Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Strong Wind is Blowing

Not this again.

Things were just starting to look up, we were getting closer and closer to normal. And then a bastard named Gustav decided to visit.

Sigh.

I'm making evacuation plans for my family, figuring out where I'm going to bunker down so I can do my job after the storm hits, and generally dreading repeating this whole experience. Yeah, I said repeating because I was in the New Orleans area when that heifer Katrina showed her behind, and I remember what things were like.

Utter chaos.

Not just the chaos you saw on tv, (they sure do love some black folks carrying televisions) I'm talking about the chaos at my job and the chaos in my personal life. Sleeping in strange beds, struggling to find an outlet for the stories I thought were important, just random chaos.

See, for better or worse, I'm a creature of routine. I like to know what's going to happen, prepare for it and then move on. I don't like frenetic activity. I abhor excessive anticipation. It just doesn't sit well with me.

This whole hurricane ordeal is a combination of chaos and anticipation and it's starting to get to me. I just feel tired and I don't want to deal with it.

Plus, I know that after the storm hits, I'll be working crazy hours trying to find interesting stories and talking to people who have just had their lives destroyed. It'll be very similar to going to a murder scene except I'll have to talk to more people and intrude on more moments of sorrow. I'm sure I'll do some good and tell some stories that need to be told, but I'll also feel like crap for profiting from other people's pain.

Windy days ahead.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Clutch Like a Stick Shift

So, Big Homie came through again.

That dude is the Reggie Jackson of politics; massive moments produce massive results. Pressure is his woman. When she comes by for a booty call convinced that he can't handle what she's slinging, he sends her home sated and subdued.

Ice cold baby.

I wasn't even all choked up by the speech to be honest. It was a nice speech, full of on-point quips and on-target arrows, but it didn't move me like his race speech. That was a speech that had me on an emotional high for days. But, what this speech did do was make the panties of every media personality in Denver drop, and that's what mattered Thursday night.

Did y'all see all those media folk fall all over themselves to praise Obama? It was like they hadn't seen him rise to every occasion in the past. They were honestly shocked that Obama hit every note, met every demand and then exceeded all of their expectations.

Have they not been paying attention?

Homie has made mistakes; he's fallen short on issues and handled situations far differently then I would have. But, he's never failed to come through with a big speech when it was nut cutting time. Hell, his career got started because four years ago he turned the entire Democratic party with a speech. He's like a pimp with a heart, a smooth tongue bound together with actual morals. Chuck Todd put it best when he noted that when it comes to speechwriting, there is no equal too Obama in politics.

Tell me that cat didn't have y'all ready to change the world by the time he finished talking?

Anyway, I had another post ready to go about the hurricane heading towards my home, but y'all can catch that on Saturday. I had to push it back because after watching Obama I knew this needed to be said:

Pressure ain't nothing but an eight-letter word.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Oppressor's Tools

It's a letter almost anybody who has attended a historically black college or university has heard about. It gets trotted out in those long rap sessions that are popular on every college campus. Those sessions that provide young, mostly-sheltered black students with the history of the world from a black perspective.

Ancient Egypt, Ashkenazi Jews and eugenics are all a part of the rich tapestry of those discussions. African proverbs and American evil often round out the diatribes that are typically delivered by an older, Afrocentric gentleman who has had his eyes opened. And, in each and every one of those discussions, a particular letter is brought up as the absolute proof of the conspiracy to keep good black folks down.

It's the letter of Willie Lynch.

I'm assuming most of y'all now the basics of the letter and what it discusses, but for those unfamiliar with it, I'll give quick refresher. The letter is written from the perspective of a white slave owner and is supposed to outline ways for white slave owners to keep black slaves docile and at each other's throats so that they cannot rebel.

It contains advice on whippings, on colorism and on gender divides. In fact, the letter touches on each and every pathology still present in black communities, which is what gives it so much power when it is related to an 18-year old who thought real racism ended in the 1960s. The letter is a powerful indictment of America and white people, and I have yet to meet a black person who wasn't beset by wonder and amazement upon first reading it.

Too bad it's not true.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the tactics described in the letter are all real and have all been used by white people to control black people. Many of us now use those tactics on each other to maintain power. But, the letter was not written by a slave owner, in fact, researchers estimate that it was probably written well after slavery ended by some black person looking to make a point.

The point was, these are the tools of our oppressors.

I thought about the Willie Lynch letter recently when I read an article in Washington Monthly. The article was about the criminal trials of several Baltimore drug dealers who, while plying their trade, committed multiple murders of a heinous nature. The twist was that in order to avoid prosecution by the federal government, the men attempted to use a defense created and promulgated by white racists that advocated that the entire federal government was illegal under the Constitution.

Here is the article. It's very long, but you might also learn something.

I found the tale of these black men interesting because it was an extreme case of co-opting the tools of the oppressor. They used this defense despite the fact that it was created by people who argued that black people could never be true citizens of this country. The defense, which was first used by farmers in the nations heartland during dire times, was described in the article:

It was a promise of power, a means of asserting that they were the true inheritors of the founding fathers’ ideal, a dream they believed had been corrupted by a vast conspiracy that only they could see. Gale’s ideas gave people on the paranoid edge of society a collective identity. It told them what they desperately wanted to hear: that the federal government was illegitimate, and that the legal weapons the state used to oppress them could be turned against the state...

Hucksters and charlatans prowled the Midwest as the farm crisis deepened, selling desperate farmers expensive seminars and prepackaged legal defenses “guaranteed” to cancel debts and forestall foreclosure. Since the gold standard had been abandoned in 1933, they argued, money had no inherent value, and so neither did their debts. All they had to do, farmers were told, was opt out of the system by sending a letter to the appropriate authorities renouncing their driver’s license, birth certificate, and social security number.


In addition to tapping into the conspiracy fears that plague all of the oppressed, this legal strategy also melded with the feelings of white superiority that have always been prevalent in the Midwest. Sure, Midwesterners are nice, but a quick glance at the history of the region--the destruction of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, the massive race riots in Kansas--shows that they've had some problems with the coloreds.

The defense allows them to feel superior, while also feeling oppressed, which is a difficult feat. It taps into their feelings of a stolen destiny; feelings that they are being denied opportunities they deserve. It uses a proven equation to gin up white anger...Undeserving Minorities + Evil Government= Your Suffering... If that sounds familiar, it's because Republicans have been using the same calculations for decades...

At first glance, it might seem curious that a legal strategy with those types of roots would come into favor among Baltimore thugs. Although it's not unusual for inmates facing obscene sentences or the death penalty to file ludicrous arguments in an attempt to forestall their fates, this legal defense is an extreme.

The article gives an explanation for how these inmates came in contact with this defense, but it doesn't give a detailed explanation for why they clung to it so fervently. But, here is an inkling:

Like the Midwestern farmers before them, the Baltimore inmates were susceptible to the notion that the federal government was engaged in a massive, historic plot to deprive them of life, liberty, and property. Such suspicions are prevalent in certain pockets of the black community—that year, a study from the Rand Corporation found that over 25 percent of African Americans surveyed believed the AIDS virus was developed by the government, and 12 percent thought it was released into the population by the CIA. And black separatist groups like the Nation of Islam—also fond of conspiracy theories—have long cultivated members through the prison system; some of these groups have explicitly adopted the language of constitutional fundamentalists. Given these developments, Levitas told me, “I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner.


Now, the writer downplays the prevalence among black people of the mentality exhibited by the drug dealers in this story, which I think makes the article inaccurate. I saw why these drug dealers would be attracted to this defense immediately after I learned where it came from. It was as obvious as the fact that Kenard was going to kill Omar.

Simply put, black people as a whole have more ambivalence about America than any other group in this country. That ambivalence is only exacerbated by poverty. Chris Rock has a joke that describes the relationship between black people and America as having an uncle who paid your way through college, but also molested you.

It's complex.

Given the complexity of feelings held by black people in general, and the absolute hopelessness and anger felt by many black people afflicted by poverty, it really was not surprising that these drug dealers embraced a defense that argued basically, "Only God can judge me." Every form of government is seen as illegitimate in the 'hood. Almost all criminals, no matter how heinous their crimes, will quickly argue that the "government" has done worse.

The always eloquent Tupac Shakur is considered a prophet by many in the 'hood because he understood and articulated their lives. Those lives are grounded in the credo that collective suffering has made them immune to judgement by any other man. In many of these people's minds, the evil they have seen and experienced will always outweigh any evil they commit if the Judge is truly all-knowing.

With that mindset, it's easy to look past the origins of the Posse Comitatus legal defense and instead focus on the nuggets of truth it contains. This defense may have been a tool of the oppressors, but it was an effective tool.

Who cares that the people who created Posse Comitatus hated black people and wanted to rid America of them? According to one of the drug dealers, that's nothing new...

“The government wants to do the same thing anyway. So what’s the difference?"

This post was inspired by a reader email. I would use his name, but I don't want to expose anybody as a reader of my crazy rants. Those IT folks ain't no joke. I don't want any of y'all getting fired behind this lunatic.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Cowards Among Us

It's all over the news by now so I'm quite late.

Crazies in Denver were planning to kill Obama and had the rifles, ammunition and bulletproof vests needed to execute their plan. They were only caught after local police caught one of them driving drunk and found drugs and guns in his vehicle. Here is an article about the plot.

Have you ever been a coward?

I know I have. A coward in work, a coward in school, a coward in love and a coward in fights. I've seen myself shrink from many big moments and falter when I needed to take flight. My balls have shriveled into peas under pressure and I've seen my ideals disappear when confronted with true fear.

I've been a coward.

But, not always.

Sometimes I've risen to the occasion. I've hit game-winning shots, and fought impossible fights. I've stood up to authority and stared down bullies. My balls have hung low and I've asserted myself when others crumbled.

I have been something much more than a coward, almost a hero.

We are all cowards and heroes. Often we show these traits in the most mundane ways. Not challenging your neighbor about his overgrown grass, cowardice. Refusing to allow the shady mechanic to overcharge you for repair work, heroism. Simple things, but still important.

However, sometimes we see heroism and cowardice displayed in much more spectacular ways. Congress agreeing with Bush to invade Iraq was cowardice. The devotion that many Muslim Americans still have for this country after being terrorized the past seven years is heroic.

This story about Obama is an example of cowardice and heroism.

The men who would have killed Barack Obama from 750 yards away while wearing bulletproof vests are cowards. Authorities are saying their plot had no chance of succeeding, and that may be true. But, they planned to gun down a loving husband and father of two because he had the audacity to seek the presidency and that makes them sniveling, despicable cowards.

On the other hand, Obama has become a hero of sorts in my mind. I don't always agree with his decisions, and he is just a politician. But, it takes a certain type of heroism to stand up to death to get a job. Even if it is the most powerful political job in America.

How many of you love your jobs? I can't raise my hand, but I'm sure some of you did. Those of you who love your jobs, how many of you would die to do that job? In fact, how many things are there in your life you would risk death to accomplish?


My list is painfully short.

Obama the Hero may have been created by his amazing ambition, but he is still heroic. How many other politicians can say they've faced three or four moderately serious assassination plots before they were even nominated by their party? Shoot, as horrible a job as George Bush has done in the past eight years, how many serious death threats has he received from Americans? Now that's saying something.

I've read some wonderful expressions of pride from black people at what Obama has accomplished so far, and some painful concerns about what it would do to black people's collective psyches if he was killed. I won't add too much more to the topic because I don't know if what I have to say is all that eloquent.

Basically, it would fuck us up.

It's that simple. If this man joined the long list of "black leaders" gunned down by hateful white people and brainwashed black people, it would be devastating. I don't know if many of us would ever commit to this country after that.

Yet, without the threat of death, how many of us would really appreciate the sacrifice of the Obama family? The willingness of Michelle Obama and her children to deal with the possible death of their husband and father says something about them. I know the girls don't understand that much about the threats, but I think they know enough. Daddies are always heroes to their little girls, but I think Obama has done more than that.

He's become a flawed hero to us all by going forward when so many other people want you to fall.

I think we can all practice that heroism.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Random Ridiculousness

I stumbled on some foolishness on the internet and I just had to share it with y'all real quick.

Check out this link.

The article is about a 9-year old boy who is so good at pitching in baseball that the other teams refuse to play against him and the league he participates in has decided to eliminate his team. Oh, and this decision came after his team was 8-0 and headed for the playoffs.

Now, at first glance, this seems fairly shady, particularly since the rumors are that the kid is being punished because he wouldn't play for the team of one of the league administrators. The story is moving quickly through sports blogs as people express outrage at what appears to be more evidence that our society is rewarding mediocrity and refusing to allow children to compete.

I had a different take.

I looked at the picture of the little boy. I looked at the comments attributed to his mother, and the comments made about his mother by league officials, and well I started to get that feeling. I have no proof to justify that feeling, but the feeling is still there. Y'all know the feeling, it's like a sour sickness in your gut.

This is about race.

I know, I know, it's irresponsible to bring race into a discussion in America without overwhelming proof that race is a factor. That's like rule Number One in the "Black People's Guide to Assimilating into American Society." But, you know what, screw the rules. I think this kid is being discriminated against because he's young, black and dominant. I can't shake the idea that the other people in this league don't like getting smashed by this kid from the wrong side of the tracks, and they are taking steps to remove the problem.

One of my friends said that you never hear about little white boys being forced to quit leagues because they are too good. He compared it to the way you never hear about white men getting shot 41 times after reaching for their wallets. That made sense to me.

The league officials are telling the little boy he should move up an age group because the kids his own age can't handle his skill level. They claim that the league he is in is a "developmental league" and that kids are just scared, even though the little boy hasn't hit anybody. That all sounds very reasonable, but like James Brown, I've got that feeling.

I really wish I didn't.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Interruption in Service

Bad news y'all.

I had to do my duty to the judicial system for the next two weeks, so posting could be intemittent during that time period. I'm going to try to continue my tradition of getting a new post up most weekdays, but with jury duty I don't have the same ability to surf the web and find topics. I may try to repost some old blogs from the early days of the site, or just links to good stuff, but I haven't decided yet.

Anyway, I just wanted to let y'all know what was up so y'all wouldn't be surprised when things started getting funky around here. It's only a temporary blip and I should be back to normal in early September.

Appreciate y'all's patience.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This Makes Sense

Y'all ever read something on the web and it just clicks with you?

The piece provides new information and insight, or it just clarifies something you've thought about for a long time. I love stumbling across that type of work, and I find it all over the web.

Here is a gem.

I suggest y'all read the whole piece for yourselves; it's an interesting take on the media by someone who works in the media. But, I'm going to post and discuss a few snippets just because they caught my eye.

The Media Are Dumb...Don't Be Alarmed

Historically this has not been a time when a presidential candidate pulls away, and even if someone does it will be meaningless because it’s August. You could call that type of reporting irresponsible but that connotes a level of intelligence to the coverage that isn’t there. The narrative with McCain is the flip side of this–what can he do to derail the Obama juggernaut? Never mind that these narratives are contradictory. Obama is vulnerable in the one instance, but in the other, he’s evidently unstoppable. Logic just doesn’t count in these things.


I have friends who have elaborate conspiracy theories about the coverage, and how the media is leaning one way or the other. In my darker moments I find myself wishing the press were cunning enough to do that. But it’s more like sports journalism or, to use that tired cliché, the horse race mentality. If you’re a cable news director, you’re just not going to devote ten minutes to a major address about the subprime crisis, but if John Edwards confesses to an extramarital affair, even though he’s not even a candidate and holds no public office, it will lead to an orgy of coverage. Market share dictates the witless coverage, which is largely for the media’s own amusement


The funny thing about those snippets is how readily the cat being interviewed assumes that the idiocy of the media is because of some core lack of intelligence. I work in the media, I've been around media types, these people are not stupid. In fact, many of them are quite intelligent and well read. So, I always find it funny when media critics brush aside accusations that the media is part of some grand scheme by saying that media folks are not that smart.

No, your average reporter or anchor is not smart enough to design and carry out a crazy scheme. But, that doesn't mean that the people above them are stupid. The people who dictate coverage and the use of resources aren't idiots. More importantly, you don't have to be dumb to be complicit in someone else's scheme. You can be quite intelligent and believe in Manifest Destiny and slavery. It's already happened!

So, the idea that the decisions the media makes are not part of some bigger plot because reporters just aren't that smart is stupid to me. It sounds good and reassures people, but the more I live in this world the more I become convinced that there are power blocs that do dictate how the world operates. I'm not saying I believe in the Illuminati or something similar, but I believe that power people meet and make decisions that affect my life in ways I'm not even aware of. And the media has a role to play in that process.


This Amuses Me, That Makes It News

Market share dictates the witless coverage, which is largely for the media’s own amusement. You see that all the time on the Sunday political chat shows, which are always about the polls and who is performing better in strategic terms. The only constituency that cares about that is the media. I have family around the country and we always talk politics, and no one ever asks me, “How did Obama perform on his European tour?” It’s an asinine question.


Not only do reporters write about what they’re talking about, but they’re writing about each other. Notice the passive construction in these stories about “rampant speculation” and ask yourself, “Who’s doing the speculating?” It’s the reporters who are; most voters, being sane people, might think about it for a second but then they move on to the next thing in their day.


On television, the cool kids decide what everybody is talking about in high school. In real life, the media tries to take that role. (This isn't a coincidence.) Look, I'm a media member, the truth is that we decide what is and is not news.

Some of y'all might argue that if a train derails or a plane crashes, that's news and the media has to cover that. That's true, to an extent. But, we decide how much coverage we dedicate to which deaths, how much angst the public should show about certain accidents. And, when you move past breaking news, we totally decide what's an important issue and what's just fluff.

Like most people, media members take some of their cues about what's important from
the people around them. My friends and I like to talk about sports, particularly basketball. So, what's important to us is what's happening in the basketball world. We decided that's important, and we seek out information about basketball to circulate among each other.

The only difference between me and my friends and most media members is the size of the circulation. Media members gossip and discuss the minutia of the campaign, decide among themselves what's important and what's not, and then circulate those ideas to everybody. It's what makes being a journalist so attractive to people who like attention, gossip and power. If you're a media member you get to have all three things, and then pretend that you don't like any of them!

It's a very disturbing reality of the media that's only discussed in passing. Nobody really wants the public to understand that media companies have a huge impact on what information is disseminated, and therefore what topics the public is aware of. Do y'all really think global warming just became a problem? Or that same-sex marriage is no longer a big issue among evangelicals? Nope and nope. But, the media has decided that one issue is "newsworthy" and the other currently is not. The next time you here a media member use the term "newsworthy" remember that is just code "interesting to me."

This is Business...Businesses Make Money

First of all the media wants it to be as close of a race as possible.


Not to be too conspiratorial, but there is an economic interest at stake because you want people to come back and watch the same drivel the next day, in the same way that I obsessively check the sports section to see how the Cubs did.


I wrote a post a while back about how much money the Obama vs. Clinton primary was making media companies, particularly TV companies. Viewers were tuning in, which meant that advertisers were spending money.

Never, ever forget that most media companies are publicly traded entities with shareholders who like dividends. Never forget this. Businesses that don't make money don't exist. Blowout campaigns don't make money. Very few campaigns have been seen as blowouts before the election day, yet we've had multiple blowouts after actual voting has occurred. That tells me that somebody is really bad at predicting results, or people are predicting results that just aren't accurate for a reason.

Not only are media companies businesses, but they are the type of businesses owned by people who tend to vote Republican. Rich people like Republicans, the people who own and manage media companies are rich.

I'm just saying.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Haters Hate Because Love is Hard

They're trying to get you to hate him.

As he glides towards the finish line, arms outstretched, face painted with a mixture of glee and cockiness, they want you to despise him.

Watch him strut around the stadium for one more victory lap. You might see pride, they see unacceptable arrogance. You see the climax of four years of hard work, they see disrespect.

IOC president Jacques Rogge criticized Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt on Thursday for showing a lack of respect to other competitors after his record-breaking gold medal performances in the 100 and 200 meters.

“That’s not the way we perceive being a champion,” Rogge said.“I have no problem with him doing a show,” Rogge said in an interview with three international news agency reporters. “I think he should show more respect for his competitors and shake hands, give a tap on the shoulder to the other ones immediately after the finish and not make gestures like the one he made in the 100 meters.”


I haven't written about sports in a while, but I got that urge again recently. Like many of you, I've watched Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt capture the 100 meter and 200 meter gold medals with a combination of amazement and envy the past few days.

Amazement because it seems impossible that a man could run that fast. Envy because it's impossible for anyone who has ever run a schoolyard race to not feel a twinge of envy watching Bolt move across the Earth. As one of my friends put it, running is the one thing that all of us with full use of our limbs have a visceral understanding and connection too.

We may not know what it's like to train for hours to become finally honed running machines, but we know the joy of running. The sheer excitement of "picking them up and laying them down" so fast that if feels like you can take flight. It feels like only the wind can challenge you. It just feels...

My father and I have exchanged several late night conversations about "that boy Bolt." I've debated whether losing my sleep at night was worth watching him run, even though I already knew the results of his races. Bolt was excitement, an event like Flo-Jo once was during those late summer nights of my youth.

And certain folks can't appreciate his majesty.

First came the attacks because he managed to destroy the field while jogging the last few meters of his races. Then there was the complaint that his celebrations were too much, too exuberant and too brash. Finally, there were the whispers that no human could do what he had done without help from an outside source. A chemical source.

There is an easy racial comparison in there, one I think all of you racially conscious folks can see. But, I'm not going to go there because I have something else to say.

When did it become unacceptable for black people to celebrate our achievements?

I said black people for a reason. You rarely, if ever, hear complaints about celebrations levied against white players. When they celebrate it's due to a love for the game, a primal joy at participating. When we celebrate, it's because we lack proper decorum.

You know, I've never heard a black athlete criticized for displaying too much emotion when they fail. Failure, like the agonies of Lolo Jones and Wallace Spearmon, is wallowed in, all of the agony documented and recorded. Our pain is entertainment, truthfully the pain of all Olympic athletes is reveled in by the producers that decide who gets the spotlight. Asian, Latino, black or white, the pain of failure seems to be must-see t.v.

But, joy is not so colorblind. No, the joy of black athletes, their excitement at seeing the fulfillment of years of hard work, must only be displayed in an "acceptable" manner. There can be no strutting, no preening, no basking in the full glow of dominance. There can only be humble acceptance with a touch of unassuming joy. Pain is accepted in any form, but joy must be controlled.

Honestly, I didn't want to make this a race thing, but in my heart it feels like one. I have watched the U.S.A. mens basketball team, and I have seen them chastised when they show "too much" ferocity. When they return shoves and glowers with their own shoves and glowers. When they go "too" far.

I have watched Michael Phelps swim his way to wealth and seen him celebrate his best victories with incredible fervor. I have heard no complaints about him slowing down and saving something for later. And that has happened, it has been documented. Instead he has been lauded for his "strategy," praised for his dominance and championed for his emotion. He has been held up as the golden standard.

And Bolt has not. His dominance has been acknowledged, but only with a side order of hate. Some claim it's because he's not one of us, it's because he's not an American. We only champion our own, they say.

I don't know. It seems to be deeper than that to me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It Just Ain't The Same

Do y'all remember the good old days of this blog?

Many of you readers have been visiting my spot for a while, and I appreciate y'all allowing me to share my thoughts about the world with you. I've lost some loyal readers over the past eight months, but I've also met some folks I feel privileged to have encountered.

Those of you who were around in the beginning may remember that this blog began as a place to share my thoughts, but also as a way to release some of the tension I felt because of the Barack Obama presidential run. The vast majority of my pieces have mentioned Obama, and I would be lying if I denied that he has been good for business.

I realized recently that when Obama was running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, I rarely missed an opportunity to write something negative about Lord Hildermort. It wasn't because I had a grudge against her, but because she and her supporters rarely missed an opportunity to take the low road. With all of the racism and other crap flying around during the nomination process it was like the blogs were writing themselves.

I haven't been able to find that same groove with John McCain.

Sure, I've mentioned him in a few blogs and even dedicated some pieces to discussing troubling aspects of his candidacy, but I haven't been able to generate the same outrage that I had with Hillary. While this has allowed me more time to talk about topics outside of politics, it has left me confused.

Am I being unfair to the Ice Queen?

Seriously folks, does my failure to attack McCain with the same fervor I went after Clinton expose an inherent bias in me? Did I go after Hillary because she was a woman? Because she was a strong, assertive woman? Was I threatened by her strength and intelligence? Am I a bad person?

Nah, she was just surprisingly evil.

Note the word "surprisingly." See, both Clinton and McCain are evil bastards. Both of them lack morals, both are willing to cut any one's throats and they both are liars. However, Clinton surprised me with the depths of her evil.

Like most black folks, I don't expect much from Republicans, no matter what color they are or how moderate they are supposed to be. Since the "Southern Strategy" was born, Republicans have made it very clear how they feel about people who look like me. Democrats haven't been much better, but they have been better. So, to see John McCain lying and distorting really isn't a shock.

But, Hillary, well to see a Clinton behave that way towards a black person destroyed some fond memories of my youth.

Like many black people, I used to view Bill and Hillary as decent white folks. I remembered that the country did pretty well financially under Clinton's watch and that black people made some gains. I was woefully uninformed about the Clinton's dedication to the prison industrial complex, mandatory sentencing laws and Bill's role in the Rwandan genocide, but that was pretty typical of black folks.

Bill was one of the coolest white boys in American, and his wife ain't take no stuff.

So, when I saw the Clintons roll out every dirty racial trick in the book to thwart Obama, well it was unexpected. I know I shouldn't have been shocked at how far powerful people will go to protect their power, but dammit I was. I honestly thought there were some things the Clintons just wouldn't do because of their morals, and I was horribly wrong.

(Sidenote: Honestly, I should have known better. Besides his aforementioned crimes against the black community, Bill Clinton also got head from an intern while on duty in the White House. Come on, the dude is a serial philanderer and liar. I should have known that he and morals were like Michael Jackson and sanity, arch enemies.)

I think I've said this before, but I believe that anger is a byproduct of either fear, surprise or a combination of both. In this case, it was a combination of both things.

As I've already documented I was surprised by how viciously the Clintons and their supporters went after Obama. I know politics is called a "bloodsport" but their attacks seemed ridiculous. But, it was probably the fear that made me more angry.

Honestly, Obama is the type of black cat who plays by the rules, yet he was still getting castigated and attacked like he was one of "Dem Negroes." Now, some of y'all may argue that by attempting to become president Obama violated the most sacred of the Good Negro rules; mainly, know your place Negro.

I can understand that argument; it's a really good argument.

But, in my mind I still saw Obama as the prototypical Good Negro, and I was frightened by how easily the media and Clinton turned him into an Evil Negro. If it was that easy to discredit somebody like Obama, how easy would it be for these folks to get after somebody like me with a whole bunch of militant skeletons in my closet? They weren't even concerned with the truth, all they needed was innuendo, and things got popping.

I imagine it was similar to the way black folks felt when lynching was at its zenith. As they watched mostly innocent men maimed and murdered by angry white mobs, I'm sure it reminded them that none of them were really safe. That reminder undoubtedly affected how they lived their lives and what they aspired to become.

So, I was afraid of the message the Clinton's attacks sent to black people interested in improving the world through politics. Hell, I was disturbed at the message those attacks sent to black people in general. It was like the Clintons slapped us across the mouth before quickly hissing that "we better not get too big for our britches." Then they pointed to all the rules and standards that everyone was supposed to adhere to, and told us "They can't save you if we really want to get to you."

Chilling.

I guess that's why if you search my archives you'll find a host of nicknames and insults directed at Hillary and very few for the Old Man by the Sea. Something about what the Clintons did struck me as truly wrong. McCain is just playing his role.

(I just want to note that the Clintons keep pissing my off and this latest news about Bill Clinton's underhanded endorsement of McCain's energy policy would be comical if it wasn't so sad.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How I Almost Became the Anti-Christ

Nah, I'm not talking my stalled bid to become America's first black president.

I'm talking about the first 20-21 years of life when I was on a dangerous path that could have only led to pain and suffering for myself and my family. I'm talking about a dark period in my life; a time I'm not proud of and that I do not like to revisit.

I'm talking about when I almost became a black Republican.

*Shudders*...The horror....

Yes, my dear readers, the militant self-aware young black man that y'all love to read every morning almost crossed over to the darkside. I almost joined Shelby Steele, Ward Connerly and J.C. Watts in the bootlickin' Hall of Fame and put that "R" behind my name on my voter registration card. I almost became one of them.

Thank you Lord for saving me...Thank you Jesus...

Seriously, for most of my early life I was a fairly conservative cat. Thanks to my success in school and relatively easy path to college, (butt-whippings by father aside), I was one of those black folks that had bought into the whole "bootstraps" myth. Y'all know what I'm talking about right?

If only these Negroes would work harder they would be successful in life.... Poverty is a state of mind... The only reason black people don't have more success is because they love playing the victim... If I can do it, anybody can do it...


Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Man, I had the black conservative disease bad throughout high school and well into college. I was hard on everybody who didn't live up to my standard of morality or personal accomplishment. And I managed to do this while brushing off my own inadequacies as "no big deal."

Then I went to graduate school.

Through a series of experiences in grad school, I learned that my success in life was a result of the blessings of God not my own supreme awesomeness. I got broken down to my core, and I realized that I was just as frail as all the other people I had previously looked upon with scorn. I finally understood just how easy it would have been for me to become a statistic, to become a lost soul.

I got in touch with my humanity.

I became a Christian at 7-years old, but I truly "met" God in graduate school. I began to appreciate the role he and my parents played in my life to a much greater extent. While I had always been cognizant of what they had done for me, I began to understand exactly where I might have ended up if they hadn't been there.

I wrote all of these words because yesterday's post reminded me of my journey from the edge of the abyss. Your responses helped me see my life with clarity again; the mistakes and the accomplishments.

I was going to break down some of the comments from The Uppity Negro for problems I had with them. I was going to discuss elitism among black people and how misguided it really is. I wanted to really explore the "bootstrap myth," and examine its positives and negatives.

But, I'll save that for another day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dem Negroes

I'm so over the Rick Warren faith forum after reading that John McCain wasn't in a soundproof room like Warren insinuated. I'm not writing a long piece on that, it's pretty obvious what happened.

They cheated.

What I want to discuss is a convo I had with my best friend the other day. We hadn't had a long conversation in a while, but we got the chance to chop it up over the weekend and discussed everything from women, to sports, to racism. It was a pretty standard convo for us.

Anyway, during the conversation my friend was telling me about visiting a ghetto in an area where he was surprised to find a ghetto. My homeboy grew up in the 'hood, and the area he was visiting is considered the suburbs. However, even in the suburbs you can find a little ghetto, and my friend said he wouldn't feel safe living in this particular suburban ghetto. We talked about a particular crime that occurred in the subdivision, and during the conversations, he said something like "Now, that's some stuff only black people do."

And I had to stop him.

My friend is a conscious cat, shoot, sometimes he's even more militant than I am. And it's not like his comment was new to me; I've heard black people of every age and economic class make similar statements. Previously, I never really thought about it, hell, I might have nodded my head in agreement at the crazy actions of "Dem Negroes."

Dem Negroes.

All black people love to talk about "Dem Negroes." You know, the ones that talk loud on the bus or subway, and even use racial slurs when arguing with other ethnic groups. The ones with their pants hanging off their butts, or those wild dreadlocks. Dem Negroes that are shooting and killing up each other something fierce, the negresses with two or three babies at 17-years old, and just as many baby daddies.

Dem Negroes.

My friend wasn't setting himself up as being above certain folks, but there was a hint of self-hatred in his comment. I told him that contrary to popular opinion, black folks have not cornered the market on certain pathologies. We may have a higher incidence of certain problems than other races, but we do not have a monopoly. I added that the only reason black people say stuff life "only Negroes" is because we've been trained to think of ourselves as some particularly debased race.

There has a been systematic campaign to encourage black people to believe that not only are we more prone to certain evil acts, but in some cases, we're the only ones who do these heinous things. After all, if those in power could convince us that we were evil beyond all others, well it was easier to convince us that we didn't deserve certain rights until we got our act together. So many of us have accepted these lies that we are willing to see the failures of some black folks as an indictment of our entire race.

Look, for better or worse, black people in this country are viewed as one big collective. Although we love to divide ourselves into "Dem Negroes" and "Good black folks," in the end, we're all just black people.

The thugs with prison records are black just like the Howard graduates with masters degrees. We may not be on the same life path or making the same contributions to society, but we're all black folk. We can't pretend that black people who are not productive are part of some separate race. Doesn't work like that.

While it is unfair that all black people get blamed for the failures of some of us, I think black people's response to this injustice is counterproductive. We cannot pretend that "Dem Negroes" are another species we can't understand and don't really like.

A smarter move would be to embrace the good and the bad. We don't have to celebrate the bad, but we need to embrace it. We need to refuse to hold ourselves to some different standard than everyone else. We need to force the world to understand that we cannot be denied equality based on our imperfection.

Our imperfections bestow upon us our humanity.

We have to give ourselves the permission to fail in order to free our minds to succeed. We are all black and we are also human. As humans, we struggle just like everyone else. We are no better and we are no worse. We should not feel debased by our chronic ailments, but rather more fully human. There is nothing wrong with black people because some of us are "Dem Negroes."

We need to stop regurgitating self-hatred because it sounds good.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Slight Departure




One of my faithful readers, The Truth, decided to "tag" me at his blog The Enclave. From what I've gathered, this is kind of like a chain letter for blogs. Despite the fact that I vehemently oppose chain letters and never pass them along, I'm going to respond this one time because I liked the premise. However, this is the last time. And the picture above is part of the chain letter.

I'm supposed to reveal seven facts about myself, so here we go.

1. I hate social networking sites. Seriously, I think Myspace, Facebook and all their bastard children are the devil's spawn. People voluntarily post embarrassing pictures of themselves and then invite strangers to come talk to them about those pictures. They also refuse to speak in anything but the Internet Language. I really hate the Internet Language. Then, people you don't even like come by and comment on your page just so you will return the favor and make them feel popular. I have never had a Myspace or Facebook page and as long as my brain is working correctly, I never will.

2. Before I met my wife I was a virgin. Yep, I was the one attractive cat in America to manage to maintain my virginity throughout high school and college. And it wasn't because I was on some religious kick. Nope, I was actively out there trying to get some loving, but still failing. Part of it was that I had a penchant for telling girls the truth about everything. When you're trying to close the deal you should not tell girls the truth. I'm not saying you should lie, but you should avoid forcing them to confront unpleasant truths about themselves and about their past sexual history. I've picked that up along the way.

3. I haven't had a white friend since I was like six. I know that's not surprising to most of y'all given the tone of this blog, but it is an unusual fact. I've attended white schools at times and worked with white people my whole life, but I haven't had a white friend since elementary school. His name was Chip and he lived down the street from me. My brother and I constantly rang his doorbell so he would come outside and play. We used to tease him after he learned how to ride his bike because he had to make really wide turns or he would fall. Our friendship was ended by white flight.

4. I used to have a fetish for Asian chicks. I know that's horrible and I'm still ashamed about it. But, after ingesting American propaganda about Asian women, I strongly felt that being with one was an experience I wanted to have. Obviously, that didn't happen, but it was on my mind. However, I have never really felt comfortable dating outside of my race and have never approached a woman who wasn't black.

5. I can be quite a dick. Seriously, I can be sarcastic, mean and cruel. I have a tendency to use the silent treatment or really cutting remarks to express my anger. I also emotionally divest myself from women without letting them know what's going on. I'm working on these things because they are not conducive to having a long-lasting marriage. Trust me.

6. I used to eat boogers. Nothing else to say about that.

7. I'm really enjoying this blogging thing, but I wonder if the whole exercise is just for self-gratification. Kind of like a verbal form of internet masturbation. I've decided to put some of my high-minded ideas into action, mostly by confronting folks more frequently when they cross racial boundaries. I also want to be like WNG and make the world better place. Unfortunately, I'm lazy and I have a wife, a son and another baby on the way. So, it's really easy for me to find excuses why I can't get up and do good. I'm working on it though, and I'll let y'all know how things go.



I tag:

Deacon Blue
KIT
Uppity Negro
Inkognegro

I know I'm supposed to do seven folks, but I just told y'all I was lazy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Watch Out for the Knife

Originally I planned to write about this new report that military members have given substantially more money to Barack Obama than John McCain. In fact, not only has Obama raised six times as much money as McCain among military members, but Ron Paul, who quit his campaign months ago, has raised four times as much as McCain. The only thing Obama and Paul have in common is that they are both against the war in Iraq.

Tells you something, doesn't it?

But, just as a I was sitting down to pen a piece that would destroy the "McCain is a beloved war hero" myth, I stumbled across something else that just shocked me. It was so unbelievable I just had to discuss it with y'all.

WTF is Obama thinking?

Check the link. Apparently Obama the Great has decided that he needs to put Hillary's name "in nomination" at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in show of party unity. From what I've gathered, putting a name "in nomination" is like giving them the chance to get voted as the party's nominee.

Is this nigger high?

Look, I know that Clinton and Obama came out with a joint statement recognizing him as the party's nominee. I noticed that the Obama camp said this was a way to honor Clinton's historic campaign. I read her quote talking about uniting behind Obama. And to all those comments I just have one thing to say:

The short yellow bus does not stop at my house.

Obama is smart dude, but sometimes he does some dumb stuff in his attempt to be "above" the petty bullshit. I know that's because he has to operate by a different set of rules than everybody else, but this thing is going too far. I even heard he was talking about giving Florida and Michigan full voting rights. Now, he's doing this "in nomination" crap, which opens up the door for Hillary and her crazy ass supporters to unseat him at the convention.

I am not qualified to offer a seasoned politician like Barack Obama advice on how to run a political campaign. But, as a semi-paranoid black man who grew up in the South I am qualified to offer advice on the ways of white folks. And my advice is to never, EVER let white folks get close to power once you have defeated them in battle. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever...

Has Obama not noticed that Hillary and her crazy husband have been throwing darts at him and his nomination since she got whupped? They are even talking about doing away with caucuses for the next election because of how well Obama used them during this election cycle. I know Big Homie is an optimist, but I hope he hasn't closed his eyes to the fact that Billy Boy is actually calling him an uppity, unprepared Negro who only got where he is because of Affirmative Action. I hope he sees that.

With all of his campaign's web savvy they should have noticed that Hillary has some die-hard supporters who are willing to do anything to see her become the Democratic nominee. As I noted in yesterday's post, these fuckers are seriously deranged. They are convinced that it is Hillary's destiny to be the nominee and they are willing to employ Shermanesque Scorched Earth tactics to secure a victory for her.

All of these factors lead me to believe that the last thing Obama needs to do is give Hillary any opportunity to usurp his position and overturn the decision of Democratic voters. She does not need her name in the hat because that wily heifer will steal the damn hat in a heartbeat!

Seriously, even if she and her supporters cannot steal the nomination they can turn an event that should be a coronation into an embarrassing forum for them to air their grievances. Can y'all imagine all the wrinkled, angry white women who will flock to Denver with the sole purpose of righting all the wrongs men have done them in their lives? Those women will make love to the news cameras if given the opportunity to discuss why Obama is "inadequate" and Hillary is the one with "cojones."

I see the benefits of Obama's decision, but I also see the pitfalls and because of my cynical and cautious nature the pitfalls look way too threatening. I don't trust Hillary or anybody who supports the darkside to do the right thing. These people are evil. The Good Book says to resist the Devil and he will flee, it does not say welcome the Devil to your table and ask him if he wants some Chardonnay.

This could be one dangerous dinner party.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Let That Shit Go

What if Barack Obama was a loser?

I mean, what if he had been unable to pull his campaign together and overcome all the obstacles in his path, and Hillary Rodham Clinton was the presumptive Democratic nominee? What if he had lost to her?

How would you be taking it?

I ask that question because we all know that the minions (sorry WNG) of one Hillary Clinton have not taken her defeat well. In fact, they've taken her loss horribly and seem intent on writing a primer on the absolute best way to make sure nobody thinks Hillary supporters are graceful losers. Those are some bitter bastards.

The funny thing about all the angst from Clinton supporters is that the media seems unwilling to just call them spoiled brats and move on. Every week or so there is a story about what Barack has to do to court these people and make them feel loved. The only problem is that most of the diehard Hillary folks will never vote for Obama because he's Obama. It doesn't matter what policy position he takes, or who he invites into his campaign. Barack Obama will never be Hillary Clinton and so he will never be acceptable to certain folks.

In addition, you have Bill and Hillary fanning the flames by making off the wall comments. Bill is complaining that Obama hit him with the race card, Hillary is claiming that her supporters need to be "heard. " Recently, she said that she's not sure if anybody is ever ready to be president. All this while they beg Obama and his supporters to help Hillary retire her campaign debt.

The Audacity of Whiteness, indeed.

Anyway, I'm looking at this maneuvering and just shaking my head. It reminds me of when people get dumped in a relationship, swear they are over everything, and then they spend the next four months following their ex to the grocery story, calling their ex's phone and breathing hard on the other end, and finally hacking into their ex's email account.

Denial is a helluva drug.

That's what Hillary and her supporters are mired in, denial. They truly don't want to accept the fact that despite all of her built-in advantages, Hillary Clinton got her ass handed to her by a skinny black dude with a fucked up name and a crazy pastor. If they were computers all they would have on the screen would be "syntax error."

When I'm not consumed with anger, I feel sorry for the poor bastards. Since most of them grew up white and privileged, I'm sure getting smacked around by black people hasn't been a normal occurrence for them. Oh, they may complain about black people getting all the advantages, but I would wager that in most of their personal lives they've never actually seen that happen. Their complaints are hypothetical or based on secondhand accounts.

But, my pity only extends so far. If these folks keep showing their asses my pity is going to be consumed by my anger, and I don't think I'm the only black person that feels that way. See, black people have been willing to cut Bill and Hillary some slack because we know it takes a while for white people to come to grips with defeat, but if they and their buddies actually cost The Black Hope his chance to be President, well there is going to be hell to pay.

I don't think these people understand the anger of black people scorned. I don't think they understand that we can wreak havoc on any political plans they have for the future in they keep fucking with the rules. That's why I'm advising them, although I doubt that they will listen, to just just let this thing go.

Just let it go. This opportunity has passed. Bill and Hillary need to take solace in the fact that they are still rich, and their supporters need remember that most of them are still white. Life is ok for them, this is not the end of the world. Being white in America is still a pretty good deal no matter what the president looks like.

Besides, even if Obama wins, black people will still be black. That is not changing, and Obama will only have so much power to help us. Hillary supporters, the white ones at least, need to let black folks have this symbolic moment and then concentrate on maintaining their stranglehold on real power in this country.

Just move on. It's for the best.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Everybody Out of the Pool

The dog days of summer are here.

When I was a kid, I always thought the summer was a loss if I didn't get a chance to go swimming at least one time. It could be at a beach, a water park or some friend's house, but if I didn't get a chance to do at least one underwater handstand I was pissed.

I remember I spent one summer at this camp that took us swimming once or twice a week at this big public pool near City Park in New Orleans. I think it was near City Park at least, but I can't be certain because as a child all I cared about was that we were going to a pool. Anyway, a whole gang of little black kids would jump in that pool and swim and piss until their hearts were content.

Yeah, I said piss because you know we did not get out of the pool when it's time to handle our business. In fact, somebody actually left another kind of surprise in the pool one day, and I distinctly remember most of us stayed in the water even as that nasty turd floated by. It was like a nasty game of tag trying to avoid that sucker.

But I digress.

During my summer sojourns to swimming holes, I was often one of the few kids in attendance that could swim pretty well. I wasn't the black Michael Phelps, but I had a passable freestyle stroke, I could tread water and I knew how to float on my back. Most black kids seemed to barely be able to dog paddle, and anytime they ventured into the deep end of the pool they were clinging to the side of the pool like it was their momma.

I thought about all those kids recently when I read an interesting article in the New York Times about black people and swimming. Apparently, black children are far more likely than white children to die while swimming. Of course, this could be due to the fact that there are very few swimming pools or structured swimming programs in the 'hood, but the article also offered another more insidious reason.

Slavery.

I'm serious. The article said that many Africans knew how to swim before they came to America, but once they got here, they were prevented from teaching their children the skill because it was seen as a boon to those slaves seeking to escape. That makes sense because a slave who could swim could more effectively use rivers and creeks to avoid bloodhounds, which wouldn't be good for master's bottom line.

Anyway, after slaves were prevented from learning to swim, white folks then started the myth that black people couldn't swim because their bodies weren't made for the water. Once slavery ended, black children were barred from sharing swimming pools or swimming programs with white children because it was believed that they would contaminate the water. Basically slavery got the ball rolling and then Jim Crow made sure it turned into an avalanche.

Typical.

You know, the longer I live the more I realize how much work it's going to take for black people to overcome our past in this country. The layers of injustice buried beneath America's soil are still contaminating so many aspects of our lives. If hatred and discrimination were pollution, America would be completely uninhabitable. We as a people not only have to overcome the normal foibles of being human, but we have to overcome a massive system designed to deny us opportunity and advancement that the larger society has never truly admitted exists.

It's amazing that any of us can tread water, let alone win races.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Golden Oldies

Sometimes when I talk with older people I'm just in awe.

I love hearing them talk about how their lives have changed over the years. I mean, some of these people have seen the invention of television, computers, cell phones and a host of other technological marvels. Shoot, I still trip on how much the world has changed since the 1980s, it would be mindboggling if I could remember as far back as the 1940s or 1950s.

When I first started working, I was so overwhelmed by the daily grind that I used to envy older people who were already at retirement age. It seemed like their lives were simpler and easier. Of course, I was way off base with those sentiments, but I point that out to note that I've always respected and envied older people for what they have seen and accomplished. Longevity in life is a gift.

However, I've never envied older people when it came to racial issues.

It has got to be confusing to have lived through this country's racial past and find yourself in today's "post-racial" society. Just the difference in acceptable terminology must be difficult for a lot of folks to grasp, let alone all the new rules about what is and is not acceptable behavior.

I read this story the other day about the Mayor in Oakland using the phrase "nigger shooter" instead of "slingshot" when advising some residents of her town on how to get rid of chickens running loose through their neighborhood.

A couple years back, this lady here in New Orleans lost a contract with the city because she used the phrase "nigger-rigged" to describe some lights that were in poor condition in a city office.

In both incidents the women who made the offensive comments were older white women, and both women played the "I have black friends I can't be racist" card.

Now, a regular reader of this blog might assume that I believe these women got what they deserved, and to a certain extent they did. After all, as the white mayor of a majority black city it would seem like a basic job qualification that you know that using the word nigger in any form is unacceptable. And the woman who was fired here in majority black New Orleans handled public relations for the city so she also should have been aware of the problems with the word nigger.

But, I felt kind of sorry for these women and people in their age bracket because when they were growing up terms like "nigger-rigged" and "nigger shooter" were perfectly acceptable parts of American culture. People called jawbreakers "nigger balls" and they called Brazilian nuts "nigger toes." Anything hard, shoddy or tough typically had the word nigger as part of its nickname.

That was just life.

I'm sure black folks didn't like it back then and I don't like it now. However, I feel like it sort of sucks that all these older people who were raised to think and speak one way are now being asked to change their habits on the fly. Even worse, when they slip up, they get fired or get censured. It seems a little unfair.

When I was a kid, whenever we considered something wack or lame we said it was "gay." We also called all Asians "gooks" and called every Latino a "mexican." These actions were offensive and as I got older I stopped doing them. But, it took a lot of effort on my part to break those habits, and I still slip up when it comes to the use of the word "gay."

My own failings make it hard for me to look too harshly on older people who retain bad habits from their youth, particularly if those habits are related to offensive phrases.

I believe that if people are willing to acknowledge that their comments are no longer acceptable in today's world, and then attempt to remove certain phrases from their vocabulary, then they should be cut some slack when they slip up. As long as they seem to be making an honest effort, I'm ok with that.

Sometimes old people can't help themselves.

Ask John McCain.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Joke's on You

Last week I had a conversation that reminded me why I cut back on trying to correct racist mindsets in regular people.

That may take some of y'all by surprise considering I have this entire blog that appears dedicated to discussing race and racism each and every day. As some readers have noted, I possess a special ability to find the racial angle on any event. More importantly, I use that skill the way Lil Kim uses plastic surgery, liberally.

However, in my private life, I've really cut back on my attempts to cure people of their racism infection. That may sound cowardly to some of you--isn't it typical of a blogger to be big and bold behind a computer screen but punk out when it comes to real work--but I had to stop trying to be Captain Save A Racist because it was making me crazy.

The folks that really drove me to be more selective in my battles were the comedians. Not real comedians though, I'm talking about the amateurs. Those folks that love to use a snarky comment or mildly humorous joke to re-direct conversations about race. The kind of person who would interrupt a discussion about the hypocrisy of the Founding Father's stance on slavery with a joke about how Thomas Jefferson couldn't have been a racist because he loved him some black women.

See what I mean?

To be clear, I think that you need a sense of humor to discuss racism. The disease makes human beings behave so illogically that if you can't laugh at other people's stupidity you will soon find yourself sobbing on your bathroom floor unable to leave the house. You don't want to be there because that bathroom tile is cold and it smells like pee.

Humor is wonderful, it's just not something I want to deal with when I'm trying to have a serious conversation about one of the most difficult topics in the world. Many of these amateur comedians genuinely believe that their humor makes it easier for people to deal with the truth. They might compare their jokes to the peppermint your mother gave you just before she forced you to swallow a big tablespoon of castor oil; just a little something sweet to help the medicine go down.

They are wrong.

See, if I'm listening to someone explain to me the horror of rape, I don't need some jokester chiming in about how "everybody needs love." If a homosexual is explaining to me just how painful it is to hear somebody use the word faggot, I'm not expecting that person to lighten the mood with a joke about Project Runway. When people are discussing serious topics, I expect them to be serious. I don't expect them to sugarcoat the conversation so I can feel more comfortable learning what the world is really like.

Hard truths are called hard truths for a reason.

I know that those of us who discuss racism and discrimination have to constantly remind ourselves not to become annoying caricatures. At times I do temper my message to appeal to a wider audience, but it's important that I make that choice instead of someone making it for me.

I don't need anyone else deciding that the conversation I'm trying to have is too serious and then interjecting some random humor. Not only is that decision arrogant, but in many cases it totally ruins important conversations. Once people think it's "joke time" they have a tendency to stop paying attention, which means they don't get the information I'm trying to impart. In fact, I suspect that many folks interject humor not to lighten the mood, but because it's a passive aggressive way to end a conversation.

That's just not funny.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lighter Side of Life

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.


This whole political thing is getting old. So, today I've decided to write something a little less serious. My mind needs a rest from continual outrage.

Anyway, a while back I wrote about how black people with "black" names get shot down when looking for a job. Anybody who pays even a little bit of attention to black culture knows that many of us shy away from giving our kids common Anglo names like Becky, John or Brett. We prefer our names to have a little more kick, especially if that kick involves random capital letters, hyphens or phonetic spellings.

I'll confess that for a time I was a little ashamed of this proclivity among my people. I was one of those bougie suckers who couldn't understand why "those people" didn't give their kids "regular" names. I would roll my eyes or silently giggle when teachers or clerks mangled one of those creative names because I thought it served that person and their parents right.

Brainwashing is a horrible thing, y'all.

I've grown out of that mindset. And recently, I read an article that confirmed for me that unique names aren't a "black" thing or a "ghetto" thing. They are just a people thing.

The article I found,which y'all can read here, talks about a real problem in New Zealand where folks were giving their kids the most effed up names in the world. I mean, if you thought Mercedes, Porshe and Lexus were the holy trinity of tacky child names, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Man, a judge over there even legally changed the name of one girl whose parents had given her the unfortunate name of "Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii." The poor girl was so embarrassed by her name she just went by the name "K." Another set of parents had the nerve to name their child "Number 16 Bus Shelter." I'm guessing that's where the child was conceived because that seems to be the theme for most of the weird names.

These New Zealand names go way beyond anything black folks do with our names. One set of parents over there wanted to name their child "Sex Fruit." Being named Diamonds may put you on the fast track to stripper land, but I'm guessing that "Sex Fruit" fucks up your life infinitely more. Just, damn.

It's kind of unfair to your kids to give them a weird name. Not because of the racism or prejudice they might face, but because it just seems like an easy way to make their school life a living hell. Can you imagine the teasing a child named "Sex Fruit" would endure? Plus, a child with one of those long convoluted names is never going to be the teacher's pet because teachers will hate that child for making them look stupid every morning at roll call. You're screwing them two ways.

Anyway, I'm not going anywhere with this post, I just wanted to provide y'all with something curious that I stumbled over a long time ago and have been saving for just the right day.

Today was the day.

(Sidenote: Apparently our brothers and sisters in Africa are determined not to allow New Zealand to win this battle.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Storytime Again

So, you and your family are involved in a horrible disaster and lose your home and all of your possessions. You're a single parent with multiple children and life is looking pretty bleak.

I invite you and your children to come stay with me while you put your life together. Turns out, your life isn't exactly squeaky clean. You hang out with a rough crowd, you're involved with narctoics and parenting your children doesn't seem to be your top priority.

You and I clash about how to raise your children. You decided to leave the kids with me while you find a way to get back to your hometown. When you return to pick up your children, I let you know that you are no longer welcome in their lives. Of course you protest, you even call the police.

I just take your kids and run.

Did I mention that you're black and I'm white?...


(Side note: I really, REALLY want to write so much more on this topic but I'm refraining from giving any opinions because it's an issue that is in the news here in my hometown. Because of my job, I do not feel comfortable giving my opinion on local issues since I may have to cover those issues at some point in the future. But, I wanted y'all to know that I had a lot more than this to say. Use your imaginations.)

Hey Stupid, There is a Big Difference

I read a post a while back on The Field Negro about Toby Keith's new song that celebrates the glory of stringing up gangstas.

I digested the new info, shook my head at the stupidity and then decided to move on with my life. It's my standard response to garden variety racism.

Unfortunately, this act of racial stupidity involved nooses. In recent months I've been slapped in the face with the fact that issues involving nooses bring out a special type of stupid in many white people. That means that when I saw the topic discussed at other venues, I also saw a lot of comments that really pissed me off.

Objective studies have shown that white people in America are actually not as dumb as many black people think. In fact, they have the highest levels of education on average of any non-immigrant group in the country. (Certain immigrants have higher education levels because we only let the smart ones in legally.)

Sadly, despite their education, many white people suffer from a disorder that causes them to compare horrible acts of violence committed against minorities to vaguely similar, less horrific acts committed against white people. This typically occurs during discussions about the present day impact of historical racism.

This disorder is called Compulsive Comparison Dementia.

CCD is like an involuntarily spasm of the sphincter that causes feces to fly from your butt. Only it's your mouth that's plagued with the spasms even if you are still spewing shit.

People are often struck by the disorder without warning and they tend to spout ridiculous comparisons that have no basis in reality:

"Asians immigrants succeed; why can't blacks?"
"Italian and Irish immigrants were discriminated against too, you don't see them still complaining like black people."
"Africans held slaves too, and slavery used to exist in Eastern Europe as well."
"White people got lynched in the West just like black people got lynched in the South, so why is talking about lynching somebody such a big deal?"

That last hypothetical comment brings me back to the initial thrust of this blog post, Mr. Toby Keith.

Keith's new song advocates vigilante violence and is accompanied by a video showing a black youth dressed in typical urban fashion as a potential target for that violence. In a shocker, Keith's video is becoming quite popular among conservatives, and has garnered the singer lots of media attention. He's been cheered for setting the record straight and giving Americans some advice they can finally use.

Shockingly, his song has made some black people unhappy. We tend to view songs about nooses and death by hanging as warnings, not good dancing music. In fact, we don't call it death by hanging, we call it lynching. As black people have made their unhappiness known, many white people have found themselves struck by Compulsive Comparison Dementia, which has forced them to say things like the aforementioned comments about lynching.

The lynching comment is both idiotic and inaccurate. White people in the West did not get lynched. They were hanged. There is a difference between those two things, a massive, enormous, colossal difference.

Getting hanged means a jury of your peers found you guilty of a crime and decided to hang you for it.

Getting lynched means somebody pulled you from bed for an impromptu, midnight picnic where the main thing going on the grill is you.

Big difference.

Now, I understand that white people sometimes organized themselves into a posse and hunted down particularly bad criminals to hang them. I know that frontier justice could be brutal and capricious.

I also know that the cats getting strung up in the West weren't getting their testicles and ears cut off before they met the rope. I know their crimes were more egregious than looking at a white woman. I know the people getting killed typically were not children.

I know they weren't getting lynched.

So, like many black people, I tend to bristle when I hear someone complain that all the fuss about lynching and nooses is unnecessary. Then I realize that person probably suffers from CCD and they can't help being an idiot.

That helps most of the time.

(Sidenote: Since creating his ode to lynching Toby Keith also had this to say:
"I think the black people would say he [Obama] don't talk, act or carry himself as a black person."

"What does that even mean?" the audibly shocked Beck replied.

"Well, I don't know what that means," Keith drawled, "but I think that that's what they would say. Even though the black society would pull for him I still think that they think in the back of their mind that the only reason he is in [the general election] is because he talks, acts and carries himself as a Caucasian."

Toby Keith is a dumbass. Yes he is.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We Need to Talk

Hey Big Guy, how is it going?

Yeah, I know it's been a long time since we talked. I had a little confusion back when I was deciding whether I wanted to use the Methodist or Episcopalian hotline. But, I found the right number.

I thought we needed to talk. I heard You might have been a little perturbed by that joke ad I made recently about the other guy. You know the one using the old Jew movie with the gun guy. Some rumors reached my ear that You weren't pleased with me making fun of anointing, or the whole Ten Commandments ordeal, the whole shebang.

My bad, Big Guy.

Things are getting tight down here. This kid is really giving me all I can handle, and well sometimes in the heat of battle things happen. You've been in battle, the Old Testament is full of them, so I know You understand where I'm coming from. When you're fighting gooks, niggers and commies, sometimes it's just easier to let emotion take over and worry about what's right later.

It really is easier.

I know it was little disrespectful to cast him in the light we used. Not just disrespectful to him, but also to You and the folks who really believe that God can raise up leaders for certain times.

But, come on, most evangelical Christians were perfectly okay with me poking fun at miracles and all that jazz. That didn't seem to care at all that I had turn their belief that God inspires leaders into one big punchline. It's almost as if their religious outrage was dampened by the fact that I was making fun of that kid with the big britches.

So what's the big deal?

I'm tired of losing to this twerp. With a few funny and mean attack ads I've eliminated his lead and now I'm right back into this thing. You know I'm the best person for this job, who else understands the plans You have for America's conquest, I mean, coexistence with the rest of the world. I deserve this job, and I don't expect one little slip up to make You forget just what I've sacrificed to get it.

Look, I just wanted to talk to You for a little bit. I heard You were unhappy and I wanted to let You know that things would be all right. That I understood what really needed to happen even if You might have been a little confused.

Just leave it up to me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My First Time

I'm ready to lose my virginity.

Not my real virginity; I'm a married father, that ship sailed a while ago. Nah, I'm popping my cherry when it comes to criticizing Barack Obama on the blog.

I do not like this flip-flop on off-shore drilling.

That wasn't as painful as a I thought it would be.

Now, I don't want y'all to get the wrong idea and label me a shameless Obama shill, who has been wasted on the Kool-Aid. I've criticized the brother plenty in conversations with my family and friends. Particularly during the primary campaign when I felt he was letting certain stuff slide from the media and Hillary that I thought needed to be addressed.

But, I haven't had too many real criticisms for his viewpoints. And, when I did disagree with his choices, I typically accepted them as political realities. I didn't like his vote on FISA, I didn't like everything about his speech on Father's Day, and I didn't like parts of his response to the those black hecklers he faced recently. Yet, none of those issues really made me want to criticize him on my blog.

This drilling thing does it for me.

It's not because I'm some sort of green freak. I'm not at all. I'm much more concerned with saving money than the planet. Whenever I've had a choice between being eco-friendly and saving some money, well as old as Mother Earth is she should be able to handle herself.

The reason why this drilling flip-flop bothers me, even with all of Obama's caveats, is because Obama did the exact opposite during the primary when he was confronted with a similar choice. When Clinton and McCain jumped on the gas tax holiday like it was a cheap whore, Obama demurely refused to take the bait. He gambled on the intelligence of the voters in Indiana. He assumed that once the facts were laid out, people would see that the gas tax holiday would not help them at the pump.

This time, it's Obama whose asking for a half and half.

What I've liked about Obama from the beginning, even when it pissed me off, was that he seemed to be following his own drummer in many ways. I don't mean he didn't understand polls and focus groups, but I felt like he ultimately made strategic decisions based on an overarching plan, not some piecemeal strategy built on public opinion. I'm wondering if he's lost that sense of direction now as he sees his lead in the polls shrink and he watches McCain using lies and racism to gain ground.

I'm not political strategist, but I do spend a lot of time studying human nature. And while I'm sure that Obama expected things to be bad during this campaign, I'm wondering if he wasn't a little surprised with how quickly McCain went to the filth well. Or maybe he's starting to lose confidence in the American people because he's watched them cling to lies and stupidity instead of truly giving his campaign a chance.

I'm not sure what's going on in the Obama camp, but I don't like it. I don't like it at all.

Monday, August 4, 2008

This Is a Little Shameful

I'd like to win a 2008 Black Weblog Award, or at least get some votes. So, I'm asking you all to go to this link and vote for me. I'm suggesting that you all vote for me as either the Best New Blog, Best Writing on a Blog, Blog to Watch or Best Political Blog. Ok, that's it.


The info is also on the sidebar for y'all to check out.

It's the Swagger, Stupid.

Back when racism was an open sore on the face of America instead of the festering scab it is now, there was one unforgivable crime for black people, particularly black men.

Self confidence.

See, racists didn't like their Negroes with a spine. A black man who liked to make eye contact with white people, who didn't hold his hat in his hands whenever he made a request and who carried himself like a full-fledged member of the human race was seen as an affront to all that was decent. Black women had to face similar humilation, at times their humilation was worse because it also included sexual abuse, but nothing really got racists' blood boiling like a Negro man who "took on airs."

Well, it seems times haven't changed that much.

I could go the standard route and talk about the Uppity Negro phenomenon in detail and what it means to Obama. But, I'm not interested in that. What I want to do is talk about why certain people are so bothered by a black man who seems too smart, too cocky, too wonderful.

It's because they lack swagger.

My mother told me when I was little boy that people will always try to tear you down to make themselves feel better about their own inadequacies. She said that some people just feel small inside, and they need to make everyone else small so the world doesn't tower over them.

Black people in this country have every excuse to grow up lacking self-confidence. At times, it seems like the mission statement of Hollywood and the mainstream media is to reinforce the idea that black people are inferior beings. Many scholars believe that the historical attacks on black people's collective self-image is at the root of many of the ills that plague our communities today.

Yet Obama, and those black men in the past, have managed to ignore the message that they are less than. They've refused to bow to the accepted wisdom, and instead forged their own path that doesn't include being anybody's shine boy. Despite all the pressure on these men to cave, to give in, they've remained strong, proud men who exude confidence and cool.

Don't you see how that would mess with a racist's mind?

After all, how many racists truly believe that they would be able to hold their heads high if they had to endure the same abuse? How many of them, deep in the dank recesses of their souls, believe they would have the core strength to walk tall when everything in the world tells them to bend their backs?

Not very many.

That's why they get so angry at Obama, and why they got so angry at those proud black men in the past. Obama reflects their own weakness, he shines a light on ugly places they would rather hide. He makes them take stock of what they've done with their lives. For many racists, that's not an enjoyable enterprise.

And so they hate his swagger.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Why So Surprised?

Short post today.

I've been reading and watching the news recently and there has been a lot of hand-wringing about John McCain's decision to immerse his campaign in the putrid waters of the Attack Ad Swamp. Everywhere I turn, people seem so distraught and shocked that McCain would abandon his high-minded principles and ignore his promises about running a respectful campaign. It's like the media can't believe that Mr. Straight Talk actually has a forked tongue.

Well, duuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Did people really thing John McCain would allow himself to lose to a negro named Barack Obama because of a little thing called integrity? John McCain has been trying to become this country's president for eight years, there is no way in hell, he would allow that dream to go up in smoke because of some stupid promise he made to be civil.

Seriously, people do realize that he abandoned his disabled wife, right?

The distress and shock in these media reports just tickles me. It's like these journalists never considered the possibility that John McCain's ego would not allow him to lose to a black guy. They can't fathom that like most human beings John McCain's morality is malleable, and all of his talk about honor, loyalty and honesty only counts when the situation is optimal.

Truthfully, I think that if John McCain were losing to Al Gore, or John Edwards or even Hillary Clinton, it wouldn't be such a big deal. But, to lose to some black guy with a Muslim name, well that's just too much for any man to bear. He can't stand to watch his dream, his life's ambition, dashed by a darkie. That cross is much too heavy.

This whole kerfuffle is an example of the media's unwillingness examine the character of folks they have deified in the past. A good reputation, much like a bad reputation, is very difficult to lose when it comes to the media.

Once journalists have placed an individual in the appropriate character box it almost takes an act of God to get reporters to change their minds. This is true at every level of the media business; journalists love to decide who the good guys and bad guys are.

John McCain has been anointed a "good guy." So, it's jarring for all of his media groupies to see him acting like a "bad guy." They are so enamored with their own intelligence that it's incomprehensible that they could have been so wrong. If they were wrong about McCain, who else were they wrong about? How many other mistakes have they made?

Nobody really wants to discuss that.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Oh, Now Y'all Can Read Between The Lines?

So, apparently white people can now read between the lines when it comes to race.

That's the only thing I can take from this latest dust-up between the Obama and McCain campaigns. For those of y'all in the dark, Obama recently pointed out that he might have some difficulty blending in at a party for past presidents.

McCain's campaign and every conservative commentator in the world has accused Obama of "playing the race card." Y'all know how I despise that phrase, but that's a topic for another day. What I found curious was that all these white people suddenly were able to determine that Obama was talking about race although he never used the words black, white or race.

I don't know about y'all, but it's been my experience that white people typically don't think racism or race is involved in an issue unless it is stated explicitly. Remember when Don Imus swallowed his loafers regarding the Rutgers women's basketball team? Lots of people said his comments had nothing to do with race, they were about hair and "tough-looking" women.

Shoot, when Rodney King, Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell suffered at the hands of the police, the first thing some white people said was that race wasn't a factor. This was despite the fact that only young black men seem to enjoy getting gunned down or beaten in the streets.

Phrases like "you people," "those people", "welfare queens," "gangstas" and "thugs" aren't code words if you ask many white people. There were no color connotations in Hillary's appeals to "hard-working Americans." Nope, the only time it's ok to accuse somebody of racism or racist appeals, is they use one of the magical words like "nigger," and even that might not count because of hip hop.

Yet, Obama makes a comment about how Republicans will attack him because he doesn't look like all the past presidents, and suddenly all these previously dense conservatives can smell the racial implications in his comments like bloodhounds.

Isn't it amazing how that works?

I'm not arguing that Obama wasn't talking about race with his comment. I think that's exactly what he was doing in an effort to prevent McCain from going to to the next level with his attack ads. However, I don't think that's playing the race card. Given the Republicans past history, why wouldn't Obama assume that they would try to paint him as a scary, evil Negro?

But, what I'm really pissed about is the fact that so many white people now find themselves able to decipher implicit racial issues. I'm sure I'm not the only one who wishes they displayed this ability on a more regular basis. Historically, white people have shown a shocking ignorance when it comes to racial issues involving black people. They love to set impossible standards for claims of racism from black people, but those standards apparently evaporate when they think they are the victims of a racial attack.

Funny how that works, isn't it?

Raving Black Lunatic