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Why Have All The Post-Weinstein Apologies Been So Bad?

The only thing more shocking and appalling than the number of high-profile men exposed as sexual harassers, assaulters, or rapists in the post Harvey Weinstein era, is how dreadfully inadequate the apologies are.  One would assume that given the sheer volume of revelations coming to light, the subsequent apologies would get better and better. After all, it’s not often that life gives you so many examples in quick succession of what not to do when responding to allegations of sexual harassment or assault. Sadly, the pitiful list of half-hearted and wrong-headed apologies issued so far prove that such an assumption would be wrong.

Some, like Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore refuse to apologize at all, and instead have taken the Donald Trump/Bill O’Reilly route of denying all the allegations made against them by multiple accusers. Trump, O’Reilly, Moore and their ilk deny any wrongdoing whatsoever and instead pretend that they have all been victims of elaborate smear campaigns that have lasted decades.  A bombshell article in the Washington Post featured four women who accused Moore of sexual molestation and other forms of impropriety on the record.  Since then, more women have come forward with similar accusations. Leigh Corfman, one of the accusers, alleges that Moore molested her when she was 14 and he was 32. Moore responded to Corfman’s allegations in this way: “These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign.” Leigh, by the way, voted for Donald Trump.

Others, like Senator Al Franken from Minnesota have immediately issued acknowledgements and apologies, but with enormous caveats and equivocations. Last week, kabc.com radio personality Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of kissing her without her consent and groping her in her sleep while the two worked together on a USO tour in 2006. They were set to perform in a skit together when Tweeden says the unwanted advances began. She released a photo of the groping incident as well. For his part, Franken initially responded with the following underwhelming apology: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Good god. Maybe it’s my tiny lady brain making me stupid, but what part of groping an unconscious woman is supposed to be funny? Why does this apology include the word “but?”

Franken has since released a more carefully worded, but still underwhelming statement, after his first one was almost universally scorned.

Just today, veteran journalists Charlie Rose and Glenn Thrush were outed as harassers. For his part, Rose released the following statement on Twitter:

“I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate.” Why is there always a “but” with these “apologies?” It is unacceptable that despite a veritable deluge of revelations and admissions, that powerful men are still issuing qualified apologies to the victims of their unwanted advances and assaults.

Since it seems that it’s only a matter a time before all of our favorite journalists, captains of industry, politicians and entertainers are revealed to be sex offenders, I would suggest that all of these powerful men utilize their well-paid publicists to pre-emptively out themselves as abusers and issue thoughtful, meaningful apologies, if for no other reason than to spare their careers.

Such an apology should go something like this: “I recognized at the time that there was a power imbalance between me and the women I hurt with my actions. I knew that said power imbalance would either coerce women into acquiescing to my advances under duress or would keep them from reporting me to people who could do something about it if they refused. I exploited that power imbalance because I felt that my wealth/stature/influence entitled me to sexual access to these women. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I used my power/influence/status to exploit women and for that I’m sorry.”

Let’s be clear. The reason that these apologies fall miserably short is because these men really don’t appreciate that what they did was wrong. Senator Franken in his initial statement thought it should have been obvious that grabbing a sleeping woman’s breasts was an attempt at humor. Charlie Rose felt that despite admitting he was mistaken in thinking that he was pursuing mutual attraction with his accusers, he still insisted that not all the allegations were correct. In other words, these men felt that their intentions were more important than the actual effect of their actions. It was the women who misinterpreted the situation, not them.

We are witnessing only the tip of the iceberg so far. In the coming weeks and months, many more men will be outed as harassers and abusers, and if the current trend continues, they will all issue outright denials or qualified apologies.

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Sunken Place Saturday–Diamond and Silk

diamondandsilk.com

This Sunken Place Saturday, I find myself again perplexed by the plastic-haired, shuck-and-jive duo of Diamond and Silk. These biological sisters from North Carolina comport themselves more like Plantation Cubic Zirconia and Polyester, but more on that later. By now, everyone has heard rapper Eminem’s “freestyle” in response to the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto abomination that is the Trump presidency. For better or worse, Em articulated many people’s frustration with the divisiveness, racism, sexism, and rank stupidity exemplified by the Orange Overlord. But, like many idiots before him, he has followers that are aggressively and blindly devoted to him. Among these devotees are Diamond and Silk, two black women who share Donald Trump’s affinity for absurd hairpieces.

One might wonder what Diamond and Silk have to do with Eminem. Well, these two ladies have made their own hippity-hop video–a self-styled “clapback” to the diss track Eminem levied against their lord and savior Donald Trump. Rapped in the key of slave major, and heavy on buck and shuffle dance moves, their low-budget response to Eminem’s performance was um, interesting. See for yourself:

 

Yes, friends. This is real life right now. Someone’s crooked-wigged aunties have decided that they needed to rap and coonwalk in this “rap video” to reassert their devotion to Donald Trump. I’m not sure how much they are being paid for this modern-day minstrel show they continue to perform, but I suspect that they get paid in Crown Royal and wig glue.

The sisters claim that they support Donald Trump because they are “deeply concerned about political corruption and the unethical tactics of special interest groups and lobbyists.” Yes, friends. Again, I remind you that this is real life right now.

Of course these women, though revolting, are not uncommon. Black history is replete with individuals who aligned themselves with oppressors and their interests. There were slaves who alerted slave masters about escape attempts. There were black people who infiltrated the inner circles of MLK and Malcolm X to curry favor with the government that conspired to kill both men. There were black women who intentionally wanted to become impregnated by white men, so they could breed out their black features.

So the question remains. What’s in it for Diamond and Silk and their Sunken Place shenanigans? Do they get a seat at the policymaking table? Do they get awarded cushy government appointments? Do they get White House visits to get audience with the president? The answer to all of these questions is of course, no. I think all they get for their efforts is being the black friend that racists always refer to when trying to prove that they aren’t racist.

So  in the end, for co-signing white supremacy by co-signing Trump (and not to mention for wearing wigs that look like Mrs. Potato Head attachments), Cubic Zirconia and Polyester Diamond and Silk find themselves in the Sunken Place this week. 

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Sunken Place Saturday–Tina Campbell

This Sunken Place Saturday, it’s hard to think of a more deserving “honoree” than Tina Campbell, member of gospel music duo Mary Mary. Tina Campbell is many things–wife, mother, alto–and a mythical black woman Trump voter. Yes, it’s true.  While black women tried to save the country from the Orange Doom by voting overwhelming for someone other than Donald Trump, Tina Campbell helped usher in the Long Night by voting Joffrey Baratheon in as president.

 

 

The woman who ironically came to fame with a song called “Shackles,” took to the airwaves this week to say that she voted for Donald Trump because he “appealed to my Christian values more than the other candidate.” Ah, yes. Because the thrice-married, pussy-grabbing, thieving adulterer who settled multiple racial discrimination law suits and was the most prolific crusader of the birther lie spoke to her Christian values.

The problem with Campbell and the Great Value brand of Christians in general, but black Christians in particular, is that they see Christianity as only a set of beliefs to be articulated (and to seem righteous for articulating), rather than a set of practices that line up with those beliefs. So for her, it’s enough for Trump to simply say that he believes in the sanctity of marriage, for example, but not such a big deal that he falls woefully short of honoring that sanctity in his own several marriages.

I’m no theologian, but the Bible makes kind of a big deal about insisting that followers of Christ should look out for the vulnerable, the marginalized, the poor, women and children. Let’s look around. Who is poorer, more vulnerable, and marginalized than black people? Let’s take it a step further. Who is poorer, more vulnerable, and marginalized than black women and children?

You know, those same black women he was referring to when he called kneeling NFL players sons of bitches? What about black women journalists like April Ryan or Jemele Hill that he and his administration singled out for racist assumptions about who they know, condescension, or calls to be fired?

What about black and Latino children like the Central Park Five, who were falsely accused and convicted of rape, but whom Trump continued to malign as recently as last year, even after DNA evidence exonerated them? A rich white man can falsely accuse and lambaste poor black and brown children for political ends, but he supposedly speaks to her “Christian values?”

What about Deandre Harris, who was beaten within an inch of his life by Nazis and white supremacists this summer in Charlottesville? Yep, the same Nazis and white supremacists that Trump called “very fine people?” Which of your “Christian values” does that appeal to?

Oh, Tina. I know you’re a singer, but justifying your vote for Trump under the guise of Christianity is simply tone-deaf. The man who spoke to your “Christian values” can’t even say the phrase “Second Corinthians:”

Donald Trump has consistently placed himself on the wrong side of issues that are of great interest to black people. Whether it’s police brutality, poverty, affordable housing, white supremacy, the legitimacy of the Obama presidency, etc, Foolius Caesar has always chosen the position that most disadvantages/enrages black people. And you’re up here on TV pretending that you shouldn’t get all the side eyes for supporting this trash? Girl, please.

For being willfully ignorant of how Donald Trump has treated black people in the most un-Christlike ways possible, Tina Campbell has earned her spot in the Sunken Place.

THE ONLY TINAS WE RECOGNIZE ARE TURNER AND KNOWLES | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

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Sunken Place Saturday–Albert Haynesworth

This Sunken Place Saturday, our winner/loser is Albert Haynesworth, former NFL defensive tackle. Years ago, Haynesworth made the non-football related news for pleading no contest to fondling a black waitress’ breast in a D.C. area hotel. During the criminal investigation, Haynesworth denied the accusations allegedly claiming “I know what this is about: [The waitress] is just upset I have a white girlfriend. I couldn’t tell you the last time I dated a black girl.” Let’s pause here for a second. I’m not sure why he feels/felt that not liking black women is a defense against sexually assaulting them. I mean, are we supposed to believe that people sexually assault folks because they like them?

It’s important to note that said white girlfriend was Brittany Jackson, herself a former professional athlete and no stranger to the criminal justice system. Haynesworth and she were a couple for a few years and have a child together. Haynesworth took to Twitter yesterday


to complain that he had been a victim of domestic violence and racial animus at Jackson’s hands for years.  He alleges that Jackson called him nigger several times and that she also physically assaulted him on numerous occassions.

 

Now don’t that beat all? A guy who pled no contest to assaulting a black woman after giving the unprompted proclamation that he has a white girlfriend in an effort to exculpate himself from the assault accusation is now taking to social media to complain that the white woman is not only violent, but racist? Excuse me while I cackle like a billy goat.

You see, Fat Albert has what I call Becky Broke Me Syndrome. It goes something like this. Black guy goes out of his way to date/marry white women, while loudly proclaiming in word or deed his distaste for black women. All goes well for a time. Then everything goes sour in Beckydom. White woman gets murdered (OJ), alleges rape (Kobe), or gets cheated on (Tiger Woods), and black guy has a PR nightmare on his hands.  In the case of  Brittany Jackson, she claims that she just found out that the child she shares with Haynesworth is his seventh child. Child support money tends to get a little thin when you have enough children to field a basketball team with two subs. White people don’t want anything to do with black guy who hurts Becky, so black guy tries to turn back to the black community for support. Black community promptly laughs and points. Black Twitter, per usual, was generous with the slander.

 

For trying throw black women under the bus to extol his love for Becky, and to have said Becky mollywhop him and call him “nigger” for years, Fat Albert Haynesworth has earned his spot in the Sunken Place.

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Losing Kenneka: How the Death of Kenneka Jenkins Highlights that Black Girls and Women aren’t Valued

Kenneka Jenkins. Photo credit: tvone.tv

The death of Kenneka Jenkins, the Chicago-area teen whose body was found in a freezer earlier this week, hit me hard. Oh, no. Not another one, I thought. I scrolled through various news feeds, and each time was struck by the image of the precious young lady with the dimpled smile. She had an entire life ahead of her and was snatched away from the world in circumstances that are still unclear, but very suspicious.

What we do know is that Kenneka was last seen at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel and Conference Center last Saturday night. She had gone there with some friends for a party. We also know that she had gotten there in her mother Tereasa Martin’s vehicle.  According to Martin, Kenneka’s friends called Martin at 4 o’clock in the morning to advise her that they had lost track of Kenneka, but had her phone and were in Martin’s car. These details are enough to make any parent’s heart sink. Martin said that she headed over to the hotel, and after being given the runaround by both the hotel staff and the police, Kenneka’s body was found in the freezer nearly 24 hours after she had first disappeared.

What’s more is that there is a very disturbing Facebook Live video that seems to show Kenneka’s reflection in the sunglasses of the young lady filming the video. Some say that you can distinctly hear someone yelling “Help me!” before the music is abruptly turned up to drown out the sound. The most stomach-churning suspicion being bandied about is that Kenneka’s friends set her up to be sexually assaulted, and for a paltry sum of $200.

Martin says that in the immediate aftermath of the discovery of her daughter’s body, her friends kept changing their stories about the sequence of events that led to Kenneka’s disappearance. Martin further states that neither the hotel staff, nor the police initially took her concerns about her daughter’s safety seriously. Media coverage of Kenneka’s disappearance and subsequent death has been scant.

Unfortunately, this is a painfully familiar scenario when a black girl or woman disappears. The assumption often made is that she’s a criminal, a runaway, or a sex worker. Thousands of disgusting social media comments that lay the blame at the feet of Kenneka herself for her own disappearance and death have made the rounds. “She should have known better,” they say. “She should have picked better friends.”

Contrast that with what happens when young white girls and women disappear from anywhere. Their disappearances and murders become national headlines and we remember their names for years, even decades after they’ve disappeared or died. Natalee Holloway, Jon Benet Ramsey, Elizabeth Smart, etc.–the list goes on and on for white female victims of kidnapping, and murders, with only scant attention ever paid to a young black girl or woman who disappears. Based on the news coverage, you would think that white girls and women are the only ones targeted for kidnappings and murders. Think about it: how many names of black female murder/kidnapping victims can you name that have become national media stories? (I didn’t think so.) The reality is that there are more than 75000 missing black women and girls in the country, but you would never know it based on public perceptions about whose disappearances matter.

Could a more motivated hotel staff or police force have prevented what happened to Kenneka? I don’t know. But when casual observers, trained police agencies, and national media outlets seem resigned to the notion that the disappearances of black girls and women is “normal” and therefore not worthy of diligent followup or news coverage, it doesn’t bode well for women who look like me and my sisters. Kenneka deserved so much better than how her life ended. And in death she deserves even more still. For our own sakes, we all do.

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Five Things Harvey Survivors Can Do From Their Phones

Although we aren’t out of the woods yet, it looks like the heavy rains of Harvey have finally left Houston. As the waters recede and we begin to get a better sense of the damage and loss of life, emotions can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to get a sense of what to do next.

Here are a few hopefully helpful things that you can do to reorient yourself. The list isn’t exhaustive, but it should help get the ball rolling on the long road to recovery.

  1. Contact all of your insurance companies to file claims. If you have homeowner’s insurance, contact your insurer. If you have comprehensive car insurance, contact your insurer. You may have a provision in your policy that allows for 30 days of rental car replacement. Be patient, though. Car rental agencies will be inundated with requests for vehicles, so it may be several days before you get a rental car.
  2. Contact all of your creditors.  Many financial institutions, including mortgage companies, car loan companies, student loan agencies, and credit card companies will restructure loans or give payment forbearances for people who are affected by Harvey.
  3. Contact FEMA for disaster assistance.  If your home has been damaged or destroyed by the storm, visit FEMA’s website  https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ asap to get financial assistance. They can assist with emergency housing and rebuilding/relocation expenses. This is especially important if you or a loved one is elderly or disabled. Again, a little patience is needed here.  The need is often greater than the number of people dispatched to assist.
  4. Update your social media to let friends and family know that you are okay.  This may be obvious, but it was something that I forgot to do as the storm made landfall. I was inundated with phone calls and text messages from family members all over the country who were watching their televisions in horror at the damage and destruction.
  5. Play games, listen to music, or watch YouTube.  In other words, do something to distract yourself from the constant images of people suffering. If you are in the midst of your own hurricane survival, it can be overwhelming to be constantly exposed to such graphic images of the toll the hurricane has taken on the city and its residents.

 

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Media Vultures: How the Media Prey upon the Vulnerable During Natural Disasters

As I type this, my family and I are hunkered down hiding out from the wrath of Hurricane Harvey. We are some of the lucky ones. We have plenty of food, water, and medicine. We haven’t had any power interruptions, and only occasional outages of our satellite signal. As someone who was personally impacted by Hurricane Katrina, I realize what a huge blessing this is. Unlike Hurricane Katrina, all of my family members are safe and accounted for during Harvey. No one is stuck on the roof of their building with no power and no plumbing, wondering when help will arrive.That isn’t the case for everyone here in Houston though. Many of my neighbors have lost everything. Some of the poorest and most vulnerable Houstonians are stuck on their rooftops as the rain continues to pour down on the city.

The local media have been really good at keeping us informed about where we can seek shelter and whether or not emergency services are responding to calls in certain parts of town. Getting good information to the people who need it is essential in moments like this, and the local media have been doing a wonderful job.

However, the national media is another story. I was shocked to see CNN attempting to interview a woman who was clearly wet and traumatized at one of the local facilities serving as a shelter. The woman’s name was Danielle, and her eyes were wide as saucers. She had two small children clinging to her side. The interviewer, CNN’s Rosa Flores, asked Danielle basic questions about how she got there and how long it took for help to arrive. Danielle responded that she had been waiting 36 hours for help before it finally arrived. She tearfully explained that the first day of the storm, she had waded through four feet of water to get food for her children. The woman was clearly already on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Then things really took a turn for the worse. Flores told Danielle that she had heard stories of mothers rescuing their children from rushing floodwaters and wanted her to expand on that–even though Danielle had just explained to her that she had braved high water to get food.  This question was just too much. Danielle exploded in frustration. “People are really breaking down and y’all sitting here with cameras and microphones trying to ask us what the fuck is wrong with us,” she accurately pointed out. “You’re trying to interview people during their worst time. Like, that’s not the smartest thing to do”

Exactly what was the point of Flores asking her such a graphic question, if not to trigger her so that CNN can boost its ratings? This isn’t an indictment against Flores herself, but one against the voyeuristic methods of the national news media in general. We’ve all seen national news coverage of natural disasters in which frightened, shell-shocked, or injured survivors are asked to narrate the worst moment of their life for a rapt television audience. A frightened black woman and her two scared kids reconjure images of Katrina. We all know how America in general is addicted to trauma porn, but no entity more so than the national media. Human suffering is often a means to a Pulitzer  an end.

During Katrina, the national news media referred to people fleeing the floodwaters as “refugees,” a very loaded word that demonstrated how New Orleans’ poor black residents were never viewed as American citizens who were taxpayers displaced from their homes. Now that Harvey unleashes its full fury on Houston residents (some of whom are also Katrina survivors), we see some of the same tactics being employed. We see language that whether intentionally or not, ends up shaming the poor and vulnerable residents of the Houston. Many restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations shuttered their doors on Friday night, leaving people who hadn’t already stocked up on supplies with few options to sustain themselves for the days ahead. Just like in Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Harvey survivors who were forced to pry open the doors of grocery stores to find food and supplies were called looters.

ABC News’ Tom Lamas even called the police on the people looking for food. Think about that for a second. It’s a grocery store during a natural disaster in which thousands of people are stranded without food and water, and there’s an enormous building filled to the brim with food and water. Is calling the police on those people and painting them as criminals really the thing to do? In the world of national news media, however, exploiting people’s most vulnerable moments for ratings or professional advancement is the name of the game.

The storm is breaking now. As Houston finally seems to literally be experiencing a ray of sunshine after the storm, we pray for our neighbors to the east in Louisiana, because the water and the national media are headed there next.

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Why Girls Don’t Tell…

They don’t tell because they know they won’t be believed…
They don’t tell because they know that even if they are believed, they will be blamed.
They don’t tell because they know their mothers will still stay with him.
They don’t tell because no matter when they tell, it’s never soon enough to satisfy people who are committed to thinking they are lying.
They don’t tell because they don’t want to be the person who ruined everyone else’s idyllic view of the abuser.
They don’t tell because they don’t want everyone view to them only through the lens of being a victim.
They don’t tell because telling means admitting to someone else that the horror actually happened.