Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Essay 256

MultiCultClassics Minutes Asks, “What’s Law Got To Do With It?”

• DMX got Xtra time attached to his prison sentence. The rapper is already serving 70 days for driving with a suspended license. The additional sentence stems from another vehicle-related violation. Somebody get the brotha a chauffeur already.

• The money-laundering trial of Murder Inc. is underway, with a star-studded courtroom audience. “There’s nothing illegal about knowing a criminal, about socializing with a criminal, even doing business with a criminal, unless you commit a crime,” defense attorney Gerald Shargel said. “Irv and Chris Lorenzo committed no crime.” Hey, now there’s an argument sure to draw sympathy and support from the jury.

• A Wendy’s employee in New Hampshire was charged with stealing a safe from the restaurant. The employee’s name? Ronald MacDonald. Looks like he’ll be doing hard time with the Hamburglar, unless Mayor McCheese grants him clemency.

• Two men turned themselves in to authorities for the trashing of liquor stores in Oakland (See Essay 249). Police are seeking to arrest at least four other suspects. “In both incidents, the suspects entered the store and questioned why a Muslim-owned store would sell alcoholic beverages when it is against the Muslim religion,” police said. Not sure where vandalism and destruction of property fall in Muslim teachings.

• French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin presented plans to tighten immigration laws. The measures included boosting the requirement to learn French. Great, then the rioting Muslim youth will be able to torch cars while screaming, “Fuck you, de Villepin!” in French.

• President George W. Bush said the U.S. must invest in more border patrol agents, high tech drones and other technology to stop illegal immigrants. Bush could also increase effectiveness by creating a requirement to learn French.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Essay 255

MultiCultClassics Minutes presents monumental stupidity…

• A North Carolina town had a dream of building a statue to honor Martin Luther King Jr., but the project’s now being scrapped. Seems folks couldn’t agree on the works presented by various sculptors. Wonder what the civil rights icon would have thought about this sad scenario.

• A brand new statue of Bruce Lee erected in Bosnia was damaged hours after its unveiling. Vandals ripped the nunchakus from the figure’s hands. Damn, the real Bruce Lee would never have let that happen.

• Walgreens, The Pharmacy America Trusts, does not necessarily trust you — especially if you’re African American. Three former cashiers claim White supervisors ordered them to follow Black customers assumed to be potential thieves. The cashiers and three Black customers filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago store. A Walgreens spokesperson proclaimed, “We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind and we insist on fairness in our employee relations and customer service practices.” Or maybe they just insist on fair skin.

• Sen. Arlen Specter spoke out in support of Philadelphia Eagles’ Terrell Owens, who was suspended and deactivated by the team for negative behavior. “It’s a restraint of trade for them to do that, and the thought crosses my mind, it might be a violation of antitrust laws,” Specter declared, adding that he’s considering taking the matter to the antitrust subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nation is reeling with issues like immigration, disaster rebuilding, wars and more. Yet our elected leaders want to focus on a whiny wide receiver?

• The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced a new class of inductees. But once again, rap artists were snubbed. Who made it into the Hall of Fame this year? Blondie. ‘Nuff said.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Essay 254

MultiCultClassics Minutes presents Drugs, Sex, Money and Hustlers…

• Drugmaker Merck & Co. plans to slash about 7,000 jobs by 2008 in the hopes of saving up to $4 billion. The cuts should also spark a significant increase in anti-depressants, which may ultimately help company profits.

• Pharmaceutical companies have a new tactic for improving their sales forces — literally hiring cheerleaders. Employing women for their vivacious personalities and extra good looks seems like a pretty sleazy, sexist strategy, but it doesn’t violate any discrimination laws. Plus, cheerleaders’ relationships with athletes would also offer opportunities for selling steroids and performance supplements.

• The key creative figures behind the hit movie Hustle & Flow are allegedly flowing accusations of getting hustled. Specifically, filmmaker Craig Brewer, producer Stephanie Allain and actors Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson and DJ Qualls are anxiously awaiting money owed to them by John Singleton. Singleton insists it’s all being dealt with, expressing annoyance that the controversies have gone public. “I don’t like somebody saying I’m a shyster. I resent people making comments when everybody’s life has been changed from ‘Hustle & Flow.’ Everyone has a career now,” griped Singleton. Hey, Anthony Anderson was doing just fine before that movie.

• Speaking of hustle, President Bush is traveling to key states to gain support for his immigration ideas. You have to give the man credit for moving forward with one of the most controversial issues of the day. Especially since the only thing heading south are his approval ratings.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Essay 253

“What’s Black About It? — Insights to Increase Your Share of a Changing African-American Market” by Pepper Miller and Herb Kemp demonstrates you should never judge a book by its cover. Or its pre-publication hype.

MultiCultClassics first noted the business book last July, prior to its delayed Fall release (See Essay 69). The initial reaction was skepticism. After all, the title question — “What’s Black About It?” — is a persistent thorn for most professionals (particularly creative types) in Black advertising agencies. Clients often ask the question during creative presentations if the concepts don’t depict blatant, stereotypical cultural cues. It’s pretty unlikely that mass market agencies hear clients inquire, “What’s White About It?” when viewing campaign ideas.

Additionally, co-author Pepper Miller heads an independent research firm, consulting with agencies and clients. The early publicity for the book seemed too eager to push qualitative and quantitative data, which is rarely properly conducted for minority segments — and even more rarely leads to breakthrough work.

Any skepticism over “What’s Black About It?” has turned out to be unwarranted. Mea culpa to Miller and Kemp.

“What’s Black About It?” is a slim read at only about 100 pages (excluding notes, source guides, index and more). The size might deter purchase, given the $39.95 cover price. But buyers will ultimately be rewarded by the book’s intellectual depth. On an abstract level, it’s like “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White — extraordinarily succinct yet thorough in its exposition.

The book is comprised of ten chapters that seamlessly build a rock-solid argument for marketing to Black consumers, while providing proven tactics to ensure things get done right. There are no clichéd formulas or silver bullets to be found here. That is, don’t expect to read the book and become an instant expert. Rather, the authors balance how-to instruction with how-come reasoning to form a foundation for positive accomplishments.

Miller and Kemp speak with experience and authority — they’re consummate professionals. But more importantly, they speak with passion, which is the essential ingredient for succeeding with the segment. Anyone seeking to reach Black consumers must be totally committed to the endeavor. Adpeople and clients alike must be willing to debunk assumptions, rethink strategies and challenge the status quo. The investment must be financial and emotional. Miller and Kemp don’t pull any punches in stating the realities.

Instead of potentially spoiling the show by summarizing the chapters or printing excerpts, MultiCultClassics strongly advises readers to discover the provocative content firsthand. “What’s Black About It?” presents a wealth of fresh perspectives and cool stuff that even seasoned veterans will find fascinating.

The book appeals to a broad business audience. For professionals at Black advertising agencies, it’s an advanced refresher course designed to keep you on the cutting edge. If you’re just starting to explore the Black consumer market, the book can be an invaluable introductory resource. For all clients, whether already deeply engaged with the target or simply curious, “What’s Black About It?” will crystallize the case for creating powerful, profitable relationships with a dynamic and unique segment.

To be clear, the book is designed for everyone, regardless of your title, motivations, capabilities, political stance and ethnicity.

The non-business public can benefit from perusing too, since the book may also serve as a handy reference guide — a sort of “Black Culture for Dummies.”

In the end, Miller and Kemp rival popular gurus like Faith Popcorn and Paco Underhill, revealing insights and information in a highly readable and compelling style.

“What’s Black About It?” may be purchased directly from the publishers (Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.). Just click on the essay title and order your copy today.


[On a side note, it’s a shame that leaders in the Black advertising community have not yet managed to write books for the industry. The few offerings have been self-published or underground efforts versus national releases — that is, there are no Black counterparts to the classics by David Ogilvy, Jerry Della Femina, Leo Burnett, Luke Sullivan, Mary Wells Lawrence, Al Ries and Jack Trout, etc. Adpeople like Tom Burrell, Don Coleman, Byron Lewis and Carol H. Williams surely must have stories to tell.]

Essay 252

Working on Sunday with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Gay marriages are definitely not welcome in the United Arab Emirates. 22 gay Arab men staging a marriage ceremony were arrested in Dubai, and the ultimate punishments could include hormone treatment, five years in prison and a lashing. Don’t look for Elton John to be visiting there anytime soon.

• The Vatican dumped a Brazilian singer who was scheduled to perform at the annual Christmas concert in Italy, citing the singer’s involvement in an anti-AIDS campaign. Singer Daniela Mercury promoted the use of condoms in TV commercials, which the Vatican felt went “against the moral doctrine of the church.” Not exactly clear on “the moral doctrine of the church” these days. Surely there are bigger moral issues to address in the Vatican.

• Add Jamie Foxx to the list of celebrities publicly pleading for clemency in the case of Crips co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams. Williams is scheduled for execution on December 13, although California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has agreed to a December 8 private hearing with the convicted murderer’s lawyers. Other celebrities supporting clemency include Snoop Dogg, Desmond Tutu, Jesse Jackson, Bianca Jagger, Lynn Whitfield, Bonnie Raitt, Russell Crowe and Mike Farrell. Although Mike Farrell’s celebrity status is questionable.

• The Los Angeles Times Current Commentary section focuses on Planet Hip-Hop, featuring articles, audio tracks and more. Check it out at or simply click on the essay title now.

Essay 251

The New York Times discovered growing diversity among the corporate elite — although it’s not quite what you might think. Click on the essay title to learn about the alleged changing of the guard.

Essay 250

Illegal immigrants receive in-state tuition for California colleges but don’t qualify for federal loans.

They can buy cars and car insurance but, in most states, can’t get driver’s licenses.

And they regularly find jobs at publicly funded hiring halls but can’t lawfully work.

Immigration policies in the United States are contradictory and often confusing, alternately welcoming illegal immigrants to the country and telling them to go away.

The statements above appeared in The Los Angeles Times. To read the full story, click on the essay title.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Essay 249

MultiCultClassics Minutes presents a few more Holiday Shopping Frenzy stocking stuffers…

• Only 30 brawling days left until Christmas. The official start of holiday shopping saw at least two melees at Wal-Mart stores. Low prices often lead to low blows at the mega-retailer. What would Jesus do for a discounted laptop?

• Two mini-riots also occurred at West Oakland liquor stores, as men dressed in suits and bow ties staged rampages. The vandals allegedly protested the sale of liquor in Black communities as they smashed coolers and trashed booze products. The incidents are being viewed as hate crimes, primarily because the business owners are Arabs and Arab Americans. Cops are eyeing followers of the Nation of Islam, as the attire was the kind associated with the group. Or maybe someone was filming another sequel to Men In Black.

• More people from Mexico crossed the U.S.-Mexican border, but only to get great deals from San Diego retailers. Ignoring calls to boycott U.S. stores in protest over the Minutemen border patrol project, Tijuana residents flowed into the country and invaded the shopping malls. Which just goes to show that politics will never beat a price-slashed plasma TV.

Welcome, New and Old Readers.

Welcome to

The blog launched in March 2005. The initial goal was to spark discussions and debates about multiculturalism in the advertising industry — including all the good, bad and ugly complexities and contradictions.

Admittedly, there wasn’t a master plan or long-term strategy. Just decided to begin typing and see where it might go.

Many essays and months later, the plan is no clearer. The strategy is being reworked daily too.

Nonetheless, the conversation continues — despite the fact that it’s more of a monologue versus dialogue.

Here’s what offers you:

If you’re deep into the multicultural advertising scene, this is the place for relatable, relevant insights and more. It’s all the stuff you’d toss around the virtual water cooler.

If you’re semi-clueless to the world outside of your personal universe, this is the place for you as well. One deliberate tactic here is to expose the masses to progressive, 21st century diversity. It’s not something exclusive to the human resources department. Think of the blog as delivering a recommended daily allowance of culture.

Please read the blog starting at Essay One. You’re encouraged to agree or disagree with anything posted.

Please visit often. Admission is free. Open to the public 24 hours a day.

Finally, please share the blog with everyone you know. It works best with an inclusive spirit.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Essay 248

Take a Break from the Holiday Shopping Frenzy with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, who was ousted for screwing up the official response to Hurricane Katrina, is now launching a consulting firm for disaster preparedness. Well, Brown certainly qualifies as being a major disaster.

• The St. Louis CEO who allegedly charged $241,000 for entertainment at a New York strip club has resigned. He should consider launching a consulting firm for CEOs who charge $241,000 for entertainment at New York strip clubs.

• Don’t mean to rain on their parade, but NBC on-air personalities displayed a certain air-headedness over the balloon accident that occurred during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. An M&M balloon knocked over a light pole, injuring two spectators. But Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and Al Roker appeared oblivious, continuing with their corny, scripted banter. Guess it’s too much to expect for news show anchors to report the news – especially when they’re literally in the middle of it.

• Folks in Kalamazoo, Michigan are criticizing a 65-year-old statue titled, “The Fountain of the Pioneers.” The statue depicts an American Indian kneeling before a White settler holding a stick over him. Protestors insist the statue is a “monument to evil subjugation, the violent removal of the people who were first on this land.” Perhaps the statue could be revised, replacing the stick with keys to a casino.

Essay 247

Interesting statistics from the November 28, 2005 U.S. News & World Report special report on Border Wars:

>In the fiscal year that ended in September, the Border Patrol reported 1.19 million arrests, compared with 932,000 in fiscal year 2003.

>The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that the number of illegal immigrants in the United States has grown from 8.4 million in 2000 to 11 million today.

>An October CBS News poll showed that 78 percent of Americans think the government is not doing enough to control the borders.

>In 1993, the Border Patrol made fewer than 1 in 10 of their arrests in Arizona. By 2000, the figure was nearly 37 percent.

>Almost 150 [illegal immigrants] died in the Arizona desert in the broiling summer of 2003. In the fiscal year that just ended, at least 460 people died along the southwest border. Wayne Cornelius, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California-San Diego, says the actual numbers of deaths could be two to three times as high.

>In the past two years, the Border Patrol there has hired close to 1,000 agents.

>The Border Patrol's Yuma sector, which includes the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, saw a staggering 54 percent jump in arrests in fiscal year 2005.

>Officers on the southwest border reported being assaulted at least 687 times in fiscal year 2005, a spike from just 384 the year before.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Essay 246

A Hearty Helping of Thanksgiving MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts continues to seek federal recognition, hoping for things including self-government and federal aid. The ancestors of these Massachusetts Indians partied with the Pilgrims on the first Thanksgiving. But federal recognition for the tribe has become a slow, complex process with few signs of progress or success. Then again, by now these folks should be used to the frustrations of dealing with the White Man.

• The Anti-Defamation League wants Michael Jackson to apologize for his insulting remarks about Jews. “Michael Jackson has an anti-Semitic streak and hasn’t learned from his past mistakes,” said ADL director Abraham H. Foxman. “It seems every time he has a problem in his life, he blames it on Jews.” Or LaToya.

• “What are we waiting for to set everything aflame? What are we waiting for to no longer follow the rules of the game? …We have nothing to lose because we had nothing to start with. I wouldn’t sleep soundly if I were you. The bourgeoisie can quake, the scum are in town.” (Lyrics from French rapper Supreme NTM, originally presented from his album released in 1995.)

• The New York Times presented a nice article with a different cultural spin on Thanksgiving. To feast on the piece, simply click on the essay title.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Essay 245

Pre-Thanksgiving MultiCultClassics Minutes...

• Teen People magazine ultimately decided to halt a story featuring Prussian Blue, the teen twins who like singing about White supremacy (see Essay 243). However, the decision was not based on pressure from protestors. Rather, the reason involved a magazine staffer cutting a deal with the teens’ mother regarding the article’s content. The staffer allegedly agreed to avoid using the words “Nazi," “hate” and “supremacist” in the piece. Time Inc. released a statement that included, “Such an agreement is in violation of Time Inc. editorial policy and, as a result, we are killing the story and pursuing a formal inquiry.” Not sure what the article would have presented without those words anyway.

• Michael Jackson once insisted it doesn’t matter if you’re Black or White. But he apparently feels differently about Jews. An audiotape revealed Jacko on a rant against Jewish folks. “They’re like leeches…I’m so tired of it…they start out the most popular person in the world, make a lot of money, big house, cars and everything. End up penniless. It's a conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose.” Yeah, but at least they don’t support pedophiles.

• Here’s some good news for everyone who hates telemarketers — which would pretty much include, well, everyone. A Newport Beach con artist who gathered over $5.7 million from people through a telemarketing scheme has been sentenced to over 5 years in prison. Wonder if the moron will have telephone privileges in the pokey.

• MTV is launching a new reality series titled, “The Shop.” The show spotlights a real-life Queens barbershop. One source involved with the program gushed, “MTV was like, ‘Television has never seen anything like this.’ What we’re doing right now, it’s going to shock the whole world.” Never seen anything like this? Uh, how about the BarberShop movie and television series? Can’t imagine MTV’s offering will even be funnier than the classic “That’s My Mama” sitcom.

• The three White female detectives who sued the NYPD for discrimination lost their case (See Essay 232). The city lawyers labeled the women as “spoiled” and disrespectful.” Which makes them perfect candidates for their own reality series on MTV.

• Nelly’s “Grillz” is sparking new interest in flashy dental jewelry. Look for it all to start appearing in Black-targeted advertising soon. Or click the essay title to catch a piece from The Los Angeles Times.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Essay 244

The article below appeared in the November 14, 2005 issue of Adweek. It is directly followed by the MultiCultClassics response.


Crossing Borders
November 14, 2005

As the demand for advertising that reaches the nation’s burgeoning Hispanic population increases, Hispanic agencies are struggling to find enough qualified professionals. And now, some universities are trying to help fill the void.

Carolina Milner, who in August received the first graduate certificate in Hispanic marketing awarded by Florida State University, says the FSU program helped her land a job as a project manager at Ryan + Deslauriers in Orlando, Fla. “They had never interviewed anyone with a certificate in Hispanic marketing,” she says. “All the employers I talked to were impressed.” Milner, 23, was born in the U.S. to Colombian immigrants.

FSU’s communication department began offering a graduate certificate in Hispanic marketing last year. This fall, it opened the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication and began offering the nation’s first Hispanic marketing degree program, which allows undergraduates to obtain a minor in that subject.

“The U.S. is the second-largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world, and the pace of growth of this population far exceeds the base of true cultural knowledge and understanding of this population among marketing professionals,” says Felipe Korzenny, the center’s director.

A Mexico City native with a Ph.D. in communications research from Michigan State University, Korzenny left the private sector after two decades as a consultant on Hispanic and Asian marketing. He says he started the program in response to concerns Hispanic shops have about finding workers who understand the industry. At least two other universities—Southern Methodist University in Dallas and the University of California at Los Angeles—offer classes in Hispanic marketing, but nothing as comprehensive as FSU.

According to Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies statistics, Hispanic advertising is growing four times faster than other forms, and billings at Hispanic agencies will exceed $4 billion this year. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts Hispanics will comprise 24 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, up from its current 14 percent. The Selig Center at the University of Georgia estimates that the purchasing power of Hispanics will reach $1 trillion by 2008.

AHAA says it applauds the new program. “We welcome Felipe’s efforts with open arms,” says Jose Lopez-Varela, AHAA treasurer and managing director of Hill Holliday Hispanic in Miami. “It is key to our survival and growth.”

Lopez-Varela also is a founding member of the FSU center’s board of advisors. “It saves the agencies a couple of years in filling jobs,” he says.

Korzenny and wife Betty Ann, the center’s associate director, are the authors of Hispanic Marketing: A Cultural Perspective, which was released in September. The book is being used in courses at FSU as well as SMU.

Fry Hammond Barr in Orlando, which employed Milner as an intern last summer, gave FSU the first scholarship for the center. Pete Barr Jr., president and CEO of the shop and a 1984 graduate of FSU, says he recognized the need for a program from his experience trying to produce Hispanic ads for several clients. In exchange for his annual $2,500 scholarship contribution, he gets an intern from the program each summer.

Training Hispanic marketing experts in the U.S. will be more effective than the current system of importing them from Latin America, Korzenny says. Advertisers there target their work at the economic elite, while advertisers in the U.S. target immigrants often occupying the lower economic class. Also, U.S. Hispanics differ because of the influence of U.S. culture.

About 50 percent of the students enrolled in FSU’s program are not Hispanic. About 40 percent are white and 10 percent are black, he says.

Korzenny says he is offering to sell the naming rights for the center and is soliciting endowed scholarships.

“Private industry can play an important role in the development of the center while raising its visibility within the Hispanic marketing community,” Korzenny says.


The Adweek article presents provocative implications, while also spotlighting sobering realities. Consider the following semi-incoherent ramblings:

The advertising industry perpetually struggles with rampant restructuring, fragmented media, unconventional tactics, shifting budgets, revolutionary competitive forces, fickle clients and more. The overall trend is a reduction of jobs. Yet the demand for professionals with Hispanic capabilities greatly exceeds the supply. Imagine that.

It’s not like Hispanic marketing was invented yesterday. The late Luis Díaz Albertini is credited for launching the first Hispanic advertising agency in New York in 1962. Castor Fernández started Castor Spanish International in 1968. Alicia and Rafael Conill won the Hispanic account for Campbell’s Soup in 1972. Norma and Hector Orcí birthed La Agencia de Orcí in 1986.

While the U.S. Hispanic population has dramatically skyrocketed, it’s unlikely that people in the know — particularly the visionaries in Hispanic shops — were completely surprised by the growth.

Then again, the majority of inhabitants at mass market agencies were probably dumbstruck. In the desperate search for legitimate billable services, it apparently never occurred to anyone that the Hispanic market offered a veritable goldmine of opportunities. Yet now that the possibilities are revealed, industry leaders still can’t manage to capitalize on things.

The challenges are clear to some and tangible to all.

First, there are the nettlesome culture clashes. Because the advertising industry has been so resistant to diversity, Hispanic efforts (as well as Hispanics) remain literally segregated. Plus, mass market shops employ too few Hispanic professionals to position themselves as having any credibility to handle segmented initiatives. Factor in the cultural cluelessness exhibited by average White folks — who steadfastly rule the business — and you’ll see the marketing world’s melting pot is an empty crock.

Here’s another sticky bias. Being Hispanic doesn’t automatically translate to being an expert on Hispanic marketing. But it usually gives one the benefit of the doubt. Which occasionally leads to awarding positions to unqualified hucksters (as opposed to the seasoned hucksters infesting Madison Avenue).

Meanwhile, mergers have become the quick fix for big agencies. This mighty popular maneuver certainly appears to make sense. Buying bodies in bulk is incredibly convenient. However, there are political and professional hurdles involved too.

From a political standpoint, Hispanic shops typically enjoy the many benefits of minority status. To keep the privileges, most Hispanic shops hook up while maintaining a 51% minority ownership — an oxymoron and arguably sneaky legal stratagem. Agencies that abandon minority status may encounter the issues detailed in Essays 86 and 87.

Professionally, Hispanic shops tend to generate profits on a much different scale than their mass market counterparts. That is, Hispanic budgets suck compared to mass market budgets. Always have, in fact. So the holding companies quickly discover partnerships might not be so lucrative in the long run.

Heaven forbid anyone should suggest clients cough up the same amounts for Hispanic and mass market endeavors. Gee whiz, such an action might inevitably require paying Hispanic professionals like they were White folks.

Quiet as it’s kept, while most Hispanic shops have connected with the Big Boys, true integration remains a dream deferred. That’s why people persist in using terms like “The Hispanic Marketing Community.”

It’s interesting to see FSU and other universities promote Hispanic Marketing programs. But will anyone school the non-Hispanics currently in the business about multiculturalism? Or will folks stay confined to specific advertising neighborhoods?

There’s an advanced graduate degree awaiting the geniuses that deliver viable solutions here.

Essay 243

Bling, Blackface, Bills and Bigots brought to you by MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• BET founder Robert L. Johnson is launching a financial investment firm. Potential names for the venture probably include “Wall Street Cred” and “Pimp My Portfolio.”

• The British Royal Opera House will no longer use Blackface makeup on White performers portraying Black characters. No word yet regarding the use of afro wigs and fronts. And God Save The Queen if anyone ever considered using Black performers.

• The riot sparked by a neo-Nazi event in Toledo last month cost the city about $336,000 — and that figure doesn’t include a ton of money for damage to homes and businesses. The group plans to return on December 10, which will give everyone only fifteen looting days until Christmas.

• Protestors marched outside the headquarters of Time Inc., demanding that Teen People magazine halt efforts to feature 13-year-old twins who sing about White power. The publication appeared to ignore the picketers by proclaiming, “In the fight against racism, thorough reporting is one of the most effective ways to combat hate.” Can’t think of a more dedicated defender of justice than Teen People magazine.

• Wonder if Lamb and Lynx Gaede of Prussian Blue (referenced above and in Essay 212) will release a special holiday album — they could sing, “I’m dreaming of a White Supremacist Christmas.”

Monday, November 21, 2005

Essay 242

Neil French is now sobbing that he was misquoted and even set up.

Yes, that’s exactly what happened. Those cunning Canadians plotted his demise, masterminding an elaborate scheme behind the façade of an entertaining evening. The French maid serving drinks — which were laced with truth serum — was actually an undercover operative in cahoots with Nancy Vonk. In fact, Vonk and the maid are secret lesbian lovers and Russian spies. The audience consisted of Adbusters subscribers, intent on tearing down the mighty advertising business. And what better way to accomplish such an evil objective than to ambush a revered industry icon? Bravo, Mr. French, for employing your uncanny powers of deduction to ultimately expose the insidious conspiracy.

(SFX: Mission Impossible theme music)

For more sordid details of additional crimes against Neil French, click on the essay title.

Essay 241

The Monday Night Game presented by MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• General Motors is beating Ford — at least in the job reduction category. Today GM announced plans to zap 30,000 jobs, shuttering nine North American plants by 2008. Folks better take advantage of the GM Employee Discount Program pronto.

• An article in The Washington Post reported that Muslim children in the U.S. have discovered a way to bridge cultural gaps through a popular tradition — Scouting. Participation in Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts is on the rise. Why, it’s only a matter of time before Muslim kids will also face abuse from deviant Scout leaders.

• Black and Latino cops have filed a new civil rights lawsuit against the NYPD, charging racial discrimination persists in the department. The nine officers won a $503,000 settlement last year. But they now insist no improvements have occurred. Wonder if there’s any special reprimand for second-time offenders in the racism category.

• Somebody better tell company officials at Sephora, the upscale beauty products chain, that Hispanic women buy lots of cosmetics. The French-based retailer has been strictly enforcing its English-first policy with Spanish-speaking employees, which ultimately led to a lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Maybe Sephora could introduce a line of Whiteface cosmetics.

• Lil’ Kim’s in legal trouble again, even though she’s currently behind bars. Someone’s accusing the incarcerated rapper of being liable for a shooting involving her posse. The complaint states, “[Lil’ Kim] had an obligation and duty to employ competent and emotionally stable personnel of high character as her bodyguards so as not to endanger the welfare of others.” Wow. It’ll be tough to find a jury that’ll keep straight faces when this charge is read in court.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Essay 240

MultiCultClassics Member (official title bestowed upon all blog visitors) Hadji Williams started a new blog. Williams’ original blog mysteriously vanished from cyberspace. But the latest effort is up and running, featuring an unabridged version of the essay that recently appeared in Adweek — along with a few reader responses. Click on the essay title and join the revolution.

Essay 239

A Stereotypical Sunday Edition of MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• An atheist in Sacramento — who happens to be a doctor and a lawyer — is suing to remove “In God We Trust” from all coins and currency. For God’s sake, dude, do you have any idea how much money that would cost?

• The University of California is being accused of discriminating against Christian schools. A suit filed by students from a religious high school in Southern California and the Association of Christian Schools International charges the university with “viewpoint discrimination” and biased admissions standards. And wait until the folks behind the lawsuit learn about all the toga parties.

• Looks like Ford Motor Company is living up to its new tagline: Driving American Innovation. Last week the carmaker recalled 235,000 vehicles. Now Ford plans to cut 4,000 white-collar jobs in North America. Now that’s American innovation at work.

• A racist radio talk-show host staged a rally in New Jersey to protest White students being attacked by Black students at a local high school. Hal Turner, the radio talk-show host, even invited the Ku Klux Klan to attend. Now there’s a brilliant solution to racially-inspired violence.

• A female firefighter is suing FDNY for $10 million, citing years of abuse and denied promotions based on her gender. Judith Beyar, who was among the first female firefighters hired in November 1980, charges she was forced into early retirement to escape the sexist and discriminatory work environment. Bet her ex-coworkers are thinking, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the FDNY.”

• Snoop Dogg joined supporters at a prison rally, urging Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to spare Stanley Williams’ life. Williams is the co-founder of the Crips street gang, and he’s scheduled to be executed December 13. Not sure Snoop Dogg is the best person to be offering support in this case.

Essay 238

The article below appeared in The Miami Herald.




Almost 3, Gianna Conterio of Miami wants a Dora the Explorer doll for Christmas this year. So do millions of other U.S. children.

Suddenly, Hispanic kids’ TV characters are hot. The merchandise is rolling onto store shelves and right into toy boxes nationwide. From Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer to new entrys like Scholastic’s Maya and Miguel, retailers expect clothing, toys, and gobs of other gizmos emblazoned with these characters to be among their big sellers this holiday season.

Clearly, retailers want to tap into the increasingly strong Hispanic buying power. Hispanics spend double the amount of money on kids’ products than other Americans.

“Hispanics are a strong target market,” said Jonathan Breiter, senior vice president of Toy Play, which holds licenses for 25 Dora the Explorer products.

Hispanics tend to outspend the rest of the nation in some categories such as children’s clothing, said economist Jeffrey Humphreys. Moreover, a large percentage of the Hispanic population is young.

But there is more: With Dora leading the way, these popular characters are reaching beyond their original niche audiences. Surprising even the show’s creator, Dora ranks as the most recognizable 7-year-old in the world, with estimated retail sales of her merchandise at a staggering $3 billion. Her show regularly rates No. 1 for preschoolers, and was a pioneer in its storyline that helps teach Spanish to children.

Introduced by Nickelodeon four years ago, Dora, the animated Latina girl, embarks on adventures with a backpack and monkey. In each episode, Dora teaches a Spanish word or phrase to the viewers and then asks them to use it to solve a problem.

Gianna’s mom, Vivian Conterio, says her daughter sings along with Dora on TV all the time.

Glenda Pacanins, a Miami mom who wants to raise her toddler daughter bilingual, enjoys buying Dora merchandise. She had just returned from Target with Dora books and sneakers.

“Marketers finally realize Hispanics do spend lot of money,” Pacanins says. “They can’t ignore us anymore.”

Well aware of Dora’s success and the demographics, television networks now find cultural diversity too attractive to ignore. Powerhouses in preschool programming are launching more bilingual shows or introducing Hispanic characters into some TV favorites.

Already Dora has competition in popularity and merchandising appeal from her 8-year-old cousin Diego, who this fall began starring on his own action adventure series, Go Diego, Go! Nickelodeon developed the Diego character in 2001 during Dora’s third season.

A Diego doll was introduced briefly to the market for Christmas of 2003. Fisher Price will roll out a comprehensive Go Diego, Go! product line, which includes action and activity toys, in the fall of 2006.

Brown Johnson, executive creative director for Nickelodeon Preschool Television, says her network likes to wait at least 18 months after launching a series to license the characters. “We like to see the character successful first to build demand in the market. We also want to make sure the product is as good as the series.”

Meanwhile, Maya & Miguel, an animated series created by Scholastic for PBS, is gaining ground. The show about the adventures of 10-year-old twins, their abuela, bilingual parrot and diverse neighborhood, launched its second season this fall. Already, it attracts more than 4 million kids a week and ranks in the top 10 programs for children 6 to 8 years old.


“We looked at the future and saw that the country is becoming more multicultural,” said Arminda Figueroa, Scholastic’s project director for Maya & Miguel. “We are appealing to the kids in the United States with foreign-born parents.”

Figueroa says Scholastic did extensive research to create characters that would help Latin children feel comfortable with their heritage and catch the eye of non-Hispanic kids too.

“Every single element of the production of these characters was calculated and strategized, from the way they laugh to the way they move their mouths when pronouncing vowels.”

Maya & Miguel’s bold leap from TV to toy stores after only one season has industry experts carefully monitoring their consumer charm. Scholastic has licensed the duo to 27 companies who are putting the characters on everything from notepads to hair accessories.


Breiter’s Toy Play holds licenses for 38 Maya & Miguel products, including “¡Eso Es! Maya,” a poseable talking doll expected to be one of the hot toys this holiday season. Breiter says he has produced a TV commercial targeted at all ages, all races.

The popularity of Hispanic characters is changing preschool programming.

In February, PBS kicked off the third season of its popular Dragon Tales with a new Hispanic character, Enrique. The 6-year-old Colombian boy who is being raised by his father and his grandmother moved in next door to Max and Emmy and joins the two on their adventures to Dragon Land.

This fall, the creators of much watched Jay Jay The Jet Plane introduced Lina, a 4-year-old bilingual airplane. Lina introduces Spanish phrases and bits of Hispanic culture to Jay Jay.

Even Disney is getting in on the act. In 2006, Disney Channel will launch its new animated series Handy Manny. This Latino hero and his talking tools repair things in their town that are broken.


Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon Television, hopes Hispanic kids characters continue their appeal: Dora will be the first Latino kids character to have her own balloon in the Thanksgiving Day Macy’s Parade. And Dora’s Talking Kitchen is one of the top 10 hot toys for this holiday shopping season, already spotted being lugged by parents on the New York subways.

Zarghami says it is too early to tell whether Dora is an anomaly: “I don’t think there’s a formula that turns a character into an icon. I see racially diverse characters on everyone’s radar. I hope it’s a trend of what’s to come.”

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Essay 237

The Law of the Land brought to you by MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Tardiness cost DMX an additional ten days in jail. The hip-hop star was sentenced to serve 70 days by a judge in Queens. “I don’t find [he] kept his side of the promise,” said Judge Dorothy Chin-Brandt, referring to his chronic lateness for court appearances. “I am going to sentence [him] to 70 days in jail.” DMX should change his name to Rolex or Timex.

• Three supervisors at the Chicago Department of Transportation were spanked for viewing online photos of women’s butts during work hours. The men were sharing pics of women in bikinis, rating the models’ derrieres. The supervisors were suspended for 29 days, giving them ample time to download porn from the comfort of their home computers.

• Wal-Mart is known for its low prices. But the mega-retailer also indirectly helps low-priced workers. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials raided a construction site for a Wal-Mart distribution center in Pennsylvania, nabbing 125 illegal immigrants. The retailer insists the workers were not employed by Wal-Mart; rather, various subcontractors hired them. Then again, it’s not like Wal-Mart denies illegal immigrants may make up a sizeable portion of its customer base.

• How many generations will it take for Native Americans to realize the White Man cannot be trusted? A new scandal in Washington charged Michael Scanlon with conspiracy to defraud American Indian tribes of millions of dollars. Scanlon — an ex-aide to former House Majority leader Tom Delay, and a partner of lobbyist Jack Abramoff — was “assisting” American Indian groups with a variety of casino issues. Can’t help but draw parallels to past schemes involving land being purchased for minimal amounts of cash and a few cases of whisky.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Essay 236

Ready for the weekend with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Operators are standing by — and they’re plenty pissed off in India. Indian call centers are popular targets for angry customers who hate outsourcing and often take their tirades to racist extremes. It’s all giving U.S. customers a bad reputation in India. If only folks from India realized U.S. customers have a bad reputation in the U.S. too.

• A former college basketball coach claims he was fired for NOT making racist comments about players. University of Arkansas’ ex-coach Nolan Richardson insists he was terminated for speaking out against racism at the school. Richardson once complained at a press conference that the university treated him like a slave; plus, he publicly commented that Black students were not integrated into the local social scene. Looks like at least one Black coach was not integrated either.

• Robert Blake is liable for his wife’s murder, according to the verdict rendered in a civil trial. A jury awarded $30 million to the children of Blake’s wife. Damn, the actor will probably be seeking loans from Fred the cockatoo, Rooster and every member of Our Gang.

• Police continue to have no solid leads in the shooting of rapper Cam’ron and his entourage a month ago. Plus, Cam’ron has offered zero help in the investigation. At this point, the list of suspects probably includes Robert Blake and Nicole Simpson’s killers.

• DMX was MIA for his sentencing at a courtroom in Queens. The rapper/actor claimed an asthma attack prevented him from arriving on time. The man better take a deep breath, as the judge will probably send him to prison for at least a month.

• “Don’t ask, don’t tell” seems to be the position for gays in the U.S. Army — and the Salvation Army too. A gay Jewish man is proceeding with a discrimination lawsuit against the goodwill organization, charging that a former female boss abused him in numerous ways. “I wonder how the officers would all feel if they knew they had a Jewish fag working for them?” the supervisor allegedly said. It all means the coins you drop into those little red buckets this holiday season will probably go directly toward the charity’s legal defense fund.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Essay 235

A Diverse Dose of MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Michael Jackson caused a stir when he accidentally stepped into a ladies room in a Bahrain shopping mall. The King of Pop apparently did not correctly read the sign on the door. Then again, it could also be argued that Jacko would have been wrong to enter a men’s room.

• A nephew of Rosa Parks is contesting the late civil rights icon’s will, insisting the woman suffered from dementia and was therefore incapable of making sound decisions. Sounds like a busload of legal bullshit is coming down the road.

• At the San Diego Zoo, patrons are prohibited from feeding the animals. Or riding motorized wheelchairs and scooters without first signing a waiver. A lawsuit has been filed against the zoo, charging it discriminates against people with wheelchairs. The zoo argues visitors are asked to sign waivers to prevent liability from injuries sustained by runaway wheelchairs. And you thought most injuries came from runaway lions and tigers.

• The trial involving the creators of Murder Inc. has begun, with the infamous music producers facing charges of laundering drug money. Ja Rule and Ashanti showed their support by attending the opening day. You know you’re in trouble when potential character witnesses are hip-hop stars.

• A new idea for fighting illegal immigration is getting attention — building a 2,000-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexican border. Hey, if folks are willing to swim across rivers and walk through hot-as-hell deserts, what makes anyone think they wouldn’t climb a damned fence? Plus, experts insist the costs might exceed $8 billion. Ironically, the government would probably allow undocumented workers to construct the barrier.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Essay 234

Rip-offs, Recalls and Representing with MultiCultClassics Minutes...

• TBWA/Chiat/Day is slated to create a campaign to raise $400 million for the World Trade Center Memorial. Initial concepts include ripping off the Lugz spot again.

• Ford Motor Company proudly unveiled their new ad campaign featuring Chairman and CEO Bill Ford proclaiming, “Innovation is our mission.” Today the carmaker recalled 235,000 vehicles. Driving American Innovation — right back to the dealership.

• Alex G-Pallete, Director of Account Planning at The Vidal Partnership, presents the standard POV regarding planning and the Hispanic market. It’s a well-written perspective, albeit nothing startling new. Why must multicultural ad professionals continue to make the same arguments? The article appears at — click on the essay title to check it out.

Essay 233

The following report appeared in the November 14, 2005 issue of Adweek. It is directly followed by MultiCultClassics’ response.


4A’s Issues New Guidelines For Compensation Talks
November 14, 2005

The 4A’s is trying to assist its agency members in tackling two long-term industry trouble spots: how to assess the viability of potential business, and receive fair compensation for ideas.

To help address the former issue, the 4A’s last week updated its 2002 business guidelines to include a “marketer’s” questionnaire that agencies and consultants can use early in the review process.

Among other things, the questionnaire recommends an upfront discussion about fees, said 4A’s new-business committee co-chairman Cleve Langdon. “An agency can be totally enamored by a $100 million account,” he explained, “but then find out revenue is only $5 million, usually well into the process.”

Or, as BBDO’s chief marketing officer and 4A’s new-business committee member Mark Goldstein put it: “What’s the first conversation a hooker has with a prospective john? After price is agreed on, it’s all fun and games.”

The questionnaire is designed to encourage agencies to raise the compensation issue early in account reviews, and to ask about the scope of work and level of service a client expects, as well as its compensation history and processes for approving strategy and creative.

It also suggests agencies discuss with a client how it defines and measures an agency’s success.

These are seemingly common-sense questions, but there are 4A’s members of varying size and sophistication who “didn’t know it was in their purview to ask these kinds of direct questions,” said Michael Jeary, co-chairman of the group’s new-business committee.

“Even before this document was devised, strong agencies asked these questions,” said New York search consultant Joanne Davis, who is writing a 4A’s booklet for marketers called Best Practices and Processes for Finding an Agency.

The 4A’s updated the guidelines because members were increasingly frustrated about short-term client relationships, said Tom Finneran, the 4A’s evp of agency services.

The trade organization has also been conducting ongoing sessions on methods of compensation, most recently at an Oct. 27 meeting in which some agencies discussed ways to protect intellectual property and receive residuals on ideas.

With the death of the 15 percent commission years ago, a fee-based system based on staff hours is the norm. But agencies want to be paid not just for their time, but for their ideas.

An idea “is worth the same to a client, whether someone came up with [it] in the shower or during many hours in the office,” said an executive who attended the session.

No new models were developed, but hearing agency peers talk about some of their successes at negotiating fees not based on hourly staff wages was “an attempt to try to inspire [agency] people to have some backbone” about getting paid for their ideas, the source added. “It’s an ongoing struggle. This can provide a better structured, honest and forthright process.”


Hmmmm. Not sure a report like this — published in a major trade magazine — really builds credibility and trust for the ad industry.

Why broadcast to clients that we’re desperately seeking new ways to bill them? Shona Seifert and IPG have already demonstrated copywriters and art directors aren’t the only creative rascals on Madison Avenue. The true innovators for the 21st century appear to inhabit the accounting departments of most agencies.

Attempting to place a price tag on ideas is another scheme that’s never been successful. After all, what is the monetary value of a Geico Gecko versus a Pine-Sol sassy sistah? Shall we offer menus with rates broken down by creative categories — from valuable CGI animated concepts to economical talking heads? Want to throw in a jingle or mnemonic device? Sorry, but that’ll cost you extra, Mr. Client.

Keith Reinhardt of DDB once brainstormed a payment-based-on-results system. But the deal required clients to relinquish total control — that is, let the agency dictate what would actually be produced and presented to consumers. Of course, clients gave Reinhardt’s plot a big thumbs down.

BBDO’s Mark Goldstein put it all in stereotypical White Male perspective. Forget hucksters, the modern adperson is a straight up ho. Looks like Hadji Williams was right to draw parallels between the executive suites and the mean streets. And Goldstein inadvertently brought yet another level of ugliness to the party with a line that only a Good Old Boy could appreciate. Neil French is surely cackling somewhere, chomping on a stogie while pounding down martinis.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Essay 232

Cotton-picking Nonsense with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• A Detroit middle school concert was revised after a Black parent complained over a featured song glorifying slavery. The tune was about picking cotton, with lyrics that included, “Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton. Gotta jump down, turn around, Oh, Lordie, pick a bale a day.” Maybe the concert director will replace the number with a Stepin Fetchit routine.

• Derrick Mosley was convicted of attempting to extort $20,000 from gospel singer Deleon Richards (aka wife of NY Yankee slugger Gary Sheffield). Mosley allegedly had a videotape showing Richards having sex with R. Kelly and his wife. Holy shit! R. Kelly had sex with adult women?!

• 50 Cent is launching a line of hip-hop literature starring his former G-Unit crew. Bookstores across America are already beefing up security.

• Ice-T was slapped with a lawsuit for failing to pay Brother Marquis for co-writing “99 Problems” back in 1993. Brother Marquis must have a lot more than 99 problems if he’s suing the rapper-turned-actor for work produced over a decade ago.

• Three White female detectives in New York are suing over discrimination by a Black superior officer. The women claim they were denied choice assignments and promotions, which were ultimately given to minority counterparts. But then they went to work for Charlie, and the Angels leveraged it all into lucrative television and movie series.

Welcome, New and Old Readers.

Welcome to

The blog launched in March 2005. The initial goal was to spark discussions and debates about multiculturalism in the advertising industry — including all the good, bad and ugly complexities and contradictions.

Admittedly, there wasn’t a master plan or long-term strategy. Just decided to begin typing and see where it might go.

Many essays and months later, the plan is no clearer. The strategy is being reworked daily too.

Nonetheless, the conversation continues — despite the fact that it’s more of a monologue versus dialogue.

Here’s what offers you:

If you’re deep into the multicultural advertising scene, this is the place for relatable, relevant insights and more. It’s all the stuff you’d toss around the virtual water cooler.

If you’re semi-clueless to the world outside of your personal universe, this is the place for you as well. One deliberate tactic here is to expose the masses to progressive, 21st century diversity. It’s not something exclusive to the human resources department. Think of the blog as delivering a recommended daily allowance of culture.

Please read the blog starting at Essay One. You’re encouraged to agree or disagree with anything posted.

Please visit often. Admission is free. Open to the public 24 hours a day.

Finally, please share the blog with everyone you know. It works best with an inclusive spirit.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Essay 231

A Pair of Jacks and a Joker with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• The King of Pop may soon become the King of Bahrain. Michael Jackson plunked down $1.5 million for a piece of land on Bahrain’s Amwaj Islands, and rumors claim he’ll ultimately make it his permanent home. Note to the children of Bahrain: Run, dammit, run!

• Controversial NFL superstar Terrell Owens has a new supporter — the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jackson complained that Owens’ suspension and deactivation for the season were too severe, and the civil-rights leader suggested the Philadelphia Eagles release Owens to the open market or free agency. Note to Terrell Owens: Run, dammit, run!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Essay 230

Quick Quotes from MultiCultClassics Minutes…

“It’s a big task. I’m aware of the enormity of this…But I also think that I’m up to the task.”
>>Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, poised to become Africa’s first elected female head of state.

“I’m going through my own struggle, my own hurricane in a way…I believe in overcoming, and if I can do it, I wanna be that light so people can see me and feel they can be inspired and say, ‘You know, [he] can get through this, I can get through this, so we can actually go through this together.’”
>>R&B artist and alleged child pornographer R. Kelly, sounding really pathetic.

“[If] al-Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it…You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”
>>Bill O’Reilly, responding to San Francisco voters who passed a ballot measure that urges public high schools and colleges to ban on-campus military recruiting.

“We regret this tragic incident, but we have to remind our patrons that violence at theaters is extremely rare…We’ve had 1.5 billion people come to the theaters in each of the past three years, and there were only a handful of violent incidents. Though very unfortunate, this type of incident is very rare at the cinema. At this time we don’t know if there is any association of this particular incident in connection with the [Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ starring 50 Cent] film that was playing.”
>>John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, commenting on a fatal shooting that took place at a Pittsburgh theater. Yeah, right. The violence was probably inspired by Disney’s Chicken Little film.

Essay 229

Here’s the follow-up to the column presented in Essay 218…


Readers sound off on what blacks can do, whites can’t

November 13, 2005


Responses to my “What Blacks Can Do, What Whites Can’t” column were overwhelming in volume and in intensity. Blacks are definitely divided on this subject. Some African Americans went so far as to call me “self-hating,” for bringing up the double standard many of us are operating under.

I was also not surprised that some of the applause came from whites who have a low opinion of blacks, period. But “What Blacks Can Do, What Whites Can’t” isn’t about them. It’s about starting the conversation that needs to take place between blacks about blacks disrespecting blacks.

I also heard from members of the “hip-hop heads” who accused me of being out of touch. The only thing I can say to that is this: If not using racial slurs means I’m out of touch, I don’t want to get in touch. If not believing that black women and girls are “hos” and “B’s” puts me out of touch, I’ll just stay out of touch.

Now, here’s what some of you had to say via e-mail:

“I’m a Latina, and there are times that I see how Mexicans are portrayed and it really does sicken me,” wrote a reader in Iowa. “On the other hand, I also see how Latinos perpetuate these stereotypes, and so the issue struck me.”

What’s interesting about the hip-hop mania is that youth from every culture want to be part of it. For example, one day last summer, a carload of Hispanic males pulled up in front of my house with their radio blasting filthy lyrics. They got out of the car and stood beside it, talking loudly and addressing each other as “N----- this” and “N----- that.” It was appalling.

“It may not be my place to comment on this issue, but … (I) have seen firsthand that there is much wasted potential and talent in the African-American community and anyone that has the courage to attempt to rectify this problem deserves tremendous encouragement and credit,” said a reader who identified himself as having grown up in Evanston.

Thanks, but no thanks. When it comes to these sensitive racial matters, a white person’s praise doesn’t help. Ask Condoleezza Rice.

And, whatever the topic, it’s always the media’s fault.

“The media does not want to focus on ‘elected’ representation. The media does not want to tell the story of hard-working, non-music, non-athlete, non-movie-star persons of color. We as a community appear to be so starved for recognition that we accept any ink, on anybody, that fits the image dujour,” a reader wrote.

As Sen. Barack Obama’s brilliant memoir reveals, biracial children and people who are involved in interracial relationships catch it from both ends. They, perhaps better than others, understand that blacks can be just as prejudiced as whites.

“Many blacks think it is o.k. to use racial slurs directed at my family,” he wrote. “In 10 years of marriage, I have yet to hear one white say anything racially degrading towards my family, yet we get racially degrading remarks from blacks on a monthly basis.”

He obviously forgot Rule No. 1: Blacks can degrade each other in public, but whites can’t say anything that could even be construed as degrading about a black person. Still, that doesn't mean that whites aren’t talking about this man like a dog behind his back.

Whites respond

Here’s one from a white guy who only agrees with my column when I’m taking black people to task:

“You actually had something bad to say about your race. What you need to address is the fact that many blacks are [prejudiced] against whites and that is ok … but if whites don’t like blacks, mostly because of the way they act. Then that is horrible, and they deserve to be ostrized. [sic]”

OK. I understand that mostly. But it’s the partly that is usually a problem. And as revealed by the next e-mail, whites still don’t understand why they dont get to criticize black leadership.

“Personally, I have a HIGH disrespect for the Sharptons, Jackson Srs., Farrakhans of the black community. Why -- not only because of their contempt for ‘white folk’; but also their well honed capability to manipulate the black community to ridicule those deserved of respect such as Thomas and Rice.”

Really, why should black people give a heck about what white people think about black leaders? They aren’t following them. Didn’t they learn anything from the Marion Barry comeback?

Finally, a black male student at the University of Chicago got to the crux of the controversy.

“I want you to come to this campus and sit in our library so a white student can look at you, confused and ask if you are a part of the janitorial staff,” he said. “I want you to come to this campus so a white student can introduce himself to the white person standing next to you with a handshake and then address you with ‘wassup my sista, how you livin.’”

Black people who make it to U of C don’t want to be associated with these images from the ‘hood.

Still, it’s not up to white people to change those images. That’s on us.

Copyright © The Sun-Times Company
All rights reserved.

Essay 228

There’s a new blog worth checking out — The blog is essentially comprised of rants against Baby Boomers. Spirited, insightful and entertaining stuff. Click on the essay title and join the happening, man.

Essay 227

Boeing has settled its gender discrimination lawsuit, agreeing to dish out $72.5 million. Nearly 18,000 former and current female employees will receive payments for abuses that include unequal salaries. Now Boeing is facing another lawsuit involving 15,000 Black workers. The company’s slogan is, “Forever New Frontiers.” Looks like they’re seeking to take discrimination to new heights. Speaking of settlement, White Settlement, Texas has decided to keep its name. Local officials wondered if White Settlement seemed politically incorrect, ultimately inviting voters to decide. In the end, the name won support by a 9-to-1 margin. Given its current racial ratio, perhaps the town should consider revising its name to 85% White Settlement. The Texas town was established in the mid 1800s when Whites settled among Native Indian areas. Speaking of Indians, the NCAA refused to give in to the University of Illinois over its mascot. While conceding the school may call its team the Fighting Illini or the Illini, the Chief Illiniwek character has been ruled unacceptable. Students, alumni and fans continue to fight for the mascot, insisting he symbolizes school traditions. Maybe they could balance things out with a sidekick mascot called Whitey.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Essay 226

‘Round Midnight MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• A woman in Iowa found a dead turtle in her package of Folgers coffee. A Procter & Gamble spokesperson speculated it might have occurred during Hurricane Katrina, as Folgers manufacturing plants are based in New Orleans. No word yet if the company plans to capitalize on the disaster by introducing a special Hurricane flavor of Folgers. Now with juicy turtle bits!

• The Bush administration may sue Southern Illinois University over the school’s minority and female fellowship programs that allegedly discriminate against Whites. Now there’s a perfect way for Dubya to woo Black voters — by filing lawsuits in defense of White folks. Hey, it would be perfect to let Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas rule a final verdict.

• A new survey showed nearly 60 percent of Americans think President Bush is dishonest. The other 40 percent know he’s a fucking liar.

• A Black alderman from Milwaukee claimed to be a victim of racism after cops allegedly manhandled him during a traffic-related incident. The alderman said the arresting officer punched him in the ear and bashed his head against the hood of the squad car. Police probably insisted the alderman got off easy, as the standard procedure for Black motorists also involves stun guns and knees to the groin.

• Wal-Mart received an early holiday gift — activists complaining about the retailer’s views on Christmas. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights insisted Wal-Mart insults Christians by opting for “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas.” Actually, the megastore is offending the public with a truly corny holiday commercial starring Destiny’s Child. Yes, those stylish sistahs are definitely frequent shoppers in the Wal-Mart fashion department.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Essay 225

MultiCultClassics Minutes Presents The Smell of Victory and Other Assorted Odors…

• Cincinnati voters elected a Black mayor. And no, it wasn’t Venus Flytrap. “This is the beginning of a new era,” Mark Mallory told supporters. “We are going to bring energy to this city like we haven't seen in a long time.” Let’s see if he can match the Cincinnati Bengals.

• Detroit voters re-elected their Black mayor. Kwame Kilpatrick executed a stunning, come-from-behind victory. “This is our moment when unity should be the thing that we all strive for — oneness,” Kilpatrick said. “When you look at this election, it really was about the future of Detroit.” Let’s hope he fares better than the Detroit Lions.

• Here’s a comeback we can all do without. The neo-Nazi group that sparked riots in Toledo last month wants to return — this time to protest the way the cops and city handled their last gathering. What a bunch of neo-Nutcases.

• Rapper Beanie Sigel went to jail, but not for anything related to the guns, drugs and violence his music glorifies. Seems the man failed to pay about $27,000 in child support. The badass rapper got busted by his baby mama.

• Novelist Terry McMillan faced off with her gay ex-husband on Oprah. Why is Oprah making like Jerry Springer? Blog visitors are encouraged to write your own lines with “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and “Waiting To Exhale” references.

Essay 224

Adman Ernie Schenck builds another bonfire — this time involving Baby Boomers, bashers and bigotry. Click on the essay title and join the party, baby!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Essay 223

Making midweek merry with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• A few weeks ago, community activist Najee Ali led protests against billboards for the new 50 Cent movie. Now reports claim he was allegedly beaten by bodyguards of Nation of Islam Minister Tony Muhammad. Bet Ali wishes he had Fiddy’s piece handy during the incident.

• Michael Jackson may occasionally visit the U.S., but he’ll probably decide to live elsewhere. Jackson’s father claims the superstar has received numerous threats in the States. So it looks like the King of Pop will remain in exile for now.

• Toyota has decided to put the brakes on running commercials during FX drama Nip/Tuck, bowing to pressure from an activist group. Ironically, the carmaker could definitely benefit from an advertising facelift.

• Bill O’Reilly is still acting like an idiot, feuding with Hispanic columnists in Dallas and Denver. Part of the battling revolves around O’Reilly allegedly agreeing with a caller on his radio show, stating that Mexican immigrants are essentially “biological weapons.” As if the verbal excrement repeatedly firing from O’Reilly’s throat aren’t toxic bombs.

• One observation about the new Cartoon Network series The Boondocks: Why did the censors bleep everything from shit to motherfucker, yet permit nigger to flow freely for 30 minutes straight?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Essay 222

National and International MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Black firefighters from Cleveland came away with a split decision in their lawsuit against the city. Jurors decided the firefighters faced racist behavior, and the city failed to properly respond. Additionally, a 1996 test for promotions to captain and lieutenant discriminated against Blacks. However, jurors deemed tests in 2000 and 2002 to be acceptable. “I can’t believe there’s such problems after all these years,” one juror said. The guy probably doesn’t get out much.

• Two members of Breasts Not Bombs were arrested for picketing topless at the state Capitol in California (See Essay 217). The women were protesting Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ballot measures for a special election. Officials are deciding whether or not to charge the two as sex offenders. Can’t imagine the Governor would have any issues with their actions.

• Fox News has been accused of sexual harassment in a suit filed by the Equal Opportunity Commission. The charges state a Fox vice president “routinely used gross obscenities and vulgarities when describing women or their body parts.” During a discussion on sexism in the workplace, the executive said, “Of course I’d pick the man” when given a choice between hiring a male or female — in addition to expressing his concern that women become pregnant and leave their positions. Here’s another blowhard ready to join adman Neil French for Happy Hour 24/7.

• “The commission reported in April that a lack of training led to behavior that was at best clumsy and at worst racist in those neighborhoods with large immigrant populations. It criticized the fact that [the area’s] police officers have rarely been punished for misdeeds and lamented the lack of ethnic diversity in all branches of the police. That lack may be compounding the racial connotations of the civil unrest, with [immigrant youth] pitted against a predominantly white police force.” Sound like a scenario from the mean streets of New York, Miami or Los Angeles? Try Paris, France — where the rioting continues with virtually no end in sight.

• Authorities are beefing up security measures for potential violence that includes vandalism, civil disobedience, racially motivated mayhem and gunfire. More news from Paris, France? No, just preparations for the release of the 50 Cent movie on November 9.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Essay 221

Punching in on Monday with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• President Bush declared that the U.S. does not torture suspects. This should come as news to all the suspects who have been tortured during the war on terror — as well as the soldiers sentenced to prison for torturing folks. Or maybe White House wordsmiths will spin a fresh term. Intelligent Interrogation, perhaps?

• The “girlcott” staged against Abercrombie & Fitch appears to have worked (See Essay 214). T-shirts bearing offensive statements have been pulled from store shelves. Doing the right thing is easy when it’s less than three weeks before the holiday shopping season.

• Diddy spent $350,000 to pimp his ride, even customizing the Chevy Express 3500 with a full wet bar. Not sure how it would be legal to serve liquor in a vehicle. MADD may be revised to stand for, “Mothers Against Damned Diddy.”

• Michael Jackson has reportedly been sneaking into London to record music with his kids, hoping to inevitably release an album. Brilliant idea. The Kink of Pop should produce duets with Pee Wee Herman, R. Kelly and Mary Kay Letourneau.

Essay 220

MultiCultClassics Member (title officially bestowed upon all blog visitors) Hadji Williams is at it again. Now he’s brought his soapbox to Adweek. Check it out below…


The Big Whitewash
November 07, 2005

After 13 years as a copywriter, I’ve noticed three perennial constants: 1) an increasing number of failing ad campaigns and marketing strategies, and a growing number of confused and frustrated clients, colleagues and ad critics; 2) the increasing cultural and ethnic diversity in America; and 3) the mind-numbing lack of ethnic and cultural diversity within the ad industry.

Here’s a shot in the dark: Has it crossed anyone’s mind that a big reason so many marketers still struggle to reach our diversifying consumer base is because we’re less and less like them than ever before?

We talk a lot about how media-savvy consumers have become, but we sidestep the obvious fact that they’ve also gotten blacker, more Mexican, more Puerto Rican, more Chinese, more Korean, more Ethiopian, more Colombian, more Jamaican, etc. And with this has come more definitions of what’s cool, what’s sexy, what’s beautiful, what’s relevant, what’s heartwarming, what’s human and, more important, what ideas can and should build a brand.

But sadly, as a black creative, I can tell you that even in 2005, the ad industry’s idea of diversity remains blondes, brunettes, redheads, plus openly gay versions thereof. In fact, when I freelance at general-market shops, I’m usually the only black person around (sans secretaries, of course). General-market shops remain well over 90 percent Caucasian—or much more, depending on the market. It’s precisely this continued whitewash that’s hurting our ability to connect our clients’ brands with an increasingly diverse marketplace.

Again, how do you “think out of the box” when you’ve hired nothing but boxes?

To remix John Edwards, there’s a different America out there: They never loved Raymond. They never got Friends, Seinfeld or Sex and the City. They still don’t get SNL or According to Jim. Their musical tastes aren’t shaped by Rolling Stone, TRL or even BET. They don’t trust Fox. They don’t shop at Banana Republic or Gap. Their ideal female isn’t in Cosmo or Playboy. (And quiet as it’s kept, they dismiss Dove’s “Real Women” as an attempt to capitalize on the zeitgeist of white women’s insecurities, despite their being propped up as the standard of feminine beauty since day one.) This America rarely golfs and will never ever drive 500 miles in a circle, much less watch others do it.

(By the way: This America is not white.)

By 2010, black consumers will spend some $920 billion annually, Latinos nearly $1 trillion and Asians some $525 billion. By 2040, 50 percent of Americans will be non-Caucasian.

Now, how can an ad community whose diversity reflects Will & Grace on its best day simply “research” its way into this America’s heart or pocketbook? I guess we can rely on so-called universal truths, provided they really are universal.

In 2004, marketers spent less than 4 percent of marketing dollars (an all-time high, no less) through multicultural agencies and media outlets. It’s just a matter of time before ethnic professionals realize that general-market shops are more barriers than bridges. Once they do, they’ll stop begging for slices of the pie and start baking their own. They’ll reach everyone the general-market shops ignored, offended or just bored to tears. And eventually, general-market clients will follow, because love (of money) conquers all.

Ultimately, general-market shops will be left to do what we’ve done for the last 80 years—make excuses for our institutionalized bias and exclusion. Because at the end of the day, the only thing more obvious than our problem is the solution. And our refusal to be a part of the solution.

Hadji Williams is an agency veteran and author of “Knock the Hustle: How to Save Your Job and Your Life From Corporate America.” He can be reached at

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Essay 219

Sunday Services with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• “I’m not glorifying violence. I’m just trying to capture what goes on in the environment. If your environment is violent as a child, you will write about these things in your songs and talk about them in your first movie. I hear this criticism that many rappers have too many songs about someone being shot. For me, it’s not about just putting violence in the music. It’s about striving to capture in the perfect song what goes on in the street. You don’t think this is going on in the streets? I’d like to get the records of the hospitals in my area of the Bronx for just one week. There will be far more victims of violent crimes — stab wounds, gun shot wounds, or whatever it is — than many people even think happens. If anything this music and my movie is just saying that this is happening in America,” said 50 Cent in a recent interview.

• “To me, 50 Cent is a Black gangsta Jesus with the wounds to prove it,” said Jim Sheridan, director of the rapper’s latest movie. Not sure which Bible Sheridan has been reading — the New American Rapper Standard Version?

• 50 Cent movie billboards have also been taken down in Philadelphia after community protests. “The message could be ‘rob to get rich.’…It’s a very offensive message that is part of a mind-set that says you can solve problems with violence,” said Bilal Qayyum of the anti-violence group Men United for a Better Philadelphia. Maybe the group should have asked, “What Would Black gangsta Jesus Do?”

• Another movie billboard has led to protests, and it also depicts a controversial figure with a cult following and history of violence — Harry Potter. The billboard is in Queens, New York, and officials argued its size and position violate city ordinances. Activist groups might also insist the message stereotypes the Wizard and Quidditch-loving community.

• A discrimination case has surfaced involving irate Amish folks. It started when a woman who abandoned the Amish community was denied service by an Amish store owner. The woman argued her civil rights were violated, while the store owner argued serving someone excommunicated from the church goes against the laws of the Amish community. The Amish tradition requires rejection of higher education and modern technology. But it apparently doesn’t prohibit engaging our complex legal system.

• Just in time for the holidays: another controversy involving t-shirts and rappers. A design made popular by Young Jeezy depicts a snowman with a menacing expression. Critics argue the character symbolizes a different type of snow — specifically, cocaine. Schools across the country have already banned the t-shirt. Which will probably make it the must-have item this holiday season.

Essay 218

The column below responds to the recent incident involving students at the University of Chicago (see Essay 213). It appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times.


‘Thuggin’ white kids shine light on contradictions

November 6, 2005


Apparently, only black people can have a “straight thuggin’” party. Both the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune reported that when a group of about 20 white students at the University of Chicago held a straight thuggin’ or “ghetto”-themed party last month, black students were appalled. The white students wore their baseball caps sideways, hung heavy gold chains around their necks, pulled on some droopy pants so their underwear could show, and listened to music by the likes of Nelly and 50 Cent.

The university’s president, Don Randel, is now concerned that the party will “undermine” the university’s attempts to build stronger ties to the surrounding poorer communities and further isolate black students on campus.

Randel sent a letter last week advising students that the “straight thuggin’” gathering of whites was “offensive” and “parodied racial stereotypes based on assumptions about economically disadvantaged members of society.”

In other words, white students didn’t have any business trying to look like the rappers on BET.

The hapless group of white students are now perceived as having done something “racist.” African-Americans, on the other hand, are being portrayed as victims. But they aren’t victims. They’re probably embarrassed.

Because blacks have allowed a handful of talented rappers to basically define the black experience, more people are getting offended by these images. Yet they are hard to stop.

Sunglasses, afro, gold chain

Talk about a money-maker -- last year, Sprite launched “Miles Thirst,” a hip-hop doll that pronounces “motto” as “mah mah-toe,” as its pitchman.

I questioned a spokesman about this decision, and was told that the company’s own research showed that white youth were fascinated with the way black teens dress. “Thirst,” with his wrap-around sunglasses, heavy gold chain, afro, gym shoes and baggy jeans, is a stereotype of black youth.

But hip-hop represents only one segment of the black community. “Straight thuggin,’” or “Gangsta Rap,” as it’s been called, has nothing whatsoever to do with the lifestyles of most of the black students who end up at the University of Chicago.

And Randel, who criticized the white students for perpetuating racial “stereotypes based on assumptions about economically disadvantaged members of society,” means well, but doesn’t get it. There’s nothing economically disadvantaged about Nelly, Jay-Z and 50 Cent.

Still, I want to help white people avoid these unpleasant moments. Here’s a brief excerpt from my handbook: What Blacks Can Do; What Whites Can’t, which should be on shelves soon.


Blacks can call the ghetto “fabulous”; whites can’t even call it the ghetto.

Blacks can wear their pants so low we can see their underwear; whites can’t. (Well, Eminem can.)

Blacks can wear gold chains, flash gold teeth and carry gold canes; whites can’t.

Blacks can wear dreadlocks, braids, twists and afros; whites can’t.

Blacks can shave their heads; whites can’t shave their heads, because only white supremacists shave their heads.

Blacks can call each other the N-word, and, of course, whites can’t call blacks the N-word. For example, recently state Sen. and the Rev. James Meeks said police officers often stop drivers in cars they deem to be “N-----mobiles.” A white state senator would have been tossed out of office for the same remark.

Blacks can shoot up their neighborhoods, rob the elderly, rape women, abuse children and kill each other, and whites can’t say anything about that lest they be accused of stereotyping the black community.

Black gangs can run amok; whites can’t even label black thugs a gang.

Blacks can use racial slurs to exclude other blacks from the political arena; whites can’t.

The latest example of this phenomenon is Michael Steele, a Republican and lieutenant governor of Maryland. Steele is trying to become the first black senator elected from that state.

But Steele has been subjected to the worst racial slurs imaginable. At one debate, a group of black people pelted the stage with Oreos. Last week, a black liberal businessman with a blog depicted Steele as a black-faced minstrel and “Sambo.”


Of course, you know What Blacks Can Do; What Whites Can’t doesn’t exist. But maybe it should. Because there are glaring contradictions in the way black people have approached racial issues. We shouldn’t expect whites to treat us any better than we are willing to treat ourselves.

So if black students at the University of Chicago are really offended by the idea that their white classmates are mimicking black rappers, they should make sure they aren’t going to any straight thuggin’ parties of their own.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Essay 217

Saturday Night Jive with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• President Bush has ordered his staff to attend ethics briefings, making attendance mandatory. The briefings will cover refresher courses including “the rules governing the protection of classified information” — which should be particularly enlightening for Vice President Cheney and his cohorts. Can’t help but think these ethics briefings are long overdue. By at least five years.

• Black politicians in California are crying foul over a misleading mailer for a drug industry-supported campaign. The mailer is titled, “The Black Woman’s Guide to California Politics,” and its contents ask voters to back Proposition 78 — a measure that would permit drug companies to voluntarily cap prices to avoid mandated caps. Funny thing is, the mailer features photos of Black state and federal legislators who don’t support Proposition 78, right alongside pleas to vote for the measure. Of course, tiny mouse print states the depiction of legislators in the mailer does not signify their endorsement. Those pharmaceutical companies really are the masters of legal disclaimers. It all presents another example of Black leaders lashing out against drug dealers.

• Looks like the U.S. isn’t the only country struggling with immigrants and racial segregation. France is into its tenth day of violent rioting involving immigrants and lower-income communities. The similarities between the U.S. and France are downright eerie. Déjà vu? The Minuteman Border Patrol should have a field day with this scenario.

• A California peace group called Breasts Not Bombs has made its mark by having members go topless during protests. But officials at the state Capitol are prepared to put a squeeze on the efforts, threatening to charge the women as sex offenders. There’s a joke involving “weapons of mass destruction” here somewhere.

• R. Kelly is pursuing another lawsuit against Jay-Z. The new suit charges Kelly and companions were pepper-sprayed in the face by an associate of Jay-Z, and the sprayer was ultimately rewarded with a record company executive job. Not sure what Kelly hopes to prove. Kelly has sprayed people in the face over the years too, though not with pepper spray.

• El Carajo Restaurant is getting its sign after all. The Miami eatery came under fire when folks complained Spanish translations for the name include penis and other expletives (see Essay 181). The owners insist the name means the crow’s nest of a ship. City officials tried to deny a permit for the sign, but ultimately bowed to legal advice. Menu items at the restaurant include… uh, never mind. Just be careful when ordering the Chef’s Special.

• Minnesota Vikings players are boycotting a local TV station for investigative journalism involving the infamous “Love Boat” scenario (see Essay 178). A reporter allegedly scoured through players’ garbage for evidence. Not sure what the problem is here. Given the tawdry details of the actual event, it seems completely appropriate to seek details in the trash.

• The National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative group focused on good government, is calling out Diddy (Sean Combs). The group has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Committee, claiming Combs violated campaign and tax laws when supporting John Kerry in the last presidential election. Wonder what Kanye West would have to say about this.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Essay 216

First Friday’s MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• A new study shows the mere depiction of alcohol-related imagery — even in advertising — inspires aggression whether you’re drinking or not. Most adfolks feel strong revulsion by simply viewing the Budweiser and Coors spots starring the bad-acting brewery bigwigs.

• Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman went on a rant, insisting graffiti artists caught tagging public property should be subject to harsh punishments — including having their thumbs chopped off on national TV. “I also believe in a little bit of corporal punishment going back to the days of yore, where examples have to be shown…I’m dead serious,” proclaimed the mayor. Wait a minute. This is coming from the mayor of a place where prostitution is legal and mob influence is the norm. Add this moron to one more thing that should stay in Vegas.

• President Bush announced the Presidential Medal of Freedom honorees, and the list included Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, Frank Robinson and Paul Rusesabagina. Hey, maybe Kanye West was wrong after all.

• A Chicago avenue will be named after the late John H. Johnson. The new honorary street sign will appear at the corner near Johnson Publishing Company headquarters.

• Blacks now make up a smaller share of the military, with declining numbers of Black recruits. The Army has taken the biggest hit in terms of Black recruiting. Guess we can expect to see hip-hop advertising for the military soon.

• The race for state senator is getting ugly in Maryland, with Democrats launching racial slurs at the Republican candidate. Lt. Governor Michael Steele, a Republican seeking to become the state’s first Black senator, is under attack from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and an Internet blogger. Blogger Steve Gilliard (who happens to be Black) portrayed Steele in minstrel Blackface, dubbing him “Simple Sambo” — and Gilliard vowed to post more. Talk about Black-on-Black mudslinging.

• K-Fed, aka Britney Spears’ husband, is launching his hip-hop career with tunes due out next year. Great. Now there will be two talentless wannabes in the family.

Essay 215

The good folks at wrote a nice review for Knock The Hustle by Hadji Williams. Mr. Williams is a MultiCultClassics Member (title officially awarded to all blog visitors). Click on the essay title to check out the review. Then pick up a copy of the book.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Essay 214

Thank God It’s Almost Friday with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• Everybody wants a piece of Abercrombie & Fitch. First, a girls group from Pennsylvania took their “girlcott” nationwide on NBC’s Today show, protesting t-shirts with racy statements they deemed derogatory to females. Now Illinois State Senator Steve Rauschenberger has joined the “girlcott” — although the candidate for governor is threatening a boycott. Awaiting Judge Samuel Alito’s position on this deep issue.

• Note to Abercrombie & Fitch executives: a new Customer Rage Survey showed 15% of dissatisfied consumers actually sought revenge for bad shopping experiences. Wonder if the trendy sales staff will start sporting stylish bulletproof vests.

• Becoming a U.K. citizen no longer requires knowing anything about Britain’s past. A new test that immigrants must pass for citizenship only asks simple questions on everyday life in the country. Old school critics argue a basic knowledge of British history should be mandatory. Perhaps a quiz on Monty Python and Benny Hill would suffice.

• 50 Cent officially disagreed with the Kanye West rant over President Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina victims. “I think people responded to it the best way they can. What Kanye West was saying, I don't know where that came from,” the rapper proclaimed. Bush finally gets public support from a Black person, and it turns out to be Fiddy. This just isn’t Dubya’s year.

• Sorry, 50 Cent. Emails from former FEMA director Michael Brown appear to support Kanye West. One message to Brown stated, “Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical...many will die.” Brown responded, “Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?” The original writer should have replied, “Yes. Update your resume, jackass.”

Essay 213

A slow news day with MultiCultClassics Minutes…

• The shooting involving rapper Cam’ron is still a mystery to investigators. Patrolling police apparently witnessed the incident, reporting a gunman fired at the artist’s Lamborghini and a Range Rover carrying his entourage. The shooter and a companion crashed the Ford Expedition they were driving shortly after the attack, but managed to escape. It’s all starting to sound like a bizarre car commercial.

• Denver residents voted to legalize the possession of marijuana for adults. Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams demanded an immediate trade to the Broncos.

• White students at the University of Chicago sparked controversy for staging a “straight thuggin’” party, where people listened to rap music and dressed in mock hip-hop gear. University officials expressed concern over the racial overtones, and called for an open meeting among students and faculty to discuss the matter. Not scheduled to attend the gathering: Vanilla Ice.

• St. Luke School in suburban Milwaukee cancelled an upcoming American Girl Fashion Show, upset over the doll company’s support of a national girls organization that accepts abortion and lesbian sexual orientation. Perhaps the fashion show will be replaced with a “straight thuggin’” party.