“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’ Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:41-46
Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s sermon where he damns America for its intolerance against the black community has been the source of a lot of conversation about race relations. Mr. Wright claims that Hillary Clinton has never been called a nigger. Ms. Clinton did not deny this charge so chances are extremely high that this is true. Mr. Wright said that Ms. Clinton didn’t know what it was like to be a struggling black person here in America. Ms. Clinton is as much a Caucasoid as they come so this is probably true as well. In fact, a lot of what Mr. Wright said was accurate and factual.
America has been built on the backs and with the blood of the children of Africa. Generally speaking, while black people toiled in fields of agriculture with no pay, no benefits, no rights, no education, no citizenship, and no acknowledgement of the fact that they were human, white people enjoyed the fruits of black people’s enslavement. While not all white people owned slaves, they benefited from the low price of many goods and services because the investment in labor cost was so minimal. While not all white people owned slaves, white people benefited from the fact that blacks remained uneducated and were less likely to compete in the job market for many positions that required an education, talents, or learned skills.
In this environment, some black people were able to overcome these conditions so overwhelmingly stacked against their success. The dominant community allowed some black people to go free if their owners gave them permission. Some black people were able to accumulate wealth as long as they were careful to stay within the strict confines that constituted acceptable black behavior. But black people could never forget that their success and their status were subject to tolerance from the dominant community. This may help to explain why many well to do blacks, who used to be aware of the inequity between the black community and the white community but now have accumulated their own materialism and wealth, do well to say nothing against the status quo of white privilege and black subjugation.
Any white person could jeopardize a black person’s position in the dominant community controlled so greatly by the members of the white community. For example, a white woman can accuse a black man of rape and unleash a mob of white retaliation on the entire black community regardless of the merits of the claim. And after the violence against the black community is done, white people are free to go back to their lives without any fear of justice for their transgressions against black people. This type of behavior was rampant in the days of slavery and continues today with such intolerance for black people who think they have the right to defend themselves from white people. John White made this error when he tried to defend his family and property from the drunken mob of white youths led by Daniel Cicciaro. The Jena Six made this mistake when they had the audacity to fight back against white students who instigated racial conflicts when they hanged nooses from trees and initiated fights with their pranks of racial intolerance.
Black people are constantly overlooked by the dominant community. The dominant community will pull out a series of excuses and reasons why it was impossible to help black people caught in the catastrophic flood of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. People in the black community are constantly told to exercise personal responsibility and to show some initiative to lift themselves out of the perpetual condition of black subjugation. It is okay to let black people lose their houses to predatory lending practices that force black people with good credit into sub prime loans that make borrowing more expensive. But, when the ripple effect of so many black people losing their homes suddenly affects the banks and investment firms on Wall Street the government is quick to do what it can to save them.
A nationally syndicated radio talk show host calls black women nappy headed ho’s and the dominant community says its black people’s fault because black rappers who get paid by the corporate music industry controlled primarily by white people makes the subject so confusing. The main character from a nationally syndicated show about bounty hunters call his son’s black girlfriend a nigger and the dominant community says this is okay because it happened behind closed doors. A white comedian gets on stage and espouses the lynching of black hecklers repeatedly calling black people niggers and asking somebody to get him a rope and the dominant community gives him a break because he’s under so much stress. A former Secretary of Education makes the suggestion that crime can be reduced by aborting all black babies and people defend his words by saying that people are trying to take his words out of context. And through all this, people who bring attention to the disparity that has become the standard operating procedure in America are the problem.
With all this racial disparity under America’s collective belt, the dominant community expects black people to simply go along with the status quo of white privilege and black subjugation without complaint. For the most part, the broader community doesn’t care about what happens to the black community. We would prefer to sweep all of this racial discord under the proverbial rug and pretend that everything is okay when racial relations are anything but okay. The black community is constantly under distress from this racial status quo. And when black people have the audacity to say that there is something wrong here these black people are ridiculed and minimized as wanting a pity party or having a victim mentality or wanting a handout or whatever standard knee jerk reaction that minimizes this disparity.
Is Mr. Wright out of line? Did he say anything that wasn’t true? No. He says that while others may sing god bless America there are plenty of people who can say god damn America. That should be no surprise. I’m sure when the people were standing outside the Superdome in those days after Katrina a lot of them were saying god damn America. When black people were being hanged from trees and being dragged behind cars with nooses around their neck I’m pretty sure that were saying god damn America. When black men are trying to defend their home from drunken white mobs I’m sure they were thinking god damn America. When black people were losing their homes in the sub prime mortgage meltdown while the government handed various American corporations billions of dollars on a silver platter I’m sure these people were saying god damn America. When qualified black people are rejected as a candidate for a job or for a learning opportunity or as President because someone says they don’t know why they don’t trust them, then god damn America.
America celebrates the fact that black children are murdered in boot camps for taking their grandmother’s car without permission. Police punch teenaged black girls in the face for breaking curfew and America is horrified that black people complain. America defends the fact that black teenaged boys are getting ten year prison sentences for having sex with teenaged girls. Black teenagers are being tried for second degree attempted murder for getting in fights with white teenagers and the dominant American community feigns confusion when black people rally to come to their aid. A black celebrity stands in front of white people and rips the black community a new one while he absolves the dominant community of its culpability in the condition of the black community. Black celebrities distance themselves from the black community and elevate themselves above their racial identity into the racially generic ether that is overwhelmingly dominated by members of the white community or who are very sensitive to white standards of thoughts are hailed as an example of black opinion that is acceptable, and manageable, by the dominant community.
Regardless of what a lot of people think the established political and corporate leadership does not have the welfare of the black community at heart. People may go into the black community and give some noble sounding speeches full of racial equality rhetoric with suggestions of finally giving some desperately needed fairness to the black community. But when these people get elected the black community will suffer even larger pattern of disparity while the status quo remains safe and even more reinforced.
A politician will promise to rid drugs from the black community. More police will patrol drug infested areas. More arrests are made of individuals who indulge in illegal drugs. People found with fifty grams of crack cocaine, an illegal drug found mostly in the black community, will receive the same sentence as people who carry five kilos of powdered cocaine, an illegal drug more associated with the white community. But the arrest of more people in the black neighborhood who use and sell drugs is nothing more than a simple placebo designed to placate the fears of people. Why are there so many black people using drugs? Where are the drugs in the black community coming from? How are the drugs getting into the black community? Some black people may applaud this heavy handed approach to the drug problem, but the strategy of locking up the drug seller or the drug user does not get to the roots of the problem which is the despair in the black community and the lack of opportunity for improvement in our lives. The long term solution is not in the incarceration of more sellers and users. God damn America!
America likes to tell black people to lift ourselves out of our predicament. Essentially the American government says that the conditions in the black community are not a concern for the dominant culture. This country would rather spend a trillion dollars and four thousand American lives in Iraq on a war to liberate that country from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein who never threatened a single American life. This country would rather go halfway around the world and stick our national nose in another country’s affairs and create a Pandora’s box like the world has never seen than do anything to help alleviate the despair of the black community. God damn America!
There is a great deal of despondency and depression in the black community. There is an overwhelming sense of disconnect from the major community. Instead of trying to build bridges and trying to build communities we are content to let the despair fester like an open wound. A country that is so willing to let such a large part of its population suffer such disparity is nothing that calls for god’s blessing. Such a country should be cursed. It should be damned to the deepest pit of hell. In a nation of such wealth and prosperity we tolerate so much disparity along racial lines. In Matthew 25:41-56, Jesus said that we will be judged by how well we take care of the least of us and not by how well we tell others to get their own bootstrap. As Mr. Wright said, it is in the bible. The bible indicates this happened just two days before the Passover.
America is willing to spend as much time as it takes to understand what drives a white man to strap a fake bomb to their person and hold an entire office of presidential campaign workers hostage. The city will waste no resource in order to find a peaceful solution that will allow the troubled man to get some help for his mental condition that drives his lack of judgment. But let it be a black man who has a history of mental problems and threatening the community with a hairbrush. After five minutes of trying nothing the police will have no choice but to open fire in order to keep the black man from brushing somebody’s hair. God damn America!
But in all honesty we have damned ourselves. The drug problem that is festering in America got its foothold in the black community because people were willing to ignore the plight of the black people who indulged in drugs. The people who are willing to let the education of the black community lapse will pay with higher cost of a social welfare burden that will be a drain on local, state, and federal treasures. The lack of adequate medical care that permeates the black community will drive up medical cost for everyone without being an effective help to anyone. And as a country, we are more than willing to sit back and allow corporate America to rape black people with higher costs for credit, insurance, and housing until we get to a point where those chickens have come home to roost and we find ourselves facing a global financial crisis of epidemic proportions that has the dollar falling against currencies around the world. Our inability to provide a share in the prosperity of America to everyone will come back to damn us all.
Yesterday I cringed at the announcement that Ralph Nader is going to run for President as a third party candidate. Here we go again was my first thought. Whenever Mr. Nader runs for the presidency he steals votes from the Democratic candidate. Without any chance of actually winning the presidency Mr. Nader stole enough votes in Florida to keep Al Gore from taking that state in the 2000 presidential race. Had Mr. Nader stayed out of the political fray we all could be in an alternate reality where there is no war, the economy isn’t on the rocks, people aren’t losing their houses, Exxon/Mobile isn’t making a billion dollars a week, the national debt is still on a decline instead of getting ready to top nine trillion dollars, the dollar isn’t plummeting to a point where it has global worth equal to the peso, we wouldn’t have a Supreme Court that tells people the best way to fight racism is to pretend it doesn’t exist, people would have rebuilt their houses a long time ago in New Orleans and elsewhere on the gulf coast, global warming would get the attention it deserves, the Kyoto Accords would be honored by all the countries of the world, and the Untied States would not exist as some pariah of the civilized world. Thank you Mr. Nader!
I just got through listening to Ralph Nader on Talk of the Nation Monday afternoon. I had tuned into the show with preconceived notions filling my head of Mr. Nader being a spoiler and working to undermine the efforts of the Democratic Party in order to hand the presidency to the Republican nominee. The program just ended and those predetermined ideas of Mr. Nader are history. I have to admit that compared to any Democratic or Republican candidate that I have ever heard in my life Mr. Nader’s opinions and thinking most closely match my own.
I wished I had recorded the conversation and the calls the answers to all the calls that were coming in. Unfortunately, the conversation was over before I realized it. Mr. Nader is not running as a spoiler. Mr. Nader is running as a man who is truly concerned about the direction this country is going and the cozy, self serving relationship that powerful corporate interest have with the status quo political machine.
For example, Mr. Nader understands that expanding the Medicaid program that covers many senior citizens so that it covers everybody is the most efficient way to provide universal healthcare to the entire population. One caller called in asking why we would be interested in universal healthcare when people in Canada, which has universal healthcare, have to wait for months for medical services. People go to Canada for medicine and not for medical services. The caller went on to say that the United States has the best medical technology of any country in the world. Mr. Nader explained that nobody in Canada does from a lack of medical care. The medical technology that we enjoy isn’t available to everyone but just the people who are fortunate enough to afford, or to work for entities that can afford the best healthcare that money can buy. People in Canada wait for elective surgeries. People in Canada wait to get nose jobs and liposuction. Nobody waits until they’re dead to be approved for a cancer treatment.
I can’t stand the bow tied bamboozler Tucker Carlson. But Mr. Nader was on his show talking about the power needs of America and the need to take the nuclear option off the table because power producers want guarantees from the government on liabilities in the case of an accident. If these utilities were so serious about safety then why do they need guarantees? In typical American corporation fashion these companies will do the minimum necessary to meet safety standards in order to maximize profits. If my family and I were going to take a taxi ride but the taxi driver wanted guarantees that if he had a collision we wouldn’t hold him liable, chances are very good we’d look for another taxi. In an era of people advocating people taking personal responsibilities utility corporations want guarantees that no one would hold them personally responsible.
Corporations have deep pockets to buy politicians twenty five hours a day for three hundred sixty seven days out of the year. Running for office has become so expensive that people cannot do it without the help of corporate investments. At one point in American history, if you wanted to run for office, all you had to do was ask to have your name printed on the ballot. Now, with primaries and caucuses and federal campaigning laws and the like this animal has grown unwieldy and inflexible as the two party system has pretty much eliminated any outside competition. Mr. Nader is not running as a spoiler for anyone. In fact, Mr. Nader claims that the Democrats and the Republicans have spoiled the system in order to exclude anyone who doesn’t play by their rules from running for the presidency. No matter how many Green Party candidates or other independent parties make a stab at the presidency, more than likely it will be a Democrat or a Republican and regardless of which one you chose it pretty much is business as usual.
Mr. Nader expressed his disappointment with Mr. Gore for not fighting harder for the presidency that was rightfully his. Mr. Nader was disappointed that Mr. Gore didn’t do a better job of exposing George Bush’s history as the chief executive of Texas. People in Texas are much too rigid and inflexible to see the problems Mr. Bush left in his wake as Governor of that state. Houston became the most polluted city in America under Mr. Bush’s watch. Under Mr. Bush’s watch the Texas justice system developed into a machine that puts more people to death than in any other time in the state’s history. The man is reckless. And it is not Mr. Nader’s fault for Mr. Bush being in office.
I have to confess to a newfound appreciation for Ralph Nader. While I seriously doubt that if he could actually get the presidential nomination I have to confess that I wish Mr. Nader luck. No matter what candidate you pick he appears to have a genuine interest in helping people. He understands that poverty is best countered by providing jobs and educational opportunities for everyone. Corporate entities don’t make for good public citizens. Corporations are only looking out for their investors and their upper management. Unfortunately, the Republicans and the Democrats share that selfish characteristic. The American people be damned.
The popular proverb from notable economist is that the President is limited in his ability to direct the national economy. There is no national economy steering wheel where the President can swerve the economy through the doldrums. But such sympathetic bullshit towards our President’s current problems is totally without merit. When George W. Bush was the Republican Party nominee and was trying to promote himself as the savior who will lead the nation away from the policies of then President Bill Clinton, his vision and ability to steer the economy was so clear that he could see the mild recession headed our way back in 2000. Mr. Bush took up residency in the White House with the economy as his main concern.
Our new President implemented a policy of tax breaks that could not be derailed by a costly war. This is the first time in American history that a President has supported tax breaks in a time of war. This is the first time in American history that corporate conglomerates are profiteering from their participation in the war effort. The estimate is that direct spending on the war has reached seven hundred fifty billion dollars. The indirect estimate is as high as three trillion dollars. The tax breaks, which have paid off handsomely for the average American billionaires and millionaires, is estimated to cost the country four trillion three hundred thousand dollars.
When Mr. Bush took office he had a secret panel help him shape his energy policy. The panel is rumored to consist of a who’s who in the oil industry. From the moment he took office the price of oil began to creep up like it has never crept before. I remember paying as little as ninety cents for gasoline during Bill Clinton’s presidency. When he left office the price of gasoline in my neighborhood was about a buck fifteen. The market price for oil was about twenty dollars a barrel. I could fill up a bone dry gas tank on my little Honda wagon for fourteen dollars. Now, not quite eight years later it is costing me forty five dollars to fill my gas tank. A gallon of gas around the corner from the house cost three dollars twenty cents and is projected to past four dollars by summer. A barrel of oil now cost well over a hundred ten dollars give or take a few cents. What did the President have to say when he was asked about the high cost of energy? Nobody told him that gas was going to go that high.
The war on terror and America’s Iraqi campaign has destabilized the region. The Bush administration is hell bent on keeping tension in the area as high as possible. Such anxiety only fuels the fires that help keep the price of oil going higher and higher. But this is okay because oil companies can make record profits. Forty three billion dollars in a single year is a hell of an income. Is there any wonder if there were any Exxon/Mobile executives in Mr. Bush’s secret energy policy panel?
With Americans spending four dollars a gallon for gas and losing our homes in a credit market considered chaotic is it really surprising to see people abandoning stores like never before? The President wants to tell people that times are tough and we need to give the economic stimulus package a chance. A minimum of three hundred dollars tax rebate for all the tax payers will put us back in track. If that’s all it takes why doesn’t the President rescind the tax cuts and give all of those billionaires and millionaires a three hundred dollar rebate check? If it will work wonders for the average American why not let it work for them? Because the President knows that three hundred dollar check or six hundred dollar check or twelve hundred dollar check is not going to do much in an economy that has people paying four dollars a gallon for gasoline. It’s not going to do jack for people who are about to lose their home. Just like a three hundred dollar check wouldn’t do much for Exxon/Mobile or for Halliburton or for Blackwater.
The President wants the public to wait for the results of his stimulus package so that he can buy time to pack his things and get out of the White House. He’s more than happy to leave this mess for the next President. And if we elect John McCain we can have another four years of failed economic, social, and defense policies. Mr. McCain has promised to keep the war going and has confessed he doesn’t know jack about the economy. If that doesn’t sound like George Bush then I don’t know what does. Why Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or even Ralph Nader would want the responsibility of trying to clean up this mess is so beyond my ability to comprehend.
George Bush doesn’t have to tell me times are tough. I live here. I’ve experienced his economic and energy policies. I know that time’s are tough. But I also know that these times are not tough for Exxon/Mobile or Halliburton or Blackwater. Their businesses are more profitable now than they’ve ever been before.
I know that the price of gas is headed north of four dollars a gallon without anybody having to tell me. A President would have to be either the biggest idiot or the biggest liar to claim that he has no idea that gasoline was headed up again. And although he may be intellectually lazy, Mr. Bush is no run of the mill idiot. He took the economic steering wheel, downshifted to a passing gear, popped the clutch, and maneuver the United States economy over the nearest fiscal precipice. The claim that no President can direct the economy is not even remotely true. George Bush has proven that the President can be more influential than anyone would have ever thought possible on the most resilient economy human history has ever known. And his truly unique combination of actions and lack of action will have global repercussions.
As humans we have difficulty with concepts of supreme beings and spiritual entities. Our spirituality depends on our ability to take the supernatural and define it in parameters that are much closer to our own level of existence. A long time ago I learned as a Christian that god created man in his own image. But what is probably more accurate is to say that Christians defined god in man’s image. To think that god walks around in a human form is evidence of humanity’s god sized ego. We are very full of ourselves and our arrogance knows no bounds.
In the African spiritual tradition known as Ifa, we are constantly putting human weaknesses and failings on the Orisas and the Supreme Being we call Olodumare. I was taught to think of the Orisa community in rather simplistic terms based on Odu verses and patakis, African fables that have been passed verbally from one generation to another. There is the pataki of Ogun, the Orisa of technology, assaulting Yemonja, the Orisa of the ocean and mother of all Orisas and life of the planet itself. There is the story of how Osun, the Orisa of the river, seducing Ogun to return to the Orisa community after he exiled himself after his assault on Yemonja. There is the story of how Esu, the Orisa hell bent on teaching humanity lessons by trickery, tricked Obatala and wound up in Orisa jail. There is a story for almost everything.
But Orisas are not humans. They don’t lose their temper because somebody walked into a room without bowing to their Orisa pot. The worth of the Orisas isn’t dependant on the subjugation of people. That would be akin to people getting angry because ants refuse to bow when they come into our presence. The traditional way of thinking about Orisas has a way of making us appear more equal than we are. But in all honesty an Orisa wouldn’t care if we bowed, danced a jig, or did somersaults when we walked into their presence. Their presence is all around us and not in any ceramic pot, terra cotta pot, or any other pot you want to apply. We have trouble understanding people who exists outside our culture. How in the world are we going to understand Orisa? It is beyond our comprehension.
Even if we could understand the nature of Orisa, understanding the spiritual entity known in Ifa circles as Nana Buruku would still escape us. We associate Iya Nana Buruku with the Orisa community, but she is unlike any other Orisa. Orisas are infinitely old, but Nana Buruku is older still. Not a very easy concept for a human to wrap his or her conscious around. We have the misfortune of comprehending time literally as linearly. That’s okay because at this level of existence that is the only way we can interpret or experience time. But Orisas have a relationship with time that is beyond a start and finish. It has depths and dimensions and directions that we cannot fathom. Don’t try to understand it. It’s like trying to imagine a new color in the spectrum of visible light. It can’t be done.
To hear Iya Nana Buruku tell the story she is the beginning and the end of time at the Orisa level. She was there to watch the creation of Olodumare, the Supreme Being. She was actually in a state of waiting when Olodumare started the universe. She was waiting again when Olodumare sent Obatala to create order and humans on Earth. She is connected to the Earth itself. Ask her what does that mean and the Iya frowns from the effort of trying to put such a concept into words. It cannot be put into words the things that she represents. Nana Buruku has the ability to see deep within people to discern who they are, what they want, and what ails them. She was, is, and will be a consort of Babalu Aye, the Orisa of health. Iya is able to overlook Baba’s various wounds, bandages, and crutches and focus on the inner being. Her ability to see what ails people also makes her an asset in Baba’s work to help heal people and to keep disease from becoming rampant and getting out of hand.
Iya Nana Buruku is represented by the colors black and a pinkish purple or a mauve color. She has made the choice to be a part of the Orisa community and to exist at their level. But she is truly something else to behold. As humans with severely limited understanding of all things that exist on the Orisa level we cannot truly look at her and comprehend her truth and continue to exist as humans. To interact with Iya Nana Buruku is almost like interacting with a distant memory. There is something familiar and yet, at the same time it is far way and unusual. To experience her is not something to be taken lightly. This may sound a little vague and unclear. But despite what we have learned we are not supposed to understand things beyond our comprehension.
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned amid accusations that he patronized prostitutes, is now in a legal fight to avoid criminal charges. Mr. Spitzer made his public reputation over his willingness to pursue criminals and protect the public’s interest. As the attorney general for the state of New York, Mr. Spitzer prosecuted prostitution rings and their patrons. He gave his constituents the impression that his integrity was light years away from reproach. He was a steamroller of justice. He was the pit bull biting the ankle of crime.
But through a series of incredibly unfortunate incidents Mr. Spitzer is revealed to be little more than some of the criminals he pursued. It is true that he has done some public good. He is not a totally wicked person. Then again I’m sure if we look hard enough, many of the people he prosecuted did their fair share for their community. It should be noted that the good works and generosity if a criminal doesn’t mitigate the fact that we are talking about a criminal.
Mr. Spitzer has resigned. As a Governor patronizing prostitutes, Mr. Spitzer opened himself up to all kinds of potential problems. One of the scariest scenarios has the Governor opening his office up to the potential of being blackmailed. Imagine the owners of the prostitution ring or one of the prostitutes themselves demanding a favor of the Governor. Hey Spitzer, I got a speeding ticket the other day, could you fix it for me? Oh I think you can! Well what if I went to the papers about our little business deal? That’s what I thought. See you next Thursday.
Mr. Spitzer is humiliated. Long assumed to be a bastion of integrity he is exposed to have the same weaknesses and failings as the people he came down on as hard as possible. And yet, even though he knew that they had a little something in common, he had no sympathy. He stands in front of a podium with his dutiful wife Silda who he betrayed at his side. He has three young daughters that he has to face. Chances are that they have come to the obvious conclusion that they don’t who their father is. Those days when he wasn’t able to come on time, when he was working late, when he couldn’t come to their special events, are now questionable. Mr. Spitzer may have a lot of explaining to do to his children and to his wife.
I was listening to a radio pundit discuss Mr. Spitzer’s situation and make the suggestion that this man has suffered enough. He lost his job and he is very publicly humiliated. What more does the public want to happen to this guy?
I am reminded of Genarlow Wilson, the black seventeen year old who was sentenced to ten years in Georgia’s state prison for having oral sex with a fifteen year old girl. This black young man was humiliated and his mother had to endure the publicity for her son’s indiscretion. What more did the state of Georgia want from Mr. Wilson? They wanted justice. They wanted to send a clear message that society does not tolerate this kind of behavior from black people. I am reminded of Martin Lee Anderson who was sent to boot camp for joyriding in his grandmother’s car. The attorney general of the state of Florida didn’t hesitate to send this young man to a boot camp where he lost his life within hours of his arrival.
What would I want from former Governor Eliot Spitzer? I want him to face the same circumstances for prosecution that he subjected others to. I want him to face the same maximum extent of punishment that the law allows just like Genarlow Wilson had to endure for a crime so petty that his sentence almost defies comprehension. I would like for him to go to boot camp like Martin Anderson and feel what its like to try and breathe while having a baton across the throat and ammonia tablets up his nostrils. If maximum prosecution is good enough for black children who are not allowed to use the lack of judgment that comes from the exuberance of youth as a defense then it should be good enough for a former Governor and a former attorney general who knew exactly where the line of the law stood.
It doesn’t matter if New York state normally prosecutes such behavior or not. Mr. Spitzer opened himself up to prosecution the moment he made the choice to break the law. He’s a lawyer and he knew the law. His disdain for the state, his disrespect for law, his scorn of his constituents invites maximum prosecution. If people are squeamish about prosecuting Mr. Spitzer all they need to do is imagine what would happen if he was a teenaged black male. The way the law comes down on black youths? I’m sure nobody would have a problem throwing the proverbial book at him then.
“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position.” – Geraldine Ferraro, Daily Breeze, March 7, 2008.
One thing that I must say about the Republican Party is that their collective contempt for the black community is worn on their sleeve. Relatively speaking this contempt is held in the open for all to see. In the eyes of the typical Republican Party member the black community is not entitled to any special treatment from its government. A Republican President would rather spend a half trillion dollars and four thousand American lives in a battle of ideology to help the people in a country on the other side of the world than spend a dime building schools specifically for the black community. A Republican in the White House would rather give a corporate entity like Blackwater or Halliburton special treatment in the form of “no bid” federal contracts worth tens of billions of dollars and handsomely uplifting the profits of these companies during a time of war before they would help people in the black community during times of peace. A Republican controlled American government would rather give tax cuts worth more than four trillion dollars to billionaires and millionaires before they would give a black family the opportunity to apply for health insurance for their children. The Republican Party makes no attempt to appear to be a friend of the black community.
On the other hand the Democratic Party heavily depends on the black community for its political support. As far as I’ve been alive the Democratic Party has always made the appeal for black votes a priority in their political strategy. Ever since President John Fitzgerald Kennedy made the phone call to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was jailed for the peaceful protest of separate but equal facilities for the members of the black community, the Democratic Party has given the black people an impression that it is sympathetic to the needs of the black community. Most assumed leaders of the black community affiliate themselves with the Democratic Party. Most black people will call themselves Democrats. It is a given. But although it is a given that Democrats are more likely to support institutions and policies that are more beneficial to the average Joe in the black community, this by no means should be interpreted to mean Democratic leaders see black people as equal social contemporaries.
Ask a white Democratic United States Senator what positive impression does he have of his black counterpart and one is likely to hear one line compliments that he is clean or articulate. Ask the same question about a white counterpart and you will be more likely to hear a much more in depth analysis of their character, ideas, values, beliefs, and policies. The implication is that the black politician has nothing to offer but their personality and their ability to pronounce words unlike the typical black person. Ask a former President of the United States about a black politician that is well on his way to becoming the Democratic nominee for President of the United States and the former President wants to dismiss the black man’s success as the prelude to the failure of the typical black candidate. Yes Jessie Jackson may have failed in his attempt to be President twenty years ago. But Barack Obama is no Jessie Jackson and vice versa.
The latest example of evidence for this much more subtle form of black community contempt can be found in the comment from Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Like a lot of people, Ms. Ferraro contends that the only reason the public is infatuated with Barack Obama is because of the color of his skin. She explicitly says that if Mr. Obama was not black he would not be the leading contender in the Democratic nomination primaries. Her implication is that Mr. Obama is bereft of new ideas and unqualified to be considered the best person in the race to lead this country. Ms. Ferraro is actually trying to imply that the only reason Mr. Obama is in the position he is in, kicking Senator Clinton’s ass in the delegate race, is because of some public form of political affirmative action. Interestingly, Ms. Ferraro does not make the assumption that the only reason Ms. Clinton is in her position is that she is a woman. It is only the racial factor that catches her attention.
There is little doubt that Ms. Ferraro finds no pleasure in all the claims that she was Walter “Fritz” Mondale’s Vice Presidential running mate only because she was a female. Mr. Mondale needed a gender counter to the fact that President Ronald Reagan scored political points with women when he had appointed Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court. So there is plenty of circumstantial evidence to support this hypothesis. Ms. Ferraro probably bristled at every reference to the Mondale-Ferraro political ticket as “Fritz and Tits”. But now this leader of the Democratic Party wants to disparage the black candidate as nothing more than an unqualified black man taking advantage of his skin color. Actually, Ms. Ferraro has it backwards. Black people have not been the President of the United States because of the color of our skin. It is not an advantage. However, like a lot of white people when they see a black person as the best candidate for the job, Ms. Ferraro dismisses the black candidate’s accomplishments as nothing more than happenstance based on some popular myth that black people have it easier than white people. If it was so easy for black people to become President then Jessie Jackson, Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, and Alan Keyes would have done so a long time ago.
Ms. Ferraro’s comment should do nothing to diminish Mr. Obama’s accomplishments. It was a racist remark filled with racial resentment from a racist woman who is now out of the racist closet. The comment did nothing to help Senator Clinton in her campaign for the White House. The comment does nothing for the Democratic Party in its bid to look like a unified body in its bid for a return to the White House. The comment does nothing for anybody else for that matter. The only possible exception of people who would benefit from this comment would be the other racist people who gain credence and support in their effort to minimize the successes of Mr. Obama because of the color of his skin. The comment is just the latest reminder of the contempt some influential Democratic Party leaders have of their black supporters. Another white person who is not only playing the race card but a racial royal flush.
I have given Barack Obama a lot of static this presidential primary season. As a black man I have to confess that if all things were equal I would vote for a black candidate if given the option. But most importantly, all things must be equal or at least in the black candidates favor. However, Senator Obama has not impressed me as a presidential candidate. Although many people in the black community readily embrace him, and many others in the black community are ready to dismiss him for whatever odd reason, he’s not black enough, his mother was white so he’s not fully black, he needs more experience, he’s too skinny, or whatever, I have stayed rather lukewarm over the entire presidential race.
I also have to admit to some dismay that the presidential race has dwindled down to a choice between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The most important issue to me these days is the national disenfranchisement of the black community. John Edwards actually gave me the impression that he understood this fact more than Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton did. The most glaring example of this fact is the way both of these candidates approach the issue of universal healthcare. Neither one is thinking to change the system so that the incentive the insurers have to deny care for the public is no longer an issue. Both of these candidates want to make so called affordable insurance of healthcare the crux of the issue. But as long as somebody is able to make a profit the system it will be too expensive and there will always be an incentive to turn people down in order to make money. No one wants to venture the idea of expanding Medicaid to cover the population. That would be too socially responsible for this nation that spends a trillion dollars a year on socialized defense.
Ever since the Bush administration took over the chores at the White House the black community has come out on the shitty end of the stick. There may be little difference between what the Republican Party does when it’s in control of this government compared to the Democratic Party. But what little difference there is appears to be enough to make the vast majority of the black community shiver in fear to see another four years of Republican policy. Senator John McCain is promising to keep the fight going in Iraq does nothing but send chills up and down my spine. The commercials referring to Mr. McCain as McSame are more appropriate than the creators of this advertising slogan may ever realize. So it really has come down to a choice between Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton in my book. In all honesty Mitt Romney, Mike Hucklebee, Fred “Confederate Flag Lover” Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani were never a more palatable Republican option.
Things began to change in recent weeks. When Ms. Clinton was the front runner she pretty much dismissed Mr. Obama as a serious threat. And because he wasn’t seen as a threat he was able to actually build a coalition of the voting in the virtual political shadows. Mr. Obama actually caught up to Ms. Clinton in the delegate count and then surpassed her. His campaign never passed on an opportunity to fight for delegates in any state. It would have been nice if Mr. Obama took the same approach to taking every opportunity to fight for black votes with as much vigor. Hillary Clinton actually found the time to appear on the State of the Black Union. It would have helped me felt better about him if he also made an appearance. But Mr. Obama felt he was needed elsewhere. Too bad. My disconnect from Mr. Obama grew even wider, black man to black man.
But then after a string of eleven Obama victories, Ms. Clinton and her gang began to dig down dirty in the fight for Democratic delegates. There is no politician with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter that can say without a doubt that they do not have skeletons in their closet. So stooping to dirt slinging is a fine example of hypocrisy. Digging for things that don’t matter in an attempt to call into question the character of her Democratic rival is pretty low and will turn off many voters. Mr. Obama dressed like a Muslim with he visited a Muslim country. Truly petty. Mr. Obama bought a house from Tony Rezko. This from the people who complained about the scrutiny into their Whitewater real estate deal from Kenneth Starr. Mr. Obama doesn’t have the executive experience Ms. Clinton gained while she was married to the President. If that’s the case then Monica Lewinsky should probably be Ms. Clinton’s most qualified running mate.
But instead, Ms. Clinton says that if the people vote for her she would be willing to ask Mr. Obama to be her running mate. That’s rather arrogant. Mr. Obama has won more delegates, has won more states, has won more populace votes, has raised more money, and has inspired more people. Yet, Hillary Clinton feels gracious enough to offer Mr. Obama, who for all practical purposes is in first place, second place if he would just concede. More evidence of white supremacy with a white person thinking that a black person needs to take a step back and the white person’s coattails in order to look more acceptable to the public.
The combination of her getting dirty was a big downer for me. It is not tough. It is the typical political tactic when things are looking dark. And the sad thing is it works. People say they don’t like it when a candidate uses dirty methods to win. But it works each and every time. Ms. Clinton told people that she is more qualified to answer that phone in the White House at three in the morning while Mr. Obama is too green to know what to do even though he was experienced enough not to approve of the Iraqi war campaign. And if it was just a matter of experience then Senator John McSame would be the ideal candidate. And I pray to god that this country is spared another four more years of failed Republican policies.
I still cannot say whether or not Barack Obama would make the ideal President for my needs or those of the black community and therefore the country. But I am very sure that Ms. Clinton is not the person that I want to answer that phone at three in the morning, three in the afternoon, on the weekend, or on any holiday. She has proven that she would do anything to get the job. She would even compromise her principles and turn her back on a fellow Democrat in the race to the White House. If she wins the Democratic nomination she would then have to turn back around and ask Mr. Obama for his support in facing the Republicans. She would have to ask for my support. And I’m sorry but between these two candidates, I don’t think she’s the best person to represent me or my needs. She would be more apt to turn around and bite the hands that vote for her. Such behavior would be typical of monsters.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, walked through Baghdad, Iraq with much fanfare last week. The Iraqi people lined the streets in order to enthusiastically wave their approval of his visit. Bands played as he was welcomed by the Iraqi President. Mr. Ahmadinejad and the President of Iran, Mr. Jalal Talabani walked hand in hand in traditional Islamic fashion for men who are extremely close. Both men waved to the cameras as they emerged from their meeting behind closed doors. It was obvious that there was a lot of good will between these two government leaders. Leaders of countries that were at one time not too long ago were the most bitter of enemies. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit is the ultimate sign of Iran’s victory over its nemesis Saddam Hussein.
Compare the openness of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit to Iraq to the clandestine visitation from President George Bush or Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Nobody knows either one of these representatives of state, two of the most powerful people in the world, are on their way to Iraq until they get there and push the doorbell. Saddam Hussein himself would be proud of their ability to travel with such a cloak of secrecy.
When Republican Party nominee John McCain paid a visit to Iraq last year he traveled with a personal guard of a hundred troops, army snipers on top of every building in the vicinity, a squadron of hummers nearby with their engines idling, a couple of Blackhawks hovering overhead, and a Kevlar vest protecting his person. Mr. McCain was adamant in his insistence that Iraq was secure. All you needed was a hundred fully armed troops, snipers, hummers, etcetera and you too could walk through downtown Baghdad in perfect safety. At the time I found it ridiculous to take Mr. McCain seriously. Perfectly safe would be walking around without such a high profile contingent. Perfectly safe would have been Mr. McCain being able to walk up to anybody without that Iraqi having to go through a body search or having a hundred rifles pointed in his or her direction.
It has to be admitted that Mr. Ahmadinejad was riding and walking large and in charge. It was interesting because the network news program I was listening to on the car radio reported that Mr. Ahmadinejad walked through Baghdad as if he owned the place. Later in the evening when I watched the network news version of the Iranian President’s visit, they used the same phrase almost verbatim. Mr. Ahmadinejad was trying to make it clear that he is pulling Iraq’s strings. Somebody was turning up the “go ballistic” dial on the propaganda machine.
Impressionable people who have a little difficulty forming their own opinion without being told were getting their subtle programming to think that Mr. Ahmadinejad thinks he’s the cock of the walk. The suggestion is made that Iran is responsible for all of America’s difficulties and failures in Iraq. And if the United States pulls out of Iraq prematurely Iran will swoop in and obtain the spoils. The story was stroking America’s collective ego. The suggestion was made that our reputation is at stake. We don’t want Iran or anyone else picking up where we left off. It’s the classic selfish child syndrome. A child who doesn’t care to play with a toy any more, hasn’t played with it in weeks, doesn’t even like the toy any more. But as soon as someone else comes along and wants to play with it, MINE!
Mr. Ahmadinejad and the people of Iran can’t win with the American people. The Iranian President comes to the states and asked to go and pay his respects at the World Trade Center and people get their panties in a wad. MINE! The Iranian President goes to Iraq and the American people say, MINE! The Iranians patrol the waters of the Red Sea off of its coast with fiberglass speedboats and the fleet of American battle cruisers shouts, MINE!
The majority of the people of the United States have been tiring of Iraq for quite a while now. Rumor has it that the violence of Iraq is winding now that the surge is working. And the fact that we are actually using American money to pay the people who were fighting against us not to fight or at least to fight for our interest helped a lot as well. Now that the violence is winding now there should be less of a reason to keep our military there. We could leave Iraq to whatever devices they choose. But if those devices indicate that someone else might benefit from our collective sacrifices then we’d rather put our ego before our good sense, holler MINE, and stay in our latest quagmire. And the next time one of our government leaders goes to Iraq under a cloak of secrecy for their own protection, we can think back to how the Iranian President walked into the place as if he was the cock of the walk.
Whenever a person voices accusations against the establishment about the unfairness of racial discrimination people white and black want to pop out of the woodwork to admonish the accuser for having a victim mentality. The knee jerk response of saying the victim has a victim mentality is meant to minimize or, even more effective, disparage the accuser as being little more than a self serving complainer unwilling to do the work necessary or put forth the effort to get a job or an education or anything else on their own merits. The widely postulated assumption is that these black individuals are simply waiting for someone to hand them the world of opportunity on a silver platter.
Without a doubt some people do expect to be given an opportunity regardless of merit. These people exist on both sides of the color line and every shade in between. However, to slap the victim label on people who cannot help but see the perpetuation of racial disparity is the epitome of mainstream hypocrisy. Black people in an office or educational environment are regularly assumed to be the benefactor of some affirmative action program designed to give unqualified ethnicities access to undeserved opportunities. While white people are regularly given the benefit of doubt black people are assumed to be incompetent and intellectually inferior despite the lack of evidence to support such a supposition. All the black person has to do is walk through the door and the stench of inferiority permeates the establishment.
Sadly, there are professional black people who see other black professionals for the first time will be quick to hypothesize about the validity of their credentials. And yet these same black people would be offended to have someone question their qualifications. Many of the black people guilty of this behavior are the same ones who will join the dominant white culture and say black people who complain of racial discrimination are undeserving. These people are seriously thick in their pro establishment thinking patterns full of contempt for the black community.
It is a fact that the majority of people who control the opportunity gateways practice this prejudiced form of thinking. Through various forms of propaganda it has become natural to see black people as inferior to white people. And because so many institutions are controlled by racists in key positions it is no wonder that people who are sensitive to this blatant form of discrimination try to argue the merits of assuring racial diversity by taking a careful look at the opportunity distribution practices of institutions that, at least from a casual view of its population, appear far from being racially diverse. Thanks to the legitimacy that the establishment gives to this new reverse logic that says to look at the effects of potential racism is to be racist, people now have the tools necessary to continue their racism and then label as racist the people who try and bring any attention to acts of prejudice.
Honestly, can we expect anything less from a society that names a weapon of mass destruction the peacekeeper missile. A society that is willing to classify the condiment ketchup as a vegetable serving in order to minimize the cost of providing meals to school children from poor families. People are supposed to believe that all we need are five packets of ketchup to meet the suggested daily minimum of five fruits and vegetables. Can we expect anything less from a society where people who question the motives of our government representatives are classified as unpatriotic regardless of the merit of their criticism or the ethics of the officials.
People who strive for change because the system is unfair are not to be dismissed as worthless and lazy simply because people who benefit from the status quo fear loosing their status. A worthless and lazy person would be the type of individual who would be willing to sit back and watch the status quo of racial discrimination flourish instead of showing the courage to cast a critical eye and give a legitimate claim the benefit of doubt and the proper attention it requires to effect change. Black people who hear claims of racial discrimination from other people in the black community and then respond by simply turning an ignorant eye without so much as one iota of concern that maybe something could be amiss are a credit to the establishment. Despite everything that the dominating corporate culture controlled mostly by white people has done to the black community these black people are too obliged to the system to even entertain the idea that it might be able to be improved for the benefit of everyone.
Through every step in this long struggle between black people and the establishment there have always been a handful of black people willing to put their personal welfare ahead of the welfare of the black community. Back in the day if there was an uprising planned by the slaves on the plantation these so called black people would be the ones trying to warn the white community before it was too late. When black people were marching for rights in the Deep South these black people were quick to denounce the civil rights leaders as troublemakers and rebel rousers and everything would be better if we just lay back and take the subservient lack of status label.
These are the type of black people who are more likely to say, black people need to know their place and quit their bellyaching. The establishment has been good to us in the black community and we need to show our thanks by knowing our place. If the establishment thought we deserved more then we would be given more. Everybody knows that black people aren’t as good as white people. Why just the other day I saw another black person in up in the office. Lord knows the only reason he/she was there was because of that meddlesome affirmative action. If black people had what it took to be in the office they would not have needed affirmative action to get there. If they had talent or professional skills they would be hired because of their merits.
And people wonder why affirmative action is so necessary. Sometimes we need it just to get around our own kind. The victim mentality doesn’t always apply to black people who are being kept from participating in the wealth accumulation game. Many times the victim mentality label is applicable to the black people who are participating but want to keep other black people out of the game.
Sixty three thousand jobs evaporated last month. This was the second straight month of jobs being lost. This is on top of the foreclosure mess that has people losing their houses in record numbers, shrinking credit market, record numbers of bankruptcy, the dollar is dropping as if it’s wearing concrete galoshes, and stagnant wages. The Bush administration used to be able to say that it was creating jobs for America. For every decent wage job lost there was a job popping up at Wal-Mart or at an Exxon/Mobil station with their three dollars a gallon gasoline and forty billion dollars of net profit. But the reality is that a number of Americans who don’t work for Exxon/Mobile or Wal-Mart or in the Bush administration have to deal with this mess we are living in. When the President was asked a question about the fact that some economic and oil analyst are predicting four dollar a gallon gasoline, Mr. Bush feigned surprise and ignorance saying that nobody told him that four dollar a gallon gasoline was to be expected. The President of the United States didn’t know that oil trading at one hundred five dollars a barrel during off peak season could lead to four dollars a gallon during peak season. Who voted to put this man in office…not once but twice?
However, even with the perfect economic storm coming together on the horizon the President and his administration insist that the country is not in an economic recession but in an economic slow down. Once everybody gets their six to twelve hundred dollar checks everything is going to be right again. A six hundred dollar check is going to replace somebody’s job. Either the President is seriously out of touch or he is truly inept or some incredibly bad combination of the two.
I have not forgotten the fact that I’m talking about the son of Barbara Bush. Mrs. Bush paid a visit to the Astrodome down in Houston, Texas to offer some moral support to all of the people who had to be evacuated after hurricane Katrina and lost practically everything they owned. These people were told to leave but couldn’t or wouldn’t for whatever reason. These people spent four days in the southern Louisiana sun without food, water, medicine, or anything else that people need to survive. Mrs. Bush stands on the floor of the Astrodome with all of these people around her wondering how they were going to get on with their lives and makes some of the coldest, couldn’t care any less comments from someone who was supposed to be in a position of leadership in this country. The former First Lady said that these people “were underprivileged anyway so this is working very well for them.” The woman was, is totally heartless and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The Bush administration has been doing its best to screw the American public almost from day one of its residency in the White House. The oil policy of this administration was shaped by a secret panel of oil executives. And now oil companies are making money hand over fist and the American public is about to start paying four dollars a gallon for gasoline. The President authorizes a war on one of OPEC’s major oil producers and disrupts now the price of a barrel of oil is breaking through all kinds of records on a weekly basis that has oil companies reaping all kinds of windfalls. And as a former oil man, as a man who grew up in a family who earned its living from the oil industry, George Bush understands better than most what it takes to make money from oil. The President may try to pretend he’s stupid and has no clue as to what is happening and who is paying for it and who is being paid for it. He’s laid down plenty of material for people to just dismiss his antics as nothing more than a lack of intellect. But the President could not have become President without some kind of intellect.
The President and his Republican controlled United States Congress changed bankruptcy laws to keep people from using the court system to get out of their crushing debt. Now, the court will provide no relief to people who have made the mistake of getting in over their heads financially speaking. Tax breaks to all Americans that save the average tax payer fifty dollars can net the average billionaire hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mr. Bush would veto an extension of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program or SCHIP because there was too much of a risk that a child from somebody who really could afford to pay the premiums for their child’s health insurance might get in. The risk that somebody might get around paying to enrich the insurance company is just too great. It’s actually better if no extension of healthcare is made and nobody gets the benefit. And in all honesty the price of oil isn’t going up. The value of the dollar is plummeting and oil is traded in dollars. Compared to the rest of the world’s currency, the price of oil has remained relatively stable.
Everyone says that the key to a successful recovery is the American consumer. When America was attacked the President went on the air asking the American consumer to shop, spend money, and do what we could to keep the economy going. The average consumer does his or her share to keep things going. But then who is supporting the average consumer? Don’t get me wrong. The six hundred to twelve hundred dollar tax rebate is a nice little surprise. But it is much too little much too late. The rebate to come is just scratching the surface. In order for the average consumer to help keep the economy strong the economy needs to work to keep the average consumer strong, to have one without the other will only lead to problems.
A person can insist that this economy is strong and everyone is doing well and there is no recession. But the fact of the matter is that the average consumer knows so much better. We don’t have to sit around and wait for some economist to stamp his seal of approval on whether or not the economy is in trouble or not. The average consumer already knows what the deal is. All the arguments as to whether or not the economy is in good shape don’t mean anything to a consumer who knows that his or her personal economy is in ruin.