Tuesday, February 18, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: UPS

What can Brown do for you? More like, "what CAN'T Brown do for you?" UPS employees deliver by truck, plane, train, car, even bike... and they do it all while wearing those oh-so-becoming brown shorts. Whether you want it shipped same day, next day, or in 3-5 business days, the United Parcel Service has you covered. In fact, UPS transports 15 million packages per day. 15 million! That's more deliveries than an obstetrician at a Mormon hospital! So, happy Black History Month, UPS... thanks for always being a company we can count on to deliver.

Monday, February 17, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: Allen Iverson

Let's get one thing straight, Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever. Don't let anyone get cute and tell you otherwise. If LeBron was really the best, he woulda been in Space Jam. Now that that's settled, let's talk about one of my favorite players ever, Allen Iverson. AI did so many things well: he scored at will, he led the league in steals every year, and he had the best cornrows in the NBA. Of course, there were some things he didn't do so well: rap, manage money, show up to practice. But we ain't talking 'bout practice, we talking about Black History Month and during BHM, we focus on the good things. We focus on the lightning quicks, the stellar handles, the epic press conferences, the throwback in-between game, and the fact that a 6-foot tall guard was the greatest scorer of his generation. With that said, does AI deserve some BHM honors? I think you know The Answer.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: Timothy Miller

Every Atlanta Braves fan knows there's only one guy you can count to deliver a flawless performance every single time he steps on the diamond at Turner Field: Timothy Miller. Timothy Miller is a classically trained Operatic Tenor who sings "God Bless America" at every Sunday home game, much to the delight of fans, players, broadcasters, viewers, and that mascot with the giant baseball head. His deep, rich voice can both punctuate a great day at the ballpark and make us forget that our team strikes out more than Screech Powers, Steve Urkel, and Carlton Banks combined. Here's to hoping we can lock down Timothy Miller in a long-term deal like we've done with Freeman, Teheran, Kimbrel, and J-Hey. Go Braves!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: Me

This is my 100th Black History Month profile and I feel that makes me a bona fide black historian. I'm certainly not black -- I'm snowman pale, I can't dance, and I can barely dunk on an 8-foot basketball goal -- but I do I think I've got at least a little African-Americred. I grew up in an all-black neighborhood, I know all the words to Whoomp There It Is, and I think I might have said "shawty" once. Now, I'm not saying I'm as worthy a BHM honoree as, say, George Washington Carver or Steve Urkel, but I do think that my four years of highlighting lesser-known black heroes is admirable in its own way. Certainly as admirable as anything a certain black US President has accomplished during the past four years. Easy digs like that aside, I'm proud of my little collection, and I'm grateful that it has resonated with at least a few of the people with whom I've shared them. I've enjoyed writing these profiles every year and it's hard to imagine not continuing to write them in the future. I guess it's true, once you go black, you really can't go back.

Friday, February 14, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: Future Slam Dunk Contest Champ

I don't know who you are yet, but based on past winners, there's a 97% chance you're black. Yes, only one white guy has ever defied the odds/gravity and won the most prestigious award that dunking has to offer... and that win was more sham than slam. Whitey's winning dunk "from the free throw line" was more like "from kinda close to being in the vicinity of the free throw line." Just further proof that white lies CAN be detrimental. No such worries this year, however, as every slam dunk participant is African-American... as it should be. Tomorrow night we'll discover your identity, but thanks ahead of time for the amazing dunks. (You may be wondering why I chose to highlight basketball on Valentine's day. It's because love and basketball go well together, just ask Omar Epps.)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

BHM Honors 2014: DMX

Y'all gonna make me lose my mind if you don't think DMX deserves some Black History Month honors. A rapper AND an actor?! There just aren't that many people out there who can do both. You know, besides Drake, Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Eminem, Will Smith, 50 Cent, Queen Latifah, Xzibit, The Game, Big Boi, Andre 3000, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Ice T, Vanilla Ice, Mos Def, Marky Mark, LL Cool J, Ja Rule, Tupac, Common, Tyrese, T.I., and most of the Wu Tang Clan. And none of those guys were in a film the caliber of Cradle 2 the Grave. Talk about your Oscar snubs. Anyway, the best thing about DMX isn't his rapping or acting ability, it's that he's such a giving person. Whether it's money, a ride, or just advice, you can bet that X gon' give it to ya. Happy BHM, DMX, you definitely deserve a spot up in here, up in here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

BHM 2014: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

I have a dream that my future children will one day live in a nation where they can miss more than one day of school each year because of a black person. Until that day, at least we have Martin Luther King Jr. Day to look forward to each year. The third Monday of every January, grateful kids, teachers, and government employees get a well-deserved break from school and work. But why stop there? There are plenty of other African-Americans for whom I'd gladly miss a day of work. Some such African-Americans include: well, just about anyone. You'd have to be a pretty terrible individual for me to not want to take a day off work on your behalf. That's why I find it hard to believe that some people are still opposed to MLK Day; I mean, regardless of how you feel about Dr. King, who doesn't like a three-day weekend? I know I do. The haters can hate all they want, but every third Monday in January, I'm shouting "free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: NOT King Arthur

Sure, King Arthur did some noteworthy things. He pulled that sword out of that stone, he searched for the Holy Grail, he fought courageously in many a battle, but tell me: why weren't there any brothers on the Knights of the Round Table? It's not like there weren't any worthy black knights. There was Sir Jamal of Compton, Sir Malik of Detroit, and Sir Mix-A-Lot of Nastymix Records. How about a little Arthurmative Action? It's no wonder Camelot's basketball team didn't win a game during Arthur's reign. In fact, the only black things mentioned in Arthurian times are black magic and the Black Plague. Not exactly flattering. Get it together, Pendragon. In the end, it's Arthur's loss. If there had been a little less Anglo and a little more blacks in England, there's no telling what could have been: more slain dragons than a Game of Thrones marathon; more rescued princesses than in the first three installments of Super Mario Bros combined; more victorious lances than a who's-the-gayest-member-of-N*Sync contest! While that last part may be a bit of a stretch, it's not a stretch to say that Mr. Pendragon simply wasn't a friend to the black man. The name King Arthur may be etched in the annals of European History, but this is BLACK History Month, Your Highness, so your name just doesn't mean-a-lot.

Monday, February 10, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: Popeye's, Church's, & Bojangles' Chicken

In the spirit of orange soda, watermelon, and being good at sports, affinity for fried chicken is another black stereotype that needs to be embraced. Fried chicken is delicious! Now am I saying that EVERY black person likes fried chicken? Pretty much. But so does almost every white person. I'm jealous that my race doesn't get a fine stereotype like this. I'd gladly trade "can't jump" for the rights to buckets of thighs and drumsticks. So you're darn right chicken joints like Popeye's, Church's, and Bojangles' are getting some BHM love. Those places have been bringing together light and dark people and light and dark meat for decades. Happy Black History Month, chicken shacks... you're all finger-lickin' good!

(Why no KFC? Because it's just not right to have Colonel Sanders anywhere near a BHM celebration... regardless of how many secret herbs and spices he may have.)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: Black Parts of Crossword Puzzles

Every day during my third year of college, my friend Tom and I would try to complete the New York Times Crossword Puzzle during our incredibly boring Atmospheric Science class. We never did. You would think during one of those 90-minute sessions we would have been able to piece together all the clues, but no dice. Why? Because of all those darn white squares. No, I don't know who starred in the first silent movie. No, I don't know the former capital of Uzbekistan. No, I don't know who wrote the Cliffs Notes version of Moby Dick. I thought it was Cliff, but it's 7 spaces long and starts with a V. We never finished because we just didn't know enough to fill in all those little white squares. Know what we didn't have trouble with? The black squares. Those tiny, dark spaces were little freebies strewn across the perplexing grids. It's as if the black spaces said to us, "Hey guys. We know you've been trying hard. Let us take over for a little while. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the fact that we collectively look like little Tetris pieces." Sigh, I know I speak for Tom when I say I so badly wanted to finish just one puzzle for those little bastions of respite, but it never happened. Thanks anyway, little already-filled-in black spaces, for holding it down... and across.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: Orange

I don't know it came into being, but according to Netflix, orange is the new black. I'm not sure Netflix is the supreme authority on color palettes (I think that's either Crayola or Bob Ross), but since Netflix did revive my favorite show, Arrested Development, last year, I figure I'll let it slide. Thus, I'd like to wish a happy Black History Month to the following:

Jack-o-lanterns, basketballs, carrot sticks, carrot juice, Carrot Top, the University of Tennessee, white women who visit the tanning bed too often, Oompa Loompas, traffic cones, Creamsicles, Tigger, Amy Adams' hair, 1/3 of candy corn, Home Depot, and Sunkist.

Friday, February 7, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: Justin Bieber

The first time I heard Justin Bieber on the radio, I didn't hate it. I also didn't think he was white. Or male. I quite honestly thought he was a 12-year old black girl. "That's sweet," I thought, "this young lady is singing about her baby." Turns out I was very wrong. The Biebs may not be black, or a girl, but he is on a predominantly black record label and definitely has some R&B flair, so much like his ridiculous haircut, we're gonna let it slide. You gotta give it to him though; he can sing, he can dance, he makes girls swoon... he does it all. Of course "all" includes wearing absurd clothing, posting obnoxious tweets, and drag racing while drunk. That's okay though,  tools have their place in this world... I mean, who else would willingly say swaggy on the radio? So to all you folks who thought you'd never see Justin Bieber associated with Black History Month, I have this to say: never say never.

BHM 2014 Honors: Rap Dads

Great father-son relationships are a cornerstone of the rap community. Behind almost every great rapper is a loving, supportive, financially-responsible dad. Today, I'd like to honor some of the extraordinary things fathers have done for their rapper sons:

Big Wayne - As ill as Lil Wayne claims to be, his dad must have had to stay home from work an awful lot to take care of him.

Andre 2999 - He taught 'Dre to always apologize for his mistakes. You're welcome Ms. Jackson. I am for real.

Soulja Man - He taught Soulja Boy never to hop up out of bed without first turning on his swag. Great advice.

Old Jeezy - Thanks to his dad's tutelage, Young Jeezy is very good at identifying colors. Our President IS black... that Lambo IS blue.

P. Grandiddy - Even though Puffy claims to be a bad boy for life, the fact that he dated J. Lo for so long proves that the elder Diddy taught him a ton about patience.

So thanks Rap Dads, for raising your sons to be talented rappers... and for being far better people than Dance Moms.

BHM 2014 Honors: BET

Wanna see the latest hip-hop music videos? BET's got you. Wanna watch a four-hour block of Martin reruns? BET's got you. Wanna watch Soul Plane every day for a month straight? BET's got you! Black Entertainment Television delivers the biggest and blackest the entertainment industry has to offer. Home to everything Wayans, Winans, and Will Smith, BET never drops the ball (just the bass) when it comes to satisfying that fix for all things crunk, fly, dope, ham, and swag. You think those whities over at USA are gonna show Moesha reruns? Child please! So does BET deserve to be honored this Black History Month? You BET it does.

BHM 2014 Honors: Snoop Whatever

Snoop Doggy Dogg/Dogg/Lion has accomplished some pretty remarkable things in his lifetime. One, he's managed to have a career spanning 20+ years in the music industry without ever singing or playing an instrument. Two, he's become immune to the legal system. Dude does drugs like every single day and possibly murdered a man and pretty much just gets away with it. Three, he speaks in a nonsensical language full of nizzles and rizzles and the world embraces it. Inconceiveabizzle! I don't care how much drama's in the LBC, it's pretty good to be Snoop D-O-double-G. The only problem Snoop seems to have is sticking with a name. He ditched his given name, Calvin Broadus Jr., in favor of Snoop Doggy Dogg, then dropped the Doggy because, yeah, that's better. Last year, he opted to drop the dog motif like it was hot and changed his name to Snoop Lion because... remember all the drugs? One can only imagine what Snoop's name will be this time next year (my money's on Snoopapotamus), but the fact remains he still churns out the hits, still gets that money, and does it all with a certain ease and charisma that's kind of admirable in a warped kind of way. So a happy Black History Month to you Snoop Dizzle... you ain't beautiful, but I want you to know, you're my favorite dogg.

BHM 2014 Honors: Colored Pencils

It's easy to think that things have always been peaches and crayola for colored pencils, but they actually have a very, well, colorful past. Colored pencils were once thought to be beneath other types of pencils. Regular pencils had the better bathrooms, water fountains, and many civil writes that colored pencils weren't allowed. Luckily, the world is a more open-minded place today and colored pencils are no longer banned from expressing themselves in all their prismatic glory. (Except on standardized tests.) So happy Black History Month colored pencils... know why regular pencils are #2? Because you're #1, that's why!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: Brown M&Ms

When ranking the most ethical candies, M&Ms are pretty low on the list. They're colorful and they're delicious, but they're round, little liars -- except for the brown ones. Unlike the more vibrant M&Ms, brown M&Ms never try to fool you with their coating; they have the decency to give you a preview of what's inside -- more brown. Not the other colors. There's no telling how many snacks/lives have been ruined by red M&Ms who would have the eater believe there's some sort of cherry or strawberry filling inside their candy shells. But not brown. Brown M&Ms have too much integrity to be something they're not -- too much pride to go all Skittle like the other colors. That's why I, like Matthew McConaughey in the Wedding Planner, only eat the brown ones. Thanks brown M&Ms, for not sugar-coating it.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

BHM 2014 Honors: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Now this is a story all about how
A show helped me fit in in town
So I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there
I'll tell you how I became a fan of a show called Bel Air
In West Riverdale I was born and raised
On the sofa is where I spent most of my days
The hood kids were black, didn't think I was cool
So I was stuck watching TV alone after school
Then I saw this one show and I thought it was good
So did all the black kids in my neighborhood
I quoted one little line and the kids all stared
Said "Dave I didn't know you were down with Bel Air"
I whistled the theme song, the kids all cheered
They said that I was fresh, I didn't know that they cared
If anything I thought they thought I was weird
But now they thought different, all thanks to Bel Air!
We. Played. Outside my house till like seven or eight
Then I yelled to my friends, "Yo guys, see you later!"
I had finally done it, I was finally there
I was part of the hood. Thanks Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!