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Topic: pop culture
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September 9, 2013 at 6:30 AM
My recent column sticks up for 7-year-old Tiana Parker, an Oklahoma girl forced to choose between her school and her hairstyle.
The Tulsa girl was sent home from school, on the first day no less, because her hair was styled in dreadlocks. She kept her hairstyle but switched to a new school that will hopefully be more interested in what’s in her head, rather than on it.
For those who think there are bigger issues than a hairstyle, I agree. That’s why the Deborah Brown Community School’s ban on Afros, dreadlocks and other hair styles it calls “faddish” is not only silly, but emotionally harmful to black students. Schools fixated on the academic well-being of black students should not forget their emotional well-being.
I was drawn to the Tulsa story because it involved education but also opened a window onto the sturm und drang surrounding the politics of black hair. Yes, black hair is a political issue. Who can forget the 2008 New Yorker magazine cover depicting Michelle Obama as a black militant wearing an Afro. When a naturallycurly.com web poll asked if the U.S. was ready for a first lady with natural kinky hair, 56% of respondents said no.
For black women hair choices can have an impact on our profession. A black meteorologist in Louisiana, who had traded her long straight hair for a short afro, was fired for her response to a viewer who criticized her new look. According to a Philadelphia Daily News column, the unemployed journalist is now hailed as the Rosa Parks of hair.
The National Museum of African Art, part of the Smithsonian Institution, hosted a “Health, Hair and Heritage,” symposium last June exploring the hair’s impact on the politics of racial identity.
MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris Perry explains why hair matters, politically and economically.
August 13, 2013 at 7:50 AM
This week’s biggest surprise: Actor Ashton Kutcher gives a surprisingly inspiring and smart speech at the Teen Choice Awards. In a brief acceptance speech, Kutcher channels Apple founder Steve Jobs and champions nerds with three pieces of advice.
Juju Chang of Good Morning America posted it on Facebook, calling it “remarkable.” I could not resist watching and now you can be the judge.
Kutcher will play Steve Jobs in an upcoming movie, “Jobs.” Here is a Los Angeles Times story about his role. And it looks like he’s already echoing Jobs’ talent for inspiring people with his speeches.
March 20, 2013 at 8:50 AM
Even though the unveiling of Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods’ relationship on Facebook was as carefully orchestrated as a Broadway musical, announcing the relationship on Facebook actually makes them more like the rest of us.
Who hasn’t gone “awwwww” over the Facebook update that a friend “is now in a relationship?” That’s a prompt for me to beat a path to my friend’s Facebook page and post a facile comment: “Congrats!” “Yay!” “Excited for you!”
Facebook is how we now learn the most intimate news about our friends: marriages, engagements, birth of children and even death. I burst into tears in January when I saw “we’ll miss you” posts on the wall of a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer, Michael Triplett, a journalist and president of the National Lesbian Gay Journalists Association.
My grief was combined with shame. I had not even known he was so close to death. I hugged him when I saw him last July. I saw a status update that he went to church on Christmas eve. I should have reach out to him in a real way, through a card, a phone call — anything more meaningful than a “like” on his status updates.
The watershed moments posted on Facebook are real for the people we know. (Vonn and Woods for real? Who knows.) Those moments are almost real for the rest of us. Comments and likes complement but cannot replace a phone call, a card or getting up from your desk, walking over to someone and talking to them. I wish I had done that much for Michael.
March 14, 2013 at 8:28 AM
I understand that we are a city of nerds. Between the software engineers and the aerospace engineers in this city, there is nothing we love so much as an elegant proof, clean code and Seattle Repertory plays about troubled, genius scientists.
Today mathletes unite in celebrating Pi Day. It’s March 14, or 3.14.
Please call it what it is: Nerd Appreciation Day.
Like Secretary Awareness Day and Singles Awareness Day (aka Valentine’s Day), nerds need a day to fly their geek flag.
We could also call it Nerd Amnesty Day. For one day, teens are not allowed to cyber bully on Facebook. Trash cans in schools are removed so no nerds can be tossed in one. Everyone wears glasses.
The nerd numbers are exploding. Thousands of software engineers are multiplying inside the Amazon.com resurrection ships in South Lake Union. (If you get that reference to the TV show Galactica, you are a nerd.) Google is doubling the size of its campus in Kirkland, according to this story from the news side. (If you are a true nerd, you will be thinking to yourself: Google is so 2004.) The TV show “Game of Thrones” is holding its third season premiere in Seattle on Mar. 21. The set’s iron throne will be brought to Cinerama for the premiere. (If that excites you, you are a nerd.)
A true nerd would object to the fact that Pi Day only goes out two decimal points at 3.14.
True nerds would get up in the middle of the night to celebrate Pi Moment, which would be Mar. 14 at 1:41 a.m. and 55.29 milliseconds on the clock. (If my math is off, today is the one day during the year I won’t mind getting corrected by a nerd.)
February 5, 2013 at 2:47 PM
Sasquatch 2013 is going to be epic.
As if being treated Monday night to a free set from Built to Spill and a surprise performance by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis wasn’t enough, the crowd at the Sasquatch launch party whooped and squealed like teenagers as the festival’s full lineup was announced on a jumbo screen. (I know this because I was in the audience. )
Here’s the trailer that played at The Neptune:
I bought my early-bird ticket to Sasquatch the day after last Thanksgiving. I’ve never been to a music festival that required camping. Nor have I heard a band play at the fabled Gorge Amphiteater in Quincy, Wash. To say I’m “excited” about the whole thing is an understatement. My friends and I are ready to devise a plan of action. Got any advice to share? Feel free to post in the comments.
Bravo to Sasquatch organizers for assembling a stellar group of artists. I mean, they’re getting The Postal Service back together! It’s also great to see other Seattle acts in the line-up, including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Reignwolf. (Here’s two more northwest favorites: Youth Lagoon of Boise and Menomena of Portland)
I’ve been lucky enough to experience the South by Southwest and Austin City Limits festivals. These large-scale showcases are high-energy and overwhelming. Curating a list of “must-see” bands is essential. That’s my homework from now till Memorial Day weekend.
Music heaven awaits.
Here’s the official festival poster:
January 30, 2013 at 9:06 AM
Questioning whether a controversial Super Bowl ad by Volkswagen is racist ought to take each of us back to the question of what is beauty. Watch the ad and decide for yourself.
The ad features a white, average-looking guy walking around a corporate office dispensing “don’t worry, be happy,” style advice in a thick Jamaican accent. The juxtaposition of white guys, and one Asian, riding the VW depicting Island-style carefree living is hilarious.
But the VW-Jamaica ad is no ordinary car ad. Commercials run during the Super Bowl are the equivalent of Oscar night in Hollywood. They can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for just a few minutes of air time. Millions of people watch them and their reaction can sell a product or tank it. So of course VW was hoping to create a buzz. But the German auto company does not want to be viewed as racist. It can be a fine line.
They need not worry. The VW ad is edgy and funny, but it is not racist. It celebrates the optimistic, can-do spirit of Jamaicans and does it with a patois accent. An advertising executive told NBC’s Today show around 100 Jamaicans were interviewed before the ad was released.
UPDATE: The Jamaican government has officially endorsed the ad. Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill explains why. Not everyone agrees, New York Times columnist Charles Blow compares the ad to blackface, a discredited form of theatre that relied on racial stereotypes.