Sunday, November 30, 2008

Let them be artists!!!!

I was just in a discussion about the new show on Comedy Central, "Chocolate News". This seems like an ongoing discussion I'm having with my friends, with me being on different sides at different times.

Basically, the criticism of "Chocolate News" is that it reinforces too many Black stereotypes, and isn't thought provoking enough. I have raised these same criticisms of commercial hip hop today. I bring this up because I do understand this criticism and I feel it has its place. But I feel that its being used too often to generalize too many things.

There are claims that "Chocolate News" is not thought provoking and only reinforces stereotypes. I watched the episode from last Wednesday (11/26) and found it pretty interesting.

There was a skit about Nickelodian hiring a Black guy to do a TV Show. These are some of the questions posed that I'm sure are going on in many of our heads about many of these networks, including:
- why don't they have any Black shows?
- why do the few Black shows that they do have always seem to fail?

That's not to say that the show isn't above criticism, but just because a show has a skit with a Black person with gold teeth it doesn't mean the show can't be thought provoking. I feel like some are so quick to run away from certain labels (stereotypes) of our community that we do everything possible to avoid that label. So what's left - particularly in Black America - is that those of us who are ignoring these labels are unable to understand those of us who have these labels. I know there's a stereotype that Blacks LOVE fried chicken, but there do actually exist Blacks who like fried chicken. So to label any skit that shows an example of this as a reinforcement of stereotypes places a great limit on an artist's creative ability. The same goes for many other stereotypes that it seems like the moment we see one, we're turning into the police and calling an artist names.

These limited views of what's good versus bad reminds me more of how people like C. Delores Tucker and Tipper Gore attacked Hip Hop because it spoke of violence and contained graphic language, ignoring the actual content of the songs. Thats what I feel like is being done with "Chocolate News". I really wonder how many people who are criticizing the show are actually watching it, versus just seeing the commercials and saying "that's not right". What it really reminds me of more is an artist being called 'a sellout' or 'an uncle tom' for sharing his artistic vision.

I know that the show is not above criticism, and I have seen skits that I have been heavily critical of. But I don't like to throw around these trigger words like 'stereotype' without a more precise description of why they believe this.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Weight Loss

I was just reading ThummyB's blog about healthy eating and was inspired to write about my own experiences.

As a result of several men in my family getting sick at about the same time, as well as my Aunt's recent death, I'd been thinking about making some changes in my own life. All through college I had been about 210, and when I got to grad school I went up to about 220. Well, it just so happened that the week that two of my uncles had strokes I was at about 230 (all while my liscense said I weigh 185). Add to that that my father has diabetes and its not too hard to imagine that I was concerned about my weight.

And its not that I hadn't tried weight loss before. I tried some things similar to the Atkins diet, I tried a high fiber diet, I tried working out more....I tried a lot of things. But after about a week or so of each, I wasn't getting results and so my impatient self would go back to my old eating habits.

It wasn't until I started dating a vegetarian that the idea came to me to actually start eating more vegetables. I also had the privilege of going with my dad to see his nutritionist, who recommended that we both eat more vegetables.

But this was an age old thing that grandma had been telling me for ages. This couldn't be the answer.

Well, I was a bit more serious about eating healthy and definitely focused on this. I wasn't even thinking about weight loss, except that I probably wouldn't lose any weight without working out, and since I'm too lazy to work out regularly I decided not to focus on weight loss.

But what I started doing was steaming my vegetables. I give much props to Steamfresh vegetables for coming out with a product I could just stick in the microwave and 5 minutes and 30 seconds later, I'd have a meal.

Now if you ask my friends, they'll say I went crazy with broccoli. I was loving the taste of it, with a little salt sprinkled on. I was literally eating steamed broccoli for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and snacks in between. For drinks I was drinking diet soda (Orange and Sprite Zero). This went on for about two months, after which I noticed that I had gotten down to about 200.

After those first two months, I relaxed a little and began to eat meat occasionally and experimented with other veggies (like carrots, mushrooms, and spinach). Some nights I would even buy a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and make a stir fry. I still wasn't going to fast food places. And I was rarely eating out at all. I also started drinking tea (with Splenda which tastes like sugar but has no calories) more often.

But the biggest breakthrough (other than the Steamfresh veggies) was the invention of the steam bags. THEY WERE GREAT! Because now, I wasn't limited to the set of veggies that Steamfresh had available. I could choose anything I wanted and just steam it. Plus, instead of baking my chicken (which normally takes about an hour), I could just steam it (for less than 20 minutes). The same goes for fish. I really became a steam-a-holic. I was steaming any and everything that was steamable. I even realized that Boca Burgers (which I buy from Costco) were microwavable.

In addition to these things helping me to lose weight, this dramatically cut down my time in the kitchen. No longer was I spending time cooking and cleaning, but instead I just throw the bags away when I'm done and I'm DONE. That there is a blessing (cause again, I'm a lazy dude).

Overall, I lost 70 pounds (from 230 to 160). And the best part about it is that because I lost it without working out, I didn't have to change my eating habits to stay at 160. I'm not gonna act like I don't occasionally relax a few times and go up to 165 or 170, but the nicest thing is that once I go back to my 'normal' eating of veggies and chicken and fish and Boca Burgers, I get back down to 160. Thats about the weight I've been since January of this year, and I'm no longer too worried about gaining all that weight back. I just try to stay on top of my weight and know how much I weigh on a daily basis.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.