Tuesday, January 31, 2006

WAKE UP!!!!

Today, we mourn the loss of Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mrs. King was 78 years old. She never fully recovered or regained her strength following a stroke and heart attack last year. God bless the dead.

Earlier this month, New York mourned the loss of Nixmary Brown, a 7-year-old brutally beaten to death by her stepfather, who said the child deserved it. Today, the legendary Boys Choir of Harlem will lose their full-time school home, also known as the Choir Academy, as punishment for leader Walter Turnbull's mismanagement, including questionable handling of funds and keeping an alleged child molester on staff.

Following the airing of what I think was one of the best and most honest, or "realest" in urbanspeak, episodes of Cartoon Network's "The Boondocks," the network apologized to people who might have been offended by the episode, called "The Return of The King," a quasi-spoof that featured a shot Dr. King not murdered as reported, but awakening from a nearly 30-year coma only to express outrage at what has become a mockery of a holiday with contentious beginnings, that of his birthday.

How do these seemingly unconnected events actually connect? Walk with me. What offended some (and only some) viewers of The Boondocks was that the King holiday has become just another three-day weekend, complete with excuses to party on Sunday since there's no work on Monday. Drop it like it's hot for Dr. King. The understandably angry civil rights leader lights into predominantly-Black and Latino party goers for triflin' (urbanspeak for thoughtless, lazy, and irresponsible) behavior; careless sex, living beyond our financial means with luxury vehicles parked on filthy streets in front of crime-ridden projects, making sure our children have the latest electronics and expensive sneakers instead of making sure they perform well in school. The Boys Choir of Harlem is poised on the brink of leaving behind a legacy of Black power gone wrong with thievery and broken trust, instead of a history of taking young Black men out of lousy situations, training them to deliver music to soothe the soul and expanding their horizons through travel and performance opportunities in front of world leaders. Children born to ill-prepared and ill-equiped parents, and mostly Black and Latino parents, are mistreated; nay, tortured to death, with neighbors doing little to help, or if they do report a problem, receiving little support for intervention. It's as though the dream died before it had a chance to become reality.

Sorry for the triteness of that last statement, but perhaps sentiment is better than what I really feel, which is flat-out pissed off. What have we done? Where are we going? For the gains people of color have made, Black people have made, too few of us have done much with it. Blacks wanted Mexican president Vicente Fox's head on a platter when he said Mexicans were willing to take crappy jobs American Blacks didn't want to take, but he was right. We were mad that he said it -- family can talk about family, but outsiders can't. A reborn MLK berated triflin' Black people for having their priorities wrong. Bill Cosby started a class war when he criticized Black parents for giving their children pseudo-African names they can't spell, much less barely say, and for putting hundred-dollar sneakers on their feet while they live in the ghetto. I say too damn bad. You shouldn't be offended by what was said, but that it's true. What happened to wanting something better?

I'm not saying I don't enjoy a good party because I do. Nor am I saying I haven't bought an expensive thing or gone out to eat or traveled when I should have saved the money. I'm saying that my bills are paid, I don't plan to have kids I can't manage, and if God forbid, I was suddenly unemployed and the only job I could get was cleaning a toilet, I'd cry and clean.

I'm taking a big risk by publicly saying what I am. I'll be labeled a sellout, an Uncle Tom, a house nigger, an elitist, classist, maybe even racist. I've been told I don't deserve to wear my hair in locks because I called the cops on a Black man breaking the law in front of my house (Blacks don't tell, or snitch, on other Blacks). I'm just tired, damn it. I'm tired of the buffoonery. I'm tired of defending my people to real racists who think buffoonery is typical Black behavior. I'm sick of kids who know every rap lyric, complete with sexual references, but can't tell you who the current President is, never mind who the 16th President was. I'm tired of fat Black women in ill-fitting clothes. I'm sick of Black women wearing skimpy or skintight clothes, turning themselves into instant sex objects, and I'm sick of Black men who create the need for those women to do so. I'm sick of Black men who refuse to wear a condom during sex, make a baby, and then turn around and act like they don't have responsibility. I'm sick of loud-talking, baggy pants and messy braids. I'm sick of criminal lifestyles as an ideal, and I'm equally sick of lazy wannabe Christians hanging on every word spewed by a Black preacher that has no redeeming quality whatsoever, but is held as truth because it was entertaining. I'm nauseated by Scripture spitters, believing that their long skirts, grace over a piece of gum, and service or Bible study five times a week makes them supposedly superior while they ignore the homeless and hungry who live among them. I'm disgusted by huge architectural works, filled with poor, oppressed Black people who are too stupid to recognize that something is wrong when you're still scraping two cents together to make sure the pastor's Escalade is sittin' on 20's, but he hasn't given you tool-the-first to help you change your sorry life.

I'm sad. I'm angry. And I'm gonna borrow from the last words uttered by Dap, in the movie "School Daze." WAKE UP!!!

Friday, January 20, 2006

You Never Forget, and Probably Shouldn't

My blogiverse sistah, Angry Black Bitch, just got her first "nigger" comment. I didn't attach the link to make this cornhole famous, but to say a big fuck you and have a nice day to those who say Black people are too sensitive about race. The discussion about "nigger" versus "nigga" doesn't apply here, so I'll save my thought on that for another time. The point is that in 2006, it is still acceptable for someone, anyone, to use the word nigger as an insult. Ah, how it does take me back.

The year was 1975. I was in 3rd grade at P.S. 133, a mostly-White school in Bellerose, Queens. It was late in the school year, around May, and it was lunchtime. I brought my lunch to school in an "Apple's Way" lunchbox (okay, I admit I was into Leif Garrett at the time), so the cold lunch kids ate in the auditorium. I don't remember what the topic of discussion was, but I do remember disagreeing with some stupid ass White boy, who responded to my dissent by calling me a Black cookie. No, it wasn't nigger, but it was bad enough that when I was able to speak about it, and not until many years later, my mother was apalled. Apalled that it happened, and that I didn't tell her the same day.

Fast forward to the last day of school following 7th grade. J.H.S. 172 in Floral Park, Bellerose's neighbor, wasn't exactly friendly ground for Black kids, especially the ones in the gifted class, like me. It wasn't as if we were taking a beat down every day, but the resentment from the parents of these kids, and some of the older kids, was pretty obvious. The bell rang, and those of us that were bussed in, loaded up onto our busses, and pulled off from in front of the school. Within minutes, our busses were pelted with rocks, bricks, and bottles while nigger, nigger, nigger was spit at us. Every window was shattered. I went home with the blood from some kid's head on my favorite yellow skirt. Eventually, we made it out. Three kids from the neighborhood, including the older brother of a kid I spent the last five years in elementary school with, were arrested, and given community service. The parents of these hoodlums tried to dismiss the incident as harmless, a prank gone wrong, nothing to take too seriously.

I've been called nigger a few times since then. A homeless guy called me a nigger bitch because I wouldn't give him any money. About a year ago, on my way home from the gym in the ultra-liberal Brooklyn nabe of Park Slope, I walked past another homeless guy, pushing his belongings in a cart. He asked if I planned to rob him, and I laughed no. He responded "That's what you niggers do, but you won't rob me." I responded "You're lucky I've just worked out my aggressions and that I'm a pacifist or I'd whip your pitiful ass."

You just never forget the best moments of your life, or the worst. Some things that happened decades ago, like my nearly-forty year old self remembering something that happened when I was 8, can be recalled with the clarity of five minutes ago. Some things you want to forget, and can't; you can't unlearn what you've already learned.

Some things we shouldn't forget. ABB said she won't take down that nasty comment because it's a reminder that mess like that still exists.

Damn.

Pacifist vs. Protectionist

I consider myself a pacifist in the dictionary sense. I will not use violence as a way to solve my problems, nor do I believe that violence should be the first and only way to solve conflict. I strongly believe violence should be the absolute last means when all nonviolent attempts have failed. However, I am a protectionist (that's my own word). I will protect myself and my loved ones if necessary, but violence is the last method I will use.

Having made pacifist versus protectionst clear, I, like many, believe the five game suspension handed down by the NBA to the Knicks' Antonio Davis is a bit harsh. The story: Davis looked up to the stands where his wife and kids were sitting, and saw a fan grab her arm. He leapt up into the stands, but never hit anybody. He did get in the guy's face. The fan, Michael Axelrod, claims Kendra Davis got in his face, and there is possibly video out of Chicago to prove that. Additionally, there are blogs that list some of her antics while her husband played for Toronto, including a shouting match with former Knick Latrell Sprewell (but didn't that also happen with Spike Lee or some other fan, and don't hothead players and hothead fans exchange words in a hothead game?), and comments from her that Davis would seek a trade if things didn't improve (similar to comments from Mets' Kris Benson's wife made last year).

I believe Davis should be suspended, but I don't think five games was necessary. One or two game suspension, maybe, but not five, especially when he didn't touch the fan in question. I also don't think that Axelrod has a million-dollar case on his hands, and if it does get to court, chances are some kind of settlement will be on the table. I find it interesting that the parties in the increasing fan-player encounters in pro sports, or at least the high-profile ones, are White fans and Black athletes. And yeah, there are those that say Black people are too sensitive about race, and everything isn't about race. Okay, so riddle me this. Have we heard about Vlade Divac's wife or him having beer or debris thrown at him during a game? What about John Stockton? Brett Favre? Why was the mother of Washington Redskins' Clinton Portis attacked during the Eagles game? Incidentally, mama clocked the attacker, and rightfully so.

Again, I am a protectionist. I'm perfectly willing to take whatever punishment is due if I put my hands on someone, but I will only touch someone if I'm attacked or if my loved ones are. In a society that is hell-bent on proving its might versus doing what's right, the pacifists need to arm up some. The meek will inherit the earth, but will be a bit bloodied in the process.

Monday, January 16, 2006

No Day, but Today

I'm trying to avoid the whole say something smart because today is MLK Day, even though I'm at work. And, I'm trying to avoid getting all preachy because it's almost unwritten that liberal, or liberal=leaning bloggers should say something quasi-preachy on such a day. No such luck. I'm gonna get preachy.

Last night's episode of The Boondocks, called "The Return of The King" was funny as hell, in normal Boondocks fashion, but also in Boondocks fashion, asked what would Dr. King think if he saw the state of Black America, or at least the state of Black America as Black America wants you to see it. Were the beatdowns, spitting-ons, hosing, and dog attacks all done so the respect for our culture by White America is not based on jazz, but gangsta rap? The beauty of Black woman either wrapped in suggestive or almost nonexistent clothing? The glorification of underground life led by hustlers, no more than clever thieves; drug dealers, and pimps, who are much more than fast-talking, boldly dressed clowns, but are exploiters of the lowest kind? Would Dr. King really want to mark the night before his commemoration with a special party at da club?

I live in a White neighborhood. Yeah, there are a few Blacks, and if you cross a particular avenue, the Italian and Irish families were replaced in the 1970's with Latino families who are still there. For the most part, though, my neighborhood is officially gentrified, which is a fancy word meaning two G's a month for a studio and a mill for a whole house, a 24-hour supermarket, a Starbucks around the corner, and a Barnes & Noble in walking distance. Whenever there is trouble of the loud argument, fight-about-to-break-out variety, it's usually involving the few Blacks still in the 'hood, or Blacks and Latinos who visit the 'hood. My Black ass pays way too much money to put up with even a minute's disturbance of the tranquility I pay so dearly for. Fuck your keepin' it real. If you were so interested in keepin' it real, your dumb ass wouldn't continue to live in the White man's community. But when I call the cops, I'm the one branded "un-Black" and it's a brand I've worn since childhood. You probably haven't heard the term "un-Black" but you've definitely heard the term "Oreo" -- White on the inside, Black on the outside.

Who says that Black means ill-fitting clothes; either five sizes too big or too small? Who decided that all Blacks should speak at top volume or play their music at top volume? Who said that an interest in books or education is a White thing? Why shouldn't I call the police if your conversation with your buddies outside my building at midnight disturbs me? And who was on the committee to decide what is Black?

The funny thing is that when Black History Month rolls around, we see the same faces of scientists, business leaders, artists and activists whose brilliance and elegance are used over and over to teach White and non-White children how wonderful Black people are. Even some of the clownse guilty of the crimes I mentioned before teach their kids about George Washington Carver and Benjamin Banneker and Martin Luther King. Yet, the actions don't meet with the sentiments. I'm not suggesting that all of us dress and act conservatively. Hell, I've had plenty of loud music in the car moments. I've had loud laugh sessions on my stoop on warm summer nights. I've even done a thing or two outside the law. I just don't think that junk-shaking and droppin' it like it's hot, or I'm swinging or shooting at you because I think you disrespected me is what "the dream" was about. We have to do better. Not because it makes us nice, or acceptable, or tolerable, but because, damn it, we should. The movie "Soul Plane" made millions, and I guess it should because it was funny. Strong story? No. Great acting? Absolutely not. Would I show it to an alien who wanted to know what Black life in America was like? Not in a million years. However, movies like "Love Jones," and "Once When We Were Colored" are virtually ignored. Go to a Broadway show, even one with what should be a decent Black following like The Lion King or an August Wilson play, and the audience is more White than Black. Please don't give me business about the high cost of tickets. Tourists from around the country and around the world stand on line at the Tkts booth in Times Square waiting for a chance to buy discount tickets. We're running, though, to see foolish My Big Mama Burnt The Chicken 'Cause She Was Prayin' I'd Find a Good Man dreck by the busload.

There is no day, but today, for us to aim higher. Some of my people are scraping the bottom, and there is nowhere to go but up. I just hope we get up soon.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

See? Somebody Heard Me

Even before I knew a holy theme park was in the works, God was listening to me. Even better, for once, my brain and mouth were in sync.

Didn't yo' mama tell you not to let your mouth write a check yo' behind can't cash?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Said I Wasn't Gonna Say Nothin'

Okay. NBC has a sitcom called "The Book of Daniel" which features a preacher and his dysfunctional family, including a coupla queers, a drug dealin' kid and a relative who steals from the church. The show also features the padre having regular chats with Jesus, who, except for the long white robe, appears to be just an average dude. The American Family Association, champions of all things homogeneously Christian, is calling on members to pressure local NBC affiliates to not carry the show, and some are indeed opting not to. One affiliate claims his decision not to carry the show isn't because of content, but to protest what he calls strong-arm tacticts of the parent network.

Let me understand this. You're an affiliate of NBC. You're unhappy with the obligation to carry shows your owner, if you will, wants you to. I'll make some concessions here. I don't know how this works, but I'm thinking that if you refuse programming often enough, your affiliate relationship will be jeopardized. And, aren't you, small station manager, benefitting from your relationship with a larger network? If you're so unhappy with orders from the big bosses, why not sever ties and do your own thing? Oh, wait, I know why. Because your small station gets to take advantage of big advertising dollars. Betcha this cat won't refuse to carry something like the Super Bowl because he's afraid a boob will pop out. Sigh.

But never mind those small potatoes. Riddle me this. Why call yourself the American Family Association, or the Family Research Council, or Concerned Women for America, or blah blah blah America when you're not interested in representing all of America? What's up with the sanitizing and Christianizing of America? Do these people really think that there will be no more gays and lesbians if other gays and lesbians never see themselves in magazines or on television? Do they really believe that seeing less sex on television make people less inclined to have sex? How did we all get here before television if no one was having sex? Does criminalizing abortion mean women won't have them? Or get pregnant? And where are these women so concerned for America when all these babies are born? Are they lining up to adopt? No? Okay.

Then, why is it that homo-haters are always busted soliciting gay sex? And I'm not talkin' about just trying to get a boyfriend. I'm talkin' about chasing down anonymous sex in a bathroom or trolling for male hookers. We've always said that the ones who yell faggot the loudest usually are.

And, why is Pat Robertson still allowed to speak? Between him and Jerry Falwell, he's really making Christians sound dumber than dirt. Why isn't Israel knocking on his Virginia doors and whoopin' his ass for saying that Ariel Sharon's stroke is God vengeance for trying to create peace between Israel and Palestine? And why are people taking Jim Dobson seriously? Weren't we convinced he was a horse's ass with the Teletubbies and Spongebob fiascos? Now he's targeting Barbie? He needs to tell Mattel to put some meat on Barbie's bones.

And, Fred Phelps (I'm not calling him Reverend because there is little reverent about him), who can't let a day go by without a protest, is now targeting soldiers' funerals. You heard me correct. The same guy who thinks the king of Sweden "looks all slutty and gay" plans to start his God Hates Fags crusade at the funerals of American soldiers who died protecting America. He's protesting because America harbors gays, and the death of soldiers is God's wrath for doing so. He's joining the so-called religious folk who blame natural disasters across the globe on homosexuality.

Mama said she wasn't gonna say nothin, because she needs to keep her head on somethin, but I can't hold my tongue. At what point does the media stop giving these crackpots a mic? Don't we ignore tantrum-throwing children in the hope that they'll get bored with their tirade and zip it? We can't, Constitutionally, shut them up, but we can opt to ignore them. why, in the name of all things holy, do they still get media attention? If only 20 or so percent of American Christians identify as evangelicals, why is the remaining 80% not screaming at them to shut the holy hell up? Do they have that much power?

Oh, my sweet Lord, help me.