The Picture and Pose

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The actor Michael B. Jordan, recently known for his starring role in the movie 'Creed' and director Ryan Coogler (who directed Creed) made waves on the Internet a few days ago due to a photo that sparked conversation and controversy.  The photo was taken for the March issue of Vanity Fair magazine which features an interview with the pair. Jordan and Coogler also worked on the 2013 film 'Fruitvale Station'.  Some on the Web are saying that the photo is quite suggestive and brings into question the sexuality of the two. 

Friends of mine have commented that perhaps this is just a simple innocent big brother, little brother moment captured through a lens.  Which could be conceivable considering that Michael B. Jordan has been acting for a majority of his life and Ryan Coogler is a newcomer to the Hollywood scene.  Nothing more, nothing less just two black men embracing one another in kinship.

Want to know what I think?  Glad you asked.

When I first saw the photograph it definitely got the wheels in my head turning and I had a variety of thoughts.  My first thought was I wonder what was the frame before this published photo and what led to that pose.  Second, perhaps they [Jordan and Coogler] were going for a more artsy vibe and not the same predictable photo shoot as to push the envelope and invoke conversation.  If that is what they were going for then they certainly succeeded.  I was also thinking while I was reading all of the comments on the Internet and messages from my friends that society has become so oversexed.

Two men taking a picture together whether sexually suggestive or not it causes an uproar.  That same photo during a different era would not have caused such a ruckus.  However, I do understand that society has gone through major reconstruction and deconstruction from decades past.

In my opinion, this photograph is artistic in nature and just like art the viewer is allowed to interpret the work anyway that they choose.  I believe there is nothing more to this photo but two black men standing and one has the others hand on his head. 

On a lighter note, I surely hope that they are both heterosexual due to their attractiveness.  Although I will not end up with either one of them, I wouldn't want things ruined for the women that do.  But a girl can dream, can't she?

Thanks for reading!
(John 3:16)

Edited by: Craig Bennett

Just A Thought On The Amber Rose Interview

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I don't know much about Amber Rose except that she is a former video vixen, ex-girlfriend of Kanye West who is a rapper and infamous for his Twitter rants and the ex-wife of stoner rapper Wiz Khalifa.  I recently discovered that she is an advocate against sexual assault against women and an author.

The past few years I have seen Amber Rose have cameo appearances on television shows and infiltrate social media newsfeeds and timelines with her racy selfies.  I cannot say that I am a fan of hers, but I do give credit where credit is due and during a current interview, I agreed with some of the things that she had to say regarding women and sexuality.

The Oprah Winfrey Network also known as OWN has a new show titled It's Not You, It's Men, hosted by former Run DMC emcee Rev. Run and singer turned actor Tyrese Gibson.  On the show the two give their advice and share their different perspectives on sex, love and relationships with celebrity guest joining the conversation. 

On episode five which aired on February 20th, one of the show's guest was Amber Rose.  The topic of discussion was modern romance, but somehow the conversation veered into the way women dress when Rev. Run made the comment, "Dress how you want to be addressed."

Amber Rose on It's Not You, It's Men. Photo:

I would like to address this, no pun intended, but just because a woman dresses in a provocative outfit does not mean that people, mostly men, have the right to touch her, call her derogatory names or act sexually aggressive towards her.  Although Rev. Run's comment was greeted with cheers from the audience, Amber Rose on the other hand defiantly booed at the remark.

After the segment was over with Amber Rose and the show was about to end, Tyrese directed a quote towards the ladies saying, "Keep in mind that if you keep on putting on those 'right-quick' outfits, you're going to keep attracting 'right-quick' men" which I totally disagree with. 

It would seem that all of the fault is pushed on women and that somehow our "energy" can send the wrong message (this was expressed by Tyrese during the show) to men or simply by the way we dress we are asking to be disrespected, groped and possibly sexually assaulted, but maybe the fixing isn't on the part of the women, but in the way men think?

Just a thought.

Thanks for reading!
(John 3:16)

Edited by Craig Bennett

Does America Still Need Black History Month?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Black History Month was started in February 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, but was known then as Negro History Week.  It was not until 1976 that the transition was made from Negro Week to Black History Month which is still celebrated in the month of February.

Does America still need Black History Month?

America has seen a two-term president with brown skin, there are black CEOs and heads of corporations, black people can sit anywhere on public transportation and in establishments where "White only" and "Colored only" signs were once visibly hung.  There are no longer miscegenation laws prohibiting the mixing of races and everyone from different cultures are our neighbors.

It would seem that the societal restrictions prior to and during the Civil Rights Movement are no longer an obstacle for black people.  Although many black people feel as if we have 'arrived', there have been many events within the justice system which have shown that the barriers of inequality are still at play and in the words of Kanye West, "racism still alive they just be concealing it".

Some people fail to realize, however, that black history is American history.  The American financial and industrial infrastructures were built on the whipped backs of African slaves.  America still needs Black History Month, but our educational institutions need to move away from only teaching black history during the month of February.

In my opinion, the intentions for Black History Month were never to segregate the races, but to showcase the accomplishments and sacrifices of black people.  Black people have always fought for a place in the American landscape so to call for the abolishment of Black History Month would be asking for an entire component of American history to vanish as if it never existed. 

Plus think about this, if the government feels that we, black people no longer need to celebrate Black History Month what else could they feel is not necessary for us to do?  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 comes to my mind.

Thanks for reading!
(John 3:16)

Edited by: Craig Bennett

The Flint Water Crisis: Racism Or Incompetence?

Monday, January 25, 2016

In 2014, state officials decided to change the water supply in the city of Flint, Michigan from Lake Huron to the Flint River as a way to save money.  Up until then, Flint paid Detroit to have access to Lake Huron. 

According to reports, shortly after the switch, residents started to complain that the water tasted, smelled, and looked funny.  Although the water was discolored, residents were told by city and state officials that everything was fine.

The problem had been attributed to the extremely high levels of iron in the Flint River which is what caused the water to turn brown.  It gets worse.  Apparently, the river was not properly treated with an anti-corrosive agent so the water eroded the iron water mains and due to a majority of homes having lead service lines, it allowed for lead to seep into the water supply along with the iron potentially poisoning the over 100,000 Flint residents.

Some people have made accusations that race played a role in all of this because Flint has a predominately Black population.

I am going to take the road less traveled.  It is my opinion that America has once again witnessed incompetence in its clearest form.  It is no secret the state of Michigan has had its share of problems throughout the years.  In 2013, Detroit filed for bankruptcy which was practically unheard of at the time and Flint was in a state of financial emergency from 2011 to 2015.  So I find it to be somewhat plausible that in an effort to save money they made the rash and impulsive decision to switch the water supply in Flint without taking the necessary precautions to ensure that the water would be safe.

I am not defending the actions or decisions of the state officials because it was their responsibility to do their due diligence to ensure the safety of the residents and they simply failed.  Those state officials did not professionally nor ethically perform their job and unfortunately it has caused major, irreparable damage for possibly generations to come.

The reason I chose not to write from a racial aspect is because I want whoever reads this to view the landscape through a different lens.  I am concerned for the residents of Flint and I am glad that they have been receiving bottled water from various sources, but as Americans we need to be asking ourselves, if something like this can happen in Flint, can it happen in my city too?

Thanks for reading!
(John 3:16)

Golden Statues, But No Black People

Thursday, January 21, 2016

After reviewing the list of Academy Awards nominees for myself, the popular hashtag #Oscarssowhite that has been making waves on social media and the Internet, I must say, is a true statement.  The Oscars this year are as white as a Ku Klux Klan rally.

I find it quite astounding that Sylvester Stallone, who's white, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the film 'Creed' but the lead actor, Michael B. Jordan, who's black, was completely snubbed of a nomination for the same film.  Also, despite holding the number one spot at the box office for three weeks straight after its release into theaters on August 14, 2015, the only nomination that the N.W.A biopic 'Straight Outta Compton' received was for Writing-Original Screenplay for Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff who are both white.

The conversation of the "lack of diversity" at the Oscars that has dominated the Internet and television for the past few days is nothing new for those paying attention.  For years there has been an imbalance in diversity not only when it comes to white mainstream award shows, but Hollywood as a whole.

Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith and director Spike Lee have both publicly announced they will boycott the Oscars by not attending nor watching the show.  There was some chatter that Chris Rock, who is the esteemed host for the evening, felt some pressure to boycott as well.  Mr. Rock would later state that he will continue to host the 88th Academy Awards that will be held on February 28th.
A major statement that Chris Rock could make is when the Oscars show begins, he comes on stage as normal, but substitutes being his expected comedic self and instead makes a bold proclamation that cuts to the heart of the lack of diversity in this years nominees and walk off the stage followed by a walk out of all the other black actors and actresses that are in attendance. 

Not that I would want anyone to break a contract or 'jeopardize their coins', but talk about taking a stand and it would all be live.

Now, that scenario is not likely to happen, but on a serious note, we as Black people
have to take some of the blame for the Oscars being so white.  A solution is, we need to flood the industry with good, quality Black films so much so that the Academy would not be able to ignore the contributions of people of color and not be able to shut us out.

I tweeted back on February 27, 2011 that "I personally would like for the Oscars to be completely flooded with black movies".  That was 5 years ago and it would seem that things are moving backwards instead of ahead.  To the Black people with the power to make it happen, it falls on your shoulders to make change.

Thanks for reading!
(John 3:16)

It's A Long Road To November, Mr. Trump

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

In June 2015, Donald Trump made the announcement that he was going to run for president.  When speaking at various venues and giving interviews he spewed his outlandish, racist and preposterous views that attacked not only other presidential candidates, but the American people. 

At first, I simply thought of Mr. Trump as the sideshow act of the Republican Party with no real potential of being taken seriously as a true contender for a presidential nominee.

Now that his poll numbers are steadily climbing and his shenanigans seem to dominate daily news cycles, I am sadly starting to have a change of heart and thinking that this "sideshow act" is fearfully a contender to be our next Commander-In-Chief.

Close the shutters, lock the doors, and hide under the sheets! President Donald Trump could be coming!

Although I think the man is a racist, which is what I thought of him years before this presidential run, I refuse to even spend my money at Trump establishments so him getting my vote is not even a possibility.  They say numbers don't lie and right now on the Republican side, Donald Trump has the numbers.  Currently at the polls his numbers stand at 38% keeping him ahead of his Republican counterparts.

I often wonder if Mr. Trump is saying what a lot of Americans are thinking and that has led to his surge at the polls?

Since announcing his official candidacy for president, Mr. Trump has been very vocal about his thoughts on immigration, terrorism, education and healthcare and the steps that as president he would take to correct these programs and "make America great again".

Regardless of my personal views on Donald Trump he is a successful businessman and I think if he were to become president, he would run America like a business which can be a good and bad thing.  The primaries are fast approaching, but it is still a long road to November.

Thanks for reading!
(John 3:16)

My Brief Opinion: Gov. Paul LePage

Saturday, January 9, 2016

On Wednesday, January 6, 2016 Paul LePage the Governor of Maine was speaking in Bridgton, ME about drug trafficking and a drug problem in the state and he said:

“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothy, Shifty, these type of guys, they come from Connecticut, New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time, they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is real sad because now we have another issue that we gotta deal with down the road.”

Now, Gov. LePage mentioning those nicknames is not what made him sound racist because in my opinion those names could be used by a man of any race.  When he specifically said "white girls" he was bringing race into a situation that didn't call for it.

Making one race the target of his talking point was the racist act not the nicknames although one would not be wrong in arguing the point that he was being racist there too.  Honestly, if Gov. LePage had not brought up "white girls" then no one would have given his comments a second thought.

Just my opinion.

Thanks for reading!
(John 3:16)