Fad fodder.

I’m about to open up the Celebrity Center for Rehabilitating Racists and make some money since it seems like saying/doing racist crap and then apologizing for it has become the latest fad for the rich and infamous.

“The first order of business is that the CCRR requests that all members purchase a thirty-dollar Harmony Band to wear around their wrist to symbolize their status as a recovering racist. The Harmony Band is a simple black string. We chose the color black because it contains all the colors of the visible spectrum and it reminds our followers that they too should embrace all colors and all people.

“The second order of business is that the CCRR requests that all members drink our bottled water United. Each bottle of United contains fresh spring water from each continent of our fabulous earth. Which each sip, one renews his or her commitment to embracing all members of our planet and treating each individual with respect and dignity no matter the color. A portion of the proceeds from each six-dollar bottle will go to charity.”

The crazy part is, I seriously think I’d succeed if I actually tried that. Hell, I’m two seconds away from making a website, people. Two seconds.



Swag, the sequel.

It’s time to talk about comics again, folks.

I picked up the rest of Palmiotti and Linsner’s Claws series featuring Wolverine and the Black Cat. Love it. Love it. Words cannot describe how much I love it. I love it so much that I went out and bought it since Marvel doesn’t send the office review copies of its books. Linsner is a fabulous artist who totally brings a sexy playfulness to every page he draws and Palmiotti does a wonderful job of mixing action and humor. And hopefully, I did not butcher the spelling of either man’s name in this paragraph, because I am entirely too lazy to go and look either one up.

Also wonderful is Marguerite Abouet’s and Clement Oubrerie’s Aya from Drawn & Quarterly. Aya tells the story of a teenage girl and her two friends as they attempt to assert their independence and enjoy life in the working class neighborhood of Yopougon in 1978. I adore this book because it shows a side of Africa that Americans are rarely—no, make that never—allowed to see. Romantic, prosperous, humorous, light-hearted, hopeful, idealistic. How often do we get to see an African protagonist or community with those qualities? Hell, how often do we get to see an African protagonist or community at all?

It also reminds me just how universal these coming-of-age stories and young romantic tales are. I was pleased to see how Aya’s childhood and family life seemed to closely mirror my own. However, I was clearly born to a different culture and generation than the lead character.

Though Aya would feel at right at home on a bookshelf next to independent graphic novels such as Love & Rockets, it should also feel right at home on a shelf next to several manga titles geared towards young girls as well. However, the pessimist in me believes this book will never be placed there. Why? Because while young Americans have no problem accepting books containing a liberal dose of mainstream American and Japanese culture and images, what is black and what is African is still held up as an unwanted other in those circles. It is an ugly truth, but it is a truth nonetheless. So while the tales are so very similar, brown skin seems to make them all too different in the eyes of readers.

Though maybe, just maybe, the comics community will prove me wrong this time. And I will be all too pleased to be as wrong as can be.



A marvelous idea.

Normally I don’t post comments I’ve posted on other sites in my journal, but I’m going to make an exception with this post because I find the topic quite interesting.

The topic? The mixed media crossover between CBS’s Guiding Light and Marvel Comics. On the November 1 episode of the daytime soap opera Guiding Light, actress Beth Ehlers plays Harley Davidson Cooper, a woman who is given special powers due to a freak accident. Cooper is a major character in the Guiding Light cast. Marvel has produced an eight-page story featuring Marvel characters and Guiding Light characters to celebrate the event, and the story will appear in the issues of several Marvel comics.

Soap operas have had wacky stories like this before. Many soap operas are known for having “fantasy moments” where they stick their characters in a completely different setting with new stories. They’ve had characters travel back in time to the Old West and visit futuristic underground cities. This is the first time I’ve heard of a superhero story though.

I think it’s a great way to reach a new audience. Unfortunately, companies need to have something to sell to that audience once they have their attention or else it’s pretty much a waste of time. What does Marvel have right now to offer the stay-at-home mother who wants to forget about the pile of laundry and her screaming kid, or the homesick college student who wants something comforting and familiar, or the tired working woman who wants to zone out with a romantic fantasy before the night shift starts? How about the female viewer who wants a damn good romantic story and a heroine to root for? Marvel has some amazing books, but for the most part, those amazing books feature power fantasies for men and boys. And the books that don’t are for a much younger audience than the one watching soap operas. Does Marvel even have a romance comic geared towards grown women? Why not? What about an action comic that stars a woman and features a heavy dose of romance? If I worked at Marvel, I would have had something lined up to sell to these women. Maybe a Dakota North series or something with Friday Foster. Hell, even Daughters of the Dragon or She-Hulk could have been slightly retooled to fit.

But something tells me the women who watch soap operas will be reading manga romances and books like 12 Reasons Why I Love Her long before women interested in soaps will ever really be courted by Marvel and DC (not counting CMX/Vertigo/Milestone). Manga and independent comic companies already have the daughters and little sisters hooked, and they don’t have to change their product all that much to snag the mothers and older sisters too. Nor do they even have to change the place where they’ve set up shop. After all, women are in the manga/graphic novel section all the time. Someone has to go in and drag those kids and teens out of Borders.

Still, I think it was a good idea that will get the women watching soaps to think about superheroes. And once they do a little research, they’ll see that Marvel has some fabulous superhero books that are geared towards their husbands, boyfriends, younger siblings, and kids. And while they’re buying comics for all those other people, maybe they’ll drift a step or two over and buy some indie and manga books for themselves.

Also, many of the old cast members from B- and C-level nerdbait shows like Mutant X often go on to star as heartthrobs in soaps. Those actors can be wonderful marketing tools if used correctly. Someone should look into that.



Girlie girls and wicked women.

Okay, I went to a “Girls’ Night Out” event hosted by Shecky’s last night.

It was horrible.

I don’t know why I continue to go to these “ladies’ events” when they almost always suck. Perhaps I don’t enjoy them because I’m not a “lady.” I’d say about 40 percent of the shopping booths there were devoted to jewelry (which I hardly every wear) and a good 50 percent of the booths contained overpriced clothes and handbags that I could get for a fraction of the price at any New Jersey mall.

Official tangent: People may make fun of New Jersey, but our malls kick the butts of the malls in every other state. I know you jerks are going to Jersey to shop, because I keep seeing cars with NY and PA plates hogging up all the damn parking spaces. Stop making fun of Jersey or deal with buying overpriced items in your own state.

And now we return you to your regularly scheduled post.

Anyway, another chunk of the booths was dedicated to selling “women’s interest” books. Apparently, the following topics fascinate your average woman:

  • How to get a man.
  • How to get over a man.
  • How to get over on a man.

Booo! That is absurd! Here’s my lists of interests:

  • Electronic gadgets.
  • Home improvement.
  • Dance music.
  • Graphic novels.
  • Science fiction.
  • Lotions and shampoos that smell like food.
  • Cute doggies.

I am not concerned with how to get a man or keep a man. Either he wants me or he doesn’t. I am also not concerned with how to get over on a man because that’s just cruel. And honestly? None of the women I know are interested in those topics either. It’s not as if I belong to a clique of fabulously enlightened chicks. We’re all just average women you encounter everyday. I guess I’m just annoyed that these events cater to such a narrow selection of women. And it’s a selection of women that I (and most other women) have very little in common with. Most women are interested in purchasing more than just clothes, accessories, and books about relationships with men.

Anyway, nothing is all bad. There were some cool things about the event. One, they actually included a graphic novel in the goodie bag! Yes, it was a title geared towards young girls, but I’m still thrilled that comics are now considered something that women are interested in. Two, I had Rice Krispie treats dipped in the most fabulous vanilla glaze ever! They were from Dip, a fondue restaurant in NYC. Plus, there were a couple of nice self-help books there that amazingly had nothing to do with men.

Finally, NJ Transit had massive train delays and it took me forever to get home.



Body to body.

Something that has begun to trouble me where comics are concerned is the fact that more and more artists are using porn stars and fashion models as a reference when drawing superheroines. Stop doing this. Please. I’m begging you.

Fashion models and porn stars may have bodies that are sexually attractive to men, but they do not have bodies that exhibit exceptional power and strength. And if you are going to have a career that involves beating up criminals and chasing after miscreants, strength is something you need. To depict male heroes as powerful champions and depict female heroes as erotic objects who pose in uncomfortable positions that elicit a sexual response from men is unbelievably insulting and misleading. And it exposes artists who use porn stars and fashion models as a reference for the lazy bastards that they are. They don’t care about getting it right. They care about getting off.

What’s so sad is that if these artists were willing to do just five minutes of research, they’d find a whole slew of photos of women who are both strong and sexually attractive. Just go to Google Image Search and type in fitness competitor. Or pick up an issue or two of Oxygen magazine.

It’s that simple, people.



More hate.

Hmmm. It seems as if I have compiled my hate list rather prematurely. I didn’t give 50 Cent a chance to say something mind-numbingly stupid this week. Now’s your chance, 50!

“Oprah’s great. I just think the only misconception is that she’s a black woman. They say Oprah Winfrey’s a black woman, but she’s [been] catering to a demographic of a middle-aged white women for so long that I believe she’s a middle-aged white woman.”

Okay! Anything else?

“Oprah will have a rapist on her show and have a discussion about why they do it, but won’t have a rags-to-riches story on her show. She’ll have Kanye West on her show. I think Middle America would rather have they kids be gay, than have them aggressive.”

Nice. First of all, anyone who has watched just one episode of The Wire (which is the best show on television) knows damn well that gay and aggressive are not mutually exclusive. Omar will cut you. Second, Oprah brings rapists on her show so she can (1) verbally tear into them and (2) give women information on how they can protect themselves and their loved ones from the horror of sexual assault. That is extremely important. Promoting a rapper who is enjoying the fourteenth minute of his fifteen minutes of fame is not.

Third? Your consumer base does not determine your race. If that were the case, 50 would be a white male teenager with a great deal of money to spend on substandard entertainment. Hell, your DNA doesn’t even determine your race. Race is as arbitrary as human behavior. It can change just by booking a flight to a different country. Hey, remember when people from Spain used to be white? Me too.

Okay, that’s enough of the hate. Let’s get back to the love!



Hair therapy.

I have three major pet peeves when it comes to art in comics. Here they are in order of importance:

  • Women drawn like preteen-boys with breast implants.
  • Asian people that are drawn with European features.
  • Black women with ridiculous hairstyles.

Today we are going to talk about number three. Billy Tucci?

Misty Knight

What the hell is this? Seriously. I require you to explain this to me. You are a good artist. If you weren’t a good artist, I would let you slide on this. But since you are a good artist, I’m gonna have to bring it to you. This? Unacceptable. You couldn’t spend three dollars on a black hair care magazine? I would have sent you one for free, man. That is how much Misty’s new hairstyle pains me. The woman looks like she has a hat on. I’ll be the first one to admit that black women have a ridiculous variety of hairstyles and hair textures. However, the majority of us usually don’t like to wear all of them on our heads at once. Kinky or straight. Pick a texture and go with it. Because I am so kind, I have provided you with some examples of good hairstyles. Make way for the awesome.

See? It’s all love, man. It’s all love.

Coming soon: Monica Rambeau. Walking Hair Atrocity.



A girl like me.

Go watch this documentary. It’s short and powerful. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Back? Good.

The doll test? Heartbreaking. And the saddest part is, that as bad as I feel watching that little girl slide that black doll across the table, I feel even worse knowing that I made my mother feel just as angry and as frustrated as I feel right now.

I can’t even imagine how horrified my mother must have felt, watching her daughter wail and stomp her feet in the department store for all to see, just because she was not going to purchase the white Barbie doll that her daughter so desperately wanted, but was going to purchase a black Barbie doll for her instead. The first one ever made. In 1980.

And I distinctly remember being so very angry with my mother, because I wanted a doll with long, shiny straight hair, and she had given me what I considered to be a substandard replacement. The black doll had a short Afro, and in my eyes, that made the black doll ugly. Hideously ugly.

I threw such a tantrum that my mother decided to purchase both the white doll and the black doll. And when we would play together, she would play with the black doll and I would play with the white doll. And after a few months of mistreatment (preschoolers don’t make for very good caretakers) the white doll began to look dingy and ugly. And I shyly asked my mother if I could play with her doll, which had remained well cared for.

My mother handed me the doll and told me that I could play with it, as long as I remembered that the doll was very special and deserved to be treated as such. And I did remember.

Of course, that was the last doll I had that ever looked like that. Because when Mattel started to make black Barbie dolls with the long shiny hair that I always wanted, I promptly forgot about both white Barbie dolls and black Barbie dolls with Afros.

I think my mother worked very hard to teach me that my brown skin was beautiful. And that must have been extremely difficult for her when she could not offer herself as a beauty role model due to her own light skin. Plus, she had to work against not only what the mainstream culture was constantly telling me, but also what the men in my family were telling me by consistently choosing fair-skinned black women as girlfriends and wives.

But I got it. Despite what everyone else was telling me, my mother’s message finally got through. I only wish that she had told me that my hair was beautiful as well. But no one would tell me that—ever. Instead I was told that my hair was wild. Untamed. Ugly. Repeatedly.

Of course, people did tell me how pretty I could be if I would just “do something” with my hair. Which then kicked off my lifelong affair with pressing combs and hair extensions—but no relaxers though. That would cause hair loss and breakage. And the only thing more “unfeminine” than nappy hair was nappy hair that was short.

Sigh. Humanity hurts.



Additional random stuff.

I’ve seen way too much Prison Break. How do I know this? Because I immediately wondered if Lay was actually dead after reading about his unfortunately timed demise. And I also had to wonder if he died of natural causes. It’s way too easy to fake a death and even easier to cover up a murder.

Not that I would know anything about that.

Speaking of murder, I just have to mention how disgusted I am by the vicious and hateful actions perpetuated by the Avenues street gang. Hell, it’s bad enough that we’re beaten and terrorized for the supposedly horrific crime of daring to walk through suburban neighborhoods while being black. Now African Americans have to worry about being attacked because of their race while walking through crime-ridden hellholes too? Feh. Let them try that ethnic cleansing garbage in prison and see how far it gets them.

Anyway, onto more pleasant things. Like comics! What have I been reading lately? Well, I just finished Castle Waiting. What a charming book! And I have to restate my absolute love for Daredevil. Sadly, it’s the only Marvel book I’m still reading. Hopefully it doesn’t tie into any of that Civil War nonsense later on down the road. I’m also digging American Virgin. Man, can we talk about how awesome Becky Cloonan is? Her art is just so damn grimy. I love it. Oh, and I polished off a Top Ten graphic novel this week too. Hooray for Alan Moore! I’d love to hang out in his brain for a day. Last but not least, I finally got my hands on Livewires. I’m surprised I didn’t pick this up sooner given my irrational adoration for everything that Adam Warren puts out.

As for what I’m watching? Well, I have to admit that I don’t have sophisticated tastes when it comes to television viewing. I adore the Venture Bros. And I have a great deal of love for Samurai Champloo as well. And yes, I do admit that I watch bits and pieces of One Life To Live. Yes, I know it’s a soap opera! Basically, I fast forward through anything that doesn’t involve Renee Goldsberry or David Fumero, so I only watch about five minutes a day.

I’ve stopped watching wrestling because it has been so mind-numbingly bad lately. Not even the sheer awesome that is Finlay could bring me back. Besides, wrestlers are being slapped with fines and suspensions left and right for drug violations. First RVD and Sabu and now Orton? What’s the point in watching when half of the stories have to be dropped due to a missing participant? Bah.

Oh, I picked up the Samurai Jack Season 3 DVD. Awesome. Why the hell is Cartoon Network taking so long getting these DVDs out?

In other news, Five Below is the best store in the history of the universe. Don’t have one in your area? You are so deprived.



Hairs to you.

If you knew how much I had to do, you’d wonder why I am sitting here typing up a journal entry when I could be getting important things done. It’s because some of the important things I have to do are rather unpleasant and nerve-racking, so I’d like to stall for time as long as possible. Plus, I’ve been neglecting my blog.

Sadly, I no longer have the Afro made of awesome because I have discovered that hair weaves are made of stuff that is decidedly not awesome. I will never get another weave again. Ever. It felt like I was wearing a hat that I couldn’t take off. I don’t know how other women can deal with such an uncomfortable and unpleasant hairstyle. So, I basically wasted two hundred dollars on a hairstyle that lasted me less than a week. I get upset just thinking about what a waste of money that was.

And yet now there is a very important question that needs to be asked. What am I going to do with my hair? Why does this question need to be asked? Because America is an utterly dysfunctional place that cannot accept naturally kinky black hair as-is, so something must be “done” to it in order for a black woman to be an acceptable member of American society. Luckily, I have more options than my mother had at my age. Unfortunately, I don’t like any of those options.

Option 1: After washing my hair, I blow dry it and then straighten my hair with a pressing comb. I don’t like this option because it takes me several hours to do my hair this way. Plus, the minute water touches my hair? My hairstyle is destroyed. On the plus side, it is a cheap hairstyle and rather cute. It costs nothing but time.

Option 2: I get dreadlocks. This is not an option, because there is no way I will get any hairstyle that requires me to shave my head when I no longer want to wear the hairstyle in question. Of course, this is also a really cheap style. I could do it myself for free.

Option 3: I get cornrows. This is not an option since I look really bad in this hairstyle. Sadly, cornrows are not for people with gigantic heads. Still, it is a very cheap and efficient hairstyle to have. It costs about 60 dollars. I only wish it made me look good.

Option 4: I get a relaxer. Not a good option. I’m not really enthused about putting sodium hydroxide or guanidine hydroxide on my head and leaving it there long enough for it to permanently break the cohesive disulfide bonds in my hair in order to loosen the hair’s kinky texture. Plus, once my hair starts to grow, I will have to continue to get relaxers to straighten the new kinky growth—or my hair will break off where the kinky growth stops because my relaxed hair is so weak in comparison.

Option 5: I get a really short Afro or buzz cut. Did I mention my big lion head? I look terrible with short hair. Not an option.

Option 6: I get box braids. Actually, there are two options here. One, I can spend three hundred dollars and sixteen hours in a beauty salon to get this hairstyle. Two, I can spend ten dollars and spend every night for about a week doing this hairstyle myself. It takes longer, but I keep two hundred and ninety dollars in my bank account.

To sum it all up, I am tired and angry and frustrated. And the next person who is not a black woman who feels the need to comment on a black woman’s hair without taking into account the obscene amount of exploitation we must endure, time we must expend, and money we must spend on our hair just to prevent ourselves from facing ridicule when we walk down the street will get cursed out.

Speaking of hair, I just watched the following documentary on the black hair care industry. Fascinating stuff!



Pipe dream?

You know what would be nice? If I could walk into my local comic shop or the graphic novel section of Borders and see just one comic or graphic novel written by a black woman.

Just one.



Um…yay?

Apparently Neal Boortz has issued an apology for the previous half-assed apology posted to his weblog. Of course, this has done nothing to alleviate my cranky mood since I ran right smack into David Yeagley’s crazed rant against black women and our supposedly manipulative ways.

Sigh.

“It’s racism at Duke, all right. Racism against white students. Members of the Duke University Lacrosse team may have abused a black party girl, but, without any proof or trial, the Duke Lacrosse team was punished by the university, suspended from further games. So terrified was the administration of being charged with ‘racism.’ The black female wins again. She is truly an ace on the field and in court.”

That is some full-fledged crazy right there, folks! What have black women won? The right to be heard by a police officer when we’ve been attacked? If so, what is so wrong about finally winning the same basic treatment that everyone else in this country receives? Black women shouldn’t have had to win that. It should have been automatically given to us for being human and American.

And since when is simply doing your job racism against white students? When an individual reports a crime, the police are supposed to investigate. When a student has brought shame upon a private university with his or her misconduct, the college administration has every right to suspend that student. While it has not yet been proven that a rape has occurred, it has been proven that alcohol was served to minors and that exotic dancers were hired to perform on school property. That’s more than enough reason to suspend students for misconduct. And perhaps the students were suspended from further games for their own protection? They aren’t exactly the most popular people in the country at the moment. The students might have been seriously injured by an irate citizen at an athletic event.

“So, that black woman said, ‘No,’ eh? First, she’s in a profession where she’s expected to do tricks for clients. Second, she’s walking into a house full of young, drunken athletes, who happen to be white. Third, she called the police and complained once; then she went back, but then left. And then she went back again! That’s a peculiar way of saying ‘No,’ it seems to me.”

Having a job where you take your clothes off for money does not give men the right to rape you or give the police the right to ignore your claims. Having poor judgement does not give men the right to rape you or give the police the right to ignore your claims. Last time I checked, rape was still a crime. The victim’s race, occupation, and/or level of intelligence does not change that fact. And for the record, prostitutes turn tricks. Strippers do not.

“These racist black people just want a role model victim, with mistreatment wreaked upon the weakest of the weak: the black woman. All she has to do is cry, ‘rape by white male!’ and she rules the world.”

What? That’s just so crazy that I can’t even respond.

Seriously. I’m officially on a pundit break.



My beef with Boortz.

I guess by now we’ve all heard Neal Boortz’s racist tirade against lovable drama queen Cynthia McKinney. We’ve also heard the condescending and bitchy pseudo-apology that followed his hateful comments.

This was not friendly joshing between two people who know each other well. Boortz didn’t just insult McKinney. What about the large number of black women who share McKinney’s hairstyle? Are they “ghetto trash” too? Was it okay for him to insult them as well? Why? Because they don’t want to coat their locks in harsh chemicals or place metal combs hot enough to cause severe disfiguring burns mere millimeters from their scalps in order to remove the kinks and coils from their hair? I am so unbelievably tired of white men with straight hair bitching about how “undignified” and “unprofessional” common black hairstyles are. Boortz’s claim that kinky is equal to trashy is reactionary and intolerant. Could you imagine a national radio personality stating over the airwaves that straight blonde hair is sleazy and unprofessional? Could you imagine Hillary Clinton being told that her tresses make her look like “trailer trash” and that she is showing contempt for her position with her hairstyle? Of course you can’t. It would never happen to her—ever.

I’m unbelievably pleased with women like McKinney who are forcing intolerant Americans to rethink their notions of what is normal. Because I’ll be damned if I’m going to cover my head in lye or pull blisteringly hot metal through my hair simply because some jackass thinks that the way that God made me is “inappropriate.”

In other words, Boortz can go screw himself.

McKinney really needs to start wearing her pin though. C’mon, how hard is it to put a pin on?