Friday, June 18, 2010

Wait...She's not African?!?!

Happy Friday, everybody! Now, I've never made it a secret that I absolutely love Twitter. It is one of the single best things to happen to the internet in my opinion. I can literally spend hours on Twitter, thanks mostly to my TweetDeck application that allows me to actually do what I'm suppose to be doing instead of tweeting. I have met some very interesting people and have made a lot of friends from all over the world on twitter. The one thing I like the most about Twitter is the the Twi-bates. Twitter debates. You can jump in on any ongoing discussion or start your own topic whether it's sports, politics, religion, Hollywood, pick a topic and start a discussion, which brings me to Cleopatra.

I know, I know, that sounds just random, but this past week there was a Twi-bate over whether or not Angelina Jolie, who has already won the role by the way, should play Cleopatra. Some were outraged that ONCE AGAIN, a black actress was passed over for the role. Some believed Halle Berry, Zoie Saldana, or any other black actress should have played the role of the infamous Egyptian queen.

HOLYYWOOD, CA  MARCH 24:    Best Actress winner Halle Berry holds her Oscar statuete backstage at the 74th Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Ca., March 24, 2002. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/GettyImages) May 03, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - Actress ZOE SALDANA attends the Metropolitan's Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala Benefit for the opening of the new exhibit 'American Woman: Fashioning A National Identity. © Red Carpet Pictures

Some argued that Hollywood only thought about the bottom line and cast Jolie because of her marketability. Others argued that Hollywood doesn't care about historical accuracy only ticket sells.

Angelina Jolie (wearing Versace) arrives at the 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, CA., Sunday Jan. 21, 2001. (photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

I agree with some of this. Hollywood does only care about ticket sales. That's how they make their money. If it weren't about ticket sales, we wouldn't have the A-team remake, Smurfs in 3D, or Twilight. Hollywood has never really cared about accuracy, if you've read the Iliad or the Aeneid, you would know that they should have said that Troy was very loosely based on the two. The movie Beowulf, which also starred Jolie, was also a horrible take on the poem. This is what Hollywood does. Accuracy be damned. They combine characters, they change names, they make people more attractive than they actually are, they have older people playing teenagers, and the list goes on and on at how they change the facts. Hello, Oliver Stone...

As for the black actresses playing Cleopatra, I have to side with Hollywood on this one. For once, I think they have chosen an actress who can accurately portray the notorious queen. Here is why. I teach World Literature, as such, I have to learn an enormous amount of history. One of the Units I teach is African Literature, which for those of you who are unaware, Egypt is a part of Africa (I still have at least one student a year who is surprised by that fact as well). Cleopatra was descended from the Ptolemies. Ptolemy was from Macedonia. He was one of Alexander the Great's favorite generals, and when Alexander conquered Egypt, Ptolemy became ruler of Egypt. His descendants, like many royal families, were the products of centuries of inbreeding. Cleopatra, herself, was the consort of her half-brother. Cleopatra was of Greek and Macedonian descent. Recently, scientists found what they believe to be the body of Arsinoe IV, who was the half-sister of Cleopatra, and one of the siblings Cleopatra had murdered. Arsinoe had traces of African ancestry, but was mostly of Greek descent. Cleopatra was African in the sense that she was born in Africa, just like Charlize Theron is African in sense that she, too, was born in Africa.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 07: Actress Charlize Theron arrives at the 2010 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter held at Sunset Tower on March 7, 2010 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)

As such, I believe Angelina Jolie is a fine choice to play Cleopatra. Not because she can pass for Greek, I think she can totally pull off the cut-throw character that was Cleopatra. Cleopatra was a ruthless ruler. She would have done anything to maintain her crown. She had two of her siblings murdered, she seduced Julius Caesar, and when Caesar was assassinated, she seduced Mark Antony (she probably should have seduced Octavius), all in an effort to remain queen. She takes doing what you have to do to a whole new level. There are other Egyptian queens that our sisters would better portray such as Nefertiti who was considered one of the most beautiful women of the ancient world or Hatshepsut who was a female pharaoh. As for Cleopatra, the only images are a few statues, some coins, and a few paintings, most of which do not reveal an accurate portrayal of her skin tone.

Portrait of Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt (69 - 30 BC), who reigned from 51-30 BC, receiving the fatal bite on her breast from an asp, 30 BC.  The engraving is by John Sartain and taken from a painting that was found in the ruins of Hadrian's villa. It is attributed to Thimomakos of Byzantium who painted it for Emperor Augustus to adorn his triumphial car in 28 BC. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Besides, you can't compare this to Bradley Cooper playing Frederick Douglass or Dr. Martin Luther King. There are photographs of both men. People know who they are, and know what they look like. As delusional as Hollywood can be, I don't think they would be foolish enough to lose that kind of money on that kind of ignorance. As for the movie Cleopatra, if you are that upset, don't go see the movie. I'll be more upset if they gloss over the actual history.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

To my Future Son, on his 16th Birthday...

Dear Son,

I know that you have not always agreed with the way in which I have raised you. I know that we often argue about curfews, clothes, money, girls, etc. I know that I am not the cool mother in the neighborhood. I have heard the comments about Mrs. ---- being, well, let's just say I've heard the names they call me, but that's okay, because at the end of the day, you are my child, and I love you, and you are my responsibility.

On school, education has always been something that has been very important to me. I demand that you do your best, because son, wealth and fame can be taken away from you. Your education is something that no one can ever take away from you. The best way to find a path in the world is by learning as much as you can about the world. You have the world at your fingertips, and a good education will help you grasp it.

On cell phones, I have not given you a cell phone for this reason. I know where you are suppose to be, and I expect you to be there. If you are not where I expect you to be, not having a cell phone would be the least of your problems. I know your schedule, and you know mine. Your school has a phone, as does mine. I pick you up from school, where else would you be? As I move from being your chauffeur, I will give you a cell phone. It had better be on (except during school hours), and you better answer when I call. Oh, and if you lose it, it is stolen, or the principal takes it from you, you will work to buy the next :)

On computers and television, I don't let you have these things in your bedroom. Why? The bedroom is for sleeping and studying, period. I want to see what you are doing on the computer, and I want to know what you are watching. I want to know what video games you are playing. I will not apologize for that. I understand that you feel the need for privacy, and that is why there is a door on the bathroom.

On clothes, I have worked hard to make sure you have always had nice clothes to wear, but it's not just about how much you pay for it; it's how you wear it. What difference does it make if you pay $5000 for an outfit, and you still look like a $5 fool? I make you wear your clothes properly, because I want you to become a professional. Whether you are a professional athlete, doctor, lawyer, or teacher, rightly or wrongly, people judge you based upon your looks.

On music, I realize that you are fan of hip-hop music, and I see you roll your eyes when I make you listen to other types of music. You have to realize that there are many types of people with many types of interests in the world. You are going to have to interact with these people. You should appreciate all kinds of music. You don't have to like it all. I personally don't care for hip-hop, but I appreciate good hip-hop music with meaning and a message.

On alcohol, I know that teenagers drink. I'm a teacher. I hear the stories. I don't allow you to drink for the same reason I don't. I have seen what alcohol can to people. Your late grandfather was an alcoholic, as was one of your great uncles and your great grandfather. I lost a best friend to a drunk driver. I lost a student to a drunk driver. When you are 21, if you decide you want to drink, I hope you will be responsible enough not to get drunk, but if you do, be responsible enough to give someone your keys, call a cab, or call me.

On girls. Son, girls are not "bitches" and "hoes." Even if they have the reputation for it, I do not want to hear those words come from your mouth. There have been many strong women in my life, black and white, and I will not have a son who degrades women. When you fall in love, don't fall in love with a girl simply because she's pretty, the color of her skin, or the contents of her pocketbook. I want you to look at the whole person. Because no matter how pretty the package may be, it may be disguising a rotten core.

On the n-word. I realize that your friends, even some of my friends, use that word. I don't. I don't because of my grandmother who was served out of the back door of restaurants because of the color of her skin. I don't because she could help raise white kids, but her children couldn't go to school with them. I don't because, I've been called that word out of hatred and ignorance. I don't because of people, like Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, Ben Chester White, and Vernon Dahmer, and many others who gave their lives so you and your friends could have a better one. I don't, and you won't in my presence.

There are so many other things I have to tell you, but I mostly want to say that I love you. I am overprotective, because I love you. I am mean and strict, because I love you. I am not your "friend," because you are my child and I love you. I am all of these things because there is only one of you. I can never replace you, nor would I want to. I want you to grow to be a responsible man. I want you to think before you speak. I want you to be a gentleman, who will open and hold a door for a woman even if she is rude to you. I want you to be a man...


Monday, June 7, 2010

One Black Woman's Reason for being Single...

Good early morning! I found myself tossing and turning tonight, so I decided to write in an effort to put some of these wandering thoughts out of my head. Many curious thoughts have traipsed through my mind over the course of the last few days. Most of them began and ended in the same place-the relationship between black men and black women. For the last few months, all of the mainstream media outlets have been bombarding us with story after story of why black women aren't getting married, and why so many more black men are marrying outside the race. Clearly, there is nothing else going on in the world, so the media feels that they can solve a problem that has been many generations in the making. The facts have been presented and re-presented. Yeah, we get it; there are more black women than available black men. We got it; 1 in 5 black men have decided to marry outside the race in 2008. Yes, we heard that; according to Joint Center DataBank, between 1950 and 2000, the percentage of never-married black women doubled, from 20.7% to 42.4%.

Yada-Yada-Yada, blah-blah-blah...I got it. As an African-American woman, I should be crying, disheartened, and broken, because at age 35, I am still single. I should be depressed that there are girls my age working on their second and even third marriage, while I've yet to walk down the aisle. I should be ashamed that my womb remains barren, while many of my classmates have children who are now in Jr. and Sr. high school. I should? Well, I'm not. I'm not bitter either. I simply don't care.

Would I like to be married? Sure, I would. Who wouldn't want a lifetime companion? Who wouldn't want someone with whom to share similar interests? Yet, I am not going to get down about it. I'm not going to belittle myself, and I'm not going to feel as if I'm less than a person because I don't. What I am going to do is make a relationship with the one person I'll never be without-me. That's right, I'm married to me. Let explain. I started making observations about life as early as junior high school. All the girls around me were flirting with boys and already starting to have "issues." Some would even ask me for advice, which I though was hilarious, because 1) I hadn't been in a relationship and 2) I still pretty much thought boys were gross. Let's face it, they were. Most of the boys at my Jr. High had this odd smell especially after recess, and the last thing I wanted was to touch much less kiss one.

When I started high school, I was busy trying to figure out how I was going to pay for college, because my parents had clearly not made a plan for that possibility. So, while most girls were flirting, I was in the library researching entrance requirements, ACT scores, and grants. Needless to say, I was firmly established in the following categories-ghost, band geek, and uber-nerd. I was okay with that. People had long since stopped inviting me to parties, because I wouldn't go. Slumber parties didn't interest me, because I wasn't interested in those asinine conversations. I had a goal, and those things were not going to help me achieve it. So, I gained a reputation of being stuck-up. Maybe I was, but as I looked around me several of the girls I graduated with already had one, some two, and one with 3 children by the time I graduated. One walked across the stage pregnant. That was not going to get me into college. I only went to my Junior and Senior Prom, because my mother made me. I went to both dateless. Mostly because there was only one boy I was even remotely interested in, and he was taking a friend of mine. I also only had two real dates during high school, both were with a first year law student who along with me were accompanying our younger siblings. We had great conversations, but neither was really interested in the other.

After graduation, I went to college. I had my first real boyfriend, who turned out not to be "my" boyfriend, but one of my classmates boyfriends. For 3 months, he dated me behind her back. I found out; I dumped him. Around the same time, I actually begin to fall in love for the first time. It was with my lab partner. Because the band geeks have to show up on campus at the same time as the football team, we meet during our respective camps. We were both stunned to learn we were actually from the same city. We would watch sports together in the rec hall, tell each other bawdy jokes, make sarcastic observations (my favorite), and generally hang out. We had similar tastes in music and literature, but I soon realized that that was all I was to him-his buddy. I might as well had been one of his teammates on the football team. You know, the standby girl. I realized this because we didn't keep up with each other off campus. We were from two different worlds. Any who, he was interested in a friend of mine (I don't recall if it worked out or not, nor did I really care). I then went out twice with a football player from the University of Iowa. He was the cousin of one of my high school friends. I thought we had something for a while. He would call me once or twice a week once we went back to school. Then I found out why? He and his teammates (who were on the line during all the calls I found out) were simply interested in listening to my Southern accent. I never called him back, nor would I accept his calls.

I was set up on a blind date with this other guy, who apparently had more arms than an octopus. I wasn't feeling well when the date started, and after a bad batch of chili cheese fries, I REALLY wasn't feeling well. I didn't kiss on the first date, and I told this dude this. I definitely avoid kissing people who have had a few beers. Mostly, because the smell of it makes me nauseated, which I had mentioned to him before he downed 3. He didn't get it, but soon he did. After telling him no, I don't feel well, he still tried to kiss me. Stale beer, meet bad fries, meet me spewing on him...He deserved it. If a woman says no, she usually has a good reason.

The remainder of my college career was a series of bad blind dates. By my senior year, I was begging mercy of my friends just to stop. For God's sake, stop! You clearly don't get me...I graduated and started to work. My mom could not understand why I didn't want to go out. Well, I told her I commute 32 miles round trip, come home to grade papers, get up commute again, try not to get beat up by my students who are only 3-6 years younger than me (My first year I taught a 19 year old 11th grader), yeah, I don't feel like Saturday night.

Two years teaching junior high school and the sudden (although not entirely unexpected) death of my absentee father left me burned out. Mentally and physically. I had to take a year off, and I didn't think I would ever teach again. Teaching was something that I had been wanting to do (against my mom's wishes) since the 4th grade. After a year, I realized why I couldn't handle my first three years in public school. I have ADD. Redundancy is not something that is conducive to my personality. I took a job with a parochial school. Twice the work. I taught three different curriculum. It was perfect. Sure, I was tired. Sure, I didn't want to date, because I was also taking classes off and on.

In 2003, I was diagnosed with depression. No, not because I hadn't had a date since 1996. In December of 2002, one of my favorite students was killed during a hunting accident. In April of 2003, my little cousin, who was more like my son than cousin, drowned after he went to live with his mother. In June, two of my former students were in a car crash. One of them died (I had just talked and laughed with her two weeks before); the other was severely injured. The driver who was drunk also died in the crash. In November of that same year, my beloved grandmother, who raised me and was my best friend, practically died in my arms. I kept chugging on...until one day it dawned on me that something was really wrong. Now, my students had often joked that I was OCD, and I had joked with them. Only this particular morning, I recognized it. I was counting steps, I was counting door touches, I was making rituals not even realizing it. I went to may doctor who after several visits realized that I had always suffered from depression and that my OCD was my subconscious way of dealing with it. With his help, I realized that it had gone back to my 1st grade year, I was dealing with my parents divorce and the death of my best friend in a hit and run. At 29, I was realizing why I was the way I was. Why I was an introvert, why I didn't like social situations, and why dating had always been an issue. At 29. So, I started doing things I wouldn't normally do. I started getting out more (I still don't much). During a class meeting, I sang the bars of a song that my students were trying to choose for graduation. That May, for the first time in my life, I sang in public in from of about 400 people with my knees knocking and my knuckles turning white as I gripped the podium. I've done it several times since then. The fear never goes away.

I have continued seeing my doctor. I tell you what. I have had to come to terms with me. It hasn't always been easy. There are lots of things that I still don't like about myself. I have a short fuse, I have very little patience, I'm very cynical, and I am working on those. I am fixing me for me. A couple of weeks ago, I decided I was going to pamper myself. I had a mani/pedi, and I cut all most of my hair into a sassy summer doo. I also decided that I was going to get myself into shape. The first question, who's the guy? Not just from my co-workers, but from my students. I said, me. I'm doing it for me. Until I have myself in a place where I am completely comfortable with me, how am I going to find the right person to tolerate me? It is going to take a special man who can put up with me. I'm a lot to handle. I'm not going to settle for any random dude.

Will I ever get married? Who knows, and at this point in my life, who cares? Life is too short to dwell over things I have little control over. If I find Mr. Right, great, if not, I am continuing to fix my marriage with me. Ladies, if you haven't found Mr. Right. Don't settle for Mr. Right Now. Find yourself. Like Robert Brault said,

"If you search the world for happiness, you may find it in the end, for the world is round and will lead you back to your door." Find happiness within be at peace with yourself, and the love you are looking for will eventually find you. I truly believe that.

My next post will be about some aspect of sports...hopefully...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why Derek Jeter is the Smartest Athlete in America (If not the World)...

Welcome back, everybody! Sorry, I've been neglectful with my blog, but I promise to have more insight and less self promotion over the next few weeks. Today, I want to discuss Derek Jeter, the captain of the New York Yankees...

May 10, 2010: New York Yankees' Derek Jeter (2) during the MLB baseball game between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.

I am not a Yankee fan. As a matter of fact, I hate the Yankees, for no other reason than they beat the crap out of my Braves during the 1996 and 1999 World Series. Yet, there has been one Yankee that I have never been able to hate-Derek Jeter. I have always been a Derek Jeter fan. Mostly because he is my age (only a month older than me), and he always looked like that goofy friend that you secretly had a crush on. What I liked most about Derek, is how he goes about his life.

Unlike many athletes, including many of his former and current teammates, there has never been a whiff of controversy surrounding Derek Jeter. No steroids, no arrests, no baby mommas, you catch my drift. One of the biggest complaints was George Steinbrenner calling out Jeter's partying into the wee hours, which they cleared up between themselves, and even made fun of in a Visa Commercial.

He always says the right thing. He doesn't whine that A-Rod is making more money than he is (even though Jeter has more rings). "This is the only organization I ever wanted to play for. This is where I want to be," Jeter told reporters, whose 10-year, $189 million deal expires at the end of the season. "I never envisioned myself playing anywhere else and hopefully I don’t have to."

Those are the words of the Yankee Captain as he began the season, and he is quietly putting up the consistent numbers that he has always posted over his career. He's currently batting .300, with 6 HR, and 33 RBI. Consistent. Awards? He's got plenty...

If I were the Yankees, I'd go ahead and give him whatever he wants. Mayor Bloomberg, instead of lobbying for LeBron, rally to keep Jeter.

Off the field, Jeter started his Turn 2 Foundation. The program's Mission Statement reads

"To create and support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and "TURN 2" healthy lifestyles. Through these ventures, the Foundation strives to create outlets that promote and reward academic excellence, leadership development and positive behavior. Turn 2's goal is to see the children of these programs grow safely and successfully into adulthood and become the leaders of tomorrow."

Don’t get me wrong, we all know Derek is a player (on and off the field). He ex-girlfriends read like a who's who among Maxim's Top 100, but unlike most of the guys you here about in the news-he has never married. So, like any young man he has dated a string of beautiful women. Why not? He is SINGLE. That said, most of these girls were for the most part in the entertainment business, legitimately. I'm not talking about strippers, host girls, or car models. Most recently, he's been linked to Minka Kelly of Friday Night Lights.

35511, NEW YORK, NEW YORK - Friday November 6, 2009. Sweet victory! The New York Yankees looked their best at the World Series victory parade down Broadway St to City Hall. Sightings along the parade route were: Spike Lee, former Yankee greats Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson, Series MVP Hideki Matsui, and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani and wife Judith. Riding on the float were Alex Rodriguez and his kids, Jay-Z, and Derek Jeter with his parents and girlfriend Minka Kelly. Photograph: JGM ,

He has had endorsement deals with Nike, Gatorade, Fleet Bank, XM Satellite Radio, Visa, Ford, Avon, and Gillette, to name a few. He doesn't don gaudy suits and swagtastically blinging jewelry at press conferences. Most of the time, he appears to still be in his uniform. Yes, Derek Jeter has realized something most athletes don't realize. Yes, you may be human, but you, as an athlete, are a product. You are a product of your actions on and off the field. He is a role model, and while he may encourage parents to play a larger role in their children's lives, he has carefully watched his steps throughout his career. Sure, he is often on Page 6 of the New York Post because of his celebrity status and the current lady on his arm is usually a celebrity.

New York is a city known for chewing up athletes and spitting them out, but Jeter is still universally adored in New York. He needs to really bottle whatever essence he has and sell it to today's athletes who seem to have lost their way. Once again, I'm not a Yankee fan, but if I were the Yankees, I would give the man whatever he wants. He has impecably represented your organization both on and off the field, especially when there have been members on your team have tarnished the pinstripes. He will almost assuredly quietly lead the Yankees back to the Playoffs in all likelihood to another World Series. Great Job, Jeter. Good Luck, with your contract, and thanks for being my fantasy Shortstop, too. Oh, Go Braves!

Dedicated to of my favorite Yankee Fans @sportychic56 and @TeritaTweets...Enjoy the pictures of Jeter, ladies...