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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Darius Rucker, African American Country Music Star?

I don't know where I've been, but I had no idea that Darius Rucker, lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish, had gone solo as a country singer. His first single from the album, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," released this past spring, reached the top 20 on the country charts in July, becoming the first song by a black atist to chart that high since Charley Pride in 1988. Then it reached number 1 in September, the first since Pride's "Night Games" in 1983 to do that.

I hope they treat you all right out there on the road, Darius. Best of luck.

Friday, December 5, 2008

OJ Simpson Sentenced Harshly

Got up to 33 years, eligible for parole in 9 years, for the sports memorabilia armed bullying fiasco in Las Vegas. Sure, judge, go ahead and try to convince us that the sentence isn't an attempt to rectify the acquittal on murder way back when. I bet a lot of jerks caught up in a muddled armed confrontation/misunderstanding/setup (take your pick) that's over in a few minutes with no one injured get a sentence like that.

Top Ten Reasons Why Obama is Black

Good opinion piece from blackplanet, refuting the claim that we should call Obama "biracial" instead of black, since he's "only half-black." People with African blood are by default black in our society. They gotta CHOOSE to be categorized as biracial; otherwise the default rules. Here's the article (but you gotta click on the link to get the hilarious photo illustrations!):

OPINION: Top 10 Reasons Obama Is Black
By Casey Gane-McCalla December 2, 2008 10:07 am

In the Washington Post, writer Marie Arana said that Barack Obama is not black; he is biracial and bicultural. I say she’s wrong: he is the first black president, the first bicultural president AND the first biracial president. So here are the Top 10 Reasons Barack Obama is Black.

1. His Name.

Even names like Leroy Johnson or Tyrone Jenkins could possibly be white people’s names. But no way in hell there’s a white man named Barack Obama. Obama’s name could be that of a great African Warrior.

Tell Shaka Zulu that Barack Obama has come from the hills to aid him.

Or a radical sixties Black nationalist.

Mumia Abu Jamal and Barack Obama were captured by Co-Intelpro members.

Maybe even a black athlete…

With the 8th pick of the NBA draft the Warriors select, Barack Obama from Ohio State.

2. His Wife.

Being Black is like being Jewish; if you marry into the family you have to convert to Blackism. No one is debating Michelle’s ethnicity. She is from a traditional Good Times family that worked its way up like the Jefferson’s so they could become the Huxtables. Michelle Obama is Whitney Houston before the crack black, a dark skinned Clair Huxtable, a testament to black womanhood, motherhood, sisterhood, family and achievement. If Obama wasn’t black before he married her, he was damn sure black after.

3. He Considers Himself Black.

On 60 Minutes Steve Kroft asked Obama why he considers himself to be African American. He said that he never decided to be black but that, “I think if you look African-American in this society, you’re treated as an African-American.” In college, Obama was in the Black Student’s Association at both Occidental and Columbia, where he first became politically active, campaigning against apartheid. At Harvard, he was on the board for the Black Law Students Association as well as earning the title of “the first Black Editor” for the Harvard Law Review.

4. His Voice

Barack Obama sounds like a mix of Denzel Washington and James Earl Jones. He could very well have voiced Mufasa in the Lion King. If Obama called your house, you wouldn’t say there’s some biracial guy on the phone. You’d say there’s a black guy on the phone.

5. History

Biracials have always been included in the greater group of African Americans. Frederick Douglass, Booker T, Washington and even reggae legend Bob Marley are all biracial. Unlike South Africa, where they developed a category for biracials, coloreds, in their caste system, none was ever made in the US. Therefore, biracials were treated like Blacks under the law. Biracials have traditionally been part of the same struggle for Black freedom, independence and dignity that all African Americans have.

6. Basketball

Despite the fact that he grew up partially in Indonesia and went to private school he didn’t play soccer, squash or crew: he played basketball. It’s not a stereotype. Basketball has become an African-American athletic tradition that Obama is a part of. No one has referred to Jason Kidd as the first great biracial basketball player; to most he’s just another Black basketball player.

7. His Religion

In the USA, the Irish and Italians go to Catholic Church; WASPs go to the Episcopalian church; Koreans go to the Korean church. Obama went to the Black church: gospel music and a long history of spiritual resistance against racism. People praising the Lord and speaking in tongues. Obama’s religion is deeply rooted in the tradition of African-Americans in the USA.

8. Black People Love Him

No one was talking about the biracial demographic helping Obama win; it was the Black vote. Go to any black neighborhood and all the 50 Cent and Scarface shirts have been replaced by Obama T-Shirts. There are Obama watches, key chains and hats on every street corner. The black community has taken a special sense of pride in Obama, similar to that of Bob Marley, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X or Nelson Mandela. He has united the Civil Rights generation and the Hip Hop generation and has given black people a sense of pride. Although you may have a few detractors of Obama’s blackness in the black community, the overwhelming majority consider him Black.

9. Biracial Isn’t A Good Term

Biracial could mean you’re Latino and Asian, African and South Asian; there are a lot of mixes. Someone who’s South Asian and White might not be able to relate to someone who is Hispanic and Black. If one wanted to get technical, Obama is Euro American/African American. Being biracial is a technical term, not a term of heritage or cultural identity like Black, White, Latino or Asian. Bill Richardson wasn’t seen as the biracial governor although he was half Latino and half White; he was seen as a Latino governor. There is no culture or history for being biracial. There’s no biracial history month, no biracial music, no biracial slang, no biracial food. Unlike being Black, Jewish, Hispanic, White, or Asian, which are larger cultural identities, there is no culture necessarily attributed to the biracial community.

10. The Police

If Barack Obama robbed someone the police would not say be on the look out for a number 1.5 male; they’d look out for a number 1 male. Police wouldn’t say, “Never mind don’t pull over that black guy, he looks biracial.” If Obama was a rapper or an athlete and he got arrested, there wouldn’t be an outcry against biracial athletes or entertainers; there would be yet another outcry against Black rappers and entertainers.

All that considered, I’m sorry Marie Arana: Barack Obama is STILL Black. You won’t disappoint the millions of people who are proud to see the first Black president. Being Black is a very complicated racial, cultural, definition that encompasses many people from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. So yes, you can be Black and biracial at the same time. Black people have always been mixed, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Many black people have White, Native American, or Latino blood in them. Black people from the Caribbean have Asian and South Asian blood in them. While being white has been defined by purity, being Black has been inclusive of any mix of African blood. The term Black has been used to describe people from Africa, the Caribbean and people with mixed race.

Obama is Black in his own eyes, in the eyes of history and in the eyes of the law. He is also biracial; he is also American and he is also a human being. Everybody can take pride in Barack Obama, for there is is some of him in all of us. Still, we cannot forget that he comes from a tradition of Black leaders, Black culture and a Black identity. The significance of his victory is part of American history and more specifically Black American History and is a turning point in the struggle of Black people in this country.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Elephant in the Room on Anchor Murder Arrest Story

I think I've caught on to how things work in the "postracial" "colorblind" fantasy we find our society in these days. I was watching the Today show this morning (don't usually watch morning TV, but my daughter had it on hoping for a snow day off from school). Matt Laurel had the parents of the Arkansas TV anchor (pretty young blond woman named Anne Pressly) who was murdered about a month ago. The story was that an arrest had been made of the alleged murderer. His name is Curtis Vance. His pictured was flashed on the screen--a very unflattering portrait of a black man. No mention of the racial aspects of the situation. Wouldn't be proper, as I said, in this fantasy of ours. But that picture did the talking, a thousand words' worth. It validated the fears and suspicions of millions of whites that blacks can be/are sexual monsters, out to defile our pretty young daughters. Notwithstanding the history, both pre- and post-slavery of white slavemasters and land owners having their way, unimpeded by law or custom, with any black women they took a hankering to. Nothing the woman, or her male lover, or father, or anyone else in the black community could do about it. But those facts don't match up with the prevailing story, so forget it.

Late in the interview, Matt said, "I have to bring up a touchy, hard-to-talk-about subject now." I thought, "Is he really gonna do it? Blatantly bring up the racial question?" But no, Matt was referring to bringing up the subject of the likely sexual assault that took place in the murder act. The two parents had referred many times to Vance as "this gentleman" up to this point, but when the sex crime subject was broached, the mother slipped and called him "a monster." Maybe if my daughter was murdered at 26, I'd call someone a monster, too. But how can someone be both a monster and a gentleman to you?

I thought, well how SHOULD those parents have handled things? I don't know, would it be too much to ask them to make a statement along the lines of, "You know, I hope to God this murder does nothing to cause harm to race relations in our community and in our nation. We well know that there are good black people and bad black people; there are good white people and bad white people. As much as we hate to admit it, all races have members capable of the most horrendous acts. So to my black brothers and sisters--peace be with you. And to my fellow white people--don't you dare think of holding this act against a whole race of people who have stood valiantly in the face of centuries of inhumane injustices. We miss our daughter terribly, but we attribute the harm to the despicable act of one depraved individual."

Yeah, I guess that would be asking too much. Look who's living in a fantasy now...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Race and the Rock Era

OK, so my ethnocentrism (that sounds more palatable than racism, doesn't it?) showed itself just now--I read a teaser on Yahoo about Rolling Stone magazine's poll of top 100 singers of the rock era. The teaser said Elvis was NOT number 1 in the poll, but rather number 3, thus inviting the reader to guess the two ranked ahead of him before clicking the article. (

I guessed two other white boys--Springsteen and Bono. Turns out the two ahead of him are both black--Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. My only, weak defense is that I read "of the rock era" as meaning "of the rock (and roll) music genre." Yeah, right, like I said, a pretty weak defense--latent racism is the more plausible explanation.

Turns out that blacks dominate the Top 10 on this poll: 1. Aretha Franklin; 2. Ray Charles; 4. Sam Cooke; 6. Marvin Gaye; 8. Otis Redding; 9. Stevie Wonder; and 10. James Brown. (The whites are 3. Elvis; 5. John Lennon and 7. Bob Dylan--in his case, using the term "singer" loosely!)

Of course, in our officially color-blind society, we can't POINT OUT in the article the dominance of blacks--it might be taken as a criticism, or a statement of black superiority, or something, so the article only points out the prponderance of dead over living artists in the top 10.

Just makes you realize that this color-blind nonsense deprives us of recognizing and enjoying the diverse colors of the human rainbow.

P.S. It's also worth noting that the poll was of industry insiders, not of readers. Had it been readers, I doubt the outcome would have reflected quite the same impact and influence of African-American singers since the mid-1950's.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

More Blather about Obama's ascention meaning the end of racism

Oh, boy, here we go again, another AP writer telling us how Obama's election to the highest office in the land means the end of race as the primary organizing principle in our society.
"Obama victory opens door to new black identity" shouts the headline of the article by JESSE WASHINGTON, and the article starts with "Shortly after leaving the voting booth, 70-year-old community activist Donald E. Robinson had a thought: 'Why do I have to be listed as African-American? Why can't I just be American?'

The answer used to be simple: because a race-obsessed society made the decision for him. But after Barack Obama's mind-bending presidential victory, there are rumblings of change in the nature of black identity and the path to economic equality for black Americans.

Before Tuesday, black identity and community were largely rooted in the shared experience of the struggle — real or perceived — against a hostile white majority. Even as late as Election Day, many blacks still harbored deep doubts about whether whites would vote for Obama.

Obama's overwhelming triumph cast America in a different light."

Don't get me wrong: I'm happy as can be that Obama won. I know that his election is a great milestone. It is a sign of how far we've come. But as long as we live in the school and residential segregation we are in, as long as the prisons are filled with black men sentenced 100 times as stiffly for their crack crimes as whites are for their powder cocaine, etc.--Mr. Robinsons can call and think of himself however he wants, but the majority of whites, at least, in this society are still gonna see black first, American later.

Another part of the article got under my skin: "Certainly racism did not disappear after Obama's white votes were counted. No one is claiming that black culture and pride and community are no longer valuable. Many also dismiss the idea of a "post-racial" America as long as blacks and other minorities are still disproportionately afflicted by disparities in income, education, health, incarceration and single parenthood.

But white groups that once faced discrimination, such as the Italians, Jews and Irish, have moved from the margins to the mainstream. America debated whether John F. Kennedy could become the first Catholic president; now that's a historical footnote."

Another tired old comparison of blacks to white ethnics, as if the same route of assimilation and absorbsion into our mainstream society is open to blacks.As if Italians, Jews and Irish were kidnapped, packed like sardines in the hole of a ship, sold as property if they survived the journey, bred like livestock, lynched with impunity, considered more ape than human, etc. Besides that, perhaps assimilation like the Irish would be a BAD thing for blacks, basically a selling of soul for a piece of pie. Anyway, I thought an AP writer would know better than to bring up that argument/hope. Guess I'm naive.

"Mutts Like Me"

Obama's first news conference: refers to himself and other mixed-race folks as "mutts." Interesting--I wonder if he offended any of his fellow mixed-race folks? Also, the writer takes this as an indication that Obama is gonna be open in discussing race. That's reading a bit much into one off-hand comment, don't you think? He avoided the issue like the plague (with good reason) for most of his campaign. Also, the writer brings up that popular doomsday forecast: "Extra! Extra! Read all about it! We Whites will be a minority in our own country in X years!" and calls it "fortuitous" that we have a prez who is at ease discussing race, because, by golly, we only got 35 years to sort out our comfort level as a nation, because, like I said, "Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Whites will be a minority in 2042!" Of course, it is actually NON-HISPANIC whites, and chances are that eaither or both of Hispanic whites and (at least some) Asians will be admitted into the "White CLub" as at least probationary whites by that time. Anyway, here is the news story:

'Mutts like me' - Obama shows ease discussing race
By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press
WASHINGTON – It popped out casually, a throwaway line as he talked to reporters about finding the right puppy for his young daughters.

But with just three offhanded words in his first news conference as president-elect, Barack Obama reminded everyone how thoroughly different his administration — and inevitably, this country — will be.

"Mutts like me."

By now, almost everyone knows that Obama's mother was white and father was black, putting him on track to become the nation's first African-American president. But there was something startling, and telling, about hearing his self-description — particularly in how offhandedly he used it.

The message seemed clear — here is a president who will be quite at ease discussing race, a complex issue as unresolved as it is uncomfortable for many to talk about openly. And at a time when whites in the country are not many years from becoming the minority.

Obama made the remark as he revealed his thinking in what is becoming one of the highest-profile issues of this transition period: What kind of puppy will he and his wife, Michelle, get for their daughters as they move into the White House.

Because Malia, 10, has allergies, the family wants a low-allergy dog. But Obama said they also want to adopt a puppy from an animal shelter, which could make it harder to find a breed that wouldn't aggravate his daughter's problem.

"Obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me," Obama said with a smile. "So whether we're going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household."

In his first postelection news conference, the man who will be president in just over two months described himself as a mutt as casually as he may have poked fun at his jump shot.

If he thought nothing of such a remark in his first news conference, doesn't that signal that over the next four years, the country is likely to hear more about race from the White House — and from the perspective of a black man — than it ever has before?

It's not necessarily that he will make a crusade about the issue once he takes office. There was little sign of that in his election campaign, in which he ran on issues like the economy with a broad appeal to all Americans.

But it does underscore that the president-elect clearly does not see race as a subject best sidestepped or discussed in hushed tones. To Obama, race in all its complications has long been a defining part of his life, and he is comfortable talking about it.

The timing seems fortuitous. Obama will be sworn in as the country is rapidly becoming more racially diverse. The latest government projections indicate that by 2042, white people will make up less than half the nation's population.

Blacks have been elected to local and statewide office in growing numbers in recent years, a sign that the country is becoming more tolerant. Obama lost the white vote to Republican John McCain by 12 percentage points, according to exit polls of voters — a better showing than Democrat John Kerry's 17-point deficit with whites four years ago.

Still, a conversation about race over the next four years that is more open and explicit than the country has ever heard from its president can't be bad, can it?

Obama's comment was all the more noteworthy coming from a man who just ended a presidential campaign in which he stayed relentlessly on-message and made few comments that could be hurled against him. This is a man who can limit himself to saying exactly what he wants to say — usually.

One remark that did haunt him came during his long-running primary campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Speaking at a private fundraiser in San Francisco, Obama said some residents of depressed rural areas get bitter and "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them."

Eager to avoid slips like that in the campaign's closing days, Obama usually avoided reporters and seldom departed from prepared remarks.

At his news conference Friday, Obama seemed less guarded. But that led to another eyebrow-raising moment.

Obama told reporters that he has turned for advice to all "living" former presidents. But he then joked, "I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances."

The former first lady actually has not been linked to conversations with the dead. President Reagan's former chief of staff, Donald Regan, did write that she set her husband's schedule with the help of an astrologist.

Obama called Mrs. Reagan late Friday to apologize.

Ironically, Obama's remarks came just a day after Italy's Premier Silvio Berlusconi, in an apparent joke, described Obama as "young, handsome and even tanned." Critics called the comment racist, while Berlusconi defended it as a compliment.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008



Having said that: the first person to use Obama's election as proof that we live in a "post-racial, color-blind society" gets a cold slap in the face...

Interesting comment on the changing demographics of the electorate:
"What's most interesting about early results is not just how many people voted but the shifting demographic of American voters, said Stephen Ansolabehere, a political science professor at Harvard and MIT.

Using exit polling data, Ansolabehere determined that whites made up 74 percent of the 2008 electorate. That's down considerably from 81 percent in 2000 because of increase in black and Hispanic voting, he said.

"That's a big shift in terms of demographic composition of the electorate," Ansolabehere said early Wednesday." (

My comment: "Ought oh, watch out white America, we're losing our grip on control!"
All sarcasm aside: if those numbers are accurate, and don't simply reflect some change in self-identity among some Hispanic whites and mixed-race folks, that is a rather astounding shift in the span of just 8 years: the "white majority" proportion of the electorate dropping from 81% to 74% in that time. At that rate, my rough estimate is that (non-Hispanic) whites will be about 65% in another 8 years, under 2/3'rds. "The sky is falling!!!!! The sky is falling!!!!" LOL

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

More Joe the Plumber speaking in Racial Code

Here's an excerpt from an interview that Joe Wurzenbacher gave after his encounter with Obama, but before the debate made him famous.

All right, boys and girls, put your listening ears on, and see if you can pick out any "revealing" thoughts and phrases re: Ol' Joe's racial views.

Interviewer: Do you fear this is the possibility of America turning more down the socialist road if Obama does become elected and if he is able to implement these policies?

Joe: Very much so. You start giving people stuff, and then they start expecting it – and that scares me. A lot of people expect it now. They get upset when their check’s late, they get upset when they don’t get as many benefits as they used to, or when different government agencies are cut or spending is cut here and there for whatever reason – people get upset at that. And that’s because they’re used to getting it and they want more. I mean, everyone’s always gonna want more. People work the system left and right to get more out of welfare, to get more out of state assistance, federal assistance. And if government’s there for them, they’re gonna keep on trying to manipulate it to get more out of it. You got people that come along and say, “Hey, I wanna help you people,” I mean, they’re all ears! They’re like, “Hey, you can help me more, I don’t have to work as hard, I don’t have to do as much, and you’re gonna give me this? Man, that’s great, you’re a good guy.”


Cross Burning "for Halloween"--yeah, right...

According to the Associated Press, a Canton, Ohio man arrested for burning a cross in front of his home was just trying to make his Halloween yard display "more it would look more weathered."

So that explain why the white Shane Helton continued to (as the police report) spray lighter fluid on the wood after authorities arrived. Uh, huh.

And what a coincidence that, just next door resides a married couple, the wife white, the husband black, and the wife, Stephanie Blankenship, says, according to the AP, "they have had problems with Helson and his roommate before." Hmmmm....

You can read the AP article at

It' s also noteworthy that the Zanesville, Ohio newspaper headline reads, "Alleged Cross-Burning was for Halloween." Not "Cross-Burning was Allegedly for Halloween." The latter calls into question the excuse, while the former expresses doubt about the criminal charge. Oops! Simple mistake, I'm sure....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber: tapdancing around racial codetalk

Joe the Plumber said near the end of his interview with Katie Couric last night after the debate that Barack Obama tap-danced around the questions he asked, "almost as good as Sammy Davis, Jr." It sounds innocent enough on tape. Not real wise to pick a black man representative of a racial stereotype (black=good dancer) in comparing Obama, a black man. Still, I might give him a pass on it. Then I heard, though, that in an interview today (enjoying his fame while it lasts) Joe said he was from the South, then went back and corrected that, saying he though most of his life that he had roots in the South, but then (to his disappointment?) found that all his roots were in Ohio. What kind of person from the Midwest fantasizes about being from the South. I can't psychoanalyze the guy, but it would seem he was a Southern sympathizer--in the Civil War relived; in the Jim Crow/Civil Rights struggle, etc. I don't know. I just don't know.

I do know this. Joe the plumber, with or without racial problems, is not near enough to help McCain make up the deficit he's facing. Go Obama!

Right Wingers Still Blaming Blacks for Economy

But this time,the National Review dude (Byron York--BY) gets his comeuppance but good in a live chat with the Atlantic's Matt Taibbi (MT). Read it:

Matt Taibbi sons Byron York
16 Oct 2008 08:56 am

Sorry guys, this begs to be quoted at length:

B.Y.: I think that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were also major factors. And I believe that many of the problems in the mortgage area can be attributed to the confluence of Democratic and Republican priorities: the Democrats' desire to give mortgages to people, particularly minorities, who could not afford them, and the Republicans' desire to achieve an "ownership society," in part by giving mortgages to people who could not afford them. Again, I believe that if you are suggesting that the financial crisis is a Republican creation, or even more specifically a McCain creation, I think you're on pretty shaky ground.

M.T.: Oh, come on. Tell me you're not ashamed to put this gigantic international financial Krakatoa at the feet of a bunch of poor black people who missed their mortgage payments. The CDS market, this market for credit default swaps that was created in 2000 by Phil Gramm's Commodities Future Modernization Act, this is now a $62 trillion market, up from $900 billion in 2000. That's like five times the size of the holdings in the NYSE. And it's all speculation by Wall Street traders. It's a classic bubble/Ponzi scheme. The effort of people like you to pin this whole thing on minorities, when in fact this whole thing has been caused by greedy traders dealing in unregulated markets, is despicable.

B.Y.: I was struck by the recent Senate testimony of James Lockhart, who is head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, about the sheer recklessness of Fannie in recent years. Despite "repeated warnings about credit risk," Lockhart testified, Fannie became more reckless in 2006 and 2007 than they had been in the scandal-ridden tenure of Franklin Raines (who departed in 2004). In 2005, Lockhart said, 14 percent of Fannie's new business was in risky loans. In the first half of 2007, it was 33 percent. So something terribly wrong was going on there, and it became a significant part of the present problem.

M.T.: What a surprise that you mention Franklin Raines. Do you even know how a CDS works? Can you explain your conception of how these derivatives work? Because I get the feeling you don't understand. Or do you actually think that it was a few tiny homeowner defaults that sank gigantic companies like AIG and Lehman and Bear Stearns? Explain to me how these default swaps work, I'm interested to hear.

Because what we're talking about here is the difference between one homeowner defaulting and forty, four hundred, four thousand traders betting back and forth on the viability of his loan. Which do you think has a bigger effect on the economy?

B.Y.: Are you suggesting that critics of Fannie and Freddie are talking about the default of a single homeowner?

M.T.: No. That is what you call a figure of speech. I'm saying that you're talking about individual homeowners defaulting. But these massive companies aren't going under because of individual homeowner defaults. They're going under because of the myriad derivatives trades that go on in connection with each piece of debt, whether it be a homeowner loan or a corporate bond. I'm still waiting to hear what your idea is of how these trades work. I'm guessing you've never even heard of them.

I mean really. You honestly think a company like AIG tanks because a bunch of minorities couldn't pay off their mortgages?

B.Y.: When you refer to "Phil Gramm's Commodities Future Modernization Act," are you referring to S.3283, co-sponsored by Gramm, along with Senators Tom Harkin and Tim Johnson?

M.T.: In point of fact I'm talking about the 262-page amendment Gramm tacked on to that bill that deregulated the trade of credit default swaps.

Tick tick tick. Hilarious sitting here while you frantically search the Internet to learn about the cause of the financial crisis -- in the middle of a live chat interview.

B.Y.: Look, you can keep trying to make this a specifically partisan and specifically Gramm-McCain thing, but it simply isn't. We've gone on for fifteen minutes longer than scheduled, and that's enough. Thanks.

M.T.: Thanks. Note, folks, that the esteemed representative of the New Republic has no idea what the hell a credit default swap is. But he sure knows what a minority homeowner looks like.

B.Y.: It's National Review.

That will leave a mark. It takes great intellectual cowardice, and frankly moral cowardice, to push the discredited "Teh Blacks and Mexicans caused the economic crisis" theory. In that sense, this was much deserved. The worst part is that York doesn't even defend the theory--he just hopes we'll buy this package marked "Blame The Niggers and Spics." But he has no idea what's inside the box.

It's amazing to me that these guys continue this strategy, even as it's clear that the demographics aren't on their side--the country isn't getting any whiter. But that's small potatoes. The bigger question is philisophical. Where is the principle in this? What is "conservative" about this argument, except that it's just anti-government? Here is the conservativism that York is peddling--"personal responsibility" for Harlem and Washington Heights, but none for Wall Street and Midtown.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Eminem: Best Rapper Alive?

Yahoo News had an intriguing headline: "Best rapper alive? Eminem wins Vibe magazine's Best Rapper Alive contest, sparking a heated debate." I follwed the link to a Y! Music blog entry by Billy Johnson, Jr. There's a picture of Billy. He's a black man. The one thing missing from the entire entry ( race. Once again, it's the elephant in the living room: the Subject which Must not be Named. I mean, come on, eminem is a white man performing in the dominant musical field of the African American Community. He followed in the footsteps of jokes like Vanilla Ice and the Beasty Boys in "white rap." Unlike them, Eminem achieved a level of acceptance and street cred in teh black community. But for him to be crowned the best (excluding of course Tupac and others no longer living)? I agree something seems astray. Is Vibe Magazine controlled by whites? If so, one could wonder if the bracketing was manipulated in Eminem's favor. How does Vibe's readership break down by race? Do they sell more copies with a popular white (rather than black) rapper on the cover? THese would be interesting questions. But the blogger tip toes all around race, with the implication of its central role thick in the air, but never spoken. Strange.

Johnson ends his entry with these words: "I consider Eminem to be one of the greatest MCs to have ever rhymed. He has an undeniable gift of storytelling. He can freestyle. He's passionate, and is one of the few who is blessed with the ability to simultaneously go straight mega pop and still reach the heads. He's top 10 without question.

I'm in one of those moods and can go and on about this as if it was something important. So I'll stop and let some of my favorites conclude my argument. Check out their videos."

Then he provides links to videos by the artists he presumably thinks should have outpolled Eminem. Kinda seems like a copout to me. I mean, name names, man! Take down the license plates and report them! Easy for me to say, I know. Justing pointing out the strange way we [don't] deal with race in this country, including in popular culture.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

McCain, Race, and the 2nd Debate

McCain said, "But you know, they're the ones that, with the encouragement of Sen. Obama and his cronies and his friends in Washington, that went out and made all these risky loans, gave them to people that could never afford to pay back." Kinda sounds like the blame the victim, blame the black folks, argument put forward by some from the right.

He also said to this questioner, an African American man, " of the real catalysts, really the match that lit this fire was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I'll bet you, you may never even have heard of them before this crisis."
As a network pundit pointed out last night, it's kind of patronizing to assume that a questioner never heard of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the past couple of months. And to assume it about a black man, well, lets just say it's not reassuring.

Then there's this: the first question was from a white man named Allen. The second from a black man named Oliver. McCain called him Oliver when he started his answer, but later said, "... and we're going to have to stabilize home values, and that way, Americans, like Alan, can realize the American dream and stay in their home." Was he still talking to/about Oliver, and just got the name wrong? Or did he slip back to Alan, "an American" whom he's concerned about? I'm just saying...

Finally, of course, there's the line everyone is talking about: McCain's distainful reference to Obama as "that one," as if the man isn't even human. You can read whatever you want into that, but it certainly makes me wonder what racist hatred is buried in the heart, or should I say spleen, of John McCain. This is, after all, a man who still recently, unashamedly referred to his torturers as "gooks."

What do you all think? Anyone out there reading?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Blacks and Baseball: Looking Up?

The decline of African Americans in major league baseball has been a concern of late (although lots of Latin American players of African ancestry remain). Seems, though, that teams in the playoffs this year have more than their share of blacks.;_ylt=AlV0El2_b.7.yxLFIpOcFPARvLYF?urn=top,112211

African-Americans double up during postseason
By Roy S. Johnson / Y! Sports Blogs

Is baseball's black glass half empty … or just empty?

The diminishing number of African-American ballplayers has been well-chronicled. This season, only 8.2 percent of major league players were African-American, according to Richard Lapchick, the director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, who has long chronicled and graded diversity trends. That's the lowest it has been in decades.

But look around. Something intriguing has manifested during baseball's World Series chase. On the rosters of the eight teams that qualified for the postseason, there are 30 black players – a rate (15 percent) almost double that of baseball overall.

Here's the list :

Brewers, 7; Angels, 6; Dodgers, 5; White Sox, 4; Rays, 3; Phillies, 2; Cubs, 2; Red Sox, 1.

It's interesting that a team from a small-market, middle-America city (Milwaukee) has the most color on its roster, including the most dominating player in all of baseball during the stretch run, CC Sabathia, who seemed to pitch every inning every day during the final crucial month.

And it isn't surprising that the only team with a majority owner of color (Los Angeles Angels, owned by Latino billionaire Arte Moreno) is diverse as well. Nor the team that was the "favorite" for every black baseball fan in my parents' generation, simply because of the signing of Jackie Robinson.

(It's also not surprising that the last team to sign a black player is at the bottom of the list. But that's a blog for another day.)

What does it mean?

For one, while baseball is still not attracting a preponderance of black players (and never will), the current black major leaguers are disproportionately among the game's elite -- players who help their teams win.

That may be a bit of a generalization, but not much. For a while now, the black players who reached The Show were typically among the best players on their teams, going all the way back to Little League. I've long said baseball could do better at attracting black journeymen players -- black Tim Teufels, I used to call them (look him up). But the game is still attracting athletes.

It's also a bit of a salute to RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), baseball's nearly decade-old program created to provide more playing opportunities to the nation's urban youth, whose areas are usually devoid of baseball leagues and teams. Eight players in the current posteason are RBI alumni.

Will the trend continue? Depends on which trend you're talking about -- the high representation of elite black players (half-full) or the diminishing number of black players overall (half-empty).

Perhaps one clue: Earlier this year, eight RBI players were chosen in the June draft of first-year players, led by second-rounders Xavier Avery (Orioles) and Joseph Austin (Astros).

Maybe there are at least a few Tim Teufels among them.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Perpetrators of OR Obama cutout hanging Caught

A followup to the 9/24 posting. Looks like the ignoramuses are getting what they deserve.
Oregon school says 4 confessed to Obama effigy

NEWBERG, Ore. (AP) — A Christian university in Oregon said Tuesday it has punished four students who confessed to hanging a likeness of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama from a tree on campus.

George Fox University broke the news to students and staff Tuesday afternoon at an all-campus meeting. About 1,000 people attended, said Rob Felton, a university spokesman.

A statement from the school said the penalties against the four students were "immediate long-term suspension and public service." The school cited federal privacy rules in not disclosing more about the students or their punishment.

The FBI is investigating whether any civil rights were violated.

"A criminal investigation is much more rigorous than an academic one, obviously," said Beth Anne Steele, an FBI spokeswoman. She couldn't say when the investigation would be complete.

Felton said the university's own investigation led to the four students. "To the best of our knowledge these are the only people involved," he said. "We're not pursuing it any further."

The commercially produced cardboard cutout of Obama was hung from a tree last week with fishing line around the neck.

A message taped to the cutout read, "Act Six reject." That refers to a scholarship and leadership program for minority and low-income student leaders at Christian colleges primarily located in the Northwest.

Felton wouldn't comment on the students' motive. Instead he cited a statement from Brad Lau, the university's vice president of student life.

"Regardless of the students' intent, the image of a black man hung from a tree is one of the most hurtful symbols of racism in American history," Lau said in the statement. "Displays such as this have no place on a campus that is dedicated to living out the teachings of Jesus."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Republican U.S. Congresswoman Blames Blacks for Financial Crisis

Read it and rage:

CBC Presses Republicans: Do You Agree With Bachmann's Assertion That "Minorities" Caused Financial Crisis?

During a Senate hearing on Thursday, Rep. Michele Bachmann pinned blame for financial crisis on President Clinton, “blacks,” and “other minorities.” To make her point, she read from an article written by Terry Jones in the right-wing publication Investor’s Business Daily. Jones criticized the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and said Clinton was misguided for pushing “homeownership as a way to open the door for blacks and other minorities to enter the middle class.” Watch Bachmann’s speech, followed by sharp criticism from Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) here.

In a new letter to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) obtained by ThinkProgress, 31 members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) call Bachmann’s claims “ridiculous” and ask Boehner whether her comments represent the views of the Republican Caucus:

It is clear from Rep. Bachmann’s comments that she believes that the bipartisan laws enacted over the past decade ensuring that minority communities have equal access to banking and other financial services are the cause of this financial situation. […]

There is no evidence to support Rep. Bachmann’s assertion that “minorities” caused the current financial crisis. Laws designed to open opportunities for equal access to credit do not require banks or thrifts to make loans that are unsafe or unprofitable. In fact, laws like the CRA mandate exactly the opposite. […] Additionally, research clearly shows that the majority of the predatory loans that have led us to this financial mess were originated by non-bank financial institutions and other entities that did NOT have a CRA obligation and lacked strong federal regulatory oversight. Shifting the blame for the current economic crisis to laws that allow equal access and opportunities to communities of color is ridiculous.

As members of the CBC, we simply ask if Rep. Bachmann’s position that it was lending to minority communities that caused the current financial crisis, represent the position of Republican Caucus?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sad, Ugly, Infuriating Incident in OR

It only takes one (or a few) persons to remind us that racial hatred is alive and well. The following is an account of an incident conflating derision and resentment over low-income and/or minority scholarships with not so subtle threats against our first black presidential candidate from a major party. Read it and weep (or rage):

(article from;_ylt=Air6p7Rp8WmycbMtB9JSUjJH2ocA)
Obama effigy found hanging from Ore. campus tree By MARY HUDETZ, Associated Press writer

NEWBERG, Ore. - Officials of a small Christian university say a life-size cardboard reproduction of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was hung from a tree on the campus, an act with racial undertones that outraged students and school leaders alike.

George Fox University President Robin Baker said a custodian discovered the effigy early Tuesday and removed it. University spokesman Rob Felton said Wednesday that the commercially produced reproduction had been suspended from the branch of a tree with fishing line around the neck.

Taped to the cardboard cutout of the black senator from Illinois was a message targeting participants in Act Six, a scholarship program geared toward increasing the number of minority and low-income students at several Christian colleges, mostly in the Northwest.

The message read, "Act Six reject."

The disturbing image found near the heart of the campus recalled the days of lynchings of blacks and was all the more incongruous at a university founded by Quaker pioneers in 1891. Felton said he had been at the school since he enrolled two decades ago, and "I've never experienced or heard of any type of overt racial act."

At the end of the college's regular chapel service Wednesday, Baker told students he was "disheartened and outraged."

"It has been my dream to establish a university that more adequately represents the kingdom of God," he said. "This act causes some to question our commitment."

Baker added, "What I've learned is we still have work to do."

Administrators at the university said Wednesday they do not know who hung the effigy, which Felton said few people saw before it was taken down.

Newberg police Sgt. Tim Weaver said officials are working with the university to find out who was responsible. He also said the police department has notified the U.S. Secret Service, although it's not clear yet whether the act was a crime.

"It doesn't fit as a hate crime and it doesn't fit in as intimidation, necessarily," he said. "If it's not a crime, we're not going to be involved."

Brad Lau, a university vice president, said school officials have been questioning students to find out who was responsible. He and other school officials wouldn't say what action it might take.

The school has 17 students in the Act Six program, whose name derives from the New Testament book of Acts. All but one are members of minority groups, Felton said.

Students in the program receive full scholarships and are selected on the basis of leadership potential.

Several students in the program said they are angry but do not feel threatened.

"To me, I just felt like they weren't ready to have a black person be president," said Courtney Greenidge, a sophomore. "We're trying to bring change. Obama's trying to bring change." She described herself, like Obama, as biracial: half black, half white.

She also said that overall, the campus has a welcoming and positive environment, but that she has heard comments along the lines of, "Oh, I wish I was black. Then I could get a scholarship like that."

Obama spokeswoman Sahar Wali said the effigy hanging was "an unfortunate incident but you know we have had a very positive response from Oregonians across the state."

Obama is widely considered to be ahead in Oregon. In the run-up to the state's May primary, he drew a crowd of about 75,000 people in Portland.

George Fox University's campus is in Newberg in the Willamette Valley south of Portland. About 1,800 students are enrolled. It also has centers in Portland; Salem; and Boise, Idaho.

Felton said that about 2 percent of the students are black and about a quarter of the freshman class belongs to minority groups. That number includes international students, largely from Asia and Africa.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Reagan's "didn't know we had a racial problem" part 2

Here's the context in which Reagan made the statement posted on earlier from time magazine. In the debate with Carter in 1980, the questioner asked Reagan: "Governor Reagan. Blacks and other non-whites are increasing. in numbers in our cities. Many of them feel that they are facing a hostility from whites that prevents them from joining the economic mainstream of our society. There is racial confrontation in the schools, on jobs, and in housing, as non-whites seek to reap the benefits of a free society. What do you think is the nation's future as a multi-racial society?"

The beginning of Reagan's reply: "I believe in it. I am eternally optimistic, and I happen to believe that we've made great progress from the days when I was young and when this country didn't even know it had a racial problem."


Monday, September 15, 2008

Reagan: U.S. "didn't know it had a racial problem"

Oh, the good old days! I just read in Time magazine a quote from Reagan during a debate with Carter (1980). Says that Ronnie talking about an America that existed "when I was young and when this country didn't even know it had a racial problem." Did he really says that? Did he really get AWAY with saying that? Pining for those good old days, when everyone knew their place and everyone was OK with it (or at least kept their complaints to themselves). Unbelievable. Somehow I think a very large part of America knew full-well they had a racial problem, but the whites just didn't want to deal with it. Harriet Martineau and Alexis de Tocqueville each separately saw it clear as day whay back in the 1830's--the difference between the stated principles of "all men are created equal" and the reality on the ground slapped them in the face. Ronnie, Ronnie, Ronnie. I was 18 in 1980, and don't remember him getting away with such poppycock. Maybe I wasn't sensitized to the issues yet, I don't know.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"I'm Not a Racist: I Just Play One in Public"

Student GOP leader resigns over Obama remark By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, AP writer (

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The leader of a statewide group of college Republicans has been forced to resign after posting racially insensitive comments about Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on the Internet.

Adam LaDuca, 21, the former executive director of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans, wrote on his Facebook page in late July that Obama has "a pair of lips so large he could float half of Cuba to the shores of Miami (and probably would.)"

LaDuca, who previously had called Martin Luther King Jr. a "pariah" and a "fraud," also wrote: "And man, if sayin' someone has large lips is a racial slur, then we're ALL in trouble."

The College Republicans asked LaDuca to resign after his remarks were publicized by the Pennsylvania Progressive, a blog written by a Democratic committeeman from Berks County. The group announced LaDuca's resignation on its Web site Friday.

"The comments were completely uncalled for and very offensive," said Anthony Pugliese, 22, a senior at West Chester University and chairman of the College Republicans, an umbrella group with more than 50 chapters statewide. "The P-A College Republicans do not accept or tolerate racism in any way."

LaDuca said Monday that he regrets posting the comments and understands how they can be construed as racist. "In hindsight, when you read it a second time, it's like, 'oops,'" he said. "It was just a dumb move on my part to make a statement like that public."

He said he is not a racist [emphasis added] and that he admires prominent blacks such as economist and author Thomas Sowell and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He compared the comment about Obama to jokes about Republican presidential nominee John McCain's thinning hair or President Bush's large ears.

LaDuca is a senior at Kutztown University. Two years ago, Kutztown's College Republicans chapter was heavily criticized for holding a "bake sale" to protest affirmative action in which whites were charged more for cookies than blacks. LaDuca, then the group's spokesman, made a public apology on the group's behalf.

My comments: So the guy calls MLK "a pariah" and "a fraud," thinks describing an African American's lips as big enough to float Cubans on is equivalent to comedian's teasing over a white man's thinning white hair or big ears, he admits not that the comment was dumb, but that making it public was dumb; but none if this adds up to being racist, not to mention the bake sale fiasco. Now, I know that accusations of "racist" can be incendiary, and that it's not a case of you are or you aren't, but rather gradations of racism, but this guy is far to the racist end of the racist/not racist sliding scale. Good riddance. I say.

RIP Don Hoskins, TX Western (El Paso) B-ball Coach

OK, so I'm skeptical of those great inspiring stories of overcoming racial prejudice that make the white guy out to be the hero--rewriting history along the lines of Mississippi Burning or some white going in and reforming inner city schools because the colored folks all love him/her. Or Glory, where the white commander is the key to the black soldiers' success. You know the type: those who extol William Lloyd Garrison and ignore Frederick Douglass; worship Harriet Beecher Stowe and pooh-pooh the stories of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman as so much hokum. Having said all that, here is a story that seems genuine (maybe I'm blinded by my whiteness, I don't know.) Don Haskins, coach of the first all-black starting 5 to win the NCAAs, never moved beyond his second-tier school in the middle of nowhere, because no one's white alumni bigwigs wanted him to come to their school and do that to THEIR team (at least not in the 60's and 70's). As the article says, the unwritten rule then (has it changed all that much in some places?) was “you played two [blacks] at home, three on the road and four if you were behind.”

According to (white) sportwriter Dan Wetzel (
"He was a man of great courage and conviction who essentially gave up on making it to the big time of college basketball when he dared to start all those black players. Almost no big school would touch him after that. He was typecast as an outcast in a dark and unforgiving time."

Here's another pertinent, revealing excerpt:
"The story of the 1966 Texas Western Miners was perfect for a Disney movie: On the night before the title game against Kentucky, Haskins decides to start five black players, they win and all is good.

Haskins liked “Glory Road.” He hated that part. He never said it publicly. He was above that. Fact is he had started five black players from Day 1, and the movie made Haskins look like he was afraid to do so. That pained him.

To pretend everything was great after the championship was a stretch, too. Racial slurs were never his greatest enemy. It was far more personal.

He was 36, with a wife and four kids. He had a low-paying job at a school no one had ever heard of. It had taken the family three years of living in the football dorm to save up for a house.

And he had a decision to make. A decision none of his coaching peers could understand why he was contemplating.

There was an old coaching axiom back then, when many college teams were still segregated. If you coached at a school that allowed black players, the joke went: “you played two at home, three on the road and four if you were behind.”

You never played five, especially in the South. Jackie Robinson had come along well before in baseball, but he was one black on a team full of whites. An all black team presented a different image to America.

Every coach knew it, including all of Haskins’ friends.

“They’d say, ‘Don, are you crazy?’ ” Haskins said.

By starting five black players, as he planned to do, the upward arc of his career would be over. He had started as a high school coach in a town of 253. He was a talented guy, big money and big opportunity awaited. Not this way though.

If he won, bigger, richer schools would see him as the coach of “the black team.” They’d never hire him. If he lost or, heaven forbid, there were any discipline problems with his players (there weren’t), he’d be fired and likely never work in the NCAA again.

“I understood what they were saying, I just said, ‘Piss on them,’ ” Haskins said. “Piss on them all. I brought these kids here; I’m playing my best players.’ “

The victory helped integrate not just schools but entire conferences – the ACC, SEC and Southwest Conferences were segregated at that point. Almost immediately the floodgates opened.

“He literally got thousands and thousands of black kids scholarships to college,” said Nolan Richardson, a former Haskins player. Later in life some of those players he had never met would approach him at airports and restaurants and thank him.

Haskins, as his friends predicted, got zero job offers. The only major school to ever try to hire him was his alma mater, Oklahoma State. Today if someone won an NCAA title at a mid-major, they’d choose their multimillion dollar job. Not in 1966. Not with that starting five.

He did get hate mail by the bucket. And the NCAA dispatched an investigator to look into the players’ academics (they were legit). He was shredded in much of the national media. Sports Illustrated even concluded he was exploiting blacks, not helping them, a charge his old players still bristle at.

“For a long time I said winning that championship in 1966 was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” he said.

In recent years he was no longer bitter about those days. He had come out on top in the end. The world had come around on the Glory Road he paved.

People began to appreciate that in a sports world filled with hyperbole, a young man gave up so much personally because it was the right thing to do. The thing no one else would."

My comments: Know what was missing? Interviews with some of those black players (save the one quote from Nolan Richardson). Contact with those players through Haskins over the years. You get the feeling that there is still a lot of "feel-good" aura surrounding the story that papers over enduring racial divides. Still, Haskins seems deserving of some credit. Interesting too, though, that the article never mentions the names of the five guys who won the championship on the court. Oh, yeah, and the title, "basketball's John Wayne"? When did John Wayne show an ounce of racial courage? Doesn't Wetzel know that the Wayne image is a joke to many in the black community, from the way he walked to the way he talked and the way whites idolized him? Oh, well, RIP Don Haskins. You did more than most of us whites in the way of pushing racial progress in our country. For that, I salute you.

Friday, September 5, 2008

LPGA English Only Policy Redeaux

Maybe somebody knocked some sense into the LPGA poobahs, although the threat of fines still sounds barbaric...

LPGA backs down on English requirement

AP - Sep 5, 12:38 pm EDT Golf Gallery Under increasing criticism, the LPGA Tour on Friday backed off plans to suspend players who cannot speak English well enough to be understood at pro-ams, in interviews or in making acceptance speeches at tournaments.

LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens said she would have a revised plan by the end of the year that would not include suspensions, although fining non-English speakers remains an option.

Bivens disclosed the tour’s original plan in a meeting with South Korean players two weeks ago at the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore., Golfweek magazine reported. The policy, which had not been written, was widely criticized as discriminatory, particularly against Asian players.

The LPGA membership includes 121 international players from 26 countries, including 45 from South Korea. Asians won three of the four majors this year.

“We have decided to rescind those penalty provisions,” Bivens said in a statement. “After hearing the concerns, we believe there are other ways to achieve our shared objective of supporting and enhancing the business opportunities for every tour player.”


The reversal was quickly hailed by two California lawmakers who challenged the original policy.

State Sen. Leland Yee, a Democrat from San Francisco, had asked the Legislature’s legal office to determine whether the English policy violated state or federal anti-discrimination laws. If it was deemed legal, Yee said he would have pushed for legislation banning such policies in California.

The LPGA Tour plays three events in California, including its first major championship.

“I’m very pleased that the LPGA saw the wisdom of the concerns that we raised,” Yee said. “It’s a no-brainer for those of us who have been the recipient of these kinds of discriminatory acts.”

State Assemblyman Ted Lieu, a Democrat from the Los Angeles area, said he would target corporate sponsors if the LPGA persisted with its English requirement.

“I’m pleased they have come to their senses,” he said.

Bivens’ announcement came two hours before the Asian Pacific American Legal Center planned a news conference in Los Angeles to demand the LPGA overturn its policy.

“Until they completely retract it, issue an apology to the players and the fans, I think we’ll remain very concerned and interested in what happens,” said Gerald D. Kim, a senior staff attorney for the center. “The LPGA has gone about this totally the wrong way.”

One of the tour’s title sponsors, State Farm, already weighed in this week by saying it was “dumbfounded.”

“We don’t understand this and we don’t know why they have done it,” State Farm spokesman Kip Diggs told Advertising Age on its Web site. “And we have strongly encouraged them to take another look at this.”

Bivens said the tour will continue to help international players through a cultural program that has been in place for three years and offers tutors and translators.

Earlier this week, Bivens sent a 1,200-word memo to the LPGA membership to outline the goal behind the new policy. She said players would never be required to be fluent or even proficient in English, but rather would be asked to get by with the basics of the language.

She argued that international players who could communicate effectively in English would improve the pro-am experience, sponsor relations and could help land endorsements for the players.

“We do not, nor will we ever, demand English fluency, or even proficiency, from our international players,” she wrote. “To the contrary, we are asking that they demonstrate a basic level of communication in English at tournaments in the United States in situations that are essential to their job as a member of the LPGA Tour.”

Yee said he understood the tour’s goal of boosting financial support, but disagreed with the method.

“In 2008, I didn’t think an international group like the LPGA would come up with a policy like that,” Yee said. “But at the end of the rainbow, the LPGA did understand the harm that they did.”

The lawmaker said he will continue with his request to the Legislative Counsel’s Office, as a way to prevent similar policies in the future.

Lieu said the LPGA’s explanation made it seems as though the tour felt it more important to socialize with sponsors than to play golf.

“If you’re a sports fan, you should be outraged,” Lieu said.

Associated Press Writers Don Thompson and Judy Lin in Sacramento, Calif., and Amy Taxin in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2008 Yahoo! All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The "English-only" Movement Hits Professional Sports

The "English-Only" movement has, in recent years, been mostly targeted at Spanish-speaking immigrants. No we're not gonna teach you in our schools in Spanish, or provide Spanish legal documents or ballots, etc.--you're in American, damnit, so speak American--oops, I mean English!

Now comes word that the LPGA tour, for professional women golfers, has instituted a policy requiring all players to be conversant in English or face suspension. (See While the tour has players from 26 different countries, the policy is primarily targeted at the 45 South Korean players. The justification: "“It is important for sponsors to be able to interact with players and have a positive experience.” says Kate Peters, tournament director of the LPGA State Farm Classic. Oh, and it's for their own good: We want to help their professional development,” deputy commissioner Libba Galloway says. “We want to help our athletes as best we can succeed off the golf course as well as on it.” How thoughtful and beneficient of them. This altruistic change was implemented, not with input from players, not by distributing the policy in writing, not even by holding a meeting with all players. No, only the South Korean players were singled out in being called to a mandatory meeting at the Safeway Classic to inform them of the new policy. Nice, enlightened folks running things there at the LPGA. Brilliant. How 21st century. You can just imagine the executives griping behind closed doors: "I mean they all look alike, and their names sound the same--they're completely indistingishable to fans. Who cares if they can play golf--we can't market them! We gotta do SOMETHING!" Kind of resembles the "literacy test" used to deny minority voting rights in days gone by. The stupidity of some folks never ceases to amaze, huh?

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Relax--She's a Brady Bunch Black"

Michelle Obama knocked it out of the park tonight with an impassioned, heartfelt, convincing speech. And her Mom's narration of the video struck just the right tone--that friendly old black lady you admire for instilling the "right" values in her family. What stuck out to me, though, was her brother's reference to her memorizing every episode of The Brady Bunch growing up. Not Flip Wilson, not Good Times, not even the Mod Squad or I Spy or All in the Family. TV never got more whitebread than the Brady Bunch--Southern California suburbia, where the weekly crisis was not how to get food on the table or dealing with hatred or injustice, but that darned pimple that pops out just before the school dance, or the voice that squeaks while going through the adolescent change. The message? She's safe, she's one of us. She's not militant. She memorized her idol Marcia Brady, not Malcolm. For a minute, I even saw Marcia reflected in Michelle's neatly coifed hair curling up to her chin on either side, shimmering as she shook with passion. (I guess it'll be another 50 years before an African-American woman with a natural can be seen as an acceptable First Lady candidate. Or a hundred...)

It's not just bigots that speak in coded language. The message tonight to middle America was clear: Don't worry--she's not THAT kind of Negro--you can trust her, and trust that she would have never MARRIED THAT kind of Negro, either, so he's all right, too, by association.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Small Nations Come out big on Medals per Population

OK, so this might be a stretch to include under "race," but it does point to nations low on the world power scale doing better than the "big boys" (is that sexist?) when it comes to relative strength on the Olympic stage. (It also reveals how wacky I am when it comes to calculating odd statistics)

Yeah, the U.S. led in overall medals, and China led in golds, but "it so happens" that those are two of the biggest three nations, population-wise, in the world. A fairer measure is medals (either gold or overall) in relation to population. Here, then, is my top ten lists as compiled from the 2008 Olympics medals table and Wikipedia for population estimates:

Fewest people per medal won:

1. 165,500 Bahamas (2 medals, 331,000 pop.)
2. 246,727 Jamaica (11 medals, 2,714,000 pop.)
3. 316,000 Iceland (1 medal, 316,000 pop.)
4. 405,800 Slovenia (5 medals, 2,029,000 pop.)
5. 465,087 Australia (46 medals, 21,394,000 pop.)
6. 469,500 Cuba (24 medals, 11,268,000 pop.)
7. 475,000 New Zealand (9 medals, 4,275,000 pop.)
8. 477,850 Norway (10 medals, 4,778,500 pop.)
9. 500,333 Armenia (6 medals, 3,002,000 pop.)
10. 510,000 Belarus (19 medals, 9,690,000 pop.)

By comparison, the U.S. had a medal per 2,772,000 people, and China: one per 13,257,000. All the major Western European and East Asian countries, with the wealthiest economies in the world, had over a million people per medal won.

Fewest people per GOLD medals won:
1. 452,333 Jamaica (6 golds, 2,714,000 pop.)
2. 760,000 Bahrain (1 gold, 760,000 pop.)
3. 1,314,500 Mongolia (2 golds, 2,629,000 pop.)
4. 1,341,000 Estonia (1 gold, 1,341,000 pop.)
5. 1,425,000 New Zealand (3 golds, 4,275,000 pop.)
6. 1,465,000 Georgia (3 golds, 4,395,000 pop.)
7. 1,528,143 Australia (14 golds, 21,394,000)
8. 1,592,833 Norway (3 golds, 4,778,500 pop.)
9. 1,896,667 Slovakia (3 golds, 5,402,000 pop.)
10. 2,029,000 Slovenia (1 gold, 2,029,000 pop.)

By comparison, the U.S. won a gold for every 8,470,639 people, and China: one per 25,994,000.

Sad to say, though, that many developing countries with large populations won few or no medals: India, with well over 1.1 billion in population, won only 3 medals (1 gold); Indonesia, with almost 232 million, wone only 5 medals (1 gold); Pakistan and Bangladesh neither won any medals despite both having populations larger than Russia's. The Philippines (over 90 million) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (almost 63 million) were also shut out of any medals, while Vietnam (over 87 million) and Egypt (over 75 million) were each limited to one bronze.

Still, it's nice to see predominately black countries of the Carribean (Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas) doing relatively well against the powers that be.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Benefit of Civil Rights to a Southern Segregationist

A story Joe Biden told when asked to give a eulogy at Strom Thurmand's funeral:

"When I first arrived in the Senate, in 1972, I met with John Stennis, another old Southern senator, who became my friend. We sat at the other end of this gigantic, grand mahogany table he used as his desk that had been the desk of Richard Russell's. It was a table upon which the Southern Manifesto was signed, I am told. The year was 1972.

Senator Stennis patted the leather chair next to him when I walked in to pay my respects as a new young senator, which was the order of the day. And he said, Sit down, sit down, sit down here, son. And those who serve with him know he always talked like this.

And he looked at me and he said, 'Son, what made you run for the Senate?' And like a darn fool I told him the exact truth ... I said, 'Civil rights, sir.' And as soon as I did I could feel the beads of perspiration pop out of my head and get that funny feeling. And he looked at me and said, 'Good, good, good.' And that was the end of the conversation. (LAUGHTER)

Well, 18 years later, after us having shared a hospital suite for three months at Walter Reed and after him having tried to help me in another pursuit I had, we'd become friends.

I saw him sitting behind that same table 18 years later, only this time in a wheelchair. His leg had been amputated because of cancer. And I was going to look at offices, because in my seniority his office was available as he was leaving.

I went in and sat down and he looked at me as if it were yesterday and he said, 'Sit down, Joe, sit down,' and tapped that chair. And he said something that startled me. He said, 'Remember the first time you came to see me, Joe?' And I shook my head, I didn't remember. And he leaned forward and he recited the story.

I said to him, 'I was a pretty smart young fellow, wasn't I, Mr. Chairman?' He said, 'Joe, I wanted to tell you something then that I'm going to tell you now. You are going to take my office, aren't you?' And I said, 'Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman.'

And he ran his hand back and forth across that mahogany table in a loving way, and he said, 'You see this table, Joe?' This is the God's truth. He said, 'You see this table?'

And I said, 'Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman.' He said, 'This table was the flagship of the Confederacy from 1954 to 1968.' He said, 'We sat here, most of us from the Deep South, the old Confederacy, and we planned the demise of the civil rights movement.'

Then he looked at me and said, 'And now it's time, it's time that this table go from the possession of a man against civil rights to a man who is for civil rights.'

And I was stunned. And he said, 'One more thing, Joe,' he said. 'The civil rights movement did more to free the white man than the black man.'

And I looked at him, I didn't know what he meant, and he said in only John Stennis fashion, he said, 'It freed my soul, it freed my soul.'

from Jonathan Martin's blog on Politico,

Friday, August 22, 2008

Multiracial Decathlete

One more example that we are living in an age where racial mixture is breaking down the old rigid categories: American Olympic decathlete Bryan Clay. On the verge of winning gold, Clay is described as "part African American and also a third-generation Japanese American" born in Austin, Texas and raised in Hawaii (like one of the most famous multiracial persons of our age).
He is part African American and also a third-generation Japanese American.

Of course, people of mixed racial heritage have always been with us, but we didn't label them that way. Those of both African and European blood were always labeled "black" for various nefarious reasons, while Mexicans of mixed Indian and white background became a label unto themselves, recognizing neither race of origin.

It might be noteworthy that the rejection of rigid labels seems more prominent among folks like Clay and Tiger Woods of an "exotic" mixture of Asian and African blood; white-black mixtures like Obama, Derek Jeter, Halle Berry, etc. still tend to maintain more of a black identity, again for complex reasons. It's a generation thing, too, with younger folk tending to reject the "either-or" dichotomy accepted by their parents.

Look Too Young? Blame it on Race!

This excerpt from "Gymnasts’ parents 'indignant' over age questions"
By NANCY ARMOUR and JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press Writers (See full article at

"China coach Lu Shanzan said the parents are 'indignant' over persistent questions about their daughters’ ages.

'It’s not just me. The parents of our athletes are all very indignant,' Lu said. 'They have faced groundless suspicion. Why aren’t they believed? Why are their children suspected? Their parents are very angry.'

In an interview with The Associated Press, Lu said Asian gymnasts are naturally smaller than their American and European rivals.

'At this competition, the Japanese gymnasts were just as small as the Chinese,' he said. 'Chinese competitors have for years all been small. It is not just this time. It is a question of race [emphasis added]. European and American athletes are all powerful, very robust. But Chinese athletes cannot be like that. They are by nature that small.'"

My comment: Of course, while this is consistent with most folks' essentialist view of race, it flies in the face of the social constructionist view, as well as all biologicical evidence about the superficial nature of race, having little to do with genetic differences in physical abilities and characteristic. What do you think? Maybe I'm being racist, but many of the Chinese female gymnasts sure look 13 or 14 to me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

2/3'ds world Olympic Medal Standings

OK, so excluding North America, Europe, the former Soviet republics, Australia/New Zealand, and the developing/developed nations of East Asia, here's what it looks like for the (mostly nonwhite) nations I find myself cheering for:
Cuba: 1 Gold-5 Silver-5 Bronze=11 total
Kenya: 2 G,4 S, 2 B=8
Brazil: 1-0-5=6
Jamaica: 2-3-0=5
Indonesia: 1-1-3=5
Zimbabwe: 1-3-0=4
Ethiopia: 2-1-0=3
Turkey: 0-2-1=3
Mongolia: 1-1-0=2
Argentina: 1-0-1=2
Algeria: 0-1-1=2
Columbia: 0-1-1=2
Bahrain: 1-0-0=1
Cameroon: 1-0-0=1
India: 1-0-0=1
Panama: 1-0-0=1
Thailand: 1-0-0=1
Tunisia: 1-0-0=1
One silver each: Chile, Ecuador, Malaysia, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Vietnam
One bronze each: Egypt, Iran, Mexico, Morocco, and Togo

Tropic Thunder movie

I heard that Tropic Thunder was the number one movied opening last week, knocking Dark Knight out of the top spot after several weeks. I'm surprised that I've heard little buzz positive or negative about Robert Downey Jr's character's portrayal of an African American in the movie-within-the-movie. I haven't seen it, but the pics of Downey are a convincing make-up job--no black face minstrelry, anyway. Still a risky proposition, though...

Anybody seen it? What'd you think of the Downey character?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Alternatives to the Statue of Liberty

In some of my reading in the past year I came across the revelation (duh!) that the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island has her arms open wide to Europe, but her back turned to Native Americans, Latin Americans and Asians, and not exacting addressing head-on the Africans to her right. So I came across the scrawled notes I made in a moment of my own revelation (or insanity, you judge):

If Lady Liberty only represents the European experience in America, who might best represent others' experience (as it has been, not as we would like to think it to have been)?

Jus-Trus-Tus Man at Jamestown, VA facing inland: a white Englishman with a mischievous smile and wampum and pipe and a pen extended to sign the treaty at his feet.

Aunt JeMine-now and Don Forgetit at Charleston, SC facing ESE: large black woman in scarf and apron on one knee, with white man hovering over her, whip at his side, eyes leering.

Senor (with the curly thing over the "n") Sorryboutdat at Brownsville, TX facing SSW: stereotypical Mexican in Sombrero with smile and hands pulling empty pockets inside out, hunching his shoulders as if to say "What can I do about it?" while holding redrawn map of Mexico, with top 40% (N. of Rio Grande) Xed out.

Coolie CmonGedout CmonGedout in San Francisco Bay, CA, facing W: flimsey cardboard figure, crouched, hands on knees, leaning inland or out toward the sea, depending on which way the win is blowing.

And the latest addition, since 9/11 (the problem was there much earlier, but not brought to the "Park Service"'s attention until then): Mister Y.R.U. Heer Muslindoo in Washington DC: South Asian or Middle Eastern-looking (they're indistinguishable to most whites' eyes anyway) with ripped up Koran and Hindu sacred texts, along with denied passports and terrorist lists, at his feet

Olympics and Race

Maybe I'm just looking for it, but I see race all over the Olympics this year. The biggest story has been the Spanish basketball team's photo of them slanting their eyes like they're east Asian. Sure, it was stupid and insensitive. I still don't get what the "joke" was supposed to be--a five-year-old saying, "Look at me, I'm Chinese!"? Interesting that the American b-ballers, all of them, I think, black (or biracial, i.e., Jason Kidd, if you prefer)(guess they forgot the token white this year--anyone remember the Duke All-American who carried the spit bowls for the original Dream Team?)anyway, they felt they were held to a higher standard (dress code, behavior, etc.) than their fellow NBAers from Europe. What do you all think?

Then there is Jeremy Wariner, the defending 400 meter champ whose appearance is white (though vaguely non-Anglo-Saxon ethnic) and whose talk and manner makes me think this is a guy who grew up with street cred among nonwhites, and might even be more comfortable around them than among whites. Call him track and field's Eminem.

Finally, the ever-troubling aspect of black-majority African countries of South Africa and Zimbabwe being representing primarily by minority whites. Gotta be the effects of power and money and access, no? I read that the South African field hockey team had some controversy as to whether the government was enforcing a quota of "coloreds" on the team. Affirmative Action backlash in sports: as if! If opportunities and training facilities were leveled, the "coloreds" would outnumber the pasty faces by a mile, IMHO.

And Zimbabwe owes all its medals so far to a white female swimmer. The pictures of her acclaim among Zimbabwe's blacks after her '04 win were heartening, I gotta admit, given that country's racial climate.

I find myself scanning the medal standings by country. Yeah, I'm kinda curious about the U.S.-China thing, and where Russia, Germany, U.K., etc. stand, but I really delight in seeing 2/3rd's world countries like India, Indonesia, Kenya, Algeria, Mexico, and others in Latin America have a little success. Too little, unfortunately. And I'm always amazed that Cuba, even without Soviet support for 20 years now, still wins far more medals than any other non-English-speaking country in the Western Hemisphere, including countries with much, much, more people. How do they do that?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

And Away We Go!

I'm studying race and ethnicity, inequality, etc. in sociology grad school. That means a lot of talk about race. Kinda weird, this sheltered ivory tower where the topic is not just OK but the center of attention (though it's still egg-shell walkin' at times). Cause outside those Ivory Walls, race is considered worse than politics or religion to bring up in "polite" company, unless, of course, you're of the same race and confident that your fellow conversants feel just like you about the "others."

Anyway, I don't know if this will get outside the ivory walls of the blogosphere, and I can't be sure that things will always remain as civil as I hope on such a volatile topic, but if we're gonna make any progress on what many believe is the fundamental challenge of our society, we can't clam up about it.

By the way, I'm white. If there were such an organization as Racists Anonymous, I'd introduce myself thusly: "My name is Steve, and I'm a racist." Not that I want to be, mind you. Not that I'm proud of it. But admitting you have a problem is the first step in recovery. I've made some progress, and got a good ways to go both in learning more about the subject of race, and in dealing with myself. I might qualify as a "recovering racist;" not recovered, but ...