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Raymond Leon Roker
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Entries by Raymond Leon Roker

Not Far From the Tree: How an Apple Gave Me Life

(3) Comments | Posted October 6, 2011 | 8:42 AM

I'm hardly alone in my lamenting the passing of such an iconic genius as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs or in celebrating his immeasurable contributions to technology and culture. But I'm moved to not only share in the collective outpouring of emotion for a man most of us have never met...

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Los Angeles Area High School Students Find a Path to Graduation Through Art

(0) Comments | Posted June 4, 2010 | 11:51 AM

For the past several years, I've served on the board of the HeArt Project, a youth-focused arts and education non-profit organization based in Los Angeles. The HeArt Project is designed specifically for kids who have struggled in traditional educational environments and are at risk of...

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Why Health Reform Was the Right Thing to Do

(14) Comments | Posted March 31, 2010 | 2:56 AM

In the wake of the landmark passage of comprehensive health care reform by President Obama and the Democratic congress, I'm reminded of how absolutely necessary the move was. For me, 2009 cemented my view that universally available medical care wasn't just a rallying cry of the Left, but it was...

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Life After Print: URB Magazine 2.0

(5) Comments | Posted October 5, 2009 | 4:00 AM

If I had written a decade ago that my 19-year-old music and culture magazine URB was "taking a hiatus from print," it might have taken a few weeks for the news to spread. But my emailed notice about our 159th issue being distributed as a "digital magazine" was made...

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In Defense of FREE: Why I Don't Care That Arianna Doesn't Pay Me

(22) Comments | Posted August 17, 2009 | 3:54 AM

Full disclosure: I've been writing for the Huffington Post since February of 2008. And I haven't made a dime.

You see, Arianna Huffington doesn't pay her bloggers (cue sound of the needle abruptly skating across the vinyl). Not Bill Maher. Not Joe the Blogger. Not me.

To hear...

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NAACP vs. Gay Marriage: Do The Right Thing

(1014) Comments | Posted July 17, 2009 | 4:32 PM

If the NAACP wants to be a truly inclusive 21st century civil rights organization, it must settle its internal squabbles and officially support same sex marriage. In a year that sees the nation's first black president give a powerful speech on family and social values at the...

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Dreaming of a Father: Meeting Sidney Poitier

(1) Comments | Posted June 21, 2009 | 10:30 AM

"The imagination is not our escape. On the contrary, the imagination is the place we are all trying to get to." --Paul (Will Smith) in Six Degrees of Separation

I've never been one of those sons who wished he could trade...

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Eminem's MTV Fit Not Stuntin

(20) Comments | Posted June 1, 2009 | 3:39 PM

Personally, I was TIVO'ing my way through most of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. I just couldn't get into it (In comparison, this year's Oscars were so, so much better). Although mostly the same awards show we expect from MTV (lots of SNL humor and teen screaming), LeAnn Rimes singing...

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Fast Times at Facebook High

(4) Comments | Posted March 29, 2009 | 7:31 PM

Read this weekend's NY Times piece on Facebook's explosive growth (from 100 million to 200 million in one year). For all its recent user revolt--usually via their status updates, ironically--the only social networking site that matters is growing at 1 million users a day. But the article asks the...

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Walk a Miley in My Shoes

(3) Comments | Posted February 7, 2009 | 6:55 PM

My post last week about the Miley Cyrus photo flap lead me to make this video. In it, I address my controversial use of some pejorative language (especially on my personal blog) aimed at the mega brand teenager. But I also explain why the less-than-critical responses to...

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"Hannah Montana" Needs Some Sensitivity Training

(40) Comments | Posted February 4, 2009 | 10:25 AM

I know, I know, she's only 16, but what's wrong with this chick? If you're #35 on the Forbes richest celebrities list, then you qualify to get a Dan Aykroyd "Jane, you ignorant slut" style response from me. The teenage Miley Cyrus (daughter of country star Billy...

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Paul McCartney, The Cure and The Killers Headline Coachella Festival's 10th Year

(4) Comments | Posted January 30, 2009 | 4:23 AM

Coachella announced the line-up of its 10th anniversary Indio, California music and arts festival. For the first time ever, Paul McCartney will headline the three-day event on Friday night. Coachella debuted in 1999, ushering in a new league of massive American music festivals modeled loosely off UK institutions like...

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The Crash of Flight 1549: Maybe the Best Metaphor for 2009 We Could Hope For

(21) Comments | Posted January 16, 2009 | 3:53 AM

It started for me with a "CNN Breaking News" email at 12:57PM California time. I never fail to click these, and in a post-9/11 world I always hold my breath too. Whenever I read the first line, I'm hoping I don't see words like explosion, killed, or hostage. But yesterday,...

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Notorious: The Biggie Biopic is Great But it Still Doesn't Answer, "Who Shot Ya?"

(47) Comments | Posted January 14, 2009 | 5:27 PM

Biggie Smalls, for most, was the greatest rapper ever. Kanye may be the biggest star hip-hop has ever produced, but Biggie is Elvis. So the packed and raucous screening tonight of the biopic Notorious, at the Nike Montalbán Theater in Hollywood was no surprise (Full disclosure: My...

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My View of The Atlantic's "The End of White America?"

(21) Comments | Posted January 11, 2009 | 5:04 AM

The Atlantic's "The End of White America?" won't be the last time the changing demographic tone of the U.S. is given front cover status. But with the historic events of next week on our mind, its timing and resonance is extra sticky. Writer Hua Hsu (who,...

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Rapper Subdues Bomb Suspect on LAX Flight

(0) Comments | Posted January 7, 2009 | 3:48 PM

According to his publicist, none other than Atlanta rapper Asher Roth was involved in detaining the man who just made a bomb threat on an Atlanta-to-LAX flight. The rapper was on his way to LA for a performance on Carson Daly.

Read more here at URB.COM

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An Open Letter on Prop 8: Enough with the Anti-Black Outrage

(156) Comments | Posted November 8, 2008 | 6:38 PM

Somebody posted a link to this letter on my recent post about the racially characterized attacks against blacks by some in the gay community for what CNN exit polls said was a 70% vote in favor of Proposition 8.

The letter is from Kathryn Kolbert, President...

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Stop Blaming California's Black Voters for Prop 8

(1192) Comments | Posted November 7, 2008 | 3:29 AM

Excuse me? I voted against Proposition 8. I'm among the 30 percent of black Californians that did so. And as much as I can condemn the homophobia and intolerance that drove a portion of the 70 percent of blacks that voted in favor of Proposition 8's ban on gay...

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One Giant Step

(3) Comments | Posted November 5, 2008 | 1:09 PM

We did it.

We fought. We hoped. We worked. We cried. We panicked. We debated. We held our breath. But after a 21 month campaign and eight years of sorry leadership and squandered opportunity, we did it. It's not hyperbolic to say that we helped shift the course of the...

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How Come McCain's "Gook" Slur Isn't Bigger News?

(77) Comments | Posted October 20, 2008 | 7:37 PM

I want to know: Who is the real John McCain?

This past Sunday, when Colin Powell appeared on

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