The Just Cause of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”

Mr. Capehart says, Put your hands down, kids.

 

I respect columnist Jonathan Capehart and more often than not agree with his opinion, but his opinion “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot Was Built On A Lie” is wrong-headed and reflects a sort of timid liberal buyer’s remorse in highly charged matters of race when backed into a corner.  Capehart’s crawfishing was swiftly seized upon by conservative websites Hot Air, The Blaze and other right-wingers to discredit the legitimacy of the entire “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protests.

Capehart’s gift to those who never have believed Black Lives Matter is wrapped in one graph:

The unarmed 18-year-old also became a potent symbol of the lack of trust between African Americans and law enforcement. Not just in Ferguson, but in the rest of the country. Lord knows there have been plenty of recent examples. And the militarized response to protesters by local police put an exclamation point on demonstrators’ concerns. But the other DOJ report, the one on the actual shooting of Michael Brown, shows him to be an inappropriate symbol.


Capehart is correct to get a fuller picture of what happened in Ferguson requires reading both Justice Department reports. Capehart is wrong that the legitimacy of the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” phrase is dependent on whether Brown ever said it.

What does it matter if Michael Brown wasn’t a perfect victim?  Does that mean Darren Wilson is blameless for his death? For Capehart, the Justice Department report on the shooting is enough for him to declare Brown to be in fact the oversized thug Wilson’s defenders described him as.

Whether or not Brown or John Crawford or Akai Gurley or Eric Garner or Oscar Grant or Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell or Tamir Rice or Tony Robinson were as pure as the driven snow is besides the point. That they were all unarmed Black men killed by the police is the point and neither the report nor Capehart’s change of heart changes that.

Wilson never went on trial for the killing of Brown and the Justice Department report does not place Michael Brown on trial nor does it convict him. Capehart’s hand-wringing does not exculpate Wilson from the eight bullets he put in Brown or that the notoriously racist Ferguson Police left his corpse lying uncovered in the street for four hours cooking in the summer heat, in full view for all to see.

The New Republic is skeptical of how the Justice Department’s report has been used as a de facto exoneration of Wilson and a conviction of Brown.

These conclusions carry no force of law. The separate report on the abuses by the Ferguson Police Department does—that one can lead to meaningful enforcement in federal court. But the decision not to prosecute Wilson, in technical terms, amounts to no more than an internal memorandum from junior prosecutors to Attorney General Eric Holder on whether charges were advisable. The end result was entirely discretionary.

But the report does not equal justice. It is largely advisory. It can’t be challenged anywhere. And it ultimately proves nothing about the Ferguson case or its larger meaning in an ongoing national movement. The Supreme Court or a trial court may never get to address Ferguson, but everything about it will continue to be, to borrow Justice Douglas’ words, “a shocking and revolting episode in law enforcement.” Because Ferguson stands for that and so much more, protesters have every right to keep on marching, with their hands up, for as long as there’s neither justice nor peace.

What happened to Mike Brown could have happened to any Black person at anytime and it doesn’t matter if your name is Ben Carson or Barack Obama and yes, you too Jonathan Capehart. Your degrees, your gig at the Washington Post, Your Pulitzer Prize, your fat bank account, your nice house, your gold AmEx, your Lexus, NONE of that shit trumps your Black skin.  Capehart was once all in on the protests.  What caused the reversal?  Capehart was looking for justice when he should have kept the faith.

Hands Up, Don’t Shoot is bigger than any one victim and Brown was a victim.  Movements are built upon martyrs, not saints. Hands Up, Don’t Shoot is not Mike Brown. Brown was a catalyst for a just cause.  Just cause Capehart doesn’t get it is not a reason to put our hands down and let them shoot.

MLK gets it even if Capehart doesn’t.

Are The 47 Morons Treacherous or Treasonous?

Let’s be clear about something.

I find this brazen move by the Republican senators to do an end-run around the president’s authority to conduct foreign policy to be openly contemptuous of the Chief Executive and groveling in its submission to the demands of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his billionaire backer Sheldon Adelson. I’m still of the mind the letter was poorly conceived, mischievously motivated, and borderline subversive in how these 47 Morons tried to kneecap the President. Treasonous? I heard that word tossed around a lot of talk radio on my lunch hour. Not there yet, but treacherous? Definitely.

Joe Biden didn’t go that far either though he wasn’t happy with his former colleagues.

Vice President Joe Biden on Monday night scorched the 47 Senate Republicans who signed an open letter to Iran’s leadership in a bid to undermine a potential deal on the country’s nuclear program, calling the senators’ letter “beneath the dignity” of the chamber in which they serve.

“I served in the United States Senate for thirty-six years. I believe deeply in its traditions, in its value as an institution, and in its indispensable constitutional role in the conduct of our foreign policy,” Biden’s statement said. “The letter sent on March 9th by forty-seven Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressly designed to undercut a sitting President in the midst of sensitive international negotiations, is beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.”

“This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that our Commander-in-Chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments — a message that is as false as it is dangerous,” Biden said.

The G.O.Tea Party.

Seven members of the Senate Republican caucus did not sign the letter, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), as well as Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK), Dan Coats (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

Mitch McConnell, Tom Cotton and these 45 morons are playing a dangerous game. What do they hope to achieve beyond the gratitude of Netanyahu and Adelson for publicly kissing their asses?  What they have done is a craven attempt to undermine the Constitutional responsibilities and authority of the President of the United States and that’s not a trifling thing which can be waved off as “just politics.”  Not when they’re putting a right-wing agenda ahead of the national security of the United States.

The letter doesn’t even make sense.  The president doesn’t need Congress to ratify anything. The Senate has no say here and that’s why they are trying to undermine the negotiations with Iraq. Reference Fred Kaplan’s brilliant article in Slate:

The letter—which encourages Iran’s leaders to dismiss the ongoing nuclear talks with the United States and five other nations—is as brazen, gratuitous, and plainly stupid an act as any committed by the Senate in recent times, and that says a lot. It may also be illegal.

The banalities begin with the greeting: “An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” By custom, a serious letter to foreign leaders would address them by name. Who is it that the senators are seeking to influence: the supreme leader, the Parliament, the Revolutionary Guards? Clearly none of the above, otherwise it wouldn’t be an open letter. Nor, if this were a serious attempt of some sort, would Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (who was among the missive’s signatories) leave the task of organizing it to the likes of Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, an otherwise unknown freshman. As usual, the Republicans’ goal is simple: to embarrass and undermine President Barack Obama.

Reading this, one can only wonder if these Republicans ever consult their staffs. As the Iranian leaders know, and as the Obama administration and the other P5+1 governments have made clear all along, the deal being negotiated is not a treaty, nor is it an agreement. Rather, it is a nonbinding international arrangement, to be signed (if it is signed) by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Germany, and Iran.

In other words, contrary to the letter writers, Congress has no legal or constitutional role in the drafting, approval, or modification of this deal.

Sheldon and Bibi have their own Big Bang Theory: a U.S. war with Iraq.

Which doesn’t meant they won’t try to stick their dirty little fingers in the pie.

What is the Republicans’ motives? Besides spite and obeying the wishes of a billionaire gambler whose money is deployed on behalf of right-wing causes and Nethanyahu’s wish for a war with Iran.

Why do 47 Republican Senators think it’s a great idea to kneecap the President by attempting to undercut his authority to conduct foreign policy? Why open themselves up to even the speculation they engaged in subversive, and perhaps treasonous behavior? Despising Obama and wanting to deny him any triumphs is petty and partisan, but does that explain this degree of pettiness and partisanship?

Sure it does. Why not? It’s not as though they will pay any sort of price for it. The home folks will applaud ‘em for punking the usurper from Kenya and if the 47 get hammered by the press and the Lefties start circulating some meaningless petitions demanding an apology that’s never coming, who cares?   This is March 2015.  Who’s going to remember this in November 2016?

NOBODY. 

The 47 Morons did what they did for the oldest reason in the book. They knew they would get away with it.   They are willing to start a war to stop Obama.

I changed my mind.  That is treasonous.

The Gangster Squad

Which one of these cops is the good cop?

I know most people aren’t interested in reading U.S. Justice Department reports, but this one was a damning indictment of the Ferguson Police Department and how cop shops like them wage war against the Black citizens they are supposed to protect.

Particularly, in their attempts at what passes as “humor” by the cops.

We have discovered evidence of racial bias in emails sent by Ferguson officials, all of whom are current employees, almost without exception through their official City of Ferguson email accounts, and apparently sent during work hours. These email exchanges involved several police and court supervisors, including FPD supervisors and commanders. The following emails are illustrative:

  • A November 2008 email stated that President Barack Obama would not be President for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”
  • A March 2010 email mocked African Americans through speech and familial stereotypes, using a story involving child support. One line from the email read: “I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment! Month after month, year after year, all dose payments!”
    An April 2011 email depicted President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee.
  • A May 2011 email stated: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from.The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.’”
  • A June 2011 email described a man seeking to obtain “welfare” for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.”
  • An October 2011 email included a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.”
  • A December 2011 email included jokes that are based on offensive stereotypes about Muslims.

Attorney General Holder is ready to slap down the Ferguson police department.

Our review of documents revealed many additional email communications that exhibited racial or ethnic bias, as well as other forms of bias. Our investigation has not revealed any indication that any officer or court clerk engaged in these communications was ever disciplined. Nor did we see a single instance in which a police or court recipient of such an email asked that the sender refrain from sending such emails, or any indication that these emails were reported as inappropriate. Instead, the emails were usually forwarded along to others.

We did find one instance in 2012 in which the City Manager forwarded an email that played upon stereotypes of Latinos, but within minutes of sending it, sent another email to the recipient in which he stated he had not seen the offensive part of the email and apologized for the “inappropriate and offensive” message. Police and court staff took no such corrective action, and indeed in many instances expressed amusement at the offensive correspondence.

Critically, each of these email exchanges involved supervisors of FPD’s patrol and court operations. 5 FPD patrol supervisors are responsible for holding officers accountable to governing laws, including the Constitution, and helping to ensure that officers treat all people equally under the law, regardless of race or any other protected characteristic. The racial animus and stereotypes expressed by these supervisors suggest that they are unlikely to hold an officer accountable for discriminatory conduct or to take any steps to discourage the development or perpetuation of racial stereotypes among officers.  (emphasis added)
This isn’t a matter of “a few bad cops.” These were supervisors and in positions of authority. It speaks volumes on why in Ferguson the police are seen not as protectors, but overseers.

The mayor hasn’t resigned, the police chief hasn’t been fired and the City Council hasn’t quit en masse.  The whole corrupt, dirty, rotten racist status quo remains firmly in place and the whole damn system is guilty.
Not only did police stop blacks at a rate greater than their share of the population—from 2012 to 2014, blacks were 67 percent of Ferguson residents but 85 percent of traffic stops—but they were twice as likely to search blacks than they were whites, who were 26 percent more likely to have actual contraband.

You see the same dynamic with small, discretionary infractions. Ninety-five percent of tickets for jaywalking were against black residents, as were 94 percent of all “failure to comply” charges. Either black people were the only Ferguson citizens to jaywalk, or the department was targeting blacks for enforcement. On the rare occasion when police charged whites with these minor offenses, they were 68 percent more likely to have their cases dismissed. And because supervisors awarded promotions on the basis of officer “productivity,” there was little incentive to stop any of this behavior.

The most disturbing statistics are with regard to arrest, incarceration, and police force. Ninety-three percent of all arrests in Ferguson were of black Americans, and 88 percent of use-of-force incidents were against them. In cases where police had warrants, 92 percent were for blacks. Of those arrested for outstanding warrants, 96 percent were black, and among people jailed for more than two days, 95 percent were black. And in a terrible callback to Jim Crow, police used canines exclusively against black residents, including a 14-year-old boy who suffered puncture wounds in his arms, hands, and legs.
Who let the dogs out?  Fifty years have passed since the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the only thing that has changed are the names and details. Good-bye, Selma, Hello, Ferguson.  The entrenched institutional racism of the police hasn’t taken a backward step.

It’s time we stopped asking, “Why do good cops stand up for bad cops?”  The answer is irrelevant.  Cops cover for cops.  Darren Wilson wasn’t the lone good cop in a bad police department.  He merely happened to be the one who killed Mike Brown.   If you work in an evil place and you remain silent and passive about evil, you can’t claim to be good.   If the culture of policing encourages passivity and conformity among its members and enforces a code of compliance and silence as it closes ranks among its worst members, that is a culture ripe to be changed.

Good cop?  Bad cop?  Doesn’t matter. If the good cop won’t stand up against the bad cop they’re the same cop.

Illustration by Andy Marlette/News Journal

Fake Gun. Real Dead. Not His Fault.

Created by God. Killed by cop.

The city of Cleveland believes it has determined who is responsible for the death of Tamir Rice.  Tamir Rice did it!

The city of Cleveland’s response to a lawsuit filed by the family of Tamir Rice says the 12-year-old boy is to blame for his own death by police.

The young boy seen milling about his neighborhood park had less than two seconds to react to two Cleveland police officers who drove right up to the gazebo and shot Tamir, mistaking his pellet gun as a real and dangerous weapon.

Rookie police officer Timothy Loehmann shot Tamir dead just steps away from the park’s gazebo on Nov. 22, reportedly never knowing dispatchers had believed the firearm to be “probably fake.”

The majority of the city’s response lacked elaborate detail into their claims by leaning on Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office’s incomplete investigation for the inability to comment on Tamir’s death.

The case has not been completed by the Sheriff’s Office and no timeline exists for its hand off to prosecutors, Cleveland.com reported.

Despite the city’s recent hire of Loehmann, the city said it had no knowledge of the cop’s alleged applications to Akron, Euclid and Parma Heights Police and even failing the Cuyahoga County’s written examination.

The suit makes no mention of Loehmann’s brief ties to Independence Police where he was described as “distracted” and “weepy” during a firearms qualifications training before being fired in 2012.

“Nothing wrong with shooting people as long as the right people get shot.”

Blaming Rice for his own death is cruel to the dead boy and his family, but Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association Steve Loomis ups the ante to insanity as he calls Rice as “menacing” and “a 12-year-old in an adult body.”

Nothing gets Steve Loomis churning faster than questions about what happened on the day that Tamir Rice was shot.

His constant refrain: The police are heroes misunderstood by a public being fed a steady, media-generated, activist-fueled diet of false information about how they do their jobs.

“Tamir Rice is an absolute example of that,” Loomis said. “There’s this perception that police just slid up in the car and shot him. That’s not reality from the officers’ perception. They acted based on what they knew at the time.”

“Tamir Rice is in the wrong,” he said. “He’s menacing. He’s 5-feet-7, 191 pounds. He wasn’t that little kid you’re seeing in pictures. He’s a 12-year-old in an adult body. Tamir looks to his left and sees a police car. He puts his gun in his waistband. Those people—99 percent of the time those people run away from us. We don’t want him running into the rec center. That could be a whole other set of really bad events. They’re trying to flush him into the field. Frank [the driver] is expecting the kid to run. The circumstances are so fluid and unique. …

“The guy with the gun is not running. He’s walking toward us. He’s squaring off with Cleveland police and he has a gun. Loehmann is thinking, ‘Oh my God, he’s pulling it out of his waistband.’”

Oh my God. Those poor officers! What else could they do? They had to kill that menacing 12-year-old kid in an adult body.

Shame on Tamir Rice for scaring those poor officers. And shame on Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, John Crawford, Eric Garner and Akai Gurley, Jordan Davis for scaring their killers.

So many scary Black guys. So many cops and vigilantes to make them dead and less scary Black guys.

There are times when I have no words. Mostly because those words would be unbelievably angry and profanely foul. All I have is cold, burning rage and the fire that burns would very much like to come down like God’s own wrath on someone like Steve Loomis who embodies everything Black Panther founder Huey P. Newton thought a “pig” was.

“We felt that the police needed a label other that fear image that they carried in the community. So we use the pig as the rather low-lifed animal in order to identify the police. And it worked.”

I never liked calling cops “pigs”. It was too extreme and I believed  it to be too debasing, disrespectful and dehumanized all police officers for the actions of the bad ones.  Yet the more I hear guys like Loomis in Cleveland or Patrick Lynch in New York and all these other leaders of police unions who debase young Black men like Tamir , disrespect young Black men like Tamir, and dehumanize young Black men like Tamir, the less resistant I become to calling cops “pigs.”

If the police do not respect us we should not respect them and where there is no respect, the response will be resistance.

This will not help Tamir Rice, but it might make a few killer cops take an extra second to consider the consequences before they pull the trigger. If justice can’t be found in the courtrooms,  people will go looking for it in the streets.

Giuliani: Obama Doesn’t Love America (and he doesn’t think much of you either).

An ugly man who tells ugly lies makes for an even uglier drag queen.

Rudy Giuliani chopped up President Obama, threw him in a blender and turned it on to “high.”

NEW YORK — Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”

The former New York mayor, speaking in front of the 2016 Republican presidential contender and about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types, directly challenged Obama’s patriotism, discussing what he called weak foreign policy decisions and questionable public remarks when confronting terrorists.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

With Walker sitting just a few seats away, Giuliani continued by saying that “with all our flaws we’re the most exceptional country in the world. I’m looking for a presidential candidate who can express that, do that and carry it out.”

In an interview after the dinner — Walker aides insisted all of the governor’s comments were off the record — Giuliani said he would “eventually” back a Republican presidential candidate. He also elaborated on his criticism of Obama by arguing the president “sees our weaknesses as footnotes to the great things we’ve done.”

“What country has left so many young men and women dead abroad to save other countries without taking land? This is not the colonial empire that somehow he has in his hand. I’ve never felt that from him. I felt that from [George] W. [Bush]. I felt that from [Bill] Clinton. I felt that from every American president, including ones I disagreed with, including [Jimmy] Carter. I don’t feel that from President Obama.”

Following his scorched earth attack on the President of the United States for his lack of love for the United States (and Rudy Giuliani), the former mayor of New York doubled down on his criticism of Obama with a flat-out refusal to apologize during an appearance on The Kelly File.

“Not at all. I want to repeat them,” he said. “The reality is, all I can see from this president, all I have heard from is he apologizes for America, he criticizes America. He talks about the Crusades and how the Christians were barbarians, leaves out the second half of the sentence that the Muslims were barbarians also.”

“He sees Christians slaughtered and doesn’t stand up and hold a press conference, although he holds a press conference for the situation in Ferguson,” he said. “He sees Jews being killed for anti-Semitic reasons, doesn’t stand up and hold a press conference. This is an American president I’ve never seen before.”

I have to carry this sign with me so people remember who I am.

Rudy Giuliani is a racist. Not the kind of racist who screams “nigger!” at the top of his lungs. That’s the old-fashioned, overt, uncool kind of racism and which makes everyone a bit weirded out. Dude, you’re being kinda racist. Rudy is far too savvy a politician to actually call out Obama that way.

There are other ways. Better ways. Ways that get the point across while leaving yourself wiggle room to plausibly deny you ever said anything offensive at all. Lee Atwater, the late adviser to George H.W. Bush, knew a little something about how to race-bait without actually saying anything that sounds racist. At least to White people who chose to willingly blind themselves to the truth.

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Rudy understands the language of the racially abstract. How does one talk about a Black President without calling him a “nigger?” As much as Giuliani might like to, he know he can’t because that puts you in that David Duke camp and that’s too dangerous a place to enter even for the erstwhile “America’s Mayor.” Instead, you talk about Obama’s “otherness” and how he didn’t grow up as the son of a Kenyan Black father and a Kansas White mother the way Rudy did. Which means he must not love America the way Rudy does and is not to be trusted.

Whenever someone attacks the patriotism of another man, that’s bad enough.  The patriotism of Black people has been questioned for centuries, but sneer “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country” that’s a different sort of assault. That is speaking in CODE.

“Obama isn’t like you and me. You know….White and Christian.”

Wake up and smell the bullshit. This isn’t politics as usual. This isn’t any of that “oh, worse things have been said about other presidents” noise.   This is a sniper attack, a cowardly assault and a slander on the character of the President of the United States by a racist scumbag.

Rudy G. was a bully as a mayor, a failure as a presidential candidate and a racist all his miserable life. He was a racist when Patrick Dorismond and Eleanor Bumphers and Amadou Diallo were gunned down by the NYPD and he’s still a racist with his post-Eric Garner/Ferguson “why don’t you Black folks stop committing so many crimes and force the cops to kill you?” ranting.

I AM TOTALLY NUTS AND COMPLETELY RACIST!!!!

The degree to which the White Right is infected with Obama Derangement Syndrome knows no bounds. First, they said he was a Socialist. Then they said he had no birth certificate and wasn’t born in this country. Now they say he’s sympathetic to Islamic terrorists and wants to give your pretty White daughters to Boko Haram to be good Muslim wives.

Why should Obama love Giuliani? Why should anyone love such a repugnant, repulsive, racist? I know what I read, I know what it means and don’t play me stupid by telling me I don’t.

Of all the ugly things said about the president, coming from such a prominent member of the Republican Party is perhaps the ugliest. But then Rudy Giuliani is an ugly man. Ugly on the outside and uglier on the inside.

Selma Will Lose Because It’s Too Damn Uppity To Win

“Psst! Hey, David! You’d better get on your knees and show Hollywood some respect!”

If you’re the type of person who watches The Academy Awards because you think it means something, don’t be surprised when Selma loses out for Best Picture of the Year.  It would be a much bigger surprise if it did.   Hollywood thought it had proved last year it was full of good liberals with 12 Years A Slave.  The attitude this time around is We gave you Solomon Northrup last year and you’re back again for Martin Luther King?

 Selma isn’t going to lose because it wasn’t one of the best movies of 2014.   Selma isn’t going to lose because Ava DuVernay can’t direct and David Oyelowo can’t act.    Selma is going to lose because it was too damn uppity.

That’s not what I think because what I and you think about the movie doesn’t matter to the typical Oscar voter.  They don’t care one bit about what the peons think.   It only matters what they think as The Hollywood Reporter learned from one “brutally honest Oscar ballot” the first film to depict the civil rights struggle from a Black woman’s perspective has “no art to it” and “when a movie about Black people is good, members vote for it.   But it the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it because it has Black people in it?”

The Hollywood Reporter didn’t specify the race of the anonymous Oscar female voter who works in public relations (and presumably does that job better than these remarks would show) but the way she wears her White privilege like a perfume removes any doubt.   What  does matter is here we have an open window into how Academy member thinks about Selma and the director and actors “stirring up shit.”

Hands Up. Don’t Stir Up Shit.

First, let me say that I’m tired of all of this talk about “snubs” — I thought for every one of [the snubs] there was a justifiable reason. What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don’t think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance — they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying “I can’t breathe” [at their New York premiere] — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit?

The p.r. flack isn’t completely wrong.  The Academy isn’t made up by cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies.   It’s worse than that.  The Academy is made up with intelligent, educated professionals who think about Black people exactly the same way as cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies.

This is liberal Hollywood talking here, raw and unfiltered telling you what they really think when they’re talking among themselves, sending emails and text messages back and forth and lying in bed with someone else’s spouse.  They clearly don’t think much about Black people who don’t stay in their lane and don’t act sufficiently grateful for being allowed to work in Hollywood.

Welcome to Post-Racial America. East of Narnia, South of Atlantis, North of Oz and Smack in the Middle of Nowhere.

It’s not only the actors who know how to recite lines when the cameras are on.  You know what I find offensive?  Brutally honest White people who are brutally racist when they tell Black people how they should act.   That offends the shit out of me.

Troubled Child

Behind the smiles, so much pain.  (Photo: UPI/Jim Ruymen)

Behind the smiles, so much pain. (Photo: UPI/Jim Ruymen)

Though chronically an adult, the way Bobbi Kristina Brown grew up in public makes it difficult not to think of her as a child.   She’s a not a child, but barring a medical miracle,  she will be frozen in memory as an young woman who struggled  and largely failed to blaze her own career path while trying to deal with the heartbreak of her mother’s premature death.   This is the story of a child who never had a fair chance to grow up to be an adult.

Last Saturday, while the nation lost in the fog of the Super Bowl hype machine, the only child of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown was found face down in the bathtub of the Atlanta home she shared with husband Nick Gordon, (or perhaps not her husband depending on who’s telling the story).  As soon as the news broke the speculation began Bobbi had been using drugs and attempted suicide in a grisly attempt to echo her mother’s death three years ago.

If the grim decision is made to remove Brown off the ventilator keeping her alive, there will an assessment of what the world loses by her passing so young.  She was not an iconic singer nor an accomplished actress.  Whether she had the potential to become a star is subject to debate.

What we don’t know about the circumstances that put Bobbi Kristina in that bathtub.   What we do know is she was a sad, tragic young woman suffering  a loss she could not continue to face.  What we will lose when Bobbi Kristina passes is a troubled child, a show biz kid who tried to follow in her the footsteps of her famous parents, missed out on inheriting much of their talent, but seemingly all of their self-destructive habits. Did Bobbi Kristina have what it took to step out of the long shadow cast by Whitney?  She never had a fair chance to find out.

Jezebel documented the harrowing downward spiral of the daughter of a diva into a perfect storm of misery.   There are lots of kids who see mommy and daddy fighting, but not many see mommy telling Oprah about daddy as Houston did in a 2007 interview.

“When we got back to the house,” Houston said, “he spit on me. He spit on me. He actually spit on me. And my daughter was coming down the stairs and she saw it. That was pretty intense. I didn’t grow up with that and I didn’t understand why that occurred – [why] he had such a hate for me because I loved him so much.”

Only the sickest of ghouls would take a swipe at a dying young woman for not approaching the achievements of her celebrity parents in her last, tragic hours and I am not sick or ghoulish. I feel nothing but sympathy for everyone involved and dumping on Bobbi because she set her sights high is for someone a bigger bastard than I am.

I feel both sorry and more than a little sickened.

It’s hard enough for any singer to come close to the pinnacles scaled by a superstar like Whitney and avoid the lows of Bobby, but Bobbi Kristina seemed to plunge headfirst into the trouble without enjoying any of the success.   The burden of expectations for the child who wants to follow in the footsteps of one parent is a high enough hurdle, but Bobbi Kristina hadn’t even cleared the New Edition/”My Prerogative” bar.

English: American singer Whitney Houston perfo...

English: American singer Whitney Houston performing “My Love Is Your Love” with her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown on Good Morning America (Central Park, New York City) on September 1, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Standing on  the outside, the terrible wasting of an unhappy young woman’s life seems a  sad waste which could have been avoided if only someone had said to her, “You don’t need to be the next Whitney Houston.  You do need to be the Bobbi Kristina you can be.”

On the inside, there’s a daughter mourning and missing a mother gone too soon who found herself lost in the same darkness which dragged Whitney down.   Bobbi Kristina couldn’t find her way out and  may have chosen her own exit strategy.

Everybody loses when the young do not grow old.

The Oscars Grew Tired of Us.

Academy Awards to Ava DuVernay: “Love your movie. You, not so much.”

It’s not so much I’m mad about Selma and its directory Ava DuVernay being screwed over by the Academy Awards, because I haven’t seen Selma yet and I thinking I’d get around to it in my own good time but since Selma and DuVernay were snubbed now it’s a holy mission.

There’s a certain irony Martin Luther King fought a strategic battle in Selma, Alabama against racial discrimination and 50 years later along comes a woman who makes a movie about the battle ends up facing racial discrimination all over again.

Columnists, bloggers and social media blew up with a collective Now this is some bullshit when the Academy Awards nominations were announced and Selma was limited to one category it won’t win (Best Picture) and another nobody cares about (Best Song).   New York film critic David Edelstein summed up how Selma got screwed, “I tend to think that the Academy collectively thought it had discharged its duty to the African-American experience with 12 Years a Slave. How else, in a year in which black people confronted inequality with greater urgency than any time in the last 50 years, can you account for the omission? You say it wasn’t a very good movie? You’re wrong. Selma has scale and depth. Ava DuVernay was robbed.”

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deuts...

Too black, too strong to be honored by the Academy

Here’s a plausible reason for the exclusion and  it’s right there in the title of an 2014 article in The Atlantic:Oscar Voters: 94% White, 76% Men, and an Average of 63 Years Old.” Blacks make up only two percent of the Academy Awards voters and to drive the point home of how White the folks are who decide who goes home with the little gold man, if they were a state, Oscar Voters would be the eighth Whitest state in America.

Well. Damn.

How embarrassing it must be for Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first Black president of the Academy of Motion Pictures to be the diversity hire thrust in the spotlight and have to represent, but represent she did.   Or at least she tried as Boone Isaacs looked to score a few brownie points,  “In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members. And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories, “

The sad thing is Boone Isaacs knows what she said is a steaming load, but she has to say it anyway.  The old White guys who hired her in the first place exactly for a bit of cover provided by the a Black face in a formerly all-White place.  Let’s cut the crap.  Cultural diversity was the big hit of 2014 with all that 12 Years A Slave stuff.   Throwing an Oscar, if not jobs at Lupita Nyong’o gave all those good liberals a warm, fuzzy feeling especially when Brad Pitt showed up to free the slaves,  but there’s no time to linger on faded glories.  Hollywood is getting back to doing what it does best:  Celebrating White men making movies about White men doing White men stuff.

We gave you people a holiday. You want Oscars too?

Being blown off by withered old bastards of the Academy is nothing new for someone like Spike Lee, no stranger to Oscar snubs for both Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X had some explicit advice for DuVernay about being passed over by the bosses,  “…That doesn’t diminish the film. Nobody’s talking about motherfuckin’ Driving Miss Daisy. That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like Do the Right Thing is. Nobody’s discussing Driving Miss Motherfuckin’ Daisy. So if I saw Ava today I’d say, ‘You know what? Fuck ’em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one.”

“Anyone who thinks this year was gonna be like last year is retarded,” said Lee. “There were a lot of black folks up there with 12 Years a Slave, Steve [McQueen], Lupita [Nyong’o], Pharrell. It’s in cycles of every 10 years. Once every 10 years or so I get calls from journalists about how people are finally accepting black films. Before last year, it was the year [in 2002] with Halle Berry, Denzel [Washington], and Sidney Poitier. It’s a 10-year cycle. So I don’t start doing backflips when it happens.”

You can’t go to awards like the Oscars or the Grammys for validation. The validation is if your work still stands 25 years later.’”

Absolutely motherfuckin’ right, Spike.

It’s possible Selma marches to a Best Picture victory even with DuVernay denied a shot at Best Director and David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. passed over as Best Actor, but it’s obvious the fix is in. How can a movie be nominated and win as Best Picture of the Year but the director, screenwriter and none of the actors aren’t? Does that mean the movie was great but everybody who made it sucked?

I have nothing against Boyhood,  The Imitation Game, Birdman or any of the other nominees for the Picture of the Year, but I don’t have anything for them.  Every movie is not for everyone and this movie  tells a story about people who look like me and not the Academy membership.    DuVernay probably pissed off some movers and shakers in Tinseltown when she dismissed  the film’s critics who griped she didn’t give President Lyndon Johnson enough credit by clarifying,  “I wasn’t interested in making a white-savior movie.”

“Oh yeah?  Then we’re not interested in giving you an Oscar, so there!”

King deserves his praise.  A lot of folks believe Selma does too, but the voters of the Academy doesn’t have anything for them either.

A man who knows something about getting spiked.