“There’s a New Princess in Town”

This morning, I got to check-out Sunday’s edition of USA Weekend, an insert in the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as in another one of my favorite weekend papers, The Herald- Palladium. [If I’m reading it, that means I’m in beautiful Southwest Michigan. The very thought of that makes me very happy.]

The cover story? “Meet Disney’s First Black PRINCESS.” [All-caps’-type was theirs. “PRINCESS” was in a bright red font.]

The headline of the story? “There’s a New Princess in Town.” [“Princess” in blue type, this time.]

And who is that princess, but Anika Noni Rose, star of Dreamgirls, and, most recently, of the smash–and (my) girlfriends’ favorite–the HBO series: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

Disney’s choice of Anika Noni Rose made me very happy.

Anika Noni Rose is very, very smart, funny, beautiful, intense, and sensitive. She’s fit, in ever way, to be a queen, much less just a princess.

One has to wonder why it took until 2009 for Disney to select its “first black princess,” though, upon a moment’s reflection, it’s obvious: “Black (wasn’t) beautiful,” in the eyes of too, too many, for hundreds of years, too-too-long.

But, today, Michelle Obama, an African-American woman from the South Side of Chicago, is the First Lady, (and what are “first ladies,” after all, but royalty), living in the White House, by many lights the most important house in the world, a palace, if you will.

And, besides, she sure is princess-like–white ballgown, diamond bracelets, beautiful hair, and all.

So, I go to some of Ms. Rose’s comments in the USA Weekend story:

“It’s just so magnificent [to be playing the “first black Disney princess”]….It’s wonderful to be a part of this moment, the recognition of beauty outside of what has been the standard blond hair and blue eyes.”

Speaking of “standard blond hair and blue eyes,” I’ve never had either, either, but I sure do remember trying.

I remember, waaaay too vividly, the blond-hair-dye, kinky-hair-straightener, orange-juice-cans-as-hair-rollers of my teenage years. I remember trying, desperately, to get that “standard blond hair” you had to have, if you were ever going to have a shot at being a princess. [And we didn’t even dream about being queens.]

That was 40 years ago. Think of how many American girls with kinky brown hair have tried that horrible combo since then.

So, here’s to the new generation of American female royalty: Michelle, Anika, Anika’s fabulous co-stars, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott and Beyonce Knowles, and to every other American girl–African-American, Jewish, or otherwise–born with kinky brown hair.






White Men Cant’ Jump: Part Two: The Revolution Has Been Televised.

Good morning,

So, imagine my amazement, and great satisfaction, when I read this column in Sunday’s edition of the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, Michigan Herald-Palladium newspaper.


I never thought I’d say it, but Kathleen Parker nails-it:

“Senators also hammered Sotomayor about her ethnic identification and whether she could rule fairly without undue influence from her gender or political preferences. Wait, let me guess, you’re white guys! [sic] Are we to infer that men of European descent are never unduly influenced by their own ethnicity, gender or political preferences: Can anyone affirm this assertion with a straight face?”

Then, returning back to Chicago to my Sunday New York Times, I read this powerful Frank Rich column: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/opinion/19rich.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

With apologies to Gibbon, here’s Frank Rich on Parker’s point about the decline and fall of an empire–in this case, the every-day-white-guy American one–as crystallized in the very bad behavior last week in that empire’s most exclusive bastion, the U.S. Senate:

“Yet the Sotomayor show was still rich in historical significance. Someday we may regard it as we do those final, frozen tableaus of Pompeii. It offered a vivid snapshot of what Washington looked like when clueless ancien-regime conservatives [read: “every-day white guys”] were feebly clinging to their last levers of power, blissfully oblivious to the new America that was crashing down on their heads and reducing their antics to a sideshow as ridiculous as it was obsolescent.”

During another time of American revolution, Gil Scott Heron said: “The revolution will not be televised*,” meaning that those who sought change would have to get-up, get-out, and fight for it. But, last week, it was.

Heron’s poem also included this line: “The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat*.”

The driver’s seat, indeed. Last week, Sonia Sotomayor, a Nuyorican girl from the Bronx, was in the driver’s seat, leaving the “every-day white guys” in the dust, running scared. Running-scared because they are now a minority in America; in fact, men are in the minority.** A scary proposition, indeed.

In addition to everything else Judge Sotomayor stands for: the benefits of hard work; the value of studying and getting a good education, no matter the barriers; the incalculable value of a visionary-mother; and the power of a relentless commitment to excellence, Judge Sotomayor symbolizes the next phase of our American Revolution: the phase when women will be in drivers’ seats, all-over-the-place.

In her brilliant column, Kathleen Parker points-out that last-week’s Senators, bewilderingly, still think they are in the driver’s seat. Why? Because they still think, despite all evidence to the contrary, that they are not “different” from anyone–others are different from them–so their decisions are not influenced by their sex or background, making them, in their view, most fit to be our drivers. Methinks they will rue the day they didn’t get it.

And last-week’s, if possible, even more explosive subtext was seeing–so baldly–these “every-day white guys,” who have held back minority women–just because they have had the power to do so–fearing minority women will return the favor. They desperately wanted assurances this won’t happen, so they imputed to Sonia Sotomayor, of all people, their own bad behavior.

Here’s an idea for a new organization: the 51%** Club, a club that any woman could join, pro-choice or not, pro-ERA or not, pro-Title IX or not. For, when all is said and done, we women, (51% of the population in 2000**), are more alike than we are different. As Kathleen Parker’s column makes clear, we are of common-mind about what we saw on last week’s television; we share the same fundamental concerns about this (unequal) world of ours.

If we organized across the conventional political lines that too-frequently separate us, there wouldn’t be, say, a court in which woman wouldn’t be the majority, an election we couldn’t win, a corporation we couldn’t convince to promote women to positions of real power, or, indeed, a world, this world, that we wouldn’t have changed for the (way) better.


*”The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” a poem and song by Gil Scott Heron, first recorded in 1970 on his album: Small Talk at 125th and Lenox.

**http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p20-544.pdf, http://www.census.gov/popest/national/asrh/NC-EST2005/NC-EST2005-01.xls