Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gordon Gartrelle says: By Golly! Sarah Palin’s Rural Blackface



One of the most fascinating things about Thursday’s Vice Presidential debate—aside from the fact that Sarah Palin either could not or would not answer the most important questions (on subprime lending crisis, deregulation, nuclear proliferation, Vice Presidential power, global warming)—was Palin’s deluge of “by gollies, “you betchas,” “there ya go agains,” “dog gone its,” “darn rights,” “heckuva lots,” “straight ups,” “Hockey moms,” “Joe Six-Packs,” and winks. Palin’s “debate” performance was a bizarre spectacle in which she managed to take the grating, odious persona she unveiled during the Republican convention and make it ridiculous.

I sat in amazement as this cipher of a human being somehow charmed the talking heads with an utterly transparent display of phony “aw shucks” populism. While the commentators disagreed on her substantive points, there seemed to be a consensus that Palin’s “folksy” mannerisms and sayings were charming and allowed her to connect with the American people. I’m almost positive that The National Review’s Rich Lowry typed his ode to Palin with one hand.

I took away two main nuggets from the Vice Presidential debate and its aftermath: 1.) that Sarah Palin, in effect, performed rural blackface, and 2.) that the so called charm of this performance hinges on the small town fantasies of conservatives and media elites.

Consider that traditional blackface saw refined black entertainers performing a base, stereotypical blackness for adoring audiences. Everything about minstrel blackness was exaggerated: the movements, the language, the clothing, the color. Let’s revisit Palin’s debate. Along with the exaggerated down-home sayings, (she actually said “I’m the Joe Six-Pack candidate.” How’s that for subtlety?), she twice made reference to the liberal media filtering her straight talk to the American people, and incredibly, made plain her intention to not answer the moderator’s questions in the name of this supposed straight talk. Palin took the negative aspects of rural America—the simplistic worldview, the anti-intellectualism, the hostility to difference—and magnified them to the point of near parody. That, my friends, is rural blackface.

Contrary to popular belief, Palin’s folksiness (and indeed the Palin pick itself), is not directed toward “regular Americans;” it is directed toward elites, media elites in particular. It’s clear that media elites on the right have bought into the notion that small town America is the real representation of the country, that one must go to the “heartland” to see American values. Surprisingly, though, Palin’s shtick is just as effective on liberal media elites because these liberal elites share the same faulty assumptions and insecurities as their conservative colleagues.

Most of these elites, conservative or liberal, are stinking rich, were reared at the same elite schools, and live in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. These elites enjoy the freedom, variety, and bustle of big cities, yet they suffer from a great deal of self-loathing, guilt, and insecurity about their metropolitan lives (the cities they call home may as well be Sodom and Gomorrah). They therefore construct fantasies of a simpler, more pure life in rural America and regard small town residents as morally superior folks uncorrupted by the big, bad city. It’s like nostalgia for the 50s, only set in the present.

In any case, Palin and McCain know all of this and are more than willing to have Palin “coon it up.” W.C. Fields described legendary blackface performer Bert Williams as “the funniest man I ever saw – and the saddest man I ever knew.” Part of this sadness stemmed from the internal conflict based on building his personal success on hideous racial stereotypes of his people. I doubt that Sarah Palin has any inner-conflict. She strikes me as a supremely happy person.





Thursday, October 2, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: Some Do's and Dont's for the Epic Joe Biden Versus Sarah Palin Debate



I am of two minds on tomorrow's Sarah Palin-Joe Biden Vice Presidential Debate. The conspiratorial part of my psyche keeps telling me that something is afoot, that this is an amazing example of playing down to low expectations just to sucker your opponent in so that you can give them the knockout punch.

Now, I am a firm believer in the truths that often lie behind alternative narratives for explaining the world's realities. For example, I don't believe in the Willie Lynch Letter. But, I do believe that the U.S. either did not go to the moon or only went a few times before being told by aliens not to return. I don't believe that Snapple is funded by the KKK. But, I do believe that Church's Fried Chicken was a conspiracy against Black people. By the way, Popeye's is just a blessing.

I don't believe that 9-11 was an "inside job," but I do believe that some folks chose to look the other way, and yes, the fourth plane was shot down. AIDS was not a biological weapon designed to kill black folks, but the Tuskegee experiment and tainted small pox vaccines in Africa have to make one think about the possibility. You see, my conspiratorial credentials are quite sound.

I have to be honest folks, my spidey sense is tingling on this one because either Palin and the Republicans are playing us all and she is a genius who will emerge to greatly surprise and embarrass Joe Biden in a manner akin to the movie the Ringer, where an "able bodied" and not mentally "handicapped" person participates in the Special Olympics to rig the games for the Mafia.

Or is she going to be outplayed and outmaneuvered by Joe Biden? Could she perhaps be brought to tears? If there is a God of debates and political blogs she will indeed be brought to tears...but I won't hold my breath. Assuming that truth is stranger than fiction, and that Palin is as vapid as she appears to be, Biden can still lose this debate. Why? the law of low expectations and the amazing capacity for the public at large to feel pity for a loser, especially if they are Walmart moms who are "scrappy" and are the political equivalent of the football player Rudy--Red State types love those stories. Random thought: do they love the movie Radio just as much?

In the spirit of Paul Begala's post on 10 rules to win a debate, here are some quick tips for Obama's VP.

1. You can't hit a girl. I know that sounds sexist, but it is true. I know she could be alot bigger and stronger than you, but we, and by we I mean women and men, don't really want true gender equality in this country. This is one example of that fact. Joe, you have to be nice. Joe you have to be civil. And yes, you can't pull a McCain and just ignore her as he did Obama. If during the debate she proverbially gets in your face, calls your mother out of her name, and spits on you, you can't hit her. But as Chris Rock said, you sure as hell can shake her (you can start sending those angry emails now).

2. Visualize yourself as an adult who is fighting a child. Alternatively, visualize yourself as a tall person fighting a "little person." You have the advantage of reach, strength, and in this case, experience and power. Your foe is slippery and fast. Sarah is also able to get in under your guard--in MMA this is called "passing the guard"--therefore, you need to be very careful. The little person/child also has a low center of gravity. As a consequence, you can't really knock them down without leaning forward and putting yourself off balance. The larger competitor also has an advantage in weight and the ability to absorb a blow. Remember, that in a debate you don't necessarily want to go for the knockout punch early. Instead, you want to set them up and punish them until you are ready to put your foe to sleep. Biden must remember this fact because an early knockout will work against his cause rather than in favor of it. My suggestion, move around, dodge and weave, and at some point simply put your hand on their forehead, hold them back, and let them swing at the air. Remember Joe, Palin doesn't have the reach to hit you. The solution: don't get overconfident and get up close where she can hurt you:



3. To point 2, the child or little person you are fighting has your groin at eye level. As a result, they can't help but to hit you low. Biden, you need to wear a cup. Sarah is going to be hitting you low all night long and you are going to be bruised. It is the same rule that governs being in a knife fight, you have to accept that you are going to get cut. It is unavoidable. All you can do is get cut at a moment when it is too your advantage as the attacker (counter-intuitive but true). Again Joe, Sarah is looking at your crotch. Not because she likes you, but because she can't look or swing any higher.



4. Similarly, the smaller opponent can literally trip you up or take out a knee. If this happens you are on the ground and they have the advantage. Solution: avoid getting close enough to be tripped up.



5. Joe Biden is a bit of a hothead with a sharp tongue. He must remember Bruce Lee's advice, "be water my friend."



6. On points 4, 5, and 3, Joe Biden must be judicious in his application of force. In all likelihood he has forgotten more about government and foreign affairs than Palin has every known. He cannot betray his superiority over her. If Biden does this he will look like a lecturing bully. And this would almost certainly push some female independents, Hillary supporters, and Joe Six Packs (or is it 3 packs because of the economic downturn?) to McCain. Random thought: can't you imagine the complaints from Fox News and Joe Q. Public/Bush supporters if Biden were to expose Palin? "There go those know it all liberals again! We need a regular person who respects "real" Americans!"--Insert hand into mouth in order to induce vomiting.

7. On point 6, Joe Biden cannot be Joey Buttafuoco . Do you remember that piece of human debris? In his effort at petty stardom he boxed Chyna, the former WWE "women's" wrestler. Guess what? He lost by winning because he humiliated and embarrassed her--and he looked boorish while doing it. Joe, I beg you, even when you smell blood in the water don't go for the kill shot. You can punish your prey a bit, expose its weaknesses, but don't go for the kill shot unless you have to:



8. Finally, don't underestimate Sarah Palin. I repeat, do not underestimate Sarah Palin. Always hold close and true to your heart the wisdom of Return of the Jedi and how the Ewoks, those fuzzy little teddy bears, were able to defeat the Imperial war machine:



If you were in Joe Biden's corner what would you tell him to do? What does he have to be careful about? Who is going to win? Am I being too paranoid in my worry that this is a set up and Palin is suckering everyone in for the kill shot?

Here is the tale of the tape and pre-fight video:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

69 Is The Loneliest Of Numbers: The Final Count For Our How Many Ways to Say "White" Without Saying White Competition



Our contest is officially closed...unless you come up with some more gems. It was epic. It was amazing. And frankly, how can you top 69 ways to say "White" without saying white? Now, I had another clip to post but I didn't want to get a lecture from Zora if I put it up. The above video will have suffice. So--insert drum roll--the final count is:

1. Values voter
2. Heartland
3. Mainstream voter
4. Hard-working Americans
5. Lunch pail voters
6. Soccer moms
7. Walmart Moms
8. Nascar Dads
9. Blue collar
10. Regular Americans
11. Real Americans
12. The Base
13. Culture War voters
15. Palin's Army
16. Joe Six Pack
17. Joe Lunch Pail
18. Hockey Mom/Hockey moms
19. American Workers
20. Work Force
21. Regular Folks
22. Ma and Pa Kettle
23. My (or your) neighbors
24. Average American Voter
25. Rural Voters
26. Non-elitists
27. My accountant
28. Small Town Voters
29. The Woman Vote
30. Middle America
31. Americans
32. American People
33. Good hard-working people
34. Working Class voter
35. The Nascar Vote
36. Midwestern Voters
37. Suburban Voters
38. White Collar Voters
39. Main Street
40. Wall Street
41. New Englanders
42. Southerners
43. All-American Girls/Boys/All-American
44. The latte voters
45. Dogwalking voters
46. The Recycling bloc
47. Folks in the heartland
48. Decent, hard-working people
49. Christians
50. God-fearing Americans
51. The people who want to have a beer with the sort of candidate who might like to have a beer with them
52. Reagan Democrats
53. One of us
54. Undecideds
55. Scrappy
56. Bubba Voters
57. Gun enthusiasts
58. People who are just worried about paying the bills on time
59. Voters in fly-over states
60. Scranton Voters
61. Kitchen table voters
62. Independents
63. Evangelical Voters
64. Pro-lifers
65. My friends
66. Honest Workers
67. Ordinary people
68. Responsible Americans
69. Security Moms

"Lakefront liberals" and "swing state voters" were certainly in the running, but for reasons of poetic license it seemed oh so appropriate to end the contest at the number 69. What phrase or name on our list do you think is the most creative so that we can give out our inaugural prize?

The Great Economic Collapse of September 2008: Let's Just Slow Down For a Moment and Catch Our Collective Breath



Do we let markets work and "self-correct" or not? Is a belief in the ability of markets to right themselves a religion of sorts? What happens if we all panic and run to the bank and get our loot? Good or bad? Let's just take a second and reflect. You know I am a paranoid respectable negro, but maybe a panic is just what THEY want? How are you protecting your loot if you have any? Securities and bonds? Sugarwater and Now and Laters? Hiding out in the closet with some MRE's and water? Share you investment strategies and survival strategies with the We Are Respectable Negroes Family...

****

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Depression of 2008? Don't count on It

Wall Street is dead.
Jason Zweig
30 September 2008 06:37

Wall Street is dead.

Whether it was murder or suicide is beside the point: Wall Street as it has operated for the past 75 years has been obliterated in a matter of weeks. And witnessing this violent death in broad daylight has traumatized investors everywhere.

The Wall Street domino has toppled just about everything in sight: U.S. stocks large and small, within the financial industry and outside of it; foreign stocks; oil and other commodities; real-estate investment trusts; formerly booming emerging markets like India and China. Even gold, although it has inched up lately, has lost 10% from its highs earlier this year. Not even cash seems entirely safe, as money-market funds barely averted a "run on the bank."

Of all the dominos that have tipped over, the most psychologically damaging collapse was the last: the very notion of diversification itself.

A trader rubs his face as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 29, 2008 in New York City. U.S. stocks took a nosedive in reaction to the global credit crisis and as the U.S. House of Representatives rejected the $700 billion rescue package, 228-205. Dow Jones Industrials fell as much as 700 points in midday trading.

Every day, my mailbox fills up with messages from agonized investors who can find nowhere to hide. The most common refrain: "I've lost money on everything." If you feel this way too, you are certainly not imagining. According to the researchers at Morningstar Inc., 91% of all mutual funds in existence have lost money so far this year. To put that in perspective, in 2001 -- the year Enron imploded, Internet stocks kept crashing and al Qaeda attacked the U.S. -- more than one out of every three funds still managed to generate positive returns.

How much worse might things get? Is there any way to prevent Wall Street's death from taking you out too?

Let's consider some of the arguments that have been surfacing lately.

"We're going into another Great Depression." The failure on Monday of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the bailout plan makes those G-D words seem possible for the first time. But I don't think another depression is likely, for two reasons.

First, when you spend time studying the Crash of 1929 and the depression that followed, what stands out the most is the dearth of doomsayers. Even Roger Babson, the economist known to posterity as "the man who called the crash," did no such thing; he forecast only a 15% to 20% drop, not the apocalypse that actually occurred. Depressions start not when lots of people are worried about them, as we have today, but when no one is worried about them, as in 1929.

Not again? Bewildered investors milled about New York's financial district after the stock-market crash in October 1929.

Second, the Great Depression and the Panic of 1873 (which triggered what arguably was the worst depression in U.S. history) both occurred before the Federal Reserve Bank had aggressively grown into its role as "lender of last resort." In the wake of 1873, after a railroad-building boom had swept the nation and then gone bust, companies and consumers alike were left gasping for capital. Nothing but the passage of time could supply it; the Fed would not be established until 1913. After the crash of 1929, when the Fed was still weak, years passed before the federal government could flood the economy with cash.

Today, however, the resolve of the Fed is not in question; nor is there any doubt that the Treasury Department is willing to provide the financing it takes to get the economy moving again. Furthermore, U.S. nonfinancial companies have just under $1 trillion in cash on their books. Even though Wall Street is dead, innovation is not: In the months to come, clever new financial go-betweens will spring up and find a way to get that cash flowing again. It's hard to see how a depression could get under way when so much capital is waiting in the wings.

"Diversification is dead." There's an old saying that the only things that go up in a down market are correlations -- the tightness of the linkages among various assets like U.S. and foreign markets, stocks and bonds, commodities or real estate. Normally, one asset will tend to zig while another zags. But in bear markets, they converge -- and in really terrible bear markets, they move in complete lockstep.

That's what is happening now, but it will not last indefinitely. It never does. While diversification does not work all the time, it does work over the course of time. There's nothing wrong with raising a little cash if that would prevent you from panicking completely. This is particularly true for retirees. Whittle down your stock position gradually, in baby steps -- say, 1% at a time -- not in one fell swoop. And set a limit beyond which you will not go; otherwise, when stocks stage their inevitable recovery, you will miss out.

"Investors hate uncertainty." Well, that's just tough. Uncertainty is all investors ever have gotten, or ever will get, from the moment barley and sesame first began trading in ancient Mesopotamia to the last trade that will ever take place on Planet Earth.

If tomorrow were ever knowable with absolute certainty, who would take the other side of a trade today?

The financial future is no more uncertain now than it used to be; in fact, it's far less uncertain than it was in the summer of 2007, when the Dow shot above 14000, the future seemed bright, and utterly no one foresaw the disaster that would befall the financial system. The absolute certainty of blue skies ahead was an illusion then, and the notion that we all know that worse misery lies in store is an illusion now.

The only true certainty is surprise.

****

You've probably spent a lot more time worrying about negative than positive surprises lately. But we could get surprised on the upside by a further fall in oil prices, a kick from low interest rates -- and, of course, untold other possibilities that no one can foresee.

Whatever happens with the bailout, don't bail out.

For now, let's just relax:



Or am I just being naive and too hopeful?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Zora on Film: Miracle at St. Anna as Cinematic Affirmative Action

(from left to right, the cute white kid who becomes our hope for the future, the over-sized black buffoon with a heart of gold ála The Green Mile, the light-skinned guy who can't be trusted, the dark-skinned and uptight intellectual, and the hyper-religious Afro-Latino with his requisite Santeria beads.)

After a long hiatus, Spike Lee has finally given us a new production -- Miracle at St. Anna. As respectable Negroes, I know that you have all been eagerly anticipating its release. I, myself, stood in the rain on Friday afternoon expecting to have to fight for a good seat. Surprisingly, I was only one of six patrons in the entire theater. After nearly three excruciating hours, I understood why.

Let me offer a few phrases that can sum up my feelings about Spike's rendition of Miracle at St. Anna:
Five Films Rolled Into One
I'm Glad I Didn't Bring My White Friends to See This
Cinematic Affirmative Action
Flags of Our Fathers Meets Hogan's Heroes
Saving Private Ryan Meets Tropic Thunder
Clint Eastwood was RIGHT
Call Me a Handkerchief Head
If a White Man Made This, Spike Would Start a Riot
We're Not "Bamboozled" When Spike Makes It
I Could Have Done More, But Hollywood is Racist
You Don't Get My Movie Because You're a House Negro
My Unique Perspective as the Black Filmmaker that Hollywood Loves to Hate

Can you sense where I'm going with this?

Spike Lee built his film on a compelling story developed in 2003 by James McBride who drew on the history of the overwhelmingly African American 92nd Infantry Division in the Italian campaign from mid-1944 to April 1945. Not content to rest on the merits of the story alone, Spike insists on adding his own recognizable branding -- in this instance, poor editing, overwhelming music scores, and cartoonish characters. On top of this, it is as if he was afraid that he would never again find funding to make another movie. This latest "joint" wraps a drama, an epic, a war movie, a melodrama, and a fantasy film all into one with a little comic relief on the side. Simply put, Miracle at Anna was not Spike's best effort by a long shot.

I have to say that what bothered me the most about this film was it's predictable, one-dimensional characters. The White American characters are, of course, largely racist crackers. We all know what form they take. The Italian female lead was hyper-sensual and all too ready to raise her skirt for some cioccolata americano.

Surprisingly, however, the negro characters were just as flat. "Train" was a character who could have easily been exchanged for Michael Clark Duncan's character in The Green Mile; he's the seven-foot, country negro who couldn't hurt a fly. Perhaps because of his "simple" nature, he becomes a vessel for God to act through (Chauncey refers to such commonly portrayed figures as "magical negroes"). As gentle as this character seems, we all know that his anger can be awakened in the face of injustice.

"Bishop" is the light-skinned pimp with no race pride. Terrence Howard has often served in this role. Bishop cares about nothing more than getting ahead and getting some pussy, preferably white. Before getting drafted, he was a preacher -- original, no? Ultimately, his selfishness endangers his fellow soldiers.

"Stamps" is the opposite of "Bishop." He is ebony-hued and noble, a true race man. He is the ambassador for negroes abroad and carries this burden with an uptight dignity. Sydney Poitier would have been great for this role. Stamps also yearns for the Italian damsel, but alas he shows her too much respect and it turns her off.

Finally, Spike offers us "Negron" (the name was obviously chosen to remind us of his negritude in case folks got confused with his Puerto Rican accent). Negron keeps to himself, as if he doesn't want to get mixed up in our black American foolishness. His means of survival is a crucifix attached to a length of Santeria beads. Do any of you remember Pedro Cerrano in Major League? Negron is the only one of the four who makes it back home. Hmmmmm.

Ironically, the most complicated characters were in the form of Nazi soldiers. The two that Spike chose to highlight were deeply conflicted and clearly didn't want to be a part of the Nazi project. They were humane and compelling. I was more interested in seeing how their characters might develop than I was in any of the four primary characters. What was Spike trying to say here?

If a white filmmaker had offered us four leading roles that were this flat and stereotypical, Spike Lee would have used him/her as fodder for his case that white people can't tell black stories. He would have led BedStuy in a boycott of the film. Why then is it excusable for him to offer up such crap? Are we to consume it simply because he is African-American? Not this respectable Negress. I am so past the point of not holding my folks accountable simply because they need to be "encouraged" and "supported." We can't progress with this mindset.

Spike Lee is mature enough and powerful enough as a filmmaker that he has to be held accountable. He is capable of good, even great, work. You've seen it with Do the Right Thing, with Malcolm X, and with his documentaries. Sadly, you won't see it with Miracle at St. Anna.

Politics as Popular Culture: Chris Rock was Quite the Pundit Over the Weekend

Compiled for your viewing pleasure, Chris Rock on Obama, McCain, Hillary, and the 2008 Election.

Rock on Howard Stern: Can a black man become president?



Rock on Letterman: Hillary lost and needs to get over it...



Rock on Larry King: McCain needs to stop holding...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: All Hail John McCain's League of Democracies! Version 2.0-Now Including Super Mario, Pepe Le Pu and El Santo!

After some discussion, your helpful advice, and the timely intervention of the Department of Homeland Security--they vetoed Batroc's membership in the League of Democracies because of some security issues--we are inaugurating version 2.0 of the LOD. The new roster is as follows.

The League of Democracies Version 2.0

The United States: the newly resurrected Captain America would be our go to guy here . Cap, despite his concerns about the War on Terror, and how 9-11 changed America, is a loyal patriot. Captain America would also feel a sense of obligation and loyalty to John McCain. They likely served together at some point and have remained in touch. Captain America would also understand that with a legitimate superhero as leader, that he would be able to rally support from other A-List groups like the X-Men (or the other members of the Avengers) if the League encountered a threat that they were under-equipped to handle.


Canada: Sorry kids, there is no way Wolverine is coming to this party. Our friends to the north would send Sasquatch as their representative on the League of Democracy. Sasquatch's strength rivals that of the Hulk and you can never have too much muscle on a superhero team.

The United Kingdom: The Brits are our most stalwart allies. If there was one country that would send their best if the U.S.A. called on them, it would the Brits. Enter: Captain Britain. He is a legitimate superhero--impressive powers, a long history working with American superheroes, and a go to guy in case Cap were to be put on the shelf, Captain Britain is a great choice as number two for the LOD.

The Bahamas: Our island neighbors are excited to join the League of Democracy. As a former British colony, they too share a deep friendship with the United States. The Bahamas also see participation in the LOD as a way to be a bigger player on the world stage. Blink is a skillful niche player for the League of Democracies. Her powers include teleportation and the ability to redirect the powers of other mutants. Blink also has a great pedigree: she has worked with both the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. Blink brings experience and the always useful skill of teleportation to the LOD.

France: The French are quite embarrassed by the fact that their original selection for the League of Democracies was rejected by the United States government. In response, the French have upped the ante. The answer: Pepe Le Pu. Pepe is one of France's greatest heroes. His intelligence, humor, wisdom, seductive ways, and the ability to spray an enemy with a potent sulfur infused spray makes him a worthwhile addition to the LOD. Pepe, the League of Democracies will certainly embrace you as one of their most valued members.


Australia: The Aussies are always ready to join the United States in a military (mis)adventure. They bite at the chance to join the League of Democracies and send the Tasmanian Devil, one of their best superheroes. The Tasmanian Devil has enhanced strength, reflexes, senses, and speed. When necessary, the Tasmanian Devil is also able to quickly burrow into the ground to either avoid attack, or to wait in ambush for his enemies.

Japan: The Japanese are one of the most powerful countries in the world, but they are limited by their constitution from taking a more active role in military affairs. The Japanese self-defense force is extremely capable and is rapidly expanding its abilities to fill in for the inevitable decline of U.S. power in Asia. The Japanese, like the Aussies and Brits, are down with the U.S. and the League of Democracies, but they have to be careful about their involvement. The solution: Ultraman! This classic superhero has been in retirement awaiting a chance to return to his former glory. Ultraman "volunteers" for the League of Democracies as a "private" citizen. Ultraman's powers are still in great form. Ultraman's speed, weapons, experience, and most importantly, his ability to grow from a normal size human to one that is several stories tall in height are all potent aces in the hole that will be invaluable to the LOD.


India: As the world's largest democracy, India has a great deal at stake in the League of Democracies. India is a rising power that is increasing its influence around the world. India is still worried about Pakistan and China as regional rivals, but they are ready to assert more leadership in world affairs. As a gesture of support for America, India sends 2 members to join the LOD. The first member is none other than Sabu-the magic carpet riding, butt-kicking man for all seasons, the legendary genie and alien benefactor of the planet Earth.

The second is Shaktimaan. Together the Indian contribution to the team represents strength, speed, and power. The dynamic duo of Sabu and Skaktimaan bring a suprise and wow factor to the LOD that will confound their foes.




Mexico: The Mexican government was initially upset by not being a "first round draft pick" for the League of Democracies. After some negotiating, the U.S. government has extended a formal invitation to the government of Mexico for them to join the LOD. The Mexican government has accepted our invitation and will be sending El Santo and the Blue Demon, two of their greatest superheroes, to join the League of Democracies. These Mexican wrestlers have never met a foe which they are unable to defeat. El Santo and the Blue Demon's wrestling skills--their arm bars, flying knee drops, hurricaranas, planchas, and ranas will soften up the LOD's foes and leave them vulnerable to attack from the other superheroes. El Santo and the Blue Demon are excited about joining the League of Superheroes and are ready to do right by the people of Mexico. Viva la raza!!!

Italy: The Italian government has also decided to join the League of Democracies. As their representative on John McCain's superhero team, the Italians will be sending the legendary Super Mario! Yes, the man, the myth, and the legend will be joining the LOD. Mario's abilities include the superjump, superhuman speed, pyro-kinesis, gigantism, and relative immortality. Super Mario is a welcome addition to the LOD. The members of the Axis of Evil are already frightened by the tactical possibilities created by Mario's addition to the team and are panic struck by the announcement of his membership.

The League of Democracies is finally coming into form. Who else should be inducted? Who must the LOD have in order to become the lethal fighting force that John McCain has envisioned and prayed for?

Sunday Update: How Many Ways Can You Say Black Without Saying Black Update 2

As of today, the list grows so more. I remain surprised (if not distressed) as the tally grows:

1. Urban
2. Ghetto
3. Disadvantaged
4. Assailant
5. Children in under-resourced schools
6. Those people
7. Defendant
8. Underprivileged
9. Inner city/Center city residents/City residents
10. Section 8 recipients
11. Public housing residents
12. Gang members/Gang affiliated/Gang Bangers
13. Diverse
14. Lower Income
15. Home boys/Homies
16. Community Organizer
17. Good dancer
18. Unwed mothers
19. Deadbeat Dads
20. Criminal Element
21. Baby Mothers/Fathers
22. Welfare Recipients
23. Hip-hop Community
24. Felon
25. Convict
26. Rapper
27. Affirmative Action Hire
28. Athletic Quarterback
29. Inarticulate
30. Comedians
31. Over-comers
32. Cristal/Moet/Patrone Poppers
33. Stars of the 1st 48 (Homicide investigation show on A&E)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: All Hail John McCain's League of Democracies!



The first debate between McCain and Barack Obama has provided a great deal of comment worthy material. There were several head scratching moments (at least to me) that deserve exploration. The first was McCain's point that:

Well, I was interested in Senator Obama's reaction to the Russian aggression against Georgia. His first statement was, "Both sides ought to show restraint."Again, a little bit of naivete there. He doesn't understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia. And Russia has now become a nation fueled by petro-dollars that is basically a KGB apparatchik-run government. I looked into Mr. Putin's eyes, and I saw three letters, a "K," a "G," and a "B." And their aggression in Georgia is not acceptable behavior.

For a moment I was praying McCain was going to say "S-E-X"...because God knows that would have brought the house down.

The second "Huh?" inducing moment in the debate was McCain's proposal to form a "League of Democracies." Hmmmm.....I said to myself now this may actually have some possibilities. Who would be in the LOD (a new Legion of Doom apparently)? What would this League of Democracies do? Would they be best friends forever with the Axis of Evil? Or would they fight the Axis of Evil and their poorly planned and needlessly complicated plots to take over the world? Random thought: isn't it ironic that McCain wants to form a League of Democracies when he actually looks quite a bit like Solomon Grundy?

The League of Democracies would be difficult to assemble because the United States is a declining power and our standing in the world is much diminished. We simply don't have the clout anymore to demand that our allies send their best heroes to join our new superhero group. In addition, most of the A-List superheroes are probably really busy in their own countries fighting terrorists and other evil doers. As a compromise, our allies would likely send B-List superheroes to join the League of Democracy as a symbolic gesture of friendship. With those qualifiers noted, I now introduce my suggested members for the League of Democracies.

The United States: the newly resurrected Captain America would be our go to guy here . Cap, despite his concerns about the War on Terror, and how 9-11 changed America, is a loyal patriot. Captain America would also feel a sense of obligation and loyalty to John McCain. They likely served together at some point and have remained in touch. Captain America would also understand that with a legitimate superhero as leader, that he would be able to rally support from other A-List groups like the X-Men (or the other members of the Avengers) if the League encountered a threat that they were under-equipped to handle.


Canada: Sorry kids, there is no way Wolverine is coming to this party. Our friends to the north would send Sasquatch as their representative on the League of Democracy. Sasquatch's strength rivals that of the Hulk and you can never have too much muscle on a superhero team.

The United Kingdom: The Brits are our most stalwart allies. If there was one country that would send their best if the U.S.A. called on them, it would the Brits. Enter: Captain Britain. He is a legitimate superhero--impressive powers, a long history working with American superheroes, and a go to guy in case Cap were to be put on the shelf, Captain Britain is a great choice as number two for the LOD.

The Bahamas: Our island neighbors are excited to join the League of Democracy. As a former British colony, they too share a deep friendship with the United States. The Bahamas also see participation in the LOD as a way to be a bigger player on the world stage. Blink is a skillful niche player for the League of Democracies. Her powers include teleportation and the ability to redirect the powers of other mutants. Blink also has a great pedigree: she has worked with both the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. Blink brings experience and the always useful skill of teleportation to the LOD.

France: Our sometimes close allies, and other times difficult and fickle friends, the French want to be involved in the League of Democracies. But, they also don't want to part with any real talent. France sees the LOD as a useful organization for enforcing world peace, but they are very weary of any organization led by America. Their solution is Batroc, a French mercenary who is highly skilled in unarmed combat. Batroc and Captain America have fought against each other in the past. This could create some tensions, but Cap is a professional who will be able to move past their earlier rough spots. Captain America is no one's fool and he will certainly be keeping a close eye on Batroc in order to ensure that the French member of the LOD doesn't have a separate agenda.


Australia: The Aussies are always ready to join the United States in a military (mis)adventure. They bite at the chance to join the League of Democracies and send the Tasmanian Devil, one of their best superheroes. The Tasmanian Devil has enhanced strength, reflexes, senses, and speed. When necessary, the Tasmanian Devil is also able to quickly burrow into the ground to either avoid attack, or to wait in ambush for his enemies.

Japan: The Japanese are one of the most powerful countries in the world, but they are limited by their constitution from taking a more active role in military affairs. The Japanese self-defense force is extremely capable and is rapidly expanding its abilities to fill in for the inevitable decline of U.S. power in Asia. The Japanese, like the Aussies and Brits, are down with the U.S. and the League of Democracies, but they have to be careful about their involvement. The solution: Ultraman! This classic superhero has been in retirement awaiting a chance to return to his former glory. Ultraman "volunteers" for the League of Democracies as a "private" citizen. Ultraman's powers are still in great form. Ultraman's speed, weapons, experience, and most importantly, his ability to grow from a normal size human to one that is several stories tall in height are all potent aces in the hole that will be invaluable to the LOD.


India: As the world's largest democracy, India has a great deal at stake in the League of Democracies. India is a rising power that is increasing its influence around the world. India is still worried about Pakistan and China as regional rivals, but they are ready to assert more leadership in world affairs. As a gesture of support for America, India sends 2 members to join the LOD. The first member is none other than Sabu-the magic carpet riding, butt-kicking man for all seasons, the legendary genie and alien benefactor of the planet Earth.

The second is Shaktimaan. Together the Indian contribution to the team represents strength, speed, and power. The dynamic duo of Sabu and Skaktimaan bring a suprise and wow factor to the LOD that will confound their foes.




The League of Democracies is always looking for new members? Who else should be recruited? What countries and/or superheroes are we missing?

Friday, September 26, 2008

How Many Ways Can You Say "Black" without Saying Black-Update 1

Our ways of saying "Black" without saying "black" list is growing faster than we expected. So I will have to amend my over-under prediction of 15/25, I say we are looking at 30/35 because I am surprised that we have so many names and phrases thus far, but I remain unconvinced that we will find many more. Are you up to the challenge?

So, thus far we have:

1. Urban
2. Ghetto
3. Disadvantaged
4. Assailant
5. Children in under-resourced schools
6. Those people
7. Defendant
8. Underprivileged
9. Inner city/Center city residents/City residents
10. Section 8 recipients
11. Public housing residents
12. Gang members/Gang affiliated/Gang Bangers
13. Diverse
14. Lower Income
15. Home boys/Homies
16. Community Organizer
17. Good dancer
18. Unwed mothers
19. Deadbeat Dads
20. Criminal Element
21. Baby Mothers/Fathers
22. Welfare Recipients
23. Hip-hop Community
24. Felon
25. Convict
26. Rapper

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In the Interest of Fairness: How Many Ways Can You Say "Black" Without Actually Saying Black?

Taking up the challenge made by one of our internet allies, let's reverse the gaze so to speak.

We would never want to be accused of "reverse racism," so let's play a game of how many ways can you say Black without saying "black?" As a nation, we are actually in the midst of a shortage of code words for black people (maybe this is a result of the economic downturn, or because frankly, when folk want to call out black people, they don't tend to be subtle). Let's predict: I say the over/under on this list is 15/25. As is customary, I will begin our list with some customary softballs.

1. Urban
2. Ghetto
3. Disadvantaged
4. Assailant
5. Children in under-resourced schools
6. Those people

And yes, just as we are giving a prize for the best contribution to the "Euphemisms for White Folk" list, we will be opening our goody bag for this contest too.

Let's get this party started...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Euphemisms for Naming White Folk: And Many Said it Could not be Done, the 60 Name Barrier has been Broken!



That whose name cannot be spoken can now we confronted. With your help, we will take the first steps towards curing America's racial id and its inability to say "White." Say it with me again, White people; White politics; White interests, White voters; White McCain voters; White Sarah Palin female voters; White Democrats; White Hillary Clinton female voters...don't forget, say White at least three times a day, everyday and your teeth will stay white and healthy.

Do you think we will reach the truly impossible, the magical number of 75? We have shattered the proverbial 3 minute mile and are boldly going where no one has gone before. Where will we finally stop?

The tally so far:

1. Values voter
2. Heartland
3. Mainstream voter
4. Hard-working Americans
5. Lunch pail voters
6. Soccer moms
7. Walmart Moms
8. Nascar Dads
9. Blue collar
10. Regular Americans
11. Real Americans
12. The Base
13. Culture War voters
15. Palin's Army
16. Joe Six Pack
17. Joe Lunch Pail
18. Hockey Mom/Hockey moms
19. American Workers
20. Work Force
21. Regular Folks
22. Ma and Pa Kettle
23. My (or your) neighbors
24. Average American Voter
25. Rural Voters
26. Non-elitists
27. My accountant
28. Small Town Voters
29. The Woman Vote
30. Middle America
31. Americans
32. American People
33. Good hard-working people
34. Working Class voter
35. The Nascar Vote
36. Midwestern Voters
37. Suburban Voters
38. White Collar Voters
39. Main Street
40. Wall Street
41. New Englanders
42. Southerners
43. All-American Girls/Boys/All-American
44. The latte voters
45. Dogwalking voters
46. The Recycling bloc
47. Folks in the heartland
48. Decent, hard-working people
49. Christians
50. God-fearing Americans
51. The people who want to have a beer with the sort of candidate who might like to have a beer with them
52. Reagan Democrats
53. One of us
54. Undecideds
55. Scrappy
56. Bubba Voters
57. Gun enthusiasts
58. People who are just worried about paying the bills on time
59. Voters in fly-over states
60. Scranton Voters
61. Kitchen table voters
62. Independents
63. Evangelical Voters
64. Pro-lifers
65. My friends
66. Honest Workers
67. Ordinary people

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ain't No Mountain High Enough-The Measure of a Man: Barack Obama, White Privilege, Money Raised, and a Losing Race



Race is indeed the invisible elephant in the room during the 2008 election. We have joked about this fact, pointed to it, and satirized it, but the fact is undeniable: the mainstream media, our fourth estate has failed to report the obvious--that race "matters" in this election in ways which they are loathe to admit. Simply put, the mainstream media has been horribly negligent in their efforts to talk around the issue rather than forcefully engaging it. Yes, we are all (to varying degrees) invested in America's mythology of racial inclusion, of the hope of colorblind politics. But when the fact, the truth, is horribly self-evident we, you, us, me have an obligation as the tired refrain goes, "to speak truth to power."

During this past weekend, and into this week as well, it seems that the mainstream corporate media may have in fact rediscovered race and its impact on the McCain-Obama contest. Time magazine, the New York Times, the Associated Press, and others are now amazed that perhaps, just perhaps there are White (as opposed to white, I always make this qualifier for our white allies because yes, it does matter in the final calculus) voters who will not vote for a black candidate.

Apparently, you can walk on water and they will not vote for you. You can cure cancer and they will not vote for you. You can save the Earth from an asteroid and they will not vote for you. The fact of your being, of your negritude is too much for them to sacrifice the psychological wage that comes with whiteness. Ultimately, Blackness is the barometer against which whiteness and American identity are judged, and it is these two facts which are among the greatest tragedies of American social and political life.

To make real the problem of race for Barack Obama, I turn to the realm of the quantitative. Here, I introduce a simple question. I ask, how much more money has Obama raised than McCain? And what should this tell us about his chances of victory?

I return to money, because in politics resources are a simple and reliable predictor of success. Money buys access, influence and exposure. Now money isn't everything, as there was many a candidate who was well resourced but who fell to defeat.

But, the case of Barack Obama, a man with a message, who is charismatic and accomplished, and is one of the most, if not THE most well-resourced candidate in American presidential history, has a war chest overflowing with dollars, and yet is hamstrung by an apparent inability to translate these resources into a resounding lead, does in fact tell us a great deal about the likelihood of an Obama victory in November.

By all measures, Obama should be polling significantly ahead of John McCain. Frankly, the Democrats could run a brown (not a yellow) dog in 2008 and he should win by every rule of American politics (get the joke?). The "out party" is facing an incumbent party in a horrendous economy, with dismal approval numbers, an unpopular war, a public which overwhelmingly believes we are going in "the wrong direction," and one of the most unpopular presidents in history. Nevertheless, McCain is hanging uncomfortably close.

Consider to date that Obama has raised approximately 246 million more dollars than John McCain.

Consider that the dollar bill is approximately 6 inches long.

So how long, and how high, is Obama's money?

Obama has raised so much more money than McCain that his stacks of money if laid end to end would total 23,295 miles.



A length almost equal to the circumference of the Earth;








A length equal to 3,398 Marianas Trenches;









A length equal to 15 Great Walls of China;







A length equal to 84,594 Sears Towers;








A length equal to 4,239 Mount Everests;







A length equal to 21,391,304 Clarence Thomas's.







A powerful set of visuals are they not?

Here is where the concept of white privilege becomes especially valuable. Yes, while Tim Wise and others have done a wonderful job of speaking to the dynamics of white privilege as they relate to the Obama-McCain contest, there is one fact which has gone overlooked in these conversations. White privilege is spoken of as an advantage in day to day life. It is an asset. It is what is commonly described as an unearned "wage," one both psychological and material for White Americans. White privilege is invisible but real. It is valued but denied. It has a worth both in terms of how it smooths over the edges of life while it simultaneously goes denied. White privilege is present and known, but it is also invisible, a trait which explains why so many cannot name white privilege, but simultaneously cling so feverishly to it...and defend it even when it is against their immediate, material, self-interests.

White privilege is more than a wage or advantage, and as I write elsewhere (another hint as to my government name) it is a debit, a charge against those who are not White. It is a monthly withdrawal against the account, against your worth, against your assets be you a person of color or a less than fully empowered (and invested) White person.

If you accept this premise, that whiteness is a charge, in this case against Obama's blackness, we can begin to understand the uphill battle faced by Barack Obama's campaign in winning the hearts and minds of "average" voters.

Annually, a series of surveys is conducted that ask white respondents, "how much would it cost for you to permanently become a black person?" In essence, these surveys are asking, "how much is your whiteness worth to you?" Consistently, the agreed upon number is 1 million dollars. Yes, 1 million dollars for white respondents to become black. The numbers disguise an equally troubling set of facts, although not entirely unexpected, that in these surveys there is a wide range of value assigned to whiteness depending on how the question is asked.

For example, if white respondents are specifically asked, "how much would you have to be paid in order to become a black American?" the answer is only 5,000 dollars. Why? because of an unwillingness to admit that black Americans have legitimate grievances in the present, and that white Americans have some culpability and responsibility to and for these inequalities (of note: in this first wave of questions white respondents are so insensitive to the realities of race that by comparison, to give up television would require a 1 million dollar payout).

When the questions are accompanied by facts about racism, the number shoots up to 500,000 dollars for whites to become black (Isn't the truth a bitter pill?). When the question is abstract, i.e. set in a fictional country where white respondents are asked if they want to be in the "minority" or "majority" given the facts presented, whites value "in-group" membership at 1 million dollars.

In total, this range of responses highlights just how far Barack Obama is lagging behind John McCain in the presidential contest.

Again, let's convert these dollar values into debits which count against Obama's huge lead in resources.

If we make a conservative estimate that 5 million White voters will not vote for Obama under any circumstance, but value their whiteness at the ranges noted above, how much distance is "charged" against Barack Obama's lead?

However counted, the debit is a large, if not an insurmountable one.

Let's consider for the purposes of our exercise that there are 5 million white voters (a conservative estimate) who will not support Obama under the scenario above:

If these voters value their Whiteness at 5,000 dollars this is equal to 2.4 million miles (where the formula is 5,000 dollars X 6 inches X 5 million people divided by 63,360 inches in a mile). By comparison, the distance from the Earth to the moon averages 236,000 miles. The total amount debited against Obama's lead in distance is equal to 1o times the distance from the Earth to the moon.


If these voters value their Whiteness at 500,000 dollars then McCain's distance is 237 million miles. This is a distance great enough to reach the planet Mars.






If these voters value their Whiteness at 1,000,000 dollars then MCain's total distance is 474 million miles, which is almost five times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.


Barack Obama, with his now paltry by comparison sum of 23,295 miles worth of money, is running against the tide, uphill, with cement shoes on, after eating a bowl of cheap Stop and Shop pasta. This distance my friends in one hell of an obstacle, one that may be insurmountable. Imagine if you will, 5 million voters free to you, a cushion against your opponent. This is McCain's secret weapon. It isn't Palin, or ingenious commercials, or Rush Limbaugh. It is credit in the bank. It is white privilege in the bank...currency to use as a hedge against your opponent. Damning, yes. True, yes. But remember, knowledge is power. Now my friends, what do we do about it?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Euphemisms for Naming White Folk: 4 Names Away from 60!


Much love to Vee at the site Scritch and Scratch for feeling inspired enough to create this wonderful, and quite appropriate, cartoon in honor our our contest. Their work is on point: sharp, incisive, and smart.

Now, for the update, we are 4 entries away from the 60 names needed to 1) beat the over/under and 2) help exorcise White America of the hold the unspoken word has on it.

What entry is the most creative so far?

1. Values voter
2. Heartland
3. Mainstream voter
4. Hard-working Americans
5. Lunch pail voters
6. Soccer moms
7. Walmart Moms
8. Nascar Dads
9. Blue collar
10. Regular Americans
11. Real Americans
12. The Base
13. Culture War voters
15. Palin's Army
16. Joe Six Pack
17. Joe Lunch Pail
18. Hockey Mom/Hockey moms
19. American Workers
20. Work Force
21. Regular Folks
22. Ma and Pa Kettle
23. My (or your) neighbors
24. Average American Voter
25. Rural Voters
26. Non-elitists
27. My accountant
28. Small Town Voters
29. The Woman Vote
30. Middle America
31. Americans
32. American People
33. Good hard-working people
34. Working Class voter
35. The Nascar Vote
36. Midwestern Voters
37. Suburban Voters
38. White Collar Voters
39. Main Street
40. Wall Street
41. New Englanders
42. Southerners
43. All-American Girls/Boys/All-American
44. The latte voters
45. Dogwalking voters
46. The Recycling bloc
47. Folks in the heartland
48. Decent, hard-working people
49. Christians
50. God-fearing Americans
51. The people who want to have a beer with the sort of candidate who might like to have a beer with them
52. Reagan Democrats
53. One of us
54. Undecideds
55. Scrappy
56. Bubba Voters

Sarah Palin Watch: Are You Just Happy to See Me or Is that a Banana/Tube of Lipstick in Your Pocket?



I just have to state the obvious, how much more phallic can this picture be? And to paraphrase Freud, when is a cigar just a cigar? And when is it something else all together? Doesn't she appear to be filled with awe and desire as she looks up at that mighty powerful tube of lipstick? Frankly, her facial expression almost makes me feel like I am intruding on a private moment of sorts...

For those so inclined, how would you caption this photo?

Who knows? Maybe Sarah Palin needs a little bit of the Ladies Man aka Mr. Leon Phelps in her life?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Euphemisms for Naming White Folk: Sunday Night Tally

The count just keeps growing, and growing, and growing and growing...now at 54. Six more to go!

This is actually quite sad in a way, and you know we are going to have to do a "how many ways to name black people without naming black people list." And yes, it will probably be much much shorter a list.

1. Values voter
2. Heartland
3. Mainstream voter
4. Hard-working Americans
5. Lunch pail voters
6. Soccer moms
7. Walmart Moms
8. Nascar Dads
9. Blue collar
10. Regular Americans
11. Real Americans
12. The Base
13. Culture War voters
15. Palin's Army
16. Joe Six Pack
17. Joe Lunch Pail
18. Hockey Mom/Hockey moms
19. American Workers
20. Work Force
21. Regular Folks
22. Ma and Pa Kettle
23. My (or your) neighbors
24. Average American Voter
25. Rural Voters
26. Non-elitists
27. My accountant
28. Small Town Voters
29. The Woman Vote
30. Middle America
31. Americans
32. American People
33. Good hard-working people
34. Working Class voter
35. The Nascar Vote
36. Midwestern Voters
37. Suburban Voters
38. White Collar Voters
39. Main Street
40. Wall Street
41. New Englanders
42. Southerners
43. All-American Girls/Boys/All-American
44. The latte voters
45. Dogwalking voters
46. The Recycling bloc
47. Folks in the heartland
48. Decent, hard-working people
49. Christians
50. God-fearing Americans
51. The people who want to have a beer with the sort of candidate who might like to have a beer with them
52. Reagan Democrats
53. One of us
54. Undecideds

Saturday, September 20, 2008

On White Privilege and Tim Wise-Open Thread



There is some fun coming up Monday, but we reasoned this could be useful and appropriate as a primer. I also saw Tim Wise on Thursday at a local university (another hint as to my location) where he spoke about race, politics, and white privilege at the first year convocation. But, as I often say about whiteness studies, at times this "discipline" commits the same oversight of power that it is ostensibly challenging. Because even as whiteness studies "fights" white racism and white privilege, white folk are still at the center of the conversation, and it can become a communal therapy session that really accomplishes little. But again, you know I am biased in my feelings towards guilty liberal types and others.

Random thought number 1: how many Cornel West tapes has Tim Wise studied?



Random thought number 2: those women at the 13 second mark are looking really hungry for some Cornel Socratic dialogue/foundations of American prophetic pragmatic loving aren't they?

For those not in the know, anti-racist, scholar, and author, Tim Wise--what a cool name, by the way--has published a piece on race and the presidential election that has gone viral and is causing some more conservative (and other myopically challenged) White folks to engage in hysterical denial. Read the article, but make sure to read the comments section as well: truly priceless examples of the power of denial.

Let's begin:

And you know, just thinking aloud, while a clear homage to Peggy McIntosh's White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, I also think Time Wise was reading our Niggaro Universe posts as he wrote the following piece, and that we deserve proper attribution.

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

September 13, 2008, 2:01 pm

By Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

the post continues here...

What do you think? How much does white privilege impact the election? Does it or does it not? Is there such a thing as white privilege? Are there multiple white privileges and not one privilege? Are there black, brown, or people of color privileges? If so what are they? Frankly and being provocative, can White folk be anti-racist? Can they work against racism? Generalizing, can men be feminists? Can straight people work against heterosexism? Or can they try and ultimately always fail because their/our hands are always dirty? Do you buy Tim Wise's argument? Is he sincere or is he pandering and working an angle? Is he a con man of sorts? Or is he a brother in the struggle, a man down like John Brown?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Euphemisms for Naming White Folk: Update 2

Now at 40 names! Can we get to 60? Do any of you sense a collective release by America's racial id as we name that which cannot be named? Is our therapy working at all?

1. Values voter
2. Heartland
3. Mainstream voter
4. Hard-working Americans
5. Lunch pail voters
6. Soccer moms
7. Walmart Moms
8. Nascar Dads
9. Blue collar
10. Regular Americans
11. Real Americans
12. The Base
13. Culture War voters
15. Palin's Army
16. Joe Six Pack
17. Joe Lunch Pail
18. Hockey Mom/Hockey moms
19. American Workers
20. Work Force
21. Regular Folks
22. Ma and Pa Kettle
23. My (or your) neighbors
24. Average American Voter
25. Rural Voters
26. Non-elitists
27. My accountant
28. Small Town Voters
29. The Woman Vote
30. Middle America
31. Americans
32. American People
33. Good hard-working people
34. Working Class voter
35. The Nascar Vote
36. Midwestern Voters
37. Suburban Voters
38. White Collar Voters
39. Main Street
40. Wall Street

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Euphemisms for Naming White Folk Contest: the Tally So Far

The contest is heating up it seems! So far we have the following euphemisms for saying "White" or signaling "Whiteness" without speaking the word which cannot be named. I will add one more myself, "Good hard-working people." So far we have:

1. Values voter
2. Heartland
3. Mainstream voter
4. Hard-working Americans
5. Lunch pail voters
6. Soccer moms
7. Walmart Moms
8. Nascar Dads
9. Blue collar
10. Regular Americans
11. Real Americans
12. The Base
13. Culture War voters
15. Palin's Army
16. Joe Six Pack
17. Joe Lunch Pail
18. Hockey Mom/Hockey moms
19. American Workers
20. Work Force
21. Regular Folks
22. Ma and Pa Kettle
23. My (or your) neighbors
24. Average American Voter
25. Rural Voters
26. Non-elitists
27. My accountant
28. Small Town Voters
29. The Woman Vote
30. Middle America
31. Americans
32. American People
33. Good hard-working people

I initially thought the over under would be 40/60...as it creeps up there I am thinking 50's or 60's. Keep the names coming!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's the Economy Stupid!!!

At the end of President Bush’s first term, I had a huge argument with a good friend who is an investment banker in Paris. He thought it was absurde of me to think that Bush would be elected for a second term: “The entire world knows that the Bush boy is an imbécile! The American people will never repeat their mistake.” My response to him was to snicker.

“Look, it is a question of self-interest,” he continued. “Your economy is fragile and everyone is jumping from the dollar to the euro. Bush is destroying your economy.” Oh, Europeans. Needless to say, my friend was dumbfounded when the election results were announced. (I won’t even try to describe his reaction when we failed to “rebel” as a result of the voter fraud.)

Four years later, the same friend has moved to New York City with his family. He is excited about being in the United States at such “a historical moment.” His eight year-old is asking if he can join me in the voting booth. “The election of Obama will bring the United States into the 21st century,” my friend proclaims. “It will invigorate America’s credibility with the rest of the world.” When I tell him that I doubt that Obama will actually be elected, he directs the word “imbécile” at me. Cynical, maybe. Imbécile, I am not.

It may be possible to excuse Americans for not realizing how quickly the dollar is losing value. But, it should be obvious to everyone that our economy is in even worse shape than it was four years ago. People have been out of work for so long that they are no longer showing up in the unemployment statistics. Families are being kicked out of their homes unable to pay their mortgage costs. At this point, even the upper-echelons of our society are hurting. Major investment banks are being sold as if they are tenement homes in the inner-city. The sellers are happy to get whatever they can.

With the economy spiraling downward, support for the McCain-Palin team surges forward. McCain and Palin have yet to even fully acknowledge the predicament that we are in as a nation.

What does the future hold for us?