Sunday, February 28, 2010
From The Chicago Sun-Times…
110-year-old remembers Jim Crow and civil rights
But a retired teacher offers her views of civil rights—from a perspective of 110 years
By Maudlyne Ihejirika, Staff Writer
“I have a scar on my back I got when I was a slave. … You got people out there with this scar on their brains. …”—from the 1974 movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” now on DVD
Throughout this month, we asked Chicagoans and prominent visitors their thoughts on Black History Month. Most said it is still relevant, though many questioned relegating the celebration of a people’s history to any specific period.
We close the month with 110-year-old Ethel Darden of Hyde Park, tied with another supercentenarian as Illinois’ oldest resident.
Born in Dallas, Texas, on Feb. 17, 1900, to Ella Mary Allen and Charles Boswell, two schoolteachers, she is a pioneering educator who helped establish the city’s first private, nonsectarian school for blacks, the Howalton Day School.
Founded in 1947 by her sister Doris Allen-Anderson and two other women, the school operated until 1986. It was responsible for educating many of Chicago’s black elite, including the children of boxer Joe Louis, U.S. Rep. Ralph Metcalfe, historian Timuel Black, Judge R. Eugene Pincham and Mayor Eugene Sawyer.
In 1996, she donated the school’s archives to the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library’s Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection.
“There were five of us girls. The whole darn family became educators,” said Darden, laughing as she smoothed out a brown ruffled dress with her long, slender rhinestone-ringed fingers.
“She’s sweet as pie, always full of smiles and laughter,” said her caretaker and close friend, Betty Miller. “She still has that southern genteel. Occasionally, she’ll ask me, ‘Honey, is he colored or white?’”
Darden outlived her siblings and husband, Lloyd Darden, a successful accountant she married in 1942 before the couple moved here. She lives at Montgomery Place, a retirement home staffed by University of Chicago Medical Center physicians.
Her doctor, William Dale, said he’s in awe at the health of Darden, who occasionally enjoys a glass of wine.
“She has no diseases, takes no prescriptions and looks decades younger,” he gushed. “And while her short-term memory is poor, her long-term memory is very intact.”
Darden attended Dallas Colored High School, graduated in 1921 from the historically black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas—featured in the 2007 movie “The Great Debaters”—taught 20 years in Dallas schools, then 40 years here.
Here’s what she had to say:
“You know, sometimes I don’t like to look back. It’s hard enough to look front. When I think about the past too much, it knocks me down.
“I came up with Jim Crow. But I didn’t let it bother me. I was just living. We didn’t have money, anyway, to go places they didn’t want us. In the South, we knew where we could go and couldn’t. Didn’t have to hear them say it. It was written loud and clear, ‘Whites Only.’ ‘For Colored.’
“It was terrible what they did to black folks those days. Lynched them. Burned them. I don’t want to talk too much about that.
“Dr. [Martin Luther] King came to our church. My twin sister and I sang a duet for him. I liked him. He wasn’t afraid of anybody. Marched up to Washington. He asked our help. We collected money in jars at school. I did march. One time, we put on buttons to protest, marched right downtown and had breakfast. I wasn’t scared.
“I honor all those who tried to make it good for us, so we could come downtown and have lunch if we wanted to. The Civil Rights Act was a great day because I felt free at last. That I could walk with my head up, that we were free to go to any school at last. I did feel good.
“Black president? Didn’t think so soon, but I felt we’d eventually have a black everything. I don’t like to say ‘black’ history. It’s just history.
“I don’t know why I lived so long. I never thought of it. Just tried to do my work and treat people the right way. There’s a road you have to take, and you take it. It’s been a good life. I wouldn’t say a ‘fine’ life, just ‘good.’ Could have been worse.
“A white man is a white man. Let him be white. A black man is a black man. Let him be black. Just watch the way they treat you as a human being. Treat folks right, and respect them the way God would have you do. Let history take care of itself.”
The hardest-working man in Black advertising is still going strong, illustrating an online story on old age. It would be interesting to learn how old this guy really is at this point, given that his stock photos have been used for quite some time now.
From The Los Angeles Times…
Negrohead Mountain is renamed after black pioneer
The 2,031-foot peak standing between Malibu and Agoura is now named Ballard Mountain, after John Ballard, a former slave from L.A. who homesteaded a valley in the Santa Monica Mountains.
By Bob Pool
It took years for work crews to tunnel through the edges of the 2,031-foot peak that stands between Malibu and Agoura.
It took a century for authorities to dig their way out from under the shame that came with the mountain, however.
But another work crew will soon erect a bronze plaque that changes the name of “Negrohead Mountain” to “Ballard Mountain” in honor of a black man who was a pioneering homesteader in the Santa Monica Mountains.
John Ballard was a former slave who ran a delivery service and was a co-founder of Los Angeles’ first African Methodist Episcopal Church, but the city’s rising property values and its class structure forced him to move his family 50 miles out into the mountains in the 1880s.
He homesteaded 160 acres in a valley marked by a bubbling hot springs and settled into a life of blacksmithing and gathering firewood to sell in the city. Ballard’s prominence in the mountains prompted locals to refer to the volcanic peak rising above the springs as “Negrohead Mountain”—although that was a 1960s refinement of the “N-word” that formed its original name. When the federal government surveyed the area, that name was used on officials’ maps.
Two current mountain residents, Paul Culberg and Nick Noxon, initiated a campaign to change the peak’s name in Ballard’s honor two years ago. Last year, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the area, took up the cause.
On Saturday, about 25 of Ballard’s descendants were among a crowd of 90 who watched as a replica of the plaque was unveiled in Seminole Springs, near the site of his onetime homestead. The real one will be permanently placed next to Kanan Road’s north tunnel on the side of the rugged mountaintop.
Reggie Ballard, the 85-year-old great-grandson of the pioneer, said he was pleased to see the old name wiped away.
“I don’t know what it means to Los Angeles as a whole, but it means a lot to me,” said the retired Los Angeles Fire Department captain who lives in Banning.
“It’s not often you get a chance to right an historical wrong,” said Yaroslavsky, whose board colleagues appealed to the U.S. Geological Survey to make the name change official.
Marcia McNutt, the agency’s director, traveled from Washington for the ceremony.
“It doesn’t get any better than this. This is one of those days you live for,” McNutt told the crowd.
Descendant Christopher Ballard, 19, of Long Beach said he and six others climbed Ballard Mountain in December, crawling over rocks and carving their own trail through brush.
When he reached its peak, he said, it felt like he was on top of the world.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Career changes in a MultiCultClassics Monologue…
• Desiree Rogers resigned from her position as White House social secretary. Wonder if Tareq and Michaela Salahi will crash Rogers’ farewell party.
• New York Governor David Paterson ended his candidacy for re-election, and now must deal with an awkward 10 months remaining in his current term. Even the Salahis won’t be appearing at any Paterson parties.
• Gary Coleman suffered an apparent seizure while on the set of “The Insider.” Let’s hope he can cover the medical expenses with CashCall.
• Michael Jordan is plotting to buy the Charlotte Bobcats. MJ will likely not need assistance from CashCall.
Friday, February 26, 2010
I have a DM. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Build The Dream National Memorial Project sent out a comprehensive direct mail package featuring greeting cards, a four-page letter and color brochure—a $25 donation gets you a lapel pin and wristband. Learn more at BuildTheDream.org
From The Chicago Sun-Times…
Gangsta rap tops heroes on Wal-Mart black history shelf
Documentary on military left off prominent promotion
By Cheryl V. Jackson, Staff Reporter
Vietnam veteran Ronald Price considers himself snubbed by Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. rejected for inclusion in its Black History Month displays “For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots,” a four-hour documentary in which a Who’s Who of Hollywood is enlisted to document the history of blacks in the military.
What did make it to the prominent displays at the world’s largest retailer? “Thug Angel—Tupac Shakur,” a documentary of the slain rapper; the strip club-set flick “The Players Club,” and Dave Chappelle’s sketch comedy series “Chappelle’s Show—Season 2 Uncensored” were among 50 titles approved for the special promotion in entertainment sections.
“I think it was a slap in our face, as far as being war veterans,” said Price, an African-American South Holland resident. “I would never buy anything out of Wal-Mart anymore.”
That Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart, found filmmaker Frank Martin’s project less worthy of the promotion than several of the special orders baffled Martin, who spent 10 years on the project (ForLoveOfLiberty.org). He got Halle Berry to host, Avery Brooks to narrate, and the likes of Ossie Davis, John Travolta, Danny Glover, Walter Cronkite and Angela Bassett to provide dramatic readings.
“To not include that but to include the gangster rap things just seems crazy to me,” he said. “It just defies logic.
“At a time when we need to influence young people with positive things, why would they not carry this amazing story?”
The retailer decides what titles make the promotion based on release dates, price and popularity, said chain spokeswoman Melissa O’Brien.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
From Target Market News…
Magic Johnson says ‘advanced discussions’ with JPC didn’t reach ‘definitive agreement’
Earvin “Magic” Johnson released a statement today saying someone from Magic Johnson Enterprises really had been speaking with someone else at Johnson Publishing Co. about something, but that nothing had come out of the talks.
Without being straightforward about the details, the former NBA star tried to put to rest a week-long buzz about his interest in the company that publishes the legendary Ebony and Jet magazines. The story took on a life of its own, with columnists, critics and bloggers assuming that a sale of JPC was all but a done deal.
In a carefully crafted 88-word release, Los Angeles-based businessman Johnson offered his only comment since the Feb. 13 Bloomberg news service story appeared quoting an unidentified insider who said a sale of JPC was being negotiated. MJE president, Eric Holoman was also quoted, saying that there were discussions, but “there is no definitive agreement.”
In his statement Johnson mentions the word “sale,” but he claims that “advanced discussions to do business together” took place, though not between him and JPC chair and CEO, Linda Johnson Rice.
Here’s what the entire statement said:
“I would like to salute Linda Johnson Rice and the Johnson family for pioneering the iconic brand of the Johnson Publishing Company, which we have all come to love and respect. Ebony and Jet have been permanent fixtures on coffee tables in African-American homes for many years.
“Recently, an affiliate of Magic Johnson Enterprises and Johnson Publishing Company were in advanced discussions to do business together, but unfortunately we were unable to reach a definitive agreement. We will continue to look for opportunities to invest in African-American media.”
For its part, the 67-year-old Chicago-based firm continues to ignore conjecture about its future plans, while working to hold its ground in an advertising market hard-hit by the recession.
JPC recently introduce improvements to the nation’s two most successful black-owned titles. The weekly Jet just unveiled a new logotype and overall design, coming on the heels of a similar makeover of its flagship, Ebony magazine.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The Illinois State Lottery celebrates Black History Month via a volunteer promotion and donations that can be submitted in the form of losing lottery tickets. Is the presumption that Blacks have lots of losing lottery tickets?
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Too bad Tiger Woods isn’t available to hype this effort.
PGA TOUR Diversity Internship Program
The PGA TOUR Diversity Internship Program is open to all qualified college students, regardless of ethnicity and is committed to attaining greater diversity within our organization, as well as, the golf industry.
Our internships are designed to expose college students to the business side of golf that supports one of the world's leading sports brands – the PGA TOUR. While a love of the game is certainly appreciated, knowing how to play is not a prerequisite for the internship. Your internship experience will be enhanced by activities and projects that will allow you to gain a full picture of how the PGA TOUR and other golf organizations work together to support our players, charities and events on the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour.
The PGA TOUR has full time, PAID internship positions for the summer & fall in almost every area of the organization. Deadline for applications is February 28, 2010.
From Target Market News…
Munson Steed, ‘Rolling Out’ publisher, named director of Madison Avenue Initiative
Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network, has appointed Munson Steed as Director of the Madison Avenue Initiative (MAI), a program under NAN that addresses fairness in advertising. The formal announcement will be made at NAN’s upcoming national convention in April.
Since its inception, the MAI has addressed the needs of minority-owned companies that do not receive their fair share of corporate and governmental advertising expenditures and the Initiative has already helped redirect millions of dollars to Black and Latino media. MAI has successfully pushed for corporations to make advertising purchases that approach the level of minority consumer patronage of their products in specific markets.
“Munson Steed is the right person to accelerate this vision in 2010,” said Rev. Sharpton, “and his background and business acumen within the media and advertising industry exemplifies a vision of equal access and inclusion for minority-owned media outlets.”
Steed is the CEO of Steed Media Group, Inc., a multimedia company that includes newspapers, magazines, television programming, internet properties, custom publications, signature events and more. Over the course of more than ten years, Steed has moved the company’s flagship publication, Rolling Out, into national prominence as the largest chain of African American-owned weekly papers in the nation.
A graduate of Morehouse College, Steed holds a bachelor’s degree in political science.
MAI’s philosophy has been to encourage corporations to step up their efforts to build working relationships with businesses of color. “If we’re talking to a company that does 40% of its sales with blacks and Latinos, we expect a lot more from them than a company that might do marginal sales,” said Rev. Sharpton.
Monday, February 22, 2010
The U.S. Census Bureau celebrates Black History Month with a list of figures relevant to Blacks. The numbers don’t include percentages for Black executives in the advertising industry—or the 2010 U.S. Census campaign budget allocations for minority ad agencies and media.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
LatinWorks: Multicultural AOY ‘09
Insightful creative gave this Hispanic agency a year to remember
By T.L. Stanley
In a new Hispanic market commercial for Domino’s Pizza, close-knit neighbors play a game of telephone. As the famous kids’ game goes, they pass along the information person to person. But in this case, the message—Domino’s tastes better than Pizza Hut—is so strong, even a game of telephone can’t mess it up.
The spot, and another recent one in which a Domino’s delivery man shows up at an outdoor party where everybody knows him, are already ringing up strong 2010 sales for the marketer and “some of the best ad scores we’ve seen since we’ve been tracking Hispanic work,” says Karen Kaiser, director of national advertising at Domino’s.
The new campaign is the brainchild of LatinWorks, the Austin, Texas-based agency formed more than a decade ago by a couple of Anheuser-Busch marketing veterans and an advertising maven who Kaiser calls “the centrifugal force” of the shop.
“They’re really bringing it for their clients,” Kaiser says of Adweek’s Multicultural Agency of the Year. “And it’s not just the creative, which is very visually rich. They really hit the bull’s-eye on strategy.”
It’s that kind of right brain/left brain balance that LatinWorks is striving for, explains CMO and managing partner Alejandro Ruelas, who runs the agency with his former A-B colleague Manny Flores, CEO and managing partner, and Sergio Alcocer, president and CCO.
While 2009 was a punishing year for the ad industry overall, the minority-owned Omnicom agency grew 13 percent to more than $18 million in revenue and staff increased by 15 percent. Still, the realities of the market prompted a good deal of introspection.
“We couldn’t take our eye off the fact that every client was looking for performance and sales,” says Ruelas, a self-described client-focused introvert. “We had to make sure our ideas were very focused. It was a year to be diligent and disciplined. Achieving an emotional connection with the target becomes essential at a time when consumers are so hesitant in their purchasing. It’s a good time to differentiate and create brand loyalty.”
Dave Peacock, president of longtime client A-B, appreciates the agency’s collaborative nature. “Everybody kicks around ideas and it’s a very open atmosphere,” he says.
In 2009, LatinWorks won a heated battle for two major accounts, Burger King and Bacardi, adding those to a roster that already included Lowe’s, Domino’s, ESPN Deportes and Hyundai. And, the agency secured more from Mars by landing Snickers, Twix and M&Ms after producing a hit with a Starburst campaign that featured just a guy and a llama. Even now, LatinWorks execs are hard-pressed to say why they picked a lanky, sweet-faced animal as the co-star of the campaign that launched last summer. They wanted to convey that the flavorful candy was social—people liked to share it—so the llama happily fed a piece to his friend and vice versa in the surreal 30-second spot.
“It talks to the heart and has attitude,” says Alcocer “I can’t even explain why it works. It’s just fun.”
The campaign was intended to reverse a hefty 27 percent slide in sales and make an impression with young Hispanics who weren’t enamored by the brand. Within three months, Starburst saw a 14.8 percent sales increase, according to the agency, and the llama spot become a viral hit. It crossed quickly into the general market, noteworthy because the modest ad budget had been concentrated on Spanish-language media.
Aside from hundreds of friends signing up on the brand’s Facebook page and a Mattel American Girl doll getting a pet llama named Starburst, the work spawned the ultimate pop culture compliment: YouTube parodies, tweets and retweets. It also landed LatinWorks a silver Lion at the 2009 Cannes International Advertising Festival.
Mars wasn’t the only satisfied client. Burger King, suffering from a sales slide as recession-wracked consumers ate at home, picked LatinWorks to increase Hispanic patrons. The agency looked at longstanding English-language efforts, with their emphasis on BK’s flame-broiled burgers, and realized that was the key to bringing in Hispanics, who prefer grilled food.
As a play on the cooking concept, the campaign showed burgers being fried in a pan as opposed to BK’s “a la parrilla.” A related stunt put giant frying pans in place of barbecues in public parks and recorded people’s disappointed and unhappy reactions with hidden cameras. The efforts helped bump up sales significantly in cities like Chicago, New York, Dallas and Los Angeles, the agency reports.
Knowing the consumer has always been key for LatinWorks. The mantra of the agency was planted in the 1990s as Flores and Ruelas traveled the country speaking to marketers about A-B’s success in selling to Hispanics. Their boss, August Busch IV, had suggested the road trip because so many firms wanted to tap into the lucrative demo and were looking for help from a pioneer.
“The state of advertising then was rooted in stereotypes and cliches,” says Flores. “We wanted to change that and show that the Hispanic consumer deserved to be addressed with respect.”
LatinWorks opened in 1998 to tap into the U.S. Hispanic market, now numbering 47 million—making it the second-largest Hispanic population in the world behind Mexico—with $1 trillion in buying power. Though the agency has become best known for its campaigns on TV—Bud Light spots ran on three consecutive Super Bowl telecasts—it’s increasingly exploring social media, digital and mobile marketing because young Hispanics over-index on their use of new technology, Flores explains.
The agency prides itself on its own diversity, with a veritable global village of employees from South America, Mexico, Puerto Rico and more infusing the work with their varied sensibilities. It’s a necessary mix, Flores says, to keep up with the ever-evolving demographic makeup in the U.S. Having client-side experience has also been an advantage, with former Dell and Frito-Lay executives in senior management alongside Flores and Ruelas.
Though some high-profile work has crossed over into the mainstream, there are no plans for LatinWorks to become a general market agency, its principals say. But the flexibility to live in both worlds reflects the assimilated-yet-traditional target.
Says Alcocer: “Over the next 10 years, we’ll really start to see the power and strength of the multicultural market.”
From The New York Times…
Health Executive to Lead N.A.A.C.P.
By Ian Urbina
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Saturday announced the selection of its first new board leader in more than a decade.
Roslyn M. Brock, 44, the board’s current vice chairwoman, will become chairwoman of the board, taking the reins from Julian Bond, who last year, on the eve of the organization’s centennial celebration, announced his decision to step down. The 64-member board is the policymaking arm of the organization.
In being named vice chairwoman of the N.A.A.C.P. board at 35, Ms. Brock was the first woman and the youngest person to hold the position.
Previously she worked in health care administration and policy. In her current job as a vice president of Bon Secours Health Care, Ms. Brock serves as the chief spokeswoman on government relations, advocacy and public policy.
“This is the time for renewal,” said Mr. Bond, 70, who took over the chairmanship in 1998. “We have dynamic new leadership. Roslyn understands firsthand how important youth are to the success of the N.A.A.C.P. She was introduced to the N.A.A.C.P. 25 years ago when she served the N.A.A.C.P. as a youth board member and Youth and College Division State Conference president.”
The most recognized organization in the civil rights establishment, the association was founded in 1909. One of its main missions was to fight the lynchings of blacks.
The organization has played an important role in virtually every major civil rights issue of the last century, including the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
It has struggled in recent years, however, with declining membership, financial and political problems and questions of how best to move forward. The group’s reputation was tarnished in the mid-1990s when it fired its president for using organization money to settle a sexual harassment claim against him. In 2007, it laid off more than a third of its staff because of a budget shortfall.
In 2008, the board selected Benjamin T. Jealous, an activist and former news executive, as its youngest president, breaking with a tradition of picking ministers and political leaders and rebuffing criticisms that it was out of touch with the concerns of younger African-Americans.
“We’re looking at a generational shift in our communities,” Ms. Brock said. “We have a 48-year-old president in the White House, an N.A.A.C.P. president who was 35 at the time of his election and a 44-year-old board chair. The wisdom of those who stood the test of time got us to this point, and the youth are who will ensure the future legacy of this organization.”
John Mayer Is Not Alone
The worst part of his deplorable Playboy interview? He’s just saying what others are thinking.
By Allison Samuels | Newsweek Web Exclusive
I think I can honestly say I speak for a large sector of African-American women when I admit that I’ve never given singer John Mayer more than a half a second of thought over the years. Sure, I can vaguely remember thumbing through some tabloid magazines that detailed his romances with various Hollywood starlets and the drama that came with that, but really, who cares? I sure didn’t. On some level I did appreciate him performing at Michael Jackson’s memorial last year, signaling the diversity of the King of Pop’s influence. But as soon as he left the stage that day, he pretty much left my mind.
But it seems I really should have been paying more attention to Mayer and his very telling thoughts. If I had, I’d have been more familiar with his propensity for immature, salacious banter and outrageous antics. If I had, I’d have known that somewhere along the line, Mayer imagined he’d received an invitation-only entry into the African-American inner circle. You know that invitation that allows you to say anything that comes to your mind about black people without fear that Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton will be picketing outside your door the next day.
So imagine my surprise last week when Mayer’s controversial Playboy magazine interview hit the airwaves and newspapers. The 32-year-old singer decided to freely let loose his thoughts on blacks, the “hood” and African-American women. He also felt free enough to use the N-word like he’d been saying it to make a point all his life.
His entire interview left me seething, but his comments about African-American woman sent me through the roof. For those who aren’t familiar with Mayer’s incendiary quotes, just know he essentially said that he wasn’t interested in black women—because his male sex organ was like David Duke (a former Klan member). He causally mentioned one or two black actresses that he thought were OK, and that actress Kerry Washington was “hot,” but would probably break his heart like a “white girl.” He made a few other comments regarding Washington that were so degrading and offensive I won’t even try to paraphrase them. And for record, his references to Jessica Simpson were insulting and degrading to all women as well.
I can only assume what Mayer meant by “like a white girl” was that Kerry Washington is the only black woman that even comes close to being on a white woman’s level of desirability.
Wow! Really, John?
Imagine if you will: America’s sweetheart Beyoncé doing a major interview where she explained that her interest in men leaned more toward the Malcolm X way of thinking and that Brad Pitt or George Clooney couldn’t make the cut if they tried.
Mainstream America would be so angry and appalled with Beyoncé and her 16 Grammys that she’d have to take serious cover for years. Only a very teary-eyed Oprah interview and months in some kind of racial rehab would even begin to allow her a moment back on the national and international scene. (Though rumor has it that talk-show queen Oprah was so upset by Mayer’s interview that she’s made it clear he won’t be sitting on her couch anytime soon.)
Sadly, even though an initial public outrage had Mayer apologizing via his Twitter account and found him crying on stage during an apology, my guess is Mayer will suffer little for his comments. And the reason is very simple. He clearly said out loud what a large majority of mainstream men in power feel in private. I’m referring to those invisible men in the corner offices with the influence and power to put women in movies, on magazine covers, and television shows. The ones who decide what beauty looks like, how much it weighs, and what age it should be. The ones who, just like John Mayer, have deemed black women as just not good enough.
Sure, Beyoncé gets her due attention as does Rihanna, but one has only to look at the most recent Vanity Fair magazine cover to see what a lot of America really thinks of the combination of beauty and brown skin. There isn’t a darker hue to be found, not even in the fold. Earlier this year, pictures altered to fuse first lady Michelle Obama’s face with an ape flooded the Internet, while actor Scott Baio posted on picture of the first lady with a frown on her face and a caption asking if this was what President Obama had to wake up to every morning.
All of this has left me to wonder: Is it open season on black women? Are we in a time where openly disrespecting and insulting women of color is OK and without consequence?
Yes, there will be those who will rightly point to rap music and its demeaning lyrics and videos depicting black women—all made primarily by black men. Without doubt this has been a heated topic discussed for years by black women’s groups and leaders with little resolve. But one fact remains: most black men end up loving and marrying black women, so the words, while hurtful and offensive, don’t ultimately match their actions.
Unfortunately, Mayer’s do. He and his peers’ lack of interest in African-American women doesn’t just impact us on date night, it impacts important decisions about how we are viewed all over the world. And it determines whether those sightings are balanced and diverse.
In the end, I have no idea if Mayer is the racist some have suggested, but I do know the power of words and how painful ones aren’t easily retracted. Here’s hoping that the next time Mayer sees Kerry Washington, she rips him apart—just like a black girl.
American universities are accepting more minorities than ever. Graduating them is another matter.
By Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert | NEWSWEEK
Barry Mills, the president of Bowdoin College, was justifiably proud of Bowdoin’s efforts to recruit minority students. Since 2003 the small, elite liberal-arts school in Brunswick, Maine, has boosted the proportion of so-called underrepresented minority students (blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans, about 30 percent of the U.S. population) in entering freshman classes from 8 percent to 13 percent. “It is our responsibility, given our place in the world, to reach out and attract students to come to our kinds of places,” he told a NEWSWEEK reporter. But Bowdoin has not done quite as well when it comes to actually graduating minorities. While nine out of 10 white students routinely get their diplomas within six years, only seven out of 10 black students made it to graduation day in several recent classes.
The picture of diversity—black, white, and brown students cavorting or studying together out on the quad—is a stock shot in college catalogs. The picture on graduation day is a good deal more monochromatic. “If you look at who enters college, it now looks like America,” says Hilary Pennington, director of postsecondary programs for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has closely studied enrollment patterns in higher education. “But if you look at who walks across the stage for a diploma, it’s still largely the white, upper-income population.”
The United States once had the highest graduation rate of any nation. Now it stands 10th. For the first time in American history, there is the risk that the rising generation will be less well educated than the previous one. The graduation rate among 25- to 34-year-olds is no better than the rate for the 55- to 64-year-olds who were going to college more than 30 years ago. Studies show that more and more poor and nonwhite students aspire to graduate from college—but their graduation rates fall far short of their dreams. The graduation rates for blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans lag far behind the graduation rates for whites and Asians. As the minority population grows in the United States, low college-graduation rates become a threat to national prosperity.
The problem is pronounced at public universities. In 2007 (the last year for which Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy group, has comparative statistics) the University of Wisconsin-Madison—one of the top five or so “public Ivies”—graduated 81 percent of its white students within six years, but only 56 percent of its blacks. At less-selective state schools, the numbers get worse. During the same time frame, the University of Northern Iowa graduated 67 percent of its white students, but only 39 percent of its blacks. Community colleges have low graduation rates generally—but rock-bottom rates for minorities. A recent review of California community colleges found that while a third of the Asian students picked up their degrees, only 15 percent of African-Americans did so as well.
Private colleges and universities generally do better, partly because they offer smaller classes and more personal attention. But when it comes to a significant graduation gap, Bowdoin has company. Nearby Colby College logged an 18-point difference between white and black graduates in 2007 and 25 points in 2006. Middlebury College in Vermont, another topnotch school, had a 19-point gap in 2007 and a 22-point gap in 2006. The most selective private schools—Harvard, Yale, and Princeton—show almost no gap between black and white graduation rates. But that may have more to do with their ability to cherry-pick the best students. According to data gathered by Harvard Law School professor Lani Guinier, the most selective schools are more likely to choose blacks who have at least one immigrant parent from Africa or the Caribbean than black students who are descendants of American slaves. According to Guinier’s data, the latter perform less well academically.
“Higher education has been able to duck this issue for years, particularly the more selective schools, by saying the onus is on the individual student,” says Pennington of the Gates Foundation. “If they fail, it’s their fault.” Some critics blame affirmative action—students admitted with lower test scores and grades from shaky high schools often struggle at elite schools. But a bigger problem may be that poor high schools often send their students to colleges for which they are, in educators’ jargon, “undermatched”: they could get into more elite, richer schools, but instead go to community colleges and low-rated state schools that lack the resources to help them. Some schools out for profit cynically jack up tuitions and count on student loans and federal aid to foot the bill—knowing full well that the students won’t make it. “Colleges know that a lot of kids they take will end up in remedial classes, for which they’ll get no college credit and then they’ll flunk out,” says Amy Wilkins of the Education Trust. “The school gets to keep the money, but the kid leaves with loads of debt and no degree and no ability to get a better job. Colleges are not holding up their end.”
A college education is getting ever more expensive. Since 1982 tuitions have been rising at roughly twice the rate of inflation. University administrators insist that most of those hikes are matched by increased scholarship grants or loans, but the recession has slashed private endowments and cut into state spending on higher education. In 2008 the net cost of attending a four-year public university—after financial aid—equaled 28 percent of median family income, while a four-year private university cost 76 percent of median family income. More and more scholarships are based on merit, not need. Poorer students are not always the best-informed consumers. Often they wind up deeply in debt or simply unable to pay after a year or two and must drop out.
There once was a time when universities took a perverse pride in their attrition rates. Professors would begin the year by saying, “Look to the right and look to the left. One of you is not going to be here by the end of the year.” But such a Darwinian spirit is beginning to give way as at least a few colleges face up to the graduation gap. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the gap has been roughly halved over the last three years. The university has poured resources into peer counseling to help students from inner-city schools adjust to the rigor and faster pace of a university classroom—and also to help minority students overcome the stereotype that they are less qualified. Wisconsin has a “laserlike focus” on building up student skills in the first three months, according to vice provost Damon Williams.
State and federal governments could sharpen that focus everywhere by broadly publishing minority graduation rates. (For now students and counselors must find their way to the Web site of the Educational Trust, which compares data obtained from schools by the federal government.) For years private colleges such as Princeton and MIT have had success bringing minorities onto campus in the summer before freshman year to give them a head start on college-level courses. The newer trend is to start recruiting poor and nonwhite students as early as the seventh grade, using innovative tools like hip-hop competitions to identify kids with sophisticated verbal finesse. Such programs can be expensive, of course, but cheap compared with the millions already invested in scholarships and grants for kids who have little chance to graduate without special support.
With effort and money, the graduation gap can be closed. Washington and Lee is a small, selective school with a preppy feel in Lexington, Va. Its student body is less than 5 percent black and less than 2 percent Latino. While the school usually graduated about 90 percent of its whites, the graduation rate of its blacks and Latinos had dipped to 63 percent by 2007. “We went through a dramatic shift,” says Dawn Watkins, the vice president for student affairs. The school aggressively pushed mentoring of minorities by other students and “partnering” with parents at a special pre-enrollment session. The school had its first-ever black homecoming. Last spring the school graduated the same proportion of minorities as it did whites. If the United States wants to keep up in the global economic race, it will have to pay systematic attention to graduating minorities, not just enrolling them.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
This actual craigslist ad appears to be the work of the laziest comedian imaginable. Fishing for material via craigslist sounds like, well, a bad stand-up joke.
Looking for original stand-up jokes
Date: 2010-02-20, 6:46PM CST
Reply to: email@example.com
Looking for comedians or writers to submit jokes for a stand-up comedy act. If I like your jokes I will begin negotiating a price.
From NBA Fanhouse…
Cut Kobe, LeBron Puppets’ Strings
By Terence Moore
OK, I’ll admit it. In the beginning, I had no problem with the buffoonery of the Kobe and LeBron puppets.
They were puppets. They also were hilarious.
Now one of three things has happened: (1) Nike has slowly turned what was a clever marketing idea into a modern-day version of Amos and Andy, (2) I’ve just come to my senses, or (3) it is a combination of both.
Whatever the case, these commercials have to go. Either that, or they need an extreme makeover. They are the anti-Barack Obamas when it comes to helping society rid itself of tired images of African-Americans—and the Nike folks couldn’t care less. The same goes for Kobe and LeBron. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have storylines in each of these commercials that clearly are designed to entice as many black youngsters as possible to buy sneakers they can’t afford.
Stereotyping. Exploitation. It’s all here.
I mean, you have the two most famous players in the NBA—Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, both heroes among many youth in the black community—depicted by a couple of sports-obsessed, egomaniacal puppets.
Worse, these puppets mostly lounge around their apartment as they live in a world filled with rapping and folks speaking broken English.
Let’s pause for a moment of silence. This being Black History Month and all, that groaning you now hear is coming from the graves of W.E.B., Booker T., Martin, Malcolm and the rest, wondering if this is the 21st century or 19th century.
Just like various poisons, these Kobe-LeBron puppet commercials have names, which brings me to the one that pushed me over the edge: “Shoes on fire.” It begins with Kobe and LeBron returning home to a smoldering mess after an inferno at their apartment. They are questioned by a couple of firemen who are sifting through the rubble inside the shoe closet of the two players. After a while, the white fireman says to the black fireman, “Chief, I think we’ve got something over here,” as the white fireman holds up one of Kobe’s smoking sneakers with a pair of pliers.
Then the black fireman goes into his best Pigmeat Markham routine (you know, “Heah com du judge”) by snapping his neck while saying, “I’m tell YOU as an official of the fire department—this shoe right heah is just … TOO hot.”
To which the Kobe puppet says to the LeBron puppet with glee, “LeBron, you hear that? My shoe hot.”
The more I think about it, those Kobe-LeBron puppet commercials around Christmas set the foundation for my current outrage. There was “Dunking on Reindeer,” and then there was “Santa Rap.” They both were filled with needless Ebonics—well, needless unless you were trying to make a point—and they both featured as many references to “the hood”—as in Nike’s targeted audience—as possible.
”He all nervous.”
”I’ll be flyin’ around the hood cruisin’ fast. My sleigh be movin’ snow. You be eatin’ grass.”
This is in addition to the butchered language in those other Kobe-LeBron puppet commercials, ranging from, “Who’s her?” to “You ain’t got no defense.” And here is one of the most disgusting things about this situation: Neither Kobe nor LeBron speaks that way. They are among the NBA’s most-polished players.
We’re back to the bottom line. And, with apologies to Malcolm, this trio of Kobe, LeBron and Nike is selling shoes by any means necessary.
Where’s the outrage? If not from Kobe and LeBron, who have the power to stop this but have chosen to yawn while counting their dollars from it all, then why not from others around the league and throughout society?
Guess too many people were lulled into apathy, especially after those initial Kobe-LeBron puppet commercials grabbed our attention as natural extensions of the Lil Penny ones of Penny Hardaway lore. And Lil Penny was funny and harmless. You can say the same for that Kobe-LeBron puppet commercial of nearly a year ago that had Kobe gloating over his three world championship rings at the time in front of LeBron.
The chalk commercial worked, too, with a hand-clapping LeBron puppet filling the apartment with the white stuff as a spoof on his routine of sending chalk into the air before he leaves for the opening tipoff. And the Lil Desmond thing worked, when the puppets were babysitters for the obnoxious kid from across the way. And it also worked after the real Kobe won his fourth NBA title this summer, with the puppet Kobe dancing around the apartment, but only when the puppet LeBron wasn’t in a room.
Afterward, those Nike folks felt so free to do whatever they wanted (see trash-talking Santa, Kobe’s burning shoes, etc.) that they ran a magazine ad last month featuring Kobe and LeBron on opposite pages around the slogan, “Prepare For Combat.” The words near Kobe’s photo said, “I’ll do whatever it takes to win games. I don’t leave anything in the chamber.”
This was in the midst of the Gilbert Arenas situation, when he and teammate Javaris Crittenton brought guns into the locker room of the Washington Wizards for reasons that weren’t good. Even though the word “chamber” is the place that holds bullets in a gun, the Nike folks said they weren’t referring to that kind of chamber, but said later in a statement, “The Nike print ad featuring Kobe Bryant was intended to illustrate his all out play and commitment on the basketball court. [Chamber] is a commonly used reference for shooting the basketball and no offense was intended.”
Kobe added that the ad was designed months before the Arenas thing—as if that really made a difference—and LeBron said Kobe’s “chamber” reference in the ad was taken out of context.
Yeah, well, NBA commissioner David Stern was not amused. Neither were Cleveland city officials who rejected a Nike proposal to place a 10-story tall mural of James on the side of the building with those “Prepare For Combat” words.
That was encouraging. This would be even more so: the muzzling of those puppets, or at least enrolling them in a couple of English classes.
The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago presents Black Creativity events throughout the month. Black folks can learn about Black inventors and innovators, start healthier lifestyles with special dance routines and view graffiti-filled signage.
Photo Credit: Andy Keil.
A recent story from the Columbia Chronicle shows Lowell Thompson continues to find protest causes.
Artists on the march
Free speech protestors pass out artwork to draw attention to Chicago’s Peddler License
By Patrick Smith
A band of about 10 Chicago artists took to the streets on Jan. 29 to protest the city’s peddler’s license law and what they called an infringement on their right to free speech.
The group, called The Free Speech Artists’ Movement, was led by Chicago artist Chris Drew, who has made defeating Chicago’s licensing laws his mission for the past three years because he said they violate the First Amendment. The small but vocal group started its circuitous march for free speech in front of Macy’s, 111 N. State St., headed southeast to Columbia’s campus and then circled back around to meet up with more protestors in front of the Picasso statue in Daley Plaza, 1 W. Washington Ave.
The peddler’s license has a long list of areas where selling is prohibited, and has a special “speech peddling” section that regulates the selling of artwork. The speech section requires all people selling “speech” to submit their artwork to the department of business affairs for approval, so the city can ensure the work “communicates a non-commercial message.” More information on the license and its alleged First Amendment violations can be found in the Jan. 25 issue of The Chronicle. According to Drew the prohibited areas in the license and the requirement that all work be submitted are a violation of his rights.
The artists walking with Drew said they agreed the license violated their rights.
“Artists should definitely have the right to sell their art out on the streets,” said Anka Karawicz, an artist who is part of the Movement.
Along the way, the protestors handed out original screen-printed pieces of art to people as they passed, each one pinned to a paper flyer explaining the group’s motive. Drew said he was pleased with the turnout and the effect the Movement was having, especially considering the sub-freezing temperatures.
“It’s been going great; I expected two or three people to join me in this kind of weather and we’ve got a crowd already,” Drew said. “It’s been a heck of a day.”
Artist Jenny Rotten said that aside from the constitutional issues at play, she had a more practical reason to march with Drew.
“I could really use the opportunity to sell my work on the streets [because] I’m unemployed,” Rotten said. “Art is free speech no matter if it’s for sale or not, and the first step is education.”
Columbia photography major Jay Polhill was given one of the group’s patches as he passed them on Columbia’s campus. He looked confused by the crude screen printing.
“I’m wondering what I’m supposed to do with it,” he said.
But after the group explained their cause and the alleged restriction on free speech, Polhill said he was happy to see them out protesting and that he agreed with their cause.
“It is a violation of the First Amendment,” Polhill said of the Peddler’s license law.
The movement participants began their march at 3 p.m. The choice to start in front of Macy’s on State Street was an especially meaningful decision. That was the site of Drew’s most recent arrest for selling his artwork for $1 on the streets. That arrest eventually led to Drew being charged with a felony for audio taping his arrest, as reported in The Chronicle on Jan. 25.
Hours before the protest began, Drew was in court in connection with that arrest. His attorney, Mark Weinberg, told the judge he and Drew wanted the case dismissed because the eavesdropping law under which he was charged is unconstitutional.
“My lawyer said we wanted to ask for a dismissal and we wanted 30 days to prepare a motion for dismissal,” Drew said. “In Feb. 26, we’ll be back in court to submit our petition for dismissal. [The court appearance only] took about 10 minutes or less.”
Until then Drew said he and his compatriots will keep going out and trying to raise awareness about the peddler’s license.
“I’m definitely sure we’re going to make an impact. We’re going to continue to give away our art until we get our rights,” Drew said. “If we can get this group of people out in this weather, imagine what we can do in May. But it doesn’t end in May, it goes on and on until we get our rights.”
Lowell Thompson, an artist who unveils his canvasses for free to crowds outside of The Art Institute of Chicago, said changing the law was not his top priority.
“The first issue is the culture,” Thompson said. “Because if the culture understands its own freedoms, then the second issue of the police would not be an issue.”
Friday, February 19, 2010
From Target Market News…
Johnson Publishing Co. officials deny negotiation talks with Magic Johnson
Executives with Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Co. have denied that there are negotiations taking place regarding a sale or partnership with businessman and former NBA star, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. A report published last week by the Bloomberg news service quoted Eric Holoman, president of Magic Johnson Enterprises, as saying “There have been discussions” with the nation’s largest African-American owned publishing company, but “there’s no definitive agreement.”
The story also quoted JPC spokesperson, Wendy Parks as saying that company chairman and CEO, Linda Johnson Rice “has never talked to Magic Johnson with respect to his interesting buying the company.”
JPC executives, who asked not to be identified, told Target Market News that the story “was a total surprise,” and that there are no talks taking place with MJE.
Magic Johnson most recently was in the news for suggesting to President Obama that a minority czar be appointed by the administration to act as a liaison between minority communities and the White House. He also said that he would be willing to assume the post if other candidates could not be identified.
Numerous stories have circulated about the fate of Johnson Publishing Co., which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines. Like all publishers, has had to address severe cuts in advertising revenues. In 2009 JPC reported to the Publisher Information Bureau ad revenues of $35.4 million, a drop of 37.5 percent from 2008. Ebony continued to be the largest revenue producer of all black-owned magazines. Essence, the leading magazine for black women and owned by Time Inc., had 2009 revenues of $100.6 million, a drop of seven percent from the previous year.
Though a host suitors and buyers have been cited as interested or holding discussions with the iconic company, no sales or partnerships have taken place.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Another sign of the times: Nationwide Insurance presents a BHM campaign created by its White advertising agency. The White guys wound up producing a concept as corny contrived as anything a Black agency might have concocted.
Nationwide unveils Black History Month work from general market agency McKinney
Nationwide Insurance last week unveiled a program for Black History Month that, according to a press statement, “encourages consumers to get on line to share, build and capture important family history in celebration of the rich heritage and legacy of the African American family.”
“Nationwide continues our commitment to support the African American community,” said Mark Hara, vice president for Nationwide. “The Nationwide Family Heritage Tree Web site allows each member of the family to input data, build their family tree, add photos, input facts about their heritage and invite others to share.”
The Black History Month campaign was created by McKinney, Nationwide’s advertising agency of record which it retained for general market creative work less than a year ago. Most recently, Nationwide had assigned the Carol H. Williams agency to handle its African-American targeted campaigns, but that assignment ended in 2009. The company has also worked with the Matlock Advertising and Public Relations firm.
Nationwide, which according to TNS Media Intelligence, spent $228 million in media ad expenditures in measured media, has not yet selected a successor agency to CHWA.
The statement said that the “Family Heritage Tree Web site (www.nationwide.com/familytree) is a resource for visitors to share data and stories with other family members, allowing for two-way interaction to help build a more robust and complete family history. It also provides an opportunity for family members to add comments and work together to create their family tree.”
“We are excited to launch this campaign on the first day of Black History Month,” said Hara. “We hope families will use this web tool as a way to honor their past, share stories amongst family members and build their family history for themselves, and their children.”
Also Nationwide says it is helping to support the UNCF through a partnership with Pandora.com. During Black History Month, Nationwide will have two branded stations available on Pandora, the popular personalized and free internet radio service. Nationwide will donate $5.00 to UNCF for each one of the first 6000 visitors who listen to either one of the two Nationwide branded radio stations on Pandora.
“We’re pleased to partner with Nationwide, to give them a truly innovative and creative option that facilitates their financial contribution to the UNCF and delivers discovery and joy to those who get the chance to listen to the great music on the Nationwide branded stations.” said Pandora’s chief revenue officer John Trimble. “Pandora’s multi-platform advertising solution, combined with our breadth of demographic knowledge about our listeners, ensures that our partners, such as Nationwide, will have their campaigns seen—and heard—by their ideal target audience who are listening to internet radio.”
The Heritage Family Tree Web site can be accessed through the end of the year.
From The New York Daily News…
‘Precious’ star Gabourey Sidibe opens up about being snubbed on Vanity Fair’s Young Hollywood cover
By Cristina Everett
Daily News Staff Writer
Among the many people who noticed the lack of diversity on Vanity Fair’s recent Young Hollywood cover was none other than Hollywood up-and-comer Gabourey Sidibe.
Despite being interviewed for inside the magazine, the “Precious” actress was excluded from the star-studded cover that included many of her industry peers such as Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan and Amanda Seyfried.
“At first I thought, ‘Hmm, should I be there?’” Sidibe told “Access Hollywood” about the photo shoot. “Then I very quickly got over it. I think if I were a part of that shoot I would have felt a little left out anyway.”
Had she been chosen to appear on the March cover, the Oscar nominated actress questioned if she would have even fit in.
“I would have felt a little like… whether or not I should have been there,” the 26-year-old explained. “[It] doesn’t matter, because I wasn’t on it and I’m excited to be mentioned anywhere, and it doesn’t matter to me where I’m not mentioned.”
She added, “I mean, I come from a world where I’m not on covers and I’m not in magazines at all. And so I was happy to be in the magazine.”
Having such an optimistic attitude has only helped Sidibe prosper in an industry that focuses on aesthetics, as the actress decided long ago to be happy with the person she sees in the mirror.
“It was a long transition,” she said. “I’m just grateful that I am there because so many people go through this — beautiful people, gorgeous people — don’t feel it, don’t feel as if they’re gorgeous and I think it’s really sad and I’m glad that I happen to be one of the people who does feel [it].”
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
This actual craigslist ad reveals the state of affairs in the Chicago advertising community. A local recruiting firm is seeking fresh blood. The current candidate list includes anyone whose title is preceded by Interactive. Traditional adpeeps need not apply.
Are you an Advertising Exec or Creative Who has Just Moved to Chicago?
Date: 2010-02-16, 9:53AM CST
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you just moved to the city, trying to get your foot in the door with advertising agencies, design firms or other companies who use creative talent?
If you are a Web Developer, Web Designer, Interactive Art Director, Art Director, Copywriter, Creative Director or Production Artist etc. and have at LEAST TWO YEARS of work experience at an ADVERTISING AGENCY, we could be a great source for you to use to either find full-time or freelance work. We also work with Account Executives through V.P. Account Directors, Project Managers, Interactive Project Managers, etc.
We are a creative staffing agency located in downtown Chicago that has contacts with many advertising agencies, design firms, as well as various companies that use creative talent for both full-time and freelance positions.
We are currently looking for:
-Interactive Art Directors
-Interactive Creative Directors
-Interactive Project Managers
-Interactive Account Supervisors
-Interactive Account Executives
We are proud to represent the finest creative talent that Chicago has to offer, so if you feel that you are the best of the best, please send us your resume along with your salary requirements, and please state if you are looking for freelance or full-time positions. If we feel that you would be a good match with some of our clients, we would love to set up a time for you to come by our office and meet with us!!
Monday, February 15, 2010
This ad is wrong on so many levels—including the tagline that implies Kraft Singles are actually cheese (they’re pasteurized prepared cheese products). Even more bizarre is the fact that this ad is running in the latest issue of Essence.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
From The New York Post…
Magic Johnson courts magazines
Earvin “Magic” Johnson is betting he can bring some magic to the venerable black magazines Ebony and Jet.
The Hall of Fame basketball player is said to be in talks to purchase Johnson Publishing Co., the company behind the two well-known magazines aimed at African-Americans.
“There have been discussions,” Magic Johnson Enterprises President Eric Holoman said in an interview with Bloomberg News, during which he noted, “There’s no definitive agreement.”
A spokeswoman for Chicago-based Johnson Publishing told Bloomberg that company Chairman and CEO Linda Johnson Rice “has never talked to Magic Johnson with respect to his interest in buying” the 58-year-old company.
Talk of a transaction comes as Ebony, like most magazines, has taken it on the chin because of the ad recession. According to the Publisher’s Information Bureau, Ebony’s ad revenue has tanked 38 percent to $35.5 million, driven by a 39 percent decline in ad pages. Jet, meanwhile, has recorded a 36 percent drop in ad revenue to $17.1 million on a 36 percent fall in ad pages.
Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter, reported that a deal with Johnson would likely include the company’s headquarters, which has had liens placed on it by one of the company’s creditors.
Johnson, who’s armed with a $1 billion war chest, would fold Johnson into his Magic Johnson Enterprises, which has partnerships with Starbucks, health-club chain 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide and restaurant chain T.G.I. Fridays.
This week in crazy: John Mayer
The guitarist’s music has always been an easy punch line. This time it was his mouth that caused all the pain
By Mary Elizabeth Williams
Last month, John Mayer appeared to be dabbling in crazy when he told Rolling Stone he was looking for “the Joshua Tree of vaginas” and recalibrated the universal TMI meter with his digressions on masturbation. But this week, Mr. Lite FM Waiting on the World to Change indisputably proved his mettle as the King of All Batshit.
In a Playboy interview with Rob Tannenbaum, Mayer let loose with a now-infamous litany of wackadoo—most notably boasting that “Black people love me” before clarifying the meaning of “hood pass” as truly a “nigger pass”—and then going on to describe his fondness for white chicks by saying, “My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock.”
Oh. No. He. Didn’t.
The reaction to Mayer was swift and unsurprisingly negative. I think my favorite was the Jezebel commenter who described him as a “guano faucet.” But for those who still need it explained, there’s a difference between copping to certain sexual attractions and being glib about racism.
Yet even without the whopping sensitivity fail of comparing any portion of oneself to the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan—seriously, are you kidding me? -- the entire interview is a gold mine of lunacy.
Mayer on the Internet: “There have probably been days when I saw 300 vaginas before I got out of bed.”
On friendship: “One of my best friends is Jewish beyond all Jews.”
On race: “What is being black? It’s making the most of your life, not taking a single moment for granted.”
On actress Kerry Washington: “She’s superhot, and she’s also white-girl crazy. Kerry Washington would break your heart like a white girl. Just all of a sudden she’d be like, ‘Yeah, I sucked his dick. Whatever.’”
On maturity: “I can’t change the fact that I need to be 32 … I want to dance. I want to get on an airplane and be like a ninja. I want to be an explorer. I want to be like ‘The Bourne Identity.’ I don’t want to pet dogs in the kitchen.”
On equality: “When women are whorish, they’re owning their sexuality. When men are whorish, they’re disgusting beasts.”
On Jessica Simpson: “It was like napalm, sexual napalm.”
On love: “I hate other men. When I’m fucking you, I’m trying to fuck every man who’s ever fucked you, but in his ass, so you’ll say, ‘No one’s ever done that to me in bed.’”
On celebrity blogger Perez Hilton: “I grabbed him and gave him the dirtiest, tongue-iest kiss I have ever put on anybody—almost as if I hated fags.”
On fame: “A platinum record is not going to wash your ass for you.”
The defense could rest right here, but it wasn’t over.
After a few million people went a little apoplectic over the whole thing, Mayer then took to his favorite medium, Twitter, to hashtag it out in the court of public opinion. “Re: using the ‘N word’ in an interview: I am sorry that I used the word,” he wrote. “And it’s such a shame that I did because the point I was trying to make was in the exact opposite spirit of the word itself. It was arrogant of me to think I could intellectualize using it.”
Here’s a tip for future interviews: Avoid using “nigger” and “David Duke” in the same train of thought.
Mayer also spoke out at a Nashville concert on Wednesday about how, in his quest to be “clever” (a word he uses, over the course of seven minutes, well over a dozen times), he became mired in “arrogance.” He should have “just given that up and played the guitar,” he explains. Describing himself as “a possible future grown-up” and sounding a little choked-up, Mayer’s aw-shucksy apologia seems to imply that this whole train wreck was just a case of “playing the media game” gone awry—thereby earning him all kinds of bonus cluelessness cred. I can’t vouch for his body being a wonderland, but John Mayer, your brain is definitely a freak show.