The Saturday Night Live tribute to Former President Barack Oabama was truly touching to me. In a nut shell, Cicely Strong and Sasheer Zamata, standing under a black and white portrait of POTUS #44, summed up my relationship with Mr. Obama with an emotional rendition of “To Sir, With Love”, the moving song sung by Barabara “Babs” Pegg, played byLulu, to thank her teacher of school and in life Mr. Mark Thackeray, played by the talented Sidney Portier, in the movie by the same name.
In the beginning I had my doubts about Mr. Obama. He wasn’t a hard hittin’ homie ready to make shit real enough for the black community in my book. He was too busy trying to appeal to people who had no intention of ever being appealed, the conservative right and the social establishment controlled by the people who say they wish for all of us to be racially generic. I resisted his cool demeanor. I was insulted by the way he would try and placate any fear of black favoritism by keeping the black community at arm’s length for the most part.
But Mr. Obama had a game to play and he couldn’t do the things he was able to do if he got hunkered down in a racially charged fight by standing on one side of the racial divide or the other. There were bigger fish to fry in the limited time he held the keys that unlocked the deepest secrets of this kingdom. He focused on doing his best for everybody in the most non threatening way he could. I understood that was what he felt he had to do back then. I understand just the same now. But now I guess I have a little more empathy for his position, although I would like to think that if I was in the same position I would do things differently. And that’s probably why I would never be elected President of the United States (as if that feat was ever in danger of actually happening).
And to see him turn the cheek on all the people who would use whatever position of influence he or she possessed to belittle him in ways no President of the United States ever suffered. He’s the achievement of every black individual and every black celebrity and every black person of pride and every black person who’s the first to achieve anything rolled into one. He was able to break into the most exclusive club on the planet open to every citizen of this country. He became the first black POTUS. And that is something no conservative, politician or critic, will ever take from him for as long as anyone has a reason to remember the social construct known as the United States of America.
I have to admit I had a stiff upper lip when I heard the news that Donald J. Chump would become the 45th President of the United States. I also have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to a Hillary Clinton as POTUS either. The majority of her speeches were dull, she appeared to be aloof in too many public appearances, and she should have done a better job with a lot of her campaigning. But given the choices I think the lady was clearly the best and most qualified person for the job of running our collective’s business when compared to Mr. Chump. A lot of people felt that she had it in the bag. But a lot of people were also saying that a lot of her supporters were in danger of taking this past election for granted. The results speak for themselves. When the results manifested late that early November Tuesday election night, I tried to console myself in the comforting thought that we were warned. We the people of the United States had a chance and we blew it.
Ever since that night I was able to look into the unwelcoming abyss called the future with President Trump with acceptance; the kind of acceptance that resembles the resolve of Captain Kirk riding his starship into the jaws of hell. And I’m not talking about Captain James T. Kirk who had always managed to cheat death at the last minute. I’m talking about his father, Captain George Samuel Kirk, played by Chris Hemsworth in the rebirth of the Star Trek franchise. George Kirk was captain of the USS Kelvin for all of twelve minutes. But he welcomed death as his inevitability when he rammed his ship into the Romulan vessel from the future. When you know the gig is up you have no choice but to ride that last ride through.
So yeah, I had a sense of acceptance. The future is cast and the chips are steadily falling where they may. I may not like it. But I will not go gently into that night like a little self absorbed bitch. Chin up. Head high. I watched as the Borg Queen told me that my world was ending and there was nobody coming to save me from what the American political system had wrought. I watched the clock wind down to the Trump inauguration. I watched as the true to life personification of the Omen’s Damien attains the throne of the world for the sake of his hellish father’s bidding. I watched the protest gather momentum yesterday over the world as people demonstrated to remind the Trump administration as to where the true power resides. I watched it all without looking back to what we were losing and what we are giving up.
And then to wind things up this weekend of the beginning of the end, for the first time in years, I actually took the time to watch Saturday Night Live as it broadcasted from New York City. I was impressed with the quality of the show. Over the years I have seen videos and outtakes and bits and pieces of skits over the years. But last night was the first time in years I actually was up late on a Saturday night and I bothered to turn the television to NBC to watch the show. I couldn’t even tell you the last cast I saw. I know it was post Eddie Murphy. Maybe it was when Keenan Thompson became a regular. Regardless, the show was guest hosted by Aziz Ansari and it was the funniest I’ve seen from SNL in forever. And Big Sean was the musical talent. I’m embarrassed to say that I have never taken the time to listen to this artist. I will be trying to learn more about him in the immediate future. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and if that was just a sample of what they’ve been doing lately I’m going to have to make a special effort to set the DVR for future episodes.
The show was winding down with only a handful of minutes left to spare. Coming back from commercial the show reopened with Ms. Strong standing on a darkened stage, highlighted under a single spot light, in front of the portrait of Mr. Obama. Without any fanfare or distraction the music starts and Ms. Strong sings, “Those school girl days…” Immediately my attention level piqued a couple of notches.. It had been years since I’ve even thought of this movie. But I suddenly remember Sidney Portier standing in front of those white English kids helping to prepare them for the future. They were better prepared than many of them thought was ever possible. The group of students that started out as nothing more than future residents of the penal system, began to see the world through the eyes of people ready to take responsibility for their fate with a seriousness that evaded them before. And they had the black American to thank for their newfound perspective. The somber tone of the song enveloped me. “How do you thank someone that has taken you from crayons to perfume?” It’s not easy but I will try.
My eyes started to well up. For eight years I had the luxury to just sit back. I thank you Mr. Obama for giving my family and I as well as all of my friends, my co workers, my associates, my neighborhood, my fellow citizens of this country and the world, an example of leadership and of dignity that has become rare and special. I thank your wife, the essence of black royalty and the world’s first black First Lady. I thank your daughters Sasha and Malia for enduring the spotlight that had become their world and seeing it through to the end with a maturity that is exceptional for such young people. I thank your mother in law for being there to help you through everything the world has put you through. But most of all by far, I thank you for your service! No one could have done better.
Life always gets busy. At least it does for most people. You think you have time to do all the things you want done. You want to contribute to the community. You want to contribute to your household. You want to be there for your family. You want to contribute to that Ford dealership so you can buy a new Mustang Boss. You want to exercise and take care of yourself. You want to maintain a blog. You want to exist to the point that you grow old and realize that you really can’t do it all and something’s got to give. And you start to realize, that amongst other things, a blog really isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. If I stopped contributing to my blog as much, I’d free up a little time to do some of the other things that I would later one day realize weren’t all that important to do either.
I knew one day I’d write another post. I just didn’t know what it would be about. Would it be about undocumented Latin American children coming across the border? Would it be about a politician hell bent on keeping black people from voting? Would it be about the Affordable Care Act and how it has helped millions of people obtain healthcare despite some people’s best effort to invalidate President Obama’s signature achievement? Would it be about some white guy took a shotgun and shot a young black woman in the face through a door in the middle of the night because he was so afraid for his life? Would it be about some fat assed politician who stood idly by while his closest cronies got together to illegally shut down a major thoroughfare into New York City? Some of these topics and many others came pretty close to pulling me back to the keyboard.
But as quickly as I thought about writing something I would dismiss the thought. I’d to back to my overwhelming thought that it really wasn’t all that important for me to say whatever to the world. Given enough time I would simply go back to watching the news and continue to sit on the sidelines as the world went to hell in a hand basket.
Then I heard Rula Jebreal call out MSNBC and the other “lame stream media” outlets for their skewed coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict currently unfolding half a world away in Gaza. During her appearance on the relatively new Ronan Farrow Daily program, Ms. Jebreal accused the MSNBC network and the entire news network establishment of being supportive of a destructive Israeli policy by giving too much airtime to Israeli officials and not nearly enough to representatives of the Palestinians. Mr. Farrow tried to defend his network’s coverage, but Ms. Jebreal would not have any of it and continued to pounce. When Mr. Farrow replied that there have been Palestinian voices on the air, Ms. Jebreal countered that the Palestinians would be on for thirty seconds while they would devote entire segments of air time to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
As I listened to Ms. Jebreal I had to admit to myself that she had a point. I’ve always thought that the news media simply refused to address the underlying issue of what caused the Palestinians to fire their rockets into Israeli territory. The way the story is often portrayed you’d think that the leaders of Hamas, the organization currently governing Gaza, just woke up one day and decided to try and wipe Israel off the face of the earth with relatively crude rockets that would make a Scud missile look sophisticated by comparison. Along with Israel’s Iron Dome defense system that has been credited with literally shooting so many of these rockets harmlessly out of the sky, the idea that Hamas thinks it could destroy Israel out of some ideological fixation on its destruction is extremely simple minded.
The real reason the latest round in this never ending conflict was started goes back to issues revolving around the lack of mutual recognition for each other’s right to exist as well as border security, water rights, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, and the control of Jerusalem and holy sites. Because of an inability for Israeli and Palestinian people to come to terms with these issues, Israel imposes its will onto the Palestinian people by force. The Palestinians live under a military blockade that has caused the vast majority of Gaza’s businesses to close. Thousand of factories were closed and tens of thousands of people were put out of work. Poverty is rampant. Unwilling to continue to live under such woeful conditions the Hamas organization retaliated with rudimentary rocket fire. And Israel retaliated with the latest lethal tools of war courtesy of the United States military industrial complex.
Now by no means is anyone here saying that Palestine is right and Israel is wrong. There is plenty of blame to go on both sides. But it should be noted that the number of innocent Palestinian children that have been killed in Israeli’s retaliatory air strikes far outnumber the number of Israeli soldiers killed as they invaded Gaza in a ground assault. And yet, the media will try to convince us that Hamas simply wants to destroy Israel for the sake of ancient doctrine. If that’s truly the case then the people of Hamas are truly the epitome of stupid, and I seriously doubt if that’s truly the case.
It appears that Israel is controlling the conversation. They always have. It is their contention that everything was fine until the Hamas rockets started falling. Now, the entire Jewish state is at risk of being wiped out unless completely devastating force is used to quash the dissent. The Israeli representatives will say that they have no choice but to annihilate the rebellious Palestinians and the media are just too eager to buy into that argument. Where is the counter argument from the Palestinians? Basically, it is my understanding that this is the question, this is the point that Ms. Jebreal was trying to make. In response to Ms. Jebreal’s passionate outburst, MSNBC cancelled all of her future appearances on the network.
Now this is where my goat gets got. By far the vast majority of my news comes from MSNBC. While it is by no means perfect, I prefer the more liberal bias of MSNBC to the rabidly conservative commentary of FOX News or even the dribble of news reporting from CNN. I’ve watched MSNBC back in the days of Keith Olbermann and Dan Abrams. I will admit that I listened to the network with just a certain amount of skepticism. Not everything you hear on television is true. But it was a lot better than the network promoting their fair and balanced approach to railroading anything that isn’t the most right winged political agenda possible. I always thought that it would be FOX News that would fire people for not toeing the line. FOX News would hardly let one of their fair and balanced commentators or contributors go off their carefully crafted script. Maybe Alan Combs would be their lone, soft spoken, exception.
Obviously Ms. Jebreal was not toeing MSNBC’s line and MSNBC has the right to turn down her future services for it. My rant is not to say that MSNBC is not so entitled. But in their single minded focus on making sure their contributors speak from a single perspective with respect to this Israeli-Palestinian conflict MSNBC has lost the focus of the bigger picture. This is the only network that can take a right winged conservative like Joe Scarborough and left winged liberals like Rachel Maddow into a single formula for the entertainment and education of the masses. MSNBC had the better reputation for giving multiple views on an issue. But that reputation is now tarnished when MSNBC joins FOX and CNN and all the other media outlets that are on the Israel propaganda band wagon when they punish Ms. Jebreal for being sympathetic to the Palestinian’s plight.
MSNBC proves that it is no different than any other media outlet. They all have a job to do and that job is to make money. And since there is far more money backing the well to do Israel than there is backing the ninety percent poverty stricken Palestine any media outlet would be foolish to allow anything to jeopardize that revenue stream including the truth. Israel wants people to believe that they are just defending themselves regardless of what’s really going on. Anybody who makes the suggestion that there’s another side to this story and it should be heard just as loudly is just asking for trouble. The truth will always take a backseat to somebody’s political agenda no matter what news outlet is used for the delivery medium.
Yes MSNBC has hired activist Al Sharpton to be their talking head. Mr. Sharpton’s reputation for speaking up for people who are being railroaded by the establishment is well known. MSNBC wanted to capitalize on Mr. Sharpton’s reputation to strengthen its appeal to people who can sympathize with the downtrodden. The network went out of its way to develop an environment of political progressivism. The network even promoted itself with the tagline, “What Progressives have been waiting for”.
But when MSNBC is given an opportunity to truly develop its own reputation for speaking up for the downtrodden in Palestine it does just the opposite. Truth be told, if this latest attempt to put a leash on journalism is any indication, progressives will just have to continue waiting.
These fucking punks always get away. Those were the words from George Zimmerman as he jumped out of his car with a loaded weapon tucked into his trousers as he chased down Trayvon Martin to keep his community safe and, if necessary, kill the young black teenager. The plethora of evidence proved George Zimmerman guilty of murder and proved he lacked any credibility to explain what went down. And yet, somehow a jury of his peers acquitted him of any charges and found him not guilty.
The jury was made of six women, five white and one Hispanic or African American. They deliberated for about nineteen hours over two days before coming back with their verdict. In the end, these women felt that the prosecutor didn’t prove their case and/or the defense created enough reasonable doubt to believe that despite everything they heard and saw that Mr. Zimmerman may have been justified with killing Trayvon Martin that night.
Frankly, their verdict was no surprise in the land of the free that is built on a solid foundation of racial discrimination born of our forefather’s willingness to condone the enslavement of black people to serve as beast of burden for white people. Black people were considered only three-fifths human from the beginning. And without ever taking any serious steps to correct the racial imbalance that became engrained into our culture before our nation even existed, we continue to exist as a nation that tolerates and condones many forms of racial prejudice.
Today, many people are defending the verdict from these six women with excuses like this case was complicated or these people had a tough job to do or the legal bar for this case was set so impossibly high for the prosecution. But the problem with all of these excuses is that if we flip the racial roles, if George Zimmerman was black and Trayvon Martin was white, would we have had the same outcome and let a black man get away with the murder of a white teenager.
Case in point, John White was a black man in Long Island, New York who was convicted of shooting and killing seventeen year old Daniel Cicciaro, Jr. Young Daniel Cicciaro was drunk when he got a posse of his friends together in order to go to John White’s house and fight his son over a girl. John White stood in front of his house with a gun to confront the drunken posse armed with baseball bats and other weapons. Instead of retreating, Daniel Cicciaro continued to threaten the White family. John White wound up fatally shooting the teenager. He was arrested and charged that night. Instead of being confronted with complicated case with a high legal bar to overcome, the jury experienced no trouble finding John White guilty of second degree murder. Daniel was armed and had used racial epithets in his rants against the White family and was threatening the White family with violence and John White was found guilty.
Trayvon was unarmed minding his own business when George Zimmerman ran after him with a loaded weapon while referring to Trayvon as a fucking punk and an asshole. He kills the boy and is told he was free to go home with his murder weapon. He isn’t even arrested until forty-five days after the killing. But then he’s found innocent. Anybody wants to guess why the hundred-and-eighty degree discrepancy?
And please don’t say some lame shit like the laws are different between New York and Florida. Florida is the same state where Martin Anderson was sentenced to boot camp for taking a family member’s car without permission. Within hours of arriving at camp he is murdered by the camp guards. No one was found guilty of any wrong doing. New York is the same state where Sean Bell was murdered the morning of his wedding day. An undercover police officer saw Sean Bell and pulled his gun out mistaking the man for someone else. Sean Bell died in a hail of bullets. No one is found guilty. The state where the law is being applied has zero to do with anything.
These six women may have had a difficult job to do. They had to put aside their racial bias and actually make a decision on whether the white Hispanic George Zimmerman was guilty for the murder of black Trayvon Martin. Many court room pundits thought that these women were mothers and would actually think about the ramifications if it was their kid that was murdered by some neighborhood watchman while walking home. That’s a hard thing to do when you suffer from an inherent racial discrimination against black people that is so ingrained into your psyche that you cannot recognize it or you simply refuse to recognize it. In the end, those six women decided their racial fear of and animosity against black people outweighs their instincts as mothers.
In the end these women decided that they were more concerned with the protection of the racial status quo than the need for justice for a scary black boy. And people like George Zimmerman, those fucking punks always get away with it. More often than not they will get away with their assault on the black community.
The extent of America’s racial prejudice against black people knows no bounds. A black teenager going home in the darkness of a rainy night, minding his own business, is attacked by a vigilante neighborhood watch commander with a loaded gun. And in the process of the teenager defending himself he is murdered by the man who admitted to police that he was stalking the teenager. The police that arrived on the scene interviewed the murderer and then allowed him to go home with his murder weapon citing no evidence to contradict his story that he was attacked and had to defend himself from an unarmed teenager who never had any encounter with the law. It wasn’t until people protested en masse the obvious travesty of injustice that the prosecutors in Florida got off their duff and investigated this murder for the crime it truly was. It took weeks, more than a month even, for the murderer to be held accountable and face a court of his peers for his reckless actions the night he killed an unarmed teenager.
Yesterday George Zimmerman was found not guilty for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Really, who’s surprised?
Court pundits are brushing off the verdict with the excuse that the state prosecutors failed to meet the bar necessary to prove their case. There wasn’t enough evidence. The smoking gun in Mr. Zimmerman’s hands that night simply wasn’t smoking enough. The lies and inconsistent stories told by Mr. Zimmerman in all the interviews he gave after the shooting did nothing to damage the credibility of his claims. And the fact that an unarmed black teenager was shot in the dark by a white man who admitted on the phone to police that he was following the boy for no other reason than he looked like he was up to no good walking home the way he was walking in his black skin. There just wasn’t enough evidence to convict.
The fact remains that George Zimmerman made assumptions of Trayvon Martin and the black teenager paid for those assumptions with his life. George Zimmerman made the choice to call police to report a suspicious person in his neighborhood and give recorded testimony over the phone about his actions in the past, present, and evidence of his intent in the near future. We heard Mr. Zimmerman on tape indicating his intent to stop another asshole from getting away as he was running after the boy. We know that when he was running after the boy he had a loaded gun. George Zimmerman created the series of events that led to the death of Trayvon Martin. It didn’t matter to any of the jurors that a grown man with a loaded weapon was following an unarmed black teenager in the dark going home after a nonchalant trip to the store for Skittles and iced tea.
Regardless of all the things that we all know as fact, the Zimmerman defense was the belief that there’s enough reasonable doubt to suspect that it was Trayvon Martin who attacked George Zimmerman and created the series of events that led to his death. The only evidence they had on their side to support this theory was the fact that Trayvon Martin was black. He had photos on the internet showing him with his shirt off, both middle fingers up with a grill in his teeth being stupid. A Facebook post is all it takes to give people enough reasonable doubt that a black kid did not deserve to be murdered while minding his own business.
The fact of the matter is that in our society a grown man packing a gun and hunting black people is a lot more acceptable than a black unarmed teenager in a hooded jacket minding his own business. Today, this morning, the simple truth we know is true has been reinforced one again. Just being black in these United States is a crime punishable by death. Black people need to realize the fact that we are unwitting and unwilling collaborators in a culture that demeans and devalues black people. A murdered black teenager has far less of a chance for justice in the United States than a fucking dog. Just go ask Michael Vick.
This morning, I am made even more aware that my son is no safer today than if he was born a hundred years ago in the Jim Crow south. We have a twenty first century real life reenactment of the court scene from To Kill a Mockingbird when the white prosecutor drives home the point that the defendant was black and therefore guilty of his crime despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that proved he was innocent. That evidence could not overcome people’s prejudice that black people are not trustworthy and black people are criminals no matter what.
This morning there are a plenty of comments going back and forth over the verdict. Many people recognize this injustice for what it is. Many people celebrate the verdict as an affirmation that our justice system works. Some people are truly jubilant of the outcome. I suspect that the celebration is for no other reason than the verdict reaffirms their racial identity of cultural superiority. If Trayvon Martin has simply gone home that night he would have lived another day. Let’s not forget that he was going home until George Zimmerman stopped him. He shouldn’t have worn a hooded jacket, the way many kids these days where hooded outfits especially when it’s raining. The clothing he wore didn’t matter because his skin would remain black. If Trayvon wore a tuxedo he would have been just as suspicious. The point is that the excuses don’t matter because the only thing that matters is that Trayvon was black.
Trayvon Martin was lynched that night. Somebody saw a black kid and that kid became a symbol of everything that had ever gone wrong in their neighborhood. In an instant, he became a symbol of all the crime that had gone unsolved in the area. There was no obvious explanation for him being there, so he didn’t belong and had to be stopped at all cost. And after he was stopped and it was revealed that he did belong there and he wasn’t a threat, people refused to acknowledge that he was a victim of somebody’s racism. There is no racism. If he had only behaved in a way that would have been less threatening. If only he had submitted. If only he had stayed in his place and answered the man’s questions with a yes sir or a no sir or a sir at the end of every answer demanded of him. And when a black person doesn’t submit, the consequences rest squarely on their shoulders no matter the outcome.
The Occupy Wall Street protest that is making so much news in the news media is entering its fourth week. It appears to be gaining momentum in both the news and in political attention. The series of images of police officers using their pepper spray against protestor have grabbed our attention like a tsunami grabs the attention of a beach walker. Conservative politicians who once sang high praises to the tea party demonstrations as an example of the democratic process and the strength of the public’s collective will to make their unified voice heard, is now judging the thousands of people protesting America’s gaping wealth disparity as little more than mobs that are inciting some kind of class warfare.
Conservatives participating in presidential debates are cheering the supposition that somebody in need of medical care without medical insurance should be allowed to die. These are the same people who protested the idea of President Barack Obama instituting death panels as part of his universal healthcare programs. Conservatives are telling people that if they don’t have a job or are unable to pay their bills they shouldn’t blame anyone but himself or herself. People are losing their jobs, homes, and shot at a descent future as deep pocket financial institutions and corporations are making record profits month after month and conservatives think that what America needs now is more tax cuts for the wealthy so that they can create jobs, even though we have had tax cuts for more than a decade now and our unemployment numbers are higher than ever. A Congressional Representative can complain that he only has four hundred thousand dollars at the end of the year and complain that half the country, the half of people without jobs or whose income is so low they go without paying federal income tax but pays a higher percentage of their income in other forms of taxes like sales taxes and energy taxes, don’t pay enough in taxes. But it is the people who participate in the Occupy Wall Street protests are the ones who are trying to institute some kind of class warfare.
Some conservative political pundits describe these protestors as a murderous bunch that is ready to pull wealthy people out of their homes and kill them out of jealousy for rich people’s success. The protestors have been described as shiftless and lazy. Some people conservative presidential candidates say that too many of these protestors could get a job anytime they wanted to do so, but just refuse to earn a living out of laziness or some undeserved expectation of a handout. One political pundit used his appearance on a television talk show to describe protestors who urinate in public and who openly use drugs. People want to see only the worse in people who are coming together to express their frustration and their belief that the American dream may no longer be achievable for so many. How unfair can this be?
The police have been accused of using violence against peaceful protestors. The images of the police suddenly pepper spraying peaceful protestors have already been mentioned. The police have been accused of luring the protestors into a gauntlet on the Brooklyn Bridge in order to conduct a more efficient means to arrest participants. The mayor has accused the protestors of trying to drive away business and to destroy the jobs of people who have jobs. A television news show even singled out a protestor and described him as a fugitive who was using the protest as a cover to lay low from the law.
After watching all of this and reading about it, it hit me that the Occupy Wall Street movement looks very much like the black community. A lot of people are upset over the fact that the nation’s unemployment rate is up to nine percent and the disparity gap is growing wider by the minute. The black community’s unemployment rate wouldn’t be as low as nine percent on our best day. The black community’s unemployment rate has hovered around seventeen percent. Maybe these people will have a better appreciation for the unemployment rate for blacks.
People are surprised to see police actually initiating an attack against the citizens they swore to protect. People seem to believe that what happened to Rodney King was an anomaly. Oscar Grant being shot in the back as he laid on the ground on his belly with his hands tied behind his back by a police officer was a fluke. Sean Bell ambushed by New York’s finest was just a misunderstanding. Black people being arrested by police officers and suddenly showing up at the police stations with a series of bruises and cuts because they tripped getting into the police cruiser is always an easy excuse. Maybe a lot of these people will now have a better understanding of what police are really capable of.
People who participate in these protests can see themselves maligned by politicians on national television who argue that the inequality and social injustice that these mobs are so concerned about are nothing more than self inflicted circumstances, the result of people not having a strong enough work ethic to do better for themselves. Without any evidence to support their prejudice, these people want to condemn these people as something to loath, while somebody in the tea party who operate with very similar tactics would get a pass. Although it should be noted that there are some noticeable differences between the two like people in the tea party are much more likely to take their guns to a protest. Who knows? That’s probably why the police are more apt to leave them alone.
I watch the Occupy Wall Street movement and I see a lot of people who should have a better idea of what it means to be part of the black community. These people are upset and feel like they can’t find jobs? With an unemployment rate that’s perpetually higher than any other segment of our collective, that’s a black community staple. Police are roughing these people up when nobody’s looking and protestors are getting arrested for exercising the rights that are theirs according to the Constitution? In a minute, statistics will show that more people in the Occupy Wall Street protest are arrested than the tea party protest and therefore any arrest is probably more than justified per capita. You will get used to it. People in these protests want to demonstrate against inequality in our society but people point to them and accuse them of playing the victim card and trying to split people up in the nation, even though disparity has been splitting people up for a good while now. The black community has been singing that tune since this country’s birth. Been there, done that.
I watch the Occupy Wall Street and I think and hope that some of these people will develop a real sense of what constitutes social injustice. It would be nice to think that this experience will open eyes and make these people more aware of social injustice and more sensitive to what is happening in the black community. After all, despite what may have been going on in these people’s lives to drive them to Occupy Wall Street, the condition of the black community is even worse and has been that way far longer. And if that happens, maybe something good will come out of the social injustice that has become part and parcel of this current social condition.
Hank Williams, Jr. made a very thoughtless, politically incendiary comment about President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden comparing the two to Adolph Hitler. ESPN, Mr. Williams’ most public employer who has used the singer to open up the Monday Night Football broadcast, reacted by immediately pulling Mr. Williams’ opening theme song asking the audience if they were ready for some footbaaaaawl.
No doubt the defenders of conservative politics and anybody who would attack the President will be quick to say that liberals made the same comments about George Bush, Jr. when he was President so it’s just hypocrisy that everybody wants to jump on Mr. Williams’ back now. ESPN is selectively trying to infringe on Mr. Williams’ freedom of speech. But the big difference is that nobody who worked for ESPN with an opening theme song said anything about Mr. Bush. Mr. Williams did. So the comparison is rather absurd.
It was unclear if the yanking of Mr. Williams’ act was a permanent thing or just a one time shot. The dust of the situation had yet to settle and all people could do is wait. But we have our answer. ESPN announced that it has severed its relationship with Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams counters that he has severed his relationship with ESPN because of the company’s attempt to infringe on his freedom of speech and therefore he’s leaving and has decided to take his theme song with him. I guess Mr. Williams thinks all those Monday Night Football fans were tuning in to see his videotaped, computer graphically enhanced special effects concert and were only hanging around for the game because there was nothing else to do.
It’s been years since I’ve bothered myself to watch a Monday Night Football game. Football just doesn’t hold my interests the way it used to. I think that’s a good thing. But when I did, I was well familiar with the theme song and did my share of sang a longs with Mr. Williams. I didn’t give Mr. Williams’ political views any thought. It wasn’t until he volunteered to put his views out into the public so spectacularly that caused some of us to question his beliefs and his values.
And the idea that Mr. Williams’ right to free speech is being infringed is really off the mark. No one knocked on his door and took him away to a concentration camp for rehabilitation. Nobody took away his property. Mr. Williams is free to say what he feels and how he feels as long as he doesn’t slander anyone or infringes on anyone else’s rights. His rights are still intact. He’s free to take his views and his song, if it does truly belong to him, anywhere he wants. Would anybody be surprised to see Mr. Williams going over to FOX, changing a word or two of his theme song and ask the television audience, Are you ready for O’Rileeeeeeey?
But people forget that the ESPN Corporation is a person too and it has rights as well. It has its own freedom of speech and it has the right to say who can and can’t be affiliated with its public image. For anyone to say that Hank Williams, Jr. has the right to say how he feels and ESPN should be canned for responding to that is actually being hypocritical. Why is it okay for Mr. Williams to say how he feels about shit and then turnaround and say that ESPN doesn’t have the right to say how it feels about his shit? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Mr. Williams can take his theme song elsewhere. ESPN can take its show elsewhere.
And for the record, high profile liberals who criticized Mr. Bush did suffer the consequences. Back in 2003, just before the United States launched its invasion of Iraq, the American country band The Dixie Chicks was performing a concert in London when they said that they were embarrassed that their President, Mr. Bush, was from Texas and was opening a new front in the war on terror. Many of their country music fans were offended and thought the group was unpatriotic. They lost half their audience and they didn’t even call him a Hitler wannabe. I’m assuming it was the conservative half. They were attacked with a massive response of hate mail, death threats, and the public destruction of Dixie Chicks CDs and other paraphernalia. Would anyone say that all of those people protesting the Dixie Chicks were infringing on the band’s freedom of speech? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
The Dixie Chicks had to bounce back. When they lost their more conservative fans, they picked up other fans who weren’t necessarily fans of country music, but wanted to support a group with the courage to speak their convictions. Mr. Williams will do the same. He may have lost a lot of people who saw him as the opening act of the football show. But he’s bound to pique the interests of conservatives who could not care any less about football. Trust me, it’s only a matter of time before we hear something like, Are you ready for Sean Haniteeeee!
And there’s no doubt that ESPN is going to lose a few fans as well. A lot of people are under the perception that an attack on anyone who criticizes Mr. Obama is an attack on conservatism everywhere. People who think that ESPN should be supported for not letting Mr. Williams get away with attacking Mr. Obama with impunity. All of a sudden I have an interest in watching a little Monday Night Football. If anybody ask I do believe I might be ready.
David Letterman has the nerve to say something stupid about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and her family.
When Arizona Senator John McCain picked Ms. Palin as his running mate in his bid for the White House, Mr. McCain opened a Pandora’s Box of all kinds of political repercussions that continue to reverberate on a national scale. Personally, I find it difficult to believe that Mr. McCain thought that Ms. Palin was the most qualified individual to entrust the governance of the nation should something dreadful happened and Mr. McCain was no longer capable of serving as President. One of the things that Mr. Letterman said about the Alaska Governor was that she had to purchase makeup for her slutty stewardess look. Cheap for a laugh or two for sure, but I’m sure it was that slutty stewardess appearance that gave Ms. Palin the edge over far more qualified potential running mates.
For whatever reason, whether you agree with her motives or not, Ms. Palin put her family in front of the world during the Republican National Convention for the entire world to see as a prime example of an average American family. Since then we’ve learned that Bristol Palin was an unwed teen mother and the father to be was a self described redneck with more testosterone than sense. The young couple talked a good game about how they planned to wed. But it was pretty obvious that Bristol and her beau, Levi Johnston, had as much true love for each other as Mr. McCain and Barack Obama during a presidential debate. Personally speaking the teen mother became a reminder of how poorly Ms. Palin’s view, opinion, and policy on issues of pregnancy and women’s reproductive rights manifest in practical applications.
The Republican Party’s effort for the White House became a godsend for comedians every where. But Mr. Letterman made the ridicule of the Republican Party a personal vendetta after Mr. McCain ducked out an appearance on Mr. Letterman’s late night show in order to make an appearance on the CBS Evening News with Katie Coruic. Mr. McCain’s transgression against Mr. Letterman was further aggravated because Mr. McCain claimed he had to cancel at the last minute to run back to Washington, D.C. for urgent national business. The gloves came off that night and that Republican Party has been paying ever since. And while the majority of the so called Republican Party leadership has proven to be feeding Mr. Letterman a great deal of material to work with, hardly anybody has proven to be more reliable for a laugh than Sarah Palin and her family.
The jokes got out of hand the other night when Mr. Letterman made the suggestion that Ms. Palin’s daughter got knocked up during a visit to a baseball game. I don’t remember the joke. I must say it wasn’t nearly as funny as the slutty stewardess reference. In fact, it was down right tasteless. But that’s nothing unusual for one of Mr. Letterman’s monologue. Mr. Letterman says he was making a reference to Ms. Palin’s eighteen year old daughter Bristol. But it was her fourteen year old daughter Willow who attended the baseball game and the Palin’s are now trying to make the suggestion that Mr. Letterman is some kind of borderline pedophile. Truly the Palins should leave comedy to the professionals. But without a doubt, there appears to be a very public brouhaha in the making between Mr. Letterman and the Palin family. And the news media looks more than ready to incite this conflict.
For all her supposed political savvy I really don’t think Ms. Palin and the Palin family is playing this right. Yes Mr. Letterman’s joke may have been offensive. I’m sure if I was a public figure I would take the same, if not more, offense at any tasteless reference to any members of my family. But Mr. Letterman just handed an opportunity for reconciliation with the Republican Party to Ms. Palin on a silver platter. Mr. Letterman invited Ms. Palin onto his show. They could bury the hatchet on national television. Instead, Ms. Palin counters with her own brand of comedy with the suggestion that Willow wouldn’t be safe in Mr. Letterman’s presence. For all of his uncouthness it should be pretty obvious that Mr. Letterman is no danger to anyone let alone somebody’s underage daughter.
However, where Mr. Letterman has the potential to be very dangerous could be to political fortunes. Just ask John McCain. No one would make the suggestion that Mr. McCain lost his presidential aspirations because of what happened between him and Mr. Letterman. But it should be pretty obvious that it didn’t help to be ridiculed so regularly. I’m no politician and I wouldn’t presume that I know enough about politics to advise anyone who has the political smarts to become a Governor of one of only fifty states. However, I can’t help but think that a good politician would work hard to make friends in the highest of places. If I was a politically savvy politician, I would think that driving a wedge in a potential relationship between me and somebody like David Letterman could not be helpful for my future political ambitions.
Israeli war planners had vowed to destroy the infrastructure of terror in Gaza. But most Gazans believe that the military operation was directed against general infrastructure. It certainly demolished much of Gaza’s economy and civil society. All along Gaza’s factory row hardly a single building remains standing.
The Israeli military targeted tunnels, arms caches, police stations and the hideouts of several Hamas military commanders. But Israeli attacks also destroyed more than two hundred factories, nearly fifty schools and two dozen mosques were damaged as well as government buildings, including the Presidential Compound and the Assembly building, which Gazans viewed as the possible foundation for a Palestinian state. Representatives of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) say it chose its targets carefully in order to minimize destruction to surrounding property and human lives. The IDF accuses Hamas of putting ordinary Gazans in harm’s way by firing rockets at Israel from within crowded neighborhoods.
Gaza businessmen insist that no militants were taking refugee inside the factories bombed by Israel. The IDF wants people to believe that militants were firing at them from a building, and when the IDF returned fire and utterly destroyed the building that military tactic worked so well that they ran to the next building and did the same thing again, repeating the process over two hundred times until Gaza’s ability to produce anything as little as a bubble gum wrapper was ruined.
Israeli planes targeted the American International School, an institution that served the sons and daughters of wealthy Palestinians. The school had high walls and very good security so the possibility that it was used as a base of attack is nil. A guard at the school wanted to bring family to stay with him because the school was safer than his neighborhood. The guard was killed when an Israeli aircraft fired several rockets at the facility, regarded as Gaza’s finest school.
Initial estimates by Gaza’s Public Works Ministry point to more than two thousand houses destroyed and another forty five thousand left in need of serious repair. Total reconstruction costs for Gaza as a result of the three-week offensive are estimated by the United Nations to be more than one point five billion dollars. But the delivery of reconstruction aid into the territory is a contentious issue for Israel as long as Hamas, the elected representatives of the Gaza people, remains responsible for the distribution of that aid.
Without a doubt there are people in Gaza who are so angry with Israel that they would happily spend every bit of aid in some kind of retaliation. People lost family and their entire means of earning a living. People’s homes were destroyed under some pretense that militants were using them to launch dangerous counterattacks against the IDF. So the chance that aid would be used nefariously is just too great to help the many others in need of help.
To add insult to the IDF inflicted injury Israel is pressing for a continuation of the eighteen month economic siege imposed on the people of Gaza by Israel, America, and other entities in Europe and the Middle East. Obviously, there are people in Israel who think of nothing but imposing as much punishment as possible on the Palestinian people. These are the kind of people who see a few of some of the most rudimentary rockets falling in their streets as an excuse to unleash all out war. Unfortunately for the people of Gaza, the people who want to punish Palestine at the maximum setting are large and in charge.
So now that the Palestinians have to pick themselves up by their bootstrap without the ability to provide for themselves with the lost of their manufacturing base. And without their manufacturing base and trying to recover from being pummeled with American sourced weaponry, people think the people of Gaza should go back to their existence behind an economic blockade. People who were starving before should go back to starving in their shell shocked hovels.
The idea that Israel was striking only at militants with the surgical precision of smart weapons just doesn’t hold water when entire neighborhoods lay flatten. It’s hard to buy into this supposition when every factory lies in a pile of ruin and every school has been obliterated. Israel practiced the same level of restraint and precision with smart bombs that a tsunami would employ trying to pull a single grain of sand off of a beach. For every Israeli killed a hundred Palestinians were killed. For every Israeli injured thousands of Palestinians were made to suffer. And America protects Israel why? Sounds like a fox needing protection from the hens.
It is an exciting time. In a few hours the world will get its first United States President that is not a white male. Barack Hussein Obama will be the first African American to serve as President of the United States. It is an exciting time indeed. The authorities estimate that as many as two million people will crowd into the small strip of open space known as the National Mall. Some people are paying outrageous sums of good money and jumping through all kinds of flaming hoops so they can experience the event first hand even though more than likely they’d need a telescope with the optics of the Hubble to make out Mr. Obama’s person as he takes the oath on the steps of the United States Capitol Building.
A lot of people are asking the question what would Dr. King think of all this. Truly, what would arguably the greatest symbol of the civil rights movement think? What would the man who worked tirelessly for the black community think about a black politician achieving what for many is considered the highest political office in the land? Not surprisingly, I see it as a simple question to answer.
When Dr. King instituted passive resistance against the raging institutionalized racism of America, there were a number of individual black Americans who were doing surprisingly well at the time. People like Sidney Portier and Diane Carroll were making careers as Hollywood actors. People like Redd Foxx and Bill Cosby were doing very well as comedians. Berry Gordy and Earl Graves were making a name in the corporate world. And a number of other black professionals were doing well as doctors and lawyers and whatever you may have had at the time.
But Dr. King wasn’t fighting for civil rights for a handful of black people. His struggle was for the black community at large. Mr. King never said that we needed a black President or a black corporate executive or the first black whatever. Mr. King was fighting for the black community in general and not for that one black individual who has been able to overcome and reach their goals.
Thinking of Dr. King I am reminded of the story where he made a personal request to Nichelle Nichols who played Lieutenant Uhura on the then brand new science fiction phenomenon Star Trek. For sometime, Ms. Nichols had felt that she was being mistreated by the show’s producers and wanted to quit the franchise. When she had discovered that while other actors were enjoying their notoriety her fan mail was being withheld it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She wanted to quit. But Dr. King appealed to her saying that it would inspire future generations of black people to achieve. Dr. Mae Jamison, the first black woman to go to space, admitted that it was Lieutenant Uhura at the futuristic switchboard of the Enterprise that inspired her to become an astronaut.
I’d like to imagine that Dr. King would be proud of Mr. Obama just as much as he would have been proud of any and every person of African decent who achieves and who wants to maintain their affiliation with the black community without selling their soul to do it. The election of Mr. Obama to the presidency is a great achievement for him. But the election of Mr. Obama is not tantamount to the evaporation of inequality. Mr. Obama’s achievement is not the end all or be all of the black community.
A lot of people like to talk in the most simplistic of terms that Mr. Obama’s election is now an indication that racism is over and that the people in the black community no longer have an excuse for the under achievement that permeates the black community relative to other communities. But then people turn around and see Mr. Obama as the rare exception instead of the general rule of black people. He speaks so well. Black people are indeed inferior. It’s just that every now and then you will find that rare black person that can transcend his or her inherent black inferiorities.
Bottom line is that from Dr. King’s perspective, it wasn’t about the individual. It wasn’t about the achievements of a few black people. It was about the black community. We can celebrate the fact that Mr. Obama is the latest member of an extremely small, elite fraternity. We can support him in his endeavors as he tries to bring something that resembles respectable leadership back to the oval office. The black community should be very proud of this moment.
But on the flipside, this is not a time to rest on laurels. The proportion of education and employment opportunities for young black people falls short. The only area when opportunities for black people excel relative to others is when we have an opportunity to fall under the harsh judgment of the public’s eye such as when we are brought before the judicial system or law enforcement. And we still suffer from a mindset that when something negative is perpetrated by one black person, all black people suffer the consequences. The whole fate of future black Presidents rest on Mr. Obama’s broad shoulders. However, the fate of future white Presidents is hardly impacted by the less than stellar performance of George Bush.
And what does an Obama presidency hold for the black community? Would he be a black President in the vein of Thurgood Marshall, the first black appointment to the Supreme Court? Or is Mr. Obama’s relationship with the black community will be better defined in the vein of Clarence Thomas, Mr. Marshall’s less than illustrious successor? Generally speaking will Mr. Obama be someone welcomed by the vast majority of black people who will judge as a good thing for everyone including the black community or will he be judged as an anathema heavily despised by black people?
Like most black people who have a vision and are more socially oriented, I imagine Dr. King would hope for the best for the entire community. But he would not assume anything. He would be proud, but he would stay vigilant. He would say that this was a great achievement for a black man. Obviously, the fact that a black man is becoming President is a sign that we have made significant progress. But the fight for racial equality is far from over. I believe Dr. King would know that we must continue this long and arduous journey resisting all manners of distractions along the way, even the distractions that would lead us to believe we have arrived when it’s really nothing more than the next logical step in a very long process.