Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Self-Interest as a Compelling Argument in Favor of Affirmative Action



"One lesson that I have derived from participating in this debate, for heaven knows how many years, is the simple-minded assumption that you either deserve to be there or you don’t. There isn’t just one index of merit, and the point of admissions is not to bestow gold stars on people who’ve done well before, to predict the future. It’s to choose students to invest in who are going to make the university better and are going to make society better. Those are bets on the future."--William G. Bowen

As the Sotomayor debate ramps up (again) in the next few weeks, here is a reasoned voice on affirmative action from The New Yorker. Surprise! Major corporations, the U.S. military, and institutions of higher education support "affirmative action" because they have learned that a diverse pool of talent is in their immediate material self-interest. As my parents said, "don't trust folks to act rightly, trust them to act in the interest of their pocketbooks"--anti-climactic but often a perspective that is little heard in this emotion filled debate.

School Days

William G. Bowen joined the faculty of Princeton in 1958. He became provost in 1967 and served as president of Princeton from 1972, the year Sonia Sotomayor matriculated as a freshman, until 1988. At Princeton, Bowen was involved in the decision to admit women to the university and recruit more minority applicants and faculty, and his 1998 book, “The Shape of the River,” co-written with the former Harvard University president Derek Bok, was the first extensive study of affirmative action in university admissions.

Bowen will be releasing another book this fall with new research into equity and access in American higher education. We sat down in his office at the Mellon Foundation on Wednesday morning. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.

You became president of Princeton University, in 1972, at the same time Sonia Sotomayor arrived as a student. Do you remember her?

Oh, very well. I remember her extremely well. The reason I remember her extremely well is, first, she was a presence. Not in the sense that she was someone who pushed herself on you, which she never did—it’s not her character at all—but just because of what she did, how accomplished she was. You couldn’t help but notice a student that exceptional.

She was chosen—I was one of the people who did the choosing—as the Pyne Prize winner in her class. That’s the highest prize Princeton bestows on undergraduates, given to a student with a record of excellent academics. But you can’t be considered for the Pyne Prize unless you’re more than that. It’s for leadership, it’s for being a responsible citizen of the university community, and she had it all. She had, as they say these days, the full package. And so we chose her and I presented the prize to her at alumni day and she was a great recipient.

About halfway through her time at Princeton, she filed a petition to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. What was it?

It was a complaint that the university was not doing enough to hire and advance Latino and Hispanic faculty members, and to recruit students. That was, I’m sure in some respects, true, and she, as a student, wanted things to happen faster than in fact it was possible for them to happen. All of this takes time, and patience, and effort, which on some level she certainly understood.

But I’m sure she felt, as others did, Let’s put a little pressure on the system and see if we can’t get things to move faster. And someone observed that the university did quite a bit better—in fact, a lot better—along these lines before the petition was ever actually reviewed or handled in the government.

Critics of Sotomayor have made a couple of complaints about her Princeton years. One is that she got preferential treatment, and the second is that she showed all of this resentment toward the institution and focussed on the negative, even though she eventually joined Princeton’s board of trustees. What’s your response to that? And why do you think there’s been such an intense focus on a fifty-four-year-old’s experiences when she was in college?

Well, I think she has said, correctly, that her move from Cardinal Spellman High School to a different environment was a formative experience. I think that she grew considerably during her undergraduate years. They changed her, just as she changed the institution, so in that sense it’s appropriate for people to look back on those days.

But I think the criticisms that you identified are entirely off-the-mark. This is a woman of enormous ability. She was going to succeed and going to thrive wherever she was, in any setting. And she did. She accomplished what she accomplished because she was good! I mean, not only was she incredibly smart, as I think there’s plenty of evidence to demonstrate, but she was ... very steady and mature. Remarkably mature. That’s one of the things I remember about her.

And so she put her talents to very good use, to very constructive use. Now on the question of resentment, I don’t think she resented the university at all. I think she saw the university as an excellent university, but she thought it could be better! And it needed to be better. So did I.

She worked very purposefully, but always constructively, to take a good place and make it better. When she received the Pyne Prize, she was certainly very gracious and very generous in her response. I think she’s stayed involved in Princeton over the years because she cared about the place.

If Sotomayor was going to succeed no matter what, then what role do affirmative-action programs play for people like her?

Well. There are not that many Sonia Sotomayors in the world. There just are not. The whole purpose of affirmative-action programs isn’t to find the one-in-a-thousand Sonia Sotomayor, but to diversify campus communities and to identify people of promise who would do well, but who didn’t necessarily have all the qualities and characteristics that she had.

I think the book that Derek Bok and I wrote demonstrates empirically how well the minority students who were recruited to these selective universities performed. And how well they performed after college.

One of the striking findings in “The Shape of the River” is that the civic contributions and engagements of the minority graduates of these selective universities were far greater than the civic commitments and contributions of their white classmates. Now that was in part, of course, because there was a need for them. American society needed a wider array of talent and they have, in remarkable measure, met that need.

What would you say is the one misconception that you keep on encountering when you look at the current debate over affirmative action?

One lesson that I have derived from participating in this debate, for heaven knows how many years, is the simple-minded assumption that you either deserve to be there or you don’t. There isn’t just one index of merit, and the point of admissions is not to bestow gold stars on people who’ve done well before, to predict the future. It’s to choose students to invest in who are going to make the university better and are going to make society better. Those are bets on the future.

In the introduction to the paperback of “The Shape of the River,” Glenn Loury wrote that the debate over affirmative action revolves around two competing claims: the procedure-based morality of “color neutrality” and the outcome-oriented morality of racial justice.

The way many Americans learn about civil rights—the way I learned about Rosa Parks in second grade—very much focusses on color blindness. The idea of racial justice often coexists uneasily with that basic narrative. In a recent Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative-action programs for some school districts, John Roberts reflected the opinion of many conservatives when he wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” What’s your response to that?

You might find interesting the last speech that Lyndon Johnson ever gave, right before he died. I won’t get the quotation exactly right, but it’s worth getting right, because it’s a great quotation.

He said, Yes, today blacks and whites do stand more or less on a level playing field, but they’re not in the same place. Whites see the world from the mountain place, blacks see the world from the hollow of history. It’s a great phrase: “from the hollow of history.”

It affects the way the world works today. You can’t just be ahistorical and forget all of that, and think that you’re going to get the best outcomes. I think the real answer to the quote that you gave me from Roberts is, “Yes, the way to end discrimination is to not discriminate, that’s true, but it just doesn’t go far enough.”

I think the Sandra Day O’Connor opinion in the Michigan Supreme Court cases was really extraordinarily powerful and really broke new ground. It was very different from the Powell opinion in the earlier Bakke case, because she pointed out that for the country to succeed, to achieve all it wants to achieve, you need to have—it is desirable to have—people of a variety of backgrounds, appearances, and persuasions in visible roles.

I think that’s right, and that’s one of the reasons the army is a great example. You don’t want all white commanders and all black soldiers. That’s really not a good idea!

One of the good outcomes of the O’Connor decision was the rejection of quotas and just giving points because you were black or whatever. The University of Michigan was told that, at the undergraduate level, you can’t do that. That’s wrong. I agree! That is wrong because it fails to capture what the whole portfolio of the person looks like.

Now did this require Michigan to spend more money on admissions? Absolutely, it required them to spend more money on admissions! You couldn’t look at applications in such a simple way, and I think that’s all to the good.

Can that be overdone? Of course. Anything can be overdone, but it is worth investing resources in allowing yourself, your system, to make thoughtful judgments. You need to have the right metrics when you judge outcomes. One of the aspects of our current research is that we think much more emphasis needs to be put on graduation rates, not just access. Getting through, finishing—and finishing well.

Basically what you’re saying is that fostering diversity or providing racial justice does not end at the point of selection. It requires work and time and practice.

When we first aggressively recruited different people who had not even been in the applicant pool, we thought that putting them on the campus would be enough. Wrong. It wasn’t enough. You had to do a whole lot of things—thinking about the counseling you provided and so forth.

This work we’re doing right now is a great example of what we’re talking about. When you look at the college choices different groups of students make, large numbers of highly talented minority students do not go to programs for which they’re really qualified. Why? Often, they don’t understand it’s important to do that, and they don’t have the help in completing the financial-aid forms and the applications that, as a parent, I was able to do for my own children.

So being in the white upper-middle-class brings its own systemic advantages.

Huge, huge. The research we’re about to publish next September is just a dramatic confirmation of what you have just said. The differences in college-going patterns and college-completion patterns by socio-economic status, forget about race, are huge.

You mentioned socio-economic status. What do you say about the argument that we’ve over-focussed on race and we should focus more on class-based affirmative action?

I think that we do need to do more in focussing on socio-economic status and we argue that in the “Equity and Excellence” book. But it’s not a substitute for race-sensitive admissions because, again, if you look at the data, you find that if you focus just on socio-economic status you’re not going to begin to address the disparities in outcomes by race that we see in America today.

One critique from the left of O’Connor’s decision is that the idea of fostering diversity is a gauzy notion. They argue that affirmative action should be explicitly focussed on addressing disparate outcomes. They ask: Who is diversity for? A white person gets to meet a black person for the first time?

My answer to that question is that it’s society being served. I don’t think of it as conferring benefits on this group or that group to the exclusion of some other group.

One of the other telling findings in “The Shape of the River” was that the alumni of the selective institutions that we studied, including those white alumni who didn’t get into their first-choice school, were still strong supporters of affirmative action. You might have thought that, well, to their way of thinking, they might have lost out to some minority candidate. But overwhelmingly they thought these were the right policies.

I’ve always thought that was very interesting. The extent of support for affirmative action among student bodies—the graduates of the places like Michigan, like the Ivy League, like good liberal arts colleges—is very strong because I think they see the broader benefit.

What would you say to people who ask, “If a black man can get elected President, why do we need affirmative action?”

The answer is the same as the answer to the Sotomayor question: How many Obamas are there in the world? The fact that you have one success story is terrific, wonderful. But it doesn’t mean that the same outcomes or the same opportunities are going to be there for everyone else. They’re not.

Monday, June 15, 2009

We Call Bovine Scatology on Fox "News": Did You Know That James Von Brunn was a Liberal? We Didn't. Glenn Beck's New Low, Part One



Anti-negro? no comment...

Glenn Beck's nonsense knows no bounds. I was so dumbfounded by this argument that I could not catch my breath as I choked on the bile that rose up from my stomach as I watched this garbage. Luckily, one of my people was able to perform the Heimlich maneuver and thus saved my life. Courtesy of one of our favorite guest bloggers, Werner Herzog's Bear, we now proceed to open a can of whoop ass on Glenn Beck. Let's form like Voltron (I have always wanted to say that) and take care of business:



@@@@

When go you go into the political sewer, how can you get any lower? When you abuse the image of Tom Paine, turning a proto-socialist, cosmopolitan, Deist into a ueber-capitalist, nativist, Bible thumper, how can you distort history even more? Glenn Beck knows, since he recently claimed on his show that the Nazis were a Leftist movement, a statement as preposterous as "Woody Hayes was a Michigan Wolverines fan" or "Ronald Reagan was a Trotskyite." In short, it is the exact opposite of the truth.

If the last few months have taught us anything, it is that Glenn Beck will spout the most obscene lies possible to prop up his misguided vision of the world. As a historian, and especially as a scholar of Germany, I feel that I simply cannot let this go without comment. Not only is Beck committing crimes against the historical record, he is doing so in order to distort the nature of the tragic killing at the Holocaust Museum this week.

Since the claims of Beck and his guest are so outrageous, I'll deal with them in bullet points. Here are just a few of the reasons that the Nazis were a product of the extreme Right, not Left, in Germany:

-The various strands of ideology that fed into Hitler's worldview: anti-Semitism, pan-Germanism, anti-feminism, beliefs in "Aryan" superiority etc. grew out of the extreme political Right in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Germany, mostly as reactions to the changes brought on by modernity. (In a literal sense, these ideas were radical expressions of "conservatism.")
-After World War I, Hitler accused various elements of a "stab in the back" that led to Germany's defeat. Along with Jews, he also blamed the political Left for the nation's ruin, and called for the eradication of Bolshevism.
-Before Hitler's rise to power, his brown shirted "storm troopers" engaged in lethal street battles with Communist militias, seeing them as their mortal enemies, rather than Leftist allies.
-As is well known, the Nazis received a plurality (about a third) but never a majority of the popular vote. Hitler took power only after being appointed chancellor by president Hindenburg with the support of the old guard German Right, who saw Hitler as an ally to their interests.
-Once Hitler came to power, the first people he attacked and imprisoned were his political enemies, the Communists and Social Democrats (Socialists). Just because the Nazis called themselves "national socialists" does not mean that they were on the Left. The operative word for them was "national." There are tens of thousands of Leftists who were killed in concentration camps for their opposition to Hitler, and this makes Beck's lies all the more disgusting, since they seek to erase the memory of Nazism's first victims.
-In every European nation occupied by the German military during World War II, the greatest resistance came not from the political Right, which in places like Vichy France collaborated enthusiastically with the Nazis, but from Communists and others on the Left. (If you want to see a dramatic illustration of this fact, watch The Sorry and the Pity sometime.) Again, Beck shits all over the memory of people who risked their lives to stop Nazism.
-After war began in Europe, many of the biggest voices calling for American intervention were on the Popular Front left, whereas hardcore conservatives like Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh not only opposed intervention, but actively sympathized with Nazi Germany.

And one last one, just to make all of this more relevant

-Von Brunn, the neo-Nazi who murdered the guard at the Holocaust Museum, was an avid poster at Free Republic, and a vocal "birther" to boot (a "birther" is someone who denies that Barack Obama was born in the United States.)

Now, just because Von Brunn and Nazis in general belong on the political Right does not make them representative of all on that side of the spectrum. Similarly, as someone on the Left I hardly feel obligated to defend or even feel any kinship towards the anarchists who go around breaking and burning stuff at anti-globalization protests. At the same time, it would be preposterous for me to claim the most radical anarchists are in fact on the Right. Beck, however, just chooses to lie about the nature of Nazism, perhaps because his alarmist, paranoid, hateful, and deceitful rhetoric gives tacit and sometimes active support to fringe whackos on the far Right, whom he doesn't want to be associated with.

Or he just might be using a tried and true method of mass media manipulation: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." The source? Joseph Goebbels.

One thing bolstering his lie about Nazism being a Leftist phenomenon is the Ayn Randian ideology about the Left being "collectivist" and the Right being "individualistic." This is rather odd coming from a man who tells immigrants to give up their culture, impugns the patriotism of anyone he disagrees with, and who constantly tells his viewers they are a "we" who surrounds a shadowy "them." In my next post I will dissect the increasing prevalence of Randian thought on the Right and break down its falsehoods.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Day Hip Hop Died Part 2: Who Wins this Batttle? Eli versus Reh Dogg



Here is some Sunday afternoon fun for you all. In the spirit of Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome (wasn't the theme song amazing?), I bring you the battle to end all battles. No, it isn't Rakim versus Kane (a dream match-up) or Hova versus Nas or Biggie versus Pac...oh no! This battle is THE titanic struggle for hip hop supremacy in the 21st century. In the left corner I present quasi-mentally retarded high school emcee, Eli, a wordsmith of the first order:



In the right corner stands Reh Dogg, the spawn of Rubik's cube (his effort to channel Gza or Rza), the master of disaster and poor video production. Random factoid: I think I may actually know Reh Dogg from my time as a radio dj on WVOF 88.5 FM in Connecticut...what a small and horrible world in which we live:



Regardless of the outcome we can all take solace in the fact that either of these "MC's" is better than Lil' Wayne.



You make the call! Who is the winner in this awe inspiring clash of the Titans?

Friday, June 12, 2009

White Men Are Oppressed (Again)--Sean Hannity Carries Forth the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



Sean Hannity is a great man and an even more wonderful Conservative. I sleep well at night, knowing that conscientious, honorable souls such as he are keeping the legacy of the Black Freedom Struggle alive and protecting its memory...insert hand into mouth and induce vomiting.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reverend Wright on Obama and "the Jews" or It is Time for a We Are Respectable Negroes Flashback!



"Them Jews aren't going to let him talk to me," Wright said. "I told my baby daughter, that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office."

With friends like Reverend Wright one does not need enemies. I must ask the obvious, how long until the Right in their conspiratorial genius proceeds to link Obama, Wright, and the White supremacist who attacked the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. I forgot, they already have--see Glenn Beck's interview with lead coconut/banana/masturbatory fantasy for the Right-Wing, Michelle Malkin:

BECK: Now, when Jeremiah Wright says "Them Jews ain't gonna let him talk to me, an ethnic cleansing is going on in Gaza, ethnic cleansing by the Zionist is a sin and a crime against humanity and they won't want Barack talking like that because they will say that he's anti Israel." What's the difference between the language of an anti Semite that is also nuts and goes, kills people, and the language of Jeremiah Wright?

MALKIN: Yeah. I'd like to hear from some of these people on the left how they explain that away. I'd like to hear from the White House for that matter how he explains that away. I'm certainly glad that President Obama spoke up about the need to be vigilant against anti Semitism yesterday, but where was he when he was sitting in the pews of this virulent anti Semite for almost 20 years and not saying a word about it?

You know what will wash the foul taste of this demagoguery out of my mouth? A We Are Respectable Negroes Flashback!

Reverend Wright Investigative Report Number 1--Preliminary Report, Infiltration, and Findings

What follows is my initial report regarding my investigation into Reverend Wright and his recent behavior in relation to the Obama campaign. More information to follow.

****
To: The Council of Negro Elders, Midwest Division
From: Chauncey DeVega, field operative
Re: Initial Report on Reverend Wright and Operation Crabs in a Barrel

I have recently returned from my assignment and will be completing a comprehensive report for our permanent files. In short, and as expected, my recent mission has confirmed our worst fears. Reverend Wright was in fact replaced by a duplicate at a previous time, a time which heretofore remains undetermined. I am working with forensics and our remote viewing teams to generate a time line for the scenario. I am also concerned that Reverend Wright may be one of many key figures that have been replaced by our enemies. The mission summary follows.

Per standard operating procedure, I infiltrated the target area via High Altitude Low Opening drop. My movement to the rendezvous point was uneventful and I made quick contact with our informant. Upon contact, I confirmed the agent's identity and reviewed all the materials and intelligence provided by said contact. On face value, these documents confirmed our initial suspicions. As outlined by the mission plan, I exercised my authority to infiltrate the compound in order to visually confirm the intelligence and to gather further hard evidence.

Our operative directed me to an access point and I entered the facility. Luckily, the auxiliary computer servers and network interfaces were lightly guarded, and I only had to dispatch three tangos upon entry. Using the tech provided by our contacts at DARPA (tell them thanks for me), I quickly accessed the protected files on the server and copied them to my flash drive. I exfiltrated the target area and met with the Pave Low at the designated landing zone. I have begun reviewing the files, and what follows are the preliminary details of the operational plan for (what our enemies have labeled) Operation: Crabs in a Barrel.

Wright has in fact been replaced with a duplicate. Based on the data, we are unsure if the doppelganger is an exact biological copy or if it is a cybernetic device. Based on the advancement of our enemy's technology, it may in fact be a person who has 1) been altered to have Reverend Wright's appearance and 2) has had the mental engrams of the original Wright implanted in his mind with some modifications. It appears that our rivals have successfully combined three personality types in the Wright duplicate. As you know, this process (what was once called "brainwashing") was pioneered by the Nazis, with help from the American eugenics movement(s), in the 1930s and 1940s. SPECTRE had some success with this technique during the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s Cobra gave us fits with their efforts to combine cloning with mental conditioning and brainwashing (who can forget that Serpentor debacle?). It seems that the Greater Opposition Party (GOP) has taken this Cobra technology and moved it one step forward. What follows are the 3 personalities which have been identified in the Wright duplicate. These inferences are based on the Wright copy's body language and its parallels with the personality files in our databases.

Personality Element 1: Thor, the God of Thunder












Notice how Wright's pose during the NAACP speech mirrors the Norse God, Thor. Wright's subconscious believes he still has both Thor's hammer, as well as his godlike powers to control the elements. I also suspect that the Thor personality type, and this is only a hypothesis, may give the Wright duplicate powers which many may consider to be "other-worldly" or "supernatural."

Personality Element 2: The Black Minstrel












In keeping with the ironic turns of events brought about by Operation: Crabs in a Barrel, the Wright duplicate includes a minstrel as part of the psychological profile. Make note of the sad face and eyes. The Wright duplicate, in his dancing and posing during the NAACP meeting and at the National Press Club, was performing in a manner dictated by the engrams of the minstrel personality implant.

Personality Element 3: Mr. T












This is the final element in the Wright doppelganger's personality matrix. Mr. T is tough, resourceful, and smart. However, Mr. T is also highly sensitive, easily provoked, and has moments of irrationally. The Mr. T element in the Wright duplicate is likely the most explosive, yet remains simultaneously the most deft and adaptive. Our field agents will be apprised of the presence of a Mr. T in the personality matrix of the duplicate. Because the Mr. T element is so dangerous, all agents should exercise an appropriate level of caution if they are going to effect a capture of the Wright doppelganger.

We will continue to monitor Wright for evidence of further personality types. Generally, it is ill-advised to combine more than 3 elements in one matrix, however, given the GOP's level of sophistication they may have been able to add additional types. As you can see, these personality types when combined have made for a particularly dangerous foe. In my next report, I will compare the Wright duplicate's known abilities with those of his likely foes.

Submitted.

Chauncey Devega
5-06-2008
@@@

General, and off the record, the GOP's plan shows a shocking level of sophistication. Historically, our foes are clumsy and heavy-handed (e.g. Willie Horton; Clarence Thomas; Fox News), but this is some of their best work since the MLK sex tapes and their assassination of Malcolm. I do worry that regardless of what comes to pass in the Indiana and North Carolina primaries that Operation: Crabs in a Barrel is in its first stages. Also, please tell Agent 36 that her cultivation of the contact within the GOP was exceptional. It rivals her work in addicting Rush Limbaugh to Oxycontin back in the 1990s. I am recommending Agent 36 for a distinguished service commendation for her role in this operation.

My Personal Happiness Pill Part 2: Pastor Manning Crank Calls Our Elders



As grandma said, "same to you, bastard!" Forget Prozac, I am going to just watch Pastor Manning all day, everyday.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Personal Happiness Pill: Pastor Manning Interviewed on the Howard Stern Show



Howard Stern is a great interviewer because he creates an environment which disarms his subjects. Because guests on Stern's show are anticipating an experience so bizarre and outlandish, as a defensive measure they reveal a great deal by answering the very plain spoken, yet revealing questions, which Stern (aided by Robin Quivers) asks. The Pastor Manning interview is a masterful example of this approach.

Some choice moments:

@4:04--Manning's observation that only trashy white women would get with black men during the time period when Obama's father married his mom. Second point: "that everybody knows that African Men will jump over beautiful, educated, black women to get with one trashy white woman."

@7:00--"Prior to working as a burglar." Notice the parsing of that phrase.

@9:00--Pastor Manning describes his theological training. To be honest, I was surprised he studied under such notables as James Cone and Cornel West at the Union Theological Seminary--are they embarrassed, ashamed, or proud? Interestingly, his "doctorate" is a title granted by the church of which he is a minister...hmmmm.



@2:40--Pastor Manning discusses his marriage and dating history. Apparently, as a young man fresh from the fields of North Carolina, Manning moved to New York City. Beware the wicked race mixing ways of the North, as Manning was seduced by a young White woman in the stockroom of Lord and Taylor.

@4:15--Barack Obama is Senator Tarzan? I have to admit that is pretty funny.

@5:06--Oprah Winfrey is a Babylonian whore! Damn!



@7:49--Madness versus Craziness.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What’s the Best, Worst, or Strangest Thing You’ve Witnessed While Taking Public Transportation?



Ride with the dirty laundry on public transportation. Pay no attention to the people sharing a bus or subway with the dirty laundry. Obviously these people haven't heard a thing. Nor have they seen anything. Nor have they wondered why. These frightened people don't exist. The secret is safe with them.

—Bill Cosby


The Cos’ suggestion that black folks’ conduct while taking public transportation is an indicator of the health of the black public sphere is interesting. In the realm of public transportation, general norms of public behavior often press up against more specific black norms of respectability. Step on a bus or train in a city with a lot of black folks. You will see altruism, selfishness, conviviality, ignorance, vulgarity, and humor all on display.

You will see people assist mothers with strollers, cede seats to the elderly, and help riders lock their wheelchairs into place. You will hear “sirs” and “ma’ams” coming from kids’ mouths. You will see locals helping tourists with directions. Sometimes you will even see riders spotting the fares of complete strangers. You will see several people reading (mostly the Bible, trashy ghetto lit, and school textbooks).You will see that most people are quiet, friendly, and respectful.

You will also see people play (always terrible) rap and R & B loud enough for everyone to hear. You will hear people talking loudly--yelling really--about sex and violence. You will see people littering, leaving trash and food on the ground or seats, even though there are trash bins near. You will see people with no home training in norms of decent public behavior.

Because I am frequently disgusted by the conduct of public transportation riding ign’ants, individual instances of rude behavior, loudness, and vulgarity don’t stand out to me. What I remember vividly, though, are the moments of social policing in which black public transportation users are so fed up with ign’ant behavior, they confront the ign’ants. Two particular instances come to mind:

1.) I was riding a bus in the afternoon, right when school let out. A couple of bookish kids were being clowned by a group of their ign’ant schoolmates. An older brother stepped in and chided the ign’ants for teasing the couple. Predictably, the ign’ants started cursing the older brother, which prompted him to respond, “You never know, I may have a gun on me right now! Keep on talkin’, I might shoot up this whole damn bus!” The rest of the riders went from admiring this guy for saying something to realizing that he was an ign’ant too.

2.) A few weeks ago, I heard a man yelling as he got on the bus, “Hurry up before I knock yo teeth down yo mothafuckin throat. You stupid as fuck!” Then, a girl who as about 11 or 12 years old got on the bus and everyone realized that the man was yelling at this little girl, his daughter. The other riders just shook their heads and look exasperated as this man continued to curse and berate his daughter.

A few minutes later, a second man went to exit the bus and confronted the father, saying, “You think that was the right thing to do, huh? Man, you a punk! I’ll kick yo ass. Get off this bus on the next stop! You don’t yell at no little girl like that, you ol’ punk!”

The father was clearly scared and apologetic, telling his confronter, “You right. You right. That’s my daughter, but I shouldn’t have done that. I shoulda handled it better. You right.”

The confronter then exited the bus yelling, “Don’t never let me catch you on these streets. I’ll beat yo ass!” Once it was clear that his confronter was gone, the father tried to save face by saying loud enough for everyone to hear, “I’ll be done killed somebody in here. I woulda shot him, but I can’t go back to the penitentiary.”

Again, the elation the other riders felt upon seeing this father get punked disappeared immediately, as we were reminded that this loser was the little girl’s role model.

Respectable negroes, what is the best, worst, or strangest thing you’ve seen while riding public transportation?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Name That Racist Tune With Daniel Carver of the Howard Stern Show



I am quite partial to Johnny Rebel by the way. Question: how long until Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity starts using some of these songs as bumper music?

A bonus clip from the Howard Stern Show's roast of Daniel Carver where comic awkwardness ensues posthaste:

Chauncey DeVega says: African-American Veterans of D-Day and the Existential Power of Barack Obama's Presidency



Elderly White men, watching a Black President deliver the speech at Normandy with quiet reverence and respect, is one of the many reasons I believe that somehow, we will find a way to resolve our collective American dilemma.

Supporters of Barack Obama's candidacy for presidency often discussed the power of existential change that would result from his victory. Here, we meant the power which accompanied the idea of a Black American in the White House as President--a claim about what a person of color in that office would symbolize for America's national identity and shared political culture.




The commemoration of the Allied landings at D-Day, and the invasion of Fortress Europe during World War Two, are examples of these moments. Now, I am not so naive as to believe that a Black man who happens to be president will be a radical change from business as usual by virtue of his mere presence as Chief Executive. Why not? Because a two party system and a centrist politics deem that radicals do not rise to become President of these United States of America.

President Barack Obama's power and importance is rooted in the fact that a Black American, a few generations removed from a moment when his people were systematically excluded from American political life, can participate in one of a nation's most cherished ceremonies is the existential change which so many of us awaited.

In short, many of us never imagined that we would see a Black American fulfilling the role of president as national caretaker and ceremonial leader. This is why we cried and cheered when Obama was elected: for once, the check was not returned, stamped insufficient funds. Thus, President Obama's speech on the anniversary of D-Day is laced with irony as it is a raceless and colorblind moment that is simultaneously pregnant with racial meaning.

While some would like to make Black Americans, and people of color more generally, peripheral to American history, we have always been central to it. In this way, President Barack Obama's speech at Normandy completes a circle of history because while White society has long denied the role of African-Americans on D-Day (an erasure enabled by popular culture both in America and abroad) a Black man now serves as Commander in Chief:



These brave soldiers (as respectable Negroes) knew that service was an important weapon in the Black Freedom Struggle because it would make the justice claims of Black Americans undeniable. Obama knows that he is the direct product of their risk taking and labor. In silent acknowledgment, these veterans must be smiling in quiet satisfaction as President Barack Obama is in many ways the fulfillment of their efforts:



A bonus: some clips from the documentary A Distant Shore: African Americans of D-Day--

Clip One:



Clip Two:



Clip Three:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Choose Your Own Path: Anti-Black Racism Among Israeli and American Jews! or Drunk, White, Frat Boys and Sorority Chicks Say the Damndest Things



Hat tip to Ta-Nehisi Coates for calling my attention to this at journalist Max Blumenthal's website. Observation number one: she is a poli-sci major? yikes. Observation number two: you worked for Obama's campaign? yikes again. Cheap plug: check out our Chitlins and Gefilte Fish series from a few months ago which speaks directly to the issue of Black/Jewish relations.

Assignment

Question: Is the above video clip of drunken Jewish American college students in Israel ranting about Barack Obama and calling him "nigger" (among the other less than polite descriptions applied to him) an example of:

A) A deep-seeded anti-black racism among Israeli and American Jewry that speaks to a significant divide between the two communities--one that points to the existence of high levels of anti-black racism abroad that Obama's presidency does little to ameliorate?

or

B) A bunch of drunk, White frat boys and sorority chicks who when given a bit too much alcohol, the ultimate lubricant for truth, simply shared their honest feelings about Barack Obama and black people at large?

Choose a solution and explain your reasoning.

Hip Hop Cliche and Nostalgia? or The Old School is the Only True School: Park Jam Series Brings Hip-Hop to New Generation



I savaged a piece from the New York Times a few months back that featured laid off corporate executives who are reinventing themselves by learning to be "dj's". The New York Times has redeemed itself a little bit with the following piece on the Park Jam series (and they also had a great article on "authenticity" in hip hop that I will post later today).

They also win double points from me because the piece gives some love to the often forgotten founding fathers of hip hop, Grandwizard Theodore and Grandwizard Caz--true greats that are living in relative poverty in the shadows of a multibillion dollar industry which they helped to create. I still can't get over the use of laptop dj software, especially ironic at an event celebrating the origins of hip hop music and culture, but alas I will simply have to accept that times are a changin'.

The story follows:




Park Jam Series Brings Hip-Hop to New Generation
By David Gonzalez

Rapid-fire riffs of bongo beats — the kind that sound like electronic popcorn — echoed through Behagen Playground in the Bronx on Thursday as D.J. Jazzy Jay cut between two versions of “Apache” on the turntables.

“Tonto! Jump on it!” came the lyrics from the Sugar Hill Gang’s version. “Kemosabe! Jump on it!”

And jump they did. While middle-aged women swayed their shoulders, two police officers came in tapping their feet, while a young, lean B-boy darted out onto the asphalt with a side-to side swing that morphed into a drop and a twirl. Within moments, the D.J. cut back to the Incredible Bongo Band’s original instrumental, a song that sounds like Sergio Leone meeting some beatniks on speed.

And it all made sense.

More than 30 years since hip-hop emerged in Bronx playgrounds and parties, its pioneering D.J.’s have joined their younger counterparts once again this summer for a series of free concerts in public parks. The True School NYC Summer Park Jam Series started seven years ago in Crotona Park, which will be the site for free concerts every Thursday evening in July. It has since expanded to St. Nicholas Park in Harlem and, this year, to Behagen Playground in Morrisania, where this summer’s series had its kickoff Thursday.

Behagen is a special place for Theodore Livingston, since it’s where he started D.J.-ing while still attending nearby Morris High School. He’s better known as Grand Wizard Theodore, the D.J. credited with inventing scratching.

“A jam like this is about coming back to my roots,” he said. “I never got too big or too Hollywood to not come back and play for the people. This is where I started with Mean Gene and Grandmaster Flash, right over there by the parkie house.”

He stood to the side, smiling and shaking hands with well wishers and fellow D.J.’s, like Danny Dan the Beat Mann (who helped produced some of Biz Markie’s early records). The mood was relaxed, even if the music thumped so loud you could literally feel it pulse through your lungs if you stood close enough to the tower of speakers. Grandmaster Caz — the leader of the Cold Crush Brothers — worked the microphone while kicking back in a beach chair.


“I feel the people appreciate it more now, at least the older heads do,” said Theodore, who will be performing at Behagen on Friday night. “The younger kids listen to the radio, the same old songs. They don’t know the songs we play in the park are the ones sampled on the radio.”

The manufacturers of deejay equipment also appreciate it, since they help underwrite the series, said Christie Z-Pabon, who along with her husband, Jorge, “Popmaster Fabel,” run Tools of War, a hip-hop information clearinghouse.

“That’s how we can do this for free,” she said. “It’s not like we’re going to charge people.”

As she spoke, a B-boy was methodically unfolding a large cardboard box, which he proceeded to tape down to the asphalt. He stood up, took it in, then got down and started spinning. Christie leaned over to a friend.

“Fabel tells me that in the old days, B-boys wouldn’t use cardboard,” she said. “That’s just an urban myth.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Update Number 1: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of Black Privilege in the Age of Barack Obama



Pat Buchanan is speaking truth to power again!

I will create a more complete list in the near future. For now, here are some choice comments and suggestions from our readers. Keep them coming folks, this is our chance to expose the unfair privileges that Black Americans have been enjoying during (and before) the age of Obama. Bathe in the waters of justice as we make clear for all our many accumulated unfair advantages--

From Exodus Mentality:

Black communities are afforded far more than their fair share of police protection. White communities can go days without seeing a police officer, but there is never any shortage of protection and service in Black neighborhoods. Our streets are constantly swept for crime and would be criminals. Surely we don't deserve such heightened attention, but we are privileged to receive it nonetheless.

In a somewhat similar vein, people of color are given far more chances to go to prison and take the time to think about their crimes and rehabilitate themselves, than their white counterparts. Often white people are not held responsible for their criminal activity, thus denying the the moral value of learning from their mistakes.

From Master Mahan:

As a white person, I never realized just how much society was aligned against me. Certainly I'd recognized a few disadvantages, such as the economic burden of needing to purchase sunscreen, but not all this. I don't receive near as many opportunities to learn about the justice system up close. I learn less about surviving hardships because the federal government will quickly help me before, during, and after a natural disaster.

I need to fulfill higher expectations because it's automatically assumed the best person for the job looks like me. Because of this, I'll be burdened with more responsibility and a higher tax rate. I'll need to work harder for a job to prove I wasn't a non-affirmative action pick.

Even in the media I'm at a disadvantage. I'll receive less attention if I'm falsely accused of kidnapping a white woman. No reporter will specifically seek someone of my race out for anything a white person does in the news.

The biggest black privilege of all, though, comes if you enter politics as a member of the Republican party. You'll receive funding to run against other black people. You'll placed directly behind many famous Republicans when they give speeches. You're guaranteed to be shown on TV at the Republican National Convention, and there's an excellent chance you'll be asked a give a speech. Even if you can't win a single election, you'll have job security for life. As a white man, I just wouldn't receive that sort of treatment. That's not even considering the privileges of being a woman, either. No glass ceiling means I get wet when it rains.

From MonkeyBoy:

You forgot the privilege of becoming an expert on matters of food and taste. Explaining things like why some people prefer to eat a hamburger with Dijon mustard as opposed to watermelon.

From Pudgybudgie:

You forgot the extreme attention that is paid to the driving safety and comfort of Black Americans. I can't remember the last time a police officer pulled me over to make sure I was driving a safe speed, or had all my taillights in working order. Not to mention they never stop to check that it's actually ME driving my car and not some other scoundrel. It's almost as if the highway patrol doesn't even SEE white suburban housewives.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chauncey DeVega says: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of Black Privilege in the Age of Barack Obama



"I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group"

For the world to be made more just, we must be willing to be vulnerable to one another. This vulnerability often comes through a moment of profound clarity when a person (across lines of race, gender, class, and sexuality) can reach out to another and without fear of condemnation say, "I was wrong." I have finally arrived at this moment of shared empathy and confession. At these moments we need one of our own to make our privilege and prejudice clear to us--an assumed ally whose eyes are now open to injustice, who in turn will shame us into action.

In watching Thomas Sowell, who without hesitation or fear named nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Sotomayor, as a racist, I am moved to action and ownership of my deeds and thoughts: this is the transgressive moment when I will confess to the realities of my own privilege as a black man in the age of Obama. Are others ready to walk this path with me? Honestly, I do not know. Nevertheless, I will be the first to take on this burden in the hope that my deeds will motivate others.

I can only hope that we as black Americans, acting in the pursuit of fairness, justice, and equality, can one day make amends for the many unearned privileges that we have garnered since the election of Barack Obama.

Justice is shared work. Community is at the heart of social transformation. Thus, please feel free to make additions to this list.

Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of Black Privilege in the Age of Obama


1. I know that the success of Barack Obama has been unsettling for many White Americans--especially those whom would normally be the default choice for appointment to the highest levels of the United States government. I understand that this change can be quite upsetting. I promise to be more empathetic to your pain and to be more patient in my efforts to understand the roots of your discontent.

2. I have the luxury of knowing that I only have to be twice as good as my White colleagues and peers to be considered for the same position. My broad range of skills are an unfair advantage in the workplace because they have afforded me opportunities to take on tasks and responsibilities that my White colleagues have often been denied.

3. Positive character traits such as humility and hard work are cultivated in me because I know that I am held to a higher standard lest I be considered "lazy" or "arrogant" by my supervisors and peers.

4. People of color have long dominated the evening news. We are disproportionately represented in the coverage of many types of news stories, especially those that feature reports of violent, criminal behavior. Moreover, with Barack Obama's domination of the evening news, the hyper-visibility of people of color is further encouraged in the mainstream media. To remedy this, I will do my best to support an increase in the amount of attention given to White people in the evening news and by popular culture at large.

5. I can go shopping most of the time knowing that I will be given extra attention. Furthermore, this extra attention to my safety through requests for identification when I would like to use a credit card or debit card are for my own protection. My fellow White shoppers are not afforded this level of concern or assistance.

6. In my professional life, I am blessed to be around people of a different race most of the time. This is very empowering and stimulating. Ultimately, this is an unearned advantage in a world that is increasingly diverse.

7. I am often asked to speak for people of my own race. With Barack Obama's election, I have to do this even more frequently. This privilege is unfair because it contributes to my intellectual, emotional, and social growth in ways that White people are not generally afforded.

8. Linked fate. Barack Obama's success or failure reflects on me personally. Likewise, my success or failure reflects on Barack Obama. This sense of connectedness and lack of relative anonymity is wonderfully empowering for all people of color.

9. I can find the literature, music, and movies that represent my culture neatly cordoned off and near the front of the store for my convenience.

10. I know that my race is always an asset and never a liability. At will, I can play the "race card" and win any debate or dispute.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lest You Think I Have Become Too Serious: Black Israelites in Times Square Versus a Killer Clown from Outer Space and a Black Zombie--Who Wins?



Question: Who is funnier, the clown or the Black Israelite? Second question: Did you notice the Black Israelite to the prayer leader's left who had totally lost it? Third question: Should we give respect to said Black Israelite as he stayed on script and used the killer clown and zombie as proof of the "White Man's" evil? Fourth question: Who are the bigger clowns and zombies, the Black Israelites or the Halloween party goers?

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Photo Montage--White Men Are Oppressed and the New Haven 20 and Frank Ricci are Their Saviors!



Yes, speak truth to power!

Again, I am moved by the heroism of the New Haven 20 and their stance against this widespread racism against White men under the terror of Jim Crow 2.0. Both my conscience and heart are struck by this case. In fact, as a gesture of unity I am going to buy their t-shirts and hats. And I am also going to remove the picture of the Little Rock Nine that is in my office and replace it with a picture of the New Haven 20:




The power of both these images is profound:



Although there is a shared echo between them, I must admit that the New Haven 20 have a dignity in their actions and struggle that the Little Rock 9 cannot match:



Ultimately, there really is no comparison at all:



We respectable negroes will continue to stand together with the New Haven 20 in their most honorable struggle, as this is THE civil rights issue of our time.

Are you with us? What are you doing to support the struggle against the new Jim Crow that is oppressing our White brothers?

Friday Afternoon Randomness-Spike Lee on Tyler Perry, Cooning, and Race Minstrelsy



You know we respectable negroes love us some Tyler Perry (yeah right--insert vomiting sound here). I don't understand the fixation on Madea or any of Perry's other "artistic" creations, but I will allow the masses their pleasures.

To that point: Spike Lee has apparently stepped up to the plate and is calling Perry out for his nouveau race minstrelsy in an interview set to air this weekend with the Ed Gordon on Our World with Black Enterprise show.

Related random anecdote: did you know that I had a student brought to near tears by my critique of Madea as a race minstrel? Second related random anecdote: did you know that in this same histrionic moment said student conflated Madea and Rosa Parks as inspirational and heroic figures? And no, I did not make that up.

Per tradition, take a close look at some of the comments which accompanied this story on the website, Global Grind. Both follow:

Spike Lee Rips Tyler Perry

Spike Lee had an interview with Ed Gordon on Our World with Black Enterprise scheduled to air this weekend. In the interview he complained about “coonery and buffoonery” and both of Tyler Perry’s shows “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne,” comparing them to characters from minstrel shows.

“We’ve had this discussion back and forth. When John Singleton [made 'Boyz in the Hood'], people came out to see it. But when he did ‘Rosewood,’ nobody showed up. So a lot of this is on us! You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time sitting in front of the idiot box, and [Tyler Perry] has a huge audience. We shouldn’t think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee [would make]. As African-Americans, we’re not one monolithic group, so there is room for all of that. But at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and it harkens back to ‘Amos n’ Andy.’”

OPINION: Why Tracy Morgan Isn’t Taking Us Two Steps

“Each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors, but I still think there is a lot of stuff out today that is coonery and buffoonery. I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better. … I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows (Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne”), and I am scratching my head. We got a black president, and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?

Some Choice Comments:

hold up hold up, i like spike n all he got sum good movies n his archive, but anybody who say he aint hatin know damn well he is. he jus mad cuz Tyler Perry currently got him dethroned as one of the great directors not includin john singleton and who eva else gud dat i left out. neway, regarding meet the browns and house of pain, if u dont like that u must not like nun on tv cuz errbody kno they single handedly keep ppl watchin tbs. so if u dont watch em DONT! if u dont like em DONT! dont nobody care bout yo opinion cuz at da end of da day he still gettin payed haha so big upz to em and hopefully spike cum out wit sum gud enuff worth hatin on lol

-TyRant

Spike, Next!

To touch people's hearts, you have to know how to relate to them first. Tyler Perry is the master at this. I was once a person that wouldn't spend a dime on his movies, but now I get the brotha.

I get you too, but your messages are way too deep and subliminal for our people. People need clear, cut, messages!

-WTFsmh

Spike is so right. In my opinion most of the people laughing at the coonery that goes on in these shows perpetuate those coon stereotypes themselves. Wake up, it's the 21st century. I don't know how any self-respecting black person can watch House of Payne and laugh at it. Then again, I see lots of people like this in the South, who aren't aware of the stereotypes, shuckin and jivin right along w/ this foolishness. Tsk, tsk.

-aedwards

Come on Spike. Sounds like hate to me. I wonder have those people criticizing Tyler Perry ever watched any of his work. I wouldn't call it coonery and buffoonery. Some of Tyler P's stuff is very inspiring. He covers real life subjects like substance abuse, infidelity, abuse and on top of that Madea is funny as hell. I am both a Spike Lee and a Tyler Perry fan. I think it is just a dude from the east hating on a dude from the south.

-Sleepy


Spike we thought you had a life. It took us years to understand and figure out your movies. 2 each his own:) does that mean anything to you. What you call coonery and buffoonery many of us are enjoying as comedy. I also appreciate the fact that he uses actors/actresses that other movies makers wouldnt touch like overweight, african americans or hispanics. also spike I am an NBA fan as well wasn't you a die hard for life new york fan. LA is a long way from new york. we see you courtside. you dont jump ship from your team just because they haven't won anything in years!!

-robal

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Score One More for the Team: Charles Bolden Picked as New Director of NASA



Maybe, we can finally acknowledge the Old Negro Space Program...

In the scramble to cover the New Jim Crow against White men (what I am calling the Civil Rights Movement 2.0), many of you may have missed Obama's nomination of General Charles Bolden as the new director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Isn't it funny that the establishment would explain away its lack of diversity with the much tired phrase "that there is a shortage of qualified minorities," when it seems that President Obama has been able to find stellar black and brown folk for his administration almost at will?

The story follows here:

Charles Bolden, Obama's NASA Chief Pick

HOUSTON — The nation's turbulent space program will be run by one of its own, a calming well-liked former space shuttle commander.

President Barack Obama on Saturday chose retired astronaut Gen. Charles Bolden to lead NASA. He also named former NASA associate administrator Lori Garver as the agency's No. 2. If confirmed, Bolden, who has flown in space four times and was an assistant deputy administrator at one point, would be the agency's first black administrator.

Bolden would also be only the second astronaut to run NASA in its 50-year history. Adm. Richard Truly was the first. In 2002, then-President George W. Bush unsuccessfully tried to appoint Bolden as the space agency's deputy administrator. The Pentagon said it needed to keep Bolden, who was a Marine general at the time and a pilot who flew more than 100 sorties in Vietnam.

"Charlie knows NASA and the people know Charlie; there's a level of comfort," especially given the uncertainty the space agency faces, said retired astronaut Steve Hawley, who flew twice in space with Bolden.

Bolden likely will bring "more balance" to NASA, increasing spending on aeronautics and environment missions, working more with other nations in space, and emphasizing education, which the president often talks about when it comes to space, said former Johnson Space Center Director George Abbey, a longtime friend.

"He's a real leader," Abbey said Saturday. "NASA has been looking for a leader like this that they could have confidence in."--continue reading here...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Enter the New Haven 20--The Newest Freedom Fighters in the Struggle to Overthrow Jim Crow 2.0




The Little Rock Nine have been surpassed. Enter: The New Haven Twenty.

Once more, I am moved by the bravery and heroism displayed by these freedom fighters. Against impossible odds, violence, and a long history of discrimination, these great men are showing that regular folk can indeed stand against power and make real the promise of the American creed. Clearly, the New Haven Twenty have eclipsed the Little Rock Nine as they work to create a nation under their feet and carry forth the light of freedom.

It seems that the well of democracy springs eternal as in this newest freedom struggle, Fox News is Radio Dixie, and Sean Hannity is Robert Williams:



Together, they will shatter the walls of the second Jim Crow and end what Hannity so sharply describes as institutional discrimination against these good White men.

While the choice is not yet one between the ballot or the bullet, together we shall overcome. Why? Because the New Haven Twenty are armed with truth and justice...weapons that no racist regime has ever been able to resist. I implore you to join me as I echo Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who I know would have marched lockstep with the New Haven Twenty:

Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream as the New Haven Twenty march into glory and history!

Hallelujah! Are you with me?

Charles Krauthammer I Feel Your Pain: White Men Once More Victims as Obama Picks Judge Sotomayor for the Supreme Court



White men are victimized once more. Again, they are excluded from another opportunity to access the corridors of power in the Obama administration. As I empathized with Pat Buchanan on the rise of a second Jim Crow in American, one now oriented against white men of the "greatest generation," I must now extend the same olive branch to noted conservative columnist and pundit Charles Krauthammer. Again, I cannot imagine how White men are feeling in this moment as President Obama has selected a Hispanic woman, Sonia Sotomayor, as his nominee to the Supreme Court. It must really hurt to go from being the presumed choice for all things, to now being one choice among many.

I imagine it must be similar to how a "gentlemen C" student feels when he is faced with an upstart professor who demands excellence. Life is indeed unfair as the rules of the game can be changed so arbitrarily and to one's detriment. Or perhaps this experience is even more akin to that of the child who is used to always being picked first for a pick-up game of dodge ball, to now being reduced to jumping up and down and yelling "pick me! pick me!" because there is a new captain in town.

Krauthammer is to be applauded for his keen acknowledgment of how identity politics are the bread and butter, the raison d'etre for the Left and the Democratic Party. Never has the Right and the Republican Party used race as a wedge issue. Nor, have they ever attempted to mobilize their base against the real and imagined "threat" posed by people of color to an unnamed and unmarked Whiteness, one that is imagined to be, and is constructed as, interchangeable with the idea of being "American."

In the same way that the Right found a crusading hero in Allan Bakke, the plaintive in the landmark anti-affirmative action case Allan Bakke versus the Regents of the University of California, Krauthammer, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and Buchanan have found a just crusader in Frank Ricci. With him, they can now craft a mythology around a set of justice claims that will fuel the second Civil Rights Movement--a White Male Freedom Struggle that will ring through all times as it fights to dramatically restructure American society.

Frank Ricci is their Rosa Parks. Instead of a kindly, exhausted, old lady who simply wanted to ride the bus and sit where she so chose, the Right has a dyslexic firefighter who studied for twelve hours a day, employed tutors to read him the textbook, and despite all of these obstacles, still scored at the top of the exam class. His reward? to be denied his rightful and earned promotion by a group of litigious, petty, underachieving, mediocre black firefighters and their white liberal enablers who claimed that the test was "unfair." This is identity politics at its worst, a politics that is squarely outside of the American tradition.

When Krauthammer stages his freedom rides, and the movement to which he belongs has its great march on Washington, I will empathize with them. For me, the veil is lifted as I now clearly see the moral righteousness and virtue of their freedom struggle. Justice will come for these aggrieved White men, and I hope it comes very soon.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Reflections Part 2: Honoring Our Little Known Heroes



There are many American servicemen and women whose stories have been lost to history. Memorial Day is a time to bring light to these unsung heroes. For example:

The many women who served with great distinction during World War II as military aviators and support staff where they performed such dangerous tasks as towing targets for anti-aircraft gunnery practice:



The all Japanese American 442nd Army regiment. They were real hard bodies, eventually becoming the most decorated unit in U.S. military history:



The 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the "Harlem Hellfighters." These brothers were fighting the Germans in World War I months prior to the introduction of the main United States Expeditionary force:



Heroism, service, and valor are not limited to human beings. Many of our four-legged friends have also served America with honor, distinction and sacrifice. Finally, our canine companions are receiving a much belated acknowledgment of their service and loyalty:



The Alaskan Territorial Guard which protected the United States from a Japanese assault by way of the Aleutians:



A personal hero, one man, a legend, and not widely known--Carlos Hathcock--3 days, a one thousand plus meter crawl, and a little under a mile sniper shot: