Saturday, November 22, 2008
I am working on a post related to Obama and the "post-racial" moment for next week. Until then, here is one of my favorite Cornel West speeches. As a rule I can be hard on Black public intellectuals, but Brother West is straight fire on this one. Truly, on top of his game.
One more, this time a discussion of the internalized White supremacy common to many people of color, as well as the sickness that is racism in White America:
Friday, November 21, 2008
As one reviewer said, "witness the resurrection of Mickey Rourke"--I think he is right.
I know Gordon doesn't get professional wrestling, but I am marking out for this film. Ghetto nerds everywhere are going to be at the Wrestler when it opens nationwide. Watching the trailer (over and over), I am trying to count how many folks Mickey Rourke is channeling. I see Steve (Hollywood blond era) Austin, Terry Funk, Jake Roberts, and the Freebirds. Who else am I missing?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
A sign of the permanency of race in the age of Obama is a fear, one that is alive and well, that the bad behavior of one will be ascribed as an attribute of the group. Speaking to this point I must ask, Lord, God above, why oh why do they have to be black?
Maybe, just one day, I won't have to ask this question or hold this fear...
I hear a buzzing in my ear and my fingers are a flutter. I do have the vapors it seems. And you know what that means don't you? It is time once again for a We Are Respectable Negroes flashback!
This post from April of 2008 features one of my favorite people in the world, "the body collector" from Detroit, Michigan. His interview also features one of the greatest quotes of all time: "White people kill themselves, Black people kill each other, and Chinese people don't die."
The post follows:
From the New York Times story Body Collector in Detroit Answers When Death Calls (for the full video click here).
I promised not to talk about black folks this week, but I am having a Bill Cosby moment.
They say you can tell alot about a society by how they treat their children, old people, and criminals. I would add one more category to this list--one can tell a great deal about a society by how they treat their dead.
I love a good story about funerals or funeral homes (Yes, I am a bit twisted, I know this and admit it). There is a certain pornography of death at play in these spaces, and this is especially true of funerals in the black community. At funerals for black folk I have seen photos of the body taken, video recordings made, and professional funeral attendees (well probably semi-professional actually) who make going to funerals and crying a second job. Apparently, anthropologists have argued that this is an Africanism that continues in Black America where these professional criers are said to help with the grieving process. One can also hypothesize that documenting the death ritual made sense given how geographically dispersed black folk have been during our 2 great migrations--it makes sense but that don't make it any less creepy. And of course we hold funerals for the "n-word" and for the media's "negative depictions" of black people. We love funerals it seems.
I have also seen fights at funerals and bodies pulled out of caskets when the dozen or so baby mamas show up to mourn "their" man. But, nothing tops the following story for absolute shame and embarrassment. On the anniversary of King's death can't we do better?
Apparently, The Wall Street Journal has found space in its esteemed pages to cover the rising tide of violence at black funerals. It seems folks are getting shot at, armed guards are being hired, and general mayhem is on the rise. Apparently, some knuckleheads are inspired by the funeral drive by in the movie Colors. To quote the article, "funeral homes used to be the most respected places you could walk into beside the church," says Jeff Gardner, a co-owner of A.D. Porter & Sons in Louisville, Ky., and a third-generation undertaker. "Nobody respects life and the young folks nowadays don't mind dying." Maybe the ign'ts can stop wearing their white-tee's, maybe they can't help but man-share, and they can't help but love minstrel-hop, but can folks at least respect the dead? I wonder if Blacktown.net has anything to say about this?
Ooh well, it was worth a try.
I have a habit of bookmarking tragic, odd, and ridiculous stories, thus the impetus for this blog. From my personal collection, here are some other great funeral home related entries:
1. Wade funeral home in New Haven, CT cited for having decomposing bodies in its basement. Apparently, the owner "forgot" he had the bodies and put them in the basement. Oops.
2. Colonial funeral home in Hamden, CT is now using billboards to advertise its services. More interestingly, the owner of the funeral home, in a dispute with a client's family, threw the ashes of the deceased at the plaintiffs during a court hearing. Don't let this dissuade you from using their services because the owner is cool people (I know him quite well).
3. From The Village Voice, "A Harlem funeral home has been sued for losing bodies and filching corpses from nearby hospitals. Now it must answer charges that a dead man's body was chewed up by rats." Enough said, check out the article here.
4. The body collector speaks about life and death in Detroit. Watch the video, hear his wisdom, and share his thoughts with friends and family.
Brother Cosby I think you have another crusade.
I'm a black woman who never thought I'd see a powerful, beautiful female with a body like mine in the White House. Then I saw Michelle Obama -- and her booty!
By Erin Aubry KaplanNov. 18, 2008 | Free at last. I never thought that I -- a black girl who came of age in the utterly anticlimactic aftermath of the civil rights movement -- would say the phrase with any real sincerity in my lifetime. But ever since Nov. 4, I've been shouting it from every rooftop. I'm not excited for the most obvious reason. Yes, Obama's win was an extraordinary breakthrough and a huge relief, but I don't subscribe to the notion that his capturing the White House represents the end of American racial history. Far from it. There is a certain freedom in the moment -- as in, we are all now free from wondering when or if we'll ever get a black president. Congratulations to all of us for being around to settle the question.
But what really thrills me, what really feels liberating in a very personal way, is the official new prominence of Michelle Obama. Barack's better half not only has stature but is statuesque. She has coruscating intelligence, beauty, style and -- drumroll, please -- a butt. (Yes, you read that right: I'm going to talk about the first lady's butt.)
What a bonus! From the ocean of nastiness and confusion that defined this campaign from the beginning, Michelle rose up like Venus on the waves, keeping her coif above water and cruising the coattails of history to present us with a brand-new beauty norm before we knew it was even happening.Actually, it took me and a lot of other similarly configured black women by surprise.
The piece continues here.
1. Should we be at all disturbed or disgusted that a black woman is being reduced to the charms of her body parts? Is this made even more troubling by the facts of history and how raced bodies have been sexualized?
2. Why wasn't George Bush's wife sexualized in the same fashion? Are we overreacting?
3. Could it be that Michelle Obama is simply more attractive than many of our recent first ladies? Random thought: I do have to admit Carter's wife was pretty sexy.
4. What of Sarah Palin? Are the folks who are upset about Michelle's booty being a topic of conversation among journalists and the punditry hypocrites for not complaining about Sarah Palin's "MILF" status and the upcoming adult title, "Who's Nailin Palin"?
5. The Salon piece was actually praising and embracing Michelle's figure as one that women of color (and others can embrace). Apparently, Michelle Obama's endowment is empowering for some women. Perhaps, Michelle will usher in some type of gluteal feminism?
6. Maybe I just don't get "gender" and "body" politics? I am still working on this race stuff, so maybe I am just behind the curve with my thinking about intersectionality at the site of Michelle Obama's behind.
7. Do you all "get" the gender and race politics at work in the Salon piece on Michelle Obama's backside? I ask, because I need some help working this one out.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
They are going to give Obama a complex or something with all this "house negro" talk. First, we had Pastor Manning:
Then we had Ralph Nader:
You make the call! Listen to Malcolm, reflect on Obama's candidacy and promised agenda, and ask yourself, "Is Barack Obama a house negro or a field negro?" Be honest:
Funny thing, the Right-wing praised Bush when Al-Qaeda would criticize him. Among the O'Reilly-Limbaugh-Malkin-Hannity cabal (and their mouth breathing followers) these attacks by Al-Qaeda were taken as signs that "we" were winning the war on terror. I wonder if the same standard will apply to Barack Obama?
I do wonder though if the Right-wing echo chamber will take this as a positive sign that the American people made the correct choice on election day?
Monday, November 17, 2008
I have always been a fan of Brock Lesnar. His amazing speed, explosive strength, and awesome physicality are a near perfect combination. Now, Lesnar just needs to add some more experience and he will become the total package. I will forgive good old Brock for repeating the silly comment that some people think that he must be on steroids because "Brock has muscles like a black guy." I guess I didn't get the memo that black men are so powerful and naturally well muscled--this belief must be a cousin to the White racial psyche's fixation on "giant negroes" that Undercover Brother posted on sometime back.
Brock is going to do great in mixed martial arts. But, we would be in error if his impressive, and much missed, run in the World Wrestling Federation went unacknowledged. For the uninitiated, here are two classic bouts:
Brock versus the late, great, Eddie Guerrero (we miss you so much Eddie). Point: Brock lost, but in the world of professional wrestling, often the greatest performances come from putting over one's opponent:
Brock versus Kurt Angle. Three words: Brock Lesnar moonsault!
Random thought: For all that is good and just in the world, Kurt Angle should not transition into mixed martial arts. To do so, would be both dangerous and life threatening for the former Olympic gold medalist. And how long will it take until TNA's management, Kurt himself, and those sad marks out there (as opposed to smart marks like you and me) start clamoring for this "dream" match up?
Brock, We Respectable Negroes wish you the most enthusiastic of congratulations on your well earned victory!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Chauncey DeVega says: Our Suggestions for Barack Obama's New Cabinet--Introducing the Bureau of Ign't Affairs Part 1
Barack Obama is mixing the old (established hands and experienced political operatives) with the new (a pledge to close Guantanamo Bay; a series of executive orders to role back Bush era fiats; and a review of the 750 billion dollar credit bailout plan). In keeping with his campaign slogan of "change," Obama's recently announced plan to create an Office of Urban Policy is of particular interest to respectable negroes everywhere. Hallelujah! So many of our central cities are virtual war zones, victims of a changing economy and a diminished tax base, that a sustained approach to renewing these communities has been long needed.
As supporters of Barack Obama, we are always willing to offer suggestions and guidance. Accordingly, we believe that the Office of Urban Policy represents an amazing opportunity to embrace a dynamic and forward thinking approach to helping American cities. In keeping with our commitment to fighting ignorance and stupidity wherever we may find it, we respectable negroes are officially launching The Victory at Home initiative. The cornerstone of the V.H.I. is the establishment of The Bureau of Ign't Affairs. We propose that this new government agency should be immediately created. Organizationally, we suggest that it be housed under the umbrella of Barack Obama's newly proposed Office of Urban Policy (or alternatively under the Department of Homeland Security).
The Bureau of Ign't Affairs will have as its mandate the elimination of ign't behavior, and where elimination of this behavior is impossible, to work towards the reduction and/or mitigation of ign't related negative externalities. We respectable negroes believe that effective leadership and agenda setting are inseparable from one another. In keeping with this core belief, we propose that the following person be named Secretary of Ign't Affairs:
The 'Cos. Was there any other option? He has longed struggled against ign't behavior. The 'Cos's recent and most valiant crusade against self-sabotaging behavior among the ghetto underclass was met with great resistance. Yet, the 'Cos persisted in this battle despite the formidable forces arrayed against him. From deft speeches on the dangers of pound cakes and teen sexuality, to impassioned pleas that ign't parents stop buying their children video games and expensive sneakers instead of Hooked on Phonics, the 'Cos has distinguished himself as a leader in this war. Moreover, for any leader to effectively lead and win in battle, he or she must understand the minds and hearts of the enemy. As the creator of the Cosby Kids, and a key innovator in the art and science that is black English, the 'Cos has a deep understanding of the struggles faced by the Bureau of Ign't Affairs. There is no other option: the 'Cos is the first and best choice to lead this most auspicious undertaking.
The Pull Up Your Pants Project. Saggin' must stop. It is an eyesore. It is embarrassing. It signals a callous disregard for one' s appearance and a marked lack of self-respect. Sagging pants have become such a plague that many communities have enacted local laws and ordinances to curb this threat. In an age of Obama, where a dignified, proud, Black American is now president, the cult of sagging is a direct stab at the heart of what Barack Obama represents. Sagging is also a public health issue. Studies have shown that sagging pants lead to back pain, an increase in accidental police shootings (because sagging pants have to be held up by the ign't offenders when they are arrested by local law enforcement), and injuries related to falling pants as ign't men run to catch the local bus. Those who sag also face unforeseen consequences. It is ironic that while many ign't men see incarceration as a right of passage into manhood, little do they realize that saggin' entices prison rapists. To deter this behavior, we now present a man who will most certainly become a key official in the Bureau of Ign't Affairs: Behold the Booty Bandit, Undersecretary of Booty Affairs!
The Pretty Ricky Initiative. Youtube is an untamed hinterland for ign't behavior. At any moment of any day ignt's are plying their craft and spreading their particular brand of teen (and adult) degeneracy to children--the most innocent and vulnerable members of our society. State's evidence number 1:
This outbreak of teenage grinding, booty poppin', and other miscellaneous, shameful behavior such as horrible freestyling and online hip hop battles, symbolizes a breakdown of family values and social order. Where are the parents? Where are the other responsible adults? The Bureau of Ign't affairs has correctly identified this public foolishness to be the direct result of an absence of fathers in the homes of young male ign'ts, as well as a total lack of shame by ign't communities. Young men need guidance. They need older responsible men to explain that respectable young men don't grind on ottomans or other household furniture (however, as Ghostface Killah and Jocelyn Elder have both explained, bed grinding is an acceptable outlet for the sexual urges of teens and young adults). Most important, the Pretty Ricky video (and others like it) are a clear indication that these young ign'ts don't seem to grasp the inherent homoeroticism of simulating group sex with defenseless furniture. Ottomans don't have the power to say "No!" And in what is an inevitable move from ottoman grinding to bathroom booty poppin', these young adults almost always escalate to other more dangerous, risky, and deviant sexual behaviors.
No Bottom Left Unbeaten. Many studies have condemned corporal punishment as damaging to the development and emotional well-being of children. However, many upright, virtuous parents believe that spanking is essential for the raising of disciplined and well-behaved children. Rather than stand against the wisdom of parents, the Bureau of Ign't Affairs supports caregivers in their struggle to raise healthy, strong, disciplined children. To that end, we propose that public schools offer weekly, government subsidized spankings to children in all grade levels. These beatings will motivate, encourage, and harden these young respectable negroes (and others) against the temptations of ign't culture. The "experts" are wrong. Rather than fewer beatings, the Bureau of Ign't Affairs firmly believes that we actually need more beatings in our most under-served and under-resourced schools.
Disrupting the Baby Mama to Prison Pipeline. Prison is a right of passage for many young ign't men. An equally frightening prospect, rather than be marginalized within the ign't community, these felons earn social prestige from "doing a bid." They become local "celebrities" whom are flocked to by young ign't women. Unfortunately, the criminal ign'ts imperil the health, safety, general welfare, and economic well-being of the communities in which they live. The Bureau of Ign't Affairs's solution: disrupt the source of this ign't wellspring at its source. To accomplish this goal, we need a comprehensive education program for the women who choose to lay with these young men. This proposed educational program will feature comprehensive access to birth control, life skills counseling, and training in critical thinking skills. These young women will be offered a simple decision making rule. If a young, ign't, ex-con wants to lay with said woman, she should apply the 3 point rule: no job, criminal record, and baby mamas equals no sex:
If a young woman must indulge, she should apply the 2 point rule--birth control pills and condoms are mandatory. The Bureau of Ign't Affairs also believes in the power of deterrence. In keeping with this, the bureau will offer an updated version of the infamous, Scared Straight Program. However, in lieu of tough, 1970s era thugs, the Bureau of Ign't Affairs will follow Chris Rock's brilliant suggestion and use the Tossed Salad Man as an ominous disincentive to criminality:
What is your pleasure? Syrup or jelly?
This is the first installment in the white paper that we are completing on suggested policy initiatives to be undertaken during the first 100 days of the Obama administration. What other initiatives should the Bureau of Ign't Affairs put into motion? What are some other bureaus that Barack Obama should create? Who should staff these new organs of government? Should the Office of Urban Policy be expanded to include the Bureau of Ign't Affairs? Or is this new government entity deserving of independent standing?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The Wonderful Honesty of Bigots: Klansman Daniel Carver Discusses Obama's Victory on the Howard Stern Show
A bonus: as Daniel Carver explains the "how's" and "why's" of Obama's victory and its consequences for America, we also get to hear from Carver's wife. Random fact: Daniel Carver's wife is so dedicated to hate that she segregates her collection of Barbie Dolls. Apparently, the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to the world of toys and dolls because the black Barbies continue to live in a condition of permanent servitude to the white Barbies.
Wake Up White People!!!
Monday, November 10, 2008
We respectable negroes are truly adept at predicting the future. A few months back, Zora had outlined a proposal for Barack Obama's inaugural festivities. In terms of prognostication this feat is marginally impressive (we had a 50/50 shot of being right), but the details of Zora's prediction are eerily accurate. Behold her wisdom...and sense of humor.
Those of you who read my post earlier today on the 2009 Inaugural Celebration for Barack Obama are sure to have noted the degree of thought and careful detail that went into my proposal. Well, join me in being shocked at the feedback I have received from Obama's media consultants! They have run a fine-toothed comb through my proposal and extracted everything of flavor -- everything that suggests that Barack has flavor. Some of their changes don't even make sense ...
Thank you for submitting your proposal for the 2009 Barack Obama Inaugural Celebration. Your ideas are interesting and we would like to pursue them further with you. Below, we have listed some changes that you should incorporate into your final plan.
10 a.m. -- Tribute to Great American Athletes, with Michelle Obama, at Constitution Hall – including Mohammed Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
This is a great idea, but the highlighted athletes should instead be Greg Louganis and Derek Jeter. These are stars that all Americans will be able to celebrate and identify with.
Noon -- Mwenzangu Obama luncheon at the Kenyan Embassy, with international leaders, including Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
We love the idea of having an international event such as this. Our contacts at the German Embassy have offered to host and sponsor a luncheon at this time. Heidi Klum and Seal can serve as honorary hosts with special guests Madonna and family together with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. (Jolie's father, of course, should not be included.)
2 p.m. -- Salute to Liberal Organizations, with the Vice President-elect Joe Biden, at the Blackburn Ballroom at Howard University.
Senator Obama would instead like to use this as an opportunity to honor his Kansas roots. Please propose an event saluting America's heartland.
4 p.m. -- Concert celebrating America's youth at the MCI Center with Gnarls Barkley and Lil' Wayne.
Lil' Wayne is perhaps not the best role model for America's youth. Replace him with the White Stripes.
6 p.m. -- Ball of the Delaware State Society honoring the Vice-President elect, at the Chamber of Commerce Building.
This sounds fine.
8 p.m. – The Chicago South Side Society "Black Tie Steppers" Ball at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, with Oprah Winfrey as Mistress of Ceremonies.
The Illinois State Society is a more appropriate body to host this event. In fact, they have already begun to organize the Black Tie and Clover Ball. Oprah can remain as MC.
9 p.m. -- Hispanic Presidential Inaugural Gala, ''Si Se Puede'' (Yes, We Can''), at the Omni Shoreham (supported by Gov. Bill Richardson and the Service Employees International Union).
We will await further polls before we decide on this event. . .
Given the change from the "Black Tie Steppers Ball" theme to the "Black Tie and Clover Ball," a change of menu is appropriate. In addition, the open buffet seems unnecessary. Instead, guests should simply select one main course with a choice of sides. Appetizers and drinks, of course, will be unlimited.
Revised Menu: appetizers -- fresh figs with fontina cheese, crudites, salmon mousse with cucumber sauce, and carpaccio on french bread; main dish selection -- boneless loin of pork with prunes, poached chicken breast stuffed with bread crumbs, white fish with a lemon-butter sauce; side dishes -- steamed fingerling potatos with dill, sliced tomato salad with basil, green bean salad with walnut dressing, tri color pasta salad with olives, and a puree of fennel; desserts -- apple tart with french vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries; drinks -- champagne, open bar and mineral water.
Your selection of music was inspired and includes many of Senator Obama's favorites; however, the selection does not have a broad-base appeal and many songs may be taken to be contrary to his theme of unity and inclusion. On this subject, we think that Norah Jones and Mariah Carey would be excellent guest performers at the ball. The edited playlist is pasted below -- more suggestions will follow.
Barry White's "My first, My last, My everything,"
Frank Sinatra's "I did it my way,"
Miriam Makeba's "Malaika,"
Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross,"
Curtis Mayfield's "Touch the Sky,"
Marcia Griffith's "Electric Slide,"
John Legend's "Ordinary People,"
Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come,"
Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing,"
Ben E. King's "Stand By Me,"
Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire,"
George Clinton's "Flashlight,"
Bob Marley's "Jammin',"
Queen's "We Are the Champions,"
U2's "It's A Beautiful Day,"
Tom Petty's "Free Falling,"
Bonnie Raitte's "Something to Talk About,"
B.B. King's "Sitting On Top of the World,"
John Mellencamp's "Hurt So Good,"
The Beatles' "Let it Be" ...
Finally, your preliminary list of honored guests requires the following changes:
Jesse Jackson Jr.,
Iyanda Nkanga, (??????)
Henry Louis Gates,
Jay Z & Beyonce,
Russell Simmons (without Kimora),
Bishop Arthur M. Brazier,
Sonia Sanchez, (?)
Hillary & Bill Clinton,
Linda Johnson Rice,
Light Skinned Girl,
We look forward to receiving a final version of your proposal with the requested changes. Thank you for your time and effort.
Friends of David Axelrod
A simple test to get you ready for your S.A.T.'s:
McCain is to the 2008 Elections as Dudley is to the Bicycle Repairman.
Am I being mean? And how many of my fellow 1970s and 1980s peers had nightmares about this episode of Different Strokes?
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Chauncey DeVega says: My Obamamania Induced Sensitivity Has Passed, Now Let's Return to Our Regular Programming...
I was laying about in my Obamamania last week. I was spent, exhausted, and at a loss for words. I even "turned the volume down" and let myself be vulnerable. Now, I must return to normal lest our enemies get a few days respite. Sleep is the cousin of death, so I have no choice but to return to my sharp, biting, occasionally miserable, self.
Are you with me?
Friday, November 7, 2008
And yes, we did get to see history happen rather than to be a witness to it. God, I can't describe how amazing that feels. But now, we have to grapple with the implications of what could be (or not) a sea change in how think about race and politics in this country.
As a follow up to my "22 Things About the Election that I am both Excited and Scared About," I would like to share:
1. We were so happy on election night: the cheering, screaming, crying, and pride. How soon will that joy turn into anger and disappointment?
2. And if we were so happy on Tuesday Night, why were they so miserable?
3. Obama's victory is a struggle between the symbolic and the practical. Which side will win out?
4. We finally got the ball and now have to run with it. What if we get the ball, run with it, and don't score a touchdown? What if they have rigged the rules to keep us from scoring?
5. An exceptional black man named Barack Obama will be president. When will a person of color who is below average and a failure of a man--someone like George Bush--get to be president? Would the latter be more progress than the former?
6. As they look down on us, are Martin, Malcolm, Sojourner, John Brown and Harriet smiling? Or as they look down on us, are Martin, Malcolm, Sojourner, John Brown and Harriet shaking their heads because we don't know what is waiting for us around the corner?
7. I am happy that many people voted for Barack Obama because he is black. I am saddened that many people voted for Barack Obama because he is black.
8. Where do WE go from here? Where do THEY go from here?
9. A change is gonna come. Or is it?
10. Three words: White, conservative backlash.
11. Publicly, we were/are so excited . Privately, what are we afraid of?
12. They can hate us but love him: Some people dislike black people yet voted for a black man because of the economy. Is this racial progress? Are we just treading water? Or is this a step backwards?
13. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is true in physics and in politics. What will the opposite reaction be?
14. The scholar in me is both scared and excited. Part of me is biting at the bit to work through how this moment matters for the study of race, ethnicity and politics. Another part of me is worried to death that so much of what we know will be forced into obsolescence. The plain old American part of me is excited and happy about how exceptional we can indeed be as a people. The Black American part of me is joyous and proud...but is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
15. Yes WE can. And you know what, yes THEY can too.
16. I am happy that little black boys and little black girls will grow up in a world which has known a black president. I am really scared that little black boys and little black girls will still be penalized for being Black--and these little black boys and little black girls won't have a language to describe what they are experiencing.
17. Right now, I am proud to be an American. Right now, I am scared to be an American.
18. Barack Obama's personal safety is guaranteed. Isn't it?
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Not to belabor the obvious, but it must be said that I do in fact love the insincere shock and offense demonstrated by Fox News at a black man being called an "Uncle Tom." Given their trafficking in race baiting, it is great to see Conservatives and their mouthpieces feign any sort of concern about racism.
But damn! Nader doesn't pull any punches does he? For the record, I do think that his concern is a fair and reasonable one--but let's bask in the afterglow for a little while before we get too critical. Nader's move reminds me of a woman who after some great, stink up the room, burn down a few inscents (sandalwood of course) to the nub, R. Kelly/D'Angelo/Sade playing in the background lovemaking asks either, "What does this mean?" or "Are we in a relationship?"
Talk about a mood killer. Let's just lay together, legs intertwined, and enjoying the pheromones of the love musk before we start having a conversation about "serious" business. Remember folks, be careful because as Sister Alexyss Tylor says, Obamamania will make you slap somebody:
But, as we lay spent of our political energies, our root chakras now drained by the Obamamania which we have experienced, we cannot forget the concerns raised by Brother West regarding the challenge faced by Barack Obama in balancing practical politics with a commitment to change:
Okay, I am going back to laying in bed and stinking up the room in the afterglow of my Obamamania...
Jesse, I want to twist his nuts off, Jackson has conjured up some magical tears it seems. Jesse Jackson, professional ambulance chaser and victomologist will undoubtedly spin his public display of emotion at seeing a Black man elected president into some new version of a "I held Martin as he lay dying" collage of half-truths.
I think the caption of this photo should read "Tears of Frustration" or perhaps "Come on, I got to cry on cue so I can be all over the news."
Respectable negroes and our white allies, how would you caption the above photo?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Barack Obama is styling and profiling like only he can:
Of course, we are moving on up!
I just want to celebrate:
Barack's a superstar who makes me want to dance:
Obama turned this mutha out didn't he?
One of my personal favorites--how about some Black Belt Jones?
Barack fought like the Kid with the Golden Arm:
Barack did it his way, didn't he?
A perennial classic that is on our permanent rotation:
Barack Obama, we ghetto nerds salute you!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Congratulations President Elect Barack Obama!!! or Shall We More Rightly Say President "Rodimus Prime" Obama...
Damn. I am rendered speechless. Bro'Bama you really have come of age. It's time to roll out!!!!
Call me soft, but I'm actually crying. Throughout this entire campaign, I've been trying not to want this too much. I feared the disappointment. I hid my true emotions behind sarcasm and scholarship. At this point, I'm letting it all out.
I'm hopeful in a way that I have never been before. I don't expect the impossible, for there is a lot to repair in this country -- too much for Obama to do alone, too much to do in one term. But, we have broken a barrier. We have!
I'm thinking about all of those folks who could have never imagined this just four short years ago. I'm thinking about what my children might be able to witness.
On this night, I will allow myself to be soft and emotional. I will allow myself a few tears of joy. I will allow myself to offer up a few "daps" to the brothers in the street. Tomorrow, I'll get back to my cynical, sarcastic self. But tonight, I am happy and proud.
In practical terms, an Obama loss would secure at least 12 more years of Republican presidential rule, as young progressives and black people would withdraw from national electoral politics in significant numbers.
In symbolic terms, an Obama loss would torpedo the dream of a black man becoming president any time soon. If this brilliant, biracial, supposedly post-racial black politician is too black to become president, then what chance do the rest of us have?
In practical terms, an Obama loss would all but ensure that Sarah Palin and her petty, incurious, faux-populist ilk dominate national Republican politics for the next decade or so.
In symbolic terms, an Obama loss would signal that the previous generation is still calling the shots.
In practical terms, an Obama win would halt the Bush administration’s assault on the Constitution; it would prevent the Supreme Court from veering even further to the right; it would signal the immediate end to America’s bankrupt neocon cowboy foreign policy.
In symbolic terms, an Obama win would represent the acceptance of American multiculturalism on the (inter)national stage.
In practical terms, an Obama win would not have a significant, positive effect on the electorate. The Right will regroup, and due to the general unpopularity of every Congress, the Democrats in power will take the hit and the political pendulum will carry Republicans back into office in the next few election cycles.
In symbolic terms, an Obama win would suggest that Howard Dean was right: Democrats need to look at the guys with the Confederate flags on their trucks as potential allies.
In practical terms, an Obama win wouldn’t put a dent in racism, economic inequality, crime, poor education, and other problems that plague black communities.
In symbolic terms, an Obama win would relieve the psychic collective burden that renders blackness the ultimate hindrance.
Monday, November 3, 2008
1. I am excited that the American people may be more mature, wise, and reflective than I would have guessed them ever capable of being. I am scared that they may not be.
2. I am excited that Obama's victory could be a cathartic moment for our country as America moves one step closer to confronting, and maybe if we are really lucky, of conquering the demons that plague its racial subconscious. I am afraid those demons may be semi-permanent fixtures in our politics and culture.
3. I am excited about Obama winning. I am scared that if he loses, what that defeat says about America, our future, and the prospects for a truly shared and democratic political culture.
4. I am excited that Barack could be what America hopes and dreams him to be. I am scared that if Obama is just a man, if he is not superhuman, if he is merely just a good president, that this won't be good enough.
5. I am excited that these last few months have been witness to conversations about race, class, and gender (even if they were often "coded") that hint at a need and want for a real conversation about this country's future and what is/was an often ugly and shared history. I am scared that these first steps will be final steps and that our much needed national conversation won't continue.
6. I am excited that White Americans are displaying a bit more responsibility, courage, and wisdom as citizens than I would have ever thought them capable. I am scared that I am about to be disappointed.
7. I am excited that we are at the cusp of a great moment in our history. I am scared that we are investing too much in that one moment.
8. I am excited that the house that race built may be teetering just a wee bit more than it did a year, a decade, or certainly a century ago. I am scared that it will never fall down.
9. I am excited that a Black person will be president. I am scared that he won't be free to simply be mediocre.
10. I am excited that the president of the United States may happen to be a Black man. I am scared that many will view Obama as a Black man who is president.
11. I am excited that a centrist may occupy the White House. I am scared that the wolves are already waiting at the door to attack him for not being "radical" enough.
12. I am excited that the Right-wing in this country has been dealt a devastating blow. I am scared that the Right will somehow find a way to profit from this moment.
13. I am excited that we may see history happen tomorrow. I am scared that we may instead witness history tomorrow.
14. I am excited about the future, our undiscovered country. I am scared that the force of history, of inertia, and of bad habits--a moribund nostalgia--will keep America from stepping into the future.
15. I am excited about being blown forward by the winds of change tomorrow. I am scared that there are too many whom will instead decide to stand against the winds of change tomorrow.
16. I am excited that an unapologetically Black man may be president. I am scared that Obama, as "white" as he is, may still be too "Black" to be president.
17. I am excited that many of us seem ready to move forward as a society, as a country, and as a community in order to salvage and resuscitate America's influence and image in the world. I am scared that so many are going to have to be dragged into the future.
18. I am excited that we may be able to scratch one more item off of our list of "Black Firsts." I am scared that list of Black Firsts is still too long.
19. I am excited that America will make the correct choice tomorrow. I am scared that America will make the wrong choice tomorrow.
20. I am excited about a Post-Racial future. I am scared about what a Post-Racial future may hold.
21. I am excited about what an Obama victory means for the Black Freedom Struggle. I am a scared about what an Obama victory may mean for Black politics.
22. I am excited about what it means to be an American tomorrow. I am scared about what it means to be an American tomorrow...and for every day thereafter if America stands against history and decides to not move forward with it.
What are your thoughts? What are you excited about? What are you scared about? How will you spend tomorrow?
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Chauncey DeVega says: We Pull the Curtain Aside--Obama Election Countdown Day 3, What is Your Favorite Fight Song?
I don't expect the sky to open, or our world to radically change. Why? because frankly that is too much to ask of any one man. I am not invested in him because he is a peripheral acquaintance. But, I will admit that it is sort of cool to have gone to the same barbershop and to have spent money at the same supermarket as the likely next president of the United States.
I was talking to Gordon and Zora today, and my compatriots and I have gone back and forth on what to do about Tuesday's election. Gordon has been on me to write something and I have been dragging my feet. Yet, I have been pretty productive as I have avoided his encouragement. I have published two pieces in some pretty prominent places and have gotten a nice amount of attention as a result--another hint to help those who may be trying to figure out my "real" identity. I have done some good research. My "professional" life is moving forward. Most importantly for our purposes, I have written what I feel is one of my best pieces for this site. But you know what? I haven't been able to write about this Tuesday.
It has been said that one of the allures of being a blogger is the ability to publicly share your most personal thoughts without consequence or risk. One of my best friends back in Connecticut, my Virgo twin, says that the attraction of running a website is that we can all be celebrities. I think she is right. Moreover, we can be part of "the blogosphere," or in this case "the black Blogosphere" and feel like we are part of some freedom struggle: look we can write online and be radical and fight for justice, look here! look at us! we are so political! But you know what? As much as we are part of the next generation of some type of Black counter-public, or Left counter-public (or INSERT X counter-public) we are safe through our relative anonymity. No one is going to kill us, there are few material consequences for what we do, and if politics, I mean real "political" action, is action in the face of real consequences for your person, how "political" are we really?
Don't be mistaken, I believe in my heart that we all do good work and are part of a broader community that is participating in meaningful conversations and exchange. That having been said, for this weekend and until Tuesday, I want to pull aside the wall, the screen, the veil that we collectively hide behind. Yes, I am Chauncey DeVega. Yes, I am sincere. Yes, part of why I think this project has been more successful than I could have ever dreamed (and thanks you to all of you, and I/We REALLY mean that) is because me, Zora, and Gordon are committed to being ourselves. And I would like to believe that the many tens of thousands of people who have visited this site have responded to us precisely because of our sincerity and honesty.
However, in wrestling speak, or in the language of folks who run carnivals and circuses, I also believe in what is called "kayfabe," the allusion which makes magic seem "real." In wrestling, they say that you are successful if you take your own personality and turn its volume way up--this is why Hulk Hogan, the Rock, Ric Flair, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, HHH and many others became legends: there was and is something utterly believable about their personas because these workers are exaggerated versions of themselves. This is the quality that attracts me to certain authors, thinkers, actors, and in this context, bloggers--the idea that some people are just themselves, utterly authentic, just with the volume turned up. This quality is what makes me admire, and I apologize if I miss anyone, Trill, Raw Dawg, Dallas, Darko, Straight, Ta-Nahesi, Undercover, Afronerd, Field, 8th, Werner, and many others.
And guess what? Until Tuesday, I am going to turn the volume a little down. This makes things a little more personal and a bit more intimate. I know I am not alone in being worried about Tuesday and what may or may not happen. But, I want to be "me" as I talk about it.
In that spirit, when I am worried or frightened I have a few songs that play in my head. These songs are my fight songs (and yes I have a martial spirit so they have a certain energy..this probably explains why I have a samurai sword in my bedroom and I make sure to read a selection from the Hagakure each day), the personal anthems that simultaneously calm me and also ready me for battle. It may sound odd to some of you, but when in crisis I feel my hand tighten around some intangible and invisible sword as I prepare for battle. This act gives me strength and comfort.
I really believe that we all have songs like this--maybe the Creator hardwired this capacity to find solace and stability and focus in music into our psyches. Who knows? maybe as we evolved we developed this capacity on our own. When I have gone to give a lecture, or to present in meeting where the stakes where high, I played these songs. When I have gone into situations where I didn't feel prepared I played these songs in order to give myself strength. When I am ready to take care of business, and to destroy my enemies so to speak, I play these songs. When I buried my father, I played these songs.
They aren't "Black" music per se, because we as human beings have a wonderful capacity to borrow and assimilate music (and its varied energies) from places other than our own: most importantly I think this demonstrates how human beings, at least in our best moments, are truly more than the sum of our parts.
When I need to conquer my fears, to get motivated, or the like, I think about the featured songs from the following four movies:
Last of the Mohicans:
Conan the Barbarian:
Of course the song which serves as my ring tone, and is also the inspiration for one of my tattoos, the "Imperial March":
When I reflect on how far I have come in life, and about how much farther I have yet to go:
What do you think about? What is your personal fight song? How and what are you thinking in these next few days?
Don't give America over to the Negroes! You know, that is cathartic and I have wanted to say that my entire life. Thank you Pastor Manning.
I always knew that Obama's father was an "in heat African," and that Black women need to date white men. Thank God someone had the courage to finally say it. Thank you Pastor Manning.
I am not a Black man either Pastor Manning. You are speaking the truth brother.
And how could I forget--Boogedy, Boogedy, Boo!
An uncanny similarity me thinks...and of course, Happy Halloween!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
What Are Black Militants Going to do if Barack Omama Becomes President? An Exclusive Interview with Brother X-Squared
As the election approaches, there has been a renewed focus on the role of black leaders in post-Civil Rights era black politics. While black politicians, academics, and other elites have been the focus of these conversations regarding the end of Black Politics, other important voices have been silenced. Black America has always had a strong revolutionary consciousness. In an effort to include all voices in the moments leading up to the likely election of America's first black president, we have invited a black radical leader to share his thoughts. In this interview, Brother X Squared shares his thoughts on black politics in the age of Obama, his organization's plans for an Obama presidency, and some worries regarding the state of Black America.
WARNNN: Brother X-Squared, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Brother X-Squared: Peace be to you brother Chauncey.
WARNNN: Before we begin, how would you prefer to be addressed? X? Brother Squared? And please share with our readers the genesis of your name? I know this is important for many Black revolutionary leaders...
Brother X-Squared: Thank you for the respect. Most of the Uncle Tom lap dogs for the MSM, that is mainstream media for those of you whose brains are damaged from watching BET and listening to Souljah Boy, Lil Wayne, and those other jigging coons, or reading that ghetto lit...that is what your most high new Black African queen Zora called it the other day--and yes, I read your site because I stay on top of these Internets--wouldn't think to ask. You see, my name symbolizes loss and pain and the many millions, yes hundreds of millions, lost because of global white supremacy. While the all honorable Malcolm X took only one X, our pain and loss have been so multiplied by globalization that I have taken his loss and squared it. You get me? Instead of 2 we have 4. Instead of 4 we have 16. Instead of 9 we have 81. Is your mental state keeping up with mathematical and spiritual wisdom?
WARNNN: Yes, I think I understand. What is your actual position in the Renewed Black Panther Party?
Brother X-Squared: I am the leader of the organization. We are a democracy but also a plutocracy because every radical organization has to be decentralized yet have a strong leader. We learned from the Cointel program when those white racist dogs in the FBI and CIA and the local gestapos were killing our strong black leaders that you had to be decentralized. We are a hydra, I am but one head of this strong new Black America. My actual title is King High First Leader Primary Teacher Brother X-Squared.
WARNNN: How do you feel about the imminent election of Barack Obama? Are you excited? Is this the fulfillment of the Black freedom struggle?
Brother X-Squared: High fructose corn syrup. You see it is toxic, poisonous, and in everything you eat.
WARNNN: I am confused...
Brother X-Squared: Of course you are. You would have to be confused, just like all these other confused negroes in America to believe that Barack Obama would win the presidential race. And to think that if he wins, that Obama, the halfrican, half-white devil that he is, would support real black people. They got your mind twisted from the poison they feed you Brother Chauncey. That is why I am a vegetarian, no poison goes into my strong black temple.
WARNN: Please elaborate, what exactly do you think an Obama victory symbolizes? Is it progress?
Brother X-Squared: It is progress for the white man and the slave catchers and uncle toms which he allows to sit at his feet. You see there is a concept, it is real deep, so I will speak slowly. The concept is called hegemony. Hegemony, and man this is deep because it explains so much, is when the powerful are so in control that you the victim reproduce the conditions of your own enslavement. You can't even think of an alternative because the system has you. It is like an elephant that is chained up at the circus. You see elephants, those great African beasts are wise and strong and unfortunately too trusting. The white devils take these elephants and brainwash them to the point that the poor elephant doesn't even know that he isn't chained anymore. The elephant simply obeys his white master. And you know what happens when the elephant wakes up and realizes he isn't chained anymore? Do you know Brother Chauncey?
WARNNN: No, I don't.
Brother X-Squared: He goes on a rampage and kills his oppressors. Watch when an elephant has freed his mind, he goes right after those devils who were torturing him and he kills them. That is exactly what will happen once the brainwashed black man wakes up in America, and that is why white people are throwing you that bone, that Barack Obama, to keep you content and happy and to think that there is progress in America. This is just like the Matrix, hegemony has you and you want to continue to serve the white man's system. Just like my wise grandma used to say you all have been hoodwinked, you have let the man pull that nigger cotton over your eyes.
WARNNN: Nigger cotton? You mean the material that was used to make clothes for slaves? Don't you think that is a little harsh Brother X-Squared?
Brother X-Squared: The truth hurts.
WARNNN: What do you think of Barack Obama as a man?
Brother X-Squared: A man? Please, he is half-white. He is a mongrel. Consider, they couldn't even give you a real black American man, a full blooded black king to be president. They found the whitest black man they could and put him up there for you black fools, and those dumb white liberals to rally around. In fact, Brother Chauncey, did you know that Obama is a non-person, he is a zero, a nothing?
WARNNN: Now I am just lost.
Brother X-Squared: Of course you are, when you wake up it is scary and your mental state needs to adjust to the knowledge I am sharing. Most Americans, even the white ones, are mental slaves. Just like in Plato's Republic you all be looking at shadows and images and thinking you see the real thing. You need to join our movement, the Renewed Black Panthers to see the actual truth. Now, back to my original point. Obama is a nothing because, and this is deep, we have energy centers in our bodies that need to be in alignment with the universe. We manifest the temperaments of our environment. This is like DNA. White people are ice people. They are from cold, primitive, Europe. At their hearts they are savage cave dwellers thus the name Caucasian which is related to Caucuses. These ice people had nothing until they stole it from Africa and the Moors. Africans are fire or Sun people. See our beautiful skin and bronzed features. We are noble and beautiful. Obama is both fire and ice thus he is nothing. His energies are zero. This explains why white people find him acceptable. He doesn't threaten them. This also explains why white people, those psychic vampires, want to suck out his energy. Just like Obama girl, and all those white people at his rallies they are attracted to his fire energy. Damn this is deep, that also explains why they chose Sarah Palin...that ice queen from Alaska. White supremacy is operating right in front of you and you don't even see it. Obama is actually more ice than fire because he was inside of a white woman, his momma for 9 months after that Mandingo, sell out race mixing African father diluted his genes and got that woman pregnant, so Obama is really more white than black, but that is some real deep metaphysics you ain't ready for.
WARNNN: That is profound. But they are losing, the Republicans are losing, what does that say for your theory?
Brother X-Squared: It proves it. Either way you dumb negroes are cooked. Come next Wednesday it will be business as usual. Obama doesn't even support reparations and you dumb jiggin coons still support him--so many of our people are just lawn jockeys, living breathing 21st century slaves for the white man. Again, they got the wool pulled over your eyes Black people.
WARNNN: Wow, Brother X-Squared that was a memorable interview. Can we count on talking to you in the future?
Brother X-Squared: Absolutely, stay strong in the struggle. Remember, the Renewed Black Panther Party is fighting for all of you mentally imprisoned neo-slaves, and we will never stop trying to free you.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Chauncey DeVega says: Obama is Called a Nigger at a Sarah Palin Rally or Why I Prefer My Racism Straight With No Chaser
It seems that Barack Obama was finally called a "nigger" at a recent Republican presidential rally.
I am not surprised. Nor, am I particularly upset. I have succumbed to election fatigue and there is little which can possibly occur at this point in the campaign to either shock or amaze me.
The Republican Party is responsible for this moment. I link this to the party, and not singularly to either Sarah Palin or John McCain because they collectively must bear responsibility for this uncivil behavior. And again, I do not say "shocking" because it was wholly predictable and expected given the tempest unleashed by McCain-Palin and the Right wing echo chamber. True, the landmark event which is a Black man being on the verge of the presidency was bound to unleash the fear and anxiety at the heart of America's racial subconscious. However, McCain, Palin, and the other puppet masters in the GOP have fanned and encouraged it.
McCain and Palin have trafficked in modern racism--what smart folks who study these things call "symbolic racism." It is a racism without racists. It is a white supremacy conducted through institutions and structures. It is the soft-bigotry of low expectations. It is benign neglect.
Symbolic racism is deft in how it massages language. Consider, Obama is called "unqualified." He is called "strange." Barack cavorts with "terrorists." He is more interested in being a "celebrity" than in being a real leader. Obama wants to be "the one." Ultimately, he "isn't prepared to lead." Do not be mistaken. This isn't a call for sensitivity and kid gloves in politics. As long time readers well know, I believe in playing to win--and I don't boohoo cheap shots or low blows. Rather, it is a call for honesty. To turn a phrase, Palin-McCain should simply call a spade a spade.
The tragedy of this situation is that McCain has sacrificed his personal integrity and (mostly) honorable legacy as a public servant for what, even if he wins, may be a Phyrric victory: he has sold his soul to the devil, the Christian Nationalists, the Neo-Cons, and rabid, frothing at the mouth anti-Abortionists, in total, groups which represent the fringe elements of the Republican Party (and who are now at its center). Sadly, as Colin Powell bravely pointed out, McCain has catered to the worst parts of the American creed. Ironically, Sarah Palin has lost nothing. Because of her utter lack of introspection, Palin remains bullet proof, Teflon coated, and seemingly immune to any challenge or criticism as she positions herself as a rising star for the 2012 elections. It seems that fate is not without a sense of humor.
Together, McCain and Palin are whoremasters of a particularly dirty type of racial politics, a politics, that at its core, is the remnant of a type of deep seeded, white supremacy. Neither, and I believe this to be especially true of John McCain, would hang the noose, but together they share a deep yearning for a White world. However, I must admit that I am much less sure of Palin in this regard, as she seems the type to not even pee on a negro if he or she were on fire.
During this campaign there have been moments of verbal slippage when politeness has yielded to honesty. For example, when Obama was publicly branded as "uppity." Ironically, in this one instance the media spoke truth to power--certainly not in the way Brother Cornel West would have imagined-- in how it gave voice to the not so well hidden subtexts of McCain and Palin's attacks on the Democratic nominee.
You see, this is why I prefer my racism straight with no chaser. You see, this is why I prefer honest racists.
If we decode symbolic racism, with its matrix of codes, shadows, and smoke screens, the real essence of Palin and McCain's attacks are readily clear.
When McCain and Palin call Obama unqualified they are really saying "he does not know his place," and in the coded appeals of symbolic racism, Obama has taken "your" job. When McCain and Palin call Obama "arrogant" and "the One," they are saying that he is not sufficiently deferent. When McCain and Palin say that Obama will make America unsafe, they are saying that he, THAT black man, is himself the source of danger. And moreover, how can THAT black man protect your White interests? When McCain and Palin say Obama is inexperienced they are really saying that he is an "affirmative action hire." When McCain and Palin say that Obama associates with terrorists and that he doesn't really love America, they are really saying that he, THAT black man, is not a "real" American citizen. By definition, Obama, because he is a Black man, cannot be a patriot.
You see, this is why I prefer my racism straight with no chaser. You see, this is why I prefer honest racists. You see, this is why I wish that Palin and McCain would simply say what they really feel:
In fact, I suggest that it would be far more refreshing, honest, and effective if McCain and Palin would simply go all in and feature the corrupt, partying, lazy black senators of Birth of a Nation (see minute 4:36) as the centerpieces of their campaign ads. This approach would be far more efficient than their present approach because it would save Palin and McCain from the distraction of having to operate through allusion and innuendo.
You see, I can deal with honest racists. In fact, I have a grudging respect for them. I deplore their wickedness and posturing. I abhor their resistance to wisdom. I detest how they give life to the worst parts of our humanity. But at least I can respect their honesty.
Plus, we respectable negroes know quite well how to deal with honest racists:
You see, this is why I prefer my racism straight with no chaser. You see, this is why I prefer honest racists. You see, this is why I wish that Palin and McCain would simply say what they really feel.
And how do you, fellow respectable negroes and our white allies, feel in this moment?