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Get Your Own: Own Some OWN

On January 1, 2011, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will launch on what was formerly the Discovery Health Channel. If you're like me, you've been a loyal viewer of the Oprah Show and have probably, time permitting, also watched Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Nate Berkus and Rachael Ray as regularly as possible. You've probably purchased books chosen as Oprah Book Club selections.

I don't mean to sound selfish, but what have you gotten in exchange for all your Oprah loyalty? It's not like you could buy stock in Harpo, Inc.

But you CAN buy stock in Discovery Communications, Inc., which will own OWN 50-50 with Harpo, Inc.

That's right, it's time for you to benefit from all your years of Oprah loyalty. Own some OWN.

Although Discovery Communications, Inc. has issued various series of stock the differences between which I have yet to discern, I'm seriously considering owning some OWN, or rather, Discovery Communications, Inc., in my 401K. Sure, it's a bet that Oprah…

Teena Marie: She Was Us

I was shocked to hear of Teena Marie's passing. Just as there are those who will always believe that Elvis, Tupac and Biggie are still alive, I'm one of those who will always believe this: Teena Marie was black. Blacker than me.

Yes, I saw video of her mother on TV One's "Unsung." Yes, I've seen her perform on television numerous times. I just refuse to believe that a white woman could talk, sing, and move in the world the way she did and still be white. If we as black people could give honorary black status to anyone, Teena Marie would have been at the top of the list. But we wouldn't have thought she needed such status. She was us.

She didn't imitate R&B and hip-hop; she was R & B and hip-hop. She wasn't like us; she was us. Teena Marie could have used the N-word and I don't think a single black person would have flinched. She earned that right, if for no other reason, for putting up with Rick James' mess as long as she…

Gifts I'm Giving Myself This Christmas

My mother didn't wait for or expect my father to buy her what she wanted for Christmas. She just went out and bought it herself. I think her logic was simple and still holds true: Why wait for or expect someone to not only determine your wishes but also fulfill them? I don't know about you, but I've never given myself a gift I didn't like.

In that vein, instead of waiting to be "surprised," for good or for bad, with a gift purchased for me, I'm giving myself the gifts I want this year. And they're not all monetary or consumption-driven. Sure, I went out and bought three Mulberry for Target handbags simply because I thought they were cute. I tried to score those Isabel Toledo for Payless Toreador pumps that keep selling out, only to become a victim of Payless' online inventory glitch and miss out totally. But the gifts I really want aren't all monetary, and I'm in the best position to give them to myself. They are:

The Gift of Boundaries. Too…

Don't Forget -- It Is a Christmas "Season"

It's easy in the midst of shopping, planning meals, cleaning house and preparing for holiday guests that it is a Christmas "season." Seasons don't last forever. If you don't take time out to enjoy the season, you'll look up and it'll be gone.

Enjoying the season doesn't have to mean spending a wad of cash. It's as easy as walking around your neighborhood or any neighborhood at night to look at Christmas lights. When BMNB and I lived in Colorado, that was one of our favorite things to do around Christmastime -- drive around at night and see the Christmas lights in the different neighborhoods around Denver.

You can donate canned goods from your pantry to a food bank knowing that a family in need will be fed and appreciative.

You can take time for yourself. Take a walk and get some fresh air and exercise -- 30 minutes of walking a day can make a world of difference if you've been sedentary for a long time. Stop and meditate -- clear you mind …

A Prayer for Aretha, From All Her Daughters

I was saddened to hear of Aretha Franklin's pancreatic cancer and surgery. I am praying, as are many of her other spiritual daughters, that she will recover and continue to reign as the Queen of Soul.

Although Aretha Franklin has no biological daughters, she has millions of us spiritual ones. We learned to demand respect, tell men to think about what they're trying to do to us, and revel in what it feels like to be a natural woman just by listening to her songs. We rocked steady and went riding on the freeway of love. We learned of the universality of heartbreak when she demanded, "don't play that song," as well as the ephemeral hope within love lost when she promised to knock on her man's door, tap on his window pane, and walk by herself to prove that her love was true. Her songs, and the feeling with which she sang them, told our stories -- what we'd been through or would eventually go through as women. She reminded us and Lauryn Hill that "a…

A Prayer for Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards passed away today at the age of 61, leaving behind three children and joining a fourth. Keep her earthly children in your prayers.

Elizabeth had the forethought to record her advice and wisdom for her young kids knowing she would not be there when they needed it. It saddens me that she has left behind two children under the age of 18. I'm not a mom, but I know most mothers live for two things: To raise all their children to adulthood and, if they're lucky, live to see their own grandchildren. Elizabeth Edwards will not achieve either of these goals.

When I turned 18, it was the most momentous coming-of-age moment for my parents because my turning 18 signaled they were done. They had gotten six kids to the age of adulthood, without pregnancies or prison time and with high school diplomas. For two black parents who had not finished high school, they were relieved. Their job was done. And, they lived to see their grandchildren.

I'm not a mom, but I can…

Free Willie (Nelson)!

Willie Nelson was busted for possession of marijuana. That's like busting Santa Claus for possessing a beard and a jelly belly.

Mind you, I don't partake of the stuff or like to be around it because it makes me nauseous, but I really feel the resources of our law enforcement authorities are better spent chasing down violent felons and sex offenders, not stoners. That's why I voted for Prop. 19.

Besides, Willie Nelson is a national treasure. He gave us Farm Aid. For goodness' sake, didn't he get high on the roof of the White House with Hamilton Jordan during the Carter Administration? Marijuana is what Willie Nelson does. Given his age and his contributions to our nation, can't we just give Willie a ghetto pass on the weed thing? Busting Willie Nelson for possessing pot is, to borrow one of his song lyrics, "crazy." Heck, we out to give Willie a ghetto pass on pot simply because he wrote "Crazy." That's one of my favorite songs. I…

No, That's Alright. I'm Good. (Save the Va-Jay-Jays)

My husband, Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB), cuts his own hair. As he stands in front of the mirror in nothing but a towel, clippers in hand, I often suggest in jest that he let me take the clippers in hand and tidy him up "down there." "You know, some man-scaping, " I say with a wink and a smile. He always smiles, shakes his head and says, "No, that's alright. I'm good." Of course he says this. What man would let anyone -- male, female or otherwise -- close to his manly parts with a pair of clippers?

This is where, I'm sorry to say, men have more sense than women.

I spent much of Sunday on the couch watching TV and recuperating from the cooking marathon that was Thanksgiving. I happened upon a documentary on the BBC America channel about women getting surgery on their personal lady parts to make them "perfect." I'm talking slicing labia, ladies, in pursuit of some idea of what the perfect punani looks like.

Ieeeuuuw!!!!! You don'…

Give Perfection The Finger

I can't make gravy. And I don't care.

I'm not fond of sweet potato pie, either, and I don't make any at all. Way too much competition and way too many critics in black families for that, which is why I don't make gumbo, either.

Chitlins? As if.

But I do make some mean dinner rolls from scratch, if I do say so myself. In fact, there's not much in the way of baked goods with yeast that I can't do if I put my mind to it. If there's yeast involved, I'm your girl.

Wait. That didn't come out right. But you get my drift.

In other words, I'm not your quintessential Martha Stewart or Patti Labelle -- women who seemed to be blessed with a multitude of talents they perform with equal excellence. Some things I'm good at; others, not so much. And I no longer care. I've given perfection the finger, and so should you.

You see, I haven't lead the typical female life in America. I didn't settle down with some guy right after college and …

Waitey Katey? More Like In-Law Willies. Ain't Love Grand?

Prince William and Kate Middleton recently announced their engagement. When asked what took them so long, Prince William responded that he wanted to give Kate the chance to witness the incredible pressure of living in a fishbowl and, if she couldn't handle it, to back out.

That may be what they told us, and that may even be what she told him, but I'm betting the truth is a little different.

What no one really talks about with marriage, especially with the newly-engaged, is this: When you marry the person, you marry the person's family.

I don't think it was the prospect of paparazzi that gave Kate cause to pause. I'd bet you dollars to doughnuts she was trying to decide if she could handle living among the royals, not as a royal.

Think about it: As sweet as Prince William may be, but for the jewels, castles, titles, and history, his family would be considered, well, ghetto. His dad, Prince Charles, brought a mistress into his marriage from day one. Not some hot babe, mi…

Take A Small Piece

For most of this year, I've been working on a political campaign. The good news is that my candidate won; the bad news is that I've neglected a lot of people and projects along the way.

For example, my house is a hot mess. I can't remember the last time I cleaned baseboards. But for my husband, the film crew from "Hoarders" would be on my front door step. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of things that I neglected or ignored during the campaign, including my husband.

Anyone who has ever worked on a campaign can tell you that it is a job unto itself. Add to that my day job, and, but for the furloughs, I'd have been hospitalized for exhaustion.

When I think of all the things I neglected and all that lies ahead, like getting ready for the holidays, I just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head until, say, January 2011.

To make matters worse, I'm reading Condoleezza Rice's memoir of her family, "Extraordinary, Ordinary Peo…

The Unwritten Rules of Life

I wrote these a long time ago while sitting in a boring meeting, and I recently ran across them. Mind you, I've definitely broken a few of these rules myself, like trying to raise grown boyfriends and not saving enough money, but these pearls of wisdom I've learned from my parents, family and friends might help you, too.

THE UNWRITTEN RULES OF LIFE

1. You are responsible for your children's education, not the government. If they drop out of school, they'll probably be living in your house, not the government's.

2. You are not where you live, what you drive, or what you wear.

3. Do not attend funerals of co-workers' relatives unless it is clear your presence is requested. Your co-workers are not your family.

4. Pets are not disposable. If you cannot commit to caring for a pet for its lifetime, consider gardening instead.

5. If you drive a luxury vehicle and live in the ghetto, the barrio, or a trailer park, your priorities are misplaced.

5a. Same if you have …

It's The Economy, Mr. President . . . And Some Better Communication, Too

Dear Mr. President,

You described the turn of events in Tuesday's mid-term elections as a "shellackin'." The Republicans have claimed victory and a rejection of your policies, Speaker-Elect Boehner has declared himself the new sheriff in town, and Speaker Pelosi is pondering her future.

Were this about any of you personally, your collective opinions might matter. But they don't because it's not about any of you, your parties, or the normal shift of power that happens during the midterms.

It's the economy, Mr. President, plain and simple. Oh, and some better communication, too. At the risk of being brash, let me, as the young kids say, break it down for you, Mr. President.

With all due respect, Mr. President, when people were losing their jobs and their homes, you failed to make the case clear as to why bailing out the Wall Street whackjobs was going to make Michael and Mary Middle-Class or Wendell and Wanda Working-Poor any better off. Bailing out AIG,…

BWB's 2010 California Voters Guide

To encourage each and every one of you who reads my blog to get out and vote, I'm going to share how I voted (I vote absentee) and why.

Governor: Jerry Brown. Why: Because this is no time for rookies or anyone else who hasn't figured out that we already have "policy groups" in the Legislature -- they're called "committees," Meg. Besides, you don't seem to know a voting ballot, so my voting ballot doesn't know you.

Lieutenant Governor: Abel Maldonado. Why: Even if Abel is in bed with Big Oil, he's not in bed with his best friend's wife. Yes, Gavin, character DOES count, and I'm not THAT much of a Democrat to vote for you.

Secretary of State: Debra Bowen. Why: For demanding integrity and accountability from the voting machine manufacturers. I'll forgive her putting up a logo from her alma mater, Michigan State, on the Secretary of State's website during the NCAA basketball tournament. Don't do it again though, Deb.

Controller: …

No, She's Not Sorry -- Nor Should She Be

So Virginia Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, thinks Professor Anita Hill should consider offering an apology and an explanation for "what she did with" Mrs. Thomas' husband.

Indeed.

As cool and rational as she was in 1991, Professor Hill did the right thing: She declined the invitation to apologize, as an apology presumes some wrongdoing. She did nothing wrong.

Let that be a lesson to women everywhere: If you stand up and tell the truth, and you've done nothing wrong, don't apologize.

However, I think Justice Thomas owes black people an apology for invoking the racialized metaphor of a lynching to question the motivations of his accusers instead of dealing with the accusations head-on. It seems Justice Thomas wants a color-blind society only when it suits his purposes.

As for Mrs. Thomas, she's lucky she asked someone as poised and well-mannered as Professor Hill to consider an apology to her husband. Had she asked the same of me, I woul…

Won't Let Them Take Me . . . To Crazytown

"The best thing you can do for the poor is not be one of them."

- Rev. Ike

"The best thing you can do for the crazy is not be one of them."

- Black Woman Blogging

"When you see crazy coming, cross the street."

- Iyanla Vanzant

You know them when you see them. Or maybe you don't. They come in late to a meeting or event and make a commotion, as if that would distract you from the fact that they're late. Or you have to negotiate with them to get them to do their crucial part on a team project because now they want to question everything that was done before, all of which they had already agreed to. Or they lie. Alot. Or they borrow money from you and then pick a fight with you to have an excuse not to pay you back. Or they constantly eye you up and down and "suggest" how you could dress better, look better, whatever. Or they are the drama queens and kings -- veritable drama royalty -- at any family event. Or they blame everbody and every…

Are We Done Persecuting Gays?

Gay teen suicides. The military opposing the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." And perverts thinking it's okay to set up secret webcams to record their gay roommate/classmate having sex and then stream it over the Internet, as if setting up a secret webcam to record anybody having sex is okay.

When did it become acceptable -- even cool -- to persecute gays?

I support gay marriage and oppose "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on legal grounds -- equality. If the government's going to stay in the business of deciding whether people can marry, it has to treat people equally. Marriage stopped being solely a religious rite when the government got into the business of regulating it. Besides, if marriage were solely a religious rite, then atheists shouldn't be allowed to marry -- but the government allows them to.

Similarly, if the government is going to decide who gets to defend our country (as if there's a rush to take up arms and get shipped to …

Veteran Pol, Rookie Mistake, and the "W" Word

It's the new millennium. Why, oh why, do politicians still get caught saying embarrassing things or having their staff say embarrassing things into "hot" microphones or their functional equivalent -- phone calls on speaker that haven't been properly terminated?

Veteran politician Jerry Brown made the rookie mistake -- or his staff did -- of continuing an off-color conversation about Meg Whitman while inadvertently leaving a voicemail by not properly terminating a speakerphone call. We've seen this same "rookie" mistake with hot mics with Carly Fiorina and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

But it's what's said in these unintentionally revealing moments that is, well, revealing.

In the new millennium, you don't get to call a woman politician, even Meg Whitman, a "whore." It's a term charged with sexist meaning, usually reserved only for women, often unfairly used. Sure, Meg may have been selling out to the police unions, agreeing to lay o…

The Benefits of Being Raised Black: Who Promised You "Fair"?

Who promised you "fair"? Well, they lied to you.

- My late mother's response whenever I said, "That's not fair."

When I read the California Supreme Court's decision upholding the state employee furloughs, of course I was mad because the legal reasoning was so twisted. The justices clearly reached high into the far recesses of their collective behinds to pull out that decision. Before I could complete my thought of, "That's not fair," the voice of my late mother, She Who Is Exalted (SWIE), came into my head:

"Who promised you 'fair'? Well, they lied to you."

At that point, I laughed, thankful for having been raised black.

Black parents don't sugarcoat anything. Life's not fair? Well, who promised you "fair"? Life knocks you down? I'll let you liethere for a little while, but then you have to get back up. Get cheated out of something you worked hard for? The world doesn't owe you a damn thing. Expecting…

The Meg and Nicky Situation: Janky and Stanky

When the story broke about Meg Whitman's undocumented maid, I was a bit skeptical. The timing was a bit suspicious. Whether Meg and her husband were aware that there had been a Social Security no-match letter sent to them was not clearly proven at the time. But when Nicky Diaz Santillan said that, at the time of her dismissal, Meg told here, "From now on, you don't know me, and I don't know you," I thought: Sounds like Meg knew.

Those words sound like they came from an aspiring politician trying to hide something, just like the words, "Now, kiss it when you're done," sound like they came from an NBA player visiting Colorado for knee surgery who never thought he'd be caught forcing a woman into sex.

But I digress.

The issue isn't what Meg did but how she handled it. She blamed just about everyone under the sun for hatching a conspiracy against her and pleaded ignorance of Nicky's status until just before she fired her. She said Nicky handled…

Grace, Favor and Mammograms

I have BMNB's stomach to thank.

A few weeks ago, BMNB ate something that didn't sit well with him for a few days. Finally, I told him he needed to go to the doctor to make sure there wasn't something seriously wrong. I went with him because BMNB doesn't always remember to ask all the hard questions of our doctor. Like a dog at the vet, he just wants to get in and get out with as little pain as possible.

So since we were at Kaiser Hospital, I remembered that 1) I had not had my annual birthday mammograms; and 2) Kaiser does walk-in mammograms. Once our family doctor determined that BMNB probably had a stomach virus of some sort, I decided that since I was in the building, why not kill two birds with one stone and get my mammograms done?

A week later, I received the call that no woman wants to receive: "We need you to come in for a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound." I was told that since the mammograms I had were my first digital ones, the machine might be over…

Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

It was a petty thought.

I saw a lady crossing the street today wearing a beautiful flowery empire waist blouse. I thought, "How pretty" -- that is, until I looked down and saw that she was wearing black Lycra leggings. With thighs the size of tree trunks.

I thought, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." How many times had I and my college girlfriends said this among ourselves when we saw some poor fashion victim?

Then I had to laugh, because this applied to me, too. So, in the interest of personal honesty, I'm going to disclose things I don't wear under the rule of, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

Skinny jeans. For one obvious reason -- I ain't skinny -- and one not-so-obvious reason: I'm knock-kneed. I'd look like a walking X chromosome if I wore skinny jeans.

Leggings. For reasons different than the flowery blouse lady. I have cellulite more powerful than Lycra and Spandex. My behind refuses t…

Because I AM Shallow and Insecure

Let's start by saying I'm glad no Qu'rans were burned last week and I'm sad that people were. I hope that my former employer, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (which, in my father's view, was the best employer I ever had because both my boss and my secretary were black) makes it as right as it can for all those families affected.

That said, allow me a moment of shallowness. Okay, perhaps a day.

I don't normally check out my husband's Facebook page. Why? Because he normally doesn't. It's the Facebook equivalent of a vast wasteland. He doesn't check it very often, never posts, doesn't check messages. BMNB is not a social media kind of guy.

Well, at least I thought he wasn't. Come to find out, there are a couple of women he's "friended" on his FB page whom I don't know, one of whom is single and clearly lists one of her interests as "men."

Mind you, I try to be open-minded about a lot of things and more evolv…

If You Fail To Plan . . .

My best friend always says, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." She follows that one up with, "Plan your work and work your plan." She's right.

I'm abysmal at following through on my plans. I think the problem is that I don't have kids. Bear with me.

When you have children around you, you have a visual prompt as to the passage of time. You see them grow and gain skills over time, and it's a reminder of time passing and how much time you don't have with them.

Without kids, the only prompts you have as to the passage of time are gray hair, wrinkles and infirmity. Well, I'm genetically blessed in that department. I don't have a lot of a gray hair, the only wrinkles I have are laugh lines, and despite high cholesterol, my biggest infirmity is self-imposed -- obesity. Long story short, I don't feel as old as I am. I don't realize how much time has passed until I find myself in the presence of children.

I had the pleasure of …

The One Blog Entry I Never Wanted To Write

It's not the natural order of things for a parent to bury a child.

-- My dad.

Everybody is somebody's child.

-- My mom.

While other kids were learning their colors and numbers, as a four-year old, my mother made me memorize my home address, phone number, and my parents' names just in case something happened to me and some adult wanted to help me. Like most parents, she hoped that if something happened to me, somebody would realize that I "belonged" to somebody and would help me. That somebody would show some compassion and not take advantage of a child, her child. She wanted me to be able to help whoever was going to help me get home. Naively, she believed that were I to be lost, somebody would help me just because I was somebody's child.

Perhaps that's too much to hope for in the new millennium.

I'll admit -- I've been avoiding writing this blog entry.

I took time off to prepare for a barbecue Black Man Not Blogging and I were giving for some dear, …

A Cookie and a Nap

If anyone asks me what my happiest time was during my educational years, I would respond, "kindergarten."

Why? Because Mrs. Anderson, my kindergarten teacher, knew exactly what each of us 6 year-olds needed. And sometimes, yours truly needed a cookie and a nap. Quite frankly, I think JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater needed a cookie and nap the other day when he let fly an expletive-laden invective and jetted out the back with two beers. He needed Mrs. Anderson.

Mrs. Anderson was an angel of mercy for a little girl like me who didn't want to be in kindergarten. She wore her raven-black hair elegantly swept back in a French twist and wore dresses much like those worn by the characters in "Mad Men" -- cinched at the waist, full skirt, form-fitting above the waist (This was 1969, after all.). She was expert at dealing with little kids like me who didn't want to be around a bunch of snot-nosed crybabies who didn't know how to count or read or know t…

I Hope Elena Kagan Is Gay

It’s really none of my business. Really. But I hope Elena Kagan is gay.

The U.S. District Court in San Francisco struck down California’s Proposition 8 on the grounds that, among other arguments, it violated the Equal Protection Clause because there was no rational basis for discriminating against gays and lesbians. For those of you non-lawyers out there, rational basis analysis is the weakest test applied to discriminatory laws. If you were comparing rational basis analysis to limbo, let’s just say it would be ankle-high: not a hard hurdle to overcome. And yet the proponents of Proposition 8 failed to overcome it.

So imagine how lame Judge Vaughn Walker thought the justifications for Proposition 8 were that he ruled that they didn’t pass rational basis analysis, to wit:

1) Preserving the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman;
2) Proceeding with caution when implementing social changes;
3) Promoting opposite-sex parenting over same-sex parenting;
4) Protecting the freedom of …

My Own Personal Hater (Work That)

I guess I must be doing something right. I have my owner personal hater. Again.

My personal hater, or PH, takes delight in what PH perceives to be my downfall or struggle and, in the guise of offering assistance, seeks to get deeper into my personal business so PH can feel better about PH. Don't know why, but PH can't seem to stand it when I stand out. PH consistently tries to "improve" on my ideas and my work but usually doesn't. Once in a while, yes, but not consistently enough to claim victory or superiority.

You probably have your own PH, too -- at work, in your family, in an organization you work with. If not, it's because your PH hasn't shown him or herself yet. BMNB (my husband, Black Man Not Blogging) has his own PH, too. He doesn't let it bother him.

It wouldn't bother me if I could jettison this PH like I've done others in my life -- even those I'm related to -- but, for the moment, I'm stuck with this PH.

When I was youn…

Race in America: A Hot Mess

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous calls on the Tea Party to disavow itself of the racist elements within its ranks. Sarah Palin fires back, calling the NAACP a "racist organization." She also creates a new word, "refudiate," which, up until then, had probably never been used in the New York Times. Then someone fires back with video of U.S. Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod's speech from an NAACP fundraiser taken out of context. The Secretary of Agriculture overreacts, fires Sherrod, only to find out later that the video had been edited and that Ms. Sherrod's message was not racist, but reconciling. And throughout, Ms. Sherrod maintains her cool, is later offered a better job at the Department of Agriculture, and receives a well-deserved apology from President Obama himself.

Then this morning I listen to Dean Christopher Edley of the Boalt Hall School of Law and John McWhorter of the Manhattan Institute on CNN state that these shenanigans did …