Thursday, April 30, 2015

A message to her white friends.

The Field Negro education series continues.

Tonight we read the words of a bi-racial sister (no, not Lisa Bonet) who has a message for her white friends.

"Dear White America,
It is somewhat strange to address this to you, given that I strongly identify with many aspects of your culture and am half-white myself. Yet, today is another day you have forced me to decide what race I am — and, as always when you force me — I fall decidedly into “Person of Color.”

Every comment or post I have read today voicing some version of disdain for the people of Baltimore — “I can’t understand” or “They’re destroying their own community” or “Destruction of Property!” or “Thugs” — tells me that many of you are not listening. I am not asking you to condone or agree with violence. I just need you to listen. You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to, but instead of forming an opinion or drawing a conclusion, please let me tell you what I hear:

I hear hopelessness
I hear oppression
I hear pain
I hear internalized oppression
I hear despair
I hear anger
I hear poverty

If you are not listening, not exposing yourself to unfamiliar perspectives, not watching videos, not engaging in conversation, then you are perpetuating white privilege and white supremacy. It is exactly your ability to not hear, to ignore the situation, that is a mark of your privilege. People of color cannot turn away. Race affects our lives every day. We must consider it all the time, not just when it is convenient.

As a person of color, even if you are privileged your whole life, as I have been, you cannot escape from the shade of your skin. Being a woman defines me; coming from a relatively affluent background defines me; my sexual orientation, my education, my family and my job define me. Other than being a woman, every single one of those distinctions gives me privilege in our society. Yet, even with all that privilege, people still treat me differently.

For most of my childhood, I refused to allow race to be my most defining feature. I actually chose for most of my childhood to refuse race as my most defining feature. But I found that a very hard position to maintain, given the way the world interacts with me and the people I love. Because I have to worry about my brother and my cousins getting stopped by the police. Because people react to my wonderful, kind, intelligent father differently, depending on whether he’s wearing a suit or sweat pants. Race has defined the way I see the world like no other characteristic has.

This can be hard to understand, if you never experienced it firsthand. So again, for just one more moment, reserve your judgments and listen. This is what you might come to realize, if you spent your days in my skin.

In childhood: People regularly ask “What are you” instead of “Who are you?” This will not end, either. In high school, one kid even asks if you are “Mulatto,” which, according to some scholars, originally meant “little mule.”

A few years later: Go on a road trip with your mom. Refuse to get out of the car at a gas station in the boondocks, because you are sure the person with the Confederate flag bumper sticker is going to realize your white mother married a black man and hurt her (and you too, being the byproduct of said union). He’s carrying a rifle on a gun rack. Now even more terrifying.

As a teenager: Be the only person of color in the majority of your Advanced Placement classes, even though there are a decent number of brown and black people at your school. For years following 9/11, get “randomly” selected for the additional screening at the airport.

In college: People assume you got into Princeton because of affirmative action. They refuse to believe it could be because you are smart.

In adulthood: Your younger brother has been stopped in his own neighborhood — the neighborhood he has lived in all his life – and asked what he could possibly be doing there.

At your workplace: For two years in a row the NYPD shows up randomly at the school you work at, which has a 100 percent minority student body. The first time the police don’t even tell the school beforehand. The cops just show up early in the morning, set up a metal detector and X-ray scanner, and fill the cafeteria with dozens of policemen. As your young students file in in the morning, the NYPD scans them like they’re going through airport security right after 9/11. They confiscate cellphones, and pat some of students down, particularly the older-looking boys. As you watch this, you feel anger welling up in your chest and almost start to cry. You think, “Why are you treating my kids like criminals?!” Children are in tears. The screenings are not due to any specific threat, but rather as part of a “random screening program” — but one that never seems to make its way to the Upper East Side. White America’s children are told they can go to college, be anything. These students are treated like suspects. And that is exactly what society will tell your children one day, unless something changes.

Today, tomorrow, every day: White people around you refuse to talk about what is happening in this country. The silence is painful to experience.

These are my experiences. They have deeply affected who I am. And I am SO PRIVILEGED. Mine has been a decidedly easy life for a person of color in America. I try to conceptualize what it is like for my students who got wanded by the NYPD, my students who have been stopped and frisked, my students whose parents work multiple jobs, my students on free and reduced-price lunch, my students whom white adults move away from because they look “scary.”

I try, when I can, to listen to them, because only by validating their feelings can we begin to find a way to overcome the challenges they face. That doesn’t mean I let them off easy when they do something wrong. But I try to understand the why.

I don’t need you to validate anyone’s actions, but I need you to validate what black America is feeling. If you cannot understand how experiences like mine or my students’ would lead to hopelessness, pain, anger, and internalized oppression, you are still not listening. So listen. Listen with your heart.

If you got this far, thank you. By reading this, you have shown you are trying. Continue the conversation, ask questions, learn as much as you can, and choose to engage. Only by listening and engaging can we move forward.

Black is Beautiful and Black Lives Matter,

Julia." [Source]

Hey, I know that Kat Williams say that we should all get some white friends, and I am cool with that. But if they are going to be our friends we have an obligation to be honest with them.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The revolution is brought to you by cable news.

Image result for baltimore riots imagesSomething about the wall to wall coverage of this uprising in Baltimore seems a little unseemly to me.

As if a community suffering is something to pontificate about 24/7 from a cozy  temperature controlled news studio.  

Gil Scott Heron, may his soul rest in peace, was wrong. The revolution will be televised.

CNN has sent their Negro du jour, Don Lemon, to the streets, to interview troll protesters in order to give that network a much needed ratings boost.

MSNBC is calling back every black host and guest that ever appeared on their network in order to help white America understand the "riots" from the Negro perspective.

Meanwhile, over at FOX VIEWS, it's just more of the same: Scare old white people
into thinking that the black bogeyman is right around the next corner.

And on and on it goes. Each network hoping to capture that moment that sparks conversation at water coolers in cozy temperature controlled offices all across the country.

"Wow! Did you see that mother smack the hell out of that kid of hers and drag him away from the rest of those thugs?" Good for her. Give that woman a medal." 

Under different circumstances that same black woman would  have child welfare services called on her by some white woman in the grocery store. Now she is a hero.

Yes, get over here right away! I saw it with my own eyes! The woman just hit her son in the back of the head repeatedly. Yes, I will wait. 

I tried to say something but she told me to mind my own f*****g business. Please hurry. I fear for the child's safety.....   

Let me stop.

"You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
And skip out for beer during commercials
Because the revolution will not be televised"

Yes it will, Gil.

But enjoy the riot while it is in limited release.

*Pic from

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What would MLK do?

Image result for baltimore riots imagesI was totally exasperated after reading what Glenn Beck and other right wingnuts had to say about the uprising in Baltimore.

"Glenn Beck invoked one of the biggest civil rights leaders of the past half-century to express his disgust with the violence and rioting in Baltimore yesterday. On his TV show today, Beck said, “Shame on Baltimore, shame on America.”

He lamented how yet another American city’s streets “resemble a battlefield” and told viewers, “I hate to say this, but last night, as I was writing before I went to bed, I wrote in my journal ‘Martin Luther King is truly dead.’”

And Beck’s worried that “our country will suffer the same fate” due to a lack of leadership. He used his chalkboard to explain how the local gangs, the Nation of Islam, and the SEIU are filling the leadership void. Beck ripped the mayor of Baltimore and asked what she thinks about those groups “be[ing] your leadership.” [Source]

Just reading Beck's name in the same sentence with that of Dr. King makes me want to puke.

The nerve of him and others like him! 

Thank you Chauncey DeVega for putting your emotions into words.

"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 participates 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.

The high priests of public opinion on the dais, and those who sit in the pews of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement as civil religion, are engaged in futile acts of conjuring. They are trying to channel a weak and flattened memory of a man, one that has been reduced to selling fast food in January and February, made into an onerous statue at Washington's mall, and reduced to a paragraph that is ripped from a towering speech.

If the legacy of the real Dr. King--his radical politics, vision, and challenging words and deeds for an America sick with white supremacy, class inequality, war mongering, and hatred for the poor--was properly channeled, it would deafen the chattering classes and broad swaths of the American public.

The real Dr. King is akin to the Old Ones or the Elder Gods. They and he are not to be summoned without care, for reasons disingenuous, or to help with a fool's errand.

The impotent summoning of Dr. King in a time of crisis (with its righteous, justifiable, protest and rage against police thuggery, and a cruel State that cares more about protecting property and its out of control racist police, than in justice for black and brown Americans and the poor) is enabled by a flat and weak understanding of the Black Freedom Struggle and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s role in it.

The Civil Rights Movement contained multiple elements with often often conflicting interests and strategies for success. Non-violence was not an empty phrase: it existed and found power in relation to those who wanted a more robust, direct, and if necessary, armed response to white supremacy and anti-black hatred. The Civil Rights Movement was able to use the media in the context of the Cold War, and white elites' anxieties about perception management abroad in an era of Jim and Jane Crow, to win its incremental gains.

Brother Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been canonized as an American saint. At the time of his assassination and martyrdom,
King was one of America's most hated and despised public figures.

In these times of troubles it is easy and intellectually lazy for people to mouth-breath some selection selectively misquoted and misappropriated from the I Have a Dream speech, as opposed to meditating on King's analysis of systemic power and inequality as embodied by his observation that "a riot is the language of the unheard".

King elaborated on the relationship of urban disorder to the struggle for full human rights and dignity for black American in his "The Other America" speech where he stated that:

I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.
If one persists in channeling Dr. King in these conversations about the urban unrest, "rioting", and exhalations by the ghetto youthocracy (and others) in Baltimore and elsewhere across the United States in response to police thuggery, it should be done with great care.

Black Americans have a special relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. He is "ours". As such, the black community has an obligation to ensure that his memory, legacy, and wisdom are not misappropriated. Unfortunately, the black chattering classes and elites are more often than not agents and enablers of a weakened vision of King's vision as political expediency and neoliberal governmentality pay great lucre to their agents.

Since before the Founding, White America has largely been on the wrong side of history regarding matters of race and justice. Because of this fact, all white Americans should exercise great care when trying to summon Dr. Martin Luther King's memory as a means of subverting, lecturing to, or deflecting the justice claims (and anger) of Black Americans.

Both white conservatives and white liberals should abide by such a rule.

This is especially true for white conservatives in the Age of Obama, a moment when conservatism and racism are fused together by the White Right in the form of a Republican Party that is the United States' leading white supremacist organization.

As such, the Republican Party embraces herrenvolk politics, is working to roll back the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, further criminalize the poor, and has actively worked to undermine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of a better America.

If our white brothers and sisters are not willing to do the necessary work to understand and grapple with the radical Dr. King, and his role as one of the "founding fathers" of the new America that was made after the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, then it is best they not summon him."
Don't worry Chauncey, they can never "summon" him.  He might be turning in his grave, but he would never come back for them.

Monday, April 27, 2015

"Oh, Baltimore, man it's hard just to live.."

Ever wonder why we have situations like we do now in the city of Baltimore?

I will give you a hint: We can't blame the Mayor of Baltimore. (Although, from what I hear, her leadership skills leave a lot to be desired. ) We can't blame the police chief. And we  certainly cannot blame it all on the killing of  Freddy Gray.

What is to blame for what is taking place in Baltimore, and what took place in cities like Ferguson, Oakland, and New York, is a racial climate in this country that says we are now "post racial" and there is no more racism in America.

To the people who believe this the election of Barack Obama confirms that. Some of them, as crazy as this might seem, even blame Barack Obama for the uptick in racial tensions in this country.

I submit to you, though, that it is people like Sheriff David Morgan of Florida who is to blame for our current racial state of affairs in cities like Baltimore, Maryland.

"A video from 2013 has come to light showing the sheriff of Escambiaso County, Florida, David Morgan, sputtering on nonsensically about black culture.

Morgan’s bizarre speech begins with a criticism of the term African-American with Morgan emphatically stating:
“the blacks who currently reside in the United States of America are not from Africa.”

 “I would remind black Americans that you are little less than 13% of the entire population of the United States.”  “Had every one of those people been voter eligible only 13% could have voted for President Obama.”  “If we’re such a racist nation, why do we have an African American president?” [Source]

Lord have mercy! This is a sheriff, people.

But then we shouldn't be surprised. Not after incidents like this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and...well, you get the idea.

I know one thing, this isn't only about black people in inner city Baltimore or any other city in America. Baltimore, like other cities in America, has been down this road before. But back then the civil unrest was brought on due racial injustice and civil rights violations; all triggered by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Things have changed. These unrests are about poor people who feel hopeless and voiceless in a country that is increasingly becoming more divided when it comes to wealth, class, and race.

People are seeing the pie on the table and  they can't get to it.

They have to share a sliver of it that has been carved out for them, while a few people take their turns eating large chunks of it and throwing the rest of us the scraps that they no longer want.

"Hard times in the city
In a hard town by the sea
Ain't nowhere to run to
There ain't nothin' here for free"

Livin' in the country
Where the mountain's high
Never comin' back here
'til the day I die"

~Baltimore, Nina Simone~



Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Koch brothers should consider John Kasich, and an old interview with the Field Negro.

The Field Negro education series continues.

I read this very interesting article, recently.

"The St. Croix River War has exploded into open hostilities. Hide the hotdish, mother!
For a couple of years now, Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to run their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, has been embarrassed regularly by the economic performance of neighboring Minnesota, which is governed in a completely different fashion by a Democratic governor, Mark Dayton. So, on Thursday, as part of his campaign to sell himself as a possible president, which requires him to sell the rubes a State of Wisconsin wholly different from the actual one that he is selling off for parts, Walker dropped by Minnesota. A former mayor of Minneapolis was there to greet him.
In 2010, both Wisconsin and Minnesota faced similar budget woes and a worrisome economic future amid a national recession. Both are also Midwest states, deeply invested in manufacturing and agricultural economic drivers. The only difference was that Minnesotans elected DFL Gov. Mark Dayton to turn Minnesota around, while Wisconsinites chose Scott Walker to lead their state's recovery. Only one governor was successful.
Then he gets harsh.
In Minnesota, Dayton has moved forward Democratic policies like increasing the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid and investing in the middle class, and now we are seeing one of the most business-friendly states in the country. Just this year, Forbes ranked Minnesota as the ninth best state for business, seventh in economic climate and second in quality of life. In Wisconsin, Walker opposed a minimum-wage increase and equal-pay legislation, rejected federal funds to expand Medicaid, and attacked Wisconsin workers with right-to-work and anti-collective-​bargaining policies. As a result, the cost of doing business in Wisconsin is higher than the national average, and median household income is thousands less than in Minnesota. The facts are clear: Walker and the Republican trickle-down economic policies have made it practically impossible for Wisconsin to recover from the recession, and the state consistently sits at the bottom of the region in private-sector job growth.
The Minnesota-Wisconsin comparison has dogged Walker ever since the press and the general public first noticed it. (This is partly because Dayton, while a fine governor, has a very eccentric attitude toward tooting his own political horn -- to wit: he won't do it. Drives political people up the wall.) And, judging by what he said to his carefully screened audience in the Twin Cities -- once again, Scott Walker bravely faces down his political opponents by avoiding them -- it's starting to get under Walker's skin more than a little.
Walker's closed-door session with legislators — and later gatherings with top business leaders and a conservative group — come as he nears an announcement on a White House campaign after taking several preliminary steps toward a bid, including hiring staff and taking repeated trips to states with early primaries. He said a formal decision would come once Wisconsin lawmakers set a new budget, probably in early June..."You've had the advantage of other than a two-year period of having Republicans in charge of at least one part of government for some time. Before we came into office for many years, there was a Democrat governor, a Democrat assembly and a Democrat Senate," Walker said, noting the state's peak 9.2 percent unemployment rate before his election in 2010 and its 4.6 percent standing now. Nationally, the unemployment rate was above 9 percent throughout 2010 and has fallen to 5.5 percent now.
Wisconsin has trailed the national average in private-sector job growth since six months after Walker took office. He fell short of a signature campaign promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs, although 145,000 new positions appeared, and Wisconsin ranked 40th nationwide in private-sector job growth in the 12-month period ending in September. As he tours the country, Walker has boasted that new businesses are starting up in Wisconsin at a higher rate than the rest of the country and that income growth for residents exceeds the national average.

To which Dayton replied.
Dayton, a supporter of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, offered a polite "Welcome to Minnesota" to Walker and said he should come back as often as he likes. "I'm not going to engage in presidential politics at this point," Dayton said.
Like I said. The guy is a real fireworks display.

It is becoming part of the general campaign narrative that we have at least three potential Republican candidates -- Walker, Chris Christie, and the increasingly ludicrous "Bobby" Jindal -- who are running on their interpretations of how well they've done in office. All three currently have approval ratings in their own states that are headed toward the root cellar. All three of their states are a complete mess in one way or another. Yet all three of them are out there, pitching fantastical visions of states that have nothing to do with actual reality. It's campaign by karaoke.

Now, the idea that governors make the best presidents is largely shibboleth, as has been noted elsewhere. But, if the Republicans are looking for someone to make that case in actual reality, then John Kasich is their only choice. (I am not in any way endorsing this proposition, because Kasich is running his campaign based on The Worst Idea In American Politics.) He's relatively popular. When he tried to Walkerize his state workforce, the voters beat him over the head with a hammer and he backed off, and he hasn't tried again. He took the Affordable Care Act's FREE MONEY (!) He's got Green Room cred that the others -- except possibly Christie -- don't have. Unlike Christie, Walker, and Rick Perry, he's under neither indictment nor investigation, always a plus.

Economically, the man's ideas are from Jupiter, but that's to be expected. He is a Reagan cultist, after all, But, compared to, say, Jindal, whose state university is preparing for the possibility of bankruptcy, Kasich looks like Pericles. Yet, when it comes down to it, the basic problems for Kasich in a Republican primary process are that: A) he can't raise money, and B) he has made the barest modicum of sense on too many occasions. That bespeaks a deeper problem, I'd say." [Source]

And then there is Lady Hillary with all her...ahem, ahem, money problems.

2016 should be really interesting.

Finally, someone just sent me this interview I did with another blog a few years back.

Thought I would share.

"Interview With Wayne Bennett, Author of The Field Negro

       P   O   S   T   E   D       B   Y       A   L   B   E   R  T
Wayne-bennett-1 Wayne Bennett’s blog, The Field Negro, explores race in America in an unexpected way. His writing mixes cultural polemics with humor to provoke conversation and insight about one of our country’s most fraught subjects. He’s always a good read. The following interview was conducted by e-mail …
1. You write a blog called “The Field Negro.” That’s a provocative name for a blog. Why did you choose it?

I chose it because of one of my favorite speeches of all time: The Malcolm X speech to the SNCC workers in Alabama in 1965. This is where he outlined the dichotomy between the house and field Negroes in America, and why, as a result, it is hard for black folks to unify around particular causes.

I wanted to identify with the field Negroes in my writing because that’s how I view myself in the ongoing debate. Someone who works hard and represents the masses.
Besides, I wanted a title that makes people uncomfortable.

2. Do you ever get called out for what you write on your blog? What’s the one thing that, in retrospect, you most regret having written? What was the post that generated the most controversy?

I get called out all the time. I get more nasty e-mails than you could ever imagine.
I rarely regret anything I write, but if you put a gun to my head I would have to say calling Condy Rice “the bad perm lady.” After the Don Imus incident where he called the Rutgers basketball players “nappy headed hoes” and I ripped him for it, I realized what a hypocrite I was, because I was in essence doing the same thing to Secretary Rice.

It’s hard to say which post generated the most controversy. I have had a few. My post about white people and their pets pissed off a lot of white folks. And my post about the 12% rule for black folks pissed off a lot of black people. I always get a lot of heat for supporting the Jewish people on various issues as well.

3. [The foundation I work at] administered a poll to [the members of a] giving circle …, and one of their questions was this:
In the long run, the most effective way to address a region’s racial inequities is to (choose only one):
  1. engage the entire community in discussions about race and white privilege
  2. address systemic issues (e.g., laws, policies, etc.) that lead to unequal outcomes
  3. empower low-income communities politically (through voter registration drives, etc.)
  4. bring more low-income people into the middle class through literacy and skills training, small business development programs, and improving public education
  5. just wait another 50 years until younger, less bigoted generations assume positions of responsibility and power
How would you answer this question and why?

I love numbers 3 & 4. Education. Education. Education. It is the greatest equalizer in America. I would also push for more political involvement among underserved communities—if it’s one thing a politician fears is numbers at the ballot box—and financial education for poor people. It is very important that we learn how to save and manage our money.

4. As regards conversations (and actions) in the public sphere touching on matters of race and ethnicity, what trends have you seen over the past ten years?

It’s getting better, but folks in the majority are still afraid to talk openly about race and ethnicity. The mainstream media won’t touch it because they know that it makes most folks in America uncomfortable. The only time we talk about it (race) is when we have to. (See the Henry Louis Gates incident at Harvard which led to Obama’s “teachable moment.”) And when it infringes on the political debate such as the case with immigration reform.

5. What do you regard as the most definitive work (book or article) for anybody wishing to understand race in America?

Oh my, where do I start? There are so many great ones … I have a couple: Why Black People Tend To Shout by Ralph Wiley. The Racial Contract by Charles Mills. The Arrogance Of Race by George Fredrickson. The Mis-Education Of The Negro by [Carter G.] Woodson, and All God’s Children by Fox Butterfield. From the conservative side I would recommend Shelby Steele’s The Content Of Our Character. There are more, but those jump out at me.
Oh, and how could I forget? You have to read The Field Negro.

6. In your view, how important a force has Hip Hop been in bridging racial divides? What are the cultural and other forces that you believe have the most promise in helping to unite us?

Hip Hop, in a way, has helped to bridge the racial divide. Especially among young people. They are our future, and young white kids from the burbs are trying to relate to young black kids from urban areas. Which, to me, is a good thing. Music and the arts is probably the best way to bridge the racial divide without actually getting down and talking to each other. But this comes with a caveat from me. Unfortunately these kumbaya moments can be somewhat superficial. We still have to explore our differences and try to understand each other on a deeper level and in more meaningful ways to have true racial harmony in America.

7. What can we look for in The Field Negro in the coming months? What other blogs would you recommend to our [readers]?

I am just going to keep writing about what I see every day and how I feel regardless of who it offends. I hate to say it, but I really don't have time to read a lot of other blogs. Still, there are other bloggers who I admire. Rippa from the Intersection Of Madness & Reality comes to mind, and I love all the bloggers in the Afrosphere. They all work so hard and put so much energy into their blogs" [Source]

I don't think the blog responsible for this interview is with us anymore. Like so many others before them, I think that they fell victim to blog burnout.

Sadly, I am starting to relate.



Saturday, April 25, 2015

Caption Saturday.

I need a caption for this pic.
*Pic from the

Thursday, April 23, 2015


"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.”  
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



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 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:
- 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


I need a caption for this pic.
*Pic from

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]