Friday, September 25, 2009
I must ask. Who is the American Socrates? Colbert? Chappelle? or Michael Moore? Who and why?
A bonus clip because we can, a classic from SNL--Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor's, "Word Association":
What are We New England Patriots Fans to Do? Have Belichick and Brady Gone Soft and Old? or From ESPN: Patriots Still Seeking Identity
We don't often talk about sports on this site, but given that I am an unapologetic New England Patriots fan this piece from ESPN caught my eye. I too was worried during the off season about my boy Tom Brady's ability to return to form after his devastating knee injury. Two games into the 2009 season it seems that we do in fact have much to be concerned about. The NY Jets game was atrocious--just piss poor football by the Pats...and to boot, the Pats of old would have punished the Jets for daring to brag before the game. There is a great deal of unease on Brady's part, understandable given a knee injury. And his rhythm--that amazing timing of his--is a bit off as well.
As Bill Simmons' piece points out, could it simply be that time, and the sheer pressure of the NFL has ended the Patriot's legendary run? I am still a believer in Belichick's genius. I still wouldn't consistently bet against Brady on any given Sunday. Nevertheless, something is clearly a miss with my Pats (have they lost too much veteran talent too quickly?) Are Belichick and Brady soft because they are now enjoying the fruits of their hard labor--i.e. money, women, and bit of sports entertainment power?
While still holding my breath, the following passage from Simmons' spot on article gives me some hope.
Part of me wonders if Belichick saw the writing on the wall, explaining why he swapped Seymour for Oakland's 2011 No. 1 pick. Most Patriots fans loved that trade, including me, but dealing a former All-Pro in a contract year (when he will never be more motivated) isn't exactly a 2009 power play. Was Belichick setting up for 2010 (an uncapped year) and 2011 (when the entire CBA will change) by risking this season's chances, just like when he risked 2006 by dealing Deion Branch for a future first? (And as it turned out, cost himself a title?) Did he decide Brady wouldn't fully recover for another year? Did he hedge his bets thinking this year's team might flounder?
Did he ... did he know?
Maybe Belichick is still the Emperor? Scheming and plotting against his foes as he prepares a trap that they could not have possibly predicted or defended themselves against. Hopefully, Brady is still the Chosen One--more the Vader of The Empire Strikes Back, than the reborn Anakin of Return of the Jedi.
Patriots Still Seeking Identity
In Malibu, beach houses hug the Pacific Ocean for miles on end. Each one looks different than the next. Some are modern, some are old-school. Some are gaudy, some are classy. Some are worth $5 million, others are worth eight times that much. If you stroll along the beach marveling at them, one thing always jumps out: the foundations. Some look like they could get nailed by a tsunami and remain standing. Others look like they could get swept away by the right wave.
For most of this decade, the New England Patriots owned a tsunami-proof house. They could weather anything. Even when Tom Brady blew out his knee eight minutes into the 2008 season, no Patriots fan gave up. We still have Belichick. We still have that foundation. We can figure this out. Nope. Missed the playoffs. That same defense mechanism kicked in after the Pats struggled in their first two games of 2009.
Everything is going to be OK. It's the Patriots. They will figure it out.
But will they? After a discouraging defeat to the Jets, Patriots fans splintered into two camps. The first camp (the "Kool-Aid drinkers," as the Globe's Dan Shaughnessy derisively called them this week) maintains that Brady only needs to get his sea legs back, that the defense will be fine when Jerod Mayo returns, that the Jets whupped them only because Kevin O'Connell gave them Brady's plays. Everyone in the Kool-Aid Camp believes in certain axioms that may no longer be true -- stuff like "never bet against the Patriots after a loss" and "when in doubt, Belichick will come through." They trust the foundation: eight straight winning seasons, three Super Bowl titles and the best eight-year overall record of any team in 20 years. The foundation will prevail. Always.
(Important note: My father is a charter member of this group. In fact, when I told him that I planned to write this column, he hissed things like, "it's too early," "we'll be fine," "you give up on our teams too easily," "this reminds me of when you quit on the Celtics two springs ago" and "you're an a**hole and I wish we weren't related." All solid points.)
For the second camp, it's more complicated. You wouldn't call them naysayers, just realists. And here's the reality: Today's NFL isn't built for teams to succeed year after year indefinitely. Extending the Malibu analogy, a good foundation only lasts so long. You still need to take care of your house. Need to wash the salt off your deck every day, update the furniture, keep a fresh coat of paint on there, check that foundation every few months to make sure it's fine. You cannot slip. You cannot fall behind. You cannot take anything for granted. Or else your house will start to look like crap.
As a realist and a Kool-Aid drinker, for the life of me, I cannot decide between Camp No. 1 and Camp No. 2. My buddy Bug (Patriots Kool-Aid alcoholic, just like my father) believes the '09 Patriots will become this year's '08 Colts -- early struggles, untimely injuries, tons of panic and "could this be it?" columns, but ultimately the foundation will prevail and everything will be fine by December. That's Camp No. 1 in a nutshell. We have succeeded before, so we will succeed again. I could totally see this happening. I am rooting for it.
But I keep hearing the voices from Camp No. 2. In particular, five undeniable truths that don't bode well for the next three months...the full story continues here.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Political Cryptozoology--They do Exist! A Photo Montage of African American Lyndon LaRouche Supporters in Chicago
My people, please do not ever say that Chauncey DeVega is not out there pounding the bricks in service of the tribe of respectable negroes.
Yesterday, during my daily travels (to and from the local Korean bbq spot and CVS) I encountered a most curious sight. It wasn't a yeti or a bigfoot. Nor was it a dodo bird. Comfortable on land, it could not possibly be the Loch Ness monster. It was rarer than a black Republican. As there was plentiful daylight, the beast could not possibly be Mothman:
Amazingly, not one, but two of the creatures were sighted! I had stumbled upon the holy grail of cryptozoology--the black Lyndon LaRouche supporter. While I was frightened at first, with my trusty camera in hand I bravely proceeded to document the encounter.
Quite friendly, but a bit skittish at first (they told me a story about how they were assaulted by a group of "brainwashed" Barack Obama supporters), the subjects were quite conversant with passerby's. Enthusiastic, the black Lyndon LaRouche supporters were eager to share their secret knowledge that Obama is the next Hitler, Lyndon LaRouche is the answer to America's problems, and a college education is a scam which should be replaced by "cooperative learning communities."
I was intrigued and came closer. I carefully spoke to the subjects in order to earn their trust. They became frightened and requested that I not linger near them. I continued to gently probe by asking more questions about how they found LaRouche. Again, I was rebuffed. Their White handler explained that they are not allowed to give interviews lest they be misrepresented by the mainstream media. His solution? That I contact the national headquarters and gain permission for us to speak with one another. Undaunted, I proceeded to call the national press officer who then proceeded to deny me permission for the interview.
As proof of my encounter with these mythic creatures I respectfully submit the following photographic evidence. Let history be the judge of the veracity and truth of my encounter with one of the rarest of creatures in the political ecosphere.
Is this black on black violence? Are Obama and this protester members of the same tribe? Take special note of the quiet pride and dignity in the countenance of the black Lyndon LaRouche supporter.
Notice how this style of tribal dress uses white socks to attract the attention of potential mates. Of additional note are the worn over dress shoes that, as opposed to the Wallabees or Timberlands worn by Raekwon, signal a potential for upward mobility, wealth acquisition, and security--traits that are universally attractive to all women.
This has been an exciting discovery. If any of you have photos that should be included in our grand museum of the politically uncommon or rare by all means please email them to us. Remember, knowledge creation is a collective endeavor that stands to benefit all of humanity. We are forever in your debt as your participation in our most humble of projects is a service to all of mankind.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
My Personal Happiness Pill of the Day: Oprah Winfrey is an Anti-Christ Lesbian Who Has Seduced White Women to Vote for Barack Obama
My personal happiness pill speaks again.
Oprah Winfrey is a lesbian. Oprah Winfrey is a lesbian. Oprah Winfrey is a lesbian. Pastor Manning said it three times so I must too.
Visitors to our most humble website know that I am not a great fan of Oprah because she is a quasi-mammy, emotional surrogate for White suburban housewives. But damn! Brother Manning is droppin' mega-ton bombs on this one (get the Wu-Tang reference folks?) Yes, we have all heard the rumors about Oprah and Gail King--rumors which I firmly believe--but I didn't know that Oprah's Nubian, Sapphic tendencies were the secret to her conquering the global media.
I must ask, if lesbianism or bi-sexuality is a cult where can this brother sign up to be an alter boy or acolyte? Two, is Oprah that sexy? Is her furry temptress so powerful that she is turning out white women all over this country through the tv? If so, I got's to find a way to sample some of that kundalini-punani power to tune me up.
Lord knows that I desperately need a tune up, my tires rotated, and fluids changed...
I am now in tears--I truly am: so the conspiracy theory of the day is that Oprah Winfrey is the secret king maker for Barack Obama in a cultish, evil empire of three-way bisexuality between Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and Barack Obama?
That must be one hell of a party worthy of Gore Vidal's Caligula! Pastor Manning do you have the hook up so that I can get me a ticket to that event?
Random, self-indulgent videoclip of the day just because I can--in honor of the furry temptress I bring to you a little bit of the new classic Booty Call:
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: How Hip Hop Died Again--Call it Ludacris: The Kinship Between Talk Radio and Rap
God, what a horrible song. He sounds like the conservative, bastard stepchild of Michael Franti and Dead Prez...and that is not a complement.
As has become my ritual. Is this linkage between rap music and politics a reach? Is this one more example of hip hop's death as it is used as an example, metaphor, and parallel for everything from talk radio to international relations? Or is this a smart, innovative, and sharp use of the overlaps between different types of popular culture?
Courtesy of The New York Times:
If you’re driving alone through the plains of Nebraska and need a little company, you can’t do better than the nationally syndicated maestros of political talk radio. Hour after hour, rant after rant, it is a feast of words and feverish emotion, interrupted only by regular commercials and the occasional call from the awe-struck fan.
I’d heard these voices before, but only in sound bites. When you don’t own a car and don’t tune in at home, you probably don’t run into Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh or Mark Levin. On the highways of the Cornhusker State, they ran into me, every time I hit the scan button. After a while, it felt like a series of visits from very colorful and highly agitated relatives. Or it would if I had a lot of relatives certain that America is slouching toward a socialist abyss.
The apparent influence of these conservative talk professionals has caused more hand-wringing than usual in recent weeks, in the wake of our summer of angry town hall meetings and the “You lie!” outburst of Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina. And when you hear Barack Obama likened to Pol Pot — as Mr. Savage did in a recent show— you can understand the concern. But to my uninitiated ears, there was something reassuringly familiar about political talk radio, and not because I know a lot about firebrands. It’s because I listen to a lot of rap. Gangsta rap, in particular.
I’ll admit that the parallels between Jay-Z and Rush Limbaugh do not seem obvious, and to grasp them you need to look beyond the violence and misogyny that have made rap a favorite target of the right wing. (Come to think of it, perhaps each of these realms will be chagrined to be likened to the other.) But as soon as you dig beneath the surface, the similarities between talk radio and gangsta rap are nothing short of uncanny. And these similarities are revealing, too.
But before we get to the revelations, let’s examine the kinship. For great careers in both businesses you’ll need:
EGO Extolling your greatness is nearly as crucial to rap as it is to talk radio. One consistent theme of Jay-Z’s lyrics is the genius of Jay-Z’s lyrics. He claims a charisma that is almost mystical and skills on the mic that make him the “Mike Jordan of recording,” “the Bruce Wayne of the game,” a “god.”
Rush Limbaugh peppers his show with self-adulating incantations that would seem right at home on a Snoop Dogg track, calling himself “Chief Waga-Waga El Rushbo of the El Conservo Tribe,” “doctor of democracy,” and “a weapon of mass instruction.” Both he and Jay-Z have referred to themselves as “a living legend.”
HATERS You’re nobody in hip-hop until you claim to have hordes of detractors. The paradox, of course, is that the artists who regularly denounce their haters have a huge and adoring audience. How does Lil Wayne complain in song about the legions who seek his ruin even as he dominates the charts? Ask Michael Savage, who is forever describing himself as an underdog, marginalized by the media — on the more than 300 stations that carry his show.
FEUDS 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule. Lil’ Kim vs. Foxy Brown. Jay-Z vs. Nas. Every couple of years, one rapper will pick a fight with another and battle it out with the winner typically determined by sales. This will sound familiar to anyone who has followed, say, Bill O’Reilly’s broadsides at Mr. Limbaugh (“Walk away from these right-wing liars!” Mr. O’Reilly said of an unnamed rival, described as someone who smokes a cigar and owns a private jet) or Mark Levin’s attack on Mr. O’Reilly. (“He has a fledgling radio show, that has no ratings,” Mr. Levin said in 2008, “and he’ll be off radio soon because he’s a failure.” Levin’s predication came true in January of this year.) Liberal ranters can partake, too, as MSNBC host and fulminator par excellence Keith Olbermann has proven with his long running O’Reilly spat.
VERBAL SKILLS Without them, you can’t rap and you’ll never make it as a talk radio opinion-machine. Free-style rap requires precisely the facility with words that it takes to free-associate for two or three hours a day. Forget, for a moment, what the Fox TV and radio gabber Glenn Beck is saying and marvel for a moment at how long he can say it — and how sharp and funny he can be. In a recent and genuinely hilarious bit, he lampooned the sleepiness of NPR talk shows by affecting a plummy British accent and repeatedly urging a caller — a member of his coterie in actual fact — to “please use your indoor voice,” though the caller was talking at a perfectly reasonable volume. Mr. Savage’s riffs are a quirky, zig-zagging flow of ideas that at their best are a kind of talk show scat, jumping from a mini-lecture about the Khmer Rouge, to a rave about barbecue chicken, to a warning that he feels a bit manic, which means he’ll be depressed for tomorrow’s show. If Mr. Limbaugh is conservative talk radio’s answer to Jay-Z, Mr. Savage is its Eminem — a man whose own neuroses are one of his favorite topics.
Even beyond simple matters of style, rap and conservative talk radio share some DNA. Once you subtract gangsta rap’s enthusiasm for lawlessness — a major subtraction, to be sure — rap is among the most conservative genres of pop music. It exalts capitalism and entrepreneurship with a brio that is typically considered Republican. (Admiring references to Bill Gates are common in hip-hop.)
Rappers tend to be fans of the Second Amendment, though they rarely frame their affection for guns in constitutional terms. And rap has an opinion about human nature that is deeply conservative — namely, that criminals cannot be reformed. The difference is that gangsta rappers often identify themselves as the criminals, and are proud of their unreformability.
Finally, rappers and conservative talkers both speak for a demographic that believes its interests and problems have been slighted and both offer stories that have allegedly been ignored.
Obviously, there are limits to all these parallels, but there is one more worth noting: rap has inspired its share of fear and now, liberals and moderates are asking the same question about conservative talk radio that conservatives have long asked about rap: How dangerous is it?
There’s a curious role reversal here, with fans of Mr. Limbaugh, et al., now under the very suspicion that had long been cast on fans of gangsta rap. The suspicion boils down to another question: Can people listen to highly provocative words (and in rap’s case, irresistible beats) and still be civil?
This seemed like a good question to pose to a man uniquely situated to opine about the shaded part of the Venn diagram of rap and conservative talk radio. I’m talking about DJ Clayvis, né Clay Clark, an Oklahoma-based, right-leaning talk show host and rapper. He has written anti-Obama raps, including “Audacity of Nope” and, though he believes his favorite talkers are sincere conservatives, he has long understood that his two different callings have a lot in common.“The differences between Ludacris and Rush Limbaugh are not that great,” he said. “Both have a huge egos, both bring a lot of bravado, both are sort of playing characters when they perform. And at the end of the day, they’re both entertainers.”
Friday, September 18, 2009
The national press’ latest idiotic distraction is the community organization ACORN’s supposed corruption of such timeless American values as denying assistance to poor and minority populations. ACORN, of course, is still in the news only because Communist in Chief President Obama had a connection to the organization.
Those on the left have taken three main approaches in responding to the shameless duncery of the right wing machine and the lack of integrity of the mainstream media, which have combined to treat this ACORN-video scandal foolishness like a legitimate story:
1.) Point out the foolishness of the controversy and note its status as a non-issue manufactured by mental midgets, opportunistic ideologues, and news whores.
2.) Renounce ACORN. Cut all support for ACORN in theory and in practice , simply because the political damage to the President and Democrats is not worth the effort required to defend the organization.
3.) Defend ACORN. Defend the organization and its mission on the grounds of social justice, especially with regard to poor, underserved minority communities.
It should be clear that I’m in the first camp. I’m also in the third one. Defending ACORN isn’t a purely ideological matter for me, however; I have personal, practical reasons for supporting ACORN: it helped me buy my first home.
In my attempt to seize on the low interest rates, I decided to buy last summer after only a brief period of preparation (little did I know that rates would continue to decline). Based on income and the location of the place I was buying, I qualified for an ACORN first-time homebuyer’s program*. The program provided substantial credit toward closing costs and a lower down payment with no private mortgage insurance (this was key, since I decided to buy without a year’s worth of savings).
Check out the dastardly obligations ACORN required of me after they cleared my paperwork and financials:
A) Mandatory attendance at a 4 hour homebuyer’s informational seminar. During this seminar, a real estate agent, a loan officer, a real estate lawyer, and a home inspector spoke about common mistakes and misconceptions about the home buying process, and were especially focused on highlighting various scams.
and B) Two private sessions with a representative that included discussion about the terms of the program as well as Q and A sessions about every aspect of the home buying process.
I know, how insidious, right?
I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable guy, but the amount of information I needed to digest in such a short time period was massive. These ACORN sessions helped me ask the right questions to the lawyers, the bank, and the real estate agent. As helpful as this ACORN program was to me, this would be exponentially more helpful to parents and people with lower income, bad credit, and limited education.
That such a ridiculous attempt to smear this organization is not only treated credibly, but is framing the debate about community social justice programs is disgusting enough; having had first hand experience with the people of all races and ages who benefit from ACORN’s services, and having witnessed the professionalism of the ACORN workers, who were clearly understaffed, underfunded, and underpaid, I find the tactics especially loathsome.
It’s open season on the black President—that’s a given. He’s been in the PE crosshairs since he became a serious contender for the highest Office in the land. It’s also open season on anything that can even remotely be construed as benefiting black and brown poor people.
*This program may not even exist anymore because its funding was cut soon after I applied.
The Right Wing Populist Tea Baggers Speak for the Little Guy or Timothy Egan's Ownage of Mark Williams in the New York Times
This is representative democracy? And Barack Obama is an Indonesian, Muslim turned welfare thug, and racist-in-chief. I can't even begin to parse this one out.
Right wing, demagogue, bloviator, corporatist Mark Williams is talking about "blowback" and speaking up for the "little guy"--does the hypocrisy of the American Right know any bounds? As I have said many times, the elements which are threatening to destroy the Republic are hiding in plain sight.
Better than I could have expressed it, here is some ownage of Williams and his tea party ilk from Timothy Egan at The New York Times:
The first nine years of the new century have yet to find a defining label, something as catchy as Tom Wolfe’s “Me Decade” of the 1970s or the “Silent Generation” of 1950s men in gray flannel suits. Bookmarked by the horror of 9/11 and the history of a black president, the aughts certainly don’t lack for drama.
But last week, lost in the commotion over the brat’s cry of Joe Wilson and the shotgun blast of rage in the Washington protest, something definitive was released just as this decade nears its curtain call.
For average Americans, the last 10 years were a lost decade. At the end of President George W. Bush’s eight years in office, American households had less money and less economic security, and fewer of them were covered by health care than 10 years earlier, the Census Bureau reported in its annual survey.
The poverty rate in 2008 rose to 13.2 percent, the highest in 11 years, while median household income fell to $50,303. Ten years earlier, adjusted for inflation, it was $51,295.
Of course this reflects the ravages of a horrid recession. But the decline started before the collapse in the housing and financial sectors — and it was calculated, in the eyes of some.
Harvard economist Lawrence Katz called it “a plutocratic boom.” If anything comes close to defining the era, that would be my nomination. President Bush cut $1.3 trillion in taxes — and the biggest beneficiaries by far were the top 1 percent of earners. At the same time, Wall Street was inflated by the helium of a regulation-free economy that eventually gave us Bernie Madoff and banks begging for bailouts.
Now consider the people who showed up in a state of generalized rage in Washington over the weekend. They have no leaders, save a self-described rodeo clown — Glenn Beck of Fox News — and some well-funded Astroturf outfits from the permanent lobbying class inside the Beltway. They are loosely organized under a Tea Party movement, but these people are closer to British Tories than 18th century patriots with a love of equality.
And they have the wrong target.
Mark Williams, a Sacramento talk radio host, was speaking to CNN on behalf of the demonstrators — many of whom carried signs comparing Obama to a witch doctor, an undocumented worker or a Nazi — when he played the blue collar card.
Who is Williams? A garden variety demagogue who calls Obama “an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug” and the Democratic party “a domestic enemy” of America. He also refers to the president as “racist in chief.” That says all you need to know about leaders of the Tea Party movement.
Williams repeatedly invoked the “working stiffs” who feel left out. Working people are always the last to get aboard the gravy train, and the first to be used in campaigns that will not advance their cause. And with these demonstrators, and the hucksters trying to distract them from real issues, history repeats itself.
Where was the Tea Party movement when the tax burden was shifted from the high end to the middle? Where were the patriots when Wall Street, backed in Congress by Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, rewrote securities laws so that the wonder boys of Lehman and A.I.G. could reduce home mortgages to poker chips at a trillion-dollar table?
Where were the angry “stiffs” when the banking industry rolled the 2005 Congress into rewriting bankruptcy law, making it easier to keep people in permanent credit card hock?
Where were they when President Bush started the bailouts, with $700 billion that had to be paid on a few days’ notice — with no debate — to save global capitalism?
They were nowhere, because they were clueless, just as most journalists were.
But now, at a time when a new president wants to reform health care to fix the largest single cause of middle-class economic collapse, he’s called a Nazi by these self-described friends of the working stiff.
“A working class hero is something to be,” John Lennon, that product of ragged Liverpool, sang just after leaving the Beatles. “Keep you doped with religion and sex and T.V.”
As someone who had a union card in my wallet before I owned a Mastercard, I don’t share Lennon’s dark view of blue collar workers. But as long as they can be distracted by people who say all government is bad, while turning a blind eye to manipulation at corporate levels, they’re doomed to shouting at phantoms.
One more detail caught my eye in these new economic reports on the lost decade. People in their prime earning years — age 45 to 54 — took the biggest hit in the last years of the Bush Administration, their median income falling by $5,000. And the region that suffered most — the South.
Older southern whites — that’s who got hit hardest by the freewheeling decade now fading. They should be angry. But they’re five years too late.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
My respectable negro friends and allies, I do apologize for my recent hiatus. I have finally finished moving into my new apartment (twice in 2 weeks folks)--silence is bliss. And the first week of classes are behind me. Zora should be returning soon, and Gordon has some things in mind as well, so business should be picking up.
We began a contest to win a free copy of Hill Harper's book The Conversation a few weeks back. Much to my surprise, folks didn't seem to want a free book (maybe they were scared to talk about black love--does anyone get my Whitney Houston/Bobby Brown joke? or am I just being self-congratulatory?)
Now, we finally have a first, brave entrant in our contest. Who will join him in sharing their diagnosis of what ails the black relationship?
Here is a (re)introduction to our contest:
In the spirit of the Church of James Brown (wasn't that a fun contest?), we bring you the chance to play ...insert drum roll...
Each of the submissions should have the following format.
1. Tell us what the symptoms are of the patient (i.e. if the Black Male/Female relationship was a patient, what would he/she come to you as the doctor complaining about?)
2. What condition is the patient in? Please use this helpful guide:
Our first entry courtesy of Vee (Scratch):
I usually tend to get 10 - 20 walk-ins, but I only take 5 - 7 appointments a day at the Center for Black Relationships Health & Research Studies. I'll tell you about one recent appointment, names will be withheld as per the center's policy.
This couple was particularly odd. The male subject appeared to be intoxicated, possibly on marijuana. His female counterpart was very agitated and could not wait for our session to end, repeatedly stating that she needed a strong drink. Normally I would write off their relationship as being critically unstable but they’ve been able to endure each other for several years, seven to be exact. One time during a heated argument, I noticed the male cringe as if he expected to be hit by the female. This was odd because he exuded many alpha-male qualities except when relating to her. He has been between jobs while pursuing a career in music. The female was working full time, assuming all the financial responsibilities of the household. She complained that although he kept the house clean, organized and cooked great meals, he did not have any real ambitions or plans.
I noted all the complaints and frustrations then I asked them what made their relationship work. She quickly stated that the sexual relationship was great and they have a great time only when they go out together. The male subject simply nodded in his stupor. After pushing him for a reply he stated that he loves her but wishes she was more sympathetic towards his dreams. The male subject offered that the relationship was fine when he was financial supporting her through grad school, but then things changed. Before their back and forth, tit-for-tat argument began to escalate again I decided to stop them in their tracks.
Their relationship is as fairly normal as it gets but they can make it great. They have their highs and lows. No real expectations are explicitly declared and they obviously share different values and morals. I told the male subject that I strongly suggest he begins to learn how to open up emotionally, find a Plan B and to reduce his marijuana intake. I let the female subject know that she needed to respect the man she fell in love with, learn to listen effectively, and reduce her alcohol consumption. Then I told them to quietly list the roles of a man and woman, indicating which were cultural or universal. For the next session, we will discuss the roles and expectation of men and women in intimate relationships. I explained that like many relationships, the repair and growth requires understanding and education. Prior to the next appointment, I insisted that they participate in our Communication 101 workshop. I let them know that I thought they had hope for a great rewarding relationship; it all depended on how much time and work they invested in making it flourish.
Please note that this is one example, not indicative of the majority of Black Relationships. I’ve had many cases that informed me that despite what the statistics, surveys and op-ed pieces in major media outlets say about this subject, our relationships are not monolithic and are determined by a variety of factors like education, religion, culture, socio-economic and educational backgrounds. I must admit, while there’s a cause for concern, through focus, education everything will be fine.
Based on reports from national media outlets, the only people who ever go missing seem to be:
c. Thin and relatively attractive
d. Upper class (by virtue of income or education)
What, then, do we make of the case of Annie Le, the Asian American Yale grad student who was reported missing last week and, unfortunately, found dead earlier this week? From what I can recall, Le is the first Asian American woman to have received national attention in a missing person’s case.
Some quick questions:
1. Does the fact that an Asian American woman got national attention normally reserved for white women count as progress? Is this an indication that a racial barrier has been broken? Can we expect more national coverage on missing women of color (not immediately, of course, but perhaps in the future)?
2. Does Le’s case going national say something about how far Asian Americans have been assimilated? Have Asian Americans, like Irish-Americans in the early 20th Century, been granted a pass into the hallowed hall of Whiteness? Did the fact that Le was going to marry a white/Jewish man make her more worthy of coverage?
3. What does it say about corporate media and its vision of America that a missing person must possess characteristics b. through d. in order for their disappearance to be deemed newsworthy?
By the way, there were still issues with how the police handled the situation, and some wonder whether her race had something to do with it.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Weekend Laughs: Which is Funnier? Pastor Manning? The Coffin Preacher? Or the Casket Practical Joke?
Pastor Manning is at it again! You got's to love him. I think that some enterprising video game developer should make a first person shooter or role playing game featuring Pastor Manning--now I would buy that for a dollar!
Behold the coffin preacher:
As the blog Oh Hell Nawl put it, this video damn near made me poop myself:
So which of these is funniest? I vote for Pastor Manning as my default, because as you all know he is my personal happiness pill.
Question: Is Pastor Manning putting some sort of Christian science hoodoo curse on Barack Obama? We know that prayer is purported to be able heal the sick, but can a "reverse prayer" make sick the healthy?
Not casket related, but a worthy bonus. Question: if the following happened to you, would you not just go ahead and simply "bless" the fool?
Chauncey DeVega says: Don't Say We Don't Give Equal Time To Our Enemies or Pat Buchanan Says "America is Coming Apart"
Seeing that we got a great deal of mileage off of our faux interview with Pat Buchanan, it seems only fair to give him equal time and the chance to speak in his own words. Even more priceless is the fact that his latest editorial on WorldNetDaily is a real gem that even we could not parody-- lest we diminish its inherent schizophrenic, paranoid, xenophobic, madness. It seems there is indeed a culture war afoot...and folks like Buchanan are leading their foot soldiers straight through the gates of Hell.
Is America Coming Apart?
By Patrick J. Buchanan
Flying home from London, where the subject of formal debate on the 70th anniversary of World War II had been whether Winston Churchill was a liability or asset to the Free World, one arrives in the middle of a far more acrimonious national debate right here in the United States.
At issue: Should Barack Obama be allowed to address tens of millions of American children, inside their classrooms, during school hours?
Conservative talk-show hosts saw a White House scheme to turn public schools into indoctrination centers where the socialist ideology of Obama would be spoon-fed to captive audiences of children forced to listen to Big Brother -- and then do assignments on his sermon.
The liberal commentariat raged about right-wing paranoia.
Yet Byron York of the Washington Examiner dug back to 1991 to discover that, when George H.W. Bush went to Alice Deal Junior High to speak to America's school kids, the left lost it.
"The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props," railed the Washington Post. Education Secretary Lamar Alexander was called before a House committee. The National Education Association denounced Bush. And Congress ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate.
Obama's actual speech proved about as controversial as a Nancy Reagan appeal to eighth-graders to "Just say no!" to drugs.
Yet, the episode reveals the poisoned character of our politics.
We saw it earlier on display in August, when the crowds that came out for town hall meetings to oppose Obama's health-care plans were called "thugs," "fascists," "racists" and "evil-mongers" by national Democrats.
We see it as Rep. Joe Wilson shouts, "You lie!" at the president during his address to a joint session of Congress.
We seem not only to disagree with each other more than ever, but to have come almost to detest one another. Politically, culturally, racially, we seem ever ready to go for each others' throats.
One half of America sees abortion as the annual slaughter of a million unborn. The other half regards the right-to-life movement as tyrannical and sexist.
Proponents of gay marriage see its adversaries as homophobic bigots. Opponents see its champions as seeking to elevate unnatural and immoral relationships to the sacred state of traditional marriage.
The question invites itself. In what sense are we one nation and one people anymore? For what is a nation if not a people of a common ancestry, faith, culture and language, who worship the same God, revere the same heroes, cherish the same history, celebrate the same holidays and share the same music, poetry, art and literature?
Yet, today, Mexican-Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a skirmish in a French-Mexican war about which most Americans know nothing, which took place the same year as two of the bloodiest battles of our own Civil War: Antietam and Fredericksburg.
Christmas and Easter, the great holidays of Christendom, once united Americans in joy. Now we fight over whether they should even be mentioned, let alone celebrated, in our public schools.
Where we used to have classical, pop, country & Western and jazz music, now we have varieties tailored to specific generations, races and ethnic groups. Even our music seems designed to subdivide us.
One part of America loves her history, another reviles it as racist, imperialist and genocidal. Old heroes like Columbus, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee are replaced by Dr. King and Cesar Chavez.
But the old holidays, heroes and icons endure, as the new have yet to put down roots in a recalcitrant Middle America.
We are not only more divided than ever on politics, faith and morality, but along the lines of class and ethnicity. Those who opposed Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court and stood by Sgt. Crowley in the face-off with Harvard's Henry Louis Gates were called racists. But this time they did not back down. They threw the same vile word right back in the face of their accusers, and Barack Obama.
Consider but a few issues on which Americans have lately been bitterly divided: school prayer, the Ten Commandments, evolution, the death penalty, abortion, homosexuality, assisted suicide, affirmative action, busing, the Confederate battle flag, the Duke rape case, Terri Schiavo, Iraq, amnesty, torture.
Now it is death panels, global warming, "birthers" and socialism. If a married couple disagreed as broadly and deeply as Americans do on such basic issues, they would have divorced and gone their separate ways long ago. What is it that still holds us together?
The European-Christian core of the country that once defined us is shrinking, as Christianity fades, the birth rate falls and Third World immigration surges. Globalism dissolves the economic bonds, while the cacophony of multiculturalism displaces the old American culture.
"E pluribus unum" – out of many, one - was the national motto the men of '76 settled upon. One sees the pluribus. But where is the unum? One sees the diversity. But where is the unity?
Is America, too, breaking up?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: Is Barack Obama a Zombie Who Wants to Eat Representative Joe Wilson's Brains?
We are going to do a more serious, incisive, and analytical post on President Obama's health care speech to Congress in a few hours, but because I am a ghetto nerd who loves Bro'Bama, and I will ride or die with the man, I feel that I can make the following observation.
Have any of you have seen the photo of President Obama on CNN's homepage?
Does he not look like one of the undead? Do you remember during the campaign when that kindly looking, black elder was trying to kiss him, a moment that many (including me) joked that she was a zombie trying to bite him? Could Bro'Bama be infected with the z-virus?
For your inspection, here is Barack Obama side by side with THE Romero zombie Bub from Day of the Dead, a little Black Zombie obligatorily thrown in from Land of the Dead--and Romero's cemetery zombie from Night of the Living Dead:
Do we have something to worry about? And after Congressman Joe Wilson's impolitic outburst, doesn't President Obama look like he wants to eat said offender's brains? Are we in the beginning stages of a full scale zombie apocalypse--a trickle down, brain eating, end of the world, scenario?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Another day, another set of prizes to give away.
Courtesy of Gotham Books, we are hosting a contest featuring Hill Harper's (the actor of CSI fame) new book "The Conversation." Hill's work, I just got my copy today and will be reading it on the bus to and from work, presents a light, insightful, and accessible user's manual for African American men and women to better understand that which keeps us apart (and hopefully what can bring us closer together). I am not a big fan of self-help books, but The Conversation is fun reading and I do recommend it.
Now, we respectable negroes have always talked around the dynamics surrounding gender relationships, but this contest seems like a great entry point into this impassioned conversation.
We respectable negroes also have a biting sense of humor-- so of course we can't just give copies of this book away. You all need to work to get this swag. In the spirit of the Church of James Brown (wasn't that a fun contest?), we bring you the chance to play ...insert drum roll...
Each of the submissions should have the following format.
1. Tell us what the symptoms are of the patient (i.e. if the Black Male/Female relationship was a patient, what would he/she come to you as the doctor complaining about?)
2. What condition is the patient in? Please use this helpful guide:
As an example, if I were to submit a response, here is what mine would likely be.
I was the attending physician for the Black Relationship's visit to the emergency room on September 8, 2009. The patient arrived complaining of shortness of breath, headaches, and swollen joints. There were suspicious marks on the forearms and chest that would suggest defensive injuries from an attack, cutting, or a history of domestic violence. The patient's neck also displayed scarring consistent with being burned by hot grits or cooking oil.
In addition, the patient described acute conditions that are associated with a generalized anxiety disorder. I ran a standard exam and the vitals were within a normal range. However, said patient's blood pressure was extremely high (both systolic and diastolic) . When questioned about its lifestyle habits, the Black Relationship became upset, confused, and belligerent. He/she was paranoid and fixated on a deep internal schism around love and acceptance. There was also a repeated reference to "interracial dating," "white people stealing our good women and men," something called "BMW," as well as to "Angry Black Women." I suggested that the Black Relationship consult a mental health professional. At first resistant because of cultural norms, the patient quite wisely and lucidly agreed to do so in the future.
Physically the patient is in FAIR condition. However, the mental and emotional state of the patient is SERIOUS.
My PRESCRIPTION for the Black Relationship is intensive psychotherapy, a series of in depth physicals, as well as a consultation with a nutritionist.
In short have fun. We are giving away 3 copies of the book. But, I will probably have some additional prizes for the runners-up.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Totally random. I just got back from seeing the one and only George Clinton (can you smell the p-funk on me?) at the Africafest in Chicago. Gordon and his queen were also in attendance. At the climax of the show--one song before "Flashlight"--George Clinton's boy Michael Hampton played "Maggot Brain." Am I just that late to the party, but did Metallica borrow some of "Unforgiven's" chord progressions from Parliament's "Maggot Brain?"
In union, Gordon, his queen, and I noticed the similarities between the two songs. Are we crazy? What are some other funk-rock-metal borrowings/samplings/collaborations that are so obvious they have subsequently gone under the radar for most listeners? Enlighten me please as I enjoy adding those selections to my music rotation.
I am still waiting for the mothership!
I wonder if Riley Martin will get me a seat on the next outbound shuttle to Alpha Centauri?
When We Countenance Evil Anywhere, It Diminishes All of Us Everywhere: Father Wants Son's Beating Treated as Hate Crime
As we discussed earlier this week. Where is the outrage? And where is the "social justice" community? Remember, when we countenance evil anywhere, it diminishes all of us everywhere...
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Brian Milligan Sr. believes his son's race triggered a brutal attack on the streets of Buffalo, New York.
Armed with a chunk of concrete, several assailants beat Brian Milligan Jr. on the back of the head on August 18, leaving a 3-inch gash. They kicked him in the face, breaking his jaw.
Bloodied and bruised, the 18-year-old managed to walk five blocks to his grandmother's house before being rushed to the hospital.
Milligan's father believes several African-Americans beat his son, who is white, because he is dating an African-American woman. He wants police to treat the beating as a hate crime. He also has criticized what he calls a deafening silence from the community, police and the national media.
"If this was a black guy who was beaten by a group of white guys for dating a white girl, people would be up in arms," he said. "There's a double standard."
Buffalo police believe a group of about 10 to 15 African-American men attacked Milligan late at night, police spokesman Mike DeGeorge said. Police have made no arrests and are still investigating the motive, he said.
Milligan Sr. says he believes the attackers are the same "neighborhood guys" who threatened his son and his African-American girlfriend because of their interracial relationship.
The younger Milligan and his girlfriend, Nicola Fletcher, who is also 18, had recently complained of an increase in insults and threats in east Buffalo, where Fletcher lives and where Milligan was staying with his grandmother, Fletcher said.
"Every time they walk the streets, people stop him and call him 'cracker' and ask her why she's not with a black guy," Milligan Sr. said.
Two days before the attack, Fletcher said she was shot with paintball pellets by the same group of neighborhood aggressors.
"I'm afraid to walk the streets," she said. "Those guys are still out there."
Police "are making good progress in the case," said DeGeorge, the police spokesman. Investigators are still trying to determine if it should be declared a hate crime.
They have asked members of the community to call police if they have any information.
When Milligan was taken to Erie County Medical Center, he was unconscious and suffered blood on the brain and brain swelling as a result of the beating. He will see a neurosurgeon on September 10 to be evaluated, said his father.
He is now recovering at home and remembers nothing about the attack, which has made the police investigation even more difficult.
The story has touched a nerve with several members of Buffalo's African-American community, including a local pastor who leads a predominantly black church in Buffalo.
"At first, it didn't affect me the way that it would have if I heard it was a black teen attacked," said the Rev. Darius Pridgen, who spent years fighting for civil rights for African-Americans.
"But after I saw his father on TV pleading with the community to find the assailants, I decided I had to go after the people who beat this kid."
Pridgen said he felt that the community has turned a collective blind eye to the beating. So he gave a fire-and-brimstone sermon at the True Baptist Church on a Sunday after the attack, appealing to his congregation to help find the culprits.
"He didn't deserve to be beaten this way," Pridgen recalled saying at the service. "If you believe this, put your hands together."
If it was a black teen, Pridgen said, "We would have been protesting with flags and everything else."
Rod Watson also addressed the issue in his column in the Buffalo News. Watson, who is black, pointed out that interracial marriages are nearly 10 times higher than they were in 1960, according to U.S. Census data, but still those couples have a tough time being accepted by society.
"If blacks in Buffalo in 2009 are acting like whites in Selma in 1959, this society has big problems, despite electing a president who is himself the product of an interracial union," Watson said.
Judy Milligan, a community activist and Brian Milligan Jr.'s great-aunt, said she has been overwhelmed with support from her friends, both black and white.
Mary Woods, a member of Buffalo's African-American community, reached out to Milligan to offer her support.
"I don't care what color you are, when something like this happens, justice must be served," Woods said. "There had to be someone who saw something, and they should come forward."
Milligan Sr. has criticized the Buffalo Police Department for spending too much time "trying to prove this crime wasn't a hate crime instead of performing a solid investigation."
But DeGeorge said the department is pursuing the attackers with the same vigor as it would any crime.
"People tend to want crimes solved yesterday," DeGeorge said. "We are performing a thorough investigation and that takes time."He expressed optimism that Buffalo residents would come forward to help bring the perpetrators to justice.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
The Power of White Women's Tears (Redux) or Right Wing Mother Cries over Barack Obama's Speech to School Children
A colleague who forwarded the above clip to me summed it up best with his email that:
This woman's tears has inspired me to start a new feature: every time a Conservative (of if appropriate a Liberal) becomes histrionic about Barack Obama--and their only real motivation for said complaining and panic is the fact that the President of the United States is a Black man--I will play an appropriate video clip.
Today's installment of "we are really upset that a Black man is President but we don't have the courage to tell you is"...
Friday, September 4, 2009
Chauncey DeVega says: A Mugging On Lake Street or Let's Talk Honestly About Ignt's, Black on White Violence, and Liberal (or Not) Guilt
Hat tip to Ta-Nehisi Coates for this one. I was a victim of an attempted robbery at gunpoint (by a young black ign't) and am thus a bit too close to this story to offer a traditional essay.
Consequently, I have more questions than answers and will share accordingly.
I must applaud John Conroy's honesty in sharing the complex mix of feelings he experienced in the aftermath of his attack by a group of black hoodlums. For the uninitiated, Conroy is a local Chicago journalist who is good people and has worked diligently to highlight injustices wherever he has found them. In total, Conroy is a sincere defender of the "powerless" and the "disadvantaged"--how ironic then, when a member of said group viciously attacks him.
In reading "A Mugging on Lake Street" I must ask: what happens when you are one of the good guys (in this case a self-avowed, white progressive) and you are betrayed by those folks who you are invested in helping? Do you give up the fight? Should you? Or is this betrayal a litmus test for how deep one's commitment to a cause really is?
For example, if a person is invested in rehabilitating pitbulls, and one of those poor abused souls does not return the generosity of your deeds--except for a sudden and painful bite...so much just rewards for your hard work--are you a fool for continuing with that cause? How do we reconcile the moment of praxis that occurs when theory meets practice?
Did these ign'ts attack Conroy because he was white? Or did they attack him because he happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time? Are these predators so utterly unreflective, and controlled by their base impulses, that to assign any amount of premeditation to their deeds functions as an ironic, backhanded "complement"--one which they are not worthy of receiving?
When you hear about instances such as Conroy's attack, does your mind wander to the inevitable question, "what if a group of white kids had attacked a local black journalist? Wouldn't there be protests?" More generally, what of our common humanity? I bring hell down on white folks when they don't stand up for justice, and I try to bring the same rain down upon black and brown folk as well: Where were/are Sharpton et al. when hate crimes are committed against White people?
Or is this is a story of power, where "the powerful" i.e. White people, have enough advocates already? Thus, those who speak for the "weak" cannot and must not divert their attention from that cause? Or is the reluctance on the part of the media, public intellectuals, and activists to turn a bright light on hate crimes against whites a function of how these violent incidents are often taken as a cause de celebre by White Nationalists and other hate mongers, and thus there exists a natural aversion to giving said groups any additional ammunition?
Finally, what is more disturbing? "Larry's" behavior? Or that of the "responsible" adults around him? Is it not at all surprising that so many young black men end up in prison as much because of poor choices, as because of how those around them act as enablers? What is the over/under on how long until this young ign't, piece of human debris ends up in prison? I say 2 years, 5 on the outside. What is your bet?
Am I too callous, when after reading these stories I shake my head and say incidents such as these aren't about race at all? That instead these happenings are more precisely a commentary on the thin dividing line which separates the civilized and the savage--and that Conroy is actually lucky because if he were black those young ign'ts might have just as soon killed him?
Some choice excerpts:
I was willing to believe that this was just an example of the inexplicable teenage mind at work. Carolyn Frazier, a Northwestern law professor who often represents juveniles facing criminal charges, told me recently that her clients sometimes use the phrase “going on dummy” to describe doing something stupid, something bad, offering “a big ‘fuck you’ to society. . . . It’s that whole frontal cortex issue: They are just incredibly impulsive; they are not thinking about the higher consequences.” Of course, not every kid behaves that way, so there’s obviously more at work. “It’s peer pressure; it’s what you see in your neighborhood, what values you are being raised with; it’s all sorts of things.” Maybe, she said, “you got dummied.”
“Some people are just thugs,” an African American friend of mine said. And I thought there might be something to that. I just had the bad luck to run into one—they come in all colors—and perhaps mine was an equal opportunity thug. Maybe if I’d been black, I’d have hit the same piece of pavement.
Larry sat still for all of this, his eyes downcast. Aaronson asked him to reply. “Wasn’t no motive,” he said quietly, his voice hardly carrying to Aaronson’s end of the table. “Nothin’ like that.” He was hesitant, didn’t seem to be able to look at me directly, and there was no trace of cockiness or street toughness. “We was playing basketball at school, and then we got off the train, and one of the guys said, ‘Let’s do somethin’.’ ‘Like what?’ ‘Like beat up somebody.’ Thirty seconds later you came riding by on your bike.”
Larry maintained that he wasn’t the guy who’d hit me. He said that he hadn’t objected to the plan, and that afterward he had just run away with the others. “Seeing the way it happened, I had no feeling. Didn’t know what to feel.” The whole thing had nothing to do with race, he said. “If it was any other person in that state of mind we was in as a group, it would have happened to anyone. . . . Really wasn’t no reason. Just kids doing kids.”
“Why didn’t you steal anything?” I asked.
“Wasn’t part of the plan.”
I called seven more times, trying at hours when I thought I might catch Larry but not his aunt, but had no success. Finally, I called on Memorial Day. Larry’s aunt answered and said her husband wanted to talk to me. “I don’t see what it is that you want to know,” he said. “You got mugged, he got in trouble. So what is it that you want to know?”
“I’d just like to know what is behind it, what happened that day.”
“So, what you writing—a book, a movie, or what?”
“No, I’m just trying to write a magazine article. I’m not using—”
He interrupted before I could explain I wasn’t going to use Larry’s name. “Oh, you just writing a magazine article? That means you gonna get paid.”
“So is he gonna get paid?”
“Okay, then he ain’t gonna do the interview. I am his uncle, and that’s the end of that. Thank you. Have a nice day.” He hung up.
Dan Savage on Beck, Malkin, Bachmann, Palin et al.--They Basically Want to See the President Assassinated
I have completed my move back into Chicago--and will be moving again in a week--I thought I would be able to live comfortably next to the subway but I ain't that strong (I think the CIA should just take suspected terrorists and put them in an overpriced apartment next to the CTA or Metra and wait the obligatory 3 days until said terrorist begs for mercy).
Until I get settled in, here is a quickie to tide you over--my boy Dan Savage, yes Dan Savage of "Savage Love" fame--offering some analysis of the death cult that is Beck, Limbaugh, et al.
Who would have thought that the father of "santorum" and one of my favorite advocates of booty love would be so sharp.
Kudos to you Mr. Savage.
Here is a bonus:
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I work with a white guy I’ve known for years. We are somewhere in between good friends and casual acquaintances. He is a stand up guy and a raging liberal (he has all the symptoms of liberal overcompensation syndrome: he is from a small, lily white suburban town; his parents are super-conservative). We talk politics and race frequently, and we both employ sarcasm and humor when talking about these things.
So, this guy and I were in a meeting, and he wrote a bunch of things on the whiteboard. When we were finished, he smiled, tossed me the eraser, and said, “Here you go, clean this up for me” (I’ve made similar jokes to him in the past). I shot back “Oh, so the black man has to clean up after you?” We both laughed.
As I stood up to leave the room, I saw the black janitor emptying the trash. I’m fairly positive that he heard us even though he gave no indication that he did. As I’m one of the few men in our office, the janitor and I end up talking a lot every afternoon. He’s never mentioned anything about this, and there’s been no change in the tone of our discussions.
I feel terrible, even though I don’t think the joke is really offensive. Should I feel bad about the joke? Should I apologize to the janitor?
Friday, August 28, 2009
Disgraced negro Jayson Blair is in the news again. It seems that the
Reading the many news reports on Blair’s new career made me remember how thoroughly he screwed up his last career. These reports also remind me how mainstream media depict Blair’s blackness as central to his deceit and his shoddy work.
The predictable way in which the Blair case played out in the media gives us an opportunity to illustrate the two broad rules governing how black screw-ups are perceived (and therefore judged) in mainstream American public discourse. These rules also shape how black folks respond to black screw-ups.
A version of the first rule is stated at around the 5 minute mark of this snippet from Chris Rock’s 2004 stand-up special Never Scared:
Rule 1: A black person who screws up is attacked more severely than is a white person who screws up.
In Rock’s corollary, “only the white man can profit from pain.” The words “wrongdoing” and “incompetence” can often replace “pain,” but the point stands. Rule 1 is what responsible black parents instill in their children when they state, “you have to be x times as good as a white person in order to succeed” (whether x is 2 or 5 or 10 depends on the parent, the place, and the year).
In popular discourse, Jayson Blair has become the poster boy for plagiarism. When I see this yoke placed on the lone black writer among the dozens of contemporary mainstream writers busted for plagiarism, my antennae go up (think also of high profile black offenders becoming the poster children for corruption and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system).
The journalistic fraud of former New Republic associate editor Stephen Glass was arguably as impressive as Blair’s; nevertheless, the public was more sympathetic to Glass’ fictionalized (auto)biographical novel The Fabulist as well as the movie it spawned, Shattered Glass than they were to Blair’s opportunistic literary cash grab, Burning Down My Master’s House. Glass certainly received his fair share of loathing, but, as evidenced by the sneering undertones pervading the reports of Blair’s new career, there is a little something extra in the condemnation of Blair.
Those who point out Rule 1 are often accused of “playing the race card,” which is supposed to imply a refusal to hold black people personally accountable for their self-inflicted woes. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Rule 2: The misdeeds of any black screw-up are attributed not just to that lone screw-up, but to black people as a whole.
Rule 2 is significantly more pernicious than the first. One of the biggest advantages of being white is having the luxury of being treated as an individual—for people who aren’t white, the sins of any become the sins of all, while the good deeds of any are exceptional and are used to denounce the masses (“you’re one of the good ones;” “why can’t the rest of you be like so-and-so?”).
Mainstream media framing the Blair affair as a black mark against affirmative action is an example of Rule 2 in action. This framing is hardly surprising coming from conservative opponents of affirmative action, but the affirmative action meme has also featured heavily in liberals’ accounts of the scandal, though sometimes merely as a foil. Such an interpretation calls into question the qualifications and character of all people of color and, most insidiously, undermines formal attempts to address systemic exclusion.
Rule 2 can also bolster the notion that the failures of a black screw-up can be attributed to some inherently flawed aspect of black culture (e.g. homophobia, misogyny, violence, anti-intellectualism).
Contrary to popular opinion, black people are the harshest critics of black screw-ups. Even though black people know the rules are unfair, the attitude seems to be that if you’re too reckless or stupid to ignore the rules, you get what you deserve. It should be noted that this attitude is not borne of defeatism or internalized self-hatred, but of individual and collective self interest: black screw-ups make us all look bad.
There is often black pushback against both rules, however. Black people may relent in their criticism of a black screw-up when it appears that whites are giving the knife in the back of that black screw-up an extra twist. Since explicit, anti-black animus has been driven from public discourse, these impulses must be either coded or channeled into publicly acceptable outlets. Black people can usually sense when white folks are criticizing a black screw-up in order to vent their anger toward black people in general.
I am willing to forgive Blair’s past screw-ups, and I wish him much success in his new endeavor, but since the rest of us are penalized for his missteps, he’d better not screw up again.