Thursday, April 23, 2015

Likes.

"Field, why do you seem so angry and cynical when you write? Is there anything in life that you like?"

I get that a lot.  And honestly, it makes me feel so bad.

There are a ton of things in life 1hat I like.

Tonight I will give you 10 of them:

1. Neil deGrasse Tyson-A black  astrophysicist who publicly calls out dumb people. What could be better than that?

2. A Jamaican breakfast-Ackee and saltfish; green bananas and mackerel. Holla.

3. EPL on Saturday and Sunday mornings-Chelsea= Cowboys, Manchester U= the Packers.

4. Some television shows-Justified; The Americans; Black Sails; Power; Game of Thrones....Watching television is actually better than going to the movies these days. 

5. Philadelphians from "the neighborhood"- Any neighborhood. Pick one.

6. The sports writings of  Howard Bryant-ESPN is lucky to have him.

7.  The fictional writings of Jeffery Renard Allen- If you pick up "Song of the Shank" you won't put it down.

8. I like doing yard work with my wife....wait, I better not write that. She might be reading this and Spring is coming.

9. I like sweetened condensed milk in my coffee- My cream and sugar all in one.

10. Reading the  comments on this blog.


 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dr. vs. Dr.

Image result for eric dyson cornel west imagesAs you might -or might not- know, a couple of "black intellectuals" are at war with each other right now.

On one side of the battlefield is Dr. Eric Dyson, and on the other side is Dr. Cornel West.

The oratorical reciprocation and verbal jostling has been fun to watch.

Fortunately we have some brilliant black writers in the middle who can break it all down for us.

"I began reading Michael Eric Dyson’s lengthy essay for the New Republic, “The Ghost of Dr. Cornel West,” with some trepidation. By the time I finished it, I was sickened. Framed as an impartial assessment of West’s so-called steep decline as a scholar, public intellectual, thought leader and writer, Dyson backdoors into a scathing critique of his former friend that felt as bruising as a series of sucker punches delivered with increasingly gleeful frequency and viciousness.

The timing of the essay is jarring in this moment, particularly since it appears in the New Republic, which, until very recently, has been written primarily from a white, so-called liberal point of view. African Americans are being gunned down in record numbers by police officers and vigilantes in cities across the country, and we are living in a cultural, political and revolutionary moment of intensified black rage. This being the case, it hardly seems the time or place for rehashed Ivy League drama between two well-respected and accomplished African-American professors.

“In his anger toward me,” Dyson writes, “I was forced, for the first time, to entertain seriously the wild accusations levied against him.”

Dyson also mentions his razor-sharp takedown on Obama’s tepid racial politics and lack of loyalty at the 2010 “We Count! The Black Agenda Is the American Agenda” conference in Chicago, as if that proves his willingness to critique the president for his lack of loyalty and commitment to black America. But in the New Republic piece, he criticizes West for becoming angry that Obama made promises to him that he didn’t keep:
Long before their ideological schism, however, West believed himself personally betrayed by Obama because of his (supposed) disinterest after the election. It is a sad truth that most politicians are serial rhetorical lovers and promiscuous ideological mates, leaving behind scores of briefly valued surrogates and supporters. West should have understood that Obama had had similar trysts with many others. But West felt spurned and was embittered.
 
This condescending reading of West’s issues with Obama is reductive and disingenuous. West is angry because Obama did backbends for the GOP; folded on authentic universal health care, specifically the public option; bailed out Wall Street; and is complicit in the droning of children. His critique of Obama's evocation of Martin Luther King Jr. is valid when his global policy runs counter to what King fought for—in action, if not always in rhetoric.
 
Dyson accuses West of being in the throes of “emotional catharsis” after beginning his piece slyly framing his former mentor as “a woman scorned.” This is typically an old misogynist hat trick to discredit the legitimacy of female viewpoints, and I was surprised to see Dyson pull it out in his essay—particularly because West is clearly not the one in his feelings here.
Perhaps Dyson’s move shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The river of bad blood between the two men has ebbed and flowed along the banks of President Barack Obama’s two terms in the White House, occasionally crashing ashore on cable networks for the world to witness. Through it all, I’ve still closely followed both of their careers with admiration and respect. The staccato boom bap of Dyson’s words, at times punctuated with a controlled gush of alliteration as if he’s masterfully riding a beat; and the powerful Baptist-preacher thunder of West’s voice, eyes ablaze with righteous fury, his Afro a subversion of the Ivy Leagues he favored throughout most of his career.
 
Meeting West remains unchecked on my bucket list, but I had the honor of meeting Dyson when we both participated in a diversity and inclusion event at Alcorn State University a couple of years ago. He is as brilliant and fearless in person as one would expect, laying waste to the deep-Southern-fried religiosity preferred by “sexual rednecks”—those black people whose contemptuous intolerance for gender queerness mirrors the bigotry of racist, Southern whites—with a signature fluidity that seems to come as naturally to him as breathing.
 
Though Dyson’s work has always impressed me and continues to do so, it is West, with his unwavering stances against poverty, police brutality, political tokenism, imperialism and global terrorism perpetuated by the United States, who represents the beating heart of global black liberation. As a rarely seen video of West being schooled by Sista Souljah will attest, he has not always been this way, but since his consciousness has been awakened, he’s remained consistent.
I’m not a scholar—I’m just a writer for myself and others—but I know this to be true: While Dyson was probably working on the second or third draft of his West essay last week, the man himself was marching and speaking against police brutality in New York City’s Union Square.
 
West told the excited crowd, “Don’t be confused by some black faces in high places. For seven years there’s been our black and brown brothers and sisters shot down by the police. Black president, black attorney general, black Cabinet secretary of homeland [security] and not one policeman sent to jail ... something just ain’t right.”
 
As the old folks used to say, “Stop him when he’s lying.”
 
I won’t delve too deeply into Dyson’s essay here because it’s really something to be read and digested on one’s own. However, several things stood out to me as hypocritical within a piece that felt intensely personal and vindictive.
 
Writing that West should accept his role as a “public intellectual, social gadfly or merely a paid pest,” Dyson also calls him a vain, unimaginative, bitter, self-anointed prophet. Interestingly enough, Dyson said that he would never call himself a prophet, but the lie detector test determined that was a lie.
In 2010, sitting across from West, he used the term “prophet” to encompass the thinkers gathered at the table discussing what President Obama owed to black America: “Black agendas are about America. When America is made best, black people stand up and articulate our visions, our dreams, our aspirations, our sentiments. We love Mr. Obama; we recognize him as president. We must have prophets who tell the truth and that’s what we’re doing here today.”  
Interesting.
 
It becomes clear that his change of heart happened around the same time that West expanded his anger at Obama to include those he felt sold out for a seat at the political table.

Let’s be clear: What Dyson did in the New Republic was not scholarship; it was a hit piece wrapped in scholarly words. He sliced West up, took out his insides and returned them in such a haphazard way that those familiar with West’s quest for justice, peace and love by fire would no longer recognize the man he presented to us. It took close to 10,000 words for Dyson to call West a delusional, self-aggrandizing, washed-up has-been who has overstayed his welcome in academia. Well, if academia doesn’t want him, the people living, working and dying outside of it sure do. I’d much rather West put aside his “esoteric” erudition and “make it plain.” 

I’d rather he make it plain about President Obama being a “Rockefeller Republican” in blackface. I’d rather he make it plain about the United States being complicit in the droning and murder of innocent people in Palestine and Yemen. I’d rather he make it plain about the issues facing our “dear brothers and sisters,” instead of propping up a gender-exclusive initiative like My Brother’s Keeper to prove that President Obama cares about black people. There is more than one way to be a “public intellectual” that does not revolve around the academy, and it is elitist to suggest otherwise. In doing so, Dyson displays the very same arrogance he attributes to West by exhibiting a “callous disregard for plural visions of truth.”

There is no doubt that West has left himself open for retaliation from his former friends. Dyson has been publicly derided by West as being easily seduced by access to power, and he has every right to defend himself. Still, he shouldn’t disguise a festering vendetta as an aboveboard scholarly pursuit." [Article]

Personally, I love it. There is nothing wrong with two men of some intellectual stature battling each other for all the world to see, and staking out their ideological positions for us to dissect and  consider.  

*Pic from hbcudigest.com

 

 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

St Louis blues.

I am starting to really dislike St. Louis and its surrounding areas.

There just isn't any good news coming out of that area recently.

I just read about the poor woman who took over as mayor in the town of Parma and a bunch of city employees quitting because she is...wait for it, black.

And now that the city of Parma has elected its first black mayor, the town of about 700 residents is suffering another kind of abandonment: Six of its 11 employees — including the police chief, city clerk and water department supervisor — have resigned.

“I don’t understand,” said Tyus Byrd, who was sworn in as mayor a week ago. “I never said anything about cleaning house.”

People here cite a variety of reasons for the departures. Hurt feelings. Worries about being fired. Loyalty to the former mayor, who had been in power for much of the past half-century.
“I don’t want Al Sharpton showing up here. I’ll tell you that,” said Martha Miller, the owner of Miller’s Store who campaigned for Byrd.

Miller said Byrd’s victory and the subsequent resignations had nothing to do with her race, but others disagreed.

“I think it’s about being a woman and being black,” said Nelvia Donaldson, who is also African-American, and was elected alderman in April. “He (former Mayor Randall Ramsey) thought he had it in the bag.” [Source]

Throw in the disrespectful and tasteless act of vandalizing the tree that served as a Michael Brown memorial and you really have to wonder. 

Even if you believe in your heart that he was responsible for his own untimely and tragic death, it doesn't give you the right to disrespect his family and loved ones in such a manner.

Image result for charlesetta taylor imagesAnd then there is the story  of poor Ms. Taylor.

"A 79-year-old woman is spearheading a campaign to save her home and over 45 others in her St. Louis neighborhood from possibly being taken by the city through eminent domain.

Charlesetta Taylor has lived in her red-brick, three-storied home for over 70 years, ever since her father bought it in 1945, she told ABC News today.

But the St. Louis Economic Development Corp. offered Taylor’s home and neighborhood to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in January as a possible site for a new campus, a city development spokeswoman and an NGA public relations officer told ABC News today.

Though the NGA said it was considering three other sites that wouldn’t involve having to bulldoze occupied homes and relocate families, the city said it offered the North Side St. Louis neighborhood hoping to get the NGA to stay in the city and keep the 3,000 jobs it provides there. The U.S. military and intelligence communities use analyses from the NGA that are based on maps and satellite imagery.

“Eminent domain is, indeed, a possibility, but it’s a last resort,” the St. Louis development spokeswoman said. “If people do need to be relocated, we will have real estate people that will meet with the residents and negotiate a solution.”

But Taylor doesn’t want negotiation, and over 90,000 people have supported and signed her Change.org petition. She said she wants to save her neighborhood and maintain her home nicknamed “The Big House,” which has housed generations of her family, including her eight siblings.

“We were the first African-American family I know on this block and several other blocks around us,” Taylor said. “It was 1945, and there was a restrictive covenant restricting where African-Americans could live. But, nonetheless, my father was successful in buying this house for our large family.”

Taylor added she went to an African-American grade school and high school since the area was segregated at the time and that she’s attempting to get her home on the city’s historic registry.

“The Big House” has five bedrooms, two full bathrooms, two “lovely” fireplaces, a dining room with a “gorgeous hand-laid hardwood floor,” two staircases and plenty of unforgettable memories, she said.

“We celebrated everything in here, and there was always something going on,” Taylor said. “During Christmas, dozens of kids would be here: all my siblings, cousins and, later on, their children and children’s children.”

Taylor added that the house hosted many of their large family’s reunions, including its 50th one last year, which they called “The Fish Fry,” in honor of an old tradition Taylor’s mother used to maintain, eating fish on Fridays.

Though Taylor is the only one living in the big house now, she said it’s still a sort of “hotel,” where relatives look forward to staying when they’re in town. “Not only do I want to maintain it, but many, many of us do,” Taylor said. “Even today’s generation loves it here. We give them a tour of the house and tell them old stories such as how my sister was a seamstress and even kept a shop up in here at one point.”

Taylor added that many of her neighbors are also elderly and that their houses have a lot of history that they would like to preserve as well.

The NGA said it is aware of Taylor’s petition, and it “does do not expect to make a final site selection until March 2016.”

Taylor said she hopes the NGA will drop her neighborhood from site consideration, adding, “Our homes are not for sale.” [Source]

First, if anyone can tell me what exactly is the function of  the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, please feel free to leave the first comment after this post. I think my wife knows but she won't tell me.

Anyway, I hope the Rams move to Los Angeles.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mean girl, Britt.

ESPNBeen following this Britt McHenry story a little bit. If only because I am always fascinated at the way our culture glorifies certain types of people, and then turns on them with equal venom when warranted.

Britt is your classic entitled prima donna with what I like to call a Scarlett O' Hara complex. The way she went off on that poor woman was painful to watch. Most people believe that she crossed the line, and that her suspension was appropriate. And, not surprisingly, quite a few people believe that she should have been fired.

Personally, I am still not sure where I come down on this one.

I know how wingnut Joe Concha feels about it:

"Rushing to judgment much of what online media and cable news opinion is built on these days. Exhibit A for this week is ESPN’s Britt McHenry.

Before we continue, know this: Britt McHenry absolutely deserves the suspension she’s currently serving. That’s plenty of levels of one person being mean to another, but McHenry struck the third rail of insults four times in her rant against a female employee of a tow company by hitting four special chords:
Weight
- Teeth
- Class
- Education

McHenry is a reporter on a national network and must know (and she certainly does now) that she needs to conduct herself appropriately and accordingly both on the air and off…it’s all part of the (morality) contract. And once she saw a camera was in play, she should have taken a walk around the block a few times to cool off instead of turning up the vitriol higher.

But something had been odd about the McHenry video from the very beginning. In it, she’s appears to be going on an uncontrollable tirade against the female employee (only known as “Gina”, single mother of three) without responding in any way. Almost nobody in cable news or online or in the friendly world of social media bothered to question how anyone could be berated in such fashion without responding in kind. Another aspect that wasn’t even broached was the video clearly being edited via flash edits, which is often used in broadcast circles to marry different sound bites from one person without awkward jump cuts throughout (the flashes separate the bites while not breaking up the overall narrative).

The video was heavily edited by the tow company, which (given McHenry’s responses) either means the insults were likely a two-way street…or it sets the situation back to “We Just Don’t Know What Happened” status. Can we please see the whole video with edits?

No matter…the social media mob has spoken and #firebritt predictably began trending on Twitter. Lindsay Lohan’s career was single-handedly resurrected by all the comparisons to Mean Girls alone (Side Note: Rachel McAdams really carried the movie). Deadspin even dug into the 28-year-old’s sordid past of not being nice to people courtesy of this hilarious headline: ESPN Reporter Britt McHenry Has A History Of Being Rude As Hell. The irony, of course, is that Deadspin’s entire business model throughout its history has been to be rude to other people. Several ESPN employees–speaking off the record–say they want McHenry fired (because The Worldwide Leader is always full of fine actors).

But let’s say the video wasn’t edited. Based on her comments alone, should Britt McHenry be fired? The perspective here is absolutely not, and here’s why:

-She wasn’t on the air

-She wasn’t doing anything illegal

-Yes, her comments were mean…but they weren’t racial or ethnic slurs
Add it all up:

Suspension? Yes.

Termination? For losing it with a towing company? If that was the standard nationwide when including Parking Enforcement Officers, unemployment would be at 50 percent.

Britt McHenry will be on exceptional behavior moving forward. A week’s suspension and all the negative press and online sentiment will ensure that.

But almost the entire media should consider taking a mandatory vacation as well for (once again) not even bothering to check to see if there was another side of the story before rushing to judgment." [Source]

So he blames the press. No surprise there. Conservatives pundits are always quick to blame the press. As if they are not a part of that contemptible fraternity.  

Sadly, I have to do my own little soul searching, because I should not have been so on the fence with this one. Had that woman been black and McHenry called her a nappy headed loser, I would have been crying the loudest from the Internet for ESPN to fire her little entitled ass.  But she did not, so my racism chase did not take me to New York.

Shame on me. Because, unlike Mr. Concha, I am not devoid of feelings for my fellow human beings when they are preyed upon by those among us who society deems to be better.

Making jokes about that woman's weight, her social status, and her education was not cool.

I am still not sure if it should have gotten McHenry fired, but I do know that it should have gotten me a lot more fired up.





   

 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The "hypocritical pretense" of the American man.

Image result for wealthy americans imageChris Christie (he of the one percent) says that he is "not wealthy".

Go figure.

Although now that the rest of us are starting to catch on, politicians from the left and the right are trying their best to shed that rich guy label.

But is it necessary? 

Americans still look up to the wealthy because we believe that with just a little hard work we too will be in their position one day.

Articles like the one below, however, says otherwise.

"The American way of life—more simply, the American way—is charged with affirming our American ideals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In that trio of nouns—life, liberty, happiness—the last, happiness, activated by the verb pursuit, makes itself curiously conspicuous, like a zany uncle at a bris.
 
Who in his right mind on this fraught planet would claim that the Creator endowed us with the unalienable right to be happy? You can imagine the assertion coming on the floor of the House, made by the congressmouse of the 9th District of Florida, representing the Disney-engineered town of Celebration.
 
We must remind ourselves that the official testament to American independence doesn’t declare that our happiness is an inalienable right, merely the pursuit of it. And we all know that pursuit—while often engaging—runs counter to happiness.

If we’re in pursuit, we are unsatisfied. If we pursue happiness, we want or need it. If we possessed happiness, we wouldn’t chase it. This is the nature of desire: We don’t want what we have. Even when we do achieve happiness, sadly, we want more, and off we go again.

By this reckoning, dissatisfaction defines the American way. Life we cherish. Give us liberty or give us death. Happiness we’re ever after, and not happily.

In a letter dated Dec. 24, on the eve of the American Revolution, 1774, Lord Dunmore, a Scotsman and the Royal Governor of Virginia, wrote that his subjects, these American colonists, “for ever imagine the Lands further off are still better than those upon which they are already settled.” This nation of ours was colonized by Europeans who felt ill-at-ease in their homelands, castoffs and trailblazers who went a long way—sea to shining sea—toward slaughtering a nomadic native population while importing indentured servants and slaves unwillingly sold off of ancestral lands. It is no wonder that we, the collective offspring of this migrant mishmash, feel compelled to chase the dog’s tail of happiness.
* * *
The state of happiness operates according to what physicists call the observer effect. Measuring happiness alters it. Happiness is like tire pressure. In order to gauge it, we’re forced to let out air. Once we’re aware we’ve attained a measure of happiness, our happiness is changed by that awareness.
 
Even unchanged, happiness never lasts. If it did, it wouldn’t be happiness. Think how Laurie Colwin, upbeat author of the earnestly titled “Happy All the Time,” died at age 48 of a heart attack. Or hear John Lennon’s tragically prescient baritone, the acerbic voice of the happy-go-lucky Beatles, crooning, “Happiness is a warm gun. Bang bang, shoot shoot.” Lennon, who wrote the song after seeing the phrase in an article published by the American Rifleman, intended the lyrics to be understood ironically. Mark David Chapman—who shot Lennon four times in the back outside the Dakota overlooking Central Park West, and then sat over a dying Lennon reading “The Catcher in the Rye” until taken into police custody—took Lennon’s words literally. Chapman’s mother, Diane, in an interview with People magazine, said: “My first thought when this happened was, ‘My God, I’ll never be happy again.’”
* * *
The essence of the American way—our endless road that gets us more perfectly there—is the American dream. We arrive at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by the once-revolutionary notion that upward mobility is achievable for every honest individual dedicated to hard work. Plain if not simple, that’s the dream.

The American dream, it should be noted, is dependent on the notion of American exceptionalism: the American way is possible in the U.S.—as it is nowhere else—because of the singular nature of this nation.

America is exceptional, but not for the reasons we’ve come to imagine. We now know that the United States is not only among the most unequal societies in the rich world but also among the least mobile. This is not some pinko prattle reprised time and again in the liberal media. These days, you can read regular reports (dangling modifiers and all) in the Wall Street Journal or Business Insider, where it was recently proclaimed:
Because their rising status comes at a time when upward mobility in the U.S. ranks lowest among wealthy industrialized counties, the spending attitudes of the new rich have implications for politics and policy. It’s now become even harder for people at the bottom to move up.
* * *
See Pa Joad in “The Grapes of Wrath” finding the handbill promoting plentiful work out West. Hear Ma saying to her son Tom, “They need folks to work. They wouldn’t go to that trouble if they wasn’t plenty work. Costs em good money to get them han’bills out. What’d they want to lie for, an’ costin’ em money to lie?”

John Steinbeck understood, and tried to tell us some 75 years ago, that the American dream is not a product of American democracy. The American dream is borne out of our all-too-human hypocrisy. A false advertisement, the American dream is a motivational tool employed to increase worker productivity. The dividends reaped by the increased output go to further fill the coffers of the aptly called job creators.

This is not to say that Americans can’t, like the sitcom Jeffersons, move on up to the top. They do, but the chances are minuscule. Upwardly mobile Americans are not the rule; they’re the exception to the rule. The rule is that most Americans will never move up, no matter how hard we work, no matter how we’re told otherwise.

Income mobility, the goal of the American dream, is greater in Canada, and if there was ever something rotten in the state of Denmark, the ruling parties there have freshened those fortunes. These days, something’s rotten in the United States......

* * *
......Eighty percent of Americans possess 7 percent of our nation’s wealth. Anyone still championing the reality of the American dream is either delusional, dishonest or criminally uninformed. Dream or no dream, the American way of life isn’t simply dying a slow death. It’s being strangled. The killers are people like Professor Mankiw, who is not uniformed. The killers are millionaires and billionaires who abide by the mantra: no new taxes. The killers are political organizations like Americans for Prosperity, a special interest group that hosts the annual Defending the American Dream Summit.
The American dream is a lie, and those who attend DADS, and politicians backed by Americans for Prosperity, are actively working to foment it. These pols and lobbyists intimate that the rich are—to put it plainly—in possession of a greater value system. A better work ethic. A life-affirming set of beliefs. A more productive appreciation of the family. Americans who don’t abide by these values are discovering—lo and behold—that they suffer accordingly.

This argument—declining American values—isn’t conservative. It’s not an attempt to hold fast to the good old days of tradition and morality. The declining-values argument is supremacist. It’s that simple. Those who espouse it skew toward older, richer, whiter and, make no mistake, in this argument, at heart, is one clear declaration: Our values did, do and should reign supreme.
* * *
The genius of “pursuit of happiness” is that each person defines it intimately. We argue about life, when it starts—at conception or after—and ends—with brain death or the cessation of the heart—but the basic parameters we can agree on. Liberty, at its core—the power or scope to act as one pleases—is somehow both more abstract and more essential. But happiness?

Originalists, those linguistic fundamentalists, argue that happiness, as it was originally intended by the founding fathers, has changed markedly since the days when an ink-stained Thomas Jefferson scratched out his “original Rough draught.” The etymology of “happy,” as defined by that most Loyalist of sources, the Oxford English Dictionary, comes from the root “hap”: “Chance or fortune (good or bad) that falls to anyone; luck, lot.” It wasn’t until a century after the first published appearance of “hap” that “happy,” in written form, came to side with good “hap.” The word “happen” shares the same origin, hap: “to come to pass (originally by ‘hap’ or chance).”
 
“Happenstance,” as we use it today, is nearest to the original “hap.” An originalist would argue that a more accurate translation of the clause in question should read: “life, liberty and the pursuit of good fortune.”
* * *
Every word is only ever an approximation. Language is a liquid, flowing as long as it is spoken or written or thought, even. This is one reason why originalism, and its application to contemporary Constitutional law, is not simply absurd. It’s stupid.
 
The hubris of originalism—and I mean “hubris” in its original sense: “a crime that casts shame on both criminal and victim”—is that it runs against the very nature of language. Language is a measure of change. To put forth a principle of interpretation that tries to discover the original meaning of a written document is one thing, but to then use that principle in an interpretation of present-day law is so moronic as to constitute intellectual dishonesty. That, or flagrant hypocrisy.
 
Originalism is a pedant’s con game. It’s the sort of justification that can only be made by those so supremely mired in rhetoric that they’ve lost all sense of the everyday world and how it works for folks unfortunate enough to make their livings by means other than moving words around.
Trying to freeze a word in its original intent is like isolating a droplet in a river. It can be accomplished. Doing so will give you a better sense of water and its properties. If examined closely enough, the droplet may yield its origins. But the droplet will never help you navigate the river. The droplet can’t tell you where the river meets the sea......


....Seven recent studies reveal how the wealthy and the powerful morph into hypocrites, here defined as “people who pretend to have admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings but behave otherwise.” Before we attain success, we often do possess admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings. Once successful, our self-possession is warped into pretension by success. Anecdotally, we see this time and again. A politician starts out, like New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, fighting graft and corruption, and winds up indicted for graft and corruption. Today, we have the damning data to support the anecdotal evidence. An academic roundup of the recent findings reveals:
In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals.
Senators, CEOs, the dynastic Kochs and Waltons, the multimillionaires who dominate talk radio, these Americans should not be instructing us on the importance of American values.
The values of the wealthy and the powerful are the least trustworthy. This doesn’t mean we need smaller government and lower taxes, the platform championed by a Republican Party—and its Teetotaler fundamentalist wing—bankrolled by Americans for Prosperity. The Koch brothers are acting in their interests. They know full well that the conservative agenda further privileges the already privileged. Any Republican who disagrees is targeted for disposal.

What we need—desperately—is increased government regulation in the private sector and the overturning of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United verdict. Reduced regulation only increases our freedom to lie, cheat and steal as we gain wealth and influence. Lower taxes on the highest earners keep wealth hoarded in the hands of Americans most inclined to undermine American values. Increased election spending makes it more likely that those who control the most capital will institute the worst devils of our nature.

Ironically, tragically and, yes, hypocritically, Americans with the most money and influence—and in possession of our worst values—lobby hardest for the importance of American values. Poor church attendance, welfare dependence and gay marriage are not leading to decreased American values. Our declining values are the direct result of the rich and powerful succumbing to human nature. It’s not solely their fault—the fault is hard-wired in all of us—and they are in sore need of our help to overcome their inherent vice.
* * *
Because we cannot trust the rich and the powerful to act in our best interests or in the best interests of America, they must be hamstrung. They will not help reinvigorate a healthy middle class, crucial to reestablishing the American way. Not only does the middle class make for a broad distribution of resources, the middle class, more so than rich or poor, more so than our leadership or our left-behinds, provides the moral compass for the America that can and should be. But if 80 percent of Americans control 7 percent of American wealth, the middle class is, statistically speaking, nearly nonexistent. How do we breathe new life into the subgroup of the American population predisposed to do the greatest good for America?
* * *
Along the way, we Americans have gotten lost. We’ve allowed ourselves to become convinced that the redistribution of wealth is an anti-American evil, and that free markets innately aid the common good. A growing number of us have come to the painful conclusion that free markets consolidate wealth at the top, and that those at the top can’t be trusted for long. In 1890, with the passing of the Sherman Antitrust Act and its subsequent amendments in 1914 and 1936, we institutionalized monopoly busting. We’re long overdue for a new set of antitrust acts. It’s high time Congress legislated billionaire busting.

Government mandated income redistribution must not shift wealth from one extreme to the other, rich to poor, but toward the middle. There’s only one surefire way: tax the fancy pants off the ever-tightening asses of the rich. How about that? The rich and their leadership won’t willingly give up their means—they’re constitutionally incapable: charitable giving declines as wealth increases—and because they won’t, we have to take it from them. Congress must levy heavy taxes on billionaires, or we must oust the current Congress.
* * *
Image result for wealthy americans imageA fiction, Jay Gatsby is an effigy for the American way of life. A poor boy born to a poor father, he was forced to make good the only way he could, outside the bounds  of decency, law and order. He bootlegged during Prohibition to build his fortune. That, in the face of the evidence, is how real working-class Americans can hope to break the shackles of class. Thanks to the current policies put in place by the sons and fathers of privilege, we must lie and cheat to get ahead. Once ahead, we’re more inclined to lie and cheat, a predisposition that helps us stay there. Welcome to the new American way, which, come to find, was the old American way.

If the prosperous Americans for Prosperity don’t recognize this reality, civil unrest is sure to follow. If American billionaires don’t come to terms, there’s bound to be an American Spring in the offing. The Occupy movement was the first salvo. The demonstrations, rioting, the cop shootings and looting in Ferguson, seemingly unrelated, are part and parcel of a growing American class divide further divisible by race. We’re overdue for a reckoning.
* * *
At the close of “The Great Gatsby”—the great American novel not the tragic American chart—the narrator thinks how Gatsby’s
dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
The futility of Gatsby’s pursuit, as F. Scott Fitzgerald rendered it, and the hypocrisy of influence he came to represent, makes Gatsby’s pursuit, and ultimate downfall, all the more poignant. Gatsby’s is an American futility, the beautiful futility of forming a more perfect union, the glorious striving for the ultimate, unattainable truth.

Sometimes, it seems, that hypocrisy, more so than happiness, is our unalienable right. We reach for happiness (and for good fortune) knowing the likelihood that these things have already passed us by, or were never within reach to begin with. But on we pursue nonetheless. Most of us are incapable of acknowledging our own hypocrisy; we are what Aristotle called “consistently inconsistent.”

Scientists, philosophers, novelists and psychologists have long been aware that a prerequisite of the human condition is self-deception, what Carl Jung dubbed the “hypocritical pretenses of man.” Such pretenses mature with power and privilege. The greater our personal gain, the greater grows the gulf not only between us and our fellow Americans, but between us and ourselves. Increased success decreases self-awareness. Like we do with happiness, we must pursue hypocrisy—our own, that of others—and especially the hypocrisy of our leaders and of our prosperous.

They are, more and more in this country, one and the same.

If there’s any hope for America, it is this: Hypocrisy, like happiness, operates according to the observer effect. By observing it, we change it." [Read entire article]

 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

CAPTION SATURDAY.

 
I need a caption for this pic.
 
 
*Pic from freebeacon.com

Friday, April 17, 2015

This reverend ruffled some feathers.

Image result for mlk imagesThe Field Negro education series continues.

"The 47th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination should inspire us all to reimagine this political revolutionary’s final act as a statesman and civil rights leader.
In the afterglow of the March on Washington and the Selma-to-Montgomery march, King became a pillar of fire, rejecting the course of political moderation and social reform that had made him palatable to white leaders and a hero to African Americans.
 
King’s final years found him linking the struggle for racial justice to a wider crusade to end war and poverty. Tellingly, his comprehensive approach, which focused on changing America’s foreign and domestic policies as well as hearts and minds, found him under attack by critics who claimed that he was in over his head on the subject of Vietnam and foolish to break with former ally President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The radical King formed an anti-war political alliance with black power leader Stokely Carmichael. On April 15, 1967, in New York City, King and Carmichael headlined the largest anti-war rally in American history to that date, placing two of the era’s leading black political activists at the forefront of a still-unpopular anti-war movement.

King had also publicly repudiated the war in Vietnam exactly one year to the day before his death in a speech at Riverside Church in New York City. His speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence,” announced his formal break with both the Johnson Administration (he would never visit the White House again) and political moderation.

Journalists and newspapers immediately attacked King for going beyond his civil rights portfolio into the world of foreign policy and international politics. Many publicly denounced him for having irrevocably damaged the black freedom struggle by linking it to the Vietnam War. King’s public approval ratings dropped precipitously among whites and blacks for his uncompromising stance.
His final speech, in Memphis, Tenn., where he aided 1,000 striking black sanitation workers, concluded with biblical references to having seen the “promised land,” and is noteworthy for its rhetorical and political combativeness.

In words that would not sound out of place at contemporary protests, King asserted that “the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.

King’s political evolution remains unacknowledged by most of the American public, leading to the irony of critics of the #BlackLivesMatter movement asserting that contemporary protesters would do well to follow in the footsteps of King and other heroes of the civil rights era. Missing from such criticism is the reality of the later King, the prophet who, after being recognized in his own lifetime, was thoroughly disregarded by past allies, politicians and the public for speaking truth to power in a manner that made the entire nation uncomfortable.

At the end of his life, King asserted that racism, militarism and materialism represented the greatest threats to humanity that the world had ever seen. History has proved King’s words to be prophetic." [Read more]

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sorry is the easiest word to say.

The Field Negro education series continues.

Shout out to Philly's own David Love for giving us this thought provoking article.

"Is the policing of black men the new sport for white officers and wannabe cops?

This is a question worth asking, in light of this season of police killings, particularly the April 2nd fatal shooting of a black man named Eric Harris, 44, by Reserve Deputy Robert Bates. After officers brought Harris to the ground, an officer yelled “Taser” twice, after which Bates shot Harris with his gun and said, “Oh! I shot him. I’m sorry.” Apparently, Bates meant to shoot the man with his Taser rather than his gun.

As Harris yelled that he was shot, he said, “I’m losing my breath,” to which the officer responded, “f*** your breath.”  Harris died an hour later.

But oh well, what difference does it make, right? Whether it’s a Taser or gun, it’s just another dead black man we’re talking about. Plus, the man said he was sorry.

Robert Bates, 73, who has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in Harris’ death, is a prime example of someone who went out of his way looking for trouble. To put it another way, he volunteered to be in that situation, or rather, he paid a lot of money to volunteer. Now a man is dead from a situation that did not warrant using a Taser, much less a gun.

But who gave Bates this authority?

One has to ask why the 73-year old CEO of an insurance company — with one year of full-time experience as a cop back in the 1960s — would be allowed to be in the thick of it, in a major, high-stakes operation where he had the power of life or death over Eric Harris.

On the surface, it would appear Bates was a “pay-to-play” wannabe cop. It turns out Bates had donated video equipment, weapons and cars to the Sheriff’s Office, not to mention $2,500 to Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s reelection campaign in 2012. And he even served as the sheriff’s campaign chair. As Vox reported, as many as 130 reserve deputies in Tulsa are “wealthy people,” and it is not unusual for them to make donations. And as Salon had reported last year, some police departments openly ask for donations for a badge and gun permit.

Auxiliary police are nothing new. There are around 400,000 volunteer officers across the nation who, in a time of cash-strapped police departmentshelp fill in the gaps. But apparently, there is a wide discrepancy when it comes to what reserve cops can do. For example, in Los Angeles, they are allowed to do community relations and desk duty, while in the NYPD they are unarmed.

This state of affairs would give us the impression that anyone, at least in a department such as the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, can play cop—at least if the price is right. It is also painfully evident that some individuals are all-too-eager to become police officers Just to take it a step further, it is exceedingly difficult to fathom that these folks would be allowed to carry on in white communities and “accidentally” fatally shoot white citizens the way this reserve deputy killed Mr. Harris. It would not be allowed.

It is a little harder to wrap one’s head around this Tulsa incident unless we understand this country’s history concerning the policing of black people. Some would suggest the concept of police volunteers goes back to the Wild West, when common folk were deputized to fight crime and catch the bad guy. Although this is a valid assertion, there is also another troubling legacy of policing in America that is implicated in the shooting of Eric Harris.

As for black people, our first experience with police were the slave patrols. As Brittney Cooper reminds us in Salon, American policing traces its origins to these patrols.

During slavery times, all whites were encouraged and sanctioned to exert control over blacks. White men were deputized as members of the slave patrols — both slave masters and non-slaveholders alike — which were a crucial part of the slavery police state and economic order maintained by wealthy whites to maintain control over blacks. According to Professor Carl T. Bogus of Roger Williams University School of Law, these patrols were militias under the Second Amendment, designed to protect whites against slave rebellion.

“Virtually all able-bodied white men were part of the militia,” Bogus notes of Southern men, “which primarily meant that they had slave control duties under the direction and discipline of local militia officers.” [Read more here]

Shooting: Deputy Thomas Gilliland, said that after the chase, two Houston police officers told the suspect to show his hands, but as they approached his car he reached back into his vehicle. Suspecting that he was reaching for a weapon, both officers opened fire multiple times, killing the man. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle via AP)So yesterday it was Tulsa, and today it's Houston.  Eh.

The police say that they feared the  man in Houston was reaching for a gun. But as of me writing this post they have not said whether a gun was actually "found at the scene."

Of course that incident was not all caught on video tape, soo.......oh look, there is a Glock under his seat.

Stay tuned.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Image result for ebony and ivory racial harmony images"Ebony and ivory
Live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard
Oh Lord, why don't we?
We all know
That people are the same wherever you go
There is good and bad in everyone
When we learn to live, we learn to give each other
What we need to survive
Together alive

Ebony and ivory
Live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard
Oh Lord, why don't we?
(Ebony, ivory)
(Living in perfect harmony)
(Ebony, ivory, ooh)


We all know
That people are the same wherever you go
There is good and bad, mmm, in everyone
We learn to live when we learn to give each other
What we need to survive
Together alive

Ebony and ivory
Live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard
Oh Lord, why don't we?
Side by side on my piano keyboard
Oh Lord, why don't we?"

~Paul McCartney~

*pic from pinterest.com




Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why "teachable moments" fall short.

Image result for racism teachable moments imagesThe Field Negro education series continues.

Tonight we will read what Kali Holloway has to say.


"'People of color] are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions.' —Audre Lorde

America loves teachable moments, those real-life Very Special Episodes of supposed cross-cultural exchange and transracial learning.

The problem with those teachable moments is that the same people always end up doing all the teaching. In matters of race (and sex, disability, gender and sexuality, but let’s stick to race right now), the marginalized are tasked with being educators. That is, people of color (POC), are expected to be patient and polite racial and cultural ambassadors who provide white people new to this whole “thinking critically about race” thing with a “way in.” The role entails charitably and unselfishly engaging questions, assertions and doubts from white people who’ve previously done precious little thinking about racism and privilege, but often have quite a bit to say on the topic.

When POC refuse to take on this dual role of spokesperson and resource library, they’re often accused of having shirked an assumed responsibility. The idea seems to be that we’ve missed an opportunity, that it’s our duty to hold white people’s hands and educate them, that we’re condemning some poor white person to a continued life of ignorance.

It’s a classic tool of derailing, this feigned helplessness and subtly accusatory question of, “If you don’t teach me, how can I learn?” (Implied answer: “I won’t, and it’ll be all your fault!”) The idea is lazy, circuitous and tantamount to accusing POC who don’t want to have the same tiresome, not infrequently pointless, conversation about race of being complicit in racism. The failure to erase racial inequity doesn’t result from POCs’ failure to be patient with uninformed ideas and questions. We live in a world saturated with racism and its runoff. The people who experience it with sustained regularity don’t always feel like talking about it. And that is absolutely fine.

Because here’s the thing: people of color are not obligated to teach even the most well-intentioned white people anything about race. They certainly can if they want to, but it’s neither their duty or obligation. The onus rests on white “allies” to educate themselves.

Here’s why: Conversations around race are often microcosmic representations of structural racism at large. Derailing tactics like the aforementioned essentially serve to divert the conversation back to territory where the derailer feels more comfortable, and perhaps most importantly, help reestablish the traditional power dynamic. Once again, a person of color must focus on and give precedence to a white person’s opinions and queries—and often, their expressions of disbelief—instead of merely being able to speak their experiences. It’s not irresponsible to refuse to let white voices take center stage in a conversation ostensibly about issues of anti-blackness or racism against other POC. It’s an act of resistance that’s actually called “decentering whiteness.”

Just as often, it’s the result of plain old fatigue. It’s tiring to deal with uninformed white people’s ignorance around race. In those situations, what a white person perceives as a “learning experience” is, for a person of color, yet another confrontation with racial microaggressions. It’s equally frustrating, and incredibly dumb, to have it suggested that because another person who looks vaguely like you holds a different opinion or claims a different experience, your own opinion or experience is invalidated. (“But Stacey Dash says there is no racism…”)

It’s both exhausting and total bullshit to be reprimanded for your tone, should you be perceived as impolite or angry, or told precisely how you, as a person of color, should mind your manners when you talk to white people about race. The implication is that issues around racism should only be recognized when presented in a way that neither upsets nor offends your white audience. (It’s called tone policing, and credit where it’s due, it is yet another brilliant diversionary tactic.)
It’s futile to have discussions with white people who pretend to want to talk race, but actually delight in verbally sparring or debating the veracity of POC experiences. The Internet is absolutely lousy with examples, and no one will ever accuse comment threads of being the place to look for incisive racial commentary. It happens in real life situations as well, of course. Most black and other POC are uninterested in having yet another conversation with white people who articulate ideas about race that are simplistic or essentialist, ill-informed or purposely provocative or inflammatory.

Few people of color gain any reward from trying to talk substantively about issues around race with white people who are willfully and wantonly obtuse about racism. There are white people who genuinely don’t get it, and also those who don’t want to get it—would fight tooth and nail just to avoid getting it—and to all those people, I say good luck and godspeed! Because don’t get me wrong: I have great, honest, difficult conversations about race with friends all the time—people of vastly different races and ethnicities who’ve thought critically about race. But I’m not going to beg anyone to believe that racism is real. Not in 2015, and most certainly not when life is finite. And no POC should have to.

That said, there are also white people who want to get it, who are trying to do the work of actively being anti-racist. If you’re a white person who wants to be an ally, who’s dedicated to learning, who wants to be educated, start by looking it up yourself! Never before have we had in our homes, schools and libraries little boxes that provide such unfettered access to the whole of human knowledge. There exists more literature than you can possibly consume on race, all of it readily accessible, just a Google search away.

Do your own research on why that person doesn’t answer when you ask “What are you?” or why that woman doesn’t want you touching her hair, or why all these people seem so angry. But please stop expecting to have it explained to you by a benevolent POC. To just slightly paraphrase transgender activist Parker Marie Molloy:
Think of it this way: I may not have ever had a professional baseball player sit me down and explain the rules and the history of the game, but I’ve still managed to learn the difference between a “ball” and a “strike.” How did I accomplish this? By consulting the glut of information readily available on the subject online and in print. Interrupting people while they are playing the game to ask basic questions is rude, and moreover, would not be viewed as something players should take the time to address. If I want to call myself a baseball fan, the onus is on me to get up to speed. The resources exist, and if I persist in not understanding baseball, it’s willful ignorance on my part. So how is the learning about or becoming an ally of [people of color] any different?
Yes, of course, learning is good and working to be more consciously and unconsciously anti-racist is great. There should be a lot more of it! But no POC has to serve as any white person’s gateway. Part of the work of being an anti-racist white person is caring enough not to be part of the problem. Start by educating yourself." [Source]

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Fear and loathing" in Europe.

Image result for white pride world wide europe imagesIt seems that the "fear of a black planet' has spread to Europe.

The Field Negro education series continues.

"Here in the U.S., it's hard to imagine that Europe could go back to its old muscular and expansive ways. But the Continent is turning in that direction — and it's a move that carries huge and unsettling implications.

In all likelihood, what happens to Europe in this regard will freak us Americans out. It will make us painfully, perhaps angrily, aware of our differences. It will throw our similarities into doubt. But if it happens, we'll be stuck with it. We'll have to figure out how to deal.

Because here's the thing: Europe is on track to rediscover what looks to us like a highly unsettling form of white pride.

The demographic tale is straightforward. As of 2010, Pew has noted, 13 million Muslim immigrants resided in the European Union. That year, their median age was 32, eight years younger than the median for all Europeans. According to Pew, "the Muslim share of the population throughout Europe grew about 1 percentage point a decade, from 4 percent in 1990 to 6 percent in 2010. This pattern is expected to continue through 2030, when Muslims are projected to make up 8 percent of Europe's population."

Native Europeans fear these changes are far more dramatic than the numbers say. As The Economist reported, "European publics wildly overestimate the proportion of their populations that is Muslim: an Ipsos-Mori poll in 2014 found that on average French respondents thought 31 percent of their compatriots were Muslim, against an actual figure closer to 8 percent." The pattern is repeated in Italy, Belgium, Britain, and across the EU.

One path to Europe's troubling destination is already being carved out by Europe's far-right parties, many of which are implicitly or explicitly ethnocentric. At a gathering last year, France24 observed, Dutch party chief Geert Wilders captured the mood. "'Just like you, we don't want foreigners to tell us they are masters in our country. We say: Kick the criminals, the jihadists, the illegal migrants out,' he told the entirely Caucasian audience to rapturous applause."
                
In some countries, racism has become even more overt. Hungary's far right, for instance, has pushed to create a national registry of Jews. Rather than self-marginalizing, however, some groups are broadening their appeal. In France, the National Front has rapidly transformed from a backwater for old reactionaries into a category-scrambling destination for citizens who want what the EU can't and won't provide.

The shift has not been neat and tidy. Any European political organization that intentionally evokes fascism is certain to set off the racism alarm, among fellow Europeans most of all. The transition is also far from complete. But it reflects a sweeping shift in Europe away from the bland, safe ideology of post-Cold War officialdom, and toward something much more assertive and proud.

Inevitably, in Europe, assertive pride carries ethnic and national overtones. What's remarkable is that even Europe's instinctively meddlesome technocrats have begun to rediscover the political significance of demographics. After decades of favoring smaller families and privileging individual autonomy, they've caught on that, if current trends hold, there will soon be nobody to meddle with.
As The New York Times reports, they're switching — with a true sense of urgency — from pushing safe sex to pushing reproductive sex:
The Italian health minister described Italy as a "dying country" in February. Germany has spent heavily on family subsidies but has little to show for it. Greece's depression has further stalled its birthrate. And in Denmark, the birthrate has been below the so-called replacement rate needed to keep a population from declining — just over two children per woman — since the early 1970s. 
"For many, many years, we only talked about safe sex, how to prevent getting pregnant," said Marianne Lomholt, the national director of [Danish nonprofit group] Sex and Society. "Suddenly we just thought, maybe we should actually also tell them about how to get pregnant." [The New York Times]
These epiphanies mark the beginnings of a European exodus across a huge psychological and cultural bridge. From an American standpoint, it's a spectacle of European governments and nongovernmental organizations working together to encourage white Europeans to be fruitful and multiply. After all, they're the ones who need the motivation. In countries like Britain, immigrant birth rates have been the only demographic bright spot. The disparity in birth rates is so clear that in other European nations, like Italy, when immigration dips, the birth rate sags apace.

Seeing politicians open the door to the return of history's most frightening prejudices makes Americans not just queasy but angry.

We have a hard enough time tolerating the persistence of Confederate memory here at home. What could be more offensive and unnerving than seeing the Old World half of Western democracies slip back into the ancient pattern of demographic expansionism?

True, Europe could boost its national populations just enough to keep their willfully bland and impressively meaningless social democracy trundling along without breaking the bank of its welfare superstate. But the more likely possibility, given what we know about European civilization and its long tradition of "extremism," plays right into our worst fears. Europe will very probably rediscover Eurocentrism — not just as an abstract idea, but as an imperative for survival.

Some analysts will observe that, in a way, this is actually good news. Fact is, the U.S. really is in trouble if Europe withers away as a cultural and political force. We just can't compensate all on our own, and the American people would never accept such a deeply uncharacteristic mission even if we could.

But regardless of that important silver lining, it's going to get scary for us to watch the world's longest-running white societies get more prideful, assertive, and, from our standpoint, statist.

Those are our alarms, and here in the New World, they're good ones. They've served us well, morally and politically. They'll continue to do so. But in Europe, the alarms are now of a much different nature. And they're on track to push the West's democracies a lot further apart — unless we can find a way to get radically pluralistic about Western civilization." [Source]

And here I thought that America was already a "radically pluralistic" society.

Oh wait, my bad, that's what some folks in America who see the country going to the Third World dogs like to tell themselves.

So the "alarms" of fascism have been sounded, but most of us don't hear them. We are listening to different sounds going off in our heads.

Those alarms, sadly, are going off for a totally different reason.