Monday, March 10, 2008
We have had these photos for some time but decided not to post them. They were gathered during one of our trips to the local ghetto mall, you know the one with the dress codes, the security guards, and hoards of ignt's engaged in their local mating rituals. Our compassionate souls restrained us, but our racial ids have compelled us forward. Part of my psyche said, "they know not the evil the do," but the other part said, "these folks just want to be 'hood celebrities." You, our respectable negro patrons can decide if these photos are 1) sad; 2) depressing; 3) funny as hell; or 4) tragic.
We are Respectable Negro's exhibit number 1
This picture represents a number of troubling possibilities. From least worrisome to most...
1. This is a picture for grandma. Here, grandma is much older. The kids in the photo, and the mother, are just a little young but we will let it pass.
2. Maybe grandma is in her 30s and the folks in the picture are her "grands" and her daughter. This is troubling because the daughter was in her teens when she got knocked up and the kids are damn too young.
3. The kids and mom are in the same cohort as noted above, but they are dressed like "little men" and "little women." You know that pathology where among the ingnt's children are made adults. That is a bit disgusting and sad. Moreover, little kids are not adults. And little boys made into "little men" become medium sized men whom grow up to be prison inmates. Finally, toddlers should not be dressed like junior gang bangers--sorry for being insensitive.
4. Troubling, maybe this is mom and these are her kids? So, mom had her kids in her mid-teens? I don't like that.
5. Most troubling, maybe this is grandma, and these are her grandkids. As Chris Rock said, "if you call momma Pam, and grandma mom, you are going to prison."
We are Respectable Negro's exhibits 2 and 3
1. I am speechless.
2. Could this be an effort to simply find acceptance amongst one's peers? However sad? Among some social classes maybe showing pregnant bellies is cute?
3. Maybe distended pregnant belly buttons are sexy? Am I a prude?
4. Maybe among some ignt's (and others) to be pregnant is to be proud, and to be pregnant and to display one's body on tacky posters, in photos, and on inexpensive t-shirts is praiseworthy?
5. Baby Phat? Yikes...
I will play devil's advocate. Are these photos any more or less tacky than this magazine cover?
Or this sculpture?
You all tell us...
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
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"--
...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.
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:
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.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
...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
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?
…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
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?
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
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:
Friday, February 29, 2008
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!"--
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
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?
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
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?
Friday, February 22, 2008
The Word is in! On the Genetic Superiority of Respectable Negroes Everywhere--Well, Maybe Just Black People More Generally
All who know me take this to be a self-evident fact. These white queens have known it for a long time:
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:"
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Chauncey's World of Ghetto Nerds: The Toxic Satellite has been Shot Down, but the Zombie Outbreak has Already Begun
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
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 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?
Monday, February 18, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Chauncey's World of Ghetto Nerds: Connecting the Dots--Spy Satellites and the Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse
"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:
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.
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?
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Behold the wisdom of Alexyss Tylor, wisdom made more clear by my helpful annotations--
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
When I decided to make this thing, I gave myself two rules: No LL and no Common. Why? Cause I’m sick of folks mentioning those pandering, yella negroes whenever someone starts talking about rap love songs.
Bonus: One Love--Whodini:
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Like two caramel hands
Intertwined, Outstretched, Supportive
Strong like steel
A king and a queen, fighting, loving, strong
Fighting white supremacy as a family
The force of negritude indomitable
Ujoma, Ujima, Kujichagulia, Nia, Kuumba
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
Black ivory and black melanin
Everywhere and all peoples
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
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: