Straight Men Don’t Touch: On Manny Ramirez & Julian Tavarez

Have you ever noticed that straight men don’t touch each other, especially in the US?

Maybe that’s why the sportscasters on this Boston_____Sox (I don’t know. White or Red.) game are aghast at the manner at which Manny Ramirez is so affectionate with his teammate, Julian Tavarez.

Maybe they’re not straight. I am the first queen to tell folks, sometimes things look exactly as they are. And we need to recognize the whole world is not 100% heterosexual. And this does look a little bit like the opening scene of a Latino Fan Club or Pit Bull Productions film. If you look at the video around 1 minute in, another player passes in front of them and they seem to both look in the same direction of the ball player’s backside…

But maybe they are straight! I actually wish more straight men would get over their fear of touching other men (Have you ever seen straight men in a movie theatre on on a train sit next to one another without leaving an empty seat between them?). Maybe they’d be less likey to feel the need to beat and bash women, children, queers or men they percieve to be less man than they. So whatever the case, Manny and Julian, be not moved by the naysayers! Hug on! Caress on! Fondle on! Wrestle on!

(and if you’re interested in someone joining you, drop me a message…OFFLINE!)

Beanie Sigel. A Mind Is a Dangerous Thing to Waste

For all the activists who are committed to trying to salvage hip-hop, and who “pooh-pooh” women and queers for trying to tell you that there is a correlation between the misogyny and homophobia in the music/culture, and the levels of violence against women and queers in the black community, I offer to you Exhibit A.

Beanie Sigel, former Roc-A-Fella Records artist and founder of State Property Clothing (a subject worth a whole nother blog entry) discusses Kanye West and Pharrell, and suggests not only that they might be gay (which I am OK with), but goes further to say that guys who dress like they do will catch a beat down in the hood–a sentiment that seemed to be on the mind of the brothas who murdered Roberto Duncanson. So, the next time Russell Simmons or someone you know makes some excuse about these “poets” being a product of their environment, please point them here:

Michelle Obama: Politics of Race & Gender

Michelle ObamaIt must be hard to be Michelle Obama. When she and her husband Barack Obama, the Illinois Sentator and presidential hopeful appeared on Oprah in 2006, she was very clear that she had no interest in being a public figure, or raising her children under such public scrutiny. It seemed as even Barack’s celebrity as a very popular Senator–and only the third Black senator since Reconstruction–was more than she wanted to be bothered with.

There also the concern for their physical safety. Just two weeks ago the Obamas got security detail unlike any other Presidential candidate at this point in the campaign. But the Obamas had been receiving death threats.

But here she is, in essence, running as First Lady (or perhaps First Spouse, as formerPresident Bill Clinton could become the first man to be spouse to a sitting President). In today’s New York Times, there is a story and accompanying video about what Michelle Obama brings to the table.

What’s wierd aout this story, and that will undoubtedly become an issue in the campaign, is how she will be able to balance the media portrayals and public opinion. Inevitably, racialized/gendered language of her are already just underneath the surface of most of the coverage of her. In many cases, she’s portrayed as the  sassy “take no shit from her man” kind of black woman. The story defers this portrayal to a family member:

Craig Robinson, her brother and the Brown University men’s basketball coach, said his sister did not enjoy organized sports when she was younger because she so hated defeat and even now pouts when a board game does not go her way. His sister is brainy and warm, he said, but also a force to be reckoned with.

“Everyone in the family is afraid of her,” he said with a smile. Asked if Mr. Obama used a nicotine patch to quit smoking, Mr. Robinson cracked up. “Michelle Obama!” he said. “That’s one hell of a patch right there!””

The media also talksabout her being a straight-shooter, which I think is true to some extent. She seems to answer questions pretty directly, and doesn’t just say what seems to be the most convenient. However, I am beginning to wonder if one of her political functions for this campaign will be one of racial interpreter. Continue reading

LaBelle is coming back!

Some people think of The Supremes as the premier female trio of the 1960s. But the 1970’s belonged to LaBelle. And according to AOL Black Voices (formerly Africana.com and I’m not over it yet), Labelle is getting back together:

“An album is quietly being recorded in New York City bringing back together the talents of vocalists Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash, respectively.

A source close to the project has confirmed exclusively to us that Grammy Award rocker Lenny Kravitz has recorded three tracks, thus far, for the yet-to-be-titled opus, which will mark the trio’s first recording since 1976’s ‘Chameleon.'”

Labelle and Lenny? Does it get any better? Despite the fact that Lenny’s best album to date is his sophmore effort, 1991 Mama Said, and the last good one was 1993’s Are You Gonna Go My Way?, I think Lenny is a great producer. Madonna’s Justify My Love, Brandy’s Where Are You Now, and Cree Summer’s one and only album , Street Faerie. I would also love to hear Labelle be produced by other folks like Andre 3000, Angie Stone, Raphael Saadiq, Van Hunt, and Joi.

I am only gonna say this once, children. Labelle is more than “Git cha ya-ya here.” Lady Marmalade is hot, but you really need to get into You Turn Me On, Going On A Holiday, Nightbird, to name a few. These three women were pushing the boundaries of “acceptable” black womanhood in their song lyrics, their style (which the rock band KISS copied to create more of a buzz around their music), and the music arrangements itself–blending soul, funk, rock, r&b and gospel.

The band split in the late 70’s as each wanted to go in different musical directions, but I am glad to hear they’re back.

Yolanda King Dies at age 51

yolanda kingYolanda King, the eldest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, died last night at the age of 51.

Though we don’t know the cause of death at this time, her untimely death has me wondering about the state of black people’s health in the US. In the last few years, we’ve lost a lot of incredible black people–activists, musicians, and others who have died at a very young age (Luther Vandross and Gerald Levert first come to mind).

In virtually every category of health indicators, black people are worse off than all othe racial groups. A recent New York Times article highlighted the fact that Black infant mortality rates in the South are rising.

“In Mississippi, infant deaths among blacks rose to 17 per thousand births in 2005 from 14.2 per thousand in 2004, while those among whites rose to 6.6 per thousand from 6.1. (The national average in 2003 was 5.7 for whites and 14.0 for blacks.”

In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report called Health Disparities Experienced by Black or African Americans. Investigating the health in the areas of HIV, stroke, hear disease, the report stated

“For many health conditions, non-Hispanic blacks bear a disproportionate burden of disease, injury, death, and disability. Although the top three causes and seven of the 10 leading causes of death are the same for non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites (the largest racial/ethnic population in the United States), the risk factors and incidence, morbidity, and mortality rates for these diseases and injuries often are greater among blacks than whites. In addition, three of the 10 leading causes of death for non-Hispanic blacks are not among the leading causes of death for non-Hispanic whites: homicide (sixth), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease (seventh), and septicemia (ninth).”

The report baiscally says, “Damn, its bad.” The editorial note lists some reasons for the disparities, saying

“Multiple factors contribute to racial/ethnic health disparities, including socioeconomic factors (e.g., education, employment, and income), lifestyle behaviors (e.g., physical activity and alcohol intake), social environment (e.g., educational and economic opportunities, racial/ethnic discrimination, and neighborhood and work conditions), and access to preventive health-care services (e.g., cancer screening and vaccination) (8). Recent immigrants also can be at increased risk for chronic disease and injury, particularly those who lack fluency in English and familiarity with the U.S. health-care system or who have different cultural attitudes about the use of traditional versus conventional medicine. Approximately 6% of persons who identified themselves as Black or African American in the 2000 census were foreign-born.

For blacks in the United States, health disparities can mean earlier deaths, decreased quality of life, loss of economic opportunities, and perceptions of injustice. For society, these disparities translate into less than optimal productivity, higher health-care costs, and social inequity. By 2050, an estimated 61 million black persons will reside in the United States, amounting to approximately 15% of the total U.S. population (9).

The best way to honor the life of Yolanda King, and those people in your life who have died too young is to:

  1. Walk more. Run more. You don’t need a gym membership to do it.
  2. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. I know some of us live in neighborhoods where there ain’t a good grocery store around, but call or meet with your city council people and make it happen.
  3. Work to stop violence in the community. Mentor some young people. It doesn’t mean you need to go through an organization, but make yourself known and available to the kids on the block.
  4. My queers? Get you some gay children (and you know what I mean!) We’ve gotten away from really mentoring younger LGBTQ folks in the communtiy who’ve been abandoned by or at least not fully supported by their families. If you don’t like the way the kids carry (like here in NYC on Christopher Street) intervene!

Jerry Falwell. Dead.

So Jerry Falwell died today. I don’t want to take up any more space than that.

The ony other thing I’ll do is point you to two very different stories:

  1. the Associated Press Story of all these people gushing about what a great guy he was, including Jesse Jackson.
  2. A story from The Politico, my favorite Washington political news source.

Let’s hope his legacy will pass as qucikly as this post was written.

Enough said.

Miss Cleo’s Free Reading!

cleo

Do you remember Miss Cleo? The “Caribbean” psychic who you could call (for a fee!) and get a reading about your life, love, and the mysteries of the cosmos? Well a disgruntled caller made this video and song to our favorite psychic (who also came out of the closet as a lesbian recently)…