Monday, March 31, 2008

Why we did it and what we learned: The Obama Assassination Story

This has been an interesting few weeks. Our Obama Assassinated storyline has been our most popular post, while simultaneously being our most surprising. A few weeks ago, we (being Chauncey) and Gordon had a conversation where we reflected on how everyone seems to be saying the same thing, but no one has the nerve to really engage it. In the NY Times, on NPR, in conversations with friends and family there was a clear worry, and in the major news outlets more of a subtext actually, of anxiety regarding a black man running for president. Folks were thinking, "hell the brother may be killed" but no one would bring the issue to the forefront. I understand this worry-- this is only a blog and my entries were the amongst the hardest things I have ever written, professionally or personally. In formulating the storyline things came pretty easy. We had to set up the event. Put ourselves in that horrible place, and then in both literary and metaphorical terms, pull the trigger. The rest came surprisingly easy.

What did we learn? Well, from talking to friends and family who read the blog they were on the fence. On one hand they were like, "damn, that could happen," but that was mixed with, "well, if you write about it that isn't really cool." We expected that. But, what was really surprising was how the storyline was like one hand clapping in the wind (did you know that is how Buddhists describe the "sin" of masturbation?) in that there was lots of attention, but few posts. Even more interestingly, was not how the traffic was an obvious response to the keywords "Obama" and "assassinated"--it was "link-bait" which we expected--but that how many repeat, unique visitors came back to follow each installment, yet didn't post a comment. Now, we had some crazy anonymous posts which ironically said Obama would never be killed as "we" are past that (yeah right), but we also had a few that were very critical of Obama and which captured the real vitriol and hostility that is against him as a candidate. The final lesson learned, and the post that received the most traffic ironically, was that you don't mention conservative television or radio programs, or dare to broach the idea/fact/probability that they would find a way to spin the story such that Obama got what was coming to him...never, ever, do that.

Ultimately, the moral of the story is that folks like to read about their anxieties made real, but don't want to talk about it. The second moral is that one can write about a hypothetical plot against Obama all they want, but don't dare to ever, and I mean ever, speak ill of Fox News!

Alas, we will be back this week and next with our usual tomfoolery, satire, insight, and (relative) genius. This was an interesting and surprising exercise that we would repeat again if given the choice. A final thought: one of my best friends asked the pointed question, "what is the race of the assassin? Is he black?" I replied that I won't say, and does it matter? But, of course I do have an answer. What do you all think? What race was Mr. Roybock? And does it matter? Would the assassin's racial background shape how the public would respond to Obama's murder?

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Frightening Scenario: Barack Obama Assassinated! Part 6--Fox News Responds

See our disclaimer here

Sean Hannity Interviews Ed Rendell


Hannity: New details have emerged about Obama’s alleged shooter, Jonathan Fernandes Roybock, including an apparent explanation for his behavior, in which he cites fears of Obama’s loyalty to America. I’m here to discuss these new developments with Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Ed Rendell. Welcome. Thanks for joining us.

Rendell: Thank you, Sean.

Hannity: As we move forward with this story, some will wonder if Obama’s own chickens didn’t come home to roost. Obama lived the American Dream, his recently released tax records showed him to be a millionaire, and this great country allowed him to go to Harvard, but he continued to associate himself with Anti-American black radicals. And now they—some of these leftist, radical websites and blogs—are saying that Obama’s killing is proof that America is a racist country. I don’t buy it. Do you?

Rendell: First, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to Michelle Obama, his beautiful daughters, uh…Malia and Sasha, and the rest of his family. This is a tragedy of the highest order. And…

Hannity: Governor Rendell, Do you believe this nonsense that America is a racist country, and that one lone act proves it?

Rendell: Sean, No, I…We have some problems, but the focus should be on figuring out why this young man did this and making sure something like it doesn’t happen again.

Hannity: Well, I think we have an idea of why this happened—and this is my own personal belief here, but I speak for a lot of regular Americans, “typical white people,” as Obama said—hatred like that coming from Obama’s pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright has the potential to stir up this kind of violence. We have a clip here of one of Reverend Wright’s most famous vicious, hate-filled tirades…

Wright: The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God Bless America? No, no, no! Not God bless America. God damn America! It's in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating its citizens as less than human!"

Rendell: Certainly that kind of hate is unacceptable. Reverend Wright’s beliefs and words about America and his anti-Semitic attacks on Israel have no place in decent society.

Hannity: The AP is reporting that this kid, Jonathan Fernandes Roybock, was a student of political philosophy, and had a number of classics of Western Thought, along with my own books. The liberal media is, predictably, trying to blame these great works for Obama’s shooting. Let me ask you this: If he had read those books in his study, especially my own, Let Freedom Ring and Deliver Us From Evil, wouldn’t he have seen that violence is not a cornerstone of conservative thought. I mean, you have the anarchists, the Communists, you have the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, Islamofascist terrorists. Isn’t political assassination a tactic of the radical left?

Rendell: Sean, This is not a time for that kind of divisive rhetoric.

Hannity: I’m not..This is not divisive rhetoric. All I’m saying is that history proves that conservative thinkers and regimes value order, not this kind of chaotic violence and murder.

Rendell: I don’t think it’s wise to argue that. That’s just patently false. There are all kinds of examples of right-wing regimes and individuals who resort to loathsome political violence.

Hannity: That’s not true, Name one…

Rendell: Tim McVeigh, all of those who bomb abortion clinics and assassinate doctors. There are…James Earl Ray, the man who killed Martin Luther King. Sean, it isn’t just …

Hannity: Those are isolated events, Governor Rendell. Those are nowhere near the kind of violence that comes from the left.

Rendell: Sean, honestly, what do…

Hannity: We have to wrap it up in a minute, but since you mentioned the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, some are looking at Obama’s legacy and comparing him to King. In my opinion, the politically correct media is too cowardly to tell the truth: that Obama was no King. First of all, Obama didn’t accomplish anything. He gave a speech in 2004. He was only in office for a brief period and introduced no legislation of note. King fought for a colorblind America; he wanted Americans to be judged not by the content… not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. Obama was more akin to Malcolm X. I think that history will remember Obama as a divisive figure.

Rendell: Sean, Sean. No. How can you…

Hannity: Although his actions were extreme and indefensible, Roybock’s basic point that Obama was not post-racial politician, but one with his feet squarely in the black radical community, was correct. This is a kid who obviously…I just don’t think we should be demonizing this kid, who clearly had some mental issues. Anyway, final word Governor…?

Rendell: Obama was not perfect. He made some unwise decisions as far as associations, but I don’t think we should let that take away from the fact that he was a truly remarkable human being. History will look upon him as a great American. What a tragic loss for his family, for this country, and for humanity. I’m a close friend and supporter of Hillary Clinton. She wants the American public to know that, as much as it pains her to go on in the face of this tragedy, as president, she will continue Barack Obama’s legacy.

Hannity: Thank you for joining us, Governor Rendell. Always a pleasure…Next up, more fallout from the Obama shooting and what the New Black Panther Party has to say about getting revenge on white Americans.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Frightening Scenario: Barack Obama Assassinated! Part 5--The Assassin's Confession Revealed

This a fictional story done in the spirit of War of the Worlds. The names are fictional, and any relation to people, living or dead, is strictly coincidental. See our full disclaimer posted here.
An Assassin's Confession: "Why I did it" by Jonathan Fernandes Roybock
NewsWire Service 8:00pm
August 22, 2008

To an overflow audience of reporters, the FBI and Secret Service held a second press conference today where they answered additional questions regarding the Obama assassination, released a statement from Mr. Roybock's family, and finally made public the text of the assassin's letter of confession.

The FBI and the Secret Service reiterated that they are increasingly certain that Jonathan Fernandes Roybock acted alone in his shooting of presidential candidate Barack Obama. As shared during the press conference, forensics experts continue to review the security footage, the trajectory of the fatal bullets, and other physical evidence taken from the auditorium of Large State University. To this point, they have not discovered any evidence which would suggest multiple gunmen. In response to witness reports that they heard multiple gunshots from multiple directions, and that one of the members of Obama's staff appeared to "signal" Mr. Roybock, police and government officials responded: "no comment, these differing memories are common during and after horrible events such as these...we are exhaustively pursuing all leads and interviewing everyone who was in the auditorium that afternoon."

The Roybock family, through their attorney, have issued the following statement. "We are horribly shocked and dismayed by the actions of our child and brother. We grieve with the nation and pray that we as a people can overcome this most horrible turn of events. Barack Obama's loss, and the pain his untimely death has caused his family, friends, and supporters is unimaginable. As parents, as Americans, and as likely voters for Mr. Obama, we grieve as well. During this difficult time, we ask that our privacy continue to be respected as we try to make sense of this unbelievable act."

Following their release of the family's statement, the lead spokesman for the FBI and Secret Service circulated a copy of Mr. Roybock's confessional statement entitled, "Why I did it." Although reluctant to discuss the details contained in the alleged gunman's journals and newly discovered website, they reiterated their earlier comments that Mr. Roybock was a voracious reader, and had many volumes of books and magazines that are popular with conservative and right-wing audiences. Officials also shared that near Mr. Roybock's diary and confession, he had neatly placed several volumes of political writing by such authors as Plato, Socrates, Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, John Locke, and Adam Smith. Next to his confession, Mr. Roybock had placed a copy of the book Conscience of a Conservative which he had extensively underlined and bookmarked. In response to a question from the press regarding the confessional, and if it was placed in any one book, officials shared that the note had been inserted among the pages of the book Liberal Fascism.

The text of Mr. Roybock's confession follows:

"Why I did it"

I can only imagine the consternation and disbelief which will follow my actions later today. I also know and understand the pain that I have caused so many people, my parents, friends, family, teachers, and associates through what they may see as an unneccessary and hateful act. I apologize to them, but I do hope that they will come to understand the wisdom of my deeds.

I hold no malice towards Mr. Obama. I believe in my heart that he is a good person, a God fearing man, and that he loves his family. However, in matters of State and of government I believe him to be profoundly misguided. As I have watched over the course of several months his campaign has gained momentum despite the efforts of reasoned and intelligent critics to point out his many shortcomings. Normally, one would simply accept this as a failing of our political system--a system which has produced few great leaders and has continued to serve our most base, mediocre, and corrupt interests. We are unable to enter into political community and select the best, the most noble, and the most accomplished among us to be president. We have no council of elders, no Archons, or learned men to guide us in our decision making. Rather, we have a corrupt two party system that reproduces its own mediocrity.

We stand at a key turning point in history. America is engaged in a war against radical Islamic terrorists. Our economy is on the verge of collapse. We face a rising China. And we have a welfare state which coddles the poor, the underachieving, and the weak among us. The country is flooded daily by illegal immigrants whom are not willing to assimilate. Our American civilization is truly in crisis.

I ultimately believe that Mr. Obama would make these problems worse rather than better and that he is ill-equipped to lead this great country during these perilous times. Mr. Obama is a novelty, an example of wish fulfillment by liberal elites, naive young people, and disillusioned Americans whom are desperate for "change." After Obama's support of his hate mongering pastor, his associations with radical Islam during his formative years, his marriage to a woman who by her own admission was never proud to be an American, and a truly disengenous speech on race relations which rather than be assailed for its trite and thin nature, was heralded as one of the greatest moments in American letters, Obama has revealed his true nature. Yet, no one has the courage to intervene or act.

I have tried to tell my fellow professors, students, family members, and anyone who will listen the truth about Obama. No one will listen. I have tried to use the internet. No one listened.

Obama is not an enigma. His intentions and motivations are clear and I cannot in good conscience allow him to become president of this great country.

A great man once wrote that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots. Moreover, many actions are only understood in the context and through the wisdom of critical distance and historical perspective. I acted to save America from itself. God has compelled me to do this and it is He who will ultimately be my judge.

My plan is unstoppable. I have studied the building at Large State University where Obama will speak and am confident in my plan. Today, I will strike a blow for justice and liberty, as Jefferson and our esteemed framers used quills to fight tyranny, I will use other means.


Jonathan Fernandes Roybock, Patriot and Philosopher

A Frightening Scenario: Barack Obama Assassinated! Part 4

see our disclaimer posted here.


Portrait of an Assassin:
Preliminary Information comes to Light about Jonathan Fernandes Roybock
NewsWire Service
August 22, 2008

FBI, Secret Service, and Large State University police held a press conference today where a great deal of information, information which was until recently held in confidence regarding Jonathan Fernandes Roybock, was shared several hours ago.

According to officials, Jonathan Fernandes Roybock was a student at Large State University, where as earlier reported, he was a senior majoring in History and Philosophy. After a raid by FBI tactical teams on his campus apartment more information about this alleged shooter has become available. According to officers whom have seen his apartment, "this is very anti-climactic, he wasn't crazy or anything...he was just a very political and a well read young man, we can't describe how shocked we are that he seemed to be quite normal."

During the press conference, officials relayed how in Jonathan Fernandes Roybock's dorm there were many books, articles, and newspaper clippings in boxes and on bookshelves. In a very orderly fashion, Mr. Royback had apparently amassed a great deal of information about politics, history, and culture. He lived alone in a single dorm, and his neighbors reported that he was a bit quiet, but that nothing seemed out of the ordinary about him.

Among his books, and on his computer, officials reported that there were many conservative and libertarian texts and websites. Titles on his bookshelf included popular texts by Rush Limbaugh, Larry Elder, Thomas Sowell, Sean Hannity, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, and other popular conservative pundits and critics. Likewise, his computer included bookmarks of websites such as Fox News and the Weekly Standard. Also, among the files on his computer were conservative and right-wing videos culled from the popular website "YouTube." Analysts from the FBI and Secret Service are still analyzing these files.

Apparently, a diary was also found in his dorm room. Rumors are also circulating that Jonathan Fernandes Roybock wrote a letter explaining his actions that was left posted on the wall of the dorm room. When asked about this letter, officials at the press conference replied that they will share its contents later today once certain information has been confirmed, and precautions for the safety of Mr. Roybock's family have been reviewed. Of note, Jonathan Fernandes Roybock was known to be quite active in several conservative and right-wing student organizations including the Ayn Rand Society, the Objectivist Society, and Students for Academic Freedom.

Mr. Roybock's family has issued a statement where they have expressed their shock, dismay, grief, and pain at his actions. Mr. Roybock's family has reiterated President Bush's call for calm and for healing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Frightening Scenario: Barack Obama Assassinated! Part 3

see our disclaimer posted here.


Alleged Assassin of Barack Obama Identified!
by staff reporter
NewsWire Service
August 21, 2008

As the nation remains stunned by the death of Barack Obama, officials with the Secret Service, FBI, and Large State University police, conducted a joint press conference where for the first time they revealed the name of the alleged assassin, Jonathan Fernandes Roybock. As the press waited in silence, Secret Service officials confirmed rumors that in fact the alleged shooter was a a senior at Large State University where he majored in Philosophy and History. Officials were very tight lipped about the specifics of their investigation citing security concerns and the fact that this is an ongoing and still developing event. However, they did confirm that security tapes clearly show that Mr. Roybock was the lone shooter. When challenged that Mr. Roybock must have had "inside help," and the repeated worries regarding lax security at other Obama rallies, government and local officials reiterated that security at yesterday's event met and exceeded all standards.

Overnight, there were no reports of violence or civil disruption. While groups of people have spontaneously assembled in silent vigils at churches, major street intersections, and at state capitals throughout the country, the nation remains calm.

We will continue to update this story as details emerge.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Frightening Scenario: Barack Obama Assassinated! Part 2

see our disclaimer posted here
Barack Obama Assassinated!
by staff reporter
NewsWire Service
August 20, 2008

As reported several hours ago, Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama was shot earlier today during a campaign event at Large State University. Secret Service agents shot and killed the gunman and immediately secured the crime scene. Obama was transported to a local hospital where during emergency surgery he succumbed to his injuries. Obama's camp and his wife Michelle are pleading for calm as these events unfold. The Clinton camp has issued a statement of support expressing their shock at these horrible events. Condolences and offers of support are flooding the Obama camp and the State Department from foreign leaders and dignitaries. President Bush is pleading for calm as the FBI, Homeland Security, and other law enforcement agencies are rushing to investigate the crime scene. At present, there are no reports of violence or civil disruption. In a manner reminiscent of the moments following the terrorist attacks of 9-11, an eerie calm has descended across the country as news of Obama's death has paralyzed America. Citizens hungry for any information about the day's events remain glued to their televisions, radios, and computers.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, FBI and Secret Service spokespeople have disclosed that there was only one gunman and that his identity is known. However, it remains unknown if the alleged gunman is part of a larger conspiracy or if he had outside assistance. The alleged assassin's family, close associates, and acquaintances have been contacted and the shooter's immediate family is now under police protection. It is still not known if the alleged gunman was a student at Large State University.

The terrorist threat level remains at orange, although the Department of Homeland Security has hinted that it may be raised. In a precautionary move, the United States military has canceled all leaves and vacations, and raised its alert status as a deterrent against any foreign power or terrorist organization using this crisis as an opportunity to act against U.S. interests.

The nation remains in shock at this tragic turn of events. More news is forthcoming.

A Frightening Scenario: Barack Obama Assassinated!

Following Obama's historic speech on race, I have been talking to many people in my circle of friends and family. What has struck me is how so many of them, unprompted, have said, "you know they are going to kill him now." I have heard this repeated in barbershops, airports, bars, and restaurants. Interestingly, while yes, many of the voices have been those of black people, many of my white respectable negro allies have hinted at much the same. It is ironic that these worries and concerns are often dismissed as the fear-mongering sentiments of paranoid, histrionic black people and conspiracy theorists.

It has always struck me how Americans, and black Americans in particular have every reason to be paranoid: how many "conspiracies" have later turned out to likely be true? How many radical American political thinkers have been struck down and killed under questionable circumstances? In this regard, the response of many white Americans to the Wright-Obama debacle hints at a deep disconnect between black and white Americans (see Tim Wise's excellent editorial) on the nature of American society. Many apparently don't get the most absurd conspiracy of them all, i.e. that millions of people could be transported across the ocean, kept in bondage, excluded from citizenship, subjected to racial terrorism and segregation, and still be claimed as (and be) loyal Americans. This is the cruelest joke of them all...and why black folk tend to have a deep appreciation for irony.

Our disclaimer: ultimately, and after much reflection we have decided to follow through on our own political "War of the Worlds". We pray this won't happen, but feel obligated to put it on "paper" and make "real" the scenario. The hateful vitriol spewed by the Right in these recent days has made it clear that Obama's safety could be endangered by a lone gunman or other misanthrope (fact: "assassinate Obama" is already one of the most popular google search terms, and many outlets and sites have started to cover the story.

Periodically throughout the week we are going to add new details to this story and follow it as though it actually occurred. How would people react? What would the country do? How would race relations be impacted? This series will be difficult to write and it actually causes much anxiety, but we feel it must be done.


Barack Obama Shot!
by staff reporter
NewsWire Service
August 20, 2008

This is a breaking news story.

During a rally at Large State University, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was shot while delivering a speech about his inevitable nomination as the Democratic Party presidential candidate and how his campaign had started a process of healing the country's racial wounds. Obama was hit five times in the chest and was immediately rushed via ambulance to a local hospital. The secret service quickly killed the gunman who had penetrated several layers of security, stood up in the middle of the crowd, and shot Obama at approximately the ten minute mark of his speech. This is a developing story and details are rapidly emerging.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Barack Obama's Racial Kung Fu

I was waiting for the gravity of Barack's speech to sink in. Next week me and Gordon are going to reflect on our hopes and worries regarding Obama's campaign, but for now, I have a few quick thoughts.

First, Obama's speech on race and the Wright-Obama debacle was courageous. He took on corporatism, racism, white racial resentment, and black self-sabotage. As others have observed this is probably one of the most important as well as most needed speeches on race since the Civil Rights Movement.

Second, this speech wasn't perfect, but how could it be? Obama had to accomplish specific political goals (regaining some momentum and addressing the Right's mean spirited and vicious charges) while also not appearing to abandon his base or to "sell out," two goals he accomplished quite well. My ears only perked up once during this speech--when he equated white racism and racial resentment with black anger I grimaced as these two issues are quite separate and different. Moreover, they are not morally equivalent (black folks have every reason to be angry and pissed off given their treatment in this country; white anger at some perceived wrong done to them by black people simply does not have the same legitimacy).

Bro'bama I am proud of you right now. Accordingly, you deserve a We Are Respectable Negroes Kung Fu Tribute (one of the highest honors we negroes can award).

Obama's speech exemplified the balance of Shaolin Monks:

He handled his business with the intensity and deftness of Silver Fox:

Obama skillfully applied the snake style from the Five Deadly Venoms:

Brother, you have alot more soul than I gave you credit for, sort of like my boy Jim Kelly in Black Belt Jones:

You schooled middle America and your detractors in a fashion akin to Bruce Lee when he lectured his young pupil in Enter the Dragon:

You really have been training hard brother Obama because your speech shows how far you have come in this campaign:

When the time comes, I hope you do McCain and Hillary just like Pai Mei aka Gordon Liu schooled Uma Thurman in Kill Bill:

And much respect to you Brother Obama like the Ghost Dog to the RZA:

Peace, and the struggle continues...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chauncey Devega Says: Yes Virginia, there is a White Church

When I was a younger respectable negro I served as the commentary editor for my college newspaper. There, I had the chance to write all manner of provocative articles in an effort to (and I just learned the phrase at the time) "speak truth to power." I took particular pleasure in upsetting the white students at my small liberal arts institution. I would make them cry, enrage them to the point where I received death threats, and play on their liberal guilt--it was there that I learned about the many erotic possibilities which would potentially come to a racial messiah from the hot and flustered college co-eds who loved their local black radical. Ultimately, I simply enjoyed being the center of attention every Friday when the school paper was published...and attention would indeed come, and it often came when I least expected it.

In one of my more tame pieces I made a simple allusion, a throwaway really, to the fact that Jesus was "black." Here, I meant Jesus was "black" politically--he fought for the little guy, challenged State power, was politically progressive, and defended the weak against the strong. I also meant the historical Jesus, the man, was certainly not white. These were simple facts, written without much preamble or embellishment. Predictably, the reaction to these claims was so powerful and so immediate one would think that I had publicly lambasted the Pope and then killed his dog. I was threatened, verbally abused, and greeted by tears. Even my allies, my sincere supporters didn't understand why I would bring "race" into it. I responded with confusion. How did I bring race into anything? Race and racism are simple facts of life in America, I didn't introduce race to a situation where it wasn't already meaningful and relevant. The "anything" in this case was religion. The anything was the mere idea that I would state a fact in contrary to a fantasy, a deeply held fantasy that religion and faith are somehow immune from these questions of race and justice. I was befuddled, these normally rational, smart, reflective people lost all capacity for common sense when I dared to bring up an inconvenient truth.

It was then that I adopted my mantra to not mix religion and politics, never in my personal life, not in my relationships, and certainly never in my academic work because matters of religion often make rational, intelligent people act like total fools.

Now the Barack-Wright affair--and yes, this is how I believe history books will refer to this most untidy matter--has forced me to break my rule.

During the last week Fox News has transformed itself into the 24 Hour Black Religion Network where every second of every day offers some new morsel of information about Obama and Reverend Wright. Fox News has become so fixated on this issue that I am soon expecting TD Jakes, Reverend Ike, or Creflo Dollar to appear accompanied by praise dancers and interludes from Mahalia Jackson. However, if they could play some of this brother from the ATLAH Church I would be particularly pleased:

What is troubling, but hardly surprising in this matter, is how black folks are once more marked as the "other." The subtext (isn't it even a subtext anymore?) is that the black church is the center for some type of radical politics, that black people are bad citizens and ultimately, Obama is really one of "those blacks" and his mainstream appeal was the result of a sham, an effort to pull the proverbial negro wool over the eyes of "mainstream," i.e. good, white, patriotic Americans. Also, and the black church bears responsibility here as well, this fascination with black churches (which is cultivated by "cultural tours" of black churches like those offered by Trinity in Chicago) reeks of a type of racial voyeurism where black people are the subject of a particularly pernicious type of white spectatorship: look at the black people? Aren't they interesting? How they pray is so "animated"? Isn't the music amazing?...Maybe they will get the spirit and speak in tongues!

This effort by the right-wing to "blacken" Obama ignores some key facts and proceeds from a number of false assumptions. First, we must ask just how unpatriotic, disloyal, out of the "mainstream," or "crazy" are Pastor Wright's positions? Here, this divide speaks to the ways how (some) black people and (many) white people view the world through profoundly different lenses. While we may no longer exist in two worlds "separate, hostile, and unequal," we certainly are often worlds apart.

Let's offer a quick summary:

Not too much crazy there, no? The U.S. has supported authoritarian regimes which committed acts of terror and atrocities against their own people. Why is the idea of "blowback" or as Malcolm X said, "of the chickens coming home to roost" so troubling? On this point, I am reminded of Oprah Winfrey's 9-11 episode where experts explained to soccer moms everywhere that America has enemies, and that America often behaves like an international gangster who is long overdue for retaliation from elements abroad (I guess this is news to some). America has been stained by slavery, Jim Crow, support for state sponsored racial inequality, and continues to have an atrocious record in regards to the justice claims of poor people and people of color. Why is this so controversial? Katrina was a national embarrassment and from a religiously informed perspective that looks to the Bible as providing examples for how righteous societies ought to treat its citizens, and how societies which fail to do so will be punished by God, what is so unsettling or unpatriotic about the idea of divine retribution? How frightening is it that God may "damn" America? How absurd is this notion when one seeks, from a religiously informed perspective, to explain our declining position in the world?

This controversy also speaks to how the black church is a deeply political space, and that black liberation theology is an effort to speak to the particular needs of black people in America. We are not all the same, and any effort to mask how race informs our varied life experiences is naive at best and disingenuous at worst. Moreover, it is a perspective often advanced by those who do not have to deal with the "inconvenience" of racism. The irony in this debacle is that the black church is deeply conservative and supports positions that most political Conservatives, if they were actually honest about their own racial politics and deep animus towards black people, would support. The proposition that black folk can do for ourselves, or perhaps see value in black spaces of community and support, spaces that are not prefaced on assimilation and integration, troubles the Right:

These efforts at self-reliance are then translated into racial separatism. By extension and association, Obama is tarred and feathered--stained by his association with these "radicals," when in reality the positions held by Pastor Wright (and others) are not all too radical. Moreover, why isn't truth seeking the cornerstone of patriotism? Must we lie to ourselves and our children about America and our shared history lest we be castigated as traitors and subversives?

As much as the black church is made the object of spectacle, it is also an opportunity to turn the table. As has often been observed, the hour of prayer remains the most segregated time of the week. If the black church is "political" or "separatist" to any degree, the "white church" exhibits those same traits, and does so in a far more negative fashion. This is scary to some white folk, this challenge to the assumption that "normal" equals "white" and that "whiteness" ought not to be interrogated. But, it is one of the basic perks of white privilege, a type of convenient myopia where one does not have to see the painful or inconvenient.

For example, in America the white church has supported slavery, Jim Crow, the KKK, racial violence, and the political disempowerment of people of color. Yet, we tremble at speaking this truth. At present, the white Church is deeply political. The alliance of the Republican Party and Christian Evangelicals has given us the Bush administration and the Iraq War. The white church, with its Christian Fascism, conflates love of country and God with love of the regime and patriotism:

As further evidence of the political double standard present in the Barack-Wright affair, where is the clarion call against McCain and his affiliation with Pastor John Hagee who called Catholicism a cult?

Why hasn't Bush been called to task for speaking at Bob Jones university, a racist institution that prohibited inter-racial dating?

And black preachers don't have a monopoly on "incendiary" or "crazy" speech as Pat Robertson provides ample evidence:

Along with (reformed racist) Jerry Falwell:

As a secularist, and as a respectable negro American, I am deeply disturbed by this perilous turn in the presidential campaign. Obama, in his stirring speech today didn't throw Pastor Wright under the proverbial bus, but he did do some necessary dancing around the issue. The right-wing will predictably stay on message with attacks on Obama's character and loyalty. Predictably,their loyal sheep will march in lockstep behind these conservative demagogues. Some critics and observers have echoed my concerns about the hypocrisy surrounding the Wright-Obama affair, but unfortunately it has not (yet) become a groundswell.

Sadly, this moment reminds me of Winston Churchill's quote, "
never was so much owed by so many to so few." But unfortunately, it is a vocal few on conservative talk radio and Fox News who in their unbridled vitriol, prejudice, and political hostility, have through their attacks on Obama further poisoned our political discourse and potentially hurt so many.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chauncey's World of Ghetto Nerds: Gnarls Barkley's new video--Run!

I was going to post a follow-up to my earlier Star Wars post, fully equipped with a Gnarls Barkley performance of "Crazy" in full Star Wars regalia, but I had to post this bit of goodness:

I saw these 2 in Vegas, with Kanye, and that horrible Lupe Fiasco, and it was amazing.

First, Gnarls Barkley's new video:

Second, a personal favorite:

Sometimes pop music is okay, it really is.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chauncey's World of Ghetto Nerds: Damn it! Star Wars is Sexy!!

from The Best of Craigslist:

Original URL:

Dear Star Wars ex-boyfriend, my vag is sore
Reply to:
Date: 2008-01-25, 3:56AM

Dear Star Wars obsessed ex-boyfriend,
A few things as of late have come to light. The fact that you had an entire room dedicated to Star Wars should have been enough to make any sane girl run in the opposite direction, I somehow found it endearing...Your sexual inadequacies should have made me run to seek orgasm from another penis, instead I quietly masturbated in the bathroom after your pathetic attempts at coitus. When you told me that you slept with someone else, I must admit that I was mildly relieved as at last this was my way out. But Star Wars obsessed ex- boyfriend, you just had to go and one-up yourself in stupidity. Just when I thought that your stupidity had reached its crescendo a perfect symphony of ignorance, you surprised me. You said something that will forever go down as the worst phrase to ever utter to a girlfriend. You said: “Yeah I slept with someone else, but I had to think about you to get off.” Seriously? Really? Am I supposed to be honored by this? ...Well, Star Wars obsessed ex-boyfriend, let me tell you this. I won. First off, I am not going to let you ruin Star Wars for me. I will still giggle with delight at Chewbacca’s noises. I will still find humor in Jabba’s fat face. More importantly, I won because I used my inner rage to go out and fuck the ever living shit out of someone else...And you know what Star Wars obsessed ex-boyfriend? I fucked this guy on real sheets. Sheets that didn’t have R2D2 and C3P0 and Tie fighters. Big boy sheets. When I arched my back and looked up I didn’t see any Sith infiltrators on the ceiling. No Death Star. For the first time in a long time I got off without feeling like I should be on “To Catch a Predator” because you, Star Wars obsessed ex-boyfriend, made me feel dirty for fucking in what looked like a little kid’s room...

* Location: not Alderaan
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

I get riled up whenever someone disparages Star Wars as simply being the exclusive province of loser, unromantic, male virgins whom still live at mom and dad's house. Frankly, it isn't fair and it ignores the sexiness that is the Force. I should know, because I have used the Star Wars lounge music album as mood music for one of my epic love fact it is right between my Teddy P and R. Kelly in the booty music rotation. I have also made love to a woman while wearing my Jedi Knight costume. And trust me, that was mighty sexy.

Let's take the sexy back fellow Star Wars fans. Brother Lando are you with me?

You are so cool I may just have me a Colt 45:

Stars Wars fans and ghetto nerds we are gonna take sexy back in the '08.

May the Force be with you, always.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This is a High-Tech Lynching! Well no it really isn't...

Mayor Text o'love Kwame is at it again. Now, those are some mean words, but given your behavior you have lost all credibility with me and I can't help but see a race-baiting, desperate, tacky politician--and one who exploits his child and wife to boot. Brother Kwame, why can't you just be contrite, resign, disappear from public life, and drink a big bowl of shut-up juice?

From Newsweek magazine:

You might think the resignation of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer would put more pressure on Detroit's embattled mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, to do the same. But Kilpatrick, seven weeks into his own text sex scandal, shows no signs of giving up the fight. In fact, with a prosecutor contemplating perjury charges and his city council in revolt, Kilpatrick has chosen the nuclear option in this deeply divided city. At the end of an otherwise routine state-of-the-city speech Tuesday night, Kilpatrick went off on a racially explosive tirade against his critics and the media.

"In the past 30 days I've been called a n----- more than any time in my entire life," he told a cheering, invitation-only crowd of 1,500 at Detroit's gilded Orchestra Hall. "In the past three days I've received more death threats than I have in my entire administration. I've heard these words, but I've never heard people say them about my wife and children. I have to say this, because it's very personal to me." He stole a glance at his wife and twin 12-year-old sons standing at attention in a luxury box above the stage. "I don't believe a Nielsen rating is worth the life of my children or your children. This unethical, illegal lynch-mob mentality has to stop."

Wow, we have enough content to recycle! But here at We are Respectable Negroes we call this a "flashback" rather than a lazy, respectable negro moment.

From a few months back, still relevant and still funny:

Kwame Kilpatrick, the mayor of Detroit, is in big trouble. Apparently, he has been running his administration like a cross between Flavor of Love, 106 and Park, and We can do Better. Kwame's the "hip hop" mayor. He has strippers, parties, and security guards covering up his mess. Now, Kwame is caught creeping with his senior aid. It seems that Kilpatrick and his lover have exchanged 14,000 text messages over the course of a year, yes, 14,000. The rub of the story is that few of the text messages that have been released to the public are any good. I want some steamy, I am cheating on my wife, nasty and dirty text messages. For example, how about a few, "I am gonna come over and put you in the chicken wing girl;" "I want to put you in the camel clutch later tonight;" or "I am going to wear you out like a pair of shoes from Payless." In honor of our first hip hop mayor, a mayor by the name of Kwame, I present a classic cut from the original Kwame (see it makes sense in the end):

It seems Kwame thought he was a smooth operator:

But, Kwame may have just played himself:

One-fourth of teen girls (and half of black teen girls!) have this in their drawers; teen boys, R Kelly undaunted.

I’m sorry, this is just gross. Just once, I’d like for black people to not be atop the Raggedy Rankings.

And I’m sure many will blame the predatory, manipulative boys for infecting innocent girls, but if you’ve spent any time around teens, you’ll see that these girls want it just as much as the boys.

This is a failure of black parenting at every imaginable level—a failure to provide decent male role models so that girls won’t go looking for male love and acceptance in chubbies; a failure to provide strong female role models who don’t make a habit of letting random dudes run up in them raw dog; a failure to make kids realize the seriousness and permanence of some STDs and the importance of safe sex; a failure to instill character and independent thought so that kids don’t take their behavioral norms from mass media and their fucked up peers.

Young people are going to have sex—that’s a given. But they don’t have to turn this bitch into 12 Monkeys in the process.

How’s that for racial id, Chauncey?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hillary Clinton's Red Phone Ad and the Birth of a Nation

From the New York Time's editorial, "The Red Phone in Black and White":

ON first watching Hillary Clinton’s recent “It’s 3 a.m.” advertisement, I was left with an uneasy feeling that something was not quite right — something that went beyond my disappointment that she had decided to go negative. Repeated watching of the ad on YouTube increased my unease. I realized that I had only too often in my study of America’s racial history seen images much like these, and the sentiments to which they allude...

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad’s central image — innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger — it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn’t help but think of D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society. The danger implicit in the phone ad — as I see it — is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.

The ad could easily have removed its racist sub-message by including images of a black child, mother or father — or by stating that the danger was external terrorism. Instead, the child on whom the camera first focuses is blond. Two other sleeping children, presumably in another bed, are not blond, but they are dimly lighted, leaving them ambiguous. Still it is obvious that they are not black — both, in fact, seem vaguely Latino.


I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. Nor, have I drunk the Obama Kool-Aid and become a true believer. However, I must admit that the ugliness of her campaign has pushed me, and I imagine many others, to vote for Obama in order to teach Billary a lesson about taking black folks for granted, and as punishment for how Bill Clinton disingenuously pimped the label of being "America's first black president."

With this qualification noted, I have mixed feelings about the interpretations that some have offered regarding Hillary Clinton's red phone campaign ad where Obama is skewered as being unprepared to lead the country in a crisis:

Here, some critics have offered an analysis that argues these ads are "racist" and "racially coded" because they hint at black incompetence and Hillary as the protector of white families., we all know that I beat up on white racism (and black stupidity) but I ain't buying this one. Historically, the parallel falls flat, and the commercial lacks the insidiousness, crude intelligence, and overt appeal to be "elevated" in this fashion. Frankly, Hillary Clinton's ad doesn't possess a bit of the "genius" (yes I said "genius"), offered by Birth of a Nation.

In fact, Hillary's campaign ad has more in common with the fear mongering offered by the Johnson campaign in its classic "Daisy Girl" commercial:

While noting the power of negative campaign commercials to impact voting behavior (or not), my gut doesn't tell me that the white viewers whom are ostensibly targeted by this ad would "get" the appeal. Am I wrong? And does it matter? (I am open to being swayed on this point)

My other measuring stick for determining the racism of Hillary's red phone campaign commercial is the question, "how does it compare to past campaign ads which were rightly labeled as being racist?"

For example,

The implication made by this commercial that then gubernatorial candidate Harold Ford chases white women and parties at the Playboy mansion:

Those Democrats love letting out black rapists and murderers--Premier Bush Number One's notorious Willie Horton ad:

They took our jobs! The unqualified blacks took our jobs!--The "black hands, white hands" ad from Jesse Helms:

Ultimately, Hillary's call to leadership is to my eyes, more evocative of Underdog than anything else:

Let's skewer Hillary for the racially provocative speech of her campaign officials, the clumsiness of her campaign, and how Hillary in her willingness to fight until the convention may destroy the Democratic Party and hand the election to McCain. Moreover, commentators and voters need to attack Hillary on her claims to experience, because frankly, in these matters of State how experienced is she? Ultimately, we don't need to grab at proverbial straws in an effort to burn a racial straw man. Why? Because the facts offered by Hillary Clinton's campaign provide more than enough fodder to undo her.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Negro History Week is Pre-empted by our Racial Id's

We desperately tried and wanted to share our "respectable origins." Unfortunately, because Zora our resident voice of reason is AWOL, Brother Gordon and I are reverting to our normal semi-respectable ways. With our voice of reason temporarily absent, our racial ids have run amok once more. You see, Zora would intervene and beg us not to proceed, but without her civilizing and compassionate influence we are left to our own devices--our own inner Bill Cosby's.

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

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