Saturday, August 23, 2014

Semi-Open Thread: Will I Need My 'Stree Overlord' Sex Enhancement Pills at Chicago Comic Con 2014?

Earlier today, I stopped by Chinatown in order to buy some candy to snack on while at Chicago Comic Con 2014. In the store that sells the overpriced ginseng, assorted teas, candies, and scary looking things in glass jars embossed with  labels and price tags that were written in Chinese, I discovered the Stree Overlord super sex power pills.

They cost 30 dollars. One can buy them online for far less. Price gouging offends me on principle even as the copyright infringing logo of Street Fighter 2 characters engaged in vigorous coital thrusting intrigues me. I wonder if Stree Overlord will have a powerful placebo effect--or alternatively cause a priapism--on its users? I will leave such discoveries to other, more brave explorers.

[In middle school, I knew such a courageous young man. He used "Spanish Fly" with one of his conquests. Several weeks later, he complained that his "dingus" was burning. Our Lothario attributed such pains to the Spanish Fly; we all know that the root of his complications lay elsewhere.] 

Stree Overlord sexual enhancement pills make me smile. I am a big kid. There is much ghetto nerd energy channeled by them. Alas, I do not not need such aids. My Ming the Merciless power potion is more than enough to arouse my aging lingam.

Moreover, I am attending Chicago Comic Con 2014 because of the kind friends of this site: thus, I will receive my fill of ghetto nerd energy in other ways. I have already thanked folks for their kind donations via email. Now, I would like to publicly thank those good, kind, generous, and supportive folks who threw some money into the donation bucket to send me to Chicago Comic Con 2014. I would also like to give a more general "thank you" to all of the folks who have ever donated to, commented on, or shared my work here on WARN or elsewhere. Your support is very much appreciated.

I will be recharging my batteries this weekend. I will post some photos of the event on Sunday or Monday. I have my fancy pink linen eating shirt, white linen pants, and fancified summer walking shoes ready for Sunday's Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion event. I can't wait to see William Shatner moderating a panel with all of the Trek: TNG cast. Awesomeness awaits me.

As is our weekend habit, do treat this as a semi-open thread to share and discuss whatever issues of public or private concern that you would like to offer up. I will be checking in from time to time. But, most of my energy will be spent on people watching, going to discussions, and having other assorted fun at Chicago Comic Con 2014.

There is also an Outback Steakhouse near the convention center that is hosting Comic Con. I love me some Outback. I consider it one of the jewels of the mid-tier American dining pyramid. It is below Maggiano's but distinctly better than Friday's. While there, I will relish my chicken wings, a steak and shrimp combo, and several margaritas in honor of the friends of We Are Respectable Negroes.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Profits of Racism: The Coward Darren Wilson Who Killed Michael Brown Has Now Raised 170,000 Dollars

“Ferguson” is now a meme as opposed to a place; it is a story that individuals can read themselves into depending on their own politics, values, and life experiences.

A person’s response to the explosive combination of race, crime, and the law in Ferguson is a litmus test for deeper political values and life experiences.

Black Americans have historically and in the present been victims of police abuse and disproportionately punished by a racist and classist criminal “justice” system. The killing of Michael Brown is one more death in a necropolis of unarmed black people killed by white police, white street vigilantes, and others with like power and orientation.

The killing of Michael Brown is not a surprise or a shock to most black Americans. We have either personally experienced racially motivated harassment by police authorities, have a relative or friend who has, or live in a community where such norms govern our day-to-day lives and limit our full citizenship. Police abuse is part of the collective memory of black Americans. Understanding how to navigate that maze and mine field is a necessary skill which is taught to us early in life.

Black parents, and those others who love black or brown children, have to rob the latter of their childhood innocence by teaching them that their very personhood will be looked at as a threat by the police and other white authority figures. We have to tell our children that they will be “niggerized” even if they are unarmed innocent victims. We will adultify them so that they will not be surprised when the world does so in ways much, much crueler.

Responsible parents and mentors of black children must rob them of their innocence by teaching them about the realities of life in a racist society. We are their “hard masters”. These lessons are not mean or some type of child abuse. No, they are acts of love, because if you love your child you want them to live, prosper, and grow into adulthood. A black child who does not learn how to interact with the police is more likely to end up killed and dead at the end of a police officer's pistol or rifle.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Semi-Open Thread: Balancing Smiles and Cries About the Events in Ferguson and Michael Brown by Watching Baby Groot Dance in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

The events in Ferguson, Missouri are critically important. While we reflect on them, it is also essential to maintain a balance between our smiles and cries.

As such, I will continue to post essays and comments on the murder of Michael Brown by the thug police in Ferguson.


Something is happening there which is connected to the angst and rage felt and experienced by the young, the Other, and the subaltern around the world. Moreover, I love it when American Exceptionalism is forced to confront how unexceptional it really is because that experience, if channeled properly, can make the United States a better place.

I will be recharging myself this weekend at Chicago's Comic Con. I am able to take that medicinal and sanatorium-like holiday because of the kindness and generosity of the friends of WARN. You have my back whenever I extend my hand; you help to push the sails on this ship forward. I will be going to Comic Con in good style, and not in the cheap seats, because of your positive energy. I thank you very, very, much. 

As promised, I will keep you all informed about my adventure.

Baby Groot, a character in the great movie Guardians of the Galaxy, makes me happy. Groot fills me with smiles. He is my happy pill in the summer of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

What are you doing to keep yourself balanced and happy? 

The culture of cruelty exhausts those who oppose it. Your and our greatest defense against it, is to maintain a balanced, happy, positive, and focused state of mind in the face of wickedness. 

White supremacy wants to exhaust black and brown folks--and those white folks who have decided to stand with us against it. 

Your positivity and sanity are a direct blow against white supremacy. We are not crazy. It is they who are deranged.

Do treat this as a semi-open thread in which to share information about the events in Ferguson, Missouri relative to the killing of Michael Brown by a cowardly thug police officer. I have one caveat: if you share a news item or other bit of information that is of public concern relative to the events in Ferguson, I also request that you tell us how you are staying positive, happy, and wise in these times.

Smiles and cries folks. Smiles and cries. 

Do please balance them. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Michael Brown and Ferguson in Historical Context: No One Does It Better. White People are America's Foremost Experts on Rioting

Events continue to develop in Ferguson, Missouri. In the aftermath of Sunday night's civil disturbances, the Missouri's Governor has deployed the national guard to supplement the local police department. The autopsy results on Michael Brown's body indicate he was shot several times in the face, arm, and torso. The evidence from the autopsy is consistent with the witnesses who say that Michael Brown was surrendering and the killer cop Darren Wilson shot him multiple times. 

President Barack Obama delivered a careful and empty statement on the events in Ferguson, Missouri where he played Scold-in-Chief for Black America while also trying to condemn police violence in his role as Chief Law Enforcement Officer for the United States. Eric Holder--Obama's conscience and mouth piece on matters of the color line--is going to Ferguson to monitor the federal investigation into the murder of Michael Brown.

Ferguson is now a theater for race and politics. It features many actors.

Historians, sociologist, political scientists, and other experts who could put these events within a broader context have not been featured by the mainstream media. For example, I have yet to hear someone talk about the Kerner Commission Report on national TV or radio. Alas, for the corporate news media the money is in the sizzle and not the steak. Consequently, substantive answers to questions about the horrible events in Ferguson are less compelling than is a narrative that the events in Ferguson are a surprise, mysterious, or complicated.

To point.

The Right-wing propaganda machine has offered up a woman by the name of "Josie" who has crawled out the bowels of the White Right's propaganda sewer to now be interviewed by CNN about "what really happened" when Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. 

Josie is a Darren Wilson's low rent version of "Deep Throat".

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Inevitable 'Niggerization' of Michael Brown by the Ferguson Police Department and the Right-Wing Hate Media

First, I would like to thank all of you who kindly shared your resources for the informal "Send Chauncey Devega to Chicago Comic Con 2014" donation drive. I will send out individual emails of thanks very shortly. We are now very close to making that happen. You are such a very kind and generous group of people. I mean that. Wow.
The niggerization of Michael Brown has begun in earnest. The police and the Right-wing media have decided that like all other black people who have been killed by the police and white (identified) vigilantes, Brown is guilty of causing his own execution-style murder.

Writing about the behavior of the police department in Ferguson, Missouri and their efforts to derail, obfuscate, lie, and dissemble about the murder of Michael Brown is an experience akin to Bill Murray's in the movie Groundhog Day. It is a cultural script that plays out repeatedly in the United States--the events of which are only a surprise to the naive, willfully ignorant, dishonest, and/or stupid.

Those of us who write about race and work the "racism beat" have to struggle to find something new to say about the seemingly endless parade of black unarmed men killed by police and other white-identified authorities. Being a truth-teller on such matters is tedious, not easy, and mentally exhausting.

Cornel West's use of the word "niggerization" to describe how black people are robbed of their humanity by the White Gaze and White Supremacy is cited and mentioned so frequently for a reason: it is one of the most precise and sharp ways of describing both the institutional as well as the ethical and moral violence visited upon black people by centuries of white racism in the United States and the West.

While "Black Twitter" developed a meme designed to point out the twin lying nature of the White Gaze and racial paranoia in how it selectively frames black people's humanity, Right-wing hate media such as the Drudge Report, Fox News, and other conservative sewers defaulted to the black rapist "Bigger Thomas" frame, wherein Michael Brown is a "thug" who got "what he deserved":

Sociologist Joe Feagin's concept of the white racial frame dominates this moment:
In the book Systemic Racism I develop the concept of a white racial frame holistically and comprehensively. Since its development in the 17th century, this racial frame has been a “master frame,” a dominant framing that provides a generic meaning system for the racialized society that became the United States. The white racial frame provides the vantage point from which European American oppressors have long viewed North American society. 
In this racial framing, whites have combined racial stereotypes (the cognitive aspect), metaphors and interpretive concepts (the deeper cognitive aspect), images (the visual aspect), emotions (feelings), and inclinations to discriminatory action. This frame buttresses, and grows out of the material reality of racial oppression. The complex of racial hierarchy, material oppression, and the rationalizing white racial frame constitute what I term systemic racism. This white racial frame includes much more than the usual concepts we use in the study of racial matters, such as stereotyping and prejudice or discrimination.
Black people who have had violence visited upon them by the white racial state and its agents are forced into a type of bizarro world. Like women who are the victims of sexual assault, black victims are forced to defend their right to exist; rapine logic as applied to women is a neat analogy for white racial logic as it applies to black victims of white police (and other) abuse. In this framework, Michael Brown, Renisha McBride, and Trayvon Martin were somehow asking to be killed.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A 'Ghetto Nerd' With Hands Open and Outstretched: Can You Help Chauncey Devega Attend Chicago Comic Con 2014?

With all of the madness in Ferguson, Missouri, I just need to cleanse my palate for a moment...

If one does not ask he or she most certainly will not receive.

Two years ago, the good friends of We Are Respectable Negroes threw monies into the donation bucket so that I could attend the World Science Fiction Convention here in Chicago. I greatly appreciated the gesture. It was good fun. I showed the flag for WARN, networked, attended some panels, and offered up some disruptive and challenging interventions against those who thought that "sci-fi" was/is synonymous with white and male.

Chicago Comic Con 2014 is taking place next week from August 21st to the 24th. I would very much like to attend the event. I had actually put the money aside to go. Alas, the universe had other plans.

Many of you can likely relate to the following experience.

As the only child of a parent who is getting older, I have learned that calls in the middle of the night are rarely good; a series of voice mails left minutes apart from the same number labeled "mom" in the cell phone are assuredly never good; and when the timbre of my mother's voice begins to change over the course of several days (especially at the end of the month) I know that money will be leaving my wallet and going somewhere else.

So between having to pay for her car to get fixed and the other related expenses from that accident, as well as her most recent crisis (of which there seem to be more of as time goes on), the money I had allotted for a nice and fun few days at Chicago Comic Con 2014 has gone to take care of my "adult responsibilities".

I will always help her out of love, and would thus never deny my mother anything--even if I could not reasonably provide it. But, said responsibilities are still demanding, stressful, and require that resources be reallocated from one ledger column to another from time to time.

We have many kind donors who support my work here and elsewhere. I do not want them to feel a sense of obligation. The other friends and supporters of WARN should also not feel any pressure to contribute to my informal "send Chauncey DeVega to Chicago Comic Con 2014" effort.

There are enough folks who read, enjoy, and find my work useful on a daily and/or weekly basis, that hopefully, their contributions will likely be sufficient for my trip.

1. As I did with Worldcon, I will post some photos of Chicago Comic Con 2014, Tweet if I can, and share my experiences there with all of you as is my habit.

2. If I can conduct some interviews with interesting folks while at Chicago Comic Con 2014, I will do that too.

3. There are some great guests and panels scheduled for Chicago Comic Con 2014. I will be checking out the Star Trek: TNG reunion (fingers crossed I will still be able to get tickets), the various TNG panels, and the discussions on race and gender in comics, graphic novels, and other genre entertainment. I will also try to get a ticket for the Guardians of the Galaxy panel discussion.

4. Plus, Chicago Comic Con 2014 is my several weeks early birthday gift to myself, and also a moment to recharge my batteries before the school year begins. Who wouldn't want to give Chauncey DeVega a birthday gift? I am so cuddly and sweet! Plus, Virgos are the nicest and coolest Zodiac signs. We give nice hugs...or so I have been told.

5. Let's be real. Chicago Comic Con 2014 will be lots of fun. How can I not make my best effort to attend it?

6. Any monies above what I need to go to Chicago Comic Con 2014 will be donated to some of the homeless brothers and sisters who I try to say "hello" to during my daily walks around Chicago. I will be especially generous to those folks who have pets.

If you can, and are able, do please throw some centavos into the donation bucket via the Paypal link on the right hand sidebar. Alternatively, you should be able to click here and access it as well--Paypal can be fickle, but it should ultimately work.

Again, and as always, thanks for the kindness and support.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

10 Ways that Racism Killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner

A New York City police officer put his arm around Eric Garner’s neck and choked out his life as he screamed “I can’t breathe!”

A police officer in Ferguson, MO aimed his gun at Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager and shot him multiple times while he reportedly pleaded, “I don't have a gun. Stop shooting!”

Michael Brown lay dead in the street for hours. The police treated his body like common street refuse.

While the police ended the lives of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, it was white racism that actually killed them.

American society is organized around the maintenance and protection of white privilege.

Racism is not an opinion. Racism is a fact. 

The reality of the color line, how whiteness is a type of material and psychological privilege, and that people of color are disadvantaged in American society, are among the most repeated findings in all of the Social Sciences.

Critics of white supremacy and white racism work from the reasonable and informed belief—given the mountains of empirical data in support of the claim—that racism is one of the most powerful social forces in the United States. White racism deniers, and those others who have perverted the notion of “colorblindness” in order to advance and protect white supremacy as one of the United States' dominant ideologies, proceed from the opposite assumption.

Gravity is a fact. It does not need an extraordinary proof. Likewise, the fact of how racism continues to structure life chances in the post civil rights era should be a given for any fair-minded and intelligent person.

Colorblind racism and the white racial frame invert and distort reality: reasonable and sensible claims are rejected in favor of extraordinary proofs for the well documented social reality that is white racism. As such, for white racism deniers and their allies, the standards of evidence are made so absurdly high as to be virtually impossible to satisfy or meet with any degree of confidence or certitude.

Events such as the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown are a nexus where white racial resentment and white supremacy are made to confront black pain, reasonable hurt and righteous anger.

From the American lynching tree of the 19th and early 20th centuries, to the police harassment and racial profiling of the present, white racial logic deems black humanity to be a type of perpetual threat and poison in the white body politic. The black body must be controlled and terrorized in order to create a sense of safety (and community) for the white public.

Consequently, white racial paranoia twists the murder of two unarmed black people by the police into “justifiable” acts, where the victims of gross and unjust violence are somehow made responsible for their own deaths.

Colorblind racism, white racism denying, and police brutality do the work of white supremacy. They are also micro-aggressions, the goal of which is to exhaust and confuse black and brown people by invalidating their life experiences and assaulting (quite literally in the case of police violence) their personhood. 

Colorblind racism, and the related claims that racism does not influence how police and the broader criminal justice system interact with black and brown people, are also assaults on empirical reality and the truth.

Justice for Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and the many hundreds and thousands of innocent black and brown people who have been killed by the police requires a clear and direct engagement with the twin facts of American racism and white supremacy.

Eric Garner and Michael Brown were killed by white racism. 

What is my evidence for this claim?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Grotesque Portrait of Power in Ferguson, Missouri: A Heavily Armed S.W.A.T. Team is "Threatened" by an Unarmed Black Man Walking Down the Street

The protests in Ferguson, Missouri over the murder of Michael Brown by a local police officer continued last night. The police are fully militarized and are shooting at, harassing, bullying, and acting like thugs against an entire community whose "crime" is being black and outraged that a young person was shot, and the State has (so far) acted in an irresponsible way as they work to conceal the crime.

According to news reports, the FAA has declared Ferguson a "no-fly zone", police are removing their ID and name tags, and have systematically been harassing and chasing out the news media so that they can fully engage in counter-insurgency military tactics and run amok in violation of the civil rights of the people of Ferguson, Missouri. This is not taking place in some "Third World" country; it is taking place now, here, in the United States when a black man is President, and another is the Attorney General.

[Obama, he who happens to be black and the President of the United States, several hours ago finally found time to issue a comment about the murder of Michael Brown and the events in Ferguson.

Apparently, the suicide of Robin Williams was a more important matter and thus took precedence.]

Despite the local thug police department's efforts to censor and suppress media coverage, there are brave people who are sharing photos and information about the on-going events in Ferguson.

This photo of a police tactical squad facing down an unarmed black man is one of the most powerful depictions of the grotesque nature of power that I have seen in many years.

Readers of WARN know that I am very interested in visual semiotics. The position of the bodies, the N.W.A. "fuck the police" lyric on the mailbox, and how those camouflaged men in fully body armor, wearing surplus boots from the invasions of Afghanistan or Iraq, are facing down an unarmed black man walking in public space in an American community is a profound commentary on power and race.

State power works by maintaining a pretense of its own vulnerability all the while possessing the capacity to exert its will--here a monopoly on violence--over others.

Power also exists in a hyper-aware paradoxical state of authority and legitimacy which is plagued by a fear that it must reassert itself in order to not be made to appear vulnerable.

Moreover, power and race are perverse in Ferguson, Missouri, where the police continue to conceal the identity of the cop who killed Michael Brown for reasons of protecting the former's safety.

Question. Who was protecting Michael Brown from the police?

There is a no-fly zone to "protect" the police and "the residents".

Second question. Do the black people in Ferguson have a secret air force that I am unaware of?

How do you "read" the image of the police military tactical team that is confronting an unarmed black man walking down the street in Ferguson, Missouri? I see overwhelming armed masculine force made to look impotent and weak by the presence of an unarmed black person who they could kill with ease. The police are the cowards; the unarmed black man has the power to provoke, arouse, and anger White Authority by virtue of his mere existence in public space.

White racial paranoiacs (a condition of the white racial frame and the White Gaze that was discussed here) will somehow see an unarmed black person as a threat, and one who is somehow "provoking" the police into shooting or arresting him.

What do you see?

Monday, August 11, 2014

It isn't Rocket Science Folks: On the Civil Unrest Following the Killing of Michael Brown by the Cowardly Thuggish Police in Ferguson, Missouri

On Sunday evening, there were acts of civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. These disturbances were in response to the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, who was shot multiple times by a police officer and whose body was left laying in the street for several hours. Witnesses to the event reported that Michael was shot without reason. The officer apparently shot him many more times once his body was on the ground. The police, have as expected, concocted a wildly ridiculous story to cover up the misdeeds of one of their own.

In response to the civil unrest, the commentariot class issues the 1) requisite condemnation of the "rioters" and 2) acts as though there is some great mystery for why people would take to the streets, "confront" the police, and "loot" businesses in their own community. 

And of course, there will be an obligatory quote from Brother Doctor King that is taken out of context in order to condemn the "bad blacks" in Ferguson, Missouri.

The pressure to follow this public script is especially heavy for black and brown people.

I choose to deviate from those trite rhetorical norms. 

Black people are not allowed to be angry. Black people are also not allowed to show the full range of righteous anger and indignation that is common to the human experience. 

The outbreak of unrest in Ferguson was predictable and understandable. In fact, I am surprised that more communities which have been subjected to onerous, tyrannical, racist, classist, violent abuse by the police do not erupt in protest. 

Like New York and other major cities, the small town of Ferguson has a history of racial profiling and harassing its black residents.

The murder of Michael Brown is a proximate cause of the unrest in Ferguson. It is not the deeper systemic root of the protests. Here too, the news media on both the left and the right will focus on the symptoms--righteous anger and rage--as opposed to the cause (over-policing; the militarization of the police; police racism; social inequality).

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What Sort of White Person Do You Want to Be? The Cowardly Police Shot and Killed an Unarmed Black Teenager Named Michael Brown Eight Times Yesterday in Ferguson, Missouri

The police have killed another unarmed black person whose supposed "crime" was walking in the middle of the street. Eric Garner was choked to death several weeks ago by the NYPD. On Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri, an 18-year-old college-bound teenager named Michael Brown was shot at least 8 times by a local police officer.

Of course, the police have offered up a narrative in which Brown attacked their officer (a basic question: who jumps inside of a police car and attacks a heavily armed cop?).

Witnesses offer a very different version of events: they claim that the police officer in question shot Michael Brown, the latter collapsed, and the cop then proceeded to shoot him multiple times. The African-American community in Ferguson Missouri is justifiably upset and protests soon began out of the Ferguson police department.

The white racial frame deems that black and brown people are not allowed the right of righteous anger. When black and brown people protest--using their Constitutional right to assemble, airing grievances in the public sphere, and exercising free speech--they are somehow "rioting".

Angry white men, the most privileged group of people in the United States, are feted by the mass media and courted by America's political system; angry black people, who have suffered under power and have legitimate justice claims, are criminalized, slurred, imprisoned, and shot by police.

As I shared on Twitter, to fully understand the shooting of Michael Brown and other incidents of police violence, abuse, and tyranny, one must have an expansive understanding of power and white supremacy.

Individual tragedies are important. However, once we see power as a type of interlocking relationships, it is far easier to contextualize them. Most importantly, because white racial paranoia and the defenders of white supremacy are so adept at denying and reframing reality (see the virulently racist comments on CNN's story about the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri), a systematic understanding of racism helps to keep good and decent people who want to fight those evil social forces both grounded and sane.