Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Beauty of Karma

Sometimes things line up perfectly.

Call it Karma, or the Golden Rule or just plain luck, but there are times when the universe seems to perfectly provide redress for wrongs.

Thursday was one of those days.

As one of my earlier posts noted, Hillary Clinton tried to brand Barack Obama as a Jew-hater in the recent MSNBC debate by grousing about his initial refusal to "reject" Minister Louis Farrakhan's anti-Semetic statements instead of just denouncing them.

Clinton would probably deny that she was doing that, but she's a known liar. Her attempts have since been aided by the pretty much universal hatred of Farrakhan among white folks, which has given the "reject" and "denounce" story far more legs than it deserves.

But, thanks be to God, trouble don't last always (that's the Baptist coming out in me y'all). Just recently, confronted with her own "reject" and "denounce" moment, Hillary whiffed worse than Ryan Howard.

Read more here.

Apparently, an older Latina woman at a Hillary rally said that the biggest problem with Barack Obama's is that he's black. Yep, this woman clearly feels that Obama is a nigger and niggers are a problem.

In fact, the woman even referred to black people as "the blacks" during her comments and said since "the blacks" never helped latinos they shouldn't help us. Her comments about Obama's skin problem were captured by a televison reporter, who then set up an interview with Clinton.

Given Clinton's quick reaction to Anti-Semetic behavior, you would have thought her answer to these type of comments would be obvious. Well, lo and behold Ms. Clinton neither rejected or denoucnced this woman, she just urged voters to vote based on each candidates merits. When the reporter confronted her with her hypocrisy, she said she wasn't going to parse the comments of some random person on the street.

Only it wasn't a random person. The woman who made the comments was Adelfa Callejo a well known Latina activist in Texas. She has clout throughout the state and her comments were represented as the general feeling of most older Latino residents in the state. (UPDATE: In speaking to someone who talked to Ms. Callejo about her comments, I have learned that she says that her comments were taken out of context and misrepresented.)

Can I get a WTF?

So, Minister Farrakhan, the leader of small black religion that mainly wants to be left alone by the white world is somebody that Obama needs to "reject," but a Latino activist in a state where Latinos make up a huge percentage of the registered voters is a nobody?

It appears that Hillary has added the fetid odor of hypocrisy to her already lovely perfume of desperation.

Now, if all those media types thought Obama equiviocated on his answer about Farrakhan (which is utter bullshit) they have to hang this hypocritical heifer out to dry. Seriously, if these comments don't get chopped up on every news show Clinton loses the right to complain about the press coddling Obama.

But, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for equal treament. Cause, as black people well know, white folks don't have to randomly condemn other white folks when they fuck up. See, white people are individuals, "the blacks" are a group. When one of us effs up, that means no nigger can be trusted.

Don't believe the hype when media types complain that this is no big deal and that we should focus on more important issues. They don't focus on important issues during a campaign, shit we spent days discussing whether Obama was a meanie because he wouldn't shake Hillary's hand during the State of the Union. Political commentaters have actually complained when the candidates spent too much time discussing random policy points during debates and speeches.

But, media types hate to take on long-standing racial issues that paint white folks in a bad light. They might play up black and brown hate, but the complicity of white folks will be ignored or minimalized. There will be no discussion of the tendency for the white world to view blacks as a monlithic group, there will be no discussion of how racial hatred among minorities has been fostered and encouraged by white people.

Simply put, media viewers and readers don't want to hear that shit, and contrary to what media members say, this media shit is a business. Plus, most media types don't really want to talk about stuff like that because it forces them to examine their own motivations for how they handle racial issues. That's not appealing.

Fourth estate my ass.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Departure

Nothing today about Obama or Hillary or white people or even about race---well I might mention race.

Nope today we're talking about something more positive.

My son.

I love that little sucker. He came into the world in May of last year and I'll tell y'all, shit has never been the same. That cute little poop machine has changed the whole dynamic in my marriage and greatly affected my life.

You know what my son does when he's mad? He likes to grunt really, really loudly like he's trying to pass a huge turd. I mean the veins in this cat's neck start bulging and his throat is rumbling and he's the epitome of pissed off. Lately, he's even taken to waving his arms around and intermittently yelping to get people to pay more attention to his grunting. He's like some sort of constipated dog.

But, man is that shit cute.

In recent weeks, the Little Man has learned to crawl and he's scooting all over the place in my house. Sometimes when I come in the house through the garage door I find him waiting for me at the door into the house because he crawled over there after he heard the automatic garage door open. If we take a nap together he likes to wake me up by trying eat my eyebrows or cheeks. He only has two teeth, but those suckers are sharper than knives.

My son makes me look at other children differently. In the mall or grocery store I tend to smile more at strange kids, wondering what type of little quirks they have. For most men it's a strict no-no to even acknowledge strange kids for fear of somebody hitting you with a pervert charge, but sometimes I feel like mothers can tell that I'm a parent too.

Strangely enough, these days I'm often harder on the parents of bad-ass kids than I was when I was childless. It particularly pisses me off when other parents fail to rein their kids in, not just because it invades my personal space but because I can't help wondering about the future effect on the children. However, I feel so much more empathy for single mothers because I see just how hard their jobs really are. I mean, if my wife and I are struggling despite our combined energy and resources, I can't even imagine what it's like out in this world on your own.

Some of my most peacful moments are watching my son sleep.

Some of my most stressful moments are watching my son sleep.

I love rubbing his belly with my face and making him giggle and squirm. I can't help by laugh when he responds to my determined scolding with his disarming laugh.

My son has quickly assumed the third most important position in my life behind only my God and my wife. And she better watch out because he's gunning for her spot.

Little man is a blessing.

My wife asked me the other day if I think that the world will be a better place for our son if Barack Obama becomes the President of the United States. I laughed at her naivete, and chastised her for thinking that Obama will be some sort of savior.

Secretly I hope she's right.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Obama, You Jew Hater

Dictionary.com Unabridged
denounce
1. to condemn or censure openly or publicly: to denounce a politician as morally corrupt.
2. to make a formal accusation against, as to the police or in a court.
3. to give formal notice of the termination or denial of (a treaty, pact, agreement, or the like).
4. Archaic. to announce or proclaim, esp. as something evil or calamitous.
5. Obsolete. to portend.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Reject
1. To refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.: to reject the offer of a better job.
2. To refuse to grant (a request, demand, etc.).
3. To refuse to accept (someone or something); rebuff:


Ok, now that we've gotten an explanation of reject and denounce out of the way I thought I'd point out that contrary to the title of this blog post, Barack Hussein Obama does not hate Jews.

I know some of you might have been confused considering the recent debate on MSNBC that seemed to insinuate that Obama thinks Jews are the scum of the Earth. Apparently this is how Louis Farrakhan and the pastor of Obama's church feel. I don't know for sure if that's how they feel, but apparently Tim Russert does and he's adamant that this somehow relates to Obama.

I'm not sure how beliefs that Obama has rejected (or denounced) relate to him, but I can do nothing but trust the always correct judgment of Tim Russert. I'm also confused about how Obama is supposed to force Farrakhan or his pastor to only say things he would like them to say, but apparently Mr. Russert knows how this would work.

What I am sure about is that Obama does not hate Jews.

But, apparently Hillary Clinton isn't so sure. I mean, how else do you explain her decision to jump in and give a personal testimonial on her own love for Jews and Israel? Not only did Clinton out point how many Jewish friends she has, but she then challenged Obama to name his own Jewish friends.

Well, she didn't really do that, but her attempt to force Obama to explain just how much he loves Jews and hates Farrakhan seemed to do the same thing. Her ludicrous attempts to parse the meanings of denounce and reject only underscored the idea that she thinks Obama hates Jews.

Look, Minister Farrakhan has said some really bad things about Jewish people, things I don't agree with. And apparently Obama's own pastor has his own issues with Jews as well.

But, the sly attempt to make Obama out to be a neo-Nazi was over the top. Both my wife and I were puzzled when Hillary broke into her soliloquy about the amazing political bravery she showed when she denounced anti-Semitic comments during her Senate campaign. However, it quickly made sense when she took yet another swipe at Obama's character.

Seriously, the amount of race baiting and ridiculousness from Clinton's campaign has been out of control since jump, but when you start trying to paint folks as Jew-haters you've crossed a line. There is no more powerful accusation in America. Not even being called a racist is as bad as being labeled an Anti-Semitic.

Shit, when Mel Gibson went on his rant against Jews he not only had to go on a public apology tour, but he had to check himself into rehab. The LA Times previously reported that his entire Hollywood career might be in jeopardy because of what he said. Contrast that treatment with what happened to Don Imus, and well, my point has been made.

Clinton's comments were especially disgusting considering Obama had just given an extremely eloquent statement about healing the wounds between black people and Jews.

Look, this is politics, I understand it gets nasty. But, I've felt like this entire campaign Hillary and her folks have been stepping across the line of proper discourse. As Charlie Murphy would say, "She's a habitual line-stepper."

It's getting old.

Desperation Smells Like Shit

Oooh, Hillary and them done stepped in it and you can't escape the smell lingering on their shoes.

I'm not even talking about that random photo of Barack as a "sand nigger" posing as "real nigger." Nah, that has been discussed by enough people in the blogosphere. We all know that the Hillary playbook requires attempts to play on the latent fears and hostilities of Americans, but we also know that it didn't work when she pulled that crap in South Carolina or anywhere else.

Nah, I'm laughing because her campaign is aggresively trotting out the storyline that the media hasn't been paying enough tough attention to Obama and now that needs to change. This ain't a new refrain, hell Billy Boy was saying that all the time before he got muzzled. But, the funny thing is that Hillary and company are using a recent Saturday Night Live skit to buttress her point.

Are they serious?

I don't know which public relations school Hillary's advisers attended, but here's a quick primer from a media type.

If you want to get journalists on your side you don't accuse them of being biased by using a wack ass sketch comedy show as your proof. Not only does it piss them off that you are using faux news to contradict them, but it also reeks of the one thing a political campaign cannot afford to stink of.

Desperation.

See, journalists hate being contradicted, but if you raise your claims in a measured reasonable way they have this compulsion that requires them to at least do a surface analysis of their work if only to prove you wrong. But, when Lorne Michaels is a campaign's Deep Throat, well any points made are almost guaranteed to get the brush off.

In fact, dumbass attempts probably only convince the media that Hillary's campaign is being run by idiots, a conclusion media types have been gradually arriving at for weeks since she lost almost a dozen contests and didn't know the rules of the primaries in Texas. Lashing out at the media while getting your ass handed to you is a sure recipe for getting the same rep as Kucinich or Gravel.

Journalists react to desperation like crackheads react to a dropped rock. It pushes them into attack mode, releases them of all their inhibitions and actually makes them feel justified in doing horrible shit. If a candidate is desperate that candidate is no longer credible and journalists can take their shots without feeling guilty or risking sanctions. If there is one thing journalists hate it's a desperate loser.

Anyway, I find it hilarious that Hillary's privileged arrogant ass is this desperate. It seems like a just dessert for someone who thought the presidency would be handed to them like an after dinner mint. Her attacks and distortions have only made this implosion more sweet.

So, I'll leave Hillary and her bumbling sidekicks with this one piece of advice.

Wipe your asses, you all smell desperate.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Selling Out

Y'all know this weekend in New Orleans they had this little thing called the State of the Black Union hosted by Tavis Smiley.

Smiley invited several black "leaders" and politicians to discuss topics of interest regarding the black community. Regular citizens were invited to attend for free to rub shoulders with the elite and make sure the crowd looked good on C-Span.

Only it turns out the event wasn't really free.

Now, there wasn't actually an admission fee. But, every attendee had to register online to get into the New Orleans Convention Center. And that, as they say, was the catch.

See, Tavis, being the wily business man that he is, required prospective attendees to fill out extensive questionnaires to register. Not only did these surveys ask for individuals' addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, but they also required much more detailed information.

Attendees had to list how many times they ate out every week, which restaurants they ate at, how much money they made, which auto insurance company they used and a host of other questions that clearly delineated their income levels and spending habits. In fact, if a prospective attendee left any question blank, they were promptly told they couldn't register.

Now, some of you may wonder how this qualifies as an admission fee. Well, as a friend of mine explained it to me, those surveys were likely converted into detailed mailing lists that Tavis either provided free to his sponsors (lovely companies like McDonalds, Allstate and Wal-Mart) or sold to other interested parties looking to tap into the black market. In fact, Tavis most likely kept some of the info for himself in order to better market his next self-help book or video for the black community. After all, there was some fine print that said that if you signed up all your info became property of Mr. Covenant to do with as he wished.

According to my friend, just for the names and addresses alone Tavis could get $5-$10 a head. Considering there were thousands of folks at the conference, that's no chump change. But, the real money is in selling specially culled lists to those individuals looking to get the best bang for their marketing buck.

If you're State Farm looking to attract new customer, you ask for all the individuals who use another insurance company and make sure they get a nice call from a telemarketer at dinner time. Or, say you're a credit card company look for some new suckers, I mean customers, now you know who loves to shop and how much money they make. Whether by selling part of the list or the whole thing, Tavis has an opportunity to make a pretty penny off those individuals who were looking for enlightenment on the state of the black community.

Now, I don't know about y'all, but I find it funny that the same man who was quick to call Obama out for taking black people for granted or trying use our votes to win the election without addressing our issues is pimping out black people to the highest bidder. There is something a tad bit unseemly about a man who pretends to be putting on an event for the edification of black folks when he's really trying to assemble a valuable mailing list on the cheap.

You know, Smiley and several elected officials spent a lot of time complaining that their Negro bona fides had come under attack because they supported Clinton instead of Obama. They noted that it was ridiculous for black people to expect each other to think and act in lockstep.

They were right about that.

But, they missed the point that black folks weren't mad at them for thinking differently, they were mad at them for co-signing the despicable racist tactics of Hillary's campaign. They were mad at them for being willing to sell out our community for funding for their pet projects. See, black people have far too much experience at being used not to be able to pick a hustler out of the crowd, and the only thing we hate more than a hustler is a hustler who tells us he's bilking us for our own good.

So, the next time Tavis decides to climb his ass up on his mangy, knock-kneed high horse I want everybody to know that all his grand talk about being a caretaker of black interests is bullshit.

He done already sold us out.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Last Rites

Pour out a little liquor 'cause Omar Little is dead.

Fuck.

I knew Kenard's psychopathic ass was going to get him eventually, but damn, did it have to be like that? In a corner store from behind while getting a pack of Newports?

The Wire rarely goes for the blockbuster, unrealistic scene, and I knew after the massive firefight Omar survived earlier this season it was unlikely he was going to get another big moment. In fact, in the past few weeks we saw Omar becoming more and more desperate as he felt his life and his chance to avenge his friend slipping away.

If Omar and Marlo had duked it out at high noon it would have only detracted from the idea that no one man or woman is above the game.

But, I was still sad to see Omar die so disgracefully. If Omar would have scripted his own death it would have never come like that.

But, nobody scripts death.

It often comes suddenly and without warning. In my job I've dealt with death in a myriad of forms. Children dead from accidents and abuse, young cats dead from living life in the dope game and breadwinners dead in horrific car accidents. I've been to far too many murder scenes and funerals in my short career, and maybe that's why Beadie's diatribe to McNulty made so much sense to me.

She was right when she said that McNulty's death will only be marked by those who hold him closest.

When most of us die, very few people will take notice. And even if we've lived a life that has made a huge impact on the world, the world will eventually move on. Shit, Omar was the biggest stick-up kid in Baltimore and he couldn't even get four graphs in the city's major newspaper when he got dropped.

The fragility of life can never be underestimated. We are all hanging on by a thread.

Omar lived his life. He committed some awful crimes, yet still righted a few wrongs. For most of his life Omar lived by a code that he only began to betray once he felt the cold breath of death on his neck. We should all be so lucky to live our lives on our own terms like that.

So pour out a little liquor and put on some 'Pac.

Omar ain't coming back.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Big City Blues

I was slapped in the face recently with the fact that despite my address in the South, I'm a city boy through and through.

Let me set the scene.

While working at my job as a crack journalist, I had to interview a gentleman who lives in what could generously be called the boonies. We went out on his little fishing boat and I talked to him for a story I'm working on.

After returning from the trip, I was attempting to leave the man's home when I made a decision that has left my fragile masculinity shaken and forced me to question my place in the world.

For those unaware, in the boonies they often have open drainage ditches on the sides of the road instead of underground piping. In addition, the road is typically up higher than the homes which means that entering and exiting driveways means navigating a safe route across narrow driveways with steep drop-offs to each side.

Now, to leave this source's home, the easiest course would have been to back my pick-up truck(yes, I own a pick-up truck) along the narrow driveway, past the ditches, and on to the equally narrow roadway. But I didn't want to do this because I was concerned that I would misjudge a turn and end up with my truck stuck in a ditch.

Being a rather intelligent fellow, I decided to turn my truck around and pull out of the yard normally instead of having to back out. When I was considering this wonderful plan, I assumed the surrounding grass, although still sodden and muddy from a torrential downpour, would be able to support my truck.

I was wrong.

Instead what happend was that I became stuck in large muddy ditches created by my impotently spinning wheels. I watched as my source, a country boy if there ever was one, grew increasingly perturbed by my inability to grasp his simple instructions on freeing myself. I felt my balls shrivel up as the source's shrill sister wondered repeatedly from their porch why I hadn't just backed out like a normal person. And, I listend while my source said "I guess he's not that good at backing up."

In short, I felt like a bitch.

Unfortunately, this was not a new feeling. When a mechanic asks me any question beyond when was my last oil change, or I have to handle any tool other than a Phillips screwdriver, I also feel like a bitch.

The feeling is there whenever I enter Home Depot or Loews and ask associates for assitance. It's there every time I call a repairman.

Whenever my lack of expertise in traditionally male areas rears its head, I feel inadequate. It's a feeling that is far more common when I deal with family, friends and associates from more rural areas because they seem to have a cornicopia of information about cars, home improvement and general man stuff.

Maybe it's their forced independence because of the lack of certain amenities in the country, or maybe it's just because folks pass down knowledge out there, but whatever it is I feel like many country folks seem to know a little about everything. I often get the feeling that if the world was suddenly stripped of all its technological bells and whistles they would be much better prepared to survive while I would die with my Playstation 3 in my arms.

Sure, I often conjugate my verbs better than many country folks, but that seems like a hollow victory when they are explaining the inner workings of a water pump.

Truthfully, my father isn't a handy guy and I never picked up those typical "guy" skills from any one else. When I stand over the open hood of my car I'm more out of my depth than George Bush at a Toastmasters' convention.

It's a humbling feeling. I've contemplated taking a course at my local community college to learn the basics of automobile repair or carpentry, but I haven't done it yet. Some of that's due to time constraints, but it's also due to a fear of having my ignorance exposed to the world.

So, for now I just nod my head at the jargon that flows from the mouths of repairmen and mechanics, hoping that don't see through my facade and wondering how badly they are jobbing me on the bill.

But, I'll get those bastards if they ever need an essay written on the effect of the black press on the Great Northern Migration.

Then I'll have my revenge.

(I apologize to any ladies offended by my use of the word bitch. I used it because that's the men talk. Sorry.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Can Your Blackness be Revoked?

The legitimate presidential run of a black man has caused an outpouring of stories about America's newfound ability to "transcend race" when selecting political candidates.

Barack Obama has become a rallying cry for all those individuals who believe this country's transformation into a color blind society is only a few years away.

Don't count me in that number.

Not only am I much more pessismistic about the entrenched nature of racism and white priviledge, I'm leery of any group of people who claim to be color blind. It strikes me as mildly ludicrous that people don't note the color of person's skin when they meet them just for identification purposes.

Then I read this story in The New York Times.

Besides the recap of just how hard black people once had it in the South, the most troubling aspect of the article was the mindset displayed by the townspeople in the beginning. Several of them, I think one was even the mayor, said they didn't happen to notice their new Representative was black or they didn't really think of him as black.

Now, what does that mean?

One of the main things holding Obama back among black voters initially was the feeling among black folks that he seemed to be a little too well-liked by white folks. Along with concerns about his viability as a candidate, many black people seemed to wonder that if white people liked him so much he must not be the type of brother that black people can depend on.

After all, the black people most readily accepted into mainstream society are those who are willing to subordinate their blackness to make white folks feel more comfortable. They are the "safe negroes" the ones who know their place and don't rock the boat. In fact, I would argue that it wasn't until Bill Clinton began his racially based attacks on Barack that most black people began to realize that maybe he wasn't a pawn of white folks.

One of the most common comments about Barack Obama is that he tends to help people forget that he's black. Just like the aformentioned Alabama politician, people have been known to actually say that they don't even notice his skin color anymore. This is said in a kind of superior manner that seems to imply that those who still notice race are somehow less racially evolved.

Uh, I don't think so.

In fact, the very fact that people don't even notice that Obama or other safe negroes are black is proof of a serious racial hangup. That shows a willful blindness to the fact that for many people being black has played an integral part in developing their world view and shaping their philosophies on life.

It shows an unwillingness to deal with the fact that being black is different from being white, and an unwillingness to really try to understand the full range of that difference in this society.

Look, it's cool that some white people and people of color want to do away with racial groups of any kind and bring us all together into some sort of huge multi-colored goulash. But, if this new push for color blindness absolves people of their responsibility to deal with the wounds this country's continual racial abuse inflicts then I'm against it.

I'm against the idea that because I learned how to read, write and speak standard English I get to transcend being black as long as I'm willing to avoid bringing up that prickly "race stuff."

That's not freedom, that's trading shackles for a leash.

My wife made a great point to me the other day that people who claim to be color blind are really claiming to be neutral. But, neutrality in the battle for equality really means supporting the inequality of the status quo.

Choosing to be color blind in a world where color matters is choosing to live in a dream world that makes you feel better about yourself.

I'm going to deal with all the colors of reality.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"O"phrodisiac

The Little Woman and I have been married for a little over 2 years now and have been in a relationship for a total of about five and half years.

Like most married couples we try to consummate our union on a regular basis. (For all you slow folks that means we practice baby making.} But, like many married couples our ardor for each other has its peaks and valleys. While I am a fairly astute brother, I do have some difficulty anticipating topographic changes on our romantic roadmap.

That is I had problems until I discovered a brand new "O"phrodisiac.

See, the Little Woman loves her some Barack Hussein Obama. She really can't get enough of watching that purple-lipped, light-skinned, skinny brother speak. When I get home from work she always bugging me to abandon the NBA League Pass and watch dry ass CNN or MSNBC. Man, my son's first real words might be "breaking news."

But, because I'm a stubborn Negro who prefers his news in written form this has caused no small amount of consternation in our household. My dominance of the remote control has become a serious issue and I regularly find myself fighting off dirty looks and teeth-sucking when I dare to deviate from her preferred viewing schedule.

I swear there have been times that I could feel the Little Woman calculating the odds of wrestling my big butt for the remote despite the 10 inches and 200 pounds she spots me. If a man's home is his castle, she has clearly been planning a coup.

But, that all changed once I fully embraced the power of the "O"phrodisiac.

Through meticulous research and varied case studies I have discovered that a victory for Obama in the primary election is a victory for Big Man's primary erec---well y'all get the picture.

And, don't talk about if I actually let the Little Woman watch the O-man's victory speech and all the long-winded analysts debate just how he pulled off his win. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaan I'm in there like swimwear.

Now some folks may be wondering why I would put all my personal business on front street like this and those people deserve an answer.

Come closer.

Ok.

I DON'T THINK CATS KNOW ABOUT THIS!

Seriously, I don't think most cats know that after their woman watches Obama run his victory lap she probably wants to get some aerobic exercise of her own. And, as every man knows, it is a man's gender duty to pass along any tips that can get a woman in the mood faster.

So that's my tip. Turn off the ESPN, back away slowly from SPIKE and at all costs avoid the Cartoon Network. If you're looking for a little special attention from that special someone in your life find you some Obama to watch.

And if your woman keeps asking to turn to Fox News for updates about McCain, well you have some problems that I can't solve.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hillary Clinton: Swagger Jacker Extraordinaire

Hillary Clinton has become the Jay-Z of presidential nominees.

First, let me clear something up about that statement since my disdain for Hillary should be well-known to anybody who peruses this blog. I'm a Jigga fan. I love his flow, his wordplay and generally how he comports himself on a CD. Jay-Z is an amazing artist in his own right and that can never be taken away from him.

However, Jay does have a problem with using other people's lyrics in his raps. Whether it be some well-known Biggie or some fairly obscure Bun-B, Jay-Z has a habit of conspicuously adding the words of others to his songs.

Which brings us to Hillary.

Hillary has apparently noted the response Obama's motto of "Yes we can" has gotten from crowds, and has decided to adopt her own catchphrase. And no, it's not "Hope is cheap and so are interns."

Instead, Hillary is now telling voters, "Yes we will."
That's right, check out the video on this link.

That is some heavy duty swagger jacking.

I mean, wow. If Barack is being called out for borrowing a few lines from his buddy Deval Patrick, then I think Hillary needs to get put on BLAST.

Besides the obvious lack of creativity, co-opting someone's motto like that just takes a lot of effing nerve. As my mother and father would say, "somebody is smelling their drawers."

A friend of mine pointed out that when she first heard about Hillary's biting, she thought it was just a funny aside. But, the more she thought about it, the more egregious the swagger jacking became. What she started to realize was is that this is not an isolated, kooky incident.

I mean, think about where you've heard this scenario before: A brother or sister works hard to craft an original expression of emotion that appeals to people, and then watches as a crafty white person steals it and tries to make it their own.

Little Richard knows something about that, and so does Jackie Wilson. W.C. Handy probably could have written a book about it. Hell, even the Five Heartbeats had to deal with that fake-ass Beach Boys group on their first album cover on their way to the top.

This is some historically-based shit right here.

And this ain't even the first time Hillary has done this crap. When Obama got props for going hard on the whole change platform, Hillary stopped trumpeting her experience and started talking about change. When Barack started slinging that good hope, Hillary tried to move in on his corner with her own inferior brand of hope laced with "realism." This is really a pattern for her.

But, people do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so maybe Obama can take solace in that.

Shiiiiiiiiiiit, you think that pays Little Richard's bills?


(And I know I shouldn't post this, but I'm linking to it anyway. I blame it on Ink. Hilarious.

Dirty Tricks

Obama was right, when Hillary's back is against that wall, the claws come out for real.

Word is that Clinton's campaign has already confirmed that they plan on trying to seek defections to their camp not just by super delegates, but by all delegates at play in the convention. Read more here.

Of course, it's not technically against the rules to try to get delegates to ignore the votes of the constituents, but it sure looks shady.

I mean, does Hillary think that after pulling every sleazy move in the book to win the nomination people are going to magically coalesce around her in the general election just because they're afraid of McCain? Cause if that's what she's betting on, then she's out of her damn mind.

Perusing this great blog I noticed just how many dirty tricks Clinton has employed. The new attacks on Obama for stealing his speech, the whole cult angle and of course Bill Clinton's race baiting. It's a real pattern.

Right now, Clinton is grasping at straws to try to find something to hurt Obama, and the media are lapping up every accusation because there is nothing media types like more than tearing down someone they have built up.

I think it's an interesting strategy by the Democrats in league with Clinton and I think it displays their near total belief that American voters are too stupid to hold a real grudge. They firmly believe that voters, particularly black voters, are so trained at voting for one party that we won't have any choice once they break out their special dog whistles.

I don't salivate for any bell.

Straight up, I will never vote for Hillary Clinton for president. Ever.

Obama or bust.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hero Worship

How well do you know your heroes?

If you're at all like me, than you probably don't know them nearly as well as you think.

I'm plowing through Taylor Branch's massive tomes on the Civil Rights era and I must admit it has changed the way I view many of my heroes. While reading Branch's detailed portrayals of luminaries like Adam Clayton Powell, Roy Wilkins, Bayard Rustin and, most importantly, Martin Luther King Jr., I've become used to the idea that I know very little about those I would have previously called heroes.

I did not know for example that King was such a meek and mild-mannered man, easily bullied by his father and always so afraid of offending others. He was a man of impressive inner strength, but he was not the ferocious lion he often appears to be in his amazing speeches. He was far too conciliatory, too confused and terribly conflicted. As I read of his widespread failures and often seemingly lucky successes, I'm struck by just how haphazard the careers of many heroes really are.

It's not a totally new concept. I was raised as a Christian and still believe in that faith so I've read the Bibles tales of horrifically flawed prophets and leaders who were the goat just as many times as they were the hero. Moses' craven fear of punishment led him to make his brother Aaron the first spokesman for the Hebrews, and David was willing to commit murder to satisfy and then hide his lust. There is no shortage of tragic heroes in the Bible; men whose glaring weaknesses often bring their strengths into sharper focus.

However, what I've found is that it's still easy to create this fairy tale world where those we admire or respect lack flaws. We imbue them with all the wonderful characteristics we wish we had and then carefully gloss over any blemishes that would mar our personal portraits.

It's hard to let go and admit that our heroes are really just humans, besieged by the same demons as many others.

But, it's also refreshing.

What I've found in reading these books is that if men as flawed as the ones I'm reading about could leave a lasting impact on the world, then so can I. I know that sounds corny, but in the past I've often wondered if I had the moral and mental strength to be great. Looking at the accomplishments of those we as black people see as legends, it has been hard for me to even imagine myself joining their illustrious company.

But, that's changing, particularly since I'm no longer convinced that perfection is a prerequisite for greatness.

Dr. King, Malcolm X, Asa Phillip Randolph, Dubois, Washington and Garvey were all deeply flawed men but they did not let those flaws prevent them from staking a claim to immortality.

Greatness is a journey fraught with peril.

Heroes are those willing to make that trip.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's a Different World

As is my habit, I watched HBO's The Wire on Sunday night.

It was an interesting episode with several plots coming together quickly. Like most viewers, I'm wondering if Omar's gamble will pay off and if McNulty has finally done enough to get fired and possibly arrested.

But, what really got my attention was a theme running through the episode about the different worlds that different people occupy in our society.

There were obvious examples, like the reporters and police officers struggling to infiltrate the world of the homeless, or Michael and Dukie pondering exactly what code the classifieds ads in the newspaper were written in.

But, the most telling scenes for me came in the courtroom and the newsroom.

It was illuminating to watch that silver-tongued snake Clay Davis beguile and eventually co-opt the state's attorney's jury. Davis knew exactly which terms would play with the working class black folks on his jury: the daily struggle to make ends meet, the fierce defiance even when wrong, the anger at those who seem to be living a cushy life and finally the over-arching feeling that white folks aren't playing the game fair.

It was interesting not only to watch the state's attorney's reaction, but also the reaction of a white reporter in the newsroom to Davis' performance. Gus, the black city editor, noted that Clay had played the race card and the whole deck to steal the show, and the white reporter’s response made it clear he felt adrift in a world where his racial roadmap was useless.

There was a clear sense of surprise, bewilderment and even superiority in the reporter’s comment that he felt “mighty white” when the verdict came down. (Just for the record, I hate the phrase “race card” and think it was incorrectly used by the writer.)


It's a funny thing how race divides our worlds. I recently read a book entitled "Black Lives, White Lives" written by Bob Blauner in 1989. It's a collection of interviews with white people and black people in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s about the racial climate in America during each of those eras. Several individuals were interviewed at different intervals to see how their ideas about different races evolved.

One of the best aspects of the book is the way it lays bare different psyches and world views. One white business man posited that the reason why America has had so many problems with black people is because slave traders snatched up the easier to catch "Congo niggers" instead of the more powerful and noble Zulus. The Congo niggers were more malleable, but possessed more of less-desirable black traits, which explained the state of black people.

But, a black woman explained that because she had cleaned white people's houses all her life she knew without a shadow of a doubt that the prevailing view that blacks are genetically inferior is false. She noted that working inside the belly of the beast had allowed her watch every economic strata of white life, and she easily outlines what black people should expect from each group.

A white woman who worked with black people bemoaned the "Negro sense of entitlement" that was obvious in blacks' angry push to have every wrong against them righted immediately, instead of waiting their turn like every other mistreated immigrant group in America had once done.


A black man in 1960s California (where some of the interviews took place) notes that the belief by blacks there that their lives are so much better than Negroes in the South is clear evidence of how low the bar has been set for black happiness.

It’s an interesting read.

Like many black people, I've spent much of my life observing white people. My current career as a journalist has given me even more time to watch and learn, both in person and from afar through the accounts of others.

My vantage point has confirmed that blacks and whites often occupy different worlds, each with its own set of rules, norms and assumptions. The worlds overlap now more than they ever have, but they are still obviously separate. Too often, blacks and whites are seeking to solve complex, enduring problems in this country while speaking a different language born of different accepted realities.

Clay Davis' case was a clear example of that. It was obvious to me that Davis got off because he and his lawyer tapped into the common experiences of the jurors; the sense that the deck is stacked against them and that they are too often targeted to be examples in a world filled with corruption.

Combining "aw shucks" diction with believable lies, Davis was able to create the feeling in the jurors' minds that his prosecution was an off-shoot of their persecutions. That he was suffering as their proxy because he deigned to aid them outside of the rules accepted by white society.

He was lying through his teeth, but that lie sounded good to a certain group of folks.

And, understandably, the white reporter at the paper just didn't get it. In that reporter’s world when logic and facts are trotted out they should always trump emotion. When someone is clearly guilty now it overrides any perceived or real past persecutions. To the reporter, the case at hand was the case at hand, and the truth was the truth.

That's also a lie, but it's a comforting one for many people.

The truth is that in the world of Clay Davis and the jurors, Davis' guilt was an unfortunate and unimportant barrier in an attempt to right past wrongs.

The truth is that dealing with present injustice and corruption may make life simpler for the state's attorney and the most reporters but it doesn't really involve justice or truth. Nor does it solve the core problems created in the past that so prominently affect the present.

Justice, corruption, guilt and innocence are all concepts whose meaningd are usually determined by the world an individual occupies.

And we all live in different worlds.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Smell.....

Pussy.

Well, I don't, but apparently Mark Halperin does.

Homie said that John Edwards, he of the $400 press and curl, thinks Obama needs to check his panties. Apparently, Edwards would support Obama as the nominee if only Obama didn't act like such a punk.

I guess I gotta change my slogan to Hoes before Hoes now.

But, if Hillary could milk the media accusing her of pimping out Chelsea to the highest donor, uhhh I mean voter, for a bunch of sympathy, than Obama has got to have some traction with this one.

I mean, like the cats over at Too Sense said, if Halperin can make this type of statement and keep his job what's next?

What exactly constitutes a firing offense if you're a white dude? Does he have to call Obama a nigger on air?


Anyway, with this challenge I wonder if Obama is going to have bare-knuckle box with somebody?

Cause I think the O-man might have some hands thanks to his well-publicized stint in that para-military, Muslim training school in Indonesia.

Wait, that didn't happen?

Well Obama was a drug dealer, right? So he should be able to handle his business on any punk cowards that jump stupid.

That's wrong too?

Damn, Obama sure has a lot of negative, aggressive black male stereotypes attached to him for somebody who is supposed to be a punk.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

You Fat Bastard

With Shaquille O'Neal getting ready to make his debut as a Phoenix Sun, and bring the Showtime Lakers offense to the desert, I felt like it was time for me to say something.

I'm really starting to dislike Shaq.

I know that's not exactly earth-shattering news considering the fact that the Big Malingerer doesn't even know I draw breath, but I felt it needed to be said.

It's kind of weird disliking Shaq. I've always been amazed at his raw athletic ability, I've chuckled at his funny anecdotes and it's been a firm belief of mine that he's much more intelligent and calculating than sportswriters give him credit for being.

But, Thick-ems is getting on my bad side.

To be honest, he crossed over to the bad side a few years back when he hooked up with D-Wade after pouting his way out of La La Land. See, right after O'Neal latched on to Wade, he gave one of the funniest and most memorable quotes of all-time.

When asked by reporters how his relationship with Wade was going to be different from failed pairings with Penny and Kobe, Shaq compared the trio to the Corleone brothers from the Godfather. Kobe was the uber-aggressive Sonny; hotheaded and unable to compromise. Penny was the spineless Fredo; constantly seeking validation and willing to betray his own brother to get it. And Wade was Michael.

It was a great quote. I'm sure every reporter within earshot chuckled at O'Neal's comments and couldn't wait to add that nugget to their copy. It had the ring of truth to it, although his comment about the vastly underrated Penny did make me mutter one "aww, that ain't right" at the time.

But, now I view that comment much differently. Looking back, it seems much more egregious that Shaq would assign Penny the role of Fredo. Anyone familiar with the Godfather knows exactly how despicable and fragile a character Fredo was. It seems ridiculous that O'Neal would bestow this label on Penny considering Shaq was the one who was too egotistical to share the spotlight with Anfernee, not the other way around. It's a slick reversal of roles, a quick zig zag that easily threw the media pack off the true trail.

O'Neal's labeling of Kobe raises the same questions. Was Kobe really the hot-headed one on those championship Lakers teams? After all, Kobe wasn't the one directing outbursts of profanity towards his boss, or petulantly pouting in the off-season to make a point about his touches. Kobe may have developed some of those characteristics later, but in the beginning it was Shaq who was making grandiose statements to the media about his own greatness, quietly denigrating Kobe in private and then calling him his "little brother" in public.

More importantly, by using that Godfather analogy Shaq placed himself in a position of judgment. He positioned himself as Vito Corleone, the powerful and intelligent Don quietly pulling the strings while his sons find their way. He made it clear that while his skill set may be diminishing, he still calls the shots on any team he plays on.

Recently, Bill Walton accused Shaq of faking an injury so that he could force his way out of Miami due to the Heat's putrid record. As is his wont, Shaq responded with a pithy comment that both belittled Walton's career and reinforced the notion of Shaq's greatness.

It was a masterful stroke by a public relations legend, and it moved the national conversation away from an in-depth analysis of Walton's comments, to a debate about whether Walton had an over-inflated view of his own career. Shaq followed that up by telling reporters that he was looking forward to playing with Steve Nash because he hadn't had an easy shot in six years.

Both incidents only verified my earlier suspicions about O'Neal.

There is no doubt that Shaq is one of the most talented and dominant centers to ever play the game. He is a proven winner and in his prime was the type of player that GMs sacrifice babies to acquire. Yet, despite all those amazing gifts he still seems to lack empathy, and displays an unwillingness to subjugate his ego for any team concept.

So, even if Shaq becomes Kareem and the Suns win a championship, my feelings of Shaq have changed forever. See, I've finally figured something out.

The fat bastard seems to play on a team of one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ooh, That's Some Good Hope

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when desire cometh it is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12


Hope has been everywhere these past few months.

On television, in print and all across the internet. Barack Obama's campaign for president has made the politics of hope and change more popular than Dave Chappelle's once ubiquitous catchphrase about the powers of cocaine.

Hope is one helluva drug.

The insane popularity of the big "H" has drawn the ire of cynical political analysts across the political spectrum. Obama supporters have been labeled crackpots, naive losers and loony members of a cult more ridiculous than Scientology. Mr. O-tastic has been called a dream peddler; critics claim he's propped up by an abundant cache of charisma and ill-equipped to handle the rigors of governing.

Yet people can't seem to resist taking that first hit of "H".

It starts off small, typically by an opening of your mind to the possibility that in an America still corrupted by racism a black man as president isn't an impossibility. Then your friends start calling you when O-tastic is speaking on television and you sneak a quick taste of his uplifting oratory just to tide you over through another drudgery-filled day at work.

Pretty soon you're mainlining the "H."

Will.I.Am's video is constantly playing on your laptop, Obama's website is your homepage and you're camping out in front of some random assembly hall because O-tastic is slated to pop in to deliver the good stuff. You only watch CNN the night of primaries because you know you're going to be sick if Obama doesn't give a victory speech. When he does finally grab the mike, you feel a quick rush and then smooth relaxation as he unleashes that old school Baptist preacher cadence.

You're hooked on the "H."

Your upper crust friends tell you that you've changed, that they have never seen you like this. You're scaring them with your insistence that they've never felt anything like Obama, that they've never been inspired until they get a hit of his inspiration.

Like so many "H" junkies across the country you bristle at the mere suggestion that this relationship with hope is a bad thing. You calmly tell those self-proclaimed do-gooders that you aren't caught up, that you can fall back into your cynical outsider’s view of the world anytime you get ready. This only something you do for fun, you don't really need it.

You're a liar.

Hope is becoming your life. It's slowly consuming everything you do. And Obama's daily delivery of your increasingly important fix is the highlight of your day. You know that hope is what is truly important, you know that following it with a change chaser is the only way to live. You feel it in your bones every time you take another hit that this is the way the world is supposed to be.

Obama just better not lose because withdrawal is a motherfucker.

(Cats jacking my idea, like this fool. However, he clearly did not see hope as a good thing.)

That Damn Tightrope

One of the most well-known cliches in the world is that life is a balancing act.

Do I buy that new video game, or put that $60 in savings?
Is it worth winning this argument with the Little Women if it means I'll be going to sleep horny and unhappy for a week?
If being fat is so bad, why do donuts taste so good?

Life is full of compromises. Very few people live their lives without having to balance several competing interests.

That's especially true if you're black.

It goes beyond the simple decision of whether to buy that daily latte or save for that nice vacation. No, in this country, being black means balancing how much of your true feelings and beliefs can be revealed against just how far you want to progress. It means deciding just how often you can keep it real before things go horribly wrong.

Obama knows all about this high-wire act.

That story does a decent job of outlining the nifty footwork Obama has used in navigating America's racial minefield. It's clear that he and his staff have spent some time examining the electorate and know which buttons must be pushed to be successful. The story falls short in giving context about why the racial divide in this country exists or in explaining the mindsets behind different ethnic groups. While the writers were clearly trying to write an analysis piece, they seemed to shy away from truly analyzing the most important issue:

Why does a black man have to be a circus performer to achieve any power in this country?

The simple answer is that there are only 36 million black folks in a country of 300 million people. Simple mathematics tells you that if Obama wants to achieve far-reaching power in this country he can't limit his appeal to a small piece of the pie. He can't be the black president.

Bill Cosby understood this and that's why his fictional television family rarely confronted the issues that most blacks during that time period faced. Tiger Woods knows that it's hard to hawk Buicks if white people think you're too sensitive about the whole "lynching thing."

Shit, every black person involved in mainstream America understands how the game is played and knows that to accomplish anything within the current power structure you need to build coalitions with white folks. Most of us give our own personal performances under the Big Top everyday and we know that we're one false step away from splat.

But, it's what is beyond the simple numbers answer that intrigues me. The truth is, while black folks like Obama and others are tiptoeing across a narrow wire to their destination, white folks often get to run flat-footed on the ground to where they want to go.

See, nobody likes to think that they got where they are today because they had an unfair advantage. Everybody loves to believe in the meritocracy myth that is America. White folks in particular seem to have some sort of visceral reaction to the notion that they have a headstart when it comes to achieving the American dream. Any suggestion that this is the case is sure to provoke eye rolls and comments about black people's love affair with victimhood.

But, that's all bullshit, and I think deep down inside Obama has to know that.

He has to see how he's been forced to verify his racial authenticity in a way that no white president has ever had to do. He has to wonder why his overwhelming support among black people is deemed a negative despite the fact that no white president has ever been elected without the overwhelming support of white people.
Obama has to resent having to divorce himself from his main spiritual adviser because that pastor's views don't coincide with mainstream values. He can't be happy having to let the Clintons and their surrogates take potshots at him and other blacks because the one thing he can't be labeled as is the "angry black man."

He has to see the gaping abyss beneath the tightrope he's walking.

Just don't fall.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Am I a Hater?

That's a question I've begun to ask myself during the race for the Democratic nomination.

I'm on record with several of my friends and the Little Woman as despising Hillary so much that I may stay home on Election Day if she is the nominee. Hell, I've even discussed a vote for a Republican or independent candidate.

I've been turned off by the Clinton's arrogance, their underhandedness and the dumb Negroes on their bandwagon. Voting for Hillary Clinton doesn't make someone a bad person, but voting for Clinton while questioning whether Obama is really a brotha pisses me off.

But then I checked out this .

Damn, now I feel a little bad.

This article made me wonder if my man crush on Obama has forced me down a path of irrational behavior. This companion piece raised the same issues. I don't agree with every point raised in these articles, but I could see enough truth to make me wonder.

In my condemnation of Hillary and Bill's appeals to racism had I crossed a line? In my rush to label them as representatives of all that is wrong with the politics of white America had I lost sight of my own moral compass?

See, the other day I had a convo with my best friend. He too has come to despise Hillary and has already been pressuring his family to withhold their votes if she is the nominee. However, my friend's hatred of Hillary manifests itself in a peculiar way. When he speaks of her, he often refers to her as a bitch. .

For those wondering, that's not a good thing.

Let's get this straight; I've been known to call a woman a bitch when I'm angry. Hell, I've even lobbed that word at the television when Hillary has pissed me off. I'm far from an angel, and my chauvinistic streak runs deep. In both good and bad ways I tend to be old school when it comes to women.

But, as I told my friend, I've decided that it's wrong to call Hillary by that slur. Because that's what that word is, a slur.

Men only call a woman a bitch when we want to lash out at the most basic level, when we want to hurt a woman at her core. It's like calling a homosexual a fag or a black man a nigger. It's the one word that hurts instantly. The type of word that is meant to cut quickly and deeply with the minimum expenditure of effort.

A "switchblade slur."

And I've decided I'm better than that. I believe my friend is better than that. As a black man, I understand the power of verbal hatred; I understand exactly how much words can hurt.

Despite her myriad flaws, Hillary Clinton deserves respect as a human. She deserves respect as a woman. I can learn to vehemently dislike her and what she represents without crossing the lines of decency.

I've been a hater, now I'm trying to change.

UPDATE: I'm wavering on my promise to change after reading this.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Well That's Mighty White of You

Unlike most of The Wire's dedicated viewing public, I've never been enamored with Detective Jimmy McNulty

Some people love his compulsion to speak truth to power and his unrelenting focus on making the Baltimore Police Department live up to its ideals.

I don't.

Not because those are bad qualities, but because of the way "McNutty" (shout out to Bubbs) accomplishes his goals.

He's arrogant, he's unreliable and he's selfish. Not only is it clear in how he conducts himself in his private life, but in how he interacts with his fellow police officers. He doesn't consider the world from any point of view but his own, he always believes that his priorities are the only important ones.

That's mighty white of him.

On the latest episode of The Wire it's clear Jimmy boy feels his ill-planned scheme to create a fake serial killer is falling apart. So of course, a stand up "po-leese" like Jimmy acknowledges his eff ups and tries to figure out another way to attack the problem.

Nope.

Instead, Jimmy lashes out at Lester Freamon, the only other police officer to be completely involved in his harebrained scheme. He blames Lester because the investigation isn't moving fast enough; he blames Lester for misleading him about how much manpower would be needed to capture Marlo. He even has the nerve to call Lester a "supervisor's nightmare."

Wow.

Never once does he acknowledge that maybe his whole plan was just stupid, never once does he assume responsibility for miscalculating what the police department's response would be to his increasingly perverted serial killer.

Sound familiar?

I know it did to me. Ever time I watch Jimmy in action I'm reminded of the amazing arrogance of many white people. In many different situations in my life I've come face to face with that very arrogance. Personally, I attribute this to the white privilege that is prevalent in every aspect of American society.

And it made me think about the race for the Democratic nomination.

It's clear in how Billary and their surrogates have handled the challenge by Obama that they are firm believers in white privilege. Their reaction to his increasingly viable run for the Democratic nomination has been steeped in a belief that they are entitled to eight more years in the White House just because they want it.

When the Clintons accused Obama of playing the race card after they tried to use his race to scare off white voters, it was arrogance. When they trotted out Negro leader after Negro leader to question Obama's blackness, it was arrogance. Bill's quip about Jesse Jackson after Obama's South Carolina primary win, and Hillary's chiding of Obama for failing to shake her hand before the State of the Union address demonstrated that arrogance.

The Clintons operate under the belief that when they want something, the world should shape itself to that desire. There are no rules that apply to them, no other concerns that are more important than their own. No one is justfied in calling them on their bullshit. No one has the moral authority to question anything they do.

Just like Jimmy.

That's mighty white of them.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Quick Question

OK

You're a muli-millionaire under 30. You're probably going to retire from your day job before 35 and have the rest of your life to live off of the earnings you've made.


Do you think it's important for you to be registered to vote?


Answer: Not if you're the typical NFl or NBA player.

No Bullshit

That is effing sad. I mean, seriously, you're a multi-millionaire and you don't think it's important for you to be involved in the politcal process?

I now pronounce you a dumbass.

See, if you were poor, that sort of apathy would be understandable. I wouldn't agree with it, but I could understand it. After all, poverty tends to create a situation where people are less likely to be concerned about nebulous concepts like freedom and justice, and more concerned with things like rent and light bills. At the bottom of the barrel you tend to believe less in the American Dream, which means you often don't see the point in voting.

I get that.

But, if you make millions of dollars playing a child's game you have no excuse for not being politically active and involved. You have the disposable income and time to learn about the political process. You are benefiting from the American capitalist system.

Most importantly, as a rich person you have political clout.

And you're not even registered to vote?

Dumbass

I like athletes. I used to be one in high school. Typically, I defend them and shy away from making sweeping comments about them. But, damn, this is off the charts.

I can't fathom having access to the same sort of resources they can access and then completely divorcing myself from the process that can provide access to those resources to others. That's a complete betrayal of the communities many athletes grew up in.

It's not enough to roll with the homies, to fund a youth team or go read at the neighborhood school. Sweeping change in this country only occurs when the political system is pushed into it. And, money is what does the pushing these days.

And millionaire athletes aren't even registered to vote.

What it means to lack history

I don't know the names of my great grandparents.

My mother and father probably know their names, but I haven't bothered to write them down. I know very few of my distant cousins by name and really don't have many ties to family members beyond my aunts and uncles.

Wednesday night, this made me sad.

I watched Dr. Henry Louis Gates take several black celebrities through the histories of their families on PBS's African American Lives 2 .

Chris Rock learned that one of his distant relatives was a Union soldier, one of South Carolina's first black legislators and, ultimately because of white racism, a sharecropper. I watched Rock grapple with the idea that his ancestors were people of substance, and then come to the conclusion that if he had known this as a child he might have lived a different life.

Don Cheadle learned that his family was owned by Native Americans and for 30 years lived without being citizens of any country before finally receiving 40 acres of land for their trouble. Cheadle clearly struggled with the idea that his family was enslaved by the same Native Americans who watched their race nearly exterminated by white America.

Obviously, it was a powerful show.

My father watched it with me. He's been urging me to contact Gate's company about getting our own genealogy traced. Through his company, Gates can trace your genealogy back to slavery and then use DNA testing to determine which part of Africa you came from.

It's an enticing offer for nearly $900.

My family has never really been big on history. I know that my maternal great grandfather managed to acquire roughly 150 acres of land in Mississippi before he died and left it to be divided among his children. I know that further back on my mother's side there is an Irish family waiting because of her very Irish maiden name.

But, I really don't know much.

I don't know the true arc of my ancestor's lives. I have very little information about the scope of their character.

It diminishes me.

It strips me of a very valuable sense of pride, a very important feeling of accomplishment.

Tina Turner learned through the show that the very school she attended as a child in Nutbush, Tenn. was built on land once sold at a discount by one of her relatives. All those years, and she never knew what her ancestor had accomplished.

I understand her ignorance. Like most of us, I've gotten caught up in the here and now. The daily demands of life easily strip of us of the impetus to seek information about our past.

But that must change in my life. I will learn more about those who preceded me. Those black men and women who lived through this country's most troubling and dangerous times.

My history will empower me.

He's here, he's here!

Yep, Mr. O-tastic has touched down.

Let the party begin.

Obama's in town here in the Big Easy, and he's drawing his usual fervent crowd over at Tulane University. I'm not in attendance because I have a job. Bills before hope if you know what I mean.

Anyway, one of my co-workers just suggested we cut work and check out O-tastic's speech. I must admit, I considered it for a hot second, but then I realized that it wasn't that important for me to see O-tastic in person. After all, I already know he's getting my vote Saturday, and I've probably heard the speech he is going to give on television before.

But, my friend's suggestion got me to thinking, who would I cut work to go here talk?

When I was younger it might have been Michael Jordan because before I really learned about his ridiculously bad record on black issues I was a MJ fan for real. Now, I wouldn't even care if he was in town.

I would be psyched if Nelson Mandela was in town, but I doubt if I would use a vacation day or sick day to check him out.

In fact, the only person I would probably cut work for would by Jesus Christ himself. I mean, if the Son of God touched down, well the plantation would have to wait.

But, the funny thing is, I don't even like work that much. So, my reluctance to leave work isn't some sort of loyalty thing, it's more like an "ehhh, I can save that day off for something else" kind of thing.

Unfortunately, that's the kind of person I am. I know I should get more excited about things like Obama, but sometimes it's hard for me to muster the energy. Truthfully, I want the brother to win, but I ain't standing in line to hear him speak. Since my days at an HBCU I've learned to avoid lines as much as possible.

Anyway, who out there in blog land would have bit the bullet and stood in line for O-tastic? And if not for him, then who would you stand in line to hear speak?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Relief

That's all I feel right now.


Relief that Obama kept things close and by some measures even won on Super Tuesday.

See, I have this problem. I always, always suspect that the worst possible outcome is the one that is going to happen. In addition, while I'm expecting that outcome to occur, I can't stand to actually watch it happen.

Let me explain.

When I watch a movie or reality television, I'm always expecting something bad to happen to the main characters or a character that I like. I foresee all the ways everything could go wrong and even comment on them to people who are watching the movie or show with me. (No, this does not make me popular, go figure.)

The thing is, although I'm a pessimist, I still can't bear to watch bad things happen to characters I have a vested interest in. I don't want to see them embarrassed, or hurt, or whatever. So, right at the climatic moment that everyone has waited for, I have a tendency to change the channel. That's right, just when the best moment comes, I flip over to a commercial or random basketball game. Then I flip back when I think the moment has passed.

I know, I have issues.

Anyway, that tendency caused some serious problems in my house last night. Both Big Man and his Little Woman love them some Obama. I don't personally agree with everything he says, but I ride hard for my Southside homie.

The Little Woman is even more in love with Obama, to the point where she will watch hours of dry ass news programs to hear news about how he is doing or listen to folks talk about him. Like, she actually watches all those dumbass CNN and MSNBC shows where the hosts are prattling on and on about their opinions, and then she gets all heated and wants to discuss how unfair those opinions are with me. I only watch the hard news shows occasionally, since I prefer to get my news in written form.

So last night, while the O man was pulling off his stunning upset, (That's what I'm calling it), we damn near came to blows cause the little woman wanted to stare at those stupid graphics on CNN while I keep flipping back and forth between some random reality show about meter maids in Philly and the Animal Planet's special on African crocs.

I swear she almost cut me. Seriously, there was one point where I thought I saw her whispering evil comments about me to the Little Big Man, and then it looked like she was teaching him how to give me the bird. I tried to give her a good night kiss a little later and I had to step back cause I thought she was going to spit on me. LOL.

But, what she didn't realize, was that I wasn't refusing to watch the news cause I was being truculent, but because I was being a punk. Seriously, I was worried that Obama was going to get his black ass beat like he stole something and the idea of watching all my hopes go up in flames sickened me.

But, it appears I was wrong. Obama had a great showing. He shocked many observers by winning states where they gave him no chance and by even getting a few of our brown brothers to get down on his team. Hola Obamito.

So, my irrational fear was unjustified, and I'm fairly pleased today. Now, I just have to figure out how to get back on the Little Woman's good side so I don't get frozen out for the rest of the week. My married folks know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Evolution of an Iverson

I'm a serious hoop fan.

My boys and I argue about it constantly, the League Pass is always on in my crib and my sports-hating wife now understands the basics of the pick and roll.

The NBA is my favorite form of televised entertainment and Allen Iverson is the one player I can always watch. Doesn't matter what team he's on, if he's playing, I'm trying to watch.

As a diehard and longtime Iverson fan, I've studied his game since his first wild forays into the land of the giants at Georgetown. I've watched him create a brand new basketball move that has since been co-opted by every aspiring hoopster, and seen him grow from an out of control rookie to seasoned vet.

And what I've come to realize is that people don't give him enough credit for his intelligence.

The media, and thus the fans, love to discuss Iverson's quickness or toughness. They praise his aggressive nature and his penchant for playing long minutes at full speed. But, I've heard him called smart less than five times by an announcer or other media type.

That bothers me.

I mean, I watched his game evolve. You know that mid range jumper he now unleashes on smaller guards in the lane? He didn't have that when he first came into the league.

That constantly probing technique he now uses on the perimeter that's all change of pace and angles, that's some new ish. When he came to league his only speed was flat out and he used that every time he touched the ball.

Seriously, the league actually took away his most famous move, that incredible leaning, embarrassing crossover, and Iverson never stopped clicking. Who else can say that?

We hear about the intelligence and craftiness of Steve Nash, but he and Iverson came into the league at the same time, and it's Iverson's game that has evolved the most over the years, not Nash's. So why doesn't AI get credit for his brain? Why are people still so focused on his incredible physical skills?

I think it's because that's how we're trained to discuss certain athletes, particularly athletic black players. The mere existence of their outrageous physical talent tends to obscure the intelligence they display every time they step on the court.

I mean, we hear about just how amazing a talent Kobe Bryant is, but how often do people discuss that he might have the largest reservoir of basketball knowledge of any player in the league. Kobe is unparalleled as a student of the game; he breathes basketball and sweats it from every pore. Yet, announcers and media types spend much more time oohing and ahhhing at his highlight reel dunks, then discussing the perfect way he uses post footwork to create spacing.

It's the same for Iverson. He's not a great defender, but you could teach a class on the way he constantly plays the passing lanes. And it's not just lurking on the weak side; every move Iverson makes on the defensive side of the court is designed to disrupt his opponents’ attempts to move the ball. The way he shades the pick and roll, how he sinks on the post, Iverson has many flaws as a defender but he forces offenses to account for him on every play or pay the price.

The focus on the talent of certain players and not their brains contributes to society's tendency to devalue the intelligence of athletes and to treat them with a barely contained disdain. Truthfully, many of them struggle to properly conjugate a verb or have a shocking lack of knowledge about the outside world, but in their chosen profession many of them have the same level of expertise as well-respected scholars in the academic world.

The fact is athletes are not idiots, they just have a very limited area of expertise. We as a society need to give them more credit for that, considering how much importance we put on the sports they play. And, we need to appreciate the genius of Allen Iverson.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Patriots are Dead. Long Live the Patriots.

Ahhh, the sweet smell of crushed dreams.

Pungent, isn't it.

Anyway, most of the world is still talking about the Patriots catching an L. I really don't care. I just used them in the title to hopefully draw some folks in.

Because, the Patriots loss wasn't as shocking as something else that happened in tv land yesterday. For the first time in five years, I saw fear on the face of Omar Little.

Wire fans knwo what I'm talking about, you couldn't miss it. Hidden behind a flimsy couch, scurrying from side to side while Marlo's three best henchmen pumped bullets into his cover, Omar stared death in the face. And, for a second, the world's most well-known homo-thug blinked.

That was powerful to me.

I mean, the appeal of Omar is that he never gets shook. He might get a little worried, he might be flustered, shit he might even cry, but Omar lives his life like Bonecrusher's one big hit. Neva scared.

So, to see him fully engulfed in fear, completely and totally aware of his impending death, well, that was a huge moment for me. Not because I was worried he might die, after all, I knew the scene where he blows up the truck in the opening credits hadn't yet happened, so I figured he was getting out alive.

But, I still enjoyed watching him wonder if he was going to get out alive. I enjoyed watching Omar realize that he wasn't the baddest, smartest thing on the streets and I enjoyed watching him regroup and commit a truly desparate act. That made him even more human because who among us has not made a desparate choice in the face of unyielding odds? Who hasn't taken that one scary plunge, because the alternative was so much worse? At that moment, Omar became more real to me than he's ever been.

But, then he had to turn into effing black Superman. Who the eff knew Omar possessed super powers? The writers better have a damn good explanation for his miracle leap, or I am going to be super pissed. I'm betting that he somehow managed to grab on to one of the other balconies, but who knows?

Aside from the improbable and memorable Omar scene, the best scene for me was Dukie's convo with Cutty. That convo totally encapsulated The Wire's basic premise about life on the street. Like TI said, they don't call it "trapping" for nothing.

When Dukie asked how he could get from the world he's in to the larger world where his skills would be appreciated, well, I think ever Wire viewer knew that he was doomed. Unless Bunny Colvin has a hankering to save another kid, Dukie is dead meat.

Anyway, I spent the entire fourth quarter of Super Bowl watching The Wire, so I have no thoughts on Eli's heroics. But in my mind, somebody on defense needed to be the MVP. The Giants' defense won that game, they deserved some recognition.

Raving Black Lunatic