Archive for June, 2009

Why are Willow Palin and Mylie Cyrus the only girls worthy of an apology for misogyny?

June 18, 2009

David Letterman recently apologized for his comments about Governor Sarah Palin’s 14-year old daughter Willow getting knocked up by Alexander Rodriguez. Before he made his apology, there were at least 2,000 people who were going to be protesting at one of his show tapings and many others said they would never watch the show again. It was obviously a commendable act on David Letterman’s part, however, I was amazed by the societal hypocrisy of this situation. Every single day, we produce music and television programming that degrades young women and women in general, but we never say anything until a celebrity child is attacked.

All we have to do is turn on the radio and we can hear songs such as teen star Soulja Boy’s “Superman that ho.” This song has been played everywhere from professional sports games and breast cancer runs to elementary school academic success ceremonies and major news network breaks. Why are there no apologies to young girls in general for these messages? It appears that you have to be famous in order to receive an apology for misogyny directed at you. This was also the case for Jamie Foxx, who had disparaging “comedic” comments for “Hannah Montana” star Mylie Cyrus. He had to call her and apologize. I understand that we live in a world based on class but I simply believe that we need to show that we value all of our girls.

As I was driving home this morning, I saw signs on a bus for the upcoming BET Awards. The ad said “Recognizing Genius” with names like Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West being paraded. While as an artist I of course respect their talents, I couldn’t help but think of lyrics from Kanye saying:

If I can go through all of this and still be breathin’
Bitch bend over, I’m here for a reason.

Or Lil’ Wayne’ when he said:

You catch my gal legs open betta smash that
Don’t be surprise if she ask where the cash at
I see she wearing them jeans that show her butt crack
My girls can’t wear that why, that’s where my stash at
I put my mack down that’s where you lack at
She need her candlelit and I’ma wax that

It’s one thing for this work to be created, but why does it have to be called “genius”? What message do we send to the young Chris Browns and Rihannas when we tell them this is not only acceptable but Grammy worthy? While our young students come to school every day, of all races and classes, l ask myself how it is that we can keep celebrating misogyny until something is said about then teen Chelsea Clinton or now Willow Palin. Do we think that our girls who are coming to schools everyday and devaluing themselves don’t realize that our entire society has recognized them as hoes, bitches, rollers, sluts, etc. based on the way we reward those who produce such filth?

I wonder how many people who condemned Foxx or Letterman turned on the radio and bopped their head to one of the aforementioned songs or one similar or said nothing when it played at their gym. I wonder how many “upper class” parents went home and chuckled as their 4 year old showed she could shake her butt like Beyoncé. All this can be done because at the end of the day most people will just say blame the parents, even though it has been documented that our pension companies, banks, and other institutions are all linked to the entertainment industry. Don’t we all really share the blame?

The lesson I learn (again) from this Palin/Letterman fiasco is that only those who are of means matter in this society. We will only take offense when one of our own who made it to the top is attacked. When the Don Imus situation occurred, we should have used it as a lesson to say that we all disrespect women but we turned it into a “He said ‘ho’ but I say ‘bitch’ so it’s OK” or “She says ‘nigger’ but I say ‘nigga’ so it’s OK” debate and then it all just went away. It all just goes away while more and more girls are devalued every day. I guess the next great debate will arrive when someone says something nasty about Obama’s daughters. Until then, keep singing along with Soulja Boy, Kanye, and Weezy. Then keep singing after the next controversy blows over too.

Judge Sotomayor a racist? Talk about the pot calling the kettle white!

June 1, 2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor made history by becoming the first Latina to be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). I did not expect to become as emotional as I did as I watched President Obama introduce her. For the many (not all) Latinos who support her, I assume that this is almost similar to the feeling that we as African Americans had with Obama’s DNC victory. I just know that it felt great to see the diversity of Obama’s administration from Biden to Obama to Sotomayor. While President George W. Bush had great diversity in his cabinet, I did not see diversity of thought so that’s why this is different. In any event, within an hour of my joy at Sotomayor’s nomination, I quickly had to move from offense to defense as the republican attack machine quickly went into action.

From former presidential candidates like Mitt Romney to Rush Limbaugh, Judge Sotomayor has been called everything from a sexist to a racist. At the heart of the accusations is a comment she made several years ago at UC Berkeley when she said “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” With this comment, an entire career has been marred. New campaigns are being launched to destroy this woman and compare her to former KKK members like David Duke. I can’t say I’m surprised by these accusations because we know that the Republican party is still grasping at straws to pin something on President Obama and his actions. What we cannot allow, however, is to let these detractors forget their own racist past as well as that of the Supreme Court.

Critics of Sotomayor speak to her biases as if the Supreme Court has always held the best interests of everyone in the country at heart and not just white males. This is despite the fact that only 4 of the 110 justices over the years have been non-white males. If this is the case, let’s look at more of Sotomayor’s comments from that same speech. She also stated in that speech that “Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case.” Let us not also forget the battle for civil rights in this country and how so many cases were thrown out from what seemed to be not a supreme court, but a supremacist court. Such was the case with the Dred Scott decision of 1857 that declared blacks could not be U.S. citizens as well as the Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1896 that upheld separate but equal facilities in America.

Cases like these highlight how the Supreme Court was used to retain the white male racist and sexist power structure in America. Talk about affirmative action. To somehow compare or connect Sotomayor to this history is ridiculous at best. If Limbaugh, et al, want to talk about racists, they can simply look at the histories of politicians such as Jeff Sessions and Senator Byrd (a democrat) who are still serving in office now. This is indeed tragic and we can’t let this go by without vigorous defense of Sotomayor. It’s not like she called someone a nappy headed ho. Had she done that, Imus(t) conclude she would have been a shoe-in for her nomination with republicans.

While there are many white male Supreme Court justices who have helped to remove some of the most discriminatory rulings of the past, we cannot reread American history with rose-colored glasses. I don’t agree entirely with the wording Sotomayor used, however, I am in agreement with the overall tone of her speech, which most people won’t read because we unfortunately live in a society where we make up our minds quickly based on one sentence and change them slowly when lifelong facts are revealed. I guess this is the price to pay for living in a microwave society but we need more of a slow cooker approach on judging the judge as well as American history overall.