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October 2007

Oprah in the News for Good and Bad Reasons

Oprah and her show have been in the news for odd reasons lately. First of all, a big deal is being made about Oprah's interview with supermodel Heidi Klum and her husband, Grammy-award winner, Seal. It seems that Miss Heidi was oh so honest when admitting that one of the first things she noticed about Seal was his rather ample package. He was wearing biker shorts at the time, give the woman a break.

Hardly a mumbling word would be uttered if Klum was black but since she's white some folks are giving her a hard time about it. I do admire the fact that Klum has no regrets about making the statement. Hey, let me be honest, I probably would have noticed too. The truth is the light.

Anyhoo, the couple has been married for two and a half years and by all appearances are very happy. It takes more than Seal's package to keep that marriage intact so rather than rag on the couple, just wish them well and move on to something really important.

In more Oprah news, it seems that her much publicized all-girls school in Africa is the subject of a sexual and physical abuse scandal. Oprah tearfully apologized to the parents of the girls and gave the girls her contact information to reach her personally.

The father of one of the girls said they didn't blame Oprah.

Media Sues for Access to Mychal Bell Trial

The Chicago Tribune and other media outlets have filed a petition for access to Mychal Bell's upcoming criminal trial. It seems unreal that the media would be forced to do so. At this point, any ruling from a Louisiana court should come as no surprise. It would likely not be in the best interest of the State of Louisiana to actually allow the public to see how its judicial system is run.

Sometimes it difficult to determine whether we're in 2007 or 1957. Stay tuned for results of the decision.

Click here for Chicago Tribune article.

Girl alleges sex abuse in Texas prison

I am late making this post but I would be remiss in not sharing this article in case you are not aware of this sickening situation. This is the story of the 14 year-old white girl in Paris, Texas who was given probation for arson when 14 year-old Shaquanda Cotton who is black was sentenced to up to seven years in prison for shoving a hall monitor.

I won't attempt to paraphrase the words of Chicago Tribune correspondent Howard Witt; please read the post in its entirety.,0,333895.story


Girl alleges sex abuse in Texas prison

White teen whose sentence led to uproar over racial disparities says guard molested her

By Howard Witt 

Tribune senior correspondent

October 9, 2007


When the Chicago Tribune published the story last March of Shaquanda Cotton, the 14-year-old black girl from Paris, Texas, who was imprisoned for shoving a hall monitor at her high school, the article quickly provoked a national civil rights scandal because of apparent racial disparities in the way justice was administered in the small east Texas town.

Shaquanda had no prior arrest record, and the hall monitor was not seriously injured. Yet the teenager was convicted in March 2006 of assault and sentenced by Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville to prison for up to 7 years.

Just three months earlier, Superville sentenced a 14-year-old white girl, convicted of the more serious crime of arson, to probation.

The furor that erupted over the disparity in how the two girls were treated prompted Texas authorities to release Shaquanda from prison three weeks after the Tribune article appeared.

This is the story of what happened to the white girl in that saga.

It appears she has suffered a fate far worse than Shaquanda's.

The emotionally troubled teenager, who has been diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, was sent to the same youth prison in Brownwood, Texas, where Shaquanda was incarcerated, because she subsequently violated her probation twice.

While there, the teenager -- whom the Tribune is not identifying -- was allegedly sexually molested by a male prison guard, who then threatened her to keep her quiet, according to documents and witness statements examined by the Tribune. The girl self-mutilated her arms with a knife, carving the word "Why" into her flesh, her mother said.

Last spring, the girl attempted suicide by swallowing a handful of pills prescribed for another inmate. When a guard rushed into her cell to rescue her, authorities allege, the girl knocked the officer to the ground -- an assault that tacked another 6 months onto her sentence.

Even worse, officials at the Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex knew of allegations that the guard was sexually abusing the girl but did not remove him from contact with female inmates until four months later.

Continue reading "Girl alleges sex abuse in Texas prison" »

Why Did I Get Married is Good for the Soul

It's the weekend, baby! Have some fun and go see Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married I know I saw it twice last weekend and you know what, I think I'll see it again. I don't know if it's the storyline or all the hotness in the movie or what? Let me just be honest, OK?

Anyhoo, on a serious tip, Why Did I Get Married is a great opportunity to laugh, cry and for a reality check. That's what Tyler Perry movies tend to do. Perry uses the movie to preach…teach…send a message. That's what his movies are all about; if you don't like that formula, don't see the movie. The truth be told, most of us need those messages big time. I saw myself and my friends, at different points in our lives, in all of the characters. No, I'm not saying which characters or friends.

Some of the problems in the relationships between the couples seem too unreal but then I guess some folks may go through some craziness in their married lives. No doubt, Jill Scott and Tasha Smith steal the movie. Scott does a commendable job of portraying the down-trodden, Sheila. Tasha Smith played the role of Angela, the angry black woman. I dug the character in the honest moments but I am getting so sick and tired of that angry black woman character. It's hardly conceivable that a woman with such attitude could be the owner of a successful hair salon but maybe I'm the only one that feels that way.

Over all the acting was decent. The characters could have used more development to justify some of the emotional extremes and explain their actions.

Now, let me get a tad shallow…I was so feeling the wardrobe of the women, especially Janet's. Those shoes and handbags had me practically drooling --- yes, I have my weaknesses and I'm dealing with them. I even loved the furs, faux or not. Michael Jai White in his boxers on the television screen is one thing but to see him on the big screen was breathtaking. I don't care what role he plays, he will always be Spawn to me. I did not expect Lamman Rucker to be so gorgeous. Warning to women, it's just a movie. Let's not make ourselves crazy expecting Sheriff Troy to come to our rescue.

And another thing, if you can't find a babysitter, leave your children at home. The characters on the movie screen can't hear you, so why talk to them? I just don't get it. Laughing out loud is one thing, but a conversation is something else.

Let me just touch a couple of points before I end this post. The cast of this movie is mostly black but I encourage white people to see it also. The problems the couples face are universal and you can learn from the movie also. Brothers, go see the movie with your wives, girlfriends, etc. You'll enjoy the laughs and hopefully your relationships will be strengthened.

Georgia Supreme Court Frees Genarlow Wilson

The Georgia Supreme Court freed Genarlow Wilson. Excuse me if I save my rejoicing until I see him walk out of the prison gates. We rejoiced a couple of months ago when we thought he'd be released so I'm a bit jaded when it comes to the law.

Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears wrote the majority opinion in the scant 4-3 vote that allowed this young man to go free. I'd take that also if I were Genarlow and his attorney B.J. Bernstein but it's also a signal that much more needs to be done in our justice system.

I'm not going to any racial position although young black men appear to be targets based on recent newscasts. Let's just look at the situation…10 years for a bj? Give me a break. How the folks that prosecuted the case and then tried their best to keep Genarlow locked up is ridiculous.

Just so you know, the vote was not along ethnic lines. For the record, this is how the judges voted: The majority: Justices Leah Ward Sears, Carol Hunstein, Robert Benham and Hugh Thompson. In dissent: Justices George Carley, Harris Hines and Harold Melton. Click here to download the Court's opinion.

Hopefully, Genarlow Wilson will actually be released soon. Getting his life back on track will be challenging but I'm praying that Genarlow and his family will heal from this trauma in their loves and that Genarlow will be able to move on to a fabulously productive life.

Related link:

Georgia Supreme Court


California Wildfires, Hurricane Katrina and American Political Pawns

The look of helplessness on the faces of the victims of the California wildfires is all too familiar. Having survived a few hurricanes and the flooding of my home, that is a feeling unlike any other. Media coverage has shown us that same face throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, floods in the Midwest, bridge collapses and other natural disasters. It's a horrible, numbing feeling.

Several thousand homes have been destroyed because of the fires but it's the loss of irreplaceable items of sentimental value and the loss of life that are the most devastating.

As to be expected, there are comparisons of the response time of President Bush to the victims of the California fires and those of Hurricane Katrina. As the California fire victims get their lives back to normal a whole lot faster than the displaced Katrina victims, comparisons are likely to continue. The President and the affected governmental entities should just prepare to take their lumps. It won't be pretty either.

As the pols continue their spin, it's important to remember that there are people behind all of the disasters that have occurred. Regardless of who is President of the United States, or governor or senator, these people have lives to live and families to take care of. The well-being of American citizens should be top priority.

Blogging for Darfur

There's a lot of madness in the world and sometimes it can be overwhelming. With so many people in need, how and when do you just say I give up…throw in the towel…retreat to your own world and close out the rest?

As human beings, we can't do that and continue to be blessed by our Creator. As such, today several bloggers have taken on the subject of Darfur. Surely you've seen photos and commercials about the thousands of lives that have been lost either through war or starvation or disease or murder.

How thousands of lives can be lost without action by the United Nations or the United States is sad and shameful. The government and janjaweed faction's fight with native rebels has wreaked havoc upon the people of Darfur.

Yes, there are people in the U.S. that need help as much as those in Darfur. How can we sit idly by while millions continue to be made refugees and thousands are raped and murdered? Too many more just die from starvation; this must stop. We've wasted gazillions of dollars and thousands of lives in Iraq supposedly in the name of democracy, there's no excuse for us not to save the people of Darfur.

The blog on Darfur Awareness phrases the situation best: "On a micro-level, the Darfur conflict can be described as a tribal conflict. On the macro-level however, it's about the oppressed and neglected Darfurian people fighting collectively for their fair share of Sudan's wealth and fair share of power in the Khartoum government.

200,000 to 400,000 are estimated dead and more than 2.5 million have fled their homes. The conflict has spread to neighboring Chad and Central African Republic (CAR). It still continues and threatens to destabilize the whole region of central Africa."

End Modern-Day Slavery

When we hear the word slavery, it's safe to say that most of us think of a horrible time in the past of the United States. The truth is that slavery still exists. As much we ignore and/or overlook it, the federal government estimates more than 45,000 people enslaved in the United States.

One of the most recent cases prosecuted here in the United States is that of the enslavement of Simone Celestin of Haiti. Ms. Celestin was removed from an orphanage six years ago when she was 14. She worked 15 hour days for a Haitian family. One of the women involved says that she home-schooled Simone. It is alleged that Simone was sometimes beaten with hands and fists.

The Haitian culture refers to these children as restaveks. Many live under inhumane and brutal conditions even here in the United States. How one person can enslave another still baffles me. Many of these children are too terrified to report the conditions under which they live for fear of deportation or being killed. We must put an end to this trafficking.

People who engage in human trafficking get no sympathy from me. If they are black I think they should be punished even more severely than others. I know some may not think that's right but that's how I feel.

Click here for more information on modern-day human trafficking.

Connected Again and It Feels So Good

I'd not been able to connect online as usual and I do believe I suffered slightly from withdrawal symptoms. Even using my laptop with an air card just didn't cut it. After I was connected again, I then had to call tech support help me setup the wireless router. Aaarrrgh!

Anyhoo, I'm doing the dance of joy as I try to catch up with my e-mails, postings and other computer tasks. My down time allowed me to have lunch with friends and see Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married with a couple of my sorority sisters. I saw the movie twice; I'll post about that soon.

I'm back….


Vanessa is Not a Happy Camper

My DSL has been down for the last 4 days and I am so ticked off. After calling BellSouth AT&T and trying to troubleshoot via tech support on the phone, I am still without service. I miss my DSL.I am using a laptop with an air card to type this post. That method's fine now, but noticeably slower than DSL.

Anyhoo, BellSouth AT&T tech support had to send a technician to my home. Of course that added to the delay in getting back online because I had to deal with that appointment window crap. You know what I mean… "M'am, we can send someone out to your home between 8 and noon or 1 to 5." I hate that.

The tech came early and totally threw off my plans but that's okay. After doing the same tests I'd done via telephone, he ended up checking the phone lines outside. Dogs had to be secured and cats that are usually confined to the patio were running throughout the house.

As the tech spoke with his home base, he asked about a second modem in the household. Second modem? No, there's a wireless router and two additional phone lines but that's it. Apparently, home base detected a second modem. The tech, turned off everything ad the second modem was still detected. There was nothing he could do; another tech will be sent today to check some box in the neighborhood that houses the phone lines. I'm really not hearing the details beyond the fact that my DSL will be down at least another day.

The technician that came to my home was a very nice and polite young man. He apologized as did everyone I spoke with from BellSouth AT&T. Thank you but I'd like a working DSL, please. Now, you know I'm going to negotiate some sort of remuneration for this inconvenience.

Now, I must be on with my busy day. *thinking happy thoughts* Peace and Blessings, everyone.