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May 2006

What will history say about us if we do not Save Darfur?

I’ve seen the reports on television about the crisis in Darfur but had not really devoted the attention to it that it deserves. There is so much going on in the world today, especially right here in the United States, that sometimes I am in such pain from just thinking about the masses of people that need help in the world.

Our own devastation of recent hurricanes that are still not resolved and may not be resolved any time soon, cost of living making poor people poorer and middle-class people poor. Soldiers dying everyday in Iraq for oil that we can’t pay for here in the United States, it is indeed a frantic situation.

Double standards for Haitian immigrants, disparate drug conviction policies, HIV/AIDS in the Black community, real estate developers continuing to destroy the land, corrupt politicians, an inadequate educational system and apathetic citizens. How can I care about one more thing? Especially about people so many miles away from the United States?

How could I not care about these people? There but for the grace of God go I. As bad as things are, we can still help here and abroad. So we must. Too many people have been killed, tortured, raped and otherwise abused for us to ignore this. The terror is till happening today.

Go to for more information. Send an electronic postcard to President Bush to stop the violence in Darfur. I apologize for the long blog, I tried to keep it brief but this is too sensitive for me. Thanks for allowing me to vent. Go to the links and spread the word about this situation. Off my soapbox, for now… Thanks.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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In Memoriam - Our Fallen Soldiers

I am a regular viewer of the In Memoriam segment on ABC-TV’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. In what may be considered morbid fashion, I watch the end of the program to see the names of the soldiers killed in Iraq the past week.

When my classmate, Edmund’s son, “Dakie” was killed a couple of years ago, it made the war in Iraq so much more personal for me. Yeah, that war that President Bush said had ended about three years ago.

Each week names are listed. I see the names of teenagers and soldiers in their twenties and it hurts my heart. I won't even go into the emotions when I see the names of women. Lives lost for weapons of mass destruction that have yet to be found. Lives lost in a war that ‘s all about oil; it’s so tragic.

This week the names of 26 soldiers were released. God Bless them. Check the video here. Ashe’.

RIP - Edmund L. "Dakie" Randle, Jr.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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Miami Heat up one in series against Detroit Pistons

I was so exhausted today that I totally missed the Heat-Pistons game. I mean totally missed it --- not the tip-off... not half-time highlights... nothing... zip... nada.

My early morning internet search gave me the game highlights and the score. The Heat are up and this may be their payback year against the Pistons. One down, maybe only three to go.

I also missed the American Idol finals. The thing is, I'd planned on NOT WATCHING that. Y'all already know how I feel about that hype show. Taylor...Katherine...Taylor...Katherine... Please put me out of my misery and get this sh*t over with. It's like Grandpa's line form the movie, The Lost Boys, "...when you have TV Guide, you don't need a TV", that's how I feel about NOT WATCHING American Idol. I get way tooo much info from television. Valuable air time wasted on that crap.

I really digressed that time... GO HEAT!

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

MTV's Yo Momma is no laughing matter

I like to laugh as much as the next person but MTV's Yo Momma is no laughing matter. Not only does it contribute to the continued ignorance of young people, it is racially insulting and insenstive. Who at Viacom thought this was OK and why aren't Black leaders and entertainers up in arms about this show?

With the show rising to the top of MTV's most viewed shows, it's highly unlikely that it will be taken off the air any time soon. What is even more sad is that young Blacks do not understand that they are being insulted and choose to participate in this mess.

Please share the op-ed piece below with your family and friends. Thanks.


YO MOMMA! MTV Tarzan Takes the Ghetto by Storm

"Your momma’s so lazy, the last time she had a job, the minimum wage was slavery.” -- White winner insulting black loser on MTV

By Lloyd Williams

May 5, 2006

In the climactic showdown in the movie 8 Mile, the character Rabbit humiliates his hapless black opponent in a rap contest staged right in the ‘hood in which they take turns ridiculing each other. Of course, since Eminem was the star of this supposedly autobiographical vehicle, everybody expected the white guy to get the better of the brother.

Recently, MTV debuted a new reality series entitled “Yo Momma” ostensibly inspired by the sort of braggadocio found not only in 8 Mile, but in the average hip-hop music video. Picture an unplugged version of gangsta rap, trash talk sans samples and beats, where all you hear is the loudmouth shouting.

The basic format has the host visiting a couple of different L.A. neighborhoods to find the most gifted trash talker on the block between the ages of 18-22. Then he has the two best square-off in a no-holds-barred finale where they mercilessly denigrate each other’s mothers on national television in order to walk away with a measly grand prize of $1000.

Though only on the air for a few weeks, the show has already shot up the charts, and presently enjoys the third highest rating among all cable programs in the coveted teen demographic. Given its sudden popularity, I decided to check out an episode and was frankly quite shocked at the offensive repartee, which struck me as almost deliberately designed to antagonize and inflame along ethnic lines, especially the insensitive barbs aimed at blacks by white participants.

“You’re mother is like an SUV, big, black with room for six construction workers inside,” went a winning quip leveled by a great white hope named Harp at a dumbstruck black kid who couldn’t think of a clever comeback. So the fast and furious abuser only escalated the attack with, “You’re mother gave birth to a black Shrek. That’s why you look like a [expletive]-ing ogre” and “You’re mother’s so old and fat, it wasn’t the Underground Railroad till she sat on it.”

I know that “playing the dozens” is an age-old oral tradition, but excuse me for asking exactly when did it become socially-acceptable, let alone cool, for a Caucasian to pervert African-American culture by resorting to every hurtful stereotype about slavery and skin color and in the most mean-spirited fashion he can think of? Worse, why, at the end of the day, is he proclaimed “King of the Hill” as if a modern-day Tarzan or kimosabe capable of conquering the slums?

Tragically, in one generation, the defining anthem of African-American youth has gone from asserting, “I’m black and I’m proud,” to being exogenously defined as the good-natured butt of racist jokes in demeaning tirades with punchlines like “You’re mother’s so black, they use her bath water to dye bowling balls.”

If you’re a responsible parent, you might want to monitor closely what your child is watching on television, because if we’ve learned nothing else from all the misogyny, self-hatred, self-destruction, conspicuous consumption, celebration of black-on-black street violence, and general jive superficiality running rampant in the rapidly vanishing Hip-Hop Generation, it’s that it doesn’t take very long for an impressionable young mind to become what it beholds.

And a mind is a terrible thing to lose.

For more information on Yo Momma (including air dates/times), visit MTV's website HERE.

Lloyd Williams is an attorney and a member of the bar in NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars.

[Stop the ignorance. Share this with your family and friends.]

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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English only --- gimme a break!

For the life of me, I don’t understand why otherwise intelligent American Blacks in Miami have a problem with making sure that young American Blacks are able to communicate in Spanish.

Regardless of the proposed “English only” legislation, Spanish is here to stay. In Miami, not being able to speak Spanish is a detriment to employability in many areas. It’s a no-brainer, why we would we not do everything we can to make sure that our children can have a better life? Without Spanish, they are tremendously limited.

Rather than fall back on so many old arguments about this is America and we should only speak English, look at it from a global perspective. Many educated people in other countries speak more than one language. Besides, it just doesn’t make sense to push “English only” after folks have been allowed to not speak English for some 30 to 40 years in this country. Gimme a break!

The world is flat and getting flatter everyday. Let’s be smart and make sure our children are equipped to maneuver the world. If speaking Spanish will help them, that’s all that matters --- just do it.

Muchisimas gracias and merci beaucoup.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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this i believe

The op-ed piece below is one of my favorites. With the corruption charges and other scandals facing our elected officials on all levels, it is even more on point. I'd like to take credit for writing it but it is the creation of Miami educator, attorney and activist, Glenn Terry. Enjoy, Vanessa.

Politicians' sincerity stretches the bounds of belief

This I Believe is a regular feature on National Public Radio. For three minutes, anyone can speak to the nation about their beliefs, things that are deeply important to them. The ones that are chosen for air play are quite profound.

Profound, I'm not. But I know where I'd start if I were recording one today.

I would say, ``I believe most politicians are liars. In their never ending quest to manipulate the truth and the people that they govern, they lie though their teeth. Some of their lies are easier to take than others.

I am sure that President Clinton inhaled. No biggie. On the other extreme is our current president who used lies to begin the war in Iraq.

There was no evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction and he knew it. He lied and thousands have died.

When the President, Vice President and Karl Rove said they had no idea who exposed CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame, they lied about that, too. They exposed her identity to help cover up their ''WMD'' lies. This I believe.''

It's embarrassing to have people like them leading the country.

The current administration's surly conduct seems to have trickled down to our town.

Does anyone believe City of Miami Manager Joe Arriola when he says he was unaware of the facts exposed in the recent fire safety fee scandal -- the one revolving around the deal that he himself brokered?

Did anyone believe our city commissioners when they said they were duped into voting for it?

What about this Ralph Arza thing? Four local officials reported that State Rep. Arza repeatedly referred to our county's school board superintendent (and Coconut Grove resident) Rudy Crew using racial epithets.

When The Miami Herald reported the story, the powerful state representative said, No way.

This I don't believe.

Days later he spoke before the state legislature saying he never meant to say anything racially insensitive and asked for forgiveness and understanding. He said he was sorry. Did he lie about that, too? It would be great to hear the truth for a change.

I would love to hear the George W's, Arriolas and Arzas of the world say, ''Yes, I knew it'' or ''Yep, I said it'' and take it from there. The world would be a better place if we were not constantly deceived by politicians.

This I believe.


The Twiggy House can be yours. The ridiculously thin house at the corner of Loquat and Douglas Road finally has a for sale sign on it.

Almost three years ago, my neighbors and I fought a developer's plan to build the razor-thin McMansion on a lot too small for a house.

We argued before the City of Miami Commission and lost.

The commission's decision has resulted in a new, narrow monument to its love affair with concrete.

It looks like stacked trailers stuccoed over.

The spacious abode stretches 13 feet wide at its front and swells to 15 toward the rear.

A pool no bigger than a Ping Pong table shimmers in its mini-yard like a hot tub without the hot.

This McMansion on a starvation diet can be yours for just $839,000.


Luis Hernandez and Don Finefrock threw a party for two of their very pregnant Irvington Avenue neighbors last weekend.

As mothers-to-be, Tefa Rosso and Cathy Maloney, were honored as we ate delicious Spanish hors d'oeuvres at the event aptly named, ``The Mommas and the Tapas.''

Glenn Terry is an educator, attorney and activist who lives in Coconut Grove.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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Jamia Nash

This child can't sing, she can sa-a-a-ng! She should should be fabulous as the young Fantasia in an upcoming movie about the life of American Idol winner, Fantasia Barrino! Check out the video of Jamia Nash.

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

Girls Gone Wild

The video franchise that is Girls Gone Wild, produces what has to be some of the most repugnant sh*t around. Nubile young females bare their breasts, engage in simulated lesbian sex and whatever else --- and this is just from the commercials.

I am so repulsed by the advertisement for these videos; I’ve never actually seen the video and don’t plan to. Girls Gone Wild videos are a multi-million business but damn, sometimes you just have to say no. It just doesn’t make any sense. The girls featured in the video are someone’s daughter, for sure. They behave in the most disgusting manner.

What fine examples of our children’s college education experience live and in effect. What a tribute to the sacrifices of the pioneers of women’s equality. It’s a shame.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee Simmons call it quits

Rap mogul Russell Simmons and model-businesswoman Kimora Lees Simmons are calling it quits. They’d actually been separated for months as they continued to share their mansion. Hopefully they will continue to exhibit class and not sink to the Charlie Sheen – Denise Richards level. Part Deux: Could Kimora Lee Simmons be regretting her breakup more than estranged hubby Russell is? When the two were paired at Anna Wintour's Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala Monday, someone asked the hip-hop mogul if they were back together. "Just for this event," he said. As they were leaving, Kimora tried to slip her hand into Russell's as they approached photogs. Simmons, who's been linked with models Naima Mora and Denise Vasi, whom he brought to California, "wanted no part of it," our spywitness swears. Then, when it looked as if they were about to depart in separate limos (sniff!), Kimora knocked on the window of Russell's Maybach, snapped at him and jumped in. Later, he turned up at Bungalow 8 — alone. …

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

17 year-old killed in Miami over who has the best car - UPDATE

In the wee hours of this morning, a 17 year-old Black male was killed during an argument over who had the best car. The setting was a house party and the young man had graduated only one week earlier. The car was a gift to him.

At least one life was ended behind some silliness about "who has the best car", not who has the best grades, not who's going to college, but over a stupid car. WTF?

Hello Black people, wake up! Can't blame that death on white people or latin people or police or anyone else. One Black is dead and several others were injured behind some bullsh*t about a damn car!

Wake up. Black people.

UPDATE: 05/22/2006 - The young man killed, Jeffrey Johnson, was an honor student (5.5 GPA) and made one of the highest scores on the FCAT test in Florida. Johnson earned a scholarship to St. Thomas University with plans to study Law.

Suspected shooter, Antwon Grace,21,turned himself in this afternoon. Two other young men were wounded in the melee.

Young, black males killing each reminds of the vignette from Tales from the Hood when the gang-banger was shown how his violent actions served the agenda of white supremacists. It was a very interesting segment of the movie, perhaps it needs to be shown again.

I feel the pain of Jeffrey Johnson's parents, a promising young life ended in such a violent, unnecessary manner. Jeffrey was praised by U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek whose office he interned and volunteered in when he could. Meek said that Johnson was destined to be a leader in the community with his direct eye contact and strong handshake.

Antwon Grace, on the other hand, was labeled a violent criminal with an extensive rap sheet. At 21 years-old an extensive rap sheet! Come on, we must save these children. Our future depends on it.

Turn off the television and that violent, ignorant rap music. Encourage children to read, listen to positive music and explore the community. Let's re-claim our young people before it's too late.

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