Friday, November 28, 2008

Beyonce, Booty Shaking and Child Raising

So I was having this conversation with a friend the other day about Beyonce's new video for Single Ladies. And I was telling her how much the hip rolling, the grinding, or whatever that pelvic action is, was bothering me. And of course the conversation turned to our toddler daughters. While I have nothing against dance (took all kinds for more than 10 years in my youth), I cannot imagine my child dancing like that and it being okay. My friend said that she could not judge how Beyonce was dancing, but of course she wouldn't necessarily desire for her child to be hip rolling in a video.

The conversation got me to thinking about being judgmental. Am I judgmental if I'm disappointed in my child for choosing a career where part of it required her to straight booty-shake (like Beyonce does in Check On It)? Honestly my daughter is a remarkable looking girl. And I can say that because I had nothing to do with her looks. It was all God, of course. I call her the girl with the golden eyes because they literally are. Anyhoo, even though I've been encouraged to enter her into modeling a kazillion times, I've always shied away from this path because I want her to respect herself, command respect, and place more value in her intellect and creativity than her looks.

Is this wrong? Am I short-changing her for not capitalizing on her looks? I mean college ain't cheap and some catalog modeling wouldn't hurt her education fund. She already gets an inordinate amount of attention (which I sincerely appreciate, but keep in perspective). The way she looks is a blessing, but I don't want her to value that more than any other part of her that is not as visible. There are lots of things I like about Beyonce. I think she's one of the hardest-working women in the show business. But its not necessarily the life I'd want for my child because of the overwhelming emphasis on physical appearance.

If my daughter were Beyonce's attorney, the vice president of her record label, or a songwriter, would I still feel the same even though she'd be supporting a career that I feel has a something to do with booty shaking? I probably wouldn't feel the same serious objections. Is that wrong? Am I controlling? Am I a hypocrite? Honestly, I feel like I'm all of those most of the time. I did my time in the clubs (fa real) and in my 20s I certainly wore some things and shook some things sometimes that might have showcased more than my intelligence. But you know what? I can't help how I feel now. And just as my parents steered me to do more with what was inside my head than my appearance (although I can't hold a candle to my striking child), I plan to do the same for my precious gift from God.

Whatever she feels about the decisions her father and I make for her over the next 16 years, I hope she realizes that they come from loving and caring parents who just want her to be able to take advantage of all the positive opportunities available to her. And if she's as pissed as I was for most of my youth, I hope she'll forgive me as I eventually forgave my parents.

Love is hard. JD

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

BET's Bob Johnson Launching a New Network?

He's baaaaack....I wonder what type of programming will really be included in "public affairs, lifestyle and health programming along with some entertainment fare" as described below. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out... jd

Johnson Sets Sights On New Urban Cable Network
BET Founder Eyes Must-Carry Under 'Share-Time' License With Ion Media

By R. Thomas Umstead -- Multichannel News, 11/25/2008 7:16:00 PM

Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson is looking to get back into the cable network business.

Johnson, along with the Ion Media Networks, is petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to grant a newly formed, Johnson-owned, African-American-targeted digital network must-carry status under “share time” licenses.

According to the petition, Johnson’s RLJ Companies, LLC would own 51% of newly created Urban Television LLC -- Ion would hold 49% of the venture -- and the service would operate as part of ION’s digital channel offerings in 42 markets. Ion currently offers kid-targeted Qubo and lifestyles-oriented Ion Life as multicast digital stations.

According to an Ion and RLJ joint statement, the proposed share-time arrangement would allow Urban Television to operate “a continuous television program service aimed at serving the needs and interests of urban viewers and traditionally underserved minority communities. Urban Television will be a new addition to the current broadcast channel lineup, and Ion Media Networks will continue to operate its own broadcast networks.”

Further, the petition reads: “In order the avoid disputes with [cable and satellite distributors] that would undermine any realistic opportunity of Urban’s fledgling station group to survive, the parties respectively request that the Commission confirm, concurrent with the grant of this application, that Urban … would be entitled to carriage under the Commission’s rules.”

Although the network has yet to finalize its programming plans, Traci Otey Blunt, vice president of communications and public affairs for RLJ said Urban Television will most likely offer public affairs, lifestyle and health programming along with some entertainment fare.

“We want to create programming that will respond to what the marketplace is seeking,” she said. “We’re not locked into anything yet, but if we’re successful and move forward I don’t think there would be a lack of [programming] opportunities focusing on the urban market.

The venture would mark Johnson’s return to cable after he sold BET -- which he founded in 1981 -- to Viacom for $3 billion in 2000.

“The thing about Mr. Johnson is that he never turns down an opportunity and he’s a very strong entrepreneur,” she said. “In the end it’s an opportunity that will benefit the consumer, so he’s moving forward to see what the FCC will do regarding this process.”

Otey Blount would not say whether Johnson would go ahead with the venture if the FCC fails to grant the service must-carry status.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wash Post: Black women see themselves in Michelle Obama

Interesting piece...the personal conversations that black women are having, at least the ones I've been having, seem to be getting into the national press.

Check out some excerpts below or read the piece at Washington Post: Black women see bits and pieces of themselves in Michelle Obama - and let me know what you think...jd

..."I have no doubt that she is prepared for the challenge," said Lani Guinier, a Harvard Law School professor and onetime Clinton nominee for a top Justice Department post. "She and her husband embody a very healthy relationship. That in itself is quite a public and political statement."

For Portia Pedro, 29, a third-year student of Guinier's, the hope "for young black professional women that's embodied in Michelle Obama is a bit different from the hope invested in Barack Obama." "There is a not-so-silent concern that you are less likely to get married and less likely to have children," Pedro said. "The career part is not in question, but can you do that and be married and have a family? If she can do that, then it opens possibilities for other black women."

...It would be too trivial to say that she is smashing stereotypes of black women, because the stereotypes are so flat, so unreal, that smashing them would be like punching a cloud.

"There's the stereotype of the powerful black woman, the aggressive black woman; there is the stereotype of the over-sexualized, overly sexed black woman; there is the stereotype of the mammy," says Aziza Gibson-Hunter, 54, of Washington, a conceptual artist and mother of four.

What she sees in Michelle Obama is strength: "I saw it in my mother. When I was a kid, I saw it in the women in the church, this dignified strength. I think that is real...

"What this whole situation is doing is inviting people to look behind the projections in their own minds and maybe begin to do some work to deconstruct some of that and find the truth."

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