Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Latest 'Princess and the Frog' Trailer & Latino Representation in the Film


Disney released another snippet of the upcoming The Princess and the Frog. If you follow my blog, you know I am extra hyped about this movie. The new movie poster is vibrant and reveals the new characters. And it looks like Princess Tiana is starting to hit the toy shelves. I finally saw a doll of the New Orleans princess at Target this past weekend. And even better news, I read over at one of my favorite beauty blogs Afrobella that Carol's Daughter is selling a line of Princess and the Frog hair products and bubble bath for kids. FYI Carol's Daughter is a natural skin and haircare store that first opened in a cozy boutique in Brooklyn and has expanded. Congrats to Carol's Daughter.

I hope Disney animators did the first-black animated princess justice. I read somewhere that Anika Noni Rose felt comfortable with the script and didn't find it demeaning. So far I like Princess Tiana. She's very cute and I adore her Southern accent. She's not the typical princess sitting around waiting for a man to rescue her. And she doesn't have hair weaved all down her back. Not that I haven't been unbeweavable before, but it's nice to show little girls you don't need long hair to be beautiful. Other stars voicing characters include John Goodman, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lewis and Terrence Howard. I love John Goodman. He's from New Orleans which is where the story takes place. I'm sure he's going to bring some Southern flavor to the story.

There is concern that my girl Princess Tiana may spend most of the movie as a frog. While some black folks are skeptical of Tiana's image in the movie, take a look at her Latino Prince Naveen. He's Disney's first animated Latino prince. Do you find it problematic that he's a frog throughout most of the film? I noticed from the clip below and others, his character seems to fit the Rico Suave/Latin Lover stereotype of Latino men. I would love for my Latino readers to speak their minds on this one. Check out the trailer below and let me know what you think.

The Princess and the Frog opens in NYC and LA November 25th and nationwide Dec. 11.



video

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is American Girl Keeping it Real with a Homeless Doll?


There's a new face in the very popular American Girl doll world. Her name is Gwen and she's absolutely adorable. All of the American Girl dolls have a story. Take Josefina, she's adjusting to being raised by her tia or aunt after her mommy dies. The Rebecca doll honors her Russian-Jewish heritage and pursues her dreams in New York City. As for Miss Gwen, my girl is homeless. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Gwen' dad skipped out on her and her mom. They lost their house and for some time home was their car and a shelter. Eventually, Gwen's mom bounces back and rents an apartment.

Touching story. Did I mention little Gwen will cost you $95? Whew! I may have to ask Santa to foot the bill for me. Oh, and the doll's hairbrush will cost you an extra $7. Some bloggers and columnists are criticizing the Mattel label for selling a homeless doll. Is this doll's portrayal realistic or offensive? Are the people at Mattel contradicting themselves by selling a doll who lives below the poverty line for nearly $100?

I'll give Mattel credit for trying to school kids on homelessness. One in 50 American children are homeless, the National Center on Family Homelessness reports. That means there are 1.5 million Gwens in our country. Astounding isn't it? This is critical information kids should know. Maybe learning about Gwen's story will encourage a future leader in the fight against poverty. And Gwen's background can teach more fortunate kids to be grateful for the things they have. On the other hand, Gwen can't even afford Gwen. Selling a $100 doll who lives in poverty sends a warped message to me as a consumer. The kid who gets the doll doesn't fully understand the value of $100, but I do. How can I effectively teach my children, baby sister, niece, whomever about poverty with an expensive doll? Seems very contradictory to me. I could easily save my Benjamin and take the kid to a shelter. Nothing like "hands on experience" education.

As for Gwen's wardrobe, I'm on the fence. When I first saw her crisp white sundress and peachy flip flops I had no idea Gwen was homeless. I understand not all homeless people wear tattered clothing and look like the folks sleeping under freeways. So I can't fully criticize Mattel on the clothes. But I imagine a lot of homeless children can't afford nice, pretty dresses like the one Gwen is sporting. I'm concerned her attire could confuse a child.

"Look Nicki. Isn't Gwen's hair and dress pretty? You know she sleeps in a car because her mom couldn't afford to pay their house note. Sorry I didn't have the extra $7 bucks to buy your doll a brush.

I wish Dave Chappelle's show was still around because he could turn this into a funny skit. Holler back at me Cocoa Fly readers. Is this cute doll sending a positive image to kids? Speak your mind.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Switch It Up!
Live Like a Tourist in Your Home Town

"Switch It Up" is a Cocoa Fly series encouraging women to step out of the box, break it down and put it in the recycle bin. It's time to have fun and live it up!

Girl, what did you do this weekend? Did you have fun or was it the same ol place and people? Last time we "Switched It Up" I suggested traveling abroad. But if you're wallet can't even stretch to Paris, Texas then try living in your city like a tourist. I don't mean a "Staycation." That's not adventurous enough for me. Go places you've never gone before in your city or region. Check out online travel sites, look up your city and see spots they suggest for tourists. If you live in a big city like Chicago or San Francisco, you may discover new places or activities. When my mom visited LA we did the usual like go to the Getty Museum (see picture above). I also sought out events that were new for me. I had no idea the Los Angeles County Museum of Art hosts free jazz concerts every Friday night until I looked up tourists activities. The concert was a first time for Mom and I and we were grooving.


Another way to discover new spots is through Meetup.com. I love, love, love this website. You join different groups of your interests--hiking, concerts, book clubs, sports etc., and go to events organized by the group leader. I've seen a group for lesbians who play poker, roller skating for adults, atheists, Glenn Beck supporters...you name it. It's a great way to explore activities you're into but your friends may not dig. Since I've joined Meetup I've learned about so many other places in the LA area. I was tired of going to the same spots, seeing the same people, doing the same thing zzzzzzzzzzzz. BORING. Earlier this year, I channeled my inner college girl attitude, decided to explore LA from a different angle and Switch It Up! I've had a lot of fun and made business connections too. Once my back fully heals I'm ready to take on hiking. I'm a girly-girl but I'm willing to break a nail to get in touch with nature.

Photo Credit:
Darden/ waterfall at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Check Out My Article on Teachers Talking Race

Hey Cocoa Fly Readers. Check out my article in the Fall 2009 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine. The magazine is run by the Southern Poverty Law Center. My article "Talking Race" is about how discussions on race need to happen in the classroom as well as the faculty. Apparently, race isn't discussed amongst teachers. How can instructors teach kids about race if they're not comfortable discussing it? There's some interesting stuff in the piece. You can read it here. Feel free to speak your mind on the article in Cocoa Fly's comments section.

Celebrate E. Lynn Harris at a Bookstore Near You

This Friday numerous authors are paying tribute to writer E. Lynn Harris in bookstores throughout the country. Harris was another talent we lost too soon this summer. According to Black Voices, the 54-year-old reportedly "died of heart disease, complicated by high blood pressure and hardening arteries." BV also reports Harris is the only black author to have 10 back- to- back bestselling novels. More importantly his novels, which centered on black down-low life, opened dialogue about black homosexuality.

It's unfortunate that his books have yet to become films. Getting actors of color on screen is a major diversity obstacle already. Maybe making a movie about gay people of color is pushing it in Hollywood. Still, Harris had a great career and his stories impacted many readers and writers. Celebrate the life and legacy of E. Lynn Harris this Friday, Sept. 25 at a bookstore near you. Below is a listing of cities and bookstores from Black Voices. Harris' new novel "Mama Dearest" just hit stores a few days ago.

Speak Your Mind: I have never read a E. Lynn Harris novel. GASP. I know, I know. But you can change that. What is your favorite E. Lynn Harris book? Which ones should I read?




BALTIMORE, MD
Barnes & Noble @ 7:00 pm
1819 Reisterstown Road
Phone: 410- 415-5758
Hosted by: Tracie Howard


BIRMINGHAM, AL
Books-A-Million @ 7:00 pm
140 Wildwood Pkwy
Phone: 205-942-4220
Hosted by: Brandon Harris


CLEVELAND, OH
Joseph Beth @ 7:00 pm
Legacy Village
24519 Cedar Road
Phone: 216- 912-1975
Hosted by: Lolita Files


CHICAGO, IL
Borders @ 7:00 pm
2210 W. 95th Street
Phone: 773-445-5471
Hosted by: Yolanda Jo


DALLAS, TX
Barnes & Noble @ 7:00 pm
7700 West Northwest Hwy
Phone: 214-739-1124
Hosted by: Mary B. Morrison


DETROIT, MI
Borders @ 7:00 pm
5601 Mercury Drive
Dearborn, MI 48126
Phone: 313-271-4441
Hosted by: Terrance Dean


HOUSTON, TX
Barnes & Noble @ 7:00 pm
7626 Westheimer
Phone: 713-783-6016
Hosted by: ReShonda Tate Billingsley


JACKSONVILLE, FL
Books-A-Million @ 7:00 pm
25A 1910 Wells Road
Orange Park, FL
Phone: 904-215-2300
Hosted by: Tina McElroy Ansa


LITTLE ROCK, AK
Presented by Pyramid Books
The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center @ 6:30 pm
500 West Ninth Street
Phone: 501-372-5824
Hosted by: Celia Anderson and Rhonda Holmes


LIVINGSTON, NJ
Barnes & Noble @ 7:00 pm
Livingston Mall
112 Eisenhower Parkway
Phone: 973-758-1310
Hosted by: Karen Hunter and Dr. LaJoyce Brookshire


LOS ANGELES, CA
ESO Won Books @ 7:00 pm
4311 Degnan Blvd.
Phone: 323-290-1048
Hosted by: Tananarive Due and Eric Jerome Dickey


NEW ORLEANS, LA
Afro-American Book Stop @ 5:30 pm
7056 Read Blvd
Phone: 504-243-2436
Hosted by: Clarence Nero and Ms. Dupre


NEW YORK. NY
Borders @ 7:00 pm
10 Columbus Circle
Phone: 212- 823-9775
Hosted by: Erika Kendrick and Sean Lewis


PHILADELPHIA, PA
Borders 21 @ 12:30 pm
1 S. Broad, Suite 100
Phone: 215-568-7400
Hosted by: Brenda L. Thomas


SAVANNAH, GA
Barnes & Noble @ 7:00 pm
7804 Abercorn Extension
Phone: 912-353-7757
Hosted by: Dr. Bertice Berry


WASHINGTON, DC
Borders @ 7:00 pm
931 Capital Centre Blvd
Largo, MD 20744
Phone: 301-499-2173
Hosted by: Victoria Christopher Murray and Kimberla Lawson Roby




Friday, September 18, 2009

Can Tyler Perry Handle Ntozake Shange's 'For Colored Girls..'?


Before I answer the question in the heading...It's been a slow blogging week for me because I've been spending a lot of time with my mom. We've had some serious estrogen bonding over the last week. In between the shopping, celebrity gossip and chats about men we had to throw in a Tyler Perry flick. I saw "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" and loved it. Taraji P. Henson acts her behind off. The teen actress who plays her niece, Hope Olaide Wilson will have you in tears. CSI: Miami's Adam Rodriguez is tender and oh so yummy. I know Perry likes to thread a church theme throughout his films, but church was the last thing on my mind when Rodriguez was on screen. And of course Perry is hilarious as Madea. Lately we've seen less and less of Madea in his films. I wonder if Perry is weaning us off our favorite (and only?) gangsta granny. Madea didn't even pull out her gun in this film. Madea, are you getting soft on us?
Perry has said he's tired of doing Madea and he probably still puts on the fake boobs and floral dress to lure moviegoers in. Mades is becoming less relevant in his story lines. Maybe he's ready for something more serious like For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf. Perry will write and direct a film adaption of Ntozake Shange's 1975 stage play. Shame on me because I haven't read the book. The play deals with heavy topics like love, rape and abandonment through the experiences of black women. Subjects Perry has tackled in his films. We know Perry has a passion for black women and our struggles. Black folks may disagree on his approach, but the black woman's plight is a strong presence in his work. So why couldn't he turn down the fluff even more and tackle a deep piece of work? A little fluff and comedy is not a bad thing in some films. But, Perry must bring the fire to "For Colored Girls..." because he'll have a lot to prove here. Mainly, can he do something besides black Southern- Christian Comedy? I think he can. If I'm wrong I'll admit it next year when the film is scheduled for release.
I would have preferred for a sista to write and direct this film. Someone like Julie Dash is ideal. Women in general are underrepresented behind the camera. Doesn't it makes sense for a woman of color to tell a black woman's story? Still, I'll give Perry a chance. My only problem so far with the film is the casting. The Village Voice reports Perry's dream cast is Oprah Winfrey, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Kimberly Elise, Cicely Tyson, Beyonce, Ruby Dee, Thandie Newton, Alicia Keys, and Mariah Carey. I love, love, love Beyonce's music. As for her acting, she needs to step it up. If I pay $10 for a movie I want top-quality acting on the screen. What about Nia Long, Jill Scott, Lynn Whitfield, Whoopi , Alfre Woodard or Kerry Washington? Throw in some of those names to the mix.
Speak your mind! Can Tyler Perry pull this off? Who would you like to see in the film?

Monday, September 14, 2009

MTV VMA 2009
Kanye, MJ Tribute, Lady Gaga

Does Kanye Kick it With Rep. Joe Wilson?
This is the first MTV VMA Awards I've watched in a while. The only reason why I tuned in was to see the MJ Tribute. But the whole tone of the show changed when Kanye ruined Taylor Swifts time to shine. She beat Beyonce in the "Best Female Video" category. Kanye interrupts her acceptance speech, takes the mic and says Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video is one of the greatest of all times. Kanye has done these sort of outbursts at award shows before and it's getting old. This was Swift's first VMA and the girl is only 19. What Kanye did was disrespectful, tacky and uncalled for. I felt so bad for Swift. One day these antics will hurt his career. Swift seems sweet and soft. I'd like to see him pull that on someone like Pink or T.I. Kanye apologized to Swift on his blog. West was reportedly kicked out of Radio City Music Hall. Props to Beyonce for graciously allowing Swift to take the stage and finish her speech after Beyonce's "Single Ladies" won for Video of the Year.

Screaming for MJ Tribute
Michael Jackson would be very proud of his little sister Janet for leading a great tribute. Madonna's appearance in the opening was a nice surprise. Her speech was sharp. She exalted his talent and did not sugar coat MJ's trials. The tribute was also a shot at the media for all of the rumors that have surrounded MJ's life and death. The highlight for me was the"Scream" performance. The MJ/JJ duet is one of my favorite videos. Janet danced the routine from the video on stage while MJ was on screen. When the camera pulled back it looked like MJ and Janet were dancing together again. It was very moving.

Lady Gaga, oh Lady Gaga
And Lady Gaga was, um, you know. Well, she scared Tracy Morgan with her blood shot outfit. But that's why people love and hate Lady Gaga. She switches it up on another level.


Tell me, what did you think of the show? Favorite moments? Least favorite moments?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11 and the World's Oldest Person

Gertrude Baines, 115

The world oldest person died this morning right here in LA. Gertrude Baines was 115 years old. According to the AP she met with her doctor a few days ago. Her only complaints were arthritis pain and soggy bacon served at the nursing home. Baines liked watching "Jerry Springer Show" and eating ice cream. She voted for Barack Obama in November. Can you imagine what that must have meant to her? This woman witnessed the decades right after abolition, the rise of the KKK, Civil Rights Movement, Black Power Movement, Feminist Movement, etc. Yet, she lived long enough to vote for the first black U.S. president. Amazing. I've read her mind was still sharp. Maybe I need to start watching Jerry Springer. Read more of Getrude Baines' story from the AP here.

September 11, 2001

The ignorance and fierce debating going on over Pres. Obama's health care plan has made me think about 9/11. Our country changed dramatically eight years ago this day. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon brought us together. It reminded us that our powerful country wasn't invincible and we needed to strengthen our homeland security. We feared flying and riding trains and buses. Our threat levels were coded in the colors red, orange and yellow. There was another threat level color spoken among us-brown. Muslim Americans, to this day, are subject to racial profiling and discrimination because their faces reflect those of the hijackers and Osama Bin Laden. Then the war in Iraq, that was meant for retaliation, pushed us far apart. Some of us disagreed Iraq was right place to jump start the War on Terror. While some of us backed Pres. Bush and believed in his strategy. Here we are today, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continues. The right and left are still beefing. Hopefully today, we can put our differences aside and remember those who gave their lives voluntarily and involuntarily. Mothers, fathers, children, fire fighters, security guards, pilots, brothers, sisters, executives, husbands, wives, cashiers, police officers, etc died on 9/11. And many soldiers have given their lives since. Let's go back to that day when it wasn't about blue state or red state. Right or Left. Independent, Republican or Democrat. Let's go back to the day when we were all Americans. Remember?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hey Rep. Joe Wilson, YOU'RE RUDE!

I'm sorry, did I wake up in Britain this morning? Last I checked politicians don't heckle the President when he's addressing the House and the nation. I don't think that's protocol. And they definitely don't call the president a liar. But Rep. Joe Wilson (R) from South Carolina said he "let his emotions get the best of him" when Pres. Obama clarified his health care plan is not for illegal immigrants. Rep. Wilson yelled, "You lie!"

I have never seen such disrespect to a U.S. President since Mr. Obama took office. According to the Washington Post, "White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel approached two Republican House leaders, Roy Blunt and Paul Ryan and said, 'No president has ever had that happen,' and urged them to have the lawmaker 'apologize immediately.' Sen. John McCain told CNN Wilson's actions were "disrespectful."

Nastiness is not necessary. I was offended and angered by Rep. Wilson's outburst. You're not on the schoolyard Mr. Wilson, act like you're on Capitol Hill. I'm sure if citizens attended one of Wilson's speaking engagements and yelled RUDE, CHILDISH, IMMATURE, DISRESPECTFUL, POOR LEADERSHIP, etc while he was at the podium he wouldn't be pleased.
Of course Rep. Wilson issued an apology:
"This evening I let my emotions get the best of me. While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropiate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility."

Forget Rep. Wilson, he has healthcare. Last night wasn't about him. What do you think of Pres. Obama's speech? I thought it was good. One of my concerns about government getting involved in health care is that sometimes our governement doesn't operate efficiently and effectively. I got two words for you, Walter Reed. And look at how the government has handled New Orleans post-Katrina. Don't even get me started on how the economy nose dived. If Pres. Obama's health care plan is passed, do you feel that government will run it effectively?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cocoa Bits
Tyler Perry, George Clooney, Chris Brown

Tyler Perry Talk Show

He's made his mark in stage, the publishing world, film, and TV. Now Tyler Perry wants to add another jewel in his media crown, late night talk. "The Tyler Perry Show" airs tonight on TBS at 11pm following "House of Payne" and "Meet the Browns." Tyler's show is a one-hour special about his upcoming film "I Can Do Bad All By Myself." The cast from the movie will be there--Taraji P.Henson, Adam Rodriguez, Mary J. Blige, Gladys Knight and more. Last week Perry sent an email to his fans:
"I'm thinking about doing a Talk Show… just once a week... that's it. So I did sort of a test to see if I can do it...check out the show. After you watch it, please go to my message board, if you're still up (LOL), and tell me what you think. Now be honest! Don't have me trying to do a Talk Show and it's terrible, (LOL). Tell me the
truth. If I can count on anybody to keep it real with me, you know it's
you…(SMILE). I hope you like it."

We'll see Tyler...

She Took My Man

You know how Wendy Williams has her imaginary friends in her head? My husbands in my head are LL Cool J and George Clooney. I know it won't happen with me and LL because he's married, sigh. But I thought George and I had a chance. Until, Italian MTV presenter Elisabetta Canalis ,30 stepped in the picture. Grrrrr. Okay I'll put my claws away. Access Hollywood is reporting the two may be a couple. I get hit on my by men in their 40s all of the time, but they don't look like 48-year-old Clooney. And they definitely don't have the Clooney swag. I won't be a hater. Canalis is beautiful. George, if it doesn't work out. Call me. I know a woman from East Oakland who really has it going on. Ma, I'm not talking about you.




A Tip for Chris Brown--Zip It.

If you read this blog you know I'm disgusted with Chris Brown. But I'll give Chris Brown some advice--keep your mouth closed. I know I'm late on commenting about his interview with CNN's Larry King. I saw it a few days after it aired and all Chris Brown did was dig a deeper hole for himself. Chris Brown tours all over the country and can remember all of his songs and complicated dance steps. Yet, he told Larry King he can't remember beating the hell out of Rhianna. I can look at a scar on my body from my childhood and tell you when and how I got it.

A few days after the interview, he tells People magazine that Oprah should have been more compassionate to him.
"I commend Oprah on being like, 'This is a problem,' but it was a slap in my face," Brown says of the show. "I did a lot of stuff for her, like going to Africa and performing for her school. She could've been more helpful, like, 'OK, I'm going to help both of these people out.'" Oprah has been abused and raped. Brotha, why should she help you out? Honestly, I was done with Chris Brown when he was sporting a reported $300,000 necklace with a blinged out pendant that read "OOPS" . Brown needs to get counseling, stay quiet and work on his music. The more he speaks, the sillier he sounds. Who taught us a great lesson in this situation is Brown's mother. Larry King brought up how Brown witnessed his mother being abused by her husband. Psychologists have said that many abusers were once abused themselves. Lesson #1 --Ladies, be smart when picking a man to father your children or be around your children. That man can have a life-long impact on your child. Depending on who you choose, the impact can be good or bad.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Switch It Up!
TRAVEL OVERSEAS


"Switch It Up" is a Cocoa Fly series encouraging women to step out of the box, break it down and put it in the recycle bin. It's time to have fun and live it up!

Kelly Rowland could have called it quits and stayed in the bed. The Destiny's Child star's U.S. record sales were low. But when she heard London calling, girlfriend packed her bags. Forget about making green, Rowland is stacking her pockets with pounds, Euros and other foreign ching-ching. What did she do ladies? Say it with me- SWITCHED IT UP. Kelly told USA Today in a recent interview, "Here, sometimes it's like my music didn't quite work, but overseas it's on top of everybody's chart. I've had more international success than domestic success, and I think that opens my eyes up to music. I mean, I just got back from performing in Lebanon. Lebanon!"

Sounds like Kelly is having fun and living the life she dreamed as a solo artist. Kelly was smart and realized Americans aren't the only people who buy music. She 0pened her mind and took a chance. Okay, so we all don't have Destiny Child's money. The point is there's a whole world out there. But American's don't leave the continent much. The State Department estimated in 2007, 27% of Americans carry passports. Compare that to Minneapolis Star Tribune staff writer Jon Tevlin findings “... in Germany, 90 percent of citizens have passports. In Canada, it's 40 percent. In Great Britain, 64 percent.” Traveling abroad makes you more well rounded and appreciative of other cultures. It makes you feel more apart of the global community. We live in a global economy now. Don't you want to see where some of your money is flowing? To my Cocoa Fly college readers I highly advise you to study abroad and learn a language. More jobs require people to be multilingual. If you want to compete in this world, you have to learn about news, politics and life outside of the U.S.A.



The best part about traveling abroad is F-U-N. You meet so many people, see different places, tastes all kinds of food and wines. You learn about yourself and it's great for networking. I've taken a spa trip to Mexico. Explored the World Expo in Canada. Spent a summer working in England. Toured religious-segregated neighborhoods in Northern Ireland. And I ate chocolate in Belgium so delicious that I'm not sure if sex is better. Seriously, it was that good. I made friends and professional networks in some of these places. And you appreciate the range of male beauty when you go overseas. I remember meeting this gorgeous German bartender when I was in London. He was tall with bright eyes and sandy colored hair and....you get my point.

One of my travel dreams is to see the Egyptian pyramids. I've been fascinated by them since I was a little girl. One day, I want to own a flat in London so I can spend half the year there and the other half in the U.S. Kelly, call a sista if you need a roommate.



Don't limit yourself to U.S. borders. If you're scared of traveling to another country, research. If you're not scared, research. I can not tell you enough--READ BOOKS ON THE COUNTRY BEFORE YOU LEAVE. One of my friends traveled to Northern Africa and didn't read any books about the region. She had a terrible time. If she had done her homework before leaving she would've been more prepared. Talk to people who visited or lived in the country you're visiting. They can give you the scoop or even contacts who are there. Check U.S. government for vaccines if needed. Learn some of the country's language. If you're going to an English speaking country, learn the lingo. I had no idea what a "loo" or a "lift" was until I left for London. Most importantly, be open minded. You're not going to America so people do things different. I know, shocker right? Don't talk mess about the country out loud for people to hear. Americans already have a reputation for not being well traveled or globally conscious overseas. If you're still nervous about travelling abroad, work your way up. Start off in the Caribbean or Canada, then go from there.

Finally, if you can't afford to go overseas right now make the library a destination. That's what my mom did for me as a child. She introduced to me books about different parts of the world and took me to cultural fairs. That ignited my passion for travel.

Let's go on a mental vacation. For those that have "Switched It Up" and gone overseas where did you go? Readers outside of the U.S., tell us some of the countries you visited.

Photo Credit:
Issac Matthew White/ USA Today
Jenee Darden/Spa Retreat in Mexico
Jenee Darden/Spa Retreat, Beach in Mexico

Kids NEED to Hear Pres. Obama's Message

I grew up in a bi-political family. My father is a Republican. My mother is a liberal. If the first Pres. Bush or Pres. Clinton made a speech about going to college when I was a kid, my parents would tell me to listen to both. Sure, they would make some snarky comment about the president they didn't side with politically. However, they would've wanted me to get the message. GO TO COLLEGE. Sitting at home all day at 18, drinking Kool-Aid and bumming them for $5 was not gonna happen. Knowing my parents back in the day, they would've told me to repeat what the presidents said and I how I felt about their speeches. That was back in the 80s and early 90s, before the red and blue state division looked more like a Bloods and Crypts rivalry. Not allowing children to hear the President of the United States speak about staying in school is absurd. All of this because people are paranoid Pres. Obama will inject his politics. First he was trying to kill old people with his health care plan. Now he wants to brainwash our children. God forbid an educated black man who is the leader of this country would encourage children to elevate their minds and pursue higher education on the first day of school. Would the opposers be more comfortable if he was pop-lockin', doing the running man and telling yo'mama jokes on air? Wait, let me put my race card back in my pocket. We don't want to go there.

Look at all the trouble his speech could cause--some kids may try to be better students or even listen to their teachers. Maybe tonight, a child will take their homework more serious than before. That's an evil move Mr. President. And he picked the absolute worst time to do it. American students are severely behind in math and science compared to other countries like China. Some U.S. cities have high school dropout rates above 50 percent. I remember when people still respected the president even if they didn't agree with him. Whether we liked him or not, he was still our leader. Preventing children from listening to Pres. Obama's message tells me some of these kids are growing up in households where they're not taught to "agree to disagree." Mommy and Daddy are conservatives so I can't listen to a liberal president deliver a universal message? I thought this was the UNITED States, not Divided States. How are children supposed to learn to communicate with others they disagree with? Instead, kids are learning not to respect the president who has a different political position from them.

Speaking of position, Van Jones quit his. Not a shocker. He stepped down from White House Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. I'm surprised the Obama Administration didn't know Jones signed a petition in 2004 questioning whether the U.S. government allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen. Well, now that the Special Advisor for Green Jobs is gone, the country is safe and Glenn Beck can sleep better now. After all, signing a silly petition and calling someone an a-hole is way more dangerous then igniting paranoia and lying on the airwaves that our biracial president is a racist. Pres. Obama loved his white mother and grandmother, but he's a racist? And telling children to go to college is bad? Maybe if I hear it a few more times it'll start to make sense.


Read Pres. Obama's speeh here

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kill the (Text) Messenger
Why Do Some Men Text Instead of Call?

S. Korean Youths Conversation Behaviour Patterns Changed By Mobile PhonesRemember the days of meeting a men pre-text message era? He asked you for your number. You rummaged through your purse for an ink pen, eyeliner, something. While he dug in his pockets for an old receipt. You gave him the digits and he WROTE your number down. Later he called. You two chit-chat and then he asks you out. You both go on a date. It's either a hit or a bust. The end.

It's a much different story today. Guy meets Girl. Guy asks Girl for her number. He whips out his cellphone. Guy adds her to his contact list and tells Girl he'll hit her up later. Next day Guy texts Girl something cute. You know like, "nice 2 meet you" or "U have a pretty smile & I can't wait to kick it w/ u." The cupcake messages makes Girl blush. But Girl is waiting for the big call. Over the next few days Guy is texting away. "What are you doing?" "Hey, what's up?" "When we gonna kick it?" yadda, yadda, yadda. Then he sends Girl messages on Facebook. His fingers never get tired. Girl wonders if his mouth is broken. Maybe he had his wisdom teeth pulled and that's why he can't pick up the phone and speak to her. Finally, Guy asks Girl out...via text message. "What do u like to do 4 fun?" " R U busy this weekend?" Girl gets frustrated and texts her friend, " OMG! Y is this guy tripping?" Girl will either play text message ping pong with Guy and set up a date. Or she'll tell herself she can do better and move on to the next guy.

I'm old school. Maybe some of my college-aged Cocoa Fly readers are cool with this but to me, if you can't pick up the phone and ask me out then you're not serious. Not all guys are text-a-holics. In my experiences recently, I've given my info to quite a few men who will talk on the phone a few minutes and fill up in my text inbox. Sure it's fun to send little sexy messages to each other once the relationship has jumped off. If we're still in the getting-to-know-each other stage text messages don't help me get to know you. Oh, hold up. Light bulb moment. Maybe that's the point. It's easy to hide behind text messaging. People have apologized to me in texts, asked me out in texts, flirted with me strictly via texts. It's a cop out. I've even heard of instances where couples have broken up via text messages. We have so many tools for communication in this age--Facebook, text messages, email, cellphones, Twitter, etc. But we're still not communicating with each other. None of that technology compares to talking one on one. For guys juggling women and/or who hate those words, "We need to talk," I can see how text messaging is the ultimate shield. The fellas aren't the only ones guilty of this because women use texts to avoid others too.

Don't get me wrong, I like text messaging. You can use it to contact friends you're looking for at the club. I've sent a message in the movie theater when I needed to reach someone. And there's nothing like getting a text from a friend or lover who cheers you up. That's where it ends for me. I figure if a man I just met doesn't have time to talk to me, then he's not worth my time.

Have other ladies experienced this? For fellas who like to text, can you tell us why?

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