By Michael P Coleman

Happy 4th of July.  I'll be frank: the day never meant much to me until about eight years ago. 

Well, that’s not completely true.  As I little kid, I enjoyed sparklers, fireworks, backyard barbecues and the like just like every other kid in my neighborhood.  It was sometime around junior high school, I think, that I pieced together an American history timeline that revealed that many of the “founding fathers” who fought so hard for their independence were also fighting to deny the independence of the black men they enslaved. 

From that revelatory moment, I turned by back on the holiday and all things patriotic.  I wouldn’t have worn a star spangled piece of clothing to save my life.  I suffered through hot, humid Independence Days wearing a black t-shirt (seriously).  Even Whitney Houston’s stirring rendition of our national anthem 1992 didn’t convince me to embrace the day. 

I didn’t do so until we elected Barack Obama as President of these United States of America. 

The morning after the election in 2008, I drove to my neighborhood Home Depot and bought the first American flag I’d ever bought and mounted it on my front porch.  For the first time since I was a kid holding those sparklers, I was proud of my country.   For eight years, I flew it every Memorial Day and Independence Day, and more sporadically on other holidays. 

Can you guess what’s happened now that Trump’s in office? 

I’m still flying it.  Put it up proudly a few weeks ago on Memorial Day, and as I hung it this 4th of July weekend, I pondered why.  I surmised that I have President Obama to thank for my newfound patriotism. 

We’re still a country that elected Trump president, but the pride in my country that President Obama awakened in me won’t be dampened.  We’ll fix this damn thing.  If Trump doesn’t resign, we’ll take Congress back in 2018 and the White House back in 2020. 

Yes, we will.  We The People will do that. 

Thanks, President Obama. 

And again, Happy 4th of July!  Let me fire up this grill. 

 michael bioThis blog was written by freelancer Michael P Coleman.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

 

by Michael P Coleman

fathersdayAs a kid, I celebrated Father’s Day by honoring a father who provided a stern, consistent “old school” sense of order to our home. He battled his demons, like we all do, but he did the “dad” thing. And Charles Franklin Coleman didn’t just parent his four kids. He parented the neighbor’s kids, as well.

My friends often referred to my dad as “Mike’s Crazy Father,” as Dad would whip off his belt in a heartbeat and whip any kid who misbehaved in his presence…whether that kid belonged to him or not. Then, he’d walk the crying kid back home to his parents and tell them what the infraction had been — and calmly inform the parent that the same thing would happen again if the kid misbehaved at or around the Coleman house.

It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I appreciated the value of the example that my dad had set for me.  

For the complete article, please visit TheHuffingtonPost.com.

wonderwoman eblast oneThose who know me know that I’m the world’s biggest Superman fan.  Every other hero plays second fiddle. 

That may have changed after having seen Gal Gadot’s stunning turn as the Amazonian princess Diana in the wonderful new Wonder Woman.  THIS hero is playing second fiddle to no one! 

Wonder Woman is the best origin story I’ve seen since 1978 when I watched Superman take flight.   And it may be the best I’ve ever seen, drawing inspiration from not just Superman: The Movie but the more recent Captain America: The First Avenger

CLICK HERE for Michael P Coleman's exclusive review on SacCulturalHub.com.

by Michael P Coleman

janetjacksontourThe element of surprise has been a hallmark of superstar Janet Jackson’s 30+ year career. 

If you’re too young to remember, Jackson’s landmark 1986 Control album, with its defiant distancing from her famous family, surprised even her most ardent fans.  I was one of them; I’ve loved that girl since she was little Penny on Good Times.  As I think about it, Jackson’s entire recording career was a surprise, with her having spent the first years of her career focused on acting instead of trying to compete with her incomparable older brother, the King of Pop. 

At the age of 19, Jackson fired her father (he’d been her manager) and shocked the entertainment world as she emerged from her brother Michael’s enormous shadow via a series of huge hit records (courtesy of wünderkinds Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) and impossibly sexy music videos. 

Then there was the follow-up album a few years later.  Instead of issuing a Control 2, the artist released Janet’s Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, an opus that was her generation’s What’s Going On? with a strong, running theme of social consciousness interspersed with a groove that wouldn’t quit. 

Rhythm Nation encapsulated visual joys as well.  What an impression she made in those jeans — Lord, those jeans! — that push up bra, blond, upswept wig, and that signature megawatt smile in her Herb Ritz-directed Love Will Never Do Without You video.  I still haven’t recovered from it.  “They said it wouldn’t last, but we had to prove them wrong…”. WOW. 

 

 

Who can forget Jackson’s first secret marriage (to El DeBarge), her second secret marriage (to René Elizondo), her secret relationship (with Jermaine Dupri), or her third secret marriage (to Wissem Al Mana), which she has recently confirmed is ending just after having delivered her first baby — unless you believe a long-standing rumor that she had a baby with DeBarge when she was still in her teens). 

And then there was the infamous Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.”

So Jackson knows a thing or two about the element of surprise.  Hence, it shouldn’t have been that much of a shock when she released a video earlier this week that both confirmed her pending divorce and announced a new tour.  But it was a shock — and Jackson dominated entertainment news coverage the next day.  She’s certainly proven her penchant for masterful media manipulation — we all ate it up. 

The tour is not the resumption of her truncated 2015 Unbreakable tour but rather a new one, entitled State Of The World.  The tour’s title echoes one of the more popular album tracks from Rhythm Nation, whetting fans appetite for what’s sure to be a great show — if Jackson shows up for it. 

The superstar’s last tour was plagued with cancellations and rescheduled dates, so I’m hoping she’s ready to hit the road and solidify her place among pop music’s would-be royalty.  Sorry, Beyoncé but in my book, if anyone’s a triple threat, it’s Janet Jackson.  She sang, danced and acted her way into my little elementary school heart way back in the day on Good Times — I STILL can’t pick up a clothes iron to save my life.  You’d best believe I’ll have tickets to Jackson’s October 3 show in Sacramento — just in case she decides to join us. 

Tickets for Janet Jackson’s State Of The World Tour stops in Sacramento and Concord go on sale at Ticketmaster at 10am Friday, May 5th. 

 

Michael P ColemanMichael P Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelancer writer who would marry Janet Jackson if he weren’t still holding out hope to marry Diana Ross.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter:@ColemanMichaelP 

 

Moonlight posterI saw the Academy Award-winning Moonlight for the first time at the beginning of its initial run in theaters, last fall. I walked into a screening of the movie with every intention of reviewing it. I walked out having been profoundly moved, forever changed, and temporarily muted. I simply couldn’t find the words to describe the movie.

I’d not felt that way after seeing a film since Precious, another film with honest, gritty performances, flawed, human characters that commanded my attention, and a character arc that left me literally exhausted and speechless. I felt the same way after seeing Monster’s Ball and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Dreamgirls.

In all of those prior cases, the films went on to win Academy Awards, and I’d accurately predicted them. In the case of Monster’s Ball, I knew that if Halle Berry hadn’t gone on to win the Oscar for Best Actress, it would have been due to racism in the industry. Berry’s performance, particularly a critical scene during which her character is processing an unfathomable loss, earned that trophy.

Similarly, after watching Moonlight, I called Mahershala’s Oscar, the screenplay award, and the Oscar for Best Picture. I knew if Moonlight didn’t win on Oscar night, homophobia — not racism — would have been the primary culprit

One Moonlight scene in particular brought tears to my eyes, during which Ali’s character teaches the young Chiron (played by Alex R. Hibbert) how to swim, before he gives advice on self-acceptance that we all could use, independent of sexual orientation. I was reminded of my dad teaching me to swim decades ago, and our subsequent conflict regarding my own sexual orientation years later.

While Moonlight undoubtedly muted me, I dug a little deeper and realized that I’d not written an initial review due to my own internalized homophobia. As a bisexual black man, I was worried that my glowing endorsement of the film wouldn’t be taken seriously. Now, looking back to last fall, I’m not proud of that moment. In a sense, Moonlight — or my visceral reaction to it — steered me back in the closet — at least professionally — for a hot minute.

For the complete article, visit EURThisNThat.com.

MPCBatman2015

This blog was written by freelancer Michael P Coleman. Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP.

No Tolerance For “Nigger”: Calling A Spade A Spade At A Coffee Shop

by Michael P Coleman

A few months ago, I wrote an editorial about the use of “the N word” and why I think it has no place in modern, civilized society. That said, I also think that use of the phrase “the N word” diminishes the impact of the word in media reports of its use.

Pardon the pun, but the media should just call a spade a spade. It’s kinda like writers who use the spelling “f**ck,” or worse “phuck.” We know what you’re saying, so just say it for fuck’s sake — or better yet, find another, more articulate and less abrasive way to express your thoughts and feelings.

So back to “nigger.” I believe the word has no place, and its prevalence in what’s now popular music and public vernacular (especially with younger people) has desensitized us. Even the media’s use of the phrase “the N word” obscures “nigger”’s vile history and current power.

After I published that original story, most of the readers I heard from agreed with me. However, a small minority argued that the younger generation had reclaimed the word and that the newly-branded “nigga” didn’t hold the same meaning.

I stick to my original thesis, especially after the conversation I had last week with a white fellow coffee-lover in a quaint little bistro in California’s Bay area.

I was sitting at my favorite table in the window, tapping away on a story, searching for inspiration and facing a looming deadline, when an adjacent table began to fill up with middle-aged, business-suited white men. Soon, four of them had assembled and were casually chatting while sipping their beverages, when a fifth friend walked up.

As one of the men pulled a chair over to their table, another commented on the newest addition’s haircut.

“New hairstyle!” he bellowed, drawing the attention of the other friends along with that of a good third of the people in the coffee shop, including that of this writer. His hair was combed up oddly in the front of his head. I was later told that the younger, whiter generation sometimes refers to it as a “pineapple.”

“Yeah,” the man remarked. “It’s just like the kind that niggers wear!”

My head bolted up from my MacBook’s monitor. Could I have heard what I thought I’d heard?? Slowly, I turned my head to the right, in a cloud of disbelief and shock. At my ever-advancing age, my ears HAD to be going.

“Oh, yeah! Kinda!” one of his friends affirmed.

“Yeah, you know, niggers take a comb and comb it right up and it stays up there!,” Mr. Pineapple laughed.

Now, at this point, I really DID think that my hearing was leaving me. The continued torrent of words began to swirl around me, forming a bit of a jumble that resembled the “wah wah wah” from the Charlie Brown TV specials. Could this middle-aged, salt & pepper, shirt and tied gentlemen actually have used the word “nigger” in public at 11:17am in the middle of a work week and a crowded coffee shop?

And if he actually had, what was I to do about it? Wasn’t it a free country, and didn’t the gentlemen’s freedom of speech allow him the right to…

Then, my heart sharply shoved my brain out of the way.

“Excuse me, sir. What did you just say?” I asked Mr. Pineapple, as calmly as I could.

Five white heads turned, and five white faces looked at me. For a split second, I was taken back to the first time I was called a “nigger” by one of a handful of faces in Davenport, Iowa decades ago. This time around, one of the faces seemed amused, while the other four, including the one attached to the guy who’d uttered the word “nigger” — twice — appeared shocked. I don’t think they’d seen me tapping away at my table in the window, just across the aisle from them.

“Oh,” Mr. Pineapple exclaimed. “I was just telling them how you black guys comb your hair up…”

“Sir, you didn’t refer to us “black guys” as “black guys,” I countered, in a tone that was slightly cooler than my initial question had been. A part of me was proud that I’d been able to choke out the word “sir.”

“You said ‘nigger,’”, I countered, “and that is very offensive.”

To Mr. Pineapple’s credit, he apologized to me. (He also introduced himself, but I’m using “Mr. Pineapple” to protect the not-so-innocent.). But either my question or Mr. Pineapple’s apology had clearly ruined the group’s outing, as the five men quickly packed up and left…maybe to go to another location where their racist rhetoric could continue unchecked. The conversation also left me with a severe case of writer’s block, so I closed my MacBook and headed out for lunch.

I’d planned to push the entire conversation to the furthermost recesses of my mind, and had done a pretty good job of it until later that night, as I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. I glanced at my hair, a still-dense thatch of tight black curls accented by the ever so slightest of gray. (Self-esteem has never been an issue for me.). Even without the help of the comb that Mr. Pineapple had referenced, I couldn’t help but notice that my hair DID stand up, and it DID stay just where I placed it.

Just like the hair on the heads of the rest of the niggers that Mr. Pineapple spoke of, and the ones he sees every day.

I stick to my original thesis. No tolerance for “nigger.” That’s where we as a society need to be headed — no, where we need to be! If a middle-aged businessman can effortlessly toss the word out to a group of his white friends at a coffee shop, the use of the word “nigger” needs to be abolished — for good.

What do you think? No tolerance for “nigger?” Or would you have just told yourself that Mr. Pineapple may have said “nigga,” that the words are different and the world’s different now, and just walked away? What would you have done? Let us know in the comments.

http://www.eurthisnthat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/MPCBatman2015.jpgThis blog was written by freelancer Michael P Coleman. Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP

by Michael P Coleman

Rev. Jesse JacksonThe Reverend Jesse Jackson has been at the forefront of the civil rights movement for over 50 years.

Well, kinda.  He stood next to MLK as he was gunned down in 1968, having been one of his closest advisers and mentees.  Twenty years later, Jackson vied for the Democratic presidential nomination, helping to lay the groundwork for President Obama’s successful bid twenty years after THAT.

But sometimes, Jackson seems to kinda hang out at high profile events, raising the ire of black and white folks alike.  He has been openly critical of President Obama, and was once caught on a live mic making crude comments about him.  

And now, folks on people.com say he’s just not “relevant.”  

We want to know what YOU think of the Reverend Jesse Jackson.  Don’t let people.com’s readers speak for you!  Here’s the background:  

Jackson, 75, attended the Women’s March on Washington last weekend.  He says he did so because he’s concerned that hard-fought civil rights gains are being threatened by President Trump.

“50 years of civil rights have been threatened,” Jackson said.  The right to vote is threatened.  Trump’s first act is to attempt to stop healthcare for 30 million poor people and the thousands of workers who service them.”

Overall, Jackson says he thinks that the thousands who participated in the Women’s March did so out of hope.

“My sense is that people here are not so much anti-Trump — they’re pro-American,” he said.  “We’re not going back.  Women aren’t going back to the back alley to make their health choices.  We’re not going back to having our right to vote denied.”

Readers on people.com immediately jumped on the story and attacked the civil rights legend.

Tracy Thomas Rylee, who says she’s 45 and appears as white as the driven snow, says that “Jesse Jackson is always looking for a way to make himself relevant.  He jumps in the spotlight whenever he gets a chance,  that’s all he’s good for these days.”

Karen Carnes Booth says “…back in 1999 [Jackson] praised Trump for his dealings with minorities.  Just another liberal hypocrite…”

Susie Smith adds that “Jesse [has] worked for 5 DECADES to keep blacks down, always stirring the racism pot because THAT is what makes [him] a fortune.”  She goes on to say that Jackson is a “maggot” and  “…a national disgrace.”

The Reverend Jesse Jackson:  a “maggot” and “a national disgrace?”  

Let me tell you what I think:

Anyone who marched for me in the 1960s and devoted their lives to the advancement of civil rights, be it Jackson or John Lewis or anyone else that Trump or any other one of a number of white people want to deem “irrelevant,” is in fact “relevant” and will be for the rest of my life,   I remember voting for Jackson during the 1988 primaries, and dreaming that he might have been our first African American president.  

While Jackson’s Rainbow / Push Coalition may have faded from view long ago, he’s a national treasure, not a “disgrace” or a “maggot.”  Jackson, Lewis and others are VERY relevant today, especially for those of us who are younger than they are and haven’t walked in their shoes, during a civil rights march or otherwise.  

If you’re one of many who’s benefitted by the work that Jackson, Lewis and others have done, lay off of the keyboard and be quiet if you’ve nothing respectful to say about a civil rights legend who was attending a protest march while you sat on your ass playing with your smartphone. 

I have read People Magazine since Miss Piggy first appeared on the cover in 1979 and that was back in the day when if you read something with which you disagreed, you had to sit down at your IBM Selectric typewriter and craft a well thought out, well written response, in the hope of getting it published in the next issue.  Nowadays, folks can read an article on their smartphone, hit “respond” while they’re driving down the street (don’t get me started on THAT!), and shoot off the first thing that pops into their crazy-assed heads, even when it unfairly insults a civil rights legend.

Michael P Coleman

This blog was written by freelancer Michael P Coleman, who still sometimes misses his IBM Selectric and still dreams of a date with Miss Piggy.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.  

 

by Michael P Coleman

17613 0A lot has been written and said about Viola Davis’ stunning performance in the Denzel Washington-directed Fences. Her name is being mentioned as a potential Oscar contender.

Every word you read about Davis’ Oscar prospects is absolutely true. The actress is incendiary on screen, forcing you to feel every emotion her character displays as she manages the ups and downs of a life that may not have been lived to its fullest.

It’s been a long time since I saw a movie theatre crowd applaud after a performance. In Fences, Davis delivers a crying, knee-buckling, nose-running monologue that’s not to be missed. It left every woman cheering midway, and earned an ovation from the entire audience after Davis was done.

But to talk about Davis too much is, perhaps, not giving enough attention to Washington, who also stars in the movie.

For the full review, please visit Eurthisnthat.com.