Charlotte Say Hello to Uptown Magazine

Uptown magazine is expanding their local edition publishing efforts. In addition to their national publication, they will begin publishing a Charlotte version the first week in February. Uptown is a luxury, lifestyle publication geared toward influential African Americans within the ages of 25-44. The fabulous publication has local editions in New York, DC, Chicago and Atlanta. Hey Uptown, where is the Los Angeles version!!! We’re waiting…

Check out Keija Minor on Uptown.




CB’s Green Report: Obama’s Greenies

Just what we need, a new energy and environmental team. According to Wednesday’s New York Times, Obama’s transition officials said he has selected several key members of this team. For the Secretary of Energy position, Obama has chosen Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Stephen Chu, who also serves as the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. And officials stated he will chose Los Angeles’ deputy mayor for energy and environment, Nancy Sutley, to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Obama’s officials sound as though his selections for head of the Environmental Protection Agency and climate czar are a bit less certain. He has supposedly selected Lisa P. Jackson, New Jersey’s former commissioner of Environmental Protection. If confirmed, Jackson would be the first African American to head the U.S. E.P.A.

And it appears as though Obama’s going to give the top White House position on climate and energy policy to President Bill Clinton’s E.P.A. administrator, Carol M. Browner. If Obama selects Browner, who was an Al Gore follower, she is assumed to have support from several key members of Congress like Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and Representative “Henry A. Waxman of California, who will be the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senator Barbara Boxer of California, who is returning as chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.” Hopefully, Obama’s choices will work out well because he has a tough road ahead to meet his goal of reducing global warming emissions and creating more “green” jobs.

Can you believe there are E.P.A. fugitives? Well, believe it! The Environmental Protection Agency has a web site that list all of the fugitives sought by its Criminal Investigation Division. Are you wondering what gets you on the environmental bad guys list? The site gives a case summary and how to report information about them in case you see one. It’s like America’s Most Wanted for environmental criminals. (I can hear the theme song playing. “Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Bad Boys. Bad Boys.”) Surprisingly, Bush and members of his administration are not listed.

This report wouldn’t be complete without green gifts for the holidays. CleanTechnica has a list of the 8 Best Green Gadget Gifts. Some of the items include a power strip that tells you the energy efficiency of your appliances with a numerical reading, and a wind-powered electronics charger. These are just a few of the gifts. Pretty cool stuff for the greenie in your life.

Note: Also featured on Pop + Politics




Why Oh Why NPR? Not “News & Notes”

A fellow blogger over at Culture Kitchen tells it straight about NPR’s recent cuts. Over the past couple of days, it has become known that NPR cut two shows: “Day to Day” and “News & Notes.” According to Culture Kitchen, both of these shows were the network’s effort to reach out to new listeners. “Day to Day” was a midday show that sought younger listeners. And “News & Notes,” hosted by Farai Chideya (a friend), delivered the news commentary for the day from a much-needed African American perspective.

Honestly, I am personally bummed out by the decision. I have friends there who have lost their jobs. And I have fellow aspiring journalist colleagues who had hoped to work there. For some, NPR was the last place of hope for encouraging new and diverse voices, and a strong possibility for a job. I hope this economy improves so that NPR and other media can deliver its promise of representing all of the voices in the American community.

-The Caramel Bella




A Browser for Black People, Huh?

Yes, it’s true. It’s called Blackbird (powered by Mozilla) and it was designed by African Americans for African Americans (kind of like FUBU). The free browser was developed with these Pew Internet 2004 findings in mind: “(1) there are 20 million African Americans online who need tools to build and foster community now more than ever, (2) 85% of African Americans prefer online news and information from the Black perspective, and (3) African Americans are twice as likely to be among the first to discover new trends and use advanced technology compared to the general population.”

Blackbird’s goal is to make it easier for black people to find African American news and relevant content online, interact with members of the African American community, share stories and comments, and watch videos through the browser.  The video section features content from online TV sites like DigitalSoulTV, NSNewsTV, UptownLiveTV and ComedyBanksTV. To me, the best part of the browser idea is the ‘Give Back’ program, which gives donations to several nonprofit organizations. Blackbird also plans to give 10% of its 2009 revenues to their nonprofit partners, which seems pretty generous.

This browser opens up an interesting conversation around “what is black content?” Is the content provider black? Or is it content written with black people in mind? And by the way, who is considered black? Will content by and for people of multi-ethnic and bi-racial backgrounds be included? Hmmm..

In addition to the questions surrounding a “black browser,” I’m not entirely convinced black people needed a “separate” black browser. (Maybe I just love my Firefox one.)  Who knows? It might be just what my life was missing.




Black Muslim Says Race, Not Religion, Is the Issue

He looks like most Americans (well, African Americans). And you definitely can’t tell he is a Muslim by his appearance. So, it would be difficult to target him based on his religion.

“I look like a regular black man in Washington, DC,” said Omari West, a 35-year old American Sunni Muslim. “Do I get targeted as a black man, now that’s another case?”

Although West acknowledges that religious bigotry against Muslims exists in the United States, he believes the primary issue is still race.

Some Americans still “cling” to the inaccurate beliefs that Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim or was sworn into Congress on the Koran instead of the bible. And as shown in a recent McCain rally, there is a portion of the American population who believes Obama is an Arab. And they’ll shout it as an insult to prove it.

West, who was born into his Islamic faith, says the Arab slur is a cover for their true beliefs.

“It’s no longer politically palatable for people to openly admit that they don’t favor a candidate because of his skin color. [African Americans] have gone through a long hard battle in this country to win the right of dignity and respect, at least in the public square.”

West attributes the veiled use of the word, Arab or Muslim, as a code word for “other” or an even more derogatory word used against Black people.

“It’s more convenient and less controversial for someone to call Obama a Muslim then it would be to call him the n-word.” That’s how the coding works.

West explained how that process occurs in multiple unconscious, yet subversive, psychological steps.

First, to tarnish Obama’s reputation, his enemies use his name Barack Hussein Obama to distinguish him and thereby paint him as an “other.” In the senator’s case, all three of his names are easily associated with the Islamic faith, said West.

“The name, Barack Hussein Obama, is of east African derivation,” said West. “It’s Arabic.”

West says the next stage is “to paint him as an enemy by associating him with Arabic and Muslim extremists.”

Obama’s middle name has received a lot of media attention because of its similarity to the notorious Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Hussein, who committed violent acts against his own people, was a Sunni Muslim.

“All of the Arab talk is code word for his skin color and voicing disapproval as a form of racial bigotry, which can’t be openly discussed,” said West.

West, who is an American-born Muslim, thinks that the veiled Arab attacks against Obama are working. He thinks the focus on race can be shown in Obama’s wavering support among union workers despite their leadership’s endorsement.

West, a graduate of Columbia’s law school and its undergraduate journalism school explained:

“Usually democrats are pro-labor because of the economic issues. They push for higher wages, unionization, etc. As a result, union workers generally vote Democratic. There is a question now whether the rank and file members will follow behind the union leaders and vote for Barack. The argument could be made that people care more about racial and cultural issues than economic.”

A recent New York Times article points to race as a reason for Obama’s lack of support from union members.

“I think race is playing a major part,” said Mac Davis Slade, a political activist with the painters’ union, to the NYT. “I think that’s why some people say, ‘Isn’t he a Muslim?’”

Although race and religion are being used against Sen. Obama, West said it is part of the reason he is supporting him for president.

“I do think those reasons – his race, culture, name and experience – go into making him the person that he is today. They are not separate from what he brings to the table. However, the most important reason is I think he’s the most competent person for the job,” said West.

The owner of his own international economic consulting firm, West explained that Obama was his choice because of his leadership on several issues like the war. He also admired the Senator’s qualifications as a legislator and his impact on international relations if elected.

In terms of overall voting patterns for Muslims, West thinks they historically lean right on moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage. However, in this election people of all religions will have to consider a hierarchy of issues, which include national security, education, civil rights and civil liberties. And on these political issues, West said Muslims lean left or Democratic. A 2007 Pew study confirms that only 11% of Muslims lean right or consider themselves Republican and 63% identify with the Democratic party.

“It’s not because we’re any less pro-life or in favor of gay marriage from a faith standpoint. There are other factors that our lives depend on in this race,” said West.

He hopes the next president sets a tone of tolerance, and encourages a sharing of ideas and strengths among people of difference. This leader would point to how the variation among faiths and traditions all come from the same source, God.

Quoting from the 49:13 verse in the Koran, West states, “We have created you of a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other.” For him, this statement means we learn more about ourselves by encountering and understanding the “other.”

“We are all brothers and sisters under God,” says West, “we’re all viewed as equals.”

Note: also appeared on HuffingtonPost.com and PopandPolitics.com




Mixed Praise for Tyler Perry’s “The Family that Preys” Movie

Tyler Perry, the one-man writer-producer-director, has done it again with his latest weekend box office hit. In his recent movie “The Family that Preys,” he created an entertaining and funny film with a with an easy-to-follow, and sometimes a bit too predictable storyline. And true to Perry fashion, no matter whether the tale turned sad or sweet, humor was present at every step.

“The Family that Preys” is about two southern families that are tied together by the interracial friendship between the matriarchs, Alice Pratt (Alfre Woodard) and Charlotte Cartwright (Kathy Bates). The issues of race, class, adultery and interracial relationships are played out mostly through the lives of their children.

Perry’s characters were a bit one-dimensional. They were either good or bad; likeable or not. Andrea, played by Sanaa Latham, was a successful, Harvard-educated financial professional who lands a high-paying job at Charlotte Cartwright’s development company. Although Andrea had the good job, education and money, she ended up being the classless sister who talked down to her hard-working mother, Alice, and sister Pam (Taraji P. Henson) who both worked in her mother’s diner. Depicted as the ingrate, Andrea’s character became super un-likeable after the audience realized that her big paychecks were the result of her affair with Charlotte’s son, William (Cole Hauser) instead of her Ivy League education.

(more…)




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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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