What IS the BLACKEST last name???

It would seem that the answer is; Washington.

This is a casual conversation that I have often. Kinda funny to see it as an official headline on my Yahoo! News feed. As this Black History Month comes to a close, this little write-up fits in just right so let’s see how much we know about what we think we know…

This question comes from the findings from an experimental tangent of the Census poll from the year 2000. Although this wasn’t repeated for last year’s Census, you can imagine that the wave of African-American surnames hasn’t changed dramatically in 10 years. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Black first names (see; Alize, Starkeisha). Nevertheless, the results showed that of the top 1,000 most popular last names in America, Washington was number 138, counting 163,036 people bearing it, and 90% of those people being African -Americans. That 90% translated to 146,520, and that percentage was the highest for Blacks out of all of the last names, making it statistically the most prominent among African-Americans.

Surprisingly, Jefferson was # 2, rounding out as about 75% Black. Jackson was only 53% Black (tho I’ve never met a non-Black Jackson. Guess I’m not as worldly as I think). And Williams was only 46% Black. In an ironic twist, the last name Black was 68% White.

For a deeper look at this interesting tidbit of modern Black history, complete with historical relevance and slavery ties, check out this link to the full article – written by an African-American editorialist by the name of Jesse Washingtonhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110221/ap_on_re_us/us_the_blackest_name

And to think, all this time I thought the Blackest last name was Jenkins

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More Negroes In The News – 2pac movie is coming, Tru-Life gets years for Murder, but this Philly kid deserves the chair!!

Ahhh, to be a minority.

Since I slacked last month, and this is  Black History Month, I figure a double dose of Negroes In The News is in order.

First off and most importantly, the good news;

There’s a 2Pac movie in the making and the casting will begin at the end of this month. Not Only is the film – tentatively titled All Eyez On Me, a biopic of my favorite rapper of all time, but it’s also being helmed by my favorite Black director, Antoine Fuqua (The man who brought you King Arthur, Brooklyn’s Finest and Training Day). There’s going to be an online casting contest where unknowns who feel like they can capture the look and essence of Tupac Shakur can participate in a virtual audition for the lead role as fans vote. I am super glad that they’re deciding to go the newcomer route. 2Pac’s personality is too strong and distinctive to have someone who we have envisioned in other roles blur that. I’m a fan of Anthony Mackie‘s acting, but his portrayal of Pac in the slopfest that was Notorious did not hit the mark. I can’t begin to imagine the pressure that Fuqua might feel to ensure that this movie doesn’t fall to similar criticism. There’s not much room for this story to get watered down. Pac’s life is a layered one, with many paradoxical elements and real historic points. Hope he consults with John Singleton on this one as well.

Now, the ugly…

You ever notice how Jay-Z distances himself from his former artists and associates right before they screw themselves out of the chance of a lifetime?? Call it the touch. He’s almost like those cartoon characters that see the anvil about to fall on who they’re standing next to and eases away without warning them of the impending doom.

He has good reason tho. Take for instance last fall’s major federal drug sweep that scooped up his former Roc-A-Fella partner Kareem “Biggs” Burke. While this self-destruction was more delayed than the usual 6 month to a year downfall timeframe for former Jay-Z affiliates, it still goes to show. For all we know, Biggs could’ve been dabbling in this shit at the onset of the Roc-A-Fella break-up and that could have contributed to Jay moving away because it’s so below the scale of what they were trying to do. On the other hand, this could just be the by-product of that very break-up and something that Biggs felt he had to resort back to doing to make up for the deficit caused by not generating industry revenue like he used to in the hey-days.

In either case, Jay must have had that same foresight when he quietly left Trouble-making rapper Tru-Life behind and pulled the plug on the experimental Roc La Familia imprint. 

Tru life and his real-life brother have found themselves charged with murder for what police are deeming as a retaliatory crime over an ongoing street beef. Taking plea agreements, Tru now faces a 10 year bid and his brother a 12 year stint for his role in the act. I guess that beats the inevitable 25 to Life that they would otherwise be serving, but damn niggas…There’s never really been a question about Tru Life’s involvement and connection to the streets. Dipset tried to make light of it during the heat of their rap spat that was more of a deflection of the real tension with Jay, but their taunting never hit any nerves. This is a guy who first started making waves by appearing on street DVD’s bragging about his crew bustin’ off shots and how they ran up in Mobb Deep‘s recording studio with guns ready to rob the group for backtracking on a verse. Once again, I wonder, is this the result of Jay dropping the kid and leaving him an unsigned, hungry, disgruntled rapper who only saw going back to the streets as an option?? Or is this the shit that the kid was on out of knuckle-headed impatience that made Jay dip in the first place?? Whatever the case is (and apparently, Murder was the case that they gave him), this is when keeping it real doesn’t pay. No one can give you years back off your life. And that’s Tru.

It gets better, order another round

This bastard here just admitted to killing his mother back in November after Thanksgiving in Philadelphia. How did he kill her? With a claw hammer. Why did he kill her? Because they had a 90 minute argument that ended with the 37 year old single mom taking his PlayStation system away. Not only did the 16 year old son strike his mother 20 times in her sleep with the Hammer, this was something that he spent 3 hours thinking about after the argument took place. I don’t even want to say anymore. Read the full story here. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/02/17/2011-02-17_teen_kills_mom_with_claw_hammer_for_taking_away_his_playstation_court.html

One thing about Negroes (and yes that includes hispanics and other brown minorities) is that they never cease to amaze, shock and awe you. Whether good or bad.

“Negroes In The News” – Black astronaut gets honored, & The Hip-Hop Juggler Gets his shine!

Let’s try something different.

As further proof that we are constantly learning and growing, I recently discovered the story of Ronald McNair, the second African-American astronaut ever in space.

It just so happens that the 25th anniversary of the tragic 1986 Challenger shuttle crash on which Ronald was a crew member has just passed, and to commemorate this, the building of a pivotal library from McNair’s youth in his South Carolina hometown has been named for him.

This is one of the 2 reasons that McNair has been surfacing in the news recently. I came across him from an article that I read in a local NYC newspaper focusing on the park that bears his name in Brooklyn and how his story has faded into relative obscurity. Whole generations (most likely beginning with mine) have passed, totally oblivious to his presence in the pages of astronomy and Black History. Since this is Negroes In The News, and Black History Month, I thought this was the perfect time to shine some light on him as well as someone in the present day making strides. 

These are the stories seldom told in the midst of the gross cliche and rhetoric that this month tends to bring. I prefer to focus on the modern Black History; that is, the history which is being made every day by our forward thinkers and doers. As a child, I was always fascinated by the existence of Black astronauts. Not fully understanding what it is exactly that astronauts do (and I STILL don’t have the faintest), but for a young kid being bombarded with the sci-fi and enamoring world of comic, cartoon and television imagery, THESE were the closest thing to superheroes in real life. Before rappers rose in popularity to become the ultimate larger-than-life figures. I couldn’t believe there were actually Black men and women building and riding in shuttles. I didn’t have time to fall into the fantasies of this however, because often in school, these folk were just footnotes in our Black History studies, along with all of the inventors, surgeons and those who ventured in the fields of hard science. Sadly, they were lost and overshadowed between the pages upon pages emphasizing on the less educated but more celebrated preachers, athletes and musicians.

And McNair’s resume is amazing! Comparable to any scientific peer of any race, while undeniably boasting a sense of Black pride. His progression in his personal life can be used to exemplify the heights to which African-Americans should aspire to as a whole. He reached academic and career pinnacles, and can even say that he attended an HBCU. He was a Black Belt in the field of martial arts and skilled with the saxophone – even going so far as to playing while in orbit. There’s also a school named after him. I won’t go on and on about his credentials, I’ll just point you toward this piece from the NPR that brilliantly weaves an anecdote shared by McNair’s brother into it’s write-up on him. Check it out and learn something. It’s shorter than this whole post! http://www.npr.org/2011/01/28/133275198/astronauts-brother-recalls-a-man-who-dreamed-big

Moving on to the second subject of our segment, I was ecstatic and super motivated and proud when I saw that my homegirl Starrene “GangStarrGirl” Rhett posted this article that features her best friend, Paris Goudie in Black Enterprise magazine.

http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/02/10/financial-worker-quits-job-to-juggle/

I feel kinda wack because I know Paris well via Starrene, and have yet to catch his act. “The Hip-Hop Juggler”, as his performance title reads, is a true grinder. He found his way in a niche market and career field that is rarely thought of and under-appreciated, especially by people of color. His success goes against the very grain and his drive is inspiring to anyone, as he is one of those people who have truly followed their passion and stuck to what he does best!

I walk around with his card in my wallet and I can honestly say that he’s a genuinely honest and humble dude. Props to Black Enterprise for showcasing this young man and his choice to take the road less traveled. In more ways than one. I see you P!

This is Black History in the making…

THIS is what they think of your “Black History Month”!!!

You ever heard that a picture is worth a thousand words?

Keiry sent me this picture like she randomly does sometimes because her sister had it sent to her from a friend who was just honestly shopping around their local PathMark. I wish this was one of those photo-shopped viral images designed to be texted around and laughed at (it can still be, and very well may be by now), but this is just truly one of those WTF moments captured in still life.

Last year, it was the NBC breakroom menu that was going around the internet, where the catering staff took it upon themselves to feel like they contributed to the legacy of the month by providing a special rundown of “Soul Food” and the Black choice for bottled water, Aquafina (a.k.a., the cheapest). 

It sparked controversy, as everything Black usually does because we are the most sensitive race on the Planet, and of course, outsiders struggled to wrap their heads around how this assumptive gesture could be taken offensively.

What it really comes down to is the question, is this what we are to the rest of the world?? Can we be narrowed down to a 1-note monolithic idea? Is our culture steeped primarily in singing, dancing and food that started out as the most unhealthy scraps that we turned into damn good-tasting delicacies??? Ironically, the same food that because we’ve been living off for decades, has caused us to develop diseases that pass generation-to-generation almost exclusively to us.

As a Black Man who has never been a fan of what I call “Slave-Food”, I can’t deny that this cuisine is indeed a testament to Black genius and our ability to make marvels out of morsels, or something from nothing, but I refuse to be defined by it when we’ve done soooo much else as a people. And If we’re speaking strictly within the realm of food, why not peanuts? Why not Red Velvet Cake? Foods that we undeniably have added to that are not stigmatized? There’s so many different kinds of “Black”. Then I must remember that excluding our African and Carribean counterparts, the history of the American Black is a very limited one…One that begins with slavery. So maybe this is our foundation. Scary isn’t it?

I understand why other races could be confused as to why something that seems like a good-natured effort to recognize the history of an ethnic group could be taken with such malice, but these implications speak volumes without saying much.

Next time the need is felt to put a sticker on something to celebrate Black History Month, how about a Traffic Light?? That‘ll be the day…