Vern’s Venting: The Black Chauffeur

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Morgan Freeman (front) with Jessica Tandy (back) in Driving Miss Daisy

By Lavern Merriweather:

A while back, I wrote a scathing post about late film critic Roger Ebert. It was about the fact that as much as he pretended to be so liberal, he, like a lot of like-minded white folks, was anything but. There are several examples I could use to support my mindset, but one I hated the most is the whole ‘black’ whatever description for a character.

Case in point, look at the Oscar winning film “Driving Miss Daisy” starring noted actress Jessica Tandy who won an award for best actress with Morgan Freeman as her sometimes chocolate lover/driver hired by the other star of the film Dan Akroyd playing her son. I noticed that Ebert, like every white male who reviewed the movie whenever they described Ms. Tandy’s character of Miss Daisy, were practically writing novels with all the adjectives that they used for her. Yet, when it came to Mr. Freeman, he was written as nothing more than the black chauffeur. They might as well have said that it was a great, starring triumphant for the beloved Ms. Tandy and some black guy next to her. Despite their supposed love affair with Morgan Freeman in his breakthrough 1987 role as the pimp Fast Black in the movie “Street Smart” when he played a subordinate, he became just another random Negro, being the loving always long suffering nursemaid to a white woman who, from all purposes, seemed perfectly capable of taking care of herself.

My big stinking problem with the film’s ridiculous “Song of the South” view on race relations aside, my main gripe here is with white male film critics. The ones who supposedly speak so highly of talented actors from other races, yet don’t want to see anyone that resembles them upended by said POCs. They forever want to be the star/ hero/ love interest.

Even as they pretend to think so much of us darkies, their real feelings are reflected in how they mention us in their columns or magazine articles. Most of the time, it’s with obvious reluctance, as if they would really enjoy this picture, if there wasn’t one of them colored people in it. They seem to not want our presence ever period. And don’t dare be a Will Smith, Wesley Snipes, Denzel Washington. Be any black male star, and they will go out of their way to find something wrong with the picture, all while praising the same subject matter or performance when it’s a white male.

There have been countless dogs starring white males such as Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey. Yet, it’s almost without fail the films of black men that are just the absolute worst. I have seen some of the movies they are so damn quick to criticize, and most of them aren’t that bad. The only bad thing is the biased perspective coming from the person reviewing the film.

Speaking of Mr. Smith, the few times I do see him get praised for his performances is when he is playing a subordinate or subservient like in the Matt Damon movie “Legend of Bagger Vance”, which I still don’t get. Just what the hell his character was supposed to be, besides a well-worn stereotype that is making most white male movie critics giddy with delight? Or when he was starring as their ultimate thrill of emasculation for a black male, a homosexual. It seems that being a caricature, which makes them feel the most comfortable, is the one time they can tolerate a black face on screen.

Will Smith and Matt Damon in The Legend of Bagger Vance

That must be why it’s still so much easier to find work and get praise as a black actor/actress, if you are playing a white person’s servant. Or in the case of Mr. Freeman a driver, obviously since he is too old to play the pimp role. He fits right into the magical Negro. I’m surprised they didn’t find a way to make him a great-great descendant of Uncle Remus from the banned Disney film, seeing how that’s basically what he is portraying only in a slightly less overt and offensive way.

As I have stated previously, I get that the past for black folks is a most hard pill to swallow. But why is it that those same folks i.e. white people who keep telling us to get over it have NO qualms about waxing nostalgic for a bygone era when it paints them in an inaccurately pleasant light?

When the breakdancing craze took off in the mid 80’s, Hollywood attempted to capitalize with several hit movies. Famed movie critic Gene Siskel of the Ebert and Siskel duo was not too pleased. He lamented that the advent of black urban faces in an inner city setting listening to hip-hop music would leave white teens out in the cold, obviously oblivious to the many years of white films that focused on the lives of teenagers with nary a black face in the bunch. Yet, because Siskel and other white males felt slighted, or as he put it, “There was no one that his kids could relate to,” that meant those films were lacking.

He didn’t seem to have a problem with the lily white dance flick “Footloose” starring a very young Kevin Bacon. Hell, even the break dancer in that movie was a white guy. Then again, that’s how most white males, particularly ones that have a voice in the media, operate. If it doesn’t pertain to them or reflect some aspect of their lives, then they ain’t interested. Thankfully, he and the rest of them didn’t determine the box office dollar, seeing how some of those pictures, a few spawning sequels, became smash hits despite his objections.

I recall an interview with comic legend Eddie Murphy. He opined that even as the critics were tearing down his films and performances, somebody had to be watching his pictures, because he was still getting work. And we all know fully well that the executives in Hollywhite aren’t about promoting black culture or stories any more than the white male critics enjoy watching them. So, Mr. Murphy must have a point, because I’m certain that the higher ups who greenlight his movies aren’t his friends. In fact, far from it. He, like Richard Pryor and Sidney Poitier before him, had to work twice as hard to be hired.

That’s why it really burns my butt that white men are usually the final say in regards to what films do well and which ones don’t. Lucky for me that I don’t listen to white male critics, especially since I know the place where it comes from. And that’s one where we are still at the back of the bus, eating in the kitchen, serving their drinks or playing insignificant drivers for their mommas.

Vern’s Venting: Kung Fu Logic

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By Lavern Merriweather

For you youngins not old enough to remember, there used to be a very popular TV show on ABC that debut in 1974 called “Kung Fu”. It starred the incomparable David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, a martial arts fighting nomad who went from town to town in the old west. In one of their better episodes, a white male was on trial for the death of a Chinese man. A friend of the accused, played by Scott Hylands, tries to justify the killing by claiming that the person murdered wasn’t really a ‘man’. Therefore, there was no murder.

Ever the brilliant philosopher, Mr. Caine explains that if you constantly remind someone that they are less-than and aren’t truly human, then would you not expect at some point for them to believe it?

Apathy towards people of color has been around for a very long time in America. It certainly has helped a number of white people in America justify bullshit killings of black folks in recent years. Apparently, Kwai Chang spoke truth, because that mentality can even come from other black people themselves.

A paramedic by the name of Melissa Jackson, who is black and female, refused to grant help to another black woman named Eutisha Rennix because, as she put it, she was on her lunch break. So, because Ms. Jackson thought her eating her Big Mac dollar meal was more important than saving a life, a woman had to die.

This is precisely why I think so many black male comedians are on the side of the white media when it comes to mocking and vilifying their own. Even while given countless opportunities to make just as much fun of or just as many cruel malicious comments about white people, they opt instead to attack other blacks. I get that a lot of black people back in the day threw another Negro under the bus to save their own skin, but what’s the excuse now? On second thought, fuck that! I don’t get how you can agree with the logic that says you are nothing, especially compared with the dominant culture.

The only way to bring about change is to change the status quo and speak truth to power, regardless of who gets offended or pissed off so the people of yesteryear that eagerly sold their soul get no free pass from me. Let’s be fair here; not all black folks commit acts of behavior for some greater good. Many times they do it because they are selfish assholes that don’t give a crap about anybody but their dang selves. I really don’t see how you can fall in line with the very group of people that keeps telling how inferior/worthless/despicable you are. The more that happens, the more killings of innocent black lives are going to seem like no big deal, even to the main group of people that are being targeted believe it or not.

What makes this all the more aggravating is that it’s not just limited to African-Americans or people of color period. Anybody thought of as different or an outsider is fair game. In 1979, an Amish couple and their two children were going home after having dinner at a friend’s house. Some local white male teens decided to have some fun at their expense. They were on a hunt for ‘clapes’ which is a derogatory slur for the Amish. (It comes from the term ‘clay apes’, something that they call Amish farmers.) The teens were throwing rocks at the family’s buggy and their 7 month-old baby daughter got hit in the head. The little girl didn’t survive; she died days later in the hospital from a fractured skull.

Now, you would think the heartless, senseless, stupid killing of an innocent baby would spark a shitstorm of outrage from the townspeople towards the teens. However, since this is America, if you are seen as strange or different, then your life has little or no value. The townspeople, instead, turned on the Amish couple, criticizing them for being out at that time of the night and for not having a vehicle like normal folks to protect their baby girl. After all, they said she wouldn’t have gotten hit in the head were it not for the fact that the parents were so damn irresponsible. They should have been in a car and the metal or glass would have saved the baby. I guess the notion that those dumbass punks should never have been out throwing rocks at people who have never done shit to them didn’t cross their moronic little minds.

The couple didn’t press charges and said that they immediately forgave the boys, leading me to believe that those assholes targeted them because they knew the religion, which they hate the Amish so much for, would get their sorry asses off the hook for doing something so heinous. The thugs didn’t spend one day in jail or prison and their parents only had to pay fines of 2,000 to 5,000 dollars for what they did. A local prosecutor tried to help the family seek justice, but they didn’t want their surviving daughter to experience the trauma of having to testify against those lowlifes. So, no punishment has ever been rendered, save the fines.

While in college during sociology class, I learned of a word called ‘neutralization’. That’s where those who hate others use words such as racial slurs and insults to dehumanize another person to make them feel as belittled as possible. It’s also why many create stereotypes. If I think that you are this, that and the other, that makes it okay if I hurt or kill you.

The professor also told us the story about the Amish couple which I then looked up on the internet. It sounds a lot like the rhetoric that was used by the Scott Hylands character in that memorable episode of the show. You mean nothing to me therefore your life means nothing as well. Never mind the family and friends this person may have had that did care about them.

I can only hope that the rash of violence and brutality against black folks won’t exist much longer. And that we can stop thinking like the dominant society when it comes to how much our lives matter.

Notable Links: 9-12/14

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Oscar Pistorius not guilty of murder as case nears close

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Ray Rice, Domestic Violence, The Video and Sensationalizing and Racializing a Social Problem

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Ray Rice with his wife Janay

Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice, or rather ex-football player Ray Rice, has been let go following the release of a horrific video of him knocking out and dragging his then-fiancée, now-wife Janay Palmer-Rice.

The event occurred months ago. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed down a suspension from two games in July. This led to an outrage, calling for a harsher punishment against Rice. Recently, a video obtained by tabloid king TMZ was released to the public. In no time, mainstream outlets and social media made it viral. Soon, Rice’s contract was terminated presumably under the premise of watching the footage. Since its release, Mrs. Rice released statements ranging from apologies to depression:

“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that (the) media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his a** of for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!”

There are so many people to blame for this whole matter. Ray Rice, of course, should’ve known better not to clock this woman as if she was a UFC fighter. Whether she provoked it or not is no excuse to almost put her in a coma, or worse.

I blame TMZ, a company all about (mostly black) celebrity tabloid drama that knowingly released the video for reasons speculated. I can assume Harvey Levin was more concerned about a way to profit from this problem as opposed to the actual beating as he is chuckling all the way to the bank with his millions. Whenever black people suffer, a white man somewhere will use it to make money.

I blame the NFL for thinking this is just a minor setback all the while praising Ray Rice for being a valuable player and a “nice guy” to boot. Maybe he is; I dunno. Still, that doesn’t exonerate him from hitting a woman.

Finally, I blame a culture where violence is idolized and where victims are shamed. We live in a world where if we punch someone in the face, we blame the person for having a face while excusing and supporting the one doing the punching! And someone would record the whole incident and post it online for a bunch of likes, shares, retweets, favorites, LOL’s, OMG’s and SMH’s.

So, Ray Rice is no longer playing. Now what? What will come of this now that he’s indefinitely benched?

We seem to think that kicking out a ball playing wife beater would be the end of it, but it’s not. Will Rice learn anything from this? Will he and his family get help? Will there be major changes within the NFL and how it deals with domestic violence as a result? There are so many questions to ask and so many things to consider that this is hardly a straightforward issue. Sadly, I fear this will fade away in a hot second until another face of domestic violence surfaces, and it will likely involve another black couple in the media spotlight which will start another color-aroused uproar.

Fox & Friends’ anchors, using all their worldly knowledge and tact at once, saw fit to poke fun at this incident. While citing Chris Brown and Rihanna and Jay Z and Solange, the crew jokingly saw that the message was that it was best to “take the stairs”. Keep in mind, they made references to famous black couples only.

In cases of domestic violence, or crime in general, in the world of sports or in Hollywood, more attention tends to focus heavily of black people and black couples. This problem with Ray Rice somehow set off yet another conversation surrounding this matter. I say ‘somehow’, because surprisingly – not really – there was never quite as loud a commotion when Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault – TWICE – from the media or from sports fans. And that is just one example.

Come to think of it, how many white athletes and white celebrities have you heard accused of rape, domestic violence and so forth right off the bat? My guess would be hardly at all. Even if it’s reported, it’s a quick blip on the radar, and then, it’s gone, unless it’s very serious like murder. Most white celebrity news, including those of the tabloid variety, are positive.

When the subject of domestic violence and rape are raised involving the rich and famous, usually black faces are plastered all over the media long and hard. This is not to say that we should minimize the impact of Ray Rice’s crime or domestic violence in general. But I can’t help but see it as a disguised attempt to turn this into a black pathology, demonizing black athletes as a whole, yet again, and con the public into thinking the mainstream media actually gives a damn about the matter of contention when it hardly screams whenever white athletes and white celebs do wrong.

In the end, if this problem is to be tackled honestly, blaming the victim, sensationalizing the issue and racializing it are all the wrong ways to go about doing it. I hope Mrs. Rice, as well as her husband, get some kind of help for the sake of their family without any mainstream interference and scrutiny.

Vern’s Venting: Culture of Silence

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Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice and his wife in child in the foreground pictures with apparent stills of footage of him assaulting his wife from a video just released by TMZ

Days ago, I sent an email to Brotha with a response to the very intelligent and thoughtful post he wrote about the controversy surrounding Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice. It seems that folks were calling for Rice’s head on a silver platter, because he was seen on video dragging his fiancé out of an elevator, apparently after knocking her unconscious when their argument turned into a physical altercation. I don’t know what happened prior to the video but Mr. Rice took a lot of heat from the media holier-thans for what occurred. The commissioner for the NFL Roger Goddell also was criticized for giving Rice such a light sentence. Ray Rice was only suspended two games sending many so called fans and media harpies into a virtual frenzy.

Brotha rightfully pointed out the double standard naming famous white males who have also laid their hands wrong on a woman. To add fuel to his fire I emailed him about a white male MMA fighter named John Koppenhaver who now goes legally by the name “War Machine” (Rolls eyes). If that stupid and creepy moniker just begging for brutality wasn’t bad enough, several pictures surfaced on Instagram of his ex-girlfriend porn star Christy Mack. Ms. Mack was beaten very badly by Koppenhaver, because supposedly he came into her apartment unannounced and caught her in bed with another man. Mack claims that they were broken up already, and he had no business being there, especially considering that he also attacked the man she was having sex with.

Pictures of Christy Mack’s bruises (left) with her and John “War Machine” Kopperhaver (right)

The story caught some steam when noted bounty hunter and lover of the blond mullet Dwayne ‘The Dog’ Chapman became involved. Mr. Chapman didn’t mince words while on the Nancy Grace show of the MSNBC network as he discussed what he thought of that punk Koppenhaver. However, because this is a white male, the story died almost as soon as it was born. Many in the media completely ignored the despicable and criminal act of the MMA champion. They haven’t uttered one fucking peep, save the always-ready-to-make-excuses-for-white-men-behaving-very-badly-supposed psychologist Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Dr. Drew, also on MSNBC, seems to have become a how-to on not taking responsibility for your actions when you are white. And along for the ride is his gang of bubbleheaded Barbie clones agreeing with every stupid, arrogant self-serving word that he spews. He and his crew of airheads tried to justify Koppenhaver’s behavior by whining that he had a bad childhood, took steroids and suffered a lot of distress in his life. Well, gosh golly gee! With that entire trauma, it’s only natural and understandable he would be so stressed out as to do what he did.

For those of you dropping your jaw right now, I’m being sarcastic. There’s no way in hell I agree with those dumbasses, and yes I am calling them that. By the way, Dr. Drew, having a so-called psychological expert doesn’t change your bullshit rationalizing of his horrific and heinous behavior. Nor does sticking your head up your ass as if it were sand and you were an ostrich do anything to change the blatant glaring obvious racism and hypocrisy of the media. In case you jackasses were wondering yes your shit does stink too! And if one of you violently assaults a woman, you should face the same pious venom you hurriedly unleash on black males.

Even more troubling is the snide commentary by many on the internet stating that Dog (Mr. Chapman) was just an attention whore looking to get air time. Maybe he is rightfully excited about treating that piece of shit with the same disgraceful disdain that he did his ex Ms. Mack. Plenty of people experience horrible things in their life and they have never laid a hand on anyone, especially not someone who looks like she doesn’t weigh more than 115 pounds. Him being a well-trained combat fighter, Koppenhaver has won many tournaments, and he knew damn good and well how horribly he would hurt Christy. So spare me the ‘he was caught in the moment’ nonsense. Tough shit!

Still, the high and mighty of the media has stayed silent about this loser Koppenhaver. And please do not tell me it’s because the MMA isn’t as popular a sport as football, because that has nothing to do with anything. I don’t give two shits about how well known a sport is. He beat the shit out of his ex- girlfriend. So, he should be getting JUST as much outrage. Then again, there have been white males in the past who committed domestic violence and nobody spoke one word about it.

Race car drivers Danny Sullivan and Al Unser Jr. have both attacked their former female loves. Hockey player Patrick Roy was arrested more than once for domestic violence. Golfer John Daly once hit his ex in public. And boxer Andrew Golota has also beat his wife as well as brutally assaulted two men in his native Poland, one of whom has been in a coma since 1992. Good luck getting the judgmental white media brigade to say boo about them.

Golfer John Daly

Obviously, white males are determined to make sure that the face of domestic violence stays a black one. It doesn’t even have to be just athletes. There is the sickening and outrageous video of a California Highway patrol officer raining blows on pedestrian and Grandmother Marlene Pinnock. Another cop in Chicago was sued by a female bartender after he was seen on video pummeling her practically into unconsciousness. He claims that it was because he was upset his dog had cancer while she says that he was angry, and she refused to serve him any more drinks, which is the policy of the bar where she works. Yet, this brave young woman was viciously attacked because she chose to do the right thing instead of be impressed by a boy in blue. Keep in mind he is 6’2 weighing 196 pounds while she is 5’4 and weighs only 125. Not exactly a fair fight. Shit not a fight at all. That was a beat down.

Yet, curiously when it’s a white male administering it, those very same folks crying out against a black man are quiet. Either thet have a bad case of laryngitis or they care more about persevering their racist arrogance than the very issue they call themselves crusading for.

NOTE: Kopperhaver’s father is German American while his mother is Mexican. Thanks TeddyBearChubs. 

A Petition To End Stereotypes

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The following is a petition I started to fight the over-abundant negative images of black people in the media. This was written as a spur of the moment thing after watching a rerun of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s reunion, which was the last straw. So, you have to forget any and all grammatical and spelling errors.

Help spread the word. This is my first petition, and I don’t know if it will do any good, but I’ll try anything once. Let’s hope this goes somewhere.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/end-negative-stereotypes?source=c.em.cp&r_by=4689785

Thanks!

Vern’s Venting: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

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Cast of “Here Comes Honey Boo”

By Lavern Merriweather

With the advent of TV shows such as “Party Down South”, “Chrisley Knows Best”, “Way Out West” and “Hollywood Hillbillies”, it appears that being a white trash redneck is currently very trendy, following the success of Honey Boo Boo, a show that features a cute precocious little 8 year-old blond girl from the backwoods of Georgia. She and her extremely eccentric, loud, vulgar family have made quite a name for themselves – as well as millions – by behaving exactly as the stereotype that middle to upper class white people expect them to be.

Although I feel that it’s really cool seeing someone get over on how the other half lives by playing up their given clichés, it’s still is a cringe worthy premise. The bottom line is that the producers and network who air these shows as well as the audience who watch are not laughing with these people; they are laughing at them. For a long time, poor white folks who don’t have a proper education or speaking dialect have been the butt of some cruel jokes.

There are countless movies that show white people who don’t have a certain pedigree or social status as stupid, inbred bumpkins. Of course, it doesn’t matter if that mindset is grounded in reality or not. If it’s cool to laugh at a certain group of people, stereotypes are easily and eagerly justified, which is no surprise seeing how many arrogant white males in the media need to find someone to make feel inferior to exemplify their own sense of superiority. Even members of their own race, white people that haven’t been able to obtain the same wealth or prestige as their more prosperous brethren. They are deemed the black sheep of the white populace, much in the same way that Italians are as evidence by the success of that foolishness “Jersey Shore”.

Those people would not get all that attention or adulation if they were articulate, smart, charming and college educated. However, because they speak with a typical East Coast Italian dialect and engage in a moronic, destructive lifestyle, they are ripe for the plucking.

I find it strangely ironic that Honey Boo Boo, whose real name is Alana Thompson, first came to prominence on the TLC show “Toddlers &Tiaras”. She was a beauty pageant standout who earned herself a TV show despite that it is an activity normally reserved for rich, white suburbanites. You rarely, if at all, see someone from the trailer park crowd making a name for themselves in such a prominent world.

You may ask yourself, why it is that a black woman from the city would care about how a bunch of white folks from the South are being treated. But I would ask you to look at the bigger picture. This isn’t just about being white and poor. This is about keeping those deemed less-than by the dominant society in their place.

Another thing is that bigotry/prejudice/discrimination often times goes beyond race. Although young Miss Alana is doing well now, as I would imagine most of the white people on those programs are. What I find troubling is what happens when the honeymoon is over and the novelty wears off. As anyone who has tried and failed at a career in the limelight can tell you, Hollywood is not a compassionate or sympathetic business. That’s because it’s a business first and foremost. So, those in power make sure that they stay there by striking while the iron is hot. This little girl won’t be a girl forever, and one day, she might find herself 25 years old with no education, no money and will end up right back where she and her family started. And the only person the joke will be on then is her.

I could very easily go there with snap judgments about Southern white folks and assume that her and her family are moronic racist fools who utter racial slurs at the drop of the hat when the cameras are off. However, I don’t believe in or agree with generalizing others. In any case, a lot of negative mindset bestowed on those not thought of fondly in the white community isn’t only directed at people of color.

Popular Chicago radio shock jock Steve Dahl made a number of disparaging comments about disgraced former security guard Richard Jewel. Mr. Jewel was the main suspect for a bombing in Atlanta during the summer Olympics in 2006 that killed a few people. Mr. Jewel was later cleared of all charges. Then, he eventually sued many news outlets in America that painted him as public enemy number one.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of his innocence, Dahl still felt the need to be malicious. He complained about the fact that Mr. Jewel owned two homes saying that Mr. Jewel shouldn’t be allowed to do such a thing, because he, Mr. Dahl, had two homes.

Radio personality Steve Dahl

While I know that’s not a racist sentiment, it still comes from an attitude of ‘If I know I’m better then you, you’d better not have what I have’, a feeling that plenty of white males in the media express when it comes to black men that are rich, famous and successful. They don’t even try to hide their obnoxious jealousy. It’s like that old saying “if there’s one thing a white male with a nickel hates to see it’s a n*gger with a dime”. I believe truer words were never spoken.

That’s why I feel the word ‘entitlement’ gets bandied about most of the time when they are discussing black male athletes. But that word never crosses their lips when it’s another white man. No, he has every right to be financially secure in the best way possible, unless they are white people already considered inferior because of how they talk, where they live or their economic status. Sometimes not even that will make any difference seeing how although Alana and her family are now millionaires, they aren’t thought of any more highly than if they were dirt poor with ten rusty cars in the driveway, which is how the dominant supremacist society treats all those not viewed as equal to them.

I hope that little Alana wises up enough and saves her money to have a more secure future. Otherwise the prejudice she faces right now is going to make it that much harder on her when she is older.

Notable Links: 9-5/14 (NEW FORMAT!)

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R.I.P. Joan Rivers…I Guess

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Joan Rivers

I shouldn’t wish Joan Rivers to rest in peace considering her disgusting commentary. Still, I’ll be the bigger person and do so anyway. But I won’t shed one tear for this woman. Pardon my indifference.

From the New York Times:

Joan Rivers, the raspy loudmouth who pounced on America’s obsessions with flab, face-lifts, body hair and other blemishes of neurotic life, including her own, in five decades of caustic comedy that propelled her from nightclubs to television to international stardom, died on Thursday in Manhattan. She was 81.

Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, confirmed her death. A spokeswoman, Judy Katz, said the cause had not yet been determined.

Ms. Rivers died at Mount Sinai Hospital, where she was taken last Thursday after reportedly losing consciousness while undergoing a procedure on her vocal cords at a doctor’s office on the Upper East Side. Doctors at the hospital placed her in a medically induced coma. On Tuesday, her daughter said she was on life support; on Wednesday, she said she had been moved out of intensive care.

The State Health Department is investigating the circumstances that led to her death, a state official said Thursday.

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Special Feature: Admitting There’s a Problem – Taking away Stigma and Shame

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By Laura Chapman

If there’s one thing the last few weeks have taught me it’s that there really is no shame in admitting you’ve got a problem and want to open up about it.

When the death of Robin Williams was announced just last month, many people were stunned into silence that someone so bright, so vibrant and seemingly full of life and talent could take their own life. What many don’t realize is that a lot of the time, the smiles and the generosity of time and spirit can often hide something that runs much deeper and hits much harder.

I was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder just a few short months ago, but believe me, it took me years to be able to talk and to be able to open up, even though I knew and suspected there might well be a problem (so did my family, but they were also too afraid to ask, or to push me to seek help).
My moods had always been what my mom called “all over the place”, but it seemed to be much more extreme than a case of clinical depression. This seemed to be so much more intense, the manic hyper states of anxiety juxtaposed with extreme lows, so bad I was debilitated and couldn’t even raise my head off the pillow for weeks at a time.

Once it got to a point where the moods were coming in cycles and happening more and more regularly, it was my partner who pushed me into an appointment with a professional. I think, if we were both honest, we knew what it was. But hearing it being confirmed a little while later still felt like a hammer blow.

I’ve had to, in a lot of ways, change my life. Treatment for the symptoms of the illness can vary wildly from patient to patient and finding one “cure all” way of helping sufferers isn’t possible. I’ve had to accept that for now I’m going to be on a strong regimen of anti-depressants and therapy, until I can come to terms with everything and also until my moods stabilize. But, I can honestly say, now I know I feel I can deal with life better than I ever could. If you’re suffering with any of the warning signs, speak up and get help.

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