Wednesday, February 3, 2010
What is Black History month? What was it ever? What does it mean now that we have a Black President who happens to be a President who is black (how can you not like that Oscar Wilde like word play?).
This month, in addition to my usual posts, I am going to share my instinctive--often counter-intuitive (and hopefully biting)--thoughts on what Black History Month is. Today, Black History Month is Petey Greene.
A question and a thought: In 2010 is Black History Month hustlin' backwards?
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Barack Obama Enters the GOP's Dojo and Proceeds to Own Them or Barack Obama Channels Black Belt Jones
Much digital ink has been expended already on the Friday afternoon seminar taught by President Obama (and yes it was the equivalent of a master professor's schooling of some young not as smart as they think they are undergraduates). My two cents? I am glad to see the President getting his stride back. Hopefully, his good day on Friday will translate into him following through on the great promise demonstrated during the campaign...fingers crossed. Ultimately, in the immortal words of Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, "Two men enter one man leaves!" In this case, it was President Obama doing his best imitation of Black Belt Jones who entered the GOP's house and then proceeded to dominate them:
Friday, January 29, 2010
What Would a Black Militant Say About Obama's First Year in Office? Brother X-Squared Responds to President Obama's State of the Union Address
WARNNN: It is wonderful to see you again Brother X-Squared. We have been trying to interview you for several months now, and you have been a whirlwind of activity. I know all of us here at WARNNN are so happy to see that you have been traveling all across this country spreading your message.
Brother X-Squared: I have been traveling. And it is wonderful to see you again Brother Chauncey. Did you receive the reading materials I sent you? The Conspiracy to Destroy Young Black Boys, How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America, and The Mind of the Master Class?
WARNNN: Yes, I did. You are a wonderful ally and friend. Let's get to the interview: With all that has transpired, all the history that has been made with Obama's first year, his State of the Union Address, and Dr. King's birthday--the first time a Black man has been president during that most auspicious of days--what are your thoughts on these exciting and poignant happenings?
Brother X-Squared: First of all Brother Chauncey, I am not your friend or ally. I am no one's friend or ally. I love all Nubians--those black people whose minds are free. I belong to the all powerful pan Asiatic coalition of Black Freedom Fighters. I am only willing to be "friends"--the white man's word for those who give in to his power and whims--with those who will die for the cause. Are you willing to die for the cause of Black liberation?
WARNNN: It would depend Brother....
Brother X-Squared: I have to interrupt you. If you can't say "yes" right away the answer is "no." I like you Chauncey DeVega, but you have a long way to go before you free your mindstate and can become my "friend." Now, my thoughts on this Obama Dr. King anniversary nonsense. Do you want to know how I really feel? Are you ready Brother Chauncey?
WARNNN: Yes, I am eagerly waiting. As are my readers. Tell us, are you happy, how are you feeling?
Brother X-Squared: I am happy like a Pentecostal snake handler feeding his pet raccoon after drinking strychnine and speaking in tongues with a bowl of hot chitterlings (the white man's feces filled pig guts) in front of him.
WARNNN: I am surprised. You are usually so disappointed, angry and upset. What a wonderful change. So, have changed your mind about Obama's presidency? Have we turned a corner? Is America now a post-racial society?
WARNNN: You have not lost a step have you.
Brother X-Squared: Never. Guess what Brother Chauncey? The White man knew what he was doing the whole time. Those Glenn Beck, Limbaugh soon to be arrested for child molesting and drug use, Tea Party neo-John Birchers, Sarah Palin white trash, Fox news watching populists who howl at Obama and claim he is the devil are the most happy that Obama is President! The White man is a master of tricknology and evil. In fact, they lie so well and so often the Right wing believe--like all White people, especially White Liberals--that their lies are true.
WARNNN: Powerful words. What did you think of the State of the Union Address? Even with your feelings about Obama, even you had to be impressed by Obama's political acumen, poise, and intelligence. What about how Obama handled a very difficult and impolite Republican audience?
Brother X-Squared: I am not impressed. I laughed and howled while watching the speech. It reminded me of a proverbial lynching. Just think of the setup. That poor negro Obama is so hated by them even though he is innocent, he is more white than Black, he does their bidding! The White man is running a game on everyone with this partisan nonsense. Obama, like every president is a corporatist hack. Nobody in that building loves or cares about Black people. That devil Chris Matthews said that he could close his eyes and wouldn't even realize Obama was Black. Hell, anyone can look at Obama, listen to his words, and see that Obama isn't a true Nubian. Obama is melanin challenged, his energy is zero--his white momma canceling out his black daddy--so Obama is quite literally a zero. Truer words have never been spoken by Chris Matthews! I salute him!
Tragically, Obama may not even know he is being used--so forgiving of white people, with his half white blood self, and king dingaling African diluting his melanin with a white woman daddy, believes he can create "change." Please! Ain't nothing changing in this game.
Did you know who built the White House and Capital buildings Brother Chauncey?
WARNNN: Black slaves.
Brother X-Squared: Exactly. And the white man's slave is sitting up there to this day as the president. Head slave! That is what he is. There was all this controversy about that white man Harry Reid calling Obama a negro a few weeks back. Again, even in their lies there is truth. Obama is a "knee-grow." He quite literally sits on the white man's knee like a little black puppet, like that sick nasty pedophilia signifying puppet Lester, while speaking the White man's lies. Yes, Obama is a negro for sure, a negro who grows out of the white man's knee!
I bet those murderous "founders" of this slaveocracy, Jefferson, Washington, all of them, are laughing too. They aren't rolling over in their graves, oh no, they are laughing at this charade. The only folks who may be sad are the elder Gods, those Black brothers who went to Washington after Reconstruction to set things right for the newly emancipated Black man. Read the book Capital Men, it shows what real Nubians do, not like that halfrican quasi black man Barack Obama.
I have a question for you Brother Chauncey. Let's test your knowledge of how power really works in this world. Did you notice what the guests for Obama's speech were wearing? What color?
WARNNN: I didn't really notice. Lots of dark colors seeing that they were wearing suits?
Brother X-Squared: Again, you need to up your IQ Brother Chauncey. Purple! Did you see Michelle Obama's dress? Biden's tie? Do you understand the significance of that? Purple is the color of the Illuminati. The global power elite wear purple because it was the color worn by the Praetorian Guard in ancient Rome! This is real deep knowledge that you and most other brainwashed Negroes are not prepared for! The Praetorian Guard pulled the strings, they controlled how long an Emperor would serve. Obama and his cronies, especially by having his queen--what is rightfully his property if Obama honored his Nubian origins and teachings which we know he does not--wear purple, Obama is telling his international masters that he is their boy. Times change. Game stays the same. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was tricking the dumb white man into believing that he, Satan, does not exist. The devils in the Illuminati do the same thing by hiding in plain sight.
WARNNN: What did you think of Obama's policy proposals? His ideas about fixing the economy? Obama's desire to have a freeze on "discretionary" spending?
Brother X-Squared: This is a shell game. America is a money society. Money is worthless. It is paper. It is useless in the real world. My brother Karl Marx, a good White man, pointed all this out with his boy Engels. This money culture is built on an illusion and now the illusion is shattered. Again, if America were righteous. Again, if Obama knew his teachings and African origins he would study the empire of Benin! What was a great, rich, and wondrous country in ancient Africa that ruled for centuries. Benin was based on gold! It had a stable, tangible, sustainable economy...not the mess the White man has made in this country--a house of lies and credit. Look at where these credit paper exotic voodoo financier Wall Street former slave traders got the American people. It made them all wage slaves. Suckers. Michael Moore, another good white man, a real race traitor like our late friend Howard Zinn, preached the truth in his latest movie.
WARNNN: What about not spending money which the U.S. does not have? Do you support that idea? That we ought to stop discretionary spending?
Brother X-Squared: See you need to think harder Brother Chauncey. We have so much work to do with you. "Discretionary?" Come on! The only thing discretionary in that budget is spending on poor folk, the poor who happen to be disproportionately Black, Brown, and Red. Entitlements--White people's code word for money they give to themselves. Defense spending--money to wage the White man's wicked wars on the world. Neither are touched by this spending "freeze." Black people don't get any of this money, even from the 600 billion dollars spent on "defense." Brother A Phillip Randolph during WW2 tried to make sure black folk got some of that money by forcing that white devil FDR to desegregate the arms industries. We ain't got no money since! White folks will continue to give themselves welfare even with Obama's spending freeze. The only people who will suffer from Obama's budget will be Black people, Latinos, and Native Americans. You will see!
WARNNN: I will grant those concerns. But, what of Obama's plan to spend more money on high speed transit? On public transportation for our central cities? That will most certainly help black folk?
Brother X-Squared: Again, you do not open your eyes to the truth. Getting to the fact of the matter--the white power structure only acts in its own interests Brother Chauncey. White people are gentrifying--what is really taking over and kicking out black people--our cities. They want the trains to get our black behinds out of the cities to the suburbs where they do this thing called scattered site housing to break up our ability to organize and rebel. Those high speed rails will connect the cities, just like the highway system created the lily white suburbs after WW2. New ghettos, just with houses not projects will be the result! The white man will never have to deal with black people again. We are being made obsolete! Out of sight and out of mind! But he will learn, the Nubians will never surrender, only those weak brainwashed neo-slaves will go quietly into the night.
WARNNN: As is our tradition Brother X-Squared, and damn you have been teaching tonight, please tell us something we don't know.
Brother X-Squared: Jersey Shore.
WARNNN: You mean that show with the stupid "Italians" acting like "guidos?"
Brother X-Squared: That show is evidence of the sickness that is whiteness. Those white ethnic people came over here and had to "assimiliate," they had to fit in. In order to become white they had to hate Black people. Italians, like the Irish, were almost considered as low on the totem pole as Black people. Now, they had to lose their culture to become American. What was left was a vacuum, an emptiness. Those sad white people fill it with silliness and dumb behavior like being a "guido." I love it. The sickness that is white people. They are pathological!
But again, the white man has tricks on top of tricks! In Italy, right now, proud Africans are fighting against the Mafia. African immigrants are standing up to the self-hating Italians--those Italians can't forget their Moorish blood, how we took their women, had our way with them, gave them real civilization and created Sicilians. My African brothers are righteously demanding equal treatment. Stay strong in the struggle my African brothers fighting white supremacy in Italy! We will get revenge for what those devils did to our most righteous Ethiopia--Haile Selassie, all honor due--oh yes, the chickens will come home to roost and the white man will end up getting what is coming to him. Never forget Brother Chauncey that 2010 is our year. 2 plus 1 equals 3. There are the three sides to a triangle. The triangular slave trade. Oh yes free Nubians! History is on our side and revenge will be sweet.
WARNNN: Wow, I am speechless. I know our readers are stunned. As always, I appreciate your time, honesty, and energy Brother X-Squared.
Brother X-Squared: Till next time Brother Chauncey.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Howard Zinn, On the Night of Obama's State of the Union Address, Has Passed Away...God Speed Our Friend
Goodbye our/my friend.
Professor Howard Zinn has passed away. It is fitting that on the one year anniversary of history in this country come full circle--Obama's first State of the Union Address--that one of our elder scholars would pass on the same day. John Hope is gone (I always called him John Hope as it seemed sufficient without the "Franklin." Zinn has left. The elder Gods will still smile down on us...for their wisdom crosses time and space. As Dr. ." Zinn Zinn said above, history is us, we need to create change, and it is the people who make the world the better place. Elites follow to the degree that it is in their best interests. The struggle is to reconcile those conflicting agendas:
Again, my highest complement. Professor Howard Zinn may the force be with you. You were indeed a bad white man, a true ally, and a great example for how truth (and the people) can speak to power. Let us not forget that it is the PEOPLE who make history.
You will be missed.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: The Pilot Script for AMC's Adaptation of the Walking Dead Reviewed
I love getting brain. I love to eat brains. I will one day write my own zombie opus--no really I will (the question is will anyone buy it?). In the meantime we ghetto nerds will have to wait for The Walking Dead to come to AMC sometime this year (I hope). What a world in which we live! These Internets, Mad Men, and The Walking Dead. Oh yeah, we can't forget that Fables is soon to be on ABC. Like I said months ago, we are living in the midst of a geek renaissance...Courtesy of Coming Attractions:
Exclusive: A review of the pilot script for The Walking Dead TV series
Is there such a thing as having too much dead people in your entertainment quota?
The answer to that question will only be known if AMC decides to give a greenlight to a TV series based on Robert Kirkman's ongoing comic book series about life after the zombie apocalypse, The Walking Dead. If you haven't been paying attention, the 2000s saw the zombie finally rise to mainstream status with a horde of well-received movies in this monster genre: the Resident Evil films (with a fourth now in production); a remake of Dawn of the Dead; 28 Days Later and its sequel which gave the idea of a slow moving corpse a twist with its fast runners; zombie comedies Zombieland and Fido; and the return of the father of modern zombie cinema, George A. Romero, with two new ghoul films, Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead (and there's a third forthcoming, Survival of the Dead.)
With all of that box office success one would think that television executives would be looking to cash in on the zombie hype and get a TV series on the air. Actually, one network did try: back in 2007 CBS ordered a pilot called Babylon Fields which could be best described as a drama set after the dead return from the grave. After viewing the pilot the network decided that the show didn't fit in with the network's fall schedule, and so a series was never ordered. So much for zombies on the tube, right?
Well, not really. Just like any good zombie it's hard to keep the idea of a zombie TV series dead and buried. Last summer the rights to Kirkman's Walking Dead were sold to AMC. Fans of the book may have felt somewhat reassured when it was also mentioned that Frank Darabont would be directing the pilot, as well as writing the pilot's screenplay and serving as an executive producer on the show. The director of The Shawshank Redemption, The Majestic, The Green Mile and The Mist, Darabont was also a producer on a proposed sequel to The Thing, the 1982 John Carpenter movie. Unfortunately that four-hour mini-series never got further than the screenplay stage, but when I reviewed it last year, I found the script to be an outstanding idea for a continuation of The Thing. If Darabont could bring some of that quality found in the Thing mini-series sequel to The Walking Dead TV show, then AMC's Mad Men audience may be in for a real ride.
Only as recently as last week did AMC order a pilot to be made from Darabont's Walking Dead screenplay. If the cable network likes what they see then there'll be a Walking Dead TV series coming as soon as this fall or perhaps around the start of 2011. So, here is the big question: does Darabont's Walking Dead pilot have the necessary ingredients to be not just a decent horror TV series but a good drama?
The answer: Yes, it does.
Contained in Darabont's 60-page pilot script are all the elements to make the show a success. There's plenty of horror that happens in those 60 pages. The director's script covers the broad range of the zombie horror emotional spectrum, such as giving us moments of extreme gore (hey, any zombie TV show wouldn't be a zombie show if it didn't have folks being munched on!), moments of shock value (hey, you didn't think that there was a zombie hiding behind that car, did you?) and the moments that I believe are the best indicator that The Walking Dead TV series has what it takes to transcend the boundaries of being simply labelled a horror show, the psychological horror scenes. Those scenes are the hammers that you're going to remember and the ones that are going to propel this show to be viewed as something more important than just a scary show.
If you're familiar with the beginnings of the comic then you'll be on familiar ground when you watch the pilot episode, even though it would appear that Darabont isn't interested in making a direct adaptation of the comic book's origin story. Our hero is Officer Rick Grimes, a deputy for a small Georgia town outside of Atlanta. About 15 pages into our story Grimes is involved in a police incident where he receives a near-fatal injury. After being taken to the hospital and falling into a short coma, our law enforcement man awakens to find the hospital empty and the telltale signs that something very bad has gone down while he was out. The way that Darabont chooses to introduce Grimes to the post-zombie world is nearly identical to the opening moments of Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later but it's forgivable; the impact of the changed world is that much more heightened with Grimes serving as our introduction to it.
From there Grimes tries to find his family, his wife Lori and their young son Carl. He returns to his home and finds the neighborhood deserted, his wife and son gone. Still not fully comprehending what's happened, Grimes is saved by another father and son who have taken up shelter in a neighbor's house. From these two survivors Grimes learns about the zombie plague and the rules of life: if you're bitten, if a zombie so much as scratches you, you become infected, you die and then you become a zombie yourself. We're also shown some of the rules of the game that the Walking Dead zombies adhere to: there are "walkers", the ones that slowly come up to you. The walkers are slow and a head shot will take them out. That said, there's a lot of walkers out there and if they decide to come at you at once, save that last bullet for yourself, you dig?
From his new neighbors Grimes is told that his family may have decided to head into Atlanta where the government was setting up a safety zone. With that info, Grimes heads off by himself and makes his way into the city. What happens in the next 20-or-so minutes is pretty intense for our hero and I want to leave it for Darabont to show to you.
I'm not sure if Darabont is the kind of guy that puts in camera effects into all of his screenplays but in his Walking Dead script there are a couple of places where he describes the visual tricks that he wants to do to heighten the surreal nature of a scene. There's a moment where Grimes is in a tough situation and has to fire a pistol at close quarters at a zombie. In the environment that he's in, Grimes is momentarily deafened by the blast. In Darabont's script, the description of what we the viewer should experience to communicate the deafness is in there. Reading that sort of scene as well as a few others like that made me more interested in seeing what Darabont's visual style is going to be in this show.
If you were a fan of the comic book before, now you know that the pilot's set-up of the Walking Dead story follows a similar arc as the comic's but it's not exact. I'd guess that about half to two-thirds of the first two issues are contained in the pilot episode but there's also new material. For instance, we now get to see the incident that brought Grimes to the hospital (the comic begins with him coming to in his deserted room) and there's some changes with what happens when he is in Atlanta that differ with the comic's depiction of events. Darabont seems to know what he's doing and in the places where he chooses to include new material, with his changes/additions better serving the story and bring more characterization (at the beginning and middle) and intensity (at the end). In particular there was a new revelation concerning the plight of the other father that Grimes finds living in his old neighborhood that's not in the comic. This new material really underscored the sense of what kind of deep and unsettling world the survivors are now living in.
Darabont's also done a solid job of knowing what works from The Walking Dead and sometimes reproducing it exactly in his screenplay, such as the case with the bicycle Grimes comes across and the reaction of its former owner to the officer's arrival.
The Walking Dead pilot doesn't sell out its concept for the sake of finding a wider audience. This is a show set in a world where families have died and the survivors haven't had the time to cope with their losses, much less come to terms with civilization collapsing around them. Knowing the course that Kirkman's comic book takes and now after seeing how Darabont's chose to make the pilot more of a drama than a flat-out horror action show, AMC's Walking Dead has fantastic potential. The Walking Dead could even do for horror what the new Battlestar Galactica did for science fiction. Cross your fingers and hope that the show comes together as well as it did on the page.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Equal Protection? Who is Protecting Us? Of Corporations, the Supreme Court, Campaign Spending and "Free Speech"
As Brother Malcolm said, "Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research."
This is the "progressive" dilemma in a bucket--a black president not beholden to a "black agenda"; institutional forces such as transnational corporations whose interests are NOT those of the American public; a passive American citizenry that has abdicated their voice in exchange for the illusory power of the voting franchise; and Johnny-come-latelies to "politics" who think that activism is wearing an Obama t-shirt as opposed to real work, real sacrifice, and real vigilance.
What is our role and responsibility in this? How do teachers, educators, activists, and scholars prepare the next generation of children to take ownership over their own society?
Random thought: how many of you are teachers who are utterly surprised by the willful ignorance of current events on the part of your students? What an irony, so plugged in, so connected, and with the Internet (quite literally) at their fingertips, yet they remain so isolated in the ways that matter.
Second random thought: I taught Intro to American Politics last quarter. In that section, there were a large number of Education majors. To keep them interested, I kept returning to the idea of citizenship and the role of educators in preparing the next generation of Americans to be part of a responsible electorate. Repeatedly, with few exceptions, there was a profound irony at play: these future "teachers" had never thought of education as a political act. Nor, had these future teachers reflected on their role as agents of political socialization. Sadly, despite my best efforts I do not think that their ignorance had been unsettled. Is the system broken? Or is the system working precisely as designed?
Watch What is the Matrix in Entertainment | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com
Ultimately, it seems that the people are so downtrodden by the Conservative, rightward political ethos that has dominated our civic culture since at least the 1960s (where government is always the problem and never the solution), that we the people have few expectations of ourselves or of our leaders to fight for the collective good. Rather, many of us choose to wrap ourselves in the illusory power provided by "democratic" institutions as opposed to truly democratic participation:
Wake up folks, folks you best wake up...from the NY Times:
WASHINGTON — Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.
The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.
The ruling represented a sharp doctrinal shift, and it will have major political and practical consequences. Specialists in campaign finance law said they expected the decision to reshape the way elections were conducted. Though the decision does not directly address them, its logic also applies to the labor unions that are often at political odds with big business.
The decision will be felt most immediately in the coming midterm elections, given that it comes just two days after Democrats lost a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and as popular discontent over government bailouts and corporate bonuses continues to boil.
President Obama called it “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”The story continues here.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
So A Black Woman Goes on an Internet Dating Site and Makes 2 Profiles--One Black and One White, Guess Which One is More Popular?
I am a wanderer of these Internets. One of my daily stops on my sojourn through cyberspace is a site called Erosblog. I do not as a rule repost information from other sites. But, for this I will make an exception. Today, Erosblog had a great story about a black woman who decided to do a little experiment: Kia posted an ad on Craigslist where she created a real profile (her true self) and a fake one (using a photo of her friend "Erin" who is white). Guess who was more popular, received "higher" quality responses, and attracted a better range of suitors?
I was going to do a similar experiment (and may still, although now temporarily absent Gordon said it would be cruel) but I give credit where credit is due. Kia's project is great. Here are some choice excerpts from her lab report where she discusses the types of responses "Erin" versus "Kia" has received.
So what kind of messages will a cute white girl from the DC metro area receive?
Really nice ones, actually. I am both validated and saddened. The majority of the messages compliment Fake Me’s humor and wit and express the sentiment that Fake Me seems like a cool person to hang out with. Which is true, I’m fucking rad. It’s validating to know that there are guys out there who “get” me.
But would they be as complimentary on my sense of humor and my killer favorite movies list if they were reading my real profile? Would they even bother to read my real profile? Probably not.
The most depressing part is that I rarely get messages like this. I can remember one. Let’s compare.
A sampling of messages to Erin:
“ok so you’re my new favorite person. first, that little intro paragraph was hilarious. i don’t even know why. but i laughed. Then you bash hiking which is ….ugh. I hate the people on here. it’s an instant rejection for liking hiking.” (VALIDATING MY HATRED OF THE OUTDOORS!)
“I enjoyed your wittiness and it’s not often that I meet people on here from Chevy Chase.”
“Anyone who speaks Elvish or, as you said, one of the many in the family of languages does not have a sad life. In fact, you’re the second person I’ve come across who took the time to learn it. Which makes you, in my book, pretty awesome. I actually enjoyed reading your whole profile, but the Elvish was the first thing I noticed.” (VALIDATING MY NERDLY INTERESTS!)
“I can’t spend much time on this message, because I’m typing it in the middle of my work out. My workout is bench-pressing a car.” (His entire message is like this. Very funny)
A sampling of messages to me:
“You know, the first thing I noticed about you was that your sense of humor is well developed and full of awesome. You made me laugh, and not just the lol silent internet laugh, but a true laugh out loud.” (This is the message I referred to. The only one. This guy talked to me on IM twice and I’ve never heard from him since.)
“Hi, so you thinking bout making out alot” (This is the entirety of the message)
“Hi Hello, how are you doing? I guess your doing fine’s. Actually l came across your profile and I was highly impressed. If you don’t mind, l would love to know you Bettie am here looking for my soul mate, someone loving caring loyal trustworthy and honest, am looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with. By the way am kelvin and u can contact me at…..” (This is the average language skills level of people who message me. I’m not exaggerating one bit.)
“Hello there, I saw your ad on CL and it caught my eye and my imagination…” (This guy goes on and on, not a bad message, but clearly copy and pasted from the mass responses he sends out to chicks on Craigslist. Great.)****
Here is some gross data on Erin versus Kia's popularity as of the first day of their ad being online:
Erin: 99 profile views, 10 messages, added to 3 favorites lists, 9 IMs, 1 Wink (a passive-aggressive way to contact people)
Me: 13 profile views, 1 IM, 1 Wink
So what do you all make of this experiment? How is race a variable in the online dating game? Could this be an artifact of fewer people of color using the internet for dating purposes (question: is this even true? does anyone have data on this? It seems that OkayCupid has released some really rich data on race and dating online. Of note: check out the following two charts. As we can see black women are the most likely to write back to men of all races, and the least likely to get a response. We also see that white men get the most responses, and that white women prefer white men to the exclusion of almost all other groups. Asian and Hispanic women prefer them almost exclusively. What is up with the response rates intra-racially for black men and black women? Surprising? So much for the myth of black male primacy and the compelling allure of race mixing...
I would bet there are a whole lot of folks trying to holla at each other on Facebook and Myspace (Would any of you date someone you met that way?) Alternatively, could people be using the Internet for approaching folk they would not pursue in person? Thus, interracial dating is more popular online? Stating the obvious: is Kia less attractive than "Erin?" Could the results be a measure of general attractiveness?
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Tuesday Afternoon Double Dose Happiness Pill Part 2: Black People Can't Have Anything--White Women, Hair Weaves, and the People's Court
Black folk can't keep nothin' can we? Do you remember when hair weaves were a "black thing?" When it was only hippies, wannabe Rastas, and white girls who went to Jamaica on spring break and got some of that Sycamore tree who came back with "black" hair? Oh, the good old days. They had a certain simplicity that I so long for. Damn Barack Obama's America.
In a double irony that is the absurdity which is post-racial America, maybe white women will start getting their hair relaxed? Who knows? Maybe white women will start being afraid of the rain and will no longer be able to go swimming? Nah, that would be too much for this simple respectable negro to handle. I would have to start popping Xanax to deal with those proverbial cats and dogs living together.
Random thought: Where are the black, brown, Dominican, Korean, Egyptian--depending on where you live--folk who have a monopoly on African American hair care? We can't even control the hair economy in our own communities? How sad.
You have been warned my good white people. Behold! White folk who want to adopt black affects of speech, style, and dress must be prepared for the trials of negritude or your life can easily become a litigious, exhausting, confused mess:
Tuesday Afternoon Double Dose Happiness Pill Part One--Pastor Manning on the Meaning of Black and Proud!
If you ever wanted to understand the odd mix of circumstances that gave birth to Chauncey DeVega, watch this clip from Pastor Manning.
Many black folk still operate under an assumption of private spaces within which to talk about the "black experience" free from the white gaze. In this private black space we do not have to wear a mask and we can share all of our thoughts that for reasons of power, inequality, and for fear of enabling white supremacy we keep silent. With the rise of the Internet and "the black superpublic" those romantic notions of the past can be put to rest. As the 'Cos so loving says, our dirty laundry walks down the street everyday when school let's out...why pretend that we can hide it?
Pastor Manning reminds me of my (late) Uncle Vash. He was an eccentric. Ucle Vash believed that he pioneered the eating of the whole baked potato--meaning he would not discard the skin because it was the secret to his longevity, and this innovation was his singular contribution to Black America. Uncle Vash was also a self-ordained minister who would wax philosophical on the "heathen" Muslims, Jews, and others who had not found "Christ's love" while eating said potatoes at Wendy's restaurant.
His reasoning: those lost religions and false prophets were overcome by heat stroke and had false visions. Being a willful and know-it-all 12 year old who by that age had already rejected religion, I would ask, "well the Christians are from the same neighborhood. Aren't they similarly confused?" Uncle Vash exclaimed, "Of course not! God protected the Christians from the heat so they could hear the truth!" I would smile and go back to eating my Wendy's hamburger. Religion once more ruins all things. But in this instance, religion makes for a formative experience that can be told and retold as an anecdote and punchline.
Thus are the threads that when tied together make Chauncey DeVega the odd fellow who he proudly is...and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The Irrepressible Power of Blackness in the Age of Obama or Day to Day Racism in 2010: It Ain't Going Anywhere
I don't generally use this project as a location for personal venting and revelation. In fact, I do not have a preference for those blogs that are "today I had a bad day" or "now I am sad because X, Y, Z happened." I get that those types of projects are worthwhile and meaningful. Moreover, in an Internet of nearly endless possibilities there is room for everyone. But as we approach Dr. King's birthday and the 1 year anniversary of Obama's presidency there are moments when personal openness seems to be the most appropriate way for reflecting on how race remains operative in American life. It would seem that the personal remains political.
In "post racial" America we are told that race no longer matters. Most of us know better. Race has certainly changed over time. Race is a paradox. It is both unstable and stable. Ultimately, race is what scholars Omi and Winant in their groundbreaking book Racial Formation describe so deftly as a "changing same." Privilege, professional accomplishment, wealth, and pulling up oneself by their own bootstraps is not an insulation from the daily indignities of racism. These seemingly benign inconveniences are cumulative proof of how deeply rooted white supremacy is in this country.
We get followed around stores (ask Oprah, there are times when even she didn't get let in). We get asked for our id's when using credit cards while white folk who are in fact more likely to commit fraud go unmolested. Students and clients alike often look surprised when we walk in the room as their teachers/advisers. We have paid the cost to be the boss. But now we have a higher mountain to climb in order to earn many a person's trust. And as I have said elsewhere, for me, the greatest, most practical power of whiteness is the ability to ensure for its owners the ability to choose the time and place of their discomfort. Black folk have to prove our worth--in fact more than our worth--even while the most mediocre of others will never have their competence questioned. People's exhibit number one: Former president George W. Bush.
Those people of color who have achieved despite the obstacles in their path have a thick skin by necessity. We are too "white" for some. We are too "black" or "brown" for others. Damned if we do. Damned if we don't.
To point: in my neighborhood there is a shuttle bus service that undergraduates and graduate students alike can make use of. Alumni are also allowed to use this shuttle service. Tonight I quite innocently approached said bus in order to ask how long it would take to get to my apartment. One would have thought that I was a brigand, a thief, one of those many heretofore indistinguishable masses of negritude that supposedly live to rob, rape, cajole, panhandle, and disadvantage the good undergraduate students of an elite university. At that moment, I have never seen such fear. I was Black Frankenstein. The dozen or so students on the bus were the little white, black, brown, red, biracial, and yellow kids near the lake innocently playing with a flower before I threw them to their death. For the fear in their eyes I could have been The Terminator:
Fear is infectious. The bus driver, an African American himself, was also intoxicated by their terror. Sad.
Yes, I am a bit older than the late teens, early twenty somethings on the bus. No, I am not threatening. No, I was not hostile. No, I was not drunk or disorderly. And yes, I spoke in my best of the King's English. I am not a bad man...although I have fantasies of being one--one part Stagolee and one part John Henry if they had been given a part in the movie Unforgiven. In the real world, all five foot nine of me is not too imposing. Ironically, I have taught these students. Most certainly, I can intellectualize their fear better than they can. Not ironically, in the wrong context I am just one of those black folk in the neighborhood they are told to fear.
I did not know that I had such power in Barack Obama's America. With his election, I thought that I would be neutered. But tonight I felt like Nosferatu peering in a woman's window. Who would have known that blackness was such an irrepressible force? To terrify, frighten, chill the blood, and intimidate all who dare oppose its power? I must ask, how many of us, (myself included) in moments such as this have experienced a moment of pause where we ask ourselves, "did I do something wrong?" " Was I "aggressive?" "Did I frighten someone? Hell, is this a projection of my own racial insecurity?"
Ultimately, it seems that we are prisoners of our own efforts to justify the credos of colorblind, post-racial, race blind, playing "the race card," 21st century America.
Sorry, but today I do not feel like following that script. As Brother Malcolm said, "what do you call a black man with a PhD? You call him a nigger." What do you call those of us without one? I can only imagine...
Indulge me. Help a brother out if you can by completing the following sentence: The irrepressible power of blackness in the age of Obama is....
Friday, January 15, 2010
Time to be Heard Part 2--Slave Drivers and Slave Catchers of the 21st Century: Glenn Beck's Special on Black Conservatives and Dr. King's Dream
I firmly believe in highlighting the ideological diversity that exists within the black community. I also subscribe to the idea that there are as many different ways to be black as there are black people. However, I do not confuse "Black" with black. The former is a certain understanding of political blackness (linked fate or group consciousness), a sense of race pride, and an obligation to truth telling against power. The witches coven of black conservatives that Glenn Beck repeatedly features on his show (with brazen provocativeness in honor of all days, Dr. King's birthday) lack these attributes as they enthusiastically enable the inherent racism and racial resentment that undergirds white conservatism.
I have often suggested that black conservatives are psycho-racial projections for and of the white conservative racial id (note the use of "white conservatives" as opposed to "conservatives," as there is a substantial and real difference between the two ideologies). These black folk are the "good ones." These black conservatives are not "confused" by the liberals and Democrats. These black folk are not "angry." Nor, do "they" make "trouble." All the while these happy black conservatives are just pleased to be at the party, to have some table scraps thrown to them by their white conservative masters as they enjoy their positions as 21st century colonial intermediaries who can translate the drums of the natives.
Consider--and this would be my qualifier for distinguishing between principled black conservatives and the peanut gallery of jesters that is Beck's court--why did these guests not call Beck on his own nonsense? Why did not one of them ask Beck if Dr. King was a "Socialist" or "Communist" according to the former's criteria? How about asking Beck about Dr. King's support for the poor, world peace, affirmative action, and health care as a human right for all peoples? What of Beck's assertion that President Obama is a "slave owner" who wants to put Americans in "shackles?" Or how Beck through his support for the Tea-Parties, the seditious 9-12 militia project, the Birthers, etc. has encouraged a particularly venomous white nativism that sees Obama's presidency as being inherently illegitimate because he is not white? Ultimately, why not call Beck on his lecturing Black Americans that they should "just stop using African American" because it is a "meaningless" term anyway?
History echoes through to the present. It is the sea in which we swim, the ether that we all breath. In reaching back through history, it has become fashionable to call black conservatives "slave catchers." The more I think about the term, the more appropriate it seems. But, these racial apologists and collaborators also fit the role of "slave drivers": black bondsmen who worked under the overseer and/or managed the plantation when master was away. Accordingly, in researching the term I came upon The National Humanities Center's helpful entry on the topic:
The National Humanities Center also has a handy teaching guide. Ironically, I would suggest that it is a quite fitting tool with which to analyze the black conservatives on Beck's show. A selection of questions from that resource follows:
- What news items, forms of respect, requests and questions, etc., occur repeatedly in the drivers' letters?
- What tone do you identify in the slaves' letters to their masters?
- What construction of reality—information and impressions—do the drivers relate directly in their letters?
- What information and impressions do they convey "between the lines"?
- What information and impressions do they convey without their awareness?
- How would a distant master read and interpret these letters? What would he learn?
- How do the masters exercise control from afar? How effective are they as absent masters?
- What forms of initiative and power are the drivers allowed to exercise?
- How do the drivers differ in using or displacing this power?
- What words do the letter writers, slave and master, use in place of "slave"? Why?
- How do the black drivers relate to their fellow slaves over whom they hold authority?
- How do they adapt to their vulnerable (or empowering) position between master and slave?
This second clip makes me want to throw up in my mouth. I really want to go Mau Mau on these folks as they dare to let any allusion to our honored ancestors come out of their mouths. Disgusting. Truly disgusting. Notice the Freudian slip by the "hip hop Republican"--yes my dear, you will indeed walk chest deep in feces for a job:
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
If You Prick Me Do I Not Bleed? Pat Robertson: Religious Huckster and Hate Monger on Haiti "Deserving" Its Earthquake
What then is Pat Robertson?
I was actually going to post something light about this Harry Reid, Barack Obama, "negro" dust-up, until this story found itself on my radar. It necessitates me putting on the brass knuckles for a second and offering some real talk on Pat Robertson's most befouled commentary.
Unfiltered thought number one: What do we make of that nominally "black" woman sitting next to Robertson as she nods in agreement? Who is this hander kerchief head, self-hating, cum dumpster for that gangbang of vile white supremacist invocation of Godly insight that Robertson verbally ejaculated across the airwaves sitting next to Roberston? And yes, you did just read that sentence correctly.
What is her modus operandi? Is she enabler or victim? Is slave catcher too kind a moniker for Robertson's human prop?
Unfiltered thought number two: are there still kindly old black and brown ladies who while living on fixed incomes, somehow find money each week to donate to The 700 Club? Are they oblivious to Pat Robertson's politics? How could any decent human being support his endeavors? A more general question: Am I the only one whose first instinct is to run for the hills the minute anyone starts suggesting they have a privileged insight into the word of God?
Unfiltered thought number three: Where are the calls for the Right and Republicans at large to disown Pat Robertson? We know there is a double standard: McCain got a pass for his close association with noted anti-Semite John Hagee, while Obama was raked over the coals for his relationship with Reverend Wright. Imagine for a moment if a Democrat had amongst his or her core constituency a Pat Robertson, someone who on national television justified human suffering of the magnitude of Katrina (and now Haiti) through an appeal to Biblical prophecy? One can only imagine the media circus and the clarion calls of guilty by association that would erupt from Fox News and the Right-wing echo chamber.
Pat Robertson's vile suggestion that the poor people of Haiti "deserve" to suffer because they "rejected God" by rebelling against French domination is stunning. In this logic, Toussaint L'Overture, a freedom fighter and democratic revolutionary who liberated an entire people from the bondage of chattel servitude, is by extension a demonic force that damned a people to suffer from a natural calamity. Wow.
I am not surprised, for anything that Pat Robertson does or says is ever a surprise. As one in a long line of segregationists, in years past Pat would likely have worn a Klan robe to the local meeting on Friday, his finest suit to a lynching on Saturday, and then sat in pious obedience in his church pew on Sunday. Robertson's particular brand of faith also counseled slaves to be obedient and their masters to be just in their "natural" rule. In total, Robertson's religion segregated Sunday, found biblical justification for Jim Crow, and imagined a White Heaven where the natural order of things extended even into the afterlife.
In thinking through Robertson's proclamations of faith, I am fond of Chris Hitchens' pithy quote that "religion ruins everything" because it captures my secular humanist creed. Those words also speak to my instinct that religion is more often than not a force for ill rather than good. However, I would like to offer an olive branch of conciliation to Pat Robertson. In his case, I would like to work within Pat's faith/belief tradition in order to find a fair response to his thoughts on Haiti's suffering.
As a man of "God"--one gifted with "prophetic speech" and "insight"--Robertson must appreciate the ancient wisdom of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. As a rock for his church community, both real and virtual, Robertson ought to provide an example for his flock. How could he possibly resist offering himself up as an example for the time honored tradition that is Hammurabi's Code?
Pat Robertson, as a fire and brimstone preacher is a bit of a literalist. For him, our bodies are on loan from God. They are not our own to do as we wish. Thus, the body is made a site for redemption and salvation. The body is also a site for punishment. Physical punishment is also (to varying degrees) reserved for heretics and backsliders. Here, prayer is not necessarily enough for the conversion and salvation of these lost souls. Sadly, excoriation may be the only option remaining if we are to save their eternal selves. If we were to turn the tables on Pat Robertson and punish him for the spirit of his words, what would be a suitable comeuppance? What punishments would you suggest as a means to rebalance the scales against the wickedness in his heart?
1. I love the introduction to the Wu-Tang Clan's classic song "Method Man." In the opening to the song, Meth suggests torturing a rival by sewing his butt closed and feeding him until he bursts. Classic and painful. But, a bit messy.
2. Given Pat's propensity to run off at the mouth, The Bride's Scold (or "The Bit" as it was called) is also a fitting punishment, doubly so given how slave owners commonly used this device on their human property:
3. The Pear. This medieval device was reserved for those who committed "sexual transgressions." Given the correlation between holier than now behavior, sexual repression, and "deviant" acts, the Pear would do a great job of leading Pat Robertson to salvation:
4. The Sarlaac Pit. The "Great Pit of Carcoon" aka The Sarlaac killed Boba Fett in Return of the Jedi (at least in the original trilogy). While being digested by the Sarlaac, its victims will know pain beyond belief. If The Sarlaac can take down one of the greatest warriors the galaxy has ever seen, I trust it would find Pat Robertson a tasty treat.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Two quick thoughts. One, I did not know that Paul Mooney has a new book out. He is a true original and gift to American arts so please check his newest project. Two, folks are catching up to the obvious truth that I laid bare here...one day, in the not too far future, we will be able to talk openly about Tiger Woods and his particular predilection:
Thursday, January 7, 2010
It seems that the rest of the world finally caught up with We Are Respectable Negroes. A question: the host of The Griot got his chance to shine, when is Rachel Maddow going to give us our 5 seconds of fame?
Note: I occasionally crosspost over at Open Salon.com. This piece is one of the featured Editor's Choices today, so please chime in on the conversation there as well.
For the uninitiated, this blog is called We are Respectable Negroes. Not surprisingly, our choice of the word "Negro" in the title of this project has been the subject of quite a few emails by visitors to this site. Some readers have responded viscerally: we must be self-hating because only those black folk who despise themselves would ever name themselves such a "foul" word. Other readers found our choice of name refreshing and snarky--an ironic twist and wink at those folks who "get" our politics. Ironically, in reviewing the visitor logs to this site "Negroes" has also gotten us the attention of white nationalists and others of their ilk--apparently "Negro" is one of their catch all phrases for those of us who also identify as black or African-American.
I have never done a proper post on the logic behind my choice of the name We Are Respectable Negroes for this blog. I always felt that We Are Respectable Negroes worked best as a MacGuffan of sorts--one does not really need to know how or why my fellow bloggers and I chose the name to get the intent behind it. Ultimately, the "Negroes" in We Are Respectable Negroes is what you all make of it.
However, in lieu of the census controversy I will break kayfabe for a moment. For me, there is a certain dignity in the word "Negro"--a historical anachronism that signals to a bygone (and in many ways nostalgia-born) era of black respectability. As some have said far better than I, there is something to be said for imaging oneself as a colored gentlemen, with a "Kaiser Bill" mustache, rendering our musings on the politics of the day from the comfort of our sitting rooms. The problem though--as reality is so often inconvenient when counterpoised against fantasy--is that while I may fancy myself a Negro gentlemen, in the white gaze of that epoch I would be anything but free and equal. I must ask: Would I be willing to make that bargain?
It seems that the Census Bureau's decision to float "Negro" as a new/old category for the 2010 survey is not afforded the freedom of ambiguous intentions that we are allowed here.
Expectedly, the Census Department's exploration of whether to broaden the racial categories on our national survey to include a term to describe black folk that many had resigned to the dustbin of history has met with no small amount of upset. Because African Americans were for so long denied the right to name ourselves, our naming practices are laden with political weight. In this journey, we have gone from "Colored" to "Negro" to "Black" and "African American." Black folk reserve the right to our own naming. Individuals also reserve the right to name themselves (which is the logic behind including "Negro" on the census as many older black folk still identify as such).
In total, what is a name? What does it mean? What does it signal to others and to ourselves?
My late grandmother identified as "Negro" or "colored." While a product of The Jim Crow South, she never let white supremacy break her. To my face, I have been called "black" by white people with as much venom, hostility, and vindictive rage as I expect would accompany said persons calling me a "nigger" (for example listen to how Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Pat Buchanan, O'Reilly, Coulter, et al. utter "black" or "African American" during their screeds against Barack Obama). I have also been called "colored" by a white man--he was Irish-American--who was for all intents and purposes my adopted grandfather. He was a profoundly positive influence on my life and I respected him far more than most people I have ever met. By extension, we cannot forget that there were likely many a white ally who described us as "colored" or "Negro" all the while risking their lives in the service of the Black Freedom Struggle.
If I had to make a bargain, I would trade "Black" or "African American" for "Negro" in a second if it gained us better schools, fewer broken homes, a growth in income and wealth, a greater sense of personal responsibility among our youth for their deeds, and REAL racial uplift and progress that went beyond merely having more brown faces in (real) high places. And not to be forgotten, I would trade "nigga" for "Negro" in a millisecond if it would raise the level of respect held by many in the black community for themselves and towards one another. I can only speak for myself, but I suspect that many black Americans would rather be called "Negro" with love, than "Black" with hatred and disdain.
Where do you, our respectable negro friends and family stand on this issue? Are you Black, colored, coloured, negro, "American," or some combination either thereof or heretofore unnamed? Is the Census Bureau out of bounds on this issue? Being provocative: don't Black folks have bigger fish to fry, both proverbially and literally, than engaging in another distracting debate on what we should be labeled? Being really provocative (and playful) shouldn't black folks be careful on this one? If we make Negro a cool word again, are white folks going to just take it back from us?
Monday, January 4, 2010
I am no longer capable of being shocked into silence by the year which my New England Patriots have been having. Maybe we are the little engine that could? But I am not holding my breath. One thought though: Wes Welker is a great player hurt in a meaningless game against a hapless foe in the weekend prior to a wildcard game. Why Bill? Why?
In Bill we trust? Perhaps, but not as much as in seasons past
Courtesy of George King at Sports Illustrated:
NEW YORK -- Now that was a weird day. Sad with the devastating knee injury to one of the real poster children for everything that is good about the NFL, Wes Welker. Flummoxing with the total collapse of the Giants and Broncos. Maddening with starters sitting to some degree in six of the games involving playoff contenders ... and the weirdo Colts deciding that individual records are important a week after deciding 19-0 wasn't. Strangely undramatic for a Week 17, with only two win-and-get-in games, neither of which was any good -- the Ravens handling the Raiders with slight difficulty and the Jets handling the Bengals with none.
Eeriest part of the day: Houston safety Bernard Pollard landing on Welker after he had blown out his ACL and MCL early in Patriots-Texans and fallen to the ground in agony. This was 16 months after Pollard, then with Kansas City, had dove into Tom Brady's knee, shredding ligaments.
"I heard Wes yell out, the same way I heard Tom yell out,'' Pollard told me last night. "It was the same yell. It was terrible. He went down right in front of me. I saw his knee buckle, then I fell on him, and when he went down, I said, 'Just my luck.' ''
What are the odds of the same defender being at the epicenter of the temporary demise of two true New England heroes?...