Tag Archives: Black History Month

Do you love Black History Month?

27 Feb

The old adage says that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  Well, that remains to be seen.  What I do know is that February is just about played out, which means that Black History Month is fixing to close up shop for 2013.

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Black History Month began as a Negro History Week way, way back in the 1920’s.  Then, during our country’s bicentennial year, 1976, President Gerald Ford said, “Aw, hell.  As long as we’re celebrating all this making of America shit, let’s make Negro History Week a whole month and quit calling it Negro…sounds too much like nigger.”*  And so it was in motion that each February we would set forth to acknowledge the contributions and accomplishments of the African Diaspora.

Don Cornelius (1936-2012): Dick Clark's brother from anotha motha

Don Cornelius (1936-2012): Dick Clark’s brother from anotha mutha

During the 1970’s the most obvious uptick in black awareness took place in popular culture, and nowhere was it more accessible to a li’l Hot Damn than on the tube.  TV shows like Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons and Good Times were mainstream fare.  On Sunday afternoons the only thing on TV to watch was Soul Train (you MUST click this link!), dotted with commercials for Afro Sheen.  Based on the later, I figured that all black teenagers were happy-go-lucky Negros that dressed funny and who, more than anything, liked nothing better than to smile, sing and dance for the man.  This notion continued into the 1980’s with must-see t.v. Diff’rent Strokes and Webster, shows where stuffy white people’s lives were greatly enriched by adopting plucky, yet stunted, black kids.  Although there was that one time they showed Roots, but that was during the school week.

That's Atlanta's own Nipsy Russell on the far right

That’s Atlanta’s own Nipsy Russell on the far right

And in cinema there was much ado about “all black ensemble” movies.  That’s cool and all.  Who can’t dig on Shaft?  And where would Quentin Tarantino be without the muse of Foxy Brown or Cleopatra Jones???  But there was a weird movement to release “black” versions of “white” movies.  You may remember Michael Jackson’s acting in The Wiz, co-starring Diana Ross, or the reimagining of Cinderella into the urban Cindy.  In this version, Cindy is too ghetto to have a glass slipper and instead loses her dirty sneaker.   I’d be pissed if I was a black chick…just sayin’.  There was also  Blacula, Blackenstein, The Black God Father and Black Shampoo to only name a few.  Of course this trend continues today, with the recent black version of Steel Magnolias with Queen Latifah and the just announced new Annie with little Quvenzhané Wallis revising the lead role of the loveable ginger-haired, freckle-faced Annie.  I think about how African-Americans would feel if we turned the tables on their art, but then I remember that “we” have Vanilla Ice.

I was also acutely aware of the Negro College Fund along with Ebony and Jet magazines, which I thought of as being like the Thunderbolt Newsletter for black folk.  But it seems like it’s really happened more in recent times that Black History Month is actually about more than Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, working together or that George Washington Carver invented peanut butter…btw, something that I can’t believe the hysterical hippie-white women that run the Peanut Allergy Police Squad haven’t jumped on and vilified.

Soul shake 2013!

Soul shake 2013!

I live in Atlanta, which I think is kinda like ground zero for black history.  We are home to scads of historically black colleges, many civil-rights leaders, and several music legends (and rappers…ugh!) while boasting big-city credibility. During this past month our city made a point to participate in a day of service to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. plus Atlantans have been enjoying seeking out gallery showcases of specifically African-American artists, taking walking and eating tours of the Sweet Auburn district, sitting in on museum lectures, strolling educational exhibits, visiting jazz festivals, listening at literary events at the Margaret Mitchell house, praising in gospel choir concerts and clapping at dance theaters.  Oh, and then there was the Bronner Brothers International Fantasy Hair Show

This is how Atlanta celebrates BHM

This is how Atlanta really celebrates BHM

I think that this picture really tells you everything you need to know about how far we have come with our civil relations.  There’s no way this could have happened in 1953.  I mean, three of those cheerleaders are brunettes!

* This may not have been an exact quote

And, what in the hell is “Black Love”?  Anyone?  Do black people have a special kind of secret love that whitey can’t get in on?

Donnell Rawlings

4 Feb

Yesterday was the first Thursday in February and do you know what that means?  If you guessed it was the start of the Atlanta Apparel Market, that sleet fell at my house or that one of my kids had to leave school early because of the throw-ups, you would be right, but missing the mark.  It’s the night when I find out who the new host is at The Laughing Skull Lounge.  Drum roll please….

Hostess with the mostest, Shalewa Sharpe

Neighborhood Viagra, Shalewa Sharpe, is on it.  I first introduced you to Shalewa here.  Big Daddy was with me at this show and can you believe that some years ago he said this to me: “Meh, I just don’t think that chick comics can be all that funny, that’s all.”  Ugh.  I hear a few men say this, and I think it’s a fear of hearing someone retell adorable, endearing stories about how their kids say the darndest things or a bunch of “didja ever notice” musings about how their lady parts are no longer mysterious nor fancy.  Shalewa is not like other girls if that is your idea of a female comic.  In fact, she’s more like hanging out with a 14 year-old boy.  Because of the nature of the unannounced, revolving door of headliner opening acts, I’d make a point to get down to the Skull this month, just to bask in her glow for certain.

Dan Weeks; not a problem drinker

Have you ever thought that there may be inappropriate times to bust a High Five out on someone?  Snap shirt and bottom button challenged Dan Weeks has confirmed that there are actually several times when this is not the way to go.  Turns out it’s also not a great idea to dry hump a cop’s leg.  Go figure.  Dan does what I am sure is a faithful reimagining of down time of the set of PBS’ The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.  Dan doesn’t have the white-man fro, but he’s got the same crunchy-clean look as Ross, so it’s alarming when he starts ranting.  This was our first time seeing Dan and I thought he was terrific.  Dan…where’s that George you promised?

Patton Smith

Patton Smith showed up last night, too.  I first saw Patton a couple of years ago when he opened for Jennifer Coolidge and he’s taken off since then.  Patton watches a lot of TV and likes to talk about it.  Whereas I watch crap reality shows, he is more into history-based movies and documentaries, so his recaps are far more highbrow and informative than mine.  Patton is man enough to admit that he looks forward to showers at his girlfriend’s apartments, when he can exfoliate, rub himself down with a pink loofa and emerge in a manly haze of raspberry deliciousness.  He didn’t cop to it, but I suspect that he also reads all of her InStyle and Cosmo mags.

Parenting guru Marshall Chiles

Classically trained comedian, Marshall Chiles, did his thing, too.  I have actually known Marshall for about twenty years and I experience his sets a little differently from the rest of the audience.  When I see other comedians, I know that a lot of their act is padded with imaginary details.  However, when Marshall says that he is going to teach his sons about the birds and bees by directing them to his favorites folder on his computer, I know it’s probably already happened.  It’s not often that Marshall gives the dirt on some of his celebrity encounters, but he riffed on a weekend with Tracy Morgan that confirmed every bat crap thing that I thought about him.  Tracy, not Marshall.  Hilar!

Hot Damn and Donnell

Donnell Rawlings is listed in Urban Dictionary for coining the acronym TITF, which stands for Take It in The Face.  You can actually buy mugs, t-shirts and magnets with this on it.  And how many times have you heard someone yell “I’m rich, Biiatch!”  Yeah, that’s Donnell, too.  Oh, and let’s don’t forget about Chappell show favorite, Ashy Larry.  Also Donnell.  I must say that I was apathetic in what I was expecting out of fear that Donnell would be one of those comedians who coasts along on the coattails of a former win.  See y’all, this is why having low expectations is always the best way to go.  He was, like, Tony the Tiger Grr-r-eat!, with not so much as a nod to his previous hit-makers; I was double blown away!  He is the Donnell want, but it’s different, too.  He did talk to us a little bit about just scratching comedy and starting a new career in porn.  If his prop was at all correct, it could work out, but he’d be missed here.

Rawlings is often chastised as being that racist, homophobic comedian.  WTF?  We were in Midtown, geographically rife with gay material and he had next to nothing on the subject, AND everyone knows black people can’t be racist, anyway.  Right?  Okay, so yes, Donnell did sling out the “n word”, don’t make me type it…I’m white and my comfort level just isn’t there yet, a lot.  And with bravado and volume.  But the result was that it desensitized the audience and got it out of the way so that we could be past that he’s black and some of us were not.  It worked.  The audience was a mixed bag, and not a single “Oh no he di’int” was heard.  No one squirmed either.  That is racial harmony, my friends.

It is Black History Month and Donnell provided what are essentially some racial public service announcements.  Being Whitey, I finally know just what the race card is (I am pretty jealous that I can’t get one), why serial killers have cool names, who really got the demonstration permits for Dr. King and the social context and implication behind the question “Where my niggers at?” in 1960 vs. 2011.

What really impressed me is how much thought Donnell is putting into Valentine’s Day this year.  He is clearly super romantic and he knows that there are certain, special gifts earmarked for this day of celebrating love with his lady.  I think that if he is seriously thinking about a career switch, all of his sensual knowledge could be channeled into becoming a Passion Party consultant.  Donnell is well versed in personal massagers, extending battery life and thinking outside of the box when it comes to consensual role-play.  After all, this is the year of the rabbit.