Thursday, July 30, 2009

Officially Speaking

Why do we as Americans place so much faith in the "official account" of events?

Without a doubt, every American citizen believes government officials in all capacities lie. If you're a conservative, the liberals lie. If you're a liberal, the conservatives lie. If you're a regular citizen who has liberal and conservative leanings, everybody and they momma lies.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, believes public officials tell the truth all the time.

Yet, when controversies emerge, particularly those involving matters of race, I see folks rush to embrace the "official account." Of course, the most recent example of this was the Skip Gates incident, but there are so many more examples: Oscar Grant's murder, the case of the Atlanta grandmother, the abuses of that Tulia, Texas police officer. It doesn't even have to be about race. What about the Bush account of Sadaam Hussein's war chest, or the military account of Pat Tillman's death?

It's a paradox. Many, many Americans would claim not to trust the government, or to have mixed views about law enforcement, but when controversy erupts, those are the people they wholeheartedly trust. Americans cling to the "official account" like Titanic passengers clung to the hulls of their lifeboats.

All while the big ship continues to sink.

Why do so many of us have so much faith in the official account? I was struck by how readily people assumed that the facts in the Cambridge police department's report were what actually happened that day, even as several other accounts of the events were released. In fact, even as portions of the report have been debunked, people are still giving the officer the benefit of the doubt.

This is despite the fact that his own police department refused to pursue the arrest he so "lawfully" made. That means that either the arrest was a bad bust, or the police department threw out a good arrest to appease a Harvard professor and his supporters.

Troubling thought, ain't it?

I've decided that people trust the official report for many of the same reasons Christians trust the Bible. Everyone wants to feel like there is something in the world that is true and pure and infallible. For some folks it's the word of God, for others it's the reports filed by Officer Friendly or the Secretary of Defense.

While I understand the impulse, it seems idiotic when it comes to fallible, flawed human beings. Why trust people who place themselves on a pedestal when it is convenient, only to be asked to be treated like everyone else when the going gets tough? At least with God you have consistency, with authority figures you have track record of deception. How can you truly trust the word and oaths of people who would stoop to something like this?

Officially speaking, that is.







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Monday, July 27, 2009

Watch Your Company

During the presidential election, I watched a lot of MSNBC.

Channel 356 was on so much in my house that I knew instantly when they changed Olbermann's hair helmet, and speculated on why they decided to add a little more blush to Rachel Maddow's makeup. Given the choice between the three major cable news stations, MSNBC, despite their ridiculous liberal bias, was the clear winner over the drivel on CNN and the vile hatred on Fox News.

Anyway, one of the frequent commenters on MSNBC is Pat Buchanan. For those of you unaware, Buchanan is an old school racist. He and Strom Thurmond probably exchanged trade secrets back in the day, and Buchanan's never been shy about letting everybody know the world is a better place when white men are in charge.

He recently caught some flack for tossing some red meat to the Republican base and letting them know that it's white folks who have kept the world, or rather America, safe for all these years. He pretty much said that you inferior races, that is everybody who is not white, have been freeloading on the white man's back since they got here. It was typical Buchanan fare, only he made it a little more plain than usual. Check out this article at Racialicious for more details.

I've bristled at Uncle Pat's shtick for quite some time. His entire attitude reminds of just how close we are to the white sheets and snarling German Shepherds. But, what's bothered me the most is the topic touched on in the article. Mainly, why are other white folks so convinced that Uncle Pat is harmless?

One of things I noticed watching Buchanan is that while he may sometimes forget himself, often he's in control of his emotions and his tongue. Basically, when he says some hateful, racist stuff, he knows EXACTLY what he's doing. It typically ain't a slip up.

Yet, I've found that his white colleagues tend to brush off his comments as just "Uncle Pat being Uncle Pat." He's minimized, while at the same time given a national platform. We're told what he has to say isn't important, but he's allowed to spew it to the masses.

But that's not the worst thing. Nah, what's really bad is that the public is fed the ridiculous argument that Uncle Pat is really a swell guy. Several times I've heard Maddow and others talking about having a drink with Pat and enjoying themselves. About how he's really a nice guy behind the gruff, racist exterior.

That is getting old.

Like Bill Parcells, I'm a firm believer in the idea that you are what your record says you are. You can't convince me that when the camera is off, Uncle Pat is a jolly character who doesn't think niggers should keep their mouths shut. No matter how many times you say he's a hoot, it's not going to convince me that he would have no problem reinstating the Fugitive Slave Law and the institution that went along with it.

Honestly, I don't think most of those white folks believe that themselves, at least not deep in their hearts. They know Buchanan ain't right, they just don't want to admit it because that would raise the question of why are they hanging out with a racist prick. Since Uncle Pat actually does remind them of their uncles, and grandparents and even their parents, they don't want to admit that he probably gave Bull Connor tips on how to run the Birmingham Police Department.

We all know that the company you keep reflects your personal values. The people you spend time with influence you, and are a representation of what type of crap you're willing to put up with on a regular basis. So, if you don't mind shooting the breeze with Uncle Pat, what does that say about you?

Well?

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Tangled Web

As I discussed in my most recent post, it appears that the Cambridge Police have "remixed" the report related to Skip Gates.

Now comes the news that the woman who sparked this entire incident, an incident that resulted in a presidential apology, has some problems of her own with the police account.

Check out the link. Apparently, the lady who made the original 911 call claims she never described the race of the alleged suspects. If y'all remember correctly, the officer said he'd been told to be on the lookout for two black men with backpacks trying to break into a house. The lady says she never told anybody the suspect's race.

But, in a much more serious allegation, the woman states that she was never interviewed at the scene by the officer. If y'all remember, the officer described talking across the hedges with a distraught and frightened woman who urged him to take action. Now either this woman is a liar, or the Officer Racial Profiling likes to write fiction.

I don't know abut y'all, but given the good scrubbing the police report has already received, plus the officer's accusation that Skip Gates likes to say "yo momma," I'm riding with the neighbor. That's just me.

Oh yeah, the woman says that contrary to the officer's claim, she ain't white. She's Portuguese. Guess it was a little dark outside when Officer Lies A Lot came through.

One final note, in her 911 call, the woman told police she wasn't even sure it was a break in because she saw suitcases on the front porch. Read about it here.



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Friday, July 24, 2009

Crazy Stuff

Just want to noted that the police report detailing what happened in the Gates incident has been "modified" from it's original form. It now features new information that paints the officer in an even better light and paints Gates in a worse light.

This whole issue is sickening and is a stark reminder of how easily all Americans rights can be violated and how efficient the cops are at covering their abuses up.


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Dammit, I Just Can't Stop

I'm so tired of talking about the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Gates, but every time I think I've moved on, it drags me right back in.

I saw something today that just infuriated me. It was a story from several police organizations telling Obama to get the "facts" before he criticized one of their "own."

First and foremost, this attitude among police officers that they are somehow separate and set apart from the general population is dangerous. These people have guns and other weapons that can kill people. If they think they are a set apart group, they likely think they are a superior group, and it won't be long before they start taking even more serious action to keep the inferior folks in line. And all us who aren't police officers qualify as inferior.

But, what really pisses me off, is that these cats have the nerve to have a press conference chastising the president and telling him to get the facts.

WHAT EFFING FACTS!

We have too vastly different accounts of what happened in that home. How is anybody supposed to have the facts since the two people giving those accounts were the only two people at the damn home? Besides, when police officers say, "get the facts" what they really mean is "shut up you uppity nigger and listen to us."

Dammit, I'm so angry right now I want to punch somebody. The arrogance displayed by these officers, who just so happen to be mostly white, makes my blood boil in a way that I thought was impossible thanks to my new breathing regimen and prayer. But, nope, it hasn't happened.

Arrogance is what made that officer arrest Professor Gates. Arrogance is what's preventing people from admitting that Gates was wronged in him home. Pure, unadulterated arrogance is the problem here.

And I'm pissed that I still have more articles to write about this stupid incident.




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Thursday, July 23, 2009

La La La, I Can't Hear You

"Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact," Obama said.

"That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made," he added. "I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, this still haunts us. And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently and often time for no cause casts suspicion even when there is good cause. And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody is going to be."



Those were the words President Barack Obama spoke at his press conference Wednesday when he was asked about the incident involving Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and a Cambridge police officer. As you can see, they are measured, they are calm and the try to provide a fair assessment of what happened. Nobody is called a racist and police officers are not arbitrarily condemned. Yet, Obama manages to convey a simple truth about life in America for black people and Latinos.

Now, I would encourage those of you with strong stomachs and minds to check out the comments section on this article to get a sense for how the president's comments were received by some people.

Those of you brave enough to follow that link saw that despite Obama's attempts at fairness, it wasn't enough. The vitriolic comments left at Boston.com made it clear that many folks believe that anybody who mentions "race" or "discrimination" isn't worth listening to, particularly when that person is a big-eared, purple-lipped Negro pretending to be this country's lawful president.

I long ago learned not to assume that comment sections represent the thoughts of the "masses," so I'll just assume that those comments represent the feelings of a vocal minority. Either way, they are disturbing.

I touched on this theme in this blog back during the presidential campaign. As you can see, it discusses the phenomenon of the "Good Negro" and even provides some helpful rules for those of you seeking to adopt that mantle.

In truth, Obama has shown himself to be quite skillful in navigating the murky racial waters of America. He follows the "Good Negro" rules most of the time, and rarely manages to let his mask fall. Yet, often it seems like with certain folks, he still can't win. No matter what he says, not matter what any black person says, they just don't care.

If you're talking about race, you might as well shut up.

Like many black folks, I've grown cynical about racial discussions. They seem to be the ultimate no-win situations. People don't listen, they get angry, and ultimately, they blame you. Often, it seems like the only reason to engage anyone with a dissenting opinion on race is if you have hankering for a good argument.

Responses like those the president receive only confirm my view. Though Obama tried his best to speak from a middle ground that everyone should be able to agree with at least partially, to many folks it was as if he was a raving black lunatic calling up the hounds of Hades on all good white folks.

Even the police officer got in on the act, telling the world he was disappointed that Obama commented on his actions without all the facts. How ironic coming from a man who readily accosted a crippled old man in his home on a vague tip that turned out to be ridiculously false. How often do you think Officer Hurt Feelings has called a suspect a scumbag, or assumed guilt, without "all the facts?"

This whole race thing has become a farce. It's damn near pointless to discuss it with people because most folks have no interest in looking at the world from a different point of view. When comments as bland and unassuming as Obama's can be twisted into Black Power rhetoric, it's obvious that there is a real problem. It appears that most Americans, particularly those with a lack of melanin, are running around with their fingers in their ears remarking on how quiet things are in the world.

And I have no idea how to fix things.







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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Meh.....

In a follow up to yesterday's post about the never-ending cycle of stories about the way the police treat minorities, particularly black folks, I thought I'd talk about how minorities within the police department often are treated.

I've seen several recent stories, including one out of Philly and this one out of Los Angeles where minority officers have complained of racism and discrimination within the department. In addition, I've had the pleasure of hearing some of these complaints firsthand in my regular life.

It seems that many minorities are denied opportunities for advancement, are subjected to bigotry and are generally treated like second class citizens within police departments. Apparently there are police officesr and then there are minority police officers. They are not all on the same team, all of the time.

I just have one thing to say about that...

Meh.

Y'all know I like to call out racism and I think it's an important task. But, when I hear about minority officers getting shafted by white folks, I can't really work up too much outrage. My reasoning is simple. If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas...

What do I mean? Well, I wouldn't be so stupid as to claim that ALL police officers are evil. However, from what I've seen and heard, becoming a police officer seems to imbue folks with a certain sense of superiority that does not respond well to being challenged. Yesterday's story about Professor Gates was a prime example of that, but I've seen it on multiple occasions in my regular life. Many police officers expect everyone to obey them immediately and to meekly submit to having their rights violated. Period.

Minorities who join police departments have this same attitude. More importantly, they often tend to apply racist standards to other minorities who are not a part of Big Blue. To a certain degree, being a police officer overrides all other considerations of race and class, that is until minority officers are forced to confront their own subordinate status within the hierarchy of Big Blue.

I find it ludicrous that the same folks who turn a blind eye to racial profiling and other abuses would expect the general public to be outraged when their rights are violated. In the story I linked to, the Asian officer bringing the lawsuit worked in the narcotics unit. If there is one thing I know, it's that officers in those units bend or break rules all the damn time, and have no problem violating the civil rights of "bad guys" to make an arrest. Yet, this officer has the nerve to be upset that the same folks he regularly allowed to mistreat others would turn around and mistreat him?

That's just stupid.

I don't have sympathy for folks who are wronged if they've consistently wronged others, or watched while others have been wronged. I don't feel bad when minority police officers are mistreated because they knew the organization was rotten in so many ways, but they allowed it to continue to discriminate against other minorities, particularly young black males, unabated. They are complicit in every act of wrongdoing, and any abuse they suffer at the hands of their fellow officers is likely deserved.

I don't care.


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Monday, July 20, 2009

I Know How This Movie Ends

When I talk to a friend of mine, we always comment on the fact that as we get older it seems like we can predict the future.

Not for ourselves, but for others. Whether it be the young girl with the overdeveloped body and the undeveloped mind, or the young brother who thinks that respect is something that other people control. It might be the older sister who loves to talk about her independence, or the old head who thinks the club is still a great place to visit on the weekend. Too often it's like we're trapped in a bad movie that we already know the end of, but that we're forced to watch over and over again.

I guess you could say hell looks a lot like Groundhog Day.

Well, this story gave me the same feeling.

I've written about this too many times to remember. Racial profiling, the relationship between black folks and the police, just black life in America in general. These are all frequent discussion points on this blog, and at times I feel like I've lost the ability to write anything new about the topics.

Yet, I still must press on. In fact, when a renowned Harvard professor like Henry Louis Gates is a victim of racial profiling, we must say something. These things must be documented and discussed. We must ask questions about why a college professor was arrested at his home for allegedly breaking into that home. We must question why the police can arrest anybody for being "tumultuous."

One man's tumultuous is another man's righteous indignation. I know that if the cops decided to arrest me at my home for breaking into that home, despite me showing identification and other paperwork, well I might be a little tumultuous. Matter of fact, I'd be royally pissed that I was being disrespected by the police and my neighbors who reported me as a suspicious person.

Yet, when you're a black man in America you're expected to have an amazing tolerance for slights like these. You're expected to eschew anger in favor of patience and reconciliation. You're supposed to be a bloodless automaton who reacts perfectly to every situation no matter what the cost.

I've seen that movie and I don't like it. Those expectations are an unbearable weight that contributes to the fact that most black men don't live past 67. We are forced to assume positions and roles that would cripple lesser men, and then we are reamed out for failing to live up to these lofty requirements.

The comments beneath the story show the true expectations of a certain segment of the American public. They want black men, rather black people, to shut up about discrimination and racism. They want us to stop playing the victims even as we are victimized. In truth, they want us to know our roles, and shut our mouths.

It's a crazy life.


Pretty predictable as well.




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Randomness in the Animal World

First things first, I need y'all to check out this article.

I jacked that joint from The Assimilated Negro, whose blog I visit on occasion. I'm passing it on to you because it's one of those random pieces of information that has the amazing ability to titillate, amuse and disgust at the same time. Please, do yourselves a favor and click on that link.

Did it?

Now, let's discuss the amazing genitalia of ducks and mallards. Man, wasn't that crazy? For you lazy suckers who refused to click on the link despite all of my prompts, the article discussed the evolution of the penises and vaginas of ducks due to repeated rapes by the males of the species. The whole topic contains a plethora of things that make you go "Hmmmmmm..."

First, I didn't realize that rape was something animals engaged in.

I guess, that makes me stupid, but I always thought rape was something uniquely and horribly human. Basically, I figured one of the side-effects of our highly evolved brains was the fact that we think about doing stuff like rape or murder. I know that animals can be aggressive when it comes to mating, and there typically isn't much courting, but I never though of something like violent and deadly rape occurring. It kind of makes me re-evaluate my thoughts on the whole human/animal dynamic.

If animals are capable of rape, and resenting rape, what else are they capable of? How have we as humans been shortchanging them?

Second, ain't evolution a mother?

Now some of you might be confused that I am even willing to give evolution the time of day. After all, I regularly promote my Christian faith, and I have a fairly traditional view on the Bible and its sayings. That's true. However, despite the fact that I believe that God created the world, I do not believe that the world we live in today, looks anything like the world he created. Tt's quite easy for me to believe that animals and humans have changed and evolved from the first models God placed on the planet.

I am constantly amazed at how animals adapt to their surroundings, and that includes the adaptations made by humans. For example, how many of y'all are aware that sickle cell anemia is a response to the high incidence of malaria in Africa?

Yep, certain Africans developed the sickle cell trait as a way to survive malaria and it allowed them to live in areas that would otherwise be unsuitable for human habitation. Unfortunately, the trait can result in the sickle cell disease which is also fatal. Crazy right? I guess when you think about that, the fact that ducks have spiraled penises and vaginas doesn't seem that wild.

Finally, I love the internet. Seriously, the internet might be the greatest invention in the history of mankind, even if it does a whole bunch of evil. The ease with which we are able to find information on damn near ANY topic in the known world is so freaking amazing and we just take it for granted. When I think about the times in human history when knowledge was so precious that nerds were heroes, well it's ridiculous how far we've come.

And those are my random thoughts for today. I think I might make this a regular feature.



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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Welcome To My World

When I wrote my recent post about HBCUs and white people's perception of the black folks who attend them, I didn't get a chance to touch on a lot of stuff because of space constraints.

On a certain level, I understand completely why white folks treat HBCUs the same way Michael Jackson treated black noses. (Is it too soon for that joke?) Hell, if I was white, I would avoid HBCUs like the plague as well. If I have choice between going to school with a whole bunch of folks who look, think and act similar to the way I do, or going to some place where I'm the only person of my race in my class, well that's an easy choice.

The thing is, I've heard many white people give that explanation for why they never considered attending an HBCU, yet I've rarely, RARELY seen one of them make the next, simple logical leap. I've rarely heard them ask:

"I wonder what it feels like for black folks who have to deal with that situation everyday?"

Black folks, particularly those of us who have achieved some success in the corporate world or who have eclectic interests, know what it's like to be an "only." I've lost count of the times I've gone to an event for work, or sat in a classroom and either been the only black man, or the only black person period. By now, it's just a part of my life.

That doesn't mean I don't notice it and that it doesn't force me to deal with things I'd rather avoid. It's just that by now I've decided it's something that goes with the territory. I can't pretend that it surprises or shocks me anymore.

I think it's fair to say that most white people don't have this problem. For them, much of their time at work or at play is spent around people who look like them. Sure, there are white folks whose interests and jobs take them into minority dominated realms, but they do no constitute a large segment of the white population. And, ironically enough, most of the white folks who do interact with minorities regularly echo many of the complaints that black folks have everyday.

Mainly, it's rough being an only.

Unfortunately, most white folks still don't get that. Many of them would not attend an HBCU because they would feel like fish out of water in a minority dominated environment, regardless of the quality of the education. I remember when I attended college there was this one fun-loving white guy I talked to occasionally who disappeared one semester from campus. I later encountered him at a nearby white institution, and asked him what happened to him. He said he just couldn't take it anymore, that he fit in better at the PWI. That guy gave up a full scholarship to my HBCU just to be comfortable.

The thing that many white people don't realize is that black folks are very familiar with that queasy feeling white folks get when they think about attending an HBCU. The only difference is that many, MANY of us get that feeling everyday of our lives when we try to take full advantage of the educational, social and business opportunities America offers.

We get it when we're getting ready for class, we get it when we're getting ready for work. When we go to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, the feeling is there. When we're out at that new trendy coffeehouse, the feeling is riding shotgun. It's part of our life in America, it's part of what goes into being a Black American.

I'm not asking white folks to lose their queasy feeling about HBCUs, I actually think it's a normal thing. What I want is for them to recognize that this is happening to other groups everyday and then take some to consider what that means.

Consider our world.


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Girl, Shut Your Mouth

Y'all heard of this woman named Shanel Cooper Sykes?

I guess I'm late to the party, (I be on CP Time when it comes to cool stuff), but apparently she's sweeping the internet with her You Tube videos telling women to get it right and keep it there. The lovely Lisa Raye doppelganger seems to be delighting men across the country and comment sections devoted to her are littered with wedding proposals.

But, Mrs. Cooper-Sykes isn't beloved by everyone. She's not popular with some ladies who have accused her of pandering to male audiences with her comments about staying in the kitchen and staying fly. I had a close friend of my mine have a very visceral negative reaction when she was introduced to Mrs. Cooper-Sykes through various Facebook comments devoted to worshipping at her domestic altar. When I pressed my friend on the reason for her response, she said she couldn't put her finger on it exactly, but she knew the woman bothered her.

That, of course, piqued my interest.

My friend, she's one of my best friends actually, is what I would call a "New Age woman." She's not a fan of cooking or cleaning, is ambivalent about child rearing, and thinks that any man she marries is going to have to get in where he fits in. She says the only duties she assigns to her man are showering her with adoration, friendship and love, nothing more. Oh wait, and he has to lay good pipe.

Okay.

My friend eventually admitted that she was pissed with Cooper-Sykes because it seemed like the life coach was telling women that if they wanted to snare a decent man, they'd better embrace all of the traditional duties of womanhood. My friend, bless her soul, has decided that if that's what it takes to get a man, she's better off with her dog and her HBO.

Personally, I wasn't a fan of Cooper-Sykes' videos. Not because I disagreed with what she said, but because she was obviously pandering to men who think that the reason why they can't find a good woman is because none are left, when the real problem is that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. What I mean is that a lot of the cats complaining that women don't have their stuff together have the same problem themselves, but they are so busy lamenting their woes they haven't done any self-evaluation.

So, while Cooper-Sykes was right about what many men would consider assets in a woman, the peanut gallery cheering her on is bothersome. From my experience, the cats who are looking for a good woman, and who have their stuff together, have absolutely NO problem locating a decent catch. It is a buyer's market out there.

But, back to my friend.

Her comment about just seeking friendship, adoration and love sounded good, but it's been my experience that all that glitters ain't gold. She says she doesn't want a man to "provide" for her, but I wonder whether she would be cool with a dude who wanted to be Mr. Mom. I also thought her qualifications left a lot of room for interpretation. What men consider loving, adoring and friendly is often quite different from what women see that way.

I suggested to her that a good exercise for her would be to truly think about what duties go into making a life with another person, the day-to-day minutiae, and then be honest about what duties she would be willing to do for a man, and what she wouldn't. After all, whatever she wouldn't do would then either be her man's job, the job of a paid staffer, or it would never get down. From personal experience, I've found that many of us have become unconsciously set in our ways and we don't even realize this has happened until we try to build a new life with someone else.

I think it's a good exercise for all couples to have a concrete understanding of what each partner does in a relationship so that we can truly appreciate our mates. I also think we need to understand each partner's roles and responsibilities. Too often, I've seen men and women (but typically women) have long lists of things that their partner should do, but struggle to figure out what their own roles are. Or, I've seen couples where people blindly accept the largess of their mate without seeing any responsibility to reciprocate.

I figure that once people, like my friend, truly understand everything they require from the other person in a relationship it will be easier for them to accept the requirements their mates place on them.

And they won't be so eager to shut up people like Mrs. Cooper-Sykes.





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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Save It

I didn't write anything about this when it first broke, but after watching some of the confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor, I decided to make a little comment.

All those politicians jumping all over the lady for her comment about how a wise Latina woman can make better decisions than a random white man can do one thing for me.

Save that noise.

I don't want to hear about it. I don't want to hear your pontificating about how unfair it was, or what bad judgement she showed. I don't want to hear your idiotic questions where you ask her how she would have felt if the situation was reversed. I definitely don't want to hear your sad spiel about how this proves that racism affects everyone.

Save it for somebody with a lobotomy.

Some of my contrary white readers (looking at you Darth) might be shaking their heads right now. They probably feel like those types of comments are justified, that they make sense. Y'all might even be wondering why Sotomayor's comments didn't disqualify her completely because they clearly show some sort of "racial bias."

Guess what? Y'all tripping like a blind man at a gopher farm.

Eugene Robinson already ate up this whole premise in a recent column where he pointed out that all these angry white dude's are upset that Sotomayor believes her identity gives her an advantage when it comes to making decisions, but they don't even acknowledge that they feel the same way about being white and male. You know, basically they think white and male equals objective and fair.

(Sidenote: Robinson noted in his column that one politician had the nerve to say that if he had said something similar to what Sotomayor said, his career would be over. That's the type of BS that pisses me off. White folks have been saying stuff like that for CENTURIES and have had careers go along just fine. Remember Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond? How about Senator Klansman from West Virginia? Don Imus anyone? I hate when these bastards rewrite history to make their points better.)


Like you, I find it amazing that any white person could arrive at that conclusion given all of the historical evidence to the contrary, but that's the basic premise that Robinson skillfully attacked.

Anyway, I don't even want to talk about that here. I want to talk about something I've been touching on a lot lately. Basically, I'm tired of all this outrage from certain white folks when they feel slighted and their comparative silence when they or their friends are the ones doing the slighting. It's not that this isn't a normal and understandable reaction, after all I do it, it's that these white folks don't even want to acknowledge that their reactions differ based on who is making the accusations.

I run into this so much that it sickens me. White folks who can make complex (but stupid) racial arguments explaining how they are being discriminated against, but are still blind to the discrimination other groups face. It's like they have these colossal race blinders that prevent them from seeing anything that challenges their worldview.

So, as long as these cats insist on this course of action they can miss me with their complaints about hurt feelings. I couldn't care less if they were Klansmen on fire and I had a full bladder. I'm not trying to hear their noise, and I really don't care about their feelings.

Save it for somebody stupid.



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Friday, July 10, 2009

Frame It

I read something recently that made me think and I wanted to talk to y'all about it.

First, some background information on me. I attended an HBCU, that's a historically black college or university for those of you unfamiliar with the acronym. Like most HBCUs there were very, very few white people who attended the school seeking undergraduate degrees. Yet, my college produced Rhodes Scholars, Fulbright Scholars and was rated one of the top 100 schools in the nations by U.S. News and World Report at one time. I found that interesting.

I think I've said before that I attended a high school that was pretty much 100 percent black. It was a decent high school in a city where decent high schools are in short supply. Yet, despite the fact that it was free and its graduates attended Ivy League universities, no white children attended the school. I always found that interesting as well.

I bring up these two things because I read something recently that made me think about why I chose to attend both of those schools and what that choice meant to me, and what it means to others. What I read was a comment on a blog by a pastor who was looking for assistance in increasing diversity at his church. You can check out the actual blog here but I'll post the comment below:

Our congregations reflect who we are. You and your wife went to colleges with people who choose to segregate by sex and race. You did your elementary school outreach in a school that was not diverse. Not casting stones at any of these things but they are what they are and none of these landmark events speak of diversity. On top of that you do blog posts criticizing Christian events that are too white. Not exactly rolling out the welcome mat.

My church is diverse because that is who I am, not a goal I am trying to get others to adopt.

Couple these things with the reluctance many white people have to submitting to black leaders, and the fact that you are leading a plant in the south, the lack of diversity seems pretty understandable, if not expected.


See, this comment made me think.

When I chose a black school, it wasn't so much to segregate myself, but to avoid the rigors of integration as a minority. My problem wasn't with white people, it was with the things some of them do when they are in a majority. I'd done that dance in middle school, and I'd learned that it wasn't something I would deal with if I could avoid it.

However, this poster obviously doesn't see things that way. Like many others, this person sees attending an HBCU as an act of willful segregation, and uses it to question the pastor's commitment to diversity.

I find that interesting.

I won't be overly long in discussing the history of HBCUs, but it's safe to say they were created to combat discrimination not to advance it. Black folks didn't create black colleges because we wanted to get away from it all, we created them (or rather took white folks' money to create them) because most white folks didn't want us going to school with them.

Today, many of us attend those school because they offer easier access to a higher education, and because they offer a respite from the pressures of being an "other." Yet, for some reason, many white people persist in seeing these institutions as bastions of inequality.

The truth is, nobody prevents white people from attending HBCUs. Hell, if you check out the dental, medical and law schools at some HBCUs you'll find LOTS of white folks.

With this in mind, I found it interesting that someone could see HBCUs as places where white folks weren't allowed. After all, there are not rules, written or unwritten, forbidding white folks from attending. In fact, many HBCUs have begun actively recruiting white folks in recent years.

Moreover, I found it fascinating that this person would use the attendance of an HBCU to question someone's commitment to diversity. After all, most predominantly white institutions have minority populations well below what they are in the real world. For example, most white schools, have black populations around 5 to 7 percent.

I find it difficult to believe that going to school where your race makes up roughly 80 percent of the total population is a sign that you love diversity. Yet, this person didn't think going to a white school meant you didn't value diversity, only going to a black one. The way that person framed the issue, it was obviously black people who had the problem and were in the wrong.

Life is so often about framing. The media frames the news, the politicians frame the laws, and the regular folk frame their interactions with everybody else. We all decide how we're going to view the world, and then we start making decisions based on that world view. Only, many of our frames are so warped and crooked, it's impossible for us to ever get a clear view of life.

It's not only important for us to constantly evaluate our individual frame of reference, but it's important to force those around us to evaluate their frames as well. Sometimes that can be painful and tedious, but I'm beginning to realize that so many people have such a limited way of viewing the world that without some extra work on my part, and yours, we are all doomed.



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Why You Care?

Unlike many Americans, I wasn't glued to my tube watching the Michael Jackson memorial.

Sure, I caught snippets, but it was mainly background noise in my day. It's not that I didn't appreciate Jackson's impact, I did. But, I've moved on, and given my mixed feelings about the singer, it's hard to generate the true sadness I would feel if a loved one died.

Yet, Jackson's death has provided me with another opportunity to examine the curious way many conservative white folks approach racial issues.

I've noticed that throughout the conservative underworld and overworld, several commentators have taken it upon themselves to question Jackson's "blackness." The most recent being Bill O'Reilly who made a point of blasting black folks for celebrating Jackson as a black icon despite all the signs that he was engulfed by a form of self hate. He actually said that Jackson couldn't really be black because of his skin changes and the fact that he had a bunch of white kids. (Real quick, when was the last time y'all heard of a white person losing their "whiteness" for adopting children of another race? I'll be waiting.)

These commentators reminded me of stuff I heard during President Obama's campaign when black folks were chastised for considering the president "black" despite the fact that he had a white momma. They also echoed some of the discussions about Tiger Woods and his ethnicity. It all leads me to one question.

Why do they care so much?

I could see if all these cats were trying to pass as white and these conservative white folks were in the vanguard of those looking to protect the sanctity of whiteness. That would align with past history. But, it's a little confusing that these white folks would be fighting so hard to tell black people NOT to claim these folks as their own. It's almost like these cats are saying "We don't want y'all to have nothing!"

Granted, the "blackness" of people like Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson is difficult to discuss. Tiger has made it clear that he doesn't consider himself "black." He even took it upon himself to create his own race, and honestly, while I used to have a problem with that, I'm over it. He's entitled to live his own life.

While Jackson never publicly disavowed his blackness, and in fact repeatedly made comments that aligned himself with black folks, it also appears that he had some problems with being black. From the myriad of surgeries, to the hair pieces and the children who aren't black at all, well a reasonable person might infer that MJ wasn't a fan of the Negro aesthetic.

But, Jackson, Woods and Obama have fanatical followings among black people. I'll admit that I was surprised at how beloved Jackson was by black people. The outpouring of support and praise for him shocked me because I didn't see much of that when he was alive. It was almost as if his death allowed people to sweep aside all the ugly issues of his life and focus on what they considered truly important.

Basically, he was black and special.

I guess that must be what grates on certain white folks. Maybe it bothers them that black folks seem willing to forgive and forget all manner of transgressions depending on a person's level of fame. Maybe they are upset because they believe that since so many white folks turned their backs on Jackson, black people should have just fallen in line as well. Or maybe they just can't stand to see a black person held in such high esteem. I really don't know for sure.

All I know is that I find it strange that so many white folks who really don't care about black people, who don't associate with many black people and who haven't bothered to learn much about black people think that they have the authority to tell black people who they should celebrate. It's more than a little arrogant, and it's completely asinine.

White folks have dictated for years who was and was not "white." They've denied entry to certain groups as a means to justify unfair laws and consolidate power. They assume this power is part of their birthright, and it says something about them that they deny this same birthright to other groups.

It says something profound.



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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Judge Not... But Don't Bite Your Tongue, Either

I hadn't written anything about the recent death of former NFL player Steve McNair because I didn't feel like there was anything for me to say.

McNair, one of the most successful black quarterbacks in league history, was killed recently by his mistress, according to police reports. She apparently shot McNair and then shot herself after learning that he was not leaving his wife and was probably planning to leave her.

Not much more you can say about that really.

However, McNair's death, and the circumstances around it, have sparked a plethora of discussions about fidelity, vengance and, of course, Christianity. Some folks have taken this opportunity to condemn McNair as a philanderer who got his just desserts. Others have fired back that you can't be a true believer and go around judging folks for stuff. Scripture has been twisted by both sides to make a point.

Let me say my piece.

I'm a Christian. Consequently, I think adultery is wrong. My entire belief system is based on my interpretation of the Bible, and I think the good book is pretty clear on where God stands on infidelity. Moreover, I just think it's wrong on a human basis, even if you don't believe in God.

However, I do not believe that adultery justifies murder. Yet, I understand the logic that if McNair hadn't been cheating, he'd probably be alive. Unfortunately, that seems a lot like telling a young black man that if he hadn't had dreadlocks and baggy pants, he probably wouldn't have gotten stopped and beaten by the police. It's a pretty stupid argument to make given the circumstances.

I think those Christians who so easily spouted lines like "the wages of sin are death" when they heard about McNair were immature and insensitive. Yet, I think those people who replied, "Judge not..." are just as ill-informed.

It's not judging to tell somebody their behavior is wrong. True, we all have different standards of right and wrong, but there is nothing in the Bible that says that Christians should refuse to call out wrongdoing. A quick study of the Bible will show that Jesus had no problem whatsoever dealing with wrongdoing and regularly chastised groups like the Pharisees and Sadducees for their sins.

The scripture "Judge not lest you be judged..." is part of grouping of verses warning Christians that the same standard they use for other people is the standard God will use for them. It's a passage speaking against hypocrisy and arrogance, not a passage telling believers or anybody to shut up about what's right and wrong.

On a certain level, we all understand this. Nobody says "Judge not..." when folks condemn pedophiles. We all understand that there is a right and wrong when it comes to dealing with children.

The simple truth is that while each individual has his or her own set of standards for acceptable behavior, there is also a general standard that most people in society adhere to. This standard has always been malleable, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. To pretend that we as Americans have not agreed that there are some things that are right and wrong is just asinine. Yet, to pretend that as sin-filled wretches any of us have room to shrug off the murder of a man because he was an adulterer is also asinine.

There is a balance in everything in life. Finding that balance on difficult issues requires patience and dedication, but I believe it's much better than rushing towards two opposing viewpoints and then grumbling about the stupidity of the other side.

It doesn't require judging, it requires thinking.

Steve McNair was more than an adulterer. He was a father, a husband, a man who did good works in several communities. His death was tragic for those who knew him and were touched by his life. Yet, his death also was tied to his unwillingness to remain faithful to his wife.

We can discuss both things without resorting to attacks and erroneously quoting scripture. We can examine the entirety of this issue because all of us should be able to see how it relates to us. There is no need to make McNair into a martyr, or to make him into a cad. He was a man, a combination of good and bad like most men.

Think about it.


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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pool's Closed

Check it out.

Here's the gist: Black kids show up to swim a posh country club. Posh Country club members are appalled that the $2,000 they collected allowed nigras to swim. Members revolt, black kids are told to leave, a refund is promised sometime in the future.

The end.

Only it's not the end. It's just a continuation of what black folks have been complaining about for centuries. Things aren't equal, America isn't post racial. There is nothing post-racial about life in America or anywhere in the whole world!

These black kids wanted to swim. They wanted to beat the summer heat. Instead they received a firsthand lesson in what racism looks like in President Obama's America.

It looks like a closed pool. It looks like snide remarks about the potential danger of black children off their leashes. Hell, I'm shocked they didn't drain the pool immediately after the little darkies swam. Josephine Baker style.

I can already predict what's going to happen. There will be a minor uproar about the racism at this club. The members will come out making disparaging remarks about the behavior of the children and their chaperones. They will try to convince the world that they aren't racist, they just want to protect their kids. And some folks will inevitably believe them because that's what they want to believe.

Hopefully, somebody else will step up and pledge to let the children use their pool for free. Everybody will shake their heads at this small group of close minded people, and life will go on.

Only these kids will always remember the day they were told "Pool's closed."




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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Strive Better

I can be a sulking bastard.

Despite nearly three decades on this planet, I can turn into a pouting, two-year old when I feel wronged. I recognize this about myself, I try to correct it, but I keep failing.

I guess I just like to pout.

Consequently, I have sympathy for folks who have character traits they can't seem to shake. Human beings will always struggle with bringing their actions in line with what they believe is right. All of us fail to be the best human being we could be, and we fail daily. It's just a part of the human struggle.

The key is struggling.

Many folks seem to have lost interest in the struggle. The struggle to improve, the struggle to see the world a little differently everyday. The struggle to grow. I'll admit to losing interest in this struggle at times, but I always come back to it. I'm acutely aware of the fact that I'm not perfect. Therefore, the only true and lasting work in my life is trying to create perfection in all aspects of my life.

Perfection as a husband, as a father, and as citizen. It's a lofty goal that I will never achieve, but that doesn't mean it's not the perfect goal to strive towards.

When did so many of us become immune to this desire? When did we reach the point where we're ok wallowing in our own biases, when we revel in our hypocrisies and faults? Maybe it's always been this way and I never took the time to notice. But, lately, it's been grating on my spirit more and more how easily people have abandoned the idea of striving towards a higher purpose.

Notice, I didn't say we don't strive anymore. We want more money, a bigger house, a nice car and a better lover. Most of us have a long list of "wants" that we strive towards grasping everyday. They dominate our books, our televisions, and our bedrooms.

Yet, we all know this is pointless. These temporal things are nothing in the grand scheme of life. All that matters is our inner improvement and how we display that improvement in our actions. What we acquire can disappear in the twinkling of eye, and all we are left with is who we are.

Who are you?




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Damn Shame

So I've got one eye on the Michael Jackson memorial coverage today.

Anyway, I just heard an official from the city of Los Angles ask the fans of Jackson to go online and donate to the city to help defray the cost of providing security and whatnot for the memorial service. Apparently it's going to cost millions to deal with the event and California is one of the most cash strapped states in the union.

That's a damn shame.

Have we as a country come to this? First, we have a public entity, a city, asking the public to make donations so that it can pay police officers and other emergency workers to do something that is a basic part of their jobs. Second, the city has turned to panhandling instead of demanding money from Jackson's estate or from the event promoter who created the problem.

This is a microcosm of what's ailing America. We as a country have not been prudent with our money. Consequently, our public entities can barely afford to operate. However, when these entities see a shortfall, instead of demanding payment from the businesses or rich folks who have caused the shortfall, they turn to the general public to foot the bill.

Our priorities have been skewed for a long time. We have avoided making politically tough decisions for generations, and now we're paying the price. Did y'all know there is a cap on how much property tax California can collect? That's right, in the state with the most outrageous home prices in the country, the government can only tax folks up to a certain point on their property.

I don't have to point out to most of y'all that this directly benefits the most wealthy residents, but I'll point it out anyway. Basically, California has a welfare program for rich folks, and to finance it, they have to cut services to everybody else. That's a skewed system.

Did y'all know that when you or I have a memorial service or funeral, we're required to pay for the police details and other services that are needed to re-route traffic? Yet, when a multi-millionaire's family and rich corporations decide to have a memorial service, they are given a free pass on the costs. Once again, welfare for the rich, at the expense of the poor.

This country's standard operating procedure is to screw the little guy in an effort to protect the interests of the rich. We've waged wars, destroyed levees and violated human rights all in the name of the rich. And it's always the rest of us who pay the price.

Damn shame.




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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Banks Too?

Can't a brother go anywhere without having to see the barrel of a gun?

It's bad enough that I'm in danger when I'm driving, or at the club, or walking down the street. But, it turns out I can't even go to the bank to handle my financial business without coming face to face with the business end of a police officer's service weapon.

Check out this story for more details on what's got me miffed.

As you can see, what we have here is another example of the dangers of being black in a public place. These two cats went to the bank to do some business, were deemed a threat, and came face to face with machine guns. Just a regular day at the office for a black man.

If I wanted to have a blog solely dedicated to chronicling cases of mistaken identity and racial profiling for black folks, it wouldn't be that hard. Everyday black people somewhere are reminded that they are deemed a threat simply because of the color of their skin.

It's an interesting tightrope black folks walk. We have to make decisions about our clothes, our cars, even our names, with one eye on the stereotypes associated with being black. It's not enough for us to strive to be comfortable and happy in our own skins because our skin is often the problem. Sure, everybody worries about their image, but it seems like black folks have a special cross to bear.

Some of y'all may have heard about the recent controversy regarding two of the characters in the Transformers movie. From what I can gather, the two characters embody all of the popular stereotypes about black "gangstas." The thing is, when some folks pointed out these problems to director Michael Bay, he basically said "This is the way things really are. We're just trying to do something that's real."

I see that mindset a lot. People justify the use of stereotypes by claiming that they are only being "real." They say if black folks don't want to be labeled as criminals, they should stop committing crimes. They say if we don't want to be considered freeloaders, we need to get off welfare. Everybody wants to shift the blame for their actions to someone else.

I'm tired of it. I'm tired of people refusing to stand up and be accountable for their own lives and choices. I'm tried of people thinking that stereotypes are acceptable if they're "funny" or based in some truth. I'm tired of people failing to see the forest because they are focused on the one pine tree in their paths.

There is a price to pay for racial profiling. Everyday, black people in this country pay that price. We pay with our time, our dignity and, sometimes, our lives.

I'm tired of paying.



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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Homie, Just Shut Up

There are quite a few interesting race-based topics floating around the Internet these days such as the recent Supreme Court ruling on workplace discrimination, and the news that white folks on Twitter would prefer if it stayed segregated.

However, I want to talk about something related to matters of the heart. Namely, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and his inability to shut the hell up.

Y'all know Sanford. He's the idiot who destroyed his marriage and political aspirations by carrying on an affair with an Argentinian woman, and basically disappearing from the face of the Earth to break up with her. If that wasn't bad enough, the good Governor has decided he would like to show every man in America how NOT to apologize to the world for being an adulterous whoremonger.

First, taking a step back, what type of dude is stupid enough to fly down to Argentina to tell his jump-off things are over? Really, homie? You couldn't just call her and say "Nah, I'm cool"? You had to fly down there for 10 DAYS to break things off and only came back once things got so hectic in the states that folks thought you might be dead?

You sir, are an idiot.

But, to compound things, when you got caught with your pants down, you decided to hold a press conference and volunteer personal information about your affair. And you were stupid enough to write love letters on your government email. Dude, what is wrong with you? Was this like a cry for help? It seems like you were begging the world to catch you and punish you.

Seriously, rule number one for every embarrassing press conference is to take no more than four questions if you take any questions. Remember how Kobe handled his press conference after he was accused of rape? Homie read a prepared statement, took no questions and made sure his wife had her new $4 million ring front and center. Yeah, he took some flak, but he wasn't sweating and stumbling as the vultures in the media asked him about whether he loved his wife.

Which brings me to my next point. Why is Sanford still talking to reporters and revealing information about his marriage, his affair or ANYTHING? The most recent news is that Sanford believes his mistress was his soulmate and now he will "try" to fall back in love with his wife.

I feel like punching him in the eye.

Dude, how are you going to say that out loud? Were you high? 'Cause if you were high, maybe I could understand saying something like that. But, if you were sober and fixed your mouth to say "I'll try to fall back in love with my wife," well you should be smacked by a pimp named Bubbles. And smacked hard.

Who would say something that stupid? In the annals of stupid comments, that ranks right up there with Bill Clinton saying "It depends on how you define sex" and O.J. saying "Well if I would have done it, here's how it would have happened."

I refuse to believe that any self-respecting woman would take back a man who said his jump off was his soulmate and then said he would do his best to fall back in love with her. I mean, that goes beyond forgiveness. It's just too far.

Does Sanford have any real friends? I'm guessing no, because a real friend would not allow him to keep talking to the media and a real friend would have let him know that calling your mistress your soulmate is stupid. Real friends protect you from yourself, but I guess all Sanford has are sycophants around him.

And that's why he won't shut up.


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Raving Black Lunatic