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Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Sometimes It Slips Out
This guy in Philly had one of those moments recently.
Poor fellow, his comment was actually a condemnation of the racism rampant in the PA General Assembly, and the hypocrisy of bans on gay marriage. Yet, it didn't come out that way. Nope, it came out like he was saying the General Assembly support slavery, and well, that's unfortunate.
I just hope this doesn't distract him from fighting those 139 corruption charges.
(Hat tip to my homie Dave Parks for putting me on to this.)
The concept of changelings pops up in many science fiction and fantasy stories with names like "shapeshifters" in Robert Silverberg's Majipoor Chronicles and "face dancers" in Frank Hebert's amazing Dune series. In most tales, these creatures disdain or even hate humans and typically use their powers to cause mischief and mayhem.
Barack Obama is a changeling.
Wait, don't leave. I'm not criticizing Obama, and I haven't abandoned his candidacy like so many others seem to be doing in the wake of his comments about Rev. Wright.
No, my labeling of Obama as a changeling is not to denigrate him, but rather to illuminate one reason I believe he's catching so much flak these days. Because of his charisma, optimism, education and black skin, Barack Obama has done something every politician attempts to do, but often fails to accomplish. More importantly, at times he's even managed this feat without even trying.
Obama has made us see what we want to see.
When I say us, I don't mean the predominately black crowd that reads this blog. I'm using the larger "us," the "us" that includes all voters and really all American citizens. If there is one thing this election has reinforced, it's that in America perception, not reality, is king, and managing perception is the most important job of any public figure.
First, let's talk about what white folks seem to see when they look at Obama.
Obama is articulate, he's clean, well-educated, calm, funny and beyond race. He's a polished man who has succeeded despite his race, not because of his race, unless you count how his race has benefited him. Got that?
He grew up poor with a white parent and white grandparents, so he understands the plight of white and black America. Except, sometimes he's not black enough when he takes a break from being too black. He's his own man, but he's clearly being led around by shady characters in his past. He's complex and unique, but he's pretty easy to figure out if you know a little about the rest of them.
Ultimately, he's black, although he's only half-black so how can he really be black?
Black folks see Obama as a savior, messiah, credit to his race whose only flaw is that he's probably an Oreo, race-traitor who is going to turn out like the rest of them as soon as he gets some power.
Don't forget he put himself through college, but it was an Ivy League school, and he married a sister, but I'm sure he still secretly likes white girls. Obama is good at speeches, but he never has anything to say about black issues, although he gave that great speech about race, but he was almost forced to do that. Obama seemed to care about his Pastor, but now he's thrown that pastor under the bus, although the pastor seemed to want the bus to stop a lot for him to get off and make speeches.
After all, Obama is black, only he's actually half-black so can we really trust him?
If those previous passages weren't confusing, then y'all are smarter than me. Just typing those paragraphs gave me a headache, I can only imagine what it's like to live them. I've said many times that I doubt I would ever have the desire to put myself through the type of mental and emotional obstacle course Obama has volunteered for and just for his resolve I respect him.
That doesn't mean I agree with everything Obama does. I think Obama has allowed far too many people to project their values and expectations on to him. That he has allowed himself to be defined by an irresponsible media and a delusional public. While I don't think Obama has actively pursued his changeling status, he has done nothing to really rid himself of it.
I've read Obama's book, I understand that much of his young life was spent defining himself as a black man in America. That he constantly wrestled with creating an identity that made him comfortable and propelled him towards his goals.
Yet, I feel he has lost that sense of self. That he has allowed this campaign and all of its stress to move him away from the identity that made him so appealing in the first place. Yes, Obama has always sought alliances and forged compromises, but now it is time for him to strike out on a solitary path that only he can create.
It is time for Obama to shed the cocoon of expectations. He can no longer afford to depend on others to do the right thing, to behave and play by the rules they have set forth. He must now force this country to come to grips with who he really is, and cause us to love that person. This is imperative he wants to not only to win this election but actually wants to truly change some things in our federal government.
The changeling must reveal his true form.
Monday, April 28, 2008
I could link to transcripts from his speeches and interview, but I'm not. I've seen some videos posted across the web, but I won't embed them here. The content of the speeches and interview in this whole crisis really isn't my focus.
Instead, I want to talk about my thoughts on the Reverend's motives. I can understand what drove him to speak. After all, as an outspoken and combative person myself it would have been very difficult for me to tolerate the mainstream media's distortions if I was in Wright's shoes. It's ridiculous that salient facts about the source of some of Wright's inflammatory quotes, and the context surrounding his comments failed to make it into many initial reports.
Even if I ignored his role as a pastor and as a civic leader, I would still believe Wright had earned the right to present his version of the facts because he is a man. Barack Obama has already chosen the path he wanted to take in this controversy, and supporting his bid for the presidency should not force Wright to stand aside and let Obama dictate Wright's role.
Some will argue that if he really supported Obama he would have just gone quietly into retirement, but I think that places undue restrictions on his personal freedom. After all, I am an Obama supporter and I share some fairly, "divisive" viewpoints on this blog; should I muzzle myself in order to avoid offending other Americans or to prevent the media from possibly taking my comments the wrong way?
I think not.
No, Wright deserves to define himself, and as long as the media give him an opportunity he should use his voice to speak to the issues he deems important. Some black people have wondered if his actions are a betrayal of Obama, but I must disagree. Speaking against injustice is rarely a betrayal, and certainly not in this situation.
See, I recognize the game Obama has to play to get where he wants to go, but I reject the idea that all of us have to play that game as well. While it may have seemed biting and cutting for Wright to dismiss Obama as just a "politician," it was really just a simple nod to the reality of the situation.
Barack is no messiah or savior, he is just a man who wants to be president. I firmly believe he's the best candidate for that job, but I am not deluding myself into believing that his political campaign is anything more than that.
I know that we as black people want Obama to be more than a politician, to do more than a politician, but I believe that is unfair of us. I also think it's unjust for any of us to expect our fellow black people to sacrifice everything to help Obama reach his goal. Yes, black poeple should speak out against the racist attacks, the media double standards and the ridiculous expectations thatObama has faced, but we are not required to subvert our own dreams and desires to make sure that Obama reaches his goal.
Being president is Barack Obama's dream; it is the goal he is willing to sacrifice to attain. All us set our own goals and pursue our own dreams. We are not beholden to Obama or any politician just because we support their candidacy. In fact, politicians are the ones that are beholden to us as citizens.
I'm glad Pastor Wright decided to share his voice and while I don't agree with everything he has said, I would never muzzle him.
He deserves to speak for himself.
No Gutter Balls Here
A few observations.
1. Barack is actually pretty good at basketball. For a 46-year old man he's really good.
2. Barack is a left-handed bandit. That means he does not show a real ability to go right except for one move when he "hooks" his opponent. Is this a sign of a larger weakness? lol.
3. This will not earn Obama any points because everybody knows black people can play basketball.
Spreading the Love
All of y'all interested in hearing my thoughts on the hotbutton issue of gay marriage are welcome to head over to his blog and check it out.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I Had a Visitor
On many a Sunday morning, while the preacher droned on and on, I would flip my bible to the Old Testament and read amazing stories of adventure, intrigue and miracles. I loved reading about Samson's amazing strength, or Daniel's steadfast faith in God. Part of me wondered whether those fantastic stories could be true, but the faith drummed into my mind since birth made me believe.
The New Testament never interested me as a child. Sure, I now view it as a treasure trove of life lessons, but back then, the New Testament seemed like a bunch of confusing stories and long speeches. Jesus did a lot of miracles and spoke many parables, but their storylines didn't have the same panache of those in the Old Testament.
However, even in my youth, the New Testament did offer me many things to ponder. I've always struggled with Christ's call to love my enemies and make myself a servant to all. No matter how much I pray, my natural mind rebels at the idea of loving people who despise me or wrong me.
In fact, there is one New Testament passage that has puzzled and frightened me for a long time. In Matthew 25, Jesus teaches that in the time of judgement, God will speak to many righteous people and tell them that when he came to them for succor, they turned their backs on him. As the text states, most people will protest that they would never do such a thing to God, but then God will point out that whenever they turned their backs on anyone in need, it was the same as doing so to God.
See, that really bothers me.
I am typically not an evil or unkind man, but I must admit that my heart can be hard when it comes to assisting panhandlers or others who seek monetary assistance. I'm not sure whether it's just my stingy nature, or if I have a real issue with beggars, but I rarely give money to strangers.
But, a recent occurrence made me question that mentality. This weekend I was visiting my parents, and late Friday night there was a knock at their door. That was an abnormal occurrence because my parents were not expecting visitors, and they live in a semi-rural area that makes it highly unlikely that anyone would be knocking on their door by mistake.
As I walked to the door, I called out asking "Who is it?" In response, I heard an unfamiliar male voice cry out "It's me."
That response kind of pissed me off. I thought it was ridiculous that someone would knock on the door that late at night, and respond with "It's me" when questioned. Having watched far too many bad action movies, I am always skeptical about looking out of the peephole because I expect someone to shoot me through it. Consequently, my only option was to open the front door to a stranger.
Anyway, at the door, I saw an older white man, somewhat disheveled, standing on my parents' porch. I asked the man what I could do for him, and he launched into a spiel about how he and his crippled friend, who was "right outside", needed assistance. He wanted my family's help.
I must admit that I lost it a little bit. I found it insulting that at 10 p.m., this man had the audacity to walk up to my parents' house, walk through their screened in porch and knock on their door requesting money. I thought it was rude and unacceptable behavior, and I told the man that he knew better, and knew he was wrong to do something like that. The gentleman sputtered something else about his friend before sheepishly leaving the porch.
And I've felt bad ever since.
As soon as my parents asked me what was going on, God touched my heart. He brought to my remembrance that passage from Matthew 25, and He pricked my soul to the point where I openly wondered to my family whether I had just turned Jesus away from the door. I walked outside with my father to look for the man, but, as we peered up and down the dimly lit street, he appeared to be gone.
I don't know whether I turned away God or a brazen beggar, but in my heart I feel like I betrayed all the Christian ideals I hold dear. It's just like when I pull up to a red light and refuse to meet the eyes of the homeless people panhandling at intersections in New Orleans. Mentally, I struggle with determining my duty as a child of God.
What is the Christian thing to do?
Does God require that we open our wallets to anyone that asks? If we are supposed to make decisions based on the spiritual cues n our hearts, how can we be certain that our own personal preferences aren't overriding God's will? If the Bible tells us to be good stewards over all of our possessions, does that include handouts?
I'm looking for some clarity, tell me what you think.
(Those of you who aren't Christians are welcome to reply based on your own personal guidelines.)
Friday, April 25, 2008
Get Your Black Ass to Jail; Do Not Pass Go and Pay Us $5 million
Most of you are familiar with actor Wesley Snipes. Some of you remember him from his amazing portrayal of Nino Brown, a cold-hearted drug dealer with a horrible Gumby-haircut in New Jack City. Others might be a fan of his work as Blade, a half-vampire who kicks serious blood-sucking ass. He's played in many movies and has been responsible for classic cinematic lines like "Always bet on black," and "Your mother's an astronaut."
More importantly, with his penchant for playing brooding, muscled smooth operators, Snipes is one of the key reasons dark-skinned brothers saw a massive surge in popularity in the late 90s and early 00s. Before Wesley, lighter-hued brothers like myself were all the rage, but after Wesley started drop-kicking folks and taking off his shirt, well people were pushing away their lattes and looking for a stronger brew.
While Snipes earned some marginal backlash for making comments that seemed to denigrate black women in 1997, for the most part he's been well accepted by the black community. (Check out some comments here.) He's also gotten some love from white folks who have found his Blade movies to be entertaining, although he's been labeled a "jerk" and "prima donna" by some of his colleagues.
Now, they can call him an inmate.
Normally, I wouldn't be paying all that much attention to Wesley Snipes. Sadly, I often have trouble working up sympathy for celebrities who are mistreated, particularly black ones who typically have not used their celebrity to benefit our community.
But, the facts surrounding this case are just crazy.
According to previous articles I've read, Snipes didn't pay his taxes for three years because he has some advisors who convinced his gullible ass that the whole tax system in America was a scam and he didn't need to pay taxes. So, he forgot he was black and believed that Uncle Sam was going to let him earn millions of dollars and not get a cut. I know, it's not exactly the brightest move, but bear with me.
It seems that Snipes got a jury to agree with him that he had been bamboozled by some crafty crackers, and they decided to acquit him of most of the serious tax charges, and only convict him of three misdemeanors. And that's when Wesley got his Nigger Wake Up Call.
Typically, a misdemeanor conviction for a celebrity means probation, a fine and community service. If they eff up really bad, they might spend a month or two in jail. The combination of their fame and their high-priced lawyers usually keeps them from ever having to indulge in group showers for an extended time period. Exhibits A and B for this practice are Amy Winehouse and Brittney Spears.
But, things didn't go like that for black-ass Wesley. Nope, this brother got THREE YEARS on a misdemeanor charge, and that came after he paid $5 million in back taxes on the spot.
Damn, now that's fucked up.
Look I could go into a long diatribe about the justice system or direct you to articles that really outline the problem like this one. But, I don't want to bore most of you readers who are aware of the effed up nature of this country's justice system, and I really don't feel like explaining things to those people who can't see the blatant injustice in this whole situation.
What I will discuss is the judge's notion that his harsh sentence was a means of deterrence for future criminals. Now, I'm not an expert on legal rules, but when did it become acceptable to give a first-time offender the maximum sentence because it MIGHT stop other people from committing the same crime?
Does this judge always sentence every defendant to the maximum sentence because it would deter crime? If not, why exactly did he decide that a deterrence rationale was acceptable in this case? To me, this seems like a blatant abuse of power.
My opinion is that the judge didn't agree with Snipes only getting convicted on minor offense when he faced much more serious charges. I think this judge decided that it was his duty to right the wrong committed by the jury.
That is a chilling prospect considering the studies that show that judges typically believe that black folks are more in need of harsh lessons than white folks. At least that's the lesson I took from the statistics that show blacks are more likely to get sentenced to longer prison terms when they are convicted of the same crimes as white folks, even if the defendants have similar criminal histories. I don't know about y'all, but I'm not comfortable with the idea that judges can randomly oppose harsh sentences on defendants just because the want to prove a point.
That's less appealing than "To Wong Foo with Love."
Deal Me in
She's irreverent, biting, snarky and loves to call people names. Not only does she despise most conservatives, she's also not a big fan of pansy liberals either. She has been critical of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during this primary election, and occasionally she makes some good points about the candidates.
But, often she just goes off the deep end. Like in this beauty.
Look, I'm not even going to address the ludicrous assertion that Obama is some kind of effeminate loser who might be more worried about his figure than the needs of Americans. Remember, it was Dowd who claimed that Michelle Obama's quips about her husband's flaws actually showed that Michelle doesn't respect him as man. Anybody who has watched the Obamas interact knows that there is no doubt that Michelle respects her husband as a man because she always treats him like one.
Nah, what really shocked me was this little nugget in the column.
They also cringe as Bill continues his honey-crusted-nut-bar meltdown. With his usual exquisite timing, just as Pennsylvanians were about to vote, Hillary’s husband became the first person ever to play the Caucasian Card. First, he blurted out to a radio interviewer that the Obama camp had played the race card against him after he compared Obama’s strength in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson’s. And then, with a Brobdingnagian finger-wagging on the screen, he denied it to an NBC News reporter.
Hold up, you mean that Dowd believes that in the centuries preceding this election, white folks have never played the Caucasian Card? That the whole race card thing is something Negroes do, not white folks?
Get fuck out of here.
See, it's these type of offhand comments that give me the best insight into how a person really things. That whole Caucasian Card things was a throwaway thing for Dowd, just a little catchphrase she threw into her column to add a joke. She probably didn't spend more than a few minutes thinking of that quip, and I'm sure it was well-received by thousands of her liberal readers.
The only problem is that it's totally steeped in bullshit.
Don't believe the hype; if a race card exists, white folks were dealing that motherfucker before we even learned the rules to the game. White folks are the Stu Engar's of the World Series of Race Poker. They haven't lost a jackpot yet.
Seriously, if Dowd really believes the Caucasian Card is some sort of new phenomenon, how does she explain all those acquittals by all-white juries of Klan members who killed or maimed civil rights workers?
She must not be aware of the wave of race riots that swept this nation during the Civil War because white folks were pissed about having to fight for niggers who were getting all these special benefits. Maybe she is just ignorant about the white backlash that occurred after Reconstruction because Southerners and Northerners thought the government was favoring black people.
Did she forget that white folks burned down entire black towns because they were convinced that niggers must be getting some sort of sweet deal if they were doing better than white folks? Has she read about the rationale used by racists to keep black folks out of unions? To suppress their votes?
Has she even studied history?
I really hope not.
Because if Dowd is aware of these basic truths about American history and still made her flippant comment, then that means she doesn't care about misrepresenting the past for a few laughs. If she's just ignorant, then that is regrettable, but it can be fixed with information. But, if she actually knew that truth and thought it was worth ignoring to make her readers chuckle, well that's a much more serious deception.
Far too many white folks are convinced that black people have a magical get-out-of-jail-free race card. Whenever we complain about racism and they disagree with us, white folks then accuse black folks of using this card. It's an easy way to minimize our complaints, while also painting black people as unreliable, emotional liars. It's the favorite tool of conservatives, and, as this election has shown us, quite popular among liberals as well.
The "race card" is always in play in a country that has failed to have ongoing and substantive conversations about race. In fact, the most common complaints of every ethnic group stem from this country's racial history. The emotions behind these complaints have been mined by politicians of every color and have yielded the impressive ore of power for many. Contrary to what Dowd thinks, white folks playing the race card is not a new thing.
That card's been on the table since Satan first bluffed Eve into eating that apple.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
In the news business we call that a "straight lede." The five W's get answered in two sentences or less, and readers can decide immediately whether the story is newsworthy enough for them to continue. In fact, because of it's simple brillance, nobody who read that lede should be surprised by my next statement:
Are you fucking kidding me?
I know I complain a lot, and if you read this blog regularly it might seem like I go out of my way to find things to be outraged about. But, I really don't. Actually, I try very, very hard to avoid outrage because I don't need that kind of strain on my already overburdened heart.
Yet, some things just defy logic. More than 10,000 people showed up on a public campus and started getting high and nobody got arrested or cited? In America? Seriously, everybody who thinks this type of display would have been tolerated at Howard University, Morehouse College or Tuskegee University please raise your hands at your desk right now. PUT YOUR HAND DOWN BEFORE I SLAP YOU FOOL!
What was it Tupac said again?
It's war on the streets and the war in the Middle East/
Instead of war on poverty/ they got a war on drugs
so the police can bother me
If anybody ever needed proof that this nation's drug laws are enforced differently based on the color of the criminal's skin they need look no further than this story. Sure, the article says that in the past the police harassed revelers and gave them citations and whatnot, but apparently things have changed.
The local police chief now believes it's a waste of his manpower to ticket and arrest weedheads. Not only is he willing to let the young kids get blasted at school, but he's also turning a blind eye to the old fogeys getting lit in other parts of the city.
Is this Bizarro World?
I'm really struggling to get my bearings because even a cynical, race card-playing bastard like myself didn't think this type of arrogance was possible. This is like white folks giving everybody else a massive middle finger, while bending over and mooning us all. This is such a blatant double-standard I almost expect the folks from Candid Camera to jump out from behind the walls of my cubicle, right now.
.....Hello, are y'all there?........I'm waiting.........
Damn, it's real.
This is incredibly disheartening. I know some people might see this as a really random issue to latch on to, but it's actually not. The way this event was handled by the media and the police gets to the very heart of the inequality and injustice that infuse every aspect of life in this country.
How can we brashly condemn other countries for failing to provide their citizens with equal treatment under the law, when we have failed in that respect ourselves. Narcotics arrests are the driving force behind the prison population explosion in this country, and stories like this only prove that many of those arrests are based on a choice by law enforcement officials to focus their energies on certain communities.
Some police officers would probably claim that they spend so much time in black neighborhoods becase residents want them there, and because that's where most narcotics violence is focused. Some of y'all might even be nodding along at that logic.
However, one of the most commons comments by the police after a drug-related homicide is that they can't prevent someone who wants to commit a murder from committing one. That directly contradicts the reasoning that the unfair focus on black communities when it comes to arrests for narcotics possession and distribution is designed to keep violent crime down.
Police can't have it both ways. A democratic society cannot have different sets of rules for different people. If all men are created equal, then some men cannot be more equal than others.
What are they smoking?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I Need Help
Anyway, I would appreciate any input people can offer me on how to move all my blog posts over there, and if the grass is really greener.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Too Big a Gap
Despite my deep and abiding dislike for Hillary Clinton, I must admit that she and her cohorts did a good job of controlling the voters they needed and controlling the media that fears them. I do not see Mrs. Clinton as a good person, but she is without a doubt a good politician. She accomplished what she wanted to accomplish in this recent primary, and she won the way she wanted to win. Good for her.
But, Barack Obama is still a beast. After being down by as much as 20 percentage point, Obama managed to cut Hillary's lead to roughly 8-10 points despite the concerted efforts of the media and Clinton surrogates with forked tongues. Some might shrug at Obama's accomplishment, noting that "almost" is only worth something in horseshoes. They will surely point out that Obama has struggled in the past few primaries, that he's been shown to be somewhat fallible under extreme pressure and vulnerable to the types of attacks that Republicans will surely throw at him.
Those people don't matter.
See, I understand what it's like to have to overcome big leads and accomplish goals despite crazy opposition. I know what it feels like to be marginalized, to be held to a different and insulting standard. In fact, I'm sure that many of you who read this blog understand those things as well.
Consequently, I don't care if Obama struggled a little bit. I used to spend nights sitting on the stairs in my apartment crying out of desperation; so a little struggle doesn't scare me.
Nah, this is a long term thing, this election is a real commitment. More importantly, when this election is over the real work will begin and I believe Obama is the only candidate who will give this country the strength to do that work.
Let's get cracking.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Fairness is a virtue rarely seen in this world.
It's true; life isn't fair, good things don't always happen to good people, and sometimes bad people have the best lives in the world. There is no omniscient balance that makes sure everybody gets what they deserve.
If there is one thing this presidential campaign has illuminated it is the unfairness in both life and this country's political process. Deep down, most of us knew that inequality had been this country's life partner since its inception, but only the truly honest folks were willing to admit it. In fact, after examining the overall treatment of each of this year's presidential candidates it's hard not to hear an old Sesame Street ditty in my mind.
"...One of these things just isn't the same..."
Actually, that song is the crux of this blog post. Simply put, John McCain is an angry white man.
I know that revelation was shocking and confusing to many of you. I'm sure it was shocking because none of you have heard him characterized that way by his fawning friends in the press. It's confusing because most of the readers of this blog are black people, which means that when I notified you of McCain's character flaw y'all had one thought dominating your minds.
"What the hell does a white man have to be angry about in America?"
Good point readers. After all, a simple examination of the facts shows that America is the closest a white man can get to paradise without dying. Name another country in the world where it's better to be white and have a penis? Go on, I'm waiting....Came up blank didn't you?
That's because not only in this country geared towards making sure white men get their needs met, it's also set-up so that when they screw up, the blame gets placed squarely where it belongs.
Do y'all mistakenly believe that today's young black men have taken killing to whole new level? Well let me tell you a story about this thing called Manifest Destiny and how the west was really won.
What about the myth that young nigras just love raping and brutalizing folks, particularly virginal white women? If you've heard that one, then I would advise you not to inquire about why people as dark as Africans now come in all shades of the chocolate rainbow.
But, everybody knows that black folks have an unhealthy affinity for welfare and food stamps, right? Well you haven't seen an addiction to handouts until you've heard the story of the Savings and Loan crisis or the tale about exactly where JP Morgan got the cash to make that recent purchase of Bear Stearns.
Look, my apologies to Pat Buchanan, but if there is anyone who needs to be grateful to this wonderful democracy that is America, it's white men, not us black folks. White men have sown more discord and reaped more rewards than even seems possible. Yet, for some reason, they are still angry.
Which, in a convoluted way, brings me back to Mr. McCain.
I know my big homie Barack always points out how much of a real American hero the old fart is in every stump speech, but I just cannot travel down that road. While McCain deserves respect for surviving capture in the Vietnam War that actually seems to be one of the few times where he was on the right side of things.
By his own admission, McCain was a hellraiser and ass-kicker as a youth. He not only fought when he felt like he was being wronged, but he also was known to throw some blows when he just felt like he was getting his proper respect. And, despite the way McCain might like to paint things, the truth is that this type of behavior existed well past the age of youthful indiscretions. I'll let him explain:
In all candor, as an adult I've been known to forget occasionally the
discretion expected of a person of my many years and station when I believe I've
been accorded a lack of respect I did not deserve."
I'm wondering if Barack Obama would be considered presidential material if he had a history of flying into rages where he regularly used foul language towards everybody, including his wife.(McCain once called Cindy a "cunt. Must have been that cookie recipe.)
If the media are pontificating about whether Obama possibly, maybe, might have given Hillary the finger for two seconds while wiping his face, how would they react if he got into a shoving match with another senator? How about if he left his handicapped wife for a rich younger woman?
If Obama is elitist and out-of-touch, what does that make a man who regularly tries to get secretaries fired because they disagree with him? And if that same man reamed out a volunteer for not setting up a stage in a way that would mask the fact that he is a midget in stature and morality, is that man really a "maverick?" Or, is McCain a pompous bully?
But, this whole exercise really goes back to the simple truth that life ain't fair. It's not fair that despite the fact that they have received so many undeserved benefits white men are still angry.
It's definitely not fair that a man who is easily upset or disrespected has the power to immerse all of us in a nuclear war. Or that the same man who confesses to being a little slow when it comes to the economy might take over a country during one of its worst economic times.
Men reap where they have not sown.
Now, all aboard the Straight Talk Express; next stop, the White House.
We Love You John
When I was a child, my mother used to call the men who invariably attach themselves to any powerful person, particularly those associate ministers who tag along behind prominent pastors, "fart-catchers." She would wrinkle her nose and spit out that word with some serious disdain because in her mind it was unbecoming of any man to ever be that submissive towards another man.
It appears that the mainstream media enjoys capturing John McCain's flatuence.
Look, the idea that John McCain and his mythological "Straight Talk Express" have received a much easier ride from the media than either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton is nothing new. In fact, it's almost become an acceptable part of the campaign narrative that McCain is the media's "crush."
However, that does not make it acceptable. Whenever critized about bias or slant, the mainstream media bristles with indignation and blasts back at its accusers. I understand this reaction because I've had it myself when I've been unfairly maligned. But, thanks to the above article, methinks the press doth protest too much.
As the article outlines, a cross-section of media professionals from across the country thought it was ok to present McCain with his favorite donuts and his coffee prepared in just the right way. They also thought a standing ovation was acceptable behavior. To top things off, the reception for McCain's likely competitior, Barack Obama, was much less warm and cordial.
Remember, editors are the individuals charged with guiding media coverage and they retain the final say so over every story a reporter submits. They are the ones who pushed the story line that Obama was supported by "crazed cult members," that he was "elitist and out of touch" and that he just might be a Muslim. Compare that to vociferous defense of McCain after the New York Times story on his possible infidelity and conflicts of interests emerged, and you have clear evidence of a serious bias.
As a member of the press, I've witnessed firsthand the handwringing and whining that dominates every part of this industry because of recent financial troubles. I've seen the emergence of digital media force newspapers to attempt to make massive changes in the way they view and deliver news.
But, what I haven't seen is a change in the attitudes that dominate most newspapers. I haven't seen a willingness to challenge dominate American narratives. What I have seen is an unflinching devotion by many people in the media to using newspapers and television to advance their views of the world. I've seen a white-male-dominated media fail to grasp the intricasies of every other gender and ethnic group, particularly black folks, and, ultimately, decide that failure is no big deal.
There is no excuse for the behavior of some of the most powerful people in the newspaper business when it comes to the way they treated John McCain and Barack Obama. There was no excuse for the way many of these same people and their predecessors have treated black people throughout the history of this country. Until media members are willing to take an unflinching look at how they foster racial hatred, bigotry and general unfairness in this country they will remain irrelevant to large segments of this country.
But, they'll always have the love of John McCain.
1. How do you all feel about the prospect of a general election featuring Obama and John McCain, and do you still feel confident that Obama can pull things out?
2. If Obama is the nominee, what type of turnout do you all predict among black people, and if we don't turn out in record numbers, what does that say about us as a community?
3. The idea of a black president is wonderful, but how do you all think his presidency will actually look? Knowing that black people are often held to an impossible standard when they get positions of power, how many of you are confident about Obama's ability to meet that standard, and please explain your thoughts?
I'm going give my thoughts on each topic later today.
Sorry about the delay. I got busy at work and whatnot. I also finally watched American Gangster on video and was not impressed. Anyway, I was all ready to post my thoughts on this issue when I read one of the comments and thought I'd give that person some shine.
Oh boy_lol! Okay....#1: From the start I’ve been somewhat conflicted about Obama_or ANY Black man_running for President, at this time, because on the one hand I’m a strong believer that Black folks are “natural” Survivors and the “survivor” instinct in me says rich ANGLOS have spent over 300 YEARS making this COLOSSAL mess let them clean it up!
WHY should the “first” President of COLOR have to deal with it?! We know that even if these were the "best" of times, the “first” Black President would have a hard way to go due to the unfair and unreasonably HIGH standards always set for us in the first place! But these are nowhere near the “best” of times for America or Americans! On the other-hand, there are millions of genuinely good white Americans! People who've never supported the Bush/Cheney regime, or any other corrupt and evil actions committed by any U.S. government; People who are neither “racist” NOR bigots, who want to live a "good" life in a peaceful and “Just” society; People who get it...The “elites” are responsible for this country going to h*ll in a hand-basket because they don’t give a d*mn about average Americans!
#2: I truly believe that Blacks and Whites will turn out in record numbers for Barack IF Barack doesn’t do OR say anything that will cause his campaign to completely implode or slowly bleed away his support in mass.
#3: I defer back to part of my response to #1 and will add...Barack does NOT represent “the answer” to what ails this nation. The truthiz, it's going to take a MEGA truckload of answers to began effectively addressing this nation’s numerous crisis! Nothing less than the dedication and skills of MANY intelligent and HONEST men and women working at ALL levels of government will do in trying to “right” this ship and set it on its Proper course. I now feel that IF Obama is a man of his word and NOT a charlatan(???) his Presidency could represent America's best hope for a “New” beginning_meaning, the first steps in a MILLION mile march.Voting for either George W. McCain OR the Clintons, is in my opinion a vote for “evil” or the so-called “lesser of two evils”; which is the “lesser” evil?...take your pick.As I've said before, My days of voting of “Evil” in any amount (“lesser” my azz) are over!!!
Friday, April 18, 2008
It's time to have faith.
Not because Barack Obama is a savior or a messiah or even a great man; every day it becomes abundantly clear that he may not be any of those things, especially not the first two.
No, it is Obama's blatant humanity that should be causing us to search for faith. Some of you may not believe in God, but that doesn't stop you from having faith. The Bible says that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." I think there is room in that definition for atheists and agnostics.
The Ambush has made folks angry, and that anger is justified. But, I've always been a believer in the idea that anger is typically the byproduct of either fear or surprise. And, while I'm sure some black folks were surprised at what happened on Wednesday, I think most of us were afraid.
It's hard for most black people to watch one of our own suffer. We feel those hurts, we wince at that pain. I know that while watching Obama deal with the attacks of Clinton and the two moderators my strongest reaction was sadness. I was sad to see a brother go through what has now become a familiar experience for any black person seeking true power in this country, and I was afraid of the larger implications for all black folks. If Obama fails because of the same old tactics by the same old people, I am afraid of what it would do to the psyche of my people.
But, my fear didn't cause me to pull away from Obama, to be become disillusioned at this whole election process. Instead, it drew me closer to a brother who I suddenly realized I have very little in common with. True, we're both educated, eloquent and handsome (I had to throw a joke in their somewhere), but this brother has qualities I will never possess.
He may not be a saint, but he is an incredibly patient and principled man. I could not have tolerated the snide comments and obvious insults he has perservered through. Maybe some see that as a weakness in his character, but I do not. His path is not my path, but his path is deserving of respect because it is the path I believe was truly forged by his life experiences.
I write this because I see a few folks losing hope, becoming discouraged. I see us losing faith in Obama's ability to win the general election if he manages to secure this nomination. We have become convinced that the fight is not longer worth it, that this country is too rotten to every truly change it's ways.
I have come to reject that logic in many ways.
My faith in God will not allow me to believe that this is the best we can expect, even on this flawed planet called Earth. While there is a reward awaiting many of us in the afterlife, there has to be a reward here on Earth as well.
This is the same reward the stalwarts of the abolitionist movement sought. Ida B. Wells risked life and limb for that reward, and DuBois faced many humilations to secure it. The possibility of that reward strenghtened those men and women who sang and marched for miles in the face of virulent racism just asking to be treated as equals. I need that reward, or at least I need to believe in the possibility of that reward.
Obama is no shining hero, no magical knight here to save us all from our petty differences. He is only one man trying to do his best to achieve the goals he has set for his life. Those goals have led him to seek the highest office in this country, and while his motives may not be pure, he still deserves respect for pursuing that dream despite all the people who have rushed to tell him it was impossible.
These were people he surely respected and loved, but who could not understand his ambition. He ignored these people and remained focused on a future that he truly believes is possible.
We need to borrow that focus, borrow that faith.
(See, Barack's already moving forward)
Thursday, April 17, 2008
An Open Letter to My People
Seriously, sometimes y'all make a black prophet feel like he ain't nothing. Just two years ago I gave you all the greatest tome in the history of black literature, and then I followed that up with a sequel of damn near equal brillance.
I thought we had forged a Covenant, that could not be broken by credit card debt or boring ass television shows.
I showed all of you exactly how to rise above your mediocre lives and embrace the fullness of being credits to your race. This was only one of 28 books that I've pawned off, I mean provided to you all for you edification.
But, do my people, my children, appreciate my efforts? Do you praise me and gladly line up to provide your names, incomes and spending habits for my annual pimping, er, uplifting of the black community?
No, no you don't because greatness is rarely recognized during its zenith. Instead, you all have turned your backs on a real member of DuBois' famed Talented Tenth, have run off to support the first mulatto who bats his eyes at you. Despite the years I put in working for upstanding black companies like BET, and the partnerships I've forged with community benefactors like Wal-Mart, you raisin-heads swallow this smooth-talking socialite's tripe about hope and change like it's Cold Duck.
Obama has your noses so wide open I could land a 747 on your faces. His every comment has y'all swooning. You've forgotten the years I spent at podiums and book signings making the world a better place in favor of some politician who claims he can bring about real change if you give him real power.
And this isn't just about how y'all have attacked me when I've spoken the unvarnished truth about this elitist imposter on Tom Joyner's Morning Show. No, I can handle the tripe you idiots spew, particularly all you bitter, lonely sistas speculating about my hidden love for white women.
For the last time, it's not white women keeping me single, but black women who haven't embraced the lessons of women like my mother. Maybe if you could cook and didn't have so much attitude you would have a man of your own.
Truthfully, I'm not even mad about that anymore. What really pisses me off is that you ingrates have started questioning white folks who have done so much for you like Hillary and Bill. How dare y'all try to think for yourselves and parse the words of your betters? What qualifies people like you to determine true intent of white folks?
It's just shameful.
So, I'm done. It's over.
Go ahead and embrace your new, favorite Negro, but don't forget this is the same domino who wouldn't even speak honestly about race until he had to defend his pastor!
AND I DON'T CARE IF HIS SPEECH WAS WONDERFUL. I could have done better.
It's all good. In fact, all of you can let this smooth talker fool you into believing that things will get better in this country, and you won't need me and my cronies to speak for you. Keep sipping that Kool-Aid. I don't need you. I have more pressing business to attend to.
Now, where did I put the program for my roundtable discussion with Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson on Black America?
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I'm so very pissed right now. I had another post all ready to go for y'all to read, but then I sat my dumb ass down and watched that tabloid fest masquerading as a Democratic debate.
It's hard to organize my thoughts into a completely coherent longform post, so, I'm going to have to break this post down into section.
Part One: That Heifer
It's hard not to hate that woman. My visceral dislike of her actually makes me sad because she is an assertive, intelligent and pragmatic person. In many ways she would make a good president.
If she wasn't Satan's spawn.
Seriously, if there is one thing this campaign has proven, it's that this woman is evil at her core. Just evil. She may have many outstanding characteristics, but they cannot overcome her reprehensible morality. Like a termite infested home, her exterior appears outstanding, but upon closer inspection it's impossible not to see the rot that has taken root in her soul.
Her willingness to twist, corrupt and co-opt Obama's message has sickened me. But, it's her outstanding arrogance that truly weighs on me. Is she arrogant enough to believe that she can just admit that she was lying about Bosnia and it's no big deal? How can she question Obama's affiliations when she and her husband rented out the Lincoln bedroom like it was a Ho-Jo for campaign donors? (And with Bill around there was a big emphasis on the ho aspect.) She has the audacity to argue that her past missteps are unimportant because everybody knows about them?
Are you serious? WOW
Part 2: The Media
Let's put this out there; this was by far the worst moderated debate with the worst questions of the entire campaign season. It was an indictment of journalism that the most shallow issues dominated the debate, while a question about how to lower gas prices was lumped into the "lighting round."
It's not that I think journalism was so great back in the day. The more I learn about history the more I realize just how often the mainstream media has failed us as a society. Remember, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were both demonized and marginalized by the media during their lives, while J. Edgar Hoover was hailed as a freaking hero! So, I don't expect that much.
But, last night was just sad and disappointing. How many times did Charlie Wilson ask a question only to have Obama point out that one of the facts the question was built upon was false? Did we really have a question about flag pins and former terrorist who sponsored campaign events years ago? This whole debate was an exercise in rehashing inconsequential crap without giving any context or ever asking whether these issues were relevant.
In addition, to my trained third eye, there was a distinct sense of racial bias in the way this whole event was conducted. I felt like Obama was being asked to prove that he's a Negro white folks can count on and that he's not delusional like the rest of those crazy niggers.
When was the last time every past association of a white politician was scrutinized? Shit, George Bush was a former cokehead, alcoholic and draft dodger and we didn't see any of that bullshit splashed across debates. Yet, Obama has to denounce his pastor, Minister Farrakhan and any black person that doesn't line up with the way white folks think. Shit, we have even examined letters Obama wrote in elementary school!
And these bastards wonder why folks hate journalists.
Part 3: Mr. Hope
Dude, I feel your pain right now. Those two grinning moderators snuck up on your ass, sucker-punched you and then looked away when the heifer kneed you in the groin. That was an old fashioned ambush, and it clearly took you by surprise.
But, I must admit that I thought you handled it pretty well. If these analysts think you were defensive, they should have seen how a nigga like me would have gotten down. Man, Hillary would caught a serious verbal ass-whipping that included me bringing up every scandal of her political career, and that pompous bastard Charlie Gibson would have been spitting Chiclets.
But, you stayed calm and kept to the high road. You actually pissed me off a little because I wanted you to at least take one shot at somebody. However, that's not how you get down, that's really not how you play the game. You're a much more conciliatory black person than I will ever be, but that's probably why you're running for President and I'm writing about you on the web.
Ultimately, you have to be the type of man that makes you comfortable. You have to strike a balance between staying true to yourself and appealing to more Americans than John McCain and Hillary Clinton. Only you know who the real Obama is, and only you can blaze a path that suits him. I wish the Lord's strength and guidance for you.
Things are only going to get worse.
(That was very cathartic.)
Pulling Back the Wool
I spent my childhood in a seriously religious household, and my family not only spent a nice chunk of every Sunday in church pews, but we also gave God time during the week. For most of The Cosby Show's run, I spent Thursday nights in Bible class and invariably didn't get home until well after primetime. So, while other kids regularly soaked up the wisdom and knowledge of Claire and Heathcliff, I was trying to stay awake during an exposition on Corinthians.
It pretty much sucked at the time.
My real introduction to the merits of the The Cosby Show, and its spin-off A Different World, actually came during college. Like most students, I spent an inordinate amount of time watching television and sleeping. In between that, I also learned some more black history, which made it easier for me to appreciate how different The Cosby Show was from it's contemporary mainstream sitcoms.
I became a fan of the images Bill Cosby endorses, and consequently, a fan of him as a man. Sure, I was disappointed when the allegations of his sexual misconduct surfaced and I thought he ruled his sitcom with too hard of an iron fist, but I still appreciated what his show meant to my community even if I didn't love it.
Of course, like many, many black folks, my impression of Cosby changed when he began his now infamous attacks on poor black people. I've had numerous discussions about what Cosby was trying to do and whether his efforts were productive. I must admit that I had to modify my position on several occasions because of these discussions.
This article in The Atlantic made me re-examine my position yet again. The author does a wonderful job of examining the totality of Cosby given the space restraints of his article.
As the article states, Cosby is a representation of a very familiar aspect of black life. Many of us like to marginalize viewpoints like his by assigning them to the crazy uncle who wears leather baseball caps, but the reality is that the streak of conservatism is much more deeply ingrained in our collective culture.
It's probably a reaction to being told for centuries that we were loose, immoral heathens by our loving white brethren, but no matter what the cause, the reality is that way more black folks would be Republicans if they didn't openly embrace racism. Given the importance of religion in our communities, particularly Islam and Christianity, it really should not surprise folks that many of us thoroughly enjoy speeches heavy on self-determination, moral standards and self-segregation.
Truthfully, I find it disturbing how often I found myself nodding along to some of the comments Cosby has made recently, even as I condemned him for others. No matter how much I wanted to chalk up his obvious bitterness to the inevitable disconnect from reality all old people eventually experience, I had to admit that the old fart wasn't that crazy. He was making some sense, and it was clear that certain segments of our society love to hear what he has to say.
And then I read this article.
In some ways, Bob Johnson is a Fun House mirror-image of Bill Cosby. They would seem to share similar views on the world, and given some of Cosby's earliest comments on his priorities in life, they share similar ideas on the "race problem." Granted, Bobby Boy used to promote the one art form that Cosby now despises, but that's why I used the Fun House-mirror label.
Everything is slightly skewed.
What Johnson's comments made me realize is that men like he and Cosby have attained such material wealth that the truly feel they have earned the right to do as they please. Bob Johnson basically admits that he was lying when he claimed that his comments about Barack Obama's past "work in the neighborhood" wasn't related to drug use. He then goes on to claim that Obama is an affirmative action baby, despite the fact that Obama is probably better educated and more intelligent than him. Cosby displays a similar distaste for Obama without even bothering to give a reason for his feelings.
Clearly, Cosby and Johnson no longer care for the rules of engagement acknowledged and followed by most black folks. Instead they have decided that they have earned the right to blaze their own trail, to say what they feel and damn the fallout among the rest of us.
The problem is that the path they have chosen is not only closed to most black folks, but it's not productive for our community as a whole. There is nothing to be gained from making comments that reinforce white stereotypes under the guise of "being honest." Cosby and Johnson do black folks no favors by hypocritically ignoring their own failures to serve our communities when they had their largest profiles, and now attempting to set themselves up as de-facto representative of our race because they've achieved success.
Barack Obama often has been accused of attempting to "transcend" race, to leave behind the muck of oppression and victimhood to ascend to the pinnacle of colorblindness. Yet, I find that it's people like Johnson and Cosby who truly believe they have transcended race, and that this provides them with protection from criticism from both blacks and whites.
They sprinkle their public comments with hateful rants about black folks whose plights they ignored in many ways in their public lives, but expect black folks to accept this tactic because they have succeeded despite white racism. They give white folks cover for their own stereotypical mindsets, but then point to their acknowledgement of the effects of white racism as proof that they are not complete sell outs.
Instead, they hold themselves up as venerable griots, extolling the virtues of our history while promising that they hold the key to improving our current plight. But, it's all a sham, designed to stroke their egos and soothe the insecurities they feel deep in their hearts because they have never received the level of appreciation and love both felt was deserved.
It's a terrible sham.
Art Reflects Life
Sure, the news people have mostly moved on, and we seamlessly hosted the NBA All-Star game with all its ghetto glamour, but things really ain't sweet down here. Besides the massive rebuilding efforts we're still undertaking from that federal fuck-up known as Katrina, we've got rampant violent crime, ridiculously corrupt politicians and a brand-new homeless city beneath our main interstate.
Things are kinda hard in the Big Easy.
Now, I personally can't complain too vociferously about life down here because I'm healthy, my family is prospering and the storm actually brought some amazing blessings into my life. But, for a lot of people things have only gotten worse since Katrina, and those huge smiles that used to be a New Orleans tradition like snowballs and bared boobies, are becoming more and more scarce. Folks are getting tired, and the fatigue is wearing on their ability to "let the good times roll."
Just like many solidiers in Iraq, I think many people feel like the world has forgotten about what happened to New Orleans. When floodwaters turned American citizens into refugees you couldn't go 50 feet in this city without bumping into a television personality. But, now that there aren't false stories of child rape and elder abuse to report, New Orleans news isn't sexy anymore.
I was reminded of how quickly people's sympathies dry up when I read an article recently about the Sundance film festival. Seems that there was an amazing documentary about some Katrina victims at the festival that captivated audiences and even won an award. However, despite that success and glowing review in the New York Times, the film is still struggling to find a distributor. Now, that's probably due to a variety of problems, but according to a rumor floating around the festival at least one of those problems is related to race.
Negroes apparently don't do well in indies.
You know, for years black people have claimed that the racist out in the open is preferable to the one skulking in the bushes. We figure that it's easier to protect ourselves from the bigots who spit in our faces than the ones who shake our hands and call us "bro."
Truthfully, it's hard not to have a certain respect for someone who will say that they think you ain't shit, and then deal with the fallout without whining.
Unfortunately, after enough white folks caught ass-whippings or retaliation because of their bold racism, they realized it was much easier to hide their true feelings behind a facade of respect. In fact, most black folks will tell you that it's the white folks who love to tell you how "liberal" and "open-minded" they are that should be watched the closest.
The anecdote in that Sundance story reminded me of how dangerous it is to believe that everybody touched by prejudice drives a pickup truck with a Confederate flag license plate. The simple truth is that most white people are uncomfortable or uninterested when they don't see their realities or fantasies represented. Now, black people have the same preference, (How else do you explain Tyler Perry's success?) but I would argue that we've had to learn how to make due without getting what we want a lot longer.
In fact, the thing that bothers me the most is not that this movie is struggling to find an audience, but that so many white folks would prefer to blame those struggles on anything but their own bias. Look, it's ok to be biased, in fact it's perfectly human.
Contrary to the popular myth, driving a Prius does not provide an innoculation against bigotry. Just like the rest of us, liberal white folks notice skin color and make decisions based on it.
In fact, I know many of them feel bad that folks in New Orleans have had a rough time, but they just don't feel an emotional attachment to folks of a darker hue. It's hard to get worked up about injustice that involves folks you might cross the street to avoid late at night.
There are better ways to spend $10 and three hours in the dark.
(Sidenote: Looks like even Jay-Z can't avoid this problem.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Paging Prince Charming
It's been a wild ride.
Not wild like a roller coaster, but more like driving through thick fog down an unfamiliar country road. While there may be ups and downs, it's the abrupt changes in direction that are the true challenges.
My wife and I got together after knowing each other for years as friends, and that made for an interesting transition when we tried the whole romance thing. Actually, the switch wasn't as hard for me as it was for my wife because I had been crushing on her since middle school, while she previously saw me as the plump kid who liked to read. Honestly, I had been plotting on her for years before I saw my opening.
What I'm trying to say is that me and missus didn't have that magical love at first sight thing that gets played up in all those sappy movies. Nope, our relationship was more tortoise than hare. In fact, while I have been known to break out a massive romantic gesture when I really mess up, for the most part I'm a fairly pragmatic, plodding husband.
I may forget the flowers, but the rent will always be paid.
I thought about my pathway to matrimony recently when a friend of mine sent me an article on marriage and love. You can check out that article here.
The basic premise of the article, at least the way I understood it, was that women need to give up on their fantasies of Prince Charming and settle for Leroy the Plumber. Apparently, waiting around for Mr. Right makes a lot less sense than settling for Mr. Good Enough.
You know, while I understand and agree with many of the points made by the author of the column, in some ways I think my opinion is fairly irrelevant. After all, worrying about finding the perfect mate seems to be the domain of women, not men.
I actually came to this conclusion back in college at Howard University. I distinctly remember this one young lady explaining to me that most girls view college as the prime time to find a husband. She noted that in the "real world" it was going to be much more difficult to find a pool of eligible black bachelors comparable to the one available at The Mecca. She then told me that after they turn 35, women are more likely to get struck by lighting than they are to get married.
When she dropped that depressing factoid on me my first reaction was disbelief. Not at the idea that women rarely get married after age 35 because I could easily believe that those pickings were slim.
Nah, I was shocked that she was even thinking about this kind of crap in college. The fact that women were trying to sift through the various weedheads, misogynists and dirtbags on campus looking for a life partner put them a distinct competitive advantage. It's almost like trying to find Bill Clinton's soul.
For me and most of my college friends, marriage was like the economic status of Chinese peasants; the furthest thing from our minds. Any heterosexual male who has attended an HBCU, particularly those chosen few who have strolled across The Yard in spring, understands that the ratio of women to men on campus makes it damn near impossible to think of yourself as anything but a squirrel in a forest of oak trees.
It's all about getting some nuts.
See, most men and women approach marriage from two totally different perspectives. Both genders see it as a probable destination, but women see it as that perfect tropical vacation, while men view it as federal prison. I would estimate that roughly 90 percent of women have spent part of their childhood planning the details of their eventual nuptials.
The estimate for men is hovering right around zero.
As bad as it sounds, even the most fugly of men is convinced that if he really wanted to, he could find a decent woman to settle down with. And, while she might not be the fantasy girl from his solo trysts in the bathroom, she would be good enough. Most men don't obsess over settling in marriage because most of us spend very little brainpower thinking about marriage period.
This doesn't mean that men can't be picky or have impossible expectations when it comes to their potential mates. In fact, most of us are so picky we think nothing of expecting any woman we would even consider for marriage to be a combination of Claire Huxtable and Vanessa Del Rio.
However, men long ago learned that if the other person wants you more than you want them, you always win. As long as women want to get married more than men do, men will typically get to marry a little bit closer to their fantasy.
So, while the column's author thought she was dispensing some rare wisdom with her exhortation that independent, career-oriented women abandon their high standards and be practical, I actually think she's late to the party. Not only have women been settling for centuries, but even the most idealist, modern striver understands in the deepest recesses of her mind that settling is probably her eventual fate.
How else can you explain the ratio of hot women to ugly guys on sitcoms?
Monday, April 14, 2008
You've got to be kidding me.
You know, he [Bush] wants to divide us over race. I'm from the South. I understand this. This quota deal they're gonna pull in the next election is the same old scam they've been pulling on us for decade after decade after decade. When their economic policies fail, when the country's coming apart rather than coming together, what do they do? They find the most economically insecure white men and scare the living daylights out of them. They know if they can keep us looking at each other across a racial divide, if I can look at Bobby Rush and think, Bobby wants my job, my promotion, then neither of us can look at George Bush and say, 'What happened to everybody's job? What happened to everybody's income? What ... have ... you ... done ... to ... our ... country?'"
Recently Barack Obama said this
Here's how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long, and they feel so betrayed by government, and when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn't buy it. And when it's delivered by -- it's true that when it's delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama (laugher), then that adds another layer of skepticism (laughter). [...]
But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Two thoughts from this Lunatic.
1. Bill and Hillary worship the devil.
2. I hate the mainstream media.
(Hat tip over here.)
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Making the Grade
It wasn't because I didn't think I could get. After all, I had a nice GPA, was a National Merit Finalist and played a varsity sport at a high level. Add in my blackness and I probably could have finagled admission to one of the Ivys, if not to Harvard or Yale.
But, when I thought about four years of being around a bunch of arrogant, intelligent and rich white kids, well let's just say that wasn't my cup of tea. I decided that an HBCU was more my style, and when my parents encouraged me to fill out applications to Ivy League schools, I hid the documents and lied about the deadlines.
However, my feelings about Ivy League schools are not shared by most high school students today. This article in the NY Times outlines the lengths that at least one student took to get into Yale, and insinuates that admissions fraud is a much larger problem then schools are willing to admit.
What really stood out to me from the article is the information that there are black markets where you can actually purchase fake transcripts. That's amazing to me.
I mean, when I was in high school there were rumors that people were able to obtain advance copies of the ACT, and in college, there was an underground market for professors old tests. But, nobody had forgeries of officials documents. If they did, then cats wouldn't have had to purchase bootleg cap and gowns to pretend like they were graduating from college when their parents showed up. They would have just taken those fake transcripts and gotten the real thing.
There have been rumblings that cheating has become an epidemic in the scholatistic arena. When I was in school students just used minature cheat sheets, or suretipously hidden textbooks to get an edge, but these days young people have gone digital and are smuggling much more detailed information into class. I've been trying to determine if this is a sign that the morality of students has declined or just that their expertise has increased?
It's an age old question really; are people today less moral than people of the past?
On it's face, it seems like an easy victory for our ancestors. For most people, society appears to sinking further into the morass of rampant violence, crass sexuality and ubiquitious dishonesty. Random school shootings and corporate shenanigans enhance most people's feelings of unease at the way our world seems to be losing it's moral compass. That's why so many people cling to stringent religious dogma and condemn any deviation from those rules.
And, while I often find myself lamenting the behavior of "these dumbass kids," I cannot honestly look at life in the past as being so great. I don't know if it's my black skin or stubborness, but it seems to me that folks have always been ornery and dishonest, it's just that we shine the spotlight on their missteps much more frequently today.
How could I examine the hypocrisy and brutality that permeated every aspect of slavery and segregation and not find people in the past lacking? How could I look at the debauchery that has dominated every generation of "civilized" life and not wonder it things today are much better? In times past, rape, pedophilia and human sacrifice were accepted aspects of society, and just 50 years ago a black man's life was forfeit if he sassed a white person.
It seems to me that human beings have always been strivers who were willing to kneecap any individual or group of people who stood in their way. We as humans have always been able to rationalize bending or ignoring any rules as long as that accomplishes our goal. How else do we explain Manifest Destiny, the 3/5ths compromise or the planned assasination of Patrice Lumumba? How do we explain the war in Iraq?
The shock that greets every new atrocity or slip-up in morality today is a sign that we as a species are very good at ignoring those parts of the past that do not mesh with our desire to be nostalgic. We constantly piss and moan about the "good ol' days," but avoid a a real examination of those days of yore that would expose them for what they were.
No different from today.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Some Good Info
Amazing wasn't it?
Here is a snippet for those of you who aren't convinced that you should check this out.
When any two of us are together, no racial comments or jokes are ever made. However, with the full group membership present, anti-Semitic jokes abound, as do racial slurs and vastly derogatory statements. Jewish people are simply known as “Hebes”, short for Hebrews. . . . Various jokes concerning stereotypes that Jewish people hold were also swapped around the gaming table. . . . These jokes degraded into a rendition of the song “Yellow,” which was re-done [in our group] to represent the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. It contained lines about the shadows of the people being flash burned into the walls. . . . A member of the group also decided that he has the perfect idea for a Hallmark card. On the cover it would have a few kittens in a basket with ribbons and lace. On the inside it would simply say, “You’re a nigger.” I found that incredibly offensive. Supposedly, when questioned about it, the idea of the card was to make it as offensive as humanly possible in order to make the maximal juxtaposition between warm- and ice- hearted. . . . no group is particularly safe from the group’s scathing wit, and the people of Mexico were next to bear the brunt of the jokes.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Welcome to the Family
Lots of people are learning what it's like to be a nigger.
Not a black man or a Negro, but a nigger. The kind of nigger who has no rights, the kind whose humiliation and suffering is entertainment for those in power.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center, Arab Americans got a taste of being a nigger, and now Latinos are getting their turn.
In all honesty, every minority group has faced discrimination during this country's sordid history. Black people have no monopoly on suffering, and most educated black folks understand that Native Americans, Latinos, Asians and other immigrants have all been niggers at one point in time.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio understands how easy it is to justify the abuse of niggers.
"Sheriff Joe" made a name for himself in Arizona by ignoring the constitutional rights given to prisoners and creating his own little fiefdom of abuse and misconduct. Lovers of law and order across this great land smiled benevolently when Arpaio forced his inmates to wear pink undergarments and live in tent cities during Arizona's fierce summers. They chuckled when he bragged that he could feed prisoners on 30 cents a day.
In their hearts they agreed that this was a man who understood what this country needed to return to its former glory; to reclaim a past where niggers knew their place and stayed there. Despite more than $13 million in payouts for lawsuits, Sheriff Joe is still Maricopa County's favorite lawman.
Hell, to ensure the public's love Arpaio took things one step further and invited everyone to join in on the fun by deputizing thousands of volunteers and sending them out with weapons to keep order.
Now Arizona's Latinos are learning how a posse handles niggers.
Oh, it's true that the days of roasting a "coon" over an open flame while family and friends look on with glee are long gone. No longer do shouts of "String that nigger up" ring out from the armed, jeering crowd, instead it's "Send those wetbacks home" that spews from onlookers' lips.
Knotted ropes have been replaced by silver handcuffs, and the charge is no longer whistling at a white women, but instead it's failing to use a blinker when making a turn. But, the posse still indiscriminately round up anyone who fits a simple description; brown skin and a failure to fit in.
These round-ups aren't just favored by Sheriff Joe, no, they are encouraged and funded by those in the highest positions in the federal government. Joe's immigration sweeps are paid for by federal officials who have turned over most of their policing duties to local authorities. The feds claim it's a perfect system that it allows them to concentrate on more important things while protecting "state's rights."
Truthfully, the harassment of law abiding citizens with the goal of maintaining the peace should come as no surprise to we original niggers. We know the humiliation of being hauled from our vehicles for "having an attitude." We have felt the anger that boils up after being told that our very presence in the upscale subdivision we scrimped and saved to move into is considered "suspicious."
We went from beasts of burden to just plain beasts, and roving packs of dark-skinned brutes have long been the bogeyman used to frighten white folks of every nationality. This fear drove the South to embrace the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan, and made it easy for the North to let ethnic police forces use Gestapo tactics in every ghetto. It drives Sheriff Joe on his sweeps through the immigrant neighborhoods of Maricopa County.
Now, everybody feels our pain.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Not because black people should never be given money; that's an utterly ridiculous assertion. Rather, I think Dave's comment was powerful because it got at the core problems that occur when folks have access to large amounts of money they didn't have to work hard to obtain.
While Chappelle made Rick James yell those comments at Eddie and Charlie Murphy, they were really a damning indictment on the excesses James had embraced in his own life, as evidenced by his lifelong love affair with white girls of all shapes, sizes and purity-levels.
Some folks just can't handle a good thing.
I thought about Chappelle's skit when I read this article in the Washington Post.
This is the kind of scandal that gives late-night comedians Viagra-boners.
Seriously, governmental employees take the credit-cards they were issued as a way to save time and prevent waste, and instead use them to purchase lingerie, vacations and booze. It's like these people sat in their cubicles and tried to figure out the worst way they could eff up at their jobs, and then after figuring it out, turned to each other and said "Git er done."
Using scientific sampling, the report estimated that more than 40 percent of the employees who used the credit cards used them for unacceptable purchases. 40 percent!That means that right now a whole bunch of scared people in DC, Maryland and Virginia are berating themselves for putting that pair of Jimmy Choos or Jordans on the federal tab. Not only did the report find widespread abuse on all purchases, but it also found that people were more likely to abuse the credit cards if they were making purchases greater than $2,500. Now, that is just shameful.
Here are some of the high lights from the article:
In the fraudulent category, a longtime employee of the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon, Debra K. Durfey, wrote convenience checks worth more than $640,000 from 2000 to 2006 to a live-in boyfriend, who used the money for gambling, car expenses and mortgage payments, according to the GAO and the Justice Department.Really Debra? You're going to use the government's money to support your trifling boyfriend's gambling problem? But black folks are supposed to be the one's who can't see the big picture.
Another fraud case involved the U.S. Postal Service, where an unidentified postmaster used his card to charge $1,100 over a 15-month period for "various online dating services" while he was under investigation for viewing pornography on a government computer. The employee worked out an agreement to remain on sick leave until he retired in 2007 and paid back the money spent on the dating services, according to the GAO report and a Postal Service spokesman.Paying for love is never a good idea, but when you go orgasm shopping while already under investigation for watching porn at your desk, well you might have a problem.
In a case the GAO deemed "abusive," the Postal Service spent $13,500 in 2006 on a dinner at a Ruth's Chris Steak House in Orlando, including "over 200 appetizers and over $3,000 of alcohol, including more than 40 bottles of wine costing more than $50 each and brand-name liquor such as Courvoisier, Belvedere and Johnny Walker Gold." The tab came to more than $160 a head for the 81 guests, the report said.This was probably part of the Post Office's new safety program since it's hard to aim a high-powered rifle at your co-workers when you're drunk and full.
This report highlights a stunning display of governmental mismanagement that unfortunately can't even be blamed on the Village Idiot since it has stretched across both Democratic and Republican regimes.
It's just mind-boggling that folks would be stupid enough to put these types of charges on their work credit cards. I mean, stealing office supplies is one thing, but when you're planning romantic getaways on the company's dime, you've clearly crossed the line. These people need to be disciplined just for their stunning lack of common sense, forget about the fact that they bilked taxpayers out of millions.
Some things you just don't do.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Life in the Box
While I enjoy freedom and autonomy, I still find solace in boundaries and guidelines. I suppose this preference is one of the reasons why I still remain a fairly fundamental Christian.
Like many believers, my faith was not something I got to choose early in life. My parents had me oiled up and greased down in a church pew almost every Sunday. Later in life I chose to continue on the course they set for me, but I will readily admit that my spiritual path was probably decided well before I understood faith.
As I've grown older and spoken to more people, I've found that many people who share the beliefs I have on social issues are often vehemently opposed to organized religion of any kind. It was a strange experience for me to arrive on a college campus and meet people who proudly proclaimed to be atheists, although there weren't that many of them since I did go to an HBCU.
After engaging in several debates and discussions I often found that people were opposed to religion because they rejected the dogma that accompanies most traditional doctrines. Rules about sex, drinking and a host of other sins seemed outdated and arbitrary to many folks, and even those individuals who professed a general affection for a particular religion struggled with embracing all of its guidelines.
I thought about the struggle between personal preferences and the rules required by certain faiths when I read a recent New York Times editorial discussing the Catholic Church's decision to consider updating its list of sins. You can read that editorial here.
As the article points out, it's a tricky dance that all religions must engage in to remain relevant while retaining the core values that should separate them from any other social club or group. Plus, anytime religious tenets are updated to bring them in-line with the current political or social morays there is the potential for a catastrophic disaster. Previous church teachings on slavery, civil rights, colonialism and the Holocaust are proof of that.
Yet, at times, religions must set guidelines, even those guidelines that are unpopular or seem unacceptably harsh. And human beings must search their own hearts to determine just how closely they will adhere to the rules of their faith and when they will let their own morality be their guide.
Personally, I've adopted the mindset that the rules are the rules whether I agree with them or not. This means that while I frequently break the rules (I've got a filthy mouth), I rarely complain that the rules are unfair and agitate for their repeal. I also rarely try to rationalize my failure to adhere to biblical guidelines by pointing out that my own moral compass says this is the correct course of action.
For example, while I thought pre-marital sex seemed like a good way to test out the car before you bought it, I never claimed that my stance was better than the one advocated in the Bible. Instead, I just accepted that what I was doing was wrong and resigned myself to the consequences.
Obviously, it was much easier for me to take this stance than someone whose core existence challenges the basic rules set out in the Bible or other religious faiths. I'm sure "the rules" are much less comforting to a homosexual attending a traditional Baptist church, or a budding feminist being raised under an oppressive Muslim regime. These rules surely seem to strangle and constrict, rather than reassure and strengthen.
And, while I acknowledge this dilemma, I still cling to my rules because I find the world an easier place to navigate with them in place. Some might argue that this is the easy way out; letting some anonymous higher power legislate my actions so that I can avoid making the difficult choices myself is a coward's approach to life.
Perhaps they are right. But, in my heart I find a world where everyone creates their own morality, where everyone makes up their own rules as they go, a much scarier place. I've seen human beings rationalize the most heinous actions by cloaking them in religion or objective science when they are really just satisfying the darkest desires in their hearts.
I do not trust my fellow man.
So, I sympathise with the Catholic Church and its members as they try to determine the next set of rules that will govern their lives. I understand those who argue that it is past time to take a holistic approach to qualifying sin, and I understand those who argue that some things are better left alone.
Personally, I believe that the core tenets of most faiths--love, respect and fidelity--should be a good enough guide for all people to co-exist together, but the reality it that those vague values do not suffice.
So, we have rules.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Unicorns, Dragons and Hillary
In class, in bed, on the toilet, whenever I had a free moment my face was stuck in a book. I loved books so much that one time in fifth grade I actually stole a teacher's entire library when she missed a couple of weeks of school with an illness. Ultimately I returned most of the books, only keeping the ones I thought were the best.
My favorite books have always been fantasy and science fiction tomes. Something about those alternate realities where you can fly, or burn people to a crisp with a look really captured my interest. Anne McCaffery, Terry Goodkind, Frank Herbert, I've read most of the fantasy and science fiction titans over and over again, and I still struggle with reading non-fiction books because they just don't provide me with the same visceral pleasure that fiction gives me.
There is something wonderful about creating new worlds in your mind.
Hillary Clinton knows what I'm talking about.
Whether it's a magical world where every moment of the past 35 years prepared her to be president, or a special place where snipers and poets both cavort on airport tarmacs, Ms. Clinton has shown a proclivity for malleable reality. It's as if Clinton believes she possesses the powers of Jehovah himself; speech begats existence.
"It's easier for black people then white people in America"
"I never supported NAFTA"
Most recently, it's come to light that Clinton has taken to lying on the campaign trail when she tells voters that she actually opposed the Iraq war before Obama did, but only if everybody agrees to ignore the initial Iraq vote. Clinton has said that if you ignore that vote she and Obama are the same, and she's actually more stridently anti-war then he is. Unfortunately, that's also a lie. Read more here.
This newest lie was really brought into focus for me by a commenter named Michelle over at Jack and Jill Politics. The commenter posted a quote that I'm going to include below that really summed up exactly how Hillary and her supporters think.
The aide said that guys like me [author Susskind] were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
Here's the link.
That's a quote from an aide to George Bush. That's right, Hillary has decided to live in the same reality inhabited by the most idiotic, incompetent and corrupt president ever sworn into office.
It's actually pretty sad.
When I was getting my masters degree I had to read a book about the presidency that noted that those who inhabit this country's highest political office are often divorced from reality because nobody has the guts to tell them the truth about the world.
Now, I don't think that Hillary inhabits the same bubble that her husband once lived in, but increasingly I'm wondering if she lacks competent advisors who would tell her that outright lies in today's digital era are just a stupid, stupid way to go. I've listened to Clinton speak, and while I think she has the morals of Klansman, I do find her highly intelligent and capable.
Yet, over and over, she has made idiotic mistakes that are easily avoidable. I understand that desperation can make a candidate do crazy things, but resorting to outright lies when every "misstatement" is only a keystroke away from being exposed is positively Bush-like in its stupidity. Clinton's every move has shown a complete adversion to the current political landscape, and noxious nostalgia for a byegone era.
It's almost as if Hillary has closed her eyes and is clicking the heels of her ruby-red slippers while chanting about home.
Only there's a big black man sitting in the White House she thought she was coming back to.
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