Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shirley Sherrod and the "scary" topic of race...

Okay, I kept seeing Shirley Sherrod's name in my time line on Twitter and I was curious about who she was and why her resignation was so important.

Now, as I was watching Nightly News this evening, they showed the clip that apparently started all the talk and my first thought was "Oh damn, lady! Why would you say that?!" Her losing her job, in that moment, after seeing that snippet, made sense. If I had seen a clip of a white woman making that same comment regarding a black farmer, especially with all the hell they've been going through, I would say "Heck yeah, she should resign!" The way this clip was shown makes one question her [Sherrod] ability to perform her job without prejudice. Now we all see that the comment was apart of something benevolent, not malicious. I've been busy today so I only just now found out what the ruckus was. My opinion on this? Give Sherrod her job back.

Fact is, she was explaining how working with this white farmer caused her to overcome her initial prejudice. She says in the video that she realized she "couldn't live with hate..." and that "we have to work together...it's sad that we don't have a room full of whites and blacks here tonight be[cause] we have to overcome the divisions that we have..." Sounds like someone reformed, to me. So why is the Department of Agriculture's Secretary, Tom Vilsack, sticking with this whole resignation? Why would the White House continue to back the decision, but say that they had nothing to do with the decision? The entire situation that Sherrod was discussing is something that happened long before she began working for the Department of Agriculture. So it's not like she carried her prejudice into the new job, right? Why stick to this decision when it has turned out to be a bad one, born of a sliver of an entire speech?

And the farmer, whom Sherrod helped, the one who was the topic of her story, supports her? He and his wife are appreciative of the work Sherrod did to keep them out of bankruptcy? Vilsack, White House, it is okay to admit a mistake and rectify it. Give Sherrod her job back.

Let me also say that the whole issue of race in the age of Obama is pretty crappy. Why? Because every time a case of race or racial discrimination pops up, folks want to say that the President has to be sensitive about the way it is handled. Now, in theory, this may be fine, maybe even accurate. But my problem is this: why the hell is it suddenly so important for our President to be sensitive to such issues? Shouldn't this have been required, expected, long before now? Every president should be required to handle race in a sensitive manner. You mean to tell me that the first bi-racial (or self-identified Black) President is incapable of handling race? So every white president prior to administration was automatically deemed capable? Were former presidents reminded almost daily of race and held to the fire when dealing with such a sensitive issue? I don't think so...to be fair, I cannot recall ever seeing this much coverage on the way The White House handled race. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

Oh! And to the NAACP? You stay losing! How can she be giving this speech, in its entirety, at an NAACP function, but the NAACP jumps on the bandwagon against Sherrod? The organization just can't seem to get right...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Welcome to New Orleans!

Last Thursday began the best trip I've had all year, so far. Perhaps it is because I went with a group of close friends? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I saw Janet Jackson perform live? It might even have something to do with the FINENESS that is Idris Elba and Michael Ealy? I think that the awesomeness of this trip was due to all of the above and then some. The next few post here on Methodical Madness will chronicle the great experiences I had while I was in New Orleans for this year's Essence Music Festival. It's safe to say that I will be in attendance at the festival in 2012, if not 2011 (hey, a girl's gotta live within her means, lol).

My friends and I decided that a road trip would be more financially responsible, so I and one other  drove the first leg of the trip, about six hours, to pick up the other two friends. They drove the last six hours of the trip to New Orleans. The drive was fairly uneventful, with the exception of two things. One, there was what looked to be a one car accident. It seems a car spun off the road and almost hit a tree; from what we could see, there was no damage. That said, the police, paramedics, and firemen were all on the scene. However, they didn't seem to pressed, especially not the paramedics. They were just chillin' on the side of the road. Maybe I overreact but I would think getting the person, who was pulled from the car, to the nearest hospital would be of foremost concern. But what do I know, lol. Two, as my friend was driving along and we were nearing New Orleans, she realized we were going over a bridge. This wouldn't be a big deal but she's somewhat uneasy about bridges. She asks her cousin if this is the major bridge, the one that is supposed to be the longest in the US. Cousin looks at her and tells her that this wasn't the one. Shortly after that fib, girlfriend realizes that this was indeed the bridge and she makes a move like she's about to pull over. I'm in the backseat like o_O, saying "Uh uh! You gotta GO! We can't stop here!" Then she wanted to look at the scenery and see the water that we were traveling over. Now, the sight was awesome, seemed like the water went off into the horizon forever, but for a person who is squeamish about bridges, that did not seem to be the best idea.

Anyway, after the bridge situation, we finally made it to our hotel and it was all about hitting the ground running. We were meeting up with another group who had already been in New Orleans for a full day prior to our arrival. The necessary phone calls were made and we were to meet the rest of the group at The House of Blues. After everyone got their shower time and changed clothes, we saw that it was a little after 10, so plans had to change. We decided to connect on Bourbon Street and out the door we flew.

Bourbon Street. What an experience. The sights! The sounds! The smells...

The first night of walking the street wasn't too bad. Just a bunch of folks having a good time and dancing in the street to the music blaring loudly from the various bars and clubs that line the street. It wasn't extremely crowded, but there were enough people to keep things interesting. People watching as we made our way to a restaurant for something to eat, we saw...eh...um..."Women of the Night"? Would that be the proper term for woman standing in the doorways of various clubs, wearing see-through fabrics and barely there underwear? Suggestively dancing while outright selling "it" on the street? *shrugs* To each his or her own, but I found it disturbing when I spied with my little eye, what looked to be a child walking around in the midst of this. One of my friends pointed him out and he didn't look to be a "little person", so I was blown away by that. I thought I was doing something when we walked Beale Street in Memphis! Nope, uh uh, Beale has nothing on Bourbon.

We made it to a little place called The Sugar Shack and grabbed some dinner there. I had my first crawfish Po'boy and it was DELICIOUS! With a side of fries and a Hurricane, I was feeling quite right by the time we left that place. We continued our exploration and danced to the music, collected beads that were being thrown from terraces above the street. I wasn't the best at catching the beads (my coordination wasn't the best at that time in the morning) but I made off with several necklaces *smile*

After checking the time, we thought it would be a good idea to head back to our respective hotels and get some rest because the festival was set to begin the next day, starting with seminars in the morning. Had to snap a quick photo before the night ended, of course.
Next post: Day One of my Essence Music Festival experience!

"Welcome to New Orleans" photo by thibautmarquis

Monday, June 28, 2010

Blogging While Brown Conference: Things I learned...

After the uncomfortable excitement of late Thursday evening and Friday morning, I was so happy to arrive in DC for the conference. Living in my small town, I get pretty psyched when I visit a big city. Now, don't have visions of me running around, throwing hats in the air a la Mary Tyler Moore via Synclaire James. I can walk the walk and look as though I belong *chuckle*. I took an amusement park ride, or shuttle, from the airport to the hotel. I swear, the driver was insane with the speed and whipping in and out of traffic, but I arrived at my destination safely. The Henley Park Hotel was very nice and check in was quick and smooth. Once I got to my room, I made the mistake of falling onto my bed. I did not want to get up! I was coming down from the adrenaline rush that kept me motivated for the majority of the day, but I jumped in the shower, got dressed and walked down the street to the center where the conference was being held. After registering, picking up my badge, bag, and schedule, I skipped the game night *sad face* and went back to chill at the hotel. I figured that while playing a few games and getting to know other attendees would be fun, but getting up in the morning for the various sessions would be rough if I didn't rest.

This turned out to be a great move on my part because I was wide awake and ready to go the next day.There were so much information given throughout the day. Here are some of the major points I took from the conference:

Stacey Ferguson's presentation focused on the requirement bloggers face regarding disclosure when giving reviews on various products. According to Ferguson, one can make a short disclosure state within the blog post and leave it at that. For example, if I receive a product in the mail, all I need to do is say so. Nothing long and drawn out; just say that I given Product A from Advertiser A.While I think, if taken at face value, it's a good idea, once you add the fact that everyone (like, major companies) aren't required to do the same thing, it becomes completely unfair. Gina McCauley made sure to point attendees to an FTC white paper that shows what the commission has "discussed" and how this can affect all bloggers.

Scott Hanselman gave a wonderfully informative, and funny, presentation and I was left with some cool things to consider regarding my blog. If you're serious about blogging, you need to use analytic tools so you can keep track of the traffic that visits your blog. Google Analytics is a good one to use and it's free. Mr. Hanselman also suggested the use of a "301 redirect". You might ask, "What is a 301 redirect?" Well, apparently there is a little trick one can use to redirect traffic to a different website. This comes in handy when bloggers , who have established themselves on one hosting website, want to redirect their readers to new websites. For example, I plan on using a 301 redirect to direct you to my website once it's up and running; pretty neat, huh?

While it was said that you shouldn't approach blogging as a way to get rich, I believe it was Nichelle Stevens who said that you may not become rich, monetarily, but your life can be rich, more fulfilling.Being able to set your own hours and being able to do something that you enjoy, to me, is a blessing. Now, since the ability to walk away from your 8 to 5 day job will not just simply happen, there are a few things that the panelists for the "The Business of Blogging" session suggested for success. It is important to plan; be strategic and know what you are blogging for and why. Serious bloggers should research and pay attention to what others are doing; I took this to mean, see what others are doing and put your own spin on it to make it your own.Make sure that you know your audience and make sure that your content reaches them. And, of course, keeping up the trends in technology is important for keeping one's blog up to date and relevant.

What I've listed are just a few of the suggestions that will will use to develop a better blog; these are the points that have stuck with me since the conference. I have some serious decisions to make regarding the direction I want to take Methodical Madness.

*photo by Adria Richards*

Monday, June 21, 2010

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Making my way to Blogging While Brown

My adventure began last Thursday afternoon, on what I thought would be a great day. See, I bought a round-trip Amtrak train ticket from Chicago to DC to attend the Blogging While Brown conference. Now, if you know my location, you may ask "Why would you drive all the way to Chicago to hop on a train?" Well, my rinky-dink town wanted to charge a price that was almost up there with the price of flying to the conference. So I decided to go with the cheaper of the two modes of transportation. Now, my plan was work until about 3pm that day and hit the highway soon after. You know what they say about the plans of mice and men, right? Well, it applies to women as well. People wanted to hit me with crazy problems at work, which I had to solve before leaving for the weekend...did I mention that I was handling the tasks of a co-worker who was on vacation that day as well? No? Well, I was and that led to my leaving the office fifteen minutes off schedule! Doesn't sound like a big deal, but since I needed to stop by the house and grab my bags, I ended up getting on the highway about thirty-five minutes late.

Not thinking of the fact that it's warm outside and not considering the time, I get on the highway thinking that I can easily do 80 MPH and make it to Union Station in time to board. That was quite foolish of me, I know. About an hour into my drive, and I'm doing pretty well on time, I hit a rough spot. Road construction, which is the enemy of everyone who happens to be running late. Traffic was backed up and I'm in the car, on the verge of breaking out in hives, because the clock is telling me that I'm simply not gonna make it to the train station. I keep pushing onward though, because I'm hoping that there was a delay of some sort (the irony of that wish will come back to bite me later).

After the constipation that was highway traffic, I finally made it to Chicago, for all the good it did. I'm looking for my exit, the one that will take me to the station, and lo and behold, that exit is closed. So I drive around to the next exit and have to make my way back to the right street. Mind you, the navigation tool on my phone keeps rerouting and it began to get confusing. I'm stressed and I have this annoying mechanical voice telling my to make a right when I can't, unless I want turn into oncoming traffic on a one way street (and being a stunt woman is not on my bucket list, I take a pass on that). So eventually, I find the train station and see that there is a self park area across the street. Looking at the on the dashboard, I saw that I was twenty minutes late. After doing a Google search for the train station's phone number, I called and found out that I definitely missed my train. Disgusted with the situation, angry at myself for not leaving on time, I got back on the highway and drove home angry and crying...yes, I cried. I figured I lost the money I spent on my train ticket and the money I spent on registering for the conference. That was a nice chunk of change to waste, so I figure I am allowed to shed some angry tears. I just drove three hours in an attempt to save money and ended up losing out on everything I spent AND I have to drive another three hours to get home!

Of course, as I drove back home, it hits me that there are other options. I simply needed to get home and start searching for solutions; and solutions I did find. I found a decent rate on a one way flight to DC, so I called Amtrak and told the rep what happened, asked if there was a way for me to use the return part of my ticket. Unfortunately no, that was not an option. However, the rep said that she could process a full refund of my money and that brightened my spirit tenfold. So I went to Priceline, after comparing airfares with other websites, and bought a plane ticket for the next day. After getting about four hours of sleep, I get up, shower, throw on some clothes and hop in the car to hit the highway again. This time I take Mom with me so I don't have to pay for parking; I figure she can drop me off, take the car for the weekend, and pick me up when I return. Sounds great right?

Guess what?

I. missed. the. flight.

Got mixed up and turned around with the directions and got to the airport a few minutes after the plane took off.

I know, I know...*whomp, whomp, whommmmp*...

Luckily, there was another flight to DC, albeit three hours later. So I got my ticket transferred and hopped on the plane and was on my way to the Blogging While Brown conference! Happy ending, right?

To be continued...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

If you could wake up as anyone tomorrow, who would it be?

Me...I have some rough days but all in all I'm happy being me...

Ask me anything

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Methodical Rant: Local NAACP...is there nothing else for which you can fight?

I came into the office today and my supervisor asked me if I had heard anything about the noise ordinance proposal for our city. I had heard some snippets on the news and it hadn't held my attention. Why? One, I am not one who needs to have my music blasting so loud that it will not only make the windows of my car shake, but the windows of your car, as well as your home, shake too. Two, while it is an annoying and frustrating occurrence, there are other things on my mind that I find more important. According to this SJR article, the new ordinance will tow your car on the FIRST offense. I'm silly so my first thought was that the tow truck would have to chase me down because you're definitely not towing my car with me in it and the key in the ignition. I agree with Ryne Goodrich, the current law should be better enforced and the fines imposed on the offenders should be collected more efficiently. Towing a person's vehicle the first time out is completely unfair.

Anyway, my supe goes on to say that our local NAACP is fighting against the proposal, claiming that racial profiling will be used to stop "certain" people (i.e. African Americans). She said that she doesn't think it's a white or black issue because in her neighborhood, there are plenty of "punk white boys" blasting their music and rattling windows in the neighborhood at all hours of the night. I couldn't disagree with her on that point; truth is, African Americans are not the only ones blasting music. So in theory, the ordinance would affect everyone guilty of this irritating habit. That said, after reading this another SJR article, I understand where the NAACP is coming from with the objection to the new ordinance. If the police target a particular area, it is way more likely that African Americans will be affected more than any other group. However, my question for the local NAACP is this: "Is there nothing else for which you can fight?"

My mom has been dealing with a lot of discrimination while working for the county and her phone calls have gone unanswered. She has left message after message after message, asking for help regarding the racial discrimination running rampant in the county. No response from our local branch. According to a family friend who works for an answering service in town, they get tons, TONS, of calls for our local NAACP branch. But all they can do it relay the messages, it is up to the local NAACP to acknowledge the phone calls. So while they are worried about a noise ordinance, folks are working in hostile environments that cause some to simply quit, retire from, or even lose their positions! I'm biased, I know this, it is affecting my mom and it has me pissed off, but even in my bias I know I'm not overreacting. Archie Lawrence, the president of our local NAACP chapter, needs to get the organization's priorities lined up. Some things are worth fighting for, and this noise ordinance isn't one of them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Methodical Product Junkie Review: The Clarisonic Mia

So, at the end of March I purchased the Clarisonic Mia after watching QVC (it also didn't hurt that they had the entire amount broken down into 3 payments...making it easier to work into my budget *smile*). There were several colors to choose from, so I chose the pink version since Clarisonic makes a donation to breast cancer research for every pink Clarisonic sold. My order was shipped and delivered in less than a week (I placed the order on 3/27 and it was waiting on my doorstep on 4/1).

According to the product description, the Clarisonic Mia is supposed to remove makeup, dirt, and oils six times more efficiently than regular cleansing (you know, using your hands to apply and massage the cleanser into your skin). The company also claims that the Clarisonic Mia reduces the appearance of pores and wrinkles. And, after cleansing with the Mia, your skin is supposed to be more receptive to moisturizers and serums. Sounds great, right? I was extremely excited to purchase the Mia and begin using it as apart of my daily cleansing ritual.

Once I removed it from it's packaging and read the instructions, I connected the Mia to it's charger (which is a really neat thing by the way). I began charging it that afternoon, which sucked since I wanted to use it immediately, but patience is a virtue. I used it the next evening, after giving it 24 hours as instructed. My order came with three different nonabrasive cleansers (normal to oily, all skin types, and normal to dry) as well as a replacement brush. It is important to note that when using the Mia, you are not supposed to use an abrasive cleanser with it. I'm not sure if it would be too much exfoliation or if the Mia would become clogged in some way, but the directions explicitly warn the user to refrain from using abrasive cleansers.

Now on to the good stuff!

Here's what my skin looked like before using the Clarisonic Mia:

Here's what my skin looks like after a month of using my Clarisonic Mia:

My breakouts have calmed somewhat; my skin is not as blemished as it was a month ago. The vibration of the bristles on the Mia seem to aid in exfoliation because my skin feels softer. I think that I may need to try a different cleanser, a nonabrasive one that affects acne breakouts. Another thing, my skin does seem to show the benefits of moisturizers and serums, but I will post a review on that later. I do not see a reduction in the appearance of my pores, which is one of the claims made by Clarisonic. I do not have any worries about wrinkles yet (thanks mom and melanin), so a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles is not applicable at this point.

All in all, I would recommend buying the Clarisonic Mia, but I am hoping that the improvements I have seen after five weeks of use will continue and after another few weeks my skin will be even more improved.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blogging from A to Z: Today's Letter...M for Mitrice Richardson...

In case you are unaware or, perhaps, have forgotten about this young woman, Mitrice Richardson is still missing. She has been missing since last September, after disappearing from the Malibu police station. I did a blog post about this a while back and you can read it here. Recently, a few things have occurred regarding this case; allegedly, there is a videotape of Richardson at the police station. This is "surprising" because the original claim by the police was that no videotape existed *side-eye*. According to the Malibu Surfside News, Richardson's mother, Latice Sutton, and a small group of others, were allowed to view this "non-existent" videotape. After the viewing, Sutton says, per Malibu Surfside News:
the video “supports [my] theory that [sheriff’s] officers could very likely be involved in my daughter’s disappearance.”
You can read the article here, but the gist is that the claims of the Malibu police station do not match up with what the videotape shows. Richardson looks agitated and is pulling at her hair, and rocking from side to side. This is a different picture than what the police painted originally. They said that they saw no signs of distress and that she seemed fine. They claimed this even after witnesses at the restaurant where she was arrested, said that she seemed to be under some sort of mental distress. Another cause for concern, is that the videotape allegedly shows an officer following Richardson out of the police department after she was released. So what happened after that? Did this officer see which direction she took? Did he speak to her? Did he offer to take her home? What happened? So far no answers. The family wants those who were at the station that night to be investigated and I can understand that completely, if for no other reason than the shady business regarding the "non-existent" videotape.

Another search occurred on March 28, this time in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. Apparently, there have been "sightings" in that area, so a group volunteered to search the area. It made sense to search this area; according to Chip Croft, who was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times:
With numerous homeless shelters, single-room occupancy hotels and social service centers, skid row is a place where someone like Richardson, who is thought to have had no money and may have been suffering from emotional problems, might end up...
In my earlier blog post, a commenter, arlee, brought up the idea of questioning the homeless community. Since many homeless people tend to have mental health issues, searching the Skid Row area for missing persons was a smart move. If it had been done sooner, maybe there would have been better results. The family of Richardson is also interested in questioning a man who was recently arrested for the sexual assault of a Malibu woman. Apparently this man, Christian Marcus Verdin, was living in the homeless community around the time that Richardson disappeared. Most recently, a drone aircraft was used to search the area surrounding the police station. According to the Malibu Surfside News, this drone was able to search areas that were unreachable by the search teams. The family is currently waiting for the results of this particular search.

Mitrice Richardson is out there, somewhere; my hope is that Mitrice is found, alive, and reunited with her family. I truly with the media would get on top of this case and put pressure on the police department to produce results. The shadiness of the videotape situation should cause concern  and be worthy of some media coverage. What the hell happened the night that Mitrice Richardson left that Malibu police station?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blogging from A to Z: "L" is for Library of Congress & LOL!

I was on one of my favorite sites today, Twitter, when someone sent out a tweet that said the Library of Congress will be archiving all public tweets, from March 2006 on forward. That's right, folks! If you thought Twitter was nothing more than sh*ts and giggles, you are WRONG! And, according to their website, the Library of Congress wants to congratulate you:
Have you ever sent out a “tweet” on the popular Twitter social media service? Congratulations: Your 140 characters or less will now be housed in the Library of Congress.
That's right! Congratulations go out to all those people out there "tweeting" a ton of foolishness! And I'm not talking about your average jokes. I'm talking about stuff that would make your elders blush and cut their eyes as you. Hey all you "Wang Wednesday" people you're about to be a part of history! And we can't forget those "Twitter After Dark" tweets! Oh this is such hilarity! I can't help but laugh out loud and shake my head at those who don't think it necessary to do a little self-censorship when tweeting. Now, don't get me wrong, are there some of my own tweets that I'm not thrilled about being archived? Hmmmm...no actually I feel pretty cool about it all' I haven't posted anything that I would be embarrassed by or would not want to stand by, so the idea of archiving my tweets doesn't faze me at all. But, I can say that I'm glad I haven't been reckless with my digital fingerprints; once you put stuff out there on the Internet, it's pretty much a wrap. This is how I've approached the entire social networking issue. If you don't want it known, better keep it to yourself.

photo credit: Jacqui Sadler on Flickr