This is Me

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thank You For Saying What I Could Not

My blood pressure has been up ever since this morning when I heard Neal Boortz's racist tail say that Don Imus should be able to KEEP his job "just because" there are SOME blacks who call other blacks "nappy headed" and "hoes" (which of course justifies Imus's reason for doing it). So because some random rapper disrespected me, you think it's okay for you to do, too? What have you been smoking?

I have so many thoughts on this issue, but at the risk of sounding incoherent or unintelligent because my blood pressure has yet to come down, I'm going to post a column I just read that sums up a lot of my feelings on the issue.... when I can calmly type my thoughts and make them sound good, I'll post about it....


Take a stand against indecency and cruelty

By Jemele Hill
Page 2

The oversexed Jezebel. The welfare mother. The mammy. And now the latest catch phrase to be added to the lexicon of stereotypes about black women: the nappy-headed ho.

Thank you, Don Imus, for your valuable contribution.

If it were up to me, security would have escorted the longtime radio jock out of his CBS Radio cocoon with belongings in tow days ago. But for now, I'll have to settle for a two-week suspension that doesn't begin until next week. That'll show him.

Days have passed since Imus, executive producer Bernard McGuirk and sports announcer Sid Rosenberg took turns taking cheap shots at the Rutgers women's basketball team, but I'm still boiling because too many people continue to defend Imus behind lame free-speech arguments
-- remember, speech is free, but consequences are not -- and the idea that black women just don't know a good joke when they hear one. Tell you what, if this "nappy-headed ho" comment is as harmless as some of you say it is, say that phrase to your wives and girlfriends tonight
(or even a woman on the street). If they laugh, I'll write an entire column about how humorless I am.

Imus' comments were harmful to all women -- especially for female athletes who still struggle to gain acceptance in our society -- but they really cut black women deep.

Our looks have been the subject of ridicule for decades. While history has kindly portrayed white women as bastions of purity and decency, black women have been characterized as hypersexed and indecent since the 17th century. So the phrase "nappy-headed" didn't bother me nearly as much as the "ho" part.

In case you're wondering, I would have been equally outraged if Imus were black, Asian, Latino, Portuguese or Italian. The ethnicity or skin color of the perpetrator matters none.

And since some of you -- actually, a lot of you -- have done the predictable thing and used Imus' predicament as a platform to hold African-Americans responsible for hip-hop, I'll briefly address that. Although I hope you know hip-hop didn't become the No. 1 music genre in the world because only black folks support the music.

For the record, I am equally offended by the rappers who make music videos and songs that demean women -- although hip-hop artists didn't invent the concept of objectifying women.

Many African-Americans have been outspoken about those destructive elements of hip-hop. Instead of just taking his lumps, Imus tried to challenge Al Sharpton on his stance on hip-hop when Imus appeared on Sharpton's radio show Monday. I don't stick up for Al Sharpton often
because I consider him an agitator, but Sharpton's views on "gangsta" rap have been consistent and clear.

Last week, Sharpton and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons held a public protest against rapper Tony Yayo -- who is associated with 50 Cent -- for his alleged assault of the 14-year-old son of a rival record company executive. Sharpton even called for a 90-day, FCC-mandated ban on all gangsta music.

But that doesn't air on CNN and Essence magazine's Take Back the Music crusade -- a nationwide campaign that promotes up-and-coming hip-hop artists with positive values -- and it doesn't make the front pages of newspapers.

But none of this has anything to do with Imus, whose apology I can't accept or take seriously. Imus has become a Hall of Fame broadcaster using race-baiting, offensive tactics. He is routinely offensive to people of color and women, and if he needs to lose his job to
understand that there is no place for that, so be it.

As a society, there are times when we need to stand together against indecency and cruelty.

Jemele Hill, a Page 2 columnist and writer for ESPN The Magazine, can be reached at

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

If I'm Not Beautiful, Why Do You Want to Look Like Me?

I am so frustrated that America doesn't get it.

People walk around with blinders on and don't make (or don't want to make) the seemingly obvious connections.

Connection: My lips and the pouty/full lip phenomenon that has gained momentum ever since Angelina Jolie hit the Hollywood market.

I remember one day in high school, after putting on lipstick, a boy told me "You've got big lips." Trust - it wasn't a compliment. But I said "thank you" anyway because bigger lips are a feature of my people. *raising my fist in the air*

There are a whole slew of products on the market to make your lips look bigger, from cheap lip gloss to give the *impression* that your lips are pouty, to collagen injections. Some people have even resorted to drawing a new lip line above the actual lines of their lips, as if we don't see it when we look at you.

Connection: my backside and the jeans you wear to make yours look bigger.

There was a slave by the name of Saartjie Baartman (aka the Hottentot Venus) whose backside was so big, she was put on display NAKED on France's streets so they could make fun of her as they passed.

Yeah. That actually happened. (,

When I was growing up, bigger backsides were seen as fat, causing doctors to label those who have different measurements than your average skinny white chick as "obese."

But when Jenny from the Block, blew up (after she went blond and toned down her Latina look), big bootys were in.

Connection: my skin tone and the one you sit in the sun/tanning bed all day to attain.

During slavery, rich whites realized that when they stood out in the sun too long their skin darkened. Looking like slaves was something that was unacceptable, so they started putting white powder on their skin to keep them looking "white."

Now, being pasty is unattractive. There are whites out there (those who tan on purpose and those who just love the beach) who end up being darker than some light-to medium complexioned Blacks.

But yet my skin color is ugly.... to you....

African-Americans have specific features that for generations were the subject of ridicule.

Big lips. Big butts. Dark skin.

But when those who "look" like the majority of America (read: white) make it into the mainstream with features associated with African-Americans, suddenly these features are okay.

"Angelina is so sexy! Who could resist those lips?!"

"I'm glad J.Lo finally came out and embraced her booty. Now that she has come out designers have decided to make clothes for those with bigger backsides! She looks sexy in those jeans!"

Black people, and females in general, have had fuller lips and butts since the beginning, yet society doesn't want to recognize us as beautiful.

True, Halle Berry and Vanessa Williams consider themselves to be "women of color" and are embraced by society as beautiful, but they're still of mixed-race, light-skinned, and thin.

Gabrielle Union, a brown-skinned sista, is JUST NOW beginning to be recognized, and although she's cool, her lips and figure are smaller than the average Sista Big-Boned girls you see at church or in your family.

Those women who spend their Saturday afternoons receiving collagen injections in both their lips and butts, AFTER they came from the tanning salon, still look down on me as if I'm not beautiful because I'm Black. But yet, you try to make yourself have the features I have, and spend a lot of money doing so.

Big lips. Big butts. Dark skin.

If I'm not beautiful, why do you want to look like me?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Hand in Hand

In April's issue of Essence, Terrance Howard talks about how he loved his wife enough to let her go. He said he had cheated on her so much that he realized he didn't deserve her and wanted her to move on.

While I commend him for having enough courage to let her go, I have to ask myself "how do you cheat on someone you love?"

A male friend of mine (who has spent YEARS sowing his oats) asked me, "What's the most important in a relationship - love or respect?" I was younger at the time so I answered love. He said, "The most important is respect. It's not healthy to love someone you don't respect."

How can you love someone you don't respect? What kind of sense does that make?

Is this a male thing?

Why don't those two things go hand in hand?

There are certain things in relationships that, in my opinion, go hand in hand. Marriage and fidelity. Actions and words. Love and respect. You can't have one without the other. Or at least one SHOULDN'T exist without the other.

I've seen how men can separate the two in their minds, or rather, I've seen them try to "justify" how they separate the two.

You love your wife but you cheat on her. Doesn't mean you don't love her. You just got caught up. Or she wasn't giving it to you like you like in the bedroom.... so you get your sexual satisfaction elsewhere.

Why get married if you want to be with multiple women?

I'm mind-boggled while I type. I cannot wrap my mind around disrespecting someone you claim to love.

Completely dumbfounded at the thought......