Tag Archives: MSNBC

We Have a Problem: 7 Year Old Girl Sent Home by Racist School Policy

Two months ago 7 year old Tiana Parker was sent home from school because her hair cut was considered “distracting.” What was her haircut? Thin dreadlocks tied back in a bow. The Oklahoma public school that sent her home has a policy that says “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” Really? Could they be any more blatantly racist? Afros are the natural style of many black women’s hair and you want to imply it’s distracting?

MSNBC host Melissa Harris Perry decided to take up the cause on her show, especially after derogatory comments about black hair were made by “The Talk” co-host Sheryl Underwood (a black female herself) earlier in the week. Melissa addresses her segment to young Tiana, affirming that the little girl has nothing to be ashamed of – that her hair is not distracting but an homage to black heritage. Melissa names off several influential black artists and musicians who have also rocked dreadlocks – from Bob Marley to Whoopi Goldberg and more recently Willow Smith. She applauds Tiana’s parents for withdrawing her from that school and placing her somewhere where her natural beauty – her black beauty – is embraced. We applaud them as well.

This issue hits particularly close to home. As a child of interracial marriage (my dad is black, my mom white) my hair was often an issue of contention. I was born with a full head of it. My mother’s family has thick hair, especially for Anglicans, which combined with the kinky curls of my dad’s DNA lead to this:

Scan
That’s me on the left, age 4. Diana Ross ain’t got nothing on this, y’all.

It only got thicker and more out of control from there. I was 15 before we decided to try relaxing my hair. I grew up in the south so having my white mom take me to a black hair salon to get a perm was always a level of complicated that would take a text book to explain. It cost $150 and took three and a half hours (did I mention my hair is really thick?) of me sitting in a chair with my scalp feeling like it was literally on fire. That painful tingle was the feeling of some magical concoction burning the ethnicity out of my hair. That went on once every 3-6 months for 7 years.

Why? Because I never felt pretty with my hair natural. I often make the comparison that my hair without a straightener looks like someone shoved my fingers into an electrical socket. All of the popular girls at school at stick straight shiny hair that they could wear down any time they liked. All the lead characters on my favorite tv shows were the same way – even the black characters had their hair shiny and straight instead of natural. All the weather has to do is think about drizzling and my hair becomes a seeing hazard for anyone walking behind me. Like Tiana’s school is trying to preach – I felt like I was a distraction.  Even now I prefer my hair straight over curly (though to be honest, that also has a lot to do with the fact it’s cooler temperature wise if it’s not all bunched up on my head).

It’s because the message given to Tiana, and all other little girls attending that school, isn’t a new one. For generations little black girls, and minorities all over, have been under pressure to “white-ify” themselves to fit the beauty ideals we are bombarded with on a daily basis. From simple hair treatments like relaxers and extensions to the extreme of skin bleaching treatments. It’s often insidious – the fact we see so few black females rocking natural hairstyles in mainstream media. It’s a subliminal campaign. But this – Tiana’s case? There’s nothing undercover about it. We are telling girls in primary school that their natural beauty isn’t good enough, that it’s a distraction, that it’s ugly. And that’s a problem.

So take a second before you put on your make-up today. Look in the mirror, just look, before you style your hair. Tiana Parker isn’t a distraction. She’s beautiful. So are you, right now – naked and natural and flawless. Own that. You have to because there are a generation of girls growing up who are being told differently and we have to show them the truth. That job starts with us. Let’s do better than this.

Watch Russell Brand Give MSNBC Anchors a Piece of His Mind and Lesson in Manners

Russell Brand, comedian and star of such hits as Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, has been the brunt of many tasteless jokes since he rose to fame. Let’s face it: he’s an attractive guy, with a raunchy sense of humor, and a history of escapades. What many don’t realize, though, is that Brand is also a committed yogi, meditator, writer, activist, and more. His real interests and intents, though, are apparently too “serious” for this group of MSNBC news anchors to explore. So they decide to comment, instead, on his appearance, his accent, and what they see as his inherent silliness. Expecting Brand to dance and sing for them like a good celebrity puppet, the anchors get quite a shock when he turns the joke on them and gives them a piece of his mind.

The confrontation is subtle and never fully explodes, but there does appear to be some tension around that table. After Brand’s lengthy explanation of the examples and global situations informing his upcoming stand-up tour, “Messiah Complex,” one of the anchors can do nothing more than comment on the thickness of the comedian’s accent. More than once Brand has to remind the anchors that he is sitting right there and would prefer not to be referred to as “he” and “him.” Basic manners, people. In the final climactic moments, Brand shows them what real, relevant news-casting might look like, taking over reporting duties altogether.

Sex, drugs, and celebrity aside, there are some basic courtesies we would expect professional news-casters to show their guests. We’re glad Brand had the presence of mind to stand up to them, especially as playfully and endearingly as he did.

What do you think? Does Brand’s response seem reasonable to you?

Tori Spelling IS NOT A Role Model.

While perusing MSNBC’s videos, I got a little distracted by the headline "Tori Spelling Explains Why She Got So Skinny" from Tori’s June 16th interview with TODAY’S Ann Curry. Now, in my right mind I know that first of all, this should not be anywhere near a reputable news source. But I did what many of us surfing the Internet or bored in a long line at the super market do and indulged myself in hearing Tori’s plight. 

I was disgusted and appalled as she talked about defending the allegations in Star Magazine that she was 95 pounds with the following statement:

"… I feel like at this point in my life I’m a role model for a lot of women out there and I have a daughter of my own so you know, being labeled as being too thin, having an eating disorder is definitely something I want to address… I was so angry that  I fired back on Twitter at Star saying, ‘I’m 107!’ And then I was like shoot! I’m really 104… Why did I just lie about three pounds? I just got so mad I thought those three pounds added something, a lot of weight to me, so it’s a pretty funny story…"

A pretty funny story? Are you kidding me?!

A 5’6" woman is trying to tell me that being 107 pounds is a healthy image to send out as a role model?! 

Comments like these from those in the public eye, combined with the already prominent ideals of unachievable weights and statures concocted and doctored by the media, are so detrimental to the girls and women of our country. As sad as it may seem, there are girls and women out there who do look up to Tori Spelling. I’m sure she’s plastered all over "thinspiration" sites out there and up on the dream boards of delusional teenage girls who think beauty comes in a size zero. 

1% of American teenagers develop eating disorders and half of those affected have it their entire lives. Most cases of eating disorders studied are caused by abuse, followed by the pressures of unrealistic body images from the media. 

It is being speculated that Tori’s milking her tiny frame for publicity for her book and television show. I personally don’t doubt it. I just hope one day we can get back to a place as a society where the people who make headlines are the ones making the world a better place, not a more shallow one.

Who do you think is a GOOD role model for body image on television?

My vote: Christina Hendricks, star of Mad Men. Talk about curves for days! She was already named 2010 Sexiest Woman Alive by Esquire so hey, maybe we ARE on to a healthier attitude towards women’s bodies! 

Photo: Wiki Commons

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