Friday, December 17, 2010

Slavery? What Slavery?

Pop quiz readers.

Why, in the simplest terms, did we fight the Civil War?

If you answered "Because white folks wanted to keep being allowed to own colored folks as property" then you're a liberal, race-baiter hellbent on ruining the good name and reputation of brave Southern soldiers.

No really, I'm serious.

Well, I would be serious if I was one of those folks who used phrases like "The War of Northern Aggression."  You know, the folks who like buzzwords like "states' rights" and "legacy" and "heritage" instead of words like "genocide" and "evil."

I grew up in the South, I know how white folks feel about the days of mint juleps, swinging parasols, and darkies in the fields. They swallow that garbage like a black man in the RNC swallows his pride. Gulp.

Some folks really believe the Confederacy was just trying to protect its way of life, and fight off the brazen advances of an unfair federal government. They actually have convinced themselves that slavery was an isolated and often times benign institution. They ignore maps from antebellum times that show that the enslaved population in many Southern states was at 40 to 60 percent of the total population, according to the 1860 census. Yep, they ignore that reality and instead cling to a fantasy that says that Confederate troops were really just good boys caught on the wrong side.

If that's the case, I wonder how they see Iraqi insurgents?

Actually, I don't wonder. I know that white folks are only able to see racial nuances when they want to. I know that certain white folks will twist and corrupt anything to protect themselves from dealing with the true reality of their ancestors' actions. I know that many white folks don't want to know what life was like for black folks in this country 160, 100, or even 50 years ago, and they damn sure don't care how the facts of the past impact our present.

Nah, they want to live in their fantasy world, and hand out their little awards and think about a time when lynching a nigger was just the way you dealt with insolence. They want to remember when it was impossible to rape a nigger wench because everybody knows a nigger wench always wants it. They want to celebrate evil because that evil made life a lot easier for folks who look like them.

I get the message loud and clear, and I understand exactly what it means. When you want to have your wedding at a plantation, and you want to have little marches to celebrate the exploits of Confederate troops, I know exactly what's going on.

I don't have any questions.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Who Are You Fooling?

Man, I just stumbled across this story about a youth football coach in Georgia who apparently likes to spread racist insults wider than Keri Hilson's legs.

This cat insulted Latinos (He actually said "Mexicans" but he used it in the way racists use it for all brown, Spanish speakers), Asians and South Asians. I haven't seen anything about black folks, but I'd wager we got hit at some time in the past.

Anyway, what had me tripping was the dude's apology, as well as the tone of the article I linked to above. This AJC article gives far more information and has a far tougher slant on the obvious racism. And the AJC is anything but a "liberal rag."

First, I'm shocked that people believe that stuff posted on a public Internet profile is somehow protected speech, and that they believe that private correspondence shouldn't have public repercussions. Really people, who the hell have you all been talking to?

Your private thoughts impact your public life. If my private thoughts included the idea that I want to murder all white people just for breathing, I'm sure that if the white people at my job found out, that would impact my life. (For the record, I do not want white people dead. Really.) You can't spew ignorance and bile in private and then expect people to give you a pass just because you didn't mean for them to learn what you really thought. Basically, this guy and his supporters want some sort of hypocrite pass. As long as they pretend to non-racists in public, the private reality of their Klan memberships shouldn't matter. Yeah, OK.

Even sadder are the people seeking to paint this whole incident as a smear tactic of disgruntled parents. I'm sure that the people who posted this information weren't fans of the coach, after all his fans just ignored the racism and continued to yuck it up with him. That said, just because they don't love the coach does not mean he didn't write what he wrote. He wrote these words. Nobody spliced them together, or made them up. He actually wrote the comments that parents printed out and passed out, and he's never denied it. His only excuse has been that he has "diverse" friends with a similar sense of humor to his own.

The excuses offered by this coach and his supporters are hilarious to me. It reinforces my belief that racism actually kills brain cells, and for some people they don't even need the racism, breathing is enough to make them stupider. These people are so unwilling to admit to racism, or call someone a racist, that they are willing to make the most asinine excuses for plainly disgusting behavior.

Who do they think they're fooling? Do they think minorities are so stupid, so ignorant that we'll believe these weren't racist rants, that this guy doesn't despise non-whites, and that his protectors don't agree with him? On a larger note, when these type of incidents occur, do people really think they are fooling anyone with their defiance and rationalizations? But, when I think about it, maybe they are.

When I think about how quickly and easily people discount clearly racist behavior, when I think about how they refuse to see how racism is still alive and kicking today, I realize that maybe these people are fooling folks. And if they aren't fooling them, they are giving them just enough of a rationalization that they don't have to step outside of their comfort zones and confront reality.

Maybe I'm the fool for not noticing this earlier.


Monday, December 13, 2010

What Can You Say

I read this story recently about this black area in my town that has struggled to rebound from Katrina, not because residents haven't returned, but because businessess haven't followed them.

The area is composed of a wide spectrum of black folks, is quite large, and compared to other areas, fairly prosperous. Yet, it has a dearth of retail shopping and basic amenities like grocery stores and hospitals.

Anyway, the story, done by the local newspaper, spawned a host of racist and insensitive comments as many news stories do these days. Basically, white folks felt these Negroes couldn't get nice things because Negroes always tear stuff up. Sure, none of them actually used those words, but I can understand code words like shoplifting, thugs and welfare.

On a certain level I understand why it's important to combat these prevalent stereotypes among white people. On another level, I simply don't care anymore.

Seriously, I don't care. I've come to realize in my three decades on Earth, that white folks gon' believe what makes them happy. And, believing that black people don't have nice things because they don't deserve them is what makes white folks happy.

That lie absolves them of any blame, of any responsibility, and, most importantly, of any cost. If it's all black folks' fault, then white folks can continue to congratulate themselves on being wonderful, exceptional people. There is no need for a mental reckoning, no need for any personal examination. The world is the way it is because it's a "just world" and black folks have pretty much brought their suffering upon themselves with little outside interference. Any version of history that contradicts that view of the world is the pitiful mewling of soft liberals hell bent on establishing a socialist society.

And honestly, when people think like that, what can you really say? 


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Soul Brother Number 1

Now that President Obama has pissed off much of the Left with his compromise on the tax cuts, it's been interesting to watch how people respond.

I've noticed for quite some time that a certain segment of the population views Obama as a big softie. That segment includes black folks, white folks, liberals, conservatives and everything in between. People peep his demeanor and the way he handles the disrespect constantly lobbed at him, and immediately he becomes a "wimp."

I guess that's normal. As much as people decried President Bush's "cowboy" ways, deep down they want a leader who breathes fire and gives the finger to critics and opponents. They just want that leader to agree with them. Hell, even if they don't agree with said leader, they will still respect him to a certain degree because people respect force and threats of force. They don't respect quiet appeals to unity and compromise.

Classic wimp behavior.

The thing is, what's happened recently is that folks of all shades and political views have used Obama's perceived "wimpiness" as a way to once again critique his "blackness." Honestly, I'd hoped that we'd moved past discussing Obama's black card, but it seems that his education, his appearance and his demeanor are so far removed from the stereotypes that all Americans have subconsciously accepted that his "blackness" will always be questioned. He will never fit the ideal of "true blackness" that has subtly and directly forced down our throats, and whenever he fails to meet that ideal he will be roundly criticized for what is actually our own collective failing.

Just recently, Courtland Milloy, a Washington Post columnist, blasted Obama for not being a true black man because he didn't go hard on his critics and didn't do enough to protect other black folks. Then Bill Maher noted that he thought he was getting a "gangsta" when he voted for the former president of the Harvard Law Review. I've seen many columns lambaste Obama for being a wimp, and at the same time complain that they feel like they received a false bill of goods when they voted for him. After all, given his skin color wasn't there supposed to be a certain level of toughness? If a black man doesn't know how to embrace his angry roots, what good is he?

Stereotypes are powerful, and how no matter how much we fight against them, we still believe them. That's clear from the vast array of women in African nations who adopt European hairstyles as a sign of refinement, and it's evident in the fact that most Americans think an unflappable, compromising, black man can't really be black. Sure black guys can be suave players, but Spock-like calmness isn't supposed to be in our wheelhouse. Our blood is supposed to be hot, and our emotions far too powerful.

What's sad is that most folks don't see the pure idiocy and racism in their comments. They refuse to accept that they could have fallen under the sway of white supremacy and they can't believe they have ingested and digested ridiculous stereotypes and are now regurgitating them for public consumption. We can't see how messed up we all are. We don't truly understand how fully our minds have been corrupted, and how we've been steered to view the world in a particular way. We truly believe in our free will and free thinking, when in reality we're all slaves to our conditioning.

That's what's real.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just Say It Homie!



Come on son, just grow a pair and call President Obama black. Better yet, call him a nigger.

You know you want to, just do it.

These cowardly loudmouths get on my nerves. Nut up, say your piece, and take the heat. Don't play these semantics games so you can pretend that the people rightfully calling you a racist are crazy. That's a straight up punk move you paragons of courage. Stand up, be a man, and speak your mind.

Otherwise, you're just another cracker in a hood prowling around at night.



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where Are We?

I've a been a "nerd" for some time now.

I say "nerd" because by some measures I hardly qualify. I was a football star in high school and fairly popular if not the BMOC. I've dated women, and I have no problem fitting in socially when that's my desire. I love to watch and play sports, and I don't own any "Star Wars" or "Star Trek" paraphernalia.

But, I've also been teased for years for being too smart. Plus, I have a fiendish obsession with fantasy novels and certain science fiction works. I know way too much about the inner workings of Pern, and I'm a little too familiar with the intricacies of the Farseer reign. Those are nerd references for those of you who are confused.

Being a black fantasy fan with decidedly "black" views about the world can make reading most fantasy books an interesting experience. Sure, I love good fantasy because it challenges norms, but when it comes to racial mindsets, many fantasy and sci-fi writers are plagued with a very naive or uninformed view on the world. Hell, most of them know more about God than race, and they don't know that much about God!

My experiences made me knowingly shake my head when I stumbled across this story on one of the sites I visit frequently. It seems that when casting Hobbits for Peter Jackson's new movie "The Hobbit" the casting personnel let it be known that folks with a complexion any darker than "pale" need not apply. Hell, if you read the article, you can see where the casting director obviously realizes he's discriminating, but decides that he has to do it anyway.

The article lead me to wonder why is it that so many white writers have such pale imaginations? Some folks will bristle at that contention, but it's just a fact. White people make up a very small part of the world's population, but when you read books about space, or fantasy worlds, they are ALWAYS the dominant group.

Hell, even when characters are given "black" features, they still behave like white folks in blackface. I guess that fits with the writers' "colorblind"view of the world, but I find it to be unrealistic. Black people and white people may share interests and education, but often our life experiences are divergent in key ways, which gives us very different perspectives. Which again leads me to wonder, what is shaping these writers' imaginary worlds?

Do many white people long for a world free of unsavory and difficult minorities? Do they really find find us to ancillary parts of their lives, and feel like life would move on easily if we weren't around? Do they have an inflated view of their own importance and not realize just how little of the world's population they make up?

I think you could answer yes to all of those questions which is illuminating and disturbing. Many white people do see most minorities as either unimportant background noise or unsavory elements to be avoided. In fact, it's often only minority women who prove to be of interest and then only for the occasional sexual dalliance. It seems that when white people dream of their ideal world, it doesn't include us at all.

We're not in their plans.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Something Old From Someone New

Nicholas Sarkozy should run for president.

Sure, France's president already has that title in his home country, but that shouldn't stop him from immigrating to America, ignoring  the rules on presidential candidates, and tossing his hat in the ring. Given Sarkozy's views on immigration and "national identity" he would probably give the crowd trying to take their country back recurring nocturnal emissions.

I find Sarkozy interesting because despite all the claims that Europe has "moved past" racism, the actions of the French, English and British prove that's a pipe dream. What should have become obvious to most folks, and was already obvious to me, is that many European nations never dealt with widespread racism within their borders, and it's been allowed to fester and spread. Now, as more and more immigrants from the countries these European powers have screwed over the years attempt to come power seat, this deep-seated racism and xenophobia.

Sarkozy is just the face of the movement.

It was only five years ago when France's slums exploded with riots fueled by the pent-up anger felt by children of many of the country's immigrants. Sarkozy capitalized on the fear those riots created and expanded the country war against what many French believe are uncouth interlopers. He created a "National Identity Ministry" and set out to prove he didn't like foreigners one bit.

It's funny looking at what the French have done and then considering our own country. Tea Party candidates recently rode the wave of anti-immigrant and anti-black sentiment still prevalent in much of the country into Congress, and they're hoping to use those same feelings to take back the White House in 2012. One of the central themes of this new shift in direction has been the discussion of what it means to be a "real" American, and a call for "real" Americans to take their country back.

That's where Sarkozy could really make a mark. A central theme to his election was the idea that France had fallen victim to too much multiculturalism and really, too much diversity. Sarkozy argued that immigrants should be forced to become indelibly French and toss off any affiliations to their old countries. Implied in this message was that any sort of connection or allegiance to another country was a betrayal of French values, and the mere possibility of the existene of this sort of conflict justified pre-emptive action by the French. That pre-emptive action has included banning Muslim headgear in public spaces, and clear discrimination in hiring and education for immigrants.

It's interesting to watch Sarkozy and the French people stammer and stumble around in their moral morass. It's actually quite satisfying since the French love to blast the racism and discrimination in America, but seem to somehow miss the beam in their own eyes.

Yet, it becomes scary when I think that it's not that unlikely that if President Obama fails to get re-elected America might get its on National Identity Agency and I'm not sure black people would be as safe from scrutinyas we assume. Those centuries of enslavement only count so much towards proving our worth. Besides, these past few months have taught me that a sizable portion of this country views any sort of questioning of American ideals and motives by non-white folks as a sign of intense disloyalty and grounds for suspicion.

True, it's only the latest iteration of the "Stay in your place" motif, but things have risen to a pitch not seen since minorities were openly denied equal opportunities. Many whites will bristle at that comparison, but it is what it is.

Sarkozy's views echo something from the not so distant past throughout the Western world, and we see it taking shape in a variety of countries. Many white folks have decided the time has come to rise up and recreate the past that many of them cherish and miss. Sarkozy is just one more cog in that frightening machine.

Something old indeed.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Obama's Nuts

Apparently President Barack Obama's testicles are a lot like former President George W. Bush's brains.

Their existence is disputed.

Well, at least James Carville disputes the existence of Obama's cojones. I'm sure some of you remember when Carville questioned Obama's testicular fortitude during the campaign as Carville stumped for Hillary Clinton, and now Carville has decided to revive those comments. If you haven't heard about it, check on this cached page. The page used to be on CNN, but when you click on the link now you're told it no longer exists. Good thing Google does.

Anyway, it's always amazing to me that folks feel like Obama's anatomy and manhood are fair game. Carville has tried to laugh off his comment as a joke, but when you say that a woman is more of a man than a man, you're insulting both the man and the woman. You can't joke that away Mr. Carville.

Folks of a certain hue insist on pretending that Obama lacks a backbone, as if getting mad and throwing a hissy fit is proof that you have a backbone. They ignore the fact that he walked into a room full of Republicans and debated them word for word with no backup or teleprompter. They ignore the fact that he's made unpopular decision after unpopular knowing that they would piss of his base. Hell, he ran for president of the United States and exposed himself and his family to previously unimagined level of scrutiny. That takes a certain type of courage.

Black folks understand that Obama has a different sort of temperament, and that he's a black man operating in a largely white environment. Those of us familiar with that particular tightrope know that the slightest slip up can plunge you into a world of peril. We may not agree with all of his choices, but most of us understand that there's only so much angry black man America can take. Hell, some folks are already pissed because he walks with a "strut"!

These trite attacks on Obama's manhood are tiring and disrespectful and they should not be given a pass, particularly when they come from a public figure.

That's what's nuts.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Power Of 12

I sat on a jury the other day.

It was one of the most interesting and nerve wracking experiences of my life.

In my line of work, I've attended several court trials. I've watched prosecutors and defense attorneys make their arguments and I've often decided in my mind whether someone was guilty or not guilty. But, it was always from the other side of the jury box. Stepping inside that box, becoming one of 12 people charged with dispensing "justice" is a totally different experience.

It's pretty damn scary.

When I went into jury service I wasn't thrilled about the drudgery of the ordeal, but I was excited about the possibility of helping dispense "justice." Notice how I keep putting that word in quotation marks? There is a reason.

In my mind, jury service would be the perfect time to use my superior intellect (insert sarcasm) to convince people of the proper decision to make to keep the world on its proper course. Using my vaunted logic and only slightly biased objectivity, I was certain I would be in the vanguard of protecting this country's legal ideals.

Until I got selected to be a juror in a rape case.

There is no crime like rape. It's no coincidence that rape convictions can carry death sentences, just like murder convictions in some states. Outside of child molestation, no other crime carries the stigma that rape carries, yet rape trials often are very difficult to prosecute. That's especially true when the rape trial is a consent rape case, instead of a forcible rape involving a stranger.

I was asked to decide a consent rape case.

I won't discuss the details of the case because I think that would be an issue. But, the case showed me that the responsibility of being a juror, at least the way it is outlined by prosecutors and defense attorneys, is awesome. I truly found it difficult to come to a firm conclusion on the "facts" of the incident. I struggled with the possibility of freeing a rapist or sending an innocent man to jail. I struggled with watching a woman shed tears relating what she clearly considered one of the worst experiences of her life, and being asked to determine if I believed her account.

I can honestly say that I never, ever, want to do it again.

I don't know if I'll be excused from jury duty the next time I'm called, but I hope I am. I hope I never have to sit in that box and try to determine who deserves freedom or punishment.

I never want that power again.



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Every Time I Think It Can't Get Worse

Yo, what up blog family? I know I don't post that much anymore, but I saw something that just got my angry lunatic juices flowing.

I'm watching CNN (I know, first mistake) when that dude Jack Cafferty says something like President Obama's tenure may be a short term love affair because he might not get re-elected. Then, to buttress this point, this cat points to a recent poll by somebody where 49 percent of the folks polled think Obama did a better job than Bush.

49 freaking percent!

Man, I don't think it's my job to be Obama's fart-catcher and cheerleader, but somebody has to say something about stuff like this poll. How the hell could any reasonable group of people consider Obama's two year tenure next to Bush's eight-year debacle and seriously come to the conclusion that Bush did a better job? WTH!

The Great Depression
The Patriot Act

That's just a half dozen of Bush's most high profile screw-ups, I'm not even getting into the stuff that happened behind the scenes that most people aren't aware of. That list only includes the stuff that we all know about and all despis,e and depsite those eff-ups people are saying that Obama has done something worse than that?

I feel like slapping TACs right now.

If this ain't the double standard to beat all double standards, then I'm not a black man with anger issues. Bush creates the problems for Obama to inherit and because Obama doesn't solve them in a quarter of the time Bush had in office, Obama is screwing up. Do white people and conservative minorities even see their hypocrisy or are they on their Stevie Wonder thing right now? Really, if these folks think making that kind of statement is a form of intelligent discourse then I weep for the current state and future state of this country.

We are royally and totally fucked.

Point blank period.


Friday, November 5, 2010

A New Color on the Hood

Same stuff, different day.

That was my reaction to the story linked above about South Carolina politician Nikki Haley. The story outlines how Haley has used her color and gender to her advantage while at the same time espousing the traditional, hateful conservative message. Basically, she's just donned a different color hood for her Klan robes.

That's honestly how I feel about minorities who try to prove they are more conservative than the most loony Tea Party member. They have the Klansman's spirit wrapped up in a new package. That package allows them to escape scrutiny and dodge questions, but it can't truly hide the poison in their hearts.

Haley, whose given name Nimrata Randhawa, is having success by painting herself as the victim of injustice at the hands of hateful whites and blacks, while also promising to inflict the Tea Party's peculiar brand of pain on as many dark-skinned people as possible. (No, she doesn't promise to target darkies, but she sure knows the codewords.) As the story I linked to notes, it's a common strategy of minorities looking to rise within conservative movements, just as adopting a colorblind strategy is useful for minorities wishing to remain popular among liberals.

In reality, these minorities, be they conservative or liberal, trade on the same stereotype just from different perspectives. Both consevatives and liberals view minorities, particularly black folks, as unrelenting complainers always seeking to take something from well meaning white folks to enhance their own station in life. A savvy minoritiy politician seeking mainstream approval learns quickly that distancing your campaign from that idea by any means necessary is the best move.

That could mean pointing out that minorities are just as capable of racism as anyone else, while at the same time denying that white folks are really even racist anymore. It could mean pushing the idea that race is a played out metric, and what we really need to focus on is poverty and our shared interests. Of course that ignores the reality that while everyone is affected by class, some of us are affected by class and race.

Either way, you don the hood. Any time you embrace racial dishonesty to advance your cause, you don the hood.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sarah and The Dummies

Just read this piece from Politico about how the Republican establishment doesn't want Sarah Palin anywhere near the presidential election in 2012.

The bigwigs fear, rightfully so, that given her appeal with the rank and file, Palin is a good bet to win the Republican nomination if she runs. Unfortunately, given her repeated idiocy and complete lack of qualifications (Yeah, I know she was governor) she's also a good bet to get waxed by President Obama in the general election. Obama may be unpopular, but he's not THAT unpopular just yet.

I showed the article to a friend and she expressed complete confusion at Palin's appeal to Tea Party folks and other staunch conservatives. Given the fact that she's consistently shown herself to be uninformed and uninterested in becoming informed, my friend can't understand why people would be comfortable with her in a position of authority. She noted that Palin's constant attacks on the elite and intelligent only convince her that she's not prepared for the job as the top politician in America.

My response was simple:

"That's because you're not a dummy, and don't like dummies. On the other hand, dummies like their fellow dummies and don't like you eggheads."

That's about it. Dummies stick together like semen-covered balls and thighs.

This reality only confuses folks who lie to themselves about their own motivations and the motivations of human beings in general. We all know about birds of a feather, but we like to pretend that somehow that old cliche doesn't apply most of the time. Newsflash, it's a cliche because it's true almost all the time. That's how you pass the entrance exam for cliche school.

People are comfortable around people like them. It's not always evil, and it's perfectly understandable. The problem is when people decide that only people like them are "good" or "right." That was the impetus behind segregation and discrimination, well along with the need to increase the power of a certain group by cruelly subjugating another group. It's not surprising that the idiot brigade has rallied around their all-powerful leader, it would be shocking if they recognized her idiocy because then they would have to admit their own.

And Lord knows people in America aren't too keen on admitting their flaws.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Guess We've Got Enough Nigglets

I used to watch Jon and Kate Plus 8.

Before their family exploded due to the combustible nature of fame and responsibility, I liked to watch two regular people try to cope with a very irregular family. I didn't begrudge them the free trips and substantial salaries they received due to their show. I knew that if I was in the same position I would want the same assistance.

Unfortunately, that assistance isn't provided to every family of multiples.

That's a picture of the McGhee sextuplets, a group of six brothers and sisters born to an Ohio family. For those of you unfamiliar with the cost of car seats, what you're looking at in that picture is about $300 to $500 worth of equipment. Yeah, having babies is hard on your pockets.

I understand that nobody forced this couple to take fertility drugs, or refuse to "reduce" the number of babies they had in utero. (That has to be the worst euphemism I've every heard for abortion. Easily.) It makes sense that if two adults decide they want to get pregnant with multiple babies, they need to make some arrangements to take care of those children on their own. I understand, and support that logic.

That said, I know that there seems to be different attitudes about different multiples. Some families are greeted with appreciation and television deals, while others, like the Octomom and McGhees, are greeted with scorn or indifference. It's the same "miracle" but it seems like folks don't feel as enthralled with every bevy of babies.

Truthfully, I guess that's people's choice. There is no law saying that you have to gawk and support every family that exponentially increases. Yet, it still leaves me with a strange feeling. I have no proof, or statistics to back up my feelings, but I still feel like something is wrong.

I wonder if the indifference to the McGhee's plight is because their family doesn't meet the "cute" criteria or because people just don't feel like this extra large family of black folks is worthy of help? Do companies feel like it's not a worthwhile investment to give these kids free swag, or do schools think it doesn't help their profile to offer them free college tuition?

Those are all freebies that countless other multiples have received, but they've been absent for the McGhees. Is the recession to blame, or is it just a convenient excuse to hide behind? Maybe people no longer consider multiples special, although I do know that another white family just got a new deal with TLC to replace Jon and Kate. Are the McGhee's a victim of circumstance, or just another entry on the crowded log of discrimination in America?

I don't know for sure, but I know which way I'm leaning.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Darkness cannot stand the light.

Whether it's darkness of the spirit, of the mind, or just plain physical darkness, the light and the dark cannot co-exist. If one is present, the other must depart.

People like darkness in their lives. They may claim to crave truth and honesty, but their actions expose that as a lie. No one wants to have the little lies that underpin their self image removed because they know that without that foundation the entire house of cards crumbles.

Everyday in America, people fight to keep their darkness. They wrap it around their minds and spirits like a dirty shawl, and while it provides inadequate warmth they are afraid to brave the cold world without it. Darkness comforts and soothes. It provides cover for their fears, and justification for their evil.

Bringing light into this darkness filled world is a dangerous proposition. Allegations, enmity and hatred are on the welcoming committee for those seeking to expose. Challenge the status quo and refuse to succumb to the darkness if you must, but be prepared for the backlash. No one, not your spouse, not your family, not your friends, will abandon their darkness without a fight.

Be careful.


Friday, October 22, 2010

The Bullshit Must Cease

So, good ol' Uncle Juan got fired?

Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.

He and his cronies over at Fox can complain all they want, but it's not going to change anything. In a free market society, employers can fire employees if they feel they are not properly representing their companies. Or did Fox News forget that page in the capitalism handbook? Juan Williams said that riding on a plane with anybody who calls themselves a Muslim makes him nervous, and now he won't be saying anything on NPR for quite some time.

Normally, I wouldn't even waste the characters necessary to talk about Juan since who he is and what he represents are well-known commodities. But, as I was watching the television news, they showed a segment from "The View" where the ladies were discussing his dismissal.

First, Whoopi went through her whole routine, where she makes excuses for any racism she agrees with or that is practiced by someone she likes, while simultaneously reserving the right to get all huffy about racism she doesn't like. Whoopi has excused Mel Gibson for his "pack of niggers" debacle and she's encouraged Ted Danson to rock black face, I don't think she's qualified to make accurate assessments of what is and is not racist or bigoted. Agreed?

Anyway, Whoopi trots out the ridiculous idea that since Juan was only talking about his "feelings" on Muslims, then his comments shouldn't have gotten him fired. What kind of ridiculous logic is that? Since when did personal feelings become some sort of protected class of utterances? That's some idiotic bullcrap if I've ever heard it. So, if somebody just expresses their "feelings" they can say whatever the hell they want? Like, if I decided to express my "feeling" that black women who encourage their white boyfriends to wear blackface are despicable coons who should be abducted by the Drop Squad and deprogrammed through repeat beatings that would be okay because it's just my "feelings"?

Do people even use their brains anymore?

Not only was Whoopi allowed to spew this idiocy unchallenged and have it beamed into the homes of millions, it appears that stupidity is contagious because her asinine outburst provoked another one. I don't know the actresses' real name, I just know her as "Debra" from "Everybody Loves Raymond." (My editor says her name is Patricia Heaton. I'll stick with Debra.)

Anyway, speaking as if she was dropping some serious knowledge, she opens her lips to say that if Juan Williams had said riding on a plane with Tea Party members made him nervous, he wouldn't have gotten fired. That's what she said.

Well duh, dumbass.

Nobody has accused Tea Party members of being terrorists and plane hijackers, although their sympathizers have committed acts of terror. Nobody associates the Tea Party movement with 9/11. That's been reserved, unfortunately, for Muslims. But guess what, if Juan Williams had said that as a black man whenever he's in the room with two Tea Party members and a rope, he gets mighty nervous and his neck starts itching, then I'll bet there would have been just as much outrage.

The Tea Party may not be associated with terrorism, but they damn sure are associated with racism, and they damn sure don't appreciate having their entire political movement categorized as racist because of the actions of some of the members. They have loudly proclaimed this fact to the world, including going so far as to denounce the NAACP and its recent report on racism in the party's ranks as a "liberal smear campaign."

Yet, these same people who feel it's unfair to judge all them by the actions of a few (which I don't think is happening. The vast majority of those folks look like bigots to me), are defending the right of Juan Williams to express the same idea about Muslims. And this chick on "The View" gave validation to that viewpoint.

This has got to stop.

 We have way too many people spewing nonsense into the air and not being challenged on it. Both Whoopi and "Debra" made stupid comments, but the folks sitting with them just nodded their heads politely as if they made sense. Either people are really stupid, or they're so conditioned to avoid conflict and disagreement that they will allow almost anything to be said unchallenged. I see it in the media, I see it in regular interactions. People don't want to discuss ideas or beliefs, they just want to get along.

That bullshit must cease.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LIttle Stuff

A friend of mine sent me a link the other day.

It led to the Kohl's website, and was for a Halloween wig called the "Ghetto Fab Wig." I shook my head ruefully at yet another example of the mistakes big corporations make. Shortly after that, a former classmate posted a blog that called out President Obama and another politician for claiming that assimilation is the true American Dream.

Think about how those incidents work together.

We have a wig marketed as Ghetto Fab. It was a simple Afro wig, and the hair looked like something many natural sister rock on a daily basis. But, for its makers, it was Ghetto Fab.

Next to that, we have two politicians telling people that the way to advance in this country is to assimilate. Submerging yourself in the dominant culture is that path to the American Dream.

So, what exactly those assimilation mean?

Does assimilation require adopting all of the dominant values in America? Does that extend to our values about religion, the proper role of minorities and what constitutes beautiful or normal? Because it's quite obvious that if that's what assimilation means, many minorities will have to willingly sacrifice their cultural heritage and no small measure of self respect.

I'll admit that the word "assimilation" gives me the heebie jeebies. I can't help but get this picture of the Borg trying to make me a part of the hive mind. Assimilation, to me, means total and complete capitulation, and that doesn't interest me at least not when we're talking about human beings.

What are the benefits of assimilation? Many many black people have assimilated into American society. Haven't we adopted white values, white mannerisms and white culture at a staggering pace?

Yet, an Afro wig still gets called "Ghetto Fab" even though Afros and natural hair have nothing to do with the ghetto and everything to do with accepting yourself as God made you. If widespread assimilation among black folks can't even protect us from  "Ghetto Fab" wigs, I'd like some more information on why it's so beneficial.

It's the little things like this that undercut large arguments. Sweeping theories about the world are nice, but they are often exposed as lies when you get down to the most basic level and see how humans interact. Assimilation is held up as the Golden Path, but the truth is that certain folks will never be assimilated. Not because they refuse the process, but because they don't qualify for assimilation according to the majority.

You would think politicians would understand little stuff like that, you know?


Friday, October 15, 2010

Thinking About Ordinary

My wife seemed shocked.

Somehow, the words I'd just spoken really didn't compute. They made sense to me, in fact they even felt like pearls of wisdom. But to her, they were totally foreign.

"I always thought that was weird," she said.

Now it was my turn to be surprised. Weird? How could she see something so sensible, so correct, so ordinary as weird? On what planet would my suggestion be weird? How could any marriage function abiding by any other rules?

I grew watching my parents fight. Not with fists, but with angry, harsh words. I vowed I would never repeat that mistake.

But, I also grew up watching my parents work at staying married. And they weren't shy about telling my brother and I about their work. They explained the compromises, the agreements. I learned mostly through observation and direct questioning. Slowly, a worldview developed, a blueprint for marriage that I took into my union.

Ah, but blueprints are only plans. Wishful thinking some might say.

Reality often differs from our blueprints. In reality, many of the things I assumed were "ordinary" were far from it. In real life, things rarely went as smoothly as I imagined despite my attempts to plan and discuss every possible eventuality. Talking before committing is a must, but words are only words, and it's actions that matter in a marriage.

Marriage has given me a different outlook on life. I'm still surprised when people see the same world I see but see it totally differently, but now I've learned how to deal with it better. That's what forever will teach you. One of the main lessons I've learned is that the unique nature of every family contributes to to unique nature of every person.

My wife and I disagree often over what is ordinary, acceptable and reasonable, and I'm sure that's common for most couples. But, it extends beyond couples. Most of the disagreements we have in life relate to differences of opinion about what is ordinary, acceptable and reasonable. Call it the Oar Effect.

More people need to admit that their worldview is just their worldview. It's important to them, but that doesn't give it any special degree of importance to the rest of the world. If we want other people to respect and appreciate our worldview, we must extend that same courtesy to others. It's ridiculous how many of us refuse to extend the same respect we demand for ourselves.

Let's make that ordinary.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Making A Man

Manhood is an important issue for black folks.

We obsess over what it means to be a man, and how many black men don't seem to make the grade. We cry in church, we complain on the Internet and we preen for TV cameras whenever it's time to discuss black manhood. Many of us assume there is a standard playbook, but in reality, all of us are making it up as we go.

Morehouse College in Atlanta has long trafficked in the idea that it creates a special breed of men. "The Morehouse Man" has a certain cache in some circles, although I confess that I had no idea about it when the school tried to recruit me out of high school. I couldn't have cared less about "The Morehouse Man," I was more concerned with the lack of Morehouse women.

Apparently, I was mistaken.

That story has been making the rounds on the Internet, and it's not surprising that many black folks have come down firmly on the side of Morehouse in its attempts to ban female dress among its students. After all, black people are typically socially conservative, and while many of us don't recognize the hypocrisy in our positions, that doesn't stop us from vehemently proclaiming them.

But, the policy should give rise to an interesting and layered debate. Morehouse has a legitimate gripe if some of its male students are actively taking hormones to become female in appearance. After all, it is an all-male school, and if these youngsters want to become something other than a man, then it seems like they are in the wrong place.

Just the fact that these students dress in drag surely confuses some people. Do they see themselves as men who just prefer the feel and look of women's clothes, or do they think they are male simply because of some quirk of birth? Are they challenging the popular ideas of how a man can look and behave, or doing their best to mimic women? The story in Vibe really didn't clear up any of those issues.

Morehouse has a reputation as a campus friendly to homosexuals in a city that has one of the largest gay black male populations in the country. Yet, it's quite likely that the school's alumni and officials have not fully accepted that a sizable chunk of Morehouse Men prefer to be romantically involved with other men. That doesn't fit the mystique, particularly among black folks.

Morehouse will not condemn homosexuality or say that gay students aren't real Morehouse Men. The backlash from that stance would be instantaneous and far-reaching, nothing like the parochial discussion currently occurring. I doubt Morehouse officials want to deal with that firestorm. Besides, officials know that some of the school's most well-known and accomplished alumni are gay men, whether openly gay or closeted. Yet, how does the school align its theories on manhood with both the mainstream opinion and the opinion in the black community?

I don't have the answers to that question but it is a fascinating issue to consider. Morehouse sells black people the idea that the school can turn out the prototypical man.

How do you keep your prototype up-to-date with the current trends without alienating your core customer base?

That is the question.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Still Shocking

I don't mean to repeat myself, but it seems like I can't avoid it.

Y'all know I've been pushing the book Slavery By Another Name. I am struggling to finish reading about this country's dark history before the book is due back at the library. Anyway, I found a story in its pages that still managed to shock me even after reading about the horrible brutality and cruelty that was the norm during the de-facto slavery that continued after the Civil War.

The author told the story of Georgia landowner who had become prosperous "buying" convicts and forcing them to work on his farm. That wasn't unusual as much of the Southern economy was based on this practice. However, by 1920 the United States government had become more proactive in investigating claims of peonage and came to the man's farm to see his "workers."

The agents noticed the chains, whips and shackles common on peonage farms, but after interviewing the black people being held in captivity and finding that none of them would go on record against the landowner, they left them there to rot. The federal agents, both of whom were of southern origin, thought things might be a little shady, but figured that black folks being kept in captivity was fairly normal.

But, after listening to the agents explain the peonage statute, the landowner quickly realized he was violating the law. So, he gathered up some friends and gradually killed every black person on his farm through a mixture of drownings, ax attacks and other brutal violence. There were about a dozen workers on the farm at the time.

Somehow, officials learned of the deaths, and arrested the landowner and put him on trial for murder. He was convicted of murder by an all-white jury, which is of course shocking given the time and circumstances. But, here is what was even more shocking to me. From 1877 to 1966, that landowner was the only white man ever convicted of murdering a black person in the state of Georgia. The only one.

When I read that statistic, it was like I truly understood something important. The book drives home the systemic nature of racism and how much of a role it played in shaping early black life. But, it took that statistic to make me truly understand what my ancestors had to overcome.

For 30 years, white Georgians consolidated their power through the most violent means available to them, yet none of them were convicted of murder. Despite cases where evidence was overwhelming and the character and reputation of the black victims surely was better than the character of the suspect, no white man was ever held accountable by a jury of his peers. Ever.

Can you imagine what that does to the psyche of people? Not just the black people living under such terrible violence, but the white people who have their worst abuses ignored and justified? How many men reveled in cruelty and depravity? How many men and women cowered in fear and desperation?

It's all well and good to tell people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but when their very existence is threatened and they have nowhere to turn for assistance, is it shocking that disillusionment sets in? Is it shocking that many black folks learned to blame "The Man" for every failing?

It shouldn't be shocking at all. What should shock all of us is that this information is not part of our history texts and curriculum. It should be shocking that those who establish the standards for educating America's children don't deem this information crucial. How can we ever hope to heal the wounds and right the wrongs of the past if most of the populace remains ignorant? Doesn't ignoring the truth  make it more likely that things will never improve?

Viewed from that perspective, I guess the lack of information isn't that shocking at all.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's The Process

So, Rick Sanchez got fired.

And it wasn't for being inept, incompetent or idiotic.


Nope, Sanchez made a much bigger boo-boo. He got pissed about something one Jewish person did and went after the whole race/religion.

He pulled "a Gibson."

Gibsons happen everyday, but they are particularly damaging when you work in any field related to television or movies. The backlash is typically swift and searing. So, I'm not surprised that Sanchez got the boot.

I am a little intrigued that he managed to get tossed without drawing more support from the folks who always resent any emphasis on being "politically correct," and who rail against the subversion free speech police. Those folks seem to pop up whenever a racial brouhaha erupts, but I haven't seen as much of that for Sanchez. And I think I've figured out why.

Jewish people have succeeded.

Somehow, and I really don't now how they did it, they have managef to impress upon most people that whenever somebody randomly blames then for problems or issues it's uncool to side with that person. Sure there's a fringe element that blames Jewish folks for all the ills of the world, but that contingent is decidedly non-mainstream. It's not like the faction that loves to bring up every manifestation of black pathology whenever discussions of discrimination or racism pop up. That feels like the majority of the American public.

So, my Jewish brethren, what's the secret? Do you all have some sort of special mind control? Are there hidden pictures? It can't just be the Holocaust because no disrespect to the Holocaust, but up until 1990 things were extremely harsh for black folks in the United States. I'm not talking back of the bus harsh, I'm talking Rosewood harsh.

I really want to get to the point where racist outbursts directed towards black people are met with overall disdain instead of couch lawyering. Are there seminars I could could attend, or possibly a tape series I can purchase? Maybe you all have some sort of workshop? I'm willing to try just about anything as long as it doesn't involve blackface or O.J. Simpson.

Just give me the process. Please.



Monday, October 4, 2010

Seeking information

Had a convo with a friend the other day.

He was noting that many white people don't enjoy talking about race with black folks because they have to accept the role of evil abuser, or sit through a lengthy lecture. Plus, he said white folks don't appreciate the fact that many black people set themselves up as the final arbiters of racial truth.

This didn't surprise me since I've seen the same attitude many times myself. White folks reject information that I assumed was common knowledge, and refuse to concede even the most obvious points. Not all white people, but quite a few.

My friend chalked this up to human nature, and he's right. There's also an element of white supremacy. Most folks think their opinions and thoughts are valuable, few of us accurately estimate our intelligence and many of us equate feelings with facts. In addition, it appears that white folks tend to see black people as overly emotional, which means they don't trust our opinions on anything outside of music and sports. And then only sometimes in sports.

I say all of this because it seems like an untenable position. Shouldn't it be obvious that due to their position in society, the average black person likely has more experience and knowledge of the way race affects life than the average white person? Do white people have a responsibility to accept that their opinions do not hold the same weight as a comparable black opinion? Is that just? I don't think white people have to bow down to black folks just because we're black, but if you readily admit that you don't think about, notice or study race, shouldn't that be a sign you need to shut up and listen? And, what is the best way to get this point across?

Let me hear from y'all.

I haven't been writing as much in this space because of two things. One, I feel like I've expressed all the original thoughts I have to express at this point, and two, I'm tired of the idiocy of the world. I'm looking for new information and inspiration. I'll still try to post somewhat regularly, but I wanted to let y'all know why things have slowed down so much.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Get It Right

"...the odds of a black man becoming a professional athlete is 2.25 times greater than earning a Master’s degree, and 4.5 times greater than earning a PhD..."

That blurb definitely got my attention when a friend sent it to me the other day. Right there in bold print was a factoid that seemed to give lie to all the "stay in school" efforts championed in the black community, and made me reconsider whether I could let my 3-year old son slide on the poor form on his jumper.

"Is that a real stat" I asked, immediately.

I'm no fool, at least not most of the time. I know that random statistics that seem to buck accepted norms should be viewed with a skeptical eye. Yes, sometimes a fresh set of eyes can see the truth, but often, people get outlandish answers because they ask loaded questions. My friend directed me to this link, which brings up an academic study featuring mathematical computations far beyond my limited ability. It purports to provide proof for the quotation I provided above.

It does not.

I don't say that because I have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. I have no such interest. I don't say that because I believe that corporate America and expensive secondary degrees are the black man's ticket to prosperity. I don't believe that at all. I say this study is fairly bogus because it makes some pretty obvious mistakes when examining data, and I'm left wondering if the two young men who did it meant this as a prank, or just a scheme to get people talking about careers in a different way.

If I read it correctly, the study compares the performances of black male NCAA athletes to the the performances of black male students as a whole. I may not understand all the formulas used, but I do understand that's not a fair comparison. I'm not shocked that it's more likely that athletes will make the NBA than your average black man will get an MBA.

That doesn't tell me anything profound or shocking and it definitely doesn't tell me its more likely to make the league than get an MBA. The researchers didn't compare the percentage of all black men who make the NBA to the percentage of all black men who get an MBA. They compared a specialized subset to a larger group and that's just bad science.

Sure, this a random study done by random researchers, but given the way information travels in the world today, I would not be surprised to see it picked by websites and news services and become part of urban lore. I wanted to get ahead of the rush because just like the Willie Lynch letter, just like the "stat" about there being fewer black men in college than in jail this study seems destined to be repeated constantly by black folks trying to make a point.

And that is saddening and maddening.

Everybody loves a juicy rumor and crazy anecdote, but we as black folks have to be more careful. Certain "facts" don't merit repeating. Quite often this information is based on half-truths and outright lies, and only serves as grist for the "Why are the niggers so effed up" mill. It's self-defeating to repeat the latest quasi-stats about black pathology, or support the pipe dreams of children with faulty information.

Let's get it right.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Need To Say Something

It's old news now, but I still wanted to share some thoughts about the saga surrounding Atlanta mega-church pastor Eddie Long.

Do y'all mind?

When news broke about Long's alleged misdeeds with young men at his church I could muster no surprise and only a smidgen of outrage. I wonder if that says more about my cynical nature, or the current state of the black church? Unlike many Americans, I had heard of Long before news broke that he might be the new face of the much ballyhooed "down low" movement.

A few years back, I read a story that discussed how Long and other prominent ministers such as Joyce Meyers, Creflo Dollar and Joel Osteen were being examined by the federal government for their lavish lifestyles. Apparently, because of a system of "gift-giving" among each other and with their congregations the clergy were acquiring fancy cars, houses and toys without paying a commiserate amount in taxes. I never heard what happened with the investigation, but I remember the list of stuff was quite impressive.

I say all that to note that I already had a certain image of Long in my mind when news of his alleged dalliances broke, and that shaped my reaction. Due to personal experiences, my opinion of most preachers isn't that high, and my feelings have only been validated by the recent prosperity movement and the non-stop rumors of rampant homosexuality in the pulpit. Many ministers are preaching a sort of Christianity-lite that's heavy on blessings and storms, and light on anything that resembles challenging the moral character of their congregations.

What's sad is that Long and his ilk have become the face of black Christianity in America. When people think of black folks and church, they think of ministers in flashy cars with flashy jewels and a harem of pliable church sisters.

It's quite sad, but not inaccurate.

Far too many preachers feel entitled to a certain lifestyle and many of them are infected with the "me too" disease. They are constantly comparing what other preachers have, and scheming on ways to get something similar for themselves. And many of them, like true pimps, love to twist the Truth in order to advance their goals.

I don't know if Long is guilty of cheating his flock, or being a hypocrite, but I do know he's guilty of excess. He's guilty of perverting the purpose of the church and turning what is supposed to be a job of spiritual leadership, into just another corporate gig. In fact, he's even compared his job to being a CEO, as if that is the message Jesus preached when he told the disciples to feed his sheep.

That's what really bothers me about this whole situation. The possible hypocrisy about homosexuality is irritating, but the idea that churches are supposed to be huge and preachers are supposed to be wealthy is the real evil sweeping this nation. These ministers are feeding folks pap, and because it smells good and makes them feel good they swallow it down whole.

I hope they all gag.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Would Work?

Have you ever tried to solve a problem, and only after you had gotten knee deep in the situation did you truly grasp the heft of the endeavor?

Like trying to change the oil on your car and realizing that the entire engine is shot? Or repainting the trim on your home, and then realizing you have a serious termite infestation?
I had that feeling recently when considering the plight of black folks in America. Or, as it was once known, "The Negro Problem."

 Like DuBois, I hate that term, but in this case it fits. There remains a problem for black people in this country. We typically go to the worst schools, we live in the worst neighborhoods, we have bleak economic realities, and we have the most negative contact with law enforcement. Unlike some, I don't chalk this up to some innate genetic or cultural failure on the part of black folks. I've always known that we have faced challenges, but it's only recently that I was able to assess the true size of those issues.

Some of you may be tired of hearing about Douglas Blackmon's book "Slavery By Another Name" but honestly, this has been one of the most informative books I've every consumed, and I've read a lot of books over the years. Not only is the information about the de-facto slavery that was prevalent in this country eye-opening, but the details about exactly how the South operated in the period following Reconstruction has revolutionized how I view black folks' and our situation.

Simply put, the world we live in today didn't occur randomly. It wasn't that black folks couldn't or wouldn't put in the extra work to overcome some minor but manageable difficulties. Our oppression wasn't confined to lunch counters and railroad cars. Jim Crow shouldn't be called Jim Crow, it should should be called Jim Blue Freaking Whale!

This country, the South in particular, actively did everything in its power to prevent black folks from catching up with the rest of America following slavery. Laws were created, injustices were ignored and no effort was spared to establish and bolster white hegemony. This wasn't a loose collection of bigots and a large mass of ignorant  folks, this was the very government of the states with the largest concentrations of black citizens doing everything in their power to keep black people in poverty and abject misery.

There were laws preventing black people from changing employers without a white person's approval. There were laws criminalizing loud talk, failing to have a job and haggling over wages. In the land of free enterprise, there was even a law making it illegal for black folks to seek the best price for the cotton they grew on their own land. Enforcing these unjust laws was a collection of corrupt and brutal judges and sheriff's whose only qualification was a deep and abiding hatred of black folks. The "justice" system was so filled with corruption that for years a black man could die in prison simply for the crime of having the wrong color skin.

This was evil.

And I don't say all this to rehash the past, although I want all of you to learn more about this dark period in black life, I say this because until we understand the depths of the evil committed against black folks, we can't hope to figure out solutions. This isn't just about removing unfair obstacles and telling black folks to run their race. No, that is not enough.

Not when you consider the aggressive injustice that defined black life for a century after slavery. The minor fixes that have drawn the ire of so many white folks are not only pointless, but black people should be pissed at the reaction from our white peers.  It's like watching someone offer a cup of water to a man who is engulfed in flames, and then seeing bystanders roasting marshmallows and complaining about the damage to the cup.

Yet, for the life of me, I can't figure out what would work. How do we fix this problem? How do we address and correct the artificially created educational, economic and cultural realities of black life? How do we soothe the accumulated hurts that are completely real and justified? Can this country do enough? Will its people ever truly grasp what happened, and what must be done to make amends?

What do you think?


Monday, September 20, 2010

Who Is Surprised?

Not only is the Tea Party taking America by storm, it seems to be taking a lot of folks by surprise.

Many pundits and regular folks are perplexed by the group's ability to generate and sustain momentum. Lots of folks apparently expected the group's members to flop in their bids for public office once voters got a chance to hear what they were saying, and consider their platforms.

Turns out, most folks who get paid to know what's happening were very, very wrong.

It's not surprising that political analysts miscalculated when examining the Tea Party. Insiders typically underestimate outsiders, and that's particularly true when the two groups disagree. It's easy to downplay arguments and ignore warning signs when the topic under discussion is one that seems so cut-and-dry. Also, most political experts are disconnected from the real world and the thoughts and feelings of real people. They don't understand "the masses" anymore than the politicians they are paid to critique.

Quite simply, the masses are angry, frustrated and looking for someone to blame.

The Tea Party taps into all that, and it doesn't bother with logic or facts when it comes to feeding folks want they so desperately want. People want to be reassured that it's not their fault, that they are still wonderful, that there is a definite and obvious bogeyman to blame. They want to be told they are smart, they are special, and that the world still operates according to the rules it always used.

Only, it doesn't and they're not.

It shouldn't be a surprise that the Tea Party has been able to tap into all of these latent phobias so many Americans have about their government and their neighbors. Anybody who has paid any attention to history should know that political movements often have tons of initial success by tapping into one form of paranoia or another. More importantly, it appears many political analysts underestimated just how much appeal naked racism still has to many Americans.

Tea Party members hate being branded racist, but it's the obvious truth. A simple analogy would be to consider a city neighborhood. When there are repeated crimes in a neighborhood that neighborhood gets labeled "bad." When a movement is full of racist appeals and rhetoric, the same thing happens. It cannot be avoided, and shouldn't be avoided no matter how often Tea Party supporters whine.

There is a powerful allure to hate regardless of the shape of that hate.The Tea Party has successfully tapped into the hatred many black folks always said was bubbling below the placid surface of American life, and that venom has propelled them into relevance. When things are going bad it is fashionable to hate "others", to blame them for your problems and hurt them whenever possible. That's the American way.

It's surprising that so many people are surprised.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quick Hitter

With elections approaching, President Obama's "otherness" has once again become a topic of discussion.

I can't really generate enough interest to write too much on a topic I've discussed far too many times, but this New York times article gives a breakdown of some of the tactics. If you check out the article, I'm sure this paragraph will jump out at you just like it did for me:

The latest controversy over Mr. Obama’s identity involves — once again — Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, who this week accused Mr. Obama, whose father was a Kenyan economist and spoke out against the occupying force in his country, of exhibiting “Kenyan, anticolonial behavior.”

Now, I'm no expert on history, or politics, or pretty much anything. I have a little knowledge, but I wouldn't call myself an expert. That said, when did "anti-colonial behavior" become a negative? Did I miss the memo that said that colonialism was a good thing? Does that mean that the so-called forefathers of America were displaying regrettable "anti-colonial behavior"?

What the hell?

It's like folks are just saying anything these days and hoping something sticks. Reminds me a lot of the actual campaign. Seriously, the day when it becomes cool to colonize countries is the day when it becomes cool to enslave humans, and that's officially the day where this lunatic starts capping back. Because Lord knows that if they try to bring slavery back, they are going for the black folks first.

Seriously though, anti-colonial is bad now? Somebody who agrees with Newt, please explain what he was talking about here.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don't Know What To Think

Some of you may have heard that it's been revealed that well-known Civil Rights photographer Ernest Withers was an informant for the FBI as he snapped the pictures that would be his legacy. Check out the Memphis Commercial Appeal stories complete with a host of related information.

I must admit, I'm deeply conflicted.

This expose is pretty damning. If you read the Commerical-Appeal's information Withers' had no problem supplying all kinds of information to the FBI and apparently went out of his way to provide as much damning personal information as he could discover. Withers may have been capturing some of the most powerful moments of the movement on film, but he was also capturing many members at their most vulnerable and delivering that information to the FBI. The files are filled not just with details, but also with his own thoughts and speculations on the motivations and character defects of the people he encountered.

First off, I want to acknowledge that I don't have much trust for the FBI today, and I have no trust for the FBI of the past. So, these files could be exagerating what Withers did, and I find it somewhat suspicious that he was "outed" by a former FBI agent. That said, there is no denying that if the FBI is framing Withers, they are doing a bang up job because I don't think I've seen a more troubling collection of information about a prominent black icon. Well, maybe the news released about James Bevel was more disturbing, but only because of the nature of the crimes he was accused of commiting.

My mistrust of the FBI, along with my questions about the motivations of the Commercial Appeal and that paper's own history with the movement, make me unsure about how to view Withers. I find myself wanting to find some sort of information that will exonerate him from these accusations, and in the back of my mind I don't want this to be true. It feels like this sort of betrayal is an indictment of the movement as a whole, and just one more blackmark on what many blacks think of as their shinining accomplishment in this country.

Honestly, that's the real problem. Black folks, through the efforts of the school system and the media, have had our entire contributions to America reduced to slavery, Jim Crow and Civil Rights. That's how we have been taught to define ourselves, and while the first two items generate an endless reserve of anger, the last one is often a source of pride. This mindset leads us to reject negative information about the movers and shakers of the movement and cling to the most positive of portrayals.

That is a mistake.

Black people have contribued far more to America then any historian has ever been able to catalogue, but we also need to embrace the idea that flawed actors can still be heroes. Human beings can do good even if they themselves aren't admirable people in other ways.

For too long black people have tried to create this mask of perfection to present to the white world because we are afraid that they will judge us too harshly if they see the reality. It's an offshoot of the common belief of the past that black folks had to "earn" their rights as American citizens instead of having them bestowed upon us at our births. It's a stupid, stupid way to live.

Ernest Withers apparently was a snitch. Nobody knows exactly how he started his career as a snitch, or what his motivation was for supplying the FBI with information. We don't know how he felt about his actions and we don't know how he felt about the movement that he spent so much time chronicling. All we have are these FBI files and the amazing and powerful photos he took of those times.

It's up to us to consider every thing before we decide what to think.


Raving Black Lunatic