My name is Danielle Belton and I am Bipolar. But don’t worry. I don’t introduce myself in person that way. Continue reading
I wrote a piece for The Root about legendary choreographer Carmen de Lavallade. You can read it here, but I think it’s a lot more fun to watch her dance.
In a recent post for The Root I write about how VH1 has managed to get away with the kind of mess people would have blown up BET for. Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? I don’t know. But it sure is an ironic thing.
VH1, now known more for Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta than its beginnings as a sort of MTV for old people, was initially an unexpected rival. VH1 has gone through a few incarnations, while BET has always been BET: Black Entertainment Television. Yet it’s VH1 that is home to one of the highest-rated reality shows on cable, the aforementioned Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, and is now the No. 1 network in African-American households, followed by BET and OWN.
VH1—which, like BET, is owned by Viacom—started producing more and more African-American reality shows and original programming in the mid-2000s, beginning with the offensive and outrageous car wreck Flavor of Love in 2006. Since then VH1 has been home to several African-American-led reality shows, including Basketball Wives, T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle, LaLa’s Full Court Life, Marrying the Game, Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood and Atlanta Exes. The network also started producing dramas with African-American stars, starting with the Queen Latifah-produced Single Ladies and continuing with last summer’s cheerleader drama Hit the Floor.
Although BET has produced reality shows, none has ever caught fire like the over-the-top antics of a Mona Scott-Young production or a table-hopping Basketball Wives fight. I wonder, is there a reason for that, and does it have to do with what black audiences expect of BET versus what they will accept from VH1?
“Everything old is new again,” actor and civil rights activist Denise Nicholas told BuzzFeed News. “Whoever thought we would be dealing with voter suppression after the civil rights movement? All these years later, we’re still dealing with the issues that we dealt with in the ’60s. It is absolutely crazy. I’m not surprised. Why did it have to happen? Why couldn’t they do their due diligence and find somebody in the first place?”
– From Kelley Carter’s “Inside Hollywood’s Shocking Blackface Problem“
With this never-ending tragedy of home crimes revolving around the NFL, we’ve now transitioned from one form of domestic violence to another — from beating your spouse to now beating your child, thanks to accusations against Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson. When Ray Rice was caught on video tape punching his then fiance, there were those few murky Ray Rice defenders, but there were many more people and players admonishing Rice. Punching your partner is wrong, almost everyone seemed to agree. Knocking her out is violent abuse. But Peterson gets accused of hitting his four-year-old and the response among some African Americans is a bit more problematic. A lot of “Yeah, but …” mixed in with the “child abuse is wrong.” Instead the message is more “child abuse is relative and yeah, I was beat, and I turned out fine, so don’t try to convince me otherwise, but people should be allowed to beat their kids, here’s a Bible quote that backs my belief system.”
But probably the most bizarre are always the people who are “proud” of being beat and “proud” of beating their kids. These individuals are always the loudest, as if not understanding how uncouth the whole mess is, that it’s not necessarily anything to be proud of and even if you’re fine with corporal punishment, why oh why would how violent a beating is be a regular competition among black people when the beatings got mixed results at best? For every kid that turned out fine for being beat, there’s an entire prison system filled with kids who were beat and for which it did no good and may have even made things worse. So why so much pride in a system that seems arbitrary in whether it works or not?
Oh, chronic depression. My greatest (and most annoying) foe. Who knew that “stability” would mean still juggling a low level malaise every few weeks until forever?
Back in 2007 when I gave up writing it was because I thought my obsessive writing made me unhealthy. At the time, I was obsessively working on novels and screenplays, short stories, poems and songs. I wrote when I was depressed. I wrote when I was manic. It was all consuming. The only real break I took from it (since my day job as a newspaper reporter also involved writing) was after a hospitalization in 2006. I felt my obsession with the stories I created in my mind were part of the problem. They kept me from dealing with my reality, which was not as interesting as some wild story idea I’d concocted or a musical I’d become obsessed with composing. In fact, my reality was pretty bleak at the time, but only by confronting it was I eventually able to deal with it. Continue reading
Richard Prince, one of my favorite journalists who writes about journalists, broke my heart the other day when he posted on his Journalisms blog that Tell Me More, an NPR staple since 2007, was being canceled. Tell Me More, which is hosted by Michel Martin, was one of the best shows on NPR and was the only show targeting a diverse audience.
Also, Martin is my friend and I don’t know if I’m fully prepared to “accept” that this show is being sacrificed for NPR’s financial bottom line. And I don’t think we, as fellow writers, journalists, friends of Michel and listeners should simply “accept” it either. Continue reading