Category Archives: rants

Where for art thou, journalism?

RIP Michael Clarke Duncan

Yesterday afternoon, devastating news of the death of actor Michael Clarke Duncan broke on Twitter. Given my background in journalism and my inability to quit it, I still follow several news outlets on Twitter – mainly CNN, NBC News, CBS News and the Associated Press. On my other account, I follow Fox News, ABC News, the Huffington Post and all of the aforementioned.

As a journalist, I have been conditioned to use discernment as it relates to the news. In most cases, you can tell when something has been reported or made up – if you read it and not just glance. The way I learned journalism was to make sure you’re right before you go forward with any information. While it matters who reports it first, it matters most who got it right – first.

Since we’ve been blessed with the wonderfully wonderful tool that is the internet, the journalism profession has been cursed by it. It seems young journalists have become satisfied with Tweeting (see also: Facebooking and Instagraming) the majority of their story and any Tom, Dick, Harvey or Perez fancies himself a journalist because he has a blog and an audience.

Yesterday when the news broke, by the AP if I’m not mistaken, I ReTweeted the AP’s information. I saw so many RTs with comment calling bullshit thinking that Twitter just up and killed someone for no reason. Some people wanted to know who the source was and who Duncan’s fiancĂ©e is (Rev. Omarosa Manigault). One fool even Tweeted:

I shit you not …

Since when is the AP NOT the AP? I mean, CNN has gotten it wrong. CBS, wrong. NPR, wrong. ABC, NBC and damn sure Faux News. In my 10-year journalism career, I have never heard about the AP getting anything wrong. In fact, I am bold enough to say the Associated Press is the worlds MOST CREDIBLE news source, yet, that wasn’t good enough for Twitter.

This is what I like to call the TMZ era of journalism. It’s a time where people won’t believe actual news until it’s reported by TMZ or MediaTakeOut or Perez Hilton or whatever other gossip BLOG is masquerading as a news site. It’s really sad. There are way too many of my friends, colleagues and former counterparts out here busting their butts to bring folks well-reported and (hopefully) balanced stories for credible news outlets than to have their work and efforts bastardized by those sites.

Since I have been periodically offering you all my “expertise” in journalism, take this with you. When it comes to news of any kind, international, national, local, entertainment, sports, politics – rest assured knowing it has been properly reported and fact checked. To question the AP is … I don’t even know what it is. Just know that 9.9 times out of 10, they’re right. *smh*

“It’s one thing for people to THINK you’re stupid, it’s another when you open your mouth and remove ALL doubt.” (c) Mama Smarty

Majoring in the minor …

Usually on Mondays, I try to give you all a little motivation to help you make it through your day and hopefully, your week. The events of late Thursday night/early Friday morning and people’s reactions have forced me to make a detour and make an attempt to try to slow some of you people down.

To catch you up, a lone gunman shot up a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 and wounding more than 50. The suspect has been identified at 24-year-old James Holmes, a Ph.D. student who entered the theater in riot gear armed with gas canisters, an automatic assault rifle, a 12-guage shot gun and a glock.

Reports state that Holmes threw a canister and started shooting people as they tried to flee. Survivors recalled the attack saying they thought it was a part of premiere night antics and then it quickly turned into chaos complete with screaming and blood and horror. I don’t even want to imagine what they much have been going through. My heart and my prayers go out to everyone in that theater and to the families left picking up the pieces.

There were families in that theater, some with children as young as three months, who were hurt. If I’m not mistaken, the youngest murder victim was 6-years-old. This leads me to the first portion of my sickness with people’s reactions on Twitter. Some folks were questioning why there were babies at the movie theater anyway and why kids that young were at a theater that late at night. *smh* To me, this is akin to blaming the victim.

I don’t have kids. I know quite a few people with them, tho. I’ve been to the movies with my siblings and cousins who, when they can’t get a babysitter, simply bring the baby with them. It’s no crime to take your children with you to a movie. It’s ignorant and insensitive to blame those parents for their children’s injuries and death. This is a case of wrong place/wrong time. It’s only Holmes’ fault – allegedly.

Another thing that I’m seeing a lot of is comparisons to the senseless murders in Chicago. Last weekend alone, Chicago saw the death of four and the injury of 27 more, all at the hands of gun violence. That was just in the past three days. Twitter and Facebook have spoken out asking how come the country isn’t just as outraged at the deaths in Chicago. Twitter and Facebook have also made this into a black and white issue saying if Holmes was a man of color, he would be dead already instead of just in jail. Twitter and Facebook have even gone so far to say that Holmes is being viewed as mentally ill because he’s white and if he were black or Latino he’d be seen as violent or if he were a Muslim, he’d be a terrorist.

We have to stop majoring in the minor. He is a terrorist regardless of his race. A terrorist is a person who frightens or terrorizes others. If that isn’t Holmes, allegedly, I don’t know what is… And, these shootings in Chicago are being reported as gang related. These gang members are also terrorists. The difference here is this is a case of Chicago’s chickens coming home to roost. The problems of these violent gangs should have been nipped in the bud a long time ago. What Chicago is seeing now is a manifestation of disregard on the part of law enforcement and neighbors and a strengthening group of frustrated, under-served and increasing violent generation of people. Comparing the shootings in Chicago to what happened in Aurora is like comparing apples to tomatoes – they’re both fruit but not the same.

And FYI, Holmes is a suspect and what he did is alleged until a jury of his peers convicts him. The media’s hands are tied as it relates to these kinds of cases. No outlet can call him a murderer or a terrorist outside the confines of quotation marks because it then becomes libel and slander and those outlets can be sued.

What are your thoughts? Are too many people majoring in the minor?

I fell off …

There’s no other way to put it. I haven’t been working out. I’ve been eating like a colleges student who has the metabolism of a toddler and I have dia-damn-betes. I have no one to blame but myself. I’ve lost motivation. Since I haven’t been to the doctor since October, I have zero accountability. I feel awful – literally and figuratively.

Since I started my new job, it has taken SO much out of me! I literally crash like every other week. What I am experiencing is beyond “a little tired.” I am exhausted and I am not sure of how to fix it. I’ve been trying to do better with eating. I think I’m in transition where nothing tastes good and I’ve lost my appetite. I find myself eating something just take my meds.

I recently joined the local Black Girls Run group to make an attempt to get motivated about working out again. I’ve got to do something. I mean, this is a matter of life and death, right? How do you stay motivated to eat right and work out?

I’m against Amendment One…

Exactly one week from today, registered voters in my fair state of North Carolina will have the opportunity to vote on Amendment One, an amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as strictly being between a man and a woman. Of course the bill is being supported, blindly, by the GOP and conservative Christians. I say blindly because the bill’s supporters could not have possibly read up on it because if they had, they would have run across the gaping loop holes that have the potential to endanger the lives of North Carolina’s women and children.

While most folks will harp on the fact that they don’t want homosexual people too marry, most of these people have not full investigated the possible repercussions of amending North Carolina’s constitution. Defining marriage the way it is written in that amendment will harm ALL unmarried couples. There are a lot of couples, gay and straight, who have opted to forgo marriage altogether and just cohabit. Some people just don’t want to get married. The way some employers set up benefits, it allows individuals to insure their partners and the children the couple is raising. Defining marriage in this way will strip those benefits.

If stripping away the benefits of children were not enough, this law could nullify some family protection orders that women have filed against abusive men. Those protection could be seen as unconstitutional because only those couples who are legally married are considered family. It is quite possible that it could happen, it already did in Ohio. Twenty-seven cases against attackers were thrown out because the state only recognized married relationships as having protected status.

In the South, hell, everywhere, same-sex marriage has always been a hot button issue. The GOP and religious conservatives have long been working to legally define marriage because one man and one woman is the way God intended. Under normal circumstances, I’d have no problem with that if this were a church. A church has every right to govern by its respective holy book as it sees fit. When it comes to government, American government, my God, yours or anyone else’s has any place there.

This country was founded on religious freedom. The first amendment of the United States constitution specifically states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Using religion to justify this amendment or to uphold the law against same-sex marriage that is already on the books means Congress has made a law respecting the Christian establishment of religion. Congress is supposed to make laws that serve the best interest of its respective constituents. Congress is NOT supposed to be embracing the Bible as law.

The actual marriage between two people is a legal contract. There is actual paper work on file in the office of the register of deeds in respective municipalities. A legal marriage enables two people to reap benefits such as health insurance, life insurance and something as simple as seeing their spouse in the hospital. They can adopt children, purchase property together and so on. All of these things are legally binding documents.

The marriage ceremony is usually a religious practice. Traditions vary across cultures and religions but there is more often than not a clergy member involved to administer the vows and promises the couple makes to each other. Traditionally, these ceremonies have been held in churches or holy places.

The differences there are the first gives you legal benefit that, by law, should not be denied to anyone whereas the latter can be afforded or denied to anyone the church sees fit. Amending the state’s constitution to deny a group of people the aforementioned rights is not only deplorable, it should be illegal. Hell, it is illegal. If two people are in a romantic relationship and they want to make their union legal, it is only the business of those two people and the people filing their paperwork. Allowing two people to reap the legal benefits of marriage in no way negates those marriages that already exist.

Folks need to get over themselves. Wanda Sykes said it best, “If you’re against gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person.” As far as I’m concerned, they have just as much right to marriage as anyone else. Who someone else marries is NOT my business. I will be voting AGAINST Amendment One. If you live in North Carolina, I hope you will, too.

Motivational Mondays

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying.
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile.
(c) Nat King Cole

One of my favorite movie lines of all time comes from Dolly Parton’s character Truvy in “Steel Magnolias.” She said, “Smile, Honey, it increases your face value!” It is just as country as the day is long but it makes perfect sense. Life might be throwing you lemons, you could have a Charlie Brown rain cloud over your life and the world could be crumbling around you – there is no reason to look like it.

As long as you live, there is something in life that will not be right. Something will not go according to plan. Somebody will piss you off. It’s not all roses and there is nothing that can change that. There is no salve, no therapy, you just have to go through it. Since you have to do it anyway, why not do it with a smile?

Smiles are usually associated with pleasing or pleasurable moments or amusement while frowns and scowls are usually indicative of discomfort and anger. I kind of believe smiles and frowns will tell all your business about how you feel about life. A lot of people who are unhappy and displeased about their lives tend to have a permanent scowl while those folks in a state of joy are the opposite. Those who are joyous find a way to smile through life’s victories and defeats. It’s their way of saying, “Yea, this sucks, but, life is still good.”

In a guest post on Rene Syler’s site, Good Enough Mother, I was asked whether or not I am happier now than before. My answer was and is that joy is our natural state and yes, I am happier but I am going natural. I want you guys to go natural, too. The first step, tho, is genuinely simply turning those corners of your mouth upward and actually smiling. While you may not see where you have things to smile about in your life, I challenge you to switch your focus. Start thinking about the things that you have to smile about rather than those things that have stolen your smile.

The fact that you woke up, that you’re breathing on your own, that you can read this very post – these are all reasons to smile. Everyone can’t say that. Once you stop taking everything for granted and remembering all the little things that could go the other way, you will find your smile. A big ol’ toothy, nose to ear smile that would melt the hearts of Cruella De Vil from “101 Dalmatians,” Scar from “The Lion King” and the Shadow Man from “The Princess and the Frog.”

Smiles are usually contagious. Hell, if you see somebody who needs one, give ‘em one of yours. A well placed smile is like an aspirin for the heart. It won’t take care of the actual problem but it will dull the pain for a bit. I hope you can find your own smile. If not, I’ll share! Happy New Week!

I am Trayvon Martin …

In all I have 10 nieces and nephews, four god kids and a bunch of kids who call me Aunt Tiff. It’s a job I take very seriously. They all range in age from 19-8 months so you can imagine how saddened I am at the murder of Trayvon Martin. Yes, I did say murder and I know that must confuse some of you. I am, after all, a proponent of letting the justice system work. I am also in possession of common sense and I heard the 911 calls.

I heard about Trayvon’s shooting early on and I refused to read up on it. When I heard about a 17-year-old boy being shot, like a lot of others, I assumed it was some senseless act of violence on a teenager that was performed by another that would soon be swept under the rug. Man was I ever wrong. As time moved on and more information started to come out about Trayvon’s shooting, I learned that a neighbor shot and killed this young man for “looking suspicious” the more pissed off I got.

I have a 17-year-old nephew. He’s tall, he wears hooded sweatshirts and would probably walk to the store at night alone to get some candy for his baby sister. He is also a good kid, has played team sports and odds are he’s probably already been seen as threatening. That baffles me. My nephew, like Trayvon, is a kid in a man’s body. He’s not a threat to anything, except maybe leftovers. They are perceived as threats because they are black. No other reason.

I refuse to do the whole, “If he was a white boy thing…” because it’s not at all helpful. What is helpful, tho, is to let you guys know that not all young black men are scary. They’re not all suspicious. And they shouldn’t be hunted like prey. George Zimmerman went out, against the advice of the dispatcher and against the statutes of the Neighborhood Watch and he hunted and shot down Trayvon like an animal.

It is my understanding that Zimmerman called the police 46 times last year and is the self-appointed block captain. He has harassed people in their own home and has been arrested for assault. He was licensed to carry a concealed weapon but he was not in any way licensed to pursue anyone. From the sound of things (his 911 call), Zimmerman was tapping into his inner cowboy. Instead of observing and reporting, like he was supposed to, Zimmerman took it upon himself to follow, then shoot Trayvon. Why Zimmerman is still free I’m not sure.

My hope is that the authorities down in Florida realize that the country is watching and will send a message one way or the other. Will they send the message that violence against people based on how they look will not be tolerated? Or will they send the message that you can pursue AND kill people who look suspicious to you?

Frankly, I am disgusted at all of it. I’m disgusted at Zimmerman’s desperado act. I’m disgusted that he feels like he can make that snap judgement. I’m disgusted at people defending him saying that he’s defending his neighborhood. Most of all, I’m disgusted at the people who believe he was justified. This is in no way shape or form justifiable. Trayvon was shot and killed for being the wrong color in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sadly, this could have been any of us at 17. Hell, it is all of us now. These are our kids and they are a part of all of us so I am and you are Trayvon Martin.

Motivational Mondays

Hi guys! It’s been a while since the last time I posted and I have got to say, I have missed it. I have to at least offer you guys an explanation. As you guys may remember, if you care to, I started a new job last month and it has kept me hopping like the Easter bunny. At any rate, I know some of you need that extra push on Monday mornings. So let’s get cracking!

Courage doesn’t always roar.
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
at the end of the day saying,
“I will try again tomorrow.”
- Mary Anne Radmacher

Life is hard. It always has been and it probably always will be. The one thing we have to do to get through it though is keep moving. The problem with that is sometimes life can (and will) seemingly drain you of your will to keep moving or of your ability to get up after a setback. We’ve always known that life will knock you down, what we didn’t know is that it takes a lot of courage to get back up and fight on.

Mondays have a way of taking it all out of you. If it does, so what? Put it back on Tuesday. You get out of life what you put into it and if you’re not putting in any courage, you won’t get any back. Muster up all the courage you can find and try it again tomorrow. So instead of complaining about how bad today is and what you didn’t get out of it, exercise some of that quiet courage, shut up and just do it.