Monday, April 30, 2007

Ancient Jewish Music: The Jews of Yemen Part 2

This is the second part of the video in Part 1. This shows a synagogue service of Yemenite Jews. This shows a service during Sukkoth and the reading of the Torah in Yemenite tradition. Even non-Jews who study the bible will recognize elements that they may not have understood.

TEIMAN - The Music of the Yemenite Jews - Part I
Read Entire Post!

Ancient Jewish Music: The Jews of Yemen Part 1

Often when people non-Jewish think of Jews they normally think of only the Jews of Northern and Eastern European descent. This is unfortunately also true of many Western Jews who have never been to Israel or New York. Jews were scattered all over the world when the Babylonians, Assyrians, Romans, Crusaders, etc. invaded Israel. Jews ended up all over the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

I am a part of the Yemenite Jewish community even though I am part Sephardic Jewish and also part African American. In order to break down the Western myth that Jews are only "white" the following video is a good introduction to one of the most ancient Jewish communities.

Read Entire Post!

Parenting and Community 101

Parenting and Community 101
by Ehav Ever

Here's an example of a real event I read about on a blog.

A black girl pushes a truant officer at school and gets jail time. A "white" girl is convicted of arson but gets probation. What is the deal with that? Why the inequality in sentencing? Is it a situation of, if your white your right and if your black step back?

I am a firm believer that stories like the one you posted about the young women who received a rougher sentence should be a wake call to anyone who feels that there is still levels of injustice. If anything the knowledge that this kind of bias exist should cause people to take action to do more to ground their children into a strong moral stance in order to have them avoid potential bias. I personally believe, and I could be wrong that a good number of the bias that some or many African Americans experience in this country is a result of a system that is "waiting" for certain types of slip ups.

For example, not long ago I found on You Tube a video from the Chris Rock show called, and excuse my language, "How to not get your ass kicked by the police." It was of course set up like one of those "duck and cover" commercials from the 1950's and 1960's. Of course in this skit the premise was that there are certain things that when done by certain Black people will more than likely result in a police beat down. If said things were not done the chances of being beat down by the police were less likely.

Below is the video Chris Rock did. It is graphic in terms of language (curse words), but I think it does drive a certain point home.

How to Not Get Beat Up By the Police

I really think that this concept has been mastered by some African American communities. There are some African Americans who have formed communities and have done all that is in their power to keep their children grounded in a particular and specific culture that lessons the chances that the will fall victims such things.

1) So for example, if a child can be steered away from any activity that can potentially lead them into the legal system, then that HIGHLY DECREASES the possibility that they will be imprisoned unfairly. (Those imprisoned unjustly because of false charges is a different story, but if you can decrease the fair imprisonment then you can deal with the unjust.)

2) If you can convince a child maintain a moral and a cultural sense then the chances are drasticly decreased that they will go searching in the wrong places for a sense of self.

3) If you can teach a kid how to work hard in school and on the job, regardless of the obstacles that MANY people did in the past, then there is less of a chance that they will fall into less than worthy means of making a living.

4) If parents provide moral support for their children through good and bad times, and let them know that they, their family, and their community is behind in the good and the bad times there is a greater chance that a child will not take on an action that can land them in the hands of those who don't really care about them.

5) Also, if you can teach a child a second language or at least show them that there is a bigger world their own small place you can open their minds to a more international scene.

I believe that if parents and a community with similar culture and moral values come together a good majority of cases like the girl you mentioned can be avoided. When I was a kid I NEVER thought about putting my hands on an elder or an adult. I once got in trouble at school and at home for making an inappropriate joke about a teacher. My mother and my family didn't play games with those kinds of things. So because they gave me the things I mentioned above it reduced the chances of me falling victim to my passions unrestrained. At the end of the day I had to make my own choices in life, but when I looked at the benefits of everything my family and community gave me I saw that my decisions to avoid certain actions, people, and situations paid off.‎ Read Entire Post!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Toys, Comics, and the Need for Heroes Part 2

I just found a site the gives the religions of various comic book characters. My favorites were the following from the Jewish/Israeli list.

Sabra (Ruth Bat-Seraph)

The Thing of the Fantastic Four

Anastasia Inyushin of Psi-Force


Of course every synagogue would be lost without Minyan Man

The Entire List of Jewish Heroes

Also, here is a video about Israeli comics.
The Comic Report: Israeli comics
Potrayal of Israel Through Comics

Such memories.‎ Read Entire Post!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Toys, Comics, and the Need for Heroes Part 1

When I grew up as a kid I liked reading comic books, but one of the problems I had was that there were few heroes that looked like me. My second problem that there were no characters that had the same values as me. When I wanted a sci-fi character that was like me, I didn't have anywhere to go. When I wanted a hero that I could imitate, often the pages of my comics, and the cartoons had nothing for me. I was also forced into a situation of having toys that was based on what was a available.

Yet, there was one exception to this situation. I do remember the only diverse toys, comics, and cartoons were that of G.I. Joe.

GI Joe Intro

It is interesting that a military toy was the only one that was available with built in diversity, and kung fu action grip. G.I. Had an array of African American male characters such as.

  • Alpine
  • Doc
  • Iceberg
  • Heavy Metal
  • Roadblock
  • Stalker
  • Zap

A Full GI Joe character list

One of my favorite G.I. Joes was a character named Snake Eyes who wore black from head to toe. Even though under the garb Snake Eyes was not African American, he was what I would term Euro-American, it was the mysterious black garb and the fact that he was a silent character of stealth that garnered my interest. It did not matter his heritage was under the mask and clothing it was about what he was externally a "Black Ninja."

At the same time it is interesting how art imitates life in the fact that the American military was one of the methods that African Americans began to gain rights. It was through the armed services that many African Amerians were able to expand their horizens by seeing the world, while at the same time acquiring skils that helped them in post military life. So it is interesting for me to look back and see that for the most part the most diversified and culturally relevant comics, cartoons, and toys were that of a military sense.

It wasn't until Marvel Comics created an African American character named Bishop that my prayers had been answered. Bishop was tuff, intelligent, and had a strong sense of nobility. In the X-Men comic he had been a part of a law enforcement agency in the future and he was a leader. He was often the X-Man with the skills that would save the team in the clutch. He was also alone within himself because he was living in an environment not his own, and he had to bear this lonelyness by himself.

Yet, this for me was still not enough. I wanted a hero that was like me. I wanted a hero that I could pattern myself after, especially since during my childhood I had low self esteem. I always felt weak and I always felt different. I also had a sense of religious nobility that for a number of years I ran away from. Where were my characters that understood this dynamic?

I had always dreamed of creating my own comics with people that looked like me and felt the way I did. When I was young I spent hours drawing characters and trying to create super powers. I didn't want them to be in their seperate universe from my favorite comics such as X-Men and the like, I wanted them to be a part of that world.

There were a number of Afro-centric comics that later came out when I was older, but the problem I had with them was that they seemed over the top. Their villians were racists and bigots, which to me is only one aspect of being African American. Their powers always reolved around half imitating the mainstream comics, nadMaybe, what eventually kept me grounded was that I had some real life heroes who did things like help people, work with youth, treated their wives with dignity, etc.

Eventually, I began to gravitate towards real heroes some of whom looked like me and some of which didn't. I think this was the case, because even when I didn't feel like my physical characteristics were worth anything there were people who made me feel like I was worth something. So when the time came I saw myself as someone of value. So maybe the point is that parenting and community is stronger than the media and outside influences when it comes to building one's self image. Yet, is it possible that there is always a need for a child to have imiginary heroes who defy human capabilities? Do children, especially those who are not a part of the majority society, also need figures who stand for something? Characters who look, struggle, and feel the same way we all do from time to time.‎ Read Entire Post!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Comparisons: African Americans, Jews, and Asians Business Support

Not long ago I came across an interesting blog by Notta Goldigger. She had a number of topics from 2006 that I found real interesting and I felt that my perspective as someone who was both Jewish and African American could shed a different view on the topic. Unfortunately, I missed all of the good debate and I still wanted to be able to respond in some sense. Then enter the idea of my own blog.

The following is my response to her topic about Black People supporting Black businesses in similar ways to how Jews and Asians support businesses run by the members of their ethnic group. I feel that often people don't understand why Jews and Asians support their own business. I also think that there are some issues that Black people would have to solve for themselves in order for something like that to be successful.

Notta wrote:
If you look at other communities, namely Jewish and Asian communities, they do a superb job of keeping wealth "in the family."

Ehav Ever's Response
I think that you have to look at little bit deeper at your point here. For example the only Jews who go to other Jews for services are ones who have a specific need that can only be obtained from a fellow Jew. For example, there are a lot of Jews who don't go to Jews only when it comes to their plumber or their electrician. Anybody is good at the job can get that job. Even when it comes to grocery stores we can shop at non-Jewish owned stores as long as what we are buying is Kosher. (The U with the O around it denotes Kosher, as well as the letter "K" that see on some products.) Because there are stores where EVERYTHING is Kosher it is at times easier to shop at those as compared to a non-Kosher store.

Yet, Jews primarily own Kosher butcher shops or Judaica stores (Stores that sell Jewish books, and religious goods). Because a Rabbi has to be present to inspect if food is Kosher or not, there is less of a chance that a non-Jew would open a Jewish butcher shop. (There are stores here in New York that are owned by non-Jews, but because there is a large Jewish population here that is religious, semi-religious, or at least strict on Kosher food they have made themselves available to Jewish requirements.

In terms of Judaica shop, once again this is an industry in itself that requires connections because of elements of Jewish law about who can produce the items. Also, most Judaica comes from Israel, so very few non-Jews have a connection to religious Jewish communities that provide these kind of services. Also, Jewish communities world-wide were forced to live in closed off and tight knit communities. These communities whether they were in the Middle East, Africa, Asian, or Europe historically revolved around the synagogue.

Notta wrote:
Many times, they almost exclusively use services or buy goods from their own. They are also quick to seek and offer referrals to each other to maintain the wealth within their communities.

Ehav's Response
This is idealizing it a bit. For Jews it goes back to products that are not common in the non-Jewish world. For example, when I visit Lexington, KY for work I can never go to a restaurant to eat. The reason is because there are NO kosher restaurants there. There are three synagogues in town, but they are all reform. Non of them are open during the week for prayer, Jews pray 3 times a day with at least 10 men present at a synagogue. When a city does not have at least this every day the chances are great that there are no Kosher restaurants either since most Reform Jews believed the Bible to be outdated codes of conduct. So when I go to to Lexington I have to go to the grocery store and buy kosher. As long a product is Kosher with correct markings to show it is, and checked by a Rabbi, I can buy it even if a non-Jewish company made it.

Notta wrote:
I understand that these groups differ from us in that they willingly came to this country to benefit from its opportunities, but at some point we have to stop making excuses and just make it happen.

Ehav's Response
Once again I think you are looking at it from the wrong angle. Here's an example. Jews from Iran are a very closed off community, even amongst other Jews. Any Jew can go and pray with Iranian Jews, be a part of their community, but they (Iranian Jews) have less than a 5% intermarriage rate, even amongst other Jews. The reason is that back in Iran during the 1800's for about 200 years the Jews in many parts of Iran were forced to become Muslims. In order for the community to survive they hide their Jewish practices. In the open they practiced Islam. In private they hid the fact they were still practicing Judaism. They even married off children young, and betrothed them before they were born to prevent Muslims from marrying their children as to preserve the Jewish line secretly. When the regime changed and Jews could legally practice again, they went back to Judaism.

Why do I mention this? When Iranian Jews began to immigrate to America most of them moved together into a neighborhood in Brooklyn. This was due to their common religious and cultural experience in Iran. When a new immigrant came the previous group helped them by giving them jobs. Then in turn that immigrant was grateful to the Iranian Jews who helped him/her. So when he made it helped other Iranian Jews. This was because a bond going back several thousand years as Iranian Jews was formed. Their religion and culture is the same, and they live in the same neighborhoods, they know the same families, and they marry into the same communities.

The struggles of each Jewish community whether it be in Yemen, Ethiopia, Morocco, Germany, Spain, England, Tunisia, Mali, etc. Jews by faith or by law had to live in the same area and marry only Jews. The Bible dictates that Jew marries either a Jew or a Ger (i.e. a convert). Converts can come from ANY culture and once they convert they can join any Jewish culture or community and are just the same as someone born Jewish.

You also have to remember that Jews and Asians also have languages that make them distinct from people who are not from their cultures. Most Jews who speak Hebrew, or are native Israelis, have a common language. Even further Jews also spoke the vernacular from the countries they came from. Asians have a similar situation in that they often unite under national and linguistic ties. There are many Africans and Haitians who do the same for the reason mentioned above.

Also, there have been Jews in America since the 1600's. The first synagogue was a Spanish/Portuguese synagogue founded in 1634 in New York. They came here to escape the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal.

There are some African Americans in the Southern part of the East Coast have a similar situation. The Geeches for example are African Americans who have their own language, culture and their own community.

One other thing I would like to mention. In order for money in the "black" community to remain and rotate in the "black" there would have to be a clear sense of what is meant by "black community." For example, people who have a similar culture, language, and origin normally form communities with like mind people. People who have goods that they can ONLY get from members of their community, will gravitate to those who have these goods. When you have defined what a "black" community i.e. its culture, morals, needs, wants, and common historical sense. Then you can deal with the next question. What goods or services do ONLY African Americans need, and can only be provided by African Americans? In my previous example I discussed how this works in the Jewish COMMUNITIES worldwide.

A community is formed when there is a synagogue (a place to pray), when there 10 Jewish men, and when there is the ability to obtain Kosher food. With the exception of the last one the first two functions can ONLY be performed by Jews, and with the last one, kosher food, for the most part on Jews open Kosher restaurants. There are other services that only Jews open that eventually also open after this first three things are met. As more people move into said community, there are more restaurants. So then there is a Kosher Moroccan, Kosher Yemenite, Kosher Deli. Then another guy opens a clothing store. (Jewish clothing isn’t supposed to mix linen and wool.) Then non-Jewish businesses see the value of stocking Jewish products since for example Passover generates a lot of money. All of this starts with a synagogue, a group of 10 or more Jewish families, and a Kosher resturant. Money comes back to fellow Jews BECAUSE, as certain business owners get rich they give what is called in Hebrew "Tzedaqah" which loosely translates into charity, but essentially means Justice. It is required by religious law that every Jew gives 10% in charity. So if the synagogue receives charity then from the rich they then have the ability to help less fortunate Jews. In EVERY Jewish synagogue when you receive certain honors it is customary to give a certain amount of money. For example, at my synagogue whenever we are called upon to read from the Torah scroll, we normally denote a certain amount of charity for the honor.

At the heart of all of this is 1) a common belief system, 2) a common culture (with minor differences based on location), 3) a common need for certain products and services, 4) a common language, and 5) a common homeland. Any group of people who have those things, at least in part have the ability to form a culture.
Read Entire Post!

My Opinion of the Imus Situation

The Imus Affair of 2007
By Ehav Eliyahu Ever

On April 4, 2007, Imus referred on-air to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hoes" during a racially-charged discussion about the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. Imus was not the first radio personality to utter such words on the air -- for example Star of Clear Channel's radio show Star & Buc Wild referred to a caller as a "nappy-headed nigger whore" in 2001 -- but Imus' 2007 conduct sparked a national outrage. At 6:00pm that evening, Media Matters for America became the first news outlet to report the remarks, transcribing:

IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between -- a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.

ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night -- seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.

IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --

McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.

McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.

IMUS: Yeah.

McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes -- that movie that he had. [i]

The Questions That Are Seldom Raised

When I heard about the remarks and saw the actual show itself, I found it kind of funny, in a shocking kind of way. Imus was not the first person I had ever heard make statements like this. In my younger years I listened to enough rap and viewed enough comedians to hear this kind of language being used. What made me laugh was not only the statements themselves and the fact that I knew people who could make similar statements, but also the way that the statement was made. Yet, upon further thought I wondered, “In the mind of Don Imus what made these young women nappy headed and what made them hos?” I began to think if there were other people who, though not media types, would have made the exact same statements. It was from that I decided that I had to understand the entire body of the Imus remarks in order to search for the truth on the matter. So this led me to break down my original question in the following way.

1) Don Imus mentioned that the Rutgers women were ruff.
2) Don Imus further stated that the women had tattoos. This in turn prompted the response from McGuirk that the Rutgers women were “some hardcore hoes.”

Okay, so this brings up the question of, what constitutes a hardcore ho? Using the above statements by the Imus show crew I first concluded it is a rough girl with tattoos. So then the question comes up of what was meant by a rough girl? There is also a question of, “Is there something inherently incorrect or wrong about how the women of Rutger’s basketball team looked?” If tattoos are part of the issue did any of the women from Tennessee basketball team have tattoos and if so what exempted them from the statements made about the Rutger’s team?

What’s All the Shouting About?

One of the reasons that I think that it is hard for “white” people to understand why so called minorities get so worked up about perceived racism or anti-Semitism is because there is no clear definition of what a “white” person really is. Is being a “white American” a culture or simply a skin tone definition? There has never been an out physical and verbal bias against those who can fit into the so called “White” society.

Let’s look at a simple example in order to begin our analysis. A European Jew in order to never confront the idea of being a “hymy, or any other anti-Jewish slur” would have to do away with anything that makes his cultural connection to Judaism visible. So for example, he/she can avoid anti-Antisemitism by pretending to not be who he/she really is. Essentially, take off the Kippa and never mention Jewish ancestry and he is set to blend into Western society with no problem. Yet, what kind of existence is that and why would a society allow such a thing to exist?

A person who visibly does not fit into “White” society does not have the ability to turn off their heritage or their culture. Their pigment gives them away, even if they don’t have an accent or a visible culture they subscribe to. Because there has been a history, no matter how far or remote, of persecution of those who couldn’t be “White” there exists the possibility that said history could repeat itself. So if there is a majority that has at one time oppressed a minority, who is to say that said majority would not one day decide to go back and restart past oppressions? It is like saying if an Amendment to the Constitution is the only thing that gave an African American or a women the right to vote, what happens if said amendment were repealed? Could the clock be turned back, and the roles changed?

It may sound silly, but it is something that “white Americans” have never had to consider for their own rights because there has never been an instance, in American history, where “white” people have been targeted as a group and effectively kept in the throws of physical and verbal racism. In American history whenever white people, who once again fit the majority stereotype, felt oppressed the government had always worked in their favor. As long as they met certain physical and cultural norms they met the requirement for protections on a governmental level. This has not always been the case for those who don’t fit in those cultural norms such as the Irish, Russians, etc. People who don’t fit into those norms have often had to fight for their right to be protected and respected, and thus is the history of nation building.

One Way to Understand The Issue

In order for people who consider themselves “white” and who do not understand why people who are not “white” are offended by such statements as those made by Don Imus, the following example may help.

Imagine a “White” American living in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban. In this environment said “white” person is a minority in terms of his culture, nationality, and religion. Let us say that said “white” person one day watches the news and sees a Taliban man making statements such as,

“Those filthy American dogs. They are gutless pigs. They are devils and infidels. They are so filthy they should be kidnapped and beheaded.”

Now imagine this being said, with a history of real and perceived violence towards “White Americans” in said environment.

There are a number of so called “White Americans” who may experience both anger, disdain, and possibly fear at such statements being said and accepted. Due to the fact that the concept of an American being kidnapped and beheaded is a realistic possibility in such a society this also evokes a certain emotional response.

When American flags are burned in this context it brings about a similar emotional response in certain “white” Americans. When white American veterans of for example WWI and WWII are disrespected in a similar fashion, this would cause many Americans to be consumed with rage. These things are like the purity and the image of America and when that is disrespected there are many white people who feel the pain from it and they respond.

This is how many minorities feel when statement’s like Don Imus’s are made by white Americans. It is as if white Americans who speak this way want to return to the time of slavery. It is like white Americans who say these things would be more than willing to take this a step further and also say such things to their children at the dinner table. Non “white” people in some cases see this as if said people really mean to say, “Son, I remember when it was legal to lynch a nappy headed nigger, kill a Jew or an Arab.” It is also like those white Americans want to return Japanese citizens to interment camps or perpetrate another holocaust. Once again, we are dealing with extremes in order to understand how those on the receiving end can view such statements based on past history.

Yet, let us consider that it was not so long ago that a number of minorities in America experienced racism and bigotry not just in the verbal form, but also at the most extreme physical levels. It was also not that long ago that White Americans had the legal right and ability to inflict verbal and physical abuse on African Americans, Asians, and Latinos with no legal punishment. That was until said African Americans, Asians, Latinos, and even some White Americans challenged the then status quo and successfully changed the paradigm.

The Other Side of the Coin

This still begs the question of how did Don Imus and his co-hosts come up with the statements such as, “Nappy headed hoes” and the like. What does it mean to be “nappy” and what about the appearance of the Rutger’s team made them out to be “hardcore hoes” in the eyes of the members of the Imus show? I personally think that these men were responding with things that are unfortunately being accepted in the Western culture due to the influence of pop-culture. How many rap songs include the word “hoe” and how many comedians use the word nappy?

When I first heard the statements made on the Imus show, I will admit I actually found them funny and I laughed a bit. It was in part because this was not the first time I heard such language. During the years when I listen to hardcore and gangster rap I heard the word “hoe” used in so many songs to describe women that I on some level became desensitized to the use of the word. During the years when I listened to comedy routines such as the Bea Bea’s Kids routine of Robin Harris and also some of the Def Comedy Jam style acts I became familiar with the concept that some hold that there is a style of hair that can categorized as nappy i.e. un-combed and un-managed and that the word hoe was an acceptable term.

I have heard Black in and outside of the media use similar terminology to describe other African American and even some Africans, so what exactly was the problem? There have also been a number of Black people who have made comments about “white” people being devils in popular media, yet there wasn’t a huge uproar concerning those kinds of comments. In some the situations the only time when said Blacks ever caught any media heat for their words is when they speak against another minority group such as Jews or Asians. So the question then becomes what sets these kind Blacks apart so that they are given a free pass to say things similar to that of the Imus, without public outcry?

When one looks at the legacy of gangster rap and extreme comedy shows where language and philosophy are created and often passed on, there seems to be a connection with the popularity of these forms of entertainment and the perception in society of those who create it. It is similar to the idea of the popularity of Elvis Presley and how some saw his as the epitome of “white” society. This was especially true for those who felt that Elvis stole and capitalized on “black” culture. There are some Blacks who epitomized white cultures by the example of a select few in the media. The same has happened in the reverse as a select few Blacks, who have become pop culture and media favorites, also set the tone of how all African Americans are understood. So for example the standard of being “Black” is measured by the latest musical or entertainment fad current in Black entertainment. So if the rappers and the actors are wearing sagging pants and speak in slang English Blacks who don’t do this are outsiders and don’t have “street credentials.”

In terms of the word “nappy” here also I remember a number of rappers and comedians using the word in popular media in the exact same sense Imus used it. Since the 1900s African Americans have been experimenting with ways to style their hair. In the late 1890s through the early 1900s Annie Malone, Madam C. J. Walker and Garrett Augustus Morgan were each credited for revolutionizing African American hair care by inventing chemical applications, which altered the natural texture of black hair. During the 1930s, conking was an innovative method in the U.S. for black men to straighten kinky hair.

Bernard McGuirk made comments that compared the game to "the jigaboos versus the wannabes.” He mistakenly referenced this to the movie Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee, where this was actually a scene in Spike Lee's film School Daze. In the movie school days there is a musical number, which pits two groups of women, the Wannabes who are light skinned sorority women with straightened hair, against the Jigaboos who are darker skinned and have non straightened hair. The titles did not come from the groups themselves, but in the number the women who were darker referred to the sorority as wannabes while the lighter sorority women referred to the darker women as jigaboos. It is from this that McGuirk was referencing since in the movie both side had animosity towards each other. The basic premise of this part of the School Daze movie was to underlie the conflicts that existed in between certain African American communities over purity of culture vs. social acceptance. It also is a remnant of the issue of what exactly his “African American” culture and the issue of being either a sellout to said culture or an adherent to it. It also dealt with some of the issue in certain African American communities concerning lighter complexion or darker complexion of skin color being superior.

Thus the “wannabes” in the film were seen as lighter women who wanted to be “white” due to their affiliation in the Greek Lettered Sorority system and their use of make and hair styling that divorced them from their “African” heritage. On the other hand the “jigaboos” were women who seen as the backwards and unkept women who needed to use make up and hair treatment in order to make themselves beautiful. The idea also was that a Jigaboo due to her dark skin and “natural” did not represent beauty. This stems from years of issues in certain segments of African American society due to the results of color preference that existed in post slavery America. I.e. lighter skinned African Americans who could pass themselves off as “white” were deemed more acceptable for many years. Now in the movie School Daze, both side were had beautiful women, yet their divisiveness was over the external and internal perceptions of beauty in the African American community.

So can one blame the movie School Daze for creating this concept that was picked up by the Imus show? I would say no, but it is obvious from the comments of the Imus crew that they really didn’t understand the concept of the movie School Daze, which was summed up at the end of the movie when both sides lighter skinned and darker skinned women, along with other elements of the college society such as fraternity vs. non fraternity and haves vs. have nots, had to wake up concerning their divisiveness towards each other.


C. Vivien Stringer, coach of the 2007 Rutgers Women’s Basketball team, during a press conference made some statements that made me consider my first reaction to the Imus remarks. Coach Stringer spoke of how there is a deeper problem in society when remarks like the ones that Don Imus made. She also alluded to the fact that when adults

"These comments are indicative of greater ills in our culture. It is not just Mr. Imus, and we hope that this will be and serve as a catalyst for change. Let us continue to work hard together to make this world a better place." [ii]

I believe it is sad that a group of grown men who are supposed to be respectful elders in society, ready and willing to train up the younger generation would lower themselves to the use of such language. I also think it is sad that such people use popular media in this way and influence millions not as much in action, but in language and thought.

Dr. Robin Smith says the Imus controversy exposes a "hole in the soul of this country." "Don Imus—he's a symbol. He's a symbol of how sick we are. He's a symbol of the self-hatred, not just in African-Americans, but in white America," she says. [iii]

This is when my Jewish sixth sense kicked in and began to wonder, was I wrong for even finding the Imus comments funny in the first place? Was I wrong for allowing myself to be desensitized by the use of such language in music, comedy, and film? Maybe I was just as much of the problem in not standing more firm against these negative elements.

The flip side of this issue is that maybe popular media and current Western culture created the concept of the nappy headed hoe, or the rough chick. It is possible that gangster rap and elements of extreme comedy is partially the blame for dulling the senses of the masses creating a culture where everyone is affected by it whether they be young or old. Maybe, racial slurs wouldn’t exist if there were no popular media culture that glorifies them for a certain few and not others. The question then becomes, has American and even world societies gone to far in allowing the negative elements of popular media to run in certain directions that lead other parts of society to far?

Kind of like cause and effect; if the disrespect of women in one area of society runs rampant it is bound to spill over into other areas of society. When people who are beyond the age of youth use language and act irresponsibly it may speak to a bigger problem in society. If elders are not being role models in language and action, maybe it is time for society to stand back and take a good look in the mirror.

Read Entire Post!