Friday, June 27, 2008

Time for the Black Man

Recently, my youngest son came in all aglow saying..."Mom! It's our time! It's the Black man's time. Who would ever think we'd have a Black man running for president, two black governors, the man at the top of golf is black and the team that took the NBA championship was all black with a black coach! In Boston!" As he added Lil Wayne's album success and more, I could not help engaging in his enthusiasm so, right on, my brothers! I gotta give y'all your props. When many said it couldn't be done, y'all are doing the danged thing!

Cheering for the Black Coach
I am a Laker fan. Period. I'm the kind that is thankful the fellas got there and am not embarrassed at all by game 6. But, I thought we were all past cheering on the Black coach because he was Black, but I'll be darned if many of my Laker fan friends didn't jump ship and side with "The Brothers from Boston." Makes me wonder if what happened won't send Phil Jackson in search of some more black power. Now I love Sasha, (Boo-Ya Chic!), Mihms, Radmanovich, Gasol and Walton --all white players. I have thanked them all during the season for saving the day. It did look a bit odd when Coach had what looked like an all white squad on the floor during the season--when Farmar and the fellas played some good minutes. (Farmar-- whose dad is African American,) blended right in. Not one announcer even commented. One columnist wrote "How far ahead do you have to be before it's safe to put in an all white squad?" He was writing about UNC being up 40 points, and they put that white squad in with under 2 minutes. That's cold.

Aren't we beyond all that? Having said that, did the media recognize the black squad playing for the black coach? Or did I miss something? One sportswriter said the Lakers have 6 white players while Boston only has 2. Times: They are a-changing.

For another take, visit here:

URBAN LIVING: When things can change on a dime

I enjoy Leimert Park living on days like today. I started the day off at a live broadcast from KJLH talking about Obama, then went to Dr. Kwaku's Black History for Young People. The Park was prepping for a full out Obama Rally and Kwaku took the students. When else would they see a presidential rally like that? Then at noon, there was Elaine Brown, former head of the Black Panther Party. She and others organized a reunion/fund raiser to call attention to the fact that Chip Fitzgerald, a blank panther, is still incarcerated after like 38 years.

Ran into some of everyone from Poetess to Parks...and everything was all good.

Not at all like a day or two earlier when the police cordoned off our street. I had been sitting at my 'puter trying to stay awake in the unforgiving heat when I heard a thud and I said"That can't be good."

I got up to investigate but my husband was already outside along with the neighbors. There was a fuming white man walking around with one pants leg flapping in the wind, exposing his bare white scraped and bruised leg. Since a white person getting beat up in my neighborhood is grounds for all hands on deck, police cars were screeching to the scene and the harsh helicopter blades beat the hot, humid air mercilessly. Who knows what really happened but the scuttlebutt was he had followed a black woman he knew home in his shiny black Mercedes, there was an argument and two black dudes beat the man up, throwing him against his car (the thud I heard). Neighbors whispered about the newcomers: "They are up to no good over there." Made my imagination run wild. Drug deal gone wrong? Love triangle? Was he strung out and just trying to cop?

I should not have had to mention this man was white. But coming from where I'm from, that's reverse segregation.

My son's Utopia notwithstanding, it was business as usual on my block.

Let's Talk About Shoes: Because, there, race definitely doesn't matter.
Do you have a good shoe story? I mean we are living in times where there's all kinds of murder, mayhem and economic instability. I decided to conjure up some old thoughts of days gone by. Oddly enough, these thoughts are about shoes.

Many years ago, I went to a supper club in New York to hear a popular jazz band. The restaurant had three floors, with round tiers, and our tables ringed the circle so we could all look at the stage in the middle below. The bottom floor was full of tables except for the small stage.

While I ate, and drank and laughed and talked, I dangled my shoe off the tip of my toe ( a bad habit I got rid of that night). I was really cracking up when all of a sudden my shoe disengaged, and dropped square into the plate of a diner below.

I had to hobble downstairs on one foot to retrieve my high heel, wade through the tables to find out where it might actually be and face the taut faces of the livid when I got there. A woman held out my shoe, now drenched in tomato sauce, balancing my shoe on the tip of her finger, kind of like I had done on my toe. I never went back upstairs...choosing to slink out and hail a cab instead.

Last year, though, a friend of mine bought a new house and instituted a "no shoes" rule to preserve his white carpet. We had a delightful breakfast with his family and friends, then departed for the next affair we were to attend. When we got there, I stepped out of the car and noticed that my slip-on black leather heels were off balance. One step was up and the next step was an inch down. When I looked down I noticed that the two shoes did not match!

We had to drive all the way (30 mins) back to my friend's house, and give his sister-in-law her shoe back and retrieve my own. My friend had placed the guests' shoes on this cubbyhole contraption but he did not put them next to each other, for some reason. Naturally, I grabbed the two black shoes next to each other (Hey made sense to me!) and dashed out.

And my last shoe story (I promise!), as I was preparing to leave my beloved dog and go off to college, my mother had been discussing whether or not she should be put down. She had been getting fatter and slower and I would not be there to care for her. I did not want to put my best friend to sleep!

One night, some friends wanted to go bowling, so I rummaged in the back of my closet for my bowling shoes, and felt something cold, slimy and wet. Yuchh! But when I looked closer there were two of the cutest little wriggling puppies! My dog saved her life by giving birth to Sophie and Lorraine, a shock to us all. I had always been told she had been spayed before we got her and I even took her to my employer-- the local veterinarian-- who couldn't find out why she was getting so fat! He said it was because she was old! Little did we know...

OK...thanks for letting me "walk" down memory lane!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Yesterday, Father's Day Saturday, the Big Poppa of our family, Kwaku, was on the air with Jacquie Stephens at KJLH, who was doing her annual Father's Day Special at Derrick's Jamaican Cuisine.

The show, produced by her daughter Steja, (go, girl!) featured 4 men who had 19 kids between them. One had 10, one had 5 (that would be Kwaku), one had 1 and I think Derrick has 3. It was delightful to hear these Dads counsel other Dads.

Then, Kwaku rushed to Kaos Network where his first of the Black History for Young People program kicked off. Every time I peeked my head in class, hands were raised, and the discussion was lively. (We have a few scholarships available, thanks to generous donors. Email

Then, thanks to Leroy Hamilton, we were able to go-- for the first time in our lives--to the Playboy Jazz Festival. We had great seats and a parking pass. Talk about a good time...Kwaku surely enjoyed the music, one of his favorite things: Pancho Sanchez, Al Jarreau, Tower of Power among many others. The lifted spirits of the 18,000 happy people in attendance at the Hollywood Bowl were infectious.

We watched Leroy lug all this photographic equipment around in the hot sun...shooting from every angle from the stage. Can't wait to see what images he comes up with. And he has to do it all over again today!

Today, Kwaku wants tacos for Father's Day, and lucky for him, Renee Brown made some gourmet tacos when I was in Dallas and I took notes. Since--as a rule--I do not cook, I think I'll do OK. I'll have to--the sons are coming!

I think about my own Dad, who I wish you could have met. Andrew Person could sing, play the piano and wrote long extensive tomes (yes, I get it honestly). He was the life of the party. He wanted to be a lawyer, but my Grandmother told him lawyers are liars. Instead he became a body and fender man.

He is the reason I am in California. He used to tell intriguing stories about it which made it sound so wonderful--and he was right. This is my first time writing about my Dad--a gentle soul who would slap his thigh and tell us to cry out so my mom would think he was spanking us. It should make me sad that he passed away the summer I came to California, except that my youngest son--the soon to be lawyer-- is a live ringer of my Dad by all family accounts, so Daddy is with me still.

Happy Father's Day All!

Of course, the best gift of all would be a win by the Lakers...

Hakuna Matata: The Circle of Life--an Update

Well, Mary Ann Mitchell made her transition last Thursday. She fought the valiant fight--no details for the services yet...the BBA is handling all the information. This is the email we received from them:

"It is with great sadness that we share the following information about one of life’s most positive socio-economic change makers, Ms. Mary Ann Mitchell, President/CEO of CC-OPS, Chairperson of the National Black Business Council, Inc. (NBBC), and a former Chairperson of the Black Business Association ( BBA ). Today, Thursday, June 12, 2008, Ms. Mitchell transitioned peacefully following a tragic accident that took place at her home on Sunday morning, June 8th.
Friends and colleagues continue to lift Mary Ann up in prayer, and send light and love to the family she cared about with pure devotion. While funeral arrangements are pending, the immediate family requests that those wishing to send flowers and gifts please refrain from doing so. However, as Ms. Mitchell was sincerely dedicated to the well-being and development of all youth, any heartfelt donations can be sent in her memory to the “Break the Cycle” Foundation, a program Ms. Mitchell spearheaded to help change the negative life patterns of youth at risk. Contributions can be sent to: Institute of the National Black Business Council, 600 Corporate Pointe, Suite 1010 ; Culver City , California 90230 .
The announcement of Ms. Mitchell’s memorial services is forthcoming."

We do have the details for Pat Tobin's homegoing services: Friday, June 27, 10 a.m. at Faithful Central Bible Church, the Tabernacle, 321 N. Eucalytpys, Inglewood, Ca For more details call Tobin and Associates: (323) 857-0869.

And in this circle of life, my cousin Alaina and Zach are having a baby! I haven't heard of a birth in our family for sometime -- and the news comes on a week that seemed shrouded in loss. Hakuna Matata. (For those of you who did not see The Lion King, that is the term they sang about --the Circle of Life."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Whole Lot Going On

OK, slow down, Isidra. Stay in the moment. So much going on, all you can do is take it one step at a time.

This was supposed to be a post about one topic, but as I write, there is so much going on all I can do is make a list:

Recently returned from Dallas to help with the launch of Nature's Essential Ingredients (NEI), a true-to-its-word natural hair products line. It was such a great launch, the products are almost sold out. It is an all natural product line developed by Nadean Day (center photo), a stylist based in Fort Worth. My connection is through one of the three partners, Renee Cottrell Brown (right), who just left Pro-Line Corporation, (a company her dad founded) after 25 years. We met at USC and became roommates. She is really on to something--I love the way these products make my hair feel. They work together to nourish it to feel like it did when I was 20 years younger. The website is almost ready: where later this month you can order them. Currently, NEI is only distributed in areas like Texas, California and online. Get the serum if you only buy one product. It is a non-oily oil that restores hair to thinning spots, but I use it for everything. Oh, and the lady on the left is Atty. Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, the one who got the trio together.

Had the Expo Photo Shoot this week at the Watts Coffee House and it was a lovefest of professionals. At point guard is Wendy Raquel Robinson, celebrity spokesperson; small forward is Leroy Hamilton (photographer), at power forward is Rene Cross Washington (graphic designer); shooting guard is Desiree Edwards, owner of Watts Coffee House and at center is Harold Hambrick, Expo president. I enjoyed meeting the three delightful young people Wendy brought along and Mecca (makeup) and Aishah (hair). Me, I am the 6th (wo) man off the bench who coordinated the thing. Click the Expo Photo Shoot link above to see my behind-the-scenes shots from the day.

Hmmmm. All this basketbal talk must mean we are in the NBA finals, with bad officiating and all. The Lakers are down by 2...and are playing as I write. My husband keeps shooting me these looks that say "Put that laptop down and come help the Lakers." I scream so loud they can hear me at Staples. What a release!

We are starting a new program at West Los Angeles College called Umoja (Swahili for "unity") and I will be the English teacher. We had a successful launch yesterday. This is more than a program designed to retain African American students, it is a mentoring networking program for 30 students and if you have a student even thinking of going to West, this is the time to

Last Friday was Dr. Kwaku Person-Lynn's final class of a 16 week (extended) series of his Afrikan World Civlizations class. What a finale! We had a stirring song by Maurice Smith (right.) Another student, a poet, Sharon Massengale performed. Annie Smith coordinated all that as well as invited Chef Eugene, who brought some slamming jambalaya served in shiny steel pots while he was adorned with a starched white chef's coat and a smile. The potluck was my favorite, though, because those students throw down.

No time off th0ugh. This Saturday, Dr. Kwaku's Black History for Young People classes start --a 6 week summer series for youth aged 12-18. For the first time it will be held where the adult class is, at Ben's Place--Kaos Network.

But, today started so sadly, with the news of the passing of Pat Tobin. I had to get up early and drop Jaaye off dowtown to work and the day seemed gloomy to match the mood. A woman who was in many ways the heart of Black Los Angeles goings on, lost her two year battle with cancer. I last saw her at the services of Muhammad Nassardeen and when I greeted her she was very fragile. A few days ago, the word came that her family was summoned and she only had hours to live. She passed away this A.M. June 10.

Meanwhile, another tragedy is hanging in the balance: Locally, Maryann Mitchell, who I do not know personally but everyone must know because my email box has been blowing up was found at the bottom of her pool. She is fighting for her life. And another young woman I do know--she will remain anonymous for family privacy -is in the hospital after crashing her car into a tree at 50 mph. She was in a coma but thank God she is alert now. I am praying for all.

The Lakers pulled it out (I long since put down the laptop to cheer them on). They allowed us a smile and a nod to Pat to send her on her way. Rest in peace, Pat. Thanks, fellas.

By the way, a note about our last post, congratulations to Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas wh0 won the vote count, but the race was forced into a runoff, so here we go again.

My video guru, William Byers, had me do a voice over on a project he did featuring Willie Gault. Check it out by clicking here.

And last but not least--our film was at the Hollywood Black Film Festival (click for my pics) last week and we enjoyed the Filmmaker's brunch on Sunday. Check this out: I met the organizer, Tanya Kersey (photo center along with Rockmond Dunbar and Will Packer), online about 10 years ago. We were looking for someone to do the Entertainment Summit at the Los Angeles Black Business Expo. She agreed to do it, and brought along Kelli Moore, who did our Celebrity Expo as well. Some years after Tanya founded the HBFF, she and I were both part of a group that wanted to produce a local black news show. I knew NOTHING about video back then, but Andre Alporter gave me a private tutoring and got the ball rolling. My first piece ever was one we did on the Black College Expo in 2004. The group didn't last but I was set on a path that led me to being a filmmaker at the HBFF (along with Gail Parker and William Byers) which is now in its 9th year. That's the power of networking and the power of Internet networking. Pat would be so proud.

Take care, all!
Isidra Person-Lynn

PS: Congrats to Jasmyne Cannick who wrote the print story for Ebony on Serena Williams. Here is the video preview:
And the photo above of Tanya, Rockmond and Will Packer is by Hiltron Bailey.

PPS: Great seeing you Alaina! That's my cousin Alaina, left, visiting from Virginia and my niece, right, Tianna. Center is Kevin Ross, who has some exciting things coming up I will tell you about next time. If you go to you can hear Tianna introduce Kevin's radio talk show. That's the face behind the voice!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My recommendation-- Vote June 3rd

Let's talk about the Supervisor's race between Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas and Councilman Bernard Parks. This campaign has really ripped apart our community at the seams...reminding me of the bitter race between Yvonne Burke and Diane Watson 16 years ago. Do you remember how divisive that was?

But here we are...Bernard Parks, the man many of us fought for most recently because we did not like the way the LAPD brass was treating him, versus Mark Ridley-Thomas, the man who has been so consistently successful in office, his innovations--the Empowerment Congress and neighborhood councils--have been copied all over the country because he gives the constituents a voice.

Mark and I have known each other since he was at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the 1970's. He later became the executive director and hired me to do PR for the organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King. I thought I was going to ease into the position but from day one I hit the ground running.

Mark was always sought-after, busy, tech savvy, and committed, and was a fair boss. And all these years later for us to be on good terms with a former boss is saying something.

I once took my youngest son Jaaye, then 2 years old, to his house to see him and his equally intelligent wife, Avis. Mark always laughs remembering how my kid started knocking on the refrigerator door so he could get some food. Mark was tickled about my boys, then went on to have two of his own sons...the twins.

And Jaaye, who is now 25, is still knocking on doors, but this time he is knocking for Mark, elbow deep in his campaign for supervisor.

At the beginning of their campaigning season, the week after the hype of the California Primary in which we got the chance to vote for (or against) a black man--Senator Barack Obama, I moderated a campaign forum between Senator Ridley-Thomas, Councilman Bernard Parks and "Big Money Griff" Morris Griffin. KJLH's Jacquie Stephens fell ill and called me that morning at 6 a.m. to pinch hit for her, which I normally would do. Holman United Methodist Church was packed with hundreds of people and despite some technical broadcast difficulties, it went well-- or so I thought.

I kept the response time equal, and received many compliments for fairness. Having covered this community for decades and having moderated candidates forums before, you tend to know all of the players. I could have shown Mark favoritism, but I did not. I respected all three candidates. However, for a myriad of reasons, that was my last day at the station.

Since I am no longer saddled with having to be fair and balanced anymore, I can pick a candidate. To bolster my research, I attended a debate at the Foundation for the Junior Blind and I have seen growth in Mark as a candidate from that first debate. The biggest criticism he receives is that he is aloof and somewhat pompous. To that I say two things. First, to know him is to love him. Mark has a great sense of humor but he takes his work and his word seriously. If he says he will do something, he will do it. As for the big words (hence the pompousness)it comes with the territory of being a scholar and a Ph.D. But is he a great public servant? Yes. He really is, and he is very well connected, across the cultural divide. Is he a wonderful husband and father? No other politician I know exudes so much love, dedication and inclusion for his family --Avis and Sebastian and Sinclair--as Mark. If he comes off any other way, take the time to get to read up on him and see how he fights for his constituents and is very accessible. Mark is younger and that seat is a long term, and powerful seat. We need someone in there with consistency, people power and staying power.

As for Parks, to his credit, he too is popular and he and our family go way back as well. We supported him when we thought he was being abused by the LAPD powers that be. If you want to vote for him after you have done your research, fine. I think our community needs to get beyond mentally murdering people because we vote for different candidates.

The ugliness of this race is really not between the candidates as much as it is in their supporters--their camp directors-- who go overboard to smear the names of their favorites and try to wield power to ruin professional relationships. Doing that through the media is foul. Doing it through media you own is taking us to a new low. As a journalist, I take balanced reporting seriously and our media owes it to us to provide both sides and let the readers make up their minds.

Unfortunately, as Barack Obama shows us, your supporters can kill your efforts. So, as voters, we need to look a little deeper, but time is running out. Sometimes, you gotta take a recommendation from someone you trust. If you trust me, my recommendation is vote for Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas for 2nd District Supervisor, Tuesday, June 3.

The photo above of Jaaye (left) and Kwaku (right) was taken by Leroy Hamilton. To see more of Leroy's work which captures Mark's political life, click here: . To support him, visit: