Monday, December 3, 2007
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), former Sen. John Edwards (from left) were among the participants in Saturday's Brown and Black Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, which focused on issues affecting black and Latino voters in the state. The forum was open to all the candidates — but none of the Republicans showed up. So the evening was a chance for the Democrats to reach out to some important audiences — African-American and Hispanic voters. The event also had a twist — each candidate had a chance to pose a question to someone else on stage. Among the audience-pleasing moments of the two-hour event was the response of Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich to his chance to question a candidate. The often puckish Kucinich proceeded to question himself. "Congressman Kucinich, is it true that you're the only one sitting up here … who advocates a universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care system, which would result in all 46 million Americans who are not insured, and another 50 million Americans who are under-insured … being covered? And the answer to that question is, it is true," he said.
Respectable Negroes, we really need to amp up our questions and demands in this race.
Forty-three soldiers, all African Americans, were court-martialed and convicted of lynching an Italian prisoner of war during World War II. The Defense Department recently exonerated the men and sent at least one of the two survivors a check for $725 in back pay. Yes, $725.
Four of the most prestigious poetry prizes went to African-American women this year. Some say the accolades are well overdue. Fueling this trend are a growing number of literary organizations that nurture the work specifically of black writers. A new Renaissance?
Friday, November 30, 2007
This week's theme is 5 phrases respectable negroes need to retire immediately.
1.) “Dr. King didn’t die so we could…”
Enough with this shit, people.
2.) “Oh, but when white people do it, it’s OK?”
The stock response from those who break their necks defending black criminality and irresponsibility…by noting that white people are also criminal and irresponsible. What a compelling defense!
3.) This is a “(modern day) lynching.”
James Byrd was lynched. Tookie Williams did not suffer a "legal lynching." "Uncle" Clarence Thomas was not subjected to a "high-tech lynching." Moreko Griggs, the black valedictorian who had to share the honor with a couple of white kids due to his school’s sketchy rule-changes, was not the victim of an "academic lynching." Referring to some minor offense as a lynching is insulting and highly disrespectful to actual lynching victims. Speaking of being lynched…
4.) “It’s just like Willie Lynch said...”
I don’t want to go into great detail about this because we plan to write pieces on black myths and conspiracy theories in the future. But I’m sick of hearing black folks bring up this fabricated, though masterful piece of victimology.
5.)“We use ‘nigger’ as a term of endearment among ourselves to remove the power from the word.”
Nonsense. First of all, it's not only used as a term of endearment; many black folks use the word in a derogatory fashion, often to distinguish themselves (supposedly respectable) from classless, ignorant, degenerate black people. Second, you’d have to be an imbecile to argue that we have become any less sensitive to white people calling us “niggers.” While we're at it, please stop with this nigga/nigger foolishness--it's the same damn word! In most black and white Southern dialects, words that end in "er" are pronounced with an "a" ending. Can you name any other "er" word with a corresponding (though somehow completely different) "a" word? Gangster/gangsta? Nope. Give it up.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I cower as I write this. My Zombie Survival Guide, and my SAS Survival Handbook have some valuable tips for dealing with this type of calamity. But, I fear the information they impart may not help me survive the attack.
For those of you not in the know, public relations, because it is a client based enterprise, is akin to being a prostitute. You are at the beck and call of your Johns (here: the client). You are rented out to the client by your pimp (here: your employer). And ultimately, you have to pretend to enjoy servicing your John, and to enjoy it so much that your John will keep coming back for more---so much more, that your pimp/p.r. firm can continue to rent you out over, and over, and over, again. The noted public intellectual, Ice-T, eloquently summarized this relationship in the documentary, Pimps Up, Ho's Down, when with great aplomb he said, "we are all someone's ho. it is just a matter of picking the right pimp":
For me, this "new" phenomenon of old white women looking for some sycamore tree comes down to agency and willpower--attributes which both parties have, but in differing amounts. Restated, "who is playing who?" Is the "victim" the young black man who gets money, attention, perks, and access to the all inclusive resort? Is the "victim" the old woman who believes that this diggler will love her? I strongly suggest, that perhaps, they are playing each other.
It is hard out there for a pimp. But, it is harder out there for a mangina:
Tomorrow, I have something more substantial to post. But for now, here is what those European and American women who go to the Islands, or to Africa, are really looking for:
And remember, Mr. T don't believe in Race Mixing. Plus, he beat cancer. I pity the fool!!!
Monday, November 26, 2007
You see, I suffer from a phenomenon termed by sociologist Charles Horton Cooley as “the looking glass self.” This is essentially the interaction between how we see ourselves and how others see us. Because respectable negroes so often find themselves in white dominated spaces, we all experience this phenomenon at some point or another: we may adore Jay-Z, but we groan when we see our white colleagues grab their crotches and attempt to sing Girls, Girls, Girls; we may love fried chicken, but we pass on it at the company picnic; we may love to dance, but we’ll be damned if we are the first to get out on the dance floor at the firm’s holiday party… Why? Because we know that what they see is not what we see. In reacting to others perceptions of us, we both alter our behavior and our own perceptions of ourselves.
As I stood in the line to see Heading South, and later as I watched both the audience and the film, I knew that those women would not see what I was seeing. I was there to see a film about the terrible exploitation of the developing world by the West. They were there to see what they imagined as the white woman's version of How Stella Got Her Groove Back. A New York Times report on one screening described, "Some bought tickets in groups for a kind of middle-aged girls’ night out. Interviews indicated the movie has hit home with this audience because it affirms the sexual reality of women of a certain age, that even as they pass the prime of their desirability to men, libidos smolder. More than a few said they came seeking a hot night out."
Heading South takes place in Papa Doc's Haiti -- one of many terrifying chapters in the island's history. The central male characters are all poor, Haitian men who are struggling to get by. The central female characters are all elite, middle-aged women from the U.S., Canada & Europe. The women are there to purchase the attentions of young men (in one case very young, thirteen). The story focuses on the relationship between Ellen and Legba, her favorite, young lover. Early in the film, Ellen confesses, "I always told myself that when I'm old I'd pay young men to love me. I just didn't think it would happen so fast." Like the women in the audience that night, she could care less about the vulnerability and desperation of the young man she embraces. The violence and poverty of the island she enjoys is held at bay by security guards, leaving her free to exploit her fantasy. She doesn't care to know more. When tragedy inevitably raises its head, Ellen foolishly and selfishly sees herself at the center of it all.
The fact that the male protagonist is named Legba should have been the first clue to both the audience and to Ellen that all was not as it appeared, that there was a truth to take away. Legba, aka Eshu, Elegba or Elegua, is a Yoruba deity found in the practices of Orisha-ifa, Candomble, Santeria and Vodou. He is known as a playful, "trickster" god who plays pranks on mortals in order to teach them hard lessons. Somehow this key fact was lost on the female characters, on the audience members and on movie reviewers alike. They completely missed a major part of the story line and reduced the film to a hot story about sexy mandingos and the white women they crave. Of course, I left the film angry and with an attitude. And, of course, my fellow movie-goers assumed that my anger was tied to a resentment of their desirability. My entire movie experience, my entire night, was altered by what I imagined a bunch of old, white women were thinking.
At this point, I know that you are wondering why I let myself get so worked up about a film. The problem was that I knew that this film was based in fact, that it wasn't entirely fiction, that many of those women in the audience ran to book vacations to Haiti, to Cape Verde, to the Dominican Republic, to Jamaica, to Kenya ... As a frequent traveler, I can't tell you how many times I have gone to the Caribbean and witnessed wrinkled, flaccid women from Europe waiving dollars, Euros and gifts in front of young men who, in stronger economies, would be employed or in school. I try to hide the surprise and disgust on my face, but the men see it and either react with aggression ("Who the hell do you think you are?") or turn their heads in shame. When I was traveling in upper-Egypt, I witnessed the same phenomenon: beautiful, Nubian men in traditional kufis and gallabiyyas walking along the shores of the Nile with frumpy, old women immodestly dressed. Anyone who has ever visited a man in jail or prison has witnessed similar dynamics. There, you very often see young, black men in their prime attached at the hip to older, white women, those who presumably could not afford plane tickets abroad.
In all of the popular discussions of this growing phenonemon, the narrative is always about white women rediscovering their sexuality. The women are always haughty and self-righteous about their arrangements, asserting a dynamic of equal exchange. Rarely do we hear the voices of the men and young boys, for this isn't their story. They are merely part of the supporting cast. They are black bodies for purchase. They are what white women perceive them to be. The suffering economies and violent societies are mere backdrops for a neo-colonial love fest. This is the story of Miss Ann being "served, serviced and pampered" by her over-sexed mandingo.
“There was absolutely no prospect of a Middle East peace process that was going to lead to anything,” she said in an interview in May about her thinking in 2001. “I just didn’t see it.” Nearly seven tumultuous years later, Ms. Rice, as secretary of state, has led the Bush administration to a startling turnaround and is now thrusting the United States as forcefully as Mr. Clinton once did into the role of mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians. The culmination of her efforts occurs this week in Annapolis, Md., as Mr. Bush, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, meet to set the outlines of a final peace agreement before the end of Mr. Bush’s term.
Augustus Hawkins, who was California's first black congressman and helped form the Congressional Black Caucus, has died. He was 100. Hawkins died Saturday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., of symptoms related to old age, his niece, Susan Jefferson, said Monday. Hawkins, a Democrat, represented south Los Angeles for more than half a century, first starting off in the state Legislature in 1935 and then getting elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1962. Hawkins sponsored the equal employment section of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act that created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He helped create the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971. Hawkins also co-wrote the Humphrey-Hawkins Act of 1978 that was designed to reduce unemployment and inflation.
...its been a slow week for respectable negroes.
Friday, November 23, 2007
We respectable negroes are also thankful for Paul Mooney.
Accordingly, here is some Thanksgiving's day Paul Mooney love:
Happy Thanksgiving, May The Force be with You, Peace, and Salaam, from us respectable negroes to all of you.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
An African Poet in England Curses his English Head of Department
My dear HOD, i.e., Head of a Donkey,
I just want you to know, you dumb ass,
that in the culture I come from, it is okay
for a poet to curse, provided it is in verse!
As you leave Hope Place, tonight, staggering
homewards like a drunken miner rehearsing
how to beat up his wife and strangle his children,
may the bright light at the end of your tunnel
Be the headlamp of an approaching diesel train.
As you hiccup forward, hoping to find in Freshfields
some respite from the razorblades and penknives
flourishing, like cactus flowers, in your rancorous
and cantankerous heart, may you reach home only
to find out that your wife has run away to your best friend.
May your two daughters elope to Africa
with the fuzzy wuzzy who bangs bongo-bongo drums
with callused palms to stay the seasons
of his abused self and exiled soul in your corruscating
Caucasian department along Hope Street.
May they impale their pear-shaped buttocks
on his delicious penis, lowering themselves
ecstatically on his gorgeous Zulu dick, like
headless, barbarqued chicken and keep rotating
round and round frenetically until they are bronzed
by the heat and power of his copper-hot rod and brown libido.
When they return to England, as they kiss you
at the airport, may they empty what remains of his semen
and the other juices of his body they swallowed
through their pussies into your own mouth and down your throat.
May you never be able to digest those juices of their love.
May your next wife mistake you for her clitoris
And play with you as often she did with herself
before she married you and you became her clitoris.
May your students mistake you for Caligula
or Grendel or the Cyclops or Nero or Nebuchadnezzar
Or Jack the Ripper or Richard West or Jeffrey
Dahmer and deal with you accordingly.
May your colleagues see you in a new and progressive light
As the twenty-first century reincarnation
of Julius Caesar, Coriolanus, Richard III, Narcissus,
Goliath, Pentheus and deal with you accordingly.
When you bid the earth adieu, preferably
by stoning or public strangling, may you
be buried in the belly of a thousand wolves
and foxes and hyenas and other scavengers.
May vultures share your flesh shred by shred
As they sing their national anthem in German.
In your next reincarnation, may you come back
rearranged like the petals of a hibiscus flower,
or the feathers of a crippled, impotent peacock.
And when you do come again, may you never
harbour the dim and blighted illusion that you are
the only flower in the graveyard called Hope Place.
If anything I have spoken tonight is false,
If my speech is slander, if what I have uttered
here is the soot from the bottom of my mother’s pot,
meant for an innocent face, may all the curses
I have uttered on this page fall upon my own head.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I guess that the daily barrage of stories about athletes’ legal problems makes it hard to see how truly remarkable this is.
According to supporters of stale organizations like the NAACP, these indictments are evidence of a racist witch hunt by white folks looking to take down influential black people. These shakedown clowns give respectable negroes a bad name.
...But I digress. Based on the events of the last couple of years, all bets are off. We may see black athletes charged with all kinds of crazy shit. If I were a black athlete, I’d retire immediately, hire a driver (but never show that driver my shotgun), refuse to set foot in a strip club, and avoid white women like the plague.
March 2008: Freddy Adu is charged with identity theft for trying to impersonate Don Cheadle (I know they don’t really look alike, but there are very few dark-skinned celebrities these days. It’s like an El-Debarge/Al B. Sure revival).
August 2009: Venus and Serena get pinched for bootlegging moonshine on some Uncle Jesse shit (the one from “DuKKKes of Hazzard,” not the one from “Full House”).
February 2010: The black half of Tiger Woods is found to be behind an international Asian sex slavery ring.
November 2010: Whoever the token black NASCAR driver will be is arrested on the track and charged with DWB.
... Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.This word-of-mouth among Democrats makes Obama look vulnerable and Clinton look prudent.
...“everyone knows” the LA Times was sitting on a story, all wrapped up and ready to go about what is a potentially devastating sexual scandal involving a leading Presidential candidate. “Everyone knows” meaning everyone in the DC mainstream media political reporting world. “Sitting on it” because the paper couldn’t decide the complex ethics of whether and when to run it.
...some troubling inside scuttlebutt. There's no way to know if it's legit, bluff or just another attempt by Clinton to intimidate her way to the nomination. But if I were Hillary Clinton, I don't think I'd be eager to start a media war over the details of people's personal lives, if that's what this is about. When you are married to Bill Clinton, and when the world has decided to ignore, for now at least, the details of his personal life since he left office, best to leave the dirt alone, don't you think?
...Maybe the Obama response to an alleged Obama story is not a function, pace Larison, of "flailing" and inexperience, but a calculated bid to force Clinton's biggest liability out into the open before she gets the nomination? I have no inside information on this, and no solid evidence of either an Obama "scandal" or a Clinton one, but the stakes are very high for all the reasons I've speculated on. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
--The Atlantic Monthly
Politicos everywhere are placing bets on this one. Respectable Negroes are hoping that the rumors are unfounded. More later...
Sunday, November 18, 2007
When Cynthia Fitzgerald started out in pharmaceutical sales 20 years ago, she received ample training on the right and wrong ways to sell medical products. Right was selling on the merits. Wrong was luring customers with perks and freebies. It was O.K. to buy doctors lunch or dinner, for example, but tempting them with lavish gifts was taboo...
But she says those early lessons didn’t serve her so well when she went to work on the other side of the table in 1998, in health care purchasing. Going by the book, and expecting her colleagues and employer to do the same, cost her a job, most of her friendships and several years of her life, she says.
Eventually, Ms. Fitzgerald decided to file what could become one of the largest whistle-blower lawsuits on record...
Hugo Chavez (yes, he's a Negro)
In two weeks, Venezuela seems likely to start an extraordinary experiment in centralized, oil-fueled socialism. By law, the workday would be cut to six hours. Street vendors, homemakers and maids would have state-mandated pensions. And President Hugo Chávez would have significantly enhanced powers and be eligible for re-election for the rest of his life...
Chávez loyalists already control the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, almost every state government, the entire federal bureaucracy and newly nationalized companies in the telephone, electricity and oil industries. Soon they could control even more...
“We are witnessing a seizure and redirection of power through legitimate means,” said Alberto Barrera Tyszka, co-author of a best-selling biography of Mr. Chávez. “This is not a dictatorship but something more complex: the tyranny of popularity.”
Wads of dollar bills are usually as much a part of rap videos as fast cars, diamond-encrusted jewellery and scantily-clad models. But in an apparent nod to the low value of the dollar, rapper Jay-Z's new video Blue Magic features another currency...
The US currency has been ticking off historic lows over the past few months as falling US interest rates make other currencies more attractive. It recently passed $2.10 to the pound, reached parity with the Canadian dollar and set an all-time record of $1.4752 to the euro. Other more conventional market-watchers have also been snubbing the dollar, including the billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
There have been no suggestions that Jay-Z's fellow rapper 50 Cent could be considering a move into a different currency.
(Kidding aside, respectable negroes paying attention to money markets should know that the dollar is in a steep decline. START INVESTING IN EUROS!!)
It seems that apes have run amok. In India, there have been several incidents in which monkeys have killed innocent people. Apparently, these little rapscallions have overrun an entire city. As noted in this article---those dirty apes are "wreaking havoc in my constituency by taking away mobile phones, toothpastes, sipping coke after opening the refrigerators". Hmmm...sounds like my neighborhood. Plus, to make matters worse, we have turkeys running wild in one American city.
My friends say I can't beat a monkey in a street fight. They argue that the ape has too much strength, too much speed, and I wouldn't be able to score any damaging blows:
I disagree. As long as I have my trusty belt, a la Pootie Tang, I can whoop any ape, anywhere, and anytime:
Fighting an angry ape does require training. Here, I suggest that all prospective man versus ape competitors study Pootie Tang because it features one of the most impressive man versus ape fight scenes in movie history. I implore you, please rent the movie and deconstruct it, lest you suffer the same fate as Pootie Tang's father ("only the third time a man had been mauled by a gorilla at that steel mill"). Now "experts" say you should avert eye contact, avoid sudden movements, and be docile if faced with a monkey attack. To this, I say, hell nah! Simply take your belt off, use your superior intelligence, and proceed to whoop that monkey's ass.
Addendum: I have been told by several people that monkeys, apes, chimps, and gorillas are not the same. Again, regardless of the label or moniker attached to those 2 legged beasts, I believe I could whoop any of said primates with my belt. And I certainly could defeat a turkey in man versus beast combat.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
This week there is something in the air that gives me, us, real concern regarding our nation's stability, long term prosperity, and frankly, speaks volumes to our collective sanity (or lack thereof).
Perhaps, it is because I am in D.C. Maybe I am experiencing a "Tyler Durden" moment because I am off my meds? Quite possibly, it could be that I am picking up on our body politic's collective exhaustion at the thought of 1.6 trillion dollars being flushed down the shitter on a wasted, unnecessary military adventure which has left us weaker rather than stronger. Who knows? maybe it is just hanging out in D.C. and seeing all these homeless brothers and sisters, many of whom got to play G.I. Joe and G.I. Jane and were conveniently forgotten and abandoned when they came home--damaged and broken people who are an unpleasant reminder that these military escapades have a very real, and very human, cost.
In other news, this week's news events included:
1. Chaos in a nuclear armed Pakistan. This is a nightmare scenario. In the worst case scenario, Musharraf's clique is deposed and we could lose a crucial ally against Al-Queda and The Taliban. Or in the worst, worst, Freddy Krueger is coming to get you scenario, we would see Pakistan's nuclear weapons come under the control of folks who would like nothing more than to Fedex a warhead to NYC. By the way, there is no reasonable or viable scenario for securing those nukes. Where is Chuck Norris and Delta Force when we need them?;
2. Indian Women are "renting" their wombs to rich Europeans and Americans. I don't need to describe how many levels of twisted this is;
3. I won't go for the obvious and mention how delightfully cute the 8 limbed Indian child is, or speculate about what these increasingly common birth defects reveal about the state of the environment and how polluted it is. Nor, will I mention this story about the disturbingly high levels of industrial toxins in the average American's body;
4. In Nigeria, researchers released findings about a region of that country which I affectionately refer to as, "The Land of Magical Yams". Here, everyone is a twin, it must be those magical yams. Hmmmm...that sounds like the beginnings of a folk melody, any takers?;
5. Researchers have announced that they have successfully cloned monkeys. In other news, researchers have experimented with fusing animal and human DNA, as well as cloning organs for human transplant. Oh yeah, with the mapping of the human genome there has been serious discussion regarding the viability/inevitability of biological weapons which can target specific ethnic and racial subgroups. I am not a fan of too much unnecessary rising action in my fiction. Nor, am I a fan of too much teasing in my erotic life (which explains why I don't generally like lap dances, let me rephrase, I like lap dances at Spearmint Rhino, but I don't like paying for lap dances anywhere else). So, can we please just get around to the big reveal that scientists have been cloning humans for decades.
6. The dollar has sunk to such lows that Jay-Z is flashing Euros in his videos. Likewise, the supermodel Giselle, an exemplar of financial wisdom and acumen, is divesting herself of American dollars. By the way, America now rank's 15th in average worker income.
These events, and many others I didn't list, hint at a future that resembles Soylent Green or Omega Man (excluding his politics and his present state of decrepitude, Charlton Heston was the man back in the day). Prudently, I am going to dust off my Aldous Huxley, Ayn Rand, and George Orwell just to get a refresher on what may be coming.
In lieu of that heavy reading, I will wait for "Mr. Happy Rapper's" take on Richard Matheson's prescient apocalyptic vision:
And yes, I will checking out Southland Tales as well:
And no, I won't have be writing any movie reviews because my girl Zora would stick me with that rusty shiv she carries if I squatted on her turf....
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I was already saddened when I heard that the mother of rap-star Kanye West died tragically this past weekend. I am at the age where the loss of my parents is becoming more and more tangible. I get nervous whenever they are sick and any mention of their having to undergo major surgery scares me to death. My heart really goes out to Brother Kanye. Unfortunately, I realized days later that the death of Donda West was accompanied by another tragic loss -- that of her doctor, Jan Adams.
On the scale of “respectable negroes,” Dr. Adams was uber respectable. As a graduate from Harvard College, a medical resident at the University of Michigan, a television personality and a renowned plastic surgeon, he was a model for little black girls and boys across America. Dr. Adams was committed to making sure that women of color be able to alter their bodies at the same rate as white women. For him, plastic surgery was about providing us with “a new path to self-discovery and self-esteem." With our civil rights affirmed and economic security in place, Dr Adams was taking us to a new frontier. He was part of the vanguard of individuals who were breaking new ground for us black folks. His fame and influence had even led me to consider plastic surgery. (Could he have been the one to deliver me from the tag of having a "white girl's bootie?")
All of this is in the past tense, of course, for Dr. Adams has now lost all respectability. Whether or not he is found responsible for the death of Kanye’s mother, he will never again be seen as a good, non-threatening negro. He has fallen from our ranks. With allegations of driving under the influence, medical malpractice, spousal abuse and rape, he will now evoke and confirm every known stereotype attached to negro men in America.
Why? How did Dr. Adams allow himself to fall so far? I don't know him, of course, but I will conjecture: with all of his fame and achievements, Dr. Adams allowed himself to forget his very basic status of being a negro in America. He forgot the words of our elders cautioning us that "you have to be twice as good." He saw his white colleagues getting sloppy in the operating room and thought, "If they can get away with it, so can I." He saw other high-profile figures in Hollywood getting slaps on the wrist for drunk-driving, for assault, for rape, even for murder and thought, "If there are no consequences for them, why should there be for me?" The more Dr. Adams got away with, the more emboldened he became with his carelessness. I imagine that Dr. Adams got caught up in a lifestyle and lost his head. With bills mounting and over a half million dollars in malpractice settlements, he said yes to a surgery that he should have declined. The conclusion of this cautionary tale has yet to be written, but I think that we all know the ending already.
I write this not to suggest that the burden of having to be twice as good, of always having to be squeaky clean is fair. It is not. The level of scrutiny and judgement that goes along with being a respectable negro is almost impossible to bear. But the moment when we delude ourselves into thinking that we have "arrived," that we are somehow not like "the other negroes" is when we begin to stumble on that steep incline toward success and equality.
Here is an experiment. This week researchers released the finding that monkeys, yes those damn dirty apes!!, also experience cognitive dissonance. For the less informed, or for folks with other things to do, cognitive dissonance is a mental state of being in which we are forced to reconcile the irreconcilable, to make sense of the absurd, or alternatively to convince ourselves that what we are seeing makes sense regardless of all the impulses that tell us what we are witnessing is total bullshit.
I know that we respectable negroes will be returning to this topic in force in the next few weeks, but since I am in premier Bush's hometown, the chocolate city, good old Washington, D.C., and frankly am suffering from "protest fatigue"--you know, should I boycott overstock.com? Should I march on Washington to fight nooses? Should I not have spent money last week on Black boycott day?--I just had to post this little experiment.
1. Read the following article about monkeys and cognitive dissonance. In short, monkeys, like humans, and those of us who are suffering from "victomology" and have subquently had the voodoo put on them by "poverty pimps", (i.e. like the Earl of Tawana Brawley a.k.a. Al Sharpton et al.--a man who should be on the tv show Heroes because of his power to convince the public of any truth, however absurd) have the capacity to negotiate any number of variables, as well as contradictory bits of data, in order to produce a result which we find agreeable.
2. Watch this video about those young victims and role-models for struggle and resistance, i.e. "The Jena Six."
3. Watch this video about the puppy accused of biting off the child's genitals.
4. Reconcile by substituting the public's impassioned advocacy for the little innocent puppy (you damn well know this litttle innocent pup didn't bit off any kid's equipment) with the impassioned defense made by brother Al, and folks of that stripe, on the part of The Jena Six.
5. Write up your lab report and submit it.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
It’s not that kinda party.
Long ago I vowed that I would not to try to “legitimate” hip hop for those who don't understand it. I cringe whenever I hear Dyson or Russell Simmons begging people like Bill O’Reilly and Oprah to accept hip hop.
I place these hip hop defenders in the same category as those who plead with classical music snobs to recognize the complexity of jazz or prog rock, comic book fans who offer non-superhero graphic novels to as evidence of the medium’s “serious” or “adult” sensibilities, or black people who use black military service as proof of our historical loyalty and patriotism.
All of these groups seek acceptance by adopting the terms and frameworks of ignorant, but more powerful or influential people. Their efforts are Sisyphean, and their insecurity and need for external validation are pathetic.
I’m breaking my vow for you. I’m giving you this mixtape not because I seek your approval, but because I know that you’ll appreciate it because you are a critical thinker. Your inaccurate beliefs about hip hop stem from a lack of exposure and an ideological bias, not an inherent antagonism toward the people who produce it.
When you “school” me on those genres you defended, you’ll likely tell me to look beyond the clichés of sci fi lit (as a well-read negro, I am quite familiar with Ms. Butler) and zombie movies to appreciate the underlying social and political commentary on such topics as consumerism, conformity, memory, otherness.
Please take your own advice when listening to this mixtape*: go beyond the surface; pay attention to how the following songs use the language of rap to deal with transcendent questions concerning life, death, suffering, human nature, mind, matter, free will, God, and time.
*Don’t think that this kind of content is limited to “underground” hip hop; this just happens to be some of the stuff I have handy. The same approach is evident in the works of more popular artists like Outkast, Scarface, Nas, and even Jay Z, the epitome of mainstream corporate rap.
**Some rappers even draw inspiration from Sun Ra. How's that for insularity?
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The Japanese are an innovative people. But, how useful is this idea to the good negro people of these United States? If we respectable negroes were to hide inside our portable "vending machine" for protection when the ign'ts dragooned us we would be beat down pretty quick--if anything the promise of free soda would encourage the monsters to stomp us even harder.
So, in the interest of cross cultural exchange, we propose a more 'hood friendly series of disguises. The criteria are simple, what common and ubiquitous items or locales can we turn into costumes, and thus (hopefully, if only for a minute) be rendered ninja stealthy? We propose:
1. a bodega, fully equipped with sugar water, chico sticks, and other tasty ghetto treats;
2. a pay day loan or check cashing spot;
3. a store front church, cause you know you all need to be saved;
4. an empty 40oz bottle of beer or other malt liquor;
5. a bootleg dvd with the pixeleted homemade cover and audience "commentary";
6. personal responsibility and common sense cause folks are blind to both.
What else can we add to our list?
Monday, November 12, 2007
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
There is absolutely no place for anything Hip Hop on our mix tape. This isn’t a slam against the genre, but more a comment on the nature of the music. Overall, it addresses the business of the street, the here-and-now. Where once it provided an alternative voice, a “bite back,” it increasingly just promotes a faux vision of gangster life, of urban life, of negro life … What’s more, it is ahistorical – for most hip hop artists, our life began in the 1980s (maybe the 70s, but only as a source of samples). Transcendence Hip Hop does not offer.
Communing with alternative life forms requires something existential, a deep probing of who we be – as negro Americans, as decedents of Africans, as Black people, as men and women, as human beings, as earthlings … Who be we? I still don’t know, but Sun Ra, Kirk and Kuti are examples of black artists who require serious introspection.
Anyone who appreciates the music of Sun Ra, should not be so quick to dismiss science fiction, speculative fiction, zombie flicks, etc. These art forms require the same level of thought -- an ability to imagine alternative ways of being, to reason outside of what has been given to us as rational. Octavia Butler, for example, was one who understood well the potential for science/speculative fiction to explore and explain the madness and irrationality of race. Chauncey and I will have to school you on this later …
"As renaissance negroes we are also black geeks"
You know damn well that I'm not into comic books, videogames, "Star Wars," sci fi books, zombie flicks, slasher flicks, "Lord of The Rings," Monty Python, computer programming, or any other element of geek culture. I was a huge "Simpsons" fan before it started sucking, though.
And "There be life" is not a valid construction in AAVE . Stop disrespecting our heritage, Brother.
To answer the question, I say we send samples of our greatest alien musical representatives:
Sun Ra, Funkadelic, and Outkast.
I think we should also send the complete works of James Baldwin. Not only was his intelligence otherworldly, just look at his face and tell me the aliens wouldn't recognize him as their brother.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Danger Will Robinson! Danger! This post is an official black geek alert.
Respectable negroes are innovators both by nature, (because we have melanin, a magical substance which allows us to metabolize the sun's light and to generate heat and energy) and as a function of necessity (because our material limitations have forced us to be innovative, e.g. digging for cast off records in the 25 cent bin and then transforming said records into the basis for a whole genre of music).
Respectable negroes are natural multi-taskers. For example, while ruminating on the plight of the ignt's we may simultaneously:
- find ourselves admiring the prose of Langston Hughes
- computing the correct number of credit cards necessary to play an infinite game of credit card roulette in which we transfer balances from one card to another and never ever pay our actual credit card bills;
- wondering if the comic book series The Walking Dead will turn a corner and return to form;
- finding a way out of the time travel paradox presented by the Terminator movies;
- speculating if the creators of the heretofore, and now officially "craptastic" television series Heroes, will admit they are basically lifting the X-Men and its Legacy virus storyline;
- writing screenplays for movies that will never be made;
- hoping that Rosario Dawson is as cool and sexy in person as she appears to be in either Clerks 2 or in Alexander--speaking of which, how did a Puerto Rican mami get to the hinterlands of asia in the 3rd century B.C.?;
- or comparing the relative merits of that San Francisco treat, aka Rice-A-Roni, to Near East brand's rice pilaf, a rice favored for its subtlety, but one that in my opinion, lacks Rice-A-Roni's complex flavor.
Today, I am having a black geek moment, a geekasm, a geek priapism, a moment of geek ecstasy and nervous release because we have additional confirmation that there are multiple Earth type planets in the galaxy, and that by inference, we are probably not alone in the universe.
Undoubtedy, there are some members of the flat earth society who don't understand the importance of this discovery (see state's evidence number one: that cabal of harpies on The View), or alternatively would reject the notion of life on other planets because it is not "biblically" correct (dumb asses). This discovery is not exciting simply because it confirms what any person with a minimum of common sense has long known, i.e. that life is probably more common than uncommon in the universe. Here, I must introduce one qualifier: as a black geek who has astrophysics journals among his pile of "droppin a deuce" reading materials in the bathroom, I do not take this discovery of earth type planets as necessarily making a strong case for alien visitation to our fair planet. Why? Because frankly, as my ace boon coon theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, and also the smartest human being I have ever met, once said, "why would aliens want to expend time, energy, and resources to visit an out of the way planet in an uninteresting solar system, a solar system that is in fact the equivalent of galactic trailer park?"
Nah, this is exciting because it is a chance to hypothesize about how given the working assumption that there is intelligent life somewhere in the universe, and that we humans have been broadcasting some 130 plus years of putrid radio and television signals out into the void of space, what perceptions and understandings would our alien brothers have about black people here on Earth? As my mom would say, if "Black" "Entertainment" Television, or mainstream media is a reference point, aliens must think all black folks do is bounce basketballs, fight a never ending battle against a plague of nooses, perform minstrel-hop, and that our women have 10 kids by 5 different men:
I would also add that extra-terrestrials would probably think we are a really happy people because all negroes do is dance and laugh when we aren't out committing crimes.
When the United States had a forward thinking space program in the 1960s and 1970s, we launched the Voyager series of deep space exploration probes--yes, the same type of probe that came back to Earth in Star Trek: The Motion Picture because it wanted to have freaky sex with the hot bald alien chick and commander Decker. These probes each contained a golden record which was encoded with all of the best that humankind had to offer. Basically, this "mixed tape for the gods" was our way of telling the universe we are here, we are intelligent, and please don't come here and lay the smackdown on on us like those those aliens from "Mr. Non-threating Happy Rapper" Will Smith's movie, Independence Day.
Zora, Gartrelle, what do you think on this one? Fellow readers, what are your thoughts? If we were to make a golden record today and send it out into space as our galactic calling card, what should it contain?
I have three suggestions. First, our probe should contain a clip of one of the greatest comedians of all time, performing one of the greatest routines of all time (we should show the aliens we are smart, funny, and appreciate irony):
Second, our probe should contain my boy Jay-Z performing Roc Boys from the American Gangster "soundtrack" because even when he is at 60%, Hova is better than 90% of those minstrel hoppers in the game, and we need to provide an antidote to some of that poison our alien brothers have been exposed to:
And just to show our alien brothers that we are tolerant of "difference":
The likes and dislikes links to the right aren’t consensus picks. In fact, each of us can add to the likes and dislikes independently of the others. Last week, I proposed an idea for a regular feature: Why we (dis)like it. This feature will consist of one of the respectable negroes objecting to the like or dislike selection of another, and this second negro then defending the selection. The third might chime in as well. Why we (dis)like it will serve not only to highlight more of our disagreements, but also to spark broader argument about the value of the people, things, and sites on our lists.
I was going to wait until next week to write the first Why we (dis)like it entry, and lightskinnededgirl was one of the two subjects I was considering. But when I saw that she made a blog post yesterday bemoaning her addition to our dislikes list, she made the choice for me.
It might seem strange that I’m defending lightskinnededgirl, given that:
1.) I’m an admitted hater.
2.) I share my colleagues’ distaste for tragic mulatta narratives--they’re tired, they are often based on the desire to be distinguished from “regular blacks,” and they perpetuate essentialist racial and cultural binaries.
and 3.) I wouldn’t say that I’m a fan of her blog.
I do, however, respect her right to define herself without being castigated. The type of “mixed up” identity that can come as a result of having a black and a white parent seems more justified than, for instance, the pathetic “I got Indian in my family” bullshit that internalized hatred has kept alive among black folks.
Race screws up everybody; lightskinnededgirl is just screwed up in a different way than are those who identify as white or black.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
...and not Bi-Racial, Mixed, Mocha, Mulatto, Mestizo, Octaroon, Quadroon, Bi-Cultural, Multi-Cultural, Almost White, Etc.
Bob Marley, Malcolm X, Sonia Sanchez, Duke Ellington, Anna Deveare Smith, Booker T. Washington, Katherine Dunham,