Thursday, February 26, 2009

Black Love in the White House

In the absence of black love on movie screens, music videos and magazines, there is black love. At a time when it is more likely to find a real representation of a unicorn than black love, black love is in full effect in the most unlikely place: the White House. President Obama and his beautiful wife Michelle bring black love into full view for all to see. Many European Americans seem to think that black love has never existed. Their reference for black love or the absence of black love is framed by slavery and more recently the often misogynistic representations seen in rap music videos.

For those of us who still have memory of when momma and daddy loved each other, when daddy would give mom a kiss on the cheek or a pat on the rear as he went off to work, black love is not a novelty. However, for many African Americans and main stream America, the Cosby Show was the first glimpse of black love within families. Not since Cosby and Phylicia Rashad has there been such a positive representation of black love and relationships. The blessing is that, Mr. President and the first Lady are not characters on a TV screen. They are real people, who know the price one must pay to maintain family, profession and now the highest office in the land.

The first family offers the opportunity to deconstruct the view of black male/ female relationships and to transform the meaning and representation of black love. President Obama seems to have the ability to step outside his position of power and give props to the mother of his children and his life partner. The Obamas appear to have loved themselves beyond their respective Ivy League degrees, and career accomplishments to find a Love Supreme. This is indeed a revolutionary act.

President Obama and Mrs. Obama present a new vision of love, not just black love, but for all America. The first lady acknowledges that theirs is not a perfect marriage, but that they share a commitment to making it work. In photo after photo we see the Obamas with a look of love, respect and mutual admiration that is hard to fake. There is no doubt that there will be plenty of love and love making between the sheets at 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years.

As the first family navigates its way through the next four or hopefully eight years, we must keep them in our prayers and intentions that their union will continue to grow stronger with each passing day and each new challenge, and that at the end of the Presidency, they will be more in love than ever. I dedicate this song by Oleta Adams to Mr. & Mrs. Obama. "Just Before I Go to Sleep".

There are many examples of black love all around us. We only need shut off the negative images of black relationships that bombard us and look around us to our parents, sisters and brothers and friends who have shared a union of black love for 25-50 years or more. Is black love easy, of course not; nothing worth having ever is. Yet if we are to rescue the souls of our children from consumerism, narcissism, and greed, love with be the healing balm that will re-unite and heal our families, our communities and our nation.


Friday, February 20, 2009

50th Virtual Birthday Bash!!!

Dear Friends:

I need your help in creating a world wide day of celebration for folk born June 24, 1959. We turn 50 this year. While sipping a little Chardonnay I thought what fun it would be to create a virtual birthday bash for people celebrating their 50th birthday this year around the world.

Using the power and reach of the Internet, all I ask is that you circulate this message among your many social and personal networks. Have folk email me and give their input as we Cancerians recognize a half century of loving, laughing and living. My goals is to create a network of folk who want to create a vision for our shared celebration.

Emails to: Let's get this party started!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Etta James and Beyonce: No Fool Like and Old Fool

There's "no fool like an old fool" and "imitation is the highest form of flattery" are phrases I have heard throughout my childhood. However, I never thought it would be attached to some of the greatest icons of music. The most recent in this chain of fools appears to be the legendary singer Etta James (At Last). I thought someone was kidding when I first heard the blurb that she was threatening to "whip Beyonce's ass" and exclaiming that "the guy with the big ears was not her president". Etta were your meds not adjusted that day or did they take your common sense along with the pounds of fat from your weight loss surgery?

I'm baffled and a bit embarrassed in that I considered women like Etta James to be part of the generation that is suppose be the keepers of integrity, pride and common sense. James has joined the ranks of Aretha Franklin; you remember how she spewed hateration at Beyonce', who seemingly innocently referred to Tina Turner as the Queen on an awards show. Prior to that outburst, there was Jennifer Holiday hattin’ on Jennifer Hudson for singing " her song", I'm Not Going. Someone should make a video called "Old Divas Gone Wild", featuring Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Holiday and Etta James. Did I leave anyone out?

I challenge these ladies who clearly must be bitter as hell despite the fact that they are respected and revered by people around the world. Nobody can sing R.E.S.P.E.C.T. like the Queen of Soul, but that doesn't mean it isn't room on the throne for other Queens. Etta, Aretha and Jennifer Holiday get over yourselves. I only hope that Beyonce’ and the youngins’ will take a lesson from all this. They live in a time when they don't have the luxury of being the "it girl" for 15 or 20 years. In today's fast pace, short memory society you're the "it girl in the morning and Rhinanna has replaced you by the afternoon. If you notice, there is a new King or Queen of Hip-Hop every year. Luckily these young people understand the nature of the game. They either step aside or keep raising the bar so that who ever steps up to take their reign will have to bring it. They invoke a "ride a die" attitude to their craft that I applaud. Now don't get me wrong, they have their share of beefs between artists, however, it's usually more about creating hype to sell more records than anything else.

As for the "old fools" who let all of their stuff show (sometimes literally... ReeRee). I ask you to take a lesson from the "Timeless" Miss. Patti LaBelle. Though forever and a day, I will always think of LaBelle when I hear Lady Mamalade, Miss.Patti was not only the epitome of class and grace when Christina Aguilera, Little Kim and Mya performed the song in what I think was one of the worst musicals I've ever watched, Moulin Rouge. (Please note that my feelings about the movie are not a reflection on the performance of Aguilera, Little Kim and Mya). Miss. LaBelle applauded the sisters and encouraged them to keep up the good work and carry on the legacy. The love that the hip- hop generation has for Miss. LaBelle was recently displayed at the UNCF Parade of Stars- Salute to Patti LaBelle. In addition to Fantasia, singers like Chrisette Michelle, and Jennifer Hudson performed musical tributes to Patti LaBelle and had nothing but praise for the example that she has set with her music, but more important, with her generosity and willingness to mentor and cook for up and coming entertainers both male and female. LaBelle seems to always try to take the high road. In a recent interview she was asked why she didn't sing at any of President Obama's inauguration events, she graciously replied, she was not invited to perform, but gave mad props to Aretha Franklin for her performance.

I call upon Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Jennifer Holiday, who all clearly got caught up in the moment, to not allow their historical legacies to be tainted by a moment when they allowed the worst parts of themselves to show, rather than being a reflection of the Divine gifts to the world that they were born to be.

Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but truly, there is no fool like an old fool.