Monday, January 14, 2008
Once in a while I find content written by someone else, where all I can say is Amen. Check out this great piece by William Jelani Cobb in The Washington Post:
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when “black president” was synonymous with “president of black America.” That was the office to which Jesse Jackson appointed himself in the 1970s — resigned to the fact that the actual presidency was out of reach. In 2003, Chris Rock wrote and directed “Head of State,” a film about the first black man to win the presidency. (It was a comedy.) And in the ultimate concession, some African Americans have attempted to bestow the title of black president upon Bill Clinton — a white man. In the wake of his strong showing in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, Sen. Barack Obama has already permanently changed the meaning of that term. It is no longer an oxymoron or a quixotic in-joke. And this, perhaps more than anything else, explains his tortured relationship with black civil rightsleaders.
The most amazing thing about the 2008 presidential race is not that a black man is a bona fide contender, but the lukewarm response he has received from the luminaries whose sacrifices made this run possible. With the notable exception of Joseph Lowry, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference veteran who gave a stirring invocation at Obama’s Atlanta campaign rally in June and subsequently endorsed him, Obama has been running without much support from many of the most recognizable black figures in the political landscape.That’s because, positioned as he is between the black boomers and the hip-hop generation, Obama is indebted, but not beholden, to the civil rights gerontocracy.
A successful Obama candidacy would simultaneously represent a huge leap forward for black America and the death knell for the reign of the civil rights-era leadership — or at least the illusion of their influence. The most recent example of the old guard’s apparent aversion to Obama was Andrew Young’s febrile YouTube ramblings about Bill Clinton being “every bit as black as Barack Obama” and his armchair speculation that Clinton had probably bedded more black women during his lifetime than the senator from Illinois — as if racial identity could be transmitted like an STD. This could be dismissed as a random instance of a politician speaking out of turn were it not part of an ongoing pattern.
Last spring, Al Sharpton cautioned Obama “not to take the black vote for granted.” Presumably he meant that the senator had not won over the supposed gatekeepers of the black electorate. Asked why he had not endorsed Obama, Sharpton replied that he would “not be cajoled or intimidated by any candidate.” More recently Sharpton claimed on his radio show that the candidates’ recent attention to issues of civil rights was a product of pressure from him. Although Jackson is not entirely unfamiliar with the kind of thing that’s happening to Obama — Coretta Scott King endorsed Walter Mondale over him in 1984 — he also got into the act. He criticized Obama for not championing the “Jena Six” cause — the case of six young black men in Louisiana charged with beating a white classmate — vigorously enough.
After Obama’s Iowa victory, Jackson demanded that the senator bolster “hope with substance.”Taken as a conglomerate, Jackson, Young, Sharpton and Georgia Rep. John Lewis represent a sort of civil rights old boy network — a black boy network — that has parlayed its dated activist credentials into cash and jobs. Jackson, a two-time presidential candidate, has become a CNN host; Young was mayor of Atlanta and sits on numerous corporate boards; and Lewis is essentially representative-for-life of the 5th Congressional District in Georgia. Sharpton is younger than the others but a peer in spirit.To the extent that the term “leader” is applicable, these four men likely represent the interests of Democratic Party insiders more than those of the black community.
Both Young and Lewis have endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton; Sharpton and Jackson have acted ambivalent, alternately mouthing niceties about Obama and criticizing his stances on black issues.It may be that, because they doubt that he can actually win, the civil rights leaders are holding Obama at arm’s length in an attempt to build their houses on what looks to be the firmer ground. And there are certainly patronage benefits should Clinton win. She owes black pols, starting with Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who first suggested that the party endorse her for a New York Senate seat. Rangel has also lined up behind Clinton.There is far more to politics — even racial politics — than skin color.
Still it is counterintuitive to think that Lewis, whose political career began when he was bludgeoned in Selma, Ala., fighting for black voting rights, is witnessing the rise of the first viable black presidential candidate and yet opts to support a white machine politician.One of the most telling aspects of Young’s YouTube commentary was his statement that he’d called his political connections in Chicago about Obama and been told “they don’t know him.” There are certainly reasons not to support Obama, but not having friends in common isn’t one of them. Young went on to announce that Obama was too young and should wait until 2016 — a curious statement considering that Young was apprenticed to Martin Luther King Jr., who was 26 when he launched the Montgomery bus boycotts that eventually toppled segregation.
The cynical braying about Obama’s prospects has not been confined to the liberal civil rights quarters of black America. The conservative commentator Shelby Steele argued in his book “A Bound Man” that Obama isn’t perceived as “black” enough to win over African American voters. In fact, Obama strategists have been struggling to convince black voters that Obama can actually win over white voters and be a viable candidate. Many blacks want to support a winner and hope that Obama will become more attractive to white voters, not less.
Part of this disconnect is a generational divide, one that is apparent in Jackson’s own household. Following Jackson’s criticism of Obama in the Chicago Sun-Times, his son, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., wrote a passionate defense of Obama’s activistcredentials.As polls show increasing black support for Obama, Jackson, Sharpton and Young begin to look like a once-wealthy family that has lost its fortune but has to keep spending to maintain appearances. Obama’s tepid early showing among blacks in the polls had more to do with name recognition and concerns about his viability as a candidate than with Jackson or Sharpton withholding their endorsement. Ignoring Sharpton or Jackson is not the same thing as taking the black vote for granted. It is a reasonable calculation that neither of them can deliver many votes and certainly not enough to offset the number of white votes that their approval could lose Obama.
Jackson and Sharpton might be holding out for a better deal in exchange for their support, but with Oprah Winfrey and Chris Rock among Obama’s list of supporters, they have little to bargain with. If Obama makes a strong showing in the South Carolina primary — the first with a substantial number of black voters — it will become apparent that the black boy network has begun bouncing checks. The irony is that for generations of black “firsts,” the prerequisite for entering an institution was proving that you were just like the establishment that ran it. (Think of Jackie Robinson’s approach to the major leagues, or the host of “articulate Negro” roles in Sidney Poitier’s body of work.) Obama has been vastly successful by doing just the opposite: masterfully positioning himself as an outsider. In the process, he’s opened the door even wider for black outsiders. Too bad his predecessors refuse to help push him the rest of the way inside.
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Friday, January 4, 2008
Here are the top 20 Hot Ghetto Messes of 2007. Makes you wanna holler and throw up your hands.
In no particular orderâ€¦.
1. Prophetess Juanita Bynum & Bishop Edwin Weeks
It doesnâ€™t get much worse than this: A highly revered religious figure getting a hot ghetto mess beatdown in a hotel parking lot by her highly revered religious husband. Jesus take the wheel. And then four hours later Bynum posts pics of her bruises on the internet? WTF? As Fresh at C & D would say, something in the milk ainâ€™t clean about this whole thing. At this point Iâ€™m just waiting for the rivers of blood and locusts. Cause if this is how church leaders get down, there aint much hope for us mere mortals. BTW if she is a prophetess, shouldnt she have seen this attack coming? Holy hot ghetto mess Batman!
2. Guy Suing Over His Pants
This idiot. A Washington D.C. magistrate judge, Roy Pearson sued his dry cleaners for 54 million dollars for losing a pair of his pants. He rejected offers to settle, first for $3,000, then for $4,600 and finally for $12,000. He lost of course, and made a spectacle of himself and the legal process. Although they prevailed in the court case, due to excessive legal fees, the cleaners had to close. Roy Pearson, you and your pants are hot ghetto mess. Heavy starch.
3. U.S. Congress
They came in with big hopes and big dreams. They told us to elect them and they would end the war and change the world. What they neglected to mention is just how many of them we needed to elect to make a difference. Without a 60 vote majority in the Senate (which would prevent a filibuster), the Dems in Congress cant pass shit. Talk about bamboozled and led astray. Much ado about nothing.
4. OJ Arrested
Lawdy Bee. 2007 had run its course relatively smoothly and then this ninja pops back up. He gets arrested trying to house his shit back from the shady low-lifes who stole it and who are now trying to sell it out of a cheap Vegas motel room. It donâ€™t get much more of a hot ghetto mess than that. It was pretty pitiful, and if he hadnâ€™t killed those two people, I just may have felt bad for him.
5. Britney Spears
Nuff said. Empirical evidence that hot ghetto mess crosses all color lines.
6. Larry Craig
Craig had his drink and his two-step going in a bathroom stall (allegedly) trying to cop a quick BJ before he headed home to his wife. Word is he had to pass about 5 bathrooms to get to the â€œhot spotâ€ bathroom known for random sexual encounters between gay men. Mayun, the only thing I’ve gotten in a public restroom is urine on the bottom of my pants. What a hot ghetto mess.
7. Subprime Loans
Yes, Im talking to you. For all yall who failed to read the fine print or who got loans you cant afford ( and you knew it) this is for you. If you are a mortgage broker or a lender and sold loans to people you KNEW wouldnâ€™t be able to make the payments , this is for you. I believe I speak for all Americans who are now paying the price for these nimrods. Your ARM mortgage was a hot ghetto mess.
8. R & B and Hip Hop
I hate to say it but aside from Kanye and Jill Scott (and maybe Jay-Z and Nas and Lupe ) this has been one of the worst years ever for black music. R & B and Hip hop has officially become straight bullshit. I mean all this T-pain and J Holliday bullshit they play ad nauseum on all these â€œblackâ€ stations is out of control. Rihanna, the Queen of R & B? Are you kidding me? From a culture that defined soul and hip hop and R & B, we should be ashamed at the product being put out. Whenever Justin Timberlake, Amy Winehouse, and Robin Thicke are the hottest niggas in the game, something is terribly wrong.
9. Veterans Affairs
Itâ€™s a crying shame. We send soldiers to die and then donâ€™t even want to take care of them when they return as mental and physical shells of their former selves. The press revealed terrible deficiencies at Walter Reed and in general with the health care of vets and their families. So U.S. Military and U.S. Veterans Administration, yâ€™all are a hot ghetto mess.
10. Gas Prices
11. Shuttle Love
The most amusing/disturbing/hot ghetto mess love triangle in years was brought to us straight from NASA. From Pluto to pepper spray, this story had it all. Love, hate, Depends undergarments. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1—Lisa Nowak, you are a woman scorned and also a hot ghetto mess.
12. Mass Shooters
>Whatâ€™s so sad is that mass shootings in this country have become so common that it barely makes the news. When Columbine went down they interrupted programs and had all types of special reports. Nowadays weâ€™re lucky if it even makes the lead story. Hey mass shooters, when you are considering these murder-suicides, why donâ€™t you drop the murder part.
13. Celebrity Criminals
These idiots. From Michael Vick to T.I. to Lindsay Lohan to Paris Hilton to Keifer Sutherland to Foxy Brown . They all showed us how having looks, opportunity, fame and fortune doesnâ€™t mean you still cant make a disaster of your lives and disappoint those who supported your careers. Thanks guys!
14. Celebrities Caught-on-Tape
Whether its Mel Gibson, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Alec Baldwin or Kim Kardashian– in this era of Youtube and cell phone video and voice mailâ€”more celebs ( and I use this term loosely) than ever are being caught in candid recordings saying and doing some very unflattering things. From David Hasselhoffâ€™s drunk knight rider ass eating that hamburger on the floor to Baldwin giving his daughter a good what-for via voicemail, stars are showing their asses as the world just sits back and shakes our collective heads. Kim Kardashianâ€™s crazy cat lady voicemail to Ray-J and Dog The Bounty Hunters using the n-word like it was going out of style clearly demonstrate that these â€œstarsâ€ are just as ignorant and fucked up as the rest of us. But for real, the world would be a better place if more parents handed out tongue lashings like Alec Baldwin. If you are an A-thru-F-list celebrity and have been caught on tape doing God knows what this year, then you are a hot ghetto mess.
15. Chinese Imports
The Chinese are killing us softly. In addition to a 200 billion dollar trading deficit with China and them buying up the U.S. like a rapper in a jewelry store,â€”now they are straight poisoning us with a bunch of lead toys and bad food. And the US is such a slave to China, we arenâ€™t doing anything about it. Yâ€™all may make all these salt-pepper-ketchup jokes but I foresee all of us in blue jumpsuits being forced labor in a Chinese factory based in Chicago any day now. Trade relations and Chinese imports are a hot ghetto mess. Whatchuwantonit? We had a rhyme when I was a kid that went “Me Chinese, me play joke, me put pee pee in your Coke…”– who knew it was an premonition.
It seemed like there were more stories than ever this year about kids being brutalized and killed. What is going on in America? Every other week a kid has been beaten to death, chained in a closet, raped, tortured or otherwise victimized all over the country. And if its not a kid, itâ€™s a pregnant woman being killed. Its really disturbing how prevalent these stories are now. They say the children are our future but how can they be if weâ€™re killing them, putting them in boxes and sending them down a river? Child abusers and pregnant woman killers, youâ€™re a hot ghetto mess.
17. The Middle East & Africa
OK, I mean WTF. They are really off the hook. Sometimes you just want to go over there and tell those folks to just go to the gym, have a starbucks coffee, eat fast food, listen to their ipod, take drugs and chill the fuck out. Just like the rest of the Western world. All that suicide bombing and killing and lashing and stoning and sectarian violencing and mass graving and women subordinating and female circumcising and rigged electioning and civil warringâ€”all that shit is a hot ghetto mess. Iâ€™ll take the hood any day of the week.
18. Steroid Takers
I say we make steroids legal so the playing field will be level again. Everyoneâ€™s balls will be the size of acorns and women’s tits will shrink up, but so be it, weâ€™ll have a good game.
19. Dumb Ass Black Protests
With the exception of the Jena Six march, 2007 was a banner year for dumb ass black protests about nothing. From the protest over the hot ghetto mess TV show to the protest about Don Imus to Norbit to the march on injustice to the people protesting on the head of BETâ€™s lawn to the Congressional hearing on Hip hop to â€œactivistâ€ blogs that would protest a ham sandwich if the bread was whiteâ€”it was a year we can look back at and say, what a waste of cyberspace, picket signs and bullhorns. Yawn.
20. Kim Jung Il
BONUS HOT GHETTO MESS AWARD:
The Hot Ghetto Mess Bonus award goes to these losers who killed Washington Redskin Sean Taylor. They managed to rid the world of five black men at once. Five black
potential husbands, fathers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, mentors, community leaders. When will we get it? Look ninjas, if you want nice stuff, dont rob and kill for it. Get a job, finance it and drown in credit like the rest of us. damn. Ninjas and flies….
Hereâ€™s to a better and brighter and 2008! We got to do better.