Sunday, November 22, 2009

Less Hype!

Hype =

1. to promote somebody or something with intense publicity

2. artificially boost sales of recording; to boost sales of a pop recording artificially by employing people to buy quantities of it at numerous outlets

So, now that we know the definition of hype, we can see that the artist known as Lisa Hype has aptly chosen her name, especially as evidenced by the sexually candid picture of her and (reportedly) Vybz Kartel that flooded the internet this past weekend.

I had to shake my head in disgust. Even though the picture was carefully edited by the time it reached my in-box, the stance and pose of the young lady left little to the imagination. I recalled an earlier picture of Ms. Hype and Kartel that circulated earlier this year, where she posed seemingly naked for an album release cover, her ‘modesty’, if one can call it that, kept intact by the same Vybz Kartel whose hands were placed strategically over her breasts and pubic area.

This sets the tone for the lengths to which some of our young women will go to garner publicity and attention, but at what cost? When Ms. Hype presumably confronts her children or grandchildren, what will she say to them when they show her this picture that some other obnoxious child taunted them with?

This manipulation and coercion of our young women also shows the power that these females are relinquishing to the men around them. Why would you feel that one of the most intimate acts should be captured on film for perpetuity, opening yourself to the gamut of smutty conversation, scorn, speculation and denigration?

While the press lost sight of their mandate to report ‘news’, they too got caught up in the manipulation; articles popped up in blogs and internet newsletters on a host of ‘reggae’ websites. The reports went even further by throwing down the gauntlet and advising Movado (Kartel’s current lyrical rival) to show that he too could claim ratings as a cocksman! There was nary a word of reprimand or caution about the imagery that is readily available to our young folks, who, despite what our current crop of dancehall artists love to disclaim, DO, follow the trends of their favorite artists. Does this mean then that it’s okay for someone to take a similar incriminating picture of Vybz Kartel’s sister, or daughter?

Where are the positive images of our strong sisters in the music business who are quietly going about their work, producing and promoting edifying lyrics. Or is it ‘business as usual in bringing on the Hype?’

Friday, November 6, 2009


Are you paying attention to how your time is spent?

Days don't get shorter. Our attention spans do. How can summer be over in a blink while it seems like the weekend will never get here? Because we're not paying attention. Five days out of seven, we're waiting for something else to happen in the future, and we don't take advantage of the day that we hold in our pocket. Have you ever had someone ask what you did last week--or even yesterday--and had trouble coming up with an answer? You probably wouldn't have had any problem at all if your time were spent on something meaningful for you. Don't wait for tomorrow! Ignore the calendar and work with one day at a time. Fill that one day with stuff you'll pay attention to, the stuff that memories are made of. A little bit of focus will help you get rid of that hectic blur.

This is so true – how many times do we bemoan when we walk into the office on Monday morning. In responding to the question “how was your weekend” – the flip retort “too short” elicits a sympathetic smile. I recently found a picture frame that had the prophetic words of Brian L Weiss talking about being in the moment and referring to the analogy of tea drinking. Well you know as a Brit and a real fan of English tea, this resonated with me! Seriously though, how many times do we find ourselves performing tasks in a mind-numbing mechanical fashion, not even being cognizant of how our senses are participating in the task. What was the smell that will forever be associated with that task, how did I feel, what was I thinking as I carried out the task. It’s as though we’ve become robotocized with no feeling or emotion. Living in the moment, taking ownership of each second, minute hour and being present in that time and space. In recognizing that each second we’re on the earth is special and another opportunity to make a contribution to our legacy and impacting those around us.

A path is being revealed and that is one of service – I’m not sure what form or fashion this will take, but until I reach the end of this rocky road, I want to have an impact in the lives of the people I meet. I may not get the accolades, or be rich and famous, but you know what – the feeling of satisfaction and well being having seen the smile on someone’s face and knowing that your small action created that reaction is, as the American Express ad says, Priceless.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Good Hair?

In 2009 I want to know why we’re still having the conversation about ‘good hair’. This is the weekend when women and a few reluctant men will flock to see Chris Rock’s new movie “Good Hair”. I’ll be going to see it too, though I doubt that I’ll learn anything new.

Imagine my disgust though when I read the story in the current copy of Essence Magazine about Shampale Williams, voted Miss Voorhees College 2009, but pressured into trading in her braided coif for a chemically enhanced one! In this day and age, I can’t believe that administrators and staff at this Historically Black College are caught up in the plantation mentality of ‘good hair’.

I’ve been wearing a natural hairstyle since 1999 when I realized that the constant chemical processing was ruining my hair. I’m lucky to have been blessed with coarse nappy hair, no matter what I did to it, the follicles would continue to sprout - wildly charting their own course. Bumbo brush, board head, reds, all names I’ve been called as a child referring to my coarse, wildly unmanageable hair. Coming to America in 1996 and working in corporate America, I was advised by my sister that there are certain styles that are acceptable and certain styles that were definitely a no-no. I remember one weekend my hairdresser gave me a short ‘pineapple’ style, which my sister promptly advised me to get rid off as this would be frowned on. At that time, black sisters walked a tightrope when it comes to their identity in the workplace. I’m not sure when the tide really turned, but I guess for me, my maverick personality would not be denied forever so when I made the transition to ‘starter’ locs, no one at the investment banking firm batted an eyelash.

I had no idea of the struggles black American women had to face in order to have the freedom to wear their hair in a way that reflected individual personality and style. In 1988 the Mariott Hotel in Washington was sued when they threatened to fire a woman for wearing her hair in corn rows.

A good example of the self-hatred that is still the reality for many was really demonstrated by a reading of Lawrence Otis Graham's Book ‘Our Kind of People : Inside America’s Black Upper Class’. This is where I learned of the ‘paper bag test’. People whose skin tone most closely resembles the brown paper bag are elevated into an almost secret but well documented clique. Doors are magically opened because you happen to have the right mix of melanin! A similar situation pertained in Jamaica in the 1960s and 1970s, where people of a certain ‘shade’ would never be employed as bank tellers or in other high visibility professions. It is this same self-hatred that gave some the courage to call our beautiful and accomplished First Lady, Michelle Obama “ghetto”.

It’s one thing when a fashion conscious sister decides to use her prerogative and switch up her hair style – it’s totally another when we become slaves to the weave, spending upwards of $150 so that we can use someone else’s hair in an attempt to feel better about ourselves.

What can I say – in 2009, the Willie Lynch Syndrome is alive and kicking.