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How One Woman Took Corporate America to Task for Promoting and Profiting from Black Family Dysfunction


“We don’t use the tools and technology that we have today, to effect change the way we can, and to do it in short order.” - Ermina Hill


Father's Day card for single mothers
This Hallmark Father's Day card for single mothers has been around at least since 2011.


I don’t know if you are aware of the tremendous controversy surrounding the Father’s Day card sold through the Mahogany line of cards by Hallmark. Well, there was coverage by Roland Martin, the Huffington Post, Dr. Boyce Watkins and others. I confess that I read the headlines…agreed with spotlighting the dysfunction the card promoted but didn’t follow in detail. 

Well, little did I know, my sorority sister and friend, Ermina Hill, out of the Atlanta area, took her dissatisfaction beyond just venting on social media and organized a protest. If more people took this kind of action, just think of how great our communities would be. 

Please take the time to watch this interview and realize the power we have as individuals to mobilize others and effect needed change. Also note that Roland Martin's coverage of this issue goes back to June 2011 so the success of Ermina's leadership in this protest is all the more laudable.

Congratulations to Ermina Hill and everyone who participated in the action against Hallmark. Thank you to Dr. Watkins for the interview and the shout out to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Thank you to Hallmark for finally pulling that Father's Day card for single mothers from the Mahogany line.


Now, if we could get television networks to pull those ratchet reality shows...



Paula Deen's Troubles are Bigger Than a Racial Slur

Paula Deen apologizes

Celebrity chef Paula Deen has been in hot water lately and can't seem to get herself out of it. Her latest troubles stem from an employment discrimination, racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit brought by former employee, Lisa T. Jackson.

Media coverage of the lawsuit took off when Ms. Deen admitted to using the word "nigger". Other allegations in the deposition seemed to take a back seat to that. I was surprised Ms. Deen was honest in her answer because many people lie and take the pious, holier-than-thou route.

Of course Ms. Deen mentioned that she'd heard blacks use that word. Now, being black myself, I don't like when anyone uses it. I chalk it up to ignorance, lack class and lack of vocabulary. I can't join the club of blacks that basically says "we can use that word but they can't". It's also not a label of affection if it ends in "a" or "-ah" rather than "-er".

That being said, way more offensive was her talk of a "southern style plantation wedding" replete with servers that reminded Ms. Deen of The Civil War period. Ms. Deen did try to clean up her explanation but it seemed the more she did, the worse it got.

There was also mention of testimony of another former employer that Bubba Hiers, Paula Deen's brother, told Lisa Jackson to keep the front 'light' when hiring. Wow. That means blacks and other dark-skinned people were welcome to work in the kitchen but not as servers, managers, etc. in the front of the restaurant.

Ms. Deen was a no-show for an interview with Matt Lauer on Friday's Today Show. She did release a couple of videos apologizing for her how her words hurt other people.

The Food Network chose to not to renew the contract for Ms. Deen's show which expires this month. If you also agree with that decision, before you jump up for joy, remember that memory of such racial episodes tend to be short lived, especially with most black people. As with similar instances involving Dog the Bounty Hunter and Don Imus, so Paula Deen could return to television soon.



Protect Insurance Companies [VIDEO]

Obama, why?

I love this video because it so puts the country’s current state of affairs in proper perspective. Okay, so it’s satire but it’s true. When we stop electing folks who sell out the rest of us we don’t have most of the problems we’re dealing with now.



The Obama Economic Stimulus Effect Blesses Five Guys

President Obama at Five Guys Burgers & Fries

Since the President's golden touch seems to be more golden than Oprah's nowadays, the folks at a Five Guys Burgers & Fries in DC must be thrilled he stopped by for sustenance. Of course, he placed his own order and ordered for the crew filming him for a documentary.

This president is intent on living outside the White House bubble as much as possible. He likes to be around people. His security team must be going bonkers with this "regular stuff" the Obamas like to do.

Five Guys, which does have great burgers, must be a favorite of the First Family because the First Lady was also photographed at a Five Guys dining with staffers back in February. Of course, her visit was sans the film crew and as much hoopla.

The Obamas must also have an awesome workout routine because they seem to love burgers but stay in great physical condition.

The President does have some cleaning up to do. It seems it was leaked that he prefers other burgers to the burgers served at the White House. I'd love to attend that White House Kitchen staff meeting.

Oh yeah, the president ordered a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, mustard and jalapenos. It's now unofficially called the "Obama Burger."

Did I mention the doubling of business at that particular Five Guys restaurant the President visited? Yes, that's the Barack Obama Economic Stimulus Effect at work.

Robinson Wins The Pulitzer Prize

Congratulations to The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson on winning the Pulitzer Prize for his commentary during the Barack Obama presidential campaign.

Fishermen, Pirates and Corporate Robber Barons: Putting Somali Piracy in Perspective

Mainstream media has inundated readers, listeners, and viewers with coverage of recent Somali piracy incidents off the waters of Africa. America waited anxiously for the outcome of the hostage situation that saw Maersk Alabama ship Capt. Richard Phillips in custody for five days.

The captain regained his freedom because of the successful execution of a rescue plan by Navy SEALs and a host other folks. The three captors on the lifeboat with the captain were killed and one captor was taken into custody. This post is not so much about that particular incident as much as why it occurred in the first place.

Somalia_punt226x250 As an American and citizen of the world, I was a bit perturbed that such a widespread and lucrative illegal industry has existed for almost two decades. What's up with that? The millions of dollars lost to pirates and the hundreds of sailors held hostage was as newsworthy when the incidents started in the early 90's as it is now.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective of this issue; the four pirates on the Alabama picked the wrong ship to rob. The media onslaught was tremendous. Resolution of this hostage situation would be televised, tweeted and broadcast using all mediums available. After all that hoopla, piracy continues.

One has to wonder, even as lucrative as piracy has become, why the Somalis are involved in piracy in the first place. The obvious answer is the money but there is another side to the situation that needs equal coverage.

Quite simply, commercialized fishing by other countries decimated Somalia's fishing industry and many Somalis are merely trying to survive. There are also reported instances of industrial pollution and shootings of innocent Somali fishermen. The Somali piracy issue is more complex than some may want known to the public.

When all is said and done, a happy medium must be reached because the world cannot tolerate the lawlessness of the pirates; the Somali people need economic viability and a stable government. Let's not kid ourselves; conceptually, the actions of the Somali pirates are the same as the robber barons of Wall Street.

Related Links:

How Somalia's Fishermen Became Pirates

Somali pirates not due to weak government

Somali pirates living the high life

Arianna's Latest Move

I like Arianna Huffington. Well, let me be more specific: I like the way she thinks. Rather than go the whine and cheese route about the ever dwindling revenues in the media, she's come up with another way to insure that investigative journalism doesn't go the way of the dinosaur.

Mainstream Media, Bloggers and Losing Local Newspapers

I live in Miami, Florida USA where the main daily newspaper is the Miami Herald. There are several other newspapers, most of them weeklies, but I do remember reading The Miami News, until it ceased publication on December 31, 1988.

Needless to say, the Herald has rolled out employee layoffs with possibly more on the horizon. There is an ever-increasing crescendo of voices concerned about the Miami Herald closing shop…folding…ceasing to exist.

Unfortunately, The Herald and many mainstream newspapers find themselves in a position similar to that of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. They didn't change with the times either.

Rather than strategizing on how to weave the internet and bloggers into its business operations, it seems as though the paper's management chose to ignore the trend of the impact of the internet on the media. Even more non-productive has been an animosity towards bloggers.

Bloggers didn't destroy newspapers. On the contrary, when partnerships are formed with bloggers, key stories are circulated and linked back to the media outlet. Bloggers have helped expose many stories to the mainstream media who in turn, investigate and report on these important issues.

A newspaper is a business but I can't imagine Miami without The Miami Herald. That day may come but if it does, our community would be left to obtain news through weekly newspapers, radio, television and the internet. That would likely mean an end to hard-hitting, informative, investigative reports that only a newspaper can produce.

Interestingly, not much is reported about the impact of the economic downturn on the newspapers that target Miami's black community: The Westside Gazette, The Miami Times and The South Florida Times. There are other black newspapers here but these are some of the main offerings.

I'm sure the economy has likely taken its toll on their bottom-line but I would venture to guess that the readers don't hear much about it because there was so little advertisement income directed their way in the first place.

Much like the auto industry, I believe the media industry will right-size itself. The playing field on reporting has already shifted with the inclusion of black media at the President's press conferences. That's something I'd never particularly thought about but when it was brought to my attention, I admit that I was disappointed that legitimate, well-known publications had been denied access of the same level as mainstream media.

While the auto industry is being revamped, let's do the same with the media. Prayerfully, the country will be able to sustain a daily newspaper in metropolitan areas and all media will be afforded access to report on governmental issues. Also let's hope a happy medium is realized that will allow mainstream media to work collaboratively with bloggers in keeping readers informed throughout the world.

New York Post Chimpanzee Editorial Cartoon: Still Looking for the Humor

Sharpton-lee The furor over the New York Post chimpanzee editorial cartoon is far from over for me. You see, I was immediately angered by it for several reasons; its racist connotation being one of them.

I observed executives from the Post attempt to deflect the backlash from the cartoon to protest leader, Rev. Al Sharpton. I don’t always agree with the Reverend but that was just wrong on their part. I also heard their so-called apology and learned of the company’s internal turmoil because of the cartoon.

I tried to understand the perspective of folks, even blacks, who thought the cartoon wasn’t as bad as the publicity that exploded around it. I still wasn’t able to make that stretch. I really tired objectivity but it is what it is.

You know, even if you don’t think the cartoon was racist, there was no humor to be made of a woman tragically disfigured by a chimpanzee and the death of that chimpanzee. There was no humor in two police officers shooting an animal. Was the animal a representation of President Obama? Perhaps it was supposed represent Nancy Pelosi or even Congress. It's just wrong.

There have been calls for the firing of the Post’s editor. I support that unequivocally. I also support the demand for a real public apology from the New York Post.

It was pointed out that President Obama and New York Gov. Paterson did not make a big deal of the situation. Gov. Paterson accepted the Post’s apology. Well, my response to that is, “Did you expect them to go Eric Holder and say what they really feel? I think not.”

This situation could be over quickly. The Post’s lame attempt at an apology is far more acquiescence than they’ve offered in the past. I do hope the NAACP and other civil rights organizations will not cave under the pressure.

Rev. Sharpton’s spotlight on the media influence is an issue that definitely deserves more coverage but by which media outlet since he owns so many.



© 2009, Vanessa: Unplugged!,

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Wall Street CEOs Should Meet Leonard Abess Jr.

It's hard to believe there is a generous banker in the United States since many have chosen to be greedy scumbags while others lose their jobs and literally their lives. Enter one Leonard Abess Jr. from Miami. The guy is blessed and a blessing. Read and enjoy!

Posted on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009


Miami banker gives $60 million of his own to employees

Lots of bosses say they value their employees. Some even mean it.

And then there's Leonard Abess Jr.

After selling a majority stake in Miami-based City National Bancshares last November, all he did was take $60 million of the proceeds -- $60 million out of his own pocket -- and hand it to his tellers, bookkeepers, clerks, everyone on the payroll. All 399 workers on the staff received bonuses, and he even tracked down 72 former employees so they could share in the windfall.