Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chauncey's World of Ghetto Nerds: Jon Voight, Why Are You Hating On Obama?

Damn brother, I really liked you. Why are you hating on Bro'Bama? You have made me mighty upset and confused because you were/are an amazing A grade, B actor.

From the Washington Times, the article follows:


Voight: My Concerns for America

We, as parents, are well aware of the importance of our teachers who teach and program our children. We also know how important it is for our children to play with good-thinking children growing up.

Sen. Barack Obama has grown up with the teaching of very angry, militant white and black people: the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, William Ayers and Rev. Michael Pfleger. We cannot say we are not affected by teachers who are militant and angry. We know too well that we become like them, and Mr. Obama will run this country in their mindset.

The Democratic Party, in its quest for power, has managed a propaganda campaign with subliminal messages, creating a God-like figure in a man who falls short in every way. It seems to me that if Mr. Obama wins the presidential election, then Messrs. Farrakhan, Wright, Ayers and Pfleger will gain power for their need to demoralize this country and help create a socialist America.

The Democrats have targeted young people, knowing how easy it is to bring forth whatever is needed to program their minds. I know this process well. I was caught up in the hysteria during the Vietnam era, which was brought about through Marxist propaganda underlying the so-called peace movement. The radicals of that era were successful in giving the communists power to bring forth the killing fields and slaughter 2.5 million people in Cambodia and South Vietnam. Did they stop the war, or did they bring the war to those innocent people? In the end, they turned their backs on all the horror and suffering they helped create and walked away.

Those same leaders who were in the streets in the '60s are very powerful today in their work to bring down the Iraq war and to attack our president, and they have found their way into our schools. William Ayers is a good example of that.

Thank God, today, we have a strong generation of young soldiers who know exactly who they are and what they must do to protect our freedom and our democracy. And we have the leadership of Gen. David Petraeus, who has brought hope and stability to Iraq and prevented the terrorists from establishing a base in that country. Our soldiers are lifting us to an example of patriotism at a time when we've almost forgotten who we are and what is at stake.

If Mr. Obama had his way, he would have pulled our troops from Iraq years ago and initiated an unprecedented bloodbath, turning over that country to the barbarianism of our enemies. With what he has openly stated about his plans for our military, and his lack of understanding about the true nature of our enemies, there's not a cell in my body that can accept the idea that Mr. Obama can keep us safe from the terrorists around the world, and from Iran, which is making great strides toward getting the atomic bomb. And while a misleading portrait of Mr. Obama is being perpetrated by a media controlled by the Democrats, the Obama camp has sent out people to attack the greatness of Sen. John McCain, whose suffering and courage in a Hanoi prison camp is an American legend.

Gen. Wesley Clark, who himself has shame upon him, having been relieved of his command, has done their bidding and become a lying fool in his need to demean a fellow soldier and a true hero.

This is a perilous time, and more than ever, the world needs a united and strong America. If, God forbid, we live to see Mr. Obama president, we will live through a socialist era that America has not seen before, and our country will be weakened in every way.

Jon Voight is an Academy Award-winning actor who is well-known for his humanitarian work.


Jon, you were the sort of a "good" white man in Rosewood:

And, you were a prominent character in the remake of Transformers:

Add to that honor role, Anaconda!!! J-Lo got a brother sprung...

Of course, Heat, THE movie which Deniro and Pacino co-starred in, and which Batman: the Dark Knight was heavily influenced by...extra points for that Mr. Voight:

And you starred in Karate Dog! Why are you disappointing your public?

Mr. Voight, why are you doing this? Tired, confused, exhausted, or manipulated by outside powers. Is this a senior moment which we should forgive you for?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What if? White in America--The Never to be Made Television Documentary

The fallout continues from CNN's Black in America news special. In my conversations with friends and colleagues, there is a recurring question: What would a White version of Black in America look like? A hypothetical question, yes, but one that is still interesting and useful to work through. In the spirit of Black in America, we present to you our pitch for the never to be produced, television news special, White in America.

Segment 1
White Teenagers: Out of Control and at Risk

At a time when young people should be comfortably protected by their parents while also moving forward with their lives into adulthood, white teenagers are exhibiting self-destructive behaviors which threaten to undermine the fabric of white communities. White teens and young adults are most likely to binge drink, smoke, and at the college age, to have multiple sexual partners. STI's such as chlamydia, syphilis, genital herpes, and HPV are increasingly common among college age white women. As seen in the recent pregnancy cult in Gloucester, Massachusetts where at least 17 white teenage girls endeavored to become pregnant at one time, white teenagers are exhibiting sexual behaviors that border on the pathological--in the above case having unprotected sex with strangers, including random homeless men, in order to become pregnant. The casual nature with which white teens approach sex and sexuality is mirrored through the "new" dating conventions of "hooking up" where normal, suburban, white teens--young people from healthy homes--have multiple casual and short-term sexual relationships. Contributing to this crisis, is how the sexualization of young white women through beauty pageants, popular music and film, and the beauty industry, an early sexualization which is reinforced through peer pressure, has created a minefield for young white women where many ultimately have to struggle with mental health issues such as anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphic condition.

How can we help young white people? How have white parents let things get so bad? Where are white young people learning these lessons? What can responsible, white parents do?

Segment 2
A Plague Upon the Land: White Men, Workplace Violence, School Shootings, Hate Crimes, and Dead Wives

White men have long struggled with a culture of violence. While the culture of violence which afflicts white men has been moderated over time, American society is still struggling with this pathological behavior. White men have long held a near monopoly on being serial killers (the BTK killer, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and domestic terrorists (e.g. the KKK, Timothy McVeigh, and the UnaBomber) but the violence seems to be shifting its focus to schools and the workplace.

During the last decade or so, from Columbine, to Northern Illinois University, to Springfield, Oregon, to a high school in Minnesota, young white men have killed dozens of people, and wounded many more in murderous rampages. Workplace violence has also seen a marked increase where it has risen several orders of magnitude during the past few decades. This has been attributed by some critics to a tumultuous economy and the pressures felt by white workers:

Other critics would point to a dangerous populism brought about by the vitriol laced, "angry white male" narratives which underlie right-wing talk radio and television. Most recently, the shotgun wielding attack on a Unitarian church by Jim David Adkisson--the assailant blamed "liberals" for all of his problems--and his penchant for right wing propaganda, would seem to support this hypothesis.

Family members are often the first victims of violence. White women and children have been imperiled by the violence of white men. Daily, it seems that there are reports of white women and/or children being kidnapped or murdered (we label this the "Peterson" syndrome), often by their spouses.

These cases of white men engaging in murderous behavior are not confined to the United States, because in Finland, a high school age boy went on a murder-shooting spree at his local school. Most notably, in Austria, Josef Fritzl was arrested after imprisoning his children in an underground bunker where he ritually abused them, and in a shocking twist, impregnated his own daughter.

Is white male violence a global crisis? What can be done to stop this open season on white women and white children? What is fueling this culture of violence? Who is to blame?

Segment 3
School is No Longer a Place for Just the ABC's: Female Teachers Are Preying Upon Their Male Students

Teachers have a sacred trust. They prepare the next generation for life and are tasked with broadening their minds and intellect. However, this sacred trust has been betrayed in High Schools and Middle Schools across the United States. In dozens of known cases, the actual count is suspected of being much higher, white female teachers are having sex with their male students. As noted here, out of the dozens and dozens of reported incidents, and with rare exceptions, most of these teacher rapists are white women in their 30s and 40s. Beyond mere experimentation or moments of weakness, these sexually exploitative relationships develop and continue over long periods of time, and subsequently do irreparable psychological harm to the young male victims they involve. In some cases, the relationships involve group sex with multiple boys, or develop into "love relationships" where the teacher steals away to a foreign country in order to continue the illicit and illegal relationship.

Why are white women pursuing teenage boys? Is this criminal behavior a result of a culture which focuses too much on the sexual desirability of young women? Are older white women feeling neglected and left out? Is this recent fetishizing of white women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s--the Sex and the City phenomenon--to blame? Are white women feeling an unhealthy pressure to become either a MILF or a Cougar?

What can schools do to protect young boys from these predators? What are the warning signs that your son is being abused by a female teacher?

Segment 4
What are White Women to do? White Men, Down-low Culture, Cruising, Sex Cults, and to Catch a Predator

White men are indulging in sexually high risk and deviant behavior. While a cottage industry has been generated by the hysteria surrounding black men on "the down low," white men and white women have also been struggling with issues of sex, intimacy, and trust. In such high profile cases as the polygamist cult raid in El Dorado, Texas where 534 children were removed because their safety was at risk, to the lesser known bestiality and zoophilia cases in Oregon (where a man died from having sex with a horse), many white males have been exhibiting pathological sexual behavior.

Not confined to the masses, white male sexual deviancy is particularly jarring and disconcerting when one examines the behavior of white male elites. In a litany of high profile cases, white politicians (Larry Craig and many others), religious figures, and businessmen have confessed to living double-lives where they maintain relationships with men and women, and often involve prostitutes. Most troubling, many of these men, such as Ted Haggard are extremely homophobic and have made careers and fortunes based upon their outspoken crusades against gay people. These white men on the DL have committed a double breach of trust with their hypocrisy: they have betrayed the public as well as their families. White men on the DL are also pursuing high-risk sex in locations such as public rest rooms and internet chat rooms. As the television show, To Catch a Predator has repeatedly revealed, white men on the DL, a definition which we expand to include those men who seek out under-age boys and girls, are willing to risk their health and livelihood, and that of their partners:

These internet predators also include pillars of the community such as doctors, teachers, and religious leaders:

What can white women do? How can they know if their partner is on the down low? What are the health risks? If you find out your husband is cruising for sex in public bathrooms or on the internet how should you intervene? Should you stay in the relationship or should you go?

Segment 5
No End in Sight: The Methamphetamine Plague that is Destroying White Communities

Methamphetamine is destroying the fabric of Red State America. This easy to obtain, highly addictive drug is tearing apart families and communities. An estimated 1.4 million people suffer from this addiction, almost all of them white, suburban and/or rural. In fact, meth is no longer confined to rural America, its reach is expanding to include every part of the United States. The rural culture of drugs is so pervasive that not even Amish communities are immune from its grasp. No longer will the suburbs offer protection from the perils of this dangerous drug, as it has already has, or will shortly be, making inroads into what were once safe, white, suburban communities. Just as some parts of the United States were almost destroyed by the crack epidemic of the 1980s, entire communities in the South and Midwest are been torn asunder by this cheap and easily obtained drug.

How should you protect your family? What are the signs your child is on meth? What should the government do? Should drugs be legalized and regulated? If you live in a meth infested area what are you doing to protect your children and family? What is your day to day life like? How do you struggle through it?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: Boyz in the Hood--Of Naked Apes and Elephant Attacks

I love animals and the study of animal psychology. Yes, I am a hypocrite because I love a good piece of steak, chicken, pork chop, or double char red hot from Weiner Circle (this is a dive restaurant recently featured on the television/radio show This American Life).

The study of beasts rewards us with knowledge about man (check out Inside the Animal Mind or the Emotional Lives of Animals). Sometimes this knowledge can be very very useful: for example, the Naked Ape explains the reason why ape ladies have small breasts and big red butts, and human ladies have full breasts and their butts no longer swell up when aroused (is that really progress? Just thinking aloud). One additional ape related thought, consider for a moment how the cult of saggin' which has taken over young men, and young "urban" brothers in particular, forces these men to simultaneously hold their pants at the crotch and to slouch while trying to keep their pants from falling down. In fact, if these saggin' ignt's try to move, they actually have to walk like apes.

When these hood' mouth breathes are forced to run the effect is even more pronounced. Who would have thought that saggin' would actually force human devolution? Once more the Naked Ape holds great and useful knowledge and speaks even to the cult of saggin': perhaps these men who must hold up their pants at the crotch are subconsciously signaling their virility to the women, and "homo-thugs" (that while being outwardly very homophobic), who are attracted to those who sag?

Maybe has something to say on this point?

Apparently not ( FYI for those new to this site, is one of our favorite unintentionally ironic things...just wanted to let you in on the joke).

Besides the ape, the elephant ranks among my favorite creatures. They possess a certain power, wisdom, dignity, grace, and intelligence which is in my opinion, without equal among land mammals. I also love the sea cow, a.k.a. the manatee.

In fact, I so love elephants that on principle I do not attend circuses (creepy clowns) or zoos (even as a child I thought they were cruel, and I will not let my children go to zoos or circuses either). Besides belonging to the World Wildlife Federation, my support for the elephant is so great that I root for the elephants when they escape their cruel handlers and commence to get some revenge by laying the smackdown on their human captors. Making them even more ideal as subjects for study, elephants hold funerals for their honored dead (and this has been documented to include humans whom the elephants are fond of), have their own version of the telephone game, and are highly social. In total, this makes them great mirrors for examining human behavior.

The Straight Dope, a weekly syndicated column, recently featured a piece on the rise of social dysfunction among elephants. It seems that an absence of older elephants, and the violence facing elephant herds by poachers and Africa's litany of civil wars (these countries can't get their act together can they? and now the elephants, and the great apes, are paying the price for human foolishness) has damaged the social cohesion of elephant society. The older male elephants, the elephant OG's/elders are not around to control the young elephant ign'ts. And the female elephants can't keep these young elephant ign'ts in check. These breakdown is so profound that the young male elephants are killing innocent rhinos, fighting each other without cause, and then raping their dead and defeated adversaries. When reading the column, I couldn't help but think about the eerie parallels this has with the breakdown of social cohesion among the underclass. It seems that elephants, like mankind, are facing a crisis of "youthocracy"--Robin Kelley's word not mine--where the natural balance among families and communities is being upended by a crisis in elephant manhood.

Here is the article:


Are elephants in the wild showing newly aggressive behavior including rape? Is man to blame?

Dear Cecil:

I've read that elephants are now exhibiting aggression previously unseen — including raping rhinos on the African savannah. Have we truly screwed up the elephants that much, or is this merely one of those myths that is now perpetuated in the media? — K. Honey, Georgetown, Ontario

Cecil replies:

As far as I've seen, the most unambiguous published claim that male elephants do with some regularity rape rhinoceroses appears in an October 2006 New York Times Magazine article titled "An Elephant Crackup?" In opening his argument that a specieswide breakdown in social cohesion has led to an upsurge in violence by elephants, author Charles Siebert offers evidence that elephant aggression has been marked by what he calls a "singular perversity": "Since the early 1990's, for example, young male elephants in Pilanesberg National Park and the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa have been raping and killing rhinoceroses; this abnormal behavior, according to a 2001 study in the journal Pachyderm, has been reported in "'a number of reserves' in the region." That's an assertion guaranteed to catch the eye of even the most inattentive reader, and it's since appeared in other discussions of animal behavior, often phrased in ways suggesting the NYT article was the source.

But is it true? Sitting down with the Pachyderm study Siebert cites — Slotow et al, "Killing of Black and White Rhinoceroses by African Elephants in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, South Africa" — we learn that between 1991 and 2001 the park's elephants dispatched 63 rhinos, mainly by goring. The authors suggest that the animals responsible were young males who had grown up in social groups from which older males had been "culled" (read: slaughtered by government-commissioned hunters as a population-control measure) and as a result entered a state of heightened, testosterone-fueled aggression called musth much earlier in life than they ordinarily would have. Since similar incidents at Pilanesberg stopped after large adult males were reintroduced into the population, thus reestablishing the natural male hierarchy, the authors advocate trying the same thing at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi.

Wait a minute, you say — what about the raping part? That's what I said too. I went back through the study a second time, then a third. The reference to abnormal behavior seen in "a number of reserves" has only to do with elephants killing rhinos; nowhere is any mention made of rape. Seeing a clear need for some inside info, I had my assistant Una get in touch with one of the article's authors, Rob Slotow, director of the Amarula Elephant Research Program at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Professor Slotow's reply was straightforward: the young elephants seemingly got into ritualized combat situations with the rhinos, as males are wont to do, but having no experience being in the musth state, didn't know they were supposed to back off when the rhinos backed down, with the result that the rhinos wound up dead. "There was," Slotow concluded, "nothing sexual about these attacks." (He went on to report that, sure enough, the attacks on rhinos subsided almost entirely once older males were brought back on board.)

That would suggest a problem in the NYT quote above. Best case, I figured, was that the article got the underlying facts right — i.e., elephants really were raping as well as killing rhinos at the parks in question — but named the wrong study in support. That was Siebert's best guess as well, and he sent me to G.A. Bradshaw, an animal psychologist at Oregon State, who'd been a key source for him on the Times piece. Bradshaw maintains that the elephants have been observed mounting their rhino victims and that it's ridiculous to dismiss the possibility that the attacks have a sexual aspect. Though she prefers the term "false copulation," she says, "it is unlikely that the act was consensual as so many rhinos were killed, so in that context and in light of current science, 'rape' is not inappropriate."

There's little doubt that decades of poaching, culling, and habitat loss have played havoc with elephants' complex social and emotional lives, and a traumatized elephant is clearly capable of some scary behavior. But so far experts don't agree on what to call it.


Maybe I read too many issues of the comic the Elephantmen, but in considering the mayhem in the elephant community I couldn't help but visualize an elephant Bill Cosby lecturing the young elephant men on manhood, "come on elephant people we can do better!"

Or maybe a elephant Sudhir Venkatesh or William Julius Wilson doing ethnographies on the social networks of the elephant 'hood. Perhaps, there is an elephant version of Daniel Patrick Moynihan studying this issue and making policy prescriptions to correct the chaos among the elephant youth? Of course, there would also be the obligatory elephant John McWhorters and Stanley Crouches (maybe being an elephant would actually improve his looks) railing against the social evil that is hip hop, or its elephant equivalent.

And guess what, when older male elephants were returned to the elephant herds the anti-social behavior of the young elephant ign'ts virtually ceased. Perhaps we should borrow that model in order to improve our own communities? But then again, where would we find these responsible, wise elders? And would they want to return to the 'hood?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Chauncey's DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: YouTube Discoveries--Classic Howard Stern from WWOR-TV

The fun of having a blog is that I can amuse myself, sounds naughty huh? Growing up in Connecticut, I have fond memories of WWOR-TV Channel 9 from New Jersey. This station was ahead of its time and featured early Morton Downey Junior, The Richard Bey show (I think that was the title) which had a recurring Mr. Puniverse and Miss Thunderthighs competition that was indescribably funny, and Howard Stern's first television show. I don't know why Stern's early TV work isn't available on DVD but he was routinely demolishing Saturday Night Live in the ratings. Thanks to the goodness of YouTube these early classics are finally being made available.

Here is a sample.

One of my favorites--Herve Villechaize from Fantasy Island fame...and it features a clip of him having sex in one of his first movie roles:

Howards Stern's Hooker Howiewood squares clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

Richards Simmons and his obese guests brought to near tears by Howard's antics

"Gilligan's" Island:

Al Lewis aka Grandpa from The Munsters:

"Out of the Closest Munsters"--a spoof of the Munsters:

The greatest clip of them all--Howard Stern in blackface as Clarence Thomas:

Part 2 is better than the first as Howard, still in Clarence Thomas blackface, interviews the Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Offensive of course, but absolutely hysterical.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: So Underwhelming--CNN's Black in America Part 2

I am underwhelmed. I wasn't going to comment on the second installment of the series, but I felt that for consistency sake I should, and then with a sense of completion, I am going to read some comic books, look over this article I am finishing, and play some Company of Heroes.

Some relatively spontaneous thoughts.

This show and the last made me think of Chris Rock's classic, "Black people versus Niggas" routine:

This is getting really tired. As I said before, in these "let's see the negroes in the window" news exposes the bad is usually highlighted at the expense of the good. Tonight's installment wasn't too offensive in this regard, and in some moments actually had a little nuance--I particularly liked the installment on the school superintendent and how his racist neighbors called the police on him. How many of us can relate to that?

I will be informal and freestyle so to speak, so please forgive me if this is a bit disorganized:

1. This show made me thankful for the men in my life. As I have said before, my dad had a very old school view of life and success. He, and my godfather, would always tell me you have to do better, and white racism will change its stripes, but it is very very real and ain't going no where. They also told me that in the present we don't have to do 10 times better, but we still have to do 5 times better. I accepted this fact and it has served me well. I am also thankful for the women and men, white and other (Asian, Hispanics, and others) who gave me wisdom. I tell my students that you may find mentors in surprising places: we need to reinforce this fact to our young people.

I thank God for my surrogate Irish grandpa who called black folks "colored," he said this with love not malice and had so much wisdom. My surrogate grandpa would always tell me that "you have to do better than the white kids" and "that you can achieve no matter what." Period. No excuses. He was an old white man who saw so much history, but had little faith in white society doing the right thing. I remember one of my favorite conversations with him, where we were talking about the Civil Rights movement and how it saddened him that Dr. King was treated so badly, because he "just wanted the rights every American" is entitled to.

Damn, this is bringing back memories. I am also lucky for having such folk as my 4th grade teacher, a white native American lesbian, in my life. In my elementary school all the black kids were tracked into the remedial or average courses. I look back on my life and how it would have been quite different had this teacher not intervened, and if I had not had parents who threatened to sue in order to remedy this racist injustice. In this class I would do the work in about 15 minutes and of course be bored. And of course, I would get in trouble. This teacher had 2 options: help me or punish me. I remember on one occasion I had detention during lunch and she sat down with me. We talked for a long time and she said that I am going to be moved to the upper track because I clearly don't belong in her lower track class. After I left her class, Mrs. D always checked in on me. She was never warm, in fact she was damn critical and mean, but she had my best interests at heart. I wonder in watching this show, how many of our young black men, in these crappy schools, have access to people like this? How many of our gifted, best, and most talented, end up in prison because school is a dead end and they are bored?

2. I don't know how one learns to be a man. I really don't, frankly, because I am still figuring out this great mystery. From my dad, my godfather, my uncles, and the other men in my life I learned about responsibility, about women (I am still mystified and confused), about success, and am still figuring out this responsibility angle. I do remember some key moments. I remember my godfather telling me that "real" men don't need porn--yeah, right. But, I got his point. I remember my father telling me after one of my peeps got beat down and all of his friends, including me, ran off out of fear, that next time a friend fights you fight together, of course assuming he is in the right, but even if he is in the sort of wrong, you have his back. Period. No excuses.

In another moment where I thank God I had good role models in my life, I was basically accepted to West Point--I had letters lined up and all from my congress people, did the application, interviews, and I was a black man going to the Point so I got extra attention--or I was alternatively going to Naval ROTC and then the Marines. I was about a day from doing it and a bunch of men who know better than I did said, "fool, you are black and you are going to die for this country? You best stop!" When I watch the news I am glad they intervened.

At a later point, me, my "2 brothers," and a friend were going to get beat down over some woman (she was a total jump off) at this club we frequented. I was scared to death, but I checked the wallet for the insurance card (it was going off like that) and I prayed. I was going after the guy in the middle and if I got the first shot in maybe I would have had a chance, unlikely. Thank God the bouncers broke it up. I also learned something that I took for granted, a lesson which many young brothers apparently are not getting--violence is real business and you don't raise your hands or fight unless you can't avoid it and you are prepared to do real harm to someone else. Violence isn't a game, it isn't to impress women, it is in fact a means to a carefully considered end. I wonder how many of of our brothers are learning this lesson?

3. How many successful, if not solidly working class black families, have a knucklehead in the kin group? Hmmmm. In this special we have a superintendent of schools who is quite comfortable, with an attorney for a son--a prosecutor--whose other son acts the fool and shoots someone. How sad? Are these brothers doing this to perform what they think a "real" black man is? People make mistakes of course, but is there something particular to the children of the black bourgeoisie that criminality becomes a measure of manhood? Perhaps, but I hope not.

4. I don't get worked up about these black men going to jail because the "system" is out to get them arguments. Sorry, I don't feel pity for the incarcerated black men featured in these stories. I just don't feel empathy. The prison industrial complex isn't a bogeyman hunting you down. Nope, you find this monster. Life certainly isn't fair, but you do make choices. Moreover, most of these "clients" of the prison industrial complex are preying on their neighbors--black and brown folk. Sorry, I don't feel bad if you catch a bid. Now, of course we need to deal with disparate sentencing for crack and cocaine. Yes, we need to deal with a criminal "justice" system which punishes black people more harshly for the same crimes as whites. Yes, we need to talk seriously about how to address felony disenfranchisement. Yes, we need to have a mass review of felony sentencing guidelines, and the DOJ needs to review EVERY death row sentence for possibility of acquittal. Yes, we need civilian oversight boards to govern and investigate police departments. Yes, there are lots of criminal, racist, crooked, and dishonorable police thugs who hide behind a badge and should be put in jail. But, the majority of people in prison are not victims. Sorry, they just aren't. They made poor choices and prayed on their neighbors, and consequently, they deserve their comeuppance.

5. I always enjoy the dismay which many Whites display when a person of color shares their paranoia, fear, and negative experiences with the police. The police are extensions of State authority--usually a racist state. Why would we trust them? In the wrap-up show following the Black in America special, Anderson Cooper interviewed D.L. Hughley. Now, the dude makes coonish movies, but he is a good father. Anderson Cooper looked shocked and appalled that D.L. has to teach his son how to interact with the police (Amadou Diallo anyone?). As many black men (and women) were taught, you need to be polite, speak in a measured tone, and assume these cops are looking to lock you up, shoot you, or at least beat you down. Of course you never, ever, talk back, and you best not run because the law wants to shoot you in the back. Again, it is sad, but how many of our men are not learning these unfortunate, but necessary lessons? I know this speaks to my agency, but I was told to be quiet, be polite, and don't let them search the car. Hold out and we will get a lawyer and sue their asses. I, like many of you, have been harassed by the police. Never mind being followed around stores or asked for id when using a credit card--that is de rigueur. Hell, my cousin, a really rich attorney, had a shotgun put to his head on I-95 by some Maryland Staties because of course his car was likely "stolen." No, he is just a millionaire. Little did they know who they messed with, but when the black middle and upper class share these stories with their white peers it is funny how these stories are often met with utter dismay. This divide in experience, and the common white denial when people of color share these experiences with their white friends, partners, and colleagues, is one of the great dividing lines in our society, a division which stands in the face of progress and racial unification.

6. The other narrative running through this show is how much we learn informally through access to social networks. For example, how do you dress for an interview? What do you talk about? What is workplace appropriate clothing? How do you negotiate the workplace and manage conflicts with your supervisor? Do you talk back or do you eat it? How do you diffuse conflict? Many of our young men and women are not getting the preparation necessary to move beyond an entry level service position, never mind onward to a managerial one.

7. I get really pissed when I hear educated black people recycling a narrative that the breakdown in black families is due to slavery and lack of employment opportunities. Come on people. There is much scholarship to suggest that black people at Emancipation struggled desperately to find their families during and after slavery. In fact, we so respected family that we recreated kinship and family relationships with friends, fellow slaves, and others, when our blood families were irreparably torn asunder. The next time a scholar reproduces this narrative, the interviewer should ask him or her, "so, if you were unemployed would you leave your family?" We know the answer.

8. Simple thought, black elites, the superintendent again, has two kids who are dating white women. Hmmmm...I am all for race mixing (you should see my photo album). But, why must it fulfill the tired narrative of a handsome black man of means likely marrying down and/or dating a fat white woman? (look at those 2 women and be honest, those two black men could do better, right?). More importantly, especially in regards to wealth accrual, why don't black elites keep their resources inside of the in-group like every other racial and ethnic group in America? Maybe, we are just very liberal, loving, and progressive?

Actually, there are social demographers (I need to find the cite) who study these things. The argument they make is that the brothers in these relationships are trading class privilege for race privilege by marrying a white woman of lower class status. The white women in these relationships are gaining class status by sacrificing racial privilege. So calculating isn't it? But it makes total sense...sort of like why you see gorgeous Asian sisters with really unattractive white men. Oops did I just say something impolitic?

9. Next time, these specials need to stop talking about "Black" values and "White" values. It is tired and silly.

10. These hip hop is bad segments are tired and silly.

11. The Cool Kids? That was a surprise.

12. The expose presented some research on how black felons have difficulty finding jobs. Great. Here is the real punchline they should have highlighted: that people with "black" names are less likely to be hired than white felons, regardless of credentials. Now, that is a great example of the real, day to day, racism which folks who do the right thing shouldn't have to deal with.

13. The A&R brother at the end of the segment unsettled me. It wasn't that he looked like he was in Leaders of the New School or Fu-schnickens, but that he was talking about being comfortable with being black, but I didn't buy it. He seemed to be a black person more invested in being exceptional and the special one, than really being comfortable with being a black man. Am I being unfair?

14. Finally, we need to talk to black men and black women about their life choices. In watching the young brother doing his baby daddy drama performance, and that sad sister who he laid with and made a baby with, I had to shake my head. How about this calculus. Passion is tempting, irresistible at times, and really compelling. I have my lust demons and more often than not give into them. Fine. But, let's have a campaign where we talk to the sisters about who they lay with. This CNN special featured a likely (under) unemployed, tax payer assisted sister, now knocked up by another man, when the first one is already not doing his job. I would have paid money to see Mrs. O'Brien ask her: Girl, do you have anything else to do with your time? Are there other things you can do instead of laying up under some man? Does he have anything to offer except five minutes of disappointing sex? I know the answer. Fate, please help us all.

Here is my idea. The buses, radio spots, magazine advertisements, and the like that feature my campaign should emphasize a simple set of slogans and calculi: does he have a job? is he using a condom? does he have anything to bring to the table? If the answers are "no" then close your legs. If you can't close your legs then demand he use a condom and you go on the pill. We need to mirror this with our men. As my mom said, "do you want a baby with this woman?" If not, wrap it up. Simple business.

That was therapeutic. I need to de-stress. As an appropriate but random non-sequitur, it is time for a little Serenity Now:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly--CNN's Black in America Part 1

CNN's Black in America: The Black Woman and Family, was all in all an interesting 2 hours of television.

The Good

1. Seeing solidly middle and upper class black families achieving and doing more than well (owning a construction company is way past good to people from my working class roots).

2. Julianne Malveaux is always a welcome voice. She stayed away from the victomology narratives which are all to common to these "let's go look at the Negroes in the window" television shows. Dr. Malveaux also brought some much needed attention to the fact that the majority of blacks in America are not poor, are not in jail, are not pathological, are not birthing out of wedlock babies, and guess what? they have the same struggles, worries, and hopes as "regular" Americans.

3. The brother struggling on 1 income to take care of his two wonderful children. Interesting though that no point was made about his not receiving palimony and how the life of this gentlemen's kids would certainly be easier if he had some support from the children's mother--a narrative which certainly would have been inserted if the gender roles were reversed.

4. Dr. Roland Fryer from Harvard University. It is exciting (and makes me a bit jealous in a good way) to see a young, black Econ Professor doing applied research on incentive structures and public education--economics is an extremely difficult field to break into, and doubly so for young people of color.

5. The older sister in Harlem talking about the day to day travails of being poor and struggling on a daily basis to do things that many Americans take for granted, i.e. how in some neighborhoods basic goods and services are hard to find at reasonable prices. The sum effect is what some have called "the black tax," or more appropriately, the poor, black, and elderly tax, which in sum makes the satisfying of basic household and life needs more expensive, more time consuming, and much more difficult.

6. Soledad O'Brien. Smart, poised, beautiful, down to earth, and "real." She has many of the qualities that makes this respectable negro's heart commence to racing when he sees her.

The Bad

1. At about 45 minutes into the special we switch gears into the obligatory what is wrong, pathological, and in crisis in Black America. I must ask, is there still a Black America? Or is there a Black America that is actually constructed of many smaller Black Americas distinguished by class, ethnicity, geography, and "culture"--shared or otherwise?

2. The tired trope of insert Black Pathology/Unique problem here and continue forward in story: tonight we were treated to single black mothers, the marriage "crisis" in black communities, a taste of the prison industrial complex, and the obligatory portrait of the young brothers shot up and laying in a hospital bed who serve as living symbols of the Beirut like violence plaguing many black neighborhoods.

3. In these exposes on Black America, the most recent trend has been to emphasize the marriage crisis facing black women. The current trope is that while black women are achieving and doing well professionally, those poor, raggedy brothers are either in jail, gay or on the DL, with white women, or unemployed. Of course, black women are left with three choices: partner with women; marry white or Asian men; or stay single. Tired, disrespectful, and untrue. At the risk of upsetting some, what I always find curious about these "black women can't find a good black man" sensationalistic pieces of yellow journalism is how, more often than not, the women in the stories are either unattractive, out of shape, emotionally damaged, unpleasant, needy, or possess some other undesirable quality which would warn off many a man. Next time, please choose some sisters that a brother would actually want to date because it would make the story much more compelling and persuasive.

The Ugly

1. Please get a better introductory host for future installments of any similarly themed shows. In this special we were treated to a hip hopesque, spoken word, poor man's version of Common with marginal talent. Why? Because of course bad hip hop spoken word Common wannabes appeal to the sensibilities of black middle class/neo-soul/NPR listening CNN viewers. I am not saying that we need to have a bourgeois host with a fake British accent, but there has to be a better way.

2. Marry Your Baby-Daddy Day. Come on black people! On one hand we have white, red state, fathers symbolically marrying their daughters in creepy, Christian fascist inspired protecting their daughter's "purity" ceremonies--you do know that women are repositories of a nation's pride, honor, and courage and their virtue must be protected at all costs, right? (there is so much wrong there I don't know where to start. Someone please reanimate Freud so he can help these pedophilesque who probably want to actually deflower their own daughters). On the other hand, we have a situation that is so dire in many of our communities that we have to have special ceremonies, Marry Your Baby Daddy Days, to encourage our wayward youth to get married because "marriage isn't just for white people." I don't know what was more painful? Watching the men and women in these ceremonies dance down the aisle, or listening to the labored, over-intellectualized explanations of how "baby daddy" is actually an affectionate and enduring term. As was said in Ghostbusters, we truly are a society too sick to survive.

Some thoughts and questions.

1. Me and Zora were talking on the phone during the show--yes, she is alive and well--and Zora made a great observation in regards to her interest (or lack thereof) in these Black expose news programs. Apparently, Zora doesn't generally watch these programs because she doesn't see herself in these documentaries. I can't help but agree. By extension, I do wonder where the silent black majority is? Where is the voice of those black people, who like Black folk in mass, are also struggling against the shared challenge of succeeding in what is still a racist society, but who don't fit any of these tropes of criminality, poor educational achievement, single motherhood, or the like? Perhaps, focusing on this silent majority would make for bad television.

2. I am always struck by the lack of attention given to class in these documentaries about race in America. This is a function of how America as a society is uncomfortable with talking about class generally, and how we are trying to explain the "common" or the "typical" experiences of our subjects as opposed to focusing too much on outliers. Now that issue aside, I do think there is something intellectually dishonest about framing the black experience as one dominated by crime, dysfunction, and exclusion--this was made glaringly clear by how the black middle class experience was given short thrift in CNN's first installment of this series.

3. A related thought, what would a class based conversation on race look like? We got a little taste of it tonight when the brother from Harvard highlighted the relationship between wealth and education. Scholars such as Thomas Shapiro have demonstrated that the wealth gap is at the core of the work, both historically and in the present, that racism does in structuring American society. Wealth, real assets as opposed to income, is horribly maldistributed in this country. When we account for race as a variable, the differences become even starker where the typical white working class person has more wealth and assets than an upper middle class black person.

This is the lived legacy of white supremacy.

Racial discrimination and class disparities are intimately linked. As a qualifier, I am not an old school Marxist who has spent a significant amount of time theorizing slavery and white supremacy as systems based instead in economic, as opposed to being purely, racial exploitation (I am not smart or patient enough).

But, it must be stated that because it was historically illegal for blacks to accrue wealth; inter-generational means of wealth transferal were very limited, housing options were segregated, i.e. red lining, and the market values of black homes made artificially low (important because the primary way that wealth is transferred between generations is through home ownership); the government created through racially discriminatory policies (such as the GI Bill and Veteran's Administration housing programs) a white ownership and professional class; and job discrimination in the present means that even when controlling for education, black Americans make about 60 cents on the dollar of what comparably educated whites make; that wealth remains in the present one of the invisible ways through which racial inequality is perpetuated. Adding an additional challenge is the frightening way that the rise of prison industrial complex, and the historical exclusion of large numbers of potentially productive citizens from the labor market by the State through criminalization and imprisonment, have also damaged the ability of Black Americans to accrue substantial inter-generational economic resources:

This difference will only become more stark as white baby-boomers pass their resources onto their children and grandchildren in the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history. If I were to effect a policy change, it would be here, where through a combination of increased taxation on wealth transfers and substantial investments in education and public infrastructure, that we could improve opportunities for all citizens. I would also support a guaranteed minimum income...and yes, I know that is never going to happen, but it would help alleviate some of the racial wealth disparities in this country.

4. One final thought. How great would it be to have a show that focuses on white pathology? Or on the problems in Hispanic, Asian, or Native American communities? These ghetto muckraking news specials love to highlight the problems of black communities as though they are exclusive to those grouped as "black" or "African American". Yes, the black experience is in many ways unique, but these social problems are largely a function of the failures of State, a crisis in personal responsibility, a lack of community accountability, i.e. what used to be called shame, and deficiencies of resources. If CNN's next special was called Poor in America or The Ghetto Underclass in Appalachia (which would be an ironic turn because the culture of poverty and social capital arguments that are now associated with the black inner city poor were first advanced by a scholar who studied a rural Mexican community) I wonder what the response would be? For example, this hypothetical, never to be produced news program, could focus on the out of wedlock birth rates, high percentage of students whom withdraw from secondary education prior to graduation, and inter-generational poverty among Hispanic and many "ethnic" Asian communities (you know those "non-model minority" Asians that no one wants to talk about).

The documentary could also feature the crippling levels of poverty among the white rural poor in Appalachia where a deficit of social capital is compounded by a lack of the social services found in major urban areas. If these journalists and documentary film makers were really brave, they could look at drug use, out of wedlock births, family dysfunction, and std and abortion rates among suburban, "middle class" whites. But then again, we can only hope that a news network would be brave enough to present such compelling television. I would suggest that you don't hold your breath too long in waiting.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: All the News that is Fit to Print? How the New York Times Helped Us Learn About a Pimp's Reading Habits

So it seems the New York Times has found some space to share the compelling story of Mr. Corey Davis aka "Magnificent," a local pimp in the New York area, and the exciting reading materials he had in his possession at the time of arrest.

Magnificent favored books included:

1. Black Wall Street
2. The Willie Lynch Letter
3. The 48 Laws of Power
4. Whore-Whoever said Whoring wasn't Easy

The other items of interest were some tacky "Afrocentric" art, special boots for "stomping" his prostitutes (he was a gorilla pimp it seems--in my worldliness I have come to know the nuances of pimp slang), and a special t-shirt that he wore during his "disciplinary" sessions which was emblazoned with the slogan "The Beatings Will Continue." Most interestingly, Magnificent also had in his possession a NAACP New York Volunteer business card. Again, as I am so fond of saying, sometimes you can't make this stuff up.

I smiled when I read this story because 1) I can imagine the writer of this "news" item smiling while playing with her metaphorical upturned mustache as she provided a little bit of voyeuristic pleasure for the readers of the New York Times; and 2) she probably delighted in pulling aside the veil and exposing for the world the exciting details of another black ign't's degenerate lifestyle.

These types of stories are heir to a great tradition of ghetto muckraking (I do hope that Editor and Publisher does a feature on this phenomenon so I can be appropriately cited for this turn of phrase) by the mainstream media--a tradition which has included stories on laws against sagging pants, features on the many criminals foiled because their pants fell down while said hoodlums were trying to escape (or here where the knucklehead was actually shot by the police), crazy, fat, black pre-teen degenerates who steal and destroy their grandma's car in a live action reenactment of Grand Theft Auto 4...and who are now in custody for beating up relatives over chicken wings:

And of course, one cannot forget the moral panic which surrounds the juking parties that are apparently all the rage at our local high schools.

But, the Time's piece does beg the question: What should a pimp read? No, seriously, what books would make him or her better in the pursuit of their life vocation?

My reading suggestions, and I will gladly add yours to the list as well, would certainly include:

1. Pimp by Iceberg Slim--THE pimp manual;
2. Freakonomics--there is no problem yet conceived which this book cannot be an aid in solving
3. The Tao of Pooh--a pimp needs balance in his or her life;
4. The DSM IV--the diagnostic manual for therapists and mental health professionals;
5. Man Sharing: Dilemma of Choice, a Radical New Way of Relating to the Men in Your Life--one needs a meta-narrative to help your "employees" understand and feel invested in the pimp-ho relationship;
6. Behind Every Strong Black Woman, There Is A Bastard Black Man: Love Sex? Randy? Punany Could be a Dangerous Ballgame!--I just liked the title;
7. The Blackwoman's Guide to Understanding the Blackman by Shaharazad Ali--frankly, if he had Willie Lynch I am really surprised that Ali's book didn't turn up as well;
8. How to Win Friends and Influence People--obvious and practical;
9. Black Players: The Secret World of Pimps--actually written by 2 white swingers in the 1970s.

The other fact of this case which caused me some confusion and consternation, was how disheveled and low rent Mr. Davis looked in his arrest photo. I know going to the lockup does wonders for one's appearance, but his slovenly way speaks volumes about the state of the game.

In the golden days, that bygone era of macking, a pimp had to come correct. Consider some of the 1970s role models:

I always wanted that suit, but my mom wouldn't let me buy it at the Good Will.


Curtis Mayfield we miss you.

Perhaps our present economic downturn has had a negative impact on the sex economy? In perusing Youtube and the Internet it seems that the self-regulating standards among pimps have certainly gone down.

Raggedy pimping in action:

A Mack who is true to the game--Now let me pimp or let me die!

Archbishop Don Magic Juan where you at?

Mr. Fillmore Slim, the wisest mack of them all, we are desperately in need of your wisdom:

Okay I couldn't resist.

It seems that the latest trend in the game is "internet pimping." Apparently, it isn't too hard to find damaged, vulnerable, and stupid folk and proceed to pimp them online. MySpace is great isn't it?

I don't admire pimps, but I do find them interesting. As part of my life mantra, I sincerely try to take knowledge gleamed from whatever sources I may come upon, and put it to good use. For example, one of my favorite life lessons came from Ice-T, when he explained how all of us, each and everyone one of us, as long as we are working for someone else in any capacity at all, is really a ho and would gain great peace through an acknowledgment of that uncomfortable fact:

Speaking truth to power again Mr. Ice-T as you effortlessly channel Karl Marx--and adding insult to injury your bed mate is that white queen Coco--some guys have all the luck it seems. Although that young ign't Souljah boy mocked Ice-T as an "old man," the brother is really onto something in his analysis of the relationship between globalization, labor and Capital. While the New York Times wants to focus on raggedy pimps, they should really use their esteemed platform to focus on the abuse we are all suffering at the goon hands of the biggest macks of them all, a rogues gallery which would include such pimps as:

1. The credit card industry

2. Dick Cheney and his war profiteering

3. Disaster Capitalism, which we are all, not just the 3rd world, victimized by:

4. Bush and the Bin Laden's--yes, I went there because these folks with their lock on most of the world's consciousness are running a serious game on everyone:

5. Crooked home mortgage companies:

6. The "Defense Industry"--several trillion dollars in the last few years alone, now that is a hard working pimp:

7. Prosperity, mega church leading black preachers:

We need to fight back against these most heinous of macks. We respectable negroes need to pimp slap the pimps:

And we should steadily work towards a return to a kinder, gentler time when Gary Coleman was the only pimp we really had to worry about:

Never forget: it is always Pimps Up! Ho's Down!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's Sexy Time with Barack Obama-Hot, Sweaty, and Pheromone Filled Like A Small Studio Apartment in the Middle of the Summer Without Inscents or A/C!

Sometimes you have to laugh, smile, giggle, or feel a bit creepy because someone effortlessly captures your deepest and darkest secrets--not mine of course! I mean those Obamaholics who also dream, yes, literally dream about Barack Obama, have man crushes on him, and feel like they are "saved" by his magical presence.

From the Nation Magazine's great piece, "The Shadow of his Smile," which should really be called, "Why Voters Want to have the Bro'Bama Put Them in the... buck/chicken wing/reverse cowgirl/wear me out on the Liberator sex pillow/practice inter-racial bipartisanship/place lingam deeply in yoni/pluck the bird/put her in the pile driver/do the helicopter/scissors/or T-Square." He is so sexy isn't he?

Despite the Atlah church's rantings that Barack Obama is a man whore of sorts (aka mangina--random fact: did you know I was once a mangina for Halloween? Praise the maker, for the bliss that evening rivaled that of the Song of Solomon), I guess Obama Girl was courageously ahead of the curve with her public declarations of love for Bro'Bama.

Here are some choice excerpts:

"He wasn't yet a candidate. He was Frank Sinatra, so cool he's hot, a centrifugal force commanding attention so ruthlessly that it appeared effortless, reducing everyone around him to a sidekick, and the girls in the front rows to jelly."

"There is something old about the new man, as well, though, or, rather, something of a romantic update on an old model. Not JFK. Obama resembles him only in his projected nonchalance. JFK's libido was like the Strategic Air Command, on permanent alert, meaning he'd spot a woman out the window, in a park, on a street and take her against the wall, while Jackie took to the White House trampoline. Barack and Michelle Obama channel some of the style of the current early-'60s revival--sleeveless sheaths and chunky pearls, Ocean's 11 and Mad Men--without the alienation. America, they say, you can be cool and sexy again, "back!" and swinging, but secure this time."

"When he leaned into Michelle as she wrapped her arms around him from behind after the New Hampshire loss, when she cradles his face in her expressive hands while kissing him, with every dap and nuzzle and palpable vibe between them, "you see love onstage," said Harriette Cole of Ebony, the first in a long line of popular magazines to certify the two as a "hot couple."


This is totally random, but whenever I see the name "Harriette" I think of "Harriet Tubman": that would make for a hell of a visual, wouldn't it?

Maybe the root of the hostility between Hillary and Obama was sexual? Although Bill was "the first Black president," maybe Hillary yearned for 1/2 of the real thing?

As a nation we best be careful or else the television show Cheaters will begin featuring relationships destroyed by Obama's irrepressible and magnetic sex appeal:

One more?

Grrrr she is a cougar:

Bro'bama you be a home wrecker who is gonna go and make folks put on some Teddy P!

Note to self: I need to buy a pair of white pants to wear during the epic wine, erotic massage, and cheese--only Asiago by the way because my ladies deserve the best--foreplay sessions that occur before I let the ladies go for a ride on space mountain.