Hump Day Crossword: I Survived an Earthquake

Did you survive that East Coast quake like I did?  While at a leadership retreat for work in the middle of the woods in Virginia, I ran for my life when the cabin we were in for lunch shook violently.  The ceiling looked as if it would come down and I ran for it yelling “Get out!” as I hurdled one of my colleagues.  I was the first one out the building.  Everyone was okay and so was the cabin. Later, as we regrouped and laughed off our nervous angst, someone mentioned how quick I ran out the building, leaving everyone else behind. I replied by saying, “Well… I wouldn’t have been able to pull anyone out of the rubble if I was dead.”

Click here for the PDF version of this week’s crossword.  Answers posted on Friday.

Hump Day Crossword: Might Be One of those Spike Lee Joints

Hump Day again? Already? Well, inhale deep on this Spike Lee joint…  Click here for a PDF version of this week’s puzzle.  Answers will be posted on Friday.

The White Girl Mob: or Why I Really Miss Teena Marie

I’ll be honest, it took me several Youtube videos and a few more Google searches to realize that Kreayshawn was actually serious.  It took me even more time to realize that V-Nasty was serious.  She truly believes that she’s a rapper.  If you transcribe her freestyles however more than half the “rhymes” are the b-word and the n-word in some combination.  When I think about the way that I feel about Teena Marie’s performance of a music form that was made by Black people, her respect for the music and the people, I’m just sad that Kreayshawn and V-Nasty, and their White Girl Mob even exist.

I can admit that the “Gucci Gucci” song by Kreayshawn is pretty catchy, but most of her stuff isn’t.  V-Nasty’s work is just bad and there’s no way around that.  But this post isn’t just about that their music isn’t very good.  It’s also about what is happening in the world that would make it such that you have a group of white women rapping, thinking that it is perfectly acceptable to refer to people as “n-words,” and willing to refer to themselves as the “white girl mob.”

That they grew up amidst urban poverty and blight along with other poor children of color is not a surprise, nor is the way that they talk, or that they found hip-hop as a way of expressing themselves.  I suppose what surprises me is that no one mentioned to them that they shouldn’t use the n-word no matter how many Black people they grew up with, or how many times they went to juvy (which V-Nasty seems especially proud about).  Eminem learned that.  Eminem is about 15 years farther into his career.  Closer to the Rodney King incident that led to riots around the country, closer to common sense, and some consciousness around the nature of race relations and even he had to come to the realization that he shouldn’t use it (now if we can get him to stop saying the f-word).

If the White Girl Mob is emblematic of anything, it is the declining understanding of race and that is terrifying.  Terrifying to think that they feel so far removed from white privilege and the benefits they receive from the institution of racism that they would refer to themselves and (mostly white) cronies as a “mob” and go around launching n-words.  Time hasn’t fixed racism.  Time has made us forget what racism looks like.  Time has made us forget that we have the words to express what it feels like and the tools to fight it.

If I could write letters to Kreayshawn, V-Nasty and the White Girl Mob, here’s what I’d say:

A Series of Letters to Kreayshawn, V-Nasty, and the Whole White Girl Mob

Dear Kreayshawn, V-Nasty, and the whole White Girl Mob: Have you ever heard of the Klu Klux Klan?  Or have you ever heard of the lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, Texas?  An angry mob of white people lynched him, castrated him, and burned him alive.  Pictures of his chard corpse were made into postcards.  See below.

Dear Kreayshawn, V-Nasty and the whole White Girl Mob: Don’t call yourself a mob… and don’t use the n-word.  Do those two things, not because you’re responsible for the murder of Black women and men a hundred years ago, but because whether you like it or not, it happened in this country and the perpetrators looked like you and used the same language you’re using.  And the language you’re using is rather terrifying because it sounds like you’re talking to me.

Dear Kreayshawn, V-Nasty and the whole White Girl Mob: When Martin Luther King, Jr. said he dreamed of little white kids and black kids playing together in the streets, I don’t think he dreamed of V-Nasty posting up on a ’74 Cutlass on switches throwing out the n-word in every other sentence with her white DJ backing her up while she calls the people who she offends “haters.”

Dear Kreayshawn, V-Nasty and the whole White Girl Mob: I am hating on you.  I hate that you think you’re closer to the “street” than I am when I know that to be far from the truth.  Don’t let my college degree fool you, a bonafide African American tried and true in the ghettos of the south speaks to you.  Not only do I hate the n-word because the beliefs built into it continue to be used as one of many justifications of institutionalized racism including the creation of poor Black suburban and urban areas, but I also hate that you think you’re “hood” and therefore have permission to call me an n-word.  I hate that.

Dear Kreayshawn, V-Nasty and the whole White Girl Mob: You demonstrate the risk of getting to know Black cultural products without getting to know their significance or the history of those who created the art form.  You are quintessentially what we have to look forward to if we don’t teach the history of race in this country: white kids growing up thinking that the n-word is “just an expression” that doesn’t offend anyone.  You are wrong. 

P.S. I am four generations away from slavery and there was a time when I could say I was one generation away from a time when it was okay for white people to call me a “n-word,” but I can no longer say that.

Hump Day Crossword: Black Stuff of the 1990s

Need a cure for your Hump Day?  Here’s a fun easy crossword that will help you to reminisce about happier days.  Click here for a PDF version of this week’s puzzle.  Answers will be posted on Friday.




















Click here for this week’s Crossword Puzzle Answers

A Brief Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Grade: B-


Aww man. That was such a good action movie.

Commentary: A Classic Reborn

It only seems right that The Planet of the Apes series be re-packaged for us (à la that new Spider-Man movie they’re putting out).  But unlike a lot of remakes of remakes, this movie feels at home within the already vast Planet of the Apes landscape which features 5 movies ranging from 1968-1973, a cartoon series, and the remake which many of us remember which stared “Marky” Mark Wahlberg Captain Leo Davidson.

To be fair, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) stands as a very apt origin-story that manages, without being cheesy, to explain how it was that Charlton Heston (and later “Marky” Mark Walberg) landed on a planet that was ruled by apes who walked and talked like men.  Interesting enough, unlike either the original or the remake, there were no people in ape costumes.  Modern movie technology allowed Andy Serkis (who also played King Kong in 2005) to make the main character, Caesar, come to life without actually having to climb into an ape costume.

Without spoiling too much, Caesar’s life and rise to power seem to echo that Roman statesman whose name he carries and I certainly see the potential for Caesar to need to watch his back on the ides of March, or the sequel to the pre-sequel.  Speaking of sequels and pre-sequel sequels, The Planet of the Apes is already a rather big movie-verse.  I find it interesting that it has been revived and I am curious to see what they think up for the sequel to the pre-sequel which could very well be a remake of the remake:

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Return to the Planet of the Apes (1975)

The Planet of the Apes (2001)

What I found particularly interesting was The Rise’s ability to make you sympathize with the apes and to want them to succeed even against humans.  While I still managed to be conscious of the film doing this, making me rather un-empathetic for the human species, the movie-goers I watched the film with cheered particularly hard when the apes won and even harder when humans “got served” by apes.  This was the most skin crawling effect that the movie had.  Particularly because this was not the feeling created in the original films which felt more like stories of what would happen because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been signed…

Why the B(-): The Remake Rant

We seem to be witnessing Hollywood’s Age of the Superhero/Action Movie Remake.  To be sure, they are box office hits: The Rise of the Planet of the Apes raked in $77 million this weekend.  But there’s something rather special about seeing a brand new movie and getting to know it’s conventions.  I don’t doubt the awe that people felt after watching The Planet of the Apes (1968) in its original form.  And while The Rise of was certainly worth telling, the remakes of remakes are getting rather redundant, right?

Nevertheless, I liked this movie.  Definitely worth seeing in theaters.

As I’ve argued before, there are so many stories that should be brought to life, but are simply being overlooked.