charts?

If a black woman is a failure, she’s a predictable, mournful statistic, endlessly reported on in the news. If a black woman is a success, she’s a unique snowflake not fit to sell pancake batter.

When you’re good, you’re an individual. When you’re really good, you’re “beyond race.” But when you’re bad, you are your race.

And that’s marketing.

That’s America.

Black Lightning co-creator Tony Isabella, whose relationship with DC Comics can be kindly described as contentious, would like you to know that, yes, he’s seen the announcement about the character’s reintroduction in DC Universe Presents — and, no, he doesn’t want to comment on it.

“You don’t have to e-mail me, private message me, phone me, or post links on my Facebook page,” he wrote on his blog. “My only public comments to date have been ‘Words fail me’ and, to my friend Dan Mishkin, ‘Forget it, Dan. It’s DC Town.’ But, really, if you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about Black Lightning and DC’s continued refusal to honor its agreements with me, and if you have half a brain, you already know how I feel about the news.”

Mishkin is, of course, co-creator of Blue Devil, who’ll share the spotlight with Black Lighting, as well as co-creator of Amethyst, who will anchor the upcoming Sword of Sorcery anthology. He’s already spoken publicly about the relaunch of Amethyst, telling Comic Book Resources he thinks “what they’re setting out to do isn’t worth doing” because of central changes DC is making to the character. His former collaborator Gary Cohn was more blunt, saying, “I really don’t have anything to say about Amethyst that I haven’t said many times before, except maybe, R.I.P.”

Isabella has long contended he’s the sole creator of Black Lightning, a character who wasn’t introduced under a work-for-hire agreement but rather a partnership between he and DC. It was only after he sought to buy out the publisher’s interest in the character following the cancellation of the first series in 1978 that he says DC declared artist Trevor Von Eeden as Black Lightning’s co-creator.

The new Black Lightning will debut alongside the new Blue Devil in October’s DC Universe Presents #13. The five-part story by Marc Andreyko and Robson Rocha will team the two disparate heroes in a scenario the writer has likened to Lethal Weapon and Moonlighting.

Brett Booth's Black Lightning character design

Vox Populi / How to get away with murder... Flee to Israel
« on: July 02, 2012, 06:12:04 pm »
Sheinbein will be eligible to apply for furloughs of 24 to 96 hours beginning in 2003 and to apply for parole in 2013, when he is 33. He is also eligible for conjugal visits immediately. There was no immediate decision on where Sheinbein will be imprisoned.

Israeli Court Sentences Sheinbein to 24 Years
Monday, October 25, 1999

An Israeli court sentenced convicted murderer Samuel Sheinbein to 24 years in prison yesterday, saying the Maryland teenager had displayed "cruelty, wickedness and malice" in killing Alfredo Enrique Tello Jr. in Montgomery County two years ago.

"In light of his age, and in light of the severity of his actions, the defendant therefore deserves a severe and deterring punishment," Goren said.

If he had been tried in Maryland, as both Israel and the United States wanted, he would have faced a maximum punishment of life in prison.

The sentence pronounced by the three-judge panel was the same recommended in a plea agreement between Sheinbein's attorneys and Israeli prosecutors last month. Under the agreement, Sheinbein, now 19, confessed to the murder and both sides avoided what would have been a trial of exceptional duration and complexity. But judges were not bound by the recommendation and could have sentenced Sheinbein to a shorter, or longer, prison term.

Tello's family declined to comment yesterday.

The sentencing concludes a two-year legal odyssey that began when Sheinbein, then 17, killed Tello, dismembered his body with a power saw, burned his torso and stashed it in an Aspen Hill garage near Sheinbein's home.

Days later, already a suspect in the killing, Sheinbein fled to Israel with the help of his father, Sol, who holds both U.S. and Israeli citizenship. The incident provoked a diplomatic furor, and in the lengthy court battle that followed, the United States and the Israeli government tried to have Sheinbein extradited to stand trial in Montgomery County, but they were blocked by the Israeli Supreme Court.(The Supreme Court of Israel Thursday ruled that it would not extradite Sheinbein to Maryland to face charges of killing Alfred Tello. Sheinbein, who was born in the United States, fled to Israel after the murder. He successfully argued against extradition back to the U.S. because his father was born in Israel, qualifying Sheinbein for Israeli citizenship.)

Furloughs? Conjugal visits? Parole?

All this for a killer who brutally murdered an acquaintance, then chopped up and burned the body?

This is absurd, but then again, this is how Israel protects murderers in in its midst.

Lucky for this sadistic murderer that his father had Jewish citizenship, so he could flee to Israel and avoid a life sentence. Sorry Samuel old boy, but here in the states, we don't coddle killers with furloughs and conjugal visits.

What a grand country that Israel is! If they're not busy carrying out the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians thru genocide, they're busy hiding killers like Shienbein.

A bed time story he made for his three sons has become a comic book career for a Baltimore writer. "Jaycen Wise" could be the next big superhero and tonight we look into what makes him different from the rest.

By day he's a mild mannered graphic designer but by night he travels through time as an immortal warrior for good. He is fictional, but it's almost the life of Baltimore's Richard Tyler. As a father of three boys, one night he told them a bedtime story of a character he'd thought of named "Jaycen Wise."

"As kids will do they wanted to know more about the character, and I didn't always have the answer. I had to develop this intricate back story to satisfy them, and that's house Jaycen Wise was born," says Tyler.

Wise is an acronym for Wisdom, Intelligence, Strength, and Endurance. Some of the same attributes other superheros have, with one big change. Tyler wanted to create a black character for his kids. Jaycen Wise has been recently named among the 25 most momentous black characters ever.

"There's a groundswell of support, I actually have people constantly writing me asking me when the next Jaycen Wice book's coming out. When is the animation coming out, when is the live action film."

It's not at that level yet, but it can be, without turning into a super villain and robbing a bank. Because of today's printing and online technology, almost anyone can create something without spending thousands on printing and storage costs.

One day soon, Richard Tyler's night job will become his main job.

For more, see link with video

Just weeks after the Trayvon Martin case, another African-American teenager is gunned down. When will America learn?

On 31 May, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a 13-year-old boy named Darius Simmons was allegedly shot to death by 75-year-old John Henry Spooner, right in front of the boy's mother, Patricia Larry. Spooner had confronted Darius as he was taking out the trash and accused the kid of stealing from his home. When Ms Larry attempted to defend her son verbally against the accusation, Spooner drew a 9mm handgun.

Darius, who had been in school at the time of the theft and who was, by all accounts, was a well-behaved, outgoing sixth-grader, denied any wrongdoing. Spooner, unconvinced, reportedly raised his firearm and shot Darius in the chest at close range. Though fatally wounded, Darius attempted to escape and turned to run, while Spooner continued to unload, aiming for the boy's back. Darius collapsed on the pavement and Larry, who had watched this episode unfold in horror, ran to her child to see if he had a pulse. Darius was dead.

Spooner was known by his neighbors, police, and local elected officials as a gun collector. In a recently reported burglary, Spooner claimed that four shotguns were taken. The police had already done an investigation, several days prior, to burglaries at Spooner's residence. They had interviewed Darius Simmons' family, and concluded that no one from his household was involved. Larry, Darius's mother, had lived in that home for only a month.

After police arrived, Darius's body remained on the sidewalk, while his mother was questioned in a squad car for approximately two hours. During the investigation of the shooting, they searched Larry's home again. Finding nothing relevant to the homicide, they nevertheless proceeded to arrest Darius's older brother on account of truancy tickets.

In contrast, members of Spooner's family were reportedly allowed to re-enter their home and remove "items" – despite it being part of the crime scene. Spooner himself was granted bail for $300,000 (meaning that only $30,000 would have to be posted for him to be freed). Appearing in court Monday 11 June, Spooner pleaded not guilty to first-degree intentional homicide.

There are many ways to view this latest chapter of American race relations. One dimension of the story is that Larry had moved to this so-called white section of Milwaukee because she wanted to give her family better educational opportunities and the chance to escape the risks of inner-city violence (in a manner not unlike the way the parents of Trayvon Martin had moved to that gated community where he was murdered). I understand this because my mother did the very same thing with me when I was Darius's age. I was certainly called the N-word by the good white folks who "welcomed" us to the neighborhood, but no one thought to pull a gun and shoot me.

Another way to view this is that Milwaukee, like most urban centers in America, is scarred with violence. Blacks and Latinos piled into ghetto dwellings, with limited educational, employment, and life choices, do definitely commit horrific acts of violence against each other. I see this every day in my own neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. But because such violence does occur does not mean that a George Zimmerman, in Florida, or a John Henry Spooner, in Wisconsin, has a right to arm himself to the teeth and become a de facto law enforcer, who demonizes every single black or Latino young male they encounter.

Rather than address the root causes of crime and violence in America, we point fingers, we cast blame randomly: we shoot to kill, we ask questions later. But that is the climate of America: if you are a black or brown person, you are a criminal suspect – the culprit for every societal ill – even if you have nothing to do with those problems.

In Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker has just survived a bitterly divisive recall election, occasioned by his controversial anti-union law. This same Governor Walker also approved a conceal-and-carry gun law in his state – as if the vigilante tendency needed any encouragement.

Finally, it pains me to see yet another mother, another black mother, posing with a picture of a dead son, gunned down before he had a chance to live. No doubt, she will have to listen to the arguments of Spooner's attorneys, casting him as a victim of crime. Perhaps she will even be forced to hear doubt cast on her dead son's reputation.

We have been here before. And we will be here again. Unless we Americans can have real, honest, and serious conversations about race and racism in the US, we are condemned to repeat the dehumanising lies that poison our community relations and cause the endless-seeming cycle of deaths like Darius Simmons's.

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