Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's About Time!

First, a quick note concerning my opinion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe needs to hold free and fair elections. Yes, he'd probably lose. In that case, he'd need to allow the democratically elected officials come to power. Yes, he and his supporters in government would probably also lose the lifestyle to which they've become accustomed. That's where the IMF and World Bank come in - quit giving lend countries these bogus loans with the economic terms that promote the sort of corruption we've seen arise in the developing countries were you lend money. Considering the years of slavery and colonialism, I can hardly see how any country in Africa doesn't have a budget surplus due to the reparations owed by the West. That aside, if the point is to grow a prosperous and dynamic economy that can support the country, you can't lend the money only to those in power. You have to do macro-lending and allow countries to develop more than one cash-crop.

Oh, and while I'm on the subject of African countries and their business relations to the West, if Big Oil would pay Nigeria and the people in the Delta their fair due, and treat the workers with due respect, so-called extremists wouldn't disrupt oil production.

Oh, and a note about Condoleeza Rice: When are you going to turn you humanitarianism on your boss, George "W is for War-Lord" Bush?

U.N. Security Council Says Sexual Violence Akin to War Crimes

By Maggie Farley, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer June 20, 2008
UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council affirmed Thursday that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, and called for measures to combat such attacks.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice introduced the U.S.-sponsored resolution at a special session attended by diplomats from 60 nations.

Rice said the resolution brought an end to a debate about whether sexual violence was a security issue and belonged on the council's agenda. A similar resolution last year failed to pass, with several members disputing the need for it.

"I am proud that today we respond to that lingering question with a resounding yes," she told the Security Council. "This world body now acknowledges that sexual violence in conflict zones is indeed a security concern."

We affirm that sexual violence profoundly affects not only the health and safety of women, but the economic and social stability of their nations."

The resolution established U.N. procedures to monitor sexual violence in armed conflicts and called for the secretary-general to report in one year on their implementation. It also urges the U.N. to impose sanctions on violators.

Advocacy groups pushed the issue back onto the council agenda after China, Russia and South Africa said last year that sexual violence was an unfortunate byproduct of war and one that was addressed by a number of U.N. agencies, but was not a matter of international peace and security.

The resolution also urged the secretary-general to clamp down on peacekeepers who prey on vulnerable women and children instead of protecting them.

Despite an attempt by the U.N. to revamp the regulations and culture among peacekeepers and staffers after incidents of sexual exploitation over the last few years in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, reports of further abuses surfaced last year in several countries.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council that he was committed to "zero tolerance" and "zero impunity" for sexual abuse by U.N. personnel and urged countries that provide troops to follow through with prosecution because the U.N. has no authority to try the perpetrators.

He pledged to strengthen the world body's code of conduct and hold supervisors accountable for assaults committed by soldiers and staffers.

The presence of high-level female officials at Thursday's meeting was deliberate. Rice chaired the gathering. France's secretary of state for human rights, Rama Yade, called for the prosecution of sexual violence at the International Criminal Court. British Atty. Gen. Patricia Scotland denounced recent attacks on women in Zimbabwe, especially the killing Wednesday of the mayor's wife in the capital, Harare.

The wives of the U.S. and British ambassadors to the United Nations also have worked to raise awareness that rape is a deliberate war tactic meant to intimidate and destroy communities, as seen in the former Yugoslav federation, Sudan's Darfur region and Congo.

After adopting the resolution, the council held an informal session to condemn increasing violence in Zimbabwe in the run-up to the June 27 presidential runoff election.

Next week, the Security Council will have its first formal meeting on the violence there and will be briefed by U.N. envoy Haile Menkerios, who was in Zimbabwe on Thursday.

South Africa, China and Russia have blocked official discussion so far, saying it would be interfering in a nation's internal affairs.

Rice cited concern among council members that "free and fair elections cannot possibly be held" in Zimbabwe because of the increasing intimidation of and violence against the opposition by the government of President Robert Mugabe, who is seeking reelection.

"I think that the mood in the room was one of extraordinary concern and a desire for President Mugabe to hear that there is tremendous international concern about what is happening in his country," the secretary of State told reporters after the meeting.

"I don't see anything that President Mugabe has done that has been helpful to Zimbabwean people, so maybe it's time for international pressure."

Adding Insult to Injury

Adding Insult to Injury: Race, Disaster and the Calculus of Comparative Suffering
Previously (and briefly) titled, "The Ugly Side of Disaster: Racism and the Calculus of Comparative Suffering"
By Tim Wise
June 20, 2008

crossposted at The Red Room

Disasters bring out the best and worst in people.

On the one hand, millions of folks respond to the suffering of their fellow human beings with compassion, concern, and even significant financial assistance when needed. Be it a hurricane, an earthquake, tornadoes or the recent massive flooding in the Midwestern United States, the hearts, minds, and often wallets of large numbers of the nation's people are with those in need.

And on the other hand, there's Rush Limbaugh, who has decided to use the flooding in Iowa not to demonstrate compassion, but as an opportunity to make derogatory statements about poor black folks: specifically those caught by the flooding in New Orleans after Katrina in 2005.

This week, as folks in Iowa, Indiana and parts of Illinois have watched flood waters rise ever higher, Limbaugh took to the air to contrast these supposedly good and decent people who have joined forces to help each other, with the presumably evil, lazy and violent folks of New Orleans, who we are told, did nothing but foment criminality and wait for the government to save them during flooding there in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Thus, we have his statement of a few days ago, in which he noted that in the midst of the devastation in the Midwest:

"I see people working together. I see people trying to save their property...I don't see a bunch of people running around waving guns at helicopters. I don't see a bunch of people running shooting cops. I don't see a bunch of people raping people on the street...I see the heartland of America. When I look at Iowa and when I look at Illinois, I see the backbone of America."

Sadly it isn't only Limbaugh who has been making these kinds of comparisons. Millions of us have also been subjected to the e-blast missives making the rounds, which seek to contrast the law-abiding, God-fearing, and (let us not forget) mostly white farming folks of the Midwest to the black, urban, and congenitally defective folks of the Big Easy. If you haven't received something like this from a friend, relative or co-worker yet, just wait, because you probably will soon.

But what all of these like-minded rants indicate--whether spewed to 20 million pliant sheep via the airwaves, or posted on a pathetic little blog read by no one--is the dishonesty of those offering them up. Either that, or the fundamental ineptitude of the same when it comes to doing basic research, fact-checking, or merely paying attention to the fundamental differences between the flooding of New Orleans and that of rural and small town Iowa communities.

Among the differences that should be readily apparent to almost anyone, consider:

In New Orleans, residents were kept from escaping, literally forced back into the city by armed police from a neighboring community. Nothing like this has happened in Iowa.

In New Orleans, relief agencies like the Red Cross were prohibited from entering the city, thanks to an order from the Department of Homeland Security, which feared that the provision of relief would delay evacuation. In other words, the suffering was heightened deliberately by government order, as noted on the Red Cross website, as early as September 2, 2005. Nothing like this has happened in Iowa.

In New Orleans, those stuck in the flood zone (tens of thousands in all) were herded into the Superdome and Convention Center, where there was no air conditioning (at the hottest time of the year in that city), no food, and little or no water. When those who were trapped (and who would wait for three full days before any serious assistance arrived) tried to get to the food in the pantries of the Convention Center (food that would have gone bad or been written off anyway), they were met by guns, pointed at them by members of the National Guard, who warned them to "step away from the food or we'll blow your fucking heads off." Nothing like this has happened in Iowa.

In New Orleans, there are very few escape routes out of the city, as anyone who has spent much time there can attest. The only artery capable of handling a significant number of vehicles is Interstate 10, heading west or east. In the Midwestern flood zones, there are far more escape routes, far fewer people to get evacuated, and the flooding was a slow and steady process, unlike the rapid inundation in New Orleans, which happened quickly after the overtopping of inadequately constructed levees.

In New Orleans, according to data in the 2004 and 2006 American Community Surveys, conducted by the Census Bureau, residents were about four times as likely as their Iowa counterparts not to have access to a vehicle that could facilitate their escape from the flood zone. Whereas more than 21 percent of New Orleanians were without access to a car at the time of Katrina, only 6 percent of folks in Black Hawk County (home to hard-hit Cedar Falls, Iowa) and 5 percent of those in Linn County (home to flooded Cedar Rapids--the biggest city affected by the latest deluge) were carless. To put the importance of not having a vehicle in stark terms, 38,000 households in New Orleans, comprising approximately 100,000 people, were without a car, and thus, unable to flee on their own.

And of course, in New Orleans, FEMA was nowhere to be seen for several days, whereas, in the Midwest, residents report that FEMA was on the ground in many communities even before floodwaters overtopped levees there, and have responded quickly and effectively, all things considered, since. (This is a point worth making, since Limbaugh also insisted that Midwesterners, unlike New Orleanians, weren't "whining" and crying "where's FEMA?" Fact is, they didn't need to ask, because the government responded rapidly this time around).
But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Limbaugh and like-minded screeds has been the speed with which they have descended into the pit of racist myth in order to bash the people of New Orleans once again, much as they were doing in August and September of 2005. To wit, the repeated references to looting, rapes, murders, shooting at helicopters and other assorted mayhem by New Orleans' black folks, nearly all of which claims have been discredited as utterly false, almost from the time they were first concocted.

So consider Limbaugh's formulation, where he says, "I don't see a bunch of people running around waving guns at helicopters, I don't see a bunch of people running shooting cops. I don't see a bunch of people raping people on the street."

Fair enough. Those things aren't happening in Iowa. Yet, according to multiple post-Katrina investigations, and stories written up by the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the New Orleans Times Picayune, the Guardian (London), the New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Reason Magazine and the American Journalism Review, they weren't happening in New Orleans either. Reports of shooting at helicopters, or rapes or murders were almost entirely false. There were no murders in the evacuation centers, few if any sexual assaults (and none on the street as Limbaugh claimed), no helicopters fired on, and no police officers shot by residents. Yes, there was looting, although by a distinct minority of persons trapped in the city, and overwhelmingly for necessities like food, medicine, water,and clothing to replace the rotting, soaked rags people were wearing after wading through waist-deep water. And according to persons on the ground in the flood zone, even the luxury items taken were typically used as barter chips, to get rides out of the city for oneself and one's family when it became obvious that large scale assistance wasn't going to arrive any time soon. In other words, reports of widespread thuggery in New Orleans during the flooding have been greatly exaggerated, if not entirely fabricated, and have only remained believable to millions because of the race and class biases that allow people to believe the worst about poor black folks even without a shred of actual evidence.

Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it, but the notion that there has been no looting in the Midwest, presumably because white rural folk are more civilized than their black and urban counterparts is demonstrably untrue. There have been several reports of theft in Columbus, Indiana, for instance--mostly people taking things out of folks' front yards that have been left out to dry--and in Cedar Rapids, police recently made their first looting arrest (though there have been other reports of theft as well), of a white woman who was stealing alcohol from a local bar.

And while Limbaugh and others praise Midwesterners for pulling together in a spirit of cooperation--as opposed to the animalistic chaos we are to envision when thinking of New Orleanians during Katrina--the fact is there were innumerable acts of kindness in the streets of New Orleans as well. Those who personally brought supplies to the thousands trapped downtown reported little if any fighting or random anger amongst the assembled; rather, they saw persons trying to shade the elderly, and make sure that old folks and the very young had first dibs on what little relief supplies were dribbling in. But the media focused on none of that, choosing instead to highlight reports--false as they turned out to be--of mass violence.

Then of course have been the suggestions, especially common in the e-blasts and blog postings to the effect that Iowans, unlike New Orleanians, have helped themselves, because while the latter had grown dependent on government to solve their problems, Midwesterners in the "heart of America" still value the importance of self-reliance. But the fact is, Iowans are no less likely to receive government assistance than those in New Orleans were prior to Hurricane Katrina, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Surveys, taken in 2006 (the most recent year available) and 2004 (the last data collected for New Orleans before the flooding of that city).

In hard-hit Linn County Iowa, 2400 households receive cash public assistance, out of 85,000 total households, meaning that 2.8 percent of all households in the County receive cash welfare. In New Orleans, prior to Katrina, and contrary to popular belief, only 2.6 percent of households received cash welfare (4600 households out of 180,000). So in truth, a slightly higher percentage of Linn Countians were on the dole than New Orleanians. In Black Hawk County (also hard hit by the recent deluge), 2.5 percent of all households receive cash assistance: again, suggesting no real difference between the mostly white and rural folks there, and the mostly black and urban folks in Orleans Parish at the time of Katrina.

And it should be noted, the average amount of welfare received in the Iowa counties was higher than that for recipients in New Orleans. So whereas the average annual amount of cash assistance received in New Orleans prior to Katrina was only $2800, in Linn County it's $3200 and in Black Hawk County, the average amount received is over $4600. Bottom line: those supposedly harder-working, more self-reliant white folks in the heartland are just as likely to receive public assistance as black folks in New Orleans, and when they do, they actually get more than the latter in raw dollar terms.

As with cash, food stamp participation is roughly the same in the hard hit Iowa counties as in New Orleans before Katrina. In 2004, about 11 percent of New Orleans households received food stamps, as did 8 percent of Linn County households and 10 percent of Black Hawk County households in 2006.

In addition to traditional government assistance, let it also be remembered that Iowans are quite dependent on another form of public handout: agricultural subsidies. Indeed, Iowa--that place of hard working, self-reliant folks who are now being contrasted with the supposedly government-dependent laggards in New Orleans--receives the second highest amount of agricultural crop subsidies of any state in the country, according to data compiled by the Environmental Working Group. From 1995-2006, Iowa farmers raked in $16 billion in subsidies, with 7 in 10 farmers in the state receiving some form of subsidy from the federal government. Even those small family farmers at the bottom of the subsidy pile, who receive far less than the large corporate giants who take a disproportionate amount of the loot, still received a little more than $2000 per household: not much less than the amount received in cash welfare by those in New Orleans, prior to Katrina, who received such assistance.

To put the amounts received from government in perspective, in Black Hawk County, farmers get about $15 million in crop subsidies, while in Linn County the annual take is about $17 million. In New Orleans, prior to Katrina, residents there were receiving about $13 million per year in cash assistance under the program for dependent children and their mothers. So putting aside the cash welfare received by Iowans, which as noted above was actually more, per household, than that received by New Orleanians, crop subsidies indicate that Iowans were and are more government dependent than the residents of New Orleans, no matter what the racist and classist perceptions of the general public may be.

So here we are: a nation potentially on the precipice of electing a man of color as president, being told by media pundits and others that this fact demonstrates above all else how Americans have "transcended race," and put aside the old animosities and bigotries of the past. Yet, at the first opportunity, we see right-wing gasbags striving to perpetuate the stereotypes, the false urban legends, and the deceptive rhetoric of racism to score points with their readers and listeners. And if the speed with which such venal propaganda is making its way around the web is any indication, the smear campaign seems to be working.

Just one more piece of evidence that this nation has transcended nothing when it comes to race and racism. Just one more clear indication that the success of Barack Obama says little in terms of what millions of white folks still believe about the majority of black folks with whom we share a nation. So long as entire communities can be pathologized in the minds of the masses, thanks to the efforts of unresearched know-nothings like Rush, the ability of individuals of color to rise to positions of authority will say virtually nothing about the larger illness of racism and its continued salience.

Only when white folks stand up to the Limbaughs of the world--only when we see challenging white racism as our burden, our responsibility, and as a fundamental part of what we need to do in the realm of that vaunted "self-help" we're always preaching to others--will things likely change. We've been silent too long, and our silence implicates us, just as Rush's bombast indicts him, in the spread of this sickness known as racism. It is well past time to leave collaboration behind.

All census data and data on public assistance levels and vehicle access comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Surveys for 2004 and 2006, available at, Census Bureau American Community Survey Database. Once into the databases, information for Linn County, Black Hawk County, or New Orleans (entered either as New Orleans city or Orleans Parish) can be retrieved by entering the county/city and state name in the search function box and then following the various links for demographic, income and housing data that appear.

Friday, June 20, 2008

John McCain Says Patriotism Is Tough

Not kidding.

Right now, Dan Abrams, who has come through this time, is asking whether the media treats John and Cindy McCain differently than they treat Michelle Obama.

Here's your answer: yes.

America treats them differently. The McCains are white. Michelle Obama is a black woman. Period.

L.A. Teachers Fired for Being Too "Afro-centric"

Yeah. You read right, folks. There're a few links with the details. But basically, it works like this:

A teacher in Watts, Karen Salazar, contextualized her lessons so they would be more relevant to her mostly black students. Administrators accuse her of being too "Afro-centric" and brainwashing the kids.

Ostensibly, as I've learned from Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen, part of the problem with being too "Afro-centric" is that children may not love America. Oh. The horror.

This also illustrates the truth that black students don't refer to academic achievement as "acting white" for nothing. I've been there. You have to sit and listen to lies, exaggerations, denials, and half-truths, and become proficcient in reciting said lied, exagerrations, denials, and half-truths. I know did. And I hated it. This teacher shouldn't be fired. She should be given a gold medal. But her firing illustrates part of my reluctance to go into primary and secondary education. If she can get fired in Los Angeles, California for using 3-pages of the Autobiography of Malcolm X, a rap by the late Tupac Shukar, and a Langston Hughes poem, when I start teaching about the horror of slavery, the re-enslavement of African Americans after the Civil War, and the dozens of white racist riots around the country (And by that I mean, a least couple of dozens. There were probably more.), the African societies the slaves came from, the Black Freedom Movement and the backlash to the Movement - I could not just lose my job, they might even take my kids!

No, I don't have any, but you get my point. This firing is nonsense. And it's not the Los Angeles United School District that's "unique" here. Ms. Salazar is the unique one. Not many teachers take the chance she did. And kudos to her.

Here are those other links:
L.A. Times
Democracy Now!

What's wrong with the white community?

Seriously, this is a sad story. I feel for the girls, parents, and new babies involved. -But, I also hope this helps people see teenage pregnancy isn't about a racial pathology.

And, thanks to Prometheus 6 for having this article which, among other things, explains why black voters don't owe the Clintons any loyalty and why Barack Obama's Father's Day speech was an insult to the black community.

But all this craziness about Obama's supposed "lie to Americans" is ridiculous. His campaign is largely funded by the public with millions of everday, American donors. And btw, Joe Watkins is . . . I don't know, but it's not good.

That's all for now. CFIDS sucks!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Whitey Lies

All the hoopla about Michelle Obama's "whitey" tape has gotten to me. First off, there is no "whitey" tape. But there's more. See if you can follow me.

1 - George Jefferson called his neighbor "whitey." But nowadays, black folks don't use the term "whitey" to insult white people. Oh, we have our words and terms. In fact . . . well, just suffice it to say black folk don't go around complaining about "whitey."

2 - So, where does this "whitey" term come from? The minds and imaginations of white folks, right?

So, essentially, what we have here is a racist attack on Michelle Obama that in and of itself points out the racism endemic in America - white folks know so little about African Americans that when trying to attack one politically, they don't even know how make the lie sound realistic. But the lie gets around because so many white Americans are ready to believe the worst about any African American, including, black fathers.

Oh, Barack's Father Day speech has been on my radar. I hate that he felt it appropriate to further anti-black racism by promote the myth of the absent black father. Yeah, I said myth. Dig in the numbers and get back to me. I'll still vote for him, but less enthusiastically so.

So, were Wright and Pfleger right? Er, uh, yeah.

And by the way Fox News, that's why black women are angry, or actually pissed. We have to daily face racialized sexism and sexualized racism and just plain ole racism and sexism, and then on top of that, because of the way racism plays out in the lives of all too many black men, we gotta suffer with that, too. And, frankly, Mammie and Aunt Jemima weren't all that thrilled about America, either. I mean, really, talk about patriotism and why black women aren't always proud of this country, lets talk about the difference in the coverage of Jessica Lynch and Shoshana Johnson.

This isn't to say that Michelle Obama doesn't love or isn't proud of her country. It is to say that "whitey" doesn't have the moral ground to judge her one way or the other.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tucker Carlson Has No Clue What He's Talking About

On MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews today, Tucker Carlson asserts that if Barack Obama pledged to end affirmative action, he'd win in a landslide. That part of what Tucker said is true. He also said that everybody knows it's wrong. That part, my dears, is false. He also argued that, "It was forty years ago," as though it's no longer necessary.

Here are some facts.
1 - Affirmative action works.
2 - It helps white women more than people of color, male or female. And the husbands and children and communities of white women, the overwhelming majority of whom are also white, benefit from white women's being paid more than what they'd earn otherwise and being promoted more than what they would otherwise.
3 - Neither white students nor workers are displaced by affirmative action programs.
4 - It is illegal to hire a person of color or a woman unqualified for the job over a white person or a man.
5 - Discrimination still exists. Affirmative action is still necessary.
6 - Affirmative actions help ensure a meritocracy.
7 - Using "socioeconomic" affirmative action instead of race/gender based affirmative action only aggravates existing racial/gender disparities.

Here're some more facts: The backlash against affirmative actions began as soon as the programs were legislated. The backlash that exists today is as based on ignorance and whites' racial animosity as it was then. African Americans are not the primary beneficiaries of affirmative action; and, the idea that we are is only effective in opposing affirmative action because of the racism that remains today.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Long Buried . . .

The Chicago Tribune has an article today, "Long Buried Story of Black America," that excites me as a historian and anti racist. It details new archaeological findings of towns free blacks in the Midwest started before and after the Civil War. It's exciting to me as an historian because, of course, it'll tell us more about history. What thrills me as an anti racist is that these findings subtracts credence from the story-line of African Americans as passive participators in history who constantly have things done to them. It also undercuts the recent myth of African Americans having "victims' mentality." You really gotta read the article for yourself. It's marvelous!

In other news, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written a very cogent essay for the Washington Post titled, "The Color of an Awkward Conversation." You can contrast these two articles, especially "Long Buried Story," with some of the comments to Adichie's essay.

Friday, June 6, 2008

When It Comes to Making Money, "Whitey" Don't Care about You, Either

This is for all of you who think civil rights, equality and justice is just for black folks, women, and other racial and gender minorities. What so many of those Ferraro whites who aren't racist but have "racial resentment" fail to understand is that if they'd get over their racism, we could build stronger labor unions and better jobs and wages. If they'd get over their racism and vote Democratically, we could have a government that better responded to the needs and concerns of the people. Think about it. It's the war hawks who've got us in Iraq, spending billions that the Pentagon can't account for, letting "homeland" infrastructure crumble and for oil that's ruining the environment. It's the Republicans who wanted to privatize social security and cut medicare programs, which many an old white people depend on.

Take the whole housing crisis as an example. Yeah, black folks upset because we disproportionately were given illegal predatory loans. But, some white folks got those bad loans, too. And if a more Democratic government had been in place, not that the Clinton administration didn't stop some regulation, but it would be reasonable to assume few people of any race would've been given these bad loans.

And now, take a look at what the CDC is doing to babies. And mostly white ones at that. And be sure, that while my language is a bit rough this post, and I may even come back and clean it up . . . may not, that I don't just care about African Americans. Yes, put in the crowd the places the Black community first and foremost. But, I'd never leave anyone, white, brown, black, red, or yellow, behind.

Paxil Babies: The Dangers of Antidepressants

Has Change Come? II

Now that I at least made an attempt to wax eloquent about this historic event, let me lay out my truest feelings.

It's really not all that surprising the Barack Obama would be the first person of African descent to have a serious shot at the presidency. He's had to downplay his African descent since he announced his candidacy!

Now, don't get me wrong. He hasn't run from his Kenyan roots. In fact, part of his appeal is his international reach. But the brother has had to run from every instance of truth about race in America. Yeah, he told America that black anger was real and something to contend with and not just dismiss out of hand. But he also vouched for white resentment. And what they have to be resentful of towards black Americans, I don't know.

Obama's had to reject the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Catholic Minister (I just can't bring myself to say "Father.") Michael Pfleger, both of whom were speaking the truth, as Hillary Clinton so kindly and graciously demonstrated Tuesday night. He didn't call Geraldine Ferraro racist, though that may be news to her. He didn't call the Clinton campaign's obvious race-baiting racist, though that may be news to her more rabid supporters.

So what's my point? My point is simply this: Barack Obama has become the first black man to have a real shot at becoming the POTUS by running the most culturally "un-black" campaign he could. Yes, he often did the "hip" hand shake/hug with men as he came on stage. Michelle Obama gave him "dap" before he spoke Tuesday night. But that makes Obama "cool," not "black."

So, while I'm heartened by his success . . . I'm thrilled by hearing that already, young black males are taking notice and applying themselves more studiously to their academics, I still can't shake that racism not only impacted his campaign by restricting the number of votes he received, it also impacted his campaign by restricting the way he could run. That saddens me.

But, there is hope that even I, Number One 'K' State, will admit to. Obama's success demonstrates that when African Americans are given the same opportunities as white Americans, when we're given the same chances and protected from the police-scrutiny we now receive, we can achieve anything.

Go 'head Barack Obama!

Barack Rocks!! '08!!!

Has a Change Come? I

It's taken me sometime to work out my thoughts about Barack Obama's winning the nomination. Even though I've been an Obama supporter since he announced his candidacy, even though I voted for him, even though I volunteered for him, part of me still can't believe it.

The black guy with the funny name is the Democratic Party's nominee for the presidency of the United States of America.

I can hardly believe it. This country. These "united states." I mean, Africans have been enslaved, Counter-Reconstructed, and Jim Crowed. We've survived presidents who owned slaves, presidents who raped slaves. Woodrow Wilson. The president famous for his League of Nations. Famous for "making the world safe for democracy." Made no bones about not including black and brown people in his fight for self-governance.

We've gone through the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the America-Spanish War, the Mexican War, the Civil War, World Wars One and Two, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and the two Persian Gulf Wars.

And now. As of Tuesday, June 3, 2008, we have an African American major party candidate for president. It's unbelievable. It is.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Truth: 1 Keith Boykin Is My New Crush

Today, Keith Boykin, my new crush, said something on national TV I'd never thought I'd hear. Let me point out that it was on CNN and I don't watch CNN that much, so he might have said it before. Though, I didn't hear him say it on MSNBC.

He said basically that white Americans and their enablers-of-color, my words, are out-of-line to judge the black church when the overwhelming majority of them have never been to a black church. Our preachers don't speak in the same style as most white preachers, and that can be new and different for folks who aren't used to it. And we all know the human propensity for deciding that what's different is also wrong. Moreover, black church deal with issues of justice and racism all the time. Just because it seems "different" to people unfamiliar with the Black church doesn't make it wrong.

I'm not surprised that white churches don't confront white supremacy and racism more. You shouldn't be, either. White people, by and large, don't suffer the disadvantages of color or minority status. And from several anecdotal accounts, when they finally face being the only white face in a crowd of black people, they often feel uncomfortable. I've even heard "unwelcomed." For my experience, I have high school classmates who've only been to a black church once in their lives. It was when I was able to schedule my high school chamber choir to sing during a youth revival at my former church. We sang two gospel songs and one "classical" Christian song, which, by the way, the audience enjoyed very much. But, on the last gospel song, what black people call "the Holy Ghost" broke out and people started dancing, including not a few of the black members of the chamber choir. The white girls, a number with whom I was friends with from having been a minority in classes with them since middle school, confessed that the experience scared them to death and they would never go to a black church again.

So, black people and white people have different church experiences. We also have different life experiences. White people can afford not to notice racism. Black people cannot. White preachers by and large don't have to address the issue of racism because their congregants don't face it and swear they're not supporters of it, which, of course, can't be true. When black people go to church, we're hoping for encouragement and spiritual relief from our daily lives. A pastor who speaks out against injustice is a balm in Gilead. That doesn't make the pastor or the church anti-white. It makes both realists.

A lot of people argue that Jesus never got involved in politics. "Give Caesar what's Caesar's and God what's God's," they quote (Matthew 22:21). But folks who make that argument neglect the fact that Jesus dealt with people's practical everyday concerns. It's important to remember the Beatitudes. In what many scholars believe is a reference to the way Roman soldiers, often tired themselves, would force Jews to carry their equipment for a mile, Jesus tells the Jews to carry the soldier's load for two miles, instead. Now, you have to understand. Jesus wasn't suggesting they submit to the injustice but overcome the justice with love. We saw that born out in the nonviolent Black Freedom Movement. But, the action was a way of challenging injustice nonetheless. It was a way of recognizing the humanity in everyone, that perhaps the soldier was as much a slave to the system as were the Jews.

And perhaps, that's the case with white Americans. In fact, many argue that it is. Few white Americans can bear the psychological trauma of acknowledging many of their luxuries are ill gotten.

But Jesus didn't just say to make nice. Jesus also made trouble. Mostly, he challenged the Jewish religious leaders who had begun conspiring with the Roman officials and using their religious authority to tie up heavy loads and put them on people's shoulders even though they didn't help the people carry them (Matthew 23:4). And lets be clear. "Loving your enemies" while your enemies denies you loans you qualify for, don't give you equal pay, or equal protection under the law is a load to bare. The pastor who condemns discrimination in financing, pay, and criminal justice is helping his/her parishioners carry that load.

But that's not all Jesus did. He healed the sick during the sabbath. He opened conversation with a woman of a "lower" race. He even healed the daughter of a Roman army commander. He let an "unclean" woman touch him and healed her "issue of blood."

So, yes, in our Black churches, we will speak against anti-black racism and any other injustice. And if a few white Americans' feelings get hurt because they deem what's said and done "inappropriate," so be it. White Americans and their enablers-of-color do not have the moral high ground on this issue. Revs. Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger were both correct. As is, my new crush, Keith Boykin.

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But Don't Jack My Genuis