Thursday, April 22, 2010
Guru was a legend. As hip hop ages we will continue to lose so many more. Time is unkind, but it is fair. But I must say, as tragic as Guru's loss is, it is oddly redeeming and welcome that he died of a disease as opposed to being killed in some street level nonsense. It seems like more grown folk business.
DJ Premier will certainly keep the Gang Starr legacy alive. Guru--gifted universal rhymes unlimited--will live on in song. Although I can be a bit of a Luddite, and have bemoaned the rise of digital DJ culture where any talentless hack with an Ipod and a Mac can claim to be a "DJ" because of Serato, the Internet has allowed us to relive moments once lost to time (unless you happen to find a very lucky tape trader). To point, Mixcloud's wonderful archive.
In honor of Guru and Gang Starr here is a trip down memory lane: Primo on the one's and two's on WBLS circa 1994. Random thought: am I the only one who loved going to The Shadow on Friday and The Tunnel on Sunday night? Second random thought: for folks out there who were dj's before the rise of Cd's and mp3's, did you study folks like Primo, Red Alert, and Funkmaster Flex (back when he was actually great before the lust for tv, Lugz, and branding took over) and tried to replicate their sets and transitions?
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Once more, a society too sick to survive. I won't call this a tragedy. Said knucklehead (I won't use his name because this story can be, and has repeated itself, thousands of times so no need to personalize the story) was a thug, street pirate, and drain on his community. I am tempted to say goodbye to bad rubbish. But, what happens when this rubbish comes to typify a generation and pollute our communities? I won't call him a victim. He made a choice--even in the face of certain "structural" disadvantage--to live the life that he did. Moreover, what of the many more good folk in the same community who don't participate in criminal behavior as a rite of passage and a norm of manhood? Men and women who hustle honestly in a society that does not fairly reward hard work...
Ultimately, victims are the innocent. Said adherent to the cult of "no snitching" was no innocent. The women have reared these baby boy monsters and the men who "fathered" them have utterly failed in their responsibilities as role models and care takers. These absent parents (one can be absent and still be in the home by the way) cannot impart wisdom, character, or moral courage to their sires because they often have little of these resources to offer. To point, notice the denial of the mother, and the willful self-deception that her son was a "good kid."
As my mother and aunt would say, "how can a 35 year old grandmother and a street corner hooligan baby daddy impart wisdom which they do not have?" Sure they can teach you how to survive in your 'hood, but those life skills offer little chance for social mobility and survival outside of a ten block radius.
Something is clearly broken in this country. We are in a moral, ethical, and economic crisis. The empire teeters on a precipice and this anxiety is fueling the spirit of our age, political unconscious, and collective psyche. Something is doubly broken in these ghetto underclass communities, what are often near failed States where black manhood is defined according to antiquated codes of violence and honor that have outlived the social structures and societies that produced them. This needs to be fixed. I am at a loss as to how.
Sometimes black people do make me sad. They truly do.
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Police: Even while dying, teen won't talk
Cop asks: Do you know who shot you? He replies: 'I know. But I ain't telling you. . .'Robert Tate wasn't ever going to snitch -- not even when it came to his own murder, according to the Chicago Police.
Tate, 17, was shot in the chest as someone approached him on a West Side sidewalk on the evening of April 12, police say. Seeing that Tate was wounded badly and probably wouldn't make it, an officer asked: Do you know who shot you?
"I know," Tate told him. "But I ain't telling you s---."
That's according to Harrison Area Police Cmdr. Anthony Riccio, who said the murder investigation is focusing on a possible shooter -- even though Tate took his secret to the grave.
"Unfortunately it's almost a culture among the drug dealers and gang members, that code of silence, that 'don't snitch' mentality that they not only have when they're witnesses, but also when they're the victims," Riccio said.
But Tate's mother Cynthia Washington doesn't buy it.
She doesn't know how her son -- a "very respectful child" -- could have told police anything as he lay dying on the scene in the 900 block of North Avers.
"Why wouldn't he tell them who shot him?" Washington wondered.
Riccio responded that Tate was lucid as he spoke to the officer, then died as paramedics tried to save him.
Riccio said it's commonplace for shooting victims whose wounds aren't life-threatening to refuse to cooperate. Just last week, a 22-year-old gang member was on a bicycle in the 500 block of East 88th when he was shot in the thigh. He didn't even want to report the shooting after he was taken to Stroger Hospital.
"But I have never seen anyone take it to the grave," Riccio said.
Police think Tate was killed because of his involvement in the drug trade in Humboldt Park.
"One of the things from people on the street was that he was ripping off [drug] buyers," Riccio said. "When that happens, of course, the buyers take their business elsewhere, and it affects the drug trade."
So detectives think Tate was killed because he was hurting business. They're reviewing surveillance video from police "blue-light cameras" in the area to identify the shooter, Riccio said.
Tate was "in and out" of Nancy B. Jefferson High School, housed in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, a Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said. He had 14 arrests for drugs, weapons and car theft on his rap sheet; a tattoo that read "Make Money or Die;" and a nickname: "C Murder."
"I didn't give him that name," his mother said.
"He was a good young man who loved his mom," added a friend, Tasha Porter. "Neighborhoods like this are tough to grow up in."
But one detective also said the motto in neighborhoods like Tate's is: "Snitches get stitches."
And Tate is the most extreme example, police say, of the "no-snitching" mind-set they say is making it increasingly difficult to solve murder cases in Chicago. Indeed, the Chicago Police Department's murder-clearance rate dipped from 58 percent to 54 percent last year.
If Tate had talked before he died, police say, his statement most likely could have been used in court. In a practice dating back centuries, a "dying declaration" -- a statement from a dying crime victim naming the killer -- is typically allowed in criminal cases, even though the defendant won't have the opportunity to cross-examine his accuser.
In one notable case, in 1999, 24-year-old Michelle Monachello of Glendale Heights was stabbed, doused with gasoline and set afire in DuPage County. A neighbor called 911 and, as he tried to reassure Monachello, she said, "I'm going to die" and then told him, "My boyfriend -- he set me on fire." The boyfriend, Artarius Jett, got life in prison based in part on what Monachello said before she died.
In recent years, police and community groups have been ratcheting up a campaign urging people to report suspects in crimes -- despite fears of retribution, fear of the police and fear of being labeled a snitch.
Last year, the Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Catholic Church on the South Side put up 20 billboards across the city that read: "Shoot or kill our children? You will be caught." The billboards offered $5,000 rewards for information leading to the conviction of criminals who shot or killed "our children" and urged people to call in anonymously with tips.
Chicago Police now have their own campaign called "Silence Kills." They're asking people to text-message anonymous tips to 274637 or call the police anonymously.
They're urging people to do just that in Robert Tate's case -- even though the teenager wouldn't do it for himself.
That's right Obama is a pimp and B-Rock be that dude. I smile as I write this. Brother Manning is forever one upping himself as any mention of that magical man Rasputin gets points from me.
Ultimately, it must be my lucky day to hit the lotto because I agree with Pastor Manning and his condemnation of Michael Steele. Lord, who would have thought!
His words are gold: Swinging on vines. Jumping on trampolines. Manning is such a wordsmith.
By the way I have actually introduced Manning's classic phrase "like monkeys jumping on trampolines," into my rotation of witticisms. Trust me, it works every time all the time.
But before we complement Brother Manning too much, he has to bring us down to Earth. Did you know that Black folk are losers who are jealous of the White Man! Apparently, Pastor Manning--as though we didn't know--is a Black Conservative patriot:
Talk about projection and pathological self-hatred. Where is Fanon when you need him?
Monday, April 19, 2010
A False Flag Operation: On the Lie of Tea Party Tolerance, White Supremacists, and Liberal "Infiltrators"
The Right wing media and the Tea Parties are playing chess while the Left and the mainstream media are playing checkers.
While they can be disparaged as being narrow minded ideologues possessed of an authoritarian personality, Conservatives in the U.S.--and the extreme Right wing that has now become the center of the GOP--have long been masters of using emotional and moral appeals to motivate their public. While the Democrats are hamstrung by an issues based approach to politics, Conservatives have mastered the art of creating an alternate world of political facts and reason (enabled by the Right wing media echo chamber) where the reality based community need not tread.
This week the note being struck is that liberal infiltrators (in the guise of "agent provocateurs") are targeting the Tea Parties in order to smear and discredit them. Without any factual substantiation (and ignoring the racist, bigoted, and violent rhetoric that is common at the Tea Party gatherings) the Right has succeeded in reframing the narrative which surrounds the tea baggers. Now, freed from any responsibility for their own actions, the Tea Parties can point to some imagined villain as being responsible for all things disruptive and violent at their protests.
This is a brilliant move because it frees the tea baggers from any measure of responsibility for their deeds. Consider the simple genius at work here: if someone has a racist sign he/she is an infiltrator; if someone spits on a black congressman "they aren't really one of us" (or alternatively John Lewis was not spat upon because there is no "proof" save for eye witness accounts); if someone incites violence "he isn't a tea bagger, it must be a crazy progressive." Not surprisingly, rather than expose this quackery, most in the media are repeating these narratives without critical intervention or comment.
My claim is not that provocation by liberal instigators is an impossibility. No, the rebuttal should be "so what?" With all of the evidence of how central white racial animus and hostility are to the Tea Party movement, what else could the infiltrators possibly do? What other bad behavior--short of bombings, shootings, and other wanton acts of violence--could they possibly provoke the tea baggers into committing?
An appeal to the liberals as infiltrators strategy is also doubly effective because it inverts the political landscape by making the Tea Parties into victims of Jim Crow 2.0 and Barack Obama's America--those liberals whom despise "the patriots" and the good white folk who only want to exercise their first amendment rights against an "oppressive" and "tyrannical" regime that practices "reverse discrimination" and "pays too much attention" to black people's needs.
The Right has upped the ante. Not content with displacing responsibility onto "liberals" and "progressives" for the brigands in their midst, the Tea Parties are now trying to take the moral high ground as the party of diversity and tolerance. To that end, the tea baggers and their Right wing media arm have been circulating a video of a confrontation between a Tea Party member and an alleged white supremacist. Here the tea bagger confronts the white supremacist and condemns him. While doing so, the Tea Party activist is sticking to a clear script: "the Tea Parties are not racist," that "racism has no place with the Tea Parties," and "that the Tea Party does not concern itself with race." In one 2 minute clip, the Tea Party has created a counter-narrative, one with compelling soundbites, that runs explicitly counter to the popular understanding that the tea baggers are racist xenophobes. This is poetry in motion.
It is also a classic false flag operation. In intelligence and military circles these tactics involve the use of subterfuge and trickery (thus the allusion to a ship flying a "false flag") to create a pretext for military intervention or regime change, for framing events in the service of your own agenda, or more simply for making the public believe that "X" is occurring when it is in reality "Y."
In keeping with this strategy, the "white supremacist" in question (and there will be other videos of similar events released soon...you can mark my words) is a Tea Party activist. He is playing the role of the devil in their midst, a cancer to be conveniently exorcised as a way for the Tea Parties to demonstrate their love of diversity and colorblind politics. It is ironic then that the Tea Parties and the Right are sounding an alarm regarding the use of dirty tricks by the Left (Conservatives such as Beck and Limbaugh assert that the Progressives are masters of subterfuge and disruption) where in the United States the truth has been that through programs such as Cointelpro, the forces of elite power and Conservatism have spied on, disrupted, discredited, harassed and even killed members of Left-leaning organizations.
The repackaging of the Tea Parties as tolerant and inclusive political organizations is happening as we speak. It will continue from its own momentum regardless of the facts on the ground. In much the same way that Dr. King has been reimagined by conservatives to be a Republican (notice how Glenn Beck, the Pied Piper for the Tea Parties, is increasingly appropriating both the language and symbolism of The Civil Rights Movement), the tea baggers will be depicted as forces of American virtue and pluralism. As this false flag operation continues to develop, here are a few things to watch for in the upcoming weeks:
- More coverage of the "racial diversity" of the Tea Parties. Expect to see the same talking heads and black and brown apologists trotted out on the major networks;
- The discussion of agent provocateurs will take on the weight of fact as opposed to speculation;
- There will be more videos of white supremacists, nativists, and overt "Birthers" being thrown out of Tea Party rallies;
- Simultaneously, there will be a great deal of attention paid to "incidents" where Palin supporters and tea baggers are assaulted by "anti-Tea Party" forces and "agents of the Obama regime";
- The Right wing media frame will continue to emphasize their long standing narrative that Conservatives and "real Americans" are "victims" of the Left and Progressives;
- Similar to what happened with the ACORN pimp and prostitute scandal (a fraud staged by Breitbart and company), the efforts to "infiltrate" the Tea Parties will be exposed as events planned by the Right;
- Loose lips sink ships: one of the "white supremacist" or other "agent provocateurs" will give up the fact that they are on the payroll of someone semi-connected (for reasons of plausible deniability) to the Right wing media and/or political establishment.
Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds--C2E2 Day Two: Snakes Eyes is that Dude and Ghetto Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth
In my first C2E2 post an anonymous commenter said I was a hater because I pointed out the problem of obesity among comic book and movie costumers. As a corrective, I will now show some love.
Snake Eyes is that dude is he not? More importantly, for all of the whiteness of geek and nerd culture we are also a kind, loving, and tolerant people. Our people are our people. And where else could I see Snake Eyes in full regalia so tenderly caring for his brother who was differently abled? I saw lots of sights like that. They brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my face. Humanity ain't all that bad...when we give in to the best part of who we should be and are:
I finished C2E2 on Saturday (Sunday was a no go...but I did go see Kick Ass). The Cleveland Show panel was amazing! I may be easily impressed, but to see actors so easily move between characters' voices made my day to day code switching so much child-like babble. Random factoid: did you know that Cleveland was voiced by a white guy? Damn cool.
The Ghost Hunters panel was so so. It was ultimately another example of actors speaking through their chosen medium and being limited in other venues. The characters on the show are great on television. But, as leading a room in discussion they were regular guys engaging in a conversation with adoring fans. That is both good and bad in terms of presentation, presence, and oration.
The G.I. Joe panel revealed some future story lines--the Cobra book looks to still outshine the main title by the way. The editors and writers present were also unusually accommodating. Me being the difficult negro had to ask about 9/11 and how Al-Qaeda as a real force impacts how they write Cobra as a fictional threat. Funny, in a sea of fanboy comments, the G.I. Joe staff seemed to perk up at a serious question and worked through it for a good amount of time.
Finally, the Af-Am comics section was great. They had some of the founders of that great tradition in the house. Random thought: Am I a hater because I am tired of the "pat on the back at every little accomplishment tradition" that is required when "black pioneers" are in the house. At times, it seemed like a church service with too much chatting and hand clapping. This respectable negro had some serious questions to ask and was quickly tired of the theatrics of yee old black church imported into what should have been a serious conversation. That having been said, I give love where love is due.
For my two cents C2E2 was a success. Hopefully, this tradition will continue next year and for the foreseeable future. I have no fault with the lineup of guests...although more spacing between presentations would be great and a few more social activities on site even more warranted.
I enjoyed sharing my work at the Comics Institute and hope that those in attendance enjoyed my presentation. Comics are literature. It has taken a long time, but events like C2E2 bring us one more step closer to the mainstream acknowledging that fact.
It is good to be a ghetto nerd. In the 21st century the geeks shall indeed inherit the Earth.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
When I was teaching a course on hip hop culture a few years ago one of my students asked me to define "flow." If I was teaching the class now, I would have shown him this video and said "flow is the exact opposite of what these guys have."
No taxation without representation? Me says I be confused. Regardless of the validity of the tea baggers implied claim, you do have to admire the gall with which those knuckledraggers so recklessly and easily appropriate history to serve their political ends.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: Obese Leia, Fat Tie Fighter Pilots, and a None Too Slim Rogue at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo
Who is the bigger nerd? The nerd or the nerd who follows him?
I did my thing at the Chicago Comic Book and Entertainment Expo. I do have to say that given the limitations of time I "knicked it out the box" as the expression goes. Sure there is an irrepressible whiteness to these events (some folks don't yet know about we ghetto nerds). And I do so enjoy the moment when nerds of the Caucasian persuasion meet me and are visibly surprised that they are going to hear a lecture on comic books and graphic novels by (yikes!) a black guy. But all in all, the Con's first day was lots of fun.
I didn't get to see any of the main panels because I was busy getting myself ready for my presentation. But tomorrow I am checking out The Cleveland Show round table, getting some pics with the cast of the original Star Wars trilogy, and making sure to touch base with Alex Ross at the autograph table.
Comic book and fantasy conventions are also a hell of a lot of fun because they are great people watching. Because it is a large gathering of folk, many of whom are socially marginalized in their day to day lives (and don't get to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh all too often), it is like band camp for geeks. Undoubtedly, there are lascivious pleasures indulged in by people in costumes of varying quality that would tempt the senses, raise the libido to a fever pitch, and scar the soul. There are also sights to behold that burn the eyes...
Thank God she didn't wear Leia's slave girl outfit:
Do they make the Tie Interceptor in an XXL model? Is this a TIE pilot who serves during the New Republic era when Imperial recruitment standards have apparently slipped?
Come on Rogue, you got's to get rid of the camel toe and work out those abs if you are going to be in the X-Men!
Friday, April 16, 2010
Let's Have a Sing Along! John Lewis is a Liar: Not Surprisingly Thomas Sowell and Ward Connerly Excuse Away Tea Party Racism
Let's go to a dark place for a moment...
I have been busy getting ready for a talk at the Chicago Comic Book and Entertainment Expo so I have been absent the last few days. So, a quick thought for the weekend:
I love Brother Richard Pryor's classic routine on the word nigger. He went to Africa and had a transformative moment of critical self reflection: there are no niggers. The word is an ugly, debasing, and foul thing that has been used to dehumanize black people. My parents were devotees of Richard and as is required for respectable negroes I was raised to rarely if ever use that word. With that allowance, I also do not like the immaturity of its contemporary substitute, "the n-word." It is childish.
We have so policed our language that to utter the dreaded "n-word" even in context is considered a hostile act, one anathema to civil discourse. For example, my students look aghast when I say "nigger" while reading a text in which it was used, or repeating what the tea baggers yelled at Representative John Lewis. My logic? We need to hear the ugliness of a thing in order to understand the hatred behind it. We need to read it aloud when printed so that we can grapple with how white supremacy has been the norm in this society.
But, what of people whose behavior fits the word? (I will leave those criteria up to you)
More specifically, what of folks whom at one time would have been called "Uncle Toms" or "Handkerchief Heads?" Does the dreaded "n-word" describe them? The new age slave catchers? Do they fit the bill?
And being really provocative, and also because I have been playing with this so taboo idea, are black apologists for the Tea Party's racism the white man's niggers? Is Thomas Sowell (who says that John Lewis is a liar) one? Is Ward Connerly, black Judas that he is, a white man's nigger?
From The National Review:
The national debate about health-care insurance has underscored one indisputable fact: In every way imaginable — socially, ideologically, culturally, politically, and financially — the American public is profoundly divided. There is one area of division that is starker, more enduring, more contentious, and with greater potential to leave lasting scars than others; and that is the area of race. Each of the other factors of American life intersects with race, thereby compounding its effect upon all Americans.
If I have learned one thing from life, it is that race is the engine that drives the political Left. When all else fails, that segment of America goes to the default position of using race to achieve its objectives. In the courtrooms, on college campuses, and, most especially, in our politics, race is a central theme. Where it does not naturally rise to the surface, there are those who will manufacture and amplify it.
Such is the case with the claims that the “Tea Partiers” are a bunch of racists and that many of them spat upon members of the Congressional Black Caucus and called them “n*****s.” I am convinced beyond any doubt that all of this is part of the strategic plan being implemented by the Left in its current campaign to remake America.
In a video that has been played repeatedly showing CBC members as they walked past the tea partiers, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is seen using his telephone to tape the event. If he had any evidence to corroborate the racial claims, why hasn’t he come forward with his phone by now to settle this matter? I believe we all know the answer.
I agree with earlier Corner posts on the matter: By their reckless accusations, those who are alleging “racism” without evidence are doing inestimable harm to the social fabric of America.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Do you ever marvel at how folks in the past envisioned the future? In the 1960s we thought that in the 1990s there would be flying cars a la The Jetsons. In the 1980s we thought that the 21st century would be radically different with Blade Runner like urban sprawl and dystopia the norm where everyone spoke some version of Japanese. We got some things right (the rise of 3rd world mega cities) and a great deal wrong (Japan's lost decade; the rise and fall and rise again of the U.S.; Ipod's; the Internet, and the fall of the Soviet Union).
What of the state of Black America? I would never have guessed that we would see a Black President--never mind one named Barack Hussein Obama--in my lifetime. But as we reach for the future, many of our concerns, hopes, and dreams seem to remain a changing same. For example, I was reading Newsweek online and in the sidebar of most viewed stories was "The Good News About Black America." Given this economy my curiosity was piqued. Funny, I read about a page or so before realizing that this story was written in 1999...more than ten years ago. For a moment, I had my own personal hot tub time machine.
Give it a look. What has changed? And what perhaps never will? I do wonder, what will the State of Black America be in the year 2020?
It's The Best Time Ever To Be Black In America. Crime Is Down; Jobs And Income Are Up. White Kids Choose African-Americans As Their Heroes. But Not Everyone's Celebrating.by Ellis Cose
It was a stunning vision of racial equality, manifested in a simple yet stirring mantra: "I have a dream." Though Martin Luther King Jr.'s cherished utopia has not arrived, it seems considerably less remote than it did in August 1963 when, from the Washington Mall, King challenged America to make his dream come true. African-Americans are no longer relegated, as he lamented, to "a lonely island of poverty" in the midst of plenty. By a wide array of measures, now is a great time--the best time ever--to be black in America.
Black employment and home ownership are up. Murders and other violent crimes are down. Reading and math proficiency are climbing. Out-of-wedlock births are at their lowest rate in four decades. Fewer blacks are on welfare than at any point in recent memory. More are in college than at any point in history. And the percentage of black families living below the poverty line is the lowest it has been since the Census Bureau began keeping separate black poverty statistics in 1967. Even for some of the most persistently unfortunate--uneducated black men between 16 and 24--jobs are opening up, according to a just-released study of hard-luck cases in 322 urban areas by researchers at Harvard University and the College of William and Mary.
More and more blacks have entered the realm of the privileged and have offices in (or tantalizingly near to) the corridors of corporate and political power. Some control multimillion-dollar budgets and reside in luxurious gated communities. They are, by any criteria, living large--walking testaments to the transformative power, to the possibility, of America.
"I really think there is a new phenomenon out there," says Eddie Williams, head of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the nation's premier think tank on blacks and politics. According to the center, the number of black elected officials has nearly sextupled since 1970, and now stands at roughly 9,000. In a poll late last year by the Joint Center, blacks were more likely than whites--for the first time in the history of this survey--to say they were better off financially than in the previous year (51 percent compared with 31.5 percent). A new NEWSWEEK Poll confirms that the finding is not a fluke. Seventy-one percent of blacks (compared with 59 percent of whites) told NEWSWEEK's pollsters that they expected their family incomes to rise during the next 10 years. Fifty-seven percent of blacks (compared with 48 percent of whites) foresaw better job opportunities ahead. As Los Angeles gangbanger turned music entrepreneur Darrin Butler, 28, sums it up, "From where I'm sitting, everything is looking bright."
This sunniness is reflected in the country's popular imagination, which freely celebrates the appeal and accomplishments of African-Americans. Michael Jordan, Lauryn Hill, Colin Powell--pick your icon; if you are touched at all by American culture your idol is likely to be black. There have always been black successes and superstar achievers, but never before has black been quite so beautiful to so many admirers of every hue. "When did you ever think you would see black men as the heroes of white children?" asks Bobby William Austin, head of the Village Foundation, an Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit that runs programs for young black men.
Today's upswing in black fortune is unfolding in a singular context, against the backdrop of a superheated economy that has been booming since April 1991. That expansion, the longest ever in a time of peace, has been a boon to Americans of every race. It would be a mistake, however, to credit the economy alone for the sense of hope sprouting in many black communities. Even as the strong economy has made bigger dreams possible, a strong resurgence of black self-confidence and self-determination has made their realization more probable. Indeed, blacks polled by NEWSWEEK credited black churches (46 percent) and black self-help (41 percent) for the upturn in black conditions. It would also be a mistake to assume that today's good times have brought good tidings to all blacks. They have not. More black men than ever languish in prisons. Black academic achievement stills lags that of whites. And suicides among young black men have risen sharply, reflecting a deep "sense of hopelessness," says Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, a psychologist and University of California, Berkeley, professor. And fear is pervasive that an economic downturn--or the legal-political assault on affirmative action--could wipe out blacks' tenuous gains.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Zardoz Speaks! Let's Have an Intervention: The Soul of Brother Cobb and The Noble Race Neutrality of American Conservatives
Thus the great Cobb is one part Wizard of Oz and two parts Zardoz.
I promised myself when I started this blog that I wouldn't involve myself in petty tete-a-tete's with fellow bloggers, trolls, or otherwise (semi)well-intentioned folk. I have found a loophole. If I am called out by name in a post I feel an obligation to respond. I know that it is a virtual version of the dozens, but it strikes me as generally uncivil unless done with the best of intentions. Hopefully, this is the last time I will have to engage in such a dialogue on this site as it stands against the best of what we should be doing.
For those of you in the know, Black Conservative blogger Cobb is quite a forceful presence on the sites in which he chooses to comment. Cobb is often impenetrable, a bit willful, unwilling to engage those points of view with which he disagrees, and a bit anti-intellectual (books that are outside of his political comfort zone are a no no it seems). In total, Cobb is a master of deflection and is thus hard to engage. For example, see his spirited defense of the Constitution as a race neutral document even though it explicitly mentions slavery several times. The brother doesn't quit and I give him love for that. In fact, I would probably enjoy a drink (or three with him) in the real world. But Cobb remains an object lesson in what I don't understand about Black Conservatives: how can they consistently apologize for the silliness, bigotry, and inconsistency of their fellow ideologues?
Specifically, how can Black Conservatives repeatedly excuse the racism and the white racial resentment that is at the core of contemporary American Conservatism? From the Tea Parties, to the Southern Strategy, to the politics of racial divisiveness that are the bread and butter of the Right's identity politics, Black Conservatives seem to always find a way to give their white brethren a pass. And they wonder why most reasonable Black folk don't give them the time of day.
Rather than get upset and frustrated in trying to dialogue with Brother Cobb alone, let's work together to compile a list of books, resources, insights, evidence, links, etc. to help me out. Let's do it with love. Better yet, let's break down the illogic, inconsistencies, and obfuscations that are present in Cobb's response to his and my dialogue about race and Conservative thought.
Help me, help Brother Cobb. Let's have an intervention. Are you with me...'cause if not I may have to abandon Brother Cobb's rehab--and I think it is a worthy project with the potential to teach us all a great deal.
"No. I want you to get it all out of your system. Here. Hit me with your best shot. I sure as hell ain't gonna go look it up. See, I really don't have to care about politics. I don't have to care about being black, or well-read or moral or anything. I want to see if you can make me care. I've heard a lifetime or two of black outrage. Maybe you've got something I've never heard before."--Cobb
CD. Him say:
[T]he claim is not per se that racists are attracted to conservativism--although quite clearly they are. It is that racism and racial animus are central to Conservative belief systems. A subtle but different distinction. I am more interested in how you reconcile it with your claim about an ideology as it stands apart from your claim. Could it be that conservative thought is more amenable to racism? What then do we do with black conservatives who would self identify with a philosophy that is hostile to them as a category of people? That is always the mystery to me for how folks could so proudly claim company with an ideology whose adherents and intellectual foundations have little to no use for them.
And yes we could debate the aims of Conservative politics as "sinful" or not. But that may take more space and time than is feasible.
First of all, I wonder if those of CD's persuasion bother to go tell it on the mountain, or on conservative blogs that their 'belief system' is racist. Perhaps ole Cobb is considered to have a soft spot for the old race card as explained by my betters that it's in my interest and thus the argument doesn't have to be so explicit. Well, I've read Howard Zinn too, and so I'm not particularly surprised that everybody gets to have their own version of history in this crazy mixed up society. Nevertheless we can duel and pretend to come up with a mutually satisfactory version.
I expect that at the very least that we won't be reduced to name-calling.
So here's my thing. In 1924, according to Wikipedia there were something on the order of 6 million Klan members in the United States. Six years later they were busted down to 30,000. In the 50s the White Citizens Councils had 50,000 members. Where did they all go? To the Republican Party?
The John Birch Society was dismissed as kooks by William F. Buckley when they suggested that Eisenhower was a godless commie. Why was anybody ever afraid of them?
Where are all the racists and what are they really trying to do in America? How did we get from there to here? What is an accurate rendition of the history and intent of Conservatism in Western Political Philosophy and the Conservative Movement in America and Great Britain since the Goldwater era?
More specifically, who is the standard bearer of racism in America and how does the Right deal with that person / entity? What is the fundamental interest in racism in politics? What does it accomplish? Where's the money? What is the legislation?
I think about this rather like I think of Bigfoot or the Kraken from Clash of the Titans. If it's real, then it has got to exist in an ecosystem. It has to live and breathe and eat and mate and grow. If it's carnivorous then its got to kill and leave bones behind. It had to evolve from something and it has to become something.
My belief is that there is an interest on the Left which is a species of populist identity politics that keeps alive the specter of the great racist Kraken that the Right can summon at will to devour and destroy any black man who sticks his head above a certain level. That said black men best serve the interests of the collective because a diversion from it is suicidal in one of two forms. One: There will not be enough cultural black oxygen and he will asphyxiate in whiteness. or Two. He will be castrated.
In order to sustain this grip, the Left has invented a political mythology through a class of historical revisionists who were the scion of Black Studies departments which came about largely through political activism rather than scholastic acumen. Now that we have a second generation of these real PhDs, they consider themselves invincible - well within their domain if they have tenure.
So here will be a mix of what I believe vs what CD might like me to believe in what may actually not become a case of special pleading for people of color. We'll try to get some facts and some speculations straight.
I will play a race card first. My race card begins with Leo Strauss. He is the father of all Conservatives who recognize that what the Nazis and Commies were doing in Europe was evil and wrong. Strauss was a Jew. And so let's replace 'Jew' with 'people of color' and via the work of Strauss talk about what anybody (of color) should read into history and take Conservatism seriously as an antidote to genocidal xenophobia.
And His Wages Were Death: White Identity Politics and a Final Thought on the Confederate History Month Controversy
Those still seeking to understand why the dispute over Virginia's "Confederate History Month" is so pointed would do well to watch this second installment of BBC's miniseries The History of Racism.
Jim Crow. Lynching. King Leopold's genocide in the Congo. Blackface. The Black and Brown freedom struggle placed in a global context. The Racial Contract. Talk about a meaty 60 minutes. Some folks love the documentary Race: The Power of Illusion. But for my dime I am becoming much more inclined towards The History of Racism.
A final thought on this Confederate History Month dust-up: Slavery and white supremacy were not "nits" in our country's history. As Roland Martin sharply pointed out on CNN, the Rebels were terrorists and traitors. Although White Southerners may not have all owned slaves, they died to support white supremacy, an ideology that paid the Johnny Rebs and the Southern poor whites who died by the hundreds of thousands a psychic wage for the privilege of their white skin.
To borrow from my favorite Johnny Cash song, during the Civil War The Man came around and his wages were death (did you know that 2 percent of the U.S. population died in that war?) . In Sherman's march to the sea and Grant's escapades The Man cut Johnny Reb and the Secesh down like wheat and piled them up like cord wood. For those 21st century dead enders and apologists for the Southern slaveocracy I must ask: was all that death and destruction worth it to protect your unique "Southern identity" and "culture?" How can their deaths be made noble and heroic when they fought to keep others in bondage?
As we enter the Age of Obama was it all worth it?
From The New York Times:
IN 1956, nearly a century after Fort Sumter, Robert Penn Warren went on assignment for Life magazine, traveling throughout the South after the Supreme Court’s school desegregation decisions. Racism was thick, hope thin. Progress, Warren reported, was going to take a while — a long while. “History, like nature, knows no jumps,” he wrote, “except the jump backward, maybe.”
Last week, Virginia’s governor, Robert McDonnell, jumped backward when he issued a proclamation recognizing April as Confederate History Month. In it he celebrated those “who fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth” and wrote of the importance of understanding “the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War.”
The governor originally chose not to mention slavery in the proclamation, saying he “focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.” It seems to follow that, at least for Mr. McDonnell, the plight of Virginia’s slaves does not rank among the most significant aspects of the war.
Advertently or not, Mr. McDonnell is working in a long and dispiriting tradition. Efforts to rehabilitate the Southern rebellion frequently come at moments of racial and social stress, and it is revealing that Virginia’s neo-Confederates are refighting the Civil War in 2010. Whitewashing the war is one way for the right — alienated, anxious and angry about the president, health care reform and all manner of threats, mostly imaginary — to express its unease with the Age of Obama, disguising hate as heritage.
If neo-Confederates are interested in history, let’s talk history. Since Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Confederate symbols have tended to be more about white resistance to black advances than about commemoration. In the 1880s and 1890s, after fighting Reconstruction with terrorism and after the Supreme Court struck down the 1875 Civil Rights Act, states began to legalize segregation. For white supremacists, iconography of the “Lost Cause” was central to their fight; Mississippi even grafted the Confederate battle emblem onto its state flag.
But after the Supreme Court allowed segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, Jim Crow was basically secure. There was less need to rally the troops, and Confederate imagery became associated with the most extreme of the extreme: the Ku Klux Klan.
In the aftermath of World War II, however, the rebel flag and other Confederate symbolism resurfaced as the civil rights movement spread. In 1948, supporters of Strom Thurmond’s pro-segregation Dixiecrat ticket waved the battle flag at campaign stops.
Then came the school-integration rulings of the 1950s. Georgia changed its flag to include the battle emblem in 1956, and South Carolina hoisted the colors over its Capitol in 1962 as part of its centennial celebrations of the war.
As the sesquicentennial of Fort Sumter approaches in 2011, the enduring problem for neo-Confederates endures: anyone who seeks an Edenic Southern past in which the war was principally about states’ rights and not slavery is searching in vain, for the Confederacy and slavery are inextricably and forever linked.
That has not, however, stopped Lost Causers who supported Mr. McDonnell’s proclamation from trying to recast the war in more respectable terms. They would like what Lincoln called our “fiery trial” to be seen in a political, not a moral, light. If the slaves are erased from the picture, then what took place between Sumter and Appomattox is not about the fate of human chattel, or a battle between good and evil. It is, instead, more of an ancestral skirmish in the Reagan revolution, a contest between big and small government.
We cannot allow the story of the emancipation of a people and the expiation of America’s original sin to become fodder for conservative politicians playing to their right-wing base. That, to say the very least, is a jump backward we do not need.
Jon Meacham, the editor of Newsweek, won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for biography for “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
The Final Hours of the Church of James Brown Are Here--Come Yee Unwashed Masses and Confess Before the Permed One Returns to the Funky Heavens
The Church of James Brown and the altar of the Permed One are still here for your confessions. But, come tomorrow at noon our revival will end and the most high elected soon announced (i.e. those folks who have won the prizes so generously donated by the Hachette book group).
Come and kneel at the hem of The Most Funky One's cloak and be cleansed of all of your sins!
Once more in our sacred words:
"Oh most amazing James Brown, greatest of all negroes, I offer you my lies and secret shames. All these years I have yearned to share those things which I have pretended to like and adore in the name of being authentically Black. I cast my words into the wind so that you can take our secrets and make these shames unintelligible as you sing them for all time in your unique and spirited language."
Lest you think I pick exclusively on bigoted old white men.
I offer little comment on Buchanan's predictable defense of Confederate history month. As the often told joke goes: how did Pat Buchanan's uncle break his neck? He fell out of a tower at Auschwitz. Easily importable back to the lost causers who support the "noble" cause of Secession and forward to their 21st century defenders.
In his own words--and what a perfectly ironic title for a column I must add:
"This was a recognition of American terrorists."
That is CNN's Roland Martin's summary judgment of the 258,000 men and boys who fell fighting for the Confederacy in a war that cost as many American lives as World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq combined.
Martin reflects the hysteria that seized Obamaville on hearing that Gov. Bob McDonnell had declared Confederate History Month in the Old Dominion. Virginia leads the nation in Civil War battlefields.
So loud was the howling that in 24 hours McDonnell had backpedaled and issued an apology that he had not mentioned slavery.
Unfortunately, the governor missed a teaching moment -- at the outset of the 150th anniversary of America's bloodiest war.
Slavery was indeed evil, but it existed in the Americas a century before the oldest of our founding fathers was even born. Five of our first seven presidents were slaveholders.
But Virginia did not secede in defense of slavery. Indeed, when Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated, March 4, 1861, Virginia was still in the Union. Only South Carolina, Georgia and the five Gulf states had seceded and created the Confederate States of America.
At the firing on Fort Sumter, April 12-13, 1865, the first shots of the Civil War, Virginia was still inside the Union. Indeed, there were more slave states in the Union than in the Confederacy. But, on April 15, Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 volunteers from the state militias to march south and crush the new Confederacy.
Two days later, April 17, Virginia seceded rather than provide soldiers or militia to participate in a war on their brethren. North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas followed Virginia out over the same issue. They would not be a party to a war on their kinfolk.
Slavery was not the cause of this war. Secession was -- that and Lincoln's determination to drown the nation in blood if necessary to make the Union whole again.
Nor did Lincoln ever deny it.
In his first inaugural, Lincoln sought to appease the states that had seceded by endorsing a constitutional amendment to make slavery permanent in the 15 states where it then existed. He even offered to help the Southern states run down fugitive slaves.
In 1862, Lincoln wrote Horace Greeley that if he could restore the Union without freeing one slave he would do it. The Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863, freed only those slaves Lincoln had no power to free -- those still under Confederate rule. As for slaves in the Union states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, they remained the property of their owners.
As for "terrorists," no army fought more honorably than Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Few deny that.
The great terrorist in that war was William Tecumseh Sherman, who violated all the known rules of war by looting, burning and pillaging on his infamous March to the Sea from Atlanta to Savannah. Sherman would later be given command of the war against the Plains Indians and advocate extermination of the Sioux.
"The only good Indian is a dead Indian" is attributed both to Sherman and Gen. Phil Sheridan, who burned the Shenandoah and carried out Sherman's ruthless policy against the Indians. Both have statues and circles named for them in Washington, D.C.
If Martin thinks Sherman a hero, he might study what happened to the slave women of Columbia, S.C., when "Uncle Billy's" boys in blue arrived to burn the city.
What of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, at whose request McDonnell issued his proclamation? What racist deeds have they perpetrated of late?
They tend the graves of Confederate dead and place flags on Memorial Day. They contributed to the restoration of the home of Jefferson Davis, damaged by Hurricane Katrina. They publish the Confederate Veteran, a magazine that relates stories of the ancestors they love to remember. They join environmentalists in fighting to preserve Civil War battlefields. They do re-enactments of Civil War battles with men and boys whose ancestors fought for the Union. And they defend the monuments to their ancestors and the flag under which they fought.
Why are they vilified?
Because they are Southern white Christian men -- none of whom defends slavery, but all of whom are defiantly proud of the South, its ancient faith and their forefathers who fell in the Lost Cause.
Undeniably, the Civil War ended in the abolition of slavery and restoration of the Union. But the Southern states believed they had the same right to rid themselves of a government to which they no longer felt allegiance as did Washington, Jefferson and Madison, all slave-owners, who could no longer give loyalty to the king of England.
Consider closely this latest skirmish in a culture war that may yet make an end to any idea of nationhood, and you will see whence the real hate is coming. It is not from Gov. McDonnell or the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Friday Afternoon Funny--How Much is the Soul of Lloyd Marcus, Tea Party Slave Catcher Worth? About 18 Dollars Per Book
Please watch this video. States Rights as inalienable under The Constitution? Martin Luther King? The March on Selma? And more people of color in the Tea Party anthem video than have ever appeared at one of their rallies. Truly delusional these Tea Baggers are.
We do live in amazing times. Who would have thought that you would live to see an Oreo write a book and a coconut (or banana depending on your preference) endorse it? I may have to check for historical precedence (as noted clown Dinesh D'Souza may have endorsed Clarence Thomas' autobiography), but either way post-racial America is still a great place to live in.
And yes, I used my option to deploy dated (yet powerful) language to describe Mr. Marcus...I prefer Uncle Tom to Oreo, but the latter is so underused as of late and I have taken it as my personal duty to keep such beautiful phrasing alive.
I was being nice by the way, I could have called him a human lawn jockey and vessel for the mental ejaculate and smegma that are the racist fantasies of White knuckledraggers (and I could have described Malkin as a she-beast crone who practices one part yellow face charade and subservient geisha fantasy foot washing laundry queen for the neo-Right wing crowd...I truly can't stand her, for any person who defends Japanese internment, never mind that she herself is Asian-American, is below reproach in my book).
As I have said once more, if you want to get rich in America become a black
For your inspection:
$18.00 (includes shipping)
Lloyd Marcus, (black) Unhyphenated American, Tea Party Spokesperson and Troubadour, releases his much anticipated book; Confessions of a Black Conservative: How the Left has shattered the dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black America.
Mr. Marcus travels extensively singing his originals, American Tea Party Anthem and Twenty Ten, Vote Them Out to thousands in audiences across America. At each event Marcus receives raucous applause for his signature statement, “I am NOT an African American, I am Lloyd Marcus, AMERICAN”.
Lloyd Marcus believes America is the greatest land of opportunity on the planet for all who simply choose to Go For It! It is Mr. Marcus’ wish that this book will contribute to opening the eyes of his fellow black Americans who have been deceived for so many years by liberal leaders committed to keeping them on the victim-hood plantation of Liberalism.
Lloyd Marcus, international singer/songwriter/entertainer/columnist/artist tells in his new book, through his own personal stories which chronicles the virtues of Conservatism in common sense easy to understand non political terms, why Conservatism is best for all Americans.
About the Author: Lloyd Marcus was born in the ghetto of East Baltimore and by the young age of 9 recognized the entitlements from government birthed resentment and hostilities. Fortunately, Lloyd Marcus’ dad rose above and as a responsible father, brought his family out of the ghetto and raised Mr. Marcus and his siblings into fine responsible Americans relying on their education and faith in the American Way.
Lloyd Marcus resides in Deltona Florida with his wife as President of the Deltona Arts & Historical Center. He travels with the Tea Party Express and appears at conservative events expressing his belief that Conservatism is best for All Americans. He is available to speak at events promoting Conservatism.
Mr. Marcus’ American Tea Party Anthem, the rally song of the Tea Party Movement is available on the American Tea Party full cd/album of 12 great conservative Take Back America patriotic upbeat songs.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Thursday Afternoon Funny: Lloyd Marcus Black Conservative Tea Party Slave Catcher Eats Bratwurst and Makes White Folk Happy
No he really did. Apparently, Lloyd also ate his first fried pickle and it was mighty nice.
They gave him hugs. They kissed his neck. They fed him bratwurst. And the tea baggers loved him. Lloyd Marcus truly is a magical fetish--that like most black conservatives--who washes away the sins of his white masters. In another era I swear house negroes like Marcus would have been sad that slavery ended and would have willingly traveled down to Texas to "reenlist" as bondsmen just so they could be abused by white folks again. Now, he is just content to be a living lawn jockey and walking prop for the tea party neo-John Birchers. Sad but funny...and nonetheless true.
In his own words, from Lloyd Marcus's site on Breitbart.com:
Ms Kempt’s subject line read, “YOU ARE STILL A NIGGER”. Here is the text of her email. The capital letters are all hers:
HOW FAST YOU SELECTIVE CHOSE TO FORGET. IT WAS NOT THAT LONG AGO THAT YOU WERE NOT ALLOWED IN THE MILITARY AND IS STILL DISCRIMINATED AGAINST AND THEY WILL ACCEPT YOU IN THE TEA PARTY AS LONG AS YOU DO NOT FORGET YOU ARE STILL A “NIGGER” NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU WANT TO FORGET, IT IS STILL IN THEIR MINDS. YOU ARE TO STUPID TO KNOW WHEN YOU ARE BEING USED. YOU AND MICHAEL STEELE. YOU MAKE ME SHAME OF MY BLACK BROTHERS. YOU WILL NEVER BE MORE THAN A “NIGGER” THEY NEVER LET THE PRESIDENT OF THIS MOST POWERFUL COUNTRY FORGET HE IS A “NIGGER” ONCE A NIGGER, ALWAYS A NIGGER.
– (Signed) NATIVE AMERICAN GRANNY.”
I have saved Ms. Kempt’s email for documentation.
Ms Kempt is a product of the democrat’s and liberal mainstream media’s relentless attempts to portray the Tea Party movement as racist. I guarantee you that this ignorant, vicious woman has never attended a tea party. Her email is typical of the intolerance and hate I receive from the left in response to my columns and my participation in the Tea Party movement. The left hates minorities who do not view themselves as victims and love their country.
At southern state rallies, countless white moms and grandmothers have approached me and said, “Mr. Marcus thank you for all you are doing for our country. May I hug your neck?” Big burly white men give me hearty handshakes in thanks for my efforts while they fight back tears. This is not the behavior of angry racist mobsters. The folks who attend these tea parties are not racist. They are great Americans fearful of the tyrannical Obama administration and his plan to bypass our Constitution to, in his own words, “fundamentally transform America.”
At our Madison, Wisc. rally it was cold and rainy. Still, we had a very good crowd. Local patriot meat packers made fresh Bratwurst for our Tea Party Express team the day before our rally. They cooked the bratwurst on the grill for us. Delicious!
Apparently, we Americans will fry anything. In Brookfield, Wisc., I ate my first fried pickle. Yes, you heard me, fried pickle. Very good. Another memorable experience while traveling on Tea Party Express tour III. Time to do laundry. Three rallies tomorrow. Talk to y’all soon.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Damn those minor inconveniences of history!
Question: who the hell longs for The Confederacy? Why do these folks clamor for The Lost Cause and Redemption? The South lost--or did it? Who still believes that state's rights is somehow inseparable from the chattel enslavement of black people in this country? Are there folks, dead-enders in my mind, who really believe that The Confederacy was something to celebrate?
Apparently, Governor Robert McDonnel does. He has proclaimed April as "Confederate History Month" in order to honor how citizens of the state fought so bravely to protect their homes and communities. Interestingly, no mention of slavery appears in his proclamation. This whitewashing of slavery out of Virginia history may seem like an outlier, an interesting news piece that does not tell us anything about politics at large. But it is not. Rather, it is a central example of the political vision that is the core of the Palin, Right-wing Tea Party populism.
The struggle over history and historical memory has been central to American politics. Are we a country of small towns or cities? Were the framers saints or were they flawed men? Is white supremacy central to American history or peripheral to it? Just what is the American Dream? Is America an Empire? Or is she a benevolent power that only does good in the world?
The appeals to "real America" by Palin et al. as well as the "we want our America back" slogan adopted by the Tea Party brigands are signals to a particular and narrow version of American history. Not to be forgotten, the efforts by Conservatives in Texas to rewrite U.S. history textbooks are also a cousin to this phenomenon. The know-nothingness of which these examples are representative has always been present in American political and social life. Now, they are elevated to respectability by Fox News and enabled by a 24 hours news cycle that is desperate for a story...any story to fill its allotted time.
We live in an age where all opinions matter and are considered of "equal" merit. And sadly this is also a moment where willful stupidity is a virtue ("look I read the Constitution and I can interpret it at will...my opinion is at least as valid as those "arrogant" smarty pants professors and 'experts'" or "Glenn Beck reads books and I like him so he is right because I agree with him and it makes me feel good." Or alternatively, my favorite: "knowledge and facts are 'subjective' so my opinion is at least as good as yours."
Sorry, it is not.
We often treat a failing educational system and the dumbing down of our public discourse as separate problems. No, they are a symptom of a deeper rot. The idiocracy is winning. Their slogan? "My opinion is..."
The forces who win from the faux populism and advocacy offered by the Right-wing tea party brigands are the very same elements who want to see a distracted and confused public. Because of their influence on the tea parties (aided and abetted by the Right-wing media echo chamber) this public is ill-equipped to engage in a critical analysis of the structures that have contributed to their angst about America's future. Like a team of horses or mules, the tea parties are egged on by their masters to lash out at "those people" and yearn hopelessly for the return of their "real America."
The rabble are not made virtuous or right because they are in the majority--or even the plurality. There is such a thing as expert knowledge and it is to be respected and cultivated.
Sadly for some, there is a right side of history. The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history Governor McDonnel. It is best to accept that fact and to move on.
Courtesy of The Washington Post:
Wednesday, April 7, 2010; A16
IT WAS only in 1997, 132 years after the Civil War, that Virginia finally retired "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia" as its state song, acknowledging that the lyrics (including "this old darky's heart" and "old Massa") offended blacks, among others. Now, inexplicably, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has issued a proclamation that blatantly airbrushes the history of Virginia, the Civil War and the United States, again raising questions about how far the Old Dominion has evolved, or not.
It's fine that Mr. McDonnell decided to proclaim April as Confederate History Month; the Confederacy is an important chapter of history that merits study and draws tourists to Virginia.
But any serious statement on the Confederacy and the Civil War would at least recognize the obvious fact -- that slavery was the major cause of the war, and that the Confederacy fought largely in defense of what it called "property," which meant the right to own slaves. Instead, Mr. McDonnell's proclamation chose to omit this, declaring instead that Virginians fought "for their homes and communities and Commonwealth." The words "slavery" and "slaves" do not appear.
Even more incendiary is the proclamation's directive that "all Virginians" must appreciate the state's "shared" history and the Confederacy's sacrifices. Surely he isn't including the 500,000 Virginia slaves who constituted more than a quarter of the state's Civil War-era population, who cheered the Union and ran away to it when they could.
As James McPherson, dean of Civil War scholars, commented on learning of Mr. McDonnell's proclamation: "I find it obnoxious, but it's extremely typical. The people that emphasize Confederate heritage and the legacy, and the importance of understanding Confederate history, want to deny that Confederate history was ultimately bound up with slavery. But that was the principal reason for secession -- that an anti-slavery party was elected to the White House. . . . And without secession, there wouldn't have been a war."
It's difficult to understand why Mr. McDonnell, who in his inaugural address paid eloquent homage to former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the grandson of slaves, and spoke movingly of slavery's evils, would now trade in such glaring historical omissions. Charitably, we might suspect sloppy staff work; less charitably, we'd guess he is pandering to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group that lionizes the Confederacy and pressed for the proclamation. It's possible the governor thought he was being sensitive by eliminating the obnoxious glorification of the Confederacy's "cause," a word that appeared in a similar proclamation by former governor George Allen (R), whose idea of office decor ran to Confederate flags and nooses.
If Mr. McDonnell was unable to draft a historically honest statement, the best course would have been to follow the example of his direct predecessors, former Democratic governors Timothy M. Kaine and Mark L. Warner, who sidestepped the issue. After all, Virginians have studied and recognized the Civil War for generations without instructions from the governor. And as Mr. Warner said, such proclamations are too often lightning rods that exacerbate racial wounds rather than soothe them.
Monday, April 5, 2010
He's Back! Come Once More to the Church of James Brown and Confess Your Distaste for Things and Matters that All Black People are Deemed to Love
As we did last year, once more you can win some of our swag (legal stuff: only U.S. and Canadian residents--I will have some prizes for folks across the pond if they should win; and no P.O. boxes).
Courtesy of the good people at Hachette Book Group the best 3 confessionals will each receive the following 3 books (get it? 3 winners get 3 books each):
- The autobiography FOXY by the and only Pam Grier
- The health and wellness guide The Remedy by Supa Nova Slo
- And Queen Latifah's book, Put on Your Crown
Oh he has come again. As I searched the darkest corners of the Internet well past my normal hour of sleep I heard a rhythmic tapping. At first I thought it was my neighbors engaged in furtive lovemaking. The rhythm became louder, more compelling, and familiar. It was then that a great light shined at me, blinding me with its power! No, it could not be. I knew that he had disappeared from his anointed crypt in the mortal world. Something told me that he walked the Earth once more. But could it be? It was not February. Black History Month had past. As my eyes adjusted I could see him. It was true! My vision was real! The Permed One had returned! James Brown, the patron Saint of our people stood before me. I bowed to him and he let me touch his magical robe. Brother James then spoke as only he could:
Go to the people and spread my word Brother Chauncey. It is not only during February that my church must exist, that negroes everywhere must be free to confess their secret shames and sins of black authenticity at all times. Once more, this is the time I have selected, this first week of April. For we have so much to share since Brother Obama has been elected. Present my word and spread it for now it is time to come together in community!
Shaken I stood forth and promised to follow through on his commandment. Once more, I bring to you the Church of James Brown and offer our space to confess your secret sins of those things respectable negroes pretend to like in the name of blackness but secretly loathe; those thoughts we keep to ourselves for fear of White folk hearing them; our secret anger and rage. Come unburden yourself my respectable negro friends and family.
In our sacred words:
"Oh most amazing James Brown, greatest of all negroes, I offer you my lies and secret shames. All these years I have yearned to share those things which I have pretended to like and adore in the name of being authentically Black. I cast my words into the wind so that you can take our secrets and make these shames unintelligible as you sing them for all time in your unique and spirited language."
As one of the elders of the Church of James Brown I shall offer myself as an example of humility and vulnerability as I send my words into the wind:
I, Chauncey DeVega, believe that Michelle Obama makes many questionable fashion choices, and has worn many an outfit that is both unflattering and unattractive.
I, Chauncey DeVega, think that the new Erykah Badu video is overrated (despite her "political" posturing, I find the video more compelling for her most wonderful booty than for any "message" she is trying to convey). And like the neo-soul "queen" Jill Scott, I am generally tired of self-important, black artists who appeal to the negro bohemian nouveau New Negro crowd.
I, Chauncey DeVega, am tired of racism chasers who find offense and a white boogie man behind every corner. Quite frankly, I don't care if black people were told to leave Walmart over the public announcement system, or if another raggedy often badly behaving negro was tasered by the cops while acting the fool. I am quite frankly exhausted.
Come my friends and unburden yourself!
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Sunday Evening Easter Funny: Behold the Children that Do Not Know the Difference Between a Potato and a Tomato
Hat tip to Keep it Trill on this one. And yes, I am happy that none of the kids were black.
I just couldn't resist...any reason whatsoever to post the most wondrous thing in the whole of these known Earths. Fat babies!
The polyglot, post-racial democracy that is the Maury Povich show knows no boundaries of greatness:
We truly are a society too sick to survive.