Friday, May 6, 2011

Sex Crimes In New Orleans, Separate And Unequal

By Trymaine Lee

NEW ORLEANS -- In their neighborhoods, they are sometimes taunted with dirty looks and jeers. Their pictures hang on the walls of local community centers where their children and grandchildren play. And their names and addresses are listed in newspapers and mailed out on postcards to everyone in the neighborhood.

Landing a job or even finding a landlord willing to give them a place to stay is a challenge.

These women wear a scarlet letter -- rather, 11 letters -- spelled out on their driver's licenses in bright orange text: SEX OFFENDER.

They aren't child molesters or pedophiles. Most are poor, hard-luck black women in New Orleans who agreed to exchange oral or anal sex for money. In doing so they violated the latest version of Louisiana's 206-year-old Crime Against Nature law, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and registration as a sex offender.

Opponents of the law say it is discriminatory and targets poor women and the gay and transgendered community who engage in what they call "survival sex." In March, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of nine anonymous plaintiffs against the state, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and a host of state agencies, calling the law unconstitutional.

"There are a number of absurd things in the Louisiana laws, and this is one of the more absurd," said R. Judson Mitchell, a law professor at the law clinic at Loyola University in New Orleans. "There are crimes against nature happening at strip clubs on Bourbon Street every single night. The difference is we are dealing with women that didn't have a fancy strip club to go to."

Indeed, New Orleans has long been a historic bastion of sex and vice, synonymous with food, jazz and the lore of Storyville, the fabled red-light district that clinched the city's reputation for high-class prostitution more than a century ago. Any night along the city's seamy side streets and in hotels that dot the French Quarter, tourists and locals pay for a variety of sexual pleasures.

Read more at The Huffington Post.

'South Park' takes shots at Tyler Perry

South Park is a show that takes no prisoners.  Sometimes they can be brutal, and when your name is mentioned on the show, you might as well prepare to be embarrassed.  The latest victim of the show is Tyler Perry, who is presented as “Funny Bot,” a woman in a dress who tells silly stereotypical jokes that make you laugh over and over again.  Every time Funny Bot throws out a catch phrase (“Oh lawud, this chicken sho is hot!”), someone hands him a dollar.   He is also, by the way, presented as the greatest threat to all of man-kind by President Barack Obama (you can see a clip by clicking here).

Personally, as a person who has been a fan of South Park since the show was started 15 years ago, I felt that they went light on Tyler Perry.  Aaron McGruder, creator of “The Booondocks,” went all-in on Tyler, insinuating that Perry is gay and engages in sexual harassment on the set.  The South Park folks don’t seem to go there, which surprises me, because they’ve put the hammer down on Michael Jackson and Tom Cruise in the past.

This is, of course, not the first time someone criticized or poked fun at Tyler Perry.  Spike Lee has gone hard against Perry for years, with Perry responding in a way that shows that the criticism has really gotten to him.  The best thing for Perry to remember is that the bigger you are, the more haters you have; so the brother should just keep it moving.

At the same time, Perry is well-aware that the bulk of his success on-stage and on-screen occurred because he got up one day and wondered what would happen if he were to put on a dress.  A large chunk of Madea’s success (as well as Big Momma, which really makes me roll my eyes) is a reflection of the fact that the black audience hasn’t matured and evolved as much as we would like to think.   One can’t imagine a white man making a movie in a dress and expecting the film to be #1 at the box office.  But that did happen 25 years ago when Robin Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire) and Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie) did the exact same thing. But the fact remains that Williams and Hoffman only put on dresses once or twice; they didn’t try to make an entire franchise out of it.

Perhaps one day black people will get some power in cinema without having to do things that are a bit primitive and immature.  As the critically-acclaimed actor Jeffrey Wright said the other day, “There is no Black Cinema.”  Black people must obtain the capital to begin telling a multitude of stories, not just the ones that remind white people that we are fun to laugh at.  So, perhaps by putting on a dress for a few years, Tyler Perry can open up black cinema for something a bit deeper and significant.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To join the Your Black World Coalition, please visit

Unemployment Rate Up To 9%

In a just released report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate increased from 8.8% to 9.0%.

The "unemployment rate" can be somewhat misleading, as I have pointed out in the past, because as more people drop out of the labor market (i.e. give up even looking for work) the rate can drop.  So did the rate increase because more people were looking for work?

According to the report, 244,000 non-farm payroll jobs were added.  But the report also notes that the "labor force also was little changed in April."  So it does not appear that the increase was a result of more people looking for work.

I'll dig into the report and update on the details.

Updates:  The "participation rate" was down 0.1% from March, so the increase does not appear to be caused by more people looking for work.  The number of people reentering the workforce or entering for the first time also was stable.

The unemployment rate for Black males is 17.3%, and for Black females 12.8% (compared to 7.8% for White men and 6.6% for White women).  Black teenagers (16-19) have a 37.5% unemployment rate (compared to 20.7% for White teenagers).  The unemployment rate for Hispanic men is 10.3%, women 11.0% and teenagers 23.4%.

In response to commenter Sandy, what some refer to as the "true" unemployment rate is much higher.  This table show statistics for "Alternative Measure of Labor Underutilization," including a rate of 15.9% (seasonally adjusted, as is the 9.0% headline number) for "Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force."

The New York Times, which is spinning this report as an indication that "the recovery continued to pick up steam," makes this inaccurate assessment:
"April’s numbers exceeded the forecasts of analysts, who had expected a gain of 185,000 jobs over all, with the change in private payrolls of 200,000. The uptick in the unemployment rate that came even as employers were adding jobs was an indication that more people were entering the work force as hopes for hiring increased."
Do NY Times reporters even read the reports about which they are writing?

Filipino Muslims condemn bin Laden killing

Philippine Muslims listen to speeches after attending Friday prayers in Manila on May 6, 2011, as they held a prayer rally outside the mosque to honor Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. A radical Philippine Muslim cleric on May 6, hailed Osama bin Laden as a 'martyr' as he led a rally in Manila to denounce the al-Qaeda leader's killing by US forces in a Pakistan raid. (Getty Images)
A Philippine Muslim cleric on Friday described US authorities as terrorists, while leading a small rally in the nation's capital to denounce the killing of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
(MSN) "We condemn the brutal killing of Osama bin Laden," Sheikh Jamil Yahya shouted from a bullhorn as he began a rally outside the Golden Mosque in central Manila after leading midday prayers.

"America is the number one terrorist in the world. America is the number one enemy of Islam," Yahya said, drawing clenched-fist salutes from his followers who shouted back: "Allahu akbar (God is greater)".


Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Mosley Today…

So today is a rather big fight with Pacquiao vs. Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.  The two boxers have been training vigorously for this WBO Welterweight match.  Here are how the two line up in terms of their stats.

Pacman’s record in boxing holds 52-3-2 with 38 knockouts, while Mosley holds a record of 46-6-1 with 39 knockouts.  Who are you going with???

South Carolina GOP Debate Covers Drugs, Obama and the Economy; Herman Cain Declared the Winner

If past political history is any judge ... then the Republican Party will select businessman Herman Cain as their candidate in 2012 to run for the presidency against incumbent Barack Obama. After all, the GOP voters in South Carolina primaries have been right on the GOP presidential candidate in every election since 1980 and the GOP voters in a focus group following last night's South Carolina GOP presidential debate OVERWHELMINGLY indicated that Herman Cain was the winner of the debate.

See for yourself:

It was a surreal event in many respects. There were five candidates on the stage at this debate: Rep. Ron Paul, Herman Cain, former governor Tim Pawlenty, former senator Rick Santorum and former governor Gary Johnson.
    Herman Cain
  • Ron Paul - Paul is like your crazy uncle at the Thanksgiving dinner. You're never quite sure what he's going to say in front of the kids ... and you're never quite sure if he's right in the head. Last night, Paul made a passionate defense of the need to legalize heroin. His rant seemed to get the largest audience response of the night.
  • Herman Cain - The focus group says that he won the debate. I smiled when one of the focus group members noted that Cain was 'articulate'. White folks are still amazed when they see a Black man who knows how to correctly use verbs and adjectives in a sentence. Quite frankly, the best part of last night's debate for Cain was the Fox News focus group afterwards. He was the definite winner in the minds of those 29 folks.
  • Tim Pawlenty - He had the highest profile of any participant in last night's debate. I thought that the others might pile on him ... but, Pawlenty managed to hold his own last night. His roughest moment came when he tried to squirm his way out of a question about 'Cap and Trade' legislation in Minnesota. It turns out that he was for it before he was against it.
  • Rick Santorum - He is still a cultural warrior. He doesn't have many ideas on any of the economic or foreign police issues ... but, he had a lot to say last night about family values.
  • Gary Johnson
  • Gary Johnson - I need to be honest. I had never seen or heard about Gary Johnson until last night. Who knew that he was a governor in New Mexico? Who knew that he admits to smoking marijuana and feels that marijuana use should be legalized? Who knew that he doesn't care for the reality shows of either Donald Trump or Sarah Palin? Who knew that one of his life goals is to climb the highest mountains on each of the 7 continents? These were all things that we learned during the debate last night!