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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...