Tag Archive: Culture


By Esperanza D.

Esperanza

A big thanks to Corve DaCosta who gave me the opportunity, through a blog contest, to be a guest blogger for a day.  I entered the contest with the hope of using it as a platform to creating just a little change, for the better, in this world.

As some of you may know from the HmmSweetSplendidWisdom blog I’m both a Social Work graduate student and a Social Justice activist.  Through my field practicum for school, I am working on HIV prevention and education, as well as HIV testing and counseling. I enjoy it a lot and plan on attending a conference this summer in New York that talks about issues surround HIV and women, in particular women of color.

I’m really excited about this, as my own passion is working with, and empowering women.  In addition, my interest in HIV prevention and education began when my uncle passed away from AIDS and I saw, firsthand, the stigma attached to it. I then knew that it wasn’t ok to treat others as anything less than equal.

Well, I came across a really needed website the other day I want to share with you. It’s called the “Pepsi Refresh Project” that gives $$ to grassroots projects led by real people and community members, like yourselves. Anyone is able to submit an idea that deals with giving back to the community in a way they find most productive or creative. In turn, it is posted online to be voted on by the public and the winner receives a lot of cash for their project. How cool is that? Here is the link if you wish to vote on current projects and find the sign up link to submit your own for the next round.http://www.refresheverything.com/index

What I plan to do is attend the HIV and Women Conference this summer and use my creative talents to come up with a great project proposal for the Pepsi Refresh Project. When this happens, I hope you will support my efforts through your vote. In turn, I hope you feel inspired to come up with a project of your own to submit to the site. Think about what communities or populations could use your support and where you feel your passion can make the most impact.

February 6 – Today is Bob Marley’s 65th Birthday.

Bob Marley

Bob Marley is a worldwide legend. He is celebrated locally in Jamaica and loved internationally. The first Bob Marley song I learnt was One Love and many will admit this is the only one they know. I also know Three Little Birds because my father would always sing this one – even hum it or whistle to it. It was like a morning ritual. He would be by the side of the house near my room window working and all you hear is “Don’t Worry, about a thing.” Can I say maybe that was the wake up call.

Bob Marley’s song One Love is a staple on Jamaica’s Tourism advertisements internationally. In many parts of the world this man is idolised. Jamaicans will argue he isn’t awarded or celebrated enough because to this day some still advocate for him to be a National Hero or to be more awarded for his work. He brought Jamaican music to the world and has paved the platform for today’s musicians from Jamaica.

Imagine today we celebrate Michael Jackson’s birthday and the television networks don’t even have a feature about his life. I am sure they will have one. However, for most Jamaicans Bob Marley is just as huge (his music) and I expected to wake up to a nice Bob Marley program but there are none. I know many people are sad, I just read a tweet from a Jamaican who expressed he wants to see Bob Marley trending.

Happy Birthday to a son of Jamaica who has touched the world musically with his gifts. He will be remembered for his repertoire of songs and for bringing Jamaica’s music, reggae to the world.

Happy Birthday Bob Marley.

Bob Marley One Love

Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds

Redemption Song – Bob Marley

No Woman No Cry – Bob Marley

Be YOU – Don’t Imitate

You have studied hard for your examination and there beside you is someone who is intent on copying your answers. What do you do? It may be a great feeling for those who see it as helping out another but dishonesty cannot be rewarded. In Jamaica, the entertainers here have a bad habit or it may be a culture where they imitate popular songs internationally and write lyrics to make it their own with the same mix. A more recent case saw one of Jamaica’s dancehall artistes Vybz Kartel and Spice with a song called Ramping Shop (very sexual I might add) copying Neyo’s Miss Independent Woman. Only when the song was very popular internationally did Neyo file papers to stop these unscrupulous artistes from profiting from his work. Alicia Keys, Beyonce etc are all victims of this.

Neyo’s Miss Independent – Original Song

The Imitation

Alicia Keys – Sleeping with a Broken Heart

The Jamaican Copy by Various Jamaican Dancehall Artistes

The Diva Beyonce

Do you see elements of Beyonce’s style in this video?

To imitate means to copy the actions, appearance, mannerisms, or speech of; mimic. In a recent post I expressed my admiration for Beyonce. I knew the regular readers would find that as a surprise. My love for her is more than an appreciation for her music but more so an admiration in the way she carries herself and performs in the music industry. Her team led by her dad treats her like a product – which is actually is.

I may also like her because her father has many years experience in Marketing and knows the application and the understanding of such. I will agree with her critics that she isn’t the best singer the world has seen and she is overrated. However, what Beyonce has is a commanding stage presence, her performances are amazing and insiders in the music industry express many times over again that she works hard. To her credits, she has won tens of Grammies and reached many number ones on the biggest charts internationally. Anytime she exits the stage you would have known she gave her best and you would have been entertained by Sasha Fierce her alter ego. When you look at Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Alicia Keys; these artistes are popular because of their originality and the freshness they bring to the music industry. I have a problem with people imitating established artistes. Interesting I say that knowing I have a business background where you copy an invention or a process to make profits. However, I believe artistes who imitate are short on talent and lack the creativity they need to survive. It is also interesting to observe that artistes just starting out are the ones who imitate because they idolize these established artistes.

Here in Jamaica, there is a female dancehall artiste who goes by the name D’Angel. I remember years ago in an interview she stated that her idol or the person she looks up to Beyonce. I didn’t know that idolizing an artiste would make you imitate their actions even their style of performane but that is imitation.

The trend of imitating the hardest working female in the music industry even exist in USA I saw a video recently and the props, production of the video resembles one Beyonce did earlier in her career. Many people will not notice similarities like this except for the ones who are looking for the details. What if an artiste imitated Lady Gaga, then maybe the imitation would be clear for everyone to see. It appears the more mild the imitation artistes get a free pass on stealing someone’s ideas and make it their own to generate profits.

For those who are able to dig up the singers Beyonce imitated will agree that some of her ideas may not be new but she uses her own style to add to what was done before to make it her own.

I believe in making your own self. Each one of us has unique talents and gifts that make us special. What if everyone blogged the same way, sang the same way, listened to classical music etc we wouldn’t have diversity.

Oprah recently produced a show to highlight the crises in Haiti. On the program Rihanna was featured singing Bob Marley’s Redemption Song. Here she sings an established song – sang it word for word but added her own style and creativity to the song – which turned out great. I cannot stop listening to this song which was produced to help raise money for the Haitians.

Entertainers should desist from imitating artistes all in the name to make a profit. These songs are played on the internet and on local radio stations and I would assume they make money from appearance fees singing these songs. I am tired of it.

Do not forget to enter my blog competition which ends on January 30, 2010 midnight. Enter on the post below.

Have you ever been in an enclosed area and smell the fumes from someone smoking? Doesn’t it annoy you? It must be weird being annoyed by a smell. I am upset, agitated, and infuriated when I smell a smoker and the smoke from their activities. I cannot fathom why someone would smoke their way to their death beds. We have heard of the many side-effects and ramifications for smoking cigarettes. For crying out loud go far far away and kill yourself with the fumes. Why make the rest of the world suffer in your unhealthy agony? I cannot imagine what goes on in the lungs and inside the body as they inject those crazy chemicals in.

Obama the Savior

Obama the Savior

My heart goes out though to all of the many addicts to smoking. I really blame them for their conditions and addiction to cigarettes and wish that they would change their lifestyle to a healthier one. Many families are being separated by those family members who smoke for a lifetime and end up dying from complications. There are however, solutions and many alternatives smokers can make to live their lives better.

In America alone 46 million people light a cigar. We have heard many times of the disadvantages for smoking but the information does not move smokers to stop killing themselves silently. They are addicted and so drawn and warped into smoking that they cannot and sometimes find it hard to end a life addicted to its contents. One would think businesses would stop making cigarettes so harmful to the body. No. They are manufactured and marketed to entice the innocent. Many young people are becoming addicted to smoking and the trend must be stopped. How many young people should die because of this addictive substance? Worldwide between 80,000 and 100,000 kids will start smoking everyday. No public service announcement can save those kids. Parents should become involved in parenting once again and ensure that their young children are not being killed early.

I have not felt the urge to smoke, never. I wonder what would prompt someone to light a cigar then. Of course, we can blame society, the culture and all the other factors that motivate our actions. I think our culture has a lot to do with this nasty trend. In Jamaica and many other parts of the world it is acceptable if a teen smokes in public. He/She is seen as unique, special, cool, fun, exciting the list goes on. What if we had generated a culture where we speak out against killing our hearts and our bodies? The price we pay to provide health care to these lunatics who are walking dead bodies waiting to happen must end now.

Side Effects of Smoking Cigarettes

  • Tobacco contributes to many cancers.
  • Smoking causes heart disease.
  • Smoking causes fat deposits to narrow and block blood vessels which lead to heart attack.
  • Smoking is a slow way to die.
  • Smoking causes heart attacks and strokes.
  • Carbon monoxide robs your muscles, brain and body tissue of oxygen, making your whole body and especially your heart work harder. Over time, your airways swell up and let less air into your lungs.
  • Causes impotence in men.

The list goes on but I decided just to highlight those.

I want people to realize the dangers of smoking and their lives. We are having a heated discussion on health care reform in the US. The fact is people must take personal responsibility for their lives and take steps to live a healthy lifestyle. In 1998 alone, USA spent $72.7 billion on people with health care problems associated with smoking. We are in 2009 that cost would never be decreased but increased. We are setting up ourselves for a huge problem with heart issues and strokes hitting younger people if we create a culture where smoking is accepted. I agree when any government that comes down hard on smokers. They must be taxed to the point where they cannot afford the product. Then we will see this horrendous habit by millions changed.

Can someone tell Obama to make this a teachable moment? He is for crying out loud, spewing fumes into the White house on a regular basis. He must be confronted and a team used to stop his addiction to smoking. If he doesn’t……..Oh my God!

Rock on Michelle Malkin

I have an open ear to contending views. I will sit down and have an honest debate and after it is finished have no bad feelings against you. Many people however cannot do this. I find it hard to believe that people cannot have a discussion and still love each other at the end. That is one reason why some people hate politics as well. I must point out something that is interesting. Politicians put on a show for us and spew hate and opposing views at each other and at the end they are best friends leaving their offices. They are loyal friends for life. However, when these discussions are viewed by citizens and the electorates they are separated and they hate each other because of the differing views.

Malkin

Malkin

Recently I came across Michelle Malkin. I have seen here before (didn’t know her name) but now I really know her or so I think. In recent times she is making the media talk show rounds on television networks in a bid to promote her new book ‘Culture of Corruption’. In the book she attacks Barack & Michelle Obama and the corruption that goes on in Washington with other democratic members of Obama’s cabinet also highlighting the background of her targets.

The first clip I saw of her was on Glenn Beck, later on the Today Show on NBC, Sean Hannity and more recent The View. She (Malkin) is just able to dominate a conversation so easily because these interviewers cannot and does not have the facts to oppose. In the Today Show interview Matt just sat there and listened to her as she dominated the conversation entirely. On the contrast, the Sean Hannity’s interview was more interactive and open. The View’s interview was by far the worst. The ladies on The View were ill prepared and lackadaisical in the interview. Malkin smashed all the possible arguments one could use to oppose her making the hosts look stupid. Oh, that word again. I thought it was horrible when Malkin hit back at Whoopi for misquoting her words, that was not good.

I think she is a great debater. She articulates her points very well and she is armed with facts. That’s the main reason why she will win any debate coupled with her passion and charisma on any political issue. I tend to switch from side to side depending on the issue whether Republican or Democrat. I have to agree and believe Malkin on this issue of the corruption in the Obama administration. She discloses the factual information that proves her point.

We know what the Chicago politics is like. There are the pay for play syndrome and the many acts of corruption in public service. It is surprising that Obama rose to prominence out of a culture like this to promote transparency and change.

Obama has failed to deliver on change. He has used the same corrupt politicians in his administration and has employed so many persons to make this a huge government. The fact is the bigger the government the more failures we will see including mismanagement. Republicans stress less government and I can see through that. The less government holds in a society the more freedom and choices citizens will have.

Many people question why the addiction to Obama’s past. I believe in checking Obama’s past because in his past we have found out why he stands on certain issues. His influences are important to note and people should care about the foundations and policies one believes in. This spread the wealth around and universal health care are all Obama plans that will damage the economy. I am tired of hearing Obama inherited this mess. He campaigned to inherit it so this argument of not being hard on him is ludicrous. This is Obama’s economy, the buck stops with him.

I like Michelle Malkin though not because she is attractive. I can understand anyone who can boldly say they hate her. If I were a baptized democrat I would too. She is brutal with her comments and does not apologize for her opinions on certain issues. If there is anything I take away from her it’s her passion, the charisma and love she puts in her work. I will always appreciate the facts she brings to a debate and will be forced to deliver facts if I ever decide to oppose.

Marketing for any business operating in today’s harsh business world isn’t easy. Getting the right campaign to the target market is a huge task. Hitting the nail on the head can be a massive gamble. Companies who use the services of marketing/advertising agencies most times are not in control of what the agencies produce. Somehow, companies even accept anything that the agency produces without contesting or even make suggestions to improve on the advertisement. It is sad when companies have to withdraw ads that offend a segment of the target market even sometimes offending the society. Advertisements are not only produced for the intended market. Because they are viewed in the mass media, extending the reach of the ad, the advert may be offensive. Companies however have a huge role in ensuring that the ads that the company has on television, radio, print etc are comfortable and not offensive.

Recently, KGB a company that answers questions that they receive by text messaging released an ad that some people find offensive. Some even want the ad to be pulled. The ad portrays black females in a salon getting their hair done. A female talent in the ad asked the other ‘What kind of hair is this?’ The response of the hairstylists says natural. The discussion there continues with the quest to find out what natural hair means by sending a text message to KBG for the answer.

From the advertising agency and company’s point of view they have achieved their objectives. They produced an ad reflecting the company’s proposition (product), and they used talents which reflected in some way their intended target audience. Success huh?

But the issue is bigger than that. The issue is the portrayal of black people. Culturally, the black race is known for their sense of humour, survival, hardworking attitude, breaking the law etc. Generally in advertisements the black talent would always deliver that punch line of a joke, or be seen eating unhealthy foods like chicken (not that chicken is bad). There are both positive and negative images that are embedded in ads today. These images can be offending; some can be flattering while others can be motivating.

There is certainly nothing wrong with the advertisement of this company. People will find issue with the ad that most of the actors were black. Normally, companies with a huge target market would show diversity in the ad to show that all races accept their product. This advertisement borderlines offensive because it appears to be saying that only black people wear weaves and emphasizes the fact that they cannot explain where it comes from. The believe that black people wear the most weaves may be a lie, but this ad does not make it appealing.

But how did we get here? There are issues within the black community and it is sad that this company is highlighting that flaw to sell their brand. Majority of people believe that black people use weave as a way to change who they really are. They use all the hair products and chemicals to look like someone else. Weaves do compliment and enhance a woman’s features. There is nothing wrong with wearing a weave. There might be a problem when weave identifies your race.

Today, July 30, 2009 is Cheesecake day.

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

If you have not had cheesecake, half of your life is gone. Today is dedicated to cheesecakes, oh how we love them. Whatever the type you like cheesecakes have brought families together and many special moments. There is something special about this wonderful and divine cake.

If you want to be my friend, let’s have an evening out and have cheesecake. Many people associate cheesecakes with gaining weight, breakouts on the face (zits), fat, calorie intake etc. All of this may be true but there is something very appealing about the presentation and aesthetic of a cheesecake.

They come in a variety of flavours and once you try one that you like. You will forever be having them as desserts.

My top five flavours are:

  1. White Chocolate
  2. Vanilla
  3. Cherry
  4. Blueberry
  5. Run and Raison

Sound off. What is your favourite flavour and what makes a cheesecake special to you?

“Nothing is more fatal to health care than an over care of it” – Benjamin Franklin

obama1

In many parts of the world, health care is operated by the government. Such countries include: Cuba, Canada and UK among others. Although they are advantages and disadvantages of universal health care the government will end up playing a huge role in the health care those citizens receive.

There is a health care debate rather war raging on in the USA. Politicians of course on issues like this all take their sides with some not contemplating or refuse to negotiate on the issue. Even the government’s party that is expected to support an issue like this even find disagreements to squabble over. All citizens deserve a proper and quality health care system. Quality health care systems will determine the expected life for citizens in a country.

Many will agree that the American system is expensive for some. With over 40 million uninsured persons the government has a right to tackle health care reform. They need to tackle health care reform because equity should permeate in a society. It cannot be that only the rich, working class or the educated are allowed to proper health care treatments. It is absurd and changes must be made, I think all can agree on that.

However, covering that many people is the problem. Where will the funds come from? Someone has to pay for a system like that. Universal health care is a great idea. Those viewing the issue from a Utilitarian point of view will forever think that this is the best thing to do. Obama’s plan is constantly changing since debates are currently going on and the quest to please as many people remains the viable option.

We all know the benefits of having universal health care but what about the cons. We have heard of the Canadian and UK experience where patients take forever to get proper care. In one area in Canada the nurse shakes a box and picks out four names. Those four names will be able to see the doctor. I do not think that this is the way to run a health care system for all. You will have people dying because of lack of treatment when the purpose of the program was to provide that needed health care for all.

Another disadvantage we hear of is the quality patients will receive. The quality may not be an issue since hospitals in the USA provide a good service. It is also good to note that health care treatment and drugs will also be rationed by the government. Can you imagine this?

Patient information will never be private as the government will control all the information. We all know that when private information is in a database, it will be compromised. I already see media houses, tabloids having spies to search the database exposing people’s private information. It is crazy what can happen with Universal health care.

The story gets better. There are advantages having a universal health care plan. The most popular is that those who could not afford health care will now be covered. Patients with pre-existing conditions are also covered. Along with this a database is created to make things work efficiently.

I believe in a universal health care plan. I do not believe in a one time roll out plan as this can damage a country. One has to take into consideration the costs. If America puts in place this plan their taxes will be increased and the debt will rise.

I prefer a system where the government takes steps in rolling out Universal health care. For example, prepare legislation to cover a segment of society – children. This will make the opposing parties have fewer disagreements. The advantage of taking on universal health care in stages is that the effect covering all would have on the economy is different than just taking on a segment. That’s the approach I would take. Since I’m not Obama lets have one go at this, one shot. We should not be in a rush to pass health care reform when most of the legislators will never read the bill in its entirety or inform the public of what changes will be made.

As the debate roars on people will constantly be divided. As republicans, they believe that there should be less of government and more of private sector. The democrats believe in providing health care for all. Years ago, health care reform was stalled as the debate didn’t materialize in a bill to be passed. The President came out saying that a bill should be on his desk by August. Legislators told him bravely no bill till September. Will there be any other delay? It appears this time around that a bill will be passed. A bill to cover all – called Universal health care plan.

Drugged Athletes

Becoming an Olympian is the ultimate reward for any athlete. By Michael Diamond

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

We all have our favourite professional athletes and we all have our favourite sporting activities. For many, fans idolize these athletes where they become role models and inspiration for most people. But what happens when these athletes are accused of taking banned substances? Are the different sporting areas affected, and how can we erase or decrease athletes taking these substances that not only put a stain on their careers but also the sports they participated in?

For those who enter professional sport arena they have a huge responsibility. They are charged with the duties to remain clean – drug free, role models, and also to enhance the appeal of the sport by performing excellently. However, over the years many athletes have secretly used banned substances to cheat the sporting officials and the world by exceeding expectations. With these drugs injected and taken orally they (athletes) are able to perform above normal athletes who would not have been on drugs. The cases of drugged athletes are not contained to one sport, its spread across the board.

Personally, I have a problem with drugged athletes. Professional sporting bodies have formed boards and bodies to combat the use of drugs in sports. However, athletes seem to elude the officials and people set to investigate these occurrences. They put a taint not only on their successful careers but also the credibility of the sport itself. Promoters get millions of dollars for each meet, game, championship with years later hearing that the race, game you watched and adored will become null and void. The perception of having a clean drug free sport seems to be a fantasy idea today.

To remedy the situation the official bodies set to oversee this process have developed punishments. What is more surprising though is that in track and field there is a grading for banned substances. One would like to think that once a drug can advance or increase your abilities to exceed performance it would have the same rating like other dangerous drugs. This is the confused signal that the boards send and will motivate athletes to take drugs since all you will get is a slap on the wrist. Recently, five professional athletes in Jamaica was tested positive for taking banned substances. However, since the drugs taken have a Grade B rating all the athletes will get is a warning. Most argue that the athletes’ careers are tainted and get most of the slack. To this end, actually the sport gets most of the slack for not ensuring that the athletes are drug free and that the credibility of the race, game or championship is withheld.

If the boards set up to catch the perpetrators are doing so late then it makes sense to legalize banned drugs. It might seem ludicrous but when millions of fans take time out of their schedules to participate in events and then hear their favourite race, record set, game was scared by drugged athletes it doesn’t add up, it’s a failure. If sport administrators pledge to fans of their credibility, drug free athletes then they should be able to deliver on that target set. More must be done to ensure that athletes who participate do so drug free not damaging a sport’s reputation. These druggists must be stopped. They (athletes and coaches) know the rules and know which drugs are in products. They deliberately take drugs to outperform other legal athletes and get all the glory (awards, media coverage); which lasts only for a moment until what was done in the dark comes to the light of the world.

If they cannot guarantee drug free athletes to their millions of fans then they (administrators) should legalize banned substances. Whether it is Tour de France, Track and Field, Baseball, Tennis, Swimming, Horse racing you name it, they have a duty to ensure they live up to their set standards. I want to know that when I have watched a race, game, championship that the thought of an athlete being on drug is ludicrous, a non-issue, a dead story. It should be irrelevant. I should be able to trust the results and not think what I saw was a blatant lie.

One’s allegiance to their country must not be compromised. The moment a citizen has breached this rule and decides to run for public office it should become an issue. Most countries have strong rules and opinions on this matter. It is understandably why, pledging allegiance to your country shows love for your country and where your priorities are even when the going gets tough.

Recently in Jamaica politicians were under fire and still are because some pledged allegiance to different sovereign states. Both the ruling government and the opposition have been at war to oust members of the house who have citizenship in other countries. The courts have ruled on the matter and have issued that elections be held in the constituencies that are in question. I believe politicians must prove without a doubt their allegiance and documents proving that they are citizens of that country. This must be done even if the minority wants to know.

obama1There is a budding debate now going on in some quarters of the United States of America where citizens are crying fowl over the authenticity of Obama’s candidacy and him being president. Even if you think that the president is an American citizen which most people still believe why the president won’t provide full proof that he is. He has provided a document that any thief can provide as his birth certificate which doesn’t count. He has not provided the real birth certificate, that authentic document. Political pundits like Lou Dobbs are putting pressure on the issue. It just won’t go away.

Viewers of CNN are even lobbying for Lou Dobbs to leave the network. It’s an issue huge on most blogs. The President of CNN was reported saying that this birth certificate is a non-issue and it’s a dead story since the President released his fake birth certificate. That is appalling coming from a man who should be encouraging his team to research issues that are topical and are of importance. What is also amazing is that people who are against Obama seems to come under pressure when it is a real complaint. The media is so in love and in bed with Obama that they are not questioning this issue. The way they treated McCain on this matter for him to prove he was an American citizen is mind boggling. Can we have some balance here? That is why I also believe that people have a problem with the FOX Network. Because they push the button on issues and apologize to no one for their reporting. I can see why CNN has slipped.

Dobbs

Dobbs

The interesting thing is if Lou Dobbs leaves CNN I am sure FOX will gobble him up and he will have a huge contract providing real news keeping our politicians honest with the top network.

All I want Obama to do is to prove he is a USA citizen. Prove it with the real document. Let us see the seal, the doctor, and the document in its entirety. No make shift document will not work. With the media in bed Obama I am not sure how far this issue will go.