July 31, 2007

Chris Rock Ain't No Hot Ghetto Mess

Many villagers spent time last month protesting against the 'Hot Ghetto Mess' television show placed on the air by BET. We had some successes in getting advertisers to leave the show as well as getting the objectionable name of the show changed.

During the course of the protest effort another blogger asked me about a Chris Rock vignette called, 'How Not To Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police'. The Teach wondered what I thought about Chris Rock's efforts.

Click here to see the 4-minute comedy sketch

Teach, I laughed out loud during the Chris Rock video! On the other hand, I didn't crack a smile during the HGM pilot show. If the goal of a comedian is to make us laugh ... Chris Rock beats Charlie Murphy by a landslide.

July 30, 2007

Gang Rape, Genarlow Wilson & Jena 6

I see that Al Sharpton went down to support the Jena 6 recently. Sharpton works to uplift our people in his own way. He criticized officials in this racially tense Louisiana town, saying the attempted murder charges leveled against six Black teens show 'one rule for white kids and one for Black kids.'

Similar observations were made by Barack Obama at the NAACP convention last month and again this past week in reference to the Genarlow Wilson situation. Obama noted the different rules of justice and punishment for white and Black people by saying,

"How is it Scooter Libby isn't behind bars and we've got a young man in jail right now sentenced to 10 years for something that isn't even a felony?"
It is a good thing whenever a celebrity uses his/her status to shine the light on injustice.

The time has come for the Electronic Village to join other Black bloggers in The AfroSpear to speak out on the lack of media attention paid to the Dunbar Village gang rape in West Palm Beach, FL. A few dogs are endangered and every federal agency in law enforcement gets involved in effort to indict a quarterback. Ten criminals rape and beat a mother and her child in West Palm Beach ... and nothing appears to be happening. Seven of the criminals are still at large. The community is still victimized by these seven thugs.

Perhaps it is time for Barack Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others to shine their light on the travesty of justice that continues to occur for people of African descent in the Dunbar Village projects.

I encourage all 'villagers' to get up to speed on this situation. What About Our Daughters is the best source of information that I have seen online. In fact, the blogger who runs WAOD was on National Public Radio earlier this week to share her outrage over the apparent indifference of our leaders about this matter.

July 27, 2007

Jena Cuts Down Noose Tree

It is good to see that some commonsense is breaking out in Jena, LA. The charges against the Jena Six -- the Black Louisana high school students charged with attempted murder for a school fight in which a white student was beaten up -- have not been dropped or overturned. However, the local school board did cut down the tree in the schoolyard.

Villagers recall that this American tragedy began when a fight broke out after white students hung three nooses from this tree where the Black students had sat. Click here to read the complete facts on the Jena 6 case.

The tree had been commonly reserved for the enjoyment of white students. Amazing the crap that is still going on in our country. We live in the 21st century and there are still subtle 'Whites-Only' signs in our community. Anyhow, the photo above shows that all that remains of the big shade tree is a stump.

A clean slate," LaSalle Parish School Board member Billy Fowler said of why the tree was cut down in the past few weeks. "There's nothing positive about that old tree. It's all negative. And I'm serving on the new School Board, and we're wanting to start fresh on some things."

Fowler said the tree eventually would have been cut down for construction purposes, but that he also is hopeful its removal will help heal old wounds.

"School's about to start," he said. "We don't want the Blacks coming back up there looking at the tree knowing what happened, or the whites. We just want to start fresh."

Amazing how reasonable folks get when hundreds of people drive into your town to let you and the other 2,970 residents know of the international support that flows to the six young brothers whose lives have been tossed about by the Jena legal system.

The AfroSpear is committed to keeping a vibrant flow of information on this issue as it still doesn't get the play in the traditional media that it deserves. Personally, I hope that all villagers are sharing information with as many people as possible. We never want to see this Jenacide again in our nation.

Have any of the national candidates for president talked about the Jena Six yet?

July 26, 2007

Detroit Drops Ads from Hot Ghetto Mess

It appears that a number of villagers joined me in contacting Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCVB) about our disgust in seeing their sponsorship of the pilot episode of 'Hot Ghetto Mess'. I shared contact information for DMCVB and two other sponsors on last week's 'Hot Ghetto Mess' pilot episode.

My message to DMCVB simply stated,
'I am the immediate past president of Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA). We brought our national conference to Detroit in August 2005. If the decision was left to me today about whether to come back or not ... I would counsel against it based on the sponsorship that you/DMCVB provided to the pilot episode of 'Hot Ghetto Mess' on BET last night. I cannot begin to tell you the level of disappointment, bordering on disgust, that I felt when I realized that the DMCVB decided to use member dollars to fund a show that is so disrespectful to the African American community.
Who should I speak with to register my complaint about your marketing decision? My hope is that DMCVB will join State Farm and Home Depot in taking proactive steps to remove any future advertising dollars from this disrespectful show that is based on the Hot Ghetto Mess website. Please review the website and tell me how you/your organization thought that this was something worthy of your marketing dollars?'
I received a response this afternoon from Kathy Smith (DMCVB advertising manager). She wrote, I had to smile when the cable affiliate wrote,
"I work for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau and it was
brought to my attention that the DMCVB was associated with a program called "Hot Ghetto Mess" - - - the DMCVB and our advertising agency of record (Berline) had absolutely no idea the DMCVB was listed as a sponsor of this show until
mentioned in your blog. The mistake has been corrected. Please see the letter
attached from the cable affiliate

'Please know that we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this situation may have caused. We will add 10 scheduled spots in acceptable programming to your current schedule. We appreciate your business and will work very hard to avoid any such issues in the future.'
I gotta give props to my peeps in Detroit for turning this situation into ten extra commercial slots on other shows. More important, I am pleased that DMCVB was open to constructive criticism about their advertising decision. I wonder what it will take to get the other advertisers on the 'Hot Ghetto Mess' to pull out?

Villagers, did you contact the advertisers on this show to let them know your disappointment?

July 24, 2007

Who Sponsors Hot Ghetto Mess?

I watched the pilot show of Hot Ghetto Mess (by any other name) on BET. It was funny to see the new logo and show name. Obviously, it was too late to change the narration from Charlie Murphy as he repeatedly referred to the show as 'Hot Ghetto Mess'.

It also seems obvious that BET struggled to sell advertising time on the show. 80% of the commercial time was filled with promos of other BET shows.

One of the oddest moments during the show was a promo of an upcoming BET interview with Oprah Winfrey. I tend to believe that Oprah won't be happy to see her image and words used as a backdrop for 'Hot Ghetto Mess'.

However, there were three fools who had the audacity to spend their corporate dollars to sponsor the pilot show. My hope is that everyone reading this blog post will take a moment to make a phone call or send an email to these corporate sponsors to let them know your disappointment. Here are the three sponsors that chose to disrespect the African American community by spending our money (as customers of their products) on this mess.

The largest sponsor for the pilot show appeared to be ASCENDANT Pictures. The company is an independent film development, production, finance and foreign distribution company who paid BET to air multiple commercials about their upcoming movie called Who's Your Caddy. ASCENDANT PICTURES is run by Chris Roberts and Christopher Eberts. You can reach them right now by phone (310.288-4600), email (info@ascendantpictures.com), fax (310.288-4601) or mail (9350 Civic Center Drive, Suite 110; Beverly Hills, CA 90210).

A second HGM sponsor was the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. I was very disappointed to see one of my favorite cities... Detroit ... advertising on HGM. I have to believe that it will not take much to get them to remove their sponsorship from future shows with our calls or letters. My suggestion is that you place the call right now ... leave a message if it is after-hours when you are reading this message ... to Angela Gillis at (313) 202-1973 or you can email her at agillis@visitdetroit.com. Another unique way to get leverage on the DMCVB is to contact some of their influential members. You can click here to identify some of the business members. Share with them your disappointment in their decision to use membership dues in such a disrespectful manner to the Black community.

The final HGM sponsor is an Ohio-based company --> The Original Mattress Factory located at 4930 State Road; Cleveland OH 44134. The founder and president is Ron Trzcinski. According to Trzcinski: "Profit is a report card, a scorecard, a won-lost record. I don't sit in the mattress factory and say, 'How can we make a profit?' I ask, 'How can we do a better job? How can we make people want to come in? How can we help people see the value?' If you do all those things, you will make a profit." Let's reach out to Ron to let him know that African Americans are not interested in buying a mattress from a company that is so disrespectful to people of African descent. You can click here to email Ron or you can reach him by phone (216.661-8388) or send him a fax (216.661-2337).

Villagers, it is time for us to speak truth to power.

It is time for us to turn our consumer buying potential into action. I urge you to pick up your cell phone and make three phone calls right now ... before you do anything else ... let these fools know that we simply won't accept this nonsense any longer. State Farm and Home Depot did the right thing.

Let's help ASCENDANT Pictures, Detroit Convention Bureau and The Original Mattress Factory do the right thing as well.

July 23, 2007

Manic Monday: Wind

The Manic Monday word this week is WIND. I considered going musical with Earth Wind and Fire. Some of my best slow-dance memories are a direct result of EWF magic. I also enjoy all renditions of 'The Wind Beneath My Wings'. I thought about going oceanic to discuss wind-blown sailboats. However, at the end of the day, most of you come to the Electronic Village Manic Monday meme in search of a unique aspect of African American history.

I'll try not to disappoint.

Did you know that the top movie quote of all time comes from the movie, Gone With The Wind? Many of you are saying the quote before you read this sentence --> "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

But, how many of you know that a parody of Gone With The Wind was written a few years ago called, The Wind Done Gone? The book was written by Alice Randall. Randall was born in Detroit and graduated from Harvard in 1981. She was awarded the Free Spirit Award in 2001 and the Literature Award of Excellence by the Memphis Black Writers Conference in 2002, and she was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award in 2002. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Alice Randall catapulted into the spotlight for her parody of "Gone With The Wind," a project she contemplated after learning that Malcolm X once said the movie ruined a whole summer of his.
"As a Black person in America, I always knew that a lot of Black people hated ‘Gone With The Wind,’ and as a Black child, I myself felt injured by the narrative," Randall said. "My book was the equivalent of Prissy slapping Scarlett."

Writing the parody was a way for her—and for her readers—to cope with the trauma of reading Margaret Mitchell’s book and watching the movie it spawned. Randall explores the abandonment a Black girl feels when her biological mother takes care of a white girl. "Mammy was my Mama. Even though she let me go, I miss her," Randall writes in the novel. "Sometimes I comb through my long springy curls and pretend that the hand holding the comb is hers. But I don’t know what that looks like."

But the hands holding the copyright to "Gone With the Wind"—Mitchell’s heirs—thought Randall’s parody looked too much like the original. The Mitchell estate sued to block its publication. In April 2001, U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell blocked the publication of the novel, writing that it "constitutes unabated piracy of ‘Gone With the Wind.’"

But "The Wind Done Gone" wasn’t gone for long.

Just one month later, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the injunction, saying the order "amounts to an unlawful prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment." That year, Randall’s book hit The New York Times’ bestseller list. But the legal fight had left Randall shaken.

"The attempt by the Mitchell estate to use the copyright laws to effect censorship was shocking and chilling, but I did not allow that to stop me," she says.

In fact, Alice Randall is the only African American woman ever to write a number-one country song. She recorded more than twenty songs. She has been nominated for a Grammy Award. Her work includes the only known recorded country songs to explore the subject of lynching (Mark O'Connor's "The Ballad of Sally Anne" ), mention Aretha Franklin in the same line as Patsy Cline (Trisha Yearwood's "Xxx's and Ooo's (An American Girl)" ), and give tribute to both the slave dead and the Confederate dead ("I'll Cry for Yours, Will You Cry for Mine?").

She’s now writing what she calls a "guide to country music in cyberspace."

Well villagers ... I hope you enjoyed our afrocentric twist on the Manic Monday meme!

July 22, 2007

Hot Ghetto Mess Trying to Clean Up

BET and the jackal blinked first. All references to 'Hot Ghetto Mess' have been removed from their website.

BET decided to change the name of the show to 'We Got To Do Better'. The details of the backchannel communications are described on the WhatAboutOurDaughters blog.

The name change does the following things:
  1. It removes the direct and obvious connection to the pornographic website upon which the show is based.
  2. It removes the denigrating reference ('Hot Ghetto Mess') that would be inevitably tied to the African American community.
  3. It removes the irritating HGM logo from the network.
  4. Most importantly, it demonstrates again the power of Black bloggers if we are strategic and direct in our approach.

In my view, the next step is to see which corporations purchase advertisements on the show. If the show doesn't treat our community with dignity and respect ... then I anticipate that the campaign will move towards those advertisers. It is difficult for me to understand how respectable corporations will have their name associated with a show that degrades our people.

Much love to Gina McCauley for the time and effort that she placed into this protest effort. Gina has never visited our blog ... however, she is now an OV (Original Villager)!

Well villagers, what are your thoughts on this latest development?

July 19, 2007

Help Hunt Down Hot Ghetto Mess

Villagers, it is time to send the hunters into the jungle to bring down the jackal that has been stealing our dignity. The Electronic Village is joining What About Our Daughters blog, Eddie Griffin and other Black bloggers in the next phase of this quest to take Hot Ghetto Mess off the air.

Check out media release for more details:

Black Bloggers and Civil Rights Groups Unite to Topple BET's "Hot Ghetto Mess"

Austin, TX -July 19, 2007 - If Viacom's Black Entertainment Television goes through with its plans to air "Hot Ghetto Mess" next week, many people will be watching, but not for the reason BET wants. Realizing that mere online advocacy, was not going to be enough to topple "Hot Ghetto Mess" after she'd gotten advertisers to flee the show, Gina McCauley, creator of the blog What About Our Daughters? turned to a coalition of religious and women's groups including the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation, National Organization for Women, Rainbow PUSH, and the National Congress of Black Women.

The result is what may very well be the largest intergenerational collaboration between young online activists and their older offline counterparts in United States history. Their focus; to convince advertisers that buying ad time on BET's "Hot Ghetto Mess" just isn't worth it, despite the high ratings that the show is likely to bring if it airs.

On July 25, 2007, "Hot Ghetto Mess" watch parties are being scheduled in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Austin, the District of Columbia and the list of locations keeps growing. Those attending the watch parties will be recording which companies purchase advertisements during the show. The coalition then plans to target those businesses with possible boycotts or demonstrations.

" The message we want to send to advertisers is that "Hot Ghetto Mess" is radioactive. They don't want to come within one mile of it." McCauley said.

Transitioning from being a one-woman blog to working with long-established organizations has not been easy. "There's a reason why the only organization I belong to is AAA (the roadside assistance company)." In fact, McCauley's dialogue with these groups began after she wrote a post on her blog criticizing their methods.

"I'm not going to lie and say I haven't been impatient with the pace of their response," said McCauley. "As a blogger I move at warp speed. I can respond instantaneously with one click. I don't have to have a committee debate what I am going to release to the world." While initially disappointed with the pace of the response to her request for assistance, her patience is finally beginning to pay off.

"Yes, to me, they move at glacial speed." McCauley says of the organizations she's been working with "BUT, when they move- THEY MOVE!" Currently that glacier is aimed straight at Black Entertainment Television and Viacom.
Villagers, are you going to help us chase after these jackals? Hopefully, you signed the online petition. Now it is time to look the jackals and their keepers in the eye and let them know what happens when anyone attacks our dignity.

What say u?

July 18, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Jena Six

"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."

-- Frederick Douglas, American abolitionist, editor, orator, author, statesman, reformer, and slave.

July 17, 2007

Michael Vick, Say It Ain't So!

My 7-year old son and 10-year old daughter each have a #7 Michael Vick jersey. I doubt if they will wear them any longer. Not when they figure out what dog fighting is all about. The federal government indicted Michael Vick for "sponsoring a dog in an animal fighting venture". Evidently, Vick's homies aren't as tight-lipped as Barry Bonds' homies. The federal government hasn't been able to indict Bonds for the past four years. It barely took four weeks for the feds to search Vick's home and come down with this indictment.

Villagers, I encourage you to take a moment to download the 18-page indictment. Also, take a moment to check out a dog fighting fact sheet.

This is hot ghetto mess. I have a cousin who raises pit bulls out in the country. That is as close as I've been to the dog fighting underground. As such, I simply don't understand the thrill. I'm told that cock-fighting and dog fighting are quite common in many areas of the South. I defer to those villagers from below the Mason-Dixon line to school me on how common it is. I just know that if you're the most popular African American quarterback in the NFL ... this ain't where you want to be.

I imagine that Pac-Mac Jones, Tank Johnson and Chris Henry are feeling a little weight coming off their shoulders. The full weight of the media is going to head down to Atlanta. It is going to be rough for the Atlanta Falcons to focus on football this year with the off-field distraction. I live in Cincinnati. Last year, we thought that the Bengals were heading to the Super Bowl. A few off-field arrests and indictments and the Bengals were history. I anticipate that the same thing will happen this year with the Falcons.

Finally, let me be the first to tell you how the race card will eventually get played in this situation. At some point Vick is going to get suspended by the NFL commissioner. When it happens folks are going to point out how the commissioner reduced the suspension on a white player earlier this year ... but, is taking a hard line on Black players. Remember that you heard it here first.

Personally, I don't have much sympathy for Vick. He built the house. He bought the dogs. His friends and family were involved. There are over 50 dogs found (alive and dead) on his property. You do the crime ... you are gonna to the time. It wouldn't surprise me if he is released by the Atlanta Falcons owner. Didn't Tank Williams get released by the Chicago Bears for a speeding ticket last month?

Well villagers ... what say u?

July 16, 2007

Manic Monday: Marble

Kudos to Morgen for this week's Manic Monday tribute to marble. I never collected marbles as a kid. Perhaps if there was more media coverage of the United States Marble Championship or World Marbles Championship more kids in my neighborhood would be playing today. I don't even think that my children own any marbles.

As such, I thought about marble as art.

There are a number of renowned Black sculptors in history, such as Richmond Barthe (1901-1989) and William Edmondson (1870-1951). However, I thought that my Manic Monday post should feature Edmonia Lewis (1843-1911). Edmonia was born in upstate New York in 1843 to a Chippewa Indian mother and African American father. Edmonia surpassed exorbitant odds to become the first African American, and Native American, female sculptor -- and was the first such artist to celebrate her racial identity.

Her fame and artistic achievement shocked and mortified those who claimed that Negroes lacked the capacity for intelligence and fine art, particularly because Edmonia insisted on standing next to her works in photographs and extensively explaining them. She combined a unique blend of talent, emotion and perspective, and often sculpted in marble those who were heroes to her; leaders in the abolitionist movement and such courageous women as Cleopatra and Hagar, maid to Abraham's wife, Sarah.

Edmonia went to school here in Ohio. In January 1862, Edmonia was accused of poisoning two white female students. While awaiting trial, she was seized and beaten so viciously that she was bedridden for weeks. Edmonia was defended in court by John Mercer Langston, an Oberlin graduate and the first African American admitted to the Ohio bar. She was acquitted and carried from the courtroom on the shoulders of supportive friends, mostly white, and resumed her studies.

In 1864, she sculpted a marble bust of Robert Gould Shaw, who had died while leading an all-Black regiment in the battle of Fort Wagner. Robert Shaw was played by Matthew Broderick in the movie, Glory (NOTE: Denzel Washington won an Academy Award in this movie). Anyhow, Edmonia earned enough income from that Robert Show sculpture to embark on her dream of studying and working in Italy.

While in Italy, Edmonia was welcomed and encouraged by America's most famous sculptor, Hiram Powers. One of the most popular American marble statues of the 19th century, Hiram Powers' The Greek Slave (1844), portrays a Greek girl captured by the Turks and put up for sale in a Middle Eastern slave market. The sculptor said of his work: "As there should be a moral in every work of art, I have given to the expression of the Greek slave what trust there could still be in a Divine Providence for a future state of existence, with utter despair for the present, mingled somewhat of scorn for all around her . . . It is not her person but her spirit that stands exposed."

Oddly enough, Hiram Powers (1805-1873) was hailed as a Genius in Marble during his career. Cincinnati, OH is hosting the first major exhibition devoted to the most celebrated 19th century American sculptor at Taft Museum of Art thru August 12th. From 1840 to 1870 "Hiram Powers" was a household name, much like Picasso is today.

Villagers, I hope that you enjoyed this week's Manic Monday post.

July 14, 2007

Genarlow Wilson Goes to Supreme Court

The Georgia Supreme Court hearings to free Genarlow Wilson are over, with no decision expected soon.

The courtroom was packed for the hearing, and arguments were broadcast live over the Internet. The hearing came after justices decided earlier this month to speed up the process in the case of Wilson, the Douglas County man imprisoned for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. Wilson's attorneys arguing his 10-year prison sentence is cruel and unusual punishment.

Drumbeats to Too Sense for efforts to live-blog on the Supreme Court hearing.

It amazes me that the national media blows up a story about the injustice to a pit bull ... while barely touching stories about injustice to Genarlow Wilson or the Jena Six. Our sense of priority seems out of kilter so often in this country.

Villagers, what do you think?

July 13, 2007

Second Life

I decided today to check out Second Life. Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by over 8 million Residents from around the globe.

I never entered into Second Life until this morning. I signed up for the basic membership (no cost). I wonder if any other villagers are already in Second Life? My Second Life name is Villager Barbosa. You can choose your first name. You have to accept from a list of choices on the second name. I didn't see 'X' as a choice. I had hoped to become Villager X for some reason.

Like most things ... I hope to turn Second Life into a revenue stream at some point. I learned at a recent BDPA Cincinnati chapter meeting that Procter & Gamble has an island in Second Life in which they advertise their products.

Well Villagers, any tips for me as I enter into this Second Life thing?

July 12, 2007

Obama Fundraising Observation

Barack Obama surprised everyone last quarter by raising over $32 million. More importantly, the number of donors that gave to his campaign was higher than ever in the history of presidential politics.

I had to smile in the days following when Fox Noise and other news outlets began to pooh-pooh Obama's accomplishment by sharing the fact that many of his donors gave as little as $5 each for a keychain or a bumper sticker. The media and others continually try to denigrate and downplay what Obama is doing. Some media sources, like the NY Times, appear to be playing it straight.

What is the difference between a $5 Obama donor getting something in return (keychain or bumper sticker) and a $2,300 Guiliani donor getting something in return (dinner and a photo)? Other than the difference in the dollar amount ... aren't they both exercising the same 'freedom of speech' to be a political donor?

Just an observation from near the baobob tree here in our 'village'.

Villagers, soon we will need to turn the discussion to presidential politics. I read with interest the decision-making process being employed by Field Negro. His analysis rings true for me.

Well villagers, what say u? What are your thoughts on the presidential campaign to date?

July 10, 2007

Hot Ghetto Mess Does Damage Control

It amazes me how a college-educated brother can be in such denial. I see where Reginald Hudlin was doing damage control over the weekend. Reginald Hudlin heads up the Entertainment portion of Black Entertainment Television (BET). Hudlin feels that "Hot Ghetto Mess," a BET series that's provoked criticism and lost advertisers before it's even aired, will prove detractors wrong. At least two companies, State Farm Insurance Cos. and Home Depot, asked BET to drop their ads from the series' debut. Hudlin dismisses this by noting that neither sponsor had yet to see the show.

"It's unfortunate that people are making an erroneous presumption based on absolutely zero information," Hudlin told a meeting Sunday of the Television Critics Association.

"Hot Ghetto Mess," debuting July 25, combines viewer-submitted home videos and BET-produced man-on-the-street interviews that the channel said are intended to challenge and inspire "viewers to improve themselves and their communities." The six-episode series is hosted by comedian Charlie Murphy ("Chappelle's Show") is based on a Web site that features photos of men and women, mostly Black, with extreme hairstyles and clothing typically linked to hip-hop fashion.

I was surprised to learn that the website was created by a 34-year old Black female attorney from the Washington DC area ... Jam Donaldson. Turns out that Jam is also the executive producer of the television show. Donaldson told reporters that the series has "exceeded my expectations."

"Everyone that sees the show will be pleasantly surprised. ... I think they will learn something. There's Black history. We go to the community and ask what their opinion of some of these images are," she said.

"The show is so much more than the name," Donaldson said. She started the site because of "images of Black dysfunction" that were being distributed on the Internet without any discussion of the need for change. Personally, I think that she started the site because she saw an opportunity to exploit the Black community for money. She is no better than a street corner pimp in my view.

Hudlin had nerve enough to compare the show with a true American icon when he said, "The intent of the show is no different than what Bill Cosby is doing as he's going across the country and lecturing as he talks about the problems of the (Black) community that we need to address," he said. "Hot Ghetto Mess" approaches its goal in a lively way that will engage BET's young audience, Hudlin said.

"At the end of the day, the most responsible thing we can do is create a dialogue about those things," Hudlin told The Associated Press.

Most villagers agree that this show is simply a mess and that we can have a dialogue without demeaning African Americans for the entertainment of whites and others. It is simply a case of exploitation by Hudlin, Donaldson and the white media conglomerate, Viacom, that owns BET.

We encourage all villagers to take proactive steps to protest 'Hot Ghetto Mess' including your support of online petition to remove the show from the airwaves.

Well villagers, what say u? What do you see as the outcome of this situation?

July 9, 2007

Pardon the Jena Six

We continue to encourage villagers to sign the Free Jena Six online petition.

However, Pursuing Holiness correctly noted that politicians focus their efforts on registered voters in their districts. So, in addition to signing the online petition, perhaps it is time for each of us to contact our Senators and our Representative. Tell them about the Jena 6 and demand that the Justice Department investigate.

For those villagers living in Louisiana, contact Governor Kathleen Blanco and ask not just for the pardon, but for LaSalle DA Reed Walters and the Jena police to be investigated.

Office of the Governor
Attn: Constituent Services
P.O. Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004

Fax: 225-342-7099
E-mail the Governor


This issue is going beyond the afrosphere. I understand that the NAACP is getting involved. That is a good thing. Hopefully, the pressure will begin to be felt by the powers-that-be in Jena, LA.

Well villagers, what say u? Any thoughts on the current state of affairs for the Jena Six?

July 8, 2007

Voice Over Talent in a World of Noise

We live in a world of noise. How many of you have a television or radio on in the background as you read this post? However, there are some sounds, words and narration that we take for granted. Have you ever wondered if the voices that we hear on television shows or commercials ever get famous?
  • The voice over talent on the old Dragnet show was as important as the actors.
  • The voice over talent that we hear at the beginning of each episode of Law & Order is anonymous ... but, he has gotta be well-paid for his work on that long-running show.
Rodney Saulsberry is a brother from Detroit getting paid as one of the premiere voiceover talents in the country. Recently, he became a published author with the release of his first book, You Can Bank on Your Voice: Your Guide to a Successful Career in Voice-Overs, and his new book, Step Up to the Mic: A Positive Approach to Succeeding in Voice-Overs. Last year Saulsberry announced promos for the Dancing With The Stars; 34th NAACP Image Awards, Essence Awards, The Grammy Awards and the Country Music Awards.

I came across the website of Don Capone, a veteran voice over talent, while surfin' the web. Don features demos of various types of voice overs. Don shares a detailed article on voice over talent in which he explains what the difference is between hard and soft sell voice overs and voice imaging, as well as other types of voice overs. He also provides examples of his TV commercials so that you can really see his talent first-hand.

Oddly enough, one of the most attractive things about my visit was the website itself. Quite remarkable simplicity and great aesthetics. I encourage anyone that owns a small business to check out http://www.doncapone.com/, because it appears that the Internet is making the costs quite reasonable.

There is no question that Don has a vast amount of experience in the voice over business ... over 27 years of work with CBS Broadcasting, Fortune 500 Companies, Movie Trailers and spots on TV and Radio. I think that you'll enjoy the vibe from his website. Check it out if you have time or inclination.

This Is A Sponsored Post

July 7, 2007

Genarlow Wilson Sex Tape & Protest March

Some strange twists in the effort to free Genarlow Wilson. District Attorney David McDade released an amateur video showing Wilson having consensual sex with two teenage girls. Wilson is currently serving an 11-year mandatory sentence for child molestation. You may recall that he was a 17-year old high school senior convicted of having oral sex with a 15-year old girl at a New Year's Eve party. Anyhow, the government decided that it would be a good idea to support child pornography by releasing this sex tape without bothering to block the faces of the girls to protect their privacy.

Methinks that David McDade must be cousin of former North Carolina district attorney Mike Nifong ... and hopefully he will suffer the same fate as Nifong who was recently disbarred as a result of his misuse of prosecutorial powers.

It is amazing how hard the criminal just-us system in Georgia is working to keep Wilson behind bars. First Thurbert Baker acts a fool. Now McDade demonstrates that federal child pornography laws don't mean anything to him as he gives the sex tape to some 35 parties that requested it, including The Associated Press, which received the tape late last month after making an open records request. Seven state lawmakers, several members of the public and numerous members of the media also received the tape.

Georgia changed the law so that Wilson's offense if committed today would have a maximum penalty of one year in jail. Wilson has been in jail for three years.

On the other hand, we see that the NAACP is becoming more relevant. The local NAACP branch organized a "March for Justice" protest with over 2,000 people calling for Wilson's release. The event lasted for a few hours with speaker after speaker called for the release of Wilson, once an honor student and star athlete at the high school.

Shelia Polk, 51, of Winston, Ga., said she was there for the same reason so many others showed up. "This is not just for Genarlow," she said. "Genarlow kicked it off. But this is for everybody. Black people in this country aren't getting the same justice as our counterparts, the Caucasians."

We are an action-oriented village. As such, I encourage you to sign Genarlow Wilson petition protesting the unfair sentencing of this young brother.

Well Villagers... what say u? Any thoughts on Genarlow Wilson case or the criminal just-us system?

July 6, 2007

BDPA: Black to the Future

[NOTE: Photo above is the current & immediate past national BDPA presidents (Gina Billings and Wayne Hicks). The overview below is strictly from the Villager and is not an official communication of BDPA]

There are over 308,000 African American IT professionals according to Department of Labor. BDPA is a non-profit association of African American IT professionals that was created over 30 years ago by Earl Pace. The organization is having a national election next month. There are three talented people seeking votes to become the 2008-2009 National BDPA president-elect ... with accession to the 2010-2011 national president position. This is a critical election for anyone who works in the IT industry.

Here is an overview of the three candidates:
  • Yvette Graham - Yvette is the current President of the BDPA Chicago chapter. Her chapter is the largest chapter in the nation in terms of memberships, programs, corporate sales and so forth. In fact, her chapter is the defending champions of the BDPA high school computer competition. Yvette is an executive with Allstate Insurance ... a company that invested $430,150 in BDPA over the past five years. Yvette has been a colleague on the National BDPA board of directors for the past three or four years. She previously served as a director on the BDPA Education & Technology Foundation. She continues to have payroll deductions applied on a bi-weekly basis to BETF to help fund BDPA programs and services. Yvette is clearly aware of the challenges that face BDPA. Her ability to work with others is well-known. I encourage villagers to visit Yvette's website or Yvette's blog to learn more about this powerful sister.
  • Betty Hutchins - Betty is currently serving as national Vice President (Member Services) ... I say that with pride as I appointed her to that position over three years ago when I was the national president. In my opinion Betty has been the greatest VPMS in the history of our organization. It is no accident that programs such as the BDPA IT Institute, BDPA Career Center, Executive Protege' Program, Student IT Education & Scholarship (SITES) are more successful than ever in our 30-year history as an organization. Betty is an executive with Mayo Clinic ... a company that invested $240,116 in BDPA over the past five years. Betty's vision is proven by her ability to be a founder of BDPA chapters in Chattanooga, TN and Rochester, MN. Betty makes regular contributions to the BDPA Foundation. She is a determined sister with an ability to focus her attention and resources like a laser on key strategic initiative. I encourage villagers to visit Betty's website or Betty's blog to learn about this powerful sister.
  • Norm Fleming - Norm currently serves as the internal champion for BDPA within Merck & Company. He has over 21 years of managerial experience. Norm's employer. Merck & Company invested $251,000 in BDPA over the past five years. If elected, Norm will be the first national president in the 30+ years of the organization to have never served as president of a local chapter. As a result, Norm is a wild-card in this election. Norm laid out a clear vision for the future of the organization under his leadership. Norm hasn't yet made a donation to the BDPA Foundation, however, we anticipate that he will do so at some point in the near future. I encourage villagers to visit Norm's website and Norm's blog to learn more about this powerful brother.
One of these three powerful nubians will join a small group of people in the world that served as national president for this organization that works to bring our community from the classroom to the boardroom. The election will be held next month during the 29th Annual National BDPA Technology Conference in Washington DC. One thing is for sure ... BDPA will be a winner regardless of which person is voted into this lofty office.

Villagers, I am curious as to your knowledge of BDPA. Have you heard of the organization before? Are you currently a member? Either way, please share your comments with us on the upcoming election and conference!

July 5, 2007

Hot Ghetto Mess Removed from BET?

The drums are beginning to beat loudly all around the Electronic Village. Today, we received an unconfirmed report from HipHopDX that Hot Ghetto Mess is going to be removed from the BET lineup before the pilot show scheduled for July 25. Stay tuned to see if BET makes public announcement in the next few days.

July 4, 2007

BET is a Hot Ghetto Mess

A few months ago we joined others in the AfroSpear in urging that all villagers sign a petition protesting the negative images placed in our homes by BET and others. Recent developments give credence to those of you that refer to Black Entertainment Television (BET) as Black Exploitation Television.

Y'all know that I am OV (as Danielle recently coined us 'Original Villagers'). OVs remember when BET had some great talk shows hosted by Tavis Smiley and Ed Gordon. We remember the original Video Soul with Donnie Simpson. I enjoyed the concept of BET so much that I once owned stock in BET Holdings ... the company that Bob Johnson took public as part of his move towards becoming a billionaire.

Today the network reaches about 85 million homes, has an 18 percent nonblack audience, and its core viewers are 18 to 34 years old.

I don't think that anyone denies that BET has done a lousy job of programming for many years. The oldest and largest cable network aimed at African Americans has long depended on reruns, movies and music videos, developing few hits of its own. In fact, the National Association of Black Journalists plans to give a Thumbs Down Award to BET, citing "its depiction of Black images in the media, lack of news and public affairs" and the network’s failure to broadcast Coretta Scott King’s funeral in 2006.

BET needs a fresh profile. As such, I was happy when BET announced an effort to debut 16 new shows over the course of the next year as part of a BET face-lift. After all, the cable television market is very competitive. Other stations such as VH-1, TNT and USA Network are adding viewers at a rapid click with original programming.

The network, a division of Viacom, has other original scripted series on tap, including:
  • "Somebodies" about a group of recent college graduates in Athens, GA
  • "Exalted!", a biography series starting in the fall that will focus on ministers
  • "Judge Mooney", Paul Mooney, the comedian, will have his own daily court show
  • Comic-book artist Denys Cowan (His company created the Black teenage superhero Static Shock) is bringing in three fresh programs
  • Orlando Jones (the actor and "Mad TV" writer) and Ali LeRoi (co-creator of "Everybody Hates Chris") have teamed up to create an animated sketch comedy.
  • "Hannibal the Conquerer", an animated series about the ancient North African general (produced by Vin Diesel)
  • "Cipha", an animated science-fiction series about a future in which hip-hop is outlawed (produced by Will Smith)
  • "Hell Date", a nightly reality show that hooks up unsuspecting suitors with the opposite of their dream date.
  • "Take the Cake", an hourlong live interactive game show of pop-culture trivia questions.
  • "S.O.B. (Socially Offensive Behavior)", is a cocktail of sociology and comedy that uses hidden cameras to capture people’s reactions to strange, politically incorrect situations. For example patrons in a restaurant are told that seating is by race. Comedian D. L. Hughley is the host of this show.
  • "Hot Ghetto Mess", which uses commentary, video clips and man-on-the-street interviews to examine Black popular culture. The show was inspired by the much-debated Web site of the same name, which showcases and comments on what it deems to be outrageous Black behavior.
Bloggers, including many in the AfroSpear, are protesting "Hot Ghetto Mess". Leading the charge is What About Our Daughters, a blog and audio podcast addressing depictions of Black women in popular culture. In recent weeks, the site targeted advertisers that appeared on a BET.com Web page advertising "Mess", including AT&T Corp., DaimlerChrysler and Target. Two advertisers, State Farm and Home Depot, released statements acknowledging that they withdrew both TV and online spots as a result of the boycott threat.
In many ways this looks like the Imus debate from earlier in the year. The next step is for large corporations to stop subsidizing degrading images of African Americans. A prolonged and consistent pattern of BET profiting off of promoting images that malign and degrade African Americans needs to come to an end.

It is odd how people look at the same show so differently. BET says,
"Hot Ghetto Mess" is an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek examination of the good, the bad and the ugly of Black popular culture. Utilizing comedy, man-on-the-street interviews, video clips, pictures and music, "Hot Ghetto Mess" aims to shine a spotlight on prevalent images in pop culture and examine what role they play in American lifestyle. "Hot Ghetto Mess" goes where most shows fear to tread. As host Charlie Murphy guides viewers through shaking booties, thug life, baby-mama drama and pimped-out high schoolers, "Hot Ghetto Mess" will explore what these images really mean to all of us. Cutting edge, original, relevant and irreverent, "Hot Ghetto Mess" is like the traffic accident you can’t look away from. Viewers will laugh. They'll cry. They'll think. They'll learn, and hopefully they'll recognize they've GOT to do better.
Personally, I feel that BET needs to do better. I encourage villagers to take proactive steps to protest 'Hot Ghetto Mess' including your support of online petition to remove the show from the airwaves. The show needs to be pulled from the air with the same quickness that Imus was pulled from radio and television. The offense is the same whether perpetuated by an old white guy or a Black cable television station.

Well, Villagers ... what say u?

July 3, 2007

Jena 6: Racism in America

The Electronic Village joins Natalie, the international press, AfroSpear, other bloggers in expressing outrage over the continued racism that shows itself here in America. The inability of the criminal just-us system to be colorblind is a scary thing for African American parents around the country.
"There’s been obvious racial discrimination in this case," said Joe Cook, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, who described Jena as a "racial powder keg" primed to ignite. "It appears the Black students were singled out and targeted in this case for some unusually harsh treatment."

In September 2006, a group of African American high school students in Jena, Louisiana, asked the school for permission to sit beneath a "whites only" shade tree. There was an unwritten rule that blacks couldn't sit beneath the tree. The school said they didn't care where students sat. The next day, students arrived at school to see three nooses (in school colors) hanging from the tree.
The boys who hung the nooses were suspended from school for a few days. The school administration chalked it up as a harmless prank, but Jena's Black population didn't take it so lightly. Fights and unrest started breaking out at school. The District Attorney, Reed Walters, was called in to directly address Black students at the school and told them all he could "end their life with a stroke of the pen."

Black students were assaulted at white parties. A white man drew a loaded rifle on three Black teens at a local convenience store. (They wrestled it from him and ran away.) Someone tried to burn down the school, and on December 4th, a fight broke out that led to six black students being charged with attempted murder. To his word, the D.A. pushed for maximum charges, which carry sentences of eighty years. Four of the six are being tried as adults (ages 17 & 18) and two are juveniles.

Click here for a Word document that gives a good case timeline and I encourage you to view a YouTube video with some photos of the Jena High School, community and such.

A few days ago, Mychal Bell, the first of the Jena Six to face trial, was found guilty of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy. Friends of Justice blog provided a comprehensive look at the case. The local paper in Alexandria, LA shared some insights about Bell's trial. Television stations in Louisiana provided daily reports on the case.

Villagers are encouraged to sign the online petition re: the Jena Six. Any thoughts on this case from your perspective?

July 2, 2007

Obama, Clinton & Deep Throat

"Deep Throat" was a character in the All the President's Men book and movie. One of the famous quotes attributed to "Deep Throat" was 'Follow the Money!'. That is a good rule to apply in presidential politics. Check out the 2nd quarter financial reports from the major presidential candidates in the Democratic Party:
  1. Barack Obama - $ 32.5 million
  2. Hilary Clinton - $ 27.0 million
  3. John Edwards - $ 9.0 million
One of the amazing aspects of Obama's 3-month fundraising totals is that it consists of over 250,000 donors ... in fact over 90% of his contributions are $100 or less. Obama seems to be slowly and surely making his way in this political marathon. His campaign appears to be taking care of business in a quiet and professional manner. The money rolling in means that Hilary Clinton is *not* the inevitable nominee that her supporters keep telling us about.

I didn't talk about the debate moderated on PBS last week by Tavis Smiley. Personally, I thought that Clinton won the debate. However, I'm convinced that Obama isn't a 30-second sound-byte brother. He was born in Hawaii. They are a laid back community. Obama is a laid back brother at his core. He simply needs more time to get his answers out then the PBS-Smiley debate allowed him to have. I suspect that he will shine more as the lower-tier candidates drop out of the race and the debates get whittled down to a one-on-one battle between him & Hillary.

Anyhow, I was amazed by the continued prowess that Obama is having with fundraising. As they say, 'Follow the Money!'

July 1, 2007

Blackman Flies Around the World

Methinks we need to take a moment to appreciate historical actions when they take place. I encourage villagers to take that moment right now. You may recall that we told you about a 23-year old Black pilot who audaciously took off in April 2007 on a venture to become the youngest pilot --- and first Black --- to fly solo around the world. We updated the story about midway through the trip. Others provided video documentation of the young man when he was in Rome and Madrid.

After two years of organizing, three months of flying and four continents visited ... 95 days and 25,600 miles ... Barrington Irving's high-flying dream of circling the world came to a joyous conclusion on June 27, 2007 when he landed his single-engine Columbia Lancair he named "Inspiration" at Opa-locka Executive Airport and earned his niche in aviation history.

Irving has wanted to fly around the world since he was a teenager, hoping his intercontinental adventure would motivate young people to aspire to big challenges. Along the way, he has inspired people across the world who followed his progress on the web. Thousands attended his landing, where he was greeted by local politicians and a steel-drum band.

The journey was longer and more taxing than Irving expected. The flight route was scheduled to take 37 days. It took nearly three times that, as he consistently ran into trouble: snowstorms, sandstorms, rainstorms and monsoons.

Irving, who got his first pilot's license at 19, said he stressed safety over speed.

The extended stay gave him time to soak in local culture, he said. He got a haircut in Rome and developed a taste for shish kabobs in Athens. He admired how family-focused homes were throughout Asia and marveled at the architectural creativity in Dubai. ''It's amazing,'' Irving said. ``They have a ski resort in the middle of the desert!''

Despite those enlightening experiences, Irving said he experience loneliness and frustration. His body had a difficult time adjusting to the time changes, and he has lost about 15 pounds. And then there were hours alone aboard Inspiration, where he navigated through turbulent skies and tried to cope with increasing pressure to rush the journey and return home. The average distance between stops was 870 miles, he said.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, who represents the district where Irving lives and helped him raise the $1.2 million for his quest, said she has continued to be impressed with him. She's trying to get him booked on Oprah.

Irving plans on completing his graduate studies at Florida Memorial University and working on Experience Aviation, a Saturday morning teaching program he started to instruct neighborhood young people about flying.

Irving said he's not sure if wants to circumnavigate the world again. ''I'm just grateful that God has taken me this far,'' he said. ``It's been mentally and physically taxing so far, and I've had a greater impact on youth -- and older people too -- than I had ever even imagined.''

Villagers, sometimes we simply need to recognize history when it is being created in front of our own eyes!