30 September 2009

Instant Vintage: Pres. Barred from CBC Dinner, Admin. Cries Foul

Last Saturday, President Obama was barred from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner, and the administration is pulling out the race card.  Although President Obama had been scheduled to address the audience, the crowd was instead serenaded by the likes of Michael McDonald and Hall and Oates.  Now, those close to the Commander-in-Chief are claiming that he was not denied entrance because of his racial background.  "This is one of the more racist acts in recent memory," one White House spokesperson said during a Monday morning press conference.  "There's no doubt in my mind that he was denied entry to the event because he is half-white."

29 September 2009

Status Ain't Hood

Folks, I'm busy redrafting this chapter, and haven't really had time to blog.  I should be off injured reserve by next week.  Editing beckons.  So, I'll keep this quick.

I'm not really concerned about Facebook polls regarding BHO's life--or the end of it.  And frankly, I hope Chicago isn't awarded the 2016 Olympics.  I think it's pretty obvious that Richard II and BHO have more serious issues to address.  While they're hanging out in Copenhagen selling the City of Big Shoulders to the IOC, Chicago Public Schools students are being beaten to death.  This year, more than 35 of them have been killed.  That's right. 

Here's my question: When do sickening moments like this stop being described as just another day living in the 'hood and recast as a national epidemic, a crisis worthy of intelligent conversation and action? 

Have at it.  (Some say there's no such thing as a dumb question.  Well, dumb answers do exist.  And yes, more police/law enforcement is probably a dumb answer.  We should try harder.)
Off to work on a dissertation not even my mother will read.  'Til then, think of the world.

23 September 2009

Today in Post-Race History: Semantic Antics

(Oh, BHO.  You're so funny!)

I will (try to) be brief: I hate this joke.

Then again, when's the last time you heard me say that I liked what this cat has to say about race?

Why? Put simply, it's dismissive.

22 September 2009

Must be the Money

I hate money 'cause it makes me numb. - M.I.A.
Yesterday, I had to stop by the main library on campus to return a recalled book.  (I'm coming for you, book recaller! What am I supposed to use for coasters now that you've taken a liking to all my books on racial passing?  You suck!)  There were a bunch of first years standing in line waiting to take their ID photos.  People were smiling at each other; they seemed both nervous and... happy.  Which is totally weird for the place where fun comes to die.  Then I remembered: school is about to start.  And I became happy, too.  Why?  The beginning of autumn quarter means money is about to come to me.  Please cue Johnny Kemp's "Just Got Paid."  It's time for my beginning of the year shimmy + two-step.

18 September 2009

I Love Football, I Love Bill Withers: What Sports Can Do

The other week, I was video chatting with Moya B. and the subject of football came up.  I tried to explain to MB why I loved sports, and football in particular.  I'm working on that blog--it'll be up next week, I hope--but I thought I'd post these videos in the meantime.

Last month, USC head football coach Pete Carroll tracked down Bill Withers, and invited him to a team meeting.  Withers posed as an NCAA official before notifying the players who he really was.  It was cool to see/hear their recognition.  It was even cooler to see the team come together and sing the song in front of Withers.

I've posted the video chronologically.  The first was filmed in August 9th, and shows a snippet of the team singing the song.  The second is the one I described above.

Sports, teamwork can be really powerful.  I wish I/we could implement some of the things we learn from being on a sports team in real life.

You Know that I'm 'Bout it, Baby

If and when I make that drive to Atlanta, GA, Donell Jones' "U Know What's Up" is going to be the first song I select for my Mason-Dixon mixtape.  That's right.  Before 'Kast, Goodie, TLC, before everybody, I'm putting this song on my Chicago to Atlanta playlist.

14 September 2009

You Gon' Be All Right: On Maia Campbell and (More on) Tyler Perry

Campbell, center, with the cast of In the House

Last week, I didn't take the opportunity to blog about Maia Campbell, something that I had fully intended to do.  Instead, my only significant output was a blog about Tyler Perry taking over command of the for colored girls film.  I worry that not allowing myself time to post my thoughts about Campbell was an implicit, unspoken participation in the suppression and dismissal of her situation, her struggles.  I want to correct that.  Further, I want to make a connection to both events, which is something I haven't seen folks do, but I find especially necessary at this juncture. 

11 September 2009

Like Mike: On His Airness

Today, Michael Jeffery Jordan will be inducted into the pro basketball hall of fame.  (Watch the induction on ESPN today at 6:30 pm ET.)He is the greatest to play the game.  Some statistics (from NBA.com):  Six-time NBA champion (1991-93, 1996-98); MVP (1988, '91, '92, '96, '98); 10-time All-NBA First Team (1987-93, 1996-98); All-NBA Second Team (1985); Defensive Player of the Year (1988); Nine-time All-Defensive First Team (1988-93, 1996-98); Rookie of the Year (1985); 14-time All-Star; All-Star MVP (1988, '96, '98); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History ('96); Olympic gold medalist (1984, '92).  And those are just professional highlights.

09 September 2009

Roy G. Whiz

Uh oh.  It's a code red (black and green).  The bat signal is out.  bell hooks has started spelling her name in all CAPS.  Call up your elders, pray to your ancestors; conjure up your inner fairies, spirits, and goddesses.  Tyler Perry is turning your favorite play, excuse me, choreopoem into a movie.

The film version of Ntozake Shange's for colored girls--whose rights were procured by director Nzingha Stewart (she directed the First Born Second's music video for "Soul Sista")--has landed in the cork-blackened hands of Mr. Madea himself.  Perry will be not just producing, not just directing, but also writing the screenplay for Shange's Obie award-winning play.   Yes, the words of that rainbow shall be given film direction and dialogue by Mr. Perry.  Take a minute.  Read it again.  Deep breaths.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Good.  Chill out, unknot your headwrap.  It's going to be ok.  But just in case, bring those sage incense.  Right there on the mantel.  Next to your Yoruba statue.

I might know what you're thinking.  My advice?  Forget about it.  Forget about how patriarchally formulaic Perry's black Christian parables are.  (If you've seen one, you've them all, right? Gee, I hope so.  I've seen 2 flicks and 30 seconds of House of Payne.  I can't stomach any more.)  Forget about the fact that every black woman character Perry has ever created is characterized as insubordinate (hat tip, Moya B.), and therefore deserving of a smack on her face, if it stops her from talking to her husband all out of her neck like she ain't got no damn sense.  Forget about Perry's overly played out All a black woman needs is a good, not perfect but hardworking and well-meaning black man theme.  Forget about how real the acronym C.R.E.A.M. has just become to you (thanks, Wu).  Forget about the fact that there are plenty of black feminist women directors out there who would do a magnificent job turning this play into a movie.  Forget about the fact that some of those black feminist directors, who shall remain nameless, might make said movie more boring than, well, some black feminist films; we're talking principle here.  Forget about Perry's oeuvre, which features black women, characters with about as much depth as a Beyonce interview and attitudes that rival the stench of a cesspool.  Forget about how, in matters not fiscal, putting Perry at the helm of this endeavor makes no sense.  Forget about making sense.  Forget about the facts; forget about meaning.  Just forget about art; right now, it's as useful as your degree in the humanities.  While you're at it, forget about (a purposeful) life.  You'll just get a headache.

Tyler Perry directing for colored girls is an awesomely good idea. And if you think otherwise, you lose.  So get on board.  Support a brother.  (Have you forgotten all the lessons of the Black Arts Movement?)  Don't be so divisive.  Stay black and proud, baby.

I get it.  I get it. You performed the Lady in Purple's monologue at the '94 ACT-SO awards, so you feel particularly close to this play.  But in this doom and gloom world, pessimism is such a cliché--and totally unsexy.  So, let's look on the bright side.  Some good things can come out of this.  And, since I've decided to turn a new leaf by no longer visiting despair.com on a daily basis (where will I get my inspiration now?), I've decided to provide you with a list of some of those awesome possibilities.   Shall we?

1.  Jill Scott might be in itI'm going to take my tiiiiiime!  In a word, Jilly from Philly is theatrical.  She exudes epic.  She has the resumé.  She's worked on stage, television and she has a book of poetry.  (It's probably better than Alicia Keys' Tears for Water.)  And, if it wasn't for Ms. Scott, Angie Stone would be the queen of the Support a Strong Black Man through Song Crew which, it seems, is right up Perry's alley.  Can't you just hear her singing "Shortnin' Bread"?  You know you can.

(The discussion of how she ruined "Watching Me" with her spoken word verses will have to wait for later.)

2.  Better yet, Beyonce might be in it! Can she upgrade this film?  Well, if she can do for you what Martin did for the people, the answer is a resounding hells yes!  for colored girls the flick can do for Matt and Tina's daughter what Dreamgirls didn'tIf you haven't noticed, Beyonce is bank at the cinema.  That crap of a movie, Obsessed starring Sasha Fierce and Stringer Bell debuted at number 1.  (Did I see this film? No. But my guess is it was crap.)  $11 million on its first weekend.   And isn't that this is all about?  Besides, Beyonce needs the acting practice, no?  Yes, now is a good time for Lady in Yellow jokes.  Start now.

3.  You can play a game.  Guess who will star in the movie.  This is an ensemble cast.  There are seven colors of the rainbow, which makes seven roles for black actresses.  Last time I counted, I think there were about 14 black women in Hollywood; that does not include Queen Latifah, Halle Berry, or the black lady in the Pine Sol commercials.  Set up an office pool.  Whoever correctly chooses the most actresses wins.  Will Taraji P. "Jody, you a black ass lie" Henton get the nod as the Lady in Brown?  Is Sanaa Lathan up for the role as the Lady in Red?  Will Zoe Saldana pass as black--again--for the role of the Lady in Orange?  Is Kerry Washington still too busy campaigning for Obama?  Bet some wheat grass shots or something.  We hate money, remember?

4.  Hey, it could've been Spike Lee.  There is a valid argument that Spike Lee would do a better job, but do you really, really want him writing this movie?  She's Gotta Have it 2, anyone?  (Zora Neale Hurston angrily revolves in her previously unmarked grave!)  Furthermore, he did go to Morehouse.  'Nough said.  I won't bother mentioning Steven Spielberg.  I'm sure he's busy.

5.  Time to exhale.  (Shout out to my girl, Maegs.)  Remember the epic fail of trying to get your book club to read Toni Morrison?  Remember how homegirl turned up her nose at the idea?  Remember how you were so frustrated that you wanted to quit paying your dues and stop attending until your other homegirl pointed out that you had yet to get the club treasurer's bomb-ass spinach dip recipe?  Well, with Perry on board, this is the perfect time to add for colored girls to your book club reading list as this year's non-urban selection.  With the Perry stamp of approval, the ladies will gladly postpone that new Eric Jerome Dickey to February or March 2010, easy.  After all, surely there are some quotables that will make the movie, and there is nothing more pleasurable than sitting in the movie theater and reciting and laughing with the actors.  Make sure you bring it up before y'all get knee-deep into the Real Housewives of Atlanta.  (Who gon' check me, boo?)

6.  There will be an Oprah special...  And you will watch that shit.  (Ntozake Shange, we speak your name!)  I know you're conflicted about Oprah.  She's made a billion dollars on lightweight mammy game, but outright hatred is problematized (oh god, I can't believe I just typed that word in a blog entry) by your allegiance to black women.  It is a tough call.  But you have to watch this episode to make up for skipping Best Life Week and to make amends for believing in The Secret.  (Still waiting for my bike, by the way.)  There will be more black folks on the show since she opened up that school in Africa, and more black women on the show since, well, let me get back to you on that.  Maya Angelou will say something that sounds wise until you realize that said wisdom is merely a facade, a result of being hypnotized by her deep voice, wordiness, and poetic inflection that sounds nothing like the see-saw spoken word cadence you're used to.  You know Gayle is coming!  All the stars of the show will be there talking about how the play changed their lives.  Oprah will talk about how it changed her life and then tell the audience that it change their lives too, and the audience will nod in Pavlovian agreement.  Maybe Ntozake Shange will show. (You're looking for a rehab joke here, aren't you?  Not gonna happen.  I have standards now.)  If anything, it's worth tivo-ing; the visual dissonance of watching soccer moms cheer for this play and the copy of the book under their chair will be gnarly.  Trust.  

7.  March on. I know you like to protest.  It's what you do on your days off from your non-profit job.  So call up your homegirls, er, sistern.  Text the garbage bag, grocery bag, gucci bag, paper sack, nickel bag, booty bag, cheap sack ladies, and the baby baggin' mamas. Tell them to call their friends, and y'all have a vegan-friendly potluck and make some signs.  Then go up to Lionsgate headquarters or Tyler Perry Studios (because most of y'all live in Atlanta, right?) and walk around for a few hours.  It won't change anything, but I'm sure you'll be able to finagle a Facebook album out of the event.  Wear your best vintage denim jacket, and comfortable--but fierce--shoes.

8.  That said, you might get to meet Erykah Badu.   Ms. Badu makes the illest videos, and one of my favorites is the aforementioned for colored girls-inspired "Bag Lady."  If you make enough noise, maybe Ms. Badu will honor your cause.  Either way, follow her on twitter.  She's the best.

9.  There's still time to pray that Perry won't dress in drag for this movie.  When Madea throws that baby out of the window, it will be funny--right? 

10.  By the end, you'll forget you ever considered suicide.  (You might consider murder.)  Face it, dude.  Self-loathing doesn't befit everybody.  What you wanna go around killing yourself for?  The Tyler Perry version of this film is going to make you feel so much better; so uplifted, so inspired.  By the end, you might not love the movie, but you will love Jesus--and maybe the black man you left at home to go watch the movie with your girls.  And you will find God, He's nowhere near yourself, though.  You'll find Him in the church house.  And if Perry has anything to do with it, you will worship him--and your (new) black man--fiercely.

See!  Why did you ever get upset over this news?  You've totally forgotten all the reasons you opposed this move, haven't you?  Can't even remember the fact that "somebody almost walked off wid alla [your] stuff," hunh?  Don't you feel so much better now?  Good.  See you at the movies.

Note: For smarter, more serious accounts of this issue, please check out my internet husband, AC and/or my fellow black youth blogger, fabulous Fallon.  Their posts on this rocked.

03 September 2009

Freestyle Fellowship: Relax Your Mind, and Take Your Time

I'm old school.  I identify as black.  I have a real commitment to blackness, and understand it as a socio-political identity with the power to transform and dismantle hierarchies of oppression.  I am proud that I am the descendant of slaves.

This sense of (my)self was probably cultivated in the late 80s and early 90s, when pre-commodified conscious, jazz-inspired rap (am I romanticizing?) was flourishing. Cats like Brand Nubian, Latifah, Isis (of the X-Clan crew) and Poor Righteous Teachers were my Afrocentric mentors. I rocked an Africa medallion (copped at the Fort Wayne Black Expo), read Roots and the work of Malcolm X, probably alarmed my teachers and parents with my DANGER! educated black woman game, and begged my pops to buy me a 14K gold X chain for my 13th birthday--that's black militant bling right there, homie.  And yes, you can see it in some of my school pictures.

I didn't exactly catch all the messages then, but I slowly learned that a lot of the rhymes I was committing to memory were inspired by The Nations of Gods and Earths and Islam.  I found Islam attractive.  It felt, I guess, very radical for me at the time.  I didn't grow up in a particularly religious household, but when we did worship, we went to church and studied the white man's religion.  The alternative spirituality I was hearing in rap music was alluring, but I never converted.  I blame that on being a little scared and a girl.  Though I found pictures of the women of Nation of Islam movingly beautiful, I think my negative response to the white hijabs they wore was really my nascent, inarticulate critique of gender politics, and perhaps a portend to my budding sexuality--I wanted a bow tie.  I remember reading the section of The Autobiography of Malcolm X where he described how/why he "chose" Betty Shabazz as a wife and thinking, "Hell nah."  Plus, I really enjoyed bacon.

Anyway, Freestyle Fellowship's "Inner City Boundaries," from their second album Innercity Griots, is a perfect example of the kind of rap I was obsessed with as a pre-teen.  (I should also note that IG features "Shammys" one of my favorite misogynistic rap songs.)  A lot of folks forget about Freestyle Fellowship, but they're dope.  Aceyalone, Self Jupiter, Myka 9, and P.E.A.C.E. never got the shine they deserved, partly because most of what was coming out of L.A. at the time was (what would be deemed) "gangsta rap."  But Freestyle Fellowship weren't the only left coasters interpreting hip-hop in this artful, jazzy way.  For a fuller account of L.A.'s hip hop scene circa '93, check out This is the Good Life, if you haven't already.  I caught it a while back and loved it.  So much so that writing this post has compelled me to add it to my Netflix.

In the meantime, let's sing along:

I gotta be righteous, I gotta be me
I gotta be conscious, I gotta be free
I gotta be able, I gotta attack
I gotta be stable, I gotta be black

02 September 2009

Instant Vintage: Grad Student Makes History with Dissertation

(Remnants of my former life.)

Twelve years ago, Percival Bryce McAllister-Jenkins-Smith wouldn't have believed anyone who told him of the feat that he would accomplish at the end of his graduate school career.  Two weeks ago, after successfully defending his dissertation, McAllister-Jenkins-Smith was notified that he had become the first African American graduate student on record not to mention W.E.B. Du Bois in his work.  For McAllister-Jenkins-Smith, one of the newest graduates of Clarke University's Africana studies doctoral program, the accomplishment, though unintentional, is welcome.

"What I really set out to do," McAllister-Jenkins-Smith confessed, "was not to write a dissertation about hip-hop.  I just really didn't want to be the black student saying 'I'm writing about hip-hop' at one of those department cocktail hours.  I might as well be saying, 'Hey folks, another song leaked from the new Jay-Z album!'  Who wants to be that guy?"  In fact, McAllister-Jenkins-Smith's project, Potholes in My Lawn: A Conceptual History of the Lawn Jockey in the American Literary Canon 1896-1975, is nothing like hip-hop--that is, if you ignore the whole white obsession aspect of both subjects.  In his work, McAllister-Jenkins-Smith offers a treatise on the lawn jockey, a figure with a dubious history, that for many symbolizes America's racist past.  "[But] I wasn't concerned with any of that," McAllister-Jenkins-Smith says.  McAllister-Jenkins-Smith then went on to explain the debt he owed to Barthes and semiology, inevitably digressing into academic jargon that, ironically(?), signified nothing.

So, how did McAllister-Jenkins-Smith take up a black figure and not mention Du Bois in his final offering to his dissertation committee?  "It just never really dawned on me," he says.  "We're in a new era, you know?  And I just want my work to reflect that."

Though he made history by finding the past hardly useful, McAllister-Jenkins-Smith's future is incredibly bright.  He recently accepted a Sankofa Fellowship at a prestigious university.  Along with a lectureship, the award will allow him ample time to focus on turning his dissertation into his first book-length project. 

The response to McAllister-Jenkins-Smith's accomplishment has been mixed.  Department head Mtume Ali had only terse remarks for his former student, "He's still an artificial nigger."  Neither the university nor the Africana studies department plans to give McAllister-Jenkins-Smith special recognition.  However, a note will appear on Clarke's wikipedia page; McAllister-Jenkins-Smith is not currently listed in the notable alumni section.

Congratulations, Percival Bryce McAllister-Jenkins-Smith.  McDonald's salutes you.

N.B. Though he managed not to cite the godfather of black thought, McAllister-Jenkins-Smith did have extensive footnotes on Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.

(Yeah, I'm rusty.  This was fun, though.)

01 September 2009

Pop Life (Remix): I Will Always Love You, Whitney

Yesterday, my mom sent me a text message proclaiming her excitement for Whitney Houston's newest album, which was released yesterday.  In her "I'm fifty years old" text message shorthand, Ma said she loved every song on I Look to You, Nippy's first solo effort in years.  The reviews are mixed.  Though I haven't *technically* heard it, I'll just go ahead and say I love Whitney's new album, too.  I'll hold my tongue re: Akon's appearance.  (Alvin Seville does want his job back, though.)  I do think the latest single, "Million Dollar Bill" will make a killer house remix.  Maybe it's my mother's fault, maybe it's because I'm getting soft, but I'm rooting for Whitney.  I'm glad she's here.

A few years ago during Ms. Houston's nadir, I wrote a blog about her.  On this the first leg of her comeback and on the eve of her appearance on the divine's Ms. O's (you can't spell God without an o) season premiere--no jumping on the couch!--I want to return to what I said.  I've posted it below, with very few edits.

I think most of the stuff I said holds up.  Well, I hope it does.

(Note: I wrote this during my all my blog titles will be inspired by Prince period.)
What you putting in your nose?

Let me be clear: this entry is not a traincar on the dis Whitney Houston express. I've done my share of that over at fecundmellow, and on being bobby brown: the blog. Besides, my mother would put me on punishment if she found out that I was all up on the internet yet again talking smack about her girl, Ms. Houston. In this entry, I've no desire to express my sadness and concern over the soon to be dissolved Brown-Houston marriage; I've conquered that urge by simply choosing not to discuss it. Rather, this entry is more of a rumination on the re-emergence of a seemingly happier, healthier Whitney Houston who, it seems, has found a way to recover and rediscover what we assume is her old self.

Is that where all your money goes?

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email with the subject heading, "SHE'S [Whitney Houston] BAAAACK!" with instructions to pass the message along to moms. Since it was a forward, I scrolled down, curious about what others might have said about the pictures. Along with the typical comments such as, "Let's (continue to) pray for her," there was another that suggested that (the ever hard to define) "we" support Houston with the same energy and vigor we employed to further exacerbate her very public downfall. Though a slightly obvious observation (in a similar, albeit less significant vein as, "George Bush does not care about black people."), for whatever reason the message stuck with me, and over the next few days, I had a couple of conversations about both the pictures and the comments in the email.

The river of addiction flows.

During one discussion, a good friend said to me--as she'd said a few times before when we'd talked about Brenda's [my mom] favorite pop singer-- "I really think she's gonna be the Billie Holiday of our time." Hm.  Lugubriously sad, but potentially true. And though the photographs that comprised this mass email gave me a tremendous amount of hope that Houston will mount a comeback that makes Mariah Carey's look like a spoken word piece put next to anything from Gwendolyn Brooks' oeuvre (or any other legitimate poet for that matter...had to get that jab in somewhere), despite my extremely poor vision, on the horizon I see very clearly the possibility of another very public fall. It is, I imagine, quite lonely at the top, and even lonelier when you tumble from it.

And so I wonder: What must it be like to have no peer?

You think it's hot, but there won't be no water.

I believe that the following statement is (pretty much) true: Whitney Houston is the greatest voice of our time. Perhaps you don't like her pop music, or question some of her later material. Ok. I can understand that. Yet at the same time you can neither ignore nor deny the purity of her voice. In a time when young ingenues thrash their throats in an attempt to outrun each other, and when the greatest singers from decades past need to sit their asses down somewhere (don't make me name names: Aretha, Diana, Chaka...), Houston--when she had her shit together-- sang so effortlessly, so naturally you'd swear she was simply speaking to you with the ease of a conversational tone. Surely, there is a small group of modern day musicians who have left their fingerprints on our collective psyche, but in my estimation, Whitney Houston stands alone. And because of that, when it all fell down, I was saddened as I witnessed her very public struggle to simply do the thing she loves to do.

When the fire blows.

During one of the myriad of poignant moments that peppered the first and only season of the greatest reality tv show starring a famous person ever, Being Bobby Brown, the Brown-Houston clan sat eating near a pool at a hotel. Some folks gingerly approached the group and asked if they could have photographs. Though Brown very gladly took pictures with everyone, Houston sat at the table and adamantly refused. As Houston shook her head and turned her back to the group, the viewer heard Brown's voiceover, and he explained that he got and remains in the entertainment business for the love of the fans, while Houston got in the business simply because she loves to sing.

What if the one thing in the world that you loved to do the most, that you'd work all of your life if not to perfect, but at least to reach your potential, was accompanied with the side effect of having your every move documented and scrutinized? What if people thought they had the right to audaciously approach you and invade your private life whenever they chose, when all you wanted to do was the one thing you love? Could you love doing something enough to pay that price? Would you risk it?

Tell me, what's the matter with your world?

There are millions of people in the world who took/take drugs and exhibit other kinds of destructive behavior due to pressures not nearly as oppressive as being the best at something. I'm not attempting to disparage or belittle people's personal struggles and downfalls, nor am I in the game of ranking traumas. However, it seems to me that attempting to hang yourself because that B+ moves you from valedictorian to salutatorian by no means matches up to a coke binge that could have very well been inspired by the fact that the gift you've given the world, that thing which you're best at, is apparently insufficient.  The dearest part of you that you share is simply not enough.  Rather, fans and foes wish to devour every part of you to satisfy a quite temperamental appetite. I imagine you can find several other people who missed two free throws that cost their high school team the state championship. But who do you turn to when everything in your world sucks, and you're the only one in your league? I'd do drugs, too.

Everybody can't be on top.
And maybe--successful comeback or not--Houston will still be, in some way, the Billie Holiday of our time. However, instead of having to cope with the oppressive and obtrusive nature of, say, jim crow, Houston has had to deal with the increasingly invasive media and the people they ostensibly serve. More than that, both women have had to endure living very public lives in an environment, a society that devalues black women so much that it doesn't even bother being unforgiving. 

Life it ain't real funky, unless it's got that pop.

I cannot possibly sympathize with Ms. Houston, or the few others who have walked in similar shoes. Sympathy requires a kind of intellectual comprehension; on some level, it also demands some sort of condescension. So, all I can really do is continue to be a member of team Whitney. And since Brenda is my mama, it's sort of my birthright. 

We all got a space to fill.

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