Wednesday, April 2, 2008

9-year-old Girls Pimped in Afghanistan

Hey guys, I know there are no picutes, (boo hoo, huh?) but I ran across this sad truth in NEWSWEEK and thought I'd share it with you all. :-(

The Opium Brides of Afghanistan

In the country's poppy-growing provinces, farmers are being forced to sell their daughters to pay loans.

Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau


Mar 29, 2008
Khalida's father says she's 9—or maybe 10. As much as Sayed Shah loves his 10 children, the functionally illiterate Afghan farmer can't keep track of all their birth dates. Khalida huddles at his side, trying to hide beneath her chador and headscarf. They both know the family can't keep her much longer. Khalida's father has spent much of his life raising opium, as men like him have been doing for decades in the stony hillsides of eastern Afghanistan and on the dusty southern plains. It's the only reliable cash crop most of those farmers ever had. Even so, Shah and his family barely got by: traffickers may prosper, but poor farmers like him only subsist. Now he's losing far more than money. "I never imagined I'd have to pay for growing opium by giving up my daughter," says Shah.

The family's heartbreak began when Shah borrowed $2,000 from a local trafficker, promising to repay the loan with 24 kilos of opium at harvest time. Late last spring, just before harvest, a government crop-eradication team appeared at the family's little plot of land in Laghman province and destroyed Shah's entire two and a half acres of poppies. Unable to meet his debt, Shah fled with his family to Jalalabad, the capital of neighboring Nangarhar province. The trafficker found them anyway and demanded his opium. So Shah took his case before a tribal council in Laghman and begged for leniency. Instead, the elders unanimously ruled that Shah would have to reimburse the trafficker by giving Khalida to him in marriage. Now the family can only wait for the 45-year-old drugrunner to come back for his prize. Khalida wanted to be a teacher someday, but that has become impossible. "It's my fate," the child says.

Afghans disparagingly call them "loan brides"—daughters given in marriage by fathers who have no other way out of debt. The practice began with the dowry a bridegroom's family traditionally pays to the bride's father in tribal Pashtun society. These days the amount ranges from $3,000 or so in poorer places like Laghman and Nangarhar to $8,000 or more in Helmand, Afghanistan's No. 1 opium-growing province. For a desperate farmer, that bride price can be salvation—but at a cruel cost. Among the Pashtun, debt marriage puts a lasting stain on the honor of the bride and her family. It brings shame on the country, too. President Hamid Karzai recently told the nation: "I call on the people [not to] give their daughters for money; they shouldn't give them to old men, and they shouldn't give them in forced marriages."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Does This Make You Angry?

OK, OK, by now I'm sure many of you have seen and/or heard of NBA basketball player LeBron James and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen "gracing" the April 2008 cover of Vogue magazine.


Well, after the release of the cover (left photo), online magazine and blog sites such as and and even Chicago's leading newspaper, The Chicago Tribune, are recognizing that it depicts undertones of racism. According to, "James strikes what some see as a gorilla-like pose, barring his teeth, with one hand dribbling a ball and the other around Bundchen's tiny waist."

And folks, where else have we seen this grusome image before? You've guessed it, from the 1933 film King Kong, which features the infamous King Kong himself and the helpless and frail Fay Wray.

However, "King James" is the fourth African-American, third man, and the first African-American man to appear on the cover of the magazine and Vogue's spokesperson Patrick O'Connell told The Chicago Tribune that the magazine "sought to celebrate two superstars at the top of game for the magazine's annual issue devoted to size and shape."

As a result of the whole thing, many blacks are pullin' the "race card" and angered over Vogue's decision to choose the "King Kong photo" versus the "more civilized photo" (right photo) for its cover.

And I am no different. Like many others, I recognize that these things do not happen by accident and that there is an underlying race issue in the choice of photo, BUT after reading a response by FOX Sports critic Jason Whitlock, I have less sympathy for the situation and have asked myself, "If Lebron, Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman, and any other black professional athlete who has appeared on covers of magazines (and any other medium) do not mind being used as puppets to portray the sterotypical dangerous, animalistic, savage, criminal, aggressive, threatening and beastly black man, then why in the hell should I?"

You see, we seem to have forgotten about Barkley's March 2002 cover of Sports Illustrated in shackles and chains and Rodman's December 1996 cover of Rolling Stone with horns thrusting out of his head.

We seem to have forgotten that according to Whitlock, "The photographer captured James exactly as he is...covered in tattoos...and mimicking a death-row immate."

Oh yeah, and we also seem to not have thought that maybe we would not be upset if the same photo appeared on the cover of a black magazine with "King James" and a black woman. (The same way we do not get upset when watching black women being degraded in our own music videos and song lyrics, but wait, I've covered that before haven't I?)

I mean, come on I've asked the issue really the degradation or the source of it?


Friday, March 21, 2008

What You Should Know About Cell Phones And Your Privacy

Cheating on your significant other? Sharing confidential information you don't want exposed? Have a patent for world peace, AIDS, or world hunger?

In this day and age of new technology, there is no doubt that we are being tracked at every level of our society and that there truly is no such thing as privacy anymore. Our government is allowed to keep tabs on us and know our every move from the clothes we pick out at night to wear to the cereal we eat in the mornings. BUT, did you know that anyone, for as little as $8 can monitor your life through a cell phone? If you are concerned about your privacy and how it could be jeopardized simply by using your cell phone, watch this video:

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Ever had one of those days? OK, well right now...have a good day folks...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Do We Unconsciously Patronize Degrading Rap Lyrics?

Today many rap protagonists argue that since the explosion of hip hop in the 1980s, the rap game has changed tremendously. With the transformation of how "old school" songs covered topics such as politics and empowerment to now discussing more materialistic things such as money, cars and women, rap legends like Jay-Z and Nas say that the power of rap music has died and will never be the same.

One of the most common and chief complaints of today's rap lyrics is the constant degrading it gives to women, primarily those of the African-American race. In the heat of racial comments made last year in reference to the Rutgers womens' basketball team by white, radio talk show host Don Imus, many activists began to question even further whether these degrading lyrics are partly to blame for the black culture's insensitivity and disrespect to its women.

As an African-American woman, I strongly believe rap and hip hop artists help to create and sustain a tarnished image of the general black woman; however, I also know there are ways to combat it, and most importantly, such behavior is only proved more acceptable and valid when tolerated by those in which it degrades.

For example, in the lyrics of rap artists The Game and Kanye West's song, Wouldn't Get Far, women are called "bitches" and "hoes," and those referred to as "video vixens" are even more degraded. The song goes on to further to explain that these women will do WHATEVER it takes to get to the top by saying, "She a video vixen, but behind closed doors she do whatever it take to get to the Grammy Awards," which is followed by a faint laugh by The Game himself.

Upon hearing these lyrics, I was sure (or rather hopeful) there would be some type of uproar by black women across the nation and a boycott that left the artists in search of "props" for their video, but much to my dismay, the video contained several sistas' unconsciously (or in some cases, consciously) owning up to the lyrics that degraded them so heavily. In addition, I saw blacks, both male and female alike, bump the song proudly in their cars, homes and wherever else there was a stereo.

Networks such as Black Entertainment Television (BET) promote the showing of videos by black, male R&B and rap artists, who often feature nothing but the fairer-skinned sistas' and those who are not even sistas' at all in their videos where the "main girl," "wifey figure" or "wholesome woman of interest" is portrayed in a positive light. Seldom do we see these roles portrayed by women who have clear African features. Instead, these types of sistas' can be found in the lead roles as "vixens" of videos whose lyrics call for "rockin' yo hips," "booty shakin'," "pop, lock and droppin' it" and let's not forget the infamous "tip drill." In my opinion, this exhibits the internalized racism among blacks in the industry.

While I have nothing against women who choose to be in videos, (We all make our money some way and that is how they choose to make theirs.) I do hope thes women learn to choose their gigs circumspectly, being careful not to be disrespected in the process of making a few hundred dollars. Whether they realize it or not, videos serve as visuals for songs, and by offering to be in the video, they become the women in the songs; moreover, patrons of the lyrics.

As a black woman, it angered me to hear of the words, "nappy-headed hoes" uttered from Don Imus' mouth as a mockery to another group of black women; however, it angers me even more to hear the exact or worse words come from the mouths of rap artists in songs, and to see "us" find it acceptable.

Because the statement came from a white man, many blacks were in an uproar and wanted immediate action taken, but my stance is the same...despite whom or where the words came from, they should have the same effect. Neither should be tolerated.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Def Jam Artist "Rocko" Makes Stop At ASU

(Rocko and I)

"You just do you, umma do me...umma do me...umma do me..."

While many of you have already bumped the beats of these lyrics in your stereo, for those of you who have not, meet Atlanta native and Def Jam Island Records artist Rodney Hill, better known by his alias, Rocko. His hit single, "Umma Do Me," has topped Billboard charts as well as videocountdowns like BET's 106th and Park and his album, Self Made, is scheduled to hit stores March 18th.

On a stop during his Self Made promo tour in Montgomery, Ala., Rocko took out a few minutes to answer some questions about his music during an autograph signing at Alabama State University.

Me: How would you describe your music?
Rocko: "If I had to, I would say it's astronaut music 'cause it's out of space."

Me: Was there any particular reason why you wanted to be a rapper?
Rocko: "Well, at first I was cash motivated until I started writing music and realized how much people liked what I was doing. So, it went from being all about the cash to being about the craft."

Me: Growing up, who are some of the artists who inspired you?
Rocko: "When I was younger, I used to listen to west coast artists like NWA, Eazy-E and Ice Cube, but when I got a little older, I became interested in southern artists like 8Ball and MJG and the Geto Boys."

Me: Your album drops on March 18th, so do you have any collaborations people can look forward to?
Rocko: "I really wanted to keep it all me, but I do have two R&B singles with Lloyd and Monica. I also have a mixtape called Swag Season and it features some rap artists like T.I., Geezy and Rick Ross."

Me: In your opinion, why should people buy your album?
Rocko: "It's quality music and because I'm the new kid, the new voice of the south."

Me: Do you consider your music rap music that people can dance to?
Rocko: "No, I don't do novelty records. All my music is real, real music."

Me: Last question, what do you think about people who say that hip hop is dead?
Rocko: "It's up to them because I'm gonna keep doing what I do. I don't classify my music as hip hop, but instead I call it swag music, so maybe hip hop is dead."

Click the link below to visit Rocko's Official Website:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"He may not be the coolest, but I swear he is the cutest..."

OK, I guess now would be a fine time to admit my undying love for crush on lyricist Lupe Fiasco. Isn't he the cutest thing? Anyways, I'm sittin' here listening to some of his music right now (as usual) and it's some good stuff. Lupe rocks! Peace.

P.S.- I ain't a groupie or nothing, (or at least I don't think so) but the man has skills. :-)