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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Princess Tiana Vs. Princess Briana

For your information, it seems that a controversy is brewing surrounding the so-called "Disney's First Black Princess" Tiana. Did Disney copy the look and name of Just Like Me's "Princess Briana" to create the character of Princess Tiana in the movie "The Princess and The Frog"? Well, according to recent reports, there may be good reason to question the origin of this lead princess character and the claim that Disney has made in its promotion of the movie.

It might interest you to know that the first black princess on the same level as Snow White and Cinderella was not Disney's Princess Tiana... it was Princess Briana. How Disney came up with a name and a look so similar to another black princess story already on the market three years prior to the announcement of Princess Tiana raises serious questions. The questions gain further traction when a Senior Manager of Disney Consumer Products requested and received the Princess Briana book and other supporting materials from the president of Just Like Me, Inc. Upon receipt, the senior manager said that she would forward all of the materials to Disney Animation and if they were interested in using the character they would call. Needless to say, Disney Animation never called Just Like Me, Inc.

Princess Briana was first created in a script in 2003. The script won second runner-up at the Hollywood Black Film Festival. The first Princess Briana book was sold in November 2004, three years prior to the world-wide media frenzy about Disney's first black princess. Obviously, a small company like Just Like Me, Inc. could not compete with the media machine that Disney has generating buzz about the film around the world. However, the Princess Briana book is very successful in its own right.

The Princess Briana fairytale sold out within the first 15 days of its debut at B. Dalton, a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble bookstores located in Union Station in Washington, DC. The book also sold out within 30 days at the Borders bookstore in Largo, MD. In addition, Princess Briana was the No. 1 selling children's book in 2005 at Karibu Books, the largest African-American bookstore chain in America at that time. Just Like Me, Inc. secured a national distribution deal for the Princess Briana book in 2005. The 2005 Princess Briana book tour was held in Borders bookstores in six major U.S. cities.

By 2007, the princess was so popular that, if you entered the term "black princess" in Google or Yahoo, Princess Briana appeared on the 1st page of the #1 and #2 internet search engines in America. In 2008, Just Like Me, Inc. secured an international distribution deal that allows the Princess Briana book in paperback (ISBN: 978-1928889069) to be purchased at any major bookstore upon request in the United States, Europe, or Canada. Princess Briana continues to be an success with astounding testimonials from customers who've purchased the fairytale.

With the success of the Princess Briana book and script, why didn't Disney's Legal Department discover the Princess Briana character and warn Disney Animation about the possible copyright infringement? If Disney Animation had the Princess Briana book and supporting materials why would they create a character so similar to Princess Briana? Out of the millions of names to choose from, is it just coincidence that Disney chose a name that is almost identical to Princess Briana, the only other successful black princess fairytale on the market? It is not hard to imagine that by having almost identical names, similar looks, and both being black princesses that this will cause considerable confusion with consumers when the Princess Briana movie and licensed products are released.

Disney's response to these questions can be considered odd, to say the least. Disney's Legal Department claims that no one at Disney Animation ever viewed any materials pertaining to Princess Briana. The company asserts that the name "Tiana" was chosen because it means princess in Greek. Disney also claims the senior manager who contacted Just Like Me, Inc. was a temporary employee and was not authorized to make that contact.

Disney's answers to the original set of questions only generate more questions. If the Princess Briana character truly had no influence on Disney character's name, then why put the title of princess in front of her name? No other Disney Princess had princess before their name when they were introduced (i.e. there was never a Princess Cinderella, Princess Ariel, Princess Jasmine, etc.). According to Disney, Tiana's name already means princess... therefore, the name Princess Tiana translates into Princess Princess?

Further, when did major corporations start hiring temps to fill their senior management positions? Under the copyright and trademark laws, companies are under the obligation to conduct extensive research to avoid copyright and/or trademark infringement. How is it possible for a "temporary" employee of Disney to find Princess Briana on the internet but Disney Animation as well as Disney's Legal Department, with billions of dollars in resources, could not find Princess Briana to avoid the similarities of these two characters? Disney's Legal Department, by their own admission, did have the Princess Briana book and supporting materials several months before the announcement of Disney's Princess Tiana.

Yaba Baker, the creator of Princess Briana, had this to say... "For 6 years, I worked day and night, traveled all over the country promoting, acquired loans from family members and banks, and sank every penny I earned back into making the Princess Briana movie. After all of my hard work, a big corporation is attempting to take it all away from me. It's just not right. In America, the small businessman is supposed to get a fair shake but this anything but a fair shake." When asked what he would like to happen at this point, Baker responded...

"If anyone believes that Disney's Princess Tiana is a copy of Princess Briana, please go to or and support my fight against Disney by buying a Princess Briana book. The book is only $9.99 (the regular price is $12.99) on the Princess Briana website. If you buy at least 5 books, I will take off an additional 10%. If you don't have children or do not have a little girl to purchase the book for, please purchase as many books as possible and donate the books to a good cause this holiday season (i.e. Girl Scouts, Brownies, children in a homeless shelter, etc.)."

Personally, I don't quite know what to think about all of this but I felt the need to pass on this information via my blog. I must confess that I knew nothing about the Princess Briana fairytale until I discovered this controversy on the internet. Further, in addition to the plea for purchasing the book, I think that Baker should have responded to the last question with a definite statement that he plans to take legal action against Disney and requested contributions to a legal fund to defend his position. It is implied but I can only "hope" that he will use the money from the sale of the books to protect all of his hard work and perceived legal rights to the princess character that he created.

It will be interesting to see how this "tale of two black princesses" will end and I'm going to keep my eyes and ears open for further developments. I saw the previews for "The Princess and The Frog" about two weeks ago but, prior to this writing, made no plans to go and see it. I must admit that all of this has aroused my curiosity. Now, I intend to read the Princess Briana book and see the Disney movie so I can form my own opinion. In the meantime, for those of you who "might" want to lend your support to this cause in another way, you can also Become a Fan of Princess Briana on Facebook. I'm sure that your support will be appreciated in any form and above all, spread the word!

Note: The photo of Yaba Baker was changed/corrected on this post.

Friday, November 27, 2009

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

Some history about this day...

Originally, September 24, 1869 was deemed "Black Friday", a day of stock market catastrophe. The history of the day after Thanksgiving being the official start of the holiday shopping season may be linked together with the idea of Santa Claus parades. Parades celebrating Thanksgiving often include an appearance by Santa at the end of the parade, with the idea that "Santa has arrived" or "Santa is just around the corner".

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, many Santa parades or Thanksgiving Day parades were sponsored by department stores. These include the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, in Canada, sponsored by Eaton's, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade sponsored by Macy's. Department stores would use the parades to launch a big advertising push. Eventually, it just became an unwritten rule that no store would try doing Christmas advertising before the parade was over. Therefore, the day after Thanksgiving became the day when the shopping season officially started.

Later on, the fact that this marked the official start of the shopping season led to controversy. In 1939, retail shops wanted to have a longer shopping season, but no store wanted to break with tradition and be the one to start advertising before Thanksgiving. President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date for Thanksgiving one week earlier, leading to much anger by the public who wound up having to change holiday plans. Some even refused the change, resulting in the U.S. citizens celebrating Thanksgiving on two separate days. Some started referring to the change as "Franksgiving". Because Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, Black Friday occurs between the 23rd and the 29th of November.

Black Friday is not an official holiday but many employees have the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday (with the exceptions of those employed in retailing, health care, and banking), which increases the number of potential shoppers. Retailers often decorate for the Christmas and holiday season weeks beforehand. Many retailers open extremely early, with most of the retailers typically opening at 5:00am or earlier. Upon opening, retailers offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores.

In Philadelphia, the term Black Friday was used in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. Merchants and the media have used it to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red (i.e. posting a loss on the books) to being in the black (i.e. turning a profit). The news media frequently refers to Black Friday as the busiest retail shopping day of the year, but this is not always accurate. While it has been one of the busiest days in terms of customer traffic, in terms of actual sales volume, Black Friday is usually the fifth to tenth busiest day of the year. The busiest retail shopping day of the year in the United States in terms of both sales and customer traffic is usually the Saturday before Christmas.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Day To Give Thanks...

1. A Thanksgiving Story: Set aside a few moments on Thanksgiving Day to sit down and read a Thanksgiving story. You can read it alone or together with your family.

2. A Thanksgiving Poem or Prayer: Take on the family project of writing a Thanksgiving poem or prayer together.

3. A Thanksgiving Bible Verse: Ask each family member to read a favorite Bible verse before the Thanksgiving meal.

4. A Thanksgiving Memory: During Thanksgiving dinner, ask each family member to share a favorite Thanksgiving memory.

5. A Thanksgiving Communion: Plan a time of family Communion on Thanksgiving to give thanks by remembering Christ's life, death and resurrection.

6. A Thanksgiving Blessing: Invite a widow, single person, or someone who is alone to share in your family Thanksgiving meal.

7. A Thanksgiving Day Parade or Play: Put on your own Thanksgiving Day parade or "pilgrim play" with family, friends, and neighbors.

8. A Thanksgiving Offering: Prepare a Thanksgiving offering to give to a needy family or one of your favorite charities.

9. A Thanksgiving Football Game: Plan a neighborhood football game for Thanksgiving weekend.

10. A Thanksgiving Meal for the Homeless: Hosted by your neighborhood church or community center.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Are You Addicted To Facebook?

I must confess that I've always have been a big fan of NBC10 news here in Philadelphia. I love the way they report the news and, in my opinion, no other local news station does more to keep us informed. And, the NBC10 Investigators are simply the best! Recently, the test below was featured on their website to help people determine whether or not they are addicted to Facebook. Check it out... you might be surprised at the outcome. Good luck!

The FAT Test

How do you know if you’re already addicted or rapidly tumbling toward trouble? The Facebook Addiction Test (FAT) is the first validated and reliable measure of addictive use of the Facebook. FAT is a 20-item questionnaire that measures mild, moderate, and severe levels of Facebook addiction. To assess your level of addiction, answer the following questions using this scale:

1 = Rarely.
2 = Occasionally.
3 = Frequently.
4 = Often.
5 = Always.
Does Not Apply

1. How often do you find that you stay on Facebook longer than you intended?

2. How often do you neglect household chores to spend more time on Facebook?

3. How often do you prefer the excitement of the Facebook to intimacy with your partner?

4. How often do you form new relationships with fellow Facebook users?

5. How often do others in your life complain to you about the amount of time you spend Facebook?

6. How often do your grades or school work suffer because of the amount of time you spend on Facebook?

7. How often do you check your email before something else that you need to do?

8. How often does your job performance or productivity suffer because of Facebook?

9. How often do you become defensive or secretive when anyone asks you what you do on Facebook?

10. How often do you block out disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of Facebook?

11. How often do you find yourself anticipating when you will go on Facebook again?

12. How often do you fear that life without facebook would be boring, empty, and joyless?

13. How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are Facebook?

14. How often do you lose sleep due to late-night log-ins on Facebook?

15. How often do you feel preoccupied with Facebook when offline, or fantasise about being on Facebook?

16. How often do you find yourself saying “just a few more minutes” when on Facebook?

17. How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend Facebook and fail?

18. How often do you try to hide how long you’ve been on Facebook?

19. How often do you choose to spend more time on Facebook over going out with others?

20. How often do you feel depressed, moody, or nervous when you are offline, which goes away once you are back on Facebook?

Score & Results

After you’ve answered all the questions, add the numbers you selected for each response to obtain a final score. The higher your score, the greater your level of addiction and the problems your Facebook usage causes you. Here’s a general scale to help measure your score:

20-49 points: You are an average Facebook user. You may surf Facebook a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage.

50-79 points: You are experiencing occasional or frequent problems because of Facebook. You should consider their full impact on your life.

80-100 points: Your Facebook usage is causing significant problems in your life. You should evaluate the impact of Facebook on your life and address the problems directly caused by your Facebook usage.

For immediate help, visit your local counseling services which can provide affordable and confidential assistance or review the array of books and tapes on Facebook addiction to learn more. Visit the Facbook Addiction Disorder Group to see more about the quiz.

So, did you answer all of the questions honestly? If so, what was your score? Of course, you don't have to tell me and you should know that I haven't taken the test myself yet... but, I intend to as soon as I finish this post. I already know that I'm NOT addicted to Facebook because I can get off of it anytime I want to and I'm sure my test score will confirm that fact. I know what you're thinking though... that statement is a sure sign of addition, right (smile)? Well, we'll see!

In addition, I encourage you to click here to find numerous links to other Facebook topics of interest on the NBC10 website. The topics are ongoing, the list of links is endless, and you might want to check back from time to time to stay current. The world of Facebook can be fascinating and fun but, beware... there are some important things about it that you might not know (i.e. "You Post It, Facebook Owns It"). Long live "The Book"!

Monday, November 16, 2009

R.I.P. The Valley (Swim) Club


For those of you who have been following the continuing saga of the Creative Steps Day Camp and The Valley (Swim) Club since it unfolded in the month of June, you might be interested to know that it was reported in the Philadelphia Daily News on Saturday that the swim club, which was accused of racial discrimination after revoking the paid memberships of mostly Black and Hispanic children, plans to declare bankruptcy soon.

John Duesler, President of the swim club, sent an email to club "friends and families" on Friday stating that the Board of Directors had a vote to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy this week. Duesler wrote in the email that the bankruptcy is being blamed on legal proceedings and negative media exposure. But, he also said that the club has been struggling to stay "out of the red" for at least the last decade and owes more than $100,000 in operational expenses and legal fees. Further, he said, "The members are all tired, beaten down, and just sickened by how our club has been improperly portrayed. After speaking to many members, my sense is that everyone just wants to move on."

The Creative Steps Day Camp had arranged for the youngsters to swim at the Huntingdon Valley club each Monday during the summer. But, during the first visit in June by 56 children (46 Black and 10 Hispanic), two children reported hearing racial comments and the day camp's payment was later refunded, according to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. In a decision made in September, the Commission said that it had found probable cause to conclude that the campers were asked not to return because of the "racial attitude" expressed by one member and "racially-coded comments" by other members.

When Creative Steps Day Camp Director, Alethea Wright, was told about the reported bankruptcy plans, she said, "I am taken back right now. It really comes as a surprise." Brian Mildenberg, an attorney for the children in a lawsuit against the swim club, said the bankruptcy filing puts a temporary stay or hold, on the suit filed against the club. "However, the human relations discrimination proceedings, as well as the lawsuits, would be allowed to proceed if the bankruptcy court grants relief", Mildenberg said.

The Valley (Swim) Club has maintained that the number of children exceeded the number of lifeguards on duty and that only a few of the children knew how to swim. A club attorney said it had offered to reinstate the campers for the rest of the summer or guarantee them free memberships next year. However, the Commission said that other large groups that came to the swim club did not elicit a similar reaction and the club had no black members among 334 paid memberships for the last two years.

I must admit that I was a little shocked when I heard about the impending bankruptcy but, at the same time, I can't say that I'm feeling much in the way of sympathy toward the swim club. I simply cannot believe that after all of this time and everything that has been said and done, they are still holding on to that weak (at best) explanation that the children were turned away from the pool because of so-called "overcrowding". Well, I'm sorry, but I just don't buy it. And, don't even get me started on that ridiculous comment ("There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion and the atmosphere of the club.") made by Duesler when the story first broke because it just defied gravity, reason, sanity, and anything else you want to throw in the pot.

As a small child in the mid-late 1960's, I attended five elementary schools and was subjected to constant "busing" from my neighborhood school comfort zone to white schools that were far away from home and in neighborhoods where it was painfully obvious that my presence wasn't needed or wanted. It didn't matter how chaotic and confusing that type of thing would be for a young child of any race... we just had to do it. Looking back as an adult, I feel that even though the methods may have been a little misguided, I do understand that it was being done for a greater good... to bring an end to segregation in schools.

I have always known that it is very hard to convince some people that racism still exists in this country but, I never thought I'd see the day when you couldn't even convince those who are actually racists (by word and/or deed) that racism exists. No wonder the solution to this very real and complex problem still completely eludes us... and it will continue to do so as long as "people" are bankrupt. The vote of The Valley (Swim) Club Board of Directors to file for bankruptcy only confirms the atmosphere that was already present among the membership. Perhaps, some of them were not guilty of being racists but, until we as a people understand that there should be "zero tolerance" for this kind of thing, we will never move past it.

No good ever comes out of situations like this and now, the membership is mourning the loss of their beloved swim club. The sad part is, the people who were guilty of being racists will only move their attitudes and memberships some place else. Over the course of time, this will become a distant memory for them and history will undoubtedly repeat itself no matter where they go. In the meantime, we can only hope that the children of Creative Steps Day Camp won't suffer any long-term affects from this ugly incident. Let us pray that, in time, it will become a distant memory for them too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Who Am I ??? Quiz

"Alert The Media! I finally did another post!"

First of all, I would like to say that I've been MIA on the blog because my computer was in really bad shape. It got to the place where it was taking an hour to boot up, 15-30 mintues to change screens, and "freezing up" everytime I tried to get on the internet. Long story short, it has been repaired and returned to me in perfect working order so, I'm going to try and make a come back here with something easy. This is just a meme that my hubby over at Keith's Space took a few days ago and passed on to me...

1. Were you named after anyone?

Kinda. My name is actually a derivative of my father's name and was given to me by my aunt. One day, my mother told me if she had named me, it would have been "Sylvanna". She told me that she always loved the name but, much to my surprise, she also said that the name actually belonged to a dog that was very special her as a child??? Needless to say, my father was having none of that (Thank God!) and I'm real glad that my aunt named me!

2. When was the last time you cried?

Last Sunday in church.

3. Do you like your handwriting?

Yes, I do! During my elementary school years, I was always very competitive when it came to penmanship. If I saw another child with handwriting that I admired, I tried to top it. Later on as a young adult, a previous boss told me that my signature should always make a "bold, psychological statement" so, I try to do just that every time I sign my name. I love it when people say to me, "You have beautiful handwriting. Did you go to Catholic school?" (I've always heard that good penmanship is a must in Catholic School.) I always respond with pride, "No... as a matter of fact, I went to public school!"

4. What is your favorite lunch meat?

Corned Beef.

5. Do you have any kids?

Yes... one daughter.

6. If you were another person, would you be friends with you?


7. Do you use sarcasm?

Only if someone is sarcastic with me first.

8. Do you still have your tonsils?


9. Would you bungee jump?

Absolutely not!

10. What is your favorite cereal?

Cocoa Krispies or Cocoa Pebbles. What can I say? I love chocolate!

11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

Absolutely. It would be uncivilized not to untie them!

13. What is your favorite ice cream?

Again, chocolate... chocolate... chocolate!

14. What is the first thing you notice about people?

The way they carry themselves.

15. Red or pink?

Red or pink what? (This where I should probably say that I'm a Virgo.)

16. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?

Nothing. Alright, maybe I'm a little displeased with my height... I wish I was a few inches taller. Okay?

17. Who do you miss the most right now?

I plead "the fifth" on the grounds that I might incriminate myself.

18. Do you want everyone to complete this list?

No, only those who want to do it.

19. What color pants and shoes are you wearing?

Black (pants and shoes).

21. What are you listening to right now?

Actually, my hubby... he is reading the bios of Carole King and Neil Diamond out loud to me from Wikipedia while I'm blogging.

22. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

It's funny... when I was asked this question as a child, the answer was always red. As an adult, it would definitely be black. But, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not... I often times wonder if that means I've become "dark" (internally) as a person or just more conservative???

23. What are your favorite smells?

Certain foods cooking, scented candles, and flowers.

24. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?

My daughter.

25. Do you like the person who sent this meme to you?

As a matter of fact, I love the person. It was my hubby.

26. What is your favorite sports to watch?

Roller Derby. My hubby laughed and said that wasn't a sport but, it was to me. I keep waiting for it to make a comeback. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to say basketball.

27. What is your hair color?


28. What is your eye color?


29. Do you where contact lenses?


30. What is your favorite food?

I hate questions like this because there are certain things in life that I cannot narrow down to just one answer and this is one of them.

31. Do you prefer scary movies or happy endings?

I guess happy endings but, on rare occasions, I can appreciate a good "fright" too!

32. What was the last movie you watched?

This Is It (Michael Jackson).

33. What color shirt are your wearing?

Black and white (print).

34. Do you prefer summer or winter?

The older I get, the more I appreciate the cold weather. Hot flashes... need I say more???

35. Do you prefer hugs or kisses?

I guess, I appreciate both of them about the same.

36. What is your favorite dessert?

How many times do I have to tell you? Anything c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e!

37. If you could make a wish what would it be?

The ability to go back and live my life over with all of the knowledge and wisdom I have now.

38. In general, what irritates you?


39. What book are your reading now?

A daily devotional.

40. What is on your mouse pad?

Absolutely nothing. Is it me? All of the mouse pads in stores nowadays are dull and boring? What happened to the variety of designs we used to have to choose from? I know that we're in a recession but, I think the manufacturers could come up with something better than what they're offering.

41. What did you watch on TV last night?

Desperate Housewives.

42. What are your favorite sounds?

Music! Music! Music!

43. Do you prefer the Rolling Stones or The Beatles?

The Beatles because I like so many of their songs. Although, "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones was one of my favs in the 80s!

44. What is the farthest you've been from home?

The Bahamas.

45. Do you have a special talent?

I have been told by others it's organization.

46. Where were you born?

Philadelphia, PA.

47. What was the last nice thing that you did for someone?

I bought a homeless person a meal for lunch, seriously.

48. Where did you meet your spouse/significant other?

During the 80s, it was said that "the place to meet" was no longer clubs, like the 70's... it was the video store and that's exactly what happened to me. I met my hubby in a video store!

Footnote: I hope the answers to these questions gave you some insight into who I am and I tried to have a little fun in the process. Since I have absolutely no idea who my audience is at this point, if you are a blogger and actually made it through all of this, please consider yourself tagged. If you're interested, feel free to take the quiz yourself-LOL!

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Christian Internet Code of Ethics

As a Christian who is active on the internet,
I hold myself to certain standards of conduct:

  • I guard my online relationships.
  • I am careful to visit websites that do not compromise my life in Christ.
  • I take care that my written communications reflect Christ in my life.
  • I guard my time to assure that my time online is kept in proper balance with the rest of my life.
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