Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Thursday Rant of the Week - Tyrese! Tag You're It!

So Tyrese gets kicked out of WJKS Kiss in Delaware for talking about liquor stores near elementary schools. Then Tweets it so they have their underwear in a knot about his expulsion. Here is Thursday rant- which I also posted on Your Black World's blog on this subject:

Oh, excuse me... is this the same I Gotta Chick Tyrese? That guy?
The one who could only find two black women for his video filled with women and his response to the why was "I held 2 days of auditions and I  went with the best." Couldn't find qualified black models- funny, I hear that all the time from companies in corporate America.
And his co-artists Tyga and R. Kelly. Really? That Tyrese? Tyrese said liquor store comment to get black folks distracted from the mess he is in for casting a certain look and type of woman in his video- hoping the black blogs would pick it up and support him , and on that he was he was right. 

Liquor stores should not be so prevalent in black communities period- neither should guys who date young girls. And as for Tyrese in his video I Gotta Chick- he has a drink (liquor) and a cigar (smoking) and a bunch of young girls grinding on anything that walks- including each other(sex) in that same video? What, and I should be happy about this bland statement he made in Delaware? Call me when Tyrese takes a stand like that in New York or Chicago. Maybe I might turn my head. For now, he needs to be boycotted along with the radio station I never heard of in Delaware for making a further mockery out of anyone not sharp enough to see his hypocrisy. I'm Just Saying. Next!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How the Godfather of Soul James Brown Helped Me Deal With Troy Davis' Execution

Looking for some way to make sense of the Troy Davis execution, I thought over and over again about the fact that he refused his last meal. Not that his act of refusal was more important than any other aspect of this case, but in it - his refusal that is, I was hoping to find some solace. I needed some meaning, philosophical or otherwise, that I could share with my son to help him, heck to help both of us deal with the execution of Mr. Troy Davis--an act that left us both speechless.

I was not sure if Mr. Davis would have refused his last meal had he known that unlike in 2008, he would not be granted clemency. Either way, there seemed to be more to it than met the eye. Was it an act of power, a demonstration of faith, a snub? Maybe it was all of the above. Around the dinner tables of his executioners, however, Davis' name would likely be no more than a bump in their conversation. "We executed that Davis boy tonight, honey, would you "Pass the Peas? Then Mr. Davis' name would probably drift off of their lips until the next execution hit the paper.  I decided to look to James Brown for more prophetic song titles to help sooth my angst, and his music was on point. James Brown helped me Get on the Good Foot.

The traditional last meal offered to inmates on death row (Texas last week abolished the last meal tradition), has been in existence since pre-modern Europe. The last meal, considered to have roots in superstition, was a symbolic gesture- more for the benefit of the executioners than the soon to be executed prisoner himself. Accepting the meal typically meant that the prisoner made peace with the host, and willingly participated in a symbolic oath of truce passing on all vengeance. In other words, in accepting the last meal the condemned was believed to forgive the executioner, the judge, and witness(es).

The last meal ritual was also supposed to prevent the condemned from returning as a ghost who would haunt those responsible for their killing. Well, I hope Georgia has Ghost Busters on speed dial.

When they decided to execute Troy Davis, people all over the world lifted their voices and picked up their pens like Mama used to pick up her Lickin Stick and gave Georgia one good whoopin. The opposition to  the execution of Troy Davis crosses gender, racial and generational lines. It spans beyond this the nation borders to foreign lands. Mr. Davis' death will not be another notch in Georgia's capital punishment belt. His cause is now much bigger than his questionable guilt.

When Mr. Davis was executed you could have knocked me over with a feather. I had to look around to make sure I was still Living in America. People from all walks of life begged Georgia "Please, Please, Please," Georgia, don't do it. Witness after witness recanted their testimony, and the world watched in disbelief. When it came close to the time of his execution, groups banned together saying in light of all of the evidence you wouldn't dare execute a potentially innocent men, would you? Georgia's reply?   Try Me.

So, despite protests in America, Paris and London, petitions signed by hundreds of thousands and pleas from Bishop and Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, former US President Jimmy Carter and The Pope himself, at 11:08pm on September 21, 2011 Troy Davis was put to death.

This Is A Man's World, but not for just any man. Lady Justice still sneaks a biased peek through her blindfold in the application of constitutional rights for some men.

As for Mr. Davis, there was new evidence but he would not get a new trial. No lie detector test. No clemency. Nothing. Prepped for the lethal injection, in his final words Mr. Davis again asserted his innocence from his death bed. Yes, Troy Davis Said it Loud, then he closed his eyes for the last time, black and proud, forgiving those who put him to death.

Georgia, like James Brown, I Got The Feeling, your death penalty days are soon coming to an end. Although you think you are Superbad and can do whatever you like, I for one am Gonna Have A Funky Good Time making sure that Troy Davis' death was not in vain. It took me a few days to get over it, but today I can see the silver lining in this cloud and I Feel Good. I spoke with my friends and my son- who was really distraught over your actions- and I know what I have to do, Get Up Get Into It and Get Involved. Here are just a few things I am going to do, and I welcome anyone who wants to change the environment of America for our youth to join me or any cause to make Troy Davis' death a catalyst for positive change.

Susan Taylor
1. I'm working with Susan Taylor to advocate for mentors for at risk youth through her National Cares Mentoring Program. This will help to keep our children safe, focused and on the right track. They need to know that they need NOT become Troy Davis but rather advocate for themselves, their peers and be the change they want to see in this world.

Lisa Nichols
2. I will continue to promote and support Lisa Nichols - listed in Essence magazine as one of the 28 Most Influential Black Women-  and her Motivating the Teen Spirit program. Lisa helps young men and women and adults transform their lives, so those headed for trouble can turn their lives around, and those who want to achieve more greatness can get there like she did. Lisa is one of my  mentors and I will remain in the transformational conversation to make sure I stay grounded and growing as well.

Judge Hart welcomes Me & 3L Participants
3. I will press forward with my program; 3L: Lawyers, Leaders and Lunch which is designed to increase high school graduation rates of young black men and other youth, introducing them to careers in the legal profession and politics while in public school.

4. I will continue to support fatherhood programs, our children need their fathers at home, and if not at home definitely dads must be active in their children's lives.

5. I will aggressively seek to reach all 10 million single mothers in the US alone with my talks and books for women, primarily single mothers. I will push and ask you to assist me in getting my book series, Single Mother the New Father, a vital book series that provides essential tips for women raising kids and holding up a household on their own. 

6. I will continue to use my skills as an attorney and work with my peers colleagues, friends and organizations to prevent such a travesty of justice from ever happening again on my watch.

2010 IMD Great Men of Excellence
7. I will expand my efforts to showcase Great Men of Excellence each November 19, on International Men's Day so the world will see much more than the negative aspects of manhood, especially black manhood. Black men like men of every race are smart, talented, valuable, worthy of respect, and their fate shall not be determined by the prison system.

Yes, Georgia - look out because it's on like Popcorn. Those of us who were shocked last week by Mr. Davis' death will be mobilized to deflect that Cold Sweat we had when you injected the killer cocktail in Mr. Davis' arm.  We will  Get Up Offa That Thing because you can't keep us down- so get ready for The Big Payback! Death penalty, don't get too comfortable because those of us who are against you will not give up the fight. Troy Davis is dead, but death where is your victory? I for one was too trusting in the system and that it would work for Troy Davis. I know differently now and I'm ready this time. Death Penalty, Papa's (and Mama) Got A Brand New Bag and Papa Don't Take No Mess.

Cathleen Williams is a practicing attorney, author and advocate for families living in the city of New York.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

At School's All Over New York- It's Raining Men!

This rainy morning in NYC is Dads Take Your Children to School Day. Over 120 schools all over New York from Brooklyn to Buffalo participated and the men were out in big numbers. At 7:30 AM  I watched as Dad after Granddad after uncle after Dad walked their children into school buildings this morning. The men did not just drop the kids off, they mingled for a while to hear keynote speakers, have breakfast and at PS 136 they even played a little basketball.  Men were all over the schools, whether they were on their way to work, out of work, going in late or coming from work- men filled the hallways and the auditoriums to participate in this eventful and important day. The smiles on the children faces indicated they were happy about Dad being around. One child was overheard telling his friends that his Daddy was next door in the auditorium. The schools treated the Dads well and welcomed them with open arms, telling them to come back as often as they could. The father's networked with teachers, administrators and each other. And some of them talked to me. It was a beautiful sight to see. Look out for my blog and film footage later this week, You can see for yourself, NYC Dads Care!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Dear US Open, How You Treated Serena, It Wasn't Cool-

Serena in the championship match

Congrats to Champion Samantha Stosur from Australia and to American finalist Serena Williams. BUT, What the US Open did was not cool, if I can borrow the words that Serena spoke to the chair umpire during the match.
Serena Williams, the only American woman standing, ... the only American in the championship at the US Open last night, 9/11 of all days, lost in straight sets to Sam Stosur of Australia. The fact that all of the Americans lost at home is not my primary issue. That happens a lot at the Open. As a matter of fact, but for Venus and Serena, we would have lost the majority of all of the major tennis tournaments in the last 10 years. My issue is that on American soil, we are so fixated on money that we chose to ignore the best interests of the women players in this tournament. 

The weather made the Open a challenge to coordinate all last week. Rain delays made it impossible to get the matches in so that the finals could be played on schedule. That said, the women played the semi finals on Saturday- the day that is usually reserved for the Woman's Final Championship match. The women were moved to play the finals on Sunday-normally reserved for the men. The men played the quarters and semi finals on Saturday also, but they were given more than 24 hours of rest and will play their finals a day later on Monday, allowing them a good amount of rest before the final match. 

Great, I think the men need the rest, tennis is a grueling game. Hard on the body. But the women need at least 24 hours to rest between matches as well. Here is what happened. On Saturday, Serena played the #1 Seed Wozniacki after the men's match late Saturday evening. Knowing that the winner of the men's match  would not play again until Monday afternoon, the USTA should have had the women play first and let the men play into the night. Instead, the women waited while the men played - time that they could have spent recovering and resting up for the Championship match the next day. This decision by the USTA proves that common sense is not so common.

 Billie Jean King, Chris Everett, Martina Navritilova, WHERE ARE YOUR VOICES IN SUPPORT OF WOMEN's tennis? Yes we now pay the women well, but do we have to kill their bodies in the process?  Most tennis fans suggest that the decision was because the money to be made on a full day of tennis is more important to the USTA than one unlucky American female player. 

Why couldn't the women play on Monday giving them the same amount of time as the men to rest. Was it that the USTA wanted to cash in on the Sunday matches? Is is because it is only woman's tennis- no big deal to the USTA or the fans? Is this typical of women's sports? I heard no outcry about this from the commentators male or female. I did  not hear any of the women players protest either. Am I the only person who sees a major problem with how the US treated possibly the best American female tennis players in the history of the game? I dare not play the race card, but I must ask this question, had this been Lindsey Davenport, Jennifer Capriotti or the true darling of American women's tennis Chris Everett -would the US Open/USTA have made the same decision?  I am just asking.

Women continue to have to fight for equality in professional sports. Even the prize money was unequal for years. The Australian Open started paying women equal prize money to the men in 2000. The French followed and reluctantly Wimbledon followed suit as recently as 2007. The US Open who has paid women equally for over 3 decades still thought it not robbery to make the women play stressful matches back to back.

After I ranted and raved at the television about Serena's  loss, I took a step back and watched her response. When Chase reps handed her a check for more than half a million dollars, she grinned like a Cheshire cat and talked about how great her opponent played. And her opponent did in fact play great tennis, but, Serena's level of play was not the same as it was throughout the entire tournament. So, what changed? Serena was visibly pooped. Beat down. Exhausted. Worn out. Mind you she didn't show it physically, but it showed in the way she played. It doesn't seem right to me, and it certainly was not cool. 

Serena was fined 2 Grand for the not cool rant
In the second set, Serena was down a set and fading fast into the second set of the match. She was trying to boost her own confidence and she hit a winner- or so she thought, and yelled to herself "C'MON"- as loud as tennis players yell when they get excited. Problem was that the point was not yet officially over and therefore was not yet a winner. The chair umpire penalized Serena for screaming during the point and gave a very critical point that would have been Serena's to Sam. Serena was clear about telling the umpire: "You have it in for me and I promise you, that is not cool."
Well, what was not cool was that she was on the court at that time in the first place. So, taking Serena's words, bold and underscored  I redirect them to the US Open and the USTA. Acknowledging that the women play less sets than the men means that you realize that their bodies are different. That putting less stress on the women is appropriate for the professional game. Why then would you have the women play final matches in less than 18 hours after the semifinals? It begs the question and I was flabbergasted, until I took a look at the prize money:

SINGLES (Men & Women - 128 Draws)
Serena and Sam
Winners (1)
Runners-Up (1)
Semifinalists (2)
Quarterfinalists (4)

What the US Open did to the women last night, it might not be cool, but it sure does pay well. As I watched Serena accept her check with a grin as wide as the Brooklyn Bridge, and her gorgeous diamond earrings glistening in the moonlight, I thought let me get back to work helping women understand how to help their children achieve excellence in life through sports. (Single Mother the New Father, Volume 1 : Sports, by Cathleen Williams). Serena's parents did a great job helping her keep focus. Many American's wanted Serena to win last night. I know I did. We can harp about how uncool so may things were, but at the end of the day, she was paid very well and she will be back next year. We can and should write to the USTA in support of the women on the tour, regardless of their race but in the meantime, let's get something positive out of this experience.

What is the lesson? Serena understands how to play this game- literally and figuratively. It is truly a reflection of life. How are you using this experience to help you or your children understand what happened to her last night? Did you explain this life lesson to your boys and your girls? Did you encourage your daughters to see the inequity and to stand up for the women and for themselves when they see injustice, but to not let it ever stop them? Did you encourage your boys to see the similarities in how the women were treated here and how women are often treated in other institutions in their lives? Did you show them that it is not the way they should treat women blindly without seeking the equity in all situations? 

Furthermore, unless they are writing a letter to the USTA, there is no point in  wasting time being upset over Serena's close to a million dollar loss? Instead teach them to be great sportsmen and women like Serena was last night, and show them that they should always be prepared to win. The most important thing however is that they show up. Take the time to provide them with the training they need to compete effectively in their sport and in life. Show your children what it takes to get to the top and how to conduct themselves when they get there, despite the inequities they may face.

There are very few Americans that made it to the semi-finals of the US Open and Serena was the ONLY American to make it to the Championship. That in itself is a lot of pressure. Add that she is the only black American to get past the round of 16 male or female, and the only black woman besides her sister in the woman's tournament and you get even more pressure. The Williams sisters are the only black women to win a major tennis tournament since Althea Gibson. Gibson, the first black woman to win a major tennis tournament won the French Open in 1956 and both Wimbledon and the US Open in 1957 and 1958, that was over fifty years ago.

Did you know that a black American male has not won a major title since Arthur Ashe who won the US Open in 1968, the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975? Did you know that Arthur Ashe is the ONLY black American male to ever win a grand slam? Surprising huh? What can your children - whatever their race, learn from those facts?
I wrote a book to help women learn how to effectively use sports to raise their kids, Single Mother The New Father, Volume 1: Sports. If women took advantage of the sports world and understood how much it could help their children, an entire industry could open up to our kids. In this time of economic crises in the United States, it is important to use everything at your disposal to help your children be successful. Sports can help them get a better education, and as shown by the way Serena handled herself in the end last night, it can teach us all an awful lot about life. Just as in life, it is all how you handle yourself, and how you look at things. When you handle the worst of situations and you don't let the situation handle you, even when you lose, you win. Thanks Serena, you taught us well. See you next year!

I'm Just Saying,