So…Sharon™ Twitter List of Black Media

Since joining Twitter I have amassed a list of Black Media.

This list is a compilation of Black broadcast, print, and radio professionals as well as bloggers and practitioners of social media who are on Twitter.

This is a continuous work in progress and is by no means complete.

The Census Form: What Race Will You Choose?

The 2010 Census forms are here.

This year the Census provides three options to define the ethnicity of people of color:

African-American, Black or Negro.

I am hosting a CoverItLive discussion tomorrow on the following topic:

The Census Form: What Race Will You Choose, Negro, Black or African-American? Why?

The session will last for 60 minutes.

I hope you can join me in an open discussion about the question of race selection.

I will be moderating this event.
Click Here

French Hip Hop and French Racism

Check out this video on French Hip Hop and French Racism produced by the Bronx African American History Project. This sensational project was achieved with a grant assistance from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Karima Zerrou of Tala Entertainment Services and Charlie Johnson of the Bronx African American History project. The interviews were conducted by my friend Dr. Mark Naison in collaboration with Dr. Jane Edward and Dr. Benjamin Hayford. This video was filmed at and assisted by the Bronx Museum of the Arts and its program director Mr. Sergio Bassa.

Eat Be Fat. Drink Be Skinny. The Health Odyssey

“Sharon, you look great, have you lost weight?”
“Thanks, I’ve lost 10 pounds.”
“Really? How did you do it?”
“I drink a glass of merlot for lunch and dinner.”
“What do you eat with the wine?”
“Oh no, I don’t eat anymore; I just drink my meals!”

Tara Parker-Pope, who writes the NYT’s Well blog (one of my faves) reported research findings chronicled in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggest that women who regularly enjoy a tasty alcoholic beverage gain less weight than female teetotalers.

Before you trade in your carrot sticks for the corkscrew read the article. The study found that the women don’t really eat when they drink; they drink instead of eating. Furthermore, once you’re overweight your metabolism behaves more efficiently. This is a nice way of saying your flab will not work with you but against you. If you are overweight and drink a glass of wine you are likely to gain more weight and you are probably packing the extra calories from high calorie edibles.

So, pick up the carrots… and the corkscrew.

The Academy Awards: Take the Party on the Road

Last night as I decided to watch the 82nd Academy Awards. The ceremony is the Cinderella ball of the film industry.  I don’t watch them every year nor anticipate the Best Film, Actor and Actress awards with bated breath. I have a moderate interest in red carpet regalia. However, this year I decided to watch because I adore Gabourey Sidibe. I find her personality and her personal story as stellar as her film debut in “Precious”.

Hollywood is big bucks. The millions of dollars spent for film productions are par for the course. This year’s Best Picture, “Hurt Locker” cost $11 million dollars to produce, a paltry amount compared to the blockbuster “Avatar” which had a $230 million price tag. The economic impact of award shows on Hollywood and Los Angeles is also rather significant. The Academy Awards is a $130 million boon to the local economy. Remember all the furor over the writer’s strike and the 2008 cancellation of the Golden Globes? That resulted in at least an $80 million loss.

I began to think, with local economies across the nation starving for cash and Hollywood’s willingness to spend hyper-gobs of money on ceremonial displays and related ancillaries, (e.g. designer clothes, makeup, hotels, limousines etc.) why not host the Academy Awards in a different U.S. city each year just like the Super Bowl? It is the “Super Bowl” of the film industry, right?

Think about the economic value in addition to the publicity value of this world renowned event on the local economy?

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was a nice boon to cab companies, hotels, bars, restaurants and tourist attractions in Buffalo. Twenty-five years ago, “The Natural” was filmed in Buffalo and with it came a little Hollywood spending.  Keanu Reeves was also here filming “Henry’s Crime” a few months ago. I’m sure he bought a few burgers and a couple of beers. He did his part.

Imagine the possible fiscal jolt for any city that hosts the Academy Awards? A $130 million jolt!

Hotel workers, florists, limousines, caterers, taxi drivers, waitstaff, bartenders and delivery personnel would get a brief but necessary windfall. Buffalo is full of low-wage jobs in case you have not heard.

Of course big events are not longterm solutions but local businesses do benefit from them.

I’m not advocating that hosting the Academy Awards in a different city each year is the ultimate anti-poverty measure. Poverty ain’t pretty but it sure as hell is sexy and profitable for Hollywood. I just think it might be nice if Hollywood would spread the wealth that it’s successful films generate to the good people who don’t get always get a thank you on Oscar night.

Black History Month: Lost in Translation

Several days ago three White South Los Angeles elementary school teachers were suspended without pay for encouraging students to honor O.J. Simpson, RuPaul and Dennis Rodman as part of Black History Month observation. The children carried photographs of the celebrities during a parade on the playground.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa discharged his outrage about the incident, the school’s principal has apologized for the teachers “errors in judgment” and the episode precipitated anger, uncertainty and debate about the teachers motives amongst Los Angeles community leaders,  the Los Angeles affiliates of The Urban League and The National Association for The Advancement of Colored People.

It is very important to note that the children were given a list of approved Black History Month personalities, a list that has not been updated since 1985.  Logically, Mr. Simpson is on that list; it predates his 1994 murder trial as well as the birth of all the students at the elementary school.

Rodman and RuPaul were added in pencil; the updates were not seen by the principal.  The teachers involved instruct first, second and fourth graders. The average fourth grader was born in 2001. Frankly I would be surprised if the students know who Dennis Rodman is let alone O. J. Simpson. Regardless, it is certainly time for the approved Black History Month list of the Los Angeles County United School District to be reviewed and brought up to date.

Notwithstanding, this cause célèbre has resulted in my observations about the purpose, meaning and evolution of Black History Month.

In 1915 The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) was founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. The mission was to provide research and consciousness about the roles of Black people in American and World history. 1920 Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Omega Psi Phi fraternity created Negro History and Literature Week with the purpose of emphasizing the importance of Black heritage and cultural preservation in photography, literature and the performing arts which dramatized black history. In 1926, Woodson changed the name to Negro History Week and selected the month of February as homage to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (Feb 12th) and Frederick Douglass (Feb 14).

Negro History Week gained significance during the Civil Rights movement as Black people challenged the barrier of social justice-racial discrimination and post-Civil Rights in the 1970s during The Black Power movement. In 1972 The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) presently called The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASAALH) changed Negro History Week to Black History Week. In 1976, the nation celebrated the bicentennial and Black History Week became Black History Month.

The original intent of Negro History and Literature Week as a presentation of Black heritage and cultural preservation through photography, literature and the performing arts has resulted in the evolution of Black History month to include the celebration of Black pop-culture icons, television personalities as well as defamed Black professional athletes who are pop-culture icons and former reality TV personalities.

Performing arts may be a common thread between O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman and RuPaul if I use the term performing arts loosely, very loosely. However, if you evaluate the filmography of Simpson, Rodman and RuPaul, their TV and film roles as “black history dramatizations” are largely indefensible and not in the spirit of Carter G. Woodson.

Nevertheless, the inclusion, presence and influence of Black popular culture in America is undeniable.  Unfortunately, the inclusion, presence and influence of Black playwrights, choreographers, composers, writers, scientists, scholars, educators, engineers, physicians, CEOs, entrepreneurs is not as commonplace as Black pop-culture icons.

Suspending the teachers without pay is sending the wrong message. Instead Mayor Villaraigosa, The Los Angeles United School District, The Urban League, NAACP, scholars and parents should work toward expanding Black history resources, exposing children to Black history and culture beyond a 25 year old list, 20th century pop-culture relics, professional athletes and most television personalities.

Is Facebook A Friend Or Foe of the Class Reunion?

This summer my alma mater will celebrate the graduating class of 1985; I will have my 25th high school reunion. I attended The Buffalo Seminary, a small, private school for girls. There were approximately 30 girls in my graduating class and 120 enrolled girls that year. It was a small school indeed!

The utterance of “high school reunion”  can often result in an assortment of emotions and memories, particularly with such a milestone event like the 25th anniversary class reunion. A few weeks ago the class leader assigned to organize our upcoming reunion asked me if I would help her plan and the event. I said yes. My situation may be unique; our school has always fostered an environment that encouraged the girls to nurture and value friendships long after we departed from the school’s hallowed hallways. I also liked the girls in my class and I enjoyed high school so the thought of attending my reunion does not induce nausea or anxiety as it might for some people. Besides, Facebook has allowed me to network and reconnect with alumnae, faculty and staff.

Nonetheless, I began to wonder, how has Facebook impacted the American custom of the “class reunion”?

The emergence of Facebook has made reminiscing with classmates about the “good old days” immediate and convenient. Many people have “friended” former classmates and alumni on Facebook. Status updates, wall posts and photo uploads allow people to keep in touch and stay abreast of the personal lives of former school pals. Let’s face it, some of us read about the professional and familial comings and goings of old classmates on a daily basis. Not only do you know their career paths and family statuses, in some instances you have likely read about daily culinary experiences as well as the language and physical developments of their children.

It is no longer necessary to wait until the class reunion to ask, “So, what have you been up to since graduation?” If you are on Facebook, you probably already know.  Has the practicality of Facebeook diminished the need or desire for a class reunion?

The social networking site has certainly simplified the task of finding a schoolmate.  Digitized photos can be fun or humiliating to look at. Today you may have have less hair, grayer hair, or a few wrinkles. Hopefully your skin has cleared up, you still have your own teeth and if you can still wear any clothing item from your senior year you deserve a medal.  Nonetheless, Facebook has spawned new life to the 20th century Baby Boomer and Generation X graduating high school classes.

So, are you more or less inclined to attend your high school class reunion in spite of the Facebook virtual reality of “Class of 19??”