Thursday, June 5, 2008

We Respectable Negroes do Indeed Predict the Future--Obama made Possible by Hollywood?

It seems that we are indeed Negro Nostradamuses. A few months ago, Zora observed that Bro'Bama's candidacy was enabled by Hollywood's fictionalized portrayals of black men as the president of the United States. Now it seems that CNN is channeling our respectable negro-powered, future-predictive powers.

From CNN (Zora's original post follows)

Black presidents nothing new to Hollywood

By Lola Ogunnaike
CNN's American Morning

(CNN) -- Voters will determine if America is ready for a black president come November, but Hollywood, often ahead of the national curve, made up its mind about the issue ages ago.


Dennis Haysbert played the accomplished President David Palmer in "24."

On television and in film, black actors as acclaimed as James Earl Jones and as obscure as Tommy Lister have played commanders-in-chief.

Sammy Davis Jr. was only 9 when he assumed the top office in the 1933 satire "Rufus Jones for President." The film was as short as its adorable star.

But those 21 minutes were all too long on racial stereotypes. Chicken, watermelon, dice playing -- funny back then to many. Now, not so much.

Fast forward a few decades and the notion of a black man in the Oval Office provides ample joke fodder for comics such as Richard Pryor and Chris Rock.

On one episode of "The Richard Pryor Show," the comedian's short-lived '70s variety hour, he played a president hosting a press conference. During the sketch, he tells a corps of reporters that he'd seriously consider Black Panther Huey Newton for the job of FBI director -- and nearly decks one journalist who inadvertently insults his momma. And when he's asked about his fetish for white women, he jokes, "They don't call it the White House for nothing."

In the 2003 film "Head of State," Chris Rock's president, Mays Gilliam, is an even more exaggerated caricature. His populist talk is glazed with hip-hop slang. Gilliam, a community organizer, is also partial to baggy jeans and Kangol caps and looks less like the leader of the free world than the latest signing of Def Jam Records. His running mate, played by Bernie Mac, thinks NATO is a person and not an acronym.

Gilliam is catapulted onto the public stage after the sitting president dies in a plane crash. It is not the first time a black man on screen has risen to power amidst calamity. Video Watch how Hollywood has been featuring minority presidents for decades »

In "The Man," James Earl Jones receives the big gig after the entire cabinet perishes in a series of freak accidents. In "Deep Impact," Morgan Freeman has to calm the nation as he contends with wayward comets threatening to destroy the planet. And in "The Fifth Element," set in 2263, Tommy Lister's President Lindberg has to battle asteroids and an enemy appropriately named The Great Evil.

It's not until the hit series "24" that things start looking up for the black president. Dennis Haysbert's character, David Palmer -- in the first season a senator running for the presidency -- is handsome, composed and ready to lead on Day One. His race is a non-issue as he grapples with modern-day threats such as terrorism, bomb scares and a social-climbing wife.

Yes, he's eventually assassinated, but only after he leaves office. And Palmer's equally self-possessed younger brother, Wayne, takes the reins shortly thereafter.

Will these depictions make any difference to Barack Obama's candidacy? Who knows? But what was once the stuff of joke and fantasy could be months away from being the real thing.


Zora on Film: Has Hollywood Helped Pave the Way for Obama?

After voters have seen several black presidents on screen, are they more likely to elect one in real life? NPR's Michele Norris recently raised this question to Dr. Todd Boyd, Professor of Critical Studies in the USC School of Cinematic Arts aka The Notorious PhD. "I'm a bit hesitant to say that because James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman or Dennis Haysbert played a president on a TV show or in a movie, it means Barack Obama can be president," Boyd responded. "I think that's a bit of a stretch."

Boyd goes on, though, to say that such representations — especially those like 24's, beamed weekly into American living rooms — "may have unconsciously made some things in society seem less troubling" than if there'd been no pop-culture pictures of a black president.

I'm betting that a lot of folks will take issue with Dr. Boyd's response. Leaders within the African-American community have been pushing for decades to have more positive representations of Negroes in the media. The result is that we regularly see African-Americans playing the roles of well-to-do professionals who are in positions of power. (For some reason, television casting directors love seeing African-American women in the role of judges -- the Law & Order spin-offs must be the most consistent employer of middle-aged, black female extras in the industry.) The irony is that the majority of the most blatant stereotypical imagery we see in popular culture today is produced by ourselves and for ourselves --> T_ler P_rry.

With Hollywood favorites like Denzel Washington, Bill Cosby and Will Smith, we've been looking pretty damn good on television and film over the last two decades (local news broadcasts not included). Some might say, too good. The problem is that the progress we've made on the cinematic screen does not reflect the progress we've made on the street. Liberals in Hollywood are producing symbols that are not grounded in reality. These symbols may actually be negatively affecting African-American progress.

The power of the media in shaping American perceptions of reality has been a regular theme on this blog. Because we are still a very segregated nation, most white Americans get a lot of their information about black Americans from the television. In places with marginal black populations like New Hampshire, Vermont, Montana, Utah and New Mexico, media images are even less likely to be balanced by real life interactions with African-Americans. If all they're seeing is images of well-off, powerful Negroes, then tales of black poverty and racial discrimination must fall on deaf ears.

I live in a small, New England town where I can count the number of African-Americans on my fingers and toes. All of us are professionals who are associated with the local college. We are surrounded by a lot of deep and profound poverty. It is nearly impossible to talk with Whites who have grown-up in this area about racial inequality and discrimination. From what they can observe, African-Americans have actually moved ahead of Whites. Most of them barely have a high-school education, so you can forget about discussing symbolic imagery and media manipulation with them.

All of the positive images of African-Americans are surely feeding what social theorists would term realistic group conflict. This is especially likely in this time of economic difficulty with the competition for jobs and benefits growing more fierce each day. We should not have been surprised at all that Obama lost in New Hampshire. Bill Clinton wasn't surprised. He knew immediately why Obama lost and sought to nourish the seeds of conflict with his comments on the "race card." The Clinton camp knew that they couldn't win the South Carolina battle, but they are looking long-term at the war. For all of Obama's talk about "hope," he has to also acknowledge (at least among his strategists) that he also inspires a lot of fear.

With all of the black presidents we have seen on screen, only African-Americans are more likely to elect a black president. For them, the symbols represent possibilities that were perhaps unimaginable before: "Maybe we can win? Maybe we can be successful?" For other groups, the media symbols of Negro success are more likely to inspire fear, or apathy at the very least. I would argue that the lack of support for Obama among Latino Democrats is further evidence of this.

Does this mean that we should go back to being portrayed as maids and field hands? Of course, not. We do, however, have to make sure that we are portrayed in a balanced and realistic manner. It doesn't serve any of us to live in a "fantasy land."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A World of Ghetto Nerds Tribute to Barack Obama's History Making Nomination as the Democratic Nominee for President!

Talk about an earlier post being rendered temporarily irrelevant by the tide of history. We will get serious at some point later on, but right now let's enjoy the moment. Brother Obama, the only presidential candidate that in my short life I (like a few in our fair city) have had 1 degree of separation from, here is some ghetto nerd, random goodness that goes out from us to you:

Obama is to Hillary as Han Solo is to Greedo:

Warm it up Bro'Bama:

Do it to death!!!!

We/You/I love music:

Love from Chi-town..even if it is from R. Kelly (but the art is greater than the man):

This is once in a lifetime--I hope not!

Are we free falling?

Maybe we just want to celebrate:

We've got to give it up to you:

Did you learn the rope-a-dope from Muhammed Ali?

But we are all gonna need some soul power for you to win:

Let's change it up because you have universal appeal--and rock is black music after for now we are thunderstruck:

Why not?

Freddy Mercury seems appropriate--at least for the moment:

One more, because we respectable negroes can't get enough of this song:

The professional wrestling smart mark version of the U2 song played before and after Obama's acceptance speech:

Today is a good day to be a proud American because sometimes we do better than we should, and certainly better than we deserve:

In true geek fashion, perhaps Barack Obama is our generation's Rodimus Prime?

Congrats Mr. and yes, I mean Mr. Barack Obama!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: Six Degrees of Separation for Barack Obama: He is one Respectable Negro who is in Big Trouble!

While we celebrate the fact that Obama has effectively clinched the Democratic nomination, we should also be mindful of the dirty tricks, circuitous logic, and swift boat style attacks that will await Bro'Bama. In an effort to help the brother out, as well as to anticipate the attacks of McCain, Fox, Rush Limbaugh, et al., I have prepared this handy flowchart (be sure to click on it for better resolution).

Given that Obama is deemed by the Right as having been/will soon be associated with every type of miscreant, radical, and "troublemaker" (that is Conservative speak for "intellectual") it seemed appropriate to detail some of these relationships. As this (less than comprehensive) chart makes clear, Bro'Bama is in big trouble...

The Barack Obama Six Degrees of Separation Life Chart

Some "dangerous" relationships

1. Barack Obama-->Michelle Obama--> Princeton University
(where she wrote her "unpatriotic" senior thesis)--> Cornel West
(a dangerous Democratic Socialist who makes lots of money on the lecture circuit and from his hip hop cd's)-->either Karl Marx (Cornel has probably read Marx)--> or even worst to Black Jesus (the Black church is going to be the end of Obama isn't it?):

2. Michelle Obama-->Black people (yes, "real" black people)...

3. Obama-->1960s radical and (now) Professor Bill Ayers-->Father Pfleger-->Reverend Wright (via Trinity Church) and to Louis Farrakhan ('nuff said)-->Libyan President Muamar Quaddafi (remember Farrakhan was getting bankrolled by the now cross-dressing and somewhat insane Libyan leader-->the terrorist organization Hamas-->Yasser Arafat-->Osama Bin Laden. This one could be the end for Barack because Osama is far worse and far more dangerous than Black Jesus...

4. Obama-->his white, hippy, race mixing mother (she had a thing for the brown folks)-->Marx (she is an anthropologist by training)-->Dirty Hippies. We all hate dirty hippies:

5. Obama--> his African, lapsed-Muslim, apostate, father-->Hamas-->Arafat-->Al Queda. This is an easy one because many Americans already believe Obama is a Muslim, that Muslims are all terrorists, and that Obama could be a closet supporter of Islamic terrorism (or alternatively that Obama's father and by extension Obama could somehow be targets of suicide bombers because of dad's status as an "apostate"). The Right has been on this one since jump street so they will only increase their emphasis of this point in the coming months:

6. Obama-->his African father-->his African extended family-->Shaka Zulu. I love Shaka Zulu and in fact believe that any link to Shaka should give a candidate instant credibility. While all folks may not agree with the power of Shaka, I couldn't resist sharing it:

This chart is less than comprehensive. For example, I left out the noted scholar Rashid Khalidi and how from Obama to Khalidi one can go instantly to Osama and Al Queda (because of course, anyone that is critical of either the Israeli occupation or of political zionism is anti-Semitic:

One could also instantly go from Marx to just about anything that the Right would find threatening, problematic, scary, or unsettling (full employment, yikes!!!), but that link was too obvious.

Respectable Negroes and our friends, who else should we include in version 2.0 of our Obama Six Degrees of separation chart? And, what relationships should we include in our John McCain Six Degrees of Separation chart?

In short, if this handy chart is at all telling, I think Barack Obama, presidential candidate to be, is in some perilous waters. Your thoughts? Is there a way to fix this "problem"? Who else should he disassociate himself from? Should he just withdraw now? Should Obama change his name to "Berry," disappear, and then come back in a decade or so with a new persona? An "Obama-lite" without baggage, attachments, or "troubling" relationships?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Political Rule # 384: Never appease a tyrant

Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Trinity are community building blocks that the right wing has turned into bricks to be thrown at presidential candidate Obama from now until the general election ends in November—and perhaps beyond.

So in an attempt to turn manufactured right-wing ammo into blanks, Obama has completely separated himself from his minister and his church. What worries me is this: Can we expect a President Obama to cave in to the whims and will of the right on policies and issues he knows are important, if this nation is to move forward in a progressive and compassionate manner? Can we expect him to genuflect to negative reports by an uninformed, misinformed or ill-willed media? Is the candidate of change willing to go-along in a willy-nilly get-along fashion?

I hope not, but I’m not sure.

…Should this become his practice as president, then for those who have invested so much hope in him, his victory will only be a pyrrhic one.

--Monroe Anderson

Tell me that’s not the realest shit you’ve heard.

Resigning from his church is the single worst move Obama could have made (aside from telling the press corps that Louis Farrakhan is a great man).

Sure, Obama’s decision won’t sit well with many of his black supporters, but this isn’t actually as big a deal as it might seem. Black people have been extremely practical about the media’s bullshit surrounding Obama and his “radical” associates. For the most part, we understand the impossible situation facing Obama.

Running away from his “controversial” church isn’t going to appease the right wing, and it isn’t going to appease the media.

Obama had better be prepared to hear the following two questions ad nauseum:

1.) What took you so long?

2.) What do you stand for?

Allowing the media to dictate what church he attends only fuels those who think that he is a secret Muslim and that his commitment to Christianity is one borne chiefly of political expediency.

Moreover, it makes the dim right wing pundits and the mainstream media (when it comes to race, same thing, really) even more apt to attack and problematize other aspects of his blackness that are too “exotic” and “angry” for white America.

This decision marks the beginning of the end of Obama's presidential run.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Let's Play the Barack Obama Write Your Own Photo Caption Game!

Courtesy of the Washington Post:

What would be a good caption for this photo?

My entries:

1. "Damn! Even 5th graders know I can't win."
2. The American Flag and the Stars and Bars officially brought to you by Chinese prison labor
3. Truth in advertising?
4. Quintessential irony...
5. The Odd Couple: Blue States + Red States = Divided States

Your suggestions?

Monday, May 26, 2008

For the Sake of All that is Good and Decent, Please Stop!: Hillary Clinton and Beetlejuice--A Brother and A Sister from Another Mother

Hillary, my dear, please stop. I sincerely beg you to stop, because if you continue with this nonsense it will become even more apparent that you are as detached from reality as my boy Beetlejuice from the Howard Stern show.

In denial example 1

from the New York Daily News

Hillary: Why I continue to run


Sunday, May 25th 2008, 4:00 AM

Presidential-hopeful Hillary Clinton vows to fight on despite calls for her to pull out of the race.

This past Friday, during a meeting with a newspaper editorial board, I was asked about whether I was going to continue in the presidential race.

I made clear that I was - and that I thought the urgency to end the 2008 primary process was unprecedented. I pointed out, as I have before, that both my husband's primary campaign, and Sen. Robert Kennedy's, had continued into June.

Almost immediately, some took my comments entirely out of context and interpreted them to mean something completely different - and completely unthinkable.

I want to set the record straight: I was making the simple point that given our history, the length of this year's primary contest is nothing unusual. Both the executive editor of the newspaper where I made the remarks, and Sen. Kennedy's son, Bobby Kennedy Jr., put out statements confirming that this was the clear meaning of my remarks. Bobby stated, "I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense."

I realize that any reference to that traumatic moment for our nation can be deeply painful - particularly for members of the Kennedy family, who have been in my heart and prayers over this past week. And I expressed regret right away for any pain I caused.

But I was deeply dismayed and disturbed that my comment would be construed in a way that flies in the face of everything I stand for - and everything I am fighting for in this election.

And today, I would like to more fully answer the question I was asked: Why do I continue to run, even in the face of calls from pundits and politicians for me to leave this race?

I am running because I still believe I can win on the merits. Because, with our economy in crisis, our nation at war, the stakes have never been higher - and the need for real leadership has never been greater - and I believe I can provide that leadership.

I am not unaware of the challenges or the odds of my securing the nomination - but this race remains extraordinarily close, and hundreds of thousands of people in upcoming primaries are still waiting to vote. As I have said so many times over the course of this primary, if Sen. Obama wins the nomination, I will support him and work my heart out for him against John McCain. But that has not happened yet.

I am running because I believe staying in this race will help unite the Democratic Party. I believe that if Sen. Obama and I both make our case - and all Democrats have the chance to make their voices heard - in the end, everyone will be more likely to rally around the nominee.

In denial example 2

from The New York Daily News

Hillary Clinton honchos say Obama's campaign fans flames of RFK gaffe

WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton's campaign brass blamed their counterparts on Barack Obama's team Sunday for fanning the firestorm over her gaffe about Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's assassination.

The counterattack came even as Clinton struggled to put the flap behind her with just 10 days left in the Democratic primaries marathon. Obama is within reach of clinching the nomination early next month.

"It's unfortunate - a hyped-up press over Memorial Day weekend, the Obama campaign inflaming it, tried to take these words out of context," Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe snapped on "Fox News Sunday."

Shortly after Clinton's remarks to a Sioux Falls, S.D., newspaper were reported last Friday, Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton fired off a press release: "Sen. Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."

Clinton communications chief, Howard Wolfson, appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation," said Burton's missive was "unfortunate and unnecessary and, in my opinion, inflammatory."

Neither Burton nor Obama's top strategist, David Axelrod, would respond to McAuliffe's complaint Sunday.

"It was an unfortunate statement, as we said, as she's acknowledged. Let's move forward," Axelrod said on ABC's "This Week."

Clinton's stunner came when she was explaining her decision to stay in the race against all odds.

"You know my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere around the middle of June. We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California," she said.

In an opinion piece in Sunday's Daily News, Clinton said she was just making a historical point - that the length of this year's primary campaign "is nothing unusual."

Her words were taken "entirely out of context," she complained.

Clinton's detractors have said whatever the context, she made a ghastly error by matter-of-factly citing the 1968 assassination of Kennedy while he was running for President.

Obama's historic bid for the White House has been accompanied by worry for his safety as the first black candidate with a strong chance to win.

Obama has not asked for a personal apology from Clinton and does not expect one, his campaign indicated.

Clinton did not address the issue while campaigning in Puerto Rico Sunday, but when she spoke at the Pabellón de la Victoria evangelical church, her latest stumble may have been on her mind.

"There isn't anything we cannot do together if we seek God's blessing and if we stay committed and are not deterred by the setbacks that often fall in every life," Clinton told the congregation.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

On Racial Terror, September 11th and Cornel West

Hillary's debased fantasies of Obama's death, and the liberal racism on display at The Daily Kos, reminded me of one of my favorite Cornel West moments where he links the history of racial terror in these United States to Al Queda's attack on September 11th 2001.


Hillary Clinton's Spiritual Ugliness--More on her Hopeful Reflections on the Possibility of Obama's Assassination

More on this point. A little earlier I posted something written.

Now, we will post something visual.

Keith Olbermann, you are my favorite news broadcaster. You are a beacon of light and excellence in a sea of mediocrity. You aren't perfect, and you are still learning your game, but you have my respect:

As I watched your broadcast on Hillary's ugliness, her deep seeded resentment and hostility towards Obama (and her black heart, notice not her "Black" heart), I thought of one, if not THE greatest newsman of either the 20th or 21st centuries:

Yeah, that pairing just may (one day) be right.

Some print for you--in a moment when print is ostensibly dead, Michael Goodwin of The New York Post knocked this one out of the park:

Hillary Clinton's colossal blunder simply the last straw

Saturday, May 24th 2008, 4:00 AM

SICK. Disgusting. And yet revealing. Hillary Clinton is staying in the race in the event some nut kills Barack Obama.

It could happen, but what definitely has happened is that Clinton has killed her own chances of being vice president. She doesn't deserve to be elected dog catcher anywhere now.

Her shocking comment to a South Dakota newspaper might qualify as the dumbest thing ever said in American politics.

Her lame explanation that she brought up the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy because his brother Ted's illness was on her mind doesn't cut it. Not even close.

We have seen an X-ray of a very dark soul. One consumed by raw ambition to where the possible assassination of an opponent is something to ponder in a strategic way. Otherwise, why is murder on her mind?

It's like Tanya Harding's kneecapping has come to politics. Only the senator from New York has more lethal fantasies than that nutty skater.

We could have seen it coming, if only we had realized Clinton's thinking could be so cold. She has grown increasingly wild in her imagery lately, invoking everything from slavery to the political killings in Zimbabwe in making her argument for the Florida and Michigan delegations. She claimed to be the victim of sexism, despite winning the votes of white men.

But none of it was moving the nomination needle, with Obama, despite recent dents, still on course to be the victor.

So she kept digging deeper, looking for the magic button. Instead, she pushed the eject button, lifting herself right out of consideration.

Giving voice to such a vile thought is all the more horrible because fears Obama would be killed have been an undercurrent to his astonishing rise. Republican Mike Huckabee made a stupid joke about it recently. Many black Americans have talked of it, reflecting their assumption that racists would never tolerate a black President and that Obama would be taken from them.

Clinton has now fed that fear. She needs a very long vacation. And we need one from her.

Say good night, Hillary. And go away.

The original story can be found here.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: On Liberal Racism and the "Lynching" of Michelle Obama

I can laugh at anything. But, I cannot laugh at this. It seems that someone at the self-consciously "hip," "sharp," and "snarky" liberal website The Daily Kos thought this insightful and ironic. It is not. Simply put, photoshop trickery evocative of the book The Clansmen does not reach the minimum threshold for good taste or whit.

Humor is one of the most important of human gifts because it allows us to deal with the challenges, difficulties, and disappointments that come with our day to day lives. I consider myself lucky because I can harness my sense of humor to deal with just about any disappointment or life challenge. However, there are moments, real moments which demand that we drop the mask of humor-and it is a mask we people of color wear out of necessity-- and to show our true and real selves, to feel pain, to feel and express anger, and to be vocal in our disappointment.

As our readers know, I, me, being Chauncey DeVega in both the "online world" (we all want to be internet celebrities, don't we?) and in the "real world" am usually able to snicker, to mock, to have what I like to call an "Incredible Hulk moment" when confronted by the various absurdities of American life.

When I happened upon this picture and its accompanying story at The Root and at What About Our Daughters, I really tried to go to that place where humor and irony provide insight, comfort, and a bit of protection. I desperately wanted to find some sharp popular culture reference that would symbolize my feelings about the (not) closeted racism on display by our (liberal) friends at The Daily Kos. I simply couldn't go to that place. Certainly not now, and absolutely not in regards to this most blatant of offenses against good taste and common decency.

My friends and I have shared a long running conversation about liberal racism. It is a peculiar beast. Conservatives, who are the most frequently tarred, and with good reason, by the label of being "racist," display a variant of white supremacy born of a willful historical myopia that couches white racism as being a mere "inconvenience" or historical oddity (when in fact white supremacy is the dominant historical narrative in the modern world).

By comparison, liberals are hyper-conscious of race and racial inequality. "Progressive" attitudes on race are central to liberal-left identity. However, this race consciousness does not immunize them from being active racists or from holding beliefs that are deeply informed by a premise that people of color are inferior, or perhaps stated in a more benign fashion, are merely "different." Here, difference becomes a signifier of a compelling and curious Other. This Other needs saving, this Other needs to be understood, and this Other needs help. He is pathological and cannot escape the myriad of limited life choices that await him. She is damaged by the dual oppressions of white racism and black male sexism. They cannot overcome racial adversity and white supremacy without our help.

The danger of this paternalistic attitude is that for some self-consciously progressive members of the Left, they, like their conservative nemeses, are also afflicted by a myopia that works to preclude self-reflection. These good liberals believe they have a pass which excludes the possibility of racist thought, speech, or action. Ultimately, these good liberals are incapable of being racists because they are the friends of the poor coloured folk of the world. These good liberals are supposedly our most erstwhile allies.

Ultimately, the image of Michelle Obama being lynched and raped is sickening because there is no humor in the image. It is utterly "real." Because it is "real" there is no possibility of irony. In its utter "realness" it speaks to an ugly reality. In turn, this truth lacks even the barest possibility for humor because it lacks both insight and subtext.

Moreover, I believe it is important to write Michelle's name because it removes the protection and insulation offered by historical abstraction (read: black people were lynched; read: black women were lynched; see how this is different from writing Michelle Obama was lynched?). She is a human being, a real person being threatened with murder and violence. This threat, a threat through implication and historical allusion is no less hurtful, real, or shocking--notice I did not say surprising--than one made through active speech in the present. And thinking through this example, an inability to make this connection perhaps speaks to an even more troubling and deep disconnect between the races in this country than we dare to acknowledge.

The image of Michelle Obama's defilement speaks to the particular grotesqueness of America's racial order, and how for some three hundred years, systematic, State sanctioned, violence denied an entire class of human beings their rights as human beings and citizens. I emphasize again, the violence of Jim Crow, of slavery, of lynch law were not anomalies. The semi-permanence of America's racial order was enforced by murder. It was enforced by rape. America's white supremacy did and does the work of political and economic exploitation and exclusion: to deny this fact is to deny a central truth in American history. This racial regime ruled by terror and enforced its order through the willingness of white citizens to support a "natural order of things" where they benefited from the psychic and material wages paid by white supremacy.

Imagine if you will, the public spectacle of lynching where whole white communities, often numbering in the thousands (as in the oft cited lynching of Sam Hose) would celebrate the murder of innocent black men and black women. Their bodies would be burned and shot. Body parts would be cut off and sold as souvenirs. Genitalia would be mutilated. Photos would be taken and sold; postcards mailed; train schedules modified as to allow the largest number of attendees possible; fairgrounds equipped and provisioned; the spectacle of racial violence would initiate white children into their future roles as adult enforcers of white supremacy; white men of all classes would be further elevated and their bond as social equals and brothers in the service of American democracy reinforced (even as capitalism tore at this exaggerated sense of common interest); and white women would be further "protected" and "elevated" as literal vessels for white men's honor. And of course, this wanton violence taught black people "to know their place."

How simultaneously grotesque (because no other word so precisely captures the feeling of spiritual ugliness encapsulated by this spectacle) that a truly, national, American commercial and popular culture, was in many ways born through this ritual of blood and violence.

I anticipate that my detractors will argue in quite typical fashion that this was a moment in history, and that black people (and others of good taste) are merely being overly sensitive. The KKK is irrelevant. Racism is dead. Violent racism is in the past. We may elect a black president. This is a colorblind society. In fact, for arch-Conservatives, in a perverse deployment of Martin Luther King Jr's vision of a just society, may argue that "reverse-racism" is the social evil most worthy of spirited confrontation.

Rather than unpack the errors in both fact and reasoning displayed by these predictable responses, I would rather turn to the question of memory and relate it to the basic premise that racism is real, active, and alive in the present.

What has astounded me about the white public's response to the Reverend Wright debacle was how it laid bare the clear divergences in the historical and lived experiences of black and white Americans in this country. In a similar vein, the surprise which greeted the reality that large segments of the white public will not vote for a black president (as demonstrated by Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia) inspired a similar moment of head-shaking consternation. Interestingly, the racist vitriol directed at Obama's campaign workers, and their accompanying surprise, only prompted a half-smile on my part at the depths of their naivete.

You see, America is a sick society. We are all deeply afflicted by white supremacy. Black people, white people, brown folk, all of us, have internalized and reproduced this social order. Some of us are more conscious of it than others. A rare few try to speak truth to power so that we can overcome this debilitating social ill by bringing it to the light, by exposing it, and by challenging it whenever we see it. This divide in experience, how white supremacy impacts us differently, operates in our lives, structures our memories, and gives some more voice than others--and by doing so simultaneously precludes both empathy and sympathy (note the difference) from the empowered towards those less so--is how white supremacy operates as a lived system in this country.

The label of Conservative or Liberal does not make one immune from this sickness, it merely filters and shapes how it is expressed.

As brother Malcolm said, liberals are also invested in this system of inequality and they should own and confront it:

And they wonder why we are so angry?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hillary Clinton is our "Spare" Candidate--Just in Case Obama were to be Assassinated

In honor of your observation that you should remain in the race "just in case" Obama is assassinated, you Hillary Clinton, are the second winner of the We are Respectable Negroes Shit-Huffer Award for Stupidity Above and Beyond the Call of Duty or Reason.

Hillary we salute you!

It seems that you must have been inspired by our series of stories on a hypothetical assassination of Barack Obama.

The full story of your shit-huffing greatness follows:


Hillary cites RFK assassination in explaining why she's still in race

Hillary Clinton today cited the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy during the 1968 presidential campaign to explain why she was remaining in the race despite long odds.

"We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California," Clinton told the editorial board of a South Dakota newspaper. " I don't understand it," Clinton added, alluding to the calls for her to quit.

Clinton made the statement after pointing out that her husband didn't lock up the nomination until June of 1992, trying to point out that, by past history, it's not late in the campaign.

But Barack Obama received Secret Service protection one year ago this month, the earliest ever in presidential history, after reports of threats.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement: “Sen. Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."

Clinton's made the comment to the Argus Leader newspaper in Sioux Falls, S.D.

UPDATE: Clinton's campaign has put out a statement in her name, apologizing for the remark.

"The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Sen. Kennedy and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family, was in any way offensive," she said.

Full explanation after the jump

“Earlier today I was discussing the Democratic primary history and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns that both my husband and Senator Kennedy waged in California in June 1992 and 1968 and I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination primary contests that go into June. That’s a historic fact. The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that, whatsoever. My view is that we have to look to the past and to our leaders who have inspired us and give us a lot to live up to, and I’m honored to hold Senator Kennedy’s seat in the United States Senate from the state of New York and have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family.”

By Jonathan Martin 03:36 PM

For the New York Post's take on this story click here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It is Official, the White-Tee Movement has given Obama their Crucial Support

It is a hallmark week for the Obama campaign. First, Obama wins the majority of pledged super delegates. Then, and above all odds, he wins the support of that most crucial of voting blocks: the White-Tee wearing young ign'ts.

In the spirit of Dick Hebdidge's work, style is indeed "political":

And what is the cost of change?

Apparently, it is about 10 bucks...

If any of you, our respectable negro allies, have any similarly themed pictures or news items, please send them to us. Perhaps, we will offer an Obama inspired version of the show, What not to Wear.

Random thought, don't the crap rappers in the White-Tee video remind you of Rappin' Granny?

On second thought, Rappin' Granny's lyrics, use of metaphor, and overall flow are better than that of most minstrel hoppers. Ohh devoted respectable negroes, please join me in a collective sigh as I bemoan the current state of Hip Hop.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Juking, Dirty Dancing in the Gym, and YouTube Fame: Why Oh Why Weren't My High School Years Like This?

It is a slow news day. Yes, there is a war in Iraq, a presidential campaign, our economy on the brink of disaster, natural disasters the world over, etc. etc. etc. But, our media have found time to focus on our latest (and greatest) moral panic: horny teenagers "juking" at public high school dances. I am upset and embarrassed...and a bit jealous because folks in my generation had to grind in the corner during basement parties or on the couch when mom and dad were asleep--now these ign'ts have the gall to carry on in public. Such a disgrace!

It seems that Mitchell High School is a wretched hive of scum and villany:

Perhaps saltpeter or Church's fried chicken should be served during lunch in order to prevent this bizarre and outlandish behavior?

I am more disturbed by the voyeurism at play where Mr. Bill O'Reilly (sex-freak extraordinaire himself) takes great delight in talking about the sexual behavior of our young ign'ts:

Random thought: I wonder if O'Reilly is wearing pants during this interview?

Moreoever, it is always great to see the incompetence of overpaid, incompetent black public school administrators on full display. These folks are responsible for educating your children-is the educational mediocrity cultivated by our public schools any surprise?

"I suppose that the morays of many of our people have changed, however the standard has not changed..." Huh? Plus, "there are real consequences because without restraint someone may get naked and engage in the act." So titillating. You know what? The smart money would bet that those teachers were watching, getting all worked up, and getting some ideas for what Mr. and Mrs. Teacher were going to do with each other (or with the students) after the dance. To quote Mr. incompetent black public school administrator, "we missed a teaching moment," One would think so...

We need more responsible parents, and responsible mothers especially ('cause you know all the brothers are locked up) to exercise real parenting--parenting which is supportive, yet firm. For example, the guidance offered by the parent in the following clip is a great example. She scolds her young ign't for having group sex on a Middle School trip (he actually looks about 25 years old) while also being supportive:

Frankly, I can't blame the young brother for being so eager to return to school because I would miss those field trips too.

Maybe this young man will grow up to be a high school administrator some day:

I think it is his true calling--Latarian, High School Administrator--yes, that is a most fitting name.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Wisdom of the Internet: The Atlah Church Meets

The ATLAH Church is a fountain of wisdom. I told you folks that Obama, Jeremiah, and Oprah were a trinity of doom:

Does have any insight to offer on this point:

Guess not--remember, say "" twice a day because it keeps your teeth white.

Oh praise the internet and its wondrous abilities.

Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: An Iron Man-Gnarls Barkley-Minstrel Hop-Andre and Big Boi-Little Brother-Jay Dee Montage

We haven't done one of these fun montages for a quick second. So why not?

Goodness--smart, good music, featuring black folk (too rare these days):

I can't resist some Iron Man--bring your children, friends, and family to see this flick because it will make you feel like you are 12 years old again...featuring Ghostface Killah:

You know I hate minstrel hop...damn dirty apes:

But don't say I hate on the South number 1:

But don't say I hate on the South number 2 (I like me some Andre and Big Boi):

Why not?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Surely You are not that Naive? Obama Campaign Workers Experience Racial Harrassment

I love it when a plan comes together. But, I hate it when I am right about something like this.

As detailed by the following article, I am not surprised by the racist incidents endured by Obama campaign workers, nor should you be. In fact, I will make a prediction. If racism and racial animus are determined to be variables which turned the election against Obama, then we will see a further decline in voter turnout come 2012. Simply, all the young, excited, and a bit idealistic and naive young people--"the Obamaholics"--will see the truth of America's semi-permanent racial order revealed. Consequently, rather than being radicalized, they will become dejected and withdrawn.

So conflicted am I, for on one hand I hate bursting the "post-racial" bubble, but on the other hand I love to see the bubble pop:

Surely, these folks are not that naive?

From the Washington Post:

Racist Incidents Give Some Obama Campaigners Pause

By Kevin Merida
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 13, 2008; Page A01

Danielle Ross was alone in an empty room at the Obama campaign headquarters in Kokomo, Ind., a cellphone in one hand, a voter call list in the other. She was stretched out on the carpeted floor wearing laceless sky-blue Converses, stories from the trail on her mind. It was the day before Indiana's primary, and she had just been chased by dogs while canvassing in a Kokomo suburb. But that was not the worst thing to occur since she postponed her sophomore year at Middle Tennessee State University, in part to hopscotch America stumping for Barack Obama.

Here's the worst: In Muncie, a factory town in the east-central part of Indiana, Ross and her cohorts were soliciting support for Obama at malls, on street corners and in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and they ran into "a horrible response," as Ross put it, a level of anti-black sentiment that none of them had anticipated.

"The first person I encountered was like, 'I'll never vote for a black person,' " recalled Ross, who is white and just turned 20. "People just weren't receptive."

For all the hope and excitement Obama's candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed -- and unreported -- this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They've been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they've endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can't fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.

the rest of the story continues here...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr.: Uniquely Black, Uniquely American--And his Statue Made in China

This story has been under the radar for a quick minute. Apparently, the planned statue in homage to Dr. King is being redesigned because it is, according to critics, "too confrontational." As we commented previously, this sentiment isn't a surprise given America's desire to white-wash Dr. King and his message. More disturbing, at least to this respectable negro and patriotic American, is that the United States has apparently lost so much of its manufacturing capacity, as well as skilled tradespeople and artisans, that we have to import the statues of our national heroes from (of all places) China. The future does indeed belong to the land of the golden dragon doesn't it?

The redesign of King's statue raises another question. What is an appropriate monument to the late Dr. King? How should he be honored? The proposed statue in its ostentatiousness reminds me of a man forced to brag about his accomplishments rather than let the greatness of his work speak for him. In short: the Dr. King statue is Borat wearing a swimsuit tacky--I just coined that phrase, do you like it?

To my eye, King's statue is a more spectacular version of small penis syndrome--where men overcompensate for their endowments by bragging about how big and mammoth they are (no woman could accommodate me, I don't know what to do!); wearing padded boxer briefs to create the illusion of that extra inch (or three); buying large SUV's, Hummers, or Suburbans (hey woman, look here! I have such a big and powerful car that I must be a "big" and "powerful man"); or buying a Corvette aka "the penis car" to compensate for their limited gifts:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a triumphant figure who represents the best of what American society, with all of it complexities and contradictions, can offer. King's accomplishments, in his short life before being stolen from all of us, are so towering that a monument to his greatness (and his unfinished work) need only be a simple one, because King's contributions need not be exaggerated or embellished. Your thoughts?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Chauncey's World of Ghetto Nerds: Random Star Wars Goodness

It seems the Force is with us this week.

Random Star Wars Goodness Number One: The Empire Strikes Barack (great stuff)

Random Star Wars Goodness Number Two: The Star Wars "documentary" on the Battle of Hoth

Random Star Wars Goodness Number Three: Star Wars Gymnasts (Darth Maul would be jealous)

Random Star Wars Goodness Number Four: The Star Wars Gangsta Rap (one of my favorites)

The Force is strong with these ones.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Chauncey DeVega Says: Reverend Wright Investigative Report Number 2--Operation Crabs in a Barrel and Hillary's Victory in Indiana

This report is a follow-up to my initial investigations into Reverend Wright and his recent behavior in relation to the Obama campaign.
To: The Council of Negro Elders, Midwest Division
From: Chauncey DeVega, field operative
Re: Operation Crabs in a Barrel and a Profile of the Principals and Targets

My first report provided some details on Operation Crabs in a Barrel and our finding that Reverend Wright was likely replaced by a duplicate. This first report also outlined my hypothesis that Reverend Wright's personality consists of three very dangerous memory engrams. What follows is a detailed analysis of the powers and abilities possessed by the Reverend Wright doppelganger, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and some adversarial scenarios. Although Hillary was defeated in North Carolina, her victory in Indiana has spurred her to continue the race. Again, we do not completely know what the greater strategic goal of the Greater Opposition Party (GOP) is in this case, nor how Operation Crabs in a Barrel fits into their plans for domination. Hillary's victory, and Rush Limbaugh's support for her campaign, may be part of Operation Crabs in a Barrel or it may be a diversionary operation--field operatives should take note of this possibility as they allocate their resources.

Profile and Analysis: Reverend Wright Doppelganger
Powers and Abilities: Many of his powers remain unknown because of how the Mr. T, Thor, and Black Minstrel personality types may react with one another. Known abilities include: prophetic speech; mental dexterity; righteous anger; momentary superhuman strength; the ability to generate empathy and support via his emotive faces; hand to hand combat training (from his Marine background); laying of hands and tongue speaking (to confuse and disable opponents); spontaneous marching band mind control (this is particularly dangerous as the Wright doppelganger can control the movement of targets); and the "God damn America!" chant which causes targets to engage in uncontrolled fits of speech. Wright also possesses the "pain" power from the Mr. T engram.
Known Weaknesses: Highly sensitive to criticism; an inability to control his many powers; a fear of airplanes and flying (from the Mr. T engram); chaotic timing (his powers often do not work as intended nor against the correct target); black rage (the flip side of righteous anger); and a desire to sleep with other people's wives (as revealed by the Telegraph newspaper from the U.K.)

Profile and Analysis: Barack Obama
Powers and Abilities: Obama is still learning about and perfecting his powers. Therefore, new abilities may appear when he is under attack. To date, Obama has shown evidence of the following powers and abilities: mental dexterity; powerful oration; the "change" and "hope" powers (audience members and young people--in particular women--will follow his lead and be temporarily enchanted and mesmerized by his speech and presence); the ability to throw fireballs and lay hands (which incapacitates his opponents) ; irresistible momentum; double consciousness; the power of Obama Girl; resistance to attacks from the undead and the elderly; endurance and healing factor (to resist attacks by opponents).
Known Weaknesses: Too trusting of friends and "allies"; vulnerable to attacks from the white working class and poor white trash; "elitism" and intelligence make him unable to understand "illogical" attacks and posturing from his enemies; experiences power drain in certain geographic areas, i.e. Pennsytucky and the Rust Belt (it could be the minerals in the ground or how the air in these regions filters the sunlight).

Profile and Analysis: Hillary Clinton
Powers and Abilities: Hillary is a dangerous and powerful foe--we do not yet know if she is working with the Greater Opposition Party against Obama in an alliance of convenience, or if she is operating alone. Be warned, she has perfected her abilities through decades of practice. Known powers include: unlimited resources and money; feminist rage and white female entitlement (this gives her instant control over women in the National Organization of Women and self-described feminists); steel determination and iron will; the ability to control the elderly and undead (as seen in her victories in Indiana and Pennsylvania); down home folksiness and working class hero transformation (this power gives her great influence, although not absolute control over white people with High School educations or less); and force lightening (she channels the dark side of the Force).
Known Weaknesses: Bill Clinton distraction (he is a random element that works both for and against his wife's interests); two-faced (her real intentions appear at inconvenient moments and against her will); feminists of color (she has no control over them and finds these women very upsetting); female victimhood (this makes her powers fluctuate over time and distracts her concentration); myopia and tunnel vision (once focused on a goal she is unable to shift attention or respond appropriately to new threats).

Threat Matrix and Conclusion: In battle, these three combatants will likely destroy each other. Our intelligence analysts are hinting that this may be the actual goal of the Wright doppelganger and Operation Crabs in a Barrel: to create a situation where Obama and Clinton either annihilate one another and/or following combat are too weak to continue forward. This is a version of the "two men enter, one man leaves strategy" as advocated by Tina Turner). Ultimately, our intelligence analysts have concluded that the only victor in this battle is --

Profile and Analysis: John McCain
Powers and Abilities: McCain is one of the most dangerous foes we have ever faced. Throughout his life he has demonstrated an uncanny ability to survive peril and death--often through sheer will-power and a commitment to his own personal code of honor. Personal combat with McCain should not be initiated by a field agent. Moreover, victory over McCain will require the assistance of multiple agents working in concert with the support of the American people. Known powers include: Lazarus energy (he resurrects himself upon death); intelligence and cunning; power drain (he demonstrated this when he unexpectedly hugged President Bush and inhaled Bush's life energy); unlimited resources; extreme strength and will-power; the army of Independents (willing to follow his lead and die on command); adamantium skeleton; crushing anger and wrath (he draws on his anger from his imprisonment some decades ago in order to project a crushing force-field); inevitability; and stealth (he is capable of great patience and of waiting for the exact moment to strike--thus making himself almost invisible). His most powerful ability is the Mumm-Ra transformation where he becomes extremely powerful and almost indestructible:

Known Weaknesses: Vulnerable to swift boat style attacks; Reverend Hagee's presence or the mere mention of his name temporarily saps McCain's powers; the power he draws from older voters weakens over time as they die off and are replaced by younger voters; beholden to radical elements in the Greater Opposition Party who may question his abilities or betray him at the last moment; and a code of honor (this empowers him, but may also limit his actions).

Conclusion and Recommendations: We need to continue to observe all the players in this scenario. As the campaign continues, I will update the council on Operation Crabs in a Barrel. I predict that the true intentions of the GOP will become immediately clear in the short-term. I am worried however, that in November, Obama will be so weakened that a McCain victory may well be a certainty. As always, we are planning vigorously for that contingency. I ultimately suggest that all field agents should be given maximum authority to act in whatever ways they deem necessary in order to prevent a McCain victory.