My last couple of posts have been mostly about what's going on in entertainment. But if you follow my blog, you know that a few months ago I said I wanted to include a portion of what I do at my job in my blog. Just as a reminder, I work at the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance with the No Kid Hungry Campaign. I assist with increasing SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program formerly known as Food Stamps) participation and increasing summer feeding sites. Even though the work is sometimes a challenge, I enjoy what I do. But I feel there is going to be an even bigger challenge in the years to come concerning SNAP and WIC (Women Infants and Children).
This is my sad face if these programs are cut
For the 2012 Budget, Congress is considering cutting funding to nutrition programs like SNAP and WIC. This could mean a harsh blow to low-income families, especially with unemployment being high. Before I go any further I do want to mention that I am not a political science major, that I'm not that up on my politics, and not even really that interested in politics. I say that to say this, starting a political debate with me is a waste of time. All information is this blog post is me just stating the facts and not arguing for one party or the other. If I am arguing for anyone it is for the human party (was that corny?).
But I digress. If this budget is passed, there will be drastic cuts to not only SNAP but also TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistant Program) and a $700 million cut (The Chicago Times, 2011) to WIC. WIC provides foods high in nutrients(beans, peanut butter, milk) that are critical to infants and children during critical growth and development. Most mothers are eligible for this program. This program saves billions of dollars in health costs that could be accumulated by these children if they do not get these foods. But yet, this is the program that could be potentially cut.
In the 2012 Budget, SNAP will not be cut completely. Each state will be given a block grant for SNAP benefits (Public News Service, 2011). If this happens it could mean that either the Department of Human Services (DHS) would have to change the eligibility for participants which could mean decreasing the resource limit (In Arkansas, you can own a home and still qualify for SNAP benefits) or lowering the amount of benefits a family can have. Either way more people could possibly go hungry.
What puzzles me is that programs that help families be at ease because they can feed their families are being cut while billions of dollars are spent on wars and the rich get tax cut after tax cut. Have those making decisions concerning the welfare of our country become so removed from those they serve that they cannot see how these budget cuts could put low-income families in a deeper hole of poverty? As I stated before I am not into politics but a blind man can see these potential budget cuts are unfair to those who desperately need them.
Nicki Minaji hitting on Justin Bieber, a tie between the Smith kids for Best Young Talent, and Rick Ross feeling a need to show the his C-cup breasts to the world, these were just a few of the highlights of this year's BET Awards. This year's award show, as far as I am concerned, did not let us down in performances (Chris Brown and Kelly Rowland were awesome) and foolery (Tiffany Green). I also fell in love with Kevin Hart (again) as this year's host. Just going to hit a few high (and low) points of the show.
High Point: Kevin Hart as the host. The BET Award Show has had a few hits (Monique and Will and Jada Smith) and a whole lot of misses (Damon Wayans and some other forgettable people) when it has came to picking a host for the show. But Kevin Hart redeemed BET Award producers' ability to pick a decent host. Kevin started the show off with a step show (Kevin Phi Kevin) with little kids that were so cute! In his opening, he informed everyone that "No one is safe" and that more celebrities need a "No Man" in their entourage. He became their "No Man" by making fun of celebrities about their outfits (Busta Rhymes' Brain Vest), how some of them need to stop taking their shirts off (Trey Songz' beige greyhound chest), and that certain celebrities need to wear a sports bra (Rick Ross). Every time Hart was on stage, he was bringing the laughs. Congrats to @KevinHart4real for a job well done.
Low Point: The first low point I want to discuss is the opening. As much as I love Mary J. Blige, I do not think she should have been the opener. Do not get me wrong, Mary doing her greatest hits was awesome (I showed out when Real Love came on) but Mary did not have the energy to start off an award show. The opener sets the tone for the rest of the show. BET producers dropped the ball on that.
High Point: There were some really good performances this year. Before I go any further, shout out to Ms. Kelly Rowland for that Janet Jackson inspired performance. Her notes were on point, she had her dance moves down, and you could tell she put her everything into the performance. Even though I was not that crazy about the outfit Chris Brown had on when he accepted his first award, he made up for it with his performance. I love to see him dance and he did not disappoint me. His performance was fun and kind of scary at the same time (the huge eyeballs behind him during his performance) and Busta Rhyme coming out to do his signature super speed verse was a good touch too.
Low Point: Team Censorship and Tiffany Green. Apparently, BET is as scared of the FCC as much as Rick Ross is scared to zip up his jacket. Team Censorship was bleeping everything. There was certain times when I was quite sure that words they were bleeping were not even curse words. When a rapper was on stage, all I heard was BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP. I get it BET...FCC fines are way out of your budget. I would be hitting that bleep button too. The most famous name out of this show and still a trending topic a day after the show is Tiffany Green. I put absolutely no blame on her. But I do find fault with her fellow presenters, Terrance and Rocsi. These two host a LIVE show Monday through Friday and they could not even help this girl read a teleprompter and a tablet. Then she was blamed for being messy. After the incident Tiffany went backstage and tweeted that she was crying backstage and that BET did it on purpose. BET, two words: Do Better.
High Point: Cee Lo being a part of the tribute for Patti LaBelle. When he came out in that wig, I almost hit the floor. For a man, he does a pretty good Patti. Marsha Ambrosa did a beautiful job herself. Even Shirley Caesar with her fairy godmother, Cinderella, ice princess dress did a good job taking Patti back to church.
I give this year's award show 6 out of 10. It was pretty balance with it's greatest moments and foolery. BET, you doing better but you still got a few loose ends.
Rihanna's video for Man Down premiered this week. Before the video premiered I had heard talk about it's subject matter on the radio. At first I thought "Oh Lord, Rihanna has went back to her dark side." I was really hoping we were past this whole dark thing and she was back to singing upbeat pop tunes, the Rihanna we all love and know. But then this video comes out and the first scene is Rihanna shooting a man in a crowded Jamaican market place.
Let's start off with Rihanna's thoughts on the video. Rihanna is using this video to address rape issues. To her this will help girls to be brave enough to do something about their sexual abuse. Rihanna was not just trying to make a graphic video about rape and murder but was trying to make a video that get issues like rape to the mainstream. And we all know Rihanna is as mainstream as it gets. She makes a video about it, people will be watching and talking about it.
Now let's discuss the parents point of view. The Parents Television Council did have a problem with the video. Not because of the rape subject matter but because of the fact Rihanna kills the man who violated her. The PTC is not too happy that the video promotes killing the violator instead of the victim seeking help for what happen to them. Others have also bashed BET for showing the video primetime, especially on a show that is meant for teens (106 and Park). Rihanna has responded on Twitter by saying that she is a "23 year old rockstar with NO KIDS." (twitter.com, 2011) and doesn't understand why everybody expects her to be a parent.
I love how the PTC and others are making a big deal out of this video as if Rihanna's other songs are children appropriate. Her song titles include "Rude Boy", "S&M", and "What's My Name" just to name a few. Yea....none of those songs are exactly made for teens, or at least they shouldn't be. Parents need to take back the role of being the MAIN role models in their child lives or at least put their children in an environment (after school program, youth group, sports team, etc) where they can have role models that they [parents] would prefer and won't have time to watch Rihanna's video or anyone else's that might be inappropriate for children. At the same time, I do believe in social responsibility. Rihanna needs to understand that a good portion of her target audience are teenagers and teenagers are impressionable. They are easily influenced and are quick to follow the crowd. Hell, I know some adults that are easily influenced and quick to follow the crowd, but I digress.
In a nutshell, Rihanna is not a parent to the world's youth but it was a poor choice to put a video with such violence on primetime on a teen show. This is a situation where everyone involved needs to #dobetter.