Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The Online Chronicles of an "Angry Black Man" in the Age of Obama: Why is Black Genius So Threatening to Some White Folks?
Writing online is a type of archiving. It is also a type of performance.
What follows is a bit of critical self-reflection, breaking kayfabe, and thinking aloud in public.
I always take a moment to step back whenever I write something on these Internets that riles folks up. When doing so, I ask myself the following: "Okay, if I didn't know the author, what impression would he leave me with?" "What are his politics?" "What 'type' of black man is he?"
He seems pretty reasonable to me, if at times a little provocative and playful. But crazy? Mean? Unreasonable? Not interested in "dialogue?" I just don't see it.
Thus, I am always surprised by the response of some folks to my online work, that in their eyes I am somehow "angry," or "upset." Black folks know that figure, "the angry black man" quite well--he is us, we are at times him. White folks know him too: he looms large in the American political and cultural subconscious, where instead of a 3 dimensional being, this angry black man is a bogeyman caricature, all huff and puff, irrational and rageful towards those innocent white folks who did him no harm.
Of course, there is much to be upset about in this world. And in America, much of this ugliness has worked itself out along lines of race.
Given that clear, plain on its face reality, I nevertheless remain surprised by the power that the very idea of the angry black man holds for so many. Intellectually, I get that white folks, and Whiteness at large, does not want to be forced to confront the righteousness of black anger. Why? Because to do so would force "uncomfortable" conversations about justice, one's personal relationship to white supremacy--and of course their investment in the normality of Whiteness with its White looks, White ways of thinking, White ways of knowing, and White ways of being.
For many, to take ownership over such a fact is the very definition of cognitive dissonance.
America is a country without a history. America has no memory of anything earlier than what happened last week. The historical myopia of Whiteness is no small part of that national personality trait, what is in all, a very bad habit.
I often smile when I read comments by readers who think that I am an angry black man. I am not. Life is too short to overly obsess over the curious ways of white folks. What I struggle and work towards is a holistic type of personhood; I simply want the freedom to be, to integrate every part of my self.
And yes, my blackness, and particular experiences as a working class black man of a certain age, a ghetto nerd, sensualist, reader, and citizen born in the post-Civil Rights moment at the time of hip hop's birth, is a significant part of my full humanity.
Because I love black people, and respect our accomplishments in the face of unimaginable obstacles in these United States, I am at peace, even while I see that there is much work still to be done. Because I understand how black folks helped to save American democracy from its own malformed, retarded, bigotry, I am made quite proud.
Back in the day we used to call that "knowledge of self." At present, I just call it a certain peace of mind.
When I wrote my open letter of sorts to the readers of the Daily Kos about liberal racism, Brother Akbar's words on the need to fully integrate one's self; to not have to ask permission from white folks to speak; to not need white approval when we want to sing our own "heroes" and "sheroes"; and to be unapologetic about demanding that democracy live up to its promises and potential, were echoing in my memory.
Black confidence, black pride, and black self-confidence is scary to many (if not most) white folks. For all of my reflection and research on the topic I do not know why. Of course, I intellectually "get" the ways that race, power, and structures intersect, and how "in-group" identity is normalized. But on a personal and emotional level, how can a people who have so much, who in essence run the world, be so easily upset by black folk's most simple, basic, human needs?
Ultimately, when we refuse to ask permission, we become angry black men and angry black women.
Why is this?
Please, teach me something on these matters. I am eager to sit back, listen, and learn.
Hat tip to Rippa on this one. You do have to love Brother Denzel.
A provocative post.
What ever happened to shame? And wasn't shame a good thing when she kept our teen girls from posing bellies-exposed and taking pictures of what should be their private shame and circulating it online?
Please forgive me my old school respectable negro politics. Do pardon my pun, is this what radical sexual autonomy has "birthed?" Where did we go wrong as a people?
Or is this some type of co-parenting adaptive strategy among the underclasses where young women coordinate their pregnancies in order to be in an opportune position to share resources?
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Navigating White Privilege and Liberal Racism: 10 Tips for Blogging While Black on the Daily Kos (and Other Predominantly White Spaces Too)
As demonstrated by hundreds of comments, it would appear that I am the object of no small amount of upset by some readers of the Daily Kos.
...a selection of uprates...well, my hr stands,I am still unconvinced: the presentation and the racialist undertones still make this post inappropriate for a progressive blog...sure, I am not African American, I may not be able to follow your perspective as an African American, but Dailykos has community standards and I still feel, you haven't met them...but in time with more posts you will probably understand what a progressive blog is really about... progressiveness is looking into the future, not getting hung up by the past!
I have been doing an experiment over at the Daily Kos this last month or so. I have long been fascinated by liberal racism, and given what I heard about Daily Kos' war on black bloggers, it seemed the perfect time to do some recon.
Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: The Obama Administration Discusses UFO's and Louis Farrakhan Tells the Truth about Extraterrestrial Life
Monday, November 7, 2011
A black Republican is accused of sexually assaulting a white woman. Sound familiar?
With his race baiting antics for the gleeful delight of white populist conservatives, Herman Cain is indeed writing history with lightning.
Yes, Birth of a Nation is such an obvious allusion that it demands to be done, even if it is in many ways quite vulgar. In all, sometimes we just have to put in work, and state an obvious and ugly truth.
To point: I do not know if the continued support of Herman Cain by the Tea Party GOP brigands, despite his being accused of sexually assaulting a white woman, is a sign of progress.
On one hand, not too long ago, a white woman's screams and false cries of rape were enough to justify a one way trip to the lynching tree. Herman Cain is still with us, and his campaign moves forward, despite--and perhaps even emboldened--by these accusations.
This is quite a puzzle. Herman Cain appeals to a part of the American electorate that is racially resentful, possesses no small amount of anti-black affect, likes black folks who know how to shut up and know their place, and who parrot the fantasies that the White Soul possesses of African American humanity.
Herman Cain fulfills the worst stereotypes and fears of black male predatory sexuality: he is the myth of the black male rapist GOP candidate made quite literally real. Yet, they still have his back.
Again, quite a riddle and mystery is afoot. What do you all think will happen with Herb Cornbread Cain? Is the continued support of his Tea Party GOP base a sign of racial progress?
Or do white conservatives have special rules for "their blacks," folks who are every now and then allowed the sweet pleasures of a white woman's alabaster thighs and tasty honey mead yoni wine?
Could the pass they have issued to Herman Cain actually be an ironic triumph of the hard bigotry of low expectations? Where Herman Cain can't help but to have "slipped up" because what black could possibly resist any white woman? Anywhere? At any time?
IN THE EARLY 1990S, a friend sent me a short videotaped scene in which a man alleged to be Chuck Berry is shown pissing on a white woman and farting in her face. [See below for a complete transcript.] It was explained to me that Chuck Berry had been hassled so many times by authorities for sexin’ up young white girls while on the road, he took to videotaping all of his one-night stands as legal proof of consent on the girls’ part.
This explanation gained further credence when High Society magazine published eight photos of Berry posing naked with various women, presumably groupies. It was given further credibility in the early 1990s, when a former female chef Berry had employed at his Southern-Air Restaurant in Missouri filed a lawsuit claiming that Berry was covertly videotaping gals in the women’s bathroom using cameras placed at angles that gave aerial and eye-level views of the toilet. [The suit was apparently settled out of court.] And a few years back, Spy magazine ran a feature which described not only the piss-and-fart scene which I viewed, but also other videotapes containing alleged poop-eatin’ by Chuck and his various lady friends.
A year or two after I received the initial videotape, another friend sent me a Berry-themed tape called Sweet Little Sexteen. Lasting over an hour and a half, it contains the initial piss-and-fart clip, plus TV news blurbs about Berry’s restaurant lawsuit, and an interminable parade of hairy, inflamed, slimy, beef-jerky white-girl twats in disgusting clinical closeup, many of them pissing while squatting over motel-room toilet bowls. The tape tends to imply that these segments were all filmed by Berry during one-night-stands. During one sad-yet-funny scene, the feather-headed white girl tries sucking off a skinny old black male wearing only a white T-shirt [presumed to be Berry] for what seems like a half-hour, but he’s apparently too old or coked-out to get it up. He tries shoving his half-hard choco-worm inside her pussy, but it plops out limply each time. He finally retrieves a giant black dildo and rams it up her twat like he’s shoving a thermometer between a turkey’s legs. While she painfully squirms on the monster artificial dong, he cackles, grunts, and asks her things such as “How ya like that big dick goin’ up in ya?”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I DON’T REALLY CARE whether or not the man in these videotapes is Chuck Berry. Even if it isn’t, the fact that someone would go to the length of making it all up signifies that Chuck Berry is somehow highly relevant to American cultural psychology. So what reasons could he possibly have for pee-peein’ on all those poor dumb white girls?
My favorite Chuck Berry story involves shriveled Limey junkhog Keith Richards, who never played a note Chuck Berry didn’t play first. In the early 80s, Richards apparently went backstage at a Chuck Berry show and tapped him on the back of the shoulder, hoping to introduce himself. Before looking to see who it was, Berry instinctively hauled off and slugged him in the face.
Good for you Chuck. Shoulda pissed on him, too.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
ROLL OVER, BEETHOVEN—AND LEMME PISS ON YOU
The following dialogue was transcribed from a segment of videotape lasting a little over two and a half minutes. The action appears to take place in a motel bathroom. It begins with a white woman sitting in a bathtub, lazily scrubbing herself. The woman’s feathered-back blonde hairstyle suggests that the events transpired sometime in the late 1980s. Although the tape is blurry, and although surface “white noise” tends to muddy the sound, it’s credible that the warm brown blob of a man who suddenly steps into the bathtub is rock legend Chuck Berry. He is thin and bony, naked except for a classy gold wristwatch. His hair approximates Chuck’s greased-back black wool. His speaking voice sounds like Chuck Berry’s. But I have no way of proving it’s him, and I’m sure he’d deny it, so I have to throw in all these disclaimers.
CHUCK BERRY [allegedly, of course]: Are you bathing?
BLONDE WHITE FEMALE GROUPIE: Yes.
You gotta get clean.
Yes, I do.
You like to stay clean, don’t you?
Yes, I do.
You really do.
I’ll give you somethin’ to bathe for. You know that? [stands up over her] I’m-a give you somethin’ to bathe for. See this here? [wiggles his dick]
Yeah? That’s what you bathe with.
Kiss it...Kiss it...Again...Suck on it...You my girl?
You love me?
Mm-hmm? I’ll bet you do.
Well...You really love me? [begins pissing on her face]
[she gasps, surprised] I really love you.
Yeah? Put your hands down by your thighs. Take it. [she continues gasping as he continues pissing] Take it. Take it. Take it. Open your mouth. Open your mouth. [sound of piss gurgling into her mouth, then Berry unleashes a LOUD, long fart] You can smell my fart. Piss on ya, that’s what I’m doin’. Pissin’ all over you. Mm-hmm. You love me?
Tell me you love me.
I love you.
Alright, then, drink my piss. Drink my piss. [grabs towel and hands it to her] Dry yourself off. Clean yourself off. How’s that piss taste, hmm?
Alright, alright, alright? Tastes bitter, doesn’t it? It’s salty, yeah, I know.
You drank my piss.
Yes, I did.
Yeah. Suck this. SUCK IT. [she’s sucking and gasping and grunting as if in pain] Here, clean yourself. Clean that piss out of your eyes. Poor sugar, little baby. What’s the matter, baby? Did I piss in your eyes?
Did I piss in your eyes? I’m sorry. There’s piss all over your neck and your hair. But you love me.
I love you.
I won’t betray you. I won’t betray you ever. Believe it. [leans in to kiss her, then stops] I can’t kiss you—it smells like piss.
I’m sorry. Clean yourself off. Take a shower. [he walks out of the tub as she turns on the faucet to clean herself]
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Sunday Fun: Uncle Jack the Good Darky, Herman Cain's Crooning Minstrel Confessional, and AMC's Hell on Wheels
Erected in 1927 in northwest Louisiana, the sculpture was hauled three hundred miles to the Rural Life Museum (RLM) in Baton Rouge in 1972.
The life-size bronze sculpture on a limestone base was commissioned by Jackson Lee Bryan. It depicts an elderly African American man, shoulders slumped, head bowed, tipping his hat.
Bryan, a planter and banker in Natchitoches, envisioned a tribute to African Americans who helped build the South’s agriculture-based economy. He commissioned eminent sculptor Hans Schuler of Baltimore to create the piece, at a cost of $4,300.
Unveiled in May 1927, the statue bore the inscription: “Erected by the city of Natchitoches in grateful recognition of the arduous and faithful services of the good darkies of Louisiana.”
White people regarded the work as a tribute to slavery. The local paper noted that the Rotary Club had adopted a resolution “that express[es] the general Southern sentiment toward the faithful old slaves who took care of their masters’ wives and children and homes while the masters were away fighting to hold them in slavery.”
Even some African Americans approved of it. P. Colfax Rameau of Birmingham wrote to the Natchitoches paper: “Do not think it will be an insult to the modern, Christian negro. He will only say deep in his heart, ‘I wish there were more white men in the South of the cloth of the Honorable J. L. Bryan, and mob violence would soon be history for unborn white and black boys and girls to read.’”
Dubbed “Uncle Jack,” after Bryan, the sculpture became a landmark. Tourists took photographs of it, and tributes appeared in newspapers all over the country.
“Many white people in the parish have been nursed or served by the old-time ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties,’ and a warm regard remains on each side,” wrote the New York Times.
The National Geographic ran a photo of Uncle Jack. Postcards identified him as “The Good Darky,” and a poem by that name noted, “How faithfully he played his part, and with the fervor of his race/ Gave all . . . and then his heart!”
But not everybody was happy to see the first statue in town honor a black man, however humble. It was repeatedly vandalized by “paint pouring,” whitewashing, and even a reputed cross-burning.
Pearl Payne, 91, who was nine when the statue was erected, recalls that local African Americans “didn’t appreciate it. They took if for nothing good. There was controversy. It had a negative effect on our people.”
“I recall ire and dismay in the black community,” says Ed Ward, who grew up in Natchitoches in the fifties. “It brought forth negative feelings because it promoted a subservient and menial view of the race.”
With the sixties came racial unrest. Then-mayor Ray Scott got a telephone threat that the statue would be dynamited. “We were threatened with harm we had never seen before,” recalls Ward, a black businessman and civic leader.
In September 1968, city workers showed up in the dead of night to remove the thirteen-thousand-pound statue. Alerted by an anonymous phone call, Jo Bryan Ducournau, the daughter and heir of Jack Bryan, rushed to the scene to stop the imminent destruction. “She basically threw a fit,” says RLM director David Floyd.
“They were wrapping it in chains,” says Natchitoches historian Bobby DeBlieux. “It was going to be destroyed. [Ducournau] talked the mayor into taking it out of the ground without destroying it.”
Exactly how the statue was removed is shrouded in mystery. The Natchitoches Times ran a photo of the sculpture atop a bulldozer and a close-up of Uncle Jack with ropes draped around his neck, looking like a lynching victim.
The statue was hidden at the local airport, according to one account. Ducournau reportedly received many requests for it, including one from the Smithsonian Institution.
Four years later, Steele Burden learned of the statue’s fate, contacted Ducournau, and asked her to “loan” the statue to the Burden Plantation.
The Burden family owned five hundred acres in the heart of Baton Rouge. In the 1960s, they began giving the property to LSU in increments. Steele Burden had begun collecting relics of Louisiana plantations—plows, wagons, tools, even buildings, which he dismantled and hauled to Baton Rouge. He resurrected them on the Burden property, creating a collection that commemorated life in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Lousiana. By the early 1970s, it was called the Rural Life Museum.
The sculpture was moved to the RLM in 1972. Set in a landscaped spot selected by Burden, Uncle Jack appeared to greet visitors as they approached the museum by car.
In 1974, the loan became a gift. Burden added a second plaque to the statue’s base: “Donated to the Rural Life Museum by Mrs. Jo Bryan Ducournau.”
As visitors increased, the statue attracted more attention—not all of it positive. In response to a 1989 letter from State Representative Raymond Jetson complaining about the word “darkies” on the original plaque, LSU president Allen Copping wrote: “It was not possible to completely remove the inscription without damaging the plaque and the base of the statue. Instead, the staff . . . constructed a wooden frame to cover the entire inscription. . . . . I am confident that the modifications made to the base of the statue have eliminated the possibility of anyone being offended.”
The second plaque, added in the 1970s, was removed from its position higher up the base of the statue and screwed into the wood now covering up the original plaque.
A prominent visitor offended by Uncle Jack was writer Maya Angelou. In 1997, Angelou wrote: “Uncle Jack is the quintessential obsequious Negro servant. . . . The droop of his shoulders bears witness not only to his years but more specifically to his own understanding of his place as a poor black in a rich white world.”
In 1999 James W. Loewen wrote in the book Lies Across America, “This statue was from the start intended to be useful only to the cause of white supremacy. The [museum] has not used ‘The Good Darky’ to ‘provide insight into the largely forgotten lifestyles and cultures of pre-industrial Louisiana,’ the museum’s avowed purpose. No plaque gives any information about its history or symbolic meaning.”
Although the term “darky” is considered outdated and racist today, many recommended that the original plaque be uncovered and resume its place as part of the piece. “The word ‘darky’ is offensive, but consider the times,” says Kathe Hambrick, founder of the African American Museum in Donaldsonville. “You can’t change history. Every plaque that was ever made for the statue should have a label on it [for interpretive purposes].”
As for the plaque praising “darkies,” Webb says, “I believe that you don’t just go around erasing and wiping out history. We need to understand that’s how things were. It should be there; it’s an opportune moment for education.”
With the RLM building a new visitor’s center, Floyd says the board of directors decided last summer to move the statue inside the complex of buildings to make it part of the tour given by docents.
When word of the planned move got out, many thought it would be removed entirely from the RLM. Floyd got calls and emails urging him to keep the statue. “I made a stand from the beginning that we would not get rid of it,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity to use it as a teaching tool.”
Meanwhile, Natchitoches wants Uncle Jack back as part of a planned museum in the Texas & Pacific railway depot downtown. Ed Ward, who once opposed the sculpture, hopes for its return. “It can be a stumbling block transformed into a stepping stone,” he says.
But not everybody in Natchitoches agrees. Pearl Payne, a retired teacher, is content to have it gone. “I would say no, you’re just bringing back something bitter,” she says. “It’s not good to open a can of worms. It’s better to just leave it away, since it’s been away so long.”
Ruth Laney can be reached at email@example.com.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Obligatory Cainage: Herman Cain Meets Marion Berry and Why Herman Needs to Confess that He Has Lust in His Heart
Thursday, November 3, 2011
They say that you should never pray for personal enrichment or gain. Moreover, your prayers should be for the benefit of others. I am unsure if the prayer I am about to offer fits neatly into those guidelines. With the Great Recession, an anemic job market, and America possessed by an existential malaise, we could all use a good laugh.
So please don't blame me for what I am about to write. It is all my mother's fault, a little black lady from Shelbyville, North Carolina who pointed out that Herman Cain looks like a black version of Bill O'Reilly, and that he is likely a sex pervert who wants to have kinky sex with fat white women. She says that with no malice by the way, as some of her best friends are big fat white women.
Moms said I should offer up a prayer on that "website thing" I write on so that maybe God will answer it. I am a good son who cannot deny her anything.
A Prayer for Herman Cain
God; Krom; the Blessed Exchequer; JC Most High; Soul Brother Number One,
I have a favor to ask. I don't pray often and do not really have a tongue for it. I know you have my back as so many random things have happened in my life to my benefit that they cannot all be by accident. Yes, I am a bit of a deist and am a spiritual person. I have no interest in religion. I make no apologies as this is how you made me. In my heart I know what matters: you do intervene in life to make things right, when we help ourselves, and to smooth over the rough patches. I also know that you have a great sense of humor.
God, you are really creative. You made the universe and filled it up with dark matter as a type of joke on all us. You made aliens who travel between the stars just to put probes in people's butts. You put events into motion that created hip hop, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Biggie just to take it all away from us with coontastic minstrelesque Southern ringtone rap. You also made Halle Berry, Rosario Dawson, Zoe Saldana, and Rihanna. You have allowed an average guy like me to bed some beautiful women...just to eventually get tired of them. You are a trickster who makes bets with the devil just to prove a point about faith.
I have a favor to ask. The American people are really stressed out right now. We are trying to find a way in the world, and so many of us are hungry, scared, and worried about the future.
There is a good amount of evidence which suggests that laughter is actually healing for the body and the soul. It would make sense that you designed us that way.
I know that you are very busy, and maybe will have to delegate this to an intern, but please, if at all possible, could the women who were sexually harassed by Herman Cain be big fat white women? You know I have love for all of humanity. But, the visual of new age race minstrel Herman Cain chasing around a big fat white women would be a joy to behold. Yes, I know that stereotypes are wrong. I also know that they can be really funny.
One more quick request.
If you are feeling especially generous, could Herman Cain have also exposed himself to them, or offered up some flirtatious innuendo fit for a Moms Mabsley, Dolemite, or Lawanda Page?
Thank you, the American people could use the laugh.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
[There is a new poll up on the sidebar for those so inclined]
The men in white coats are coming to take him away. What a priceless image.
Pimp mack daddy Godfather Herman Cain is grumpy. I think he needs a nap.
An observation: President Barack Obama is not allowed to get angry lest he be called an "angry black man."
First question: will Herman Cain's momentary channeling of Sam Jackson be interpreted by his allies as proof that he is a "strong black man?"
Second question: There is a third woman accusing Cain of acting inappropriately. By the time this winds down how many accusers will there be in total? I say no less than five and no more than 7.
Third question: With each accusation of sexual harassment Herman Cain becomes more popular with his base. Is this a tipping model? Will Herman Cain's stock soar until it reaches a crescendo where his fly by night, thumbing of the nose at those liberals and feminists, becomes even too much for Conservatives to tolerate?
Fourth question: That which lingers but has not yet been broached...are these women white?
A Perpetual Line Stepper: Cornel West Wants to Go Upside Ron Christie's Head on Real Time with Bill Maher
Someone suggested that I sound like Ron Christie. I don't hear the resemblance as I am much more chocolaty and sensual, a mass of impenetrable negritude that calls women to me like a black hole in outer space beckons passing starships.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Is a picture worth a thousand words? I suggest that it is...