A Day When We Can Throw Out The Race Card

The Trayvon Martin shooting has once again afforded all of us another chance to have a discussion about America’s thorniest problem: race.  I hope that the opportunity doesn’t go like so many of the others that have previously come to pass: disappearing without any real meaningful dialogue. What I have heard so far is about what I would expect. Blacks lamenting the shooting and reminding each other what we need to tell to our young males about what may happen in certain situations and  how to prepare and act in those instances. The protests and outrage, given what has been heard in the media about the case, are what  you would expect also. There has also been an opposite reaction to these protests from some white people, who just wish that blacks would stop blaming them for everything and to stop playing the race card.

As for the Martin case, I will wait for the facts to come out. If the facts prove that George Zimmerman acted inappropriately, then he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. No ifs, buts or maybes. But if there is anything that suggests that Zimmerman was within his rights to do what he did, then I don’t see how any protest and outrage will change things. But my main concern is that a certain segment of society believes that all blacks do is blame Whitey and reach for the race card at every possible instance. I can assure you, as a black person, as a person of color, that is simply not the case.

It may seem that way if you sit and watch what the media tells you in cases similar to Martin’s. But what I want people to know, and what some people seem to forget, is that racism still exists. It may not be seen where you live; it may not be as overt as it was back in the 1960’s when Martin Luther King,  Malcolm X and others fought for the rights of citizens, or even further back when segregation and Jim Crow were the rule. But oh yes, it is still here. What I’d like to ask some of these folks is this: have you ever been called a nigger? have you ever had something denied to you because of the color of your skin? have you ever been eyed suspiciously in a store or public place simply by the color of the skin and the way you were dressed? If you haven’t had these experiences, then you can’t really say that you understand what it’s like for certain people of color. I can’t say that it happens to me everyday, but these types of things have happened to me before, and may again.

Now I will be the first to admit that not everything that happens is about race. Often times, people use the race angle to get attention, or to inflame passions and elevate situations. Most sensible people of color can tell the difference. And we often tire of people saying we all use the race card when there is an injustice being done to people of color. But when the shoe fits, we should be allowed to call a spade a spade, and say what something is when it is, without being chastised for “always playing the race card” or making a situation about race. Sometimes it be that way.

And sadly, it will continue to be that way. Racism exists. And it is going to exist in my lifetime, and in my children’s lifetime. And probably even in their children’s and grandchildren’s lifetimes too. But when we as a society are ready to really listen to each other about race and issues of race, and there isn’t a day when people of color have to suffer the indignities they often have to, simply because of the color of their skin, then there will always be a deck of cards at hand with the race card featured prominently in it. But if we can find a way to bridge the divide on race, and remember that there is more that unites us than divides us, and that we are more alike than we are different-then maybe there will come a day when we can throw out the race card.

But I don’t see that day coming any time soon.

Waiting For Think Like A Man

The anticipation is growing in the community I live in for the new movie Think Like A Man. Based on the book “Act Like A Woman, Think Like A Man,” written by Steve Harvey, I think the audience has been waiting for this once the project was announced. The movie will be directed by Tim Story, who directed the first Barbershop movie. The trailer has been seen everywhere, so why not put it here as well:

As for the cast, there will be plenty of eye candy for both sexes: Meagan Good, Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson and Regina Hall for the fellas, with Michael Ealy, Morris Chestnut, Chris Brown and Romany Malco for the ladies, just to name a few. Kevin Hart figures to bring the funny, as seen on the trailer. The movie is scheduled to release on April 20-after being scheduled to be released in March earlier. Perhaps it was moved back to get away from the Hunger Games phenomenon.

Although not quite as anticipated as the movie, the movie soundtrack figures to be pleasing to the ear, if the first releases are any indication. The initial single, “Think Like A Man,” features Jennifer Hudson with Ne-Yo and Rick Ross and gives a solid opening salvo for the music from the film. It will be interesting to see whether the song will be featured in the film at all, or just play over the closing credits. Nevertheless, it is a good song, and you can hear it here:

Think Like A Man – Jennifer Hudson featuring Ne-Yo & Rick Ross

The second single, “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” features the always entertaining John Legend with Ludacris. Early reviews give the track a postive response. If you haven’t heard it, you can listen to it here:

Tonight (Best You Ever Had) – John Legend featuring Ludacris

Finally, just released over the internet last week is a song by newcomer Marcus Canty. Marcus was a contestant on the television show X Factor last fall, and though he didn’t win, he impressed Epic Records chairman and CEO L.A. Reid, who was one of the judges.  Reid was impressed enough to sign Canty to Epic and get him a song on the soundtrack to this movie. His entry is called “Won’t Make A Fool Out Of You” and it makes a great first impression for the new artist. And yes, it can be heard at Soundcloud as well:

Marcus Canty – Won’t Make A Fool Out Of You

The soundtrack is scheduled to be released on April 10th and also features Kelly Rowland, Keri Hilson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Bei Maejor and Future among others. Be on the lookout for this movie and the music.

A Music Mystery Solved

In the process of cleaning up my music library (which numbers way too many tracks too count) I found the song below. I tried to fill in the missing information (album title, correct artist name), so I went to Google, especially since I wasn’t even sure how the song ended up in my library. First, I played it:

After hearing it, I had to track down the information. That search on Google led me to this site, to where I scrolled down the home page to this blog entry, made about one month ago, which informed me that the artist who sings on the track had passed away. Her name was Loriana Johnson (although she performed under several different names), and her voice was amazing. Too bad I only discovered it recently, as this track, and another one I have since found were made almost four years ago with production by 100 Akres.

Both are free downloads; check them out if you are interested.

The Joy Of The Madness

What a Friday it has been in the NCAA tournament. Upsets galore. Duke losing. Michigan losing. And perhaps, most surprising of all, Missouri losing. A Missouri Tigers squad that just won the Big 12 tournament, and had won 30 games on the season, and was ranked in the top 3 in the entire country, lost. Lost to a school from the lightly-regarded Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, or the MEAC. To a #15 seed from Norfolk, Virginia. The Norfolk State Spartans.

Days like these are why we love March Madness, and celebrations like these are what the Madness is made of. These videos were done by Norfolk State Athletics and were posted by Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com, but I saw them at the College Basketball Talk blog at NBC Sports’ site. First up is the celebration by the team in the locker room:

Then the celebration on campus as the final seconds count down and the game ends:

What joy on those young faces…that one game will provide a memory for all of those people for many, many years to come. Congratulations to the Spartans of Norfolk State-your basketball team has done your school proud.

Catching The Hoop Flu

When the calendar turns to March, I come down with a sickness. It’s not a physical malady; my health is not in any real jeopardy (unless you count the amount of hours spent on a couch, ingesting snacks and avoiding direct sunlight). But starting in March, sports fans like myself become giddy with excitement, because the month features practically wall to wall college basketball.

It starts with Championship Week, now branded by ESPN-and which actually lasts closer to two weeks. Championship week begins with many of the smaller conferences in Division I playing their conference tournaments, most of which will only give an invitation to the NCAA tournament to the winner. The following week sees the major power conferences gearing up, and while the format is pretty much the same, the power conferences figure to send plenty of teams in the tournament, whether they win or lose the conference tourney.

Time for March Madness!

When all the conference tournaments are completed, the countdown begins on Selection Sunday-a Christmas present of sorts for sports fans. Selection Sunday is so named because that is when the teams that will play in the NCAA Tournament will be announced. Sixty-eight teams out of over 300+ Division I schools will hear their names announced and will get their marching orders to chase the championship. For many, including myself, this is the beginning of one of the most exciting events in sports-and the cause of my sickness.

Years ago, when I worked in my hometown government office, I had a boss who would take days off to watch the games. He would take leave on the last Friday of Championship Week, and the Thursday and Friday which encompass the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. That was back in the days when every game wasn’t seemingly on television. Unfortunately, he has since passed. I often wonder what he would think now with the explosion of college basketball on television and the opportunity to see huge numbers of games. Not to mention the ability, with the deal last year between CBS and Turner Sports to see every NCAA tournament game on television. Every one. I took his lead starting a few years ago and began taking time off to watch the games, and it is the most fun you can have being glued to a sofa (if you enjoy college basketball).

And over the last couple decades, the casual fan began to pick up interest in the tournament as well. That casual fan interest is primarily shown by the number of people who fill out brackets to guess the tournament winner.  Many people will fill out one; some will fill out several. I know I’ll do at least two. Last year, I forced myself to only fill out one…and it was toast before the first weekend was finished. This year, I’m going back to multiple brackets, but I think I’ll keep it to somewhere between two and five. Filling out the bracket gives fans a rooting interest-even if their tean isn’t in the tournament or their school didn’t make the field.

Filling out one of these makes the Madness fun.

As for me and my “illness,” I’ll be glued in front of the flatscreen watching game after game. All the while, I will check out Twitter to see what people are talking about relative to the basketball. The social media component adds yet another dimension to tournament watching, as you can share your thoughts and opinions with a large audience quickly. Watching sports on Twitter is like being in a sports bar with friends who just  happen to be all over the globe.  That is yet another component to the hoop flu.

Sometime after April begins, the sickness will fade; all the better so I can be well for another of sports high holy days-opening day of the baseball season. If you enjoy college basketball, this is your time. If you come down with the hoop flu, I hope it is as enjoyable for you as it is for me.

Lil Wayne Discusses New Orleans Saints Bounty Scandal (Video)

T. Wayne:

Found this at AKA Hip Hop.com…interesting take on the punishments that should be levied by Roger Goodell on coaches, players and the organization of the New Orleans Saints.

Originally posted on akaHIPHOP.com:

Lil Wayne gives his thoughts on the recent New Orleans Saints bounty scandal and what he thinks their punishment should be. Enjoy.

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New Sy Smith – Fast And Curious

On first hearing her re-take of Billy Ocean’s “Nights (Feel Like Getting Down)” with fellow under-appreciated singer Rahsaan Patterson, I couldn’t wait to hear how Ms. Smith was going to put it down on her latest. Well, it is out and for $7.99 at her Bandcamp page, you can get in on the fun. I’ve been dealing with some personal issues, so I have to make this one quick. I just wanted to write a few words and let you listen to it for yourself.

Smith has been around for a lot of years, most recently as part of the Foreign Exchange, but I’ve been following her (when I can find her) ever since her early release Psykosoul which featured the song “Good N Strong” that stayed in constant rotation in my CD changer back in the day. Take a listen to some of the tracks on her latest and if you like, leave your opinion in the comments.

I might have a few more words on this after I get to listen to the whole thing-and you know I’ll be purchasing a copy.