Thursday, July 31, 2008

Just Passing Along Some Info

Pssst...

You there, come here for a second.

Little closer to the monitor if you don't mind.

That's good.

Wait, back up just a tad. You need a mint.

Ok, I have something to tell you that may shock you. It's a bit of information that I've stumbled across at several locations across the blogosphere. Some of you may have even seen it yourselves and just didn't realize how important it was.

Here we go...

Senator Barack Obama is...

A Politician!

Yep, he is. In fact, that's why his title is Senator. He actually had to win a political campaign in Illinois to get that title so that makes him a politician. Plus, he's running for the most powerful political position in this country, President, so I'm pretty confident that this tidbit is accurate.

I felt it was important that I let you all know this because apparently many people on these here internets think that supporters of Barack Obama are unaware that he is a politician. I guess they think we're so enthralled with his purple lips, stick figure and effete ways that we never took the time to figure out that he was actually elected into his current job.

We Obama supporters can be so dense.

Typically, folks try to educate Obama supporters about his political status when they are criticizing him. You know, like when he caught flak for his FISA vote, or his Father's Day speech, or even his recent prayer that was revealed to the masses. Obama critics find all of these issues direct proof that Obama is a politician no matter how many screaming, swooning people he attracts to his political rallies.

I respect people who criticize Obama. It's good to question folks in power, particularly someone who has been making the promises that Obama has been making. But, I must admit that it can become tiresome to be constantly told how ignorant and naive I am for supporting a politician who is running for President.

Who the hell else runs for President?

Last time I checked, every president ever elected in the history of America was a *gulp* politician. (Well maybe not George Washington. He was just a slave-owning, former traitor.) You don't get to be the figurehead of America if you don't play the political game. I'm not sure why Obama's critics think it's so significant that he's a politician, but I'd love to hear them explain why they assume that the rest of us aren't aware of that fact.

My opinion is that you can be a politician without being just like every other politician. Dennis Kucinich is a politician. But, that cat sees UFOs, wants to impeach President Bush and wouldn't kill an ant at a barbecue. He's a politician, but he's clearly not typical.

I'm not saying that Obama is as unique as Dennis, but Barry does seem to have something special about him. Maybe I'm projecting, but I don't think I am. I think Obama will be a competent, caring president who will help this country recover from the eight years of hell that are the Bush legacy. Along with not being as ignorant as his predecessors about race relations, that's all I expect from Obama.

That's it.

A politician can do that.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

They Just Don't Know

Have y'all every had one of those conversations with somebody?

Y'all know what I'm talking about. You're vociferously explaining your version of the truth. Facts are flying off your tongue, you've even brought statistics and visual aides. After hours of discussion it seems like you're finally making headway, it appears that your point-of-view is getting through. And then they hit you with it:

"I don't know. I just don't get it. What's the big deal?"

I've typically had this happen when talking about racism and the impact of America's past on black people's present. These conversations always seem promising when I begin them; the white person I'm talking to says they're really interested in learning and hearing a new point-of-view. Yet, as our discussion goes on, it becomes clear that the person I'm speaking to is woefully ignorant about some basic historical facts, and their impact on the present.

I thought about those types of conversations when I read this essay published by the New York Times. The essay discusses the shameful history of the American Medical Association and how it not only barred black doctors from membership, but actively worked to limit the medical care available to African Americans. Only after intense pressure did the group change some of its practices, and it recently apologized for its past behavior.

(Sidenote: I'm torn about people or organizations apologizing for stuff in the past. In cases like the one with the AMA it sheds light on something I would have never been aware of, so that's a good thing. But, I recently read about Congress considering an apology for slavery and Jim Crow. That seemed fairly stupid. I would prefer if folks saved their apologies and instead admitted the far-reaching effects of both of those periods in American life, and came up with equitable solutions to the problems black people face today because of them.)

When I read about the AMA, it made me think of all the times I've tried to explain to folks just how all-encompassing racism and discrimination once were. Today they are both still massive problems, but they are nothing compared to way things were when our ancestors were trying to live their lives.

It was standard practice to refuse black people care at hospitals simply because they were black. They just let them die in the streets or in their homes. Very few doctors thought this was cruel, in fact, most folks seemed to think this was the natural order of life.

That was a shock to me and I never put anything past a racist. But, if somebody as race-consumed as myself was surprised at how pervasive discrimination was in this society, can you imagine the shock that news would provide to a white person who never really thinks about race? It would be like learning your mom was really a man who adopted you as an infant after having a sex change; your brain would literally shut down.

I think that's what happens to many folks of all races when it comes time to have discussions about race. Because some of the things discussed are so hard to believe and accept, people just shut down their brains and refuse to think. Instead they minimize the problem, or attempt to change the subject to something more palatable. Anything to avoid having to confront the unthinkable.

It's a pretty normal reaction when you think about it. Very few people like having their world view shaken to the core. Most of us have decided which reality we want to live in, and anything that endangers that reality is quickly dismissed. So, we wallow in ignorance.

The only problem is that ignorance affects other people. These revelations about the AMA lend credence to studies that have found that black people often receive substandard healthcare. They provide context for many of the ongoing chronic illnesses that black people struggle with. Like most information about past discrimination, people who take the time to educate themselves about the actions of the AMA would learn about one more way black people were denied opportunity in this country. It would force them to reconsider the idea that America is a true meritocracy.

People may be ignorant, but they don't have to stay that way.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An Open Letter to "You People."

To the Black people of America
Black People Land
United States



Dear Negroes


I'm not sure exactly if I should use that word, but most of the history books I've read use it at times, and I want this to be factual. My name is Eton Binderhurst IV, and I am formally applying for my "magical white boy" pass.

As you all may know, I have been a friend of black people for years. It began in elementary school when I befriended the only black kid in my Sixth Grade class and invited him to play basketball with us at lunch so he would be welcome. I even explained to my other friends that he was cool to hang out with and not angry or mean at all. I really liked that black kid. He had this cool wavy hair that was great to touch and much nicer than my normal, straight brown hair.

In high school, I played on the football team with several African Americans. I would even offer to tutor some of them in the off season so they could stay eligible, but none of them had rides to the library. Instead, they wanted me to come to their neighborhoods. I didn't have a problem with going to their 'hoods, but my mom would have worried about the car.

In college, I dated a black girl because I wanted everyone to know that color wasn't important. Initially, it didn't seem like our relationships would work, (she got really angry when I told her that Ashley didn't seem like a black name), but together we got past her bitterness towards white people and really connected. She even came home for Christmas one year, but that just turned into another fight when I introduced her as "my friend from school." I explained to her that my grandparents could sometimes be a little racist and that's why I didn't call her my girlfriend, but she got all "angry" and whatnot. Eventually, it was too much work trying to figure out where she was coming from and we just broke up.

Now, I consider myself a stridently colorblind and open-minded white guy with a great love and appreciation for black culture. I've seen Friday more times than any white guy I know, plus I still have a framed picture of Martin Luther King Jr. in my bathroom. Of course I'm supporting Obama, and I really think he will move us past all the racial divisions in this country.

All these factors are why I think I deserve a "magical white boy" pass. See, too often conversations between blacks and whites get derailed because black people take offense at statements that are based in the reality of being white. People claim that want to have open, honest discussions, but as soon as you bring up the need to make Affirmative Action class-oriented, or ask why black people don't like education, the whole exercise turns into another round of whitey bashing.

Now, I know that black people have a special connection to each other, a special bond that allows them think and act in unison at times. How else can you explain their love of gangsta rap and sagging pants? I also know that there are certain white people who can say just about anything to their black friends without repercussions. Consequently, I know that there must be some sort of special pass that allows white people this ability, and I would respectfully request one.

Look, I have tons of black friends. I'm always talking to the black guy, Leroy I think, who sits in the cubicle across from mine at work. And the black lady at the sandwich shop in our building, I forget her name, she and I always talk about the weather and my ties. That doesn't even count my black neighbor that lives a few doors down in my condo building, or Ashley from college who I still talk to on Facebook.

I think I can be the white person that bridges the gap between blacks and whites if I'm allowed to speak honestly and openly without having to worry about being called a racist. Honestly, black people use that word way too much from what I've seen. Many of the white people they consider racist don't seem racist to me at all, and I think this hurts black people when real racism rears its head. Look at the Duke Lacrosse case.

The pass would allow me to use words like "nigger" or phrases like "you people" without having to worry about the racism police locking me up. Seriously, you people really need to stop being so uptight the word nigger when white people say it. Words only have power if you let them have power, plus, black rappers and comedians say nigger all the time. It makes no sense that some people can say nigger and other people can't. No other group does stuff like that.

That's another thing. Black people need a white guy like me breaking the ice with other white people because honestly blacks do a poor job of making white people comfortabtle around them. Have any of you ever had to go to club where you were the only white face and deal with being called "white boy" or have all the girls laugh at you when you want them to dance? That's really not cool.

I also think that with a "magical white boy" pass, I can eliminate some of the damage black leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have done. These guys make it so hard for black people. There are always just waiting to swoop down on some perceived racism; it's just sickening.

In closing, I appreciate the opportunity to present my application to you all for your consideration. I know that black people have had some problems in the past, but I think this is a great way to start taking personal responsibility and solving them. By granting my request, black people would be showing that they are finally ready to have real discussions about race, and they are willing to listen to what white people feel.


Sincerely


Eton Binderhurst IV
Progressive Liberal

Monday, July 28, 2008

When I Talk To God

We don't talk as frequently as we should.

Nor, do I spend as much time on the conversation as I spend on playing video games on my Playstation 3.

But, when we talk, it means something to me.

I've gone from a rote recital of the prayers handed down to me by my parents, to actually talking to God about what's on my heart. I've cried in prayer, I've laughed too. Revelations have come to me on my knees in my bedroom, or driving in my car.

My conversations with God often sustain me and remind me of what my purpose is.

But, most importantly, my conversations with God are private. Nobody has to know what I reveal to him. Nobody has to know what burdens and evil I carry in my heart. I can let all things spill forth from my mind to his ear, and only he will hear them.

Only him.

I can't imagine what if would be like if the whole world was privy to my prayers. If everyone got to analyze what I discussed with my Creator. It's one of the reasons I can't imagine being Barack Obama.

Even his prayers aren't private anymore.

This goes beyond the bounds of acceptable curiosity or press freedom. Some might argue that Obama stuffed a note into a public wall; what type of privacy did he really expect? If he didn't want people looking into his prayer life, he should confine his prayers to his home and leave the public displays of religion to others.

That mindset is insane.

I don't care how public a figure somebody becomes, the general rules of human decency require us to allow them some private space. I can't think of an area more private than your conversations with God. For those who would characterize Obama's visit to The Wailing Wall as just another publicity stunt, I would direct them to read the private missive he wrote to God again.

"Protect my family and me."

"Forgive me my sins and help me guard against pride and despair."

"Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just."

"Make me an instrument of your will."

That is a sincere prayer. That is a prayer someone prays when they know God. Look at him ask God for protection for his family first, before he wonders about his own safety. Look at how he acknowledges his own sins, while asking God to prevent him from rising too high or falling too low. He asks for wisdom and then tells the Lord, "Your will be done."

In my heart, this seems like a genuine request of God. A message left in a place long designated as holy. It wasn't written to gain brownie points, it wasn't created to make the masses love him more. It was written because Obama had something he needed to say to the Lord.

The people who violated this private moment need to spend some more time talking to God themselves.

What I've Seen

I was driving back to the office the other day when I saw the tail end of a police chase.

There were several young black boys, barely teens if that, in handcuffs spreadeagle across the hood of an older Lincoln Towncar.

One of the boys is crying.

I pulled over. I often pull over to watch how officers interact with criminals. This rarely results in a story and I'm sure it doesn't endear me to the cops, but I think it's important that I get a first hand look at how the police do their jobs.

Anyway, these boys are handcuffed standing on the sidewalk or leaning over the cars. I see officers yelling into their faces, roughly pushing them around. I see one boy get slammed into the hood of car. Another boy is put down on his knees, arms cuffed behind his back, and then kicked in the back until he is facedown on the steaming concrete.

One of the boys is still crying.

I watched these police officers. At first they didn't see me, later they did. I apparently am gaining a reputation for being a watcher. I watched one of the boys have some sort of breathing attack. The police handed him an inhaler from a plastic bag recovered from the car. They also went through some pill bottles while questioning an older man in the back of squad car who may have been driving the vehicle that fled.

The crying boy now is out of the sun and is being comforted by the police.

I've seen the police interact with people a lot. I've interacted with them; so have my family and my friends. I've seen enough to know that every accusation of police brutality isn't true and every accusation isn't false.

I've seen enough that this story of police brutality doesn't surprise me at all.

I've seen way too much.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yes, I'm Sensitive...You Are Also An Asshole

Being Black in America is like being a fine maid in Strom Thurmond's house.

You have to keep your head on a swivel if you want to avoid getting fucked.

This reality can make black folks a little jumpy. Having to constantly decode conversations and personal encounters to make sure no hidden racism exists is a challenging job with no benefits. You don't feel better when you find racism. It doesn't improve your life.

In fact, finding racism is a lot like stepping in dog shit.

The smell lingers with you and makes interacting with folks a challenge.

I said all of that because certain white folks love to respond to a black person complaining about racism or racial bias with comments like "You're thinking about it too much." Or, the old favorite, "Stop being so sensitive."

*Sigh*

I'll admit it, I'm sensitive.

My guard is always up. I'm always analyzing people's comments, their facial expressions and their body language. I replay encounters and conversations with folks over and over in my mind trying to glean more facts about individuals' motivations and their goals. I'm constantly searching for the meaning beneath the surface.

This habit means that I tend to attribute certain mindsets to people after speaking with them. I assign people to boxes that allow me to easily process who they are and what type of threat they represent in my life. It's something of a survival tactic in a country where certain white folks love to think of creative ways to screw black people. I believe it keeps me safe and sane.(However, I'm wondering if makes me a bad Christian.)

Some people think it makes me "sensitive."

There are people of all races and both genders who believe that everybody in the world should be ok with them saying whatever they want. These people reference the First Amendment and constantly complain about political correctness. They then label anyone who doesn't agree with their worldview as "sensitive."

I believe these people are assholes.

Assholes are convinced that the shit they spew smells lovely to everyone else. They are convinced that if something doesn't align with their view of the world, well it just can't be real. All of us non-assholes need to consult them before we even entertain the idea of getting upset because we just don't know what's offensive anymore. They're the only ones that know that.

Assholes can tell black people when it's time to get upset about racism. They can tell gay people when something crosses the line into being hateful. They love to tell Muslims what's right and wrong with the Quran. Assholes love to tell everybody else what to think, all while claiming to fight for the right to open discussions and arguments.

Like I said, assholes don't come in only one shade. And assholes can be regular people about a plethora of issues, but turn into assholes instantly when certain topics are discussed. Race is one of those topics, religion is too. But, despite their many different forms assholes are rarely hard to identify.

Just follow the smell of shit.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bitch Please...It's Back!






This smiling brother with the Obama campaign sign is Germany's official Barack Obama impersonator. He's a theater actor who travels around the country pretending to be Barack.

Yep.

Of course this absolutely forces me to ask several questions.

Why does Germany have an "official" Barack Obama impersonator?

What type of gigs does this guy do?

How much does he get paid?

And, most importantly, why doesn't this man look ANYTHING like Barack Obama?

Yep, Germany gets today's "Bitch Please" award.

Speaking Truth To Power

I actually really hate that phrase.

It is trotted out every time someone discusses journalism and I'm pretty tired of hearing it. I know what it means, I know why people use it, I just kind of wish they would stop.

But, I must say that some cat named Robert Pierre at the Washington Post has been speaking truth to power.

Check out that link. If you can get past the snarky tone of the author, you'll discover that Mr. Pierre let the fine folks at the Washington Post know that their decision to focus significant manpower and resources on reporting about Chandra Levy was ridiculous considering the fact that they've never spent that much money or time reporting on the death of one of the black men who has been slaughtered in D.C.

Pierre, who is a reporter on the Post's Metro desk, sent a memo to the brass at the Post letting them know exactly how displeased he was and challenging them to defend their decision to him.

I believe The Field Negro would call that field nigger behavior.

I respect Mr. Pierre for taking the stand he took. Just look at that article in the Washington City Paper and see how they handle his claims of racism. He can expect more of that now that his comments have hit the number one media gossip site.

As a black man in a mostly white world he risked some serious repercussions by attacking the power structure of the Post. That took courage and conviction.

All of us who work in corporate America understand the daily pressures we face as minorities in a majority world. There are many comments and emails that pass our desks that are racially unacceptable. There also are assumptions made about us and people who look like us.

If we take too militant a pose we run the risk of being marginalized and labeled as "angry." If we are too accommodating, we run the risk of losing our souls and our sanity.

I'm also in precarious position because I work as a journalist and in this business everyone prides themselves on being beyond issues of race. The entire media myth is built on the idea of objectivity, and most journalists are loathe to admit any personal biases.

Yet, the same problems that exist in the regular world exist in the newsroom. As gatekeepers and agenda setters, journalists understand the power our messages hold. Yet, our business is still one of the most pale in the nation and that's despite continuous calls for "diversity." Most American newspapers and television stations tell stories from the perspective of white people and frame issues based on what's important to white people. It's just a fact of life.

But, it's one of those facts that nobody likes to discuss. So, I have often found myself telling a colleague "Yes, what you just said qualified as racist" and "No, it doesn't matter if you contribute to the NAACP." I've had to meet with bigwigs and explain to them why they have an image problem with black folks and how their current actions aren't helping that image. I've had to defend black politicians I don't even like because when they accuse the media of being biased and unfair, sometimes they are right. Working as a journalist does not inoculate you against prejudice. It never has, and probably never will.

So, I applaud Mr. Pierre for taking the stand he took. There will be many who lob insults at him and question his intelligence. They will find "proof" that nothing about the Post is racist and the coverage flap has nothing to do with race. And then they'll move on, secure in their belief that the media doesn't have a race problem.

And Robert Pierre and I will keep chugging along.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Now I Know Rev. Wright Was Supposed to Be Crazy...

But, did any of y'all happen to catch this article?

Ok, I'm going to need y'all's patience while I put on my tinfoil hat.

*Crackling foil.*

All right, now as I read that article it occurred to me that it seems fairly weird that a super deadly virus whose origins are still hazy would disproportionately affect black people because of protections we've developed for centuries.

I know, I know, it's not polite to toss around conspiracy theories, but, doesn't anybody else just find that a wee bit suspicious?

Anybody?

Somebody?

*Removes tinfoil hat and hides it behind back.*

Even crazy people are right sometimes.



Hat tip to Ben Atkinson for hipping me to the story

I Like Me...But, Is It Really Me I Like?

I read a pretty interesting article in the New York Times about mirrors.

Recently, I decided to start a workout plan to lose a lot of weight and get into tip-top shape. I don't like to discuss it with people; in fact, I've taken to acting confused when folks comment about my small weight loss so far because I don't like their comments. I really do not understand why folks think it's polite to comment on the weight of fat people. Would they like it if I commented on their body image every time I saw them?

I think not.

Anyway, in the article there was a particularly revealing passage that discussed how we as humans create our self-image. Here is a snippet of it:

For that matter, humans do not necessarily see the face in the mirror either. In a report titled “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Enhancement in Self-Recognition,” which appears online in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Nicholas Epley and Erin Whitchurch described experiments in which people were asked to identify pictures of themselves amid a lineup of distracter faces. Participants identified their personal portraits significantly quicker when their faces were computer enhanced to be 20 percent more attractive. They were also likelier, when presented with images of themselves made prettier, homelier or left untouched, to call the enhanced image their genuine, unairbrushed face. Such internalized photoshoppery is not simply the result of an all-purpose preference for prettiness: when asked to identify images of strangers in subsequent rounds of testing, participants were best at spotting the unenhanced faces.


That got me to thinking. I've noticed that I gravitate towards mirrors that I think portray me in a positive light. You know the ones that make you look a few pounds slimmer, or make the light hit your face just so. It's so bad that I will only use certain mirrors in my house because I don't want to feel bad about myself before I go off into the world.

But, what really struck me was the concept that many of us not only choose favorable mirrors to check out our outfits, but we try to find those same mirrors when it's time to take stock of our characters and souls.

Self-examination is a painful and difficult process and one I'm convinced nobody ever really perfects. Some of us are more willing than others to consider our motives and our biases, but most of us just create an image of ourselves that we like, and then walk around believing that's who we truly are.

For a long time, I thought of myself as a generally decent guy that people respected for being honest and up front. Imagine my surprise when I discovered through a few friends that many people thought I was crude, arrogant and lacked social skills. It seems my penchant for speaking my mind wasn't actually endearing to most people, and rightfully so because I was arrogantly assuming that everybody wanted to know what I thought about everything.

In another case, my brother had a painful discussion a while back about how he feels myself and the rest of the family view him. He believed that I didn't respect him, didn't think he would accomplish his goals and was constantly putting him down. Initially, I reacted with anger to his comments, pointing out all the times I'd supported him, all the times I fought people to protect him and the myriad of ways that I looked out for him. But, then I considered my actions from his point of view, and I realized that at times when I thought I was playing the role of protective big brother, I was really marginalizing him and not showing him the respect he deserved as a man.

Both incidents made a huge impact on my self-image and my behavior, but I would have never known about them if I kept peering into the same internal mirrors I used everyday.

Another blogger said the other day that sometimes writing a blog can become a lot like screaming in an echo chamber. Most blogs attract like-minded people who want to have their worldviews reinforced in an entertaining and creative way. Very few people are going to constantly click on a link that sends them somewhere that doesn't make them feel good. I'm as guilty of this as everyone else.

Yet, stepping outside comfort zones and inviting new mirrors into your life is the best way to get a true representation of yourself. It forces us to re-evaluate all of our blemishes and beauty marks. It can give us a new appreciation for who we are and what we have accomplished, or it can send us back to the drawing board to figure out where we went wrong.

Mirrors do more than just reflect, they also refine.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What do Y'all Think?







And here is the article that accompanies the picture.



Pretty lame in my opinion, but I'm sure media folks will think this is the right path to take in dealing with all the "complaints" about the New Yorker cover. After all, how can the "public" think to tell trained professionals how to do their jobs.

Sometimes my career choice just seems like a really effed up decision.

Lies That Sound True

Follow up to yesterday's discussion.

Why so many sisters be lying?

Before the eyes start rolling and folks get pissed off, I don't mean that black women just lie in general. Nah, I don't say stupid shit like that anymore.

What I'm talking about is when sisters put on their "progressive, liberated, open-minded" mask in order to look good in public. It's the same mask worn by a lot of the sisters who commented on this post by The Field Negro.

Now, this doesn't have anything to do with the post Field made. His comments were on-point, and any man who has ever been in a relationship with a woman understands how you have to use trickiness to sneak peeks at random fine sisters. My pops passed along a great strategy to me once I got serious with wife, but before we were married.

Pops said that when you're out with your wife and a fine woman is approaching, you take your time and enjoy the view while the woman is a good distance off. Then, when the woman gets right up on you, you barely give her a glance as she walks past. Just a brief head turn, but no real looking. See, if you didn't look at all, your woman would be suspicious, but if you take that quick peek then she is convinced you're not really interested. And you've already gotten the extended view without your wife noticing.

Genius.

Field's post wasn't the problem. The problem was all the intelligent sisters who commented on it and started lying through their teeth about how they don't mind if their man looks at beautiful women while they are out as long as it's done in a respectful manner. They said their men don't have to use subterfuge because they would even go so far as to point out fine sisters for them to look at.

A bunch of damn liars.

There may be some sisters who truly are confident and cool enough to encourage their men to check out that stallion in a halter top and daisy dukes, but I ain't met them. Maybe some women are so secure that when another woman with a bright future behind her walks by, they are the first ones to pat their man on the arm so he can appreciate the view.

Like I said, I just ain't met them.

Nah, what I've found is a bunch of beautiful intelligent women who tell you that it's okay to check out the menu if you're fasting, but then rip you a new asshole when you start examining the daily specials. A much larger new asshole too.

Look, I don't begrudge women the right to get mad when they catch their man sneaking a peek. I'm not one of those men who is going to argue that y'all should be ok with it because we're just looking. The Good Book says that the devil loves to work with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. And during the summertime, Satan has a lot of material to work with when it comes to the those first two categories.

Looking too much can lead to problems at home whether it's actual infidelity, or a general loss of intimacy and confidence. I know I would never give my wife permission to start checking out diesel cats on the street, and if I catch her we gonna have beef. So, by no means am I telling women to stop policing their husbands or boyfriend's eyes. That's y'all's job.

What I'm asking is that you be upfront about it. If you're ok with a brief sideways glance, tell a brother that's all he gets. If you're ok with a longer look and a quiet "damn" then God bless you. But, if you want your man to keep his eyes on the road don't go around telling him that it's ok for him to take in the scenery. Men prefer clear directions, we don't like to figure shit out.

Let's keep it simple.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Men Are From Mars And Women Are From God Knows Where

So, I'm cruising the internet and I land on the New York Times.

I read a story there about the divorce of Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook, and about how their very public split has been discussed quite frequently in the rich enclave known as The Hamptons. Most folks there are familiar with the details of the case, although they all claim they haven't been paying that much attention.

Anyway, in the article, there are a couple paragraphs that discuss the different reactions to the case by men and women. Women seem to think that Cook, who had an affair with an 18-year old and spent thousands on internet porn, is a Grade-A scumbag with no redeeming qualities. Men wondered why his former wife had been married and divorced four times, and what that said about her. They also noted that marriage is hard.

I shared those graphs with a friend of mine, a woman, and it sparked a long debate between us about the differences between how men and women see the world and what that means for the concept of "till death do you part."

Yep, it was one of those convos.

I won't try to rehash all of the particulars, I wouldn't want to bore y'all. But, what we arrived at was this: Neither men nor women really understand how the other gender views the world, and most of us don't really care to be educated. Not only are we not interested in a gender education, most of us scoff at the idea that we're ignorant.

I told y'all it was one of those convos.

One of the conclusions my friend and I reached was that men view life in a linear, problem-solving, somewhat logical manner. Women view life in an illogical, emotional and whiny manner. Well, that's the conclusion I reached; if she disagrees she needs to get her own blog.

Patriarchy rules!

I'm joking. Actually, we agreed that women are the more emotional sex, that they are more concerned with empathy than solutions and that they tend to repeat themselves a lot when they are unhappy about something. Now, of course I thought that her description proved just how crazy women are, while she thought my description of men was based in a fantasy world that ignored the idiocy of the male homo sapiens.

We both wound up entrenched in our positions. While we admitted that each other's arguments had merit, neither of us was willing to cede any ground about what each sex needs to do to make the other gender happier. I thought women could be logical, she thought men could show more empathy. I thought women should focus on solutions, she thought men needed to stop thinking they had the answer to every problem. I figured that women should stop talking so much, she decided men needed to become better listeners.

Like I said, we ended up at an impasse.

The funny thing is, I tried to avoid discussing relationship issues with my friend because I knew we were going to end up at that impasse. I told her that while I don't condone infidelity, I understood why the men in the article didn't think Cook was Satan's spawn. I calmly let her know that until she actually got married, she wouldn't understand the pressures married people face. I suggested we discuss something else because men and women really can't talk about this issue.

But, she wouldn't allow it to happen. She insisted that men and woman can talk about these issues and solve them. She even said something like "Well, I guess this means you can't talk about black and white issues on your blog any more. After all, white people will never be black so they will never understand racism and you're just yelling for nothing."

That was a low blow.

And do you think she admitted after our extended conversation went nowhere that it was pointless to try to discuss certain issues because of gender viewpoints? Do you think she had the decency to say "Allen, you were right, I was wrong. Next time I'll defer to your infinite wisdom."

Nope, she just laughed and said that I just didn't get women.

Typical female.

Friday, July 18, 2008

To Whom It May Concern

See, I warned y'all.

I gave a nice little speech where I told all of you that taking shots at me was just fine. I'm a big boy; I knew what I was getting myself into when I sought this job. This is politics; it's a messy business.

But, I explicitly told you bastards that my woman and my seeds were off-limits. I told you that disrespect for them would not be tolerated. My queen is my queen. My seeds are my seeds. They are not playthings for you all to use to amuse yourselves.

Yet, y'all keep testing me.

See, I know some of y'all keep thinking I'm going to let this shit ride forever. After all, what can I do? Ain't like I'm just gonna start chin-checking Sean Hannity and the rest of those lip-flapping cowards at the Fuckboys News Network, right?

Nope, y'all figure I can't touch you behind that security glass. Y'all are puffing out your chests like those $3,000 suits are made of Kevlar. I guess all of you are feeling real bold, and that's why you keep showing those pearly whites when you throw darts at Michelle.

I'm gonna make you swallow those Chiclets in a minute though.

Oh, it won't be with violence; I'm too cool and too smart for violence. Besides, no matter how famous I am, I'm still a black man in America. That means that assaulting a white man still is a great way for me to take an all-male vacation to somewhere with bars.

But, let me drop some knowledge in your ear. See, when I win this thing, and I am going to win, I'm going to be the most powerful nigger you've ever met...I know y'all still like to use that word...

I'm going to be the one who appoints folks to the FCC. I'm going to be the ace of spades who sets the parameters for what is and is not acceptable for our airwaves. I'll decide who gets media licenses, who gets to purchase television stations and which reporters attend press conferences.

That's right, I'm going to hold your nuts in my hand.

And, I kind of like Jesse Jackson's method for dealing with nuts I don't like.

So, keep taking your shots at the queen. I've now let you know that your actions are being documented and considered. I've already told you that it makes me angry. I think all of you cowards know what that means.

I got something for a coward.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And the Beat Goes On

Jesse.

Rev.

I am struggling to generate some real anger about this new news of your rampant hypocrisy, but I can't. I knew you were a hypocrite; You're a reverend with outside children.

But, damn Jesse.

Why would you got throwing around the word nigger at Fox News? I think that word gets used enough over there and not in a friendly way. I remember an earlier report that said you actually called Obama a "half-breed nigger."

Yep, half-breed.

The time has come for you to bow out of the national spotlight. It's over for you; we, black people, will not forget these fuck-ups. Shoot, I would have never guessed that the Rev. Al would conduct himself with more decorum than you, but he has. It appears that Al truly knows his role.

*Sigh*

Good-bye Jesse.

Watch the doorknob.

Shuffle, Shuffle, Dance, Jig Dance

Where is Barack Obama's funny bone?

That's what a blurb on CNN and a recent column by Maureen Dowd asked.

Why doesn't Obama make us laugh, they asked in all seriousness. He's too somber, too circumspect, they complained. Even professional comedians admitted that they have found it hard to find a way to crack jokes about the Senator because he's black, careful and beloved by many.


Hmmmmmm... Do y'all see how this blog is going to basically write itself? I think I smell some bullet points coming.

1. Do we really need more laughs?

Okay, this is an easy one. If I understand correctly, the media are saying that after the bumbling sideshow that our government has become over the past eight years, they think we need more stuff to laugh about?

Really?

Is that their final answer?

Well, I now understand even more why my profession is one of the least respected in the country.


2. Racist jokes are easier

I think it's interesting that so many white comedians feel like they can't come up with acceptable jokes about Obama without offending someone. It really shows how uncomfortable and ignorant most white people are about black people.

After all, good comedy is born from an intimate understanding of the subjects you're lampooning. Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle know what it's like to be a black man in America, which is why their jokes about that life were always so funny. Eddie and Richard clearly understood crazy family members. Foxx understood living a hard life. Chappelle has studied the ins and outs of race and racism in this country.

They all can make funny jokes about controversial subjects because they have taken the time to gain an understanding of those subjects. They aren't practicing drive-by comedy. They aren't settling for the snarkiest comment that makes them and their audiences appear to be the most intelligent people on Earth. Nope, they are sharing their own vulnerabilities and their own loves and hates about difficult topics and because of their connection the material is funny.

The problem for most white comedians is not that Obama doesn't do anything that is funny. It's not that there is nothing humorous about his campaign. The problem is that they lack the skills to find the funny stuff. They don't understand black people and their culture enough to make a joke that doesn't involve rims, grills and gold chains. That's the real problem.

3. That nigger better be funny

And we've arrived at the real reason I wrote this post. It goes beyond the idea that people in this country should have had enough laughs thanks to George Bush. No, it goes to the idea that Obama needs to make white people comfortable with him, and the easiest way for them to get comfortable with a black man is if he's making them laugh.

Serious black men confuse and frustrate white people. Well, unless they are criminals. Serious thugs are easy for white people to understand and deal with. They fit into the proper box. The one with bars.

No, it's the serious brothers who are just regular cats that are enigmas. I've seen it many times in my own life. I can be gregarious and entertaining when I want, but often around strange white people I assume a quiet, subdued pose. It's a defense mechanism that allows me to scope out the scene before I reveal my true self.

But, I can't tell you how many times I have white people or their surrogates tell me "You need to lighten up more. You're too serious. Be more friendly." I remember one woman gave me this spiel and I told her that I was always extremely polite to everyone at work. She said "Well being polite isn't the same thing as being friendly, you need to crack a joke sometimes."

Crack a joke.

Black people are not here to entertain white people. We are not here to make them laugh, we are not here to make them cry, we are not here to make them angry. We are human beings living our lives just like them. We are under no obligation to make them "smile."

Barack Obama is running to be the most powerful politician in America during one of the most unsettled times in this country's history. And white folks are wondering if he is going to lose because he doesn't make them smile?

Shuffle, shuffle... Dance, jig, dance.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Storytime in Lunatic Land

So I have this friend.

She's from New Orleans like me and we went to college together. Real smart woman, almost as smart as me. She has placed herself in a position to earn a LOT of money one day due to studying hard and sticking with her career through stuff I probably couldn't have handled.

She's a cool chick.

Anyway, during her recent job search this friend of mine sent out resumes to folks detailing her classifications and whatnot. The resumes clearly listed her alma-mater as the wonderful Howard University, which to those of you who don't know is the preeminent HBCU in America. (Those of you who disagree can complain on your own blogs. Ha!)

Because Howard University is listed as her alma mater for her undergraduate and secondary degrees, my friend assumed that all potential employers would know she was black. Plus, she's got a black name. So, she expected that this would be a hindrance with some folks, and possibly a help with others. But, no matter what, she assumed folks would know what they were getting when they contacted her for an interview.

Y'all know assumptions are a fool.

Anyway, one older white gentleman calls my friend and decides he wants to talk to her about a position with his business. Not only is the man looking to hire an employee, but eventually he would like to make that person a full partner. He's also offering a very competitive salary.

So, my friend is ecstatic to hear from the man because she likes the idea of making money, and would like to do so pretty soon. She engages the man in conversation for at least an hour, and they discuss their common beliefs about their profession in detail. My friend thinks the interview is going extremely well and is starting to lose that sick feeling she's had since she started her job hunt.

Then it happens.

Out of the blue the man tells my friend something like this:
"Uh, I don't want you to get offended or think I'm a racist or anything, but I wanted to let you know that your not getting this job is not going to have anything to do with the fact that you're black and a female."


Of course my friend was shocked. So shocked she was pretty much speechless. After all, she and the man had not been discussing her race or gender during their hour long conversation. Furthermore, she had no idea the man had decided she wasn't getting the job because all indications were that her qualifications were on-point and her interview was going well. So, not only did the man find the most effed up way to let her know she wasn't getting hired, but he also did so in a way that would guarantee that she would be questioning the racial dynamics of the situation for weeks.

And then, a short while after getting off the phone with her, the man called back just to tell my friend that he wasn't a racist and he'd had a black person working in his office at one time, and currently had an Asian working there. Yes, he called and said that.

Not only did my friend waste her time talking to this guy on the phone, but thanks to his general asshatery (WNG) she can't go on any other interviews without wondering if her race or gender is causing her problems. She found herself analyzing her conversation with another potential employer because she wondered if he was being short with her because she was black or because he was just busy. She's wondering if she can get a fair shake in Louisiana in her field, or if she should just pack and move to another state.

All because of one conversation.

That's how powerful prejudice can be. I don't want to give racist too much credit, but to be able to effect somebody's life that much with a single comment is pretty diabolical. I'm pretty sure things will work out for my friend, but imagine all the extra stress she could have avoided in an already stressful job hunting endeavor if she could have avoided this gentleman's idiocy? How many years did this whole exercise shave off her life?

And that is the end of my tale.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Have a Man Crush

I do.

It's on Tim Wise. Actually, it's not really a man crush, more like an anti-racist crush.

Tim, (I think I can call him Tim) recently wrote a post about the way a certain pill-popping, draft dodging radio commentator has been comparing the folks in Iowa to the the folks where I live based on how they handled flooding in their areas. It's the most recent entry under Essay Archives on his website.

Look, we all know the Iowa/New Orleans comparison is bullshit and we all know it's racist bullshit. There is no comparision; there are so many things wrong with even trying to compare the two events that it's not even funny. I don't have the time or inclination to debunk every racist myth because, well, life is too short.

But, dammit, Tim finds the time. In fact, Tim has made a full time job out of debunking racism and the pale brother is thorough. So thorough that every time I read something he writes I learn something new. I still use a statistic he dropped in a post about white folks in the 1960s believing that discrimination was no big deal when I'm arguing with white folks.

Simply put, Tim is a beast.

Anyway, I just wanted to put his work on blast after he dealt with something so close to home. Hope y'all find the time to read how he breaks it down.

peace

In a Small Room a Stupid Decision Was Made





Setting: Corporate boardroom. White walls with inspirational posters and old New Yorker covers. Plush leather seats surround and oval table with a large black phone in the middle. Several white men, a couple white women and one black woman surround the table. A large white poster board sits on an easel with a cover of Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. Senator Obama is dressed in traditional Muslim dress, his wife is dressed like revolutionary complete with assault rifle.

Illustrator 1: This is what I came up with. I think it really explains exactly how kooky and crazy the right wing folks are and really lets them have it with both guns. Notice how Obama bin----I mean Osama bin Laden is over the fireplace mantle? I think that really brings home the comparisons between Barack and terrorists.

And I don't mean to brag, but I think Michelle's outfit just screams militant, angry black bitch. Not bitch in the bad way, bitch in the feminist way. The good way. I think this cover says something that will really resonate with people. It'll get them talking.

Male Editor 1: You don't think it's a little too edgy? I'm all for making a statement, and those conservatives can be idiots, but you have Michelle carrying an assault rifle. Is that going too far?

Illustrator:It's art. If art doesn't go too far, what good is it? Look, we need to wake people up to the craziness of these rumors. What better way than putting them all out there front and center without any words or comments to explain them? People will see how ridiculous they all are, and then they'll read our stories.

Male Editor 2: You know what? I think it's brilliant. Just fucking brilliant. That's it, just brilliant.


White Female reporter 1: I don't know about this. I think this is making fun of assertive feminists everywhere. Why are her arms and legs completely covered? I think she could be wearing something more attractive so that we don't play up the whole "butch" stereotype for aggressive females. Women have fought too long to get past that. But, other than that, I think the cover says exactly what we need it to say about conservative attacks.

Illustrator 1: I could see your concern about the clothing, but I think that if we have Obama as a Muslim it would make sense for his woman to be fairly covered up. After all, she's not his "baby mama..." I really should have found a way to include that in this pic. Anyway, I thought about covering Michelle's head with a scarf, but I figured that an Afro got more to the core of her militant black nature. An Afro says "militant" like nothing else.

Black Female reporter: This feels funny to me. I can't articulate why, but it just feels funny. These are educated black people in corporate America. Would Michelle really not have a perm? I just don't see that happening.

Male Editor 2: I think you're spending too much time on the hair, who even notices people's hair. I didn't even realize your hair had a relaxer until you said something. I just assumed it came like that. The hair is a distraction.

Black Female reporter: Well, I just said I felt funny. I didn't say we had to change anything. I think it's very fair.

Illustrator 1: So we're agreed? This is the cover we all like? I think this cover is going to do some real good. I can almost smell the Pulitzer.

Male Editor 1: Are we sure nobody could get offended by this whole thing?

Illustrator 1: Anybody who has a problem with this cover doesn't understand humor and art. Period. Look, this cover is outstanding. People will love it

Monday, July 14, 2008

Even in Death

As a child, I was always intrigued by the afterlife. I retain some of that curiosity today.

I've imagined the gold streets of heaven during many a sermon, and I enjoy fiction based on the infinite possibilities of the after life. It's a pleasant diversion as long as one doesn't become consumed.

But, one thing I never worried too much about was whether we retained our "race" in the afterlife. I always figured it was no big deal because everybody would have much holier concerns. Apparently, people in Texas think a little differently.

The link goes to an article about Waller County, Texas. In that lovely county, officials decided it was unseemly for an anonymous white murder victim to be buried next to black folks, so they hired a white funeral parlor to take the woman from the black parlor and handle the services. When confronted with their racism, one county official said race had nothing to do with the switch. Instead, he claimed it was the fact that the black funeral parlor wanted a signed letter from the county promising to pay for the services that caused the move.

I'm serious.

I have so many ideas about this I think I'm going to have to use bullet points and subheads.


1. Hey Dummies, Ain't No Jim Crow In Heaven

I guess the good folks in Texas didn't get the message that God, like Michael Jackson, doesn't care if you're black or white. He really doesn't. Really. Wherever that poor lady was going it did not have a back of the bus.

Not only is God not concerned with our race, but I'm positive that he is not concerned with the race of folks becoming worm food next to our bodies. If these folks really believe that it's important to keep the races separate even in death, well I believe WNG has a perfect term for that: "general asshatery."

2. It's Called A Contract

The worst thing about this whole exercise is the reaction of the white county official when he was confronted with his racist behavior. His disdain for the accusation was palatable. See here old white man, (I'm assuming he's older than 40) you probably have no idea what is or is not racist. Most folks in your generation will excuse any behavior that does not involve the actual lynching of black people. And it has to be a real lynching, the nooses by themselves don't count.

However, not only did you assume that you were the only authority on what is or is not racist, you then proceeded to give the most ridiculous explanation in the world for why you decided this white lady needed to be buried by other white people. You actually claimed that it was against county policy for officials to provide the black funeral home with a letter promising them payment.

Either you're a liar or an idiot.

A document promising payment is called a contract. I'm sure in your position you've heard of contracts and probably signed many of them. Yet, you thought it made sense to tell folks that giving the black funeral home what amounted to a "contract" was against county policy.

Yowser.

So, either white folks can't be buried with niggers, or niggers don't get no stinking contract. Which one is it?

3. It's A Disease Y'all

I was going to save this last thought for its own post, but I just can't hold it in anymore. Some of y'all have said that you all consider racism a disease. On other blogs, I've heard racism referred to as "severe color arousal" and "psychopathic racial personality."

Whatever you call it, folks seem to have decided that this thing must be treated like any other addiction or disease, and that has been causing me to think.

The other day I was at a facility that treats individuals with substance abuse problems. On the wall there was a poster that said something like "As addicts we must understand that we are regular people with a hole in our lives and we have chosen something unhealthy to fill that hole."

That really resonated with me.

Addiction is widely considered to be a disease. Racism is a disease.

Do y'all see where I'm going?

I got to thinking, what is it that people are missing in their lives that addicts them to racism? What makes racism their drug of choice and then leads a full-blown addiction?

Is it a lack of self-worth? A fear of the unknown? Concerns about a loss of power? Is it, as a young man named Imhotep said, a lack of soul? Is the hole the same for every racist, or is it an individual thing?

See, until we can identify that missing element in someone's life, it's probably impossible to ever "cure" them of racism. We may reduce the disease's symptoms or even cause it to go into remission, but until we fill that hole, these folks will still be carriers. While I believe we all carry the racism strain in our bodies, it never progresses to a full-blown disease in most of us. The question is what leads to the change, what triggers it?

The hole is the key.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Light Bulb Moment

So, I'm reading the blog Stuff White People Do for information purposes when I had an interesting realization.

The blog's author, Macon D, linked to an article where a white voter noted that she was concerned that if Obama was elected he would start showing preferential treatment to black folks. As a white woman, she was not happy at this possibility and felt withholding her vote from Obama was the best course of action.

Cool.

Now, this is not some new idea. We've all seen it repeated in a bunch of stories about Obama's problem with white voters, particularly those with less education and fewer job opportunities. After all, those folks are more likely to be in competition with black folks, which makes them more worried about us getting a leg up. Of course, you'll rarely hear the news media discuss the issue in that matter; they would rather focus on Rev. Wright and Obama's funny name.

But, that's another topic.

My light bulb moment came shortly after I actually paid attention to what the women was saying instead of ignoring her comment because she sounded like an ignorant cracker. Now, this woman was worried that if a black man became president he would look out for other black people and give us an unfair advantage.

yet, she was comfortable with the idea of a white man or white woman becoming president, even though the logical result of that would be white people getting an unfair advantage. Or, to take it further, she was comfortable with the fact that white people have been getting an unfair advantage since the country began because everybody who has been president has been white.

Everybody cool?

Now, that's not really a novel concept for most black folks, but anybody who has had a discussion about white privilege and Affirmative Action knows that most white people HATE to admit that point. Their self-image is tied to the idea that they succeeded because of their own hard work, not some unfair preference.

While most white people are suspicious of the motives of black folks or other minorities, they never have the same suspicion about themselves. This is a product of the belief by most white folks that they have an innate ability to see issues more objectively than black people because their genetically superior intellect is not clouded by anger and bitterness.

White people believe black people have an irrational tendency to see racism in every situation, while white people are, of course, above that. This is not backed up by history or any sort of research, but that is immaterial.

I know this is a rehash of stuff many of y'all already know, but I'm coming to my light bulb moment.

What I realized was that white people rarely verbalize their belief that they are more fair and just than black people. Can any of you honestly remember a white person saying that? I mean, they may hint at it, (a friend of mine gave me a wonderful example of an interviewer doing that with Malcolm X while asking Malcolm about his fiery comments about white people) but white people rarely come out and say it they are the most objective race.

And that made me curious because clearly, many white people feel this way.

In today's world there is some danger of white people being labeled racists if they verbalize those feelings, and we all know most of them hate that label. (I'm not counting your garden variety Neo-Nazi or Klan member.) However, certain "respectable" white folks revel in being called racists because to them it's a sign that they are speaking truth to liberals and minorities.

But, I've never heard any of those respectable folks actually come out and say "Black people can't be depended on to be as fair when it comes to racial matters as white people." Not even Pat Buchanan has been bold enough to make that leap and he wrote an entire essay about why black people should be grateful for slavery.

So, why don't white people come out and talk about this belief?

I am convinced it's because they know that if they actually verbalize it, they will then have to think about it and they will realize just how stupid it is!

Really, think about it. White people know that their ancestors haven't treated black people fairly. Even hardcore racists admit that. So, on a certain level they understand that there is no real proof that they are more fair. In fact, all the proof points to the exact opposite!

The only thing that supports the idea that white people are more fair, is the belief that white people are just naturally superior to everybody else. But, it's no longer cool that in public anymore. Right?

However, by refusing to verbalize their innate prejudices, white people back themselves into a corner when it comes to discussing racial preferences; a discussion that needs to happen if this country is going to progress.

Simply put, either white people have been looking out for each other all this time because that's what every race does, or white people's innate superiority has allowed them ignore that temptation. Depending on what you believe, you're either a beneficiary of Affirmative Action, or you're a white supremacist.

Coming to this conclusion was a light bulb moment for me. See, I'm the type of nerd who has imaginary arguments in his mind, and I like to I argue both sides of an issue to figure out what's the best way to defend a point. It's just something I do to entertain myself, and I've been doing it since I was a child.

Anybody who argues a lot knows that you're always trying to craft that perfect argument; the type of theory that cannot be refuted using logic. To me, this was a situation where I had crafted one of those arguments.

If I meet someone who says "Well, Obama is going to give everything to the blacks!" then I have a foolproof method of making them sweat. They can either admit that they've benefited from white privilege or they can admit that they are white supremacists.

Or they can shut the fuck up.



(I know that some folks would counter this argument by saying that black people can't be trusted in racial matters not because they are genetically inferior, but because they've been trained to see the world as victims and are bitter. First, I would tell those people "Fuck you." Second, I would ask those people to explain why black people are bound by their cultural upbringing and white people are not? After all, most white adults, particularly baby boomers, were raised in households by parents who believed in stereotypes and lies about black people. These white parents trained their children to see the world like them. Yet, most white people will tell you that they are not racist because they were able to overcome the outdated mindsets of their parents. So, if white people were able to overcome their training, it would make sense that black people have done the same. Unless you think white people are better than black people... I win again.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Just a Few Questions If You Have Time

"Sucker think he tough, sucker think he can whup me? He can't whup me, his whole style is chump."



"Why don't you tell all these nice folks why you been ducking me? It's politics man, this whole country wants to keep me down 'cause I'm not a puppet like that chump."


"I want him dead. I want his family. I want his house burned to the ground. I want to go there in the middle of the night and I want to piss on the ashes."



Why?

Why Mr. Jackson why?

You know I had to ask that question, right?

Why?

Did he teabag you? Did he grab his crotch during a basketball game? Were his pants just too tight?

Why the fascination with balls? And clenching your first while talking about balls? That didn't seem nasty to you?

And why are you whispering about your testicle fascination like a sneaky schoolgirl? Why are you doing it while sitting inside the belly of the beast?

Did you even notice that the cat you were talking too really wasn't trying to hear what you were saying? Didn't you see that cat's face saying "Leave me the phuck alone you crazy bastard?"

Don't you know that no grown man wants to hear about balls from another man? I'm assuming you understand that balls are only a topic of conversation among cats who really, REALLY like balls, right?.

Something you want to tell us Rev?

Why didn't you learn your lesson about off-the-cuff remarks? Why would you trust the bastards at the Hitler News Service? Did you learn nothing from Hymietown? Do you even REMEMBER Hymietown? ARE YOU EFFING SENILE?

*Deep breaths. Breathe, that's right breathe.*

Why would gift wrap this dumbass issue for the media? Do you know that Iran and Israel are playing swords right now? You do realize that W can't wait to whip his little man out, right?

Aren't you a Reverend? Is "nuts" a regular part of your vocabulary? And why are you mad about what Obama said about faith-based organizations? Why is that a ball-cutting offense? Do you even like God?

*sigh*

Why would you say something that would bring back up The Father's Day debate among black folks? Aren't you just the little bit embarrassed that your own son had to check you? Do you like looking like a damn fool? Is kissing the ass of white folks something that gets you off? (Don't answer that.)

Why?

I mean, just why?

Tell me please.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Playing to Win...Or Not

I've never purchased a lottery ticket.

Even when the jackpot has gotten up over $300 million dollars, I could not convince myself to spend the a dollar on a lottery ticket. I've often dreamed about how I would spend lottery winnings; the houses I would buy, the debts I would eliminate, but I would never purchase a ticket.


I'm pretty pleased about that decision after reading this story.

According to that story, the state lotteries in New Jersey and Florida have been selling folks scratch off tickets that have absolutely no shot of winning the grand prize. In fact, in one instance, the Florida lottery was still selling tickets for a contest a MONTH after the grand prize had been won. The story doesn't say if the practice is common in other states, but I'm pretty sure it is.

Understandably, people are pissed and some of them want to sue.

Of course, the lottery folks are claiming that they always provide an explanation of the prize to customers so there should not be a misunderstanding. That's a big, steaming pile of cow pie.

If lottery officials actually told customers outright that there was no shot they could win the big jackpot because that jackpot had already been awarded, nobody would purchase lottery tickets. Americans may be dumb, but we ain't stupid.

I've never enjoyed gambling, but I understand that some folks get a thrill from it. The idea that you can win $300 million just by spending $1 on a lottery ticket is very enticing. So, I don't look down on folks who gamble and I feel their pain at being duped.

This is a clear example of a corporation, one with ties to most state governments, selling the public inferior goods with the hope of making a quick buck. If the practice was perfectly legitimate, you wouldn't have seen lottery officials scrambling to change their rules once the news got out. They would have stood by their "fair" product and dealt with the fallout.

However, while I find lottery corporation's decision wrong, there is another part of me that finds the whole situation humorous. Although I try not to judge, there is still a part of me that finds gambling behavior to be stupid and counterproductive. I also understand the lottery corporation's argument that since the second, third and fourth place prizes were still available, folks weren't getting cheated completely.

After all, when most people purchase a lottery ticket, I assume that they don't really expect to win. They have to be aware of the outrageous odds against them. So, in a sense, they've already resigned themselves to the idea that they are spending money without a credible chance of getting anything. Logically, the fact that there is absolutely no chance for them to win shouldn't be a big deal.

Ah, that would only be true if humans weren't human.

No matter the odds, most humans still believe in their unique luck. It's why some of us never buckle our seat belts, don't use condoms and play the lottery. We're certain that we are different, that we are special and that the regular rules of probability don't apply to us. It's foolish and often dangerous.

But, it's human.

(Yep, a whole post with no mention of the dreaded "R" word. I know some of y'all didn't think I could do it.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Get That Bass Out Your Voice

I don't talk like a white boy.

That may be costing me money, according to this article.

You know, I can't say I'm surprised by this news. It was only a few years ago that word got out that black folks were getting shafted when it came to job interviews because of our "ethnic" names.

A Harvard study, if I'm not mistaken, found that Keisha and Tyrone were 50 percent less likely to get a call back for a job than Becky and Channing. This was true even if their resumes were exactly the same. So, I can't say that it's exactly shocking that "sounding black" hurts your employment chances as well.

But, it's still depressing.

Sometimes I get tired of being black. It doesn't mean I want to be anything else; I love being a brother. But, I do get tired of dealing with everything that comes along with having this skin color and a basic understand of the way the world works.

Y'all know what I'm talking about. We have to be the racial interpreter, we have to take a stand when bigotry raises its head, we have to represent the entire race, we just have to do too damn much. As soon as you think you've gotten past one obstacle, another one drops into your path.

*Sigh*

I read this old article on Time's website that was entitled "The Meaning of White" the other day. Here it is if any of you all are interested. The article explores white identity issues and how differently white people view discrimination from black people.

One of the things that jumped out at me was that many white people see being black as a disadvantage, but don't see being white as an advantage. That seems like a serious logic disconnect, but the survey found that it was fairly common among white people. They also trusted the judicial system more than black people.

Reading both of those articles only made me more disgusted at the state of the world. This new issue about "sounding black" is just more proof that black people are getting screwed while white people are getting extra help. Yet, it still won't be enough to convince most white folks that they achieved their present success through anything their hard work and determination. It's almost as if there is no proof that will ever change people's minds about the benefits of being white.

Arrggghhhh!


That point was driven home as I got towards the end of the article on "sounding black." The author decided to provide some solutions for dealing with discrimination that he apparently has given minorities. Basically, he suggested rapid and wholesale assimilation into white culture. That's it.

You know, it takes a special type of arrogance to write a column pointing out a possible injustice and instead of calling on people to leave behind their prejudices, you advocate that the victims stop making themselves such tempting targets.

The solution to discrimination is not asking minorities to make themselves more palatable to white people. We've been trying that for centuries and it just doesn't work. Black people should know by now that no matter how you dress, speak or walk, you will never shed your skin. You may get along as an acceptable Negro for a while, but eventually you will cross some imaginary line and be deported from Whiteville back to Niggertown.

It's going to happen.

The solution is aggressively attacking discrimination, racism and injustice. The solution is making a big freaking deal when news like this comes out because this sort of news only validates the claims that minorities have made for years without empirical evidence. We have to stop brushing off proof of racism and discrimination as "no big deal" before moving on to the next issue. And by we, I don't just mean white folks, I mean everybody because all of us ignore some form of injustice because it just doesn't matter to us.

That's wiggity-wiggity wack.

Word.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why You Scared?

Fear can be a potent poison.

It can stop your heart, immobilize your limbs and numb your brain. Its toxins destroy the cognitive ability of neurons like a child destroys white walls.

Fear is contagious.

You've seen it spring from host to host like a parasitic gymnast. You've watched it burrows into people's psyches; seen it take up residence behind their eyes and turn them into soulless puppets. Fear transforms crowds into mobs and heroes into cowards.

Fear also makes people stupid.

Exhibit A.

The young Vietnamese teenager in that article pulled herself up by her proverbial bootstraps and reached the apex of academic achievement in her small town. She and her cousin were named valedictorians of their class. And, as that young woman enjoyed the view from the summit she had struggled to reach, she decided to give a personal thank you to her parents for their help along her journey.

She gave that "thank you" in Vietnamese.

And people went crazy.

Those crazy people called for rules against speaking anything but English in graduation speeches. They puffed out their chests and talked about patriotism and proper decorum. They questioned her motives and her translation. They became concerned and afraid.

Eventually that fear had a baby named anger.

What was the source of that anger? Was it a general unease at the unknown? Was it a animosity caused by exclusion?

I think it was a fear of losing power.

See, it's one thing for an "other" like this Vietnamese girl to manage to outwork and out think all the "true Americans" and become the valedictorian. That's bad, but understandable. Those Asians can be crafty after all.

However, it's quite another thing when the same other who beat out "true Americans" starts spouting coded messages that "true Americans" can't comprehend. Then, questions arise about the other's motives, about their allegiances, about who or what they really love.

It becomes about power.

See, that school system felt a power shift when that young Vietnamese girl not only bested every "real American" in a battle of wits, but then had the temerity to reveal her true allegiances.

That decision crossed a line, it made the issue not about freedom of speech but about whether this young woman and others like her are a threat. Her actions said to "true Americans" that she didn't care if they were comfortable; she didn't care if they were happy. Her actions said that if she had something she wanted to do, the feelings of "true Americans" were not her concern.

And that's scary.

It's scary to those individuals who believe that white is right. It frightens those individuals who believe that minorities will revolt if tight control is not maintained. After all, they know that's how they would react if the situations were reversed.

These people see the rising number of un-true Americans" in this country and they feel the power shift that is looming. They fight against that power shift in small and large ways; sometimes its sentencing disparities and racial profiling, other times its requiring English in graduation speeches. But, all these measures have fear at their core.

The sad thing is that this fear is unnecessary. Most minorities do not want revenge, we just want peace and equality. We are not out to "get whitey," we just want to get whitey off our backs!

Some of us may hoard power, influence and opportunity when given a chance, but that's because we're human not because we're not "true Americans.". There is no massive conspiracy to right every historical wrong; no master plan that all the minorities are working to carry out..

The poisonous and contagious fear that has found solace in the hearts of "true Americans" only hurts them and their children. It only prevents the progress they desperately want to occur. Fear justifies any reaction and provides an excuse for every evil. Fear steals our humanity.

It's time to move past that fear.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Who Are These People?

I made a post a while back about a young white guy who was picked up by the FBI for burning a cross in one of his neighbors' yards. If you didn't see it, scroll down the page until you see Bitch Please, Redux.

As I noted in the post, the boy's mother insisted that he wasn't a racist, and to buttress her point she pulled out the old stand-by excuse that the young fella had "black friends." We've all heard that one before.

Anyway, this weekend I read over that woman's comments again, and also checked out what some of y'all wrote on the subject. It got me thinking about a post I wrote a whille back about the different definitions that white people and black people have for friends.

I want to go revisit that concept because of something said by The Uppity Negro in his comments. See, I can actually understand how an average white person might be confused about whether the average black person is their friend. Y'all may laugh and joke at work, occasionally share a sandwich and generally have a cordial relationship. It's easy to mistake that kind of interaction for friendship, particularly if you're looking for a way to increase your minority friend count with the least amount of effort.

But, in the case of somebody who burns crosses, I wonder exactly what type of black person is associating with them enough to give them the impression that they have black friends.

WNG said that there are racists at her job who would probably call her a friend, although she despises them. However, I would wager that WNG's racist co-workers have never done anything that rises to the level of cross burning because if they had, I have no doubt that she would have made sure they never called her friend again.

Cross burning is one step below lynching in my book. If you're bold enough to set fire to cross in my front yard with a bunch of friends, I'd wager that you and those same friends would drag me from my home or car and string me up given half a reason.

tSome of y'all may think I'm going to far, but let's be clear, this isn't some crazy idea created in the mind of a black radical. No, this is a carefully reasoned opinion based on historical fact. Throughout history, burning crosses have served as racial fire alarms for black folks; we know that gunshots and night riders are never far behind that lovely lawn ornament.

The type of white person who engages in cross burning has such an overriding dislike for black people that even the most assimilated Negro would have a hard time being comfortable around them. That type of loathing seeps from your pores and forms a "hatred blackhead" that is damn near impossible to miss.

How blind would a black person have to be to miss those feelings and go out to the local pub for a beer with Mr. or Mrs. Cross Burner? Ward Connerly blind? Shelby Steele blind?

It really is amazing to me that this cross burner's mother felt comfortable saying that he has black friends. In fact, the woman's comments are a sad commentary on the self-hatred that is still all too prevalent in the black community because she had to have seen her son socialize with some black person to reach that conclusion.

That any of us would willingly associate with someone who shared these sort of views, or the views held by Pat Buchanan and other less violent racists, really disturbs me. It shows the "sickness" in us is full-blown; that the infection is putrid. I see it when Fox News trots out their pet Negroes, and I see it on inner city streets when I watch certain black folks interact with each other. It seems like some of us dislike ourselves so much that this cross burner's feelings don't even bother us.

Shit, there was probably some black person nodding along to every hateful word cross burner spewed because that Negro was convinced that he/she was a different sort of black person.

I really wish I could slap the stupid out of them.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

Just about $8 billion dollars, but let me tell this story from the beginning.


When I was a little boy, my mother took my brother and I to the local SPCA. We walked down the rows of dogs in cages and picked out a black Labrador mix that was to be our first pet. I liked that dog; I've always liked dogs. Sure, I never really walked him and only played with him sporadically, but when I did interact with that dog I loved it.

Unfortunately, the dog needed more attention than my T.V.-addicted family wanted to give it, and soon began digging holes in our backyard to entertain itself. This drew the ire of my father, who gave the dog a "whipping" with his belt, and eventually brought him back to the SPCA. That made me sad, but, as is the habit of children, I got over it and went on to live my life.

Some of y'all may be wondering why I just told you that story. Well, I wanted to make sure all of you knew that I don't hate animals, in fact I'm quite fond of dogs. However, some of the comments I'm going to make in this post may imply that I have a dislike of animals, and I wanted to clear that up.

Leona Helmsley was rich. She was very, very rich. She was also mean, nasty and possibly a little crazy. Why do I think she was crazy? Well, according to the NY Times, she left $12 million to her dog, and then asked that another $5 billion to $8 billion be given to the dogs of the world. Yep, that's what she did.

*Sigh*

Just when I had convinced myself to stop getting all outraged by the ridiculous things people do, something like this happens. Really y'all, I like dogs, but come on. Did she really have to give all that money to dogs with all the human beings struggling to survive in this world? I know it's her money, but this just seems foul.

I respect that in a capitalist society the accumulation of wealth is viewed as a God-given right, I really do. Like most folks, I'm trying to live the good life myself. Yet, when your wealth skews your perception so much that you think canines deserve billions of dollars, well... Really, why didn't she think this money would do more good in inner city schools, or drug treatment programs? What about HIV research or ending global hunger? Did she really believe that helping dogs was more important than helping humans?

You know, one Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me a book about injustice. In the book, the guy talks about the economic conditions in America and compares them to some place in Central America. He said that in the Central American country, the economic divide is so wide that all the wealthy people must live in giant enclaves enclosed by walls and patrolled by private security firms armed with machine guns. He said that when they or their children want to leave those areas, they take an armed guard and travel in armored vehicles.

I could see that happeneing one day soon in America.

Really, unless we address the wealth disparity, the kind of disparity that would make a woman think it's ok to leave a dog millions, then eventually anarchy is coming to our country. Even with the opiates of television and drugs, poor people are eventually going to get fed up with being fed this false vision of America and decide they want the good life no matter what. And when that violence comes, the only hope for the rich will be using their money to shield them from danger in military compounds. It's not that far-fetched, most gated communities in America are on that path already.

What is the solution? I don't agree with the judge's decision to try to get around Helmsley's wishes and avoid giving the money to dogs even if that move serves the greater good. It doesn't seem right that people would ignore her wishes for the wealth she acquired. However, she is dead, and dead people really don't deserve to have much sway over a world they no longer inhabit.

I would prefer if we as a country came together and agreed that something is wrong when 1 percent of Americans control a lion's share of the country's wealth. I think we all need to stop aspiring to be in that one percent. Then, we need to work together to make sure that future generations do not face the same wealth disparity by closing tax loopholes, establishing more rules about passing wealth from generation to generation and improving the education and quality of life of all citizens. Those may seem like lofty goals, and they are, but you have to set the bar high if you ever want to find out how high you can jump.

Dogs are cool, but people are better.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Tale of Two Americas

This is a familiar story.

You've all heard it many times. Some of the main characters change, but the ending is almost always the same. Since I'm sure most of y'all are familiar with the tale, you won't mind if I spill the beans on the ending.

Niggers get fucked.


Tale number one begins slightly less than a year ago, when Joe Horn saw some damned illegal immigrants breaking into his neighbor's home. Horn, being the good, hard-working American that he is, jumped on the phone and dialed 911 to notify the authorities of what was happening.

Unfortunately, Horn wasn't pleased with the possibility that these foreigners might be able to get away with their crime before the police could arrive to catch them. So he told a 911 dispatcher that he was going to go outside and kill them.

That's right, for stealing a television, their punishment was to be death by shotgun. I wonder what the Indians think about that? Anyway, the stalwart Mr. Horn charged out to his front yard, after loading up his trusty shotgun, and took two lives with two shots.

Bang, bang, they're dead.

For his trouble, Mr. Horn became both a national hero and villain. He was vilified by those who dislike vigilante murder, and lauded by those who think the damn spics are taking over the country. Eventually, a jury of Mr. Horn's peers found him not guilty of all charges.


Tale two does not end so swimmingly.

John White lives in a suburb with a lot of white people. His son is friends with the children of these white people. One day, his son attended a party where said children began to threaten him with violence. It seems that one of the female white children believed that Mr. White's son had written some disparaging comments about her on a social networking website (allegedly threatening to rape her) and called upon her male white counterparts to defend her honor.

Unfortunately for Mr. White's son, he did not write those comments, someone else posing as him did. This did not stop said white youths from menacing him to the point that he felt the need to leave the party and return home to his father and his father's guns.

However, the white youths, imbued with a sense of courage and power thanks to alcohol and drugs, decided they were going to drive to Mr. White's house and exact their revenge on his son. They were even so gracious as to phone ahead and tell Mr. White's son what was going to happen. The boy, being of somewhat sound mind, notified his father of the impending visit. Mr. White armed himself with a weapon.

When the white youths arrived on Mr. White's front yard, they commenced to yell racial epithets at he and his son to display their anger. Mr. White brandished a gun at one of the youths, that youth reacted in a belittling manner. Mr. White shot and killed him. Mr. White was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and is awaiting sentencing.

The case stirred up a ton of racial animosity within the New York suburb where Mr. White lived, as he sought to classify the youths as a young lynch mob, and their supporters cast them as misguided teens looking to defend a young white maiden's honor.

So ends tale two.

This is my tale of two Americas. I know which one I live in, do you?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bitch Please, Part Two

I think I might make this a regular feature when I run across stories that just defy racial logic.

Here is today's offering:

Link.

Now, I'm still trying to figure out what this little white dude thought was funny about burning a cross in a single mother's yard. What's the joke because my black ass just doesn't get it. To me, if you burn a cross in the yard of somebody who just moved into your neighborhood you're saying that you don't want them there and they need to leave. That's it.

And check out his mother playing the "He has black friends" card while she tries to convince the world her son is not racist and provide him with an alibi for the actual arson.

I wonder what her son would have to do to be considered racist?

Lynch a nigger?

It's All About Where You're Sitting

Life is about vantage points.

Where you sit, where you stand, how you can see things affects what this world means to you. I was reminded of that simple fact this weekend.

A homeboy of mine came by the crib and we chopped it up about basketball, women, video games and life. This cat is a couple years younger than me, and while we share some of the same interests, our lives have been very different. He never attended college, still lives with his folks, and has not seen or learned much about the world.

He's an intelligent cat, very intelligent, but he never developed that intelligence in an academic sense. More importantly, his world is just small.

For example, when we talked this weekend he'd just watched some roundtable discussion on BET and discovered something shocking about the world. He'd learned that sexism is a real problem and that women face discrimination similar to what black people face. Apparently, he had no idea this was going on.

I told y'all his world was small.

It was his comment, along with another comment he made about never having read a single novel that influenced his worldview like music, that inspired me to write about vantage points. See, he and I can agree on many issues, particularly basketball, but on other things we're worlds apart. And the weird thing is that distance is due to our vantage points.

I wrote a while back that I wanted to control the impulse to be bitter and angry in perpetuity. It's little reminders like this that can both encourage me on that path, and convince me that my attempts are ultimately pointless.

Accepting viewpoints that seem offensive or insensitive can be a little easier if I'm convinced that folks just don't see things my way because they've never walked in my shoes or had a chance to experience my life. Yet, because there is no way I can ever really put them in my shoes the possibility that meaningful change can ever occur is bleak. That depresses me because I am worried that my son will have to fight the same battles I've fought instead of breaking new ground.

I think I want to devote myself to activities that expand people's vantage points, that force them to consider things outside of their typical sphere of influence. Blogging does some of that, but most of y'all agree with me on issues of race, which is the largest area where change needs to occur. Consequently, I've decided that I have to be more friendly and more patient with people if I want to create lasting change. Anybody with some more suggestions is welcome to comment on the blog.

I've got to get up out of my regular seat.

Raving Black Lunatic