Sister, Sister

Sister, Sister

A TALE OF 2 DIVAS: The notoriously private Beyonce (right) only shares things designed to enhance her brand; Solange exults in her flaws and has no problem speaking her mind.

We spend most of our adolescent life, mimicking people we admire and then we enter the real world and find out that all along being “us” is actually what we do best. Unfortunately, shortly after that, we find out that our careers demand us to not fully be ourselves. Even the wild career path of celebrity requires an art-directed image. I’m fascinated by the choices that celebrities make to craft their image, not only because their decisions influence the world, but also because their image makes a profound statement on what they (and their fans) think “living” really means.

I consider myself a student of the sociology of fame and I see two very distinct life choices in two celebrity sisters — Beyonce and Solange Knowles — that is reflected in every group of girlfriends I know. They both pack a healthy dose of raunchiness, and I would hesitate suggesting that young girls adopt them as role models. However, their comfort in their own skin as young African American women is worth discussing.

Beyonce’s brand is infallible. This woman does not make mistakes; everything you see from her supports what she wants you to believe. The downside to this is that you rarely, if ever, witness a “human” moment from her; she’s notoriously private about her personal life. Most people that aren’t fans of hers dislike her for this reason. They want a flawed celebrity, not a robot. But that doesn’t stop Bey from tearing down the house every time she hits the stage. Nobody can question her talent; they just want her to be more “real.”

Below, Beyonce talks about opening up after accomplishing her life goals.

I’d like to consider myself to be poised; an individual whose flaws are carefully concealed and behaviors consistently managed but then I’d be Beyonce, and that’s simply not who I am.  Like Solange, I am the proud owner of a personality that is out-spoken, confident, and at times, inescapably rough around the edges.

Below, Solange sets herself apart from Beyonce and discusses her mother’s concern for her blunt interviews.

Solange didn’t have an opportunity to create such a carefully crafted image. She was destined to be in the shadows of her mega-star big sister from the start. And after getting pregnant at only 17, married at 18, and divorced at 19, there was no way she’d ever be a “Beyonce.” But I love Solange. She perhaps exudes self-confidence at a more profound level because she lets the world interpret her flaws and all. She believes living means being true to you at whatever cost and learning from the journey.

The evidence of Beyonce and Solange’s differences is not just in their public persona, it’s also in their music. Beyonce’s soulful voice is often masked by the latest pop sound and, as a result, she tops the mainstream charts.

Watch Beyonce’s ‘Girls Run the World’ video below!

Solange’s gumbo albums include soulful melodies that are obviously challenging for her voice and retro tracks that are equally challenging for album sales. She openly admits that she is not concerned with industry expectations; “everything from my artwork to my video to the music itself has to have a message and not because it’s hot or it looks sexy.”

Watch Solange’s 60’s inspired hit single, ‘I Decided’ below!

I admire Beyonce’s approach. As a businesswoman, she is more focused on the “ends” than the “means.” Whatever it takes for her to accomplish her goals is what she’ll do without divulging too much of her private life. Even Kelly Rowland, the fellow ex-Destiny’s Child member who calls Beyonce a sister, envies Beyonce’s determination. Rowland admitted that her first album flopped because she wasn’t well-prepared and told Stylist Magazine that “(Beyonce) plans everything.”

On the contrary, Solange told an interviewer, “I stopped trying to prove and undo misconceptions a while ago. I’m unexplainable. Most humans are.” In another interview she went deeper; I think confidence is one of the best qualities to have. I’m not making apologies or begging for people to like me. I’m very optimistic that God has plans for me. When you truly find peace with yourself and who you are becoming it’s a beautiful moment.”

I respect both of these approaches to life, but the latter is more “me.” Beyonce is a master at poise and machinelike professionalism, but that’s a hard role to play for a lifetime. Solange may suffer due to her honesty, but I’d argue that her triumphs are more satisfying. What do you think?

This Week’s Pendulum

This Week’s Pendulum

1 U.S. POLITICS MORE STATES TO LEGALIZE GAY MARRIAGE

Last weekend, New York became the 6th state to legalize gay marriage. Attempts to legalize same-sex marriage failed two years earlier. Governor Andrew Cuomo made campaign promises to legalize gay marriage in New York and his political strategy was successful. The law passed with a 33 to 29 vote. New York joins Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia in granting same-sex marriage licenses. Illinois, New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington have same-sex union laws. Colorado, Wisconsin and Maine grant limited rights to same-sex couples. With more states examining their legal stance on same-sex marriage, it is clear that this issue will not be going away anytime soon.

2 WORLD SAND THAT CAN CLEAN WATER

Researchers have found a more affordable material for cleaning water in developing countries: sand. The sand is mixed with dispersed graphite oxide and then used to purify water. Many countries around the world need access to clean drinking water and the World Health Organization claims that “just 60% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa and 50% of the population in Oceania use improved sources of drinking-water.” According to water.org, 1 in 8 people do not have access to clean water and 3.5 million people die each year from water-related disease. Continued research in hydrology will improve the lives for millions of people around the world.

3 NEWS TSA FORCES ELDERLY WOMAN TO REMOVE ADULT DIAPER

Since the 2001 terrorists’ attacks, the United States government and Transportation Security Administration have beefed up homeland security with newly created agencies and processes. Unfortunately the attempts to make Americans “safer” have often resulted in a loss of privacy and constitutional rights for U.S. citizens. This is the case with Jean Weber’s 95 year old mother.  Weber was travelling with her cancer stricken mother from Florida to Michigan. Weber’s mother was among the “3% of passengers who are subject to pat-downs.” The TSA agent told Weber that her mother’s undergarment was “wet and firm, and they couldn’t check it thoroughly.” She was forced to remove the adult diaper in a private bathroom, but her mother did have to travel through the airport without undergarments. TSA officials stand by their agents’ actions, but Americans won’t continue to stand for this type of humiliation and disrespect under the guise of protection.

4 MUSIC A NEW GENERATION OF GOSPEL

Jonathan McReynolds is not your average gospel artist. He’s not backed by choirs, or trying to keep up with the latest auto-tune or dance craze. He comes to the stage with an acoustic guitar and seemlessly interweaves India Arie’s lyrics into his single, “No Gray” that begins, “Lord, I’m split in two, part of me loves the world and the other loves you…” He goes on to confess his “luke warm” committment and comes to the conclusion that he will have to choose. This is the sort of open honesty I have yet to see in gospel artist. They are either super holy or trying so hard to be mainstream that thier message is lost. I am so excited to see McReynolds flourish! He’s going to be huge!

Update: He will be in concert at Maranatha Church on Jul 29th at 8:00pm.

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5 EDUCATION AN AMERICAN PARODY OF OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM: BAD TEACHER

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal star in Bad Teacher, which opened nationwide in theaters this weekend. The tagline for the film is “Some teachers just don’t give a F,”  which isn’t far from the true story of Vanderbilt University’s scientific study where they offered cash rewards to teachers that had classes with high test scores. At the conclusion of Vanderbilt’s study, the incentives were not enough to raise the test scores. But, what is this saying about our education system? Is this film a fair interpretation of our education crisis? Are there more factors at play?

6 MONEY SMART JOBS ARE THE NEW FACTORY JOB

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that unemployment is at 9.1% (May 2011). While this is lower than the 10.1% we experienced in October 2009, it is still much higher than the 7.8% unemployment rate the country was at when President Obama took office. With several jobs obsolete because of technology and cheap labor overseas, smart jobs may help rebuild the U.S. economy. Smart jobs come with titles such as technician, specialist or analyst and they involve manipulating materials like plastics and chemicals. Although similar to factory work, smart jobs require more brain power than physical labor. Over the last 5 years there has been a 56.8% gain in the job category “Renewables and the Environment,” 29.8% gain in the “Internet” and 29.1% gain in “Online Publishing” (wired.com). Brush up on your tech skills because future jobs will require them.

7 TECHNOLOGY FACEBOOK VS TWITTER: WHICH IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR YOUR BIZ?

The most important technology riddle in business of late has been what is more valuable: Twitter or Facebook? Although fans on Twitter are more likely to buy from brands they follow, Facebook offers advertisements to 550 million members worldwide. Facebook is referred as “push marketing,” allowing brands to push content or services through incentives and rewards for interaction. Twitter is referred to as “pull marketing,” where fans seek out brands, start discussions, and use the service as a customer support service.  Both are necessary for now, and neither seem to be going away anytime soon.

8 TV THE BET AWARDS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE WHY?

The Good: Jill Scott always knows how to class up any event.; Kevin Hart’s roast was hilarious!; and Beyonce’s performance of her new song “End of Time,” has the possibility to be a timeless anthem. The Bad: I wish that Rick Ross would keep his shirt on and that Kelly Rowland would stop devaluing herself to the status of a stripper, and WHY does BET feel the need to combine strip teases and gospel music in one event? Black people!!! Get it together.

9 MOVIES PAULA PATTON TO STAR IN MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4

Paula Patton will play the female lead in Mission Impossible 4, alongside Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, and Jeremy Renner. The film opens December 16, 2011, but the French trailer recently leaked online. Patton was last seen in Jumping the Broom, but looks like she is returning to her roots with this film; she starred alongside Denzel Washington in action thriller Deja Vu.  The English trailer should premiere next week. Watch the French trailer below!

“Mission Impossible” Trailer from misterbay on Vimeo.

10 CELEB WHY I HEART KEVIN HART

I love a man that takes risks, and Kevin Hart has been on a campaign to be a household name. He currently stars in an eBay, Ford, and Nike commercials; his comedy tour, Seriously Funny, has sold out shows, and yesterday he was hilarious at the BET Awards. Hart has shown diversity in his ability to market various brands, be relevant in the Black community, but not be afraid to poke fun at the Black entertainment industry as he did last night at the awards with his roast. Hopefully, his baby mama drama won’t plague his career.

This Week’s Pendulum

This Week’s Pendulum


1 FOR ANOTHER HOW YOU CAN HELP JOPLIN, MISSOURI, TORNADO VICTIMS

With 122 fatalities, 750 injured, and nearly 6 miles of debris, the tornado that hit Joplin, MO., last Sunday is the deadliest single tornado in 60 years. Please continue to pray for this devastated community. And if you’re looking for ways to donate to the various relief efforts, see the opportunities to share below.

• Click here to donate funds to the Joplin, MO Disaster Relief.

• Click here to team up with The Salvation Army’s support services. Cell phone users may text “JOPLIN” to 80888 to make a $10 donation.

• Click here to make a donation to the Heart of Missouri United Way’s Joplin fund. You can also text “JOPLIN” to 864833, to make a $10 donation.

• Click here to donate to the Red Cross’ efforts click here. You may also text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

2 WORLD U.S. NATIONALS FLEE YEMEN FOR FEAR OF THE INEVITABLE

After government troops collided with armed tribesmen, causing 10 fatalities, Yemen braced for the worst. Protesters gathered on Friday to demand that President Ali Abdullah Saleh end his 33-year-rule. With the intensity rising in Yemen, and frequent battles between the local government and the tribesmen, residents brace for the worst. Let us keep Yemen in prayer.

3 ART JEREMY GEDDES OIL PAINTINGS LOOK LIKE PHOTOGRAPHS Contemporary artist Jeremy Geddes continues to leave his fans mind boggled with his realistic paintings. His latest, “A Perfect Vacuum,” is perhaps, his most incredible yet. The piece is the first reveal of a series, which will premiere at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in spring 2012. If he isn’t considered one of the greatest realist oil painters of all time, he is sure to enter the conversation as a candidate next year based on this incredible preview.

Jeremy Geddes art

The Perfect Vacuum, oil painting by Jeremy Geddes

4 MUSIC THE GREAT DEBATE: DOES BEYONCÉ EVER DO ANYTHING ORIGINAL? As much as I appreciate Beyoncé’s fierce return, I understand why some fans cannot respect the fact that not only has she ripped off Pon de Floor, with her new single, Girls, but also her Billboard performance was, yet, another great idea from someone else. #Bottomline: Beyoncé is without question an incredible artist, but is her propensity for grabbing inspiration from other artists simply a case of “the sincerest form of flattery,” or is it something else?

 

5 EDUCATION BARRY BONDS’ REPUTATION ON THE UPSWING

Bonds was convicted last month for obstruction of justice for lying to a grand jury about using steroids last month, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing good deeds. After Giants fan, Bryan Stow, was beaten outside Dodger Sradium, and left in a coma, Bonds offered to pay for his two children’s future college tuition. The tuition is a start (awesome job, Mr. Bonds), but healing for Mr. Stow is probably the first thing on the Stow family’s hearts right now. Let’s keep them in our prayers during this difficult time.

6 MONEY INVENTORY ON-DEMAND, CHANGING THE WAY AMERICA DOES BUSINESS

Case Study: Aaron Castellanos started a T-shirt business, which showed promising signs of growth. So he ordered excess supplies on credit, which turned out to be a huge mistake. For help, he turned to veteran entrepreneur Norm Brodsky, who advised him to change to a print-on-demand model which would allow him to better control inventory while still making a margin. In this age of variety and customizable products, businesses need to ditch the “Ford Model-T mass production process” and embrace the “Pandora give the customer exactly what they want” model.

7 TECHNOLOGY SEO OPTIMIZATION FOR DUMMIES

 SEO might be the single most important aspect of any online business. The problem is that most companies, even large ones, do not capitalize or even understand how vital it is. Using a tool like Wordtracker, search for keywords that users would search for when researching your company’s services. Second, you want to ensure that the search engines can find the keywords easily. Third, you want to use a site like Validatos, which will find bugs in your coding and ensure that your site is as organized as possible.

8 TV ‘DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES’ OF THE BIBLE BELT

ABC’s new series Good Christian Belles was originally called Good Christian B****es, based on Kim Gatlin’s book of the same title. Due to obvious backlash, they changed the title. The show takes place in Dallas, Texas, where Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb) returns after a divorce. Amanda finds that her old high school acquaintances have not changed; they are still full of both good Christian geniality and scandal. Honest depiction of Christian life or unnecessary defamation?

Watch preview below!

9 MOVIES TRUE GRIT’S HAILLEE STEINFELD TO STAR IN ‘ROMEO & JULIET’!

Since her Oscar-nominated performance in last year’s True Grit, I HEART Hailee Steinfeld and cannot wait for her to star in this new take on the Shakespeare classic. Lilly Collins, who portrayed Sandra Bullock’s daughter in The Blind Side, was originally cast in the film but canceled due to schedule conflicts. I know Steinfield can nail this role! See an iinterview below!

10 CELEB WHEN SPONSORSHIPS GO WRONG: JUSTIN BIEBER PERFUME

I have no doubt that Justin Bieber can sell anything, including perfume. But this awful commercial would fall flat if it weren’t for the swarms of pre-teen girls that dream of getting a kiss from Bieber “Someday,” the name of the fragrance. Watch the commercial that should have never been below!

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Rethinking Kanye’s Mess

Rethinking Kanye's Mess for urban faithBefore I begin, I want to make sure that you all know I am 100 percent against what Kanye West did at MTV’s Video Music Awards last week. Storming the stage during Taylor Swift’s victory speech to rebuke the audience for not selecting Beyonce — and, in effect, for selecting Taylor Swift — was not cool.

But, like many people who watched that painful drama unfold on the air and then on Twitter and Facebook in the minutes that followed, I felt there had to be more to the story than just an intoxicated rapper making a scene on national TV.

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Obsessing Over Beyoncé

pop circumstance impactWelcome to Pop & Circumstance. This new column will be UrbanFaith’s weekly spin on the latest entertainment and pop culture news. If you read something you agree or disagree with, want to share your personal reviews of the latest movies and music, or if you just want to let us know about something we should be covering, please don’t hesitate to chime in. Well, here goes …

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