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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 36,566

Journal Archives

'Saturday Night Live' Adds First African-American Female in Five Years

NBC's Saturday Night Live has added an African-American woman castmember: Sasheer Zamata.

The Upright Citizens Brigade alum has boarded the Lorne Michaels-produced late-night sketch series and will make her debut Jan. 18, when Drake hosts.

The casting comes after showcases featuring black female comedians were held in New York and Los Angeles after the long-running sketch series faced widespread criticism that the new cast of SNL lacked minority faces and specifically the inclusion of an African-American woman.

STORY: 'SNL' to Add African-American Woman to Cast by January

The auditions were the first in the history of SNL to focus exclusively on minority women and were a proactive response on the part of producers to rectify season 39's diversity problem. SNL skewered itself in a sketch in which host Kerry Washington was run ragged playing everyone from first lady Michelle Obama to Oprah Winfrey to Beyonce.

Zamata is a University of Virginia alum and becomes the first black female SNL castmember in five years -- since the departure of Maya Rudolph. The comedian was one of two finalists -- Amber Ruffin was the other -- in contention for the new castmember spot.


She's a UVA grad so I love her already...

Proving our progress is Strong

The University of Texas, the last all-white football team to win a national championship, introduced Charlie Strong as its first African-American head football coach Monday morning.

If you understand the politically conservative nature of this state, it's a huge decision made even bigger because now Texas and Texas A&M each have an African-American football head coach.

One day, we hope, that won't be such a big deal. For now, it is.

That will upset some of you. Too bad.

Race remains a part of virtually every meaningful discussion we have in this country, as it should. There's nothing wrong with that. Constructive dialogue is liberating because it promotes growth and understanding.

You could make the argument, as a friend did the other day, that the hires of Strong and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin are signs we're progressing as a country, perhaps on par with that of the election of President Obama.

The point has validity, if you think about it.

Some voters cast a ballot for Barack Obama solely because they wanted to see an African-American in the White House, and they would've voted for him regardless of political platform.

Others simply wanted to see someone who looked like them hold our country's most important position. Throw in some moderate conservatives and liberals frustrated with our country's direction who wanted to give Democrats an opportunity to stimulate change ... and you have your first African-American president.

After eight years of Obama, will anyone be shocked if those same moderates provide Republicans with an opportunity to change our country's direction?


Racism May Accelerate Aging in African American Men

A new study reveals that racism may impact aging at the cellular level. Researchers found signs of accelerated aging in African American men, ages reporting high levels of racial discrimination and who had internalized anti-Black attitudes. Findings from the study, which is the first to link racism-related factors and biological aging, are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Racial disparities in health are well-documented, with African Americans having shorter life expectancy, and a greater likelihood of suffering from aging-related illnesses at younger ages compared to Whites. Accelerated aging at the biological level may be one mechanism linking racism and disease risk.

“We examined a biomarker of systemic aging, known as leukocyte telomere length,” explained Dr. David H. Chae, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the study’s lead investigator. Shorter telomere length is associated with increased risk of premature death and chronic disease such as diabetes, dementia, stroke and heart disease. “We found that the African American men who experienced greater racial discrimination and who displayed a stronger bias against their own racial group had the shortest telomeres of those studied.”

Telomeres are repetitive sequences of DNA capping the ends of chromosomes, which shorten progressively over time – at a rate of approximately 50-100 base pairs annually. Telomere length is variable, shortening more rapidly under conditions of high psychosocial and physiological stress. “Telomere length may be a better indicator of biological age, which can give us insight into variations in the cumulative ‘wear and tear’ of the organism net of chronological age,” said Chae. Among African American men with stronger anti-Black attitudes, investigators found that average telomere length was 140 base pairs shorter in those reporting high vs. low levels of racial discrimination; this difference may equate to 1.4 to 2.8 years chronologically.

Participants in the study were 92 African American men between 30-50 years of age. Investigators asked them about their experiences of discrimination in different domains, including work and housing, as well as in getting service at stores or restaurants, from the police, and in other public settings. They also measured racial bias using the Black-White Implicit Association Test. This test gauges unconscious attitudes and beliefs about race groups that people may be unaware of or unwilling to report.

Read more at http://scienceblog.com/69332/racism-may-accelerate-aging-in-african-american-men/#YZQk6B8JVBDqtkx3.99

On this day, 06 January, in African-American history

On this day in 1773, a slave, only known by the name of Felix, petitioned the General Court of Massachusetts for the freedom of slaves being bound in the "Town of Boston" and other provinces in Massachusetts.

Felix did not outline any specific conditions for the court to consider when manumitting the entire slave population of Massachusetts, saying in his petition that to do so "would be impudent, if not presumptuous" of the petitioner and those he was petitioning on behalf of. His reasoned that to try to dictate to court how it should bring slavery in Massachusetts to an end would abridge the "Wisdom, Justice, and Goodness" of the Massachusetts legislature.

History bears out the fact that Felix's petition was unsuccessful, since slavery was not abolished in Massachusetts until ten years later when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court judged slavery to be illegal based on language in the state's constitution of 1780.

Also on this day in African-American history...

1820 - The American Colonization Society launches its first ship that took 86 freed blacks back to Africa, helping them settle in what is now modern-day Liberia.

1867 - In order to provide money for construction, endowments, scholarships, teachers and industrial education to newly-freed blacks, the Peabody Fund was established.

1966 - The first Black Roman Catholic Bishop in the U.S., Harold Robert Perry, was consecrated in Africa.

2004 - Amadou Diallo's family won a $3 million, wrongful death settlement from the city of New York. Diallo was unarmed when police fatally wounded him after mistaking his wallet for a gun.

These are but five black facts out of many. Purchase the eBook, "This day in African-American History, January" to have access to over 530 facts covering the entire month of January.”

Free copies of "This Day in African-American History, January" are being given away to the first 200 people who enter to win it on the Independent Author Index. Enter to win here.


White supremacy wins again: Melissa Harris Perry and the racial false equivalence

What costs white folks a slap on the wrist, or a mildly disapproving look, costs black people our dignity
Brittney Cooper

On Sunday, Mitt Romney graciously accepted Melissa Harris-Perry’s apology for making his African-American grandson, Kieran, the butt of jokes during a segment on the last episode of her show in December. To the extent that MHP violated a long-standing rule of political journalism, namely that children are off-limits, I understand why she felt compelled to make an apology. And she offered a genuine and sincere model of how it should be done, a lesson that far more people on the right need to learn.

Still, in my view, MHP took the high road in a situation where she became an unfair target, left at the mercy of the right’s utter dishonesty on questions of race. The GOP is notoriously averse at the policy level to the social and political condition of African-Americans, and this has been demonstrated in everything from attempts to disenfranchise black voters to the wholesale turn to obstructionism as a primary governing strategy. No, Mitt Romney’s black grandson is not responsible for his grandfather’s dubious political views. But he will most certainly be raised in a family where at least one of his uncles once quipped about punching the president in the face. In other words, he will grow to be a black man not only in a politically conservative family with “interesting” views on race, but also in a family that believes in a religion that openly discriminated against Blacks until the 1970s.

Since race still matters, these observations matter, too. And though it is not polite to express this kind of ambivalence about transracial adoption, you can best believe that a whole lot of black folks saw the picture and shook their heads. For good or ill, we care about the lives and livelihoods of little black boys. And we wonder what kind of man Kieran will grow up to be. We know that the lie we are being asked to believe is that the Romneys, despite their politics and religious affiliations, have transcended race so much that Kieran’s blackness is just an accident of birth.

Melissa and, by proxy, all of us who looked twice at the photo are being called into question because we refuse to follow the script of colorblindness and racial transcendence. We insist on asking what it means to be a black kid in a white family.


Omaha police association labels video of diapered black toddler ‘The Thug Cycle’

The Omaha Police Officers Association drew criticism this week after it posted a video of a black child in a diaper and titled it “The Thug Cycle.”

A post on the association’s blog explained that the “video is bad” and “will make you angry.”

The video shows an African-American toddler in a diaper and several adults can be heard uttering profanities from off camera.

The association asserted that it had “an obligation to share it to continue to educate the law abiding public about the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some young innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in.”

“Now while we didn’t see anything in this video that is blatantly ‘illegal’, we sure did see a lot that is flat out immoral and completely unhealthy for this little child from a healthy upbringing standpoint,” the association wrote, noting that someone in the room asked the child, “What hood you from?”

“Folks… soak this in,” the post said.

While KMTV picked up the police association’s post as a “warning for everyone,” Black Men United in Omaha Executive Director Willie Hamilton told the Omaha World-Herald that it was unprofessional to call out a child and draw conclusions based on a short Facebook video.

“The police actually have a website that is perpetuating mistrust and anger, and I think that is what it is meant to do,” Hamilton pointed out. “I thought posting the video was crossing the line. To use that incident to say that our kids are going to grow up and be thugs is far-reaching and insensitive. We are talking about a child that hasn’t even gone to school yet.”

“If the police chief is trying to amend the broken relationship with our community, he needs to say, ‘On my watch, I will not allow this kind of behavior,’” he added. “Maybe we should look at how much control the police union has. They shouldn’t be able to use the website as a shield to post these nasty things.”



What the unfortunate '12 Years a Slave' posters say about Hollywood

An Italian distributor for “12 Years a Slave” recently caused an uproar when a promotional poster for the critically acclaimed film prominently displayed actors Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, the latter of whom plays an abusive slave master. Meanwhile, the film’s African American star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, was dwarfed in both renditions. Although the distributor apologized and pulled the unauthorized materials, this sort of whitewashing isn't uncommon. (See also: The racist international poster for the 2009 Vince Vaughn comedy “Couples Retreat.”)

In a Hollywood driven by the bottom line, major studios often seek to produce movies with the largest potential for global profitability. That means making flicks that appeal to the broadest possible demographic around the world. That not only limits the type of movies made and the stories told, it also excludes talented actors who aren’t deemed profitable.

“As foreign box-office sales have become more important, the people who manage international distribution have become more influential, weighing in on ‘green-light’ decisions about which films are made,” the Economist explained in a 2011 article about the internationalization of film. “The studios are careful to seed films with actors, locations and, occasionally, languages that are well known in target countries.”

Since African American actors aren’t as popular abroad, they are often brushed to the side in foreign marketing. The “international marketplace is still fairly racist,” James Ulmer of Ulmer Scale, which ranks actors' star power, told the New York Times in 2007. Reginald Hudlin, a producer and then entertainment president of BET Networks, agreed: "I always call international the new South. In the old days, they told you black films don’t travel down South. Now they say it’s not going to travel overseas.”


First African-American state trooper in Louisiana honored

Algiers resident Ernest Marcelle Jr. was recently honored for his trailblazing work as an African-American in law enforcement: He was the first African-American state trooper in Louisiana and has worked for civil rights for 60 years.

The ceremony, hosted by the Rev. Aubrey Wallace at Heavenly Star Missionary Baptist Church in Marrero, also recognized Marcelle as the founder of the Black Organization of Police, a founding member of the National Black Police Association, and the recipient of many other awards for his work throughout the United States.

He grew up in Prairieville and graduated from Prairieville High School.

Marcelle said, "In 1953 and '54, I spent my summers living in Baton Rouge with my older brother. It was during one of these visits that I became active in civil rights, when I participated with the community leaders who organized the first bus boycott."

He said, “A lot of people think that the civil rights movement began with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but it actually began in 1953 under the leadership of the Rev. T.J. Jemison, who organized a bus boycott to protest a law which reserved the first 10 rows of seats for white riders.”

His law enforcement career began upon completion of high school in May 1957, when he entered the Louisiana State Trooper Academy in Baton Rouge and graduated in November 1957.

His first assignment in 1958 was as detective for the New Orleans division. He served as an investigator, undercover officer and, on occasions, security/chauffeur for Gov. John McKeithen. He was assigned to undercover investigative details throughout the state.


Fact Sheet: The State of African American Women in the United States

African American women, who make up 13 percent of the female population in the United States, are making significant strides in education, participation, health, and other areas, but there is a long way to go to fully close the racial and ethnic disparities they face. New policies such as the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, and other proposed policies such as paid sick leave can greatly improve the lives of African American women and their families. For example, under the ACA, around 5.1 million African American women with private health insurance are currently receiving expanded preventive service coverage and an estimated 3 million African American women will gain access to affordable or subsidized health insurance.

This fact sheet provides a snapshot of statistics about health, education, entrepreneurship, economic security, and political leadership that should guide our choices to enact sensible policies to unleash the potential of this growing demographic and benefit our economy.


Smithsonian, Broward library seek African-American artifacts in S. Florida

The African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale is looking for potential treasures in our area.

A “Save Our African American Treasures” event next weekend will help residents identify and preserve any books, photos, or artwork of historical significance.

The library, at 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., is working in conjunction with The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

You can bring up to three items for a 15-minute consultation with experts. The items will not be appraised.

Free. Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Jan. 11, noon-5:30 p.m. Jan. 12.

Info: nmaahc.si.edu, 877-733-9599

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