Archive for August, 2007

“Read a Book”–Racist or Brilliant?

Gender, Pop Culture, Race No Comments »

Several weeks ago, while watching clips on YouTube to cure my boredom, I stumbled across the following video. When it was finished, I sat at my desk with my mouth agape. I was quick to label the video as racist and refused to believe the poster’s comments that Black Entertainment Television aired it on their music video countdown show “The 5ive.” Certainly BET wouldn’t air a video that urges black men to follow Sesame Street worthy directions such as brushing their teeth and drinking water?
     I did some research and found out that the song was recorded by D’Mite, a D.C.-born hip hop poet, and that the video was indeed aired on BET. Its premiere created quite a firestorm, with some viewers calling for a boycott of the network while others praised the artist’s confrontational message. Apparently D’Mite’s previous tracks elicited criticism because his lyrics were “too smart” for hip hop fans. “Read a Book” is his way of sending messages similar to his other songs, but with dumbed down, offensive lyrics (“raise your god damn kids,” “read a motherfuckin’ book,” “wear deodorant, nigga”) and an ironic twist—since most viewers seem to glorify stereotypical symbols such as guns, 40s, and sex (so prevalent in mainstream music), he gave the audience what they wanted.
     Although the story of the song’s development made me take a step back and think about how it might be considered a positive song, a sort of call to action, I still cannot come to terms with some of the imagery. While black men are encouraged to educate themselves, purchase land, and treat their bodies well, the video continues to portray black women as nothing but sexual objects. Four black women wear tight pink jogging suits with the word “BOOK” displayed across their asses, which shake with the beat of the song. According to the video, the purpose of brushing one’s teeth is to attract the attention of women. If your breath is fresh, a sexy woman will jump your bones; on the other hand, the scent of halitosis will kill said sexy woman.
     Like most people, I am so inundated with media on a daily basis that it takes an extraordinary book/song/film to linger in my memory. D’Mite’s harsh message has stuck with me for weeks—it is so “in your face” that I am having trouble forgetting about it for good. Which may be exactly what he had in mind…

Le Sigh

Random, Writing 1 Comment »

After a series of unfortunate events (damn you TuitionPay!), it looks as though I will not be able to take a class this fall. Le sigh. When I signed up for another semester of TuitionPay, a company that makes one lump sum payment for your tuition and then bills you monthly, I chose the 10 month payment plan because it seemed like a much more affordable option than the usual 4 month plan. When I received my tuition bill last week, it stated that I still owed $1,700 for fall tuition—whaaaaat?
    

The sickly sweet TuitionPay representative told me that since I chose the 10 month payment plan, the company only releases half of my requested amount of money each semester and that there is no way to change it. Great. So, pending an anonymous donation from someone who wants to make an investment in a future gender/sexuality/media theorist (ha ha!) I am shit out of luck.
    

Besides all of the negative aspects of skipping a semester (not graduating until 2009, maybe missing out on a PhD level course, the missed euphoria of new books and syllabi, etc.), I am trying to look on the bright side. When I start back again this spring, my tuition will be fully paid up. I will have ten months to save money for my final three courses instead of just squeaking by each semester. And I can devote the 20+ hours a week spent on class and homework to other endeavors, such as:

  • Writing, getting published, making money. Apparently, I only work well with charts, graphs and goals. Otherwise, I spend my writing time on really important activities such as reading back issues of Entertainment Weekly and watching Hell’s Kitchen. My newest plan involves writing $500 worth of articles or query letters per week. I figure if I write at least $2,000 in articles or query letters each month, something has to actually pay off in the end!
  • With Dan’s help, redesigning this website. I would really like to incorporate a WordPress format, so I can update my own blog. And the pink needs to go.
  • Doing some fun things just for me. I am really looking forward to the monthly book club I just joined at the Center for New Words. We are currently reading Monique and the Mango Rains, which is an excellent book so far. I’m also excited about the end of summer hours at the YMCA, so I can go back to swimming by myself during their late hours.
  • Using my hard-earned money to take care of some things I’ve been neglecting since I started grad school. I desperately need a haircut (my ponytail is starting to look like it should be hanging from a horse’s ass), a bedspread, an oil change, and new glasses.