Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May is Lupus Awareness Month. I should have used this space to post facts about lupus to increase awareness and knowledge of the disease. I should have used my blog to promote the annual lupus walk as I've done in the past. But I didn't. I didn't because I'm angry at lupus; I'm sick of it making everything in life hard. Standing to give a lecture or clean my classroom should not be physically difficult. I'm only 30. My doctor shouldn't be telling me to exercise less.

I know I'm being a big baby. Yes, I have lupus but I am very fortunate. I've had no serious complications with my kidneys or other major organs. I'm very healthy, all things considered. But sometimes I just feel like being a big baby.

I regret not teaching you all more about lupus this month. For those of you in Birmingham, please consider participating in Walk for Lupus Now, which will be held on Saturday, June 11 at Heardmont Park. Click here for more information.

For those of you who don't live in the Birmingham area, click here to find a walk in a city near you. 

Read on for a few facts about living with lupus. 

  • The most common symptoms of lupus are: extreme fatigue or exhaustion, headaches, painful or swollen joints, fever, a butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose, sun- or light-sensitivity, and hair loss.

  • Only ten percent of people with lupus will have a close relative who already has lupus or may develop lupus. Some people with lupus also will have a relative who has lupus or another autoimmune disease.

  • Most people with lupus experience joint pain. Those living with lupus can have arthritis, but lupus isn't a form of arthritis.

Side note: The word wolf is cognate with Latin lupus, hence the title of this post. 
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day! 

I hope you all enjoy your day off. And speaking of days off, guess what -- it's summer break! That means I don't have to go back to work for two months! (And that writing for Georgia Mae can be my full-time job.) Celebrate with me with this Alice Cooper hit. 

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Friday, May 27, 2011

That's me with our amazing speakers Erin Shaw Street and Kristen Record Heptinstall

I am a fiercely independent person. My parents raised me to be that way and I'm grateful for that upbringing because I believe I owe much of my success to it. But sometimes being Ms. Independent brings trouble, or stress headaches at least. Too often I take on huge projects and refuse to ask for help. Even when I'm drowning I won't scream for a life jacket. 

Earlier this year I decided I wanted to begin to make a difference in Birmingham, though at the time I wasn't really sure what that would look like. Eventually I decided to start See Jane Write, a networking group for women writers in Birmingham. This time I'm not going to make the mistake of trying to do it all on my own. 

Last night See Jane Write had its second event: See Jane Tweet, which was a seminar designed to teach women writers how they can use Twitter and other social media tools to promote their work and connect with other writers. The event, held at Matthew's Bar & Grill, was a huge success and it couldn't have been without the help of other women. Erin Shaw Street and Kristen Record Heptinstall were amazing speakers who kept the audience engaged, encouraged an interactive atmosphere, and filled us all with their web wisdom. And many of the attendees were there because other people helped me spread the word. 

After the seminar I had a chat with Keisa Sharpe, publisher of the website TheNaturalHairDiva.com, about the importance of collaboration. Writing for her website, for example, has brought more traffic to my blog. But this is about something much greater than self-promotion. If I'm going to transform Birmingham into the kind of city that nurtures and supports creative and ambitious women, I need the the help of other creative and ambitious women in town. I need also the help of men who share this vision, men like Wade Kwon, who actually crashed our all-girl event to show his support. 

I'm a church-going gal and in Matthew 18:20 Jesus says, "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” I think this is concept is one that can be applied to a number of things regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof. When two or more people are gathered in the name of something greater than themselves, be that a deity or a dream, the spirit of whatever has brought them together will be present and will work wonders. And that's exactly what happened last night as I saw my dreams for See Jane Write becoming a reality.

More shots from See Jane Tweet

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It's Friday, so it's time for a little Georgia Mae time travel.

Every Friday, we’ll share an older album that paves the way for our weekend. We invite you to do the same.

Longtime Georgia Mae contributor Karie shared this one:

Jon B, Cool Relax (1997)

Karie said "his sophomore album solidified him as a blue-eyed soul artist." No doubt about it. "They Don't Know" was one of the biggest R&B records of 1998 and the entire collection is arguably Jon B's best work. Cool Relax lived up to its name - laid back, alluring and romantic.

Check out:

"Don't Say"

"I Do (Whatcha Say Boo)"

Let's check out what Javacia's listening to this weekend:


The Cranberries, No Need to Argue (1993)

Javacia said: I take a lot of flack from friends and family for having extremely eclectic music tastes. Blame it on The Cranberries. Though I started listening to an Aerosmith song here and there when I was about 12, No Need to Argue was the first album I purchased that was outside the realm of hip-hop and R&B. The clashing cymbals and screaming electric guitars in the hit song "Zombie" left me thirsty for more alternative rock and Dolores O'Riordan's raw and unique vocals paved the way for my love for artists such as Ani DiFranco. 

This album also has a special place in my heart because I listened to the title track "No Need to Argue" on repeat, with tears streaming down my face, when I broke up with my first boyfriend. Pitiful, I know. 

Check out:

"Ridiculous Thoughts" 
"Ode to My Family"

Now, it’s your turn. Email edward@georgiamae.com, hit us up on Twitter, or stop by the comments section and share your Flashback Friday album. Leave a couple of sentences describing what makes it so great. We’ll feature your album on the blog.
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

As you all know I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, but like most folks from the Deep South when I was a teen I couldn't wait to leave. After living in Berkeley, California; Seattle, Washington; and Louisville, Kentucky I returned to my hometown two years ago. At first, I hated it. Then I realized I wasn't giving the city a chance. I've spent the last few months getting to know Birmingham and the people in the city who are working hard to make it a beautiful place to live. 

This bring us to our new Georgia Mae feature, Birmingbelle of the Week. What is a Birmingbelle? A Birmingbelle is a woman living in Birmingham who is redefining the modern Southern belle. She knows that being a belle is about being an empowered woman who is working to uplift other women in her community. Each week I'll feature a Birmingbelle on this blog as a way to celebrate the women who are helping make Birmingham a great place to be. 

Our first Birmingbelle of the Week of Tiffeny Curier, a proud Birmingham native. Tiffeny is the founder of BPositive Magazine, an online publication that seeks to highlight the positive things going on in Birmingham and surrounding areas. She's also using her local connections and contacts to raise money for survivors of the devastating storms of April 27. Read on to learn more about Tiffeny. 

Why did you start BPositive Magazine?

I started BPositive because for years, I have been hearing so many negative characteristics about the city of Birmingham and after a while I began to believe what I was hearing. People were saying, "You guys are only known for violence and the First 48. There is nothing to do in Birmingham but make babies. You will never go far in your career because of the demographics in Birmingham. You will never succeed in a city that is still so racist.”       

I also went through trials in my life and I thought the only way to ever find happiness was to get out of Birmingham. One day I woke up and had that aha moment. The reason I was so down was because of my mindset and not my surroundings. I had to change the people I was associating myself with, as well as soul search and truly find the unique essence of Birmingham. As I began to adopt what I like to call the “positive campaign” that’s when doors began to open for me. I now get to experience all these amazing events and people in Birmingham and now I feel like it is my responsibility to share that with the public.

Tell us about the tornado relief event you're hosting and what inspired you to organize it.

On Sunday, June 5, 2011 BPositive will be hosting a private jewelry sale at Charming Charlie in the Summit. The event is scheduled to take place from 6 -8:30 p.m. There will be prizes awarded throughout the night and light refreshments will be served. Everyone attending the jewelry sale will receive twenty percent off their entire purchase that night. Tickets into the private jewelry sale are $25 and can be purchased online by going to bpositivejewelrysale.eventbrite.com. All the money raised from ticket sales will go to families affected by the recent sweeps of southeastern tornadoes.

I was inspired to coordinate this event because I had four family members to lose their homes as a result of the April 27 tornadoes. Pratt City (one of the hardest hit areas) is the community I grew up in and so many of my neighbors and friends lost their homes as well. My home church was also in the path of destruction so I knew I had to do something. 

What keeps you in Birmingham? What do you love about this city?

The growth potential in Birmingham keeps me here. I view Birmingham as a blank canvas waiting for the world’s next great artist to paint it. We are a small city bursting with talent that needs to be discovered. Atlanta lookout your neighbors are on the rise!

What would you like to change about the city and what are you doing personally to make that change happen?

If there were one thing I would love to change about Birmingham I would have to vote on the mindset of some of its residents. I think a lot of times in our urban communities we don’t feel like we belong, but we must realize everyone has the same opportunity and it's up to you to capitalize on it.

Are you a Birmingbelle? If you would like to be featured in this column email me at javacia@georgiamae.com. 
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Awww, look at that pic above. Eddie loves the kids. As long as they aren't mine.

Send your inquiries to edward@georgiamae.com, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 

Here's today's question:

Should you continue to date a guy if you like him but don't want to be bothered with his kids?

No Kidding Around, D.C.

Well, looks like it's again time for me to irritate 90 percent of our audience...

One of my favorite songs from R&B jailbird Lyfe Jennings is called "She Got Kids." I couldn't find a link to the song that wouldn't give your computer cyber syphilis, so I'll provide the lyrics to the hook:

She got kids, don't know if I'm ready to give
them the things that they need to live
Because if we become more than just friends
what I do for her I gotta do for them kids
And I just wanna make sure this is more than just a sexual trip
All I wanna do is prevent those kids from getting hurt again, yeah

Label me a heartless demon, but I have never dated a woman with kids. If you want to know why, refer to those lyrics above. I have all the respect in the world for single mothers, but when you date a single mother, you're also dating her children.

What if you want to end the relationship but the child has become attached to you? Is it fair to put the child through the stress of a breakup? And of course, the ever-present Baby Mama Drama:

Sing it, Dave.

I certainly don't want to discredit the hard work of single parents. They need love too. I just wasn't ready to make the commitment to them AND their children. I didn't want the kids to be innocent victims if things went sour. I have many friends who have dated - and married - people who had children from previous relationships. It worked because they were able to bond with their mate AND their children. It's absolutely necessary.

Getting back to D.C.'s question, it looks like she's been dating this guy awhile but the kids are driving a wedge between them. Sorry, D.C., but those kids are a part of that man's life. You can't have him and not accept the children. The best solution is to talk to your guy and tell him that you're having trouble accepting his children. DO NOT make a ridiculous ultimatum like "it's your kids or me!" because if he's a decent man, he's gonna pick his kids and leave you behind. However, if you're really committed to making things work, discuss ways you can get to know his kids better in hopes of forming a better relationship.

If you have zero interest in his kids, then you'll just have to move on. His priority should be with children. If you can't accept that, you can't accept him.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cerissa Brown (left) with her co-director Gladys Brown

Cerissa Brown of Birmingham, Ala.,  admits to once being a homebody. She used to spend most of her time with her mother and her 10-year-old daughter and though she’s lived in Birmingham all her life, she could never tell you what was going on in the city.
“But after my 30th birthday I starting feeling like my life was in rut and I was always bored,” Brown said. She started searching websites and social media networks like Facebook for things to do and stumbled upon the Little Black Dress Club, a women’s social network with chapters in cities across the nation that boasts a “penchant for out-of-the-box ideas” according to the official website. Eager to be part of the group, Brown contacted the Little Black Dress Club for information on joining the Birmingham chapter only to learn that there was no LBDC in the Magic City. The organization wanted to know if Brown knew someone who’d be willing to start and serve as director of the Birmingham chapter.
“I’m extremely shy and didn’t think I could handle being a director so I started pressuring some of my outgoing friends to become the director, but no one wanted the responsibility,” Brown said. But she just couldn’t stop thinking about LBDC and how it would be a great organization for the women of Birmingham. “Finally I emailed LBDC’s CEO Christine Zellers and said I want to do this.”
The Birmingham chapter launched in February with a fabulous party at Cajun Steamer Bar & Grill in Trussville. 
Click here to read my interview with Brown for Urbanham.com. 
Are you interested in the Little Black Dress Club, but you don't live in Birmingham? No worries. Visit the LBDC website at www.lbdclub.com to find a chapter in your city or for information on how to start one. 
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Eric Roberson, sometimes referred to as Erro, hails from Rahway, New Jersey.  He has been in the entertaiment industry since 1994 and is one of the most prolific songwriters on the Neo Soul scene, penning songs for such artists as Dwele, Musiq Soulchild and Jill Scott. He has released 7 albums. Enjoy! 

Progressive Soul Mondays: Opening Minds and Erradicating foolery, coonery, and bufoonery one Monday at at time®

-- Desiree

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Friday, May 20, 2011

There’s nothing like discovering good, new music – which is why we love Desiree’s Progressive Soul Mondays. But each Friday at Georgia Mae headquarters, we reach into our music archives and listen to long-forgotten albums. We decided to share that experience with you.

Every Friday, we’ll share an older album that paves the way for our weekend. We invite you to do the same.

Let's see what Edward is rocking:

Timbaland &Magoo, Indecent Proposal (2001)

Friends and readers often give me a hard time for being too critical of music. They love reminding me that music isn’t always about hitting a perfect pitch or empowering lyrics that change the world. Music sometimes can be silly, mindless fun. I’ll admit I often approach music like a math problem, but when I let my inhibitions go, I turn to Tim and Magoo.

Sure, the lyrics are infantile but they’re also hilarious. Add a few high-profile guests (Jay-Z, Aaliyah,  a fresh-faced Ludacris) and some of the best beats Tim has ever created and you have the perfect party starter. See, even I can loosen up. Sometimes.

Check out:

Party People, featuring Jay-Z and Twista
Considerate Brotha, featuring Ludacris

Let's check out what Javacia's listening to this weekend:

Love Jones Soundtrack (1997)

Remember when black movies were really, really good and didn't all center on a man dressed in a wig and a fat suit? Movies like Love & Basketball and The Best Man still seem to never get old and the icing on the cake was that fact that back in the day black films always had amazing soundtracks. This was certainly the case with that of Nia Long/Larenz Tate flick Love Jones

With spoken word performances from the movie opening and closing the collection, this album serves up one sultry track after another from stars like Maxwell and underrated artists such as Trina Broussard. Add folks like Lauryn Hill and a track by jazz legends Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, and surely you have a hit on your hands. The Love Jones soundtrack is the perfect way to kick off a romantic weekend with your boo. Unfortunately, I'm going to spend my weekend getting cozy with research papers that I have to grade, but these slow jams will help me unwind nonetheless. 

Check out:
"Sweetest Thing," Lauryn Hill 
"Sumthin' Sumthin' (Mellosmoothe Cut), Maxwell

Now, it’s your turn. Email us, hit us up on Twitter, or stop by the comments section and share your Flashback Friday album. Leave a couple of sentences describing what makes it so great. We’ll feature your album on the blog.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Can you believe it? This is our 1,000th post to GeorgiaMae.com!

Thank you all so much for reading the blog and supporting this project. 

I wanted to use this special 1,000th post to announce some of the exciting things we have in store for the blog. This summer, GeorgiaMae.com will undergo a redesign and we'll introduce some awesome new features such as video blog posts and The Naturalista Nine, regular Q&As with natural hair beauties. We will also launch a Georgia Mae newsletter; be sure to sign up for our mailing list so you're not left out.

Thanks again for your support. We couldn't do this without you. Well, we could, but we'd just be talking to ourselves; and that would suck. 

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yes, this woman is hideous. Right?

To all my black, female readers, I’m sure you all have heard the news by now: we’re ugly.

When I first learned about the recent Psychology Today article that claims a so-called “objective” study proved that black women are “less physically attractive than all other women,” I had no intentions of writing about it. Yes, I am a black woman and therefore I should be pissed, but Shani O. Hilton, writing for The Hairpin, outlines perfectly why I don’t put much stock in this article:

So ... maybe we should just dismiss the Psychology Today writer who uses Science to prove that black women are uglier, dumber, fatter, and more masculine than other races of women? After all, this is the person who illustrated a post about how criminals look different from noncriminals with a picture of O.J. Simpson. He’s also the same person who says men are more intelligent than women, that we should profile Arabs who want to travel by air, that feminism is evil, and that all women are prostitutes.

With so many people talking about this issue, however, I thought I’d be remiss if I didn’t address this matter in some way. 

But here’s the thing: this is nothing new. Many black women, especially those of us with darker skin, have always dealt with the media, society, and sometimes even our own family members telling us we're unattractive. And frankly, we're over it. Should we be in some sort of panic now because some quack is supposedly trying to back up racism and colorism with pseudo-science?

Was I supposed to read that article, sob into my pillow, and then go bleach my skin, lose weight, straighten my nappy hair and figure out a way to do something about my “masculine features” so Edd won’t leave me for a white girl? To channel my hubster, playa please!

I read that article, laughed, and then went about my business, the business of being my beautiful self. Racist fake scientists and anyone else who doesn’t like the way I look can kiss my fat, black ass. That is all. Have a great day!
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Love was so much easier when we were young. All you had to do was check a box on a sheet of notebook paper:

I would always check "maybe." Each and every time.

Send your inquiries to edward@georgiamae.com, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 

Here's today's question:

Should having different religions be a major factor in a relationship?

Looking for Divine Intervention, D.L.

One of my great loves is participating in youth ministry. As part of my duties, it's my responsibility to break down the Bible and make it relatable to the children.

Gather 'round, kiddies, let me break this one down to you.

You may have heard of the term unequally yoked. It goes back to the Bible days, when animals were used to plow fields. In order to plow a straight line, two of the same type of animals had to be used. For example, using two mules guaranteed that the careful farmer had two animals with the same build, going at the same pace, ensuring that fields were plowed evenly. Hence, equally yoked. Now if the careless farmer used a mule and a cow, you'd have two animals with two different paces - and wind up with some jacked-up looking rows. That's being unequally yoked.

Partners having different religions is a MAJOR factor in a relationship. I'm not ashamed to say that I've cut off some fine ladies who didn't share my views. As I've mentioned here time and again, why even bother starting a relationship when you and your partner are already on two different pages? Do you think your church-hating boyfriend will approve of you "giving away" 10 percent of your gross earnings to "those church folk?" Will your girlfriend feel neglected when spend every Wednesday night with your small group homies? When your mate lacks a connection to those religious activities, it can be hard for them to understand them. Those feelings of confusion and neglect will lead to strife.

Of course, not everyone is that close-minded and two people of different religions can certainly make it work. But it won't be easy. Even if things look fine on the surface, morality issues may arise later - especially if children come into the picture.

So you mules out there, think twice before hooking up with that cow.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

While hanging out on Facebook at work the other day - don't look at me like that, it's my job to be on Facebook, don't be jealous - I stumbled upon a very interesting NPR post that a friend shared on her wall.

The column, entitled "Stop The Black-On-Black Hateration" by Michel Martin, took a look at recent barbs famous black folks are hurling at each other. Boxer Bernard Hopkins recently called Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb a "house slave."

For those not in the know, the slur reflects back to slave times, when those who worked inside homes were considered privileged and cozy with "massa," while the less fortunate slaves toiled outside.

I don't understand how you can be a "privileged slave" - at the end of the day, you're still a slave, right? But I digress.

Hopkins questioned McNabb's blackness because he had a middle-class upbringing. According to him, McNabb has "a suntan, that's all."

And let's not forget the drama that occurred a few months ago between ex-University of Michigan basketball star Jalen Rose and black Duke University ballplayers, specifically former player Grant Hill. Rose pointed the finger, calling Hill and friends Uncle Toms and saying they were removed from the "true" black experience because they grew up in functional households.

When did being black mean growing up in a broken home?

Now, the black experience has always been defined by struggle. But after scratching and clawing for hundreds of years to achieve equal footing with other Americans, it's extremely counterproductive - and downright stupid - to criticize our peers who have reached their goals a bit quicker that we have.

Martin's column called for African-Americans to finally squash the crab-in-the-bucket mentality and stand united for the good of our culture. And I won't hesitate to agree - to a point.

For years now, I've been called a hater - from most of you, in fact - for sharing my unpopular views about some of black America's most revered celebrities. I've often been chided for "tearing down our own" and I've often mentioned the mindset in the black community that we should never openly criticize one another. Make no mistake, disparaging someone because they enjoyed a more advantageous upbringing  is detrimental, but no one - not even our own - is immune to constructive criticism.

I think Tyler Perry's films are horrible and as a high-profile African-American filmmaker, he should set a higher standard. I think both Al Sharpton and Bill Cosby have their hearts in the right place when they spout their loud-mouthed rants, but they both need to pick their battles more wisely. 2pac is revered by many as a revolutionary but besides a couple of "positive songs" mixed in with his gangsta garbage, where are the physical fruits of his labor? I ain't buying it.

Labeling someone a house slave because their road was less rocky that yours contributes nothing. But constructive criticism of our more prominent members hopefully will encourage an ever greater level of responsibility.

I guess I don't really have a problem with constructive Black-On-Black Hateration. I hate because I love.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

While I'm certainly not a fan of "Teach Me How to Dougie," I was saddened to hear this. From cnn.com:

Rapper M-Bone of the group Cali Swag District died Sunday night in what police said was a drive-by shooting in his hometown, Inglewood, California.

M-Bone, whose real name was Montae Talbert, was sitting in a car in the 400 block of North LaBrea Avenue when a car pulled up next to his and someone fired two rounds that struck the rapper in his head, Inglewood Police Lt. Steve Overly said Monday.

Talbert, 22, died later at a hospital, Overly said.

We seem to lose at least one rapper to violence every six to eight months. Many have just become desensitized to the violence, but I continue to struggle with it. This dude was just 22 years old - his life had barely begun.

I think I might just bust out a Dougie, in honor of the guy.

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Ten years ago when my cousin/BFF and I decided to start wearing our hair in its naturally curly state we felt quite alone in our journey. There were no natural hair blogs or meetups, at least not that we knew of, and though Carol’s Daughter had been created there was no way for two broke college girls in Alabama to get to these New York products. 

Recently that has all changed and natural hair has become the thing to do in the world of fashion and beauty. At first I was a bit bitter about this, quick to tell people “I was natural before it was cool.” Eventually I got off my natural hair high horse. But I still wonder if the new natural hair craze is just a fad.  I, for one, hope it is here to stay.

The reason I hope going natural is not a fad, however, has little to do with hair. 

Last week I attended the inaugural event for a new social group for Birmingham naturalistas. The group, known as Birmingham Natural Beauties, met for happy hour at a local Italian bistro. I knew it was going to be a good night before I even walked through the door. As I approached the restaurant I could see through the wide windows an array of brown skin ladies sporting curly coifs, braids, locs, twist outs, and more. It was beautiful. I walked in and immediately began conversation after conversation with the women in the room, most of which I’d never met before that Tuesday night. Of course our chats began with questions like: What products do you use? and What’s your regular hair regimen? But soon we were talking about our families, our career aspirations, our hobbies, and much more. We were forming fast friendships and it all started with talk about our tresses. The energy in the room was indescribable.

And this is why I hope natural hair is not a fad. The sense of sisterhood and spirit of community I felt on Tuesday was magical and it’s something I never want to go away. 

Follow Birmingham Natural Beauties on Twitter @BhamNaturals. Click here to sign up for the BNB newsletter. 

Birmingham Natural Beauties was created by Katrina Watson (far right).

Here I am with my new gal pal La'Shara Long

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I usually refrain from taking Fox News to task - they're much too easy of a target - but I just couldn't ignore this one.

Rapper Common was invited to the White House by President Obama to attend a poetry event that, at the time of this writing, was scheduled to stream live from the White House's website.

Nice gesture, right? Not if you're a Fox News talking head. Former Bush chief of staff Karl Rove, Sarah Palin and others were appalled that the White House would welcome a "thug" into its hallowed halls. From newsmax.com:

“Yes, let’s invite a misogynist to the White House, a guy who’s called for violence against police officers, and called for killing the former president of the United States George W. Bush —  
this will set a good tone for the country,” Rove sarcastically told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Tuesday.
“President Obama last week said he wanted to recapture that special moment we had after 9/11 — and here a week later, we have an example of how this White House can recapture that moment by inviting a thug to the White House — a man who calls for the death of Mr. Obama’s predecessor in office,” Rove said.

Common's a thug? Playa please. It's not like Obama invited a coked-up DMX to the White House - although that would be hilarious. Can you imagine him giving one of his infamous "prayers," complete with barking? No, Obama invited THIS GUY:

The dude dresses like a newspaper boy from 1930. He should be yelling "extra, extra" on a black and white street corner. I don't know many hoodlums who look like that.

Must be a slow news day at Fox, because their argument is as thin as Rove's hair. I have nearly every album in Common's catalogue and I can't recall one misogynistic verse. Sure, he hasn't had many kind words for police in the past but in context those complaints were about the system in general, not shock-value death threats like these new Odd Future songs (but I'll bash Odd Future another day). And the so-called threat against Bush was simply a burning bush metaphor from a throwaway freestyle at an Obama rally.

Common may be more Charlie Brown than Nino Brown, but it's true, he's no shrinking violet. Remember when he verbally pimp-slapped the mighty Ice Cube? That was a lifetime ago, and today's Common is much more interested in spreading AIDS awareness, fighting for animal rights and supporting educational programs. Don't believe me? Here you go.

Longtime Georgia Mae fans know I won't hesitate to call out sorry rappers on their crap, but I refuse to let the entire genre be demonized. It's clear Fox n' friends have no idea who Common is and what he stands for. They heard the word "rapper," threw Common's name in Google, and let their imaginations run wild. Hip hop has very few positive role models and I can't think of a better ambassador for the culture. Despite what the ill-informed detractors say,  inviting Common sets a very good tone for the country and shows that hip hop is more than autotune, rolling weed and Kanye harassing little girls.

Next time, Rove, research before you react. Now, if Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka are invited to the White House, then Rove and I will be on the same page. And what a sad day that will be - on all levels.
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State of the Re:Union is a public radio show and website that sets out "to explore how a particular American city or town creates community, the ways people transcend challenging circumstances and the vital cultural narratives that give an area its uniqueness." The program's latest episode is on the Magic City, Birmingham, Ala., and features writing by yours truly. Stop by the site and check out my letter to the city.  

There's even audio of me reading portions of the letter in the show. My reading is about 19 minutes into the show.  

Here's an excerpt of the letter: 

Dear Birmingham,
I guess you always knew I'd come back to you.
Wooed by the palm trees of California's East Bay Area, Seattle's cool summers and snow capped mountains, and the bluegrass of Kentucky, I left you; for six years I called other cities home.
But I came back to the rich red earth that birthed me.
I came back to taxed groceries, seemingly endless DMV lines and poor customer service. I came back to government scandals and corrupt local politicians who have nicknames like La La. I came back to crime reports that scare suburbanites away from your downtown.
But I am not afraid of you.

Click here to read the entire letter and listen to the show. (You'll find links to letters to the city on the right side of the page.)
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Yesterday, I asked the wifey to chime in on the next artists to feature for Whatever Happened to... She said, "you should do that R&B group...that had two light-skinned guys...and remade a song...and one of them was sitting in a chair in the video."

That cryptic description was all I needed:

Never question my encyclopedic knowledge of long-forgotten R&B groups.

Let's journey back to meet up with the enigmatic Christion.

In the mid-90s, brothers Kenny Ski and Allen Anthony, known as Christion (I can't figure out how to make the little accent mark over the "o," sorry) was the first group signed to Roc-A-Fella Records. This was back in Jay-Z's faux pimp days, and years before he encouraged grown men to flash the Delta sorority sign.

No offense to my Deltas - I fear you more than Jay-Z.

Christion released their amazing first single "Full of Smoke" in 1996, and soon dropped their first album under the Def Jam umbrella. "Full of Smoke" sounds just as good today as it does back then - the spooky, subdued beat and mellow, yet scratchy vocals are all the rage these days. The track was definitely ahead of its time.

Ghetto Cyrano certainly wasn't a one-song album. Their remake of Rose Royce's "I Wanna Get Next To You," in the video above, was the perfect vehicle for Anthony's harmonies. "Bring Back Your Love" sounded like something from Tony Toni Tone's playbook, while the remix with Jay-Z borrowed from Zapp's "Computer Love."  The boys knew how to pay homage to their forefathers, and that helped them create an overlooked gem of an album.

Sadly, that's the end of the story for the original incarnation of Christion. But individually, the brothers weren't through.

In 2003, Anthony went solo, maintaining his Roc-A-Fella ties. The inspirational "Alright" lived up to its name - eh, it's all right. It sounds typical of a track released in '03, like a retread of Glenn Lewis' "Don't You Forget It." That's fine for '03 but it doesn't age nearly as well as Christion's older work. "You" also was pretty mediocre.

Meanwhile, Ski found a new partner, T. Ross, and reformed Christion, dropping Project Plato in 2005. Of course, without Anthony the group sounded totally different. "My Reason" is decent, serviceable R&B, but again, it's nowhere near the excellence of the original group.

Christion The Sequel has been quiet since Project Plato, but last year Anthony released a four song EP - er, actually, two songs and two remixes of the same song. "My Room" would be really good if he didn't lower himself to the dingy depths of autotune. I can do without "Do 4 U," and its menagerie of remixes.
Should They Come Back?: According to Anthony's Facebook page, he's in the studio working on a project and I haven't heard anything about Christion Part Deux reuniting. While I won't lose sleep waiting on those separate comebacks, I think reuniting the original Christion would be a treat. Their '70s soul act would sound right at home among the current generation of artists. I can picture them assisting Currensy or Wiz Khalifa while simultaneously dominating BET Centric. I'd love for them to renew their legacy and not just be remembered as "those two guys with the chair in the video."
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