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April 2006

It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp? I sure hope so!

This is an excellent commentary on the "Pimping" culture that is destroying the fabric of the Black community.

Pimping Consumer Culture

Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2006

By: Michelle Singletary

WASHINGTON -- I just can't get the tune ``It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp'' out of my head. It's the one that recently won an Academy Award for best original song. But don't for a second think I like the song, which is from the movie ``Hustle & Flow." I can't get the music out of my head because in a larger sense, the accolades the song is getting represent another hustle that's going on in the black community.

Black entertainers and entrepreneurs are producing stuff that reflects values African-Americans should be shunning. Yet I know some black folks were rooting for the song to win just because it was written and performed by African-Americans. Black unity doesn't mean paying good money for goods produced by people who have lost (or never had) a moral compass. And we shouldn't root for them, just because they're black. We need to be critical consumers in all our decisions.

That means don't spend your money or let your children spend their money to buy CDs with songs that depict women in the most degrading ways. Don't pay to see movies that are morally corrupt. Don't support entrepreneurs who sell products with names such as Pimp Juice. Boycott designers who sell clothing that makes a woman or little girl look like a ho (shorthand for whore). We shouldn't come that cheap.

This, of course, isn't a black thing. Black consumers aren't the only ones willingly spending money on products, movies and music that are values-challenged. But after the Oscar went to ``It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp,'' I was outraged so many blacks applaud its win. Jon Stewart joked during the Oscar broadcast, ``I think it just got a little easier out here for a pimp." I did not laugh.

I saw the movie ``Hustle & Flow," but I would have never paid a dime of my hard-earned money to see it in the theater. I was on a cruise and there was a free screening. My husband and I had no idea what the movie was about. I had only heard the buzz about this movie co-produced by black filmmaker John Singleton. We watched in disgust as this picture made the character DJay, a pimp, out to be sympathetic. DJay's dream is to become a rap artist. One reviewer called him a ``pimp with a heart of gold.'' DJay's monologues about dreaming big are deep. But there is just one little thing -- he's a pimp.

You may argue that there is a long and honored tradition of sympathetic anti-heroes in both movies and literature. But my main problem with ``Hustle & Flow" is there's no moral center, no recognition either from the character or the film's writer or producers that pimping is wrong. All along the way while striving for his dream, DJay is a nightmare for the women he pimps. He makes one woman prostitute herself so he can get an expensive microphone. He doesn't have any remorse for the way he makes a living. He's only frustrated that his dream isn't coming true soon enough.

``Everybody gotta have a dream," says DJay, played by Terrence Howard, who was also nominated for an Oscar. OK, I'll give him that. A pimp can have dreams. In this case, he has a song in his heart that he wants the world to hear.

And what is that song? ``Whoop That Trick."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is turning over in his grave. It's not just ``Hustle & Flow'' though. Look at the debasing portrayal of women on videos abundantly aired by BET, a cable network started by a black man. But it's not just the network's fault. These porn-like videos continue to be made because millions of black people keep buying the music featured in them. People actually pay to hear vile, profanity-laced routines by black comics.

A few years ago Nelly, a hip-hop superstar, introduced an energy drink called Pimp Juice. Nelly even created a P.I.M.P. (Positive. Intellectual. Motivated. Person.) scholarship. This year's scholarship will award monetary prizes for college students who submit the most creative commercials for Pimp Juice. It's an opportunity for them to produce a commercial ``that best captures the essence of the energized, successful hip-hop lifestyle,'' the scholarship announcement said. No doubt in my mind, most of the commercials will have half-naked women gyrating and grinding on men.

I don't care how much money my children might need for college, there is no way in the world I would let them or encourage them to apply for a scholarship that uses the word ``pimp" as its acronym. Nelly can try to make the letters spell out something positive all he wants, but it still stands for pimp. Does he have any sense of what a wretched human being a pimp is? A pimp sexually and financially exploits women, often young girls.

As consumers we have a lot of power. Clearly the entertainers and entrepreneurs won't stop producing trash until we stop supporting them with our dollars. Let's make it impossible for people to get rich or make a dime glorifying the pimp lifestyle and other such immoral behaviors. It ought to be hard for them out there.

Listen to Michelle Singletary discuss personal finance every Tuesday on NPR's ``Day to Day.'' To hear her reports online go to Readers can write to her c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her e-mail address is [email protected]. Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

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Rest in Peace, June Pointer

June Pointer, youngest of the famed Oakland, CA singing group, The Pointer Sisters, dies of cancer at 52.

The famous sisters recorded several Grammy award winning songs. Their nostalgic style of dress was copied by many females in the seventies.

June and her sisters made a memorable cameo appearance with Richard Pryor in “Car Wash” and in one of my favorite videos, Jump. June always appears to be somewhat not at peace. I think that came from her immense talent and the inability to get it all out. June Pointer sang, danced and had a few acting roles on her resume.

Hopefully, the Pointer Sisters music will make a comeback. Surely June would have wanted it that way. God Bless the rest of the sisters and their family. Ashe’.

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The Devastation of New Orleans continues

Will upcoming elections be another theft like the elections in Florida in 2000?

As the bodies of loved ones continue to be found in New Orleans, the tragedy and travesty resulting from the disaster seem never-ending. The horror of finding skeletal remains and the horror of an election system that ignores the basic civil rights of American citizens is almost too much to bear.

How can human life and humanity have become so devalued in these United States of America? As the world watches, the devastation of New Orleans continues. Even as I visited there many years ago, the number of Black folks in the city wasn’t really an issue for me. What is most memorable to me was the hospitality, the great food and great music.

Unfortunately, the real significance of New Orleans was lost on me. I only went beyond the surface of her history after she was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Will the elections in New Orleans be stolen as they were in Florida? Only time will tell. In the meantime, all of the citizens of New Orleans need to participate in the upcoming election.

There are too many unanswered questions and far too few answers. The beauracy should not allow another hurricane season to begin without doing the proper recovery of remains. How can private citizens do what the government has not? Enough is enough.

New Orleanians are resilient people. It's time for the U.S. government to step it up. Do the right thing. Laissez les bontemps rouler.

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Duke University Rape Scandal

As the Duke University rape scandal continues to escalate, results from DNA testing indicate no match. On the surface it may appear that the case is closed. I think not. The test result proves that there was no DNA match, not that a rape did not occur.

This case brings to light to true atmosphere of racism that we live in today. There is no need to continue to pretend that all are welcome at Duke with open arms. The truth is the light. It is what it is. Let’s just deal with it in an open and honest manner.

Duke University has no control over the behavior and actions of its students in this type of situation. Duke University does have control over those who are its agents and representatives, including student athletes. For the coach to have resigned without the completion of an investigation or changes been filed indicates that something is terribly wrong.

As a woman, I am pained when a young woman --- a young female college student who is also a mother resorts to that kind of job anyway. There are so many issues that this unfortunate situation uncovers. It is sad but true that a quick dollar can be made dancing for men in situations like this. Our children and young adults need options to keep them from resorting to illegal and unsavory activities.

One thing is certain, the young woman and the young men know what actually occurred.

Attorneys: No DNA Match in Duke Scandal
Dated: 04/11/2006 10:58:34 AM

In the latest twist to the rape allegation that has rocked Duke University, DNA swabs taken from 46 lacrosse players failed to match evidence collected from a woman who claims she was raped at a team party, defense attorneys say.

"No DNA from any young man tested was found anywhere on or about this woman," defense attorney Wade Smith said Monday. District Attorney Mike Nifong did not return calls for comment.

The alleged victim, a 27-year-old student at a nearby college, told police she and another woman were hired to dance at the party. The woman told police that three men at the party dragged her into a bathroom, choked her, raped her and sodomized her. The allegations led to days of protests on and off the Duke campus.

Authorities ordered 46 of the 47 players on Duke's lacrosse team to submit DNA samples to investigators. Because the woman said her attackers were white, the team's sole black player was not tested.

No charges have been filed in the case, but Nifong has said he believes a crime occurred at the March 13 party, and that he doesn't necessarily need DNA evidence to prosecute.

Nifong was expected to participate in a forum Tuesday morning at North Carolina Central University, the historically black university a few miles from Duke where the alleged victim is a student. The Associated Press does not name alleged victims in sexual assault cases.

Attorneys for members of Duke's lacrosse team hoped the DNA results would convince Nifong that their clients did not sexually assault the exotic dancer. According to court documents, only lacrosse team members were at the party.

"He is a man with discretion," Smith of the decision facing Nifong on whether to bring charges. "He doesn't have to do it, and we hope that he won't."

Robert Archer, whose son Breck is a junior on the team, said that while it's Nifong's prerogative to pursue the case if he so chooses, it would be a waste of time.

"I know the kids on the team, and I know they're innocent. We knew it from the start," Archer said by phone from his home in East Quogue, N.Y.

Court experts not connected with the Duke case cautioned that the DNA results could make prosecution difficult, but not impossible.

"There's an old saying that the absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence," said Peter Neufeld, co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project.

Neufeld, who specializes in using DNA to free wrongly convicted prisoners, said it's still possible that the woman could have been assaulted. A doctor and forensic sexual assault nurse examined the woman and found evidence consistent with a rape having occurred, police documents show.
Loyola Law School professor Stan Goldman agreed that DNA evidence is not necessary to win a conviction. But he added that Nifong would have a lot to overcome without it.

"In this day and age, it's the 'CSI' effect," he said, referring to the popular "Crime Scene Investigation" series on TV. "If you don't find the evidence, then maybe it's not the guy. In 'CSI,' they always find the evidence."

Defense attorney Bill Thomas said authorities found none of the alleged victim's DNA in the bathroom where she told police she was attacked. "Our experts tell us that being gang-raped by three men would leave DNA material to be examined," Thomas said.

But Neufeld disagreed: "The truth is if you speak to crime lab directors, they will tell you that in only a relatively small number of cases is there any DNA evidence."

Goldman said the failure to find any matching DNA evidence, is "not the end of the case, but it's kind of damning to the prosecution case."

"Isn't the absence of DNA evidence, given the way the victim has described the crime, in and of itself almost enough to raise a reasonable doubt?" asked Goldman. "That's all the defense has to do."

(Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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Black males, you can save yourselves


Black males, you can save yourselves By Roosevelt Wilson,Publisher

The plight of our young black males in this country has been inspected, dissected, analyzed, scrutinized and criticized.

We’ve written papers and books; we’ve held conferences, workshops and focus groups.
Yet in increasing numbers our young black males have little or no respect for themselves and even less for others. Too many of them make bad choices and drop out of school. Too many make even worse choices and end up in jail, prison or dead.

This information is not new, but I refer to the following from the book “The American Directory of Certified Uncle Toms (Chicago: Lushena, 2002) to make a point:

“For many blacks, drug use (including alcohol) amounts to self-medication for depression rooted in hopelessness caused by white racism.

“This medical need is exploited by a corrupt society hell-bent on criminalizing the black race.
“Blacks, who comprise only 13 percent of the population and account for about 13 percent of drug users, constitute 35 percent of all arrests for drug possession, 55 percent of all convictions on those charges, and 74 percent of all those sentenced to prison for possession.

“Blacks are incarcerated at a rate that is more than six times that of whites.

“In total, between 1980 and 1999, the incarceration rate for blacks more than tripled from 1,156 per 100,000, to 3,620 per 100,000. This is more than four times the rate of incarceration of blacks in South Africa during the apartheid era.

“The number of college-aged black males in prisons and jails in the United States, 583,000, is greater than the number of black males enrolled in higher education, 537,000.
“On any given day, about one in three blacks between the ages of 20 and 29 is in prison, on probation, or on parole.

“In 1999 nearly 1.5 million children in the United States had at least one parent in state or federal prison (up from fewer than 1 million in 1991).

“The black male homicide rate is seven times the white male rate.

“Blacks make up 40 percent of the death row population.

There is more, but I’ll stop there. It doesn’t take a genius to see something terribly wrong with this picture.

Couple those grim statistics with the indisputable fact that this government and its social structure were built to exclude blacks, and it becomes understandable why many blacks use those statistics as an example of why blacks, especially young black males, fare so poorly.

But while that could be a reason, it’s no excuse. If our people survived slavery, which was not our choice, we certainly can also survive in today’s climate in which we have to scratch and claw our way to success.

There is an abundance of evidence that too often we look at the odds against us as a reason to fail rather than to find a way to beat the odds.

That’s one of the most profound lessons I learned during my junior year at Bethune-Cookman College.

It was in 1961 when we still had to abide by the “white” and “colored” signs. I had made the mistake of drinking from an unmarked, outdoor water fountain that I quickly learned was for whites only.

The manager ordered me away from the fountain and off his property in a tone and language that made me feel almost worthless.

I was depressed and angry, of course at the man, but also at a system that was so unfair simply because of the color of my skin.

But that same afternoon I had a life-changing experience that taught me that I, not the system, was in charge of my destiny.

During our weekly convocation the speaker on that day was “Bunky” Matthews, B-CC’s head football coach, who was an outstanding motivational speaker as was his chief rival “Jake” Gaither at Florida A&M University.

At one point it was as though I was in the auditorium alone and Bunky was talking to me. And in a Baptist-preacher-like, dramatic delivery he recited a poem I would later learn was Edgar Guest’s “It Couldn’t Be Done.”

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

No excuses, young black males: Stay out of trouble, do the right thing.
You can do it.

Talk with Roosevelt Wilson about this or any other topic live on the radio version of “Against the Grain” Fridays at 9 a.m. on WTAL 1450 AM. Call 671-1450 to participate on the air. Or email him at: [email protected]. To hear the live Webcast go to

Roosevelt Wilson is editor and publisher of the Capital Outlook.

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Easter Humor

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New Orleans police officers accused of brutality against Black woman


Jonie Pratt, wife of Desmond Pratt, a 10-year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department,right, talks with a reporter along with her mother-in-law Dulcie Scott in New Orleans Wednesday, April 5, 2006. Scott, said Pratt was injured by police officers when they pulled her over claiming she ran a stop sign. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

As if it couldn't get worse, three police officers --- two white and one Black --- have been accused of beating a black woman after a traffic stop. As it turns out, the woman is the wife of Desmond Pratt, 10 year veteran of the New Orleans police force and sister of three-year veteran Nancy Parker.

Jonie Pratt is the latest inidividual to report brutality allegations at the hands of New Orleans. With the public broadcast of the beating of retired teacher, Robert Davis, New Orleans police are looking like a force out of control.

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Russian skinheads continue attacks

Ethnic hatred, beatings, shooting, heinous murder of children. These are but a few of the crimes committed by Russian skinheads. Almost unbelievably, news reports of the extremely brutal murder of a nine-year old Tajik girl have gone largely unreported in the United States.

What kind of nonsense is this? With minimal research, other incidents have been reported but to no avail as the skinheads receive very light sentences, if any at all.

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Alicia Keys Visits Africa to Fight HIV/AIDS

Grammy-award winning singer Alicia Keys is on a life-saving mission to help fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. More than 25 million people have died from the effects of the syndrome. The devastation on the family structure and psyche of those who survive or are orphaned as a result is mind-boggling.

Keys and Oprah Winfrey are a few of the celebrities who have taken a personal interest in this project and are lending their support to save the children of Africa. Check out the website for this organization and spread the word about this campaign.

Most important, give to help purchase medicines for the neediest children and their families. Thank you, my sister Alicia. Skee-wee!

Keep a Child Alive (New York office)360 9th St., 2nd FloorBrooklyn, NY 11215 718-965-1111
(Washington, D.C., office)1225 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite 401Washington, DC 20036202-296-0260

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Shattering the Myth of White Supremacy

Inarguably, carrying out the duties as the leader of the free world is a daunting task. It is equally disarming that our leader appears so uncomfortable and awkward on most public occassions. As a Yale graduate, he also makes one wonder if a prestigious Ivy League education is a farce.

Whether we Americans like him or not, or voted for him or not, he is our leader. Let's pray that he makes wise decisions and functions in the best interest of the entire country and not just his rich, oil buddies. Amen.

We can dream, right?

There really is nothing left to be said.

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