Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fuck That, I'm Angry Too

Man, I'm starting to get quite pissed.

As the reign of the Queen of Darkness draws to a close, a lot of media folks are trotting out stories about how her supporters feel cheated and angry for the way their candidate has been treated. The stories are filled with angst about what sort of retribution these women will seek against Obama and Democrats in general, and trot out the usual complaints about male media bias.

For one of the latest spiels in this vein, check this out.

You know, I can respect women's complaints that Hillary got a raw deal when it came to sexism in the media and in the general public. I remember the Bros vs. Hoes t-shirt (I wrote about it here.), I remember the "Iron my shirt" comments and I have noticed some of the ways Hillary has been defined by men.

But, I draw the line at people claiming that Obama got some sort of "boost" because he was a man. That he had an easy road, that he doesn't deserve to be where he is and his success was "given" to him. Y'all know those code words, y'all know what these mainly white women are trying to say.

The nigger didn't earn shit.

And that sentiment is wearing really, really thin.

Come on folks, you can protest the sexism directed at Hillary without making backhanded insults towards Obama about his qualifications or his campaign. The man graduated from Harvard Law, he graduated from Columbia, he's been a state senator and a U.S. Senator. The man is not some random bum off the street with no job and no degrees. This is a man who has achieved just as much in his life as Hillary Clinton without the benefit of being white and being married to a powerful white man.

Let's get this shit straight right now.

Hillary did not have to deal with questions about whether she was woman enough or white enough to be President. She did not have to deal with accusations that she was a Muslim spy sent to overthrow the American government. She did not have to deal with death threats as early as Obama, nor have to explain her association with any random black person that white folks don't like. Nobody gave the right wing accusations that Hillary was a lesbian the same national attention that they gave the accusation that Obama loved Farrakhan and disliked Jews. No national newspapers wrote treatises on Hillary's sexual orientation the way they did about Obama's faith.

For the last damn time, Obama has not gotten a free fucking ride and every time I see a white woman claim that he has I get a little more pissed, and a little more certain that racism is still a massive problem in this country. There is no logical way anybody can examine Obama's resume and compare it to past presidential candidates and say that he doens't deserve to be winning. Just because you don't support the man doesn't give you the right to impugn his qualifications.

Look, these claims are rooted in a deep-seated belief by far too many white women that they are the ones really getting the shaft in America because they do not get all the "help" that minorities receive. This idiotic belief ignores the fact that white women benefit the most from affirmative action, that they have always benefited from being white and that they have actively worked to keep minorities down while aiding the white power structure.

Susan B. Anthony once complained that it was digusting that the law allowed a nigger man to vote while white women were denied suffrage. She convienently ignored the fact that few black men could actually exercise their "right" without becoming strange fruit on Southern trees, or receiving beatings in the North. White women rush to label themselves as the ultimate victims throughtout this country's history, yet forget that they actively worked to exterminate Native Americans, enslave African Americans and deny rights to every other minority.

True, sexism has always been a problem, and likely will always be a problem. But, for so many white women to insinuate that they have always been the oppressed and never the oppressors is beyond ridiculous. In fact, I would argue that very few minority men have ever been in a position to hamper the progress of most white women. In fact, it's much more common to find white women in positions of authority over minorities.

Every time somebody claims that Obama doesn't deserve his success, I feel like they are saying I don't deserve my success. I feel like they are claiming that there is a white woman somewhere who would have gotten my job if I didn't have black skin and a penis.

And that pisses me off.

It's time that the media address the fact that the claims made by white women are demeaning to black folks and based in longstanding racial stereotypes. It's time that they allow us to rebut those comments with facts of our own about just how vapid the complaints of many of these privileged women really are.

My anger is just as important as theirs.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Blueprint

My parents gave me their blueprint for manhood. Their instruction started early in my life and continues today. Here's a sample:

1. A man takes care of his responsibilities, all of them. That means kids, houses, debts and any other responsibility you assume as a man.

2. A man never hits a woman. Ever. I caught the worst ass-whipping of my life for putting my hands on a girl in middle school. Same year, I fought a dude, and didn't even get touched.

3. A man cares for his family, he supports his family, but he must be The Man in his family. That's my dad's legacy there.

4. A man takes his direction from God, but follows no other man blindly.

Those are just four of the dozens of Man Laws my parents drilled into my brain over the course of my life. My brother and I grew up in a household where the primary goal was turning us into productive, independent men. Every activity was geared to that end, and we both knew that at age 18 the job had to be completed and we had to be ready to strike out on our own.

Later in life, when I talked to friends and associates who grew up in different households I realized that many people did not get that same instruction from their parents. Whether it was because they grew up in a single-parent household where manhood was a nebulous and rarely discussed concept, or their parents just thought that kids should be allowed to be kids, lots of cats I met along my journey had never really developed a coda for being a man. They were flailing about while depending on their friends and life experiences to give them a blueprint.

I thought about manhood and my definition of a man recently when I came across an article in the LA Times discussing gay life at Morehouse College in Atlanta. For those of you out of the HBCU loop, Morehouse is one of the most prestigious black universities in the country and counts Martin Luther King Jr. and numerous other luminaries among its alumni.

The article discusses exactly how much of a struggle it is for gay men to integrate into an all-male campus that has been known for decades as one of the best places for a black boy to become a man. While Morehouse has always had a significant gay population, it has also been known as a bastion of conservative black manhood; the type of manhood that makes no allowances for men who love other men.

I thought that raised some good questions.

My parents were anti-homosexuality. I grew up in a conservative black home and attended conservative black churches for the most part. There were gay people in those churches, everybody knew about them, but they weren't allowed to openly champion their homosexuality. Their presence was only tolerated if they didn't discuss exactly how they felt about people of the same sex.

That's the way things worked.

In my household, being a man did not include liking other men. In fact, men who were gay were viewed as an inferior type of man: punks, sissies and faggots. The same sort of sentiments were prevalent at my predominantly black schools and when I hung out with all my friends. You couldn't be a real man and be gay.

I didn't begin questioning this concept until pretty late in life, probably towards the second half of college. See, college opened my eyes about a lot of things, particularly that being gay didn't make you a bad person and being straight didn't make you normal. I'm not saying I was a champion of homosexual rights, but I think I began to move past the idea that gay people were weird and embrace the idea that they were fully and completely human. While I still think being being gay is a sin, I began to understand that didn't give me the right to treat them as anything less than my equal.

In college, it rapidly became clear to me that being gay had no impact, positive or negative, on an individual's ability to be a good human being. Homosexuality does not jibe with my religious beliefs, but using a personal belief system to justify vile behavior towards others is a coward's ploy. My parents didn't raise me to be a coward.

It seems that a lot of folks at Morehouse are having to have the same internal discussions because gay men there are demanding equitable treatment from their peers and the university's administration. I imagine it's very difficult for some of the people who've grown up in households similar to mine to deal with challenges to their traditional definitions of manhood.

But, I can't even comprehend how difficult it is for gay men on that campus. I remember at Howard University that the cats suspected of being gay were generally avoided in the dorm, and often formed smaller cliques among themselves for protection and companionship. This sort of isolation must be worse on an all-male campus due to how easily men fall into despicable behaviors when surrounded only by other men.

It seems like a heavy burden to bear to believe that your sexual orientation is blight on the university you attend. I cannot imagine the strain that inflicts on college students struggling to determine their identity as adults. I have nothing but sympathy for these men, and I salute those of them who are willing to endure the slings and arrows of their peers to make the journey easier for those who come behind them.

There are many different routes to manhood, it's time to acknowledge them all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This is Just a Damn Shame

I'm talking about this.

That's just unacceptable. Right now I'm seething and wishing for a way to inflict bodily harm on the folks responsible for the death of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth. Severe bodily harm.

Maseth died in one of the most painful ways known to man, electrocution, because President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney decided that it wasn't good enough to start a war for oil and revenge, they needed to make sure all their buddies got paid off of it. And those buddies have been fucking over American soldiers ever since.

Read the story, pay attention to the fact that the Pentagon was aware of unsafe conditions in the showers in Iraq since 2004, and understand that Ryan Maseth died in 2008. 2008. For four years the same government that loves to go on and on about patriotism and supporting the troops allowed men and women in uniform to clean themselves in deathtraps.


One Dozen.

That's how many soldiers have died from electrocution in Iraq, many of them because of improperly installed and inspected showers on American bases. Showers installed by a company, KBR, that is a spin-off of Halliburton which used to employ one Dick Cheney. One dozen soldiers forced to serve extended tours of duty because the same man who got FIVE deferments during the defining war of his generation wanted to makes sure his homies got paid.


Like many of you, I have let the Iraq War become background noise in my life. Sure, like most black folks, I never supported the war in the first place, and I've always known that it was begun with ulterior motives.

Yet, I'm still shocked to see exactly how debased this country's leaders are. What kind of men are ok with allowing soldiers to die so they can save a few bucks on inspections and equipment? What does it say about our nation as a whole that we would allow these men and women to suffer these indignities without raising a hue and outcry that could be heard from sea to shining sea?

There is a rot that resides in the marrow of this country. It is the rot that allows us to engage in petty disputes about campaign surrogates when men and women in Iraq can't wipe their asses safely. It's a sickness that leads us to rail against the unfairness of allowing illegal immigrants to "take our jobs," all while we stand idly by while soldiers suffer because the president and his buisness cronies didn't do their jobs.

We have become a nation consumed with the inconsequential and, as the old folks would say, "stuck permanently on stupid." There is no reason for us accept the idea that our leaders have the right to not only involve us in an unjust war, but that it's business as usual when they fail to properly equip and protect those same soldiers in a combat zone.

Where is the outrage?

Blissfully Ignorant.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it many times in the future; most white folks don't have the foggiest idea what it's like to be black in America.

None. Zero. Nada.

It's weird that two groups could co-exist for so long in the same relatively small country and yet have such a divide when it comes to cultural norms and mindsets. This is not to say that either white people or black people are monoliths, but typically there are certain touchstones in both communities that provide context during interactions.

Without that context relationships are strained and offense is often given. Often, that is unintentional or even accidental. That doesn't make it less painful, but it can place things in a different light.

That's what I took from this article.

This author probably believes she wrote a snappy, humorous article that attempted to discuss a serious concern she and other feminists struggle with. She probably thinks this concern is valid and that the terms she used are understandable given the realities of the world.

She couldn't be more wrong.

The blog attempts to ask whether Obama will be a staunch advocate for feminists and feminist issues. I understand that question; it's a question that lots of individual groups have asked about Obama. Shoot, even though most other ethnic groups assume Obama will automatically be looking out for black folks when he reaches the White House, lots of black people have wondered whether we can depend on him to do right. Consequently, the question isn't a problem for me.

But, in order to make her point, the author traffics in crude stereotypes about black people, drugs and affirmative action and then leaps to the amazing conclusion that black men everywhere, Obama included, need to apologize to all women for OJ Simpson being acquitted.

That was a "Wow" moment for me.

The flippant assumptions about black kids and drugs and "quotas" were bad enough, but when the author decided that her litmus test for Obama, and by extension any black man, was whether or not that would excoriate OJ, well I think we crossed the line into Bizzaro World. Real quick, somebody explain to me when OJ Simpson became my problem?

Do white people feel required to apologize for Thomas Jefferson's and George Washington's slave holding? Or how about for those hicks down in Jasper, Texas who thought Mr. Byrd wanted to be dragged behind their truck? I have yet to get my formal apology from the white people in Louisiana for electing David Duke to political office and I put in my request years ago.

We all know black folks get held to a different standard, but that's taking things to the extreme. I don't remember many black people championing OJ or loudly proclaiming his innocence. I remember us cheering when he got off in court, but that was more about the unfairness of the legal system and the mastery of Johnnie Cochran. To claim that OJ's freedom is something Obama needs to apologize for reinforces the idea that any time one black person effs up we all need to do some penance. And then to juxtapose that belief with a comment about random black men being falsely executed for the deaths of white women(curiously no mention of the white women who falsely accused black men of rape), well it just shows a stunning lack of understanding of what it means to be black. Just an amazing degree of ignorance.

Obama has battled with white feminists throughout this campaign because they see his success as an impediment to the candidate they favor and love. They see the sexism Hillary has faced and blame it on Obama even though he typically has nothing to do with it. That's his cross to bear, and I understand that.

Yet, far too often these white female feminists have exposed themselves as being woefully under informed about black issues in America despite their willingness to consistently co-opt the Civil Rights movement to aid their own endeavors. That is inexcusable and just plain lazy.

Ignorance is only bliss to the unethical.

(P.S. Even when Obama does treat a woman with respect he can't win.)

(P.P.S. Apparently Obama has spoken about OJ and it turns out he things OJ DID it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Niggas don't change, they just get older.....

That outstanding quotation was provided to me by one of my high school classmates during my 10-year reunion this weekend. She said it without rancor; it was just a random statement of fact to explain the actions of some of our classmates who didn't appear to have made the strides they should have in adulthood.

It cracked me up.

My reunion was an interesting affair. A friend of mine did a lot of the planning so I had been receiving regular updates on the activities planned and had a pretty good sense about who was coming before I arrived. All of the events were well executed, and I don't think anybody could complain that they didn't get their money's worth.

But, that doesn't mean that everything went off without a hitch; in fact there were plenty of hitches, glitches and, well, bitches. Of both genders. Some folks have managed to receive a Phd in trifling and evilness in the past decade, although that didn't apply to most of the folks who attended.

However, the quotation my friend made stuck with me because it rang so true when I applied to the happenings of the weekend. As I talked to people about where they were in life, what they had accomplished I was struck by how so many of us were doing impressive things, and had gained adult insight, but still had the same core personalities that we had in high school. In fact, I would argue that I probably changed the most out of any of my classmates (even the ones who had changed their sexual preference), and that was more a function of getting my raging hormones under control then anything else.

We as humans like to believe that were constantly evolving mentally and emotionally and to a certain extent there is some veracity in that thought. But, more than we realize, the blueprint for who are was laid a long time ago, and now all we're really doing is tweaking things. In other words, the cakes been mixed and baked, right now we're just playing around with the icing.

Some of y'all might not agree with me, and that's cool. My wife pointed out that people might have fallen back into their old behavior patterns because they were around the same old people. That made some sense to me; it is easy to get sucked back into what's comfortable and expected. Several folks still teased me about being a smart kid or used old football terms to start a conversation because that's who they remembered me as being. As she often does, the Little Woman made me rethink my conclusion and examine things from another angle.

But, I still like my thesis.

Truthfully, I don't know how I feel about my discovery. On one hand, it's soothing to know that the people don't change too drastically because it gives you room to plan how you're going to deal with them. Conversely, if people don't change that much, how those the world ever improve?

It was good to see my classmates again. Old friends, old loves, old enemies, I welcomed all of them back into my life for the weekend and I enjoyed their company. It was nice to fellowship with them, their spouses and their children and I look forward to the next time we have a class reunion.

After all, nobody will be a stranger, they'll just be a little older.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I Complain A Lot

I really do.

In fact, looking back over my posts on this blog, I found that roughly 95 percent of them have some sort of complaint about the way the world works at their core. Complaining is cool, but I realized that I don't offer a bunch of solutions, which makes my complaining seem a lot like whining.

Anyway, I was strolling through the blogsphere and touched down for a minute at Nat Turner's Revenge. While perusing the brother's site, I came across a post he did about one of my favorite topics, HBO's The Wire.

I'll save my gushing explanation of the show for another time, since those of you who have read this blog for a while have heard it all before. Instead, I want to talk about one of the issues raised in the post about the show.

One of the main elements of The Wire is the futility of the War on Drugs and the impact that war has had on low-income people, particularly black folks. Anyway, the creators of the show did a piece for Time Magazine where they discussed one of their solutions for dealing with the War on Drugs and it was a doozy. You can check out the short article here.

As you can see, the authors advocate that anybody sitting on a jury that is considering a case involving drug violations vote for acquittal regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused. They point out that jury nullification is an acceptable protest for citizens to engage in, particularly if the want change. The show's creators said that this strategy shouldn't be used if violence is involved in the case, but is justified if it is strictly a drug case.

Now that is interesting.

Before I even discuss the merits of this strategy, I would like to point out that it's kind of ironic that the show's creators advocate for it because in The Wire's final season one of the most loathsome characters on the show avoided prosecution through jury nullification.

State Senator Clay Davis, a snake who had his hands in more pockets than a Calcutta thief, managed to avoid conviction on accusations that he misused public funds by convincing a black jury that his prosecution was a result of rich, white folks looking to give him the shaft. Despite the mountain of evidence against Davis, the jury decided that racism was a bigger deal, and let him walk. The response by several characters, whose dialogue was of course okayed by the show's creators, expressed their disgust with the outcome and the jurors. So, it would seem that the show's creators only support jury nullification when it's used for issues they agree with it.

But, I digress.

The idea of using your position on a jury to write historical wrongs is one I've thought about on many occasions. I've never sat on a jury, but I've often wondered how I would comport myself if given that opportunity. I don't know if I would be able to sentence another black man to the hell that is prison, even if I think they are guilty of a heinous crime. I know for certain I would never be able to convict someone of a crime that could result in their death.

However, I don't believe that every juror should refuse to convict criminals on drug convictions simply to prove a point. On one hand, it would definitely send a message to the government that there needs to be a change in how law enforcement and the judicial system handle the drug problem. On the other hand, if criminals, (and despite the wrong done to them, these people are criminals) are allowed to operate without fear of consequences, I don't see things getting any better for folks in the hood.

The judicial system may be corrupt and unjust, but there is no denying that it is a deterrent.

I would rather see people focus their protests and complaints on impacting those areas where real change can be made to the system, instead of nullifying juries. I know the creators of The Wire have no faith in "systems," but I don't see how the world can work without certain systems. I think we as a nation need to figure out a way to force the government to spend more money on items like education, infrastructure and public services instead of just agreeing to let crack dealers walk.

But, while that sounds like a good solution, it's still pretty vague. In concrete terms, I think we need to advocate to change the funding mechanism for local school systems, that we need to do away with mandatory minimum drug sentences and that we need to make an immediate investment into job training and educational services for prisoners.

Schools should not be funded based on the affluence or lack of affluence of the local tax base. We need to have one big pot that allocates the same amounts to every student and also pays for capital improvements based on a priority system as opposed to a patronage system.

As I've said before, mandatory minimums are unjustly enforced and unfairly remove decision making from judges. There is no justification for the gap between the sentences for crack cocaine and powder cocaine, but, more importantly, it makes no sense to automatically sentence people to a decade in prison without considering the actual circumstances of their crime.

Finally, the way we treat prisoners in this country is atrocious. If we want prisoners to be positive, contributing members of society we have to spend money on helping them achieve those goals. We cannot warehouse them in cesspools that encourage recidivism much more than rehabilitation. Everyone understands that most prisoners lack education and job skills, let's rectify that problem to make them productive again.

I think that if more Americans rally around these three goals we can see immediate changes in our country, changes for the better. Otherwise we're doomed to fight the same drug war over and over, with our only recourse being to punish offenders harshly or let them free to commit more crimes.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Smiling in Your Face

"And all the time they want to take your place. Backstabbers, backstabbers....

Y'all know that cut, it's classic soul music. Every time I hear somebody discuss the possibility of Barack Obama inviting Hillary Clinton to be his vice-president, that's the song that pops into my head.


Come on now, does anybody in the their right mind really believe that Hillary Clinton would do her best to make sure Barack Obama won the general election and then had a successful tenure as president? Anybody who believes that needs to come down to New Orleans because I've got some top of the line levees to sell you.

Goodness gracious, this is getting ridiculous.

Besides the obvious disconnect inviting Lord Hildermort on to his ticket would cause considering Obama's message of change, the sheer stupidity of allowing someone who has questioned your intellect, character, qualifications and faith in God to share power with you doesn't mesh with the intelligence Obama has projected. If there's one thing Obama has not been, it's stupid. He's been a little naive, occasionally unprepared and incredibly humble, but nobody can look at the arc of his campaign and call him stupid.

Well, nobody but Geraldine Ferraro.

See, that's just it. Hillary Clinton has fully embraced the darkside during her campaign and if Obama agrees to align himself with her, it's only a matter of time before he joins Anakin Skywalker in that pit of lava. He cannot avoid the corruption that emanates from the pores of the Hillbillies, it is impossible to escape the reach of their vileness.

I would seriously have to reconsider voting for Obama if he linked up with Hillary. I like the brother, I love what he's talking about doing and I like how he carries himself. That said, if you're willing to join forces with racist scum (yeah, I said it) then you might not be the type of brother I want representing me in the White House.

It's sad that Obama has to even consider offering her this olive branch. If Hillary had conducted her campaign with even a scintilla of decorum, we would not be in a situation where scores of 50+-year old feminists are considering voting for a man that calls his wife a cunt, just to spite Obama. Read that sentence again; women are on record saying they would support John McCain even though he called his millionaire, former mistress wife a cunt in public?

And people want to pretend like Hillary is blameless?


Obama must forge his own path and he cannot do that carrying the burdens of Hillary and Bill. Not only are they despised by many on the right and left, but neither of them would shrink from wedging a steak knife between Obama's shoulder blades at the slightest chance that they would benefit. Shoot, would Obama even feel comfortable eating and drinking knowing that Hillary only needed his death certificate to punch her ticket to the White House?

I know I wouldn't.

Biting the Hand with the Food

The ungrateful Negro is an enduring American icon.

It's that trifling coon who hates to work, but loves to eat and fuck on somebody else's dime. Oh, the Asians, and the Indians and even the Mexicans have all done stints with the Scarlet L (for lazy) on their chests, but it's been black folks who've never been able to shake that label. No matter how many toilets we clean, how much garbage we collect, the most prominent stereotype assigned to black folks is the one of stupid, savage and lazy brutes.

See, that stereotype, which is taken as fact by a substantial portion of this country, has certain folks peeved that Barack Obama is even under consideration for the job of President. Come on, if you thought their beef was with Rev. Wright, or Michelle's American pride or even with Obama's liberal viewpoint, you were only fooling yourselves. Nah, these folks don't trust a black dude to work hard and lead their country because they believe niggers are trifling.


It's that type of attitude that causes white folks to look for a way to attribute any success by a black person to somebody else. For evidence of this compulsion, check out this column in Time.

The column does its best to use racially sensitive terms and actually acknowledges that most of the attitudes that prevail among "Reagan Democrats" are not based in fact. However, it posits that even if these ideas are erroneous they must be respected and dealt with because the people with these ideas have power.

Now, that's troubling in some ways, but I'll avoid biting into that apple for now. Instead, I want to focus on how the article claims that Obama owes the Clintons some gratitude because the stances they took on controversial issues actually made it easier for Obama to be where he is now. The author claims that even if the Clintons are stepping on some toes with their behavior now, they deserve respect and credit for what they did in the past.

Man, crackers be cracking me up.

I'm sorry if my language offended any of y'all, but that was the way that sentence formed itself in my mind. That whole column just reeks of a certain level of arrogance that seems incredibly common among a certain group of folks. The idea that Obama, who was an underdog and put together a winning coalition despite the long odds and racist attacks of Clinton, owes the Hillbillies some gratitude is hilarious.

The entire premise turns on the idea that if Clinton hadn't sacrificed his principles to carve out a centrist position that appeases racists and their ilk then Obama would be shit out of luck. Basically, every position that Clinton took that appeared to be a big loogie in the face of black folks and other minorities actually was for our benefit, and Obama needs to be more grateful.

See, that idea is at the core of the arrogance displayed by Bill, Hillary and their supporters. Unfortunately, that arrogance can also be found in many random white people in this country.

Throughout history they've been encouraged to view black folks and other minorities as disadvantaged malcontents who may be getting the short end of the stick, but only because they deserve it. This worldview has provided justification for heinous behavior against Native Americans, Asians, Latinos and blacks.

Thousands of illegal lynchings? Well black people do commit crimes.

Internment of the Japanese and the seizure of their property? Well, can't be to careful with that yellow fever.

The blatant genocide of Native Americans including biochemical warfare? Well, if God didn't intend for white folks to rule America he wouldn't have let it happen.

The dominant worldview states that white folks and their emissaries are justified in almost every action they take because they're the ones who have done the hard work in lifting this country to its current position of prominence. It says that Obama needs to grateful to a man who basically called him an unworthy, affirmative action baby who needed to learn his place if he didn't want to be branded an uppity nigger.

At least that's how I see it.

There is no reasonable explanation for this arrogance, no way to make it right. It is asinine and not based on reality. The reality is that Obama owes nothing to the Clintons and even he previously did, their actions in this campaign and his own forbearance have paid that debt.

Paid it in full.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Somebody Get a Muzzle

What does this heifer have to say for the Democratic elite to give her a big old STFU?

Y'all know who I'm referring to, She Who Shall Not Be Named if you're a fan of the young wizard from Hogwarts. Coming off her latest resounding victory at the hands of white folks who think the only good nigger is a dead nigger, she had the audacity to invoke the specter of the 2000 Florida election when arguing for the state's delegation to be seated as is.

Yes, The Nutcracker went there.

I know there has been a lot of talk recently about just how much sexism Hillary has faced in her run for the White House and I'm pretty sure some of the terms I've used for her in this piece so far could be called sexist. If some of y'all think that invalidates my entire point, I understand your feelings and wish you well. After all, if somebody said some blatantly racist shit I would tend to ignore them as well.

With that said, of all the ballsy things the New York Senator has done during her campaign her latest move just crossed into a brand new territory of arrogance and evilness. Everybody knows that Florida Democrats still bear the scars of that 2000 election when the Supreme Court pimpslapped the voters and got Bush his money. Many of them can't go to the polls without getting flashbacks of hanging chads and Katherine Harris' makeup.

So, for the former Arkansas First Lady to compare what's happening to her to what happened to Gore is just ridiculous. First, her dumbass actually agreed not to count Florida's votes when she thought she would have this whole exercise wrapped up on the first Super Tuesday. She made the pledge, but now that she's losing, she wants to backtrack like a young Michael Jackson.

In addition, it's more than a little bit shady to implicitly compare your Democratic competitor to George Bush, particularly after you've already called him a pompous, elitist pansy.

See, Barack Obama has shown some amazing restraint in this campaign when it comes to the machinations of Billy Boy's main squeeze. A cat like me would have gone off at the mouth a longtime ago and probably ruined any shot I had at being President. This shady heifer has been throwing rocks and hiding her hands this entire campaign, and now she's ratcheting things up when it's obvious that she has no shot whatsoever to pull this thing out.

The Democratic leadership needs to get off their asses and make some moves now because I'm becoming increasingly pissed at the long leash they are giving Hillary to hang herself and Obama. It's to the point now where not only is she openly appealing to racism, but she's also appealing to fears of voter disenfranchisement.

What the fuck does she have to do to get called out? Does she have to call Obama a nigger on live television? Give John McCain a sensual massage?

What does she have to do?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Can I Borrow A Dollar?

And I'm not talking about that great Common album.

Nah, I'm talking about that latest news that the Queen of Darkness, also known as Hillary Rodham Clinton, is roughly $20 million in debt.

Now, I don't know about y'all, but I'm pretty sure that I don't want another president who doesn't understand the difference between red and black. As in, they don't understand the difference between being in debt and running a profit.

Hillary has consistently pointed to her husband's ability to balance the federal budget as proof of her fiscal acumen, but considering the way she has run her campaign that claim is looking shaky.

Unless she's going to let Billy Boy hold the checkbook from now on.

It's About Damn Time

Regular readers of this blog know that I spend a lot of time discussing the assorted ways black folks get shafted in America. Hell, I started this blog because my friends and family got tired of me constantly complaining about injustice and suggested I spread my bad news to the world.

But, sometimes I have to take a break from complaining about the ways the white man holds us down and point out the ways black folks, or rather some black folks, eff things up themselves.

Today is one of those days.

My senior year in college a video hit the streets that had every dorm room buzzing and cats holding carefully organized viewing parties. The video was guaranteed to shock and titillate, and depending on who you watched it with (the person would have to be a stone cold freak) it might even lead to some horizontal slam dancing.

That video was the R. Kelly sex tape.

Don't look at me like that because some of y'all were holding viewing parties too. I was actually introduced to the tape by a young lady I was trying to get next to senior year. She had obtained a copy from somewhere and offered to bring it up to my dorm room so we could view it together.

For about an hour, we watched a portly man with braids who greatly resembled one Robert Kelly engage in various sex acts with women until he ended the tape by pissing on one prone girl. We rewound the tape several times to determine if the girl looked underage before concluding that she seemed to have the body of an adult, but might look a little young in the face. The young lady then prepared to leave my room, but not before making one last comment about the size of the Pied Piper's penis.

It was not my finest hour.

When that tape surfaced, I, and many of my friends, had several debates about whether the King of the Remix was a pervert or a poor sap who got caught up. Judging by the young lady's body we agreed that it would be easy to mistake her for an adult, but given Kelly's previous suspect behavior with Aaliyah, we weren't so sure that he was unaware of the girl's age. After all, as men, we all knew cats who sought out young girls to have sex with for a variety of reasons. Plus, several cats from the Chi swore that The Fool with the Mask was known to visit high school campuses looking for fresh meat.

Whatever our thoughts on Kelly's guilt or innocence, we all agreed that his ass was headed to jail. There was a tape of him having sex with a young chick that everybody in the hood had access to, so we were certain that it wouldn't be long before the law was picking his crooning ass up. Sure enough, not long after the tape dropped, Kelly was arrested and held a bizarre interview on BET where he found Jesus.

Now, given the tape, I think most of Black America assumed it wouldn't be long before Kelly was singing in the shower with a bunch of naked men, but we were very, very wrong. In fact, it has taken R. Kelly more than five years to ever see the inside of a courtroom on these charges. During that time he's released several albums, fallen out with Jay-Z and come to represent everything that is wrong with R&B today.

He's been busy.

However, his sabbatical is over and his trial began on Tuesday. And I for one think that it's about damn time.

When I read that story it really shocked me to see exactly how long it had been since Kelly was first accused, and also to see the perverse machinations the defense was expected to employ to generate the right mood in the courtroom. I understand that every defendant deserves the best defense, but the portion of the story where they talk about exactly how Kelly should react when he sees the sex tape was a bit much. I guess it does makes sense that the defense would prep Kelly because given his massive stupidity he might decide to break out in song when the prosecution cues up the tape:

I don't see nothing wrooooooooong, with a little bump and grind.......

Anyway, what's really sad about this whole debacle is how Kelly has managed to maintain his popularity while being accused of child rape, even though the entire hood has seen the video. I think we all can admit that if R. Kelly was poor ass Leroy from around the way, nobody would be picketing at his trial in support of his cause and he would have never been able to blame these accusations on the nefarious schemes of "The Man."

This is one of the cases where a rich and crazy black person has decided to royally eff up, and then jump on the abused black people's bandwagon to escape persecution. Other examples of this phenomenon involved Orenthal, Michael and Pacman. In all of these cases, the individuals involved made decisions that can only be described as asinine, and then decided that the terrible consequences of their choices could only be due to the fact that they were black. And there have always been poor saps willing to buy this reasoning.

Look, we all know that black folks can get screwed, but we as black people cannot support scumbags like R. Kelly. I know that Woody Allen is just as despicable, but we can't worry about what kind of weirdos white folks want to do business with; we have to take care of our own houses. We must demand equal and fair treatment, but that also means that we accept equal and fair punishment.

And for God's sake, please destroy all of your R. Kelly CDs, dude is just nasty.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Somebody Died

Somebody in my family died this weekend.

Actually, to be more accurate, my paternal grandfather died this weekend. But, I just called him "somebody" because that is who he had become in my life.

My dad's Dad was never the kindly grandfather you see on television and read about in children's books. How could he fill that role when he was never an actual father to my dad?

That failure by my grandfather created a massive chasm in our relationship; a chasm that could never be crossed. I saw my grandfather a few times when I was child, but the casual disdain my father showed for everything he did or said really guided me as to how I dealt with the man.

My father must have truly been hurt when he was a child. He says he always knew who his father was and actually lived with him until he was five years old. But, then my grandfather left, and my father and his two brothers and sister became one more black family without a man. Forced to work by the time he was eight years old, my father says that he learned some cruel lessons on the street, lessons he won't even share with me.

My pops never let go of that hurt. And I am my father's son.

I understand that my grandfather was sick his final few years, that he had withered away as cancer and hard living finally caught up with him. I still remember him as a boisterous man who loved to talk about black history and WWII. As children, my brother and I completed many school projects just with the books and other material my grandfather gave us for free. He earned two Bronze Stars, a Silver Star and a Purple Heart in WWII, but I never got to hear him tell his stories about that time.

He was willing, but I never let him.

One time, when I was in college, my grandfather came to D.C. on business and tried to catch up with me to have lunch. I made plans with him and was supposed to meet him at a local diner. The meeting slipped my mind, and I overslept like a typical college kid. I've always pictured that proud man waiting at that diner for me to show, and then finally giving it up when it became clear that one more overture on his part had been spurned.

If my father never got past his pain, I never learned to see anything but that pain when I looked into my grandfather's face. He was usually nice to me, but whenever I gazed into this face, a face that was a slimmer version of my father's, I saw a five-year old boy without a daddy trying to learn how to be a man.

To many people in this world my grandfather was Somebody, but to me he was just somebody.

It's a sad thing when the sins of the father are fostered upon the second and third generation, but that's what happened in my family. Those bonds that should have existed were never created, the love that typically blooms died on the vine. There was never any chance that I would love my grandfather because the blueprint for our relationship was laid when he walked away from his responsibilities 50 years ago.

My grandfather never got a chance to tell me his story. I never heard why he made the choices he made and how he lived with the mistakes of his life. My ears were never open because I figured I knew every word he was going to say.

So, he died as just another somebody.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Constructive Policing

When I was in high school in the mid-1990s, one of my best friends was a big Alanis Morrisette fan. Now, this might not seem strange to y'all, but in my high school, with it's 99.8 percent black population, her choice is music was a little weird.

Anyway, she used to try to convince me that Alanis was the cat's pajamas and pushed me to give "Jagged Little Pill" a shot. Of course, I refused, citing the superiority of the Cash Money Millionaires, and I probably teased her for "acting white" as well. It was high school after all.

However, because of the massive popularity of that album, I did hear one of the songs on a fairly regular basis. That song would be Isn't it Ironic

Now, I know some folks have complained that the song really butchers the meaning of ironic, but I thought about that song the other day when I stumbled across this article. The article, which is in a media trade magazine, points out that just as the NY Post was lambasting the public for complaining about the minor irritant of racial profiling, one of its own reporters was suing the NYPD for the same problem.

Now that is effing ironic. (UPDATE: The NY Post has since fired the reporter who made the complaint.

As I've mentioned before, I work for the mainstream media. I regularly interact with law enforcement officials and regularly write about crime and criminals. My job, and my life experiences, has taught me that racial profiling is a serious problem and I find it borderline hilarious that a major metropolitan newspaper (The Post has a circulation of over 700,000) could make such an argument. Even considering the fact that the paper is owned by Rupert Murdoch it just seems like a massive stretch.

But, then I decided to do some research myself and see what I could turn up on racial profiling in New York through a quick Google search. What I found was a lot of stupid commentary and some conflicting facts. It seems that people have very different ideas about whether the NYPD likes to pick on blacks and Latinos when it comes to pedestrian and traffic stops.

This link says it's a problem

This link says it isn't.

But, don't tell this guy that.

Anyway, after trying to get a handle on the issue, I reached a decision: Nobody knows what the hell is going on.

Look, my personal experience has been that the police harass black and Latino males much more than they harass any other group. But, the statistics say that the difference in negligible. So, I'm not certain whether I and the people I know are overreacting, or if the numbers have been rigged. My rather large ego says that I'm right and the numbers are fishy, but my rational mind says that it's highly unlikely that a research group would risk its credibility just to save the NYPD's butt.

That battle between those two positions in my head is actually playing out on a larger stage in the rest of this country. For black folks and some other minorities it's a given that Officer Friendly is not our friend. For white folks, and folks who think like white folks, people need to stop complaining and appreciate the fact that New York is no longer the crime-ridden cesspool it once was.

Normally, I would use this difference in opinion to condemn white folks for their blindness to the realities of life. But, that would only be dishonest in this case. After all, white folks have no monopoly on being willing to justify and rationalize ridiculous behavior. That is a human trait, a uniquely human trait.

What I really wonder is where is the common ground in this debate. For years, we've argued that the police need to vigilant, but still obey the rules of decorum that have been established. That sounds great on paper, but in reality, it has been a recipe for ass whippings and fictitious arrests. Our current system does not allow regular citizens much leeway to prevent their rights from being violated. We can retaliate after the fact, but during the encounter we're at the mercy of those individuals with a badge and a gun.

However, police officers do have a difficult and at times dangerous job. They are being asked to make real-time decisions that most of us never have to make. I have some sympathy for them and their plight.

With that said, I think there are several ways we can change the police/minority dynamic.

We need to systematically weed out those officers who are completely unwilling to change or adapt to the current world. We can no longer have a cavalier attitude about blatant racism, sexism or homophobia among our police officers. Just because their job is dangerous doesn't make it okay for them to act like brutes.

In addition, we have to change the larger context in which minorities are viewed. That means combating media stereotypes consistently and demanding changes in behavior. As long as the average white person views black people as inferior and prone to crime, the average police officer will have the same mindset.

Also, every police department needs to have a citizen board that provides oversight. These boards need to be staffed in a non-partisan manner and should incorporate community activists that are critical of the police, as well as police supporters. They must have clear standards and powers so that they can handle accusations against the department fairly. It is unacceptable that most police complaints are only investigated by the police themselves.

Finally, we as a society need to come to grips with the fact that crime is a problem in every neighborhood regardless of race or income level. We need to understand that the only difference relates to the types of crime and how aggressively the police attack those crimes. If the police enforced all laws with equal vigor, I think most people would abandon their asinine positions that support reprehensible police behavior. If everybody had to suffer the same injustices that young black folks suffer, there would be a much stronger movement to create some change.

We need the police, but we also need citizens who trust and believe in the police.

It can't work any other way.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Dreaded "R" Word

That picture is from a t-shirt printed and sold by a bar owner in Marietta, Georgia. The homies over at Too Sense have the whole story on the bar owner and the shirt at their blog. Basically, this asshat thought it would be funny to compare a black presidential candidate to a monkey, and then feigned surprise that anyone would find his actions the least bit racist. Here's a quote of him expressing his surprise:

Marietta tavern owner Mike Norman says the T-shirts he's peddling, featuring cartoon chimp Curious George peeling a banana, with "Obama in '08" scrolled underneath, are "cute." But to a coalition of critics, the shirts are an insulting exploitation of racial stereotypes from generations past.


Norman said those offended are "hunting for a reason to be mad" and insisted he is "not a racist."

Why picture Obama as Curious George? "Look at him . . . the hairline, the ears, he looks just like Curious George," Norman said.

I've found that growing up black in America often means you have to become an expert at observing and documenting the behavior of white people. Now, some black people who grow up in extremely segregated neighborhoods often are ignorant of all the intricacies of white life because of their surroundings, but even they can learn a lot about white people just by watching television. Those of us who actually went to school with white kids and now work around lots of white people have an even broader knowledge base.

During my informal study of white culture, what I like to call my "pale safari", I've learned a lot about what white folks like and don't like when it comes to racial issues. Some of you have learned these things as well, and we could probably develop a pretty comprehensive list of the dos and don'ts for black and white relationships.

One rule that has become ingrained in my mind is that white folks don't like being called racists. In fact, many white people seem to view the word "racist" the same way many black people view the word "nigger." It's cool if they use it towards other people, but it's a fighting word if somebody uses it towards them.

However, in contrast to black folks, white people do not even feel comfortable using the word racist among themselves. For a whole host of reasons, many black people (like myself) use the word nigger as a substitute for "dude" or "man," it's just another word when we're saying it around folks we're cool with. But, because of their irrational dislike of the word racist, white folks hate to use that word to describe any other white person who is not wearing a Klan hood, or etching a swastika into their foreheads.

The most white folks will do is imply the possibility of racism in other situations. That's what the article's writer did with this bar owner, and then once that happened, the bar owner was allowed to spout a whole bunch of tripe about how he could never be a racist. That's another weird thing about white folks and racists, white folks will allow easily identifiable racists to make the most ridiculous arguments to try to justify or minimize their racist actions or comments. It would be the equivalent of this conversation taking place:

Man 1 The sky is definitely blue. There is no way you can deny this.

Man 2 You are wrong. The sky is only blue if you open your eyes and look at it really hard.

Seriously, it's like many white folks lose all trace of a backbone and the ability to think critically when race and racism are introduced into a conversation. This does not apply to all white folks, but as this election has shown us, way too many white people lack the ability or desire to have an honest discussion about race.

I've heard many theories about the source of this difficulty white people have with the term racist, and most of them have validity. Some theorize that white folks fear the stigma that comes along with being labeled a racist and are loathe to be responsible for burdening someone else with that title. Others say that white folks just subscribe to a different definition of racism because to subscribe to the same definition as black folks or other minorities would force them to condemn the actions of too many people they admire or love. One of the most ridiculous theories is the idea, usually promulgated by racists, that white folks try to view racial issues objectively, and are much less likely to use unfair labels than black folks.

Whatever the reason is for this failing of white people, it's something that needs to be addressed. It's impossible to have a meaningful and productive discussion about the realities of race in this country without being willing to clearly delineate between racists and non-racists. More importantly, there can by no equivocating for white people when it comes to dealing with white racists; they must be as swift to condemn and marginalize them as they are to attack minorities they feel have hateful views.

Finally, it is imperative that white folks be willing to except that their definition of racism is not necessarily accurate, and that they be willing to defer to groups who have had much more experience dealing with racism when these discussions jump off. The simple truth is that most minorities have a much higher level of expertise when it comes to racism; white folks need to accept this and behave accordingly.

Yes, the word "racist" is powerful and dangerous. Yes, there are black people and other minorities who have used it to hide their own deficiencies and to benefit their causes. However, the majority of the time, when minorities call someone a racist, they deserve it, and white folks need to take notice and take the appropriate actions.

And somebody get Pat Buchanan's ass off television.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another Guest Post

I wrote another post over at Deacon Blue's spot about one of those wedge issues among religious folks. This time I discussed abortion.

Those of you interested in checking it out here it is.

Let me hear your thoughts.

Welcome to the Jungle. Now Die.

I like to read Christina Springer's blog fairly regularly because I like her writing style and her anecdotes about life as a home-schoolin', peace-pushing, England transplant trying to raise children.

It's a slice of life I would never get if it wasn't for the internet; she's not the type of person that I would probably ever meet in my regular life. Getting the chance to view the world through her eyes, and eyes of the many denizens of the web, benefits me as a human.

The other day, that point was reinforced for me when I read this post that she wrote. The source material for that post came from here.

For those of you who despise clicking links, Springer's post discussed the startling similarities between the actions of certain young African elephants and many young black males. The passage she excerpted from the article is mind-boggling when you substitute "black people" for "elephants." Here's the excerpt:

Since the early 1990’s, for example, young male elephants in Pilanesberg National Park and the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa have been raping and killing rhinoceroses; this abnormal behavior, according to a 2001 study in the journal Pachyderm, has been reported in ‘‘a number of reserves’’ in the region. In July of last year, officials in Pilanesberg shot three young male elephants who were responsible for the killings of 63 rhinos, as well as attacks on people in safari vehicles. In Addo Elephant National Park, also in South Africa, up to 90 percent of male elephant deaths are now attributable to other male elephants, compared with a rate of 6 percent in more stable elephant communities.
But in ‘‘Elephant Breakdown,’’ a 2005 essay in the journal Nature, Bradshaw and several colleagues argued that today’s elephant populations are suffering from a form of chronic stress, a kind of species-wide trauma. Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture.

The number of older matriarchs and female caregivers (or ‘‘allomothers’’) had drastically fallen, as had the number of elder bulls, who play a significant role in keeping younger males in line. In parts of Zambia and Tanzania, a number of the elephant groups studied contained no adult females whatsoever. In Uganda, herds were often found to be ‘‘semipermanent aggregations,’’ as a paper written by Bradshaw describes them, with many females between the ages of 15 and 25 having no familial associations.

As a result of such social upheaval, calves are now being born to and raised by ever younger and inexperienced mothers. Young orphaned elephants, meanwhile, that have witnessed the death of a parent at the hands of poachers are coming of age in the absence of the support system that defines traditional elephant life. ‘‘The loss of elephant elders,’’ Bradshaw told me, ‘‘and the traumatic experience of witnessing the massacres of their family, impairs normal brain and behavior development in young elephants.’’

I pointed out this post because it got me thinking about just how much of an impact environment has on individuals' lives. We've all heard about the nature versus nurture debate and judging by the comments on this blog, I'm sure most of y'all would attribute the pathologies within certain segments of the black community to the nurture model. I agree with that concept and think anyone who believes that black people are just pre-disposed to certain actions is an idiot. That's it, just an idiot.

But, what that article did was really expose just how deeply a person's environment can impact their psyches. It reminded me of a post on Racialicious from a book written by Joan Morgan about black women and feminism. Here is the quotation:

As a black woman and a feminist I listen to the music with a willingness to see past the machismo in order to be clear about what I’m really dealing with. What I hear frightens me. On booming track after booming track, I hear brothers talking about spending each day high as hell on malt liquor and Chronic. Don’t sleep. What passes for “40 and a blunt” good times in most of hip-hop is really alcoholism, substance abuse, and chemical dependency. When brothers can talk so cavalierly about killing each other and then reveal that they have no expectation to see their twenty-first birthday, that is straight up depression masquerading as machismo. […]

This is crystal clear to me when I’m listening to hip-hop. Yeah, sistas are hurt when we hear brothers calling us bitches and hos. But the real crime isn’t the name-calling, it’s their failure to love us - to be our brothers in the way that we commit ourselves to being their sistas. But recognize: Any man who doesn’t truly love himself is incapable of loving us in the healthy way we need to be loved. It’s extremely telling that men who can only refer to us as “bitches” and “hos” refer to themselves only as “niggas.”

It's amazing how those two posts by two different people seem to line up so magnificently in my mind.

Look, I think every American understands on a certain level that things are difficult in this country for young black males. Some folks deny it and point to affirmative action and the NBA, but those people are dishonest losers who are trying to drown out their inner voice of truth with a constant stream of belligerent nonsense. I don't need to post the stats, we all know that shit ain't cool for young black dudes.

Now, I'm not trying to excuse the actions of my brothers because right is right and wrong is wrong. There is nothing right about drug dealing, raping, thieving or killing. Every human is responsible for his or her own actions, you cannot pawn off your responsibility on society. Nor am I trying to ignore the plight of my young sisters whose struggles is difficult in so many ways.

Yet, when I read Springer's blog post, and read Morgan's excerpt, I couldn't help but feel some serious pain at the path being laid out for young brothers. I feel the same pain when I drive down an inner-city street or visit a crime scene. If your eyes are open there is no escaping the pain that so many brothers are trying to conceal behind bravado and opiates. It's there in every jaunty step and every hard glare.

Like those African elephants it's easy to feel like black men are part of some horrible, unnatural experiment that was designed to benefit anybody but them. It's as if we're on display and our every action is being documented and cataloged to serve some outside purpose. Just like with the elephants, moves are made to try to contain the pathology, but the core problems that are really causing the distress are largely ignored. Nobody is talking about dismantling animal reserves and nobody is talking about a complete overhaul of America.

And the cycle of violence continues unabated in cities like Detroit, Philadelphia and my hometown of New Orleans. Every day brings death to another urban elephant, just one more pistol-packing pachyderm dead because he couldn't adapt.

It's just one big fucking zoo.

So the question becomes, what do we as a community do about this problem, how do we step in and combat a toxic environment?

It's a daunting task. How do you perform therapy when most of your subjects lack interest in change, and most of society is directly opposed to assisting you? At least with elephants the animals' actions are at odds with their natural instincts which makes them much more willing to change. Unfortunately, the evil that men do seems much more in line with our basic instincts.

Yet, I believe that we can pull ourselves and each other out of this psychic morass. That through small steps in our immediate communities (being less willing to judge, more willing to help) we can make small changes that create big changes. We can hold our elected officials and our so-called leaders responsible for not doing more or saying more about the plight of young men. We can challenge unfair laws and horrible prison conditions.

Each of us has this power, each of us can do our part.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bob and Weave Obama, Bob and Weave

Everybody knows that black people can't resist a good conspiracy.

Whether it's reports about a secret Jewish cabal that rules the world, or a special chemical that shrinks your dick in Mountain Dew, black people are widely believed to be the biggest conspiracy theorists in America. Now, that doesn't mean that white folks don't have some crazy ideas of their own, but as with most things black folks are the ones who've gotten the bad reputation.

This stereotype about black people typically pops up whenever we make some claim about the American government or its white citizens that seems too crazy to be true. You know, like claiming that the CIA turned a blind eye to narcotics trafficking into black communities because it benefited the right rebels, or that the FBI secretly tapped the phones, homes and hotel rooms of black leaders to create plans to actively fight their efforts to gain racial justice, or that the government issued placebos to black folks with syphilis just to see how the disease affected the mind. Now black folks aren't always right when it comes to their conspiracy theories (the legend of Yacub comes to mind), but typically we have a much better grasp on the heinous capabilities of this country than any other ethnic group.

Now, I've taken you all down this road because I recently read an article that when combined with some previous information floating around the blogosphere caused my potential conspiracy bells to start ringing. I want to be clear that I am not making any accusations or even presenting any fact; I'm just wondering aloud.

Will the Secret Service keep Barack Obama safe?

Here's why I ask that potentially loaded question. A few weeks back on the very first Super Tuesday, Barack Obama was drawing massive crowds in Texas and all was right with the world. Then, a story started floating around the black blogosphere that at an Obama event in Dallas, the security provided by the Secret Service wasn't quite secure. In that story, Dallas police said they were told by the Secret Service to stop searching folks coming into an arena to hear Obama speak because the group "looked pretty safe."

The Secret Service denied these allegations and nothing really came of the incident. A few weeks later there was an incident in Philly where some crazy autograph seeker bum-rushed an Obama event and actually got all up in his face when Obama initially refused to sign something for him. Finally, earlier this week I stumbled across another story about the Secret Service that cast the Dallas and Philly incidents in a whole new light.

I must admit I was only vaguely aware that the Secret Service was facing a bias lawsuit for passing over black employees for promotions. I think I heard a little about a noose incident with the Secret Service during all the "noose-gates" that swept across country in the wake of the Jena issue, but it didn't really register with me.

However, when I read that article I realized that like every law enforcement agency the Secret Service apparently has a problem with racial issues within its ranks. If you check out the jokes made by supervisors it's clear that there is a certain mindset about minorities common within the agency.

And that's why I wonder about Obama's safety.

Look, I know even discussing the possible safety risks of an Obama presidency is off-limits and can provide cover to those idiots searching for any reason not to vote for him. Yet, like most black people, I've let a nervous chuckle slip from between my lips whenever I've heard a joke about all the evasive maneuvers Obama will have to take if he wins this election. It's a joke that almost every black person understands because most of us have grown up certain about one thing.

There are some crazy motherfuckers out there.

So, I'm troubled that not only does the Secret Service appear to not like black people in general, but that they also seem to be fairly lax when it comes to protecting the black dude with a great shot of becoming their next boss. See, I understand that it doesn't take one massive mistake for something bad to happen, typically it's a bunch of little mistakes that add up to disaster.

And if the Secret Service views black people as whiny idiots who love to play the victim, then why would they push themselves to the fullest to protect that Head Whiny Negro in Charge (HWNC)? They probably won't lay down their weapons and just let and assassin snuff out Obama, but they might not check every single closet as closely as they would for a guy they like.

I think we as a public need to be aware of this possibility and be vigilant in pointing out even the slightest sign that Obama isn't getting adequate protection, and we need to be vociferous in our complaints. While we should avoid harping on the idea that Obama's campaign is a death march, we need to be honest about the dangers that he faces in attempting to upset what some people view as the natural order of things.

Even paranoid people have enemies.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Choosing Sides

Typically, when I'm not out doing some actual journalism at work, I spend a good portion of my time scanning the internet and reading. Before this year, I would usually jump between mainstream news sites, but then I let go of my personal bias and began to really embrace blogs. Not only were these sites killing the mainstream media when it came to black news I could use, but they also had some really smart people giving their thoughts on a wide range of topics.

Anyway, I was roaming the internet recently, and I came across a blog post that resonated with me. The post was at a blog called Midwest Reality, and it discussed the great college divide among black people.

Some of you might not have heard the issue referred to in that manner, but I'm pretty sure that most of you have discussed the topic at one time or another. At any gathering of black people, either in person or on the web, the issue of whether it's better to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) or a mainstream university is pretty much guaranteed to come up at some point.

For those astute folks up on their HBCU lingo, a quick glance at the first item on my sidebar should be a good clue about my own biases when it comes to this issue. I'm a proud graduate of the greatest HBCU in the world, Howard University, and I count my time there as one of my greatest life experiences.

But, my own bias aside, I've always been curious as to why black folks love to debate whether it's a better career move to attend a black college or a white one. We're like moths drawn to an inferno, and this flame is guaranteed to cause hurt feelings and genuine anger among quite a few folks.

It seems like any discussion of the merits of both types of universities eventually devolves into an argument about who is blacker and who is more realistic. Basically, folks on the HBCU side tend to question the blackness of their white school counterparts, while those who attended mainstream universtities wonder if the black school kids understand what it takes to succeed in the real world. Sometimes those points are made through heated shouting, other times the method of delivery is snide remarks, but every time I've had this discussion those two points are made.

The predictablity would be amusing if it didn't make me so sad.

You know, one of the ominprescent memes in the black community is the mythical push for black "unity." There is a dedicated core within the black community that believes that if we just found our unity, we could change the world. Of course, there is another core group of black folks who love to respond to calls for unity with "white folks don't need no unity to succeed."

Both mindsets are flawed, just like the mindset that a person's black bonafides are defined by what college they attend, or that somebody who didn't opt to be a minority in college couldn't be prepared for the "real world."

I chose an HBCU because I'd done the only black person thing in a few classes in middle school and I realized that wasn't conducive to me being the best student I could be. My choice to attend Howard was born of my desire to feel at ease, not tied to some idea that it would reinforce my blackness. In fact, there are quite a few folks I know who attended mainstream universities who are much more knowledgable and black-oriented than myself, so it's not like HBCUs had some magic black Kool-Aid that they were hoarding.

On the flip side, the last time I checked I grew up black in America, so the idea that attending a college without white folks would cripple me in corporate America is just silly. Shoot, from what I've seen and heard, the vast majority of black people who go to mainstream universities form their own little enclaves of blackness and rarely venture out of these bubbles to engage with the rest of the campus. So, it's like they create their own HBCUs only with about ten times more stress.

Truthfully, I think black folks have this debate so often because it is part of the larger debate we love to engage in about what it really means to be black. That larger debate is often sparked by smaller issues, like what music someone prefers, what clothes they wear or how they speak, but ultimately black folks are really testing each other to see who is really black, and who is a "credit to the race."

It's a stupid exercise that is a symptom of our feelings of unease in this country. The idea that black folks walk in lockstep and always share the same interests is a stereotype promulgated by mainstream America, but, unfortunately black folks have adopted it.

We foolishly cling to that stereotype because for some of us it provides that sense of community and closeness that we find lacking in our daily lives. If we all pretty much think and act similiarly, doesn't that mean we're a family? In addition, if each of us can set ourselves up as the final arbiter on the merits of someone's blackness, we can feel powerful instead of powerless.

Given this country's history, black folks compulsion to rank and vet each other based on "blackness" is not surprising, but it is counterproductive. We have to learn to be able to disagree, to have different interests without viewing that as a betrayal of some sort of unwritten code. Our college choice says something about us, but so does every choice we make in life.

Outside of Larry Elder and Ward Connerly, there is no right or wrong way to be black.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Speak Your Mind, Honesty Will Follow

While cruising through the internet the other day, I stumbled across a blog post for a major publication that was shocking because of its blunt honesty. Those of you who consume the mainstream media know that on certain topics, particularly race, there is a lot of hemming and hawing, but very little blunt honesty.

Anyway, the post, which you can find here, was about the hurdles Obama will have to jump to get votes in areas where folks can't fathom supporting a black man for president. It's a topic most of us are familiar with, and it's one that's been discussed rather frequently in this campaign.

Here's an excerpt from the blog where the reporter is talking to a guy in Kentucky about Obama's chances in the state. The guy is explaining he won't vote for Obama.

Race,” Patrick said matter-of-factly. “I’ve talked to people—a woman who was chair of county elections last year, she said she wouldn’t vote for a black man.” Patrick said he wouldn’t vote for Obama either.

Why not?

“Race. I really don’t want an African-American as President. Race.”

What about race?

“I thought about it. I think he would put too many minorities in positions over the white race. That’s my opinion. After 1964, you saw what the South did.” He meant that it went Republican. “Now what caused that? Race. There’s a lot of white people that just wouldn’t vote for a colored person. Especially older people. They know what happened in the sixties. Under thirty—they don’t remember. I do. I was here.”

Not that's some blunt honesty for your dome.

Black people commonly say that we would rather an openly racist person to one that hides in the shadows, but, man, when you see that crap out in the open it is pretty jarring. I mean, it's one thing when somebody is racist and they have no power over your lives, but an openly racist person that can affect your life is a frightening prospect.

For me, the scary part is that once you've established that someone or some people are just blatantly racist, what's your next step. Can you really appeal to the better nature of a racist? If you become angry and denounce their racism, will they even care? They may try to avoid the public scorn, but will it affect their hearts in any way?

It sounds good to say that open racism is easier to combat, but really combating any injustice depends on the person committing the injustice feeling some shame, or having the power to get vengeance. I'm not sure either of those dynamics exist in a case like the one involving the guy from the New Yorker article.

How do you battle entrenched racism, particularly when folks believe that their racism is justified and reasonable? This guy, and many like him, clearly believe that black progress is a threat to the livelihood of white folks, and nothing anyone says will convince them otherwise. No statistics, no experts, no personal anecdotes can convince most racists that their racism is an incorrect emotion.

So, I wonder how we as a country, particularly we as black folks, should proceed. Clearly, we cannot afford to isolate ourselves and hope that racism will disappear on its own. Not only do we not have the resources to do that, but studies have shown that some prejudices can be erased with exposure to new experiences.

But, is it worth our time to engage and discuss racial issues with people who have clearly embraced a way of thinking that will never allow black folks to be full and equal members of society? How are we supposed to hold a conversation with someone who has clearly stated that they believe that black politicians are only out to help black folks? Even if we ask them what that says about white politicians, will they even care?

In the black community, we often liken ourselves to crabs in a barrel who pull down any other crab attempting to escape to a better life. We ruefully chuckle that this mindset is a "black think." Yet, clearly, that's one of the biggest lies every told to black people or told by black people. It's a human reaction to view the progress of others as a threat to our own progress. It's perfectly human to react with fear and lash out when we feel that chance for the "good life" is slipping away?

Obama has argued that if we improve the conditions of all Americans, we won't have to worry as much about racial strife because prosperity breeds unity. Yet, I wonder if the prosperity only hides the fault lines that have existed and may always exist. I wonder what it takes to change the core of a man or woman.

Honestly, I'm just wondering.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ass Whippings For Everyone

I was planning on talking about some other stuff today, but this Philly cop beating is blowing up on the news. Now typically I wouldn't want to piggyback on what other folks are doing, but after watching the video and reading some comments at other spots I needed to say a little something.

Random ass whippings are not cool.

It's true that being a police officer is a high stress and high danger job, but that doesn't mean ass whippings can be handed out randomly. It just doesn't work that way. I understand officers were on edge because of the shooting of a police officer recently, but that doesn't mean that the police can retailiate against anybody they think has a gun and who pisses them off.

But, what I find more troubling are some of the comments I've read on a couple of other sites. I read The Field Negro everyday, and he was the first person to hip me to this shooting thing. I read his post on the subject and thought it was a good take on the topic of police brutatlity.

Unfortunately, when he was discussing the police shooting that touched off all this anger in officers he referred to the suspected perpetrator an "animal." It was a passing sentence, he didn't dwell on it, but it stuck with me and I commented on it over at this site.

I think it's important that we as human beings recognize that no matter what action another human being commits we cannot revoke their humanity. That is given to them by God and he is the only entity that has that power.

Look, I despise child rapists, serial killers and a whole host of other criminals. There is nothing redeeming about preying on the weak or wreaking havoc in other people's lives. Most criminals are not good people who've gotten caught on the wrong path, they are people who have made a decision to live a life they believe will provide them with the easiest path to what they want to accomplish.

But, they are still humans.

I firmly believe that society's willingness to classify criminals as subhuman is the reason why our prisons are hotbeds of violence and depravity that teach inmates how to become better criminals much faster than they teach them how to become productive members of society. There should be much more outrage about the way this country habitually imprisons innocent people, or the way we sentence those who are guilty. There is no excuse for society's cavalier attitude about prison rape or any other form of violence in correctional centers. If we deprive people of their freedom and take them under the care of the state, do we not owe them something?

When we as a society establish different levels of humanity, it is only a matter of time before we are justifying hideous actions against our fellow man because they have been placed in the wrong strata. This rationale has allowed genocides and enslavement to occur in countries across this globe, and it contributes to most of the evils done by humans.

Truthfully, it's not even a race issue, although I don't think it's a coincendence that black criminals are more likely to get that sub-human label than white criminals. No, I think it's our need as humans to justify our own callous natures; after all, it's ok to hate an animal, but it's kind of bad to hate a human.

We can lash out and give in to our feelings of anger without the nasty burden of guilt. We can justify any action, ignore any wrong, as long as we are convinced that those being hurt are less than human. In some ways, we even believe them to be less than animals because certain feelings we express towards criminals would never be acceptable if they were directed a cute dog or pretty cat.

However, deep down inside, we know it's a lie. In fact, I think that it's the knowledge our own hypocrisy that makes us lash out even more. We know that it is wrong to turn our backs on fellow humans, we know that it is wrong to hate no matter how heinous an individual's actions may be.

But, we cling to our lies because they are easier than the truth.

Can You Hear Me Now?....I Didn't Think So

On my sidebar, I have a picture of an American flag composed of the colors red, black and green. I also have a quotation from W.E.B. DuBois about the dual identities all black people in this country have.

For most of my life, I've always considered my blackness more important than my American citizenship. Basically, if I had to choose between something that would benefit black folks, but could hurt America or something that would benefit America and hurt blacks folks, the former would win every time. I know that type of mindset disgusts some conservatives and even some other black folks, but that's the way my mind works.

I've read people in the blogosphere say that black Americans are some of the staunchest patriots in this country because we attempt to force America to uphold its core tenets instead of blindly praising every action this country and its leaders take.

But, I don't consider myself particularly patriotic. I don't say the pledge, I don't sing the national anthem and I didn't feel any anger towards terrorists after September 11th. When Barack Obama condemned his former pastor's belief in the static nature of this country, I was glad that Obama had such optimism, but found myself agreeing more with Rev. Wright.

This weekend, I watched Tim Russert ask Obama a series of questions about his association with Wright. In one question, Russert pointed out that the pastor once said that America has been founded on a notion of white supremacy and black inferiority. Russert noted that this type of thinking seemed to contradict the spirit of Obama's campaign, and asked Barack how he could have aligned himself with a man who seemed so diametrically opposed to him.

And I almost vomited.

I had to swallow my bile because I couldn't understand how a man as intelligent as Tim Russert could be shocked by the idea that this country was infused with the notion of white superiority. Russert is intelligent and well-educated, yet when he repeated Wright's quote it was as if he couldn't wrap his mind around the concept contained within the quotation.

And it's not like Wright is the first person to say things like this. So-called black leaders have been speaking this truth to power for generations and each time it falls on deaf years. Malcolm X was demonized in his life and death for having the courage to itemize the debts America owes to black folks. Ida B. Wells was called everything but a child of God for having the gall to point out that lynching was evil and at odds with a country built on a system of laws.

In the comments section of my last blog post, Lolo noted that her 11-year old daughter went on a field trip that offered her the opportunity to point out to her classmates the hypocrisy at this country's core.

Lolo's daughter said that this country's founding fathers were either hypocrites or idiots because they included the phrase "all men were created equal" in a document that categorized black folks as 3/5 human. Lolo said her daughter's classmates didn't appreciate this new information and basically refused to listen.

They refused to listen.

My inability to feel a true connection to this country is due to the feeling that this country and most of its white residents refuse to listen. There can be no communication, no true relationship without listening. Anybody who is married or in a serious relationship can vouch for that.

And this means real listening, not just being silent until it's your turn to talk. This means taking criticisms and compliments to heart instead of ignoring one while relishing the other. It means being willing to slap yourself in the face just as often as you are willing to pat yourself on the back.

In Tim Russert and the classmates of Lolo's daughter we have two different generations of Americans who have never learned how to listen. They have never learned how to question the ideals fed to them at the same time as their mother's milk.

We constantly hear that this country is moving forward, that things will only continue to get better, but if Americans never heed the complaints of those who can see the fault lines in this land, how can the future be better. The Bible says that building your house on a faulty foundation is just asking for that house to crumble.

I, for one, am tired of screaming about the obvious; I'm tired of having to explain elementary truths. I'm tired of watching television and listening to the same people parrot the same lies. Tired of reading the myths promulgated in newspapers and endorsed by politicians. I really wonder when this country will listen, when that true breakthrough we all need will come.

Or, are black people doomed to be a legion of Cassandras in a modern day Troy?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Really Quick

Man, I have another post coming, but I had to write something else. I was watching CNN's coverage of the election and Donna Brazile SONNED the entire panel a few minutes ago.

Seriously, she straight up handled several other commentators. It was hilarious and uplifting at the same time.

Things jumped off with this egg-headed dude lying and saying that Donna wanted to cut working class white folks out of the Democratic Party and form something new with black folks and rich white people. Of course Donna is too politically savvy to ever say something that stupid, but this loser said it anyway because it sounded good.

Anyway, Brazile roasted that clown. It was the first time I've ever seen Donna get pissed or even just get excited. First, she asked egghead if his headphones were working because he was acting like he couldn't hear; then she just destroyed his argument by pointing out that he was placing white working democrats on a pedestal that denigrated all other democrats.

It was magnificent.

But, even better, when a Republican commentator said that people will wonder if shady characters from Obama's past, namely Rev. Wright and that Ayers cat, will be power brokers in his administration, Brazile lost it! She basically told him he was acting like a petulant child and that he was the problem with politics today.

Finally, when the moderator chastised Brazile for acting like a Barack Obama supporter even though she was supposed to be undecided, Donna gave her the last helping of verbal ass whipping, and had CNN's producers running to a commercial break.

It was a masterful performance by a master political strategist. I now know who Donna is supporting, and I'm glad she came on out of that Clinton closet last night to let the world know.

It made my night.

(Update: Here is the great video of Brazile handling her business.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Would you like to be my friend?

When I was a kid, just about everybody was my "friend."

The kids down the street I played basketball with were my friends. So were the kids at school that shared recess with me. Any and every child I encountered quickly became my "friend," as long as they were willing to share their toys and their time. Hell, I even considered the bully I regularly scrapped with my friend most of the time.

One day, while talking to my mother, I went on and on about all my friends and how popular I was everywhere. You know, some of that random boasting all of us loved to engage in as children to stroke our egos and inflate our importance in the world.

My mom looked at me calmly, and says "What are your friends' last names?" I stammered that I didn't know, but brushed that off as unimportant. Once again she gave me that special look that all mothers have and spat out a pearl of motherly wisdom; "You don't have friends, you have associates."


That was one of my introductions to adulthood. One of those moments where your parents pull back the veil and show you that in the land of bills and jobs, life is much different. I took my Mom's words to heart, and from that day on I became much more cautious about labeling someone a "friend." I didn't always call them my associate, but I found some way to make it clear that they hadn't yet obtained friend status.

To this day, I have very few friends. For years, my younger brother was the only person I considered a friend. My circle expanded a little in high school and a little more in college, but I've always been a solitary kind of guy. Friendship is sacred to me; to call someone my "friend" means I have vetted them, and decided they deserve to see the real me. More importantly, I've decided to care about their livelihood, to take on the responsibility of being there for them in their time of need.

One of the drawbacks of Barack Obama's presidential campaign is that it might have created a false feeling of friendship among his supporters. Sure, all of us are committed to Obama's cause, but we arrived here from different places with different agendas and experiences. And while we've all committed to pulling that lever for him in November, that doesn't mean the boundaries that have kept us separated all these years have been torn down. The Wall Street Journal takes on that topic in an article here.

The article discusses how mainstream university campuses, which have been overwhelmingly supportive of Barack Obama, still remain the bastions of segregation that they have always been. Not segregation in the Bull Connor sense but more in the 'Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria' way.

Check out this passage

But working or voting for an African-American running for president doesn't necessarily bridge differences -- on campus or, later, in the workplace. Following a recent discussion in one of his classes about the campaign, in which most students expressed support for Sen. Obama, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a Duke sociologist, asked his white students how many had a black friend on campus. All the white students raised their hands.

He then asked the black students how many of them had a white friend on campus. None of them raised their hands.

The more he probed, Mr. Bonilla-Silva says, the more he realized that the definition of friendship was different. The white students considered a black a "friend" if they played basketball with him or shared a class. "It was more of an acquaintance," recalls Mr. Bonilla-Silva.

Black students, by contrast, defined a friend as someone they would invite to their home for dinner. By that measure, none of the students had friends from the opposite race. Mr. Bonilla-Silva says when white college students were asked in a series of 1998 surveys about the five people with whom they interacted most on a daily basis, about 68% said none of them were black. When asked if they had invited a black person to lunch or dinner recently, about 68% said "no." He says his own research and more recent studies show similar results.

It's hilarious to me that white folks used the most inclusive definition possible when asked if they had a black friend, while black people kind of peered stonily into the distance when asked the same question.

I mean, if all the white kids have black friends, but none of the black kids have white friends, well that's a pretty effed up relationship. It's kind of like in high school when you're running around telling everybody that the hot girl you were making out with at the last dance is really your girlfriend, and she's telling everybody that her evil twin from Arkansas is in town. (Wait, that only happened to me?)

Truthfully, it's not a surprise that white folks are a bit more generous than black folks when it comes to describing the state of their interracial relationships. Even at the height of racial strife during Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement, white folks had a rosy outlook on interaction between the races that not even lynchings or church bombings could destroy.

I guess it's also not so surprising that supporting Obama isn't some sort of racial elixir that cures self-segregation and stereotyping. Despite the progress provoked by Obama's candidacy, he hasn't really challenged the status quo in regards to race except for the massive change his desire for acceptance as a viable candidate represents. His speech on race was amazing, but because of the circumstances under which he delivered it, much of its content became lost in the news cycle.

However, I cannot deny that I was still a little disappointed to see how little real change Obama has created among a population like college students who are willing to try just about anything. While I know that colleges can be hotbeds of racial insensitivity (all those blackface incidents last year proved that), I also know that college is typically the time in your life when you stretch yourself as a person. At least that's how it was for me.

So, if Obama's message can't get these folks to change, then what can? How are we going to clear the hurdles that so clearly exist? How can we counteract the forces working so diligently to keep us apart?

How are we finally going to make some new friends?

Raving Black Lunatic