Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

TMZ's Harvey Levin Calls Fights Against Malt Liquor Ads "Stupid"

This weekend I caught up on some celeb news and watched TMZ. One of their camera men saw actor and Colt 45 spokesman Billie D. Williams. They asked him about a controversy in Detroit where the city council is trying to regulate the high number of Colt 45 ads sprinkled throughout the city. Of course this isn't a problem in the suburbs. According to The Detroit News, the ad features a cartoon of Billie D. holding a can of Colt 45 and to his left in big red letters "Works Every Time." Cut back to TMZ host and managing editor Harvey Levin in his usual production meeting and he's unclear of why people in Detroit are angry. The one and only black female producer on the show tried to explain this has been an ongoing battle in the black community for decades. And people feel these liquor companies are racist and specifically target minorities. Harvey still didn't get it. So he used the "S" word we all learned in grade school was bad. The same word that has Pres. Obama making beer nights to abate public outrage over his Skip Gatesgate comment--"stupid." Props to the sista for keeping her cool on camera because I can tell she was taken aback by his comment. I sure was. I like hearing Harvey's legal analysis on TMZ and People's Court, but this comment was wrong. He called our objection to liquor ads "stupid" because advertisers should be able to advertise in communities where they think people will buy their product. Okay, the right to advertise is true. Sorta.

Alcoholism is a serious problem in the black community. Compound that with heavy marketing of liquor in our neighborhoods and the problem worsen. A 40 oz of malt liquor contains 6-8 1/2 percent alcohol per volume. Compare that to the 4-5 percent per volume found in regular beers. Already Tyrone is consuming more alcohol chugging on a 40 than Todd is downing his Budweiser. Also malt liquor is cheap in price and made of cheap ingredients. Last year MPR reported that studies have connected consumption of malt liquor with heavier drinking and aggressive behavior. I hang out in places like Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, etc and I have NEVER seen an ad for poison malt liquor in those communities. I have yet to see 40s in those areas' bars, convenient stores, etc. Why aren't these liquor companies marketing cheap, garbage, bottom of the barrel beer in white areas? Like Harvey said, advertisers should be able to promote in places where they think people will buy their products. Well white folks like to get their drank on just like black folks. Why aren't they being marketed to? Maybe Colt 45 and other liquor companies should expand their buyer base and take some of their ads out of Compton, Southside of Chicago Harlem, Detroit. Then spread them around the burbs, or the hillsides of gated communities, oooh and even near schools like they do in our neighborhoods. Pop stars like Fergie or Justin Timberlake could be right on those billboards with bright smiles holding a cold 40 oz. Just like our favorite hip hop stars endorsing 40s. You know, reel in the customers early. Okay reality check, that would never happen. Nor should it. And it shouldn't be happening in black neighborhoods.

I feel the people of Detroit. Black America is battling serious health problems--alcoholism, drug addiction, obesity, etc. I don't want to see liquor , cigarette, fast food ads littered throughout my neighborhood. They fuel the problem. Many of us in the hood have to shop in mini marts because grocery stores are scarce. Buying a 40, no problem. Looking for some fresh apples for the kids? Good luck. We pay too much money in rent, mortgage and taxes to be surrounded by negative ads. It wouldn't be such an issue if there were a few here and there. Harvey suggested people just ignore the ads. Someone needs to take trip to South Central. Ignoring those ads are kind of hard when they're on damn near every corner. If I had a penny for every time I saw Whole Foods ad in America's ghettos I'd be broke. Give me a dime for every Schlitz ad I find and Bill Gates would be hitting me up for a loan.

Maybe Harvey would have a change of heart if one day while walking his dog around his ritzy neighborhood he saw Colt 45 and Old English billboards sprouting out of the ground every couple of blocks like palm trees. I imagine Harvey would be disturbed if St. Ives and King Cobra posters were plastered across the doors and windows of his mini mart and the others nearby. Maybe he'd feel uncomfortable about the young men hanging in front of the store, guzzling that bootleg booze one after another. The same booze studies show drinkers usually consume them in more hazardous amounts than standard beer. The final straw would be spotting a few littered on the sidewalk as he headed home. He'd probably get on his cellphone right away and complain to a rep in his district because the neighborhood is changing. On second thought, Harvey would conclude those liquor companies have the right to drown his affluent neighborhood in ads promoting cheap booze. And complaining would just be plain stupid.

Photo Cred:
Photo of Colt 45 ad from Detroit


  1. Great blog!! I totally agree. Whites are always ready to shut blacks down for throwing up the "race card". We have a black president but that doesn't mean we don't still have racial issues in this country. I am so sick of white corporate America continuosly hammering stereotypes and taking advantage of our communities. Whites are so good at turning the black community against one another. It's a constant cycle that we blacks must realize and stop. Blacks must start takeing responsibility for the actions of our community. I have so much more to say about this. This "stupid" comment just touches on so many issues of the black community. I have struggled with so much cultural shame growing up in a affluent white community. As an adult I struggle to accept my black community. Not necessarily because of whites but because of the many ideas whites have of blacks that are true. We need to get our priorities straight. Tyler Perry you also need to stop glorifying these disgusting stereotypes about blacks. This doesn't help our image even if you are "giving back to the community" its hypocritical. I recently returned from Europe with my husband who is European. Europeans views of African Americans for the most part is much more positive then in the U.S. We are seen as beautiful, creative and talented people.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I hope you enjoyed Europe. I agree with the part that black people have to take responsibility for our actions. You say, "Europeans views of African Americans for the most part is much more positive then in the U.S. We are seen as beautiful, creative and talented people." That's very interesting. But not quite a surprise since race is different there.


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