Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Never Forget

Chris Matthews forgot Barack Obama was a black man.

I never forget.

I never forget he's black, I never forget I'm black and I never forget that 88 percent of Americans are not.

I don't care how well a white dude articulates my thoughts on a topic, I don't forget they're white. Tim Wise is a beast on racial matters, but I never forget his skin color. Robin Thicke can sing like a brotha, but I don't forget he ain't.

Is that a personal failing?

Increasingly, we are being told that if you can't shake off the shackles of race, you are a dinosaur in post-racial America. And like all dinosaurs, you are destined for extinction. "Colorblind" is the buzzword of the hip, and those of us refusing to embrace a monochromatic future are guilty of holding up progress.

Sorry, I can't catch that train.

It's not just that I'm stubborn, although my wife would tell you that I am. It's not that I love my victim status, truthfully I've been repeatedly blessed by God throughout my life so it's impossible for me to be a true victim. No, I refuse to do away with race, because nobody has proven to me that becoming "colorblind" is a viable and better alternative.

The people who claim to be colorblind still show a preference for particular hues. The post-racial partisans seem to remember race quite easily when pressed. Claiming not to see color seems to be a smokescreen to distract folks from the evil these people do in the name of color.

I'm not calling Chris Matthews evil, Lord knows I'm not. I think I understand what he was trying to say. Basically, Obama touched him so deeply that Matthews forgot about the messenger and just accepted the message. I get it. He was moved, he was impressed, he was in the moment.

I just ain't built like that.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why Us?

Many of y'all have probably seen this recent story about this young cat in Pittsburgh who appears to have been beaten horribly by police while walking home one night. The story, which features a black viola player, has been on the national news and black websites.

Police brutality is nothing new, and regular readers of the blog know I write about it frequently. And I write about it frequently because it's an issue dear to my heart, and because it happens way too often.

That said, I've noticed that all the blogs I've written about police brutality, and the stories I've heard about it have one thing in common. They don't involve white victims.

Seriously, in my line of work I get a lot of complaints about the police. Some from black folks, some from white folks. Yet, I've never had a white family call me and ask me to talk to their son or daughter whose face was swollen and bruised from a beating. I've seen plenty of black folks who look like that, but never any white victims.

So, I'm wondering "Why us?"

That question is semi-rhetorical. Obviously, I have a lot of opinions on why black folks regularly get abused by the police. Regular readers of the blog are familiar with those opinions. But, I've noticed that whenever black folks allege police brutality, there are certain folks who refuse to believe, even in the face of evidence. These folks assume that either the black folks are lying, or that we did something to provoke the police to start wielding those batons.

And, once again, that begs the question, "Why us?"

I mean, why are black folks the only ones who provoke the police consistently? Is there some special gene that makes black folks seek out butt-whippings from cops? Are we trying to get closer to our slave ancestors? Do we just crave the feel of contusions and lacerations?

Seriously, do the people brush off all the fuss about police brutality ever wonder why only black people show up with swollen faces on the nightly news? Even if they truly believe that black people are just slightly civilized killer apes, they must understand that the law of averages dictates that some white folks should get brutalized occasionally. There are more white folks in the country, they commit more crimes, and everybody knows the news media loves running stories about white victims. Yet, when was the last time you ever saw a white person looking like they just went 12 rounds with Money Mayweather on the broadcast news? I'll bet you can't remember.

It just seems curious to me, and I'm shocked it doesn't seem curious to more folks. What is the white man's secret to avoiding these butt-whippings? I've talked to white folks, and they are often disrespectful of authority, and they often participate in illegal activity. Yet they still avoid getting beaten.

They should teach a class on this stuff. Lord knows black folks could use it.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Games We Play

I promised myself I wouldn't do this, but I feel compelled.

Saints' mania has infected the city of New Orleans with the team's first ever trip to Super Bowl on the horizon. "Black and gold to the Super Bowl" is the rallying cry for the team and city, and it seems that Who Dat Nation has swelled in size overnight.

The unofficial Saints pep song, a remix of a Ying Yang Twins crunk classic, has been banging on the radio for days. Folks are lining up to purchase newspapers from the day after the Saints won their NFC Championship games. I'm pretty sure hotels in Miami are experiencing an amazing rush, and the Saints are the topic of conversation in every coffee shop and eatery in the region.

And, I can't help but wonder, why?

Look, I'm not trying to be holier-than-thou wet blanket in this whole exercise, but I can't shake the fact that something is wrong with this picture. People are crying in the streets, they want to remember the day for posterity, they are spending hundreds of dollars in a recession, and it's all because a corporation won a contest? Weird.

Notice how I worded that, "a corporation won a contest." That's what professional sports boils down to at its most basic level. Corporation doing battle with other corporation in regularly scheduled contests. It's like cheering for a hostile takeover, only if the takeover happened on television and didn't make you any money. Professional sports have no tangible benefit for society as a whole, yet some of us care about them more than we care about general elections. True, elections typically don't solve problems, but neither do Super Bowl victories.

I've only talked about these feelings with a few folks because voicing this type of sentiment in New Orleans right now is a good way to get looked at like an idiot. Plus, I'm not sure if I really have a valid point. As a few friends pointed out, it's good to have a distraction, something to rally around and support that makes us feel good even if we still have issues. A good friend from college compared it to celebrating the Fourth of July in the 'hood. Yeah, the American Dream might be a pipe dream in many poor neighborhoods for the entire year, but when the barbecue and fireworks start flowing, it's a lot easier to forget that fact.

I saw something on PBS the other day about the ability of human beings to adapt to adverse conditions and actually make themselves happy, even when the situation appears to dictate depression. It sprang to mind when I tried to dissect why it is people in a town as screwed up as my own can find so much joy in the accomplishments of a corporation that provides no tangible benefit to their lives. As some folks have said in interviews, when things are so horrible around you, you cling to whatever good news you can find, and use that for motivation and happiness.

I guess it's a matter of opinion whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Part of me wants to lash out at those folks who can find all this energy to cheer on a bunch of strangers, but can't be bothered to go to parent-teacher conferences for their kids, or sit down and go over algebra homework. I get more than pissed when I see how the Saints success is being spun as some sort of proof of New Orleans' revival after Katrina. Didn't this Saints team openly flirt with San Antonio immediately after the storm and only decide to stay in the state after receiving massive payments from the Louisiana taxpayers?

But, a part of me understands that people need distractions. Sure, those distractions can turn into a detriment, but that doesn't mean the solution is eliminating them completely. Just like with everything else in life, perspective is important. If loving the Saints gives folks the strength they need to keep moving in a city that appears stuck in neutral, then who am I to judge? How can I tell folks what types of mental games they should play to make their lives bearable? How can I deny them something that allows them to escape their lives of quiet desperation, if only for a few hours?

I'm not sure I have the right to deny people that, so I'll continue to keep my mouth shut when folks are proclaiming their love for every single "Who Dat".


Monday, January 25, 2010

Black and Gold, To The Superbowl

I swore off football two years because I was disturbed by the effect the violence of the game has on players' bodies, and I was angry at my hometown New Orleans Saints' flirtation with another city following Hurricane Katrina.

But, with the improbable and amazing Super Bowl run of the Saints this year, I watched my first full game in a long time last night. I know that makes me a traitor to my ideals, but dammit I already told y'all I'm weak. And guess what, it was worth it even if I think we as a society invest far too much energy into professional sports.

Anyway, since I don't have anything profound to say right now, I'll just say this:

Who Dat say dey gon' beat dem Saints?


Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Rat, Some Pizza and Hell

She came from nowhere.

One moment there was empty space next to my left arm, and suddenly a medium-sized white girl appeared. She stood out in the ocean of chocolate surrounding me, not just because of her color, but because of how brazenly she approached me and how close she stood to me. Very strange behavior for a little white girl.

"Can I have a token," she asked.

I paused, quite uncomfortable and more than a little angry. Why was this child panhandling? Her query cut through the shrieks of delight and despair in the crowded room. It momentarily distracted me from the cloying aroma of fake cheese mixed ever so subtly with dirty diaper. She wanted a token, and she wasn't afraid to ask.

"I'm sorry, I only have tokens for him," I replied, with a nod towards my young son, perched atop a giant porcelain horse flapping the faux-leather reins and kicking the spotted horse's sides with his miniature brown cowboy boots.

My reply was classic passive-aggressive behavior, a tactic I picked up after years of encounters with professional panhandlers. I perfected it on the streets of Washington, D.C. as I dodged the throng of bums that gathered in front of the McDonald's near my dormitory. The secret is to give them answers they don't expect, to never appear angry or rude, and to keep moving.

But the little girl was slick. She wasn't distracted by my ploy.

"So you don't have anymore tokens," she said, taking another step towards the horse than my son was still enjoying.

"Well maybe I can just climb on behind him, I can fit," she said, as she touched the hard saddle and began to mount.

"No sweetheart, I don't think you can do that. He's riding it, and only one person is allowed," I replied, slowly feeling my anger, and a little bit of fear, blossom.

"Well, I can show him how to do it then, he has to press this, and grab these," the girl said grasping the reins my son held, and reaching across him to press a button designed to make the best leap.

Now, I'm truly disturbed. The girl's initial panhandling was a breach of etiquette, but now she's crossed over into another realm entirely. Yet, I'm a little unsure how to handle this situation.

Clearly she's encroaching on my territory and my son's fun, but how do I handle a young white child? We may have a black president, but this is still the South and a little white girl being disciplined by a big, black man could cause some difficulties...

Where are this child's parents? How could they allow her to become a token slave without stepping in? Dammit, things were already bad, now I have to deal with this crap?

I turn behind me looking for assistance, my face a mask of shock at the girl's brazen attitude. I see a black woman, short, heavyset, her hair caught up in that hard style that was popular when I was high school. She too is shocked at the girl, we exchange looks that say everything that needs to be said about home training, but neither of us move towards the girl. Did I mention the little white girl had already pushed aside this woman's daughter who was waiting patiently for my son to finish his ride so that she could have her turn?

Another woman takes charge, her manner gruff, her words harsh.

"Hey you, little girl," the woman says, as she grabs the child's arm in a way I would have never been comfortable attempting. "You get down from there and get behind us. Behind us."

The woman is adamant that the little white girl move, I'm amused at her anger. She says in an aside to me and the other woman "What's wrong with her, like she can't see us."

My son's ride is over. He wants to go again, but I'm worried about these other parents waiting and the little white girl who begged me for a token. I take him down, he's disappointed, but obedient. I walk him away, asking him if he's ready to leave. A short tantrum issues, but I squelch it by reminding him that he can easily catch a whipping here, no matter what Chuck E. Cheese tells him about being happy. He relents, we prepare to leave, gathering up his cowboy hat and coat.

I look around as we head to the door. Children are screaming, parents are crammed in small booths hovering over sad pizza pies. A line stretches outside the front door as people wait to enter this whirling, beeping, sweaty, cheesy circle of Hell. I know for certain what I always suspected.

The Devil is a Rat.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Easy Does It

I checked out this story the other day about this school in Denver that trotted out a lunch of fried chicken and collard greens in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day. Of course folks got pissed, but there were other folks who couldn't seem to understand what the big fuss was about. Seems like folks couldn't agree on why the school would do something like this. They couldn't decide if it was racism or something more benign.

Then I checked out this blog by a woman who goes by the moniker Shay D. Lady. She asked a question about where sexism came from, and then traced it back to religion. Basically, she said that the story of Adam and Eve is what made men justify treating women as sexual objects and subordinates. Religion is at the root of sexism and objectification.

Some of y'all are wondering how those two anecdotes are connected. In both instances, folks were overlooking the obvious answer to their questions and going with something that was far more convoluted. Here's my thought on why a school would serve up chicken and greens to honor Dr. King, and why men treat women as sexual objects:

It's easier.

I know, that doesn't seem profound, but take a mental walk with me.

On the Dr. King issue it's obvious the school made that choice because it was easier. I mean, nobody would truly argue that Dr. King's legacy could be distilled into a two-piece with greens and macaroni, at least nobody with good sense. We all know that despite the recent attempts to water down into a corporate shill of the first order, anybody with a working knowledge of the man's rhetoric and actions knows he was far more than "I Have A Dream."

But, finding that out takes effort. And finding a way to distill the real life of Dr. King into something children can relate to takes even more effort. And well, that's a lot of effort for a three-day weekend. It's much simpler to just fry some chicken and call it a day. Get it?

Now where women are concerned, it's a bit more difficult. Yes, religion has played a role in reinforcing some people's biases, but those ideas would be there even without Islam, Christianity or Judaism. Men didn't need religion to treat women like objects, that's our default position.

Look, it's easier to view a woman as a the sum of her body parts than as a fully formed human with human emotions and needs. If she's just a collection of titties and ass, we know exactly how to deal with the problem. I'm not saying it's right, just saying it's easier.

Hell, that's one of the main issues with relationships. No matter how "evolved" a man may be, he still has a habit of objectifying women. We're trained in this art from birth, so it takes a while for us to shake the habit. (Women have bad habits too, but I won't go into those in this space.) Plus, men are constantly thinking about sex for a huge chunk of our lives. It's hard to switch off that part of our brain and start considering a woman's opinions and feelings. It's easier to just picture you naked.

It's easier. That's the problem with life. The easy choice is rarely the best one. I'm trying to get back to eating right so I can continue my weight loss, but eating cookies is easier. Sleeping late is easier than getting up at 6 a.m. and running in the cold. It's easier to curse than to watch my tongue. It's easier to pout when my wife pisses me off than it is to forgive her and love her.

Effing up is easy, doing the right thing is so much harder.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Anthills of the World

My dad started my brother and I cutting the grass at our house when I was probably eight or nine-years old.

I actually didn't hate the job, it was kind of cool when I was younger. I used to have little games with myself to see how fast I could cut the yard, or I would cut designs in the yard before cutting it for real. In fact, other then the heat, there was only one thing I really disliked about cutting grass: Ants.

Ant piles are the bane of anybody doing yard work. You know that if you disturb them in anyway, there will be hell to pay as the ants scurry about seeking retribution.

Yet, there is a certain perverse part of you that wants to see how the ants will react to having their habitat destroyed, how they will cope with an unforeseen disaster that uproots them and kills their peers. It sounds perverse, but you want to see them deal with adversity because it's entertaining.

Haiti is the world's ant pile right now.

Only, I'm not enjoying watching their suffering. In fact, I've avoided the news about the disaster. I find it hard to imagine the panic and sadness that anyone in Haiti feels, yet I don't think watching the news will help me understand. It feels wrong to watch Haitians pick through their broken lives searching for relatives and comfort. There is a voyeuristic element that just bothers me.

True, folks will point out that the attention of the media will help the Haitians receive the aid they need to recover. And it's also true that I would be pissed if this tragedy had been ignored, while other less consequential news is covered. Yet, I can't shake the feeling that there is something wrong with us spending so much time and attention focused on stories about people being trapped in buildings for days, and watching footage of folks walking among newly created ruins. It's almost feels like an attempt to drive home the point of just how good we have it here in America.

There is no doubt we have it good. There is no doubt that even the poor in America often live a life that folks in certain other countries would sacrifice a relative to attain. Yet, it feels wrong to affirm our gratitude through immersion Haitian's suffering. Yes, the pain of Haiti should make us thank God for his mercy, but it feels parasitic. It feels like we're using them. As the comments of some folks have proven, Americans feel like our continued well-being is an affirmation of our goodness and greatness. The reason we've been spared is because we deserve it.

I don't know, maybe I'm tripping. I probably should just go to a website and make a donation and say a prayer. After all, I don't have to watch the news, I don't have to read the stories. Nobody is forcing me to pay attention to what's happening, and most of the attention is helpful. I'm probably being overly sensitive, I might be looking for a reason to get upset and write a blog.

I don't know. Am I?


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Soap Dropping and Other Tasteless Jokes

Ever read the comments after a news story about rape or child abuse?

Without fail, you'll see some variation of the common joke about the dangers of dropping the soap in prison. You'll typically find quite a few people cheering the fact that the convicted suspect will now face years of sexual abuse. You might even find some people going into graphic detail about what they'd like to do the person if they were in jail.

And you'll rarely find anybody objecting.

Well, hopefully this story will make you reconsider your reluctance to not objecting? Those of you who click the link will find a Washington Post editorial reaming out the Justice Department for dragging its feet on addressing prison rape involving adults and rape involving juveniles. The editorial also provides links to reports about exactly what's happening in our prisons.

I admit that I used to make the jokes about prison rape. Hell, I'm still not totally immune to hoping that someone is abused in prison as payback for the heinous nature of their offenses. However, in recent years I've examined my attitude on prison rape and I realized I was dead wrong. There is nothing funny about people being sexually abused while in prison and there is no true justice in vigilante justice. No matter how heinous a person's crime, they deserve to be afforded all the rights that every other prisoner is supposed to be afforded. We as a nation will not be judged by how we treat our model inmates, but by how we treat those inmates who are truly scum.

It reminds me of this blog I wrote a while back where I ranted about the way people dehumanize others when they become angry at them. In that blog I talked about how it's a slippery slope when we try to remove someone's humanity. Before long, we'll be justifying anything if we can just convince ourselves that the person being brutalized isn't really human.

Personally, I feel like we as a society dehumanize anyone who enters our prisons. We are willing to turn a blind eye to abuse in prison because we've already decided that those people aren't really part of the human race while they're locked up. As long as they're inmates, they might as well be animals in a zoo. We know their lives probably suck, but we don't think it's our jobs to fix it.

That's why so many of us are so comfortable joking about their rape. In no other situation but prison is rape considered a positive thing, or a deserved reward. None of us would be so cavalier about the rape of non-inmates regardless of how evil or horrible they are as humans. Yet, once somebody is officially convicted of a crime, their rape becomes so unimportant that even if they are a child the Justice Department has to do a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether they want to correct the problem! And that's for children, they aren't even talking about adults.

That's unacceptable. It's ridiculous, it's callous and it sickens me. It should sicken you too.


Monday, January 11, 2010

It's A Strange Feeling

I know about divorce, but not really.

That may sound confusing, but it makes sense. What I'm trying to say is that I understand the concept of divorce, I am aware of the impact it has on children and families, but I don't really have much firsthand knowledge about the topic. Even though I have family members and associates who are divorced, I really don't know divorce.

For example, I only realized recently how much sadness is associated with divorce.

There is the obvious sadness that comes from seeing two people dissolve what was supposed to an eternal union. I can't forget about the gut-wrenching pain of knowing that any children that couple has produced will now be scarred for life. But, there is more.

I wasn't aware of the subtle, and yes, selfish sadness that even distant associates feel from divorce. Watching another couple founder, particularly a couple that reminds me however slightly of my own marriage, affects me more than I ever would have thought possible.
I don't know these people, yet I feel a connection to them. As I see them slowly trying to create a life apart from each other, a life that only one of them seems to want, I can't help but feel the fragility of my own connection with my wife.

This feels so strange for me because I usually lack empathy. True, I've improved in that area in recent years, but as a side effect of my upbringing, I'm not the guy that's usually good at feeling other people's pain.
And, honestly, I can't even tell in this case if I'm feeling someone else's pain, or just my own. Do I really feel bad because of this couple's situation, or do I feel bad because I wonder if their failure makes it more likely that I will fail?

Truthfully, I don't know. What I do know is that I feel sad whenever I see this couple sitting apart where they previously sat together. I feel bad when I see them unable to share the intimacies that married couples share in every interaction. I feel terrible when I see other folks ill at ease in their presence because they don't know how to react to their split. Mostly, I feel terrible because the sense of loss surrounding them is palpable. It's an ugly miasma that follows them like a bad odor.

I see it, I feel it, and it's just strange.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Locked and Loaded

Man, I didn't even want to write this column.

The world is abuzz about the recent decision by NBA star Gilbert Arenas to bring four, unloaded handguns to his locker room, and apparently use them in a practical joke with his teammate. Now some reports have Arenas and his teammate actually drawing guns on each other all cowboy-style, but given the source of that report, I'm not buying that story. I believe the story that has Arenas laying out four weapons with a note, and the situation escalating from there.

Problem is, the account about Arenas and his teammate having an actual duel has gained the most traction in the public sphere. No surprise there. A wild story about two young ,black millionaires with guns squaring off over gambling debts is always a sexy story, and for most people, quite believable. It feeds into all the stereotypes about the NBA and the players that make up the association.

Before I go any further let me make a few things clear. Bringing guns to work in violation of the rules of your job is stupid and wrong. If you do this, you should be punished for breaking the rules. Just wanted to make that clear.

This whole incident has dominated the sports news for several days and has managed to crossover into the mainstream media. And everyday people have opined about how ludicrous it is that someone would bring a gun to work, that they would pull a gun on a co-worker and that they would laugh and joke about it. Everybody whines about how these spoiled NBA players don't recognize how good they have it, and comment that this would never happen for someone else.

And that's total crap.

Everyday people get away with doing ridiculous stuff on the job. Whether it's making racist statements, sexually harassing co-workers, or even acts of violence, it happens. These people are not always always immediately fired. They are not always punished. To pretend otherwise is just cover for folks who want to lob grenades at NBA players because they don't like them and have beef.

Remember when a Washington Post editor punched out a colleague? I seem to remember quite a few media folks brushing that off as no big deal, and I remember that cat receiving his buyout and riding off into the sunset. And he was popping off at the mouth even after he did the punching.

I've heard stories of male workers making the most vile comments and come-ons to their female co-workers, and keeping their jobs. Hell, an aide to United States Senator James Webb tried to bring a loaded handgun into the Senate chambers in his briefcase and he's still working for the Senator and skated without a trial.

So spare me this sob story about how this is yet more proof that NBA players have it easy, that they live the good life, that they are arrogant pricks with no respect. I'm not saying these athletes aren't arrogant and moronic at times, but if arrogance and idiocy was fatal, the Earth would be a freaking a ghost town. NBA players are humans and have all the flaws and strengths of humans.

People want to crack down on Arenas because they either have a dread of guns, or they dislike NBA players in general. I refuse to consider any other options. A sensible person evaluating what Arenas did would not be calling for him to have a lifetime ban from the league, or arguing for a long jail sentence. That would be impossible for a sensible person who is aware of the legal precedent regarding issues like this, and has seriously considered Arenas' reasoning behind his actions.

But, I doubt if sensible people will win this battle. I've seen this movie too many times and I know how it ends. Sensible people will find it very hard to make themselves heard over the mob and those who direct the mob. I doubt if Arenas will escape the wrath of these combined forces. They have him in their sights, and they have way too much ammunition to miss with the kill shot.

Locked and loaded for real.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Say What?

Sitting at my parents crib over the holidays. Talking to my pops about how his job is going since he's had some difficulty in that area recently.

He's telling me that things aren't great, but he believes he'll manage with God's help. Then he tells me about a deal one of his associates is working, and says something that makes me pause. He uses the phrase "Jew me down..."""

Yeah, he said that.

My pops and I argue a lot over some of the stuff he says. I argue with my mom too, but to a lesser degree because she's less likely to engage in back and forth with me. She just sits quietly until I run out of steam.

But, my dad likes to say outrageous stuff, and he doesn't much care what other folks feel about his comments. Matter of fact, he'll defend his outrageous comment as perfectly acceptable against all odds. I've had to check him for using the word "faggot" among other things, but no matter how many times I explain to him why certain language isn't acceptable, he refuses to listen. He's an obdurate old man.

It's shocking how many people don't think about the meanings behind the words they use. From "nigger-rigged" to "chinky-eyed" folks use phrases that have racist overtones and don't blink an eye. They assume that because they're not a racist, saying racist things is no big deal. Although, you have to wonder. If saying racist stuff doesn't make you a racist, exactly what is the threshold?

I tried to explain to my pops why his comment was problematic, but he didn't want to hear me. He trotted out all the standard responses: "That's not what I mean... I'm not going to be P.C.... You think you can tell people what to do but you can't." It was quite similar to arguing with your standard conservative white person about race. Which sucked, by the way.

What I tried to explain to him, and what I still can't understand, is why hold on to things that are clearly hurtful and steeped in racism? This is particularly true if you're somebody like my father, a Christian. Why would you want to hurt folks, why would you want to use terms that clearly play on stereotypes about them? Even if these things are true, does that mean you have to say them? Honesty is wonderful, but so is kindness.

It seems that folks just don't want to give up what's comfortable. No surprise there, but it's still depressing. Because what's comfortable to most folks, is often detrimental to a whole bunch of other folks.

Seems pain and pleasure are linked in far more ways than I realized.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'm So Hard and I'm So Real

Look who's been pumping iron on the yard...
It's Tiger, Tiger Woods y'all!

Seriously though, I was hipped to this photo through one of my favorite sports blogs on the web Sports On My Mind, and man I still can't get over it. Tiger is full-on "prison yard" mode in this joint, and while some of my female friends have found his posing "sexy", to me it just screams lame dude faking at being hard. Tiger Woods on the yard? Man that's like being a bon-bon at a Jenny Craig convention.

The thing is, these pictures were taken four years ago. That's right, four years ago and they are just now seeing the light of day. And, not surprisingly, the woman who took the photos is the same photog who graced us with those pics of Lebron James and the model chick a while back. I believe I wrote about that if you want to check the archives.

So, I'm left with two questions here: Why would Tiger Woods pose like this, and why would Vanity Fair run these photos now?

Well, the answer to the second question is pretty obvious even for someone as dense as me. Money talks and everything else walks. Vanity Fair is running these photos, which they've sat on for four years now because these photos fit the image of Tiger much of America has right now. Tiger is one of "dem."

In case some of y'all have forgotten, "dem" are the bad Negroes. The ones that cause all the problems. See, prior to the recent revelations that Tiger loves to play pin the tail on a white chick, Tiger was a Good Negro. As a Good Negro, he was loved by many white folks, and they would have been comfortable inviting him into their homes and maybe playing nine holes after dinner. Now, Tiger is one of those sex-crazed black heathens who loves large quantities of white women. He's borderline dangerous.

Vanity Fair understands that sentiment, and thus has decided to capitalize on it by running pictures they've held in reserve for years. I'm sure they'll try to pretend these pics tell us something about the beast lurking within Tiger all these years, but that's a farce. Tiger has a problem with infidelity, thus the only beast lurking within him is the same beast lurking within the vast majority of men. It's called lust, and it ain't new. Vanity Fair is only pretending otherwise because that moves magazines, and well that's the business they are in. Not news dissemination, magazine-selling. Hope y'all hadn't forgotten that fact.

However, the question of why Tiger Woods would pose for what could pass as a yearbook picture from "Oz" is kind of interesting. Clearly, like many cats he likes the idea of being a "thug" without all the baggage of being a thug. I mean, getting stopped by the police is wack, but posing for broads whose panties get wet behind "thuglife" is the business. Tiger's text messages betrayed him as a bit of lame who liked to talk rough and tough for the ladies to boost his cred.

With that in mind, it's no surprise he posed for these pics, it's what a lame dude would do. From what I can tell, Tiger has always chafed at his nerdy image, even though he used that image to sell us Buicks and razors. Like many cats, he saw that bad boys had all the fun, and wanted in. These pics scream "I'm so Hard, I'm so Real," when most of us believe Tiger is anything but hard and real.

Maybe Tiger thought he was just showing off the guns for the ladies, but then why the skully, the grainy quality of the pic and barely concealed menace in his glare. Tiger is posing like a high school cat in a dance photo, only he's 30-years old and a millionaire. That's something only a lame dude would do.

This is just another example of the insidious nature of stereotypes. Tiger and the photographer equated toughness and a certain desirability with prison. This picture and its presentation is more proof that despite his attempts to distance himself from his blackness, Tiger was always a black man in many people's eyes. And when his Good Negro facade crumbled, well he got the standard treatment all black men get.

I wonder how tough he really is...

Raving Black Lunatic