50th anniversary of March on Washington changed much, hopes to change more

One of the hopeful faces from the March on Washington 50 years ago today

One of the hopeful faces from the March on Washington 50 years ago today

Fifty years ago today, something momentous took place in Washington, D.C. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took to the podium at the historic March on Washington to deliver his famed “I Have a Dream” speech, the tapestry of the United States was set to be forever changed. Little did he realize that all these years later, his words would echo with as much resonance as they did that day.

What an amazing premise was the entire concept of the march. A peaceful, non-confrontational way to express the disappointment of a marginalized race of people, the walk drew participants from every walk of life. Rich or poor, young or old, even white or black, it didn’t matter; the mission was the same…equality. And 50 years later, Dr. King’s words still hang in the ears of those who still struggle for equality.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”

In 1963, those words did indeed ring true; with some caveats. Even though for the first time in history blacks were to be viewed as equal to their white brethren, many didn’t see it that way. To many, to be black was to still be inferior. And sadly, this is still in the mind of many in this country today. But much of what the March on Washington stood for is outside of race. The poverty level for blacks in that time was huge, and no opportunities were available. Before the march, there was no hope of this statistic changing. So while race was the impetus behind the march, what it really stood for was having the opportunity to have a chance…a chance at a better quality of life.

“We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi and the Negro in New You believes he has nothing to vote for.”

Affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, and greater opportunities for education have all helped blacks in the U.S. to achieve that chance at a better life. Blacks have been offered greater opportunities in business, in their communities, in politics. Adopting the moniker African Americans, we have chosen to pick up the gauntlet that Dr. King threw down that day in 1963. Many of us have run with it, some have stumbled and fallen. But with the resiliency of a people long presumed to be destined for failure, we press on…and will continue to do so.

“We ain’t where we could be, we ain’t where we should be, but thank God we ain’t where we was.”

Fast forward 50 years, and today the struggle for equality has shifted. As African Americans, our pursuit of a better quality of life has been improved…but there is still ground to cover. And now, we need to take those lessons taught to us by Dr. King, and share them with those facing the marginalization and discrimination that many before us endured. And it is also important to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the pursuit.

“Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, we are free at last.”

Much thanks…to Dr. King, and to all those who had the courage to stand up to their beliefs. We all owe each and every one a debt of thanks.

Online celebrity feuds becoming trendy: are they to save floundering careers?

Twitter battle ensues between Oprah Winfrey and Stacey Dash

Twitter battle ensues between Oprah Winfrey and Stacey Dash

When Twitter launched in 2006, it was launched with a singular purpose in mind; to keep users close to the information they care about. As of 2012, more than 500 million registered users were sharing everything from photos, to recipes, to status updates with their fan base. But recently, the tide of the Twitter-sphere has shifted, and gone the way of a tabloid publication.

Celebrity feuds are nothing new in the media, but here in the 21st century cyberspace has created a whole new place for celebs to vent their disdain for each other to a worldwide audience. For many of these celebs, it is a way to challenge more established stars to boost their sagging popularity. Case in point; Stacy Dash and Oprah Winfrey.

In a recent interview while shilling for her latest film work, Lee Daniel’s “The Butler,” media mogul Oprah compared the recent Florida case of Trayvon Martin trial to the murder and trial of Illinois teen Emmett Till in 1955 in Mississippi. In that case, Till was abducted from a relative’s home, taken to a barn where he was tortured and murdered by the husband and brother-in-law of a woman Till had spoken to earlier in a grocery store. The case made headlines due to the decision at the trial to acquit the men accused of the crime.

Apparently, Oprah’s words set off something in Dash, who took to the Twitter-sphere to lash out at Winfrey for her comparison.

If You aren’t careful, The newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed And loving the people who are doing the oppressing ~ Malcolm X Oprah Compares Trayvon Martin to Emmett Till; Says Obama is “Smart” for Not Appearing on Fox News http://foxnewsinsider.com/2013/08/07/oprah-compares-trayvon-martin-emmett-till-says-obama-smart-not-appearing-fox-news via @foxnewsinsider Shame on you @oprah

Dash, the “star” of such films as “Clueless” and “Above the Top,” is an unwavering supporter of the Republican Party, and supported former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the most recent election calling him “the only hope for the future.”  She has tweeted on a number of hot-button political topics such as immigration reform, requiring voter ID’s and the military presence in Syria.

KK copy

Reality celeb Kim Kardashian and journalist turned talk show host Katie Courid

In a similar vein, “celebrity” Kim Kardashian recently fired back at journalist and talk show host Katie Couric on Twitter, and Couric made a statement recently to “In Style” magazine about her thoughts on the Kardashian family, and their contribution to the entertainment industry.

“I don’t understand … Why are they so famous,” Couric to the magazine. “I think it’s mostly teenage girls that are interested.”

Attempting to make a mea culpa to Kardashian after the recent birth of her first child with boyfriend Kanye West, Couric sent a gift to the couple with an enclosed note that read as follows:

Dear Kim and Kanye
Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl!
And may I humbly suggest you continue the K tradition for names
Fondly, Katie Couric

This “breach of etiquette” by Couric apparently unleashed something in Kardashian that could be likened to a post-partum hormonal imbalance, causing her to fire back on Instagram with the following hash tag laden dig:

#IHateFakeMediaFriends #MayIHumblySuggestYouNotSendGiftsThenTalkShit

The similarity between these two instances is simple; an unquenchable desire to remain relevant. Dash, who has had little media attention for her acting as of late has chosen to take to the web to share her political beliefs about the state of the country, challenging the current administration of President Barack Obama with Tweets like “This White House is like Lord Of The Flies. Someone please! Get the conch shell and lead us!”

Rapper Kanye West and celeb baby-momma Kim Kardashian

Rapper Kanye West and celeb baby-momma Kim Kardashian

Similar can be said for Kardashian. Since her “subsidized” wedding to basketballer Kris Humphreys, and their subsequent divorce, her “star” has been a bit on the decline. The pairing with rapper with West has done little to improve her popularity, as West is no stranger to media controversy.  West has repeatedly been at odds with reporters and paparazzi; just days ago the Los Angeles district attorney’s office chose not to pursue charges filed against the rapper by a reporter he allegedly got into a scuffle with at Los Angeles International Airport. The case is currently being reviewed by the Los Angeles city attorney for potential misdemeanor charges, which could pave the way for a civil suit.

Incidentally, sales of West’s most recent musical endeavor, “Yeesus,” dropped 80% in its second week of release, the 4th largest drop in history. Could his celeb status be in jeopardy as well?

So the question remains; is launching a “celebrity feud” on the internet the way to remain relevant? In the Dash vs. Winfrey battle, Oprah has taken the high road and remained mum on the topic. Couric did release a statement, taking the high road as one would expect saying:

“I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. The gift is genuine and I’m happy for Kim and Kanye.”

From the responses of some of their own followers, these two “battle-challenging celebrities,” should keep their thoughts to themselves and off the Twitter-sphere; #zipyourlips.

What are your thoughts on the celebrity cyber wars? Weigh in with your comments.

 

Embattled Paula Deen finally makes delayed “Today” appearance, but no direct apology

Embattled lifestyle guru Paula Deen makes “Today” show appearance

Lifestyle guru Paula Deen has been on more of a defensive than an apology tour this week. Her most recent stop was on NBC’s “Today” show. During the interview, Deen spoke a great deal about how the scandal has affected her personally, but didn’t utter a direct apology.

“I have been overwhelmed and in a state of shock,” said Deen. “There have been some very hurtful lies said about me.”

Lauer came out of the chute by grilling Deen on how the loss of sponsors and endorsement deals have affect her, and her business empire.

“Let me say this Matt,” Deen said, “what I am here today to talk about is what I believe, and how I live my life. I believe that every creature on this Earth, every one of God’s creatures was created equal.”

Lauer pushed the financial issue by quoting a headline that touted there were millions of dollars at stake tied to the “Today” show interview.

“Are you here to stop the financial bleeding,” Lauer asked.

“I am here today because I want people to really know who I am,” replied Deen once again deflecting the question.

The scandal stems from testimony offered in a deposition by Deen about her use of the derogatory “n” word with employees at her restaurants. Deen’s use of the word was also brought up in relation to a plantation themed wedding her restaurant catered for a private client.

“I am so grateful for the (business) partners that have stood by me,” was Deen’s only response to the number of sponsors who have dropped her brand or were considering doing so.

Lauer followed up by asking the burning hot-button question…is Paula Deen a racist?

“No, I am not a racist,” replied Deen. “I was raised in a house hold with a father who would tolerate bad grades or a broken curfew, but told me ‘girl if I ever find out that you have behaved in a way like you are better than anyone else your butt is mine.”

Lauer later asked Deen about her alleged use of the “n” word in the past. He cited that Deen admitted to using the word in her sworn deposition, and included an excerpt from her testimony regarding whether using the “n” word when telling a joke was acceptable.

Deen’s response was as follows:

“I don’t know. Most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks…I didn’t make up the jokes. They usually target, though, a group…I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.”

“Do you have any doubt that African Americans are offended by the ‘n’ word,” asked Lauer.

“I don’t know Matt,” responded Deen. “I have asked myself that so many times because it’s so distressing to go into my kitchens and I hear what these young people are calling each other. It’s very, very distressing.”

“You never joined in on that language,” asked Lauer.

“No,” said Deen emphatically, “absolutely not!”

Later, Lauer asked Deen if upon reflection she wished that she had fudged the truth a bit.

“No,” she replied. “I am only prejudiced against two types of people; thieves and liars.”

Deen became quite emotional at the end of the interview, and while never offering an actual apology, alluded to the fact that she has apologized on previous occasions, and spoke about how the hurtful words and speculation had been damaging to not just Deen and her business but to family and friends as well.

“The people that know me, they are angry,” she said.

At the end of the interview, Deen evoked the words in the Bible regarding sin, and chalked up much of what has happened to a case of professional jealousy.

“If there is a person out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, if you’re out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me, please. I want to meet you. I is what I is, and I’m not changing. And, there’s someone evil out there that saw what I had worked for and they wanted it.”

What do you think of Paula’s interview on the “Today” show? Weigh in with comments.

Commentary on what today’s SCOTUS rulings mean to me

Same sex marriageI must admit, I never thought marriage was in the cards for me. Aside from the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t legal in my state, I chalked it up to consistently making poor choices in the relationship department. But the U.S. Supreme Court rulings today on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and California’s Proposition 8 has made me rethink that. Not for myself, but for all of those who want not just the legal benefits of marriage, but the recognition as well.

I was at a party a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday. Laughter and fun prevailed all afternoon. In attendance were two other friends, a gay male couple, who were speaking about their upcoming civil union ceremony. A young lady in attendance didn’t have a full understanding of what it all meant, and asked the question.

“Imagine if you will that you and your boyfriend are married,” my friend began, “and God forbid he dies. There is no question of you inheriting his estate without any legal or taxable issues, right”

She nodded in agreement.

“Now, imaging the same scenario for the two of us. Suppose I die, and want to leave my entire estate to my partner. Even though we are joined in a civil union, my death and his inheritance becomes a huge taxable occurrence for him. Does that seem fair?”

The young lady looked at him with a new sense of understanding…and compassion.

“Not at all,” she replied.

I am paraphrasing the actual story a bit, but this is the gist of the content. Did I mention that the gay couple in question has been together for 34 years? I would say that in this instance, that is quite a significant part of the story.

Even though the Supreme Court stopped short of a sweeping ruling on gay marriage with Proposition 8, the death of DOMA is of huge significance. While understandable in its conception, DOMA is been lorded over the gay community like the sword of Damocles for years. Now, with its death, states can re-examine their own laws. I suspect that while today has been a great victory, to battle has just begun for the 35+ states that currently have a same-sex marriage ban on their books.

Later today, my friends will be holding their civil union ceremony in a downtown courthouse. While seemingly less significant to some yesterday, it means quite a bit more today. It means that the struggles and prejudice the have experienced through their 34 years together have not been for naught, and that their relationship takes another step forward to complete equality not just for themselves, but for all of us.

As for me, I do have someone who is becoming more and more significant in my life now. Will we get to the point of the “talk” about a civil union…or heaven forbid…marriage? It’s too soon to say…at least from where I sit. But should the topic come up sometime in the future, I may consider it a bit more seriously. I never thought it was in the cards for me. But he is changing my mind…and today’s Supreme Court rulings are helping to plead his case as well.

U.S. Supreme Court prepared to rul on monumental issues TOMORROW

p549007_mAccording to the U.S. Supreme Count’s online blog, decisions will be made on a number of key issues and released tomorrow. Among those include DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Proposition 8. Check the SCOTUS page for updates beginning at 7:00a.m. MDT to learn of their decisions on these hot-button issues. What are your thoughts on the issues on the table? Weigh in with your comments.

“Desperate Housewives” actor part of celebrity coming out train

W Actor Tuc Watkins comes out

Super-hunk Tuc Watkins, co-star of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and daytime drama “One Life to Live” has admitted to what until his admission was only speculation; he is indeed gay. The uber-handsome Watkins made the admission while appearing on the daytime talk show “Marie” with Marie Osmond.

Watkins also revealed that he is a proud single parents to twins via surrogate.

“I played a gay man who was married to his husband, who was trying to adopt a kid,” he says, “And in real life, at the same time, I’m a gay single man who was trying to have a kid through surrogacy.”

Watkins was a guest on the talk-fest promoting the relaunch of “One Life to Live” as an online show. Read more, and see a clip from the show, by following this link.

What do you think of the timing of Tuc’s admission? Think it’s a good idea? Weigh in with your comments.

NBA player Jason Collins comes out

On the heels of an article about an openly gay college football kicker wanting to break into the NFL comes the admission from 12-year NBA veteran Jason Collins that he is indeed a gay man. The gifted center who is a veteran of nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons and is now a free agent, makes the admission in a self-penned article in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated magazine.

“I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.”

Read the SI article on Jason Collins by clicking here. What do you think of his decision to come out now? Do you think the NBA is ready for it? Offer your thoughts in our comments section.

UPDATE: Shortly after the release of this story, the first of what will undoubtedly be a homophobic backlash comes from  Miami Dolphins “wide receiver” Mike Wallace. From TMZ, read his comments here.