Friday, January 7, 2011

Pro-Slavery? Or Just Unapologetic? Glenn Beck Defends the Three-Fifths Clause of the U.S. Constitution

The Tea Party Glenn Beck Sarah Palin New Right's naive worshiping of and gang bang circle jerk onanistic spewing over the U.S. Constitution continues once more.

Yesterday the Tea Party GOP Congress sponsored a Right-wing politically convenient reading of the U.S. Constitution with all of the "inconvenient" and "naughty" parts omitted or politely glossed over. Glenn Beck (historian in residence at Fox News) had to set them right on their embarrassment motivated rewriting of history. Predictably, Beck did this by lecturing the Tea Party Republicans on the divine genius and perfection of the near deities known as "The Founders."

[Apparently, this cabal of historical superheroes--a bunch reasonable folk know as John Jay, Washington, Madison, Jefferson, et al.--can do no wrong. For Beck and the Tea Bagger crowd, this disparate collection of personalities were not real people, political pragmatists who committed deeds both ill and good in the interest of political expediency--interests and deeds both selfish and generous. Nope. Not here.]

Of course, instead of having an honest and transparent conversation about how the 3/5ths compromise empowered the South, reinforced their ability to preserve the slaveocracy through inflated representation in the Congress, and led to a Civil War, Beck instead indulges in a line of reasoning that does not pass the most simple tests of reasonable historiography and common sense.

Glenn Beck's misrepresentations point to a bigger play at hand. The Texas rewriting of U.S. history, the banning of "Ethnic Studies" programs in Arizona, the Neo-Secessionist movement, and the general politics of white victimology and racial resentment that are the beating heart of the Republican Tea Party, speak to an old and deep vein of anti-intellectualism in American public life. Symptomatically, as we work through history and its relationship to American politics, Beck and the New Right are possessed of a belief that all opinions are created equal, and that the historical record is simply a "social construct," a function of mere interpretation that can be massaged at will to fit the political demands of the day.

Question: Who would have thought that post-modern, New Times theory would have gone so amok?

We can only imagine the consequences of fiction and myth as the basis of a political movement that seeks to remake the very foundations of the social contract and American's constitutional republic.

I am not asking Glenn Beck to be the next Woodward, Williamson, Berlin, Franklin, Holt, or Hahn. Nor am I asking the Tea Party GOP brigands who carry around copies of the Constitution in their pockets as they play 18th Century America costume party to be especially sophisticated citizens.

All I ask is that Glenn Beck in playing the the role of pseudo-historian at least maintain a pretense to truth seeking it ethical, moral, or philosophical.

Is this all too much to ask of a dilettante historian with an on knee, mouth open, and ears ready audience that takes what Beck utters as wisdom from on high, metaphorical rain come down from the mountain top? Or am I just being too hopeful?

A question for a our first poll of the year 2011: Is Glenn Beck ignorantly willful? Or is Glenn Beck willfully ignorant?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Brother X-Squared Goes to the Movies: Thoughts on Black Swan, True Grit, The Fighter, and the New Year 2011

The We Are Respectable Negroes News Network (WARNNN) is proud to bring you the latest installment in our recurring series of interviews with Brother X-Squared, president of the North American Chapter of the Renewed Black Panther Party.

As long time followers of WARNNN already know, Brother X-Squared is a potent activist, black futurist, and visionary thinker. He is also a noted cultural critic in the greatest tradition of African American commentary and letters. The last time we spoke with Brother X-Squared he shared his thoughts on the Tea Party-GOP election, the fall of Barack Obama, and his love of Fox News. As Brother X-Squared did with the 2010 Oscars, he also shared his thoughts on a range of movies including his new favorite Winter's Bone. Brother X-Squared has been traveling the United States during the last month and has returned to share his thoughts on what to expect in 2011, as well his reviews of a number of recent Hollywood films.

WARNNN: It is wonderful to see you again Brother X-Squared. You are a joy to speak with, and as always, your last interview is still resonating across the Internet. How did you spend the New Year? Were you with family and friends? Did you celebrate?

Brother X-Squared: I have so much to teach you Brother Chauncey. I have not spoken to you in a month and already you are on some foolishness. Just when I think you have gained knowledge, you, just like all the other so-called "respectable" negroes in this country, go back to acting like the white man's playthings.

WARNNN: Excuse me? Please be specific. I thought you of all people would have appreciated my comments on Christmas as a "helliday?" I am a bit hurt by your criticism.

Brother X-Squared:
Hurt. Hurt as in our ancestors' backs from the devilish whips and whirling dervishes of the white man's lances and rods? You know nothing of real pain. Your mind state must become hard and calloused so that you can engage the wickedness of Amerikkka in battle! True, you did try to drop some knowledge about Christmas, but you dropped it in the same way that a baby does a bottle! You did it by accident. You did it without intention. You did it passively. You did it despite yourself! Just like one of these saggin' pants cumdroppers who manages to impregnate one of these fallen whorish black women with a bastard child who by pure chance grows up to be a Black God, you simply got lucky. No intent. No sacrifice. Now let's start again: Ask me about my New Year's properly.

Quite frankly, I am shocked. I have never seen you in such a mood. I will politely try again. How did you spend the change of years from 2010 to 2011.

Brother X-Squared:
That is a little better. But only slightly. There is nothing to celebrate Brother Chauncey. As I have predicted, the black man is worse off this year than he has been ever. He is more likely to be poor. He is more likely to be wasting his money on nonsense in the service of the white man's economy. He is no closer to being free. I spend the quote unquote "New Year" as I always do. Deep in meditation, far-thinking, and prognosticating. I am the beginning and the end, I am the Black Guardian of Forever, but even I must synthesize my wisdom.

In fact, as you celebrate this wicked change of years, and as you feebly tried to point out with your "thoughts" on Christmas, the black man is still a slave to consumerism, celebrating a fake ass made up holiday. Moreover, this is so deep, how the White Man Battlestar Galactic Cylon thinker that he is--you best watch that show Caprica, never has there been such an insight in the pedophilia laced narcissism of the White imagination ever on television--manipulates reality. This is not even the year 2011. This calendar is made up by a wicked depraved white man to coincide with those twisted Romans' views of reality. The Gregorian calendar is what it is called. We as new found Black Warriors are on our own calendar.

Much to process. Okay, I understand that the dates are arbitrary. But, what calendar are you on? A Hebrew calendar? A Mayan calendar? Please share.

Brother X-Squared:
Hmmm, you do indeed have mental drapetomania today Brother Chauncey. The date is unknown only to you and other mentally captive negroes. Our calendar begins with 1607, the year the first captive Nubians were brought to this hellish country and purchased at Jamestown! Yes, this is the year. We have been struggling for centuries and that is the only beginning that we must begin our counting of years from. This is now the year 414.

WARNNN: I must confess I never conceived of time in that way. Let me catch my breath for a moment. Okay, what are your thoughts on the upcoming year, specific thoughts on the President, the Tea-Party GOP takeover, and the general state of the Union?

Brother X-Squared: I am so happy to see the Tea Party sex freaks GOP in power. This is glorious. As I warned you several years ago, Obama is a spiritual zero, his life force canceled out by his African sex fiend father and his white mama. Many house negroes--the new word is "post-racial"--thought you could win the approval of the White Man! The White Man is too strong and too smart and too wicked for you weaklings to handle. He set a trap. He let a half-rican into the White House just to bring the temple down on Obama's head. I laugh and mock you all. Educated true Nubians such as Brother X-Squared and his legions saw the con a long way off. The Tea Baggers are just giving you the final blow! They never hid who they were, not for a second. But you fools believed in the good of the American, i.e. the White American people. Good can never, ever come of evil. I have a question for you Brother Chauncey. Are you ready to become a slave again?

WARNNN: What do you mean? Slavery was ended a century or more ago Brother X-Squared. I am all for listening to you and trying to grasp your wisdom, but I have to intervene when you veer into hyperbole and nonsense.

Brother X-Squared: Ha ha ha ha ha! That is why I love you so much. As much as you claim to have knowledge, you are blind to the obvious. The White Man is already talking about a return to "the original Constitution." Just this week, the Tea Party is having secret and closed meetings where that evil white Supreme Court Justice Scalia gives those new age bigots the "secret" meaning of the Constitution. They are publicly talking about making sure that the Constitution is read before every meeting of Congress and passing some law to make sure that Constitutional "principles" are obeyed in this country! The Constitution is a bigoted, racist document that supported slavery. Those White devils are loading the guns and loading them in your faces and you passive American born neo-slaves sit and get ready to take the blast. Some of you will even suck on the barrel of the gun like it is your momma's plump tit. Sick.

WARNNN: I have to admit I did not think of that at first. I can appreciate your sentiment that white racism and racial resentment drives the Republicans and the New Right. In fact, I have written about that myself many times. But, they are a nominally "diverse" group of people. In fact, they even have a black Representative from Florida, and there are other black Republicans now in Congress. They would not ever let a thing like that happen.

Brother X-Squared: Fool. There were black overseers during slavery. The black man who held the whip was worse than the white slave master! Those boot-licking Tom Negroes and Handkerchief head Aunt Jemima types like that hellish Oprah Winfrey who was given an award by the Kennedy Center! (a foul, evil, and corrupt white family connected to the Illuminati) would do anything to please their white owners. Centuries later, there are still some black people so sick and pathological that they will lay in bed with the White Man. Those Black Conservatives are cowards and traitors, but at least they are pragmatic. Here is how there sickness is so so deep and the White man's game so strong.

Listen to the race traitors speak, men who would have been the subject of Franz Fanon's wisdom years past, those Michael Steele's and Allen West's, they get no greater pleasure than being cuckolded by the White Man. It brings them joy. You presume that the Black lapdogs do not want to be slaves, thus their interest is yours. Nope, don't fall for that bit of mental trickery! They want to be slaves. And they want you captive negroes to go along with it! Brother X-Squared is too strong. Too powerful. Too wise to fall for such a thing! Because I know the Constitution, I can use it to defend myself! That original heathen document provided for treaties with the Native tribes--most blessed be our Red brothers and sisters who will one day have justice when Mother Earth demands penance--I am a member of the New Age Black Panthers. We continue with the traditions of the lost tribes of Elders who rightfully rule the Earth! Thus, we demand equal treatment under the White Man's "founding" document.

There is other trickery afoot here Brother Chauncey. The assault on our subliminals in preparation for the Tea-Party revolution and (re)enslavement of the Black Man has already begun in earnest. Who does that black neo-slave Allen West look like? What celebrity?

WARNNN: I never thought he looked "famous" per se. If anything, sort of like a G.I. Joe action figure?

Brother X-Squared: You are getting better. You have been studying. Close but no cigar...but the action figure, a foul device, it is neutered. It has no genitals. Not a coincidence that a neutered black man would be the mascot for the White Man. No, he looks just like Jim Brown from that evil hellish movie The Running Man starring that sick race mixing quasi Nazi Arnold Schwarzenegger! Oh yes. Did you see that movie? About an America that is failed, where people are homeless, sitting around watching a twisted show with runaway slaves who get hunted and killed for sport while you dumb troglodytes watch and clap like trained monkeys. America in what you call "2011" is the world of The Running Man! The end is near
Brother Chauncey.

WARNNN: It is fitting that you mentioned The Running Man--what was a great example of the late 20th century action genre. In our pre-interview you specifically mentioned several movies that you have seen and want to share with our audience. Based on that talk, I believe that at least one of these films was the source of the not common anger you demonstrated earlier in our chat.

Brother X-Squared: Anger. You know nothing of anger. Just as absolute zero is an abstraction or the gravity in a black hole's event horizon is something that mere mortals cannot comprehend, you know nothing of Brother X-Squared's rage and power. Because your mental defense membranes are incapable of blocking the full force of my wisdom, I only give you one iota of my power. So rage. So no, you have not seen rage Brother Chauncey.

WARNNN: I beg your apologies.

Brother X-Squared:
Does a type five civilization even acknowledge a type zero civilization's presence...I thought not. Moving forward. I saw several films these past weeks as a favor to the readers of WARNNN. I am strong enough to withstand the tricknology on display at the local cinema and braved forth into the light of the white man's evil. And so evil it was. I saw things I have not seen ever in a movie...including that most sick movie Splice. Oh yes, even worse than that sex freak race mixing movie.

WARNNN: I have to ask. Did you see Tron in 3D? I am so excited to see it and am waiting for it not to be so packed and...

Brother X-Squared: No! What did I tell you about 3D! It is a guaranteed way for the White Man to manipulate your Nubian mindstate. Avoid those movies at all cost. Now let me begin. First, I saw the comedy The Fighter. Oh, I have never laughed so hard. This movie was almost better than the laugh out loud movie Winter's Bone. It featured that Christian Bale and that wannabe hip hop underwear model white negro Mark Wahlberg playing a bunch of poor white losers in some rat hole abandoned town called Lowell, Massachusetts. The film was a powerful performance. We got to see white crime and violence--their natural state! White primitive behavior--the sisters of the main characters were so primitive, with their big hair, trashy clothes and nasty looking poor white trash ways. So wonderful! There was emasculation of the White Man in almost every scene. But you see, even in comedy the White Man assaults the Black Man's mindstate. The Christian Bale character plays a drug addict crack head. And Lord he does such a good job of it. But guess what, he lost all of that weight for the role and looked so pathetic. Brother Chauncey, who is the White Man's mass media now depicting as a crack head, as a disappearing man?

WARNNN: I don't know...

Brother X-Squared:
Of course you wouldn't. Your hero President Obama. Look at those photos and how similar they are! Not a coincidence! The White Man in his movies is attacking you subliminally, priming the battlefield to further destroy your man-child President. I laugh at the transparent ways of The White Man! So easily discovered.

Okay, what other films did you see. You sounded like you enjoyed The Fighter though?

Brother X-Squared:
I found pleasure while revealing the White Man's evil. I also saw True Grit. You know I love the Coen Brothers. They are experts at depicting the wickedness of white people and the sickness of their ways. That movie Fargo, oh how funny, those ice people cave dwelling Caucasoids living in the middle of nowhere killing each other was wondrous. I especially love the actors William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi. If I had a theater company they would star in all my productions so I could feature the White Man as pitiable loser in every feature. That having been said True Grit was also evil. But, its evil was more revealing of the ways of white folks and how they are trying with that Sarah Palin dingbat to bring the "real" America back. The Western is America's natural motif. The White Man loves that fiction. He gets to conquer some land, kill Indians, be a hero, and rule the world. All with this lie he called Manifest Destiny. The joke Brother Chauncey being that the only manifest destiny for the White Man is hell!

This True Grit movie has deep subliminals. The white men in this movie are dirty and foul and disgusting. They don't bathe and they kill each other. In fact, one even practices cannibalism and walks around wearing a bear skin! A double assault as the bear is a blessed creature and no White Man is fit to wear his skin. There are even sick sexual subtexts in the film, where the main character, a little girl of some 14 years old or something, is the object of lust by the White Men in the movie. Sick!

But you see, the film features magical negro slaves that serve the little girl. Grown men who serve her beck and call. There is a little slave child who works in a barn who gives this white ice queen a black horse. This is so deep! The horse is called Little Blackie! Oh yes! How symbolic. The whole word revolves around a little white girl just like in that other sick example of white narcissism, the movie The Lovely Bones. Just as in the real world, black and brown children get kidnapped and no one cares. Let one little white girl go missing and the world stops!

The evil Jeff Bridges' character later works this horse to exhaustion such that the poor beast dies. Powerful and revealing. So true as the black man is the engine for this country and has been worked to death!

But there are layers upon layers in this movie. There are no Black cowboys. No Mexican cowboys! No Asian cowboys! The Coen brothers white washed history! They removed the great Nubian cowboys like Deadwood Dick to make way for their evil white fantasy. Moreover, there is another meaning here, just as the evil Pastor Manning tried to share a few weeks ago in one of his "sermons." The white men of The Old West were real White men. They weren't cowards like the Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, the Tea baggers. Oh no. You cowardly neo-slaves are lucky that White men like those in True Grit aren't in charge anymore. They would have put you back into bondage no questions asked. White men are in crisis in this country and their only heroes are in movies like True Grit where they can play some fantasy and wish fulfillment. Little girls, magical negroes, black horses, filth and nastiness, True Grit is a projection of the White Man's psyche! Be very careful when you see this film. Do not bring Nubian Queens or children into the movie as their gentle souls are not prepared.

WARNNN: You also saw Black Swan?

Brother X-Squared: Oh goodness yes. This was the sickest movie in recent years. It features bestiality and such a twisted story that is not to be believed. It geniusly depicts white evil and the way that white women are so hypersexual and obsessive even with their own mothers. But that Natalie Portman was too too much. The movie assaults the mindstate of a proud Nubian by telling the story from the point of view of a crazy person! Yes, an insane woman! The Black Man cannot possibly understand the twisted ways of White People. Impossible. Then in a true moment of unequaled sickness, that Natalie Portman starts shape-shifting and becomes a black swan. This is deep! Europeans have long believed in shape shifting demonic creatures. This is all so arrogant, the absurdity that a white person could embody the energy of Black and white. That is a physical and psychic impossibility. But you see, madness is part of White culture. And then, please protect me most High Law Given Nubian ruler of the universe, the play has a White man playing a "Black" Swan and they are to have sex with each other. I cannot even give a proper account of this movie. So hellish it was. Stay away. Stay far, far, away. I had to burn sage in my home to purify it after coming back from the movie and I bathed in sandalwood oil and black soap. I have never been so unsettled by a film.

WARNNN: That was powerful Brother X-Squared. Thank you for enduring that experience for us. I do hope that folks will heed your warning. If you have the strength left, can you share something with us that we do not already know.

Brother X-Squared: My strength is infinite. Black fool superheroes and black fools who rape women with snakes.

WARNNN: What are you talking about?

Brother X-Squared: In Washington State, there is apparently a Black fool by the name of Phoenix Jones running around in a costume saving people in distress. This brother is apparently inspired by that Kick Ass movie--another White abomination--and is wasting his energy. He needs to join up with the natural Black Men in the Renewed Black Panther Party and fight for real justice. The second story is about a sick episode where two captive lost negroes who have watched too much of that evil White Man's pornography raped a woman with a snake. This is demonic! The snake is a natural symbol of the White Man's evil and obsession with the dark arts. In Obama's America so-called black men are using the foul beast to violate people. Disgusting. And sick. One more sign of what Obama and this post-race nonsense has unleashed on America! This society is doomed.

WARNNN: As always you both impress and amaze. So much to digest. We can't wait to have you back soon.

Brother X-Squared: I am always here, even when I am not. I am on the front lines fighting for you weak negroes and will do so until I cannot lift my cudgel anymore. I am forever. I am infinite.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing: Faux "Controversy" Over "Inappropriate" U.S. Navy Video and Chris Rock's "Disrespecting" of Oprah Winfrey

Getting my swagger back...

There are two non-story, non-events that will be making their rounds this week across these Internets. The first is the obligatory "outrage" (isn't the sentiment "outrage" all too common these days? both overused and overwrought?) over Chris Rock's playful banter and humor at the expense of Oprah Winfrey, the most high mammy and emotional surrogate for white suburban women everywhere at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony.

Despite, or maybe precisely because of the protests, the jokes were quite funny to my ear.

Moreover, we got to see a panoply of black folks--including President Obama and the First Lady--presiding over American's highest acknowledgment for career success in the arts, culture, and letters. Talk about the power of symbolism and the deep upset faced by whiteness as the heliocentric center of our political and social universe. I can almost envision the bile filled faces of the Tea Party brigands as they attempt to watch said award show--their throats full of acidic rage that a bunch of black folks have some small degree of ceremonial and symbolic power.

This is where our attention should be focused. Not on some tendency to waste capital on a not always necessary habit of grievance politics. Truly, as Dick Gregory said a few years ago, black folks got to stop looking so mean and miserable all the time and learn how to laugh.

The second non-issue of the new year is the "scandal" over the release of a music video by Captain Owen Honors Jr., the Executive Officer of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. Apparently, the XO on that ship had a great sense of humor and would sponsor skits and assorted escapades to raise the morale of the crew.

In the doldrums of the new year's news cycle, more politically correct types are crying foul over the "homophobic," "sexist" and "misogynistic" (again, the latter being one more overused word in the lexicon of the present) overtones of the video. But, I think this hints at a general misunderstanding of military culture, and of the particular traditions of the U.S. Navy.

For example, I wonder how many of those who doth protest too much have ever heard of King Neptune's Crossing the Line Ceremony when Pollywogs become Shellbacks-- a mad and near debauched rite of passage for Equatorial virgins in navies the world over?

I am a pragmatist. As such, I am more than a bit sympathetic to Captain Honors' plight.

Consequently, I am more interested in the readiness of the ship, her performance on patrol, and the Enterprises' ability to bring the pain when need be, than in some civilians' understanding of what is (or is not) proper behavior for a bunch of folks stuck in a tin can, circling the Earth for 6 months at a time (and yes, please spare me the letter of the law that is the U.S. Military Code of Justice talking point).

But also being the random soul that I tend to be, I am most impressed by 1) how computing power has grown such that on a laptop one can make a video for free that would have cost many thousands of dollars even a few years ago; and 2) the selection of music featured on the XO's video. Captain Honor and his production team seem to have no small amount of blue eyed soul.

The soundtrack of the XO's movie night video is mixtape worthy. One suggestion though: How much more perfect would the XO's movie have been if Loose Joints' house classic "Is It All Over My Face?" was one of the featured tracks?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Hellidays to You! A Few Notes on that "Fake" Holiday You Know as Christmas

I hope your holidays were fun and restful. Next week, I will resume my normal schedule of black genius in the form of my witty and wise meditations on all things I deem worthy.

On Christmas, I was tempted to be a party pooper and put some proverbial coal in your stockings. But alas, the angel on my shoulder won out over the devil on my side. As one who has both denounced and disavowed religion, I sit back on my perch and laugh with glee as Conservative Christian reactionary types "defend" Christmas against some imagined "assault." The religiously minded don't get me. I don't get them. We agree to disagree...usually in a peaceable manner.

Likewise, I snicker at some members of the Afrotocracy that muse about Kwanzaa as some type of authentic marker of one's negritude. I laugh because a central premise is not satisfied--how can you defend a thing from assault when the object of defense is itself a fiction?

Are you defending a lie that you believe to be true? Or are you defending your right to believe in a rite that itself may be based on some truth that you believe to be Right (or not)?

[Wasn't that turn of phrase not unlike wiping your behind with silk after a particularly full, potent, and satisfying bowel movement?]

Let's have some real talk: All holidays are fictions--made up bits of convenience that serve some practical need in the real world. For some, this fiction brings comfort and joy. For others, it is the power of faith and routine. And sadly for too many, a shared faith and belief in some given holiday is symbolic of who is outside of the tribe--a marker against those not included. Thus, the latter is made necessarily less than.

We all need our mythologies, our imagined stories. Sure, I wish that all children would be taught about Santa's black slave. That is not quite likely to happen. But this is America, the greatest country on Earth....insert finger into throat to induce vomiting. And because we are free, I can begin my own set of Christmas traditions.

I look forward to the day when I can tell the little ones that the historical Jesus, a "Black" man, soul brother number one who fought pimps and money lenders, was not born in December (where after this revelatory moment I will give them a Jeffersonian Bible). In the far, far, far future, when I am feeling really mischievous and feigning senility as a defense against criticism or familial disagreement, I will tell my grandkids (if so blessed) that Christmas is a pagan holiday, founded as a function of practical politics in order to get nature worshipers and free spirits away from their sex filled celebrations and under the control of the boring, sterile, bureaucratic State.

Either way, I will encourage my scions to bathe in the glory of their existence and explorations of the world, be they physical, metaphysical, or spiritual; to enjoy pleasures both small and large; and to always drink deeply from the cup of life.

Me? I am grateful for so much, including all of you. Enjoy the New Year and heed the words of the Black Israelites, lest you fall victim to the evils of Christmas...that most foul of hellidays!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Season's Greetings and Have a Very Happy (Robotech) Inspired Holiday Season

I could say Merry Christmas. But, that is already implied.

I could write about gratitude in the time of the Great Recession. But, that is understood.

I could be naughty and not nice. But, I did that earlier.

Instead, I bring you a little ghetto nerd nostalgia from a more innocent time.

Can any show do it better than Robotech? I don't think so...

Have a very happy and safe Christmas. And stay classy people. 'Cause if you don't, Robot Santa is going to come for that ass!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Have a Naughty Christmas Eve: 40 Year Old Virgin versus Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Not safe for work. My assumption (fingers crossed) being that folks are out of the door, traveling, or took Christmas Eve off.

How about a duel of the comedy iron mics? We have two contenders, both equally talented, either of which would make a great finale for a Christmas Eve movie marathon. Which would you choose? The criminally underrated Zack and Miri Make a Porno:

Or the blockbuster 40 Year Old Virgin?

On what criteria do you make the call? Timing? The intangibles of chemistry and heart? Quality of writing?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Whitewashing "A Christmas Story": The Lost Black Actors in a New Holiday Classic

Are you ready for Christmas yet? One more day to go and between the mindless shopping and inevitable grumpiness that results, please be mindful of the little things. Be happy for friends, family, and health. Be grateful if you have a job. Be hopeful if you do not. And please do something nice for a stranger--put some change in The Salvation Army bucket; give a homeless person some money; or donate to Toys for Tots.

The holidays are also a time for marathon TV viewing. This year I will be alternating between the Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon and a few obligatory hours of A Christmas Story. The latter was also the subject of one of my favorite WARNNN features. Did you ever watch A Christmas Story and wonder what happened to its black actors? We ventured forth and tried to find out.

From the archives.


In keeping with our interviews with such notables as Jesse Jackson, Pat Buchanan, and the irrepressible Brother X-Squared, the We Are Respectable Negroes News Network (WARNNN) is proud to bring you the newest installment in our hard hitting special investigative series.

The movie A Christmas Story has become a new classic. Based upon a collection of short stories by Jean Shephard, what was once a niche movie has become a staple of the holiday season. A Christmas Story is genius in its simplicity: a young boy who only wants a Red Ryder BB gun, the machinations necessary to make this dream come true, and the adventures of an "all American" family as a date with Santa Claus approaches. It is of no small coincidence that A Christmas Story saw a rise in popularity during the Culture Wars of the 1980s--a moment of increasingly toxic and fractured politics. In many ways A Christmas Story is a salve for those heated debates about what America is--and what America is to become in the future. No doubt encouraged by this appeal to a simpler age of Norman Rockwellesque 1940s America (the film itself is set in nondescript Hammond, Indiana)--as well as 24 hour marathons on TNT and TBS--A Christmas Story has generated a huge following that has given birth to conventions, tours of the home featured in the film, and a cottage industry based upon A Christmas Story related memorabilia.

Every holiday season A Christmas Story brings so much joy to so many. What became of its actors? We know that some have been able to parlay their childhood success into some amount of fame as adults. We must ask: What happened to A Christmas Story's African-American actors and actresses? Seemingly lost to history, WARNNN has conducted an expansive search to bring the struggles of these actors to light. While these brave actors and actresses of color are forever linked to what is now an indispensable fixture in American popular culture, as is so often the case they have been denied the success, fame, and wealth earned by their white peers.

WARNNN brings you their story.

Almost invisible, the black characters in A Christmas Story are conspicuous by their absence as central characters. Present on the margins, muted both literally and figuratively, the African-American characters carry a heavy weight on their shoulders as embodiments of the role played by people of color in the American imagination: black Americans are rendered forever present through the fact of their exclusion from the master narrative.

A Christmas Story is set in pre-World War 2, 1940s Indiana, a time when legal segregation and white supremacy were still very much the rule of the land. Thus, A Christmas Story's exclusion of people of color in its vision of American suburban life is to be expected. Not to be denied, several black Americans responded to the casting call for A Christmas Story. They were determined that the presence of black Americans in this nostalgic vision of America's past be acknowledged. These pioneers would not be white washed out of history! However, what these actors would find would be no small amount of struggle...and experiences that would forever impact their lives in the decades to follow.

WARNNN had an extremely difficult time locating the black actors of A Christmas Story. They have seemingly been erased from any record of the film's production and distribution. It was only through a series of interviews with the film's cast, and a poignant confessional by Director Bob Clark (during which he expressed great sorrow at the treatment of African Americans in the film) that WARNNN was able to rediscover these heretofore lost tales of personal tragedy and triumph. There were four black actors in A Christmas Story. What follows is the first of 3 installments on their post A Christmas Story lives.

Percy Jones was the first actor that we were able to locate. Sadly, our ability to find Mr. Jones was made easier by his new identity--inmate number 203157 in Attica State Correctional Facility. While A Christmas Story is Americana come to life, Percy's life story is that of urban America gone wrong. Like so many young men of color caught up in the system, Mr. Jones (the oldest black actor in A Christmas Story) could not escape the sad mix of Hollywood fame, drugs, and the trauma he suffered while filming A Christmas Story.

We scheduled a meeting with Percy during a lazy after Sunday afternoon in November of 2009. Mr. Jones awaited us in the visitor's center. Since his arrest in 1989, he has been a model prisoner. Because of his exemplary status, the guards afforded him some degree of privacy as we were seated in a semi-private area in the corner of the main visitor's room. A tall man, now in his 50s, Percy has a hard earned dignity to his features. Sharply intelligent, yet understated and modest, Percy greets us warmly and with an exhalation of relief, "You came to talk about A Christmas Story? Do I have a story to tell you..."

We began by asking a simple question: How did you end up in Attica?

Percy looked down, "It was a random series of events that were simultaneously unavoidable. A Christmas Story gave me so much, but it also took much more than it gave. I simply couldn't avoid its clutches." He began to spin a story that was at one time utterly predictable, yet imminently fascinating. Percy continued, "I was a hustler, always was. I grew up in Cleveland in the late 1960s, I came of age in the 1970s after the riots. I was running with different gangs, you know all the Black Power groups that fell out with each other and lost the politics and picked up the guns. I got arrested a few times and had an epiphany. I had to get off the streets. I hooked up with my first high school girlfriend and started taking acting classes at the local community college."

At this point, Percy looked nervous and a bit saddened. He looked down to the shoulder of his orange jumpsuit and wiped a tear away from his eye. Percy continued, "the directors of the film were scouting local schools and colleges. They found me. It was immediate. They said they were making this Christmas movie and that I was perfect for a pivotal role. I immediately said yes. I didn't have a SAG card so I had to get one...the film subsidized it. I also got an advance. 1,000 dollars for my appearance. Man, I was so happy. I took my girl out, lord it was nice, we conceived Nichelle that night...she is my daughter. I got my mom a new tv. I brought my lady a necklace and I got a record player cassette player combo for my car. We were living large."

I asked the obvious question, one that often hints at the trouble awaiting Hollywood's newest stars, "did you sign a contract? What about residuals? What about back end money?" Percy looked up at me with heavy eyes, "come on brother, of course not! I didn't know about any of that stuff. So, I got to the set. It was supposed to be 3 days of filming. I thought this was my chance to break out, you know? To bring some dignity to the role I was playing. The wardrobe people walked up to me and sat me down for a fitting. Something wasn't right. I looked at the costumes and they had a black mask, and a striped shirt and some tight pants. I was like come on now, who the hell dresses like this!"

As viewers of A Christmas Story know, Percy is one of the members of the Black Bart gang that attacks Ralphie's home during the pivotal Red Ryder BB gun fantasy. This is a key scene in the film that helps to set the stage for the near fetishistic power that Ralphie's Red Ryder BB gun holds over him that holiday season.

"I accepted the role as criminal as par for the course. You see I had a plan, I wasn't some lame who would get played. I was gonna make the role something special. I was gonna be James Cagney in Scarface. The world is mine! The director approached me and said that he wanted me to method act, to go to that dark place I lived in when I was on the streets. To really live the role is what he called it. That was the beginning, that energy was always there, but I had suppressed it."

This is the moment where Percy's troubles began and A Christmas Story would exact a heavy toll on his well-being and life. Like a junkie remembering his first hit and retelling how he would relapse over and over again...from sobriety to and fro addiction...Percy's relationship with A Christmas Story was that of an unhealthy relationship, toxic, painful, and with an unavoidable ending.

"You see, the role didn't involve any speaking. Nothing at all. I was supposed to jump over this fence and get shot. Man it hurt so bad. They were slave drivers on the set. 3 days became 10 days became 15 days, on and on and on. I didn't know that the contract said they could do this. Of course, they threw me a little more money. But, I was internalizing the pain, you know what I mean? That little white kid kept shooting me with that BB gun. I kept dying over and over again. To add to the humiliation I was the first member of the gang shot. How humiliating. It hurt my soul."

I leaned forward and comforted Percy. His pain was so evident. I was curious, how did his costars feel about this treatment? Did he suffer alone? I carefully extended my hand to his shoulder and asked. "Chauncey, me and the other members of the gang...that is what we were called...were kept separated from the child actors on set. The directors wanted to create a sense of tension and menace about us. We were almost like real criminals. So, we would drink, use had to use painkillers to keep doing those damned stunts, and would sleep with the prostitutes and groupies on the set."

Inevitably, the movie shoot would end and Percy Jones returned to the "real world." He would go from job to job. Percy even cut a rap album, "Rapping with A Christmas Story." Sadly, it never sold more than 1,000 units. He was unable to get consistent work in Hollywood on his own. Percy secured an agent but the relationship was not fruitful. Mr. Jones had long spent the 1,000 dollars he earned from his role in A Christmas Story. Nevertheless, A Christmas Story still beckoned to him.

"I would watch the movie every year as it became more and more popular. Each year, I would become more and more enraged. So full of anger. I hoped a check would come, something. Never. I did a little research. Did you know that I was never even in the Screen Actor's Guild? Nope. Those crooks gave me a fake id card so they could exploit me! All that I had was the costume from the movie. I tried to sell it at a pawn shop, but got no takers. This was before Ebay and the Internets. It started to beckon to me, almost talking to me at night. I would lay there in bed next to the wife and that costume would call me. Quite literally it would whisper to me, telling me to man up and get mine."

I knew the ending of the story, but had to ask the inevitable question.

"Brother Chauncey, I did it! They wanted me to be a thug, a criminal again. And I couldn't resist. I put on that damn outfit and mask and got me a gun. Sure as hell did. I went on a rampage. I robbed everybody I could find. I became like a real life version of Omar on the show The Wire. Hell, in Cleveland I was The Ghost of Christmas Past. I was the king and I was putting some coal in your damn stocking!"

In a sad end, Percy Jones explained how he was arrested on Christmas Day, some six months after his crime spree began. High on crack, exhausted, and sleeping on a dirty mattress in a cheap motel, Percy (still in costume) was taken down by the Cleveland police department's SWAT team. Percy Jones, the Black Bart stickup man, became an urban legend. I heard the rumors, the poetic irony of his story had long been on the tongues of folks in Cleveland, so I had to know if the details were true.

"Yup, the rumors were true. I never had a real gun. I used a Red Ryder BB gun--I sawed off the barrel--and robbed folks. They were so victims had no idea I was playing them. I got 50 years, can you imagine that? I would have actually been better off if I had been using a real burner, at least I could have fought off the cops."

Our time together had come to an end. The prison guard politely motioned towards us that we should end the interview. Percy leaned in, happy to have made a new friend. Yet, his countenance was heavy with thought and reflection..."Tell the people that I am not the only one. Go out and find the other brothers and sisters from A Christmas Story. Trust, I had it comparatively easy. Find the others, what they have gone through will blow your mind! We were struggling, trying to do the right thing for all of the black folk out there. But that damn movie just got us caught in its clutches! Maybe, just maybe, justice will be done if the truth is known."

In our next installment we bring you the story of Little Red Ryder, once an innocent young school child, now a fallen woman...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Closing the Digital Divide: Wrestling Legend Kamala and His Son Koonta do Reality TV

Indulge me. It is the holidays. As Ta-Nehisi Coates, fellow ghetto nerd, shared in his book The Beautiful Struggle, "Go see Kamala the Ugandan Giant. And you will understand. As I do, that the nigger is from Alabama." Nevertheless, I remain a mark for all things Kamala and Kamala-related.

Some quick thoughts:

Who would have thought that Kamala was such a keen observer of public affairs?

Or that he was an artist of the first degree, a veritable wordsmith through song? A master of double meanings, metaphor, and flourishes of language?

And why do I get a Mississippi Masala vibe from watching his reality show (those who have seen the movie will the get joke. If anyone knows Sarita Choudhury please send her my email for she is still the goddess of my dreams.)

Aren't production values everything? If you had the producers of Hogan Knows Best working on the Kamala and Koonta (minstrel) show their humble home would indeed be a mansion. Literally.

Hot damn. Kamala is so talented that you can only contain him. He can't be beaten.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

He's a Naughty Boy! Haley Barbour's Fond Memories of Jim Crow and a Gift Giving Guide for Less than Respectable Children Everywhere

Christmas shopping is all but complete. I brought Starcraft 2 (aka "Starcrack") and Black Ops as gifts to myself. So if folks want to get down to business online look for me under my nome de guerre "Musashi2001."

Stupid keeps on being stupid--New Confederate Republican white trash such as Haley Barbour kept it classy this week by appealing to the worst part of the White Soul. Is there any better example of the myopic nature of whiteness than the oft-offered rationale that because I don't see a thing, it must not exist? That the way I/we remember a thing, must be 1) correct and 2) how others necessarily see it. We see this pathology when straight people deny the realities of heterosexism. This ugliness is present when men deny the realities of sexism against women. As the Vox Populi White Soul often relays, "why don't you people just get over it?"

Stated differently, as Haley Barbour defends White Citizens Councils and the good old days of benign white racism and "folksy Jim Crow," the universal I that is whiteness wins (loses?) again. [How do you like that Oscar Wilde inspired wordplay?]

But practically, Barbour and his ilk are a gift that keeps on giving as the New Right likes to put the best of their "American exceptionalism" on blast for all to see. Quite frankly, the New Right and the Palin crowd are beyond dog whistle politics at this point. The Tea Party GOP is showing you who they are, and have always been--bigots; nativists; and a crowd drunk on the possibilities and dreams of a politics based first and foremost on conserving white power as the baseline normal.

And regarding gifts. I don't know if Haley Barbour is worthy of any of the following, but here is a holiday themed flashback to one of my favorite posts from Christmas 2008. Enjoy!

What gifts would you add to our esteemed offerings?

Chauncey DeVega says: A Gift Giving Guide for Less than Respectable Children Everywhere

Christmas may have passed, but our love of gift giving continues. Last week, I highlighted gifts that should not be given to respectable young negro boys and girls this holiday season. Never wanting to be accused of favoritism, I also care deeply about our young ign't boys and girls and would never want those less than respectable negro boys and girls to be left out the holiday season. These young people have special needs. Their lifestyle and culture should be respected. Our children, all of them, be they 'hood, ign't, or "ghetto underclass" should have their unique values nourished and encouraged. In the spirit of the holidays, We are Respectable Negroes brings you the following guide:

Holiday Gifts for Less than Respectable Boys and Girls

1. Sitting on 22's or The Ghetto Dreidle

Hip hop has had a profound influence on American (black) popular culture. Wealth, women, violence, luxury goods, and consumerism are the core values on display in commercial hip hop. Because hip hop is a fantastical canvas for ghetto wish fulfillment, the absurd is the norm in a type of carnivalesque performance of black masculinity. Big things, be they big cars, big money, big houses, or big diamonds are signifiers of success in this imaginary. Because young ign'ts take commercial hip hop as THE barometer of life success, they should be socialized into this lifestyle as early in life as possible. Our solution: the ghetto dreidle. This toy will entertain young ign't children for hours on end. For preteens, spinning the ghetto dreidle implants a subliminal message of economic and social uplift at an early age. For older children, the ghetto dreidle is a literal symbol of, and encouragement towards, the good life. While they may have started out life with only one 22 inch ghetto dreidle, it will impress upon young ign't children an irrepressible drive to "earn" 3 more rims...and the luxury car to put them on.

2. Scarface

Many ign't communities are struggling because of an absence of morally responsible and economically productive men. Because of the prison industrial complex, poor life choices that see many young men of color murdered or otherwise removed from the labor market (and the domestic sphere), single parent, female headed homes are increasingly the norm. These strong women need help. It is a profound injustice that young ign't women, women who have already been victimized by the young ign't men of their communities, should have to raise children alone. Adding an additional layer of complexity to this problem is that a lack of male role models in these communities is synergistic: single parent, female headed households are more likely to be under the poverty line, and this lack of resources may lead young ign't men to join gangs or to otherwise participate in the "underground" economy. These young men are also significantly more likely to be incarcerated and to father children out of wedlock, thus perpetuating the baby mama drama to prison pipeline.

To interrupt this cruel cycle, I suggest that a DVD of the movie Scarface be placed in every young ign't boy's stocking this year because Tony Montana, the movie's lead character, is a perfect role model for the hyper competitive and often violent world that many young ign't boys will eventually find themselves in as adults. The movie's motto, "the world is yours" will encourage young people to be successful. If baby daddy isn't in your ign't child's life, simply place Scarface on perpetual repeat in the background of his room while he sleeps to ensure that your young ign't internalizes the sum total of wisdom offered by this classic film:

When used with older children, Scarface can function as a surrogate father where during difficult parenting moments ign't mothers can simply skip to the appropriate section of the movie for some of Tony Montana's wisdom--if mom is especially ambitious she can use the life size cardboard standup that can be purchased with the special edition of the DVD. In short, Tony Montana as Scarface is the perfect surrogate father for the holiday season--and for every day thereafter.

3. A Cell Phone with Unlimited Texting and 500 Ringtones

Young ign't boys and girls, as well as their suburban counterparts, love cell phones. This generation texts when it drives, they text when they are sad, they text when they are happy, they text in the toilet, they text helicopter parents after get the point. Ironically, young ign't boys and girls are amazingly proficient at text messaging yet continue to score poorly on standardized tests of writing and reading. Quite an irony me thinks. Random thought: apparently, this generation is confusing the abbreviated grammar of texting with the wording and explication required for proper essay and research paper writing. And yes, language does in fact evolve, but it would be really funny to see a sentence diagram that included text-speak. Would the grammar be the same? How would it change?

In addition to creating confusion and consternation among those who adhere to the rules of the king's English, the cell phone has brought another plague upon the land, the insufferable ringtone. It could be Soulja Boy, Lil Wayne, T.I., T-Pain, Shop Boyz, Flo Rida, Rick Ross, or some of other crapper, but the ringtone has become an invaluable revenue source for commercial crap rappers with some 270 million tones sold in 2007. The ring tone is the new arms race among ign't youth. As much a necessity as the latest overpriced NBA cross-branded sneakers, young ign'ts must have the latest, "greatest" ringtone to rep for their favorite artist, and to get the young female ign't whom they would like to win the baby mama jackpot with.

The perfect gift for the young ign't in your life? a cell phone loaded with 500 ringtones and an unlimited text package. All day and all night, the favorite ign't child (or manchild/baby boy) in your life, can walk around the house and/or hold down the block while playing his ringtones and texting to his "peeps" and "fam."

4. The Maury Povich Baby Mama and Baby Daddy Game of Life

Ign't young people face many perils on the road to adulthood. Unfortunately, one of the most common obstacles faced by young ign'ts is premarital sex and teenage pregnancy. The Maury Povich Baby Mama and Baby Daddy Game of Life will improve your child's decision making skills as they face this inevitable challenge. To accomplish this goal, the game integrates artistic, critical thinking, and strategy skills. To play, your child rolls a pair of 6 sided dice in order to move their game piece around the board. Designed for play by 2 boys and 2 girls, the goal of the game for young male ign'ts is to avoid responsibility while impregnating the female players--all the while pinning responsibility on the other male players. For young female ign'ts, the goal of the game is to place responsibility for your child on the baby daddy with the most resources. Young girls can also win by earning the trifecta--section 8; child support; and by drawing the rare, paternity test card that allows her to name one of the male players as the baby daddy. This innovative game is full of many exciting twists and turns such as:

1. the "Momma's Baby Boy" card which protects her little "angel" from responsibility card (the male player's mother grants her son several rounds of immunity from any "attacks" by the female player(s));
2. the "You're Going to Jail" card (pulling this card is actually a positive as it protects male players from responsibility for several rounds of play);
3. the "You Are a Guest on Maury" card where ign't girls do their best to convince the audience that baby daddy X is in fact the biological father of said baby:

If an ign't boy draws this card, he enters the "You Are Not the Baby's Father" round. Here, young ign't boys get a chance to shine as they dance to one of the pre-recorded songs included with the game:

The Maury Povich Baby Mama and Baby Daddy Game of Life is a must have for any young ign't boy or girl. It entertains, educates, and provides practical guidance for overcoming the challenges which ign't children and teens will be forced to confront as they grow into adulthood. The Maury Povich Baby Mama and Baby Daddy Game of Life is also an amazing value. In a limited time offer, this wonderful game includes a gift certificate for the newest Maury product, Fat Babies Everywhere!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Madness: Of Eliminationism, the New Right and Why Liberals Aren't Stupid, They're Evil

The holidays are upon us. Thus, this week I will be doing a mix of "flashbacks" and some quick posts...

Here is some Monday madness for you. My mother and I have a standing bet that one day in the near future Americans will awaken to a day when Right-wing domestic terrorists have exploded bombs all over the country and killed hundreds if not thousands in the name of "liberty" and "freedom."

This sounds morbid and dark. But, when you take the words coming out of the New Right's horses' mouths seriously--with their talk of States' Rights, secession, nullification, and Obama as a closet Manchurian candidate Socialist--the reality of what could be (and has happened: see the Beck, New Right inspired murderers) is painfully clear.

A new survey reveals that Fox News viewers are grossly misinformed about current events (even by standards of the mass public), and quite frankly believe the lies that Fox News offers as "news." I am unsurprised by said research.

That having been said. Yes, this new research is important and should be greeted with a warm embrace. However, some big questions regarding causality and causation hang over the findings.

Are Fox News viewers primed for ignorance, a rejection of facts, and a binary world view that rejects differing points of view? Are Conservatives oriented this way more so than Liberals or Progressives? Is there something about the Conservative personality type and its overlap with authoritarianism that makes Fox News an especially effective venue for the dissemination of Right-wing talking points to its public and a clouding of reality?

As I tried to get at with "When Stupid People Don't Know that They are Stupid," this new research by and the University of Maryland is especially troubling for the body politic because it highlights the power of the propaganda model of the news. If a healthy, functioning democracy is prefaced on responsible elected officials, a public that both believes in and works toward the common good, and is given fair information by the Fourth Estate in order to facilitate political decision making, the power of Fox News is truly frightening because their viewers are quite literally operating from a different set of facts, reality, basis of reason, and understanding of the today.

In short, we cannot talk across the divides of partisanship and ideology because the basic facts of the matter are in such disagreement.

By implication, if one is immersed in the Right-wing, Fox News, circle of epistemic closure it makes perfect sense to oppose the Democrats at every step, to believe in "death panels" and that President Obama is a closet Muslim, Anti-American, white folks hating, Socialist. To not do so would be unpatriotic and anti-American.

There is also a second narrative operating within the the Fox News, Right-wing talking point model of the news. Coming full circle, if one listens with any care to Conservative talk radio or television news there is a meme, almost daily, where those on the Left (and Progressives in general) are portrayed as a cancer, something toxic to be eliminated from the body politic. This is the evil of eliminationism, a belief that consists of the following elements as offered by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen in his monumental book, Worse than War:

Transformation is the destruction of a group’s essential and defining political, social, or cultural identities, in order to neuter its members’ al­leged noxious qualities.

entails keeping the hated, deprecated, or feared people within territorial reach and reducing, with violent domination, their ability to inflict real or imagined harm upon others.

often called deportation, is a third eliminationist option. It removes unwanted people more thoroughly, by driving them beyond a country’s borders, or from one region of a country to another, or com­pelling them en masse into camps.

Prevention of reproduction
is a fourth eliminationist act. It is the least frequently used, and when employed, it is usually in conjunction with oth­ers. For varying reasons, those wishing to eliminate a group in whole or in part can seek to diminish its numbers by interrupting normal biologi­cal reproduction.

is the fifth eliminationist act. Radical as it is, killing often logically follows beliefs deeming others to be a great, even mor­tal threat. It promises not an interim, not a piecemeal, not only a prob­able, but a “final solution” to the putative problem.


My worry is that while those grossly misinformed by Fox News are also bathed in the light of these assumptions. It may not come tomorrow. It may not come next week. But trust, the streets is watching. Sadly, some (or is that many?) on the New Right have internalized the logic of eliminating Liberals and Progressives if not only in spirit or metaphor, but rather in fact and deed.

A few questions. Are my worries just histrionic fits of flight and fancy? Or are they worries regarding the necessary and logical consequences of the New Right echo chamber and Fox News propaganda for those immersed in those noxious fumes as though they were breathable air?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Randomness: Of Whiteness, Pony Play, and Race

I am in a provocative mood today. Why not, it's Friday?

Question: whose mustache is better? The Rent is Too Damn High Brother or Mr. Pony Play?

Random factoid: In Brazil during the slave regime, white slave owners would adorn their favorite human property with gold, jewels, and other accouterments in order to signify prosperity and power. In the United States, slave children were often given as human dolls to white children to be abused and used for fun and frolic.

As I watch two adults indulge in human pony play in the 21st century, I see echoes of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Please indulge me as I share a thought. How is whiteness operative in this? No, I am not bounding the erotic by virtue of race, for a brother or sister who chooses to be a dominant or a submissive is not necessarily negotiating away their blackness in my book. Why? the freedom to be, is by definition the freedom to be a freak.

But let's be real,would you look askance at a person of color indulging in pony play with someone across the color line? And finally--so many questions tonight--how is this play exclusive (or not) to the relationship between those fully enrolled in Whiteness?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Echoes of History: Reading Race Back into the Constitution Through the Eyes of Theodore Bilbo, Southern Reactionary

Sometimes one can be wrong in spirit, yet correct in implication and analysis.

These moments are awkward--especially for those inclined towards ideological purity. In thinking through the fight over Reagan's legacy, the Tea Party GOP's revival and misunderstanding of "American exceptionalism," "the framers," and willfully juvenile understanding of the Constitution, complexity seems to have been thrown out the window in the service of binary thinking and New Right orthodoxy.

By extension, one of the recurring fights between Left and Right centers upon how the United States Constitution ought to be interpreted. Is it divinely inspired, sacred, and never to be changed from the intent of its creators in the 18th century? Or, and we have explored this here at some length, is the Constitution a living document, made by flawed men, yet the wisdom of said contract is precisely in its adaptability?

I stand hands open and transparent in my suggestion that racism and white supremacy are central to the American project. At the time of the founding, the U.S. Constitution was a herrenvolk document by design. Not surprisingly, it reinforced the class, gender, and racial interests of political elites and the dominant classes. In the present, appeals to some mythic "original intent" are more often than not a lazy mask that dances around these preeminent facts.

To deny these facts is to deny the sum evidence provided by the historical record. But simultaneously, the greatness of the Constitution is that it is more than the sum of its parts. Thankfully, progressive, radical, and forward thinking Americans understand this truth and have been able to force the country to live up to its promise--a work that is still in progress.

While thinking about those questions, I was thumbing through The Age of Jim Crow (a great collection of essays and testimonies by the way) and came upon Mississippi Governor and United States senator Theodore G. Bilbo's 1947 essay "False Interpretations of American Democracy."

Bilbo was a virulent racist and forefather of much of the race baiting that we saw in the moments before the Republican Party's open embrace of the Southern Dixiecrats, and that are present in the contemporary as the New Right, "real American," Tea Party, neo-John Bircher crowd.

Funny then, that I found myself agreeing with his analysis of the Constitution, the White Soul, and original intent. As a qualifier, Bilbo was profoundly wrong in his reading of the Black Freedom Struggle and the transcendent power of the Constitution. Moreover, he was a contemptible human being. But, nevertheless, a broken clock is indeed right twice a day.

History is once more our greatest teacher:

False Interpretations of American Democracy

The Negro leaders who are seeking social equality of the races and the abolition of every kind of racial segregation cannot justly claim that ideals of American democracy support their demands. They contend that democracy means "full equality" for all citizens, and they quote the Declaration of Independence as proof thereof. Discussing "Certain Unalienable Rights," Mary McLeod Bethune asks for "full American citizenship" for American Negroes. She says: "As long as America offers less, she will be that much less a democracy. The whole way is the American way."

There is absolutely nothing in the immortal declaration "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" to support this plea for social equality of the white and black races in the United States. Any person who uses the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution to bring about the social equality of the races in this country is placing a false and dangerous interpretation on these two documents which embody the ideals of American democracy...

It cannot be forgotten that Thomas Jefferson who wrote that "all men are created equal" also wrote the following lines concerning the Negro.

Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free; nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government.

...Jefferson believed that the race question should be solved by colonization of the Negroes at some place outside the United States, and he devoted much time and energy to promoting such a scheme. There is no indication whatsoever that either he or any of the other Founding Fathers interpreted the words of the Declaration of Independence to destroy the racial barriers which from the very beginning of our history separated the white and black races in the United States. Practically all of these men were owners of Negro slaves, and the indications are that they never even thought of the Negro when they announced to the world that "all men are created equal."

...How can the Negro leaders contend that it is "un-American" and "undemocratic" to preserve the government as our forefathers made it? As was once emphatically stated by Senator Robert Toombs: "This Republic was born of the soul of a race of pioneer white freemen who settled on our continent and built an altar within its forest cathedral to Liberty and Progress. In the record of man, has the Negro ever dreamed this dream?"

...The Negro leaders themselves say that never in the history of the United States have the members of their race been accorded full and complete equality with the whites. And it is true that "On no aspect of the race problem are most white Americans, North as well as South, so adamant as they are on their opposition to intermarriage." Then, what stronger proof than the actual practice of white Americans do we need in ascertaining how the majority of our people feel toward the demands of the Negro leaders today for the social equality of the races?

We have found that white Americans have never interpreted American democracy to mean that there would be no racial barriers between the white and black citizens of this Republic, and those who now seek to read such a meaning into the Declaration of Independence are misconstruing the immortal words which were penned by Thomas Jefferson. The social equality of the white and Negro races and the abolition of racial segregation have never been in accordance with the ideals of this Nation. Any one who advances such an argument is placing a false interpretation on the meaning of American democracy, and because he is willing, either consciously or unconsciously, that the future of this Republic be destroyed, he is a traitor to his country as well as to his race.