Weekend Reading: Motherhood, Wynton Marsalis, Arizona, Oil Spill and stuff..

British-Jamaican writer Andrea Levy - Getty Images
British-Jamaican writer Andrea Levy - Getty Images


Happy Mother's Day to all our readers who are moms. This is a holiday that retains value, although it is primarily promoted by the flower and candy industries.  One important aspect of motherhood in our time is the effort to balance career and family. Three busy women share their own personal stories in The Root this week. Theola Labbé-Debose, a reporter for the Washington Post who had covered the war in Iraq, couldn't turn down an assignment to Haiti after the earthquake. After all, she was a Haitian-American, she had relatives probably affected, and this was a big story. Only problem is she was nearly five months pregnant. She went anyway and her qualms got bigger than her belly.


Malika Saada Saar, a human rights lawyer, founded the Rebecca Project, an advocate for vulnerable families. She explains how motherhood has deepened her sensitivity  to the struggles of her clients.   And Post Reporter Daneen Brown describes her fantic efforts to juggle covering the First Lady and be a proper mom to her son. Hail to all the Moms!


Wynton Marsalis has an open door - for his friends. The New York Times takes you behind the door of the famed trumpeter's home to learn that friends come to just, well, hang out. Turns out his home near New York's Lincoln Center is like a lot our living rooms, full of people, multiple things going on at once, music playing, NBA on TV and folks chatting.  I grew up in a big noisy home, says Wynton. He can compose through anything except other music. It's a nice side of Marsalis, who is often cast in the news media as a somewhat-imperious impresario of jazz. Come to think of it, t'aint nothin' bad about that either. I'm a big supporter of Wynton's concept of creating a jazz canon and a non-profit enterprise to support this endangered American art form.


We took a close look at the Arizona immigration issue this week. In my piece, I argue that African-Americans should care about any law that results in racial profiling,(which is what everyone knows this bill will trigger) even if it doesn't affect them directly. What I didn't include, on further thought, was that there are a lot of black immigrants and citizens, not just from Africa and the Caribbean but also Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Peru and Venezuela who will find themselves asked for papers. Of course, some of our readers vehemently disagreed.

Lawrence Ross reported on how his beloved Alphas pulled their national convention out of Arizona in protest. It could prove costly to the fraternity, but they'll get it back in good will and respect. Alpha Phi Alpha's principled stand was in sharp contrast to that of a former Presidential candidate. It was John McCain, of course, proving once again that his escape from principles is not a one-time thang. His shrill support for the immigration bill as he struggles to retain his U.S. Senate seat is enough to make you want to avert your eyes. Now, even his daughter is taking a different stance. Dad, if your own daughter disowns your views, what chance do you have with the voters?


With all the doom and gloom around New Orleans, it was good to hear that the annual Jazz Fest gave the city a needed boost. But Lolis Eric Elie, writing from his native city, says the danger now is a flood of corporate money. This year's Jazz & Heritage Festival festival didn't have much jazz and he sees signs of Disneyfication. A new reason to worry about the Big Easy.



Let's face it, President Obama's face should feel a little flush about now. The oil spill has got to be an embarrassment. The president's cave-in a few weeks ago on off-shore drilling not only caught everyone by surprise, it was so unnecessary. A lot of the media assumed it was a bone to the conservatives — again.   Even in pronouncing it, the Boss didn't seem to have his heart in it. The Gulf spill brings it all back, like heartburn - a reminder that abandoning your principles makes you more like the other politicians we were hoping to avoid when we put you in the White House, as Pulitzer Prize winner ER Shipp pointed out in her column for the Root.


Paul Delaney, the former New York Times correspondent and editor, took a different angle on the story, and pointed out how the rig disaster and the coal mine deaths have already altered the debate on energy policy, putting the President in a tough spot. But hey, that's why we pay you the big bucks and hand you the nuclear button, bro.


The week we published a black take on the British elections, which was a good thing. Blacks in the UK had a lot at stake with vigorous debates on illegal immigration,  discrimination and employment on the table. Belinda Otas gave us a good panorama of the issues. A record number of blacks candidates ran for Parliament, hoping to increase their number from 15 in Gordon Brown's last government.


One black Brit who should be better known to African-American readers is  Andrea Levy, a prize-winner author of Jamaican origin. She has written a series of historical novels set in Jamaica.  Her latest book, "The Long Song," take place toward the end of slavery in Jamaica and suggests a good summer read. Washington Post reviewer Tayari Jones, says you'll get a fresh angle on the issue of slavery. "..what separates "The Long Song" from many American reimaginings of slavery is its Jamaican setting,"writes Jones. "As in most Caribbean slave states, Jamaica's enslaved population far outnumbered the English enslavers. As a result, there is a constant shifting of power at the center of all of the relationships on the plantation."We love shifts of power, especially if they involve uppity Negroes.