Thursday, April 30, 2015

'Black Humor': How did Freddie Gray Sever His Own Spine?

A good deal of twentieth-century Negro humor, then, continued the process familiar to us from the trickster tales: the outer world was reduced to pygmy proportions; the situation was dwarfed; and the joke-tellers and their audiences were allowed to set aside, or at least to minimize, the pain and defeat imposed upon them by the external world. 
The Baltimore uprising forced back today's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show with guest Joe McKinney until next Tuesday. I want to see how matters develop this weekend so that I can be sure that my opening comments on the podcast are appropriate.

It has been a busy week. I have had two pieces on Alternet (last week and a new one today on white America's historical amnesia about its own mastery of anti-black and brown riots and other violence). My essay on protecting the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. was also picked up by Salon and should be appearing on Alternet as well.

[Salon also republished my Alternet piece with a damn heart punch title and subheading. Impressed. Very impressed I am, in my best Yoda voice.]

Sigh, it is unfortunate to have to do truth-telling about such foul matters. Alas, the racism beat must be walked if we are to get closer to a more just world.

Love from the Incredible Hulk?  Writing about the Elder Gods, MLK, and White America's expertise in rioting? All in one week? Fate has a sense of humor.

To wit.

The newest--and quite predictable effort to spin, distort, and otherwise obfuscate the killing of Freddie Gray by Baltimore's police--involves their leaking part of an official report which suggests that he somehow severed his own spinal chord.

Of course, this is bovine scatology. It only makes the police look more guilty and will fuel the roars of the young lions that have taken to the streets across the country in support of justice for Freddie Gray and against police brutality, more generally.

[From Freddie Gray to Victor White, apparently all black men are naturally gifted contortionists, the heirs to Harry Houdini.]

The fictions about Freddie Gray's demise are evocative of the classic Jim Crow era joke where two white sheriffs discover a black man hanging from a tree with a knife in his back. The first sheriff observes, "hell of a thing." The second sheriff says, "how boss?" He answers, "I get how the nigger hung himself, but how the hell did he manage to stab himself in the back?"

Black folks and others who have suffered under power use humor as a survival mechanism to negotiate the institutional and quotidian struggles of life in an unfair society.

For example, historically, Black Americans responded to the absurdity of white supremacy by engaging in acts of subaltern resistance through cultural and symbolic politics. These were not separate from more formal types of political activity in the public sphere; rather, they often complemented one another.

Some classic jokes in the African-American comedy tradition that can help to manage the smiles and cries in the aftermath of the Freddie Gray killing include those collected by Lawrence Levine in his classic work Black Culture and Black Consciousness.

Some gems.

  1. A white man driving a convertible in Mississippi runs into two Negroes, hitting them so hard that they fly straight up into the air. One lands in the back seat of the convertible and is charged with illegal entry, while the other lands about 150 feet down the road and is charged with leaving the scene of a crime.
  2. Getting off a bus in a strange Mississippi town, a Negro visitor saw no members of the race around and asked a white man, Where do the colored folks hang out here?" Pointing to a large tree in the public square, the white man replied, "Do you see that limb?"
  3. A negro got off a bus in the South, penniless, hungry, and lonely. The first person he saw was a white policeman, whom he approached politely and asked what time it was. The policeman hit him twice with his club and said, "Two o'clock nigger. Why?" "Nothing, capum," he answered. "I'se just glad in ain't twelve."

Any jokes to share?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

'Baltimore and the Necessity of History' as Mark 'The Incredible Hulk' Ruffalo Sends Chauncey DeVega Some Twitter Love

I hope that the good people of Baltimore are safe in the aftermath of the Baltimore uprising.

I would also like to thank the folks who shared my recent essay on the abuse and misuse of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s memory in the context of the Baltimore uprising.

The Internet machine also sent me a surprise this morning. The Incredible Hulk aka Mark Ruffalo also shared my piece on Brother King with his many followers on Twitter. I would prefer that I had happy stories about happy things get some love from the Incredible Hulk and others. Alas, those are not the times in which we live. Much thanks to Mr. Ruffalo for sharing my effort at doing a bit of truth-telling.

There is some very smart writing about the recent events in Baltimore. Historical context matters as we grapple with the cycle of white on black police violence and abuse in the United States. But, because as Gore Vidal famously said, “We live here in the United States of Amnesia. No one remembers anything before Monday morning. Everything is a blank. They have no history.”

In the interest of sharing, historian and friend of WARN has a great essay on the Baltimore riots that folks should read at his site Notes from the Ironbound. Do you have any examples of writing and analysis about the Baltimore uprising that you suggest folks should be reading?
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After Fort Sumter, the first blood shed during the Civil War was on the streets of Baltimore when local secessionists attacked Union troops from Massachusetts

I wrote here back in November how events in Ferguson prove the need for history, and here we are again with unrest roiling Baltimore after yet another police killing of an unarmed black person. Yet again the news media presents the anger, protest, and violence in response as if it’s completely divorced from any larger historical or sociological context. Baltimore proves yet again why history urgently matters. The world we live in is the product of the past, and the only way to understand that world properly is to know its history.

Here's a thumbnail sketch, in case you don't know:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dear White America: Please Stop Talking About Martin Luther King Jr., 'Non-Violence', and the Baltimore 'Riots'


Freddie Gray was killed by Baltimore's police. Baltimore's ghetto youthocracy responded with protests and an exhalation of random street violence. The killing of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man who was a victim of racial profiling and harassment by police, is the proximate cause of Baltimore's "riot".

The deeper and more substantive causes of Baltimore's violent spasm (and Ferguson and other sites as well) are long simmering grievances and righteous anger at an American police establishment that is racist towards black Americans, and a society where its supposed "meritocracy" is broken by the colorline and class inequality.

The United States may have a black man who happens to be President; racial equality, justice, and the radically democratic transformative possibilities that Obama symbolized seven years ago have not been translated into substantive improvements in the life chances for people of color more generally, or the black and brown poor in particular.

There is a ritual that accompanies these moments of protest by black Americans, and the wholly predictable urban unrest that follows the repeated killings of unarmed black people by police.

The high priests of public opinion take to the TV, radio, and Internet and summon the memory of Brother Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to condemn black folks who are "rioting", for the latter are violating the sacred covenant of "non-violence" for which King, as one of America's greatest leaders and martyrs, supposedly died.

The man and woman on the street participate in this act of American civil religion as well. They mutter some basic understanding of Dr. King's dream, spittle accompanying a phrase about the Civil Rights Movement, as they shake their heads in consternation at the violent protests in Baltimore and elsewhere.

Monday, April 27, 2015

C2E2 2015: Chauncey DeVega Speaks With Max Brooks and Bill Willingham about 'The Harlem Hellfighters' and 'Fables'

This special episode of the podcast known as The Chauncey DeVega Show features two conversations from Chicago's 2015 Comic and Entertainment Expo.

The first conversation is with Max Brooks.

He is the author of the zombie tome and landmark work World War Z. His most recent project is the graphic novel The Harlem Hellfighters. It explores the history of one of America's most storied combat units and how their struggle for dignity and honor in the face of Jim and Jane Crow America is one of the most important, yet little known, histories of the colorline in the United States.

Max Brooks and Chauncey chat about the challenge of creating a graphic novel that also tries to be historically accurate where possible, Will Smith's adapting The Harlem Hellfighters as a Hollywood project, the epic book World War Z, and favorite reads from his childhood.

The second conversation features Bill Willingham.

He is the the author of such comic book series as the multiple Will Eisner award-winning series Fables, as well as Jack of Fables, Elementals, and Fairest.

Bill Willingham and Chauncey talk about the narrative arc of Fables, Bill's patience and generous listening to fans of his work, how Fables is an insight into his personal values, and offers some wisdom and advice for journeyman writers, artists, and other folks who want to work as professionals in the comic book industry.

This episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show with Max Brooks and Bill Willingham from C2E2 2015 can be listened to below or "watched" on the official Youtube channel for chaunceydevega.com

The Chauncey DeVega Show can also be followed on Itunes and listened to via Stitcher on your smart phone or like device.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

'Fox News', Groot, the Predator as a Minion, and Lego Boba Fett Say 'Hi!' from C2E2 2015

As promised, here are some photos from this year's C2E2.



This year's C2E2 has an odd feel to it.

[Perhaps there is some basis to feng shui?]

The event is in a different space which feels empty, there are fewer vendors (perhaps the fee for tables has increased), and not as many "elite" cosplayers walking about on the floor as most are likely cloistered away getting ready for the Crown Championships of Cosplay (a great Groot cosplayer won the big prize on Saturday night).

I also have some thoughts on the panels I attended and C2E2's increased focus on "diversity". My opinions may surprise some folks. I may share them early next week.

There are some highlights--I attended Max Brooks' panel and briefly chatted with him about his Harlem Hellfighters project and how it was featured on The Chauncey DeVega Show.

Of course, there were some really great costumes to be seen. 

I love the minions from Despicable Me. I especially love minions who embrace their inner hunter as the Predator.

How can you not love the detail and craftsmanship displayed by Ben Grimm aka The Thing:


Muppets! Did I say Muppets! Did I say Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem?

Friday, April 24, 2015

'They Live' and Opening the Eyes of Average White Folks to the Harm Done to Them by Whiteness


I am going to be at C2E2 this weekend. I will be sharing some pictures as I did last year. If I am lucky, I will be able to get some interviews as well.

I have a new piece over at Alternet on the con game that white elites have been running on the white working class and poor through the invention of the socially constructed--yet very real--identity known as "Whiteness". It is pretty long--more than 3,000 words--but I tried to offer up something that brings together some good scholarship in an accessible albeit synthetic way.

Do check it out, share, and the like if you could.

I think I did something good with The Murderous Scam White Elites Have Perpetrated on Blacks and Whites for at Least 4 Centuries.

Plus, I have the personal satisfaction of mentioning the indispensable auteur b-movie classic They Live in an essay on the colorline, truth-seeking, and politics. I count that as a double win.

Before I attend to nerdly and ghetto nerd related matters, I would like to share the following two videos.

The first is John Bracey's "The Cost of Racism to White People". It is one of the best and most direct explanations of how Whiteness hurts the average white person that I have ever seen. Bracey's lecture is essential viewing on the topic.

The second is Jonathan Lethem's deconstruction of the movie They Live. He is an amazing writer and thinker. Lethem shows his work and why he is one of the best in the game in that video and the book that he authored about the film.


Some questions for the day and weekend.

Do you think Whiteness has the same political, social, and economic currency in the United States than it did some years ago?

What movies have you seen that opened your mind to a broader world, that "red pill" moment that changed things for the better or worse?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Conversation with Keli Dailey About Comedy, Politics, and Her Online Show 'News Hangover'

Keli Dailey is the guest on this week's packed full of goodness installment of The Chauncey DeVega Show.

She is the host of News Hangover, an online comedy news series.

News Hangover is smart, sharp, and funny as Keli and her guests use comedy and satire as a means to talk about current events, social justice, and other related topics. Keli is also a journalist who worked at the U-T San Diego newspaper as a food writer. She is a Stanford grad and self-described "black hipster".

This makes for a great conversation as Chauncey and Keli connect the dots on a range of issues from life on the "racism beat", to learning the craft of comedy, the challenges of talking to young people about feminism and race, popular culture, Louis C.K. and the movie Pootie Tang, as well as the challenges of putting together a show like News Hangover.

This episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show was recorded just as the story about the video-recorded murder of Walter Scott by a thug cop in South Carolina was breaking as a national news item. Chauncey and Keli share an organic moment where they talk about the unending wave of white on black police and vigilante violence in the United States.

Friend of the podcast, Bill the Lizard, also joins the show as he and Chauncey discuss the new trailer for the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Chauncey also shares his thoughts on the Michael Dyson versus Cornel West fracas, going to see legendary comic Dick Gregory, and a funny email about "race play" and kink that he received earlier this week.

This episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show with Keli Dailey can be listened to below or "watched" on the official Youtube channel for chaunceydevega.com

The Chauncey DeVega Show can also be followed on Itunes and listened to via Stitcher on your smart phone or like device.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What if Michael Dyson Versus Cornel West was a Video Game?

The setup for the Michael Dyson versus Cornel West feud continues. Salon has an extensive interview with Michael Dyson about his effort to "ether" Cornel West.

The Root also has an audio interview with Dyson about his falling out with West.

In keeping with the professional wrestling trope I suggested in this piece, West must now cut a promo back in response to Dyson.

If I were booking the Dyson versus West program, West would surprise Dyson at first with the ferocity and intensity of his counter-strike. Dyson is the student turned master. West is the master. Dyson would then strike back in a way that further enrages West.

Cornel West actually believes that he is the victim. Michael Dyson is trying to help Cornel West understand the error in his ways. Both sides feel betrayed. This is a perfect story because there are serious emotional issues and drama between the two parties. It is also an opportunity for "redemptive violence" because Dyson still loves West, but believes that the latter has lost his way and betrayed his principles and friends. This whole scenario is box office, big money on the lecture circuit.

It is also mighty entertaining.

A thought, if Cornel West versus Michael Dyson was a video game like the new Mortal Kombat X, what powers and special abilities would each character have?

Cornel West would have a special ability called "Black Prophetic Fire" where he would blow fire out of his mouth and nose like Dhalsim from Street Fighter.

Michael Dyson would likely have a power called "Freestyle" where he hypnotizes and confuses his opponent with his hip-hop black academic cadence.

Other powers?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Michael Dyson Versus Cornel West is Not Boxing, It is Professional Wrestling


Michael Dyson and Cornel West are involved in a very public and ugly feud.

Dyson attempted to "ether" West in an almost 10,000 word essay written for The New Republic called "The Ghost of Cornel West".

Dave Zirin, sports writer, intellectual, and all around smart guy at The Nation offered up the following observation about Dyson versus West in his essay "Cornel West Is Not Mike Tyson":
As a sportswriter I am very sensitive to the use and misuse of boxing metaphors. Few analogies are either more powerful or more universally understood than comparing a public figure to an iconic fighter. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, in a panoramic, painfully personal, deeply researched 10,000-word excoriation of Dr. Cornel West, published in The New Republic, has compared the 61-year-old professor to Mike Tyson. He describes West as someone who once “tore through opponents with startling menace and ferocity,” but who has since devolved into a “faint echo of himself,” an ear-biting sideshow, more interested in celebrity than serious academic and political work. 
With all respect to Dyson, who wrote the intro to my book Game Over and has been a friend to me on numerous occasions, this is in my view the wrong choice of championship pugilists. West is not Mike Tyson: he’s Muhammad Ali. 
Not the Muhammad Ali of ESPN hagiographies or Hollywood films starring Will Smith. But the real Muhammad Ali: effortlessly provocative, undeniably narcissistic, and unquestionably brilliant. 
The deeply hurtful quotes that West has aimed at Dyson (he has “prostituted himself intellectually”) and Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry (“she is a liar and a fraud”) are 21st-century iterations of Ali’s regrettable, and for many unforgivable, questioning of the blackness of the great Joe Frazier, comparing the proud fighter to an ugly gorilla, all in the name of hyping up fights and throwing Frazier off of his game.
[And if a person really wants to understand the meta game between West and Dyson they need to read Political Scientist Dr. Adolph Reed Jr.'s classic article "What are the Drums Saying Booker?"]

I largely agree with Zirin's take on the fracas. However, he is too generous in his analysis of the organic nature of the dispute. Nevertheless, Dave Zirin also has a large piece of the puzzle mostly figured out.

Michael Dyson versus Cornel West is more like professional wrestling than it is boxing.

I offer some additional connective tissue for Zirin's great essay.

Muhammad Ali was a huge fan of professional wrestling and credits Gorgeous George as a having had a great influence on his style, demeanor, and ability to work an audience:
Gorgeous George would shout, bulge his eyes and threaten to annihilate his ''enemy." Some of his opponents feared George's tough talk outside the ring far more than his technique inside it. In short order, the anger aimed at him made him one of wrestling's - and television's - biggest attractions. And he cried all the way to the bank. 
His act lasted so long that a little-known boxer named Cassius Marcellus Clay, who won the 1960 light heavyweight championship in the Rome Olympics, took careful note of George's success. 
"Soon after I turned pro," Cassius mused, "I discovered that even though I won the Olympic title, I wasn't making any money. I was the only champion that didn't have no jack jangling in his jeans. So I studied Gorgeous George and began doing his act better than he did it. 
"Before I became champ, I used to go in the ring and fight and when I went to the dressing room, people didn't pay much attention to me," Ali recalled years later. "One night, I was watching Gorgeous George on TV. He was jumping around making a lot of noise and threatening his opponents and I said to myself, 'this guy's on to something.' I think I'll put some of that in my act." 
Boxing fans plunked down their hard-earned cash to see Ali get knocked out. But alas, he had become as fine a boxer as he was a showman, and routinely whipped his opponents - "as if I was their daddy," he enjoyed saying. 
He also told reporters he probably owed Gorgeous George a lot of money: "Wasn't for him, nobody would have heard of me," Ali insisted."I didn't use no perfume or high heels, but I became real boisterous and the fans began paying attention to me. They hated my poetry and came to see if I would knock out my opponents in the round I'd predict. Fans would spend their money and rush to my fights, hoping to see me get my head whupped."
I have no doubt that the animus between West and Dyson is real. But, there is more money to be made in the build up, climax, and then blow off match, than there is in Dyson and West being compadres and brothers in arms forever.

As in other areas of life, we and they make up to break up.

For example, West, Dyson, and Smiley made a ton of money on their various tours during the Age of Obama and the twilight years of Bush II.

What better way is there to make money and get attention, i.e. return to relevance in popular culture and among the more literate audiences for the chattering classes, than to have a feud between former "brothers?"

Emotional issues between talented competitors plus good creative equals cash in professional wrestling.

It is no different in the world of public intellectuals.

West and Dyson will feud today. This will put a butt every 18 inches in a seat. West and Dyson will reconcile and sell it as a story about two lions and titans in the Black Prophetic Tradition who love justice and "The People" so much that they had to duel in order to place their ideas in a fiery crucible as a way of reducing their brilliance down to its essence.

Public jawing is West's and Dyson's way of applying black intellectual power to Plato's Theory of the Forms.

If Dick Gregory is not available to referee the series of matches between Michael Dyson and Cornel West, I am more than willing to do it for a very agreeable rate of payment.

Monday, April 20, 2015

If He was Black He'd Be Dead: What Happens When a White Murder Suspect Attacks an Ohio Police Officer?


Last evening, I had the pleasure of attending comedian Dick Gregory's concert at the Promontory restaurant and lounge in Chicago.

He is a legend. Gregory is also a legend who delivers on the promise of his title and reputation. One must wonder does he have the secret of youth? Did he obtain if through a nefarious bargain? Or is Gregory's vitality the result of good living and a fortunate roll of the genetic dice?

Opening for a legend is difficult. It is also an honor. Some of the younger comedians who stepped out on the stage before Gregory are very early in their training. They are journeyman bards with much to learn. One of those lessons should be to not steal a.k.a. "borrow" jokes from obvious sources. It is tacky and poor form. Of course, there are few new ideas. The classics are the classics (I just flew in from Detroit, and boy are my arms tired!). But one should at least try to innovate as they would not want to be so easily exposed by either their peers or a student of comedy who happens to be in the audience.

One of Dick Gregory's themes was the impotence of misdirected black rage. As he observed, folks are angry about "injustice" and "racism" but do little substantive to counter it. They may huff and puff, but that is all bluster for their exhalations are aimed in the wrong direction.

Gregory, like the best performers in the African-American comedic tradition, was pointing out the absurd, the (not) dilemma of the colorline (for is justice ever really that complicated?), and offering a deep critique of Power.

Ultimately, Gregory concluded that "we" choose to not see the truth. It is not a hard thing to divine or to understand, but most people choose to enable their own powerlessness and learned helplessness.

One of Dick Gregory's most wickedly genius observations was about America's police and the colorline. He asked, "why would a white person with all of the privileges and power that come with being 'white' in America choose to be a cop when so many other easy options are available to them?"

The answer to that question holds the key to understanding white on black police violence and the necropolis of black bodies that are more visible in the Age of Obama and a carceral surveillance society, but which historically have been a fixture of American life since before the Founding.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Semi-Open Philosophical Sunday Thread: How do You Define Happiness?


As is our habit, do treat this as a semi-open weekend thread. And as always do feel free to share interesting matters, topics, or information of public or private concern.

Philosophy is "love of wisdom".

Ideally, philosophy should be applied as a means of improving the human condition.

The question becomes, how does one live such a life?

Moreover, how can we work towards the Common Good through the pursuit of knowledge, and the development of a proper ethical framework, while also learning how to be better and more critical thinkers?

I was asked to teach an introduction to political theory and philosophy course this past quarter. Theory is one of the areas I enjoy--although I would never pass myself off as an expert beyond a niche interest in "democratic theory" and "power"--so I knew that I could do something passable akin to the Introduction to Political Thought class that I took while an undergraduate.

The course was interesting. It was more of a success than a failure. I did not have an Obi-wan who believes he can teach Anakin better than Yoda moment. Such an avoidance of disaster is all that I ask for in such situations.

However, I am still struck by how few students, many of which are about to graduate, have never been exposed to any of the foundational thinkers in the Western canon (Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Hobbes, Marx, Smith, Rousseau, Mill, etc.) that would qualify a person as being "educated". I have taught at a range of institutions. The problem is less worse at the elite schools, but seems to be pretty common at the decent to good mid-tier institutions that most students will attend.

[I also noticed a clear stratification in preparation. There were several students who attended good if not elite high schools who had a familiarity with the thinkers we were grappling with in class. Other students would have had no idea what or who we were talking about before class began. This is very troubling for the future of American democracy. The myth of meritocracy and upward mobility is exposed once again. Our public schools are contributing to the creation of American feudalism.]

I ask and challenge the students, "how can you be a good citizen and live a fulfilled and reflective life, if you have not grappled with critical thinking and 'big ideas?'" Most have no answer. They sit, looking embarrassed.

Yes, a broken economy and other priorities are part of this problem. Yes, the rise of S.T.E.M. and standardized testing has robbed many students of the ability to be anything more than technicians, robots, and human drones who feed the maw of hyper-capitalism and the 1 percent.

But, there has to be another way. Am I that wrong and misguided?

I am curious as to your thoughts on happiness.

Aristotle suggested that happiness is:
the function of man is to live a certain kind of life, and this activity implies a rational principle, and the function of a good man is the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed it is performed in accord with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, then happiness turns out to be an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.
What makes you happy?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Difference Between Criticism, Rage, and Villification: I May Not Like J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek' Movies But I Don't Hate the Man

I happened to discover Emily Asher-Perrin's essay Protecting What You Love: On the Difference Between Criticism, Rage, and Vilification over at Tor.com and thought it could be of interest given our recent conversations about Star Wars, the Hugo awards, and other related topics.

Fans are a passionate group. Self-identified members of "fandom" can be especially passionate.

Social media has only exacerbated those feelings as accessibility often creates a sense of entitlement and a twisted sense of "ownership" between consumers of a particular type of art and/or entertainment and those who make it.

I would also suggest that the entitlement and anger felt by the most rabid of fans can reflect both jealousy and envy in that while they may admire the creators of a given object of popular culture, most will never be able to have that same level of success both because most fans (like most people) lack the talent and also the courage to try to become a creator.

[Retired professional wrestler and Chicago native CM Punk described his relationship with Twitter as millions of entitled people yelling into the open window of his house and then expecting him to listen...as opposed to telling them to go to hell and then closing the windows in their faces. Spot on me thinks.]

New media, technology, and a coarseness to our public discourse has also created an environment where fans are not just critical of a given cultural worker's art. Instead, they translate it into personal invective.

Of course, this has likely always happened as art moves emotions. Thus, the public and spectator transfer those feelings to the art and its creators.

Writing in response to what she views as a decidedly negative moment in which the Hugos are being derailed by entitled angry white men and their allies, and various elements in fan culture are out of control, having forgotten or never learned basic rules of civil discourse and propriety, Asher-Perrin observes:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Is The Force Strong With This One? The Second 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer is Finally Here!



The new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer has just debuted.

I am still amazed to see a black man as a lead in a Star Wars film. For those folks who did not grow up having to "read yourself" into Star Wars because of the structured absence of black and non-white characters in the Original Trilogy (Lando and random Return of the Jedi Rebel Pilot) being the notable exceptions), the power of such moments may be lost on you.

The new trailer has some great stuff. We see the the physical evidence of the Galactic Civil War with a destroyed Star Destroyer on a desert world named Jakku, the rise of the "new" Empire, Storm Commandos (or are they an honor guard or personal strike unit for the new villain?), Luke's robotic arm, a Sith cult led by Kylo Ren who have found Vader's helmet from the funeral pyre, what seems to be some fratricidal combat between elements of the remaining Galactic Empire, and of course other goodness too--a lightsaber being passed from "mother" to "daughter" perhaps? and yes, Han and Chewie are finally "home".

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now a very real thing.

It is time to revisit the predictions and thoughts about Star Wars: The Force Awakens that I made in this episode of the podcast known as The Chauncey DeVega Show.

Any thoughts or reactions to the new trailer? Excited? Worried? Both?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Are Videos of Black Men Being Killed by America's Police the New Snuff Films?

My dear friend Bill the Lizard, he who is a fellow Star Wars aficionado and occasional conversation partner on The Chauncey DeVega Show, called me yesterday.

He explained that "I had a dream that you were shot by the police like Walter Scott in that horrible video".

Dreams do often portend the future. As is evident by my non-poltergeist act of answering the telephone, it would seem that I am okay.

Bill the Lizard also sent me a picture of "Herbert the Pervert" to confirm my safety. Friends of many years develop their own language with which to communicate with one another. I will leave the origins of our Herbert the Pervert inside joke suitably unstated.

He and I both agreed that viewing killed by cop videos such as those featuring Walter Scott, Eric Harris, and Eric Garner have a negative impact on one's soul and psyche.

But, this conclusion does not explain why the video-recorded images of black Americans being shot, killed, and otherwise abused by the police are captivating to (what would seem to be) so many in the global viewing public.

The corporate news media shows those images of horrific and spectacular violence against the black body because they garner ratings. Ratings equal cash.

But again, why would someone who is not paid or otherwise materially compensated view such a thing?

Writing at Medium, Jade Davis offers the following insight:
Black men being the first to die in horror movies, and being lined up for execution on death row is the norm — but that is for fun, or behind closed doors. These killings of regular black men, however — in public, dying on camera and reproduced on the Internet — speaks to the same kind of forbidden desire that Girls Gone Wild tapped into. The ability to easily capture and distribute video of overly horny co-eds out to have a good time fed the desires of overly horny people who wanted to experience the thrill of barely legal girls submitting to the lens. 
Now, instead of barely legal porn, these actual snuff films, not like those staged versions from the 1970s, are the forbidden jouissance of the moment. The black man’s death is repeated, reproduced, shared, and celebrated in a macabre way specific to the snuff genre. These films and activities have always existed, but in the past people didn’t consume them so publicly, or so proudly outside of public executions and lynchings.
She continues:
It might seem that the difference between these snuff films and Girls Gone Wild is that people paid cash to watch the women perform for them. But that is merely a sign of the times. The Internet eventually won when the audience decided to pay with clicks instead of cash: The places that brought Girls Gone Wild to an end still have age disclaimers for mature content, and can be blocked by enabling parental controls. 
But, when the most explicit imagery of the violence enacted against black bodies can be at the top of The New York Times and the Daily Mail, it says that these are the images that sell in a world where clicks equal cash, and there’s no warning necessary. 
This is content everyone should see! Don’t miss this amazing new footage of a black man dying. Warning, graphic content, but the screen capture really sells the tale. The distribution channel isn’t the same as those videos of gyrating youngsters, but it is distributed and monetized just the same.
It is not for me to say, but I believe that the late great Stuart Hall would likely be in agreement with Davis's analysis. On matters of race, representation, and semiotics I can think of no higher complement to give.

Are the video-recorded killings of black men by police and their allies the next iteration of snuff films?

A type of fantasy wish fulfillment for some of the most deranged and racist in the audience (example: those white people who donated money to Darren Wilson's "defense" fund) while also simultaneously serving as a non-therapeutic exterior projection of the fears and worries that black Americans carry within themselves about police violence and America's history of committing extra-judicial murder against them?

In a society where the lie of "reality television" is believed to be real by the mass public, the carceral society (with all of its anti-black violence) is popularized by shows such as Cops, The First 48, and Lockup, and the Culture of Cruelty extends along the colorline, the killings of unarmed black people by America's police may simply be the dystopian near future vision offered by the 1980's classic movie The Running Man made real.

Technology is a means for the circulation of white supremacist racial ideologies.

Lynching photographs were one of America's most popular forms of mass culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, in the 21st and late 20th centuries, digital media circulates images of violence against the black body by America's police to a global super public.

Are you not entertained?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Whiteness of Science-Fiction: Can You Please Help Me Understand the 'Sad Puppy' Hugo Awards Controversy?


We have a smart and diverse readership here at WARN.

Perhaps, some of them could help me understand the "controversy" about this year's Hugo Awards for science fiction and fantasy.

[Here are some helpful readings on the "Sad Puppies" imbroglio.]

The final slate has been announced here.

I respect the awards and their history--both for the good and despite the bad. But, I am not super plugged into the various politicking that goes on around the awards. Nor, am I one of the obsessives in science fiction fandom.

Politics is popular culture; popular culture is politics. Popular culture, broadly defined, is one of the primary spaces where a society's values and norms are reproduced, taught, internalized, and on occasion subverted and challenged.

As such, the "sad puppies" Hugo debacle and their cousin in "GamerGate", can be understood to reflect a type of Right-wing reactionary white male victimology that is unfortunately all too common in post civil rights era neoliberal America.

The election of Barack Obama and the United States' changing demographics (a change that I suggest is much exaggerated in its consequences for a "new" America as Whiteness always expands to include new members and to maintain its dominant position) has driven them to new levels of delusional aggrieved white victimologist madness.

Is the Hugo controversy simply an extension of a broader Right-wing reactionary politics?

And is the Hugo "Sad Puppies" and "GamerGate" mess any different from the American Right-wing's complaints about "multiculturalism", "feminism", and "diversity " during the 1970s and 1980s Culture War(s)?

Do enlighten me if you would.

A Conversation With Claire "The Tenured Radical" Potter About Critical Public Pedagogy in the Digital Age

Professor Claire "Tenured Radical" Potter is the guest on this installment of the podcast known as The Chauncey DeVega Show.

Dr. Potter is a scholar of American Studies, history, and popular culture.

She is a Professor of History at The New School and is the author/editor of several books including War on Crime: Bandits, G-Men and the Politics of Mass Culture and the forthcoming Beyond Pornography: How Feminism Survived the Age of Reagan.

As the "Tenured Radical" she is perhaps best known for her column at The Chronicle of Higher Education and as a scholar at the forefront of public pedagogy and its intersection(s) with digital media and democracy.

Claire has also been a friend of The Chauncey DeVega Show for some time. She has also been a great booster and supporter of Chauncey DeVega's other online work.

Dr. Potter is very sharp, witty, and wise.

This makes for a great conversation on the newest installment of The Chauncey DeVega Show.

In this new episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Claire and Chauncey talk about police brutality and life in New York in the shadow of the Eric Garner case, the perils, joys, and challenges of public pedagogy and intellectual work; and share some fun stories about the naughty, titillating, and scintillating things that can be found in famous folks' personal archives and collections.

Chauncey and Claire also talk about how Times Square was made into Disney World and the relationship between feminism and anti-pornography crusades.

Chauncey DeVega also cuts a not short opening promo about the killing of Walter Scott by the thug cop Michael Slager in South Carolina and does a bit of reading and reflection on the great essay The Police Are America's Terrorists.

This episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show with Dr. Claire Potter can be listened to below or "watched" on the official Youtube channel for chaunceydevega.com

The Chauncey DeVega Show can also be followed on Itunes and listened to via Stitcher on your smart phone or other related technology.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

What Really Killed Eric Harris: How Common is It For Rich People to be Able to Cosplay as Real Cops?

Eric Harris was killed by a rich man who donated equipment to the Tulsa, Oklahoma sheriff's department so that he could enjoy some live action role-playing as a cop.

The Daily Beast offers the following details:
The deputy wasn’t an active member of the sheriff’s Violent Crimes Task Force, which was responsible for the bungled sweep. But Bates has donated thousands in gifts to the office since 2008, the Tulsa World reported. 
He is one of many “wealthy people in the reserve program,” which includes 130 volunteer deputies, Maj. Shannon Clark of the sheriff’s office said
“Many of them make donations of items. That’s not unusual at all,” he added. 
Bates’ contributions include vehicles, firearms and stun guns, Clark said. The shooting was recorded via sunglasses cameras worn by police—items that Bates may have purchases himself. 
His previous law enforcement credentials include a stint as a Tulsa police officer from 1964 to 1965. 
Clark said Bates was an “advanced reserve” and his duties included “anything a full-time deputy can do.” 
During this particular encounter, however, Bates would normally be in a support role that includes “keeping notes, doing counter-surveillance, things like that,” Clark told the Tulsa World.
The State has a monopoly on legal murder. And as is typical in a corporate democracy where the public commons is for sale, and Austerity, Neoliberalism, and the Culture of Cruelty, are a conjoined beast, anything and everything can be purchased.

The role of public servant in the guise of a police officer is also for sale to adult cop obsessives who possess immature dreams of wearing a uniform and bullying the public.

Yes, race and the colorline are central to the repeated murders of unarmed black people (and other people of color, the poor, and the mentally ill) by America's police. But, the devaluing of black life exists within a society where basic notions of The Public, as well as Public Responsibility and Ownership, are under assault by The 1 Percent.

As a commenter pointed out at The Daily Beast, what other jobs with life and death responsibilities are up for auction to the highest bidder? Doctors? Air traffic controllers? Firefighters? Generals? Elected officials?

[I think we know the answer for the latter.]

Eric Harris is dead because the Tulsa, Oklahoma sheriff's department, in a desire to get more toys for its officers to play with, sold its professionalism and public reputation to the highest bidder.

If Tulsa's police department are doing to allow live action role-players their chance of getting a cheap thrill--as they are likely physically aroused by wearing a cop's uniform, carrying a gun, and being able to turn on a siren--perhaps they should follow the rules that cons such as Wizard and C2E2 use at their events:
Prop weapons will be allowed providing they are composed of cardboard, foam, wood or other light materials. Prop firearms are allowed only if they cannot be mistaken for real weapons. The barrel of all prop firearms must be covered with brightly-colored caps. Prop bows will be allowed providing all arrows have soft tips. 
Basically, don't be an idiot.
Hopefully, an enterprising journalist will investigate how common it is for rich people to be able to role-play as police officers--the latter with the power of life and death over the public.

If any good comes out of the unnecessary death of Mr. Eric Harris, perhaps it will be a public outing of such irresponsible programs and ensuring that no other people are killed by pay to play incompetent wannabe cops like Bob Bates.

'F**ck Your Breath!' A Slogan For America's Cops

This is a tired and broken record.

As such, let us complicate the narrative a bit.

An unarmed black man named Eric Harris was "accidentally" killed by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Eric Harris was unarmed.

Eric Harris's death was recorded on video.

As he laying dying, pleading for his life and some assistance, a Tulsa cop told him to "fuck your breath".

There is a technical term for the Tulsa, Oklahoma police officer's "error" in shooting Eric Harris with his pistol instead of a somewhat less than always lethal taser: it is called "slips and capture".

I kid you not.

Interestingly, white men such as James Holmes who hurt and kill dozens of people in mass shootings are somehow captured alive.

But, black men who are unarmed are routinely killed by America's police.

How do we explain this fact?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Colorblind White Racism and the Right-Wing Media's Response to the Killing of Walter Scott


Instead of posting a new episode of the podcast known as The Chauncey DeVega Show, I would to continue our conversation about the killing of Walter Scott.

Next week, I will be posting two new episodes--one on Tuesday and one on Thursday. My conversation with author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nick Chiles about his new book Justice While Black is extremely relevant to the events in the Walter Scott case.

If folks did not have a chance to listen to that episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show when it originally aired, they will find it very illuminating and helpful.

I would like to return to some of the themes discussed in my essay "How Will White Conservatives Defend the Killer Cop Who Shot Walter Scott?". As it has gone around the Internet (now shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook), my question has received several types of answers.

These include the typical, "this is race-baiting and white conservatives will condemn the killing of Walter Scott like anyone else would!" to the more intelligent, and I think spot on, "the Right-wing media will either be silent on the issue or will instead choose to condemn the killing as proof of how 'fair' and 'not racist' the criminal justice system actually is".

The latter point is very insightful: white supremacy in the post civil rights era often works via a superficial condemnation of obvious racism and racially motivated violence against people of color as a means of advancing a type of White Racial Logic which deems racism and white supremacy as things of the past, outliers and aberrations in contemporary America.

Colorblind racism is a feature of post civil rights era America. As such, it has colored the Right-wing media's response to the killing of Michael Scott.

For example, Fox News, the Right-wing's largest and most influential purveyor of disinformation and outright lies, devoted several segments to discussing the murder of Walter Scott by the white thug cop Michael Slager.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Hero and a Sociopath: Three Questions That the Mainstream Media Won't Ask About the Killing of Walter Scott


If you have not yet watched MSNBC's interview with Feidin Santana, the gentleman who recorded the killing of Walter Scott by the thug cop Michael Slager, I encourage you to do so.

A hero is someone who puts themselves at great personal risk, does not have specific training for the task, and is not paid to do so.

Mr. Santana is a hero.

As clearly demonstrated by their centuries-long habit of killing unarmed and/or surrendered black and brown people, America's police are not heroes. Some of them may occasionally act in a brave way; but, not all brave acts are heroic.

The news media has made the murder of Michael Scott into a spectacle. The video of Scott's murder is a 21st century type of lynching photograph and postcard. Every time the video is shown, the mental, physical, and emotional health of Black America is assaulted. This is psychic warfare and terrorism.

Just as the killer cop Darren Wilson casually stood over Michael Brown's dead body in the street, Michael Slager appears to show no panic or upset after he guns down Walter Scott.

Soldiers will often have a breakdown or show other signs of visible emotional distress after they kill another human being in battle.

These police officers are calm, cool, collected, and unmoved.

Some questions.

I wonder, was Slager's calm and detached behavior a reflection of his police training and cultural conditioning regarding the use of force against black people?

Are Slager and other cops who kill in a similar manner sociopathic?

Has Michael Slager killed someone before and successfully covered it up, thus his slaying of Walter Scott is an old habit?

The mainstream corporate media will not ask those important questions. It is time that the American people force this issue, as the colorline is not just about justice for people of color, but a life and death matter for the Common Good.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How Will White Conservatives Defend the Killer Cop Who Shot Walter Scott?

Another unarmed black man has been shot dead by a white police officer.

The video can be watched here. I will not be posting or otherwise sharing it online.

I do not want to contribute to the online necropolis of black bodies shot dead by cop and/or white identified vigilantes.

I am also finding it difficult to convey my exhaustion with once again having to write about how another unarmed black man has been killed by the police. My hand is moved by a commitment to tell the truth; writing is a small act compared to those who actually suffer the slings and arrows of racist white violence by America's police.

As I have written about and discussed many times in these years of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown, white privilege is the ability to twist and distort reality in the service of the bizarre and self-serving world that the White Gaze conjures forth for the psychological, material, and political benefits of its owners.

In the service to those delusions, White Racist Paranoiac Thinking invents a scenario that justifies the killing of black and brown people (and the homeless, poor, mentally ill, and other "disposable" human beings) by the police and their allies.

Eric Garner screamed "I can't breathe" as the police murdered him. White lynch mobs portrayed themselves as honorable men who were doing unpleasant work in defense of white women's and white civilization's honor and security as they burned alive and dismembered the African-American "imps of the inferno", the monster in the form of a man known as "the black beast rapist".

Walter Scott was stopped for a traffic violation. In fear for his life, Walter Scott ran away from a white South Carolina police officer named Michael Slager.

Slager then shot and killed Walter Scott.

Michael Slager then lied as he used the standard script:
The officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, had said he feared for his life because the man took his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as the man — Walter L. Scott, 50 — fled. 
The North Charleston mayor announced the state charges at a news conference Tuesday evening.
Fortunately, Slager's lies were exposed by a video recording of the event.

He has now been charged with murder.

White racist paranoiacs will invert and twist reality in their defense of Michael Slager.

Scott was somehow threatening Slager.

Scott was trying to grab the weapon of Slager.

"We don't know what happened before the 'incident' occurred!"

"Remember Darren Wilson!" as though the latter was some type of innocent child and victim as he did the work of Ferguson, Missouri's Jim and Jane Crow-like police department.

"Scott was 'wanted for a 'family court warrant'! He is a horrible father, a criminal, why make him a victim when Officer Slager is the real hero!"

I have learned to accept that I, a black man, embody and channel a type of monstrous black masculinity as viewed through the White Gaze.

But even we monsters, the Garners, the child Tamir, the Crawfords, and now Mr. Walter Scott deserve a whee bit of mercy and benefit of the doubt before we are put down by the police.

If hunting man is the greatest of sports, I would hope, that for lack of a better word or turn of phrase, that white cops who choose to kill or otherwise abuse unarmed black people, would be a bit more "sporting" in their ways.

Ultimately, we, the black Frankensteins of the world, need to be a bit more cautious as we go about our business, playing with little white children as they pick flowers by the lake.

I am a man. I am a black man. I am a human being. I am an American citizen. I am not a monster. When will the police accept and respect that fact?

I know it is a question with a clear answer.

Yet, I still channel hope by asking it.

A Wrecking Ball: Chicago's Runoff Election. When Miley Cyrus Met Rahm Emanuel


Chicago's runoff mayoral election is today.

When talking about the "Arab World" one of the tired Western media pundit cliches has long been "what does the Arab Street want?"

I am a man of the people who alternates between the shoe leather express and the Chicago Transit Authority's buses and trains.

Like I wrote about here, a similar principle holds in terms of measuring organic public opinion in the public sphere at the site of communicative democracy: what are the People telling and saying to us on the streets, while riding mass transit, sitting in the barbershops, and moving about and congregating elsewhere?

A black brother was working hard on elevated subway here in Chicago. He was politely and enthusiastically handing out campaign flyers for Jesus "Chuy" Garcia that depicted sitting mayor Rahm Emanuel as a type of Miley Cyrus figure, straddling a wrecking ball, as he destroys the city.

The brother was also a pragmatist: a black man working to unseat Rahm Emanuel for a Hispanic candidate is one more signal to the sea changes in America's political demography.


[I worry, what does the future hold for Black Politics as Hispanics and Latinos assert themselves? 

Moreover, what will happen as some of the latter are grandfathered into Whiteness and fully (and publicly) embrace anti-black animus as the price of admission into that semi-exclusive club?]

I have no great enthusiasm for either Jesus Chuy Garcia or Rahm Emanuel. But, I will be voting my pocketbook and immediate experiences with a city that has continued to go up on mass transit fares, cut services, and protected white neighborhoods and rich folks (especially their schools) from any sense of "shared struggle" in a time of manufactured "economic crisis".

Rahm's runoff is being heralded by some as a sign that the American people are sick of neoliberalism and how the banksters have reorganized public and private life to their own advantage at the expense of the working, poor, and middle classes.

I am not the enthusiastic about what this challenge actually portends. I am more basic and quotidian in how I read the classic saying that "all politics is local". While the polls suggest that Rahm will win another term, I hold out hope that there are enough people who are disgusted by the state of the Chicago's basic services and balancing of the budget on the backs of working class and poor folks--many of which are black and brown.

The good social scientist in me says that Jesus Chuy Garcia is dead on arrival. The dreamer hopes otherwise.


For you who watch national and big city elections, what do you think Rahm's runoff portends? Are the People sick and tired of being sick and tired of the Democratic Party's embrace of a type of "soft" neoliberalism or is this just a bump in the road as the United States and her elites idolize, and thus surrender to, a type of Singapore-like authoritarianism and surveillance society?

Predictions about Chicago's elections?

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Christian Right's Worst Nightmare? Black Israelites and Indiana's 'Religious Freedom' Law


Indiana's "religious freedom" law, i.e. a bill designed to legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians under the shield of "religious freedom" has been a source of national controversy. Indiana was ultimately forced by the corporate money wing of the Republican Party to modify its "religious freedom" law with the following amendment:
Specifically, the new language says the RFRA does not authorize a provider — including businesses or individuals — to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, goods, employment, housing or public accommodation to any member of the public based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in addition to race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex or military service.

The proposed language exempts churches or other nonprofit religious organizations — including affiliated schools — from the definition of "provider."
[While it is problematic, and has always seemed to be an affront to the supposed secular values of America as a liberal democracy, tax exempt religious organizations are yet somehow still allowed to violate civil rights laws. This is an ugly pimple that should be popped; stare decisis has to this point protected it from being lanced. It is a blemish that the American body politic will be forced to live with for the foreseeable future.]

The rejection of Indiana's religious hate law is not a total defeat for the culture warriors in the Republican Party.

The Christian Right are not ashamed of their actions: secular resistance emboldens them.  Why? like most fanatics, they are animated by a belief in a mythic narrative of struggle against overwhelming odds that gives further credence to the cause.

No, the American Taliban and ISIS, will pivot and pursue other options in order to further bend and ultimately break the wall separating church and state in the United States.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

May You Have a Happy Zombie Jesus Pagan God Bunny Worshiping Candy Eating Easter


The phone rings. 

It is my mother.

"Hi, Chauncey. What are you doing? Did you start your day yet?"

I reply, "yes mom, I am grading papers."

"What are you doing for Easter? What are you cooking?" she says.

"You know my opinion about religion and such things mom, I don't really want to talk about it today."

Annoyed she continues, "Well, it is a very important holiday. I am cooking turkey legs and stove top stuffing and going to church with my friend. I also went to Bonton (note: Bonton may be the go to store for black old ladies on a budget who want to buy something bright to show off at church). 

Fine then. Go back to you work".

"Sounds good mom, talk to you later".

This is a recurring conversation between me and my mother.

She knows that I rejected formal religion when I was a child. On a basic level, as a parent, she feels a bit of a failure that I am not a religious hypocrite who shows up one or two days a year out of a sense of forced obligation to get on my knees for an hour and proclaim a belief that I do not share with the other phonies in the building.

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Conversation With Jeffrey Sammons and John Morrow About the 'Harlem Hellfighters'

Dr. Jeffrey T. Sammons and Dr. John H. Morrow Jr. are the guests on this week's installment of The Chauncey DeVega Show where we discuss their new book "Harlem's Rattlers and the Great War".

They are both starred scholars.

Jeffrey T. Sammons is Professor in the Department of History at New York University and the author of Beyond the Ring: The Role of Boxing in American Society. John H. Morrow, Jr., Franklin Professor of History at the University of Georgia, is the author of several books, including The Great War: An Imperial History.

It has been more than 100 years since the beginning of World War One. In many ways, much more so than is generally understood by the American general public, World War One, "The Great War," has profoundly shaped the present. This is also true of the global colorline.

This conversation on The Chauncey Devega Show about World War One and one of the United States' most legendary and accomplished military units--the "Harlem Hellfighters"--is a wonderful lens into some "hidden" American history of which (unfortunately) too few are aware.

In this new episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Chauncey and his conversation partners Jeffrey Sammons and John Morrow talk about separating myth from fact regarding World War One and African-American military service, why World War One is understudied in America's schools, how the "Harlem Rattlers" came to be known as the "Harlem Hellfighters", the struggles and unique challenges faced by The Harlem Rattlers/Hellfighters as a unit, their experiences in Europe as one of America's most distinguished and accomplished military units, as well as how Jim and Jane Crow impacted its heroes upon their return stateside.

Jeffrey and John also share their opinions about how the story of the legendary Harlem Hellfighters is being adapted for a movie starring Will Smith--one that is based on a graphic novel by Max Brooks.

This episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show with Dr. Jeffrey T. Sammons and Dr. John H. Morrow Jr. can be listened to below or "watched" on the official Youtube channel for chaunceydevega.com

The Chauncey DeVega Show can also be followed on Itunes and listened to via Stitcher on your smart phone or other related technology.



Download mp3

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Real #Fearandrace: Where is NPR's Show About Why America Should be Afraid of White Men?


I am a black American.

I am also a man.

When I look in the mirror, I do not see a reflection of monstrous black masculinity.

I see a human being.

In contrast, the White Gaze views black men as something dangerous and frightening—a type of Other that only through proper training can be forced into some type of civilized behavior. A global culture industry reproduces and circulates images of monstrous black masculinity. It is profitable for a few, and provides pleasure and thrills for millions, even while it robs black men en masse of their full humanity.

But that threat, the idea of monstrous blackness being unleashed on a given white person who lets down his or her guard, is always there. A feral dog or well-trained monster is existentially dangerous; only a fool proceeds from any other assumption.

This belief legitimates the social control of the prison industrial complex, a racist criminal justice system, custodial citizenship, and fuels a “law and order” political logic that is reflected by how white folks who even when made aware of gross racism against black people by the American legal system, still support such measures.

White people are apparently so afraid of black people that social psychologists have designed techniques to soothe their racial animus and anxiety:
Short of that, you can do something very simple to fight prejudice: Trick your brain. UNC-Chapel Hill's Payne suggests that by deliberately thinking a thought that is directly counter to widespread stereotypes, you can break normal patterns of association. What counts as counterstereotypical? 
Well, Payne's study found that when research subjects were instructed to think the word "safe" whenever they saw a black face—undermining the stereotypical association between black people and danger—they were 10 percent less likely than those in a control group to misidentify a gun in the Weapons Identification Task.
Monstrous black masculinity also creates a type of derangement, where through white racial paranoiac thinking unarmed black men being choked to death by police are made into some type of threat, black boys playing in the park can be shot on sight by police, hooded sweatshirts are the uniforms of street pirate brigands, and harmless objects are made into lethal weapons because they are held in the hands of a person who is black and male.