Friday, April 27, 2012

Former basketball great Erving “Magic” Johnson to hold a major stake in newly created YMF Media

Thirty year long rival stations 98.7 KISS FM and WBLS (107.5) would soon be "one family, one station."

According to the Daily News—who compare the merger with a Yankees/Mets merger—the stations began simulcasting this morning, starting with a tribute to the 30-year legacy of KISS. Then on Monday, they will officially become one station, with all hosts (as of now) being integrated under the WBLS call letters, meaning KISS 98.7 FM is dead.  

Former basketball great Erving “Magic” Johnson will hold a minor stake in newly created YMF Media. YMF Media was created by two Yucaipa funds and two Fortress funds, which owned the senior debt of now defunct Black owned Inner City Broadcasting Corporation. The Inner City Broadcasting Corporation ("ICBC") was an American media company based in New York City.

Creditors of Inner City Media Corp., the holding company for the owner of New York City’s WLIB and WBLS radio stations, filed an involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in New York on August 19, 2011.

The creditors, including Yucaipa Cos. funds, listed $254 million in debt in a filing today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. The Yucaipa Companies, LLC is a Los Angeles-based holding company, focusing on private equity investments. The firm was founded in 1986 by its billionaire chairman, Ronald Burkle.

The late Percy Sutton, former attorney to Malcolm X and a former Manhattan Borough President; and Clarence Jones, former publisher of The New York Amsterdam News, one of the oldest black-owned newspapers in the United States, founded the company in 1970. Inner City’s failure to repay its debt is attributed to the failure of listeners - whom are predominantly African American - to demand that the advertisers they patronize fairly spend their advertising budgets supporting black radio, and black hosts like Michael Baisden and Tom Joyner both of whom lost their syndicated berths on 98.7 and 107.5 respectively ought to be more assertive in calling for this support.

ICBC is notable for being one of the first broadcasting companies wholly owned by African-Americans. The firm was the second-largest broadcasting company owned by and targeting blacks, after Lanham, Maryland-based Radio One. The “M” in YMF Media is believed to refer to Magic Johnson, who is already Yucaipa’s partner in three Phoenix radio stations.

The company acquired Inner City Broadcasting’s Flagship urban radio station WBLS 107.5 FM and gospel WLIB 1190 AM through a court sponsored fire sale. 'BLS was once the standard bearer of black radio with legendary program director and Disc Jockey Frankie Crocker at the helm in the early 70’s through late 80’s, when Emmis Communications’ urban response to the station 98.7 FM came on line on August 1, 1981 rapidly eroding BLS’ dominance in the New York market.  

Inner City Media, through Inner City Broadcasting, owned urban-formatted radio stations in New York, California, South Carolina and Mississippi. The WRKS name is also disappearing, the two stations are jointly holding a “celebration of the legacy of Kiss-FM” all weekend.

98.7 KISS FM was born on August 1, 1981 and was one of the first FM radio stations to specifically speak to the African-American community. Known for its heavy influence in the community, KISS FM was also a pioneer in the radio industry at that time being the first radio station in America to play Hip-hop music in regular rotation and hire club DJs as a part of their on-air staff. Along with the emerging music, 98.7 KISS FM is the main outlet in New York for Black community leaders and politicians to spread positive messages on the radio. 

98.7 KISS FM was a loyal and authentic voice for the New York African-American community. KISS FM has been the home to many influential figures and helped in launching the music careers of legends like Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey, Run DMC, Jaheim, Alicia Keys, LL Cool J, Keith Sweat and Janet Jackson.Over the years Kiss has often emphasized the heritage of black music, and has hired hosts like Isaac Hayes. In the 1990s it launched a “classic soul” format that shot it to the top of the ratings for several years.
In recent years advertising revenue, which is the life blood of any radio station, had slumped, however. Emmis Chairman Jeff Smulyan Thursday blamed some of that on Arbitron’s switch to a new ratings system, the Personal People Meter (PPM).

PPM replaced the old “diary” system, where participants wrote down their listening, with an electronic recording device.

Almost all black and ethnic stations saw a dramatic drop in their ratings under the PPM system. A stream of protests and litigation has led to recent agreements compelling Arbitron to increase its efforts to reflect all listeners fairly.

Both stations serviced the influential New York City market, and had similar formats, playing classic soul and contemporary R&B music. Hopes are that the merger of Kiss FM and WBLS will help to strengthen the newly merged property.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Do or Die Chapter One 'round the way...

   The dusty skies forebode a dark drizzly ending to the day. It was 5:00 PM -- quitting time in the city. The weather was unbearably muggy. The faces of weary passengers bespoke a resignation remarkable for usually long-suffering New Yorkers -- those inveterate stalwarts of mass transit. Unwittingly inserting yourself between a tired New Yorker and an open subway car at quitting time place you at serious risk of being run over.

    The Chambers Street station was blistering hot despite huge industrial sized fans working overtime to pump warm, fetid air deep into the dank, dark bowels of the badly aging subway system.
     With a sigh the tall, lean athletic young brother rearranged his leather shoulder bag, and hopped effortlessly on to the last car of the Brooklyn bound A train. The air conditioning on the brand new subway train was whining mercilessly, but the car was still unbearably hot. He was heading back to do or die Bed-Stuy, which is what local folk affectionately called the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York.
     Bedford Stuyvesant was once an unfortunate poster child of urban decay and squalor plagued by high crime, drug abuse and blight. It was a decline that began in the late 1950s with the advent of the civil rights movement.
     The mass exodus of solidly middle-class, upwardly mobile, well-fed Negroes hauling ass as fast as their charter bus sized station wagons and 20¢/gallon leaded gasoline could carry them from the crime ridden, drug drenched ghettos of New York City to the ostensibly serene suburbs of Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties during the early years of desegregation, left only poor black and brown folk in their wake with meager resources to tend the once thriving micro-communities, which characterized Bedford-Stuyvesant in its heyday.
     The community was experiencing an unwelcome renaissance now -- if the pale faces of the Brooklyn bound passengers peering out curiously at the decrepit scenery passing beneath their Burberry hats was any indication.
     The adventurous, young, white professionals seeking a cheap, fashionable refuge from exorbitant city rents, and a white hot, overpriced downtown Brooklyn real estate market were bankrolling the latest attempt at urban renewal.
   They had rediscovered Bed-Stuy with its rich bounty of architecturally significant Brownstone, Sandstone, Flagstone and red brick multi-family houses, many of which could have easily made it into the National Register of Historic Places.
     Delaney had learned in an introductory sociology class that the social transformation process his neighborhood had been reluctantly undergoing was called gentrification. It was not a change that either he or his neighbors were at all happy with what with it being up close and very personal. He watched the affluent trespassers -- riding along wholly oblivious to the hostility simmering just below the surface from their fellow riders -- with an admixture of disdain, frustration and annoyance.
     The beautiful historic 3-story brownstone on the courtly, tree shaded section of Monroe Street in which he had grown up was in the hairs eye of the revitalization. Most of his friend’s parents were losing their properties to unscrupulous speculators, an imploding mortgage market, or illegal rent increases by greedy slumlords.
   Since overdeveloping Manhattan, intrepid white folks with disposable income and a taste for urban living, were pushing out the black and brown folks who had made Bed-Stuy their community through the good as well as bad times.   Ever escalating rents in less desirable areas of Bed-Stuy foreshadowed the ominous development. Poor and lower class working folk had been forced to relocate to ever worsening areas of the borough in a futile search for cheap housing. But with the inexorable loss of low skill, high paying jobs beginning in the early 60s, ending with a decimated manufacturing base in the late 80s, they found only poverty, squalor, and crime in its stead.
   The rampant criminality bred by deprivation, and fueled by a collective sense of hopelessness had made other old Brooklyn neighborhoods like Fort Green, Bushwick, Brownsville and East New York a virtual no man’s land for an upwardly mobile family seeking affordable housing, and decent schools in a safe haven.
  It was 6:30 PM when Delaney got off at the Nostrand/Flatbush Avenue subway station. As Delaney walked upstairs to the street his ears were assailed by a cacophonous, blaring mix of Soca, Dance hall, Hip Hop and Salsa music creatively reflecting the diversity of one of Brooklyn’s largest and oldest sections.
    The sun had made its last hurrah before descending furtively into dusk. It was still muggy, though. Delaney stepped into one of the many West Indian bakeries that the lined the busy commercial strip to get an authentic Jamaican meat patty. He was famished.
   Sofia’s bakery served some of the best patties in Brooklyn, which was a tough act to follow given the competition’s quality. At Sofia’s the cheap, fatty ground chuck beef was seasoned with a delectable mixture of finely chopped onions, carrots, garlic, Jamaican allspice, sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and cooked in an lightly oiled, sizzling hot skillet, and then folded in a pastry shell of yellow corn meal mixed with flour. The meat filled turnover is then baked in a very hot oven until crisp, golden brown and flaky.
   Delaney could hardly wait for his order from the fine, young, dark skinned, Jamaican girl named Naomi, who tended the counter. The food in the cafeteria at Borough of Manhattan Community College, where he was a sophomore majoring in Liberal Arts and Science with a social science emphasis, was typical institutional fare.
     At 20 years old, Delaney was the youngest child of Edna and Maurice Kettles. He was a handsome kid with a light evenly trimmed beard and short well cut ‘fro. Neither his mother nor his father had attended college.
   Both parents were high school graduates, though, with “good” city jobs. Maurice was a veteran corrections officer, and had been with NYC Department of Corrections for almost 30 years. His mother had worked for NYC Transit for over 17 years. Edna was a token booth clerk.
   When the city eliminated many of its token booths, she was offered reassignment as a subway car maintainer; a position that she gratefully accepted. Delaney had 2 older sisters. N’Qeeta was 24. She attended Long Island University for a semester, before dropping out after becoming pregnant.  She lived in a rent stabilized, section 8 subsidized, apartment around the corner from her parent’s house. ‘Qee worked as a cashier at the Gap on Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn.
     T’Shaunda was the oldest at 30. She had a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from John Jay College, and worked as a police officer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She had been with the agency for 5 years, and had recently been promoted to Detective. T’Shaunda was unmarried and didn’t have any children.  
     Delaney had a happy childhood. Both sisters dotted on him as a toddler. Being the only man-child in the family, he was spoiled by everyone. He was especially close to N’Qeeta, though. When she became pregnant, and dropped out of school, the decision to keep the baby instead of putting it up for adoption caused a major conflict with their conservative parents. Delaney remained supportive although he had serious concerns about her baby’s daddy. He knew Jamal as a petty-anty, gun-toting, drug dealing wannabe from ‘round the neighborhood. 
     Like many young disenchanted black men having little use for a hostile, underfunded educational system, Jamal dropped out of high school early. To support his perennially unemployed mother and 5 sisters and brothers, he started slinging -- selling drugs. He had been in and out of Rikers Island, the vast, violent and overcrowded NYC prison complex, on numerous occasions. Jamal had never done hard time, though, just a couple of 1 year bids for drug paraphernalia. He was a tall, good-looking, high yellow kid with a gift of gab; a head full of curly hair that he kept cut tight in a short wavy ‘fro. He looked distinctly Puerto Rican or maybe Dominican, but he never laid claim to anything but his African American roots.    
    N’Qeeta met him while waitressing at famed Brooklyn landmark Junior’s restaurant, which was across the street on Flatbush Extension from the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University. Delaney never really understood how they hooked up.
   N’Qeeta was short, petite but nicely shaped, and dark complexioned like her baby brother. A smart girl, she breezed through high school, graduating at 17. She enrolled in Long Island University that same year. She had planned on a career in accounting. Her unplanned pregnancy short-circuited those aspirations, though. Jamal was a prototypical “bad boy.” Delaney thought the opposites attract dynamic he learned about in social psychology may have ignited the lure between his sister and Jamal: good girl likes bad boy sort of thing.
    Unlike either him or his middle sister, his older sister was a complex figure: serene and personable outwardly, but inwardly cynical and reticent. Delaney saw very little of her after she moved out while he was still in his teens. Like the rest of the family, he had long standing suspicions about her sexuality.  It was like an unspoken secret in the family “…don’t ask, don’t tell...”
     The more Delaney thought about it, though, the more he could not remember ever seeing her date, or having a boyfriend. He had never been to her luxurious loft in the posh high-rise in Jersey City where she lived. He couldn’t remember anyone else in the family visiting her there either. She was attractive, slender, and tall like their father, but caramel colored like their mother.
     She could’ve easily passed for a model. There was no smoking gun indicating her sexuality, however. She was very feminine, but had an understated dominant streak also. That could be the law enforcement training playing out in her personality. Delaney spoke to ‘Shaunda at least once a week.
     “Yo Dee. . . Dee,” someone shouted as Delaney exited Sofia’s chewing hungrily at the crispy, steaming beef patty, rudely awakening him from his reverie.
Delaney turned to see Jamal, N’Qeeta’s baby’s daddy, grinning widely, coasting down Nostrand flossing a brand new red 2010 Mercedes CLS 500.
     “Damn,” Delaney thought to himself. He didn’t wanna deal with Jamal and his bullshit today.  N’Qeeta had told him last week that Jamal was shirking on the baby support. He didn’t wanna get into an outright beef with Jamal over that bullshit, though.
     “What up, ‘Mal,” Delaney asked halfheartedly?  
     “Ain’t nuthin, man.”
     “Chillin,” Jamal responded.
     “When you get the whip,” Delaney inquired.
     “Shit is official, right?”
     “Yo, check out the spinners sittin on those 20s,” Jamal boasted, smiling broadly.
     “Yeah, they official,” Delaney conceded reluctantly.
     “You see my sister, yo?”
     “Naw, why she beefin again,” Jamal asked.
     “She said you stuck her up on the baby support last week,” Delaney said.  
     “That’s bullshit,” Jamal replied angrily.
     “I just hit her off with 2 bills last fuckin week.”
     “Well, if she sees you pushing this Benzo, she’s going to flip,” Delaney persisted.
      “I handle my business yo,” Jamal replied with obvious annoyance.
     The cars behind Jamal were beginning to honk angrily, which Delaney noted with some relief.
       “I’ll kick it with you,” Jamal yelled tires squealing as he sped off.
     Delaney was happy to see him pull off. Jamal is full of shit he thought to himself as he quickly polished off the spicy beef patty, and started back up the street to check out his girl, Reeva.
     Reeva was a pretty, sophisticated 19 year old, mocha colored Trinidadian. Her most noticeable feature was an enormous mop of unruly wavy hair, which she wore stylishly in a Natural.
     American girls swore jealously that her hair was coiffed in a weave, but West Indian girls conceded enviously that it was au natural. A natural exhibitionist, Reeva had a classic Coke Cola ® bottle body, which she flaunted at every opportunity and big, thick shapely legs, tapering to tiny, professionally pedicured feet.
     He had been seeing her on and off again for the last year or so. Reeva was a free spirit who lived with her grandmother in a comfortably furnished 2-bedroom apartment on the corners of Fulton and Marcus Garvey Boulevards. Reeva’s grandma was mad cool, and didn’t mind if Delaney stayed over late. He never dissed her by trying to spend the night, however.
   Reeva’s parents and 3 younger siblings still lived in Trinidad. She wanted to be a registered nurse and attended the RN program at Medgar Evers College, which was one of the only City University of New York senior colleges located in Brooklyn. The college was in fact the only one named after a prominent slain civil rights activist. She worked part time at a ritzy, exclusive boutique in lower Manhattan. Reeva did pretty well for herself modeling on the side.
    Delaney walked up the steep porch, and rang the 3rd bell. It said Taylor, which was Reeva’s family name. A curtain pulled back, and a mop of hair followed by Reeva’s pixie image poked out. She smiled when she saw Delaney who grinned back.
    “Whacha wan wit me mon,” Reeva asked in a sexy Trinidadian singsong voice that turned Delaney on.
    “You know what I what,” Delaney replied.
They loved to exchange double entendre.
    “Whas that,” Reeva asked innocently. 
    “… to get dressed so we can bounce, baby. You know how long it takes you to get ready. And I wanna stop by ‘Qee’s before we get there,” Delaney said laughing.
    “I’ll be right down, honey,” Reeva waved closing the window.
 Delaney sat down on the stoop, took out his Sony Erickson swivel phone to call N’Qeeta.
     “Hello,” the husky voice asked.
     “What up ‘Qee?”
     “Hey Dee! How’re you doing,” N’Qeeta said smiling into the ‘phone.
     “I’m good. How’s the baby?”
     “Tabitha's good. Mommy wants me to bring her by, but I ain’t down for any drama. ”Oh, she’s so small. She looks so frail. What are you feeding her?”
      “You know how Mommy is, Qee. Stop buggin. She just wants to see Tabby. And you can’t hate for her just being a grandma. It’s ain’t nothing. So, don’t read anything negative into what mommy says. She knows you handle your business.”
      “Thanks Dee,” N’Qeeta responded gratefully.
      “I’m still heated with Jamal, man. He hasn’t given me any money for Tabitha since last month.”      “Word,” Delaney exclaimed, “I just seen him pushing a brand new Benzo,” he stated too late to catch himself.
      “Oh no, you have got to be bullshitting Dee.”      “That’s my word ‘Qee. I shouldn’t have dropped it on you like that. I know you got a lot of shit going on right now.” Delaney apologized.
      “Uh uh that’s straight up trifling. If Jamal wants to play games, it’s all good. See now he’s going to be buggin when I take him to family court. . .talkin ‘bout why you got the white man in our business. I gotta get back into school, Dee. That retail job does not pay the bills, honey. And this baby daddy drama shit is old already.
       “I heard that ‘Qee,” Delaney responded sympathetically. “You gotta do whacha gotta do. But mommy will be happy to hear you wanna finish school.

       “I know. Between me and you Dee, I know I played myself.”
       “Yo, yo don’t even go there. We all make mistakes. It’s the measure of the man or woman in how they rebound from those errors; you know what I’m sayin?”

       “The baby wasn’t the mistake, the timing was . . . my baby brother, the philosopher,” N’Qeeta replied softly.
       “When you coming by, Dee?”

       “Reeva and I were going to shoot over there on our way to Playtell’s. That why I was callin”
       “What’s going on over there,” asks N’Qeeta.

       “You know they have a Spoken Word open mic every Thursday at 9:00 PM and some good hot wings if you get there early enough. I’m starving. I only had one beef patty all day.

       “Oh word? Boy, you always starving. Went to Sofia’s, Huh? If I had a babysitter, I would come with y’all. If that was cool. I mean. I know 3 is a crowd.”
        “Naw, naw, Qee, it’s all good. Seriously, though, why don’t you call Mommy and see if she’ll watch Tabby for a minute,” Delaney suggests.

         “I would Dee, but I gotta call Jamal and straighten his ass out. I won’t be much good company after that, you know what I mean?”
         “Hi Honey, how’d I look,” Reeva interrupted coming out the door. The Trinidadian model was a dime piece. She looked stunning in a form fitting white silk halter top, which showed off her firm perky breasts, washboard stomach, and pieced navel to its fullest advantage. The effect was completed by painted on red jeans, a red clutch, and white stilettos. Few women could get away with bold ruby red lipstick but Reeva did so with inimitable style. Her delicate, fruity perfume wafted sensuously through the air arousing Delaney’s olfactory glands like the pheromone it was cleverly designed to imitate.

          “We’ll see you in a minute, ‘Qee,” Delaney said excitedly.

          “Damn baby,” Delaney exclaimed enveloping Reeva in his lean muscular arms.
          “You look good, baby girl. . .”
Reeva smiled coyly, her face upturned; eyes closed, mouth opened sensuously, eagerly seeking his probing tongue.
          “Oh man baby, we might not make open mic, that’s my word,” Delaney said breathlessly after releasing her from his embrace. 
          “Come down boy,” Reeva said smiling mischievously as she fixed her lipstick.
   Delaney was feelin’ Reeva. She was sexy, fine, and sophisticated in marked contrast to the cloistered American girls he had dated during high school: Young, all too willing, often pretty females with tremendous potential, but who confused sophistication with a leave-no-holds-barred approach to intimacy and sexuality -- leaving little to the imagination or, unfortunately, to their own self-respect in the process. He loved to walk down the street hand in hand with Reeva, the old school players watching them admiringly over their domino games and shot glasses of Hennessey.
    It wasn’t a long walk to N’Qeeta’s apartment. The light sheen appearing on Reeva’s brow suggested a 12 block stroll was not conducive to the evening Delaney had planned. He flagged down an ever-present car service, which are independent livery cars that abounded in Brooklyn, and other areas of NYC not serviced by Yellow cabs. Delaney watched Reeva bend over provocatively - with her knowing he was studying her every move - to climb in the town car.
     “Whez you gon,” the clean cut Dominican driver asked hoarsely in heavily accented, broken English eying them suspiciously. There had been a rash of well-publicized livery driver robberies where the criminals used scantily clad female accomplices to distract unwitting cabbies before robbing and murdering them.
     To combat the growing fear, Mayor Bloopers had issued an executive order allowing the police free reign to pull over the cabs without reasonable suspicion, and question its occupants much to the dismay of civil libertarians and human rights activists throughout the city. The flamboyant Brooklyn based activist, Rev. Phenius Pointe, had made a veritable cottage industry out of the protests spurred by what he colorfully called an “irrational curtailment of civil liberties” and “politically expedient excesses.”
   “Clifton between Nostrand and New York,” Delaney replied easily as they eased into the air-conditioned comfort of the old but well maintained Lincoln Town car. 
   The car sped off. Less than 10 minutes later they stopped in front of a 2-story flagstone apartment building. Tompkins Park was right across the street.
   Once a dangerous place to bring a child to play, the city Parks and Recreation Department had reclaimed the park a couple of years ago after a homeless pervert brutally molested a little boy - whose idealistic parents were one of the first groups to rediscover the community much to their dismay and their child's peril – in a vacant lot behind the long closed, rest rooms.
     Years of fiscal mismanagement and benign neglect by an overwhelmed, underfunded NYC Parks Department had contributed to uncontrolled overgrowth, which obscured a clear view of the rest rooms. The weeds and brush had long since been removed along with any remembrance of the horrifying assault.
     Neighborhood kids were now playing noisily on the jungle gym, swings, and splashed happily in the sprinkler under the watchful eye of parents and a lone NYC Park Ranger oblivious to the dangers that once lurked feet from where they now played.
       “Seven dollars,” the Dominican said anxiously. Delaney paid the driver. He and Reeva got out to the squealing tires of the still suspicious cab driver, and walked up the single flight of stairs to the ornate entrance of N’Qeeta’s building.
     They stepped into the foyer and pushed the buzzer for his sister’s floor. The bell rang loudly for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only about 5 seconds. Delaney opened the door and Reeva walked in.
     The rich, dark wood-paneled entrance with its framed frosted glass door and lace curtains returned them - as it did all visitors - to an opulence born of an earlier, more affluent era.
     The waning light emanating softly through the cloudy skylight played out like a kaleidoscope hypnotically illuminating the original magnificent imported multicolored, Italian floor tiles.
   They could hear the pulsating counterpoints of Acid Jazz, which described simply are Jazz cord changes punctuated by Hip Hop beats, which both N’Qeeta and Delaney loved, playing softly if relentlessly on the powerful, state-of-the-art, full stereo separates and high-end speakers her father had given her as a house warming present.
   The pensive groove and deep bass beat induced aficionados into an altered state of consciousness with its complex repetitive polyrhythmic patterns, which characterized all Jazz forms from other less sophisticated musical genres.
     N’Qeeta came to the door with a colorful African motif patterned scarf on her head, barefooted, dressed comfortably in loose fitting sweat pants that folded fashionably at the waist and over an impossibly round derrière that was barely covered by white silk thongs, wearing a cut off tee that displayed a surprisingly flat belly, small pear shaped breasts unfettered by a bra, and carrying a tiny, wiggling, cute-as-a-button baby.
     “Hey y’all,” she said opening the door, the baby fidgeting restlessly on her arm.
     Delaney hugged his sister warmly, and stole a kiss from the still squirming baby.
     “Hi Reeva,” N’Qeeta said returning her hug.
     “Whacha doing girl,” Reeva inquired walking down the long, narrow corridor of the flat to the living room, her wide hips swaying to and fro, size 7 stiletto pumps clicking rhythmically against the beautifully polished parquet floors almost in counterpoint to the music.
     The apartment was sparsely decorated in a deliberately minimalist effect.
     People assumed the sparse décor was such because N’Qeeta was a struggling, single mother. Her sister and mother had given her expensive hardwood furniture and artwork that she tastefully decorated the small one bedroom apartment with, however. The hard wood pieces were an olive branch from her mother after N’Qeeta’s decision to keep the baby, and drop out of school, which had threatened to tear the close knit family apart.
      “Chillin today. I don’t work ‘til tomorrow. You know the scheduling over there is crazy what with ‘em being shorthanded. If Omar hadn’t gotten himself fired for stealing, we’d all be able to work normal hours, and not be on call.”
      “Oh word… Omar got fired,” Delaney exclaimed surprised. “I just saw him last month. He said he was still holding it down over there. Man, I thought he was getting himself together. He played himself.”
      “Word,” N’Qeeta agreed. “He messed everyone up with his thieving ass. They had us all under suspicion ‘cause of his nonsense. You know how strict their policy is on shrinkage. Y’all want something to drink, N’Qeeta asked.
      “Just some spring water if you have some, ‘Qee, Delaney replied.
      “Me too,” Reeva shouted from the bathroom.
      “Okay,” N’Qeeta answered handing the now sleeping baby to her brother, heading to the kitchen.
      “So, y’all hanging out tonight, Dee,” N’Qeeta asked.
      “Naw, just Playtells and back to Reeva’s crib,” Delaney responded gently rocking the infant.
     “Yo, you talk to ‘Mal yet?”
      “I left a message on his celly,” N’Qeeta responded. “I told him to call me as soon as he gets the message. He’ll call back all high, acting like he doesn’t know what’s up.
      “What I don’t get is why he said he hit you off with 2 bills, if he didn’t give you nothing.”
      “Jamal has selective memory when it comes to divvying up the ends,” ‘Qeeta responded.
      “When he wants to play daddy, and sport Tabby like she’s a living doll, he’ll throw us a bone but nickels and dimes don’t pay the bills, Dee.
     “I know that’s right. I thought he was staying here, though?
     N’Qeeta shot Delaney a look that both knew meant are you out of your mind?
     “I already get enough grief from mommy to allow some wannabe hood, my baby’s daddy or not, to camp out in my house.”
     “I can hear mommy now: “What? y’all shackin up in there? Why don’t y’all get married? Blah blah blah. Forget that nonsense.”
      Delaney laughed, and his sister pushed him over playfully on the couch after taking the baby.
      “That ain’t funny Dee. Don’t be laughing at me.
     “Naw, naw. . .you know I ain’t got nothing but love for y’all. But the way you said it was mad funny.
      “I’m tellin you the move is school, though, sis.”
     “Trust me, Dee, I already spoke to someone in the Bridge program at LIU.”
     “What’s that,” Delaney asked.
     “They offer counseling, tutoring, and some transitional support to women under 25 with kids and shit who wanna return to college.”
    “Oh word,” Delaney exclaimed.
     “Yeah, I’m real excited but it.
     “One of my girlfriends is in that program,” Reeva added.
     “What did she think,” Qee asked?
     “She said she wouldn’t have been able to make it through the first semester without it, Reeva enthused.
     “So, you are going back next semester?”
     “Yeah, mommy already said if ‘Shaunda can’t take the baby, she can watch Tabby during the day. I still need another gig, though. ‘Shaunda said something might open up in the Port Authority: An administrative assistant position paying thirty grand with bennies. That’s what’s up.
‘Shaunda said she spoke to the manager yesterday. I faxed over my resume, and they ought to be callin me by next week.
    “Dang Shaunda looked out hard,” Delaney exclaimed.
    “That is good lookin out,” Reeva echoed.
    “’Shaunda definitely showed some love. She told mommy that she’s up for promotion to sergeant; she scored like 90% on the test.
    “What!?! Damn! I know Daddy’s proud of her. He’s loves that one of us followed him into law enforcement. And since he made Deputy Warden you can’t tell him anything. . .”
    “Yo, Daddy was buggin when he got that promotion, word,” agreed Delaney.
    “I gotta call ‘Shaunda tomorrow. She’s working tonight, and I don’t like to call her while she’s on patrol, you feel me?”
    “That’s funny cause we never talked ‘bout it but I don’t call her when she’s at work either,” N’Qeeta said. “I’m afraid I’ll distract her at the exact wrong moment.”
    “I feel you,” Delaney responded as he glanced at his wristwatch. It was just about 8:00 PM.
    “Yo, sis, we gotta bounce. If you need anything, gimme a holler,” Delaney said motioning for Reeva.
    “I’ll call you later, though. Okay.”
   “‘'Kay,” replied Qee walking them to the door, picking up the baby who was now sleeping soundly on the couch.
       They stepped out of the building just in time to catch another ubiquitous livery approaching ‘Qee’s building. Delaney hailed the car service. They got in, and headed to the club.
      “Qee sounded down, honey,” Reeva said.
      “I know,” Delaney replied softly, “She wants to upgrade. But it’s hard on her with Tabby to take care of.”

White Privilege

This is a great piece: provocative, polemic and, as such, will probably not garner any note from the white liberal establishment (who Leonard is appealing to), or black progressives who he is commiserating with.

"This Week" With "Jake" Tapper

Michael Eric Dyson ate George Will's lunch on "This Week" With "Jake" Tapper. Trust me that type of leveling of the playing field will never occur again. The darling of American conservative orthodoxy was clearly frustrated by Dyson's articulate defense of President Obama, his policies, and resistance thereto, which Dyson said was predicated firmly on racisim "there is no other explanation." It was the best episode yet, and I watch virtually every week.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Memories of Ojay Simpson...

The Martin tragedy brings back memories of another infamous case: The Ojay Simpson matter. Whites lined up on one side of the debate [read that racial divide] bending over backward to give Zimmerman the presumption of innocence while studiously ignoring a simple truth. Had the proverbial shoe been on the other foot, this debate would not be raging in the court of public opinion because Travon or any other black boy shooting an unarmed white man would not have passed go, would not have collected $200, but would have gone straight to the pokey. That is why most black folk have come down solidly on the side of Martin’s family saying that at the very least, Zimmerman ought to have been arrested at the scene. Now that Zimmerman has been finally taken into custody, let the chips fall where they may.