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The times, they haven't changed enough When Whitney Houston likened herself to Lena Horne and Diahann Carroll, she didn't place her comparison in a "generational context". But for the sake of discussion I will give it a shot -- let's see -- if Lena Horne and Diahann Carroll were caught carrying marijuana back in their day, I believe they would have "disappeared" so fast, and so long ago, that we would not know their names today.
That is one difference between their generation and ours. While it is true that Whitney is subject to more intense media scrutiny, it is also true that we are living in an age of greater tolerance and forgiveness of perceived moral turpitude.
Whitney can, and already has, done things that would have ended the careers of these ladies. I think it is an insult to the legacies of Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, and other black women of their generation, to suggest that their resolve to NOT bring disgrace upon themselves was borne of fear or desperation rather than courage.
I am not sure how much you know about the personal or professional history of Lena Horne, but her legend was not founded upon a philosophy of "toeing the line". In the 's, Lena was branded a communist sympathizer simply because she was involved in the civil rights movement and lent her support to other progressive social causes.
Accordingly, she was ostracized by the entertainment industry at great detriment to her financial prospects and professional advancement. This is hardly the lot of a woman who was merely "turning the other cheek".
Whitney is obviously aware of Lena's legacy and is inspired by Lena's strength of character. Lena and Diahann were definitely not in the business of conforming to any mainstream expectations of who they should be.
As you know, the conforming image of a black woman in the age of de jure racial discrimination did not consist of poise, charm or personal dignity. If Lena Horne fit the conforming image of black women of her day, the film studios would not have excised her scenes from films before screening them for Southern audiences.
Therefore, it is presumptuous and untenable to state that Lena and Diahann did not consciously order their actions in such a manner to ensure easier passage for future generations.
Black americans of their generation were very cognizant of their obligation to ensure that the road would be easier for future generations in every industry, trade and profession. That was the essence of the American civil rights struggle! Wealth and celebrity are proven and powerful weapons against racism.
The media cannot destroy the character of a woman of Whitney's stature without her complicity. Whitney Houston is a huge celebrity who can commandeer any available media outlet to address the rumors about her -- or she could just clean up her act.
She also has a large, fiercely protective fanbase that will support her even under the most incriminating circumstances. If Whitney makes a loud, public pronouncement that she is "not guilty", she will not find herself standing alone. I think the only reason other black celebrities have not rushed to Whitney's defense is because they recognize that she is her own best defender and yet she chooses to remain silent.
If she is not fighting for herself, why should we fight for her?
Her silence implies guilt, or at the very least, indifference to what is happening to her. Please be assured that there IS nobility in endeavoring to place oneself beyond reproach. As well, it is incumbent upon anyone who would paint himself, or herself, a victim of racism to first ensure that it is the mere fact of their blackness that invites rumor and criticism.
Thanks for sharing your opinion with me.Anita Baker Speaks Out One of the finest vocalists of all time, Anita Baker, is interviewed in the July issue of SisterSister magazine in which she speaks out about the media's treatment of Whitney Houston.
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Semere Habtemariam’s “Reflections on the History of the Abyssinian Orthodox Tewahdo Church” is a welcome contribution to our knowledge and understanding of a crucial institution that has shaped the culture and helped influence the politics of Ethiopia (and Eritrea).
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