Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Negro History Week: Chauncey DeVega’s Pre-History Part 2

In part one of my pre-history we explored my father's life stories. We now turn our attention to mother Chauncey...

Did you know that Chauncey DeVega's mother:

...Learned how to drive at 10 years old. Apparently, she was too short to see over the dashboard of the 55 Buick her uncle would let her drive in exchange for doing errands. Chauncey's mother, a petite woman, would have to sit on a pillow in order to navigate the back country roads where she lived.

...Once tried to run over the neighborhood meth-head. This woman was riding a bicycle and dared to call Chauncey's mother out of her name. In retaliation mother Chauncey pursued this "fat bitch"--my mothers language not mine--with her car and pushed the back wheel of the bicycle with the front bumper of our Plymouth Grand Fury until the PWT careened out of control. We had a running feud with this family which involved numerous fights, general chaos, and episodes of random violence over the course of several decades.

... Is the first cousin of the boxer Floyd Patterson. This is ironic because Muhammad Ali is one of my personal heroes and the great Ali whooped Floyd Patterson's butt.

...Firmly believes that the actor Philip Michael Thomas (the light skinned guy from the TV series Miami Vice) is a relative. She, like black people everywhere, are obsessed with having "Indian" blood and has concocted a story where one of our family ran away from the South to be famous in Hollywood. This fictive relative was never seen again, but Mr. Thomas bears an incredibly strong resemblance to this man. Thus, my mother has claimed Miami Vice's Philip Michael Thomas as a relative.

...When asked about Doctor King and The Civil Rights movement said that King was "half-crazy and half-brave." When pressed about her participation in the Civil Rights Movement my mother said that she didn't want someone putting hoses on her, isn't capable of turning the other cheek, and that if some racist cop put his hands on her that she would kill him. So much for non-violence in my family.

...Has an eccentric first cousin who is a millionaire that owns 500 acres of land. This cousin also does not believe in the necessity of indoor plumbing and still maintains (and uses) an outhouse.

...Has a family with interesting and tragic roots. One of the patriarchs of our family was the product of a taboo relationship between a white, Jewish woman and a black man. Apparently, they were getting their groove on and this woman came up pregnant. The white people in town didn't take kindly to this crossing of the racial divide (even with a questionably "white" Jewish person) and formed a lynch mob to kill this woman and her lover. Unfortunately, these hate mongers were successful and killed the couple. Their love child was secretly taken in by my mother's clan and raised as one of the family.

...Like Gordon Gartrelle's family, we too have a black male relative who couldn't resist the temptations of white women and subsequently paid a high price for sharing his black love. Apparently, sometime around the turn of the 20th century one of my mom's people was philandering with a white man's wife in the Southern town where they lived. Said woman's husband found out and confronted my cousin who in turn killed this white man. In telling the story my mother observed that, "u know that's what black men do" meaning they can't resist sleeping with white women. I said that isn't fair. She replied, "it is the truth"--

At least there was a good outcome as my white woman seducing cousin ran up North and disappeared never to be seen opposed to running further down South.

...Aunt raised 13 children, most of which were not her own. My great Aunt, a woman with a 3rd grade education and without the aid of the State, i.e. welfare, social workers, and all that other mess which the undeserving breeding ignt's receive today (as opposed to the "deserving poor," i.e. people who have been laid off, downsized, are ill, elderly etc. and do not live in a cycle of dependency and ghetto underclass culture) mentored, encouraged, and raised a group of people whom would go on to be doctors, lawyers, and ministers.

Chauncey's World of Ghetto Nerds: Dungeons and Dragons Creator Passes Away

We now interrupt Negro History Week to bring you a special announcement:

Dungeons and Dragons was lots of fun, especially for socially awkward black kids in the semi-suburbs. You could hang out with your friends, and if you had a cool person running the campaign you could easily pass the time every Friday and most Saturdays of your middle school and High School years. Better yet, (and yes the games with its "high fantasy" setting could be a bit too European and Nordic for my taste) it was a world where race didn't matter and you could play a Moor (or its equivalent) paladin who was neutrally aligned--it added a little bit of mystery to my character. Anticipating your questions, no, I do not know what character class Marlon Wayans was supposed to represent in the horrible film adaptation:

My parents thought D and D was a cult because of the Tom Hanks movie, Mazes and Monsters:

But, they let me play it anyway because it kept me off the streets and my friends were good "middle class" kids.

Gary Gygax, Dungeons & Dragons creator, dies

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (AP) -- Gary Gygax, who co-created the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons and helped start the role-playing phenomenon, died Tuesday morning at his home in Lake Geneva. He was 69.

He had been suffering from health problems for several years, including an abdominal aneurysm, said his wife, Gail Gygax.

Gygax and Dave Arneson developed Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 using medieval characters and mythical creatures. The game known for its oddly shaped dice became a hit, particularly among teenage boys, and eventually was turned into video games, books and movies.

Gygax always enjoyed hearing from the game's legion of devoted fans, many of whom would stop by the family's home in Lake Geneva, about 55 miles southwest of Milwaukee, his wife said. Despite his declining health, he hosted weekly games of Dungeons & Dragons as recently as January, she said.

"It really meant a lot to him to hear from people from over the years about how he helped them become a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, what he gave them," Gygax said. "He really enjoyed that."

Dungeons & Dragons players create fictional characters and carry out their adventures with the help of complicated rules. The quintessential geek pastime, it spawned a wealth of copycat games and later inspired a whole genre of computer games that's still growing in popularity.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Besides his wife, Gygax is survived by six children.


We chocolate nerds will miss in peace Mr. Gygax

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Negro History Week: Chauncey DeVega’s Pre-History

I believe that history is as much about forgetting as it is about remembering. This is especially true for black Americans, and other members of the Diaspora, who had so much of their history torn asunder from them and forced into re-imagining what we cannot reclaim. For my first installment I talked to my mom and also reflected on some of my father's stories. As will be made clear by my future posts on this subject, history is as much about getting in the way of things, as of knowing when to get the hell out of the way. Ultimately, I think history has necessitated an ironic sense of humor among black folks because we have to laugh to keep from crying--I guess that may be true of Jews as well (and maybe the Irish, Native Americans, and a few others). Moreover, race and racism messes people up and is so absurd in how it impacts people that these stories, and how we tell them, speak volumes for how people negotiate power.

My people are from North Carolina, Boston and Rhode Island. From these experiences, we (meaning my parents and their 2 branches, had 2 mottoes. The first was, "we don't run from poor white trash." The second was, "we come from Boston and North Carolina and we ain't no Africans because those Africans sold us into slavery!" Now, if you know me and my people in real life there are some facts which complicate that story. But, as a fiction it was simultaneously a truth which helped structure my life. In the following stories that fact becomes quite evident:

Did You Know that Chauncey’s father…

...Was much older than his mother and played semi-pro football with questionably "white"people during the 1930s and 1940s. These good white ethnics included the Irish, Italians, and Greeks. These "white" people liked my father because he was really fast and had great hands so they wanted to draft him. As pops would say, "I was a shorter version of Randy Moss, and if pro-football drafted black people he would have tried out and and made it."My dad was a hell of a bullshit artist, but when he was serious he was serious, and this story was verified by many different people so I take it to be true. Before I shattered my wrist, I too was damn good with that pigskin. I remember having a shoulder cast on my arm for six months and pops told me how it was a good thing I couldn't play football anymore. I asked him, "why?" He said that when he played football he ran fast because the Irish, Greeks, and Italians would yell, "get that nigger!" My dad was tall and sort of mean so I wouldn't have wanted to cross him, but he said it made him run really really fast because these white guys would tackle him and try to hit him in the groin. To add insult to injury, in the pile after the tackle they would whisper in his ear that the next time he put his "nigger hands" on the football they were going to kill him. I said, "dad, is that true?" He replied, "damn right...that is why I ran so fast!"

...Ex-wife put voodoo on him. My mom and I would tell him this was non-sense. But, he stood by it and wouldn't be budged. Apparently, when pops was leaving his ex she would heckle him. My dad being a playboy tried to shrug it off. At some point he went back to their/his house to pick up his old records and clothes and his ex-wife appeared in the doorway with 2 voodoo dolls. One doll was my father and the other his ex. The ex-wife had placed pins in the doll and said "this doll is you" and you will never leave me. The next day my father was deathly ill with food poisoning and explosive diarrhea. He swore it was voodoo. My mom (and I) disagreed. My mom told him it was some bad undercooked goat that he ate the day before...pops didn't believe her and swore it was the dark arts. Till the day he died, my father believed voodoo and not food poisoning put him on his death bed.

...Had fictive kin relationships because our families were broken and recreated by 400 years of slavery and we sort of had to make family where we could find it. My father's two best friends were my "uncles." This was strictly enforced. I could ask them anything and if anything happened to my parents they would have fought to take care of me. One of my uncles was/is a very talented musician who played with James Brown all over Africa during his tours there:

This uncle is very dear to me but is a bit of a pot head. I mean for a 70ish year old man he smokes too much weed and has had his share of young women. He apparently, while high or sober, mastered the art of driving across the East Coast with my father and peeing in beer bottles and soda cans. Yes, my uncle would drive his expensive car, smoke weed, and pee in bottles...this was his gift.

...Had a second "brother," my other," who loved to travel all over the world and spoke a bunch of languages. He smoked hashish on the Nile, fought Afrikaners in a bar in South Africa (true story), and in his later years would go to the Dominican Republican and sleep with prostitutes. The uncle in the above reflection looked liked Grady from Sanford and Son. This uncle looked like Bubba. Before my 2nd uncle would fly to the Dominican Republic he would watch the Home Shopping Network and QVC and buy cheap trinkets for the women there. He was a rich skinflint and traveled with either my father's luggage or with garbage bags. In these receptacles he would put all his trinkets and share them with those poor prostitutes. Yes, this is sad as he was fat and old and rich, but they were poor and had no choice. This uncle also hated his wife and kept 2 different refrigerators in his house. One was his wife's. The second was my uncle's which he would keep padlocked and chained shut lest his wife eat his food. Yes, he was a bit odd.

...And my second uncle were fascinated by women's vaginas...especially foreign women's vaginas. You see I used to date a Chinese woman while in college and afterwards before finding my black queen. My uncle called up one day and said he had a question. I said, "what do you want to know?" He replied, "me and your dad were wondering what Asian women's parts look like? Are they sideways?" I laughed and said, "No, women's plumbing is all generally the same." Yes, I felt dirty but wanted to satisfy the curiosity of 2 old black men--we are the fruit of the Civil Rights Movement after all and they couldn't have imagined that their kids would get to sleep with an Asian woman.

...Fought in World War 2. He could sort of "pass," but he had to wear a stocking cap to hide his nappy head when he woke up in the morning. He was also a Sergeant and couldn't stand, as he put it, "lazy negroes and white trash:"

...Was stationed abroad all the white guys knew he was black, but they were from his neighborhood (that is how the draft worked) and conspired to hide the fact he was black. They were his friends and wanted him to stay safe, but they didn't like black folks too much. Apparently, these white folk would wake him up before the sun came out and tell him to, "take off his stocking cap and comb his kinky nigger head" lest the officers find out he was really black and send him home.

...And his friend would get drunk while off duty in the Army. One day they resented having to sit in the black part of the movie theater--what was then called the buzzard's nest--it wasn't because they were black, but because they really wanted to see the movie, the screen was blocked, the seats were dirty, and my dad and his friend reasoned it wasn't fair that they would have to sit there and still pay the same amount of money as white people. Dad and his friend decided to pull out their pistols and shoot up the movie screen as an act of protest against the white theater owners. They never did get to see another movie at that theater.

...And his unit were tasked with bringing prisoners to Leavenworth military prison. Some of these prisoners were Germans and were being brought to work camps throughout the Midwest. My dad had nothing but praise for these soldiers. At length he would describe how well read these Nazis were, how they had good hygiene, weren't racist against black people, and were very well behaved. In fact, they would let these Germans out of their handcuffs for the long ride and would talk about history, politics, philosophy and such. The American GI's would even let these Germans use the toilet (as opposed to peeing and pooping on themselves) during the train ride from Texas. By comparison, my father and his unit had to guard prisoners and detainees going to the prison at Leavenworth. Many of these men were white and resented having black troops guard them. Apparently, these good ol'boys would curse black people and use all variety of racist profanities. Generally, they would just gag these idiots and ignore them. But on one occasion, there was (as my dad described him), "a cracker" from the South who wouldn't shut up. My father and the men under his command beat the hell out of this man. As my father relayed, they would beat him into unconsciousness and this white guy would just keep talking. They would knock him out and he would wake up and keep going. My father concluded that they could have killed him and gotten away with it, but it wasn't worth the trouble. They decided to just marvel at how hardheaded those white Southerners were as they beat this knucklehead into unconsciousness over and over and over again.

Wednesday: Some reflections from Chauncey's mother

Monday, March 3, 2008

Negro History Week: Gordon Gartrelle’s Pre-History

In light of the Baldwin quote Chauncey posted last week, we would like to kick off Negro History Week by exploring our personal histories. Today I will provide a context for my respectable negro-ness by offering up this Did You Know? installment about each of my parents.

Did You Know that Gordon’s father…

…Was told that his own father, a sharecropper, was caught with a white landowner’s daughter, and rather than submit to being whipped, buried an ax in the white man Jack Nicholson style? And that according to family legend, Grandfather Gartrelle changed the family name to evade the authorities?

…Was sent to work on his grandmothers’ farm as a small boy, but got out of doing farm labor by reading (the Bible) voraciously?

…Overcame white employers’ attempts to discriminate against him, which included scheduling his multiple physicals in two different states on the same day?

…Was terrified after hearing rebel yells when he first went to work in a cannery, where he was later told he had to eat in the “executive lunchroom” apart from the other white workers and was reprimanded for bringing a knife to work (it was a boxcutter that all employees used to open boxes)?

…Became the first black person to work for his city’s unemployment office (as a minority rep), but only received the job because there was an “audit” of the local office and they needed to have a black person on staff?

…Worked payroll at a shipyard, where he drew the ire of white employees because he didn’t need a calculator to do his job, and where he made sure to “lose” the paychecks of any white men who called him out of his name?

…Played in and led a series of successful bands that allowed him to befriend The Allman Bros and War, among others?

…Accompanied his middle aged mother when she voted for the first time after passing a ridiculously difficult “literacy test” that was only given to black voters?

…Graduated from a black college and received a Masters from a respected “white” school after moving to the West Coast?

Did You Know that Gordon’s mother…

…Trumpets our family’s Indian lineage and says that her grandmother had an Indian name?

…Claims that one line of her maternal ancestors passed for white, but helped their darker relatives?

…Was told that her family worked for a landed New Orleans family for several generations, and eventually owned a great deal of property themselves?

…Had a father who played in the Negro Leagues?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hillary Clinton's Sex Face and Obama's Magical Hands

Just a quick thought...

We love being right here at We are Respectable Negroes. We are like negro Nostradamuses...we do in fact "see" the future and know all. So tell me, doesn't bro'Bama look like he is coming to lay hands on the true believers in this picture taken last week?

bro'Bama also looks like he is going to throw a fireball a la Ken or Ryu from the video game Street Fighter 2.

But this photo of ol'Hillary is even more disturbing:

Maybe this is ol'Hillary's war face?

Unfortunately, we now know what Hillary looks like at the moment of orgasm--I think she is a screamer. I must confess that the thought of Hillary at the moment of nervous release makes me feel dirty (yet oddly aroused).

Yes, more dirty than excited. I think I will go take a shower after getting a glimpse of ol'Hillary's sex face.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Chauncey's World of Ghetto Nerds: Semi-Pro is "Positive" Black Cinema that You can't Help but Love

I always complain about bad movies. I want to right that habit with a ringing endorsement for Will Ferrell's new flick, Semi-Pro.

Plus, and to give away too much, the character he plays turns out to be a brother after all, and not in a heavy handed, preachy sort of way. Jackie Moon has soul, he has heart, and there is a reason he looks so comfortable wearing that 'fro. How can you not love a movie where one of the main characters is named "Coffee Black" and which features a surprisingly good soundtrack? This is the type of "positive" black cinema critics have been clamoring for!

In Semi-pro we have a wonderful homage to the good ol' days of the ABA, Will Ferrell, some great, likely improvised scenes, and a wonderful antidote to the cumbersome weight of the Oscars last weekend.

A bonus, Jackie Moon is a great lover and Renaissance man with the gravitas of Barry White:

After seeing this video I was reminded of another great singing performance by an actor, Will Shatner's "Rocketman:"

Funny, these two professional artists are as "bad" (in a good way) as Jackie Moon and William "James T. Kirk" Shatner.

Snoop's great, "bad" song, "Sensual Seduction:"

And my boy R. Kelly's, "The Zoo:"

I was thinking Leonard Nimoy's, "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" should also make my informal list of actors performing "great" bad music:

Who else should be added to this list of talented artists?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Obama Swears: "I have never been a Muslim"

Negro history week is still coming up...remember we procrastinate by nature.

The pressure on Obama in regards to religion is bordering on absurd isn't it? So, in the spirit of the "I have never" game (you all have played that one, right?), I have decided to share some of my favorite "I have nevers":

1. From the movie Conan the Barbarian: "Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That's what's important! Valor pleases you, Crom... so grant me one request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!"--

2. On Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld's observation that: "I Have Never Painted A Rosy Picture’ About Iraq."

3. Ted Haggard on his liaisons with hot, sexy, gay escorts: "I, I've never had a gay relationship with anybody and I, I'm steady with my wife. I'm faithful to my wife":

4. The famous (and damn fine) actress Hedy Lamarr once said: "I have never liked bargains when it came to sex."

5. The great Winston Churchill: Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room:

6. Mark Twain: "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." And a clip from Black Knight, the classic adaptation of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court:

7. And our first black president, Bill Clinton on his affair with that cochina Monica Lewinsky: "I never had sex with that woman."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Negro History Week Reborn

"Negro History Week" reprinted from the Journal of Negro History (vol.11, no.2)

The following is an excerpt from the minutes of the Proceedings of Spring Conference of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Petersburg, Virginia, March 30-31, 1926, detailing the first observance of Negro History Week.

The observance of Negro History Week proved to be one of the most fortunate steps taken ever taken by the Association. The celebration made a deep impression. The literature was early prepared and it was distributed in time throughout the country. Easily understood, the idea was readily taken up at centers where some thought is given to social amelioration and wherever special efforts are being made to elevate the Negro. Ministers, teachers, social workers, and business men rallied to the support of the movement and made it a national success.

You didn't think we respectable negroes would let Black History Month go by without comment did you?

Yes, we were a little late. Yes, we are defying the white man's conventions of time and space through our radical action of inserting Black History Month at the end of February and running through to a little into March. Yes, we procrastinated.

Starting Thursday keep your eyes open for our personal reflections on just what is Black history. Next week we will be sharing our own version of the PBS series, African American Lives.

For now, reflect on James Baldwin's observation that:

"History is not a procession of illustrious people. It's about what happens to a people. Millions of anonymous people is what history is about."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Obama the Racial Healer--Lay Hands Upon Him and You too will be Healed

"Many dismiss the Obama phenomenon as a mere "cult of personality." It is in some ways a cult, but not one of personality -- it's a cult of racial healing, of racial transcendence. For many whites, voting for Obama is a kind of appeal to one's better self, and the better self of the country. It is, in a way, a promise. It could even be seen as a kind of prayer." from Gary Kamiya, at Salon.

We have commented on Obama, race, and his "black magic" a number of times on this blog. In some ways, we and others, have been ahead of the curve--and yes, it is gratifying because it validates that we can be some smart, respectable Negroes when we want to.

The thesis that Obama represents racial healing is compelling to many. Why wouldn't a reasonable person support moving past our country's racial divide? Why wouldn't a good and decent person want to see Obama elected, a man who could quite possibly hail a future where race is lessened as a determining factor for our life chances? If we as a country are afflicted with a racial sickness, wouldn't we all want to be healed?

I have to ask, what sort of healing does Obama offer? I still argue, and will continue to do so, that Obama is popular precisely because of the particular "type" of "black" candidate he is. Obama is the child of immigrants and is not heir to that nasty lineage of slavery, white racism, and racial violence which animates the anxiety (and guilt) many white Americans feel about racism. Simply stated, to them, Obama isn't one of those "angry" blacks who will "play the race card" (note: isn't that one of the most imprecise and moronic phrases to enter our language in recent memory? It is almost as bad as "reverse racism" as a turn of speech best delegated to the trash bin of the English language).

Obama, the mixed race, black man (who to his credit self identifies as African-American) is to many observers the literal embodiment of racial reconciliation--the product of "black" and "white" love. He is a magical fetish of sorts, a healer who washes away pain. Maybe, Obama will induce a moment of racial transcendence akin to a religious revelation of sorts where the "gifted" speak in tongues:

If Obama is elected he points to an opportunity to heal wounds--not because we as a country will have one more occasion to have some very difficult conversations about race, power, and justice (The Civil Rights Era representing one such moment), but instead because we will be able to forget. Perhaps for some, this "Racial Alzheimer's" will be a path to healing:

I am one of those difficult respectable negroes who is still caught up in remembering. As I have said previously, I hold no positive anticipation towards a post-racial future. Why? because a post-racial future is one where the foundation of the house is rotten, where "we" move forward, not because we as a country have confronted the present, past, and future consequences of this house that race has built, but because we have in an ironic fashion chosen to continue forward with our case of national amnesia.

There are lots of good reasons to vote for Obama. There are lots of good reasons for white people to vote for Obama. But, the very premise that a white vote for Obama equals a moment of good feeling, of racial catharsis, of racial healing, is so distasteful and troubling not because of its truth, but rather because a "racial" vote for Obama is (to my taste at least), too close to being an elixir-like moment, a halcyon induced daze that does not engage some painful truths about race and society:

I am a grumpy respectable negro and I ask hard questions:

For example, if Obama held the same policy positions and were not black would you vote for him? If not, why? When in the privacy of your own thoughts, what category of "black" person is he assigned to? Is he one of those "nice" ones, or is Obama one of those "angry ones? How would you respond if Obama supported reparations? What would your response be if Obama wanted to reform the prison industrial complex? Would you be nervous and full of angst if Obama wanted to expand affirmative action? What if Obama pledged to use the force of the State to challenge the type of conservative colorblindness which has made it all but impossible to integrate public schools, universities, and colleges? What if Obama stated without fear or qualification that the United States still owed an unpaid debt to its black citizens? How would you feel then?

Don't be afraid to ask these difficult questions, because asking doesn't make you a bad person, it just makes you an honest one.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Word is in! On the Genetic Superiority of Respectable Negroes Everywhere--Well, Maybe Just Black People More Generally

From Fox News (of all places):

"White Americans are both genetically weaker and less diverse than their black compatriots, a Cornell University-led study finds.
Analyzing the genetic makeup of 20 Americans of European ancestry and 15 African-Americans, researchers found that the former showed much less variation among 10,000 tested genes than did the latter, which was expected.
They also found that Europeans had many more possibly harmful mutations than did African, which was a surprise."

All who know me take this to be a self-evident fact. These white queens have known it for a long time:

Plus, has been up on this from day one..just say it with me "Black Town dot net"--it rolls of the tongue doesn't it? Say it once a day, it helps keep your teeth clean.

And of course Louis Farrakhan, Leonard Jeffries, and the Black Israelites have been preaching this for years.

But, I am of two minds on this one. Maybe YouTube can help me sort this one out?

Right side of brain says, "how cool! look at all the evidence for the genetic superiority of black people. Here are some prime examples:"

Muhammad Ali, the black superman:

Rampage Jackson beatin' down Chuck Liddell:

The awesomeness of Mr. T:

The Rock as a god among men:

The beauty of Halle Berry:

Oops, these two are "mixed race." Ohh, I mean "mocha babies." Nah, they pass the "one drop" test and are heretofore black.

The incisive wisdom of Harry Belafonte:

The dignity of Malcolm:

The genius of Octavia Butler:

The "weight" of Commander Adama, aka our honorary brother and respectable negro, Edward James Olmos on Battlestar Galactica:

Left side of brain says, "wait a do we reconcile our genetic superiority with these other examples?"

Flavor Flav:

A generation of bathin apes (the spoof is great):

Fat babies:

The impenetrable stupidity of Larry Elders and the awe inspiring Uncle Tom that is Alan Keyes:

Baby daddies on Maury Povich:

And, what about the well-grounded science which strongly argues that any talk of "race" as it relates to genes is relative foolishness, and that biological notions of race are all so much dookee?

My brain hurts. Does yours?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chauncey's World of Ghetto Nerds: The Toxic Satellite has been Shot Down, but the Zombie Outbreak has Already Begun

As depicted in this picture, Obama was attacked by a zombie earlier today. Unfortunately, he is already displaying the early cold and flu like symptoms that are commonly associated with a bite from the infected undead. Given Obama's cult like following, the zombie plague will spread rapidly following his public appearances. Readers are advised to exercise extreme caution at these Obama related events, lest they too become infected with the zombie virus. While the U.S. military is reporting a successful missile intercept, we must treat this information with a high level of suspicion. Remember, the U.S. government wants to prevent a panic during the initial stages of the zombie plague. It is likely that Delta Force has already been sent to the site of the outbreak under the guise of securing fissile materials. Hopefully, Delta Force (and the other special forces operatives that will accompany them) will be successful in containing the zombie outbreak. Folks, this is going to be a hell of a fight. May God have mercy on our souls.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Exploring our Racial Subconscious: Dark May be King, but Milk Chocolate is Making a Comeback

In the spirit of my impetuous and impulsive post on Flash Gordon and bad movies let's see where this one goes...

I am a firm believer in the existence of a collective consciousness. No, I don't mean an energy field that binds us together and penetrates us (a la The Force), but more of a collective spirit of sorts. This is something less than zeitgeist, but more than a political unconscious. When we add in the particular ways that systems of racial superiority and inequality have impacted all Americans --yes, white folks too--we are left with a collective set of symbols, images, as well as a language, which speaks both to our racial (in)securities and how we choose to think about (or not) our interactions with others.

[And if you really want to test how race, prejudice, and racialism(s) (yes, that is a word) have impacted your decision-making and subconscious mind, take one of these online tests for implicit racial bias]

I stumbled upon the following article last week and it continues to speak to me. My thought: Is this about chocolate or about something else? Is there something in our collective racial subconscious which is being spoken to in this dialog regarding the merits of white chocolate versus dark chocolate? Or is a cigar sometimes just a cigar? Accordingly, here is your assignment:

The Great Chocolate Test

The exercise: substitute Obama/black people wherever there is a reference to dark chocolate. Likewise, substitute Hillary/white people wherever there is a reference to milk chocolate.

Please share your findings with your classmates at the end of the exercise.

The entire article,"Dark May Be King, but Milk Chocolate Makes a Move" from the New York Times, is found here.

Here are some choice excerpts (my emphasis added):

CHOCOLATE’S dark mood is lightening at last. Until recently, midnight-black, bittersweet bars with punishing percentages of cacao were, like coffee and wine, on a quest for brooding intensity. Milk chocolate was left behind, dismissed as child’s play, an indulgence in sweetness and nostalgia.

Now, some chocolatiers are fighting back, with expensive, suave “dark milk” chocolates that reinvent milk chocolate by increasing its cacao content, reducing its sweetness and carefully refining it to give it the snap and velvet of dark.

“Personally, if I had to choose one or the other, I prefer dark chocolate,” said Joseph Whinney, founder of Theo Chocolate, a small producer based in Seattle. “But there is no product on the planet that can match that lush, melted-chocolate mouth-feel of milk chocolate.”

“Producing milk chocolate,” said Andrea Slitti, a chocolate maker in Tuscany, “is much more complicated than producing dark chocolate, as you can see in the marketplace: there are far more good dark chocolates available. At each step, we have to work to keep the clean taste of milk and not overwhelm it with the strength of the cocoa mass, then balance them both with sweetness.”

“These pure origins are because we chocolatiers want people to think that chocolate is serious and adult like wine, but underneath it is not,” said Stéphane Bonnat, whose family began making chocolate in 1884. “The first thing we have when we close our eyes and taste must be the pleasure we remember from being 10 years old.And that pleasure, almost invariably, was from milk chocolate.

“Fundamentally, the problem is that milk chocolate does not have the respect it deserves,” Mr. Whinney said. “When you have a brown, sweet commodity that people expect to buy for cheap, you are not automatically going to find interest in flavor nuances.”

Your final thoughts?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chauncey's World of Ghetto Nerds: Connecting the Dots--Spy Satellites and the Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse

As quoted in the Washington Post:

"There has to be another reason behind this," said Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center, a liberal arms-control advocacy organization. "In the history of the space age, there has not been a single human being who has been harmed by man-made objects falling from space."

No, downing this satellite isn't about deterring China because the U.S. has had anti-satellite weaponry for at least 30 plus years.

No, shooting down this satellite isn't about protecting the world (and the U.S. tax payer) from possible injury from satellite debris.

No, ordering the U.S. Navy to down U.S. 193 isn't because of the plutonium or the hydrazine carried by the satellite.

No, intercepting this satellite isn't to prevent the goodies and gadgets carried by U.S. 193 from getting into the hands of "evil-doers."

Wake up people--this is a real crisis.

The horrible truth:

The United States is downing this satellite because if it crashes into the Earth and unleashes its payload of toxic gas there will be an outbreak of the zombie undead:

My fellow citizens, at this moment we are standing at the precipice of our destruction.

We need to prepare. Me and my girl Zora have discussed at length why the ghetto underclass (and other city dwellers) is disproportionately at risk from attack by the undead. They live in areas with a high population concentration. They live in cities where one cannot legally own weapons. The State does not value their lives. Once the undead rise in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, or Washington D.C. we are all doomed.

As Katrina made clear, The United States is horribly under prepared for a disaster of this magnitude. The Department of Homeland Security is underfunded and mired by ineffectual leadership. The U.S. military is forward deployed abroad and will not be able to render proper and timely assistance. The National Guard and Reserves are also overtaxed by deployments overseas. More importantly, the U.S. military has not developed a doctrine for fighting and containing a widespread zombie outbreak. Plans have long existed for urban pacification, but they will likely be ineffective against the zombie horde. As convincingly argued by World War Z, the expensive and high technology weapons systems favored by the U.S. military, weapons systems which are devastating against States and Armies, are next to useless against a horde of the undead--unfeeling, unstoppable, reanimated corpses, an unstoppable force of nature, a rising tide of destruction.

Folks, this is the real deal. These zombies don't dance like the ones in the Thriller video.

They don't run like hyperactive teenagers on crack. These Zombies will spread across the world exponentially, transforming the world of the living into the world of the dead.

The following is a short list of useful materials which should be consulted as essential resources:

1. Read The Zombie Survival Guide and also watch this handy video
2. Begin reading World War Z
3. Obtain a copy of The SAS Survival Guide
4. Consult the many resources available at The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency

How should we fight the zombie outbreak? Should people evacuate or remain in their homes? If you are in a high rise building with adequate food and supplies should you ride out the zombie outbreak and wait until order is restored? Do you go to designated evacuation sites or avoid them because of the high risk of violence and the likelihood that the zombies will be attracted to large groups of people? What are your tips for survival?

I am going to consult the master George Romero on Tuesday by seeing his new zombie opus, Diary of the Dead. I will post a review on Wednesday which will feature more zombie survival tips. Anticipating the inevitable, El Presidente Bush has already held a press conference in preparation for the zombie outbreak:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chauncey DeVega's Secret Valentine's Day Crush--The Indomitable Alexyss Tylor

I have a confession to make. All of my life I have searched for my equal--the yin to my yang; the sign to my cosine; the She-ra to my He-man--and I think I have found her. Ohh, the internet masses discovered her long ago. As an internet celebrity she has been blogged about, link-shared, and freely tossed about--her five minutes of fame (perhaps) long gone. But not to me. She is wise beyond years. She is a sexual dynamo. And she has the wisdom of a Tantric Yogi. Some have told me that my love is tainted, that somehow my love for this woman is doomed by her madness. They are wrong. For all of these reasons and many more, I proudly declare Alexyss Tylor, the prophet of vagina power, to be my Valentine's Day Crush.

Behold the wisdom of Alexyss Tylor, wisdom made more clear by my helpful annotations--

A Vagina Power Instructional Lesson:

:04--Ladies, if you really want to earn your man you need to learn your man. This is profound. In an era of Oprah, and a post 2nd wave feminism cottage industry where all that is wrong in relationships is apparently rooted in men's shortcomings, my girl is urging women to have some agency and to think about how they are treating the men in the lives! Bravo!

:10--Alexyss has introduced a key phrase, "penis power," say it again with me, "penis power."

:48--The man who is living to ejaculate is in a predator mode. Again, Alexyss is on point. Here, she is speaking directly to socio-biology and the argument that men, because of their never ending supply of sperm (and men's ability to reproduce throughout the life cycle), are natural predators. Men as a species can't help but want to share their love.

:59--Cold vaginas. No comment, it must be a circulation problem.

1:24-1:41--Different vaginas have different g-spots and some women have more than one. I envy these blessed women. More seriously, Alexyss is trying to educate the public, and women in particular, about their bodies. Women have a g-spot, and clitoris. In fact, many women also have what some researchers have now labeled as the "A spot." Alexyss's openness is a service to the public, and especially to the women of The United States of America. According to many polls, there remains a woefully low level of information and awareness regarding sex, sexual health, and even basic anatomy, among men and women. Add in some puritanical religious baggage, and include some ass backwards dogma (like that offered by "the promise keepers" and the "abstinence only" crowds) and we have a very limited space for adult conversations regarding sex, pleasure, and health. Hell, things are so bad that Oprah and Tyra are being praised because of their "courage" to talk about "vajayjays." Alexyss, please keep speaking vagina truth to vagina power.

2:20--The Rabbit. An extremely popular sex toy which was popularized by the television show Sex and the City. The design has evolved over the years, so be sure to do some thorough shopping before you make a purchase. I don't know of one woman who has purchased The Rabbit and has not been MORE than pleased.

2:24--We are living in the 21st century. Notice the wonderful relationship between Alexyss and her mother. Mom is suspicious of The Rabbit because she is a Luddite--I suggest that mom needs to embrace technology and not fear it.

2:28-2:45--Some men they have so much heat and intensity in their penis that you can feel it radiating through their clothes and to just touch their feels like it is on fire...some women go crazy...not all penises are created equally. This is another health issue which Alexyss is bravely bringing to the forefront of the public's awareness. As always, Alexyss is on firm ground because the practices of Tantric Sex (and its emphasis on the exothermic relationship between the lingam and yoni) would suggest that there are some powerful forces at work when a man and a woman link their bodies together in hot monkey love. The public needs to be made aware of the risks posed by hot and fiery penises. I wonder how many accidental deaths are caused by these fiery organs? I would wager that many cases of spontaneous human combustion are in fact caused by exploding, hot penises. As a tax payer, I demand a government investigation! I strongly urge Ralph Nader and 60 Minutes to do an expose on the danger of these over-heating penises.

3:20--We have to deal with our attachments. We have to separate the love, the orgasm, and the penis, they are separate issues. Preach on sister Alexyss, women (and men) need to heed your advice.

4:48--Don't let every man hit the bottom of your vagina, the root of the vagina. Trust me, they don't know about the bottom. Mom and Alexyss are on point again (notice how Alexyss's mother offers both reinforcement and clarification). Alexyss is pointing to the psycho-sexual dynamic wherein deep penetration for many women generates intense pleasure. Specifically, Alexyss is referring to the sensations that many women feel when their G-spot and/or cervix is stimulated. As a proponent of Tantra, Alexyss is also alluding to the energy which resides in the Kundalini as a root chakra. Be forewarned, the Kundalini is a powerful chakra and should not be stimulated unless both couples are prepared for the energy which will be released (its sort of like the arc of the covenant). This pleasure is rapturous, but also very frightening to many couples because of the intense emotional and physical bonding which it can create. Alexyss, when are you going to write your own version of The Joy of Sex?

5:38-5:59--Her mind, she insane, her mind ain't good because the penis done ejaculated all in her brain, she gone crazy...that woman is being seduced, she is being seduced, he is breaking her down man, he is screwing her into submission, he's screwing her into slavery by using the penis as a weapon to break her ass down and her defenses, and she is wide open, when a penis is all up in your vagina you don't have no defenses. There are some scholars whom would argue that the arms race during The Cold War was at its root about the penis, and that ultimately, the race to make bigger and "better" nuclear weapons was the product of a phallocentric obsession. In other words, the U.S.-Soviet arms race was a horse pissing contest. Damn Alexyss, you never cease to amaze me! You are an organic intellectual with an amazing range of knowledge. I have to ask: are you single?

7:48--I don't have Phd's and Master's Degrees to put on my wall in academia, but I have a Master's degree in being played by men, used by men, told everything I wanted to hear...I am very upset by being made a fool out of. Alexyss you are no fool. Alexyss you are a gift to all of us. And yes, I think you have a Phd in human sexuality and love.

8:37--All this power coming at you then a girl ain't got a chance and so I am gonna have to stay prayed up...I've got to keep standing in the Lord. Mom is traditional and confident in her beliefs. She is afraid of "lust demons." But mom, please don't have such fear (a fear which is common among so many sexually repressed people) because this fear, once you transcend it, will lead you to act madly, possessed by your no longer repressed energies, and unable to control your desires. Seek your daughter's counsel and and you will be free, happy, healthy, and energized.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Valentine's Day Poem as Chosen by Chauncey DeVega

My Black Love
Jerome Oakbridge

Black Love
Like two caramel hands
Intertwined, Outstretched, Supportive
Black Love
Strong like steel
Shirley Chism
Black Love
A king and a queen, fighting, loving, strong
Fighting white supremacy as a family
Deuce deuce
Four four
Sojourner Truth
Black Love
The force of negritude indomitable
Ujoma, Ujima, Kujichagulia, Nia, Kuumba
So strong
So fierce
So powerful
Like George and Wheezy sitting under that shade tree, loving, fighting, joying
Don't come knocking
No, don't come knocking
No, don't come knocking
No, don't come knocking till mornin' comes home
Loving, kissing, holding, supporting
Erykah Badu
Black Love
Black ivory and black melanin
Everywhere and all peoples
Black Love
Black Love in the hour of chaos
Black Love in the hour of peace
Black Love, oh I need me some black love
I need me some black love like Valentine's day in our month of Black History
Ohh I need me some black love

A Week of Valentine's Day Love and Inspiration

We are Respectable Negroes is caught up in the love induced haze that is Valentine's Day.

All this week we are going to share our love with you through poetry and song.

We begin today with a little taste of what is to come throughout the week:

Faithful viewers and friends, how else should we show our love? How should respectable negroes love each other? Is there such a thing as "black" love? Is there something special about the love shared between respectable negroes? Who are the greatest negro lovers of all time? What can we learn from them?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hillary Clinton cries again..and Bill Clinton is a Pimp Daddy

We are Respectable Negroes has enjoyed a "two for one weekend." First, the wisdom of the mass public reveals itself once more, as 1 in 10 listeners officially agree that Bill Clinton is a Pimp Daddy:

Second, as we have discussed here, and here, and also here, why is ol'Hillary crying again?

As The Associated Press reported:

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., wipes her eye as she listens to a disabled U.S. veteran in the audience tell his story during a campaign stop at The City of Lewiston Memorial Armory in Lewiston, Maine., Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008.

You know what is so funny? Billary didn't shed a tear in public when Billie Bob was using his magic cigar with Monica Lewinsky, but now she cannot seem to turn off the water works. So sad. ol'Hillary we actually thought more of you:

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday Five: 5 Overlooked Expressions of Victimology

In light of yesterday’s Victimology Blues post, this week’s Friday Five features expressions of victimology that tend to come from the relatively privileged. Since mainstream media accuse only minorities and women of “playing the victim,” the following statements are never linked to victim mentality:

1.) White people are being denied college admission and work promotions because Affirmative Action rewards mediocre minorities in order to promote diversity.

2.) Immigrants are taking all of the jobs that rightfully belong to Americans like me.

3.) Hollywood and New York cultural elites are forcing the homosexual lifestyle on our kids.

4.) When a woman accuses a man of domestic violence or rape, law enforcement and the courts are biased against the man.

5.) The secular left and the Jews are persecuting Christians by trying to remove Jesus from our government and culture.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Victimology Blues Part 2: Privileged White Men as the New England Patriots

Read Part 1 here

Throughout their great run over the last seven years, the New England Patriots have sounded like a broken record: “We get no respect…Nobody believed in us…It’s us against the world.” All successful sports teams spout these clichés, but the Patriots have perfected them. The Patriots continued to play the put-upon underdog role, even as they became the first team in NFL history to complete a 16-0 regular season, and won two additional playoff games before being upset by what turned out to be the better team in the Superbowl.

Anybody with a lick of football sense knows that the Patriots’ underdog shtick is laughable. It’s clear that New England has been by far the most successful organization in the NFL this decade. They have the best offense, the best coach, the best front office, and the best QB. They also have one of the best defenses—maybe not statistically, but when the game is on the line, the Patriots’ D usually comes up with a big play. This year, the Pats were favored in every single game they played, often by more than two touchdowns. Before they lost the big game, sports pundits were talking about The 2007 Patriots’ place in history. Chauncey will disagree, but I think that the referees exhibit a subtle bias toward The Patriots. The Pats’ only credible claim is that, outside of New England, public opinion is largely against them because they win (they believe that Spygate is just the excuse). On the surface, this football talk might seem to be unrelated to victimology; however, I submit that the Patriots are like the “traditional” white American male: successful and privileged, especially in relative terms, yet committed to a narrative of victimhood. [1]

This mindset of victimology isn’t limited to the current generation of privileged white men. Throughout this country’s history, in fact, the most successful purveyors and beneficiaries of victim mentality have been elite Christian white males. Consider the American Revolution: our nation asks us to extol people who framed their taxation at the hands of the British as the greatest injustice in history (while they owned and raped other human beings and excluded from participation the vast majority of its residents.[2] Consider the “threats” posed by Bloodthirsty Injuns, Black Brutes, the Yellow Peril, the Red Scare, and more recently, Middle-Eastern terrorists (internationally) and Mexican immigrants (domestically). I don’t wish to single out white men—many people have partaken in these various forms of fear mongering[3]—but elite white males have benefited most from them.

The point is that despite what certain bloated, racist drug addicts and Easter Island-headed token negroes seem to suggest, victimology is not the exclusive domain of black people or “minorities” of any sort. To the contrary, victimology is imprinted onto the very core of the “traditional” (read: Anglo, Judeo-Christian) American history and identity favored by liberals and conservatives who vehemently oppose multiculturalism and “revisionist” history.

The strategic rationale for fashioning one’s group as victims is clear: the public sympathy gained from victimhood can mean the difference between political support and indifference or opposition. Victimology allows activists to rally the troops, to build solidarity by conceiving an existential threat from outside. This strategy is often effective in the short run. Over the long term, though, emphasizing such a strategy can only be detrimental to the less privileged and to those concerned with social progress. But this strategy has different implications depending on the status of those wielding it.

When it comes from the privileged, victimology signals one of two things about the privileged victimologists: 1) that they have no respect for the intelligence of their adversaries and the public at large, or 2) that they have a tenuous grasp on facts and common sense. Either way, their victimology both reflects and contributes to a stunning disconnect from reality. It’s both disheartening and scary to know that there are people in positions of power and authority who think that elite white men are disadvantaged. Because it helps to reinforce privilege, this kind of victimology, by default, has an adverse effect on the less privileged. To return to the original analogy, not only have the Patriots played the victim; they’ve used this perceived victimhood to fuel their dominance, as their “everyone’s against us” attitude bolsters their intensity in walloping opponents.

When it comes from those who aren’t as privileged, victimology has a more insidious result: crippling political discourse and collective action. An emphasis on victimhood leaves people ill-equipped to deal with problems that do not fit the convenient “one of them wronged one of us” narrative. Because of the lure of victimology, discussions about practical strategies to put a dent in a serious problem—such as crime, low academic achievement, teen pregnancy, and fatherless children—too often turn to slavery. Victimology leads otherwise sensible people perpetuate batshit conspiracy theories. Victimology does not simply prompt political actors to exploit symbolic victims who have been harmed by those from other groups; victimology encourages actors to crave victimhood. Every year, a few bleeding-hearts stage “hate crimes,” usually on college campuses. These actions are obviously aberrant, but the mindset isn’t. Hate crime hoaxers aren’t insane; they are merely expressing pathological victimology politics taken to the logical extreme. Relying on fear and demonization of the other in order to define and build political communities is the only mode that a number of less privileged people know.

In short, I am troubled by the extent to which victimology is embedded in our culture.[4] One need not be a Nietzschean to argue that victim mentality exemplifies rhetorical (if not psychological) weakness. While there is certainly virtue in overcoming hardship and victimhood (as the history and resilience of scores of oppressed people attests), there is no inherent virtue in victimhood. Sometimes, victimhood, while life-changing for the victim, has no broader social import beyond the person involved; sometimes, claims of victimhood are absurd, and sometimes, “victims” are idiots or miscreants who deserve neither sympathy nor millions of dollars for making the bad decisions that allowed them to be victimized. But the issue is not whether victims exist (of course they do) or whether certain figures warrant the victim label; the issue is what role victims should play in the narratives (both backward-looking and forward-looking ones) that construct our political identities and frame our political action.

Next—Victimology Blues Part 3: The Racist Duke Lacrosse Team, the Hooker, and the Suckers Who Blindly Supported Them.


[1] The analogy breaks down once we move beyond perceptions and outcomes—more specifically, beyond the success to cries of victimhood ratio. Because the best, most deserving teams almost always win, especially in big games, the NFL is closer to a true meritocracy than America (or any other country) will ever be. But the meritocracy only applies to athletes on the field. There’s still a notable racial disparity in coaching and front office positions.

[2] This does not, however, absolve those who refuse to acknowledge the brilliance, or at least the effectiveness of the rhetoric and institutions that these elitist, racist slave owners crafted.

[3] And as Zora correctly implies, all of us, even those who are from historically disenfranchised groups, carry some form of privilege, depending on the context.

[4] But this isn’t an American phenomenon either. Pick an issue locally, nationally, globally—immigration, multicultural education, The West Bank, secularism vs. public religious expression—each side of every major conflict deals in the politics of victimhood. Victim mentality pervades all societies, garroting political discourse and identity.