Tag Archives: Diff’rent Strokes

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.


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?

Get fired up for work

16 May

Just say "No, thank you"

Just when I began middle school, First Lady Nancy Reagan began her “Just Say No” campaign.  It was a movement directed at young children to teach them about the dangers of drug use and to emotionally inoculate them from ever getting into a situation where they learned about shake, aqua pipes or felt any desire to sway in the PhilZone.  To hammer in her point, Mrs. Reagan even appeared in a “very special episode” of Diff’rent Strokes, during season 5, to tell America’s youngsters how to decline invitations for the evil weed, PCP, LSD and anything else stronger than a St. Joseph’s baby aspirin.

Up until this point I don’t ever really recall there being any sort of anti-drug message out there other than my Grandfather loading us into his Cadillac to drive down 10th Street and then past Pershing Point to look at the hippies and scoff.   That all soon changed when The Partnership for a Drug Free America got together and rolled out the “This is your brain on drugs…” series of p.s.a. commercials.

Big Daddy and I still make fun of another one where the militant dad is demanding to know where his surly teen learned about marijuana and how he came to have a cigar box full of purple kush in his closet.  The kid finally snaps and says; “You, alright.  I learned it by watching you!!!”  Oooh, burn.

But my favorite was one with a couple of burners in their twenties hanging out in a basement playing Sega and toking on a fatty while talking about how cool things have turned out for them.  Then the voice of a disappointed mother is heard calling down the stairs asking if they had looked for a job while she was at work.  The message is that hanging out and getting high will get you nowhere good.  You will forever live in your parents’ basement and won’t get a job.  Well, not so fast…

Will there be a drug test for this job?

Potheads can now officially tell The Man to “suck it”, because their discerning skills and marginal talents are now in demand. That’s right.  It’s payday for anyone with a Ph.D in THC.   For every uptight parent who told their kids that “businesses don’t hire burn-outs and stoners”…suck it.  For every coach who said “losers can’t be winners in the game of life”…suck it.  And for every fast food assistant manager who said “you can’t get by, while you’re getting high”…suck it.  Arizona has legalized marijuana use for people living with illness, chronic pain, discomfort or the Cheech and Chong box set.  That actually covers a lot of folks and they are going to need some guidance as they navigate this new world of medicinal marijuana.  Enter the Tucson Weekly, who has posted a job opening ad for a freelance marijuana critic.  Dude!!!  Paper editor Jimmy Boegle said:

“A lot of sick people are going to be using medical marijuana and they’re going to want to know things like how is it to park, how good is the stuff they’re selling in terms of helping them with their symptoms.  What are the prices, what kinds of things are offered”

I am thinking readers will also need to know other pertinent information like which pizza delivery pairs best with Kentucky Gold, what movie to watch on mute while listening to Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon or whether it’s cool to answer the phone.

Not to write too stoned an article

Applicants have until June 1st to motivate out of the La-Z-Boy and send in a resume and application.