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Black Privilege Poetry Slam

Black Privilege

Spoken word artist Crystal Valentine performs a very emotionally charged poem titled “Black Privilege” in a poetry slam competition. One of the most moving lines in her poem tackled the issue of police brutality against black men, and the scourge of gun violence taking way too many young promising lives in urban communities. She says “Black privilege is me having already memorized my nephew’s eulogy, my brother’s eulogy, my father’s eulogy, my unconceived child’s eulogy. Black privilege is me thinking my sister’s name is safe from that list.” Valentine is one of six performing poets who represented NYU at the poetry slam this year. Her team ended up winning which was no surprise to anyone who listened to her performance.

Ms Valentine makes me proud to be part of a resilient culture who takes oppression and intolerance and turns it into extraordinary talent and beautiful artistry. If you’re not moved by her amazing 3 minute video clip, you should contact a doctor immediately because something is seriously wrong with you. She poured her heart out on that stage layering vulnerability on top of confidence on top of self critical introspection. There aren’t many people who can touch your soul with just a few words. That’s power. That’s talent. That’s the power of blackness.

The Real Al Sharpton

The civil rights activist, the radio/tv personality, the revered reverend, the best selling author, the voice of black America, the founder and president of The National Action Network Reverend Al Sharpton has been a lightening rod of controversy for decades now. But ever since Barack Obama became president Reverend Al’s close relationship with him has raised his national profile in ways that even he did not expect. The positives are quite obvious such as increased visibility which gives him a platform to bring attention to specific areas or incidents of injustice, an hour-long cable news program on MSNBC (Politics Nation), a lucrative book deal for The Rejected Stone which chronicles his personal evolution from a controversial street activist to a national civil rights icon, increased visibility for his nonprofit civil rights organization the National Action Network, and a seat at the table when new civil rights legislation gets crafted. His proximity to power is envied by many, but there is a downside to being as outspoken and unapologetically supportive of President Obama. That downside is Fox News and the cabal of conservative media who are dedicated to destroy the president, his legacy, and anyone who supports him.

Every liberal commentator and political activist in this country should expect harsh and sometimes unfair critiques from their conservative counterparts. It comes with the territory. I’ve heard people say a vigorous debate is a sign of a healthy democracy, which is true. But there’s a caveat that says if you’re going to enter the world of politics you better have a tough skin, a strong sense of who you are, and a clear set of guiding principles that underpins everything you say and do. If you’re lacking in any of those, it will show sooner or later and the power and influence you thought you had will all disappear. The Reverend Al Sharpton has been in the public eye fighting for civil rights for almost 5 decades and continues to prove himself effective when injustice victimize’s the voiceless. There aren’t many leaders who have a 5 decade long history that sees their power and influence grow exponentially without being the real deal. Character, integrity, and passion aren’t things you can fake sustainably. That’s why all the hate and vitriol being thrown at him constantly over the years have never stuck and that’s why many African-Americans respect and revere him as a leader. Conservatives tried to block Barack Obama’s first bid for President and failed. They tried to stop President Obama’s reelection and failed. Now they are trying to attack Sharpton and marginalize the power of his organization, and they are failing at that as well. Their most recent attack came from Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly after the murder of an unarmed African-American teen named Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson Missouri. The African-American community of that town expressed their anger and outrage through nonviolent protest. There was a very small number of people who used the protest as a cover to loot and vandalize local businesses. Bill O’Reilly and other Fox News hosts accused Reverend Sharpton of inciting violence and inflaming tension between the African-American community and the police.

Bill said Sharpton inserted himself into the protest to get media attention and no one asked Sharpton to get involved or for any help. Of course none of that was true and anyone who knows how to use google could debunk everything O’Reilly said with an internet connection and two minutes. For example, here are two video clips. The first video is Al Sharpton’s first speech given as soon as he arrived in Ferguson at the behest of Micheal Brown’s family. The second video is Bill O’Reilly lying on air saying Sharpton incited violence.

There’s not one word in Sharpton’s entire statement that anyone could misunderstand as inflammatory or a call for violence. Sharpton clearly called for peace and pleaded with the community to keep the protest nonviolent. Fox News and Bill O’Reilly never aired this clip and made a conscience decision to lie on air to their viewers. Fox does this all the time but O’Reilly lies over and over about issues that involve race. Here’s another video where O’Reilly lied saying that African-American democrat organizers of an MLK day event excluded white republicans from speaking. The day after he lied and ranted about this he had to apologize on air because the press called him out on it.

Bill O’Reilly has a very skewed racist view of black America and constantly confuses Hip Hop culture and entertainment with African-American culture. Al Sharpton invited O’Reilly to have dinner in Harlem at one of Harlem’s most popular eating establishments Sylvia’s. After the dinner O’Reilly told his radio audience about it the next day. He told them that he was surprised how clean and nice it was even though it was owned and run by African-Americans. He said no one was yelling profanity, everyone was nice and respectful, and the African-American’s eating there were well dressed and well-behaved. He was amazed by this. When talking about Bill O’Reilly I always go back to this story about Sylvia’s because it explains how he views African Americans. So when he calls our first African-American president and our first African-American attorney general thugs, and calls well-respected African-American civil rights leaders “race agitators” or “race hustlers”, we all know what kind of mind that comes from.

One of Al Sharpton’s most popular critiques from conservatives asks why doesn’t Sharpton talk about black on black crime. Why isn’t he organizing and marching in Detroit and Chicago where inner city crime is rampant? You’ll hear that one on Fox a lot too. I have to laugh every time I hear a conservative say that because it shows they have no idea what they are talking about. Al Sharpton and his nonprofit have organized rallies and marches in both of those cities. He held a widely televised town hall in Detroit and even temporarily moved into an inner city apartment in Chicago to see first hand what the impoverished residents were dealing with. Despite how easily accessible this information is, somehow it remains hidden from Fox and other conservatives.
SOCIALLY URBAN PHOTO

Another popular critique from conservatives is Reverend Sharpton only wants to help black people, so that makes him racist. To debunk this first we need to understand what a civil rights activist is. A civil rights activist or a civil rights organization uses political levers to secure equal opportunity for members of a less powerful minority group. The key word there is “equal”. So if you’re working towards making things equal for every race, you are trying to give minorities the same rights and treatment as those in the majority or those who have more power. African-Americans are a minority group who have been and continue to be discriminated against because of race. So a civil rights organization or activist takes on issues where African-Americans aren’t being treated as equals (to whites). That does not mean you only want to help black people because you don’t like white people. That is just ridiculous. When we finally have racial equality then we will not have a need for civil rights activist anymore.

One more popular critique I’d like to discuss is why doesn’t Al Sharpton and his organization help out when a black person kills a white person. First we need to correct a common misperception. Al Sharpton and his organization do not get involved with every case where there’s a black victim and a white perpetrator. To get involved they look for instances where the crime that was committed has racial elements that lead to the crime or racial elements that have the potential to hinder a fair and equal outcome. I’ll use the Trayvon Martin case as an example. Al Sharpton did not get involved just because Trayvon was a black kid. He got involved because the district attorney in Sanford had no plans to charge George Zimmerman with anything. Check the facts and you’ll see that the D.A. hadn’t filed charges a full month after Trayvon’s death. Then the family called Reverend Sharpton for help. He organized protest and used his high-profile to get the media to pay attention to the incident. The pressure from media and other civil rights organizations finally forced the DA to file charges against George Zimmerman. So Sharpton and NAN weren’t asking for a conviction, all they were asking for was a fair trial. If the district attorney in Sanford would have presented the case to a grand jury (just like they are supposed to) there wouldn’t have been a need for Sharpton to get involved.

SOCIALLY URBAN MEDIA

I wrote this blog because I thought Reverend Sharpton didn’t deserve all the hateful comments and coverage from conservative media. He is flawed just like any other human and has made mistakes in the past, but the people who are throwing slurs and criticizing him for being passionate about civil rights hasn’t done anything close to the kind of work he’s dedicated his life to. This man is cut from the same cloth as MLK or Kennedy. Don’t believe the racist caricature the conservative media has tried to make him out to be. Do some research about the real man and see what he’s about before passing judgement. We have so few national civil rights leaders left. We should be thankful that he is still able to fight on our behalf, even when his character gets called into question and the hate gets thrown. I’m not sure I’d be able to withstand that kind of scrutiny. So please do some research on him and his nonprofit group National Action Network and see for yourself. Don’t let people who have an agenda tell you who he is (me included).




ILLUMINATI CONSPIRACY?

www.sociallyurban.com

I’ve noticed something very strange and troubling going on in African American social media and entertainment blogs. I’ve watched it grow over the past year hoping it would die down and people would come to their senses but surprisingly it has only grown bigger and it’s beginning to cross over into mainstream media. I’m talking about the myth of the Illuminati. Somehow rumors began to spread online that certain famous, powerful and wealthy African American’s all were a part of and owed their success to the Illuminati. Some nutcase African American bloggers began to analyze lyrics by people like Jay Z, Kayne West, Beyonce, 50 Cent, and P Diddy (among others) and use random words and lines from their songs as proof of their affiliation with the occult, and a lot of their African American readers fell for it. They’ve come up with all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories about Oprah, Sam Jackson, and Lebron James which in a way robs them of their success. It feeds into a long-held racist notion that successful African Americans aren’t responsible for their success. Not their intelligence, nor their talent or hard work. Those pathways to success are never questioned with whites. I challenge readers to do a quick google search for any famous or successful African American and attach the word “illuminati” behind it. You’ll have pages and pages of nonsensical conspiracy theories about all of them (please hold all searches until after you’ve finished reading my blog lol).

Here’s why this frustrates me so much. We have enough obstacles & real issues to deal with. There’s no need to add an imaginary one to that list. The Illuminati and satan aren’t the one’s making laws that are designed to lock up as many Black men as possible. They aren’t trying to disenfranchise minority voters to keep them from the polls. They aren’t keeping your wages low while rewarding a few at the top with the profit from your blood sweat & tears. They aren’t destroying our neighborhoods with liquor stores & fast food joints at every corner. They aren’t killing our youth for wearing hoodies & racially profiling them because of race. The people doing all this are real. When we’re not focused on reality the real life villain’s get away while injustice not only survives, it flourishes. People like Roger Ailes, Charles & David Koch, Michael Bloomberg, Art Pope, Rush Limbaugh are real people causing unimaginable problems for our community. Not satan Not the Illuminati. It’s time to be adults and stop believing in the boogie man. So the next time you hear one of your friends repeating some dumb rumor about the illuminati being involved in the struggles in the African American community, please please please try to educate them. Can you imagine what might happen if the entire community started to focus their attention on something real?… exactly, so WAKE UP!!!

Tracy Morgan’s Gay Bashing Rant

Comedian Tracy Morgan has come under fire lately because of some homophobic remarks he made during his live comedy show in Tennessee about a week ago. The first half of this blog is taken from a post written by a man named Kevin Rogers who was in attendance at the show and was deeply offended by Mr. Morgan’s hate speech. The second part of this blog is my response to all of this. And the last part is a small update on everything that has happened since this incident first began.

Kevin Rogers Post:

So tonight was the night, Tracy Morgan in the hallowed halls of the Ryman Auditorium.  The show was your typical hysterical dick, cum and pussy humor… I have to say it was hilarious and well worth at least 40% of the $86 we spent per ticket to see him. I figured at some point the gay jokes would fly and I’m well prepared for a good ribbing of straight gay humor.  I have very thick skin when it comes to humor; I can dish and I can take. What I can’t take is when Mr. Morgan took it upon himself to mention about how he feels all this gay shit was crazy and that women are a gift from God and that “Born this Way” is bullshit, gay is a choice, and the reason he knows this is exactly because “God don’t make no mistakes” (referring to God not making someone gay cause that would be a mistake).  He said that there is no way a woman could love and have sexual desire for another woman, that’s just a woman pretending because she hates a fucking man.  He took time to visit the bullshit of this bullying stuff and informed us that the gays needed to quit being pussies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying. He mentioned that gay was something kids learn from the media and programming, and that bullied kids should just bust some ass and beat those other little fuckers that bully them, not whine about it.  He said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death. He mentioned that Barack Obama needed to man up and quit being all down with this just because he has a wife and two daughters. All of this being followed by thunderous cheer and “You go Tracys”.  Tracy then said he didn’t fucking care if he pissed off some gays, because if they can take a fucking dick up their ass… they can take a fucking joke.  The sad thing is that none of this rant was a joke.  His entire demeanor changed during that portion of the night.  He was truly filled with some hate towards us.

MY RESPONSE:

Kevin Rogers story was SHOCKING to me.  Out of all the stories I read about this incident, none of them actually quoted anything that Tracy Morgan said.  So because of this, I felt like maybe it was something small that got blown up by the press.  But after reading this, I do not see how any journalist could write an honest and truthful piece about this without letting the reader know exactly what was said.  His actual words were far beyond anything I had imagined.  This has totally changed my opinion of Tracy Morgan.  I was fan, but now I’ll never watch or listen to anything he puts out ever again.  What he said can’t be brushed over with an apology.  His apology means nothing to me because I know it will only be about him trying to save his career.  He’s a sad little hate filled man, and I hope people will see him for what he is and stop supporting anything that he is a part of.  Why would anyone want to support someone like this?  I hope that gay rights organizations are not trying to solicit any kind of public apology from him.  It would be insulting.  Someone that says the kind of things he said doesn’t change the way they think overnight, or go to some weekend siminar and magically become a changed man.  That kind of ignorance and hatred comes from a very deep dark and disturbed place, and any proclamations of change should be met with extreme skepticism.  As long as he’s on 30 Rock, I’ll NEVER watch that show EVER again.  The sad part of it all was the reaction Tracy got from the audience.  A large majority of them were cheering him on during his homophobic rant.  To me that’s a confirmation of the long and treacherous road ahead we have yet to travel to reach total equality for our community.

STORY UPDATE AND TRACY’S “APOLOGY”:

Morgan has agreed to go to Nashville with GLAAD to protest the state’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, according to E! Online. He spoke to E!’s Marc Malkin about his regrets over his rant, emphasizing his belief that all children should be loved, regardless of sexuality.  “I know how bad bullying can hurt,” Morgan said. “I was bullied when I was a kid. I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it. I never want to use my comedy to hurt anyone. My family knew what it was like to feel different. My brother was disabled and I lost my father to AIDS in 1987…. Parents should support and love their kids no matter what. Gay people deserve the same right to be happy in this country as everyone else. Our laws should support that.”  In an interview with Russell Simmons at Global Grind, Morgan apologized again for his verbal tirade that sparked national outrage, swore off his hate speech and came out for marriage equality.  “Of all the sicknesses, there is probably none more abusive than homophobia. My heart is committed to giving everyone the same rights that I deserve for myself,” Morgan said. “I don’t care if you love the same sex as long as you have the ability to love someone I am deeply sorry for the comments I made. What I am most sad about is the comments I made about kids and bullying.”

Morgan also noted his support for gays serving in the military — an issue solved by the recent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and then insisted he believed in gay marriage, too. “I believe everyone deserves the right to be happy and marry who they want too; gay, white, black, male or female. Let me know where the rally’s at Russ. I’m there!” Morgan promised.  The words came as he works to make amends, not only with his public, but his friends, too. Tina Fey, his “30 Rock” co-star and executive producer slammed his comments but noted that she believed Morgan was a loving person.  “It doesn’t line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person,” Fey said in a statement.  Another co-star, Cheyenne Jackson, said that he was “disgusted” by what Morgan had said.

Was Tracy’s apology sincere?  Is he serious about making amends?  Does he understand how hurtful and dangerous his gay bashing tirade was?  I wish I had the answer to those questions, but only time will tell. When I began to write this blog, I kept thinking about something Mya Angelou said in an interview with Oprah.  It seemed to fit this situation perfectly, and I’ve found it to be true in my life as well.  This very wise woman said “When someone shows you who they are, believe them”.JULY 4 2011 UPDATE

To view free streaming episodes of 30 Rock or Saturday NIght Live, visit the links below.
30 Rock seasons 1 through 5:
http://www.tv-links.eu/tv-shows/30-Rock_10/
Saturday NIght Live seasons 1 through 36:
http://www.tv-links.eu/tv-shows/Saturday-night-live_12110/

The Mormon Proposition

“The Mormon Proposition” details in devastating fashion the efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to help pass the 2008 California ballot measure that defined marriage as solely consisting of a union between a man and a woman. Writer/Co-Director Reed Cowan’s film reveals a disturbing truth of the increasing overlap between church and state. This documentary is extremely well done and at times it even brought me to tears (which is EXTREMELY rare). I wish I could get every person in this country to watch this amazing documentary. I thought I knew everything that went on with proposition 8, but this film exposed a lot of new & shocking information that left me speechless. If this film doesn’t move you, then you have to be a soleless heartless pitiful sociopath incapable of any human emotion… or a practicing Mormon (I’m only being facetious here, so please no hate mail).

The legal battle to declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional is currently underway, which means the ending to this story has yet to be written. Will we write an ending of triumph and redemption, or will we continue this story of intolerance and hate? 

Watch the full length documentary for free below:

Missionaries of Hate

Uganda Missionaries of Hate
The African country of Uganda joined up with some very prominent AMERICAN Evangelicals (à la Pastor Rick Warren) to draft a piece of legislation in Uganda that would make being homosexual a crime punishable by either life in prison or DEATH. Yes, you heard me right… DEATH! In other words, if I lived in Uganda, and I were in a same sex relationship with a man that I loved, both of us would be arrested and sentenced to DEATH. Can you imagine getting arrested for being in love?  These evil people that claim to be “Christian” are all doing this in the name of God. These American evangelicals have millions of dollars at their disposal donated to fund a huge campaign to fight those who are gay and rob them of their basic civil rights and impose their beliefs on everyone. There are so many problems and ills that plague our society today like poverty, famine, disease, homelessness, poor education, racial genocide, war, etc but instead of using their power and resources to combat some of those issues, they choose to fight the gay community in order to strip them of their rights and in Uganda possibly end their life.  This makes no sense at all. What is “Christian” about that? I really didn’t intend to write all this and shout from my soapbox but things like this really angers me. The real point of this blog post was to get you to watch this 45 minute documentary about Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill and how American Evangelicals played a huge role in the creation of the bill. I’m warning you now that this video is very inflammatory and so ridiculous at times that you just want to laugh from frustration. The most absurd part of it is when the church pastor shows his congregation gay porn during one of his sermons condemning gays. Yep, I kid you not… gay porn on display right in front of the whole congregation, kids included. Just watch it, and let me know what you think. Evil comes in many forms and in this particular documentary the evil is in the pulpit.
Here’s the full documentary “Missionaries Of Hate”

THIS IS FUNNY AS HELL

Funny or Die’s Presidential Reunion from Will Ferrell

Funny or Die’s Presidential Reunion from Will Ferrell, Chevy Chase, Ron Howard, Jim Carrey, Fred Armisen, Darrell Hammond, Dan Aykroyd, Maya Rudolph, Dana Carvey, FOD Team, Jake, and Antonio Scarlata – Video

E Lynn Harris – The Passing Of A Brilliant Author

E Lynn HarrisI was very troubled to hear about the passing of Mr. Harris. To me he was more than just an author. He helped me see that being an out gay black male was possible. The way I first discovered his writing was kind of serendipitous. I was a very unhappy closeted college freshman at East Carolina University. I’ve always had a passion for reading, and used books as a way to escape the reality of my inner-turmoil. I would go to Barnes and Nobel quite often to sip coffee and find new books to read. I was aware that they had a “Gay and Lesbian interest” book section, but I was so deeply closeted that I couldn’t even walk towards that isle (even though I wanted to very badly). During one of my days there, I walked around a bit, and found a couple of books that looked interesting. I went to purchase my coffee, and found a comfortable chair to sit in while I went through my books to see which ones I wanted to buy. I sat my things on the coffee table in front of me, and I noticed an interesting looking book lying there on the table that someone had left for the employees to re-shelve. I picked it up and read the title “Invisible Life”. That really peaked my interest because I felt as though I were living a kid of invisible life. I started to read and it drew me in instantly. When I noticed that they were about to close the store, I had already went through half of the book. As soon as I got home, I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about were the characters and how much I could relate to things that they were going through. I knew I had a morning class at 8am, and I’d feel like hell if I didn’t get any sleep, but I didn’t care. I got back up, and finished the book just as the sun was rising. It was the first time in my life that I watched the sun rise, and really felt as though it was a new day. Over the next couple of days, I read the book again until I could get another chance to hit Barnes and Nobel and search for another one of his books titled “Abide With Me”. In those few short days, my world felt as though it had transformed. I thought being gay was a curse bestowed upon me, and I was destined to live my life in lonely solitude, but E. Lynn’s book gave me hope. It help me see that I could be happy. I could find love. I could be the person God made me. All of that never occurred to me before. This time when I walked into the book store, I headed directly to the “Gay and Lesbian Interest” section. The store was very busy with people, and I didn’t care at all. Just three days before, I couldn’t fathom going down that asile and taking my time looking for a book. So for me, Mr. Harris was not just an author of gay fiction. This man and his books completely changed my life… and changed it for the better. Before I read that first novel, it had never occurred to me that I could have a healthy loving relationship. Without his books, I would of never met Brook (my ex). My five year relationship with him was the happiest I’ve been in my whole adult life. Whoever I was before that trip to Barnes and Nobel, I don’t know who that is anymore. It’s like looking back at someone else’s life. When I heard the news on CNN about the death of E. Lynn Harris, it really sadden me. I wanted to meet him, and tell him my story of how he helped me, and how he changed my life. I just wanted to thank him, and now it’s to late. My only solace and hope is that he passed knowing about how many lives he’s touched and how much his work has helped me and millions of people just like me. For this, I am forever grateful.

R I P Mr. E. Lynn Harris

Michael’s Death, Natural Causes or Foul Play?


Michael Jackson’s Death (Notes, Observations, Ideas, Theories, and Opinions):

Michael’s come back concert shows sold out within 10 minutes which made the investors/promoters millions upon millions of dollars.

Michael canceled the first 5 shows for some unknown reason, which made the promoters angry and very nervous about their investment.

If Michael canceled the entire tour, the promoters would lose a HUGE SUM of money… we’re talking 8 or 9 figures easy (90 million to 300 million dollars).

All “big name” promoters purchase insurance on the performers they work with to protect their business investment in the event that something goes wrong (like the performer dieing). But for some reason, these promoters purchased a policy 3 times the normal amount that they usually do.

Michaels “handlers” kept Michael away from his family over the last couple of years for some unknown reason.

Michael underwent a full and complete physical 5 months ago that was mandated by the promoters insurance company, and the doctor found, and I quote “MICHAEL HAS ABSOLUTELY NO MEDICAL PROBLEMS OR ISSUES WHATSOEVER THAT WOULD HINDER HIM FROM PERFORMING” end quote. I’m not sure who this doctor examined, but it sure wasn’t Michael. Everyone could see how frail and ill Michael looked. Everyone that was close to Michael (friends and family) have publicly stated that they were worried about his health. But the doc. said he was “fine and in good health”. PLEASE! I think that the promoters knew that they couldn’t purchase this HUGE insurance policy on Michael without a doctor’s exam to determine if he was healthy or not. So it’s not a huge leap to think that there was some sort of bribery or payoff with the doctors to ensure that they get results they wanted.

Michael’s personal physician was with Michael at his house when he collapsed due to cardiac arrest, and died right in front of him. What are the odds of having your physician at your house when you’re dieing? hmmmmmmm

Michael had enormous debt, so the same people that were investing in the his 50 show “comeback” concert, also offered to pay off Michael’s debt in exchange for doing the comeback shows, and they wanted Michael’s “Neverland” ranch. Michael accepted the deal, so now they own “Neverland”. I haven’t heard anyone say this yet, but I’m willing to bet that those promoters/investors are planning to turn Neverland into something like Elvis’s Graceland. Graceland makes millions in profit every year, and it’s the source of a huge chunk
of the Presley family’s wealth.

It’s plain to see that these people stand to profit more from Michael’s death, than they would if he was still alive. In fact, they were heading into a situation that would of lost them a lot of money, and possibly bankrupt their company. I’m not saying that these people killed Michael, I’m just stating facts that I think needs more investigation.

And here’s one last interesting tid-bit.
Way back in the 1980’s Michael and Paul McCartney were pretty close friends. The friendship ended when Michael purchased exclusive rights to the whole Beatles catalog, before McCartney could raise the money to buy it himself. This collection of Beatles songs are extremely valuable. Michael makes 20 to 30 million a year from this catalog. After McCartney found out, he never spoke to Michael again. Fast forward to yesterday (June 25, 2009) when Michael died, one of Michael’s attorneys stated that Michael left the catalog
to McCartney free and clear in hong that has probably bothered him for years and years. I hope Paul acknowledges this publicly. We’ll jis will. I really admire that. He could of left it to his family or his kids, but he didn’t. He wanted to right a wrust have to wait and see. But I did find it fascinating that Michael’s lawyer was on tv talking about his will, just a couple of hours after he was pronounced dead, and even more disheartening, before the family even had a chance to have a reading of the will. hmmmmmmmm

So the list of people that stand to gain the most from his death are:
1. The concert promoters & investors.
2. Paul McCartney (from the legendary band “The Beatles”)
3. The biological mother of his kids.
4. The Ayatollah & Ahmadinejad. (because it took the media focus away from the situation in Iran)
5. South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford (Because it took the media focus off of his affair & his lying).

Ok, the last two are tough to take seriously, and I have to admit that I did throw them in there for a laugh, but stranger things have happened. In this heady time we live in, anything is possible.

DISCLAIMER: All statements and claims included in this blog post are pure conjecture and theory. Although a majority of these statements are based on documented facts, the author (DeMon Spencer) used these facts to draw his own conclusions, and to pose questions that he deemed relevant and valid to the subject matter.

Illicit: The Dark Trade

As most of you already know, I love to watch documentaries. Mostly documentaries dealing with something political, criminal, or world history related. Last night I couldn’t sleep (like always), and so I decided to look for something to watch online. I have netflix, and a couple of other sites that I like to use to find movies and television shows that might be interesting. So after about 10 minutes of searching, I found this documentary about the business of illegal trade (aka illegal knockoffs) and it’s effects on the global market, tilted “Illicit: The Dark Trade”. The description of it’s content peaked my interest, so I decided to watch it. I was thinking it was going to be about how different designers and companies track down knockoffs and what they are doing to prevent this illegal enterprise from growing even larger. When most people hear the word “knockoff” they immediately think of fake Gucci bags, rip off Ed Hardy t-shirts, phony Versace sunglasses, counterfeit D&G jeans, etc. etc. etc. But to my surprise, that aspect of illicit trade is minuscule compared to the big picture. I understand why different labels and designers want to do whatever they can to end this illegal practice, on the basis that it infringes upon their brand, and allows others to steal and profit from their ideas and their hard work. I totally get that. . . but I find it really hard to feel sympathetic for them when they are a multi million dollar company who over inflates their prices, and then they want to lock up your corner hustle/barbershop hook up guy who has next to nothing in his bank account, living in the projects, and he’s only selling this knock off stuff to feed his family and pay the rent. And if you really think about it, the people who buy this designer knock off stuff, are people who can’t afford “the real thing” anyway. So it would be stupid for a designer to think that the corner hustle man is taking away some of their business or stealing some of their customers. That argument is absurd, ignorant, and down right ludicrous. From my perspective, I think the whole “high-end” haute couture fashion industry are victims of their own making (and I use the word “victim” very very lightly). When it comes to marketing and promoting their clothes, and building a strong recognizable brand, they are the absolute best at it. Too good for their own good. These companies were among the first to recognize and exploit the power of the media, and the importance of name recognition. When they blanket an area with an explosion of ads, knowing that the average family income of that area is below $25,000, and the cost of their cheapest handbag is $8,000 , you have to wonder why are they doing this. They bombard magazines and television with ads that makes the consumer think that they are nothing unless they can have that designer bag. So eventually the consumer starts to see the bag as a status symbol, and part of their self worth. These companies know exactly how to use and manipulate consumers. They feed off of people’s insecurities, in exchange for millions in profits that pad these fat cats wallets and contribute to their lavish and extravagant lifestyles. Everyone wants the “American Dream”, and they have convinced a large portion of Americans that the American Dream is for sell. And that’s why I have no sympathy for designers, when it comes to buying and selling knock-offs of their products. I mean, just think about that 12 year old boy out there somewhere, living in the projects, with a single mother, and very little money for anything other than the basic necessities. He watches TV and sees the rappers and movie stars flashing all kinds of expensive stuff, their big diamonds, and constantly referencing different designer names. They look like they are the happiest most fortunate people he’s ever seen. And he goes to school and see his classmates with the latest $150 sneakers and shirts and pants with visible designer logos, and he’s wearing old hand-me-downs from his older brother. All of this gradually eats away at his self esteem. So when he becomes an adult, he connects happiness and self worth with having expensive material things. There are a lot of young girls and boys that are going through similar situations right now, all over this country. If they are too poor to buy those Versace sunglasses, they go out and get the next best thing, a knock-off.
This blog entry is a lot longer than I expected, so I’m going to have to write the second half half sometime tonight or tomorrow. Just wait and see how it all ties together. I break down the documentary and explain what caught my attention and got me fired up enough to blog about it. I will also post a link to the documentary so you can watch it free streaming right on your desktop.

TO BE CONTINUED:

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