Previous month:
December 2005
Next month:
February 2006

January 2006


OK, I’ve been tagged. My first reaction was to ignore it, but then I thought, what the heck... Here is Five Weird Things About Me (in no particular order):

1. I collect Barbie dolls. Yes, Barbie. I don’t track my collection the way I used to but I have more than 250. I like all kinds of Barbies but most of my collection is Black. Yes, Barbie went ethnic in a big way but many folks don’t know about it. I have the first Black Barbie…Bob Mackie’s Starlight Splendor Barbie and Fantasy Goddess of Africa Barbie…and the entire Byron Lars Runway Collection and Treasures of Africa Collection. The photo is of Mbili Barbie, the second doll in the Treasures of Africa Collection. My next addition is to have the hair re-rooted on my Brandy doll so that she has locks. Anywho, e-mail me privately if you want to talk Barbies.

2. I like ketchup AND mustard on French fries. What can I say, I like my fries this way. Try it with home fries not that fast food stuff…delicious. I don’t partake as frequently as I used to because too much fried food is just not good for our bodies. Let me know if you try it.

3. I am shy. This will surprise some who know me. Although I am very strong-willed and typically find myself in a leadership position at work or in civic organizations, I really am shy. I am passionate about issues that I’m passionate about. I don’t talk just to hear my self talk and I am bothered by people who do.

4. My daughter and I have the same birthmark. If you’ve been reading my blog for a minute, you know that my daughter passed away. After giving birth to her, one of the first things I noticed as the doctor held her in the air, was the birthmark just above her left knee…the same shape and location as mine. The only thing I could think was, wow, a miniature version of me.

5. My lips are freckled. Yep and I was teased regularly for it when I was growing up. As I have aged, it’s not as noticeable even when I'm not wearing lipstick and besides I really don’t care what anyone else thinks about it anyway.

Thanks, Rashid... Now I'm supposed to tag five people but I won't.

© VANESSA BYERS, 2006 , Vanessa: Unplugged

NAACP calls for investigation of murder and beatings as hate crimes

The NAACP is calling for the investigation of the recent beatings of homeless men in South Florida as hate crimes. One of the homeless men, Norris Gaynor, died from his injuries. All three homeless men were minorities and their attackers were white teen-age men. Three of the teens have been arrested.

The Stockholm Syndrome Revisited

A blog buddy of mine on Yahoo 360 recently posted a blog on the Stockholm Syndrome and its possible impact on Blacks in the Diaspora. Check out The Cushite’s blog at

After you check it out, here’s my opinion below:

This is such an awesome blog post. I was aware of the term “Stockholm Syndrome” vis-a-vis the famous Patty Hearst kidnapping in 1974. However, the correlation of her coping and survival defense mechanism, Stockholm Syndrome, attributed to the plight of our people was an epiphany for me. I’ll resist the urge to apply this Stockholm Syndrome information to my personal experiences and try to maintain a global perspective of its effects on the psyche of our people.

After interacting with Black folks from all over the world, I can honestly say that regardless of birthplace or level of education, the symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome delineated in the post are readily apparent in their thought/behavior. From the emotional bonding with the captor to losing one’s own identity in order to identify with the captor to refusing to seek freedom even when given the opportunity, our love/fear of the perceived white majority still permeates our very being today.

What can be done about it? The first thing we must do is acknowledge that we are suffering from this syndrome, as a people. It amazes me that so many of our people are still in denial of our oppression simply because the obvious vestiges of discrimination are not as prevalent as they once were. Even more amazing is that some Black folks don’t even recognize that they are Black let alone oppressed, but that’s another topic for another time.

When considering what can be done to overcome Stockholm Syndrome, one of the things that I couldn’t get out of my head was Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” rap lyrics. Very powerful words that go something like this, “What we need is awareness, we can't get careless…You say what is this?...My beloved lets get down to business…Mental self defensive fitness…(Yo) bum rush the show…You gotta go for what you know…Make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be.” Once we know better, let’s just do better.

Then we can stop being selfish. There are enough rich, well-connected Blacks throughout the world, to effectively put a serious power move into place. I don’t mean pseudo-powerful folk such as many of those we have now, but true power to benefit the collective. Power so that if another Katrina or tsunami catastrophe hits, we don’t find ourselves waiting on the government to come to the rescue.

Let’s reinforce our educational foundation, get healthy both mentally and physically, produce more black babies born into loving households, stop selling and using illegal drugs, establish and support black businesses and not just register to vote but get out and vote too. Don’t talk about it be about it.

That’s just my two cents…Peace.

What do you think?

© VANESSA BYERS, 2006 , Vanessa: Unplugged

Kanye West as Jesus Christ...JESUS CHRIST, why all the fuss?

Kanye West poses as Jesus Christ with a crown of thorns upon his head? What’s the big deal? It’s a beautiful photograph. West is inarguably a handsome man. The tone of his rich mocha skin tone is magnificently captured by the camera.

Other celebrities have portrayed Christ; why the fuss about Kanye? Backlash from his anti-George Bush comments during the Katrina disaster or just a publicity stunt?

© VANESSA BYERS, 2006 , Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!


Aaron McGruder is at it…again!

I’m not a regular reader or viewer of The Boondocks. I do admire Boondocks creator, Aaron McGruder’s wit. I can also appreciate the fact that he does not discriminate when it comes to his ability to piss someone off. The latest Boondocks controversy centers on an episode on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that aired during the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim time block on Dr. King’s birthday. The episode has raised the ire of many with the most media attention bestowed upon the Rev. Al Sharpton. I can’t say that I was offended by McGruder’s Boondocks episode on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and I can’t say that I wasn’t because I didn’t see it. I do know that the controversy is reminiscent of that involving Outkast’s “Get on the Bus” song and Rosa Parks and Ice Cube’s “Barbershop” movie and the iconic Mrs. Parks. McGruder has been labeled “the angriest man in America” by whom, I don’t know. His cartoons are inarguably edgy and thought-provoking. When it comes to the King episode, there is cause to wonder why the King family has not been vocal about this issue. Lord knows the King children need to show public unity about something. The irony in all this is that McGruder’s Boondocks has also been nominated for an NAACP Image Award for best comedy series. Hmmm. Is this much ado about nothing or controversy for dollars? I don’t know, only time will tell when the episode is re-broadcast…and it will be re-broadcast because there is money to be made from controversy.

© VANESSA BYERS, 2006 , Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!


The Jamie Foxx Music Special Hype: By Any Means Unnecessary

I thought I was the only one who felt that the latest controversy about Jamie Foxx’s special was pure manipulation of the masses and reflective of Black folks’ addiction to drama. I received the e-mail blast about NBC not supporting Foxx’s special NO LESS THAN 15 TIMES from people most of whom don't know each other and at my different e-mail addresses.

For the one or two Blacks who didn’t get the message and the white people who were left out, here’s the message…

<<Subject: Jamie Foxx - Music Special Controversy on NBC-Please ReadPlease take the time to forward the below message to everyone in your address book. NBC is not doing any marketing & publicity on Jamie's Music Special on NBC because he stood his ground and wouldn't have any white guest as they requested. To make it even worse he had two controversial guest stars, that do not fit the "NBC profile" on his show. Tune in to find out who they are. They are purposely putting his show up against the second week of American Idol in hopes that it will fail. This will give them the excuse to never give another black person a music special because "it doesn't work". Let's show them that it does work, and that we support each other. Tivo Idol, and watch Jamie. I saw the taping, it is a good show. J Foxx making history on NBC. This is the first time NBC has ever aired an entire young urban African American cast on a music special. We need to show support. This was not an easy sell for Jamie and he stood his ground to make it happen the way he saw fit.


I didn't forward the message to anyone because I think Black people have IMPORTANT issues to deal with and this is NOT one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I think Foxx is a super-talented brother and I like his work most of the time but this hype was ridiculous. Just send me a message asking me to watch the show; I really didn't need the drama for motivation.

When all is said and done, I must sadly admit that I am in the minority and marketing folks have Black folk figured out as a group. "Get ’dem coloreds mad and we'll get some action... "
If Black folk would only exert HALF as much energy into voting, supporting black businesses and educating our people...well, you know the rest.

P.S. I didn’t see the show on Wednesday but I did see most of it when it was re-broadcast last night. More power to Foxx. He is a great singer and in my humble opinion has yet to demonstrate his true vocal skills. The bottom-line for Foxx, his management team, his record label and NBC is that it’s all about the Benjamins. Recognize.

A special thanks for the inspiration from Every1 Wants 2be Black But Blacks. There is intelligent life out there….

© VANESSA BYERS, 2006 , Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!


A Love Poem to My Daughter (Rest In Peace)

I thought of You today Playing in the rain Jumping rope And shopping at the arts and craft store

I thought of You today
At the bookstore
Buying leotards and tap shoes
Schlepping to dance class
And re-dressing my Barbie dolls

I thought of You today
Finding the “right” dress for Your cotillion
Packing Your things for college
Our talks about men and relationships
And shopping for Your car

I thought of You today
As I cleaned out Your room
And packed away Your things
Took care of Your animal kingdom
And answered e-mails from Your friends

I thought of You today
And let the warmth of our love
Envelope me with happiness
As I listened to Your CDs
of Lauryn Hill…Bob Marley…Nina Simone
I thought of You

© VANESSA BYERS, 2006 , Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!


The World In A Bright Light

This was forwarded to me by a friend. Hope you enjoy it. Peace and Love.


The World In A Bright Light


Everyday is a blessing, and in each moment there are many things that we can be grateful for. The world opens up to us when we live in a space of gratitude. In essence, gratitude has a snowball effect. When we are appreciative and express that gratitude, the universe glows a bit brighter and showers us with even more blessings.

There is always something to be grateful for, even when life seems hard. When times are tough, whether we are having a bad day or stuck in what may feel like an endless rut, it can be difficult to take the time to feel grateful. Yet, that is when gratitude can be most important. If we can look at our lives, during periods of challenge, and find something to be grateful for, then we can transform our realities in an instant. There are blessings to be found everywhere. When we are focusing on what is negative, our abundance can be easy to miss. Instead, choosing to find what already exists in our lives that we can appreciate can change what we see in our world. We start to notice one blessing, and then another.

When we constantly choose to be grateful, we notice that every breath is a miracle and each smile becomes a gift. We begin to understand that difficulties are also invaluable lessons. The sun is always shining for us when we are grateful, even if it is hidden behind clouds on a rainy day. A simple sandwich becomes a feast, and a trinket is transformed into a treasure. Living in a state of gratitude allows us to spread our abundance because that is the energy that we emanate from our beings. Because the world reflects back to us what we embody, the additional blessings that inevitably flow our way give us even more to be grateful for. The universe wants to shower us with blessings. The more we appreciate life, the more life appreciates and bestows us with more goodness.

© VANESSA BYERS, 2006 , Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Wilson Pickett Dies of Heart Attack at 64

Soul pioneer, Wilson “Wicked” Pickett passed away of a heart attack. Here’s news coverage from the British press. Rest in Peace.

Wilson Pickett's musical legacy
Soul legend Wilson Pickett, who has died at the age of 64, was known for his enduring soul hits, which helped move the genre into a more energetic period.

His biggest hits Mustang Sally and In the Midnight Hour have transcended the decades since their release in the 1960s and are seen as the corner stone of soul music.

Born in Alabama in 1941, Pickett had 10 brothers and sisters in a household heavily influenced by gospel music. His grandfather was a preacher who refused to allow Pickett to sing non-religious songs in the house.

In his mid-teens, Pickett moved to Detroit to live with his father, and began to be inspired by local singers such as Jackie Wilson.

He gravitated away from gospel singing to join an R&B group called the Falcons, honing his songwriting skills.

He had several early solo hits, including If You Need Me, which went on to be covered by the Rolling Stones and Solomon Burke, with whom he became great friends.

Songwriting dispute

Pickett signed with Atlantic Records in 1964, releasing In the Midnight Hour the following year.
The song was said to be co-written by him and Booker T and the MGs guitarist Steve Cropper but later became the subject of a dispute when Pickett claimed he should have been given a sole writing credit.

Cropper called this "crazy" and that Pickett "had nothing to do with writing that music".
Other hits during the 1960s included the much-covered 634-5789, Land of the 1,000 Dances and Funky Broadway.

As well as raucous soul music, Pickett was also known for his experimental cover versions of songs including the Beatles Hey Jude and Steppenwolf's Born to Be Wild.
By the 1970s his popularity and marketability was on the wane, with a switch in labels doing little to revive his music career.

Jail term

When Irish-set film The Commitments was released in 1991 featuring his most popular songs, Pickett's musical legacy was rejuvenated.
The same year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, cementing his role in the history of music.

But around the same time, Pickett's personal life was going through a torrid period.
In 1991 he was arrested for driving over a mayor's front lawn while allegedly yelling death threats. He was also charged with assaulting a girlfriend.

Two years later he was jailed for one year for hitting an 86-year-old man while drunk-driving.
Cocaine possession and carrying a loaded gun charges were also levelled at him.

But close friend Solomon Burke said Pickett had turned his life around and they were planning to write and record an album with Ben E King and Don Covay.

Pickett, a father of four, released his last album in 1999, the Grammy-nominated It's Harder Now.

© VANESSA BYERS, 2006 , Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Rest in Peace, Shelley Winters

Shelley Winters, born Shirley Schrift, passed away last week. She was a fantastic actress and somewhat ahead of her time in her lifestyle and the characters she played. The Diary of Anne Frank is probably the first movie I remember her in although many would remember her from The Poseidon Adventure. Winters was a fantastic actor from her serious roles to her quirky roles in some of the blaxploitation films of the 1970’s. Rest in Peace, Shelley Winters Job well done. © VANESSA BYERS, 2006 , Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!