Genma Holmes: Home training must become popular again

By Genma Holmes cross posted at nonprofit news organization

I wrote this while wiping away tears rolling down my cheeks and yelling at my monitor. I watched a few minutes of the video of the senseless beating death of the Chicago teen, Derrion Albert, 16, who was an A student at his school. I could not get my mind around the fact that no one intervened.

No one. I could not believe that no one yelled out or ran to get help. As I listened to “fonevideograper” give commentary while the life of a young man, who had many possibilities , life slipped from his ravaged body, I literally got ill. I could not watch the entire video.

I thought of the parents whose son has been immortalized on YouTube dying while doing what young people should be doing; going to school and making good grades. My heart goes out to them. The details and the “whys” of this vicious crime have been lost among the cries of outrage and righteous indignation.

An epidemic of criminal activity committed by young males has terrorized our nation. Chicago has become known for being most dangerous city for school children, where going to school can literally get you killed!

Chicago is not alone in grabbing headlines. Florida’s horrendous rape and beating of a mother and son in the notorious Dunbar Village case left many calling them savages. Mainstream media by-passed the story that was covered in depth by blogs like What About Our Daughters and Dallas South. After two years, the young men were finally sentenced last month.

Teens killing teens have made the news in my hometown of Nashville. In the last two weeks, two teens have been involved in shootings. Reading through the month of September’s press releases issued by MNPD, teens made up a third of the crimes reported. The number of teens that were nabbed from truancy sweeps in a one month period was staggering.

Not attending school during school hours is a recipe for disaster. As I counted the number of children who were arrested for not being in school in just one month, I wondered what they were doing if they were not in school. Looking for trouble? What can we, as a nation, do to help end the violence and get help for young people who find happiness in pulling a trigger or beating another to death?

It is going to take more than a few people. It is literally going to take a village, city by city. Working together across race, gender, or religious affiliation to find solutions and to implement changes must start sooner than later. This should be top priority for everyone; parents, schools, and congregations. We cannot point to one particular situation or group to blame because the violence that has entangled our youth does not care about situations or groups.

This week, everyone on radio, television and the blogosphere is talking about the condition of our youth. I heard one DJ complain that it was the musical lyrics that our young people listen to and a TV pundit suggested it was the glorification of rappers and stars who behave badly that influences young folks to act out. Those suggestions may be true but parents must step up take ownership as well.

Home training must become popular again. We disown the popularity of Nene cursing out her “friends” at every turn and the Kaynes of the world showing out then blaming his foolishness on his mother’s death. This only adds to the discord that our country has embraced so proudly. We have glamorized ignorance.

Add to that a Facebook poll asking about the assignation of the President and teens are trading nude pictures via phone and internet like marbles and we get an indication of the “condition” of our youth today. Our national discord is fast becoming anarchy.

We must support community heroes who are trying to make a difference. We are not Somalia with teen pirates under the leadership of drug lords who kill for a dime and a pack of cigarettes. We are not Haiti, a country absent of leadership and nearly 75% of its population are under the age of 19. This America, so why are we accepting abnormal gruesome behavior from our youth as if they are living in wild? I refuse to believe that our young people cannot be helped, even though I feel helpless at times and overwhelmed by the constant stream of ghastly news.

We must work together…we can do better!

Genma Stringer Holmes is an actress, model, and speaker turned entrepreneur who owns an environmental pest control company. She blogs at Genma Speaks.

Edited by Shawn Williams

Black in America 2: The Continuing Mis-Education of America

I watched Black in America 2 with great trepidation. I honestly sent up a prayer begging God to have mercy on black folks, all America would be watching this show. My prayers got stuck somewhere over Nashville’s skyline because what I saw was a diversity project gone astray.

I applaud CNN for wanting to show that they are committed to diverse subject matter. After all, they are the “most trusted name in the news.” What I find perplexing is the need to script news segments and promote the result as a documentary about life in Black America.

Based on the promos, BIA2 would bring forth new ideas or solutions to old problems within the black community. Part 1, which I watched three times, gave us the same extremes that are usually spotlighted by the media and left many wondering why repeat the predictable caricatures that appear on cable news every day.

CNN’s narratives exploited the most vulnerable segment of the community and highlighted bourgeois attitudes at their worst. There is no denying that the two groups – the very affluent and the poor – are parts of the black community. But the affluent and poor are in any group of people.

For millions of black folks who work hard every day, who are not making six figure incomes, who pay their bills and taxes, and who have trials and struggles like everyone else, what CNN profiled is not a total of our sums. CNN continued the perpetuation of the same stereotypical genres of black life which are the focus of the media the majority of the time. Blacks are viewed as thugs in jail, unwed teens, and absentee fathers/mothers.

While true facets of the black experience, they are not reflect of all of our lives. Just like poverty stricken trailer parks and welfare mothers are not reflective of any other group. In a veiled attempt to show balance, mainstream media who most often portray the negative aspects of the black experience will occasionally show an elitist intellectual who is out of touch with his/her people and reality.

Good, wholesome and normal people in the black community are rarely shown on television. BIA2 should have been renamed the “Continued Mis-education of White America” (and the rest of the world). Where is the balance between the two extremes?

In part one, CNN showed three segments. The first segment focused on thirty youth at a community center who traveled to Africa to learn more about themselves by having experiences with other youth whose circumstances were as cruel as their own. Taking young people from the inner city for two weeks to serve the world’s poorest is noble.

Mrs. Compton-Rock is to be commended for her dedication to her organization, Journey for Change, and to young people. But to assume that upon their return, the magic dust of the Soweto ghetto will have a lasting effect on youth as they negotiate inner city life is implausible.

The travel cost of $12,000 per child could have been used for tutors, speech therapists, and maybe even parenting classes. Traveling is one of our greatest educators. Teaching children to give and serve others should be part of life lessons no matter what zip code they live in. But often times, we miss some of our greatest treasures by not taking children to libraries and across town.

Touring our national parks, national monuments will bring life to lessons taught in the classrooms. No greater gift could have been given to one of the young men profiled than a book, but did anyone follow up to see if he even read it? Throwing money at poverty without a deliberate evaluative plan is often a waste of resources and time.

Visiting the slums of another country is a good mission trip. But as we saw, the value of the trip was short lived when we are looking for long term solutions for systemic problems that a foreign trip was not able to cure. My questions to the staff of the Salvation Army: Why were these three profiled?

Are they a sampling of the thirty kids or are they the exception? How did the letters of young man end up in the hands of the Mrs. Compton-Rock? Why read letters from an incarcerated father to his son on national TV if he wasn’t reading them at home? After some probing, CNN selected the kids to profile and the kids fit a premade storyline that we see over and over-poor fatherless black child saved by the altruism by some outside benevolence force. Several children in the group had two parents. Yet we saw what is typically presented.

After leaving us lost in thought with Malakk Rock vowing to not give up on her special kids, CNN gives us an uplift with the no nonsense school principal with fire in his belly for his students and his belief that his students can and will attend college. With 100% graduation rate and college attendance, Mr. Perry shares his story of being the troubled youth who got out and stayed out of the projects.

A positive role model by any standards, his students love and respect for him was obvious. He also shared with America his greatest frustration – getting parents involved with his program. The two parents shown came from predictable, handpicked, scripted backgrounds, perfect for the exploitation of an otherwise uplifting story.

The young lady profiled from Capital school had an abusive father and a crack addictive mother. Thankfully, both parents were shown alcohol and drug free. In this segment, we heard clear solutions with proven results, such as longer school days, six day a week school, and allowing junior and seniors to take college classes.

Having a high school within a college prepares students for college transition and helps position them in college even if they do not test well on college exams. One of most profound statements made by Principal Perry and not included in this interview was thus:

“I think that the bigger issue when we have a discussion around race is not the interracial discussions but the intra-racial discussions. We don’t have a conversation as African-Americans about what we actually value and within our community where those cleavages are. For instance, we don’t have a conversation about why it is that so many schools run by African-Americans are so badly under-performing within communities that have always elected black politicians.”

His statement would have changed the tone of the segment and demonstrated that blacks are also holding blacks accountable for the communities they live in.

After hearing the zealous Mr. Perry, CNN does not allow us to stay excited for too long. They bring us shattering back to earth by profiling the founder of the Tuxedo Ball, Dr. Carlotta Miles, and an elite black family. The story focuses on Bertram Lee Jr., a rugby-playing freshman at the elite Haverford College in Pennsylvania.

His grandfather was a prominent state judge, his late father a businessman and co-owner of the Denver Nuggets. He said his mother, a top lobbyist in Washington, D.C., instilled in him a love for his race. He was frankly honest about his life and does not apologize for not being poor. Good for him. He shares lessons learned early in life that despite his family’s successful background and affluent lifestyle, wealthy black people still very much feel the sting of racism.

Lee said he was called the N-word at his well-heeled private school and is often questioned by security when he and his black friends play basketball in the school’s gym. Lee sounded grounded and confident and has awareness that his privileged life will not shield him from racist rhetoric. A part of Lee’s affluent life is attending the Annual Tuxedo Ball.

Dr. Carlotta Miles, a psychiatrist and DC area socialite has hosted the Tuxedo Ball for 23 years. Dr. Miles shares the history of the Tuxedo Ball. It is a weekend of socializing and networking that she said grew from a need to keep privileged black children connected after integration.

Prominent black families from across the country attend the weekend of events that also includes workshops, motivational seminars, and networking-opportunities. Dr. Miles shares that for generations wealthy blacks have been invisible people, noting

“We are the invisible people because we don’t match the stereotype. The stereotype for black Americans is failure, poverty, failure, victimization and mediocrity.”

When asked how to be a part of this elite group, Dr. Miles insists that in order for your kid to be invited you must be part of the group. This group is only known to members of the group. How can group of supposedly invisible people see each other? Do they wear special glasses that are available to people in the group or CNN?

Dr. Miles’s snobbishness came full circle when Soledad asked “How come you don’t do a similar thing for kids who are not privileged?” She explained,

“Well, because it’s not our mission. There are tons of things that are done for children who are not advantaged. There was nothing for the privileged black child because to be black in America is a challenge for many people whether you’re privileged or not.”

This statement was from the same interview but shown in an earlier program but. In a perfect world, I would send Dr. Miles and crew to South Africa to get a tutorial in humility.
BIA2 was filmed over a period of several months. After review the transcripts of several shows shown in January around the time of President Obama’s inauguration and February, Black History Month, CNN took segments of the interviews with Dr. Miles, Mr. Perry and Mrs. Compton-Rock to fit the message they wanted conveyed for that particular month.

Breaking barriers and such was shown in January; historical perspectives of blacks in America were shown in February; piss poor, the uneducated and socialites with impaired vision aired in July. One interview sliced to fit the script.

CNN does a hatchet job on black life and handpicked the theme for BIA2. This was not a documentation about black life but an experimentation on how many ways a network can mislead America, especially white American, with one interview.

BIA2 managed to show America blacks flunking out of school and only wanting to shoot basketball, while giving us a glimpse of the life of Blacks who are trying like hell not to be Black in America or see reality. If this is going to be continuing theme with CNN’s Black Folks Series, I will pass on BIA3 and BIA4.

Genma Holmes: Killin’ Bugs and Political Correctness on the World Wide Web!  She is active in the fashion industry and nonprofit community and blogs at Genma Speaks.

AEG Schools BET: “How to be an Entertainment Company” 101


After watching the coverage of Michael Jackson, I noticed many similarities and differences between the AEG and BET televised events. Both are companies that are in the business of staging concerts, television productions and are part of larger conglomerates.

BET targets African-American between the ages 18-34 as their marketing base. AEG developed and operates the $150 million official U.S. Olympic Training Facility.

AEG, which was heavily invested in the Michael Jackson upcoming tour, is part of AEG Live. The AEG brand includes managing sport arenas around the world, merchandising, and corporate sponsorship and marketing. BET is part of Viacom which includes VH1, MTV, Nickelodeon, CMT and Comedy Central to name a few.

Anyone in the entertainment industry would recognize the power of three short letters, BET or AEG, which employ thousands. That would include camera operators, sound engineers, set designers, travel agents and key board operators. Both entities have contact to talented artists worldwide and can sermon them at a moment’s notice.

AEG’s commitment to excellence was evident in the production of MJ’s home going ceremony. From the details of the printed program to the orchestrated performances of the stars, their desire to ensure MJ’s messages of empowerment, hope, humanitarian endeavors, and his musical genius were reflected in every facet of the production.

As I have said previously, how a show starts usually determines how it will end. With the opening song “Going to see the King”, you knew the program would have a spiritual connotation despite the fact an entertainment company was in charge. The attention to details was impeccable. His coordinated brothers were his pall bearers who wore his signature glove. It reminded us that MJ started his musical journey with his brothers.

They honored MJ’s independence from the group, by wearing his coveted trademark with loving pride. That symbolic touch was the start of a service that remained elegant from beginning to the end.

BET repeated excuse that it only had a few days to prepare a ‘tribute’ revealed their commitment to mediocrity and throwing things together at the last minute. Their justification for the lack of quality and care gave life to the word “ghetto”.

The artistry of the talent on the stages gave you a glimpse of how the two brands view themselves. AEG understood that the eyes of the world were on them and how it managed this program was an investment in how they will be perceived by everyone. BET was the first to honor MJ’s legacy but did not understand the significance of the world’s penetrating glare.

The program was marketed as a tribute to MJ but they were not able to turn off their usual misogynistic, sexist, and degrading antics of its own people to realize the social responsibility that was expected of them by fans from around the world to honor MJ’s legacy. BET also misjudged its community and the power of the internet, via blogs and Twitter, to do what others have not been able to accomplish for years, shame them for their programming.

There are many actors and actresses in black community but only a few have won Oscars. Both AEG and BET had African-American Oscar Winners, Jamie Fox and Jennifer Hudson, on their stages. Jamie and Jennifer are musical prodigies but Jennifer used her voice to echo MJ’s talent and Jamie used his voice to mock MJ.

Funny stories were shared by many close to MJ at AEG’s event; their stories were heartfelt and respectful. Absence was the buffoonery that Jamie exhibited at BET.

AEG included various artists from Motown, which was part of MJ’s history as well as a strong influence in the black community. BET had access to Motown executives and artists also. They have honored Diana Ross, Barry Gordy, and Quincy Jones in recent years.

I remember Miss Ross admonishing the audience to respect each other with their lyrics and dances. Both companies had athletes on stage. AEG athletes, Kobe and Magic, shared firsthand stories about MJ that made everyone laugh.

BET’s Athlete of the Year, LeBron James, was booed by the audience. No public apology was issued to LeBron James or his legions of fans watching. AEG used their arsenal of contacts for the greater good and used MJ’s music to unite the world.

In contrast, BET does not understand the value of maintaining healthy community and artistic relationships from different genres, musical eras, and backgrounds.

Each song that was performed at the memorial highlighted MJ’s legacy. His songs were the heart of the service. The songs that were not his songs, like Smile, were song because they were meaningful to him and touched MJ in a special way.

The song “Every Girl” included in BET’s show and sung by baby maker, Lil Wayne, seems an odd choice whether you are a fan of MJ or not. It’s hard to believe Lil Wayne cared about a tribute to MJ.

But on the other hand, Usher’s performance was loving and unforgettable. Not only did he move the audience emotionally with his presentation, but you knew his tearful tribute was from the heart.

In fact, when I listened to BET’s replay, the tribute was riddled with profanity, plugs for new releases, concerts appearances, and various BET “products”, i.e. reality shows, that will do more harm than good to its demographics.

There was no stage or casket sponsorship with AEG. But BET’s sponsors were mentioned every few minutes. Jennifer Hudson, who wore a modest white dress, did not leave us questioning her attire. Whereas Beyonce’s white outfit, left many bewildered.

Both women had others on stage with them, but the additional people on the stage with Jennifer were the chorus who gave you a visual that MJ’s songs reflected his admiration of diversity and international inclusion. Beyonce’s extras on stage were part of her costume change that emphasize her “showmanship” not MJ’s words that tells us, “In the promise of another tomorrow, I’ll never let you part for you’re always in my heart”.

AEG even muzzled Joe Jackson and did not prominently showcase him or his coonery. BET gave him a world stage that left us all wondering why in God’s name would anyone give him a mic or MJ’s children.

AEG gave an emphasis to Michael Jackson’s childlike heart in many respects and ended their memorable tribute with children singing his words, with smiles and joyful hearts that radiated from the stage.

The last words spoken regarding the greatest entertainer in the world was an unexpected announcement from his daughter that her “Daddy was the greatest father in the world”. It left critics speechless and moved the rest of the world to tears.

On the other hand, BET’s children who were on stage left me speechless and in tears but for reasons that has been addressed by thousands of angry emails and tweets to Debra Lee.

In the end, AEG showed us it was not about Michael Jackson, but the mark he left on the world. They managed to show that in spite of the years of suspicion, two trials and media debauchery, he made contributions that cannot be argued or denied.

His monetary gifts of 300 million to global agencies have touched thousands of lives but his songs will live “forever, and forever, and forever”. BET showed us that it was all about them, and they shot themselves in the foot.

They drew attention to everything that is wrong with BET’s brand and why it hurts the black community on a wide-reaching stage. The stereotypes of the African- American community, that many fight every day, were front and center.

AEG will make millions from the reproduction of ceremony and the memorabilia copyrights. They invested in MJ’s ceremony and made their name a household brand.

Their stock will increase and they will become known as the entertainment company for quality production events. BET made a few thousands and proved why they are becoming irrelevant in the entertainment community. They will be forever and forever and forever remembered for their failed attempt to honor an African-American musical intellectual that transcended race, religion, and politics.

They did not take the time to view the long term value of honoring MJ right the first time, even on a smaller scale. The lessons AEG showed us by their actions should be a life lesson for everyone not only BET; the value of your brand is reflective of the standards you set.
Photo Credit: MTV, NBC,

Genma Stringer Holmes is an actress, model, and speaker turned entrepreneur who owns an environmental pest control company.  She blogs at Genma Speaks.