Refined and Fly

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Peace. Working with youth, and even more specifically young ladies, sometimes I am taken aback by how fast they are growing up physically. What's a dangerous combination? I'll tell you...a girl with the mind of a 10 year old with the body and accompanying fashion sense of a risque' teenager or early adult. I see young girls as young as four wearing mini-skirts, big boots, and shirts that proclaim,"SEXY." I know nine year olds who already getting their nails done. For this, I hold parents responsible cuz it's the parents that purchase and endorse items that turn these babies into "little women." Society, sexism, and media also play a large role in how we socialize our girls into becoming sex objects. Not to mention young ladies eating the wrong foods with hormones that give them breasts and booties by the time they're 9. These "hot little mamas" just keep getting younger and younger...

By Sally Wadyka for MSN Health & Fitness

There’s something undeniably disconcerting about seeing teen and preteen girls dressed to emulate their idols like Britney Spears—decked out in butt-grazing mini skirts and tight, belly-baring T-shirts. And probably the only thing even more alarming than that sight is seeing a similarly sexy outfit on girl who’s still in kindergarten. It’s a phenomenon that has child development experts worried and some parents fighting mad.

“Little girls are being encouraged to immerse themselves in the preoccupations of adolescence,” says Susan Linn, co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC). “They are going straight from preschool to teenager and skipping over the important development stages that should take place during middle childhood.”

But it’s not just pop stars who are to blame for popularizing looks that are too sexy for grammar school. The latest culprit in this culture war is something seemingly innocent—a line of dolls. The Bratz are marketed as dolls with “a passion for fashion.” Fashions that include low-cut jeans and halter tops worn over little girl-like bodies. MGA Entertainment (the company that makes them) says the dolls are geared toward girls ages 7 to 11, but girls as young as 4 are eager to play with them too. And in a culture that glorifies fashion, runway models and celebrity cover girls, it’s no surprise that the obsession would trickle down even to preschool fashionistas. Little girls have always wanted to emulate older ones. But critics claim that the message of the wildly popular Bratz dolls (according to the manufacturer, over 145 million have been sold since they debuted in 2001) is that image is everything. “The dolls encourage girls to think about themselves as sexualized objects whose power is equated with dressing provocatively,” says Linn.

The Bratz Web site is rife with examples that seem to play to that point. While waiting for the transition from one screen to another, the message flashes “Please wait … it takes time to look this good.” And included in the “profiles” of the dolls is each one’s “favorite body part.” “Little girls shouldn’t be thinking of their body parts in that way,” says Linn. “Plus, the very idea of a ‘favorite’ part encourages you to think about your least favorite.”

But the company selling the dolls disagrees with such criticisms. “Adults see sex in everything, but kids don’t,” says Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment. “Bratz dolls promote diversity and creativity.” He asserts that kids buy them because they are “beautiful,” and scoffs at the notion that there is anything sexual about the dolls. “I’m looking at a whole wall of them in my office, and I don’t see them wearing sexy clothes,” he says. “They’re just fantasy dolls.”
And since much of childhood play is about fantasy, what’s so bad about playing with such “fantasy” dolls? According to child development experts, kids use play as an opportunity to learn and to experiment with things from their own experience that they see in the world around them. “When young girls have an open-ended toy—like a generic baby doll—it encourages creativity,” says Diane Levin, a professor in the early childhood education department at Wheelock College in Boston. “But the scenarios of Bratz dolls tells them how to play—to dress up, do your hair, go to fashion shows.” Taken one step further, playing with these types of toys, experts assert, makes girls want to imitate the roles they see in the dolls—to dress up like them, do what they do.

The argument is that lines of Bratz clothing (similar to the dolls’ garb) and places like Club Libby Lu, where girls can dress up like their favorite pop idols (complete with hair, makeup and clothing) turn girls into living embodiments of sexy dolls. “At a time in their development when children are trying to understand what it means to be a boy or a girl, they are getting the narrowest possible image of what those gender roles mean,” says Levin. If what girls are learning as early as preschool is that they have to be sexy and attractive, that is supposedly setting them up for self-image issues and eating disorders later on.

That was the conclusion reached by the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, in a report released earlier this year. The task force defined “sexualization” as a person’s value coming only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior to the exclusion of other characteristics. The analysis of all the available research on the subject showed evidence that this sort of sexualization can negatively impact a girl’s self-confidence, body image, self-esteem, sexual development and mental health.

The existing research was all done on middle school and older girls. “It’s upsetting not to have any research on the younger girls, but we can infer from those studies that if being exposed to these things in middle school affects girls, the same images and messages probably have an even greater effect on younger girls,” says Sharon Lamb, professor of psychology at Saint Michael’s College, co-author of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughter From Marketers’ Schemes and a member of the APA Task Force.

And while the much-maligned Bratz dolls did warrant a mention in the report, they were far from the only culprits singled out. “Even American Girl dolls are being sold with accompanying body lotion,” says Lamb. That sends a message, she says, telling girls that lotion is something they need. “And girls don’t need to be self-conscious about needing soft skin at 7 years old,” says Lamb.

The report calls out examples from across current popular culture that present equally sexual messages—in advertising, TV, movies, fashion and music. Researchers cited things like thongs sold by stores catering to “tweens” (girls ages 7 to 12) and lyrics to widely played songs (like the Pussycat Dolls “Don’tcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?”).

Overly sexualized images of women and girls in the media are also having a negative impact on boys’ development, say many researchers. Just as girls are learning at ever-younger ages to equate attractiveness with sexiness, boys are learning that it’s perfectly acceptable to judge girls purely on how hot they look. “It’s a confusing message for boys,” says Lamb, “and the more of these idealized images they see early on, the more dissatisfied they are likely to be with real women, and that could affect their future romantic relationships.” And the fact that these things are impacting younger and younger children means that boys and girls are both missing out on an important time in their gender development. “Middle childhood is when boys and girls should be able to be friends without sexualization getting in the way,” says Linn.

Although the pervasiveness of sexy images can make it hard for parents to combat marketing messages, there are ways to fight back. One is to get involved. The CCFC recently launched a letter-writing campaign trying to convince Scholastic Inc. to stop promoting and selling Bratz brand books through its school book fairs and clubs. It’s certainly worth trying to limit children’s exposure to inappropriate media, music, clothing, etc., but experts agree that the most important thing parents can do is communicate with their children. “Help them to recognize and go beyond these stereotypes,” says Levin. “Don’t just say ‘no’ to something, since that cuts you off from discussion.”

Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colo.-based freelance writer who writes regularly for Shape, Runner’s World, Real Simple and The New York Times.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Peace to all! I build everyone is in the best of health mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally. There's been quite a bit going on in the news and world (as always). A couple comments on the latest controversies...

Of course everyone's heard about Imus and the "nappy-headed hoes" incident, and his subsequent dismissal from his popular show. What do I think of Imus? Well, he's a 66 year old White dude who was given the forum to voice his racist, prejudiced, sexist views. He's been around for a long time, having lived through the Jim Crow era and the Civil Rights Movement so he obviously still has some shit embedded in him. I will make this comparison: A large part of the problem is that he is a representative of a large demographic of White males who think like him...otherwise, the show wouldn't be so popular. If he didn't have a base and support, which included ratings and advertisers, he wouldn't have had a leg to stand on. In Hip Hop, a lot of the criticized artists represent a demographic of people who think like them, relate, and purchase, download, and shake their collective assses to their music (shame on the guilty, I've done it too, and still do occasionally...come on I'm from the Bay, one of the homes of some serious pimp culture...No, that doesn't make it right...I know). I don't purchase the music, but then again, I don't really purchase any music. I'm just not moved to spend $15 on this shit anymore, but that's another story.

Now Hip Hop is the latest scapegoat and folks are trying to attack our use of terms that degrade women and project violence. Here's the link to the Town Hall on the Oprah Show if you missed it In my opinion, they didn't really get anywhere, but all in all, it's just a one hour TV show. To be real, Hip Hop that is primarily projected through mainstream mediums is pretty wild. I will stick to my guns and say that Hip Hop has always had a mixture of controversial messages. Bitches, hoes, sexism, misogyny and gangsta shit ain't nothin new, however, the issue is the lack of diverse messages on the radio and in videos. Now, instead of gettin it in 2 out of 10 songs, it's more like 8 out of 10. I don't wanna keep turning off the radio or breaking down some song lyrics when I have kids in my car.
On the flipside though, I also think it's important for sisters to step up and take responsibility for our role in projecting these images as well. Without our willingness to be put out there like that, these rappers would have no token models in their videos to flaunt. I know some sisters may have it rough and see their ass as their only assets, and many like myself grew up admiring "beautiful" women I saw on TV and wanted to experience that, so you coulda seen me in a video (although not degrading myself) had I not changed my priorities, focus, view about myself, and self esteem. I got INTERVENTIONS...something that a lot of young girls don't get. Someone sat me down and talked to me about this shit and my understanding came in time. Work needs to be done on all fronts, but I always stress EDUCATION, CULTURE and OPPORTUNITY! Otherwise, you'll always have young men and women willing to sell their ideas and ass for money, no matter what is censored, banned or boycott.

Hip Hop needs analysis and a critical eye, but music is only a manifestation of what's going in society. The music isn't going to change until society changes. Censorship is not the answer, but those of us who who are offended and want to challenge Hip Hop should build with those responsible for projecting negative images. The problem also emerged when Hip Hop became a career path for a lot of folks, as my God consistently emphasizes. So if you starvin, got kids to feed, whatever, and the only talent that you see within yourself is rappin, you will rap about whatever makes you money, thereby paying less attention to "preserving the art" and being socially responsible. Now all the images we see perpetually reinforce themselves and that's what we see and hear over and over again cuz people BUY the Cd's and WATCH the videos, making money for of course, you keep reproducing what makes money. That just seems to be how the game goes at this point. If you want to see the rappers' message change, then the conditions of said rappers have to change. You can't ask somebody to rap about that which they do not know or have not been exposed to. The issue is with the value systems people are growing up with, so the problem isn't the music, it is society, and the music is just a reflection of that. Work to positively impact some youth so they change their values so as not to support misogynist sexist music (cuz the young girls like it just as much, if not more than the young boys). I wouldn't recommend Calvin Butts or C. Delores Tucker's strategy. That will just repel you further from rappers and the young people who listen to them. Be critical, but it's going to take building with those who perpetuate messages you don't like, not necessarily attacks.

Misogyny, sexism, racism, and violence are embedded in the fabric of American culture. It is what this country is founded and built upon. We so-called Americans have such short term memories. We, and old school civil rights activists also have to remember that in their generation, rock and roll was what was criticized as "the devil's music." They're doing to us what their parents did to them. We'll probably do the same thing to our kids, further promoting a genrational divide, unless we consciously remain connected to the youth in a meaningful influential way. Otherwise, as some Christian folk say, "We're goin to hell with gasoline drawers on"...and I ain't talkin bout after you physically die!

Well damn. This indeed was a tragedy. This guy was definitely a disaffected youth who had poor socialization skills. Check for some pics and video (if you haven't had enough already). For all ya'll bullies out there that pick on the kid with floodin' pants, dirty tennis shoes, thick glasses, and buck teeth, I got one message...LEAVE THEM THE HELL ALONE! You never know what a person's tolerance level is or what's going on inside of their minds. You could be planting the seeds for a very disturbed personality, and what is in the mental will manifest in the physical in some way, shape or form. Everybody doesn't have great coping skills or someone to talk to about their feelings. Children can be very cruel. Shoot I was teased for a few years growin up, and I seriously wanted to pummel those kids till they were bloody...shit I still remember their names (you bastards better be glad I was a well adjusted person). Had it not been for my Old Earth (my dear mama), I could have had some serious self-esteem issues. You might have ended up seeing me in one of those pathetic "Look At Me Now" Jenny Jones shows where they bring on their childhood bullies after 15 years to tell them how great they're doing. Meanwhile, the bullies don't remember your names. Save yourselves the embarassment and find another way to get closure!

In all seriousness, another point on this matter is how Americans are so self-centered. Why? Well, not to sound unsympathetic to the situation but, this shit happens EVERY FUCKIN DAY in Iraq since we started bombing them. Could you imagine bombs and gun shots and death every day in your life... If Virginia Tech or 9/11 happened every day? You don't see a whole bunch of candlelight vigils for all of the innocent Iraqi men, women, and children, oops, I mean, "insurgents," who are murdered every day due to the U.S. takeover, ooops, I mean intervention. Do the knowledge:

"In Iraq, universities struggling to operate in the midst of a war zone have been struck repeatedly by bombings, shootings, assassinations, and abductions that have left behind hundreds of killed and wounded, victims and forced thousands of students and professors to stay away, or even leave the country.

On Monday, the same day as the Virginia Tech mass shooting, two separate shooting incidents struck Mosul University, one killing Dr. Talal Younis al-Jelili, the dean of the college of Political Science as he walked through the university gate, and another killing Dr. Jaafar Hassan Sadeq, a professor from the Faculty of Arts at the school, who was targeted in front of his home in the al-Kifaat area, according to Aswat al-Iraq.

In January, Baghdad's Mustansiriya University sufferred a double suicide bombing in January that killed at least 70 people, including students, faculty, and staff. A month later, another suicide bomber struck at Mustansiriya, killing 40.
Kidnappings of students and faculty are another all-too-common occurrence on Iraq's campuses. Members of the univerisity community have been abducted and murdered for sectarian reasons, or simply held for ransom. At a Baghdad University, one student reported to Slogger that he was abducted by sectarian thugs working in cooperation with the National Guard Forces who were supposed to be protecting the campus.

In January, students reported that violent events had threatened students and that attendance rates at Baghdad University had dropped to six percent.

Earlier this month, the Dr. Qais Jawad al-Azzawi, head of the Geneva-based Committee International Committee of Solidarity with Iraqi Professors said that 232 university professors were killed and 56 were reported missing in Iraq, while more than 3,000 others had left the country after the 2003 invasion. "

This Don Imus and Virginia Tech controversy sure did take the attention off of the brutal murder of Sean Bell by New York's finest, the Duke rape case, and Shaquanda Cotton, the 15 year old Black girl in Texas who got seven years for pushing a teacher or hall monitor. Fortunately, she was recently released.

If you have not seen this documentary, please go find it. It's a great piece on the origins and evolution of the Bloods and Crips from the Black Power Movement, and the main person narrating is an Athens Park Blood. It was On Demand, but try Blockbuster, Netflix, or your local public library. Please show it to some youth if you can, especially if you know children who live in gang territories or claim sets. Most of these kids have no idea how these groups started and once they learn, they'll probably think twice.

Yo, for real, I'm feelin krump dancin. I recently watched this documentary "Breakin vs. Krumpin," where Shabba Doo (Ozone from "Breakin") got 5 of the best B-Boys in the world and Todd Bridges (yes, Todd from "Different Strokes") got 5 of the best Krumpers and staged a battle for a $5000 prize. I support both art forms as genuine expressions of emotion, release and a certain level of beauty, but on the real, for me, watching the krumpers was just amazing. Their energy is so raw that you're drawn to it. They kind of remind me of the Tazmanian Devil from Looney Tunes with the speed and force of their movements...but in a good way. The breakers did a lot of great moves, acrobatics and such, but I was drawn to the emotion and feeling that the krumpers gave off. It was really like they were releasing all the pain and anger of every day life in these dance movements. Go watch it On Demand or check the Krumpers out a E.ducate A.ll C.hildren E.veryday (PEACE!)
I Medina Peaceful Earth

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Peace! As I was sitting at Monroe's waiting for my oil change, I started checking out a magazine called "Working Mother." Now although this of course isn't their tag line, flipping through the pages, it seems to be a mag targeting working corporate mid to upperclass white mothers. However, taking knowledge for knowledge and not discouraging it on face value, I found a lot of jewels in it and will probably subscribe. There are many topics covered that working mothers or women preparing to be mothers of any ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or background can use. This specific issue (October 2006) covers lots of topics such as preparing an organized morning routine, the 100 best companies that are family friendly, school lunches, arts and crafts, entrepreneurial moms, and health. One story I found particularly interesting (obviously, I indefinitely borrowed the mag) was the "Global Snapshot: Parent Perks Around the World," focusing on different countrys' work/ life benefits. Many of these countries may have other structural issues, but when it comes to balancing family and work, they seem to take a family-centered approach that assists with maintaining the balance of work and home, and frankly, puts the U.S. to shame. Do the knowledge:

Self-employed workers who register with national Social Security and health insurance plans recieve free maternity care and discounts on dental visits and eye exams. Almost 85% of the participants in this program are women.

Named a top country for working women by the World Economic Forum, Sweden offers a generous family leave policy-up to 18 months off at partial pay-and parents can work reduced hours until their children are 8. Under the "leisure time care" program, children recieve before-and afterschool care until age 12, with sliding scale fees.

In this driven corporate culture, all employees are granted flexible schedules-shorter hours, flextime or overtime exemption-for the first 2 years of parenthood. Large firms, those with more than 300 employees, must provide childcare options, such as on-site centers or temporary leaves.

Mothers here recieve free hospitalization and a "maternity grant" of 20% of their montyhly wage to purchase supplies for their newborn.

This West AFrican nation gives mothers protection from being fired for any reason upon return from maternity leave. Like its neighbor, Mali, Senegal offers an impressive 15 months of secured job leave.

New mothers are entitled to 14 weeks of paid leave, and single moms can take off as much as six months with pay before and after childbirth, depending on their income. They also recieve a small cash stipend, based on earnings, for three months before and after having their child.

Moms and dads in this small Balkan nation recieve 365 days of fully paid family leave that they can use anytime before their child's eighth birthday.

After a 16-week long paid maternity leave, mothers can enroll their babies in home based care or at full-day care centers at little or no cost until age 3, when they enter subsidized pre-school.

Child care here is a constitutional right. Workers are entitled to free employer-provided day care until children reach age 4.

*Reprinted from pp76-78 of "Working Mothers Magazine" (October 2006 issue)

Monday, April 09, 2007


Today's mathematics is born. Born is completion, to bring a reality into existence. Bringing a reality into existence might sound like some far off utopic idea, but what does that entail really? How do you make this real? To bring something into existence, just like a baby being born is a process. When something is complete, it has all the necessary parts to function and it has gone through a process of validation through checks and balances within our mathematical process(taking things properly from knowledge to born). This reality I see, is having what you need to do what you gotta do; to have the resources and ability to produce something valuable for self, those around you, and generations to come. When people in our nation don't have enough money to feed their children, struggling with education, food clothing, shelter, and the other 9 jewels we have, the new reality is ensuring that we have those things we need to have a productive nation. That's the revelation to me.

After getting the knoweldge of self, your reality should change in some form or fashion. Why? Because throughout this process, you are changing parts of your life. You're taking in new information, eliminating the wrong foods, eating the right foods, changing your way of speaking and how you dress. So on a personal note, the reality that you first bring into existence is the change that takes place within you, which thereby affects all that is within your circumference (the people, places and things that you interact with and effect, which also effects you), which effects and changes the reality you live in.

That's how we know everything starts with self. A new reality ain't like some sci-fi movie where people are flying, surviving off air alone, and everyone walks around in metallic latex suits. It's a lot more simple and feasible than that. When you change, the people, places and things around you change, hence, a "new reality." You may not associate with the same people, or your interaction with them changes. You learn new things. Your behavior changes. From this, you gain new experiences, and a new life to a degree. There are probably a lot of people who have been in this nation 10-15 years and are different than they were 10-15 years ago, even if the essence of the person is the same (i.e. if a person was aggressive before KOS, most likely they will be after; if someone has a peaceful calm demanor before, that most likely won't change; if a person is abusive before, they may be after). Getting knowledge of self has saved a lot of people's lives and when you see them today, you may not fathom who they were pre-knowledge of self. Everyone has a story.

All things are made born eventually. As I'm taught, something can be born dead or alive. So if you take an idea to fruition, and the fruit that is beared is successful, it's born alive. Lack of success..born dead. But knowledge is added to the cipher (the next step...10) cuz you learned something from that experince so you know what to do and what not to do next time.

Today's degree in the alphabet is I. I see "I" as self-realization. The "I" is ownership and accountability. The "I" is a magnet for whatever comes after it. So my name being "I Medina Peaceful Earth," means that I am bonded to those qualities that are in my name. If I say "I am happy," then I am bonded to that idea and activities that make up that idea. So when you say "I..." that is powerful, because you are attaching your being to whatever words and activities that come after that I. Those ideas and activities become what defines you. So make sure to attach that "I" to words of honesty, truth and positivity, cuz whatever comes after that "I " is an affirmation of who and what you are.

May the P.ower and E.quality of A.llah C.enter the E.arths (PEACE!)