Opinion » The Rant

The Rant



I wish the mainstream media, politicians, talk-radio hosts, newspaper columnists, and everyone else would just get the expletive off Whitney Houston's back and mind their own expletive business. The poor thing has been in the ground less than 24 hours at this writing and already everyone has their minds made up that she died from a drug overdose or from mixing alcohol and drugs. And right now THERE IS NO OFFICIAL CAUSE OF DEATH. She could have been so exhausted she just dozed off in the bathtub. I've done it. I saw one crackpot "medical expert" on a major network news show even say that her death was the fault of her family and close friends. What's next? Are they going to arrest her family?

She very well may have died from drugs and alcohol, but no one knows yet. And why are they already trying to investigate the doctors who wrote her perfectly legal prescriptions and the pharmacies that filled them? Unless she got them under an alias or stole some prescription pads and wrote them out herself, there is nothing illegal or immoral about that. And I wish the news anchors would stop reporting that she had prescriptions for Xanax and Alprazolam, making it sound like she was taking as many different things as she could get her hands on. They are the same thing. Alprazolam is just the generic form of Xanax.

And so what if she took tranquilizers? Millions and millions of people do and they aren't made out to be crack addicts. Xanax is a legitimate medication used to treat anxiety, and until you've had a full-blown, physical bona fide anxiety attack that comes out of nowhere and renders you barely able to breath, drive, talk, or have a light on in the room, then you are not an expert on the drug and its benefits when taken properly.

If one more person refers to Whitney Houston's life as a "waste" I am going to scream. I wasn't even the biggest Whitney Houston fan. While I think she had a voice that was nothing less than miraculous, I'm just not much of a pop music fan. But I am tired of all these news people and "experts" already talking about her death being a "teachable" moment. I would like to think that her entire life was a "teachable" life and this, according to many sources, is why:

During the times of apartheid, Houston refused to work for agencies that did business with South Africa. It was an issue that she later brought to the attention of the world when she performed at Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday concert in London, an event that brought pressure on the government to ease its restrictions and eventually release the future president of South Africa.

In 1989, she formed the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, which aided sick and homeless children and worked toward the prevention of child abuse. The foundation at one time also worked to teach children to read and built inner-city parks and playgrounds.

In 1997, Houston performed an HBO concert, Classic Whitney Live from Washington, D.C., which raised more than $300,000 for the Children's Defense Fund. Her performance at the Super Bowl in 1991, in the midst of the Gulf War, made her the only artist to turn the national anthem into a chart hit, when her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" reached the Top 100. She donated her royalties to the Red Cross.

The Whitney Houston Intensive Care Unit in Newark, which provides high technology intervention for children who have experienced trauma or other life-threatening illnesses, is named in her honor due to Houston's generous giving.

Another organization that received immense support from Houston is the United Negro College Fund. She raised a quarter of a million dollars for the UNCF at a 1988 Madison Square Garden concert, appeared on at least two "Lou Rawls Parade of Stars" telethons to benefit the UNCF, and has been honored by the organization for her consistent giving with the Frederick D. Patterson Award.

She gave so much over the years to our own St. Jude Children's Research Hospital that Marlo Thomas honored her at a charity banquet in 1994.

Houston re-released "The Star-Spangled Banner" charity single to benefit the New York Firefighters Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Fraternal Order of Police Fund following the terrorist attacks on September 11th. She waived her royalty rights to the single, which went on to top the U.S. charts in October 2001 and raised more than $1 million.

The Boston-based National Birth Defects Center named its Hearing & Language Disorder Clinic after Whitney due to her giving. Houston donated enough to the Harlem-based Hale House that they were able to build a Learning & Recreation Center. Houston donated proceeds from her only 1990 U.S. concert appearances to the Harlem Boys Choir, New Jersey State PBA, and the youth of Atlantic City. And in 1991, Houston participated in a Carnegie Hall benefit that earned about $250,000 for aid to Haiti.

And that is just a fraction of the good and philanthropic work Houston did in her lifetime. From cancer, AIDS, rain-forest preservation, victims of Moscow train bombings, Kurdish refugee relief, and dozens of other causes and charities, her work is too vast to list on this page or any number of pages.

Was Houston's life a "teachable" moment? I'd say so.

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