Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hoes Gotta Eat Too


I know, I know, that title is a fool.

But, man, once y'all read this and this it will make perfect sense to you. Basically, even the market for kittycat is tanking given the current economic crisis.

It's hard out there for pimps and hoes.

I don't know about y'all, but those stories tickled me, particularly the one from the New York Post given that tabloid's ability to combine a few facts and a lot of snark to make an entertaining read. Seriously, if you actually pay attention, the author of that piece quotes very few women, but manages to churn out a story about the state of gold-digging all over New York. That's some old-fashioned reporting right there. (The story about the brothels in Nevada was more depressing, given the fact that those women are actual prostitutes and that's not cute at all.)

I wonder if President-elect Barack Obama has a five-point plan to jumpstart the ho-conomy? Maybe tummy tucks and discounted botox for everyone? What do you do when men rediscover the joys of manual stimulation, and decide that right now it's a buyers' market for vagina?

If these aren't the hardworking Americans we heard about during the campaign, I don't know who is.

Actually, I would assume that if Obama deigned to consider the issue he'd point out that once he gets the regular economy back clicking the sex trade will take care of itself. He's probably right. Once cats can handle groceries and rent, I would expect them to be willing to spend a little extra on some nookie. After all, as KIT often says, the hierarchy in most men's minds goes 1. food 2. shelter 3. vajayjay. And sometimes numbers two and three are reversible.

Yep, I guess those struggling gold diggers and flat-broke hoes are just going to have to hold on and hope for better times like the rest of us. At least they can take solace in the fact that they know their jobs are unlikely to be outsourced and they won't need to re-train.

After all, ho money may be slow money, but it's fo' sho' money.




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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We're Back On Top Again!



And it's the last place we want to be.

It's getting rough down here in New Orleans. Once again we've regained our title as the nation's "murder capital" and it doesn't look like things will improve any time soon. Seems like Hurricane Katrina only made things worse.

I don't write about New Orleans much. It's not that I don't have a lot to say, it's just that given my day job I'm trying to keep my conflicts of interest to a minimum. Plus, I'm always aware of the fact that some of y'all might not care that much about intensely local news.

But, just because I'm not writing, doesn't mean I'm not thinking about my city. My home. I grew up here, have lived here most of my life and while I'm not as fanatical as some of the city's residents, I still love my city.

Unfortunately, my city is dying.

Like most people watching a terminal illness run its course in a loved one, I've gone through the five stages of grief. My city was infected long ago as blue collar jobs dried up and the racial strife doomed the public school system. The symptoms are common in inner cities around this nation, but they seem to be more severe here. Honestly, there is still hope that my city may recover, but it is slim. So, I thought I'd share some thoughts.

Denial

Everybody in New Orleans must come to grip with the violence. It's impossible to completely ignore the daily murder count, the constant threat of armed robberies or the casual violence that seems to be woven into the fabric of the city. (When I was a kid, people looked forward to Mardi Gras season for the parades and partying, but also because you were guaranteed to see some great fights between roving bands of young men from different "wards.")

But, as I told a friend the other day, to truly be happy in New Orleans you have to convince yourself that the violence exists in a world outside of your own. That while young men are gunned down daily, they aren't young men like you or your sons. It's a personal hypnosis New Orleanians perform, a mental trickery that allows us to believe that despite the swirling violence, we're safe. It's a denial of the true extent of the sickness.

Anger

Ah, but when we come to grips with reality, then comes the anger. Here we rail against the twin evils of violence and corruption that are as much a part of this city's traditions as red beans and rice. In fact, like that delicious concoction, corruption and violence achieve their full flavor when left to simmer for an extended period of time with only minimum attention.

New Orleans residents rail against their politicians, they rail against their police and their bureaucrats. We shake our heads at the single mothers pushing strollers and giving their infants sips of grape "cold drinks." We stiffen at the approach of young men whose hair is a clump of disheveled locs. Resentment bubbles inside of us at these people we feel have ruined our city, the ones who make things so bad for the rest of us.

Why can't they get jobs? Why can't they go to school? Why won't they keep their legs closed? We ask ourselves these questions and revel in our righteous anger, content to direct its destructive force outward lest we be called upon to examine our own hearts. Then we'd be forced to ask ourselves if we helped them find jobs, if we helped them learn to read and if it's our morality, or our contraception, that is better than that of those teen parents.

Bargaining

When our anger wanes we want a deal. We'll spend more money if it means our city won't die. We're willing to pay slightly higher property taxes if it means that our police will be competent and honest. We're willing to do more, if only we can be guaranteed we can get more for our money.

Quid pro quo.

The only problem is that life doesn't work that way. The government cannot guarantee all of our money will be spent wisely and honestly, but it can guarantee that nothing will get done unless we spend more money. Of course, it would be ludicrous to write a blank check, but the truth is that what our city really needs is for us to have faith in a political system that has never given us a reason to trust. So, all of our deals are doomed from the start and the city continues to rot.

Depression

And that's when it sets in. When we realize that we are trapped inside the maw of a dying beast where it may soon become impossible for any responsible parent to justify raising children. We wonder how long our jobs will last in an economy famously built on cheap t-shirts and large, frozen hurricanes.

The Big D. It's a tricky bastard. Sneaking into our minds on little worries about bills and relationships, and then turning into a mind-numbing obsession that saps us of our will to think or act. At times, our will to live. In a city where death and poverty are kissing cousins it is almost impossible to avoid depression. Who can avoid its clutches while watching one more child travel the well-worn path from schoolyard to graveyard before they are 30? When our city's problems seem so massive, so entrenched, what is there to lighten the mood, to provide hope?

Acceptance

For me, in part, it's God. It's also that sense that things have to get better, that trouble don't last always. Things have to improve because so many people want them to improve and hopefully that collective desire will be transformed into a collective commitment to action.

I accept the reality of my city's slow death, I've come to grips with that pain, but, thankfully, I haven't become fully resigned to its inevitability. I retain hope that eventually, the people of this city who love their home will figure out a way to help it reach its potential. We will discover how to overcome the past racial hurts and the current economic woes and we will make New Orleans live again.

After all, as a Christian, I've been trained to in believe in happy endings.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Check This Out

http://www.newsweek.com/id/167582

That's a Newsweek story about the election. It's part of a VERY long series. Don't know if y'all caught it, but I wanted to pass it along because it's interesting.



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Babies and Bathwater



This might seem a little contradictory to some of y'all considering this piece I wrote a few days ago, but just follow me for a while.

Ever since the presidential election, there has been a lot of discussion among conservatives about the direction of the Republican party. More specifically, there has been a lot of discussion about how to marginalize the religious right while still keeping their votes.

Don't believe me, check out this article by a leading conservative discussing that very topic.

Now, in the past I've castigated many of my white Christian brethren for perverting God's message and blindly following leaders whose actions do not align with values taught in the Bible. I've complained that they spend far too much time discussing gay marriage and abortion, and too little time talking about poverty and violence. I still think that's true. But, this new movement is extremely short-sighted, it shows a shocking lack of understanding about minority believers and, ultimately, it reeks of elite secularism gone amok.

Let me explain those three points.

First, the idea that Republicans need to stop letting the Bible dictate their policy decisions has merit. Americans have a wide range of religious beliefs and attempting to force the entire country to live according to some strict interpretation of the Bible would be impossible. More importantly, it would be un-Godly. God does not force human beings to obey him. He lays out his commandments and then he lets us make choices. There are rewards and punishments for those choices, but the choice is up to us.

However, that doesn't mean that Christian values should not play a role in policy making. The problem in the past has been that we've seen a skewed form of Christianity that adheres to the philosophy that thinking about God's true intentions is a waste of time. Far too many Christians learn their values through the mouths of their preachers instead of through biblical study and prayer. That's not to say that preachers do not offer insight, after all that is their purpose, but the Bible instructs believers to "study to show themselves approved" and that means critical thinking, not just rote memorization.

I think that this country needs the Christian values of forgiveness, kindness, charity, patience, long-suffering, gentleness and self-control. If our foreign and domestic policy was guided by the two most important commandments, love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as you love yourself, I can't envision how the world would be in its current state. I think many secularists focus on the negative aspects of Christianity without giving credit for the good the religion's members do, and that has led to this short-sighted view of the role of the religious right.

My second point is that this push to encourage Republicans to abandon much of the religious underpinnings of their party would actually make them less attractive to minorities, not more attractive. Truthfully, the main reason conservatives have struggled to attract minorities is because they often make direct appeals to the racism of some of their members and because on issues that are key to the country's two largest minority groups, conservatives had taken the wrong stances.

From what I can tell, Latinos are attracted to the conservative message of hard work and self-reliance, at least when they initially arrive in this country. In addition, most Latin American countries are extremely religious with Catholicism enjoying huge membership in them as a carryover from colonization and ministry work. I'm not an expert, but it seems that if Latinos and Hispanics were asked to describe their value systems and outlooks on life, they would closely align with the conservative ethos. The success George W. Bush had among that group is proof of that.

The problem for conservatives is that they took a hardline, violent and racist stance on immigration, particularly illegal immigration, that in some ways contradicts their other values about free markets. That's one of the main flaws in modern conservatism; they discuss the value of the free market and personal liberty, but then take ridiculous stances that support government intrusion into the free market and into people's personal lives.

Latinos heavily supported Barack Obama because he refused to demonize illegal immigrants and promised to give them a path to citizenship after they paid for their infractions. That's much more reasonable than the most prominent stance of conservatives, which was basically "kick them all out." That stance, and the racism and xenophobia that flourished among those who held it, was what hurt conservatives among Latinos, not the Republican party's overwhelming whiteness or religious base.

Conservatives have the same sort of problem with black people. Most black people believe that there is still a need for affirmative action, we think that mandatory minimums unfairly target our community and we understand that our children are being warehoused in inferior schools that need improvement. On just those three issues we are diametrically opposed to the basic beliefs of most conservatives who see affirmative action as an unfair advantage, think long prison terms reduce crime and think the solution to the problems in the public school system is to eliminate the system.

Those are just three examples, but they are representative of the real problem for conservatives. Most of their policies attack government programs that provide assistance to poverty stricken individuals and African Americans have a higher incidence of poverty than any other group in the country. While some of us may see the social programs as fostering dependence and weakness among black people, most black people see those services as the basic help they need to eke out a living. Since Republicans constantly are trying to cut those services, most black people see them as constantly trying to harm us.

In addition, black people remember that conservatives had no qualms about aligning themselves with virulently racist organizations in the South and providing legitimacy for their activities. Not only is this history undeniable, but the practice continues today. Combine that with conservatives' economic policies and you have the perfect explanation for their lack of support among black people. It's not because there are so few black faces at conservative events, successful black people are used to operating in lily white environments. No, the problem is that black people have a sinking suspicion that if a lynching party broke out at these lily white events nobody would have a real problem.

However, it's not about religion. Blacks, like Latinos, are overwhelmingly religious. Both communities have a higher incidence of traditional Christianity than white people. In fact, many black people would like to vote for Republicans because of their religious stances, but can't get past the rampant racism and distaste for the poor. Religion is not a problem for minorities, and to think otherwise shows a shocking lack of understanding about how minorities view religion and view the Republican party.

Unfortunately, that lack of understanding isn't surprising. Most of the people attacking the religious wing of the Republican part have very little experience with dealing with "the masses." They espouse grand theories, but they haven't spent the time studying the way humans interact, which would give them true insight.

These people, if they were being honest, would admit that they don't really have much use for prominent displays of religion. They prefer a more sedate worship service and much more quiet faith, if they like any faith at all. And they are convinced this is the way things should be.

However, any traditional Christian would tell them that this runs counter to a huge number of biblical teachings. From childhood, traditional Christians are taught that it is a virtue to be demonstrative of their faith in public. While we are instructed that a true relationship with Christ is cemented in our "prayer closets," we are also taught to be "beacon lights" to non-believers and to never appear ashamed of our faith, or God will be ashamed of us.

Consequently, the idea that traditional Christians should practice a more "quiet" version of their religion is insulting to them. I would compare it to a straight person asking a homosexual to practice a less "flamboyant" brand of homosexuality. The person making the request is implying that there is some shame associated with certain activities, so the person practicing those activities should try not to call attention to themselves.

There is a difference between shouting down those individuals who disagree with me about God and boldly proclaiming my belief in Jesus. I've found that many secularists cannot see this difference the same way many white people don't understand the concept that race can be a factor in a person's decision making without that person being a virulent racist.

Honestly, some of the blame for this state of affairs can be attributed to my Christian brethren who seem to have forgotten how to share the gospel with non-believers and how to conduct themselves in general society. But, I've also discovered that those who do not have a belief in Christ or any god have a tendency to look down on those people who do, particularly those people who talk about their beliefs often. I think that secular branch of the conservative movement is marshaling its forces and trying to make a power play because they would be more comfortable if the party moved in a new direction. However, they haven't made many good arguments that this new direction would win the party more converts.

So, they are tossing out a relatively clean baby, just to rid themselves of some filthy bathwater.


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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Um, If I Were You I Would Duck



Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra has balls the size of boulders.

Don't believe me?

Read this story.

Did y'all see that? This cat, who has had his own problems with the law, recently decided that before he left office he was going to indict Vice President Dick Cheney on corruption charges related to abuse in privately-run prisons. Guerra also indicted Alberto Gonzalez and a couple other minor political figures.

That's a brave dude.

We're talking about Dick Cheney, here. The guy who has no problem with torture or releasing the names of CIA operatives to the public. The guy who masterminded the Patriot Act and greatly expanded the powers of the Vice President.

The same Dick Cheney who shot his homeboy in the face and chest with a shotgun and then told the media, in Cartman's voice, "What's the big deal, bitches?"

Yeah, that Dick Cheney. The Geriatric Gatbuster.

Man, I'll admit that I wouldn't eff with Cheney unless I had a gang of politically connected mofos on my team. All that talk swirling around the blogosphere about how Cheney needs to be indicted for his role in torturing terror suspects is just talk. Random folks behind computer screens who wouldn't bust a grape in a fruit fight. Or indict a Vice President if he spit on them.

Couldn't be me. To put it simply, Dick Cheney is filthy rich and super-connected. He could have my big, black ass in Guantanamo faster than I could say "Jolly Roger." (Shout out to the Somali pirates doing their thing. My homegirl is obsessed with them. I think she just wants some water thug-loving.)

I'm joking about my cowardice, but I'm also a little serious. Even though this indictment probably won't go anywhere, it will definitely make the news for a little while. And that could convince news organizations to look into the private prison industry and how it functions. And if the news media starts shining its lights around all those dark corners, I expect a gang of cobwebs to be exposed.

Which is going to eff with somebody's money, right? In our current economic situation, effing with people's money is a good way to get deallt with.

And Dick Cheney doesn't mind riding on punks.

Even though Attorney General Guerra obviously did this to settle old political scores before he leaves office, it's still a fairly ballsy move. After all, he does live in Texas, the beating heart of conservatism and the place that produced our current National Shame. In the land of Bush, I'm pretty sure it's not a good deal to start attacking the lame duck President's right-hand man. I don't care how good your retirement package is, you can still get touched by the feds.

I have to take my hat off to Guerra, he clearly is a man who fears no one.

But, I ain't standing next to his dumb ass in public. Sharpshooters can miss too.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It Went Wrong Again





I'm talking about keeping it real.

Real talk.

Speaking your mind and letting it all hang out. Honest conversation with no hesitation. Spill your guts and set your soul free!

I'm talking about this bullshit.

For those of y'all too lazy to click on the link, it goes to a story discussing the merits of Michelle Obama's derriere. Yeah, I can already see some of y'all scrolling back up to check that out. For visual proof of Michelle's assets, check the picture above.

So, I stumbled on this article through Racialicious and just knew I had to write about it. That's how the creative process works for me. I'm typically forced to discuss something because I can't hold my feelings inside.

Are we really talking about butts now?

Look, I'll be the first to admit that I noticed right away that Michelle Obama had a fairly "black" shape, or at least what I've been taught to consider a "black" shape. A little small up top, narrow waist, wide hips and hindparts that can definitely fill out some jeans. I'm a man. The first thing every man does when seeing a strange woman is take stock of her face and body. We can't help ourselves.

In fact, I've even mentioned to my wife that Barack Obama made sure there could be no doubt that his wife was a black woman. I said it in an approving way. I felt like Michelle's figure probably was affirming to millions of black women who struggle with reading magazines that condemn their asses. Then they have to shop in stores filled with clothes that weren't created with them in mind.

Her body, just like her background, said something about the president-elect. It told me that he was comfortable around black people, that he found black things attractive. That made me comfortable with him. Now, some of y'all might be bothered by how I used the body of a woman to make decisions about her husband, but I'm just trying to be honest.

That said, I didn't spend too much time discussing it. I definitely didn't think somebody would spend two pages in a national magazine discussing it.

After all, it's a little disrespectful to focus that much attention on that part of the body. Sure, rap music and videos do it, but there is a difference between a video vixen and the wife of the future president. Sometimes it's perfectly acceptable to look and discuss, while other times you need to show some decorum.

For example, I was entering a store the other day, and leaving the building was an thin young lady who appeared to have been blessed by the Lord in her jeans. (Most black men can tell from the front whether someone has been blessed in that way.)

Now normally, I might have taken the time to appreciate God's handiwork. However, not only did this young lady have a neck tattoo, but her significant other, clad in typical "urban" attire, was right next to her. I made an important life decision to keep my eyes on the road, and not turn to catch the scenic view.

See? Decorum.

It's universally accepted that it's pretty disrespectful to ogle another man's woman in public. So, I'm just baffled that nobody wondered whether it would be disrespectful to write about the buttocks of a man's wife for the world to read.

And look, I know that it's disrespectful to Michelle to be treated as a sex object and that she's the one who was truly wronged, but I'm trying to point out how out of bounds this thing was on so many levels. Is this the way First Ladys are typically treated?

To make things worse, this article was written by a black woman who claimed she was celebrating the normalization of black beauty standards on a national stage. This was right after she pointed out that she doesn't think Obama's election is a cure-all for racial oppression. So, if I'm to understand her correctly, she thinks that having a big-butted Southsider as First Lady will eliminate the idiotic European standard of beauty prevalent in America, but the first black president won't really be that big a deal? Interesting.

You would think a black woman would be sensitive to the idea that maybe it's disrespectful to discuss the size of a black woman's butt in a magazine that caters to mostly white people. I would have assumed that a black woman would have had the good sense to question whether a tongue-in-cheek tone was the best way to comment on beauty standards and racial stereotypes. But, you know what they say about assumptions.

Instead, we got an article that weds some nuggets of insight about the black female experience, with ridiculous assertions about the importance of a big butt. It just seemed like the writer was trying to discuss a serious topic in a humorous way, but failed because the topic has not been discussed enough by the mainstream media. If Salon actually had a history of discussing racial stereotypes in beauty this would have worked much better. They don't, and it didn't.

Keeping it real went all the way wrong

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Turn Now


"(There is) a large subset of white people in this country who feel that they are losing everything they know, that the country their forefathers built has somehow been stolen from them."

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, commenting on the dramatic increase in the number of racially motivated crimes occurring across the country since Barack Obama's victory


I was afraid of this.

Shout out to my faithful reader the Original Glamazon who put me on to game. I don't partake in the whole Facebook or Myspace deal, so I wouldn't have known. But, apparently some of my paler brethren are a little frightened because they're worried that black people are collectively shouting the title of this blog. Wait, check that, they are actually scared black folks are saying something a little more blunt.

Move bitch, get out the way.

*Sigh*

After all these years, it's funny how little white people seem to know about black people. Remember the uproar when Michelle Obama gave her husband a little love on stage? One fist bump had every news organization in the world writing front page pieces on how black people express affection and some white folks were honestly threatened. Terrorist fist jab anyone?

My white readers, are you and your friends really worried that it's payback time now? Nah, I can't believe that. After all, 44 percent of y'all voted for a Negro for president. That wouldn't have happened if y'all thought he was going to only help black people. I'm sure that if y'all suspected black people were going to get cute once Obama won, he would have been dead on arrival.

Look, black people have been waiting too long for this day risk effing it up. We are going to be on our best behavior. Sure, there will be some bad apples, but for the most part, black people are all working to insure that Obama is not the first and last black president. We want our kids to have a shot.

That's why, I'm going to chalk up the recent white backlash against Obama to sour grapes and just let it slide. No need for me to take any serious action or give a serious comment. Folks are a little scared and they did some dumb stuff.

Besides, black people do not want to get white folks riled up. After all, white people are the masters of catchback. Not only do white people not let go of slights, but they make up stuff to get angry about. Just ask all that strange fruit in the South.

I think we as black people are going to have to get on our collective jobs as Magical Negroes and soothe the angst and fear among the white population. We have to let our pale brethren know that things will be all right for them, that we are not taking over the country. After all, it'll be much easier for us to run shit if we let them believe they are still in charge. It'll be kind of like being married.

Here are a few tips make white people comfortable with this whole transition of power...Uh, I mean comfortable with having a colored president:

1. Do not sing "My president is black and my lambo is blue..." while working in the office. Not only do you not have a lambo, reminding white people that you think of Obama as "your" president only reinforces their fears.

2. You cannot have an Obama t-shirt for everyday of the week, and your Obama t-shirt should not be worn to large gatherings of white people. That means no Obama t-shirts at Target or Whole Foods market. Sure, those liberals might have voted for him too, but seeing you decked out in the Obama shirt, hat and Air Force Ones still might scare them.

3. Screaming out "It's Obama time" while watching CNN at work is unacceptable. It just is. Sorry. Save that for your couch.

4. Do not respond to criticism of Obama with "Don't make me get my knife." Even if you are joking, white people will not understand. Obama is a big boy, he doesn't need you to lose your job. People can disagree with the president. It's their right.

5. Finally, if you cut someone off in traffic, or get into an argument period, do not use your hand to form an "O" and then say "What?" That is just out of bounds. Black people are not part of a gang, and Obama is not an OG. Just don't do it.


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Monday, November 17, 2008

First Time Around

A funny skit from Richard Pryor about his thoughts on the press conferences the first black president might have to face. Shout out to my friends over at Sports on My Mind for the video.






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Breaking In a New Pair

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about shoes.

Rather, I've been thinking about walking in other people's shoes.

Empathy.

Sympathy.

The weird thing is that this has been on my mind to write about, and I'm sitting in church and my pastor mentions that many of us get empathy and sympathy confused. He pointed out that he grew up without a father and it greatly affected his life for years. He said one of his pet peeves was when people, trying to show empathy, would tell him, "Man, I know how that affected you. I know how you feel."

My pastor said he felt that these people didn't get it. Unless you have actually grown up as a boy without a father , then there is no way you can know what that feels like. You can be aware of the pain it causes, but unless you've felt that ache, you don't know its sting. So, you can have sympathy, but not empathy. And it can be a short trip from sympathy to pity.

That was a deep thought for me.

I've begun to pride myself on my ability to see the world through other people's eyes. Mainly, this is a product of me constantly debating ideas inside my head. I'm searching for a way to make my arguments better, my logic stronger and for a long time I think I've assumed this granted me a measure of empathy.

Now, I'm realizing how stupid that idea was.

Sure, I can see what people's arguments are going to be before they make them, but the next step is being able to understand and appreciate why they make the decisions they make. That step makes it harder to hate those you disagree with, and also makes it possible to like them.

Love thy enemies and neighbors, and all that.

See, I started thinking about this again as I've tried to grow as a Christian, and while reading President-elect Barack Obama's two books. Obama is big on empathy. He has a gift for being able to disagree with people vehmently, but still being able to appreciate what makes them great. Not only that, he can take it even further and really like people for who they are, even if who they are conflicts with how he sees the world.

I ain't there yet.

I don't hate people I disagree with and I pride myself on being able to stay emotionally calm during an argument, but I find it hard to be befriend people I disagree with strongly. Particularly on issues of race. It's very easy to demonize those people who seem to stand on the wrong side when it comes to race. It's exceedingly simple to just label people bigots and treat them as scum.

Eye for an eye, you know?

Ah, but there is a real benefit to loving you enemies. Even if you don't subscribe to Christianity, I think it can help your personal growth if you embrace the concept of true empathy.

Those of you who are married know how hard it can be to truly understand and appreciate another person's point of view. It's a constant struggle, and daily decision to recalibrate how you see the world. Frustration, anger and despair can be regular companions. Many days are spent questioning your decision. And that's a relationship with someone you chose to spend time with.

How much harder is it with people we would much rather avoid?

But, what I've seen is that it's much harder to justify cruelty when you get to know someone. It eats at you when you treat them in a manner that you know was unreasonable. It's more difficult to hold on to anger, tougher to avoid the reality of how you contributed to a bad situation. When you walk in someone else's shoes, you learn their road. You may not want to travel it yourself, but you no longer need directions to get to a common destination.

But, man, those corns are a killer along the way.


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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Godless God-lovers

I'm getting so jaded about organized religion.

It's not that I don't like church, or think that it's not important. Corporal worship is still a great experience and gathering with other believers is key to any relationship with God.

It's just, man, God-lovers seem to be getting more stupid and close-minded by the day.

I wonder if it's always been this way.

I grew up in the church. Sunday school, bible study, Sunday worship, communion service, Women's Day, Usher's Day, I attended them all many times. Church and church people were a central part of my early development, and my faith has been a bedrock in my life for as long as I can remember. Sure, I resented attending worship when I was younger, but when the travails of life descended upon me, I appreciated the religious foundation my parents had established.

Now, I'm looking back over that time and wondering how much hateful stuff I was indoctrinated with while I was learning to serve the Lord.

Check out this story and this one. Now both of them involve the Catholic church, which has some crazy rules that are different from most other churches, but they are still indicative of a general attitude among church people.

That attitude can be summed up simply: get with the program or get the fuck out.

That makes me sad.

Like many traditional Christians I am troubled by what I see as a lack of morality and faith in the world today. Contrary to what some liberals fear, religious people are not staging a takeover, and the world is in fact moving further and further away from the traditional forms of most faiths. Truthfully, I do not see this as a good move because I believe the basic tenets of most religions promote goodwill and love towards your fellow man, and I shudder to think what the world would be like if we all lived by our own definitions of what is right and wrong.

Yet, I understand why these changes are occurring.

Many faiths, particularly my own Christianity, have become more and more dogmatic and political while also becoming less concerned with the primary concerns outlined for Christians in the Bible. This doesn't mean all church people aren't active in their communities, as a Katrina survivor I saw first hand the amount of good religious people can do, but it does mean that too often we don't do the right stuff when it comes to those that don't share our beliefs.

There is no excuse for the backlash among many white evangelicals towards other believers who supported Barack Obama. There is no biblical justification for the obscene amount of energy the church spends on discussing gay marriage and abortion, while topics like divorce and fornication are ignored. We are not loving our neighbors as we love ourselves and it shows. I'm tired of Christians hiding behind the trite explanation that we are a "peculiar people" and that the world "hated Jesus too."

Jesus was hated because he spoke against injustice and sought substantive moral change. Church people in America are hated because we seem to be patterning our lives after the Pharisees, a strict adherence to the letter of the law, but not to its Spirit.

I brought up my early childhood because when I look back these days I realize that often church people encouraged a casual disregard for those with different viewpoints and celebrated a stifling of intellectual curiosity.

I remember sitting in Sunday School one day and having an argument with my teacher about how God could give humans free will, but still know what we were going to do all the time. I had to be between 10 and 12 at the time, but I had already honed my logical debate skills to a fine edge. I argued that if God knew I was going steal some candy before I was born, how did I have free will when it came to stealing the candy? If my life was already laid out, wasn't I just following his plan?

You would have thought I had asked them to explain the mystery of the Trinity. Three or four teachers tried to deflate my argument, failed and then the Sunday School superintendent took an L. He basically brushed aside the question and said we shouldn't spend too much time pondering those types of things and we should just accept that God is all powerful and all-knowing while we have free will. And that was it.

(Later, I would think about this question some more. I decided that God may be aware of my future plans, but I am not. Consequently, when I make decisions, I make them in the moment and devoid of any control by God. Therefore, I can have free will even though my path in life is already set. It worked for me.)

That experience taught me something about church; it doesn't pay to be too different in the House of God. Don't ask too many questions, don't challenge too many accepted dogmas. Given my nature, I've always struggled with these guidelines, but that doesn't change the fact that they are real. And even more real is the truth that if a believer keeps on challenging the status quo, he or she might just be told their faith is fake and they are on their way to hell.

This mindset is crippling the church. I'm not in favor of the wholesale acceptance that characterizes many liberal churches, (I still believe fornication, adultery, lying and homosexuality are sins) but I do think the church has to encourage its members to really think about how the Bible works in the real world. We cannot continue to cling to banal biblical sayings, while we condemn everyone who disagrees with us.

We cannot win souls if we're concentrating all our efforts on stamping out any hint of non-conformity. We truly express God's will when we recognize the reality of free will, and encourage people to live according to God's will through a mixture of love and discipline. Our choice is not between liberalism gone wild and rigid conservatism. Our choice is between being beacons of pragmatic, realistic acceptance or being unthinking, hateful bastards.

Between being church people or Christians.








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Friday, November 14, 2008

Our New Spokesman

So, I'm talking to a friend.

She points out that President-elect Barack Obama is likely to be drafted for a new job that he never asked to hold.

Spokesman for the Entire Black Race.

Yep, it makes sense.

Gone are the days when reporters had to deal with people like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or, if the reporters are feeling adventurous, Louis Farrakhan. No more feeling like a white devil, or closet racist. Now they have the easy option of talking to one of the most non-threatening, easy going black people on the planet who also happens to be the most powerful politician in America.

The checks are really about to stop for Jesse and Al.

Actually, that's not totally true. After all, the media needs controversy to drive its business, so I expect that Al and Jesse will still be in demand. But, instead of letting Jesse and Al have the last word on what black people think, I expect many reporters to turn to Obama to provide his take. And when conservative black people like Ward Connerly and Shelby Steele make their comments, I expect the White House to get a call as well.

The thing is, this presents a dilemma for Obama. Although his election was a triumph of all Americans, it cannot be ignored that 95 percent of black voters supported him. I'm pretty sure that some of the folks are going to expect Obama to be actively involved in their issues and their struggles on a grassroots level. No, I don't think this is particularly fair, but I do think it's life.

So, when the first plucky white reporter decides to ask Obama to weigh in on the latest protest in Harlem, Obama and his aides can't just offer up some random platitudes. That may have worked in the campaign, but now that Obama actually has some power certain black folks are going to expect real involvement. They are going to expect him to react the way they would react, and if he doesn't it won't be long before he's being called a sellout and other nonsense.

But, the rub is that Obama can't start spouting black liberation theory or co-signing the ramblings of the Revs. Al and Jesse if he wants to maintain credibility with the true power base in America. Random white people. While only 44 percent of them may have supported him, he still needs them on board if he wants to make any substantive improvements to America.

So, what should the HNIC do?

Here's my action plan. Obama aides need to aggressively attack reporters who attempt to make them discuss the actions of random black people across the country. Sure, there will be times when Obama has to take a stand, but most of the time he needs to have his aides question the motives of these reporters and their thinking. After all, did they ask George Bush to comment on every protest or issue involving white people? No they did not. They decided that certain things weren't Bush's concern and Obama aides need to make sure they get the press to install that same sort of filter when it comes to their guy. Of course, they need to make these attacks off the record and not for attribution.

Second, if a reporter persists in making Obama the new black spokesman, that reporter needs to go on the shit list. That's right, as a journalist, I am advocating that the government stonewall the press. It's blasphemy. But, here's the thing. Reporters expecting Obama to comment on the latest police shooting in Cincinnati are holding him to an unfair and borderline racist standard. Consequently, I feel no remorse about advocating that they be cut off from the spigot of information and forced to fend for themselves. Those reporters are not interested in fairness or balance and dealing with them would only result in more problems.

Finally, Obama needs to develop a squad of attack dogs to advance more aggressive viewpoints pertaining to the black community. These attack dogs cannot be directly linked to Obama, but they must create arguments based around a core set of principles that reflect his viewpoints while appealing to black people. These attack dogs need to be dispatched to traditional and non-traditional media sources to advance these memes. Obama's election means that intelligent black commentators are more in demand, and Obama would be wise to get ahead of the curve and get his people organized. He can also recruit white people to play this role on mainstream media programs.

Now, these people will not be just telling folks what they want to hear, they will actually be repeating the unvarnished version of where Obama stands on certain issues. I do not advocate misleading people, but you definitely have to shape your argument based on the audience you're trying to reach. Obama's people need to craft messages that resonate with black people and assure us that he has not forgotten about us or our concerns. These messages must be followed with concrete action, but he must get black people to understand that they should not expect him to respond on the timeline set by the media.

I think these three strategies are a good starting point for Obama to avoid the pitfalls of the title he is sure to inherit given his recent success. I'm pretty sure that if Obama makes it through two terms with a fair amount of success he will be labeled as the spokesman of black people for the rest of his life, so he might as well get comfortable with the role.

Lord knows Jesse and Al haven't set the bar too high.


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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Who Is In The Room?

When I was in grad school, I was assigned this book about politics that outlined the information bubble that American presidents operate inside.

The president is privy to almost any information he requests, but because of the nature of his job and the nature of bureaucracy, the president doesn't always know what data he should be seeking. So, he's at the mercy of aides and cabinet members who decide on their own what theories and data to push forward and what information to withhold. In addition, most political underlings instinctively shy away from presenting the president with information he might not appreciate or agree with because they don't want to feel his wrath, or fall out of favor.

In the end, the president often hears what he wants to hear, or, more accurately, what people think he wants to hear.

With people like George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan, this information bubble can lead to dire consequences because without dissenting opinions both of these men made terrible choices based on ideology or political expediency. With Bill Clinton and Bush Sr., the bubble was less of a problem, but they did make less than intelligent decisions because of its constraints.

This state of affairs places a premium on a president's willingness to seek out dissenting opinions constantly, and to challenge the long held theories of his appointees. It also makes it vital that there are a myriad of mindsets at the power table, or the President runs the risk of having his briefing room turn into an echo chamber.

I thought about this recently as President-elect Barack Obama went about the business of assembling his cabinet and White House staff. More specifically, I thought about it as I saw the parade of old white guys presented as candidates for powerful positions.

There is a debate going on in political circles about how much diversity Obama will bring to his cabinet. That includes a diversity of ideas and a diversity of skin tone. People have theorized that he should just pick "the best people available" or that he should try to make his cabinet a true rainbow coalition. (I'll ignore the blatant racism inherent in assuming that if Obama just picks the best candidates there is no way he will pick people of color. That's just typical. Here is a newsflash, Obama was the best candidate for president and he wasn't white. It can happen.)

Some commenters have noted that Obama hasn't faced the same scrutiny from minority communities or the press regarding the color of his selections as have previous recent administrations. They wonder if this is further evidence of our post-racial times, or if Obama will feel the heat soon. Some have theorized that black people are finally ok with selections being made based on qualifications not color because black people believe that was how Obama was selected.

I'm going to have to call bullshit.

True, black people haven't been complaining much because the afterglow is still there and because we don't want to make things any harder than they have to be for the new president. Black people are real sensitive about criticizing other powerful black people in mixed company. We prefer to keep our business in house.

That said, I wonder if the real reason that black people aren't complaining isn't much more simple. I think that we understand that it's cool to have people of color giving the president advice before he makes a decision, but the real power is when you're actually the person making the final call.

So, since we have HNIC I think we're pretty laid back about all the other NICs running around the White House.

Thing is, I go back and forth about whether this is a good idea. Obama's intelligence is obvious, but I wonder what his decision making style will be. News reports have said that he likes to collect as much data as possible before making a decision. But, my own observations tell me that he has certain core values and goals that drive his vision for this country and every issue is weighed against how it impacts those goals.

I'm curious to see if he will be a president who makes decisions based on the consensus of his staff, or if he will be guided by some sort of internal compass. I imagine it will be a mixture of both, and in that case I can see the argument for more diversity within his cabinet. Ultimately, he will be dependent on outsiders to bring him the information he needs to make decisions and to challenge his world view. If he surrounds himself with people who only reflect the worldview of white people, while ignoring Latinos, Asians and black people, well some problems could arise.

The thing is, for some reason I'm confident that Obama understands the core struggles of all of the racial groups in this country. His unique background and inquisitive nature have given him a knowledge base never before seen in the White House as it relates to understanding the total American story. I'm sure he still needs some seasoning and advanced education, but I'm confident that his vision of America is one that encompasses all of our stories.

I guess I said all that, to say that I'm not as concerned about the color of his staff as I once was. I would hope that he considers diversity when he makes hires, but I am more concerned about him accomplishing the goals he set forth during his campaign. I think that if that happens, everybody in America will benefit.




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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Umm...When Are You Leaving?

Y'all ever heard that old saying about house guests and fish?

After three days, both them motherfuckers be stinking.

Well Sarah Palin has been staying in Americans' collective house for waaaaaay longer than three days, and, right now, that's one funky Alaskan.

I can't be the only one wondering when the hell the Nieman Marcus Narcissist is going to be leaving the big stage, right? She done stretched her short stint as the tart of the right wing into a permanent gig as a critic of all things here in the Lower 49.

For a woman that couldn't be bothered with press conferences and "gotcha journalism", Palin sure seems to love a tape recorder and camera these days. The next day that passes without Palin discussing just how unfair the media has been to her, or the fact that she didn't keep any of those fancy threads the RNC gave her, will be the first day. And did y'all see how upset she got about anonymous sources? Really, you can't complain about anonymous sources and spread GOP propoganda on the stump. It just doesn't work

But, all joking aside, I'm wondering why this uninformed ignoramus from the backwoods continues to get a national platform to address the public. If you check out this story it's obvious that the Governor has some serious issues waiting for her back on the frozen tundra. So, shouldn't the media leave her and her dumb ass ideas alone, and let her get back to serving the citizens of Alaska now that oil revenues have taken a serious drop? Seems like the responsible thing, right?

Naaaaaaah.

Nope, the media has decided it wants to let Palin address each and every smear levied against her and then paint herself as some sort of martyr for the cause of common sense governing. Now, when I say "the media" I don't mean those pinkos over at MSNBC. Keith Olbermann is almost as obsessed with Palin as he is with Bill O'Reilly and his own press clippings. The disdain he and Rachel Maddow have for the Governor cannot be overstated, and they can always be counted on to piss all over her theories. I'm talking about the mainstream, or "neutral", media and how they have allowed this woman a ridiculous amount of face time after she effing lost!

That's right folks, this chick lost and she's been on television more than Joe Biden and John McCain combined! For real, being an old white guy is really a killer these days when it comes to getting some spotlight. It's still great when it comes to ruling the world, but as far as political fame, it's all about the darkies and the vajayjays these days.

Anyway, this is my plea to the national media to start igging Palin and her modular home community family (that's the polite name for trailer park folks) so that she can just fade into the background. Hopefully we will have at least four years of an intelligent president (where is Obama's bulletproof vest?) before we have to deal with the possibility of this broad having access to nukes again. Seriously, I wet the bed like three times after McCain named her his running mate because of how close she was to the nuclear football. Three times!

It's silent treatment time for Sarah Palin. Everybody pretend like she doesn't exist, and if she still manages to convince the people in Alaska to keep her in office, (They re-elected a convicted felon! And folks try to talk about black people and William Jefferson? Please), well then we'll worry about her national profile.

Other than that she needs to kick rocks.



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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

He's Got the Whole World In His Hands

Obama must be feeling a lot like Atlas right now.

For those of y'all not up on your Greek mythology, Atlas was one of the Titans, and according to legend, he was forced to hold the entire world on his shoulders for all eternity. In fact, the only time he got a break was when Hercules was stupid enough to take on the duty for a couple of hours. Once freed of that burden, Atlas decided he liked life a lot more without having to carry the Earth on his back and told Hercules the job was his.

As strong as Hercules was, he almost died trying to hold the world. However, Atlas's stupidity eventually saved old Hercules. He convinced the Titan that he loved holding the world, and asked Atlas to hold the Earth for one second while he got a cushion for his shoulders. Atlas agreed, and Hercules left him there looking stupid.

Now that I've finished with that history lesson, back to my idea that Obama must feel like Atlas right now. And, George W. Bush is playing the role of Hercules.

See, Bush used trickery, deception and division to gain access to the White House for the past eight years. During his tenure he's royally screwed us all. The economy is crap, national security is crap and the environment is crap. In fact, the world currently looks like the backyard at Clifford the Big Red Dog's house, big stinking piles of crap everywhere.

So, I'm guessing that President-elect Barack Obama feels the weight of the world weighing pretty heavily on his shoulders right now as Bush shifts that burden away from himself as quickly as possible. Everybody was praising Bush for promising to make sure the transition to a new administrations was smooth, but I wasn't surprised at all. I'm pretty sure Bush doesn't have any desire to be president anymore; he's made all the money he needed to make, and he damn sure doesn't want to clean up his own mess.

To make matter worse, Obama is inheriting one of the toughest jobs in the world with massive expectations of success and failure. Everybody who drank the hope Kool-Aid expects Obama to make their lives better, and everybody who passed when the cup came around expects him to bring on Armageddon. I read a piece on a website I frequent that basically noted that five days into his tenure, Obama was already looking like a failure due to the selections he's made for this White House staff.

Five days in!

I appreciate that need to expect results and not let Obama slide just because we share a race, but I'm going to need all the cynics to fall back. As a cynic myself, I think I've earned that right. Just fall back.

Give the man time, at least one term, to see if he can right this ship and stay true to the ideals he espoused on the campaign trail. If he fails, don't vote for him again. Trust me, if black people refuse to vote for him, there is no way Obama gets another term in the White House. It's that simple; if he doesn't make our lives better, we can just withhold our support.

The truth is, Obama has a lot of power right now, and he's got a big ass mess to clean up using that power. I honestly don't expect him to get around to throwing the might of the presidential office behind many issues other than the economy or Iraq for quite some time. I'm cool with that. All I expect him to do is make smart decisions that improve people's lives. Nothing more and nothing less.

Although he could curse Bush our for me the next time he visits the White House.


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Friday, November 7, 2008

Get A Tissue and A Notebook

Great story by Wil Haywood over at the Post about a black man who served as a butler to eight presidents in the White House.


Check it out if you've got some time.

But, I suggest you grab a notebook and a box of tissues.

And my real post for today is below this one.


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While We Were Celebrating

Black people have a strange relationship with homosexuality.

For those of you who may have missed it, residents of California recently approved a ban on gay marriage. African Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of that ban. It was a huge blow to the civil rights of gay people, and there are plans to take the issue to the Supreme Court.

I've read several stories in recent days about how exactly this ban was passed (The Mormon Church played a huge role. Imagine that, blacks and Mormons working together!). What stood out to me was how supporters of the ban preyed on heterosexual people's fear that allowing gay marriage would somehow threaten marriage between straight folks.

I've been married for almost three years now, and if I've learned one thing, it's that the biggest threats to my marriage are me and my wife. I just find it laughable that people are really afraid that if they allow gay people to get married it will make it harder for them to stay married.

What's ironic is how easily this line of thinking gained traction in the black community. Honestly, we should be the last people attracted to the idea that granting a minority group rights will threaten the majority, but that wasn't the case.

Which brings me back to my original comment about the strange relationship between blacks and homosexuality.

Throughout my life, raised as a pretty traditional Christian, I've been taught two things about being gay: it's a sin and it's none of my business.

That seems to be the attitude for many black church folks. We readily acknowledge that homosexuality is wrong according to the Bible, but we typically consider what people do behind closed doors none of our concern.

How else do you explain the way black preachers can unabashedly lampoon "sissies" from the pulpit while at the same time employing obviously gay men as the musical directors of their choirs? How about the one lesbian sister who comes to church dressed exactly like a man and who is hugged and kissed by the same folks who refer to gay men as faggots?

Black people have mastered the art of ignoring homosexuality, while at the same time fearing it.

It's not a particularly hard situation to understand. The black family and black manhood have always been under attack in America. Combined with black people's overwhelming support of traditional Christianity, it's not surprise that many black people are uncomfortable with homosexuality. In fact, if you consider the fact that many black people also have experienced racism at the hands of white homosexuals, and that gay activists love to tie their movement to the civil rights movement, well it was damn near inevitable that the two groups clash.

Since so many black people are already worried about the decline in successful heterosexual marriages in the black community, they are much more willing to believe lies about the cause of this problem. It's the same reason so many white Americans are willing to believe the lies about black criminality. When people feel threatened, they look for targets to lash out at, and they are not circumspect when it comes to assigning blame.

However, despite black people's poor choices on this issue, I am bothered by the response from some prominent gay white people, like Dan Savage and Andrew Sullivan, and their supporters. They have decided to lay the blame for the Proposition 8's passage solely at the feet of black voters ignoring the fact that whites were pretty split on the measure and that the Mormon Church spent millions to get the proposition passed.

There has always been a weird tension between gay people and black people. Many gay people seem shocked that a group that has been oppressed as much as black people could participate in oppression. It's as if gay people have never actually taken the time to understand the complicated history of African Americans.

Black people oppress each other. During the civil rights and black power movements, black men oppressed women. We've oppressed Asian, Mexicans and any other group that we view as a threat. We've even oppressed white people when given the chance. Just because black people have been victims of oppressions does not bestow upon us any special sort of nobility or even empathy. We are still human beings that behave like most other human beings.

Personally, I believe that the solution to reducing tension between black people and gays is a cessation of comparisons between the two experiences in America and an honest dialogue between the two groups about their needs and concerns. Instead, we all seem determined to spend our time sniping at each other and playing the blame game.

That's not going to get things done.






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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Afterglow


Somebody pass me a cigarette.

And I don't even smoke.

But, this feels like the kind of moment that needs smoke rings and a tiny pinpoint of orange light glowing in the dark to be appreciated.

I'm sleep-deprived and dealing with a lingering cold, but man I feel good. I feel real good.

Sated.

I started this blog in January. More than 300 posts later, I have people regularly reading what I write and being inspired by my words. I began this blog because of Barack Obama and what his candidacy would mean for racial conversations in this country. I haven't been disappointed.

I didn't canvass any neighborhoods, I didn't call any voters. I don't have any lawn signs and aside from a few shirts my wife got for my son, I don't own any Obama paraphernalia. But, I still feel like I'm a part of this.

All of us are.

When I say "us" I don't just mean black people or Obama supporters. I don't even mean just Americans. Every person on this planet who cared about this election, who understands the significance of an Obama victory is a part of this triumph. This is a moment for us all.

We have many more mountains to climb, many more rivers to cross, but we have reached a mountaintop. Big dreams can be fulfilled. None of us can deny that now.

I've seen people all over the internet and real world try to explain what this moment means to them. Some have been painfully eloquent, others have been dreadfully ignorant. I'm just happy folks have this amazing event to discuss.

There is a special feeling of charity in the black community right now. We feel closer to our fellow Americans than we have since the slaves were freed. Seriously, I think black people understand that this moment isn't just about us, it's about everybody who was willing to let go of some baggage and trust again.

I didn't wake my son up to watch Obama give his speech. He gets really cranky when you break his sleep and he had already been up pretty late watching the returns come in. I wonder if I'll regret that decision in the future?

I mentioned my son because I picked him up this morning while watching cable news and I looked into his face. He had a little chocolate on his lip from eating a cookie he had begged and pleaded to get. I looked at him different today. When I looked in his face I truly believed that his life would be better than mine.

For the past few years, I've never believed that. I thought that my son would inherit a much worse world because people were no longer willing to be honest about racism, and therefore progress had ended. I am so happy I was wrong. As my son squirmed in my arms, desperate to be put down so he could run around some more, I thought, "Yes you can."

Yes you can be the world's preeminent doctor.

Yes you can live a life of happiness and not one crushed beneath the burden of double consciousness.

Yes you can raise your children to fully invest their hearts in this country.

Yes you can be president.

See, most of the world may not change, but I think black people will. This is a defining moment in our history. We will believe more, we will work harder and we will acomplish things. Sometimes all it takes is one victory to believe things will be different. This is that victory. Our communities may still be overrun by crime, our schools may be overburdened and underfinanced, but I think black people now realize that things don't have to be that way.

We don't have to settle for less. We don't have to hoard success. We can dream HUMONGOUS dreams.

That is powerful.

He can.


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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mandate From Heaven

Greatness beckons us.

You and I.

It strode across a massive stage on a cold Chicago night. It wasn't just embodied in the skinny, black man in the dark suit, but also evident in the smiling face of his adoring wife and beautiful children.

Greatness.

In ancient Chinese culture, the emperor was seen as a deity in human form. His reign was considered the will of the gods and he was granted the "mandate from heaven." He reigned supreme over all.

We do not consider our political leaders to be gods in America. Too often in our history we have seen just how human and fallible politicians can be. But, Tuesday night, we saw a man receive the modern day equivalent of a mandate of heaven.

Not because of the size of his victory. That was only a minor issue. No, even if Obama had won by one vote his victory would still be a mandate.

See, the people of these Divided States of America have elected their eternal bogeyman to be the symbol that represents us before the world. A country that once hung black men from trees for smiling at white women, now has a president who is the product of miscegenation.

That is greatness.

I have been a reluctant American. There is no other way to put. Through an accident of birth I was granted the privilege of growing up in this country. Many times I have scoffed at that right, I have minimized the importance of that privilege.

Not now.

I listened to a man speak words of power, of hope, of idealism that touched a core within me that I often forget exists. It's a core I've protected, that I've hidden, that I have purposely forgotten. It was something that could have only happened in this country.

He touched my personal greatness.

I'm sure he touched many of you in the same way. As I saw tears stream down the faces of people in that enormous crowd in Chicago I was certain that others had been touched.

President Barack Obama, (Good God that felt good), makes you want to be a better person. He makes you want to believe in those myths that you were taught in civics class and American History. President Obama gives you hope.

It is not a hope built on lies or deception. It's a hope built on the cold hard fact that each and every human being has the potential to be more than just mediocre. We are not bound by our most base impulses, nor are we beholden to the evil that so often invades our minds. We can be more, we can do more, we have more inside of us.

We all have greatness.

We all have a mandate from heaven.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Baracked that Bitch

Man, I finally got my class schedule and validation sticker.

Oops, my bad. Based on the lines I stood in this morning I thought I was back at Howard University trying to get registered at the "A" building and the Banneker building. Guess I was a little confused.

Do y'all know I stood in line for more than three hours? Seriously, I thought I had mistakenly gotten into a line for food stamps or disaster assistance. When I got to the polling place at 6:20 a.m., the line was wrapped around the corner and cars lined the streets. Inside the actual building, it was complete chaos with lines all over the place and nobody exactly sure where to go.

Like many of my fellow voters, I was more than a little pissed that the election folks hadn't planned for a big turnout. The whole operation was just lacking. I could have planned things better than that with only two hours notice, let alone two years.

But, this isn't a post for complaints. It's a post for being happy about finally getting a chance to cast that vote that many of us have wanted to cast our whole lives. Now some of y'all might be saying that you never dreamed of voting for a black president. That's a lie. Even if you didn't realize that you wanted to vote for a black dude, it was in your heart. Deep in the dark recesses of our collective hearts, all black people were waiting for this moment.

And it finally came.

Now, I would have preferred if the moment came with a 30 minute wait and free donuts, but I'll take what I can get. In fact, standing in line offered me a lot of time to people watch and come up with material for the blog.

The diversity of black people voting today was just amazing. You had your old people who couldn't really manage the long lines so they copped themselves a seat near the front and told you to hold their place. Then you had your folks in their 40s and 50s who were complaining about all the old ladies working as commissioners who could barely see. Also, lots of fine women vote. Lots of fine women indeed.

There also was quite a smattering of the "WTF" vote. Those are the people who look like voting is typically the last thing on their minds at 6:30 in the morning. Neck tats, sagging pants, back tats, forearm tats, head wraps and rollers; these were all in fairly high rotation at my polling location. I know that as a black person I should be more sensitive about stereotyping, but I must admit that I spent a lot of time wondering "Is this y'all's first time voting?"

And y'all know all these black folks were voting for Obama, right? First of all, I only saw like two or three white people in line the whole time I was there. And the only time I heard John McCain's name was when folks were wondering what his old ass was thinking when he tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate. It was like a big family reunion complete with the cousins nobody really knows and the one crazy uncle who entertains everybody with his funny stories.

Plus, waiting in line allowed me to develop some voting slang for those of y'all still waiting to cast your votes:

1. Line envy: This is the feeling you get when the line for your precinct is so long that it wraps around the gym six times, but the line for other folks is only 10 people deep. This feeling will cause you to wonder why you chose to live in such a heavily populated community when you could have easily moved into a neighborhood that had been hit harder by Hurricane Katrina and hadn't rebounded.

2. Voter remorse: Have you ever waited in line outside a polling place, waited in line inside a polling place, finally voted and then gone outside to find all the lines gone? I have and I now have voter's remorse. This feeling involved wishing you hadn't tried to beat the crowds by getting to your polling place early and instead had come during the middle of the day when everybody with a job was guaranteed to be at work. Yep, voter's remorse.

3. Line truth: Line truth is a collection of the random election rumors that you normally would ignore, but that sound plausible when you've been on your feet in a hot ass gym for two hours. You know, rumors that the reason why there aren't more voting machines is because "they" want us to all get upset, starting fighting and riot. Or the "truth" that John McCain actually wanted to pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate, and settled on Palin because she was just too fine to ignore. Finally, my favorite line truth was that Obama was running neck and neck with McCain in Louisiana and all it would take was a big turnout by black folks to push him over the top. I knew it was a lie, but it was a good lie.

Anyway, I hope those of y'all who voted today had enjoyable and memorable experiences.

And if you haven't voted yet, you better take your dumbass to the polls.


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I'm Probably in Line

If you're reading this before 11 a.m. Central time I'm probably still in line waiting to vote.

I plan on getting to my polling locations early, but judging by the lines during early voting, I'm in for a long wait. So, y'all pray for clear skies and warm weather.

I am so happy this day is finally here.

I'll holla at y'all later with some more in-depth thoughts.



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Monday, November 3, 2008

Holding Pattern


Sorry about the late post.

I was sick at the end of last week and didn't get time to blog.

Anyway, right now, like many of you, I'm sitting tight and hoping that after two years of waiting, we will finally make history on Tuesday. I can't think of too much to say right now because I've really been avoiding political coverage the past few days.

I'm tired of listening to these political analysts, pundits and reporters. I know what all of them think and I've decided they don't have any real information to offer me about who is going to vote for which candidate.

So, I'm chilling.

It's made my wife and father a little mad since both of them are still heavily invested in the campaign. They can't understand why I refuse to watch the shows I used to love watching. (Of course, it doesn't help that the NBA season has started and I also recently copped NBA 2K9 for my PS3. My priorities are definitely in order now.)

Honestly, I don't have any words of wisdom to offer y'all today. I might write a blog later this week about the recent push to change the campaign finance rules now that Obama has shattered all fundraising records, but that can wait. I'll definitely talk about my experience waiting in line tomorrow morning to vote. So, y'all have a good day and stay calm.


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Raving Black Lunatic